She slapped a hand over his mouth. “Sssh.”
He pulled her hand down, “Did you ‘Ssshh’ me?”
“Yes. People are staring. And move your hand please.”
“Oh, I’ll move my hand.” He released her from the circle of his arms only to grab her hand and stalk off the floor. She stumbled along behind him on her Chanel stilts, smiling at various shocked faces as he dragged her through an arched door and down a mirror lined corridor. Through another arched door and pushed open yet another door and shoved her through. And then she was swept and turned and poof! She was smooshed between the solid plaster wall behind her and the solid male in front.
“Kitten, would you like to explain why you’re prancing around that ballroom naked? Stan Wyatt had his hands all over you.” The twinkle-toed Adonis demanded in all his prowly and growly glory.
Demanded. Like he had a right to demand anything. “Stan Wyatt was not the man with his hands all over my butt five seconds ago, not that it’s your business. And I’m not naked. I’m wearing a dress. The back was too low for the panties I’d brought with me.” Or so Jose said.
“A dress? Is that what you call what you’re wearing? A dress? Just what kind of dress leaves you bare all the way to your ass?”
She’d been shaved, waxed, fluffed, and stuffed. Poked, prodded, curled, and twirled. Pulled, tugged, shoved, and shocked and she was done. D. O. N. E. DONE.
And as for the Demi-God his prowly-growly, touchy-feely self, being all hot and arrogant and making her all hot and bothered….
With a screech that would make even the She-Devil cringe, Andie wedged her hands between them and shoved.
“It’s. From. The. Thirties.”
Kitten was a mite upset. And she’d shoved him. Hard. Not that she could have moved him, but Damien had been in enough negotiations to know when to give a little, so he’d gone with it
If ever there was a time to give a little to get a lot, this was it.
She stood there, hands on hips, face flushed, chest heaving, glaring at him as if he were damn sure responsible for whatever the hell was pissing her off, if not all the problems in the universe. And holy fuck, but she was cute.
He suppressed several spontaneous urges. Fisting his hands to keep from grabbing her, he kept his eyes on her face as opposed to the strip of creamy flesh the plunging neckline revealed and schooled his features into bland interest. Letting a smile by him now would be a monumental mistake. “The thirties?”
“Yes,” She gave him the prissiest little nod, “The. Thirties. The 19-fucking-30’s. When the Hollywood sensors said only so much skin could be revealed in the front, but neglected to say anything about the back and so began the trend of backless dressing. Bare backs.” She ripped his jacket off and threw it at him. It fell to the floor beside him because his attention was riveted on her back when she turned, showing him the silken expanse of delectable female flesh. “Honestly, you’d think I was parading around stark naked. It’s just a back for crying out loud.”
“Ah…now there you’d be wrong, kitten.” His eyes honed in on the smattering of freckles, trailing down her mid-back and disappearing under the gown. Sweet spots he wanted to taste. “Tell me, how far down do those freckles go?”
“Nonya.” She spun around, facing him once more.
“None-ya-beezwax. Look Buster…”
Buster? Last week he was Adonis. Had he just been downgraded?
“I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but all this “My Girl, and Dance with me, Smile twirl, dip and what are you wearing and where are your panties? Well, I’ll tell you where…”
Her eyes narrowed, “Are you laughing?”
“No.” At least he was trying his damndest not to, but a smile and a chuckle got by him and he was right. That was going to cost him…. his head.
“Shit!” He ducked out of the way of the flying stiletto only to be hit in the chest with the other one.
Well, damn. His kitten was a hell-cat. He gaped at her, “You threw shoes at me.”
“Yes, I did. You arrogant jack-ass.”
Now that was a downgrade. “I get the feeling your miffed at me.” He tried to keep a straight face, really he did, but she was so damn cute.
And then she hissed at him.
His cousin Janice had a cat. A hideous, fluffy monstrosity with a scrunched face. It hated him, hissed exactly like that. Funny thing, when the cat did it his cock didn’t leap to attention.
It sure as hell was now and that cost him as he had to retrieve his coat from the floor and button it closed to hide the evidence before he chased his hell-cat into the hall after she flung the door open and marched through it.
Following his quarry, it occurred to him that this was not his usual reaction to a female tantrum. The careful tears and scathing tongues of the mercenary women in his world just bored and annoyed him. There was nothing careful about Andie’s anger. She huffed and puffed and hissed and threw shoes.
