It was like being hit in the face with an arctic glacier. All panic faded and his world came into crystal clear focus.
“Andie!” rushing over, he scooped her off the floor and laid her on the couch, patting her cheek with one hand and pulling out his phone with the other. He hit Wyatt’s direct dial, “Andie baby, come on now…”
“Wyatt, Andie’s passed out, get…”
“We know. Maurice saw it on the cameras we’re on the way.”
“Did you call…”
“911″ Wyatt interrupted, “Uh no… there might be a problem with that and Maurice is an EMT…”.”
“Just get the fuck back….”
The door flew open. Maurice and Wyatt blew into the room, followed by a tiny woman in head to toe leather. Her startling blue eyes swept over Andie’s prone form, a stream of curses spewing from her tiny bow shaped mouth.
“Goddammit! Fuck to fucking hell. I’m gonna rip that little fucker’s balls off…. ” She zipped out of the room like lightning from a bottle.
Maurice was already on his knees, a pen-light in hand, pulling open Andie’s lids, flicking the light, “She’s been drugged all right.”
“What? When?” Drake flew at Wyatt, grabbing him by his shirt and slamming him against the wall, “What the fuck, Wyatt? She was in your bar.”
“Drake,” Stan held up conciliatory hands, “I understand you’re upset….”
Upset?! Shit, Stan didn’t have a clue. He’d seduced some random, drugged up innocent. No, not random – a reporter. He needed to kill somebody. Stan was available and he didn’t like the way he’d been sniffing around what was his. He’d do.
“Drake, calm down,” Maurice jumped up, “Lena’s seen this before she says it wears off….”
“Who the fuck is Lena and why do I give a fuck what she’s seen.” He snarled. “Goddammit, if anything happens to her I will bury this place. It’ll be nothing but rubble…” Yes, he was an investor, but fuck it. He could use the tax break.
“Adonis, please shush. You’re hurting my head and stop being mean to Stan. I like him. He’s polite.”
Drake released Wyatt and spun around to see a flushed, disheveled, and God help him, sexy as sin Andie pushing herself up into a seated position and immediately proceeding to pull off her sweater.
“Shit!“ he ran over and sat beside her, tugging her floundering hands from her sweater and smoothing it back down, “You should leave your sweater on sweetheart.”
“I’m h-aaahhh-t,” She drew out the word and slumped against him, then forgot about her sweater in lieu of yanking at her ponytail.
“What the hell did he give her?” Drake knew about rohypnols, they didn’t bring on this type of euphoria.
“Well,” Wyatt scratched his head, “It’s some new drug, like a roofie, but not.”
“Buuuuuuuut not.” Andie pronounced with a single vigorous head nod, “Ouch, I’m stuck.”
Sure enough, her hand was stuck in her ponytail.
“Here, baby,” Drake gently untangled her soft fingers from her hair and carefully removed the band, his hand lingering, combing through the silky strands. Damn, was she like silk everywhere?
“Oooh,” Her head lolled around on her neck, flopping against him, “Feels good….can I get another bonus?” She blinked up at him then burst into a fit of giggles.
“Shit, that’s just adorable, ” Maurice muttered, “No wonder that drug is spreading like wildfire,”
Drake shot him a look.
“What man? She’s cute as hell.”
Like he didn’t know. He was picturing every disgusting thing he could think of to keep from going full mast.
“I’m cute as hell.” Andie parroted, pulling out of his arms and blowing her hair out of her face, “I like you Maurice. You’re grrrrreat!” She shouted, throwing one arm straight up in the air in a loopy Tony the Tiger impersonation and damned if it wasn’t the most adorable thing he’d ever seen.
“I like you too, sugar.” The jack-ass winked at her.
“And that Margarita was AWESOME!!!” Then, before he could grab her, with her arm still straight in the air, she fell over, landing with a soft thump on the leather couch.
Maurice stepped up with his pen-light again, “Out like a light.”
Wailing, grunting, screaming, groaning, and a string of curses coming from the hallway had all three of them looking at the door.
