A little on the rough side, but I promised end of week. Here it is. I’ll clean it up Monday.
After Bree’s stirring rendition of I Will Survive, Damien blew the roof off the party by going straight into “It’s Raining Men.” Bree had to share the mike with every drag queen, the bingo babes, Flynn and Steve, Jose´, even Layla, who couldn’t sing a note, took a turn, screeching out the final chorus along with everybody else.
It was a “Glorious end to a fabulous evening.” As Sabrina had called it while blowing kisses around the room. Once again, thanking everyone for making her day so special. Jose´ and Steve started giving directions and within minutes, you would have never known there had ever been a single feather in the place
Damien’s phone rang while everyone was saying good-byes, he had graciously excused himself and gone to his office. Layla got her Jimmy Choos back. She and Jose decided to stay over, once Damien had assured them that Barker would be in attendance in the a.m. in plenty of time to make coffee. Evelyn had kissed Andie goodbye with an invitation to dinner. Drag Queens had paraded out the door and down the steps carrying gifts of cake and truffles and belting out an acapella, “We are Family.” and that was the end of one heck of a party.
Exhaustion hit Andie like a train. With Damien still in his office and Barker absent, she waved Jose and Layla in the general direction of guest rooms and stumbled up the stairs and into Damien’s master suite with its exquisite shower. The shower. Oh, she was tempted, but she just couldn’t stand for that long. With a promise to spend time with her true love in the morning, Andie stripped off her clothes found a t-shirt slipped it over her head and fell into bed.
“… all I’m saying is we could take her somewhere safe, just for a few days.”
“No. Absolutely not.” Damien cut Wyatt off. No way was he sending Andie anywhere he wasn’t.
“Dammit, man, whoever this is – they’re good. Real good.”
“Andie has protection.”
“So did Anne Tinsley.”
“Protection I did not provide. I’m trusting on one else with Andie’s safety.”
“Right.” The single word was heavy with fatigued resignation, “Yeah, well I don’t suppose I can blame you for that one. You talked to her?”
“Well, you need to. She needs to know the danger she’s in.”
“I’m aware and I will.”
“In the meantime, I’d hire some female body guards. They can go everywhere she goes.”
“I’ll get on that tomorrow.”
“Good enough. We’re close.”
“I know.” Was all he said before disconnecting. What more was there to say?
He walked through the silence to his room. Tension snapping at him. The weight of old secrets heavy on his shoulders. He entered his bedroom not knowing what he was searching for till he found it.
In his bed.
And it all went away. Just fucking evaporated. The strain the worry the weariness of years. Just floated the fuck away.
How could one tiny slip of a girl sleeping in his bed have that kind of power?
Damien was a logical man. Reason was the enemy of anger. He’d learned long ago. But it wasn’t doing a thing for him now. He didn’t have a damn clue. And more than that he didn’t damn well care. As long as she was in his bed, it didn’t matter. So he’d have to keep her there.
He heard a tiny snuffling snore. Her face was pink-cheeked and sleep creased, her hair a tumbling around her. Damn she was cute, “Hey kitten,” Leaning down, he pressed a kiss to her temple. She blinked bleary eyes at him and gave him a sleepy smile, “Hi, I was waiting up for you.”
“Mmhm, I see that.”
An arm fall around his shoulders. She nuzzled his neck, “Hi.”
His laughter, that used to feel so strange, came as easily as breath, “You said that already.”
“Oh…” She sighed into his neck and then he felt lips, soft and warm, travel up his throat. Another sigh of breath into his ear had his cock jumping.
“That was some party.”
“You can say that again.”
“Hmm,” He pushed the blankets covering her away, “I think I’ll taste you instead.”
“Oh yes, that’s a much better idea…oh…” Her words died when he took her nipple in his mouth sucking her through the thin tee.
She wriggled greedily under him. He dug his hand under her shirt and slid his palm up over her abdomen, plumping the breast he teased to a stiff little nub. Hands slid into gripping his hair as he worked her hardened nipple with strong pulls of his mouth till she was moaning, arching up in offering.
“So sexy, baby.” He blew on the damp fabric, “I need to see you.”
Sliding down her body, he pushed the shirt up, over her head and off. He had the strongest desire to taste his way from her head to her toes and back again, but Andie had other ideas.