And it made him hot as a bonfire in hell.
He wondered if he was unique or if the little hellion’s anger equaled popping a bottle or Viagra to all men. He pictured Stan Wyatt’s smarmy face. Then he didn’t have to because damn if the man didn’t come around the corner along with Maurice and Caine Lawrence. All three men froze in place, staring at Andie storming towards them, her hair falling out of its combs, her tiny bare feet whipping under her dress.
“Uh, hey there sweetheart.” Stan’s grin was nowhere to be seen.
“Hi.” She marched right between them.
“Where you off to, sugar?” Maurice asked.
“The kitchen.” She threw over her shoulder, “I’m fucking starving and there’s cheese in there.”
“Okay.” Maurice scratched his head, but had enough sense not ask questions.
Stan however, grinned as Drake caught up to them, “So your usual charm is having it normal effect?”
“Mr. Drake we have a situation.” Caine Lawrence tried and failed to hide his grin.
“Handle it.” He pushed by them. Following Andie only to have the men follow in his wake.
“Yes, I can see you’re busy.” Caine muttered.
“And wine. God, I need a glass of wine.” Andie continued down the list of foods, tripping over her gown, stumbling to right herself and cursing Coco Chanel.
“Careful, sweetheart.” Stan Wyatt called out, “You don’t have much room for error with that dress.”
Andie stopped, dropped her gown, and whipped around.
“As God as my witness,” Aqua eyes narrowed to angry slits, she stalked up to them, “If. One More. Dumb. Ass. Man.” She shoved her finger in each of their chests with each word, “Says one More. Dumb. Ass. Thing. about my dress I’ll strip it off and strangle him with it.”
“Is that a promise, darlin’?”
Andie rolled her eyes, storming off so she didn’t see the punch he threw.
“Ow! Dammit, Damien.” Stan rubbed his jaw, but didn’t slow his stride as they all ran after her.
“Shut up,” Drake unclenched his jaw, “And go make yourself useful.”
“Dream on, brother. This is the most fun I’ve had in a while.”
“She’s fast for such a tiny thing.” Caine observed.
“Man, she is pissed.” Maurice said, “Cute as hell, though.”
“Fucking adorable.” Stan agreed.
And dammit, his jaw clenched with teeth shattering rage as he surpressed the urge to beat both men bloody. He didn’t have time to kill them at the moment. Like they said, Andie was fast. She’d already turned a corner and was out of his line of sight. He picked up his pace as did his hangers on.
“What did you do?” Caine asked him.
“Did you not say we had a situation?”
Lawrence had the nerve to grin, “It can wait.”
When they rounded the corner and caught up to her she was muttering about mushroom caps and cheese with fig spread in between random curses and complaints about Demi-Gods with delusions of Omnipotence.
“That’s you.” Stan informed him, “Damn, her feet are even cute.” He cupped his hands around his mouth and called, “Honey, where are your shoes?”
“Off.” She shouted back.
“Off?” Stan prodded.
“Damn right, off.” Andie threw one arm up with a snap of her fingers, “Coco can stuff it.”
“Chanel. And her peep-toes from hell.”
“I sympathize, Miss Chase. I don’t know how you ladies walk in them.” Caine Lawrence said with mock sincerity.
“I can fire you, you know.”
“You won’t do it. You’re afraid of my wife.”
Drake grunted. Caine was married to Ginny. One of the five cousins. And no he couldn’t fire him with his wife about to drop a baby, but he could damn well order him elsewhere and would have, but shouting from the other end of the hall distracted him “Andie Chase, where are your shoes?”
Jose Rodriguez was barreling down on them. His black on black tuxedo sparkling with a shimmering white bow-tie and cumberbun.
“Damn,” Caine whispered, “How’s he pulling that off?” Drake “Sshhh’d” him so he could hear the muttering going on in front of them.
Andie had stopped short. He heard an “Oh shitty shit”. a “Damn Coco and her stilts”, and something about wine and cheese. She spun around, walked up to him, and hissed under her breath, “We’re not telling Jose about the shoe throwing.”
“No.” She shook her head, right as Jose reached them.
“Where are the peep-toes?”
And those aqua eyes went wide with panic, “Uh…..”
“Andie’s feet were hurting so she left them in my office.”
“Oh…oh…I guess that’s okay, but honey you can’t go back out there with no shoes.”