The tiny woman Stan referred to as Lena returned, dragging the blond asshole who’d grabbed Andie or what was left of him. His face was swollen and showing signs of extensive bruising. His bottom lip was split right down the middle. He was holding one arm close to his chest, his hand wrapped in bloody gauze. Looking down, Drake saw one of his shoes was missing. He suspected that was due to the swelling. The man’s foot looked like a weird aberration, three times the normal size. Then the little weasel’s head turned and, damn, there was a large, bloody bald spot. It looked like someone had just grabbed a handful of hair and yanked.
“Help!” The little prick squealed, “She’s crazy, you’ve got to help…”
“Shut up.” The woman’s tiny fist sailed out and popped him right in the nose then – she dropped him. He quivered on the floor in a heap.
“Shit, Lena.” Wyatt took a step back from the mess.
“Damn, is he gonna live long enough for you to get him back to Richmond?” Maurice’s trained eyes took in the numerous wounds.
“No.” Drake was already moving.
He grabbed the worm off the floor with one hand, pulled back and threw a solid punch straight to his jaw. It connected with a satisfying crunch, but then the weasel’s head snapped back, and dammit, he was unconscious. Drake shook him like a rag doll, “Wake up, you little fucker,” He wanted him fully aware while he beat him to a bloody pulp.
Wyatt and Maurice attempted to pull him back. He shook them off easily, rage giving strength they couldn’t come close to matching.
“HEY!” The sharp word coming from the tiny woman cut through the red haze filling his mind. His head snapped in her direction to see her holding up a capsule, “Smelling Salts.”
Dropping the creep like the garbage he was, he strode over to her, grabbing for the salts, but cat-quick, she leaped out of reach, “NO! Down boy.”
“You heard me right.” She pointed to little-soon-to-be-dead- fucker on the floor “This here is Jacob Emerson Mallik the third; Drug Dealer, serial rapist, and all around great guy. He’s also a whiz chemist. He designed this drug. ” nodding in Andie’s direction, “She only had a small sip of that Margarita after he drugged it. She shouldn’t be this affected. We need answers, which means you need to hold off until I get them. Capiche?”
Answers, right, “Fine.” He nodded and forced himself to take a step back.
The tiny woman’s eyes narrowed, “Maybe you should just go over there and hold your girl.”
Even in his current state Drake couldn’t help but be impressed. The woman was sharp. He wouldn’t be able to jump in and kill the little piece-of-shit-fucker if he had his arms full of unconscious Andie.
He seated himself on the couch and lifted the warm, sweet-smelling bundle into his arms. Instantly the red haze receded.
Satisfied he wouldn’t kill her weasel before she could question him, the fierce woman bent over the the man’s crumpled form and grabbed him by his hair, jerking his head up and whipping the salts under his nose, “Wakey, wakey little Jakey. Time to come out and play.”
The little fucker came to, blinked his eyes open, and immediately started wailing, “HELP! HELP ME! She’s crazy. She tried to kill me.” He spat the words out along with what looked like a couple of teeth. Drake felt a surge of excruciating joy.
“Shut it!” Lena jerked him by his hair, banging his head against the floor so hard it bounced. Then, jumping to her feet, she glared down at him, “And don’t be spreadin’ tales. If I’d tried to kill you, you’d be dead. You’re going to ruin my rep. Like I couldn’t kill you blindfolded with my hands tied behind my back and both legs amputated at the knee without even breaking a sweat. Shit! It’s insulting.”
“See, you see,” The little worm crawled over to Maurice.
“Yeah, we see,” Maurice grabbed his hair, lifted him off the floor and jerked him around to face Drake, “We see you drugged this girl and the only thing keeping me from ripping you apart piece by fucking piece and feeding your scrawny ass to my two rottweilers, Mary-Anne and Ginger, who love fresh meat by the way, is my suspicion you’d give ’em indigestion and the information in that sick head of yours. So start talkin’.”
“Uh…ah…what do you want to know?” He sniveled.
At that, Lena strolled over and struck out, grabbing his hand. Instantly the weasel was screaming his head off.