She sat up with him, grabbed his tie and tugged him down hand over hand, till his lips touched hers “Kiss me.” A husky feminine demand, before sealing her lips over his, her wicked tongue dancing into his mouth and setting him on fire. Groaning, he sank in and savored. Her hands went from his tie to his hair. She opened up for him sliding her lips against him, matching his hungry desperation with her own.
He jerked his pants open shoving them down his legs only to get stuck over his shoes. He had no choice but to pull away from her mouth. Her tiny mewl of protest slid down his spine and swelled his cock to near pain.
Shoving his shoes off, he kicked his pants across the room, reaching for her again, but she pressed both hands to his chest, staring up at him with earnest eyes, “The shirt too….”
Fine, yes, the shirt too. Jerking his tie off, he yanked and jerked and finally tore stubborn buttons off. And then they were skin to skin. Hot hands pushed his shoulders, he went with her. Falling to his back on the bed. A pleased siren’s smile and hands skating down his chest.
She sat up. Straddling him.
“What are you up to, kitten?”
“Lesson number four…”
“Or it might be three or maybe five… I’ve lost count. Doesn’t really matter.” She said, wriggling around on his belly. It was distracting as fuck, but he caught the last two words, “Roll reversal.”
Oh hell. “Uh, I don’t know about that one.” He said even as his cock swelled to bursting.
“But I love touching you.”
She was drunk on the taste of him. This man went to her head faster than champagne and sangria combined. Was he aware he arched into her mouth, low groans rumbling in his chest. She traced each hard ridge of his abdominals with her hands as her mouth moved up, nibbling him like her favorite chocolate. She heard more pleasure filled moans and realized they were coming from her. By the time she got to his chest she was wet and aching to be filled. She bit down on one hard male nipple and he growled over her head. Lifting her gaze, she saw his head bent, eyes blazing locked on her mouth moving over him. Wicked power rushed through her, holding his stare she teased the hard nub with the flat of her tongue.
And her demi-god snapped. The hands in her hair and tugging her up as his body pushed her back. Their mouths fused at the exact moment her back hit the bed, the kiss was desperate, greedy. She nipped at his sensual bottom lip, he answered her demand by taking her jaw in his hand, holding her open and invading. Hot wild licks, taking her tasting everywhere. Her hands buried in hair tugged him closer, her legs wrapping around his waist so she rubbed her drenched center on his hard belly. She heard his sharp groan as he tore his mouth away, resting his forehead on hers his breathing ragged, “Dear God Andie, what you do to me.” He stayed that way. His eyes searching hers. Andie saw naked vulnerability in his gaze. It was so beautiful. Her chest ached, her eyes stung. She slid her hands from his hair to cup his face, “I need you.” Arching under him, shifting until he was cradled snug against her, “I need you.” Arching she slid the slick of her sex up his shaft. They both groaned, “Now.”
“Now?” His eyes a storm
“Yes, now.” She rolled her hips, trying to pull him deeper, “I need to feel you inside me.”
“Like this?” A low whisper, a teasing short thrust, he rested there.
“More.” Her answering breath, her fingers tracing his bottom lip.
“Mm, yes more…” He mirrored her movements, tracing her mouth. And she felt him stretching her. It was more, but not enough.
She arched up, dying to feel him everywhere, to consume and be consumed.
His mouth came down, “Stay still, Andie” Lips skated across her jaw, then a dark whisper in her ear, “Let me fill you up.”
And because she knew what he would give her, she surrendered, lowering her hips to the bed.
“Good girl.” A kiss to her ear and then he lifted up over her, taking her hands in his and locking their fingers together on either side of her head. It wasn’t until he whispered, “Open your eyes,” she realized hers had fallen shut. Lifting her lids, she met his heavy-lidded gaze, “Just like this.” And then slowly, so very slowly he slid in, again just a little further and again leaving to rest at the mouth of her sex, “We’ll make this last.” His lips played with hers.
“Yes.” Oh yes, this was good. Her body heated by slow degrees. The heat in her belly building sweet and low. That slow stretching fullness that luscious glide of retreat.