“That’s fine and dandy, because I’m not going back out there. I’m going to the kitchen.”
Jose stood taller, his chest puffing out, “Andie Chase….”
“No!” And the little hell-cat went off like a firecracker, “No more Andie Chase this and Andie Chase that. I’m sick…” She jabbed her finger in Jose’s chest. “Sick sick sick of it.” Jab, Jab, jab.
That finger was getting a workout.
Damn, but that was the cutest mad he’d ever seen. Stan and Maurice were riveted. While Caine Lawrence, who was hopelessly head over heels for his wife, made weak attempts to hide his laughter. All three needed to get gone. Now. “Go! Whatever the situation is, I trust you three to handle it.”
Reluctantly the three men began to disperse. Andie was still ranting about being poked and prodded swirled and twirled.
“Oooookaaaay,” Jose backed up, raising his hands.
Andie followed, “Oh, don’t dare give me the crazy She-Devil voice. My feet hurt. I’m exhausted and I’m starving.” And then his tiny firecracker seemed to fizzle out. She wrapped her arms around herself, her voice going small, “I’m not going back out there.”
Oh, he didn’t like that. If Andie didn’t want to go back out to that ballroom then no one was going to make her.
Jose’s face softened, ”Oh honey. I’m sorry. I forget sometimes,” Jose wrapped an arm around Andie’s shoulders and gave him a significant look over her head, “You don’t have to go back out there if you don’t want to, but sweetheart, you can’t take that dress to the kitchen. It’s busy in there.”
“It’s a vintage Chanel. Tommy would be devastated if it got stained.”
“Oh.” Andie worried her bottom lip, but then her face brightened, “Can’t I just go home?”
Oh no, he didn’t like that either.
“What about the Arboretum?” Jose Rodriguez suggested right on top of her with raised brows in his direction.
And Drake understood he had an ally. He smiled. “Perfect.”
“The arboretum is on the rooftop.” The Adonis informed her, “It’s a greenhouse. It’s quite comfortable.”
“Oh, that’s not necessary…Ow!” She rubbed the back of her arm where Jose had pinched her, “What the…”
“That would be wonderful. I’ve read all about it. One of the most famous landscape architecht’s designed it. They’re doing a spread in Vanity Far.”
Well, poop. No way would Jose let her skip out on something Vanity Fair was writing up. He was obsessed with the mag.
“They are.” Damien confirmed with a nod, turning to her, “And I can have food, wine and an Epsom salt foot-bath sent up.”
“I’ll make sure they send up lots of mushroom caps.
“And cheese with fig spread?”
They were on the Elevator before Andie could say boo. She got the distinct feeling she was being corralled.
“Oh this is marvelous.” Jose had his phone out, “Steve is going to turn positively green.”
“Yes, I’d like a selection of everything sent up.” Adonis was on his own phone, “Make sure to include the mushroom caps and the cheddar with fig. And have Caine go get the cupcakes out of the safe. Yes that’s right, the safe. Also get the spa to prepare a cart for a foot bath. Make sure to include Epsom salts. Yes.”
But then, right before the doors closed.
“What? What?” Jose hit the hold button, making a big deal of fingering the mike in his ear, “Oh…oh no. Oh my God. I’m on the way.”
No, oh no he wouldn’t…
“We have an emergency. Some Congressman’s paid companion tipped the box of asshole awards into the punch bowl.”
“Asshole awards?” Damien asked,trying not to smile.
“That’s Layla’s pet name for the donor awards,” Andie explained and Jose was making the whole thing up because there was no punch bowl. Nobody did punch anymore. Her Grandmother constantly mourned the loss of the elegance of punch.
The skeevy little liar.
“I see.” The Adonis stopped trying. Wow, was he pretty when he smiled.
“Honey, no. No, you can’t kill her…” Jose hammed it up, “No no no…do not slam her in the face with the punch bowl. No you cannot shove the plagues up her cilicone injected…. No. No, not there either. just NO. I’m on the way. Sorry honey, but I’ve got to get down there.”
“Sweetheart, you know how Layla is when she goes all Terminator three. I have to intervene before blood is spilled.” He leaned in close and whispered in her ear, “Lose those panties Andie Chase. And I’m going to want deets so take notes.”
She was going to kill him.
“Toodles.” He finger waved her as the doors closed.
Damien quirked a brow at her, “Why three?”
“The bad robot was a girl in that one.”