“For fuck’s sake” She hauled back and slapped him across his face, “Don’t be a wuss. It’s just a thumb. You’ve got another one. You ask any more stupid questions and I’ll break every one of those fingers in under five seconds.”
“Five seconds?” Wyatt grinned at her.
“Yep, four’s my record, but I’m a little worn out from chasing his sorry ass all over northern Virginia.” She shrugged a shoulder, turning her attention back to her sniveling prisoner, “Now, why is it she only took one sip of that margarita before I got it away from her yet it’s affecting her this way?”
“I…uh… tweaked the formula” The weasel’s eyes darted around the room like a nervous tick, “Instead of dispersing, it stays on top, like oil on water.”
“Or shit.” Wyatt’s face twisted with disgust.
“So she got that full dose in one sip,” Maurice yanked him up, so the prick struggled to stay on his toes, “Well, aren’t you the little genius. Your mama must be so proud. Give me the work-up,” He emphasized his request by jerking prick’s head back, “What can we expect?”
“The symptoms can vary..” The weasel hesitated. Then seeing Lena tensed to spring, he tucked his fingers under his chin and started babbling, “She’ll be in and out and sort of happy, and it’ll last about twelve hours. Some people don’t remember much, some remember everything, but as long as there’s nothing strange in her medical history she’ll be fine.”
“Well, we got her medical with her application to the club,” Wyatt said, “Other than seasonal allergies, she’s fine.”
Shit, no they didn’t know a damn thing about this girl’s medical history. It was the last thought in his head before everything was lost in a haze of killing rage. Drake didn’t even remember moving. His existence narrowed to the wailing blows he landed on Malik’s increasingly bloody face. Somewhere outside his world of blood-lust, Maurice and Wyatt were screaming for him to stop, that he would kill him. Good, yes, that was the plan. He gave his rage free reign, allowing it to break over him in a way it hadn’t in years.
Then he heard a single feminine sneeze.
He dropped the little prick without a backward glance and turned to see Andie, awake once more and again attempting to rip off her sweater hindered by a fit of sneezes.
Wyatt threw his thumb over his shoulder, “Maurice carry that piece of shit outta here. He’s making our pretty girl her sneeze.”
Letting the ‘our’ go – for now. Drake grabbed some tissues off the desk in the corner and wiped the blood off his hands, before taking the box and seating himself beside a now constantly sneezing Andie.
“Here, go throw him in my car, handcuffs are attached to the steering wheel.” Lena handed her keys to Maurice, who grabbed them with one hand and dragged Mallik with the other.
“Uh, you want me to check him for internal injuries.”
“Sure, knock yourself out.” Lena shrugged one careless shoulder, “The bail was nothing on this guy. They said he was low risk, upstanding professional, ties to the community. What bull-shit. The victim’s parents are the ones paying the twenty grand to retrieve him. They don’t care if he dies along the way. Hell, I’d probably get a bonus.”
“Bbbbbonnnusss, Ha!” Andie stuttered out between sneezes. Then flopped across him in a fit of giggles. Combined with her violent sneezing, her face turned red as a juicy tomato. Drake had an overwhelming urge to pull her in his arms and kiss her all over, but pulled a tissue from the box and handed it to her instead.
She put it to her nose, blew, and went limp, hands falling to her sides and the tissue still stuck to her nose.
“Damn,” Wyatt slid down into one of the two leather chairs against the opposite wall, “She’s out cold again.”
“You gotta hand it to the little creep.” Lena stared down at Andie, shaking her head “That is one hell of a high.
Drake gently removed the tissue, wading it up and stuffing it in his pocket. They needed her medical history. There was no way he’d risk it. He’d have to tell Maurice and Stan, as owners of the club, if anything happened they were liable.
But first, he whipped out his phone and dialed Marie Hastings, his head of human resources. It was after hours, but he was the boss, so fuck it.
“Mrs. Hastings, it’s Drake.”
“Oh, Mr. Drake, good evening sir, what can…”
“Jessica Trent is fired as of now. She is not to darken the door of Drake & Masters again. I want her desk cleared out and everything gone tonight.”
There was a brief moment of silence, then “Yes, yes, of course, um and what should I say is the reason?”