He moved in lazy, sensual glides, holding and retreating again to that same place barely inside, until her tender flesh quivered with sensation, tiny shockwaves of pleasure that had her gasping, All the while he held her gaze. His eyes a storm. It was all there, open for her to see, heat, tenderness, desire, and an aching vulnerability. This was ecstasy.
“You’re so beautiful like this, Andie.”
Pleasure suffused her, the ache growing and winding tight. A fine sweat broke out on her skin. Finally, finally he pushed and seated himself deep, “Andie,”
He breathed the words like a prayer, then his mouth was on hers. Lightly stroking, pulling her tongue into a sensual tasting, light dancing, his eyes still holding her own, he began to move in a slow languorous rhythm.
And oh God, the feeling of him, finally filling her, touching her everywhere. Shivers raced over her body that throbbed with heat, and she was pure sensation. There was nothing else. Only the man over her, inside her, holding her.
Her womb trembled, pleasure rippling through her. The ripples came closer and closer.
“I feel you, baby squeezing me. Come around me, Andie.” As those slumberous thrusts filled her, her body broke and she was drowning in heady, languorous waves.
“Yes, baby, ah God just like that.”
“God Damien….it’s so good…”
He brushed a kiss to her swollen mouth, “Relax, let and me take you.”
He shifted subtly, pushing in until she felt him at her womb. Thrusting in those short thrusts slow and deep that hit the place inside, and the waves kept coming until she felt it all over. A sweet cascade of excruciating pleasure. A groan left him, his release hot bathing her and those slow deep thrusts never stopped.
“So beautiful. Sweet lovely, Andie.”
The heat and glide. The sweet ache bloomed building Damien’s hands on her hips guiding her. Damien over her his body hard all leashed strength and blazing heat. And then it took her pleasure rolling over her inside her seeming to bloom everywhere at once. The lazy strokes took her higher and higher.
She broke apart. Pleasure sweeping over her and she was drowning in voluptuous spiraling heat, her body cresting again and again. And when she thought it was over, he changed position and pleasure hit her again. She heard gasping little cries – hers. Her hands gripping his back desperate to hold on to something. “Beautiful Andie. So beautiful when I’m inside you.” And he shuddered coming with her name on his lips.
Observing your BFF’s feeding in their natural habitat was a risky way to experience have Sunday Brunch, but the entertainment value made up for it. Andie hid her grin behind her coffee as the drama unfolded.
“Ooh that looks tasty.” Jose, an opportunistic grazer made his move, “Here, let me just take that little bit. The corner sort of fell off…”
Layla was more of a solitary sort of feeder with predatory instincts, she slid her plate away, “That’s way more than a corner.”
“Whacha alkin’ abou’..is baerry abi…” Jose´’s protest would have been more convincing if his cheeks weren’t puffed out to there with ‘little bit’ he’d taken off Layla’s plate.”
“Should we separate them?” Damien asked from behind his coffee mug.
“Uh, no, I wouldn’t try moving Layla. She’s in slug mode.”
“Ah, yes and she’s on the outside of the booth.”
“I can hear you, you know.” Layla grumped and sucked down more coffee.
They had gathered at the Monaco for brunch. Jose’s suggestion this morning when he’d stumbled down the stairs at EverMay. He was downright chipper for a guy who’d been up till three a.m. Layla, on the other hand was a snarling bleary-eyed grouch, thanks to her single Vodka Stinger. She’d tumbled down the stairs holding her head and vowing to kill all makers of Vodka everywhere. Andie thought it more likely Frannie’s recipe that was the culprit.
Whatever the reason, Layla was in no mood, when Jose’s hand drifted a second time she smacked his hand and jerked her plate away, “Back off, mooch. If you wanted pancakes you should have ordered them.”
Jose´’s bottom lip made an appearance, “I thought we were going to share. So we could try some of everything. That’s what Tommy and Justin and I do.”
“I’m not Tommy or Justin and I don’t like that ham.” Layla gripped her fork and made a few vicious stabbing motions, “Stay away or feel the pain.”
“Well, that’s just wrong.” Jose’ huffed, cutting into his own meal, “How can a person not like ham. It’s weird.”
“I like ham just fine.” Layla countered. And that was an understatement. Layla could eat Smithfield ham by the pound. “But that sugar glaze is nasty. Way to ruin perfectly good hunk of meat if you ask me.”
