******Note***** I’m trying on different names for my leading man as you all know. For the next few chapters we’re going with Damien. Let me know what you think.*******
Forty five minutes, a vial of blood, a urine sample, and quite a few embarrassing questions later, Dr. Randolph seemed satisfied she was none the worse for her experience. He would let her know if anything came back unusual, but as far as he could see she was fine. He explained on their way back to the great room.
Barker met them seeing the doctor out, and on his return offered to make Andie another cup of coffee, saying Mr. Drake was on a call and shouldn’t be long. She wandered back to the living room. What was she supposed to do now? She needed to get home, but honestly she didn’t think she was up to driving the beltway, and she didn’t even know where she was or where her car was for that matter, probably still in the parking garage under the club. Damn, she needed to call Jose´ and Layla. Her roommates were going to be frantic. She headed upstairs to the bedroom for her purse…. and oh shit, Morris. Well, it was likely he’d either died or been committed. Either way, there was no rush on that article now.
“Dammit Jose´” Andie yanked the phone from her ear and the piercing sound coming through it, “I thought you were going to stop that shriek thing.”
“Don’t you dare try to distract me with my ‘Gay stereotypes to lose’ list, Andie Chase. You spent the entire night with one of the most luscious men in our hemisphere and I’m just hearing about it now?”
“I was drugged Jose´,” And was still feeling the effects. She sank down on the sumptuously soft bed she’d awakened in and lay back, resting her tired head on the pile of pillows and the padded headboard. Oh that was better.
“Which is the only reason I’m willing forgive you. Now, where are you, so I can come get the juicy in person.”
“Don’t you have that big shoot for Capitol Life today?” Jose was a freelance photographer, which was how they’d gotten into Teds building.
“I canceled it.”
“What? No Jose, you can’t.” That shoot was a huge opportunity.
“I most certainly can and did.” Jose interrupted her protests, “Andie Chase, did you think I was going to just run off and take pictures of some trashy D.C. socialite all day with the knowledge some creepy straight boy drugged you so he could do who knows what horrible, creepy straight things to your poor defenseless body?”
Oh boy. Jose was tangent-ing.
“Well, you don’t know me sister. I’ve been calling you since seven a.m. and when I couldn’t get through, I called Drake’s offices, which were no help at all. So I’m taking my life in my hands, braving the beltway morning rush with all the coked-up lawyers and hung-over politicians to get to you.”
“Coked up lawyers?”
“Oh please, you know it’s true. They should all come out of the closet and they’d be able to relax.”
“Uh-huh.” Jose´ was convinced every good looking, successful man in the greater D.C. area was gay.
“So I ask again, can you be more specific?”
“No, I was unconscious when we arrived. It’s beautiful. I can tell you that. The exterior of the building is white stone or maybe painted brick. And the gardens are stunning. How they have green grass in November I don’t….”
Her words were cut off by a shriek so high there was no way it came out of a human’s throat, followed by a series of rapid fire oh my gods, before finally, “You are at Evermay?”
Was she? “Uh…maybe?”
“Evermay, the estate. We saw it on Million Dollar Estates. It was repossessed by the bank. Damien Drake stole it right out from under that ugly fat man who went to jail.”
“Oh never mind. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is this. I’ll be there in forty-five minutes barring any major disasters. Don’t you dare go anywhere until I get a look inside that place.”
“I don’t know what Mr. Drake is planning…” She hedged. Damien Drake struck her as a man with a busy schedule.
“You heard me. Now is no time to be all virginal.”
Vigin…what the hell?
“Gorgeous Gazillionaires with historic estates don’t just fall out of the sky, you know.”
Andie thought they were probably too tired. All that sex club humping would have a tendency to wear out even the most virile of Gazillionaires.
“This is a once in a lifetime,” Jose´ gushed on, “So pull out the big guns sister, or in your case the perky, medium sized guns and distract him.”
“Jose´!” Holy Shit! The fumes from all that hair dye he was constantly using had finally eroded his her friend’s brain cells.
“Don’t Jose´ me. It’s crunch time, Andie Chase. Man those girls up!”
Andie sputtered an incoherent response to the disconnected line.
Jose´ ‘ had hung up on her.
“What the hell?” She stared at her phone for a full thirty seconds. “Distract him? Man the girls up?”