“Reason?” his voice became ice. Since when did he need a reason. It was his damn company.
“Just for the paperwork,” Hastings stammered, “Legal likes to have one.”
“Gross. Incompetence.” he bit out, “Will that work?”
“Yes, that will…. yes…. perfect.”
She was still mumbling yes’s when he disconnected.
He looked up to see Maurice was back, turning the keys back over to Lena. Wyatt was watching him with an odd look on his face and Drake realized he’d been stroking Andie’s hair since she fell in his lap. He thought about stopping, but didn’t. He’d recently read a medical study that said stroking hair lowered your blood pressure, and while the study specifically dealt with stroking a cat’s hair, there wasn’t one available. So after the night he’d had, if he wanted to stroke Andie’s hair he damn well would.
Wyatt turned away, but not before he noted the grin on his face and that just pissed him off.
“This is not Amanda Tinsley ”
“What?” Wyatt spun back around. He wasn’t grinning now.
“What do you mean?” Maurice sputtered, but was interrupted by Lena’s “Amanda Tinsely, hell no. Her name is Myranda Chase, Pastry Chef. She teaches at the culinary institute. Does a little food column for the Old Town Crier.”
“What the fuck?” Wyatt spun around facing her
“How did you…”
She interrupted Maurice again, “Fingerprints, lifted them off her glass.”
“She’s in the system?” Wyatt’s eyebrows shot into his hairline.
“Not like your thinking. Her parents had her fingerprinted. It was the thing a few years ago, before parents started using electronic traces in case somebody snatched their kid.”
“What the hell, did she lie?” Maurice looked down at the unconscious woman in Drake’s lap, shocked dismay all over his normally harsh features, “I can’t believe it. Our girl’s not like that.”
Our girl. What the fuck? Maurice too? Drake pulled Andie closer and settled for shouting ‘Mine’ over and over in his head instead of snarling it out loud, throwing her over his shoulder, and running off to find the nearest cave. Christ, he was losing his mind.
“No, she didn’t lie.” he shook his head, rubbing his free hand over his face
“Oh, Lucy,” He looked up to see Lena, grinning at him. The ice blue in her eyes warmed by genuine amusement,“You have some ‘splainin’ to do.”
A half hour later Drake was holding a glass of scotch. He didn’t drink liquor much, but if ever there was a night for it, this was it. Maurice and Wyatt were passing a bottle of bourbon back and forth, having given up on refilling glasses fifteen minutes into his explanation.
“Just so I’m sure I understand,” Wyatt took a swig from the bottle and handed it to Maurice, “You had two interviews, one with Mandy, the sub and one with Lewis – editor and chief of the dinky neighborhood paper. Jennifer, the ding-bat receptionist, got handed the job of scheduling when Abbot, the efficient assistant, started puking his guts out halfway through the day and went home with the flu. Resulting in the ding-bat flipping the appointments. But Andie, our sweet girl whose allergic to cheap cologne, showed up instead of Lewis ’cause everybody at the dinky neighborhood paper is down with… wait for it… the flu. Mallik, the little fucker, dumped his new state of the art designer drug in our girl’s margarita, impairing her senses and making her more receptive to your, let’s call them…. affections. And the cherry on top of this shit sundae, our girl not only physically resembles the sub, but their names are basically interchangeable. Does that sound about right?”
“Yes. Yes, I think you’ve covered it.” Except for all that ‘our girl’ bull-shit. Drake comforted himself by burying his hand under Andie’s hair and running his fingers along her silky nape.
“Well, fuck me runnin’, if that isn’t a shit storm wrapped in a piss tornado,” Maurice took a large swallow from the bottle before Wyatt grabbed it it back.
“It’s a cluster fuck for damn sure.” Wyatt’s eyes roamed over Andie.
“Fate.” Lena spoke for the first time since plopping down on the floor with her laptop and his Galaxy Note. Which she’d demanded with a “Don’t get snarky, you want those medical records or not?” She’d then set about hacking into confidential medical records
“Fate?” A harsh bark of laughter left him, “Hardly, this was the incompetence of a former employee.”