Andie snickered behind her coffee cup.
“So how’s the croissant?” Damien’s whisper in her ear had chills shooting right down her spine to her toes. She turned to see his silver eyes watching her mouth, “It’s delicious.”
“Hm,” One hand reached over and touched the corner of her mouth his thumb coming away with a smudge of chocolate, “You had a little something.”
He sucked his thumb clean.
“Whew,” Jose waved his hand over his drink, “You two want to tone it down a bit. All that heat is going to curdle my Bloody Mary.”
Andie kicked him under the table.
Layla jumped, “Ouch! Hey!”
“Oh sorry,” She sent her a sympathetic wince, “I was going for Jose´’.
“Oooh Come join us for brunch.” Layla came out of her slump long enough to do a lousy Jose impersonation, “It’ll be so much fun.” She lifted her coffee and flopped back into her slump, “Oh yeah, him stealing my food, you kicking me black and blue. Man, am I glad I rolled out of bed at the crack of dawn for this.”
“Ten a.m. is hardly the crack of dawn, and don’t be such a sour-puss.” Jose chided. His exuberance an equivalent opposite to Layla’s grumpiness, “Here, try some of this cantaloupe. It’s infused with vanilla…” He dropped the fruit on her plate.
Layla shot him a surly look, but wasted no time devouring the fruit.
“Here Andie, try this,” Jose´ put a hunk of omelet on her plate. She’d chosen lighter fair and gone with a croissant and the vanilla infused fruit. Damien had ordered a skillet scramble with hash browns. Jose´ was eying it with longing.
“Please, try some.” Damien pushed the plate toward her friend.
“I mean…Mr. Drake, Thanks Mr. Drake.” Jose´ made a big deal of reaching under the table and rubbing his leg, “There’s no need for violence. Honestly, you’d think all those orgasms would put a girl in a better mood.”
“Just saying.” Jose´ took a huge portion of eggs and hash browns from Damien’s plate and blathered away, “It’s supposed to produce all those natural endorphins and whatever.”
“Why don’t you call me Damien.” Damien invited graciously.
“Oh, well thank-you Damien,” Jose´ Gave the man beside her a bright smile then sniffed over at her, “I’m glad to see those endorphins are working for somebody.”
“What? It’s a compliment.” He said, motioning for the waiter, “I wonder if the banana bread pudding is on the brunch menu. Not all of us are having mind-blowing orgasms and have to get our endorphins any way we can.”
Layla picked that moment to come out of her stupor, double slamming her coffee cup to the table with a “Hear. Hear.” Like a Viking warrior princess.
And beside her came these muffled choking noises that sounded suspiciously like stifled laughter.
Andie picked up her coffee, hissing from behind her mug, “So are we amusing you, Sugar-Buns?”
“Immensely.” He whispered from the side of his mouth.
Dropping his arm from the back of the booth to idly trace little circles on Andie’s shoulder, Drake pondered the truth of that statement. Layla and Jose´’s antics were downright entertaining and with Andie’s warmth tucked against him in the booth, he found himself… content. Before he fully analyze this phenomenon, his phone buzzed. Thinking it would be Wyatt, he reluctantly pulled his arm from Andie’s shoulders and checked the number…no not Wyatt.
“Hey cuz, uh..so how’s every little thing?”
“Yeah, fine. Okay, okay…dammit, stop that. I can’t hear..”
“Uh nothin, that’s just… Jane Dammit, get away.”
That raised a red flag, “Jane’s there with you?
“Uh, yeah, yeah she’s… damnmit, let go. I have got this. Go shove some buttercream in your mouth, shit!”
“And Min’s there as well?”
The red flag got an upgrade to a blaring neon warning sign. Those three together before noon on a Sunday could not be good. “Dee, may I ask, what is “this” thing that you’ve got?”
“Huh, what? Uh nuthin’. So, how’s Andie?”
Nothing his ass. A shit storm was brewing on the horizon along with a pounding headache, no doubt. “Andie’s fine.”
“Uh-huh. Good. That’s great. And so… how’s the sex?”
“Sex. You know, the horizontal mambo, the deed. Are those va-jay-jay’s awesome or what?”