She threw her phone aside and flopped back on the bed. The padded headboard and soft pillows felt like heaven to her aching head, the puffy comforter surrounding her weary body like a cloud. Andie’s lids grew heavy and with a sigh, she let them fall.
She was drifting, floating on a cloud. Heat surrounded her. She breathed in a familiar heady scent.
She knew that smell. Andie flew upright and cracked her head into something hard. She heard a groan and a whimper, and her head hurt.
She opened her eyes to see…
The beautiful man, standing over her rubbing his forehead, smiled… sort of. So that was what she’d cracked her head on, “Sorry.”
“Don’t be. I shouldn’t have been leaning over you.” He sat beside her on the bed, his hand going from his forehead to hers, his thumb lightly brushing the aching spot, “I woke you,” The hand moved, his fingers sliding into her hair and skimming the shell of her ear, “I’m the one who should be apologizing.”
“No it’s alright…um Jose is going to be stopping by. He was worried.”
“Good, I look forward to meeting him.” That hand slid around to her nape. Massaging the muscled and oh.. that… felt… good. “Oh, um okay…”
“I should have called him myself this morning.” His hand cupped her nape his thumb finding a sensitive spot just below her ear and stroked in the most delicious circles. Her head fell back against the headboard, an unconscious hum of pleasure slipping past her lips.
She heard a low curse and the touch, the heat, the delicious smell were all gone. She blinked her eyes open to see him standing at the end of the bed, his back to her.
What just happened?
Her ringing phone broke the heavy silence, she checked the number, not a familiar one, “Hello?”
Andie bit back a frustrated groan. No, that dry voice belonged to a stranger. Nobody who knew her ever called her by her given name.
“This is Lena McGovern. You remember me?”
“The bad ass bitch…Oh.” Andie’s hand flew to her mouth, being hung-over left her with no filter.
“Damn straight.” The woman replied, not in the least offended. “Listen, I wanted to let you know before you heard it somewhere else, the little creep who drugged you kicked the bucket.”
“Yeah, now don’t worry, your man didn’t kill him. Not for lack of trying mind you.”
“Huh?” Was she supposed to understand this?
“Oh yeah, he didn’t tell you? He beat the little prick to a slimy pulp. Stan and Maurice couldn’t do anything but watch. I know that kind of rage up close and personal. Creepy-pants was as good as dead, but then you sneezed, and he dropped him like a rotten hot potato.”
“What?” Andie shook her head, maybe the drug was still fogging her mind.
“Anyway, it was a sesame seed that killed him, so it’s all good now.”
“A sesame seed?” Or maybe the problem was the woman at the other end of the phone.
“Yeah. Who knew, right? Guy was allergic, must not have gotten all of ’em off that Big Mac. Killed him quick too. By the time the paramedics got there, he was good and gone. I don’t carry an epi pen. Although if sesame seeds can kill you I might start. Allergies can develop at any time, you know.”
“Um, no, I wasn’t aware.” Definitely, the problem was at the other end.
“So all’s well that ends well. You look after your hot hunka man now.”
“He’s not mine.”
Andie had to jerk the phone away for the second time that morning, at the woman’s immediate raucous laughter, wild and howling and damn loud. Andie looked over at Damien who was watching with a puzzled expression. “It’s the bad ass bitch. She says stinky’s dead, and not to worry cause you’re beating him to a slimy pulp didn’t do it. It was a sesame seed.”
“I think she’s high.”
Damien, doubted the woman was high, but he wasn’t ruling out insane. He took the phone from Andie’s limp hand, and put it to his ear, “Miss McGovern, it’s Drake,”
“Oh, hey Drake sorry about that. I’m a little punchy… no sleep….lots of caffeine…”
“Yes, that combination can be……”
“What…dammit what the fuck?”
“Oh, not you Drake…hold on a minute….Dammit, Allie, I’m on the phone with a billionaire, what the fuck can’t wait….Oh, shit. Yeah, no that can’t wait…Although when you think about it, he’s got nothin’ but time now. Drake I gotta go, like I was telling...Goddammit! What the fuck? Where’d, that bird come from? Get it off the fucking body. He’s gonna contaminate the scene….Shit! can we have one fucking normal day around here.”