Lena closed her laptop and jumped up from the floor, “Nah, appointments getting mixed up? That’s incompetence. You looking like you’re chewing gravel anytime one of those two refers to the girl you can’t stop touching as ‘ours’? That’s fate.”
Drake didn’t have an answer for that logic, so he chose to ignore it.
“Here you go,” she handed his Note back to him, “You’ve got her complete medical records, which are fine by the way, social security number, bank accounts the usual….etc…blah…etc…” She waved a careless hand, “And as fun as this has been, I’m gonna have to call it a night. I gotta get creepy-pants back to Richmond. Oh, here,” she reached inside her shirt pocket and handed him a business card, “In case you need to contact me for something.”
“Of course, thank-you for your assistance Miss….” Drake looked down at the card and stopped speaking mid sentence.
“McGovern will do. That’s the card I use when I have to go to court. Have to use legal names and all that.”
“Leanna Raven Ward McGovern McIntyre Kane Kinkaid Smyth.” he read out loud
“You’re shittin’ me.” Maurice grabbed the card out of his hand, “What the fuck, girl…”
Wyatt just rolled his eyes and took another swig of bourbon.
“It’s a long story boys, and you wouldn’t believe me, anyway. But just so you know,” she locked her eyes on him, “I’m very good at keeping secrets Mr. Drake. If you need me to sign something, I’ll be glad to, but the women in my family have been keeping secrets for over five hundred years, ones that would make that gorgeous head of hair of yours fall out, grow back gray, and curl. This,” she waved her hand around, “Hell, it’s not even a footnote.”
Drake didn’t have a clue how to respond, so he went with his standard, “Good to know, I’ll have my attorney contact you.”
“Sure, no problem. Well, adios kids. It’s been fun,” she sauntered to the doorway, then paused, shooting him a look over her shoulder, “Oh and Drake, my Granny Rose always said when fate comes knockin’ best to just go on and open the door. If you don’t, it’ll just blast the thing right off it’s hinges, and while the result is the same, it can be a hell of a mess.” and with that last bit of bizarre wisdom, Leanna Raven Ward McGovern McIntyre Kane Kinkaid Smyth, turned and left.
“Well, uh, anybody got a plan?” Maurice ventured.
Before Drake could answer he felt something wiggling right up against his, “Shit!”
Andie was awake, her face turned into his crotch and nuzzling all over him.
“Andie baby,” he put his hands on either side of her head and turned her from his rapidly growing erection. Glancing over at Maurice and Wyatt, who had gone suspiciously silent. Wyatt was studying the label on the half-empty bottle of whiskey and Maurice seemed equally fascinated by the back of his hand. Both were grinning like idiots.
“Adoooonis,” She squealed like they were long lost friends, half pushing half wriggling her way up his body. He reached out to steady her beside him, but she kept right on wriggling until she straddled his lap, her skirt hiked up above her knees. She wrapped her arms around his neck, buried her hands in his hair, and sat right down on him, hot and, sweet Jesus, wet. Wiggling around all over his dick, which was now hard as stone. “Hi.” she whispered, nuzzling his neck.
“Damn,” Wyatt’s voice.
He skewered him with a look that caused CEO’s to piss their pants in the boardroom.
“Well, it’s just a mighty nice way to say hello is all. A man could get used to it, is all I’m sayin’.’”
“Ain’t that the truth.” Maurice’s eyes had glazed over.
“Yummy, yummy, yummy,” Andie repeated over and over in a sing-song voice. Her little tongue coming out as she licked her way up his neck and across his chin, and, oh shit, started nibbling on his ear.
Christ, he was going to come in his pants.
“Well, I can see why Lena said the hospital wasn’t the best idea.” Wyatt observed over the laughter rolling in his chest, “They’d have to tie her down.”
“Ooooooh,” she pulled back so fast he had to grab her waist to keep her from falling over. “Kiiiiiinkeeee!” Then in what she thought was a whisper, but wasn’t even close,“Will you tie me up?” Before his poor brain could recover from that delicious question, her eyes went wide, “Oh, I know, I know, I know,” and, Oh Fucking Hell, Drake’s eyes crossed when she started bouncing up and down on him in her excitement about whatever-the-hell it was she suddenly knew, “I’ll tie you up, naked, then I can just lick you aaaall over.”