What the fuck? “Vajay-what?’
“Vajayjay. You know, coochie, lady-bits.”
His right temple began to throb, “Dee, are you high?”
“Ow dammit…Get off me…. I’m getting there. You can’t just ask…” Dee’s words degraded to random curses and the unmistakealbe sounds of a struggle. If he didn’t miss his guess the phone was about to change hands.
This was confirmed mere seconds later with Min shouting. “I’m pregnant. I can do what I want. GIMME!”
“Min, what the hell is going on?”
“That’s what we want to know. Look, if you’re gay, you better find a nice boy pastry-chef to settle down with.”
If he was…. Oh holy shit. “Min, put Dee back on, please.”
“So, you’re not gay?”
“No. Dee. Now.”
“HAH! I knew it. Here’s Dee.”
“Dee, What. Is. Going. On?”
“Well, see that’s what we were wondering when we saw the video of the Drag Queen parade coming out of EverMay. Then they showed the clip of you playing that raining men song, and well, I’ve always loved that tune but, most straight guys don’t play it on the piano, wearing a pink boa and surrounded by a season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race.”
He heard the words knew they were in English, yet they made no sense. One word did jump out at him, though.“A video.”
“Oh yeah, it’s gone viral. There’s all kinds of wild theories out there…”
“Right. Hold on.” He looked across the booth, where Jose´and Layla were racing to the bottom of a bowl of bread pudding, “Jose, would you be kind enough to look up something on your phone for me?”
Jose´ swallowed, and whipped his phone out. Layla took advantage and pulled the bowl all the way to the other edge of the table.
“What am I looking for?” Jose aske,d fingers poised and ready
“Just put in ‘video and “Damien Drake.”
Jose´typed in the requested words. Layla, curious enough to lean towards him while still scraping the bowl. There was a moment of very telling silence, followed by the clatter of a spoon hitting the bowl when Layla dropped it with an, “Oh. Shit.”
Jose stared down at his phone, speechless. Something Damien guessed was a rare occurrence.
“Go ahead and start it, please.” He said, might as well know what he was dealing with.
Jose tapped his screen with one trembling finger. They were immediately treated to the familiar strains of, “It’s raining men”
Jose held the phone up, “Well, on the plus-side, you look fabulous. Not just any man can carry off the feather-Boa’d Brioni.”
There he was pounding away at the piano, pink feather flying, drag queens singing. A part of his mind registered he looked animated, smiling, even happy. Most of his thought processes however, were engaged in trying to figure out who was doing the filming. Everyone was in the video, except for the security guards. They wouldn’t be filming him. Anyone who worked for him signed non-disclosures and everyone else was clustered around the mike. Everyone except for his mother and…
His Brother. “That little fucker has finally done it. He’s driven me to Fratricide.”
Jose´ went another shade paler, beside him Andie stiffened, but Layla smiled for the first time since they sat down. Lifting her coffee mug in a toast, she asked, “You want to borrow the Jimmy Choos?”
“Eh, it’ll blow over. Somebody will post a bunch of men dancing in Tutu’s next week or whatever.” Nate sat across from his desk in his temporary office at the Fugue and pissed him right the hell off. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Nate, the LGBT community is either outraged on my behalf because I was “outed” or outraged at me because I’m denying being gay. His brother’s grin just got wider, “Well there’s no shame in it.”
“Shut up. This hotel opens its doors in a week. I have a shit load already. I don’t have time for a p.r. disaster, and it is laid directly at your door.”
“I know bro, really I’m sorry. I am. I clicked the wrong box and made it public.” The mischief in Nate’s eyes died. His next words quietly sober, “I was just going send it to Gracie.”
And just like that his ire died under the weight of guilt, “How is she?”
“Good. I think. Hard to tell with her.”
“She has good reason to want nothing to do with us.”
“Yeah, but she’s family.” Nate said, frustrated, “I wish things could be different, you know?”
“So, uh, hose’s the hotel business?” Nate asked in an obvious attempt at subject change.
He went with it. “A pain in my ass.”
“I told you, man.”
“Nate, shut up.”
“I’m just saying.” Nate raised his hands, “Hotel management is a different world from property acquisition.”
“I’m aware. I thought Shay would be able to manage it.”