Then closing her eyes on a dreamy little sigh, she buried her head in his neck again, murmuring in her little sing-song voice, “Over and over and over.”
“Oh, lord help me.” Maurice whispered.
“Shit, what a visual.”
And it was that comment from Wyatt, that got Drake moving, “I’m taking her home to Evermay for the night. I’ll call you in the morning. We’ll discuss it then.” And with that he stood, Andie still plastered to him, her legs immediately wrapping around his waist.
“Drake, “ Wyatt rose to stand in front of him, “she’s been drugged, and while she’s not a member of the club, it happened here and I feel like I’m responsible for her.”
“You’re not.” Drake corrected him.
“Right, well, I see she’s become rather attached to you, but I need your assurance…”
“Hell, Wyatt, what do you think I am. I’m not in the habit of molesting drugged up innocents.”
“Uh, Drake,” Maurice stood, his eyes on Andie, who had closed her lips on the lobe of his ear, and was, ah hell, lapping at it with her tongue, sweet little satisfied moans coming from her throat, “I don’t think you’re gonna be the one doin’ the molesting.”
“I’ll handle it.” he said succinctly. Walking out the door and down the back hallway, “Call Simon, tell him to meet me at the back.”
“Yeah okay sure, as you’ve got your hands full and all.” Maurice called after him, then under his breath, but still loud enough for Drake to make out, “Damn, Devil’s own luck is right.”
“Shit, Drake,” Wyatt called after him, “You should have promoted the ding-bat instead of firing her.
“We’re heading straight to Evermay Simon.”
“Yes, sir,” was the only response. Simon opened the the rear door of the SUV. Drake had to give it to him, in spite of the woman wrapped around him nibbling on his ear, only the briefest moment of shock blasted across the man’s features before once more settling into his usual reserved demeanor. He’d just managed to get himself in the car with his wriggling bundle when he heard Wyatt’s voice.
”Drake, you forgot something.” glancing through the still open door, he saw the man was holding the hideous handbag in one hand and that ancient tape recorder in the other.
Andie chose that moment to release his ear, her head turning, resting on his shoulder facing Stan. The ass took full advantage, turning on that smarmy smile, “Here you go sweetheart,” Setting the items on the seat next to them, his hand coming way to close to her naked thigh,“I figured you might be missing this.”
“Stan! Hi!” She exclaimed with way too much enthusiasm for his liking, “Where’ve you been? Was Adonis mean to you?” She turned her glazed eyes back on him, “Were you mean to Stan?”
“No.” he answered, then not taking his eyes from hers, “Good night Stan.” Reaching out, he pulled the door closed so fast Stan had to jump back or lose his head.
He was fine with either scenario.
“Hmmm,” She cuddled into him burying her face in his neck, Stan completely forgotten, and pure male satisfaction settled in his chest, “You smell so yummy.”
“Do I now?” Drake whispered next to her ear.
“Mmm-hmmm.” her little hum, tickled his neck. The warmth of the Audi, an intimate cocoon, as Simon pulled out into the night.
Before he could think better of it, his hands slid under her sweater. Skittering down, dipping below the waistband of her skirt, he found the sweet little dimples just above the curve of her ass, his fingers brushing, circling, learning every dip and curve.
He heard the little catch in her breath, right before she went limp in his arms.
No answer. She was unconscious again.
He should move her, lay her down on the seat. But as soon as the thought entered his head he dismissed it. She would just wriggle back in his lap as soon as she woke up. He told himself. It was a waste of time and energy. It had nothing to do with not wanting to lose the torturous paradise of her wet heat cradling him, or her soft breath tickling his neck, or the way her skin felt, silky and warm under his hands. No, he was just being…. practical. Then she sighed, her breath caressing his ear, and his cock twitched. “Fuck.” His head fell back against the seat. “Myranda Chase,” he whispered into the night, “what am I going to do about you?”