A snort erupted from his brother, “Man, that blind spot of yours, shit. Guilt will do that, I’ve heard. Side note: None of this was your fault.”
“Guilt has nothing to do with this.”
“Keep telling yourself that, bro.”
“Shay had been managing this hotel for years.”
“Bull shit. She wore the title and pranced around in designer duds. Somebody else was doing the actual work.”
Nate threw his hands out, “How the hell should I know?”
The phone on his desk demanded his attention. Again. Dammit. He had to get Abbot to the hotel. Yesterday.
“This is Drake.”
“Uh, hey man,” Stan’s drawl did not improve his mood. Not at all, “You watching the news?”
“Turn on the television, local channel, 13.”
“Shit, what the hell is it now?” He grabbed the universal remote on his desk, jumping up and pointing it at the giant screen masquerading as a mirror, and turned to the correct channel and oh fucking hell!!!
“… that Andie is such a sweet girl. She hardly knew my little Brina, but she and Mr. Drake opened up their home to her and made her birthday so special.”
“Oh, shit.” Nate said.
“Oh shit” was right. There, up on the screen in matching T-shirts, were the bingo babes, surrounded by a rainbow of Drag Queens.
“Are you saying Damian Drake is not gay?” The question came from off camera.
“Oh honey, if only.” Macarena stepped forward complete with sash, crown, and purple hair, “But no, unfortunately he’s as straight as they come. And Frannie’s right, he is head over heels for Andie, and well, five minutes with her and you’d see why. She’s one of those good people, you know, genuine and kind. She didn’t know us from Adam, but she offered up EverMay for Bree’s party. EverMay.”
“Yes,” Sabrina moved to the front, blond hair teased up, wearing a white top and tight jeans in blindingly bright pink. Damien found himself squinting at the screen. “They opened up their home to us and made my birthday so wonderful. It breaks my heart that he’s being attacked by some of my brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. And I understand, if he was gay and denying it, how there could be some pain and anger, but he’s not. He’s a wonderful straight man who, even though he’d come in from a business trip, choosing to fly home late that night instead of the next morning to be with the woman he loved, and oh that just makes my heart go pittter-patter, he made us welcome, played two of my favorite songs and made my birthday more than wonderful. So, I’m asking my brothers and sisters to band together and help me thank Mr. Drake for his generosity. We’ve set up a website. Just go to Straight Boys Need Love Too dot com and you can see the list of businesses he owns and the charities he supports. Damien Drake and Andie Chase are wonderful friends to the LGBT community. So let’s show the love!!!!” Sabrina shouted those last words. The babes and queens cheered. A dance tune started playing and all the bodies on the screen began to gyrate.
“Uh, well,” The reporter came to stand in front of the group, “There you have it folks from the people who ought to know…”
“Well, I’ll be damned.” Damien’s eyes were glued to the screen, and that’s why he saw the reporter jump, “What the hell?”
“Frannie got him.” Nate noted, “Dude, shoulda’ been watching his six.”
Damien clicked the show off. One problem solved. He returned to his desk. He still had half a dozen issues to resolve All of them urgent.
“Why don’t you put that robot of yours on it.”
“What Robot and on what?”
“Abbott. Put Abbott on finding you a hotel manager.”
Abbott. Of course. Abbott could find out for me.
“Actually, Abbott could do the job. Easy.”
“Yeah, I don’t blame you, there. The guy is a machine. Hey, I’ve got some good news.”
“Well, shit. Hit me.”
“Ted Lewis wants to talk.”
“How the hell?”
“I’m that good, bro.”
“Damn, well set up a meeting…” Damien paused, realizing both he and his bother were yelling to be heard over the yelling coming from the hall. “What the hell is that racquet?”
“Sounds like an argument.” Nate jumped up and poked his head out the door. Damien saw his back stiffen and with a, “Gotta go, bro.” He ducked out the door and was gone.
The argument got closer. There was a “fuck that” and a “ridiculous” and “cannot be changed at this late date” Damien recognized the voices. Called his brother a string of names begining with coward and ending with chicken shit, held his breath, and hoped like hell Dee and Jane were just passing by.
His hopes dashed and died not one second later when they both stormed in his office, “The fuck, I can’t. This was supposed to be my year.”
“I made an executive decision.” Jane said, arms crossed over her chest words clipped, “You weren’t available.”
“I was working.” In contrast, Dee’s arms were waving around like a wacky waver balloon.
Shit. He knew the body language. His cousins were well into it. What his office needed was a back-fucking-door.
Then things went truly to hell. Dee turned her back on Jane and faced him. “Damien, did you know about this?”
“Dee, I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Thank God.
“The open house” Dee said, throwing her accusing stare back at Jane, “The five thousand-dollar per invite open house.”
“We’re still doing the thirty-dollar tickets on the first evening.” Jane said, in her most reasonable tone, “It’s three nights, Dee. You’re being ludicrous.”
Aw shit. Dee was going to….
“Excuse me.” Sweet hell, his head was pounding.
The women turned on him, “WHAT?”
“I have a hotel to run.”
“Yeah well,” Dee shot an accusing index finger at him, “It’s my year to plan the EverMay open house.”
“Okay.” He agreed. His voice a well modulated study in calm, while nside his head hell damn and fuck played on repeat.
The EverMay open house. How had he forgotten about that? EverMay had a three-night event the third weekend in December, opening its doors for tours. It was a tradition he’d continued after buying the property. Every room was decked out and the tours were given by various family members. It was a huge event and raised money for several of his mother’s charities.
And Jane and Dee went to war over it every year.
“I wanted to make the tickets inexpensive,” Dee said, “All three nights, so people of all eco backgrounds could attend.”
He raised conciliatory hands, “I have no problem with that.”
“Well, Miss God Rocks here, didn’t do that.”
Jane released a long-suffering sigh, “We are still offering less expensive tickets for the first night.”
Dee threw a hand back at her, “ONE night. ONE. Damien, it defeats the purpose of the entire event.”
He didn’t bother responding. He was too busy rummaging through his desk for an aspirin or a fifth of Jack.
“The purpose is to raise money, Dee.” Jane said.
And oh hell, she used that voice. That school-marm voice. The voice that, when they were teens, was heard right before the two were rolling around on the floor screaming and pulling hair.
Dee’s eyes narrowed, her hands clenched at her sides, and her mouth clamped shut. Holy hell, she was going to do it. She was going to attack. Jane saw it and what did she do, lifted her chin in a blatant dare.
They were going to do it. They were going to go at it like they hadn’t since high school.
And then an angel in an apron appeared, “Oh, um…. Hi!”
“Andie!” He called to his tiny savior where she hesitated in the doorway, no doubt sensing the tension. He could see the decision to retreat in her eyes and oh hell no. He leaped out of his chair and ran to her, pulling her inside, “What a nice surprise. How’s your grandmother liking the penthouse?”
That got him a smile, “She keeps saying it’s too much, and then pulls a chicken out of one oven and cookies out of the other. She loves it.” His tiny angel of mercy went up on her tiptoes and kissed his jaw, “Thank you.”
“Uh… Cookies?” Dee turned her back on Jane.
“Yes,” Andie nodded, “We’re baking today.”
“Baking.” Dee got a dreamy look on her face. “For a whole day.”
“Yes,” Andie held the brown bag out to him,“Um, I knew you were busy, so I brought you lunch.”
She’d made him lunch?
Damien blinked at the little brown bag. Had anybody ever made him lunch other than a servant. He didn’t think so. His mother was an remarkable woman, but she did not cook. Ever.
He must have stared too long. Andie fidgeted dropping the bag to her side, “Um, It’s not gourmet or anything…”
He had to say something, “You made me lunch.” As words went, they were pretty pathetic, that lump in his chest was hard to vocalize around.
Dee had no such trouble, pushing by him, she snatched the bag from Andie’s hand, “Oh God, I’m starving.”
“Dee,” Jane, said mortified, “You can’t just invite yourself to lunch.”
“You know what, Jane, shut your face.”
“Shut my face. God, you’re childish.”
Dee called Jane an unflattering name, but didn’t abandon digging through his brown bag.
“Excuse me…” He made a grab for it. He could take it and run before the fight escalated to blows, but was derailed by cousin number three. Min waddled in, inserting herself between he and Dee and his lunch. And there was no getting around that belly. How the hell there was only one baby in there he didn’t know. And Dear God, if Min went into labor in his office, he was going to need a rubber-room.
“What are we doing….” Min paused and took a big sniff, “Hey, I smell cookies.”
“That’s me.” Andie said with a little wave.
“Oh, wow, you smell good.” Min said. At least he thought that was what she said. It was difficult to hear over Jane and Dee because yes, they had resumed the shouting and damn, here came Caine flying into the room, wild-eyed with something akin to panic. That couldn’t be good. Caine was not one to panic. “We have a problem.”
“Do we?” Hala-frickin-lujah!, “I’ll come with you.”
“Come with me?”
“To address the problem.”
Caine’s eyes swept the room, understanding dawned, “Right, yeah, with me. Sure thing.”
Unfortunately, the problem, as explained to him by the housekeeping manager, who berated him for a full five minutes, was the housekeeping’s contract and the hard copy was in his office. Not five minutes after escaping, he had to go back, his head pounding to the echoes of yet another pissed as hell woman demanding he take action.
He was considering making a run for it when strange noises coming from his office stopped him dead.
Mrs. Turner cast wary eyes at his office door. Caine took a couple steps back. Gasps and moans of ecstasy could be heard clearly through his now closed office door. Sounded like an orgy was well underway. Nothing for it. He swung the door open.
Not an orgy. Lunch.
His cousins were lounging around his office consuming his lunch and enjoying the hell out of it. Damien’s stomach rumbled.
“There’s got to be some kind of secret sauce or something.” Dee lifted a slice of bread and peeked under it at a delicious looking half a sandwich.
“No, only chicken salt pepper lettuce and mayo.” His kitten explained. She looked a somewhat baffled.
“I can’t believe how good this is.” Jane gushed. Jane, as a rule, was not a gusher. She had the other half of his sandwich.
“Right? Plain chicken who’d have thunk it?” Dee agreed, and took another moaning ecstasy filled bite. Her fury forgotten. His cousins in harmonious ecstasy over his sandwich.
That was something to be baffled about all right.
“COOK-EEEEZ.” Min shouted and took a bite of the large, chunky cookie in her hand. It looked like chocolate chip. That sure as hell looked like chocolate smeared around her mouth. Warm chocolate, which meant warm cookies.
“Anyway,” Andie said, “Like I was saying, there are several community children’s choirs in the area. Some may already be booked, but I’m sure they’d work it in if they could.”
“Oh man, that is a great idea.” Dee said, all her anger had melted away. Yes, people were generally in a better mood when they had a good meal.
“And we could have a special silent auction.” Jane agreed, “One that could raise money for one of the local community centers that the children actually benefit from. Of course, the parents would be invited as well. Would that work for you Dee?”
“It’s fan-damn-tastic. If we can pull it off. Don’t suppose you could help us out. We don’t have much time.”
“Uh sure. I’ll be glad to do what I can.”
“Ladies, is that my lunch?”
“Lunch?” Jane tucked her half of sandwich behind her back
“What?” Dee shoved her half in her mouth
Min growled and gave him the Crazy Pregnant Lady Dagger Stare of Death.
Damien saw the bag on his desk, maybe she’d packed two sandwiches…the bag crumpled in his hand. Empty. Not so much as a crumb.
Andie’s eyes danced, “They were hungry.”
“I see that.”
“I’ll um, get Gran to make you another sandwich.”
Dee jumped to her feet. “There’s more chicken?”
“COOKIES!” Min pushed herself to her feet.
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to discuss more about this idea of yours with the choirs.” Jane said. Damien wasn’t fooled. She was going to eat his chicken.
Andie went on tiptoe, this time whispering in his ear, “I’ll make your sandwich as soon as I get back and send Barker down with it.”
“I want two sandwiches.”
“Okay.” Andie patted his chest, smoothing his tie.
It was a very… domestic gesture. He liked it. He liked it a lot.
“And cookies. Lots of cookies. A dozen.”
“A dozen cookies.” Her smiling lips brushed his jaw. “Coming right up.”
The ladies left the room and it was him and Caine and Caine’s annoying as hell knowing smirk.
“What?” He heard himself ask.
“Man, you are so cooked.”
Huh. Like he didn’t know.