“Miss McGovern?” Maybe she was high.
“Uh, you’ll have to get your girl to fill you in about creepy-pants, Drake. We’ve got a dead college professor and some kind of live, big-ass, bird in the middle of the bakery….What the hell is that thing a Blue Macaw…..Shit! Chrsty, watch it, that beak will take off a finger…. Damn health department is gonna shut us down for this one.”
“What?” No, his original thought was correct, the woman was certifiable.
“Gotta go Drake, you remember what I told you about fate, now. We McGoverns are experts…Goddammit, get Trudy before that bird kills her. Silly dog….” Was all he heard before the line went dead.
Dumbly, he handed the phone back to Andie. “She told me to get the details from you, she um…had to go. There was a dead college professor and a live bird, possibly a Blue Macaw in the bakery. I believe it was attempting to kill their dog and Miss McGovern felt she needed to take immediate action before the health department shut them down.”
Andie just stared at him, her eyes going wider with every word, “What on earth? Is she nuts?”
He nodded. “Yes, absolutely.”
“Honey, I’m home.” Jose pun in circles in the foyer, a look of wonder on his face normally reserved for the Men’s shop at Saks Fifth Avenue.
“Mr. Drake is tied up with a call,” Barker smiled at Jose´’s awe, “But he’ll join you as soon as he’s able. In the mean-time perhaps you’d like a tour. Then, since it’s such a sunny day, you can lunch in the solarium.”
“Oh, yes,” Jose´ responded before Andie could utter a word, “I like, I like very much.” Then as if remembering why he was here for the first time, “Andie, you poor thing, how are you?” He pulled her in for a hug then stepped back, his eyes becoming assessing. “Hhmm, not good, I can see. Fortunately, my darling, fashion challenged…. now don’t look at me like that. It’s not your fault and you know I love you, but sweetie, we really do need to bury that skirt – somewhere deep so no hapless bystander will accidentally dig it up. The top we’ll just burn. I’ve brought you a change of clothes and a little concealer, some blush… we’ll fix you right up, but first things first.” He spun around his hand flared out, “Le Grand Tour.”
And so Barker the Butler gave them the tour. Within minutes, Jose´ had earned the man’s respect and undying devotion. Her friend was charming, loquacious, and seemed to always know the right thing to say. She envied him. They walked through the beautiful spaces sipping on sparkling water with fresh lime. Jose´ named every designer for each piece of furniture. He even went so far as knowing in which area of Turkey where the terrifying carpet in the living room had been woven.
After the tour, he retrieved the case he’d brought from his car, and dragged her into one of the beautiful bathrooms. There, amidst the Italian marble heated floor, which they’d turned on just so they could enjoy the decadence of standing on it barefoot, Jose´ produced fresh panties and a bra, her favorite jeans, and a slinky metallic gold tank she’d never seen before.
“I can’t wear that, I’ll freeze.” Yes, it was a sunny, but it was November sunny.
“Of course you can. Here,” Jose´ pulled out a forest green, long sleeve shirt in a soft cotton flannel, “You can wear this over it. Leave it unbuttoned to the waist and tuck it in.”
Before she could do anything, he’d already slipped the slinky tank over her head and was shoving the other shirt on her arms.
“Now what am I going to do with that head of hair….”
He was a force of nature. In fifteen minutes, she’d been transformed. She looked like herself, just nice, even a little sexy. Jose´ had skills.
“What was that stuff you used on my hair?”
She’d only seen him use a tiny drop of something that looked like it came out of a toothpaste tube. He’d worked it in his palms, slid them over her hair and it smoothed right out. It hung down her back in waves. Amazing.
“Oh, this I’ve just discovered,” Jose held up the tube, “Phyto 7, a miracle in a tube.”
As it had tamed hungover, drugged, bed-head hair from hell, Andie had to agree.
“A sesame seed? What the hell?” Jose´ sat down his glass, filled with a crisp Pinot Grigio, his jaw falling open.
“A sesame seed,” she nodded, “He was allergic.”
“Well, slap me straight and buy me flannel. If that isn’t the craziest thing I’ve ever heard” Jose´ sat back, blinking.
Andie just grinned, and pulled a stray hair out of her face. She wasn’t used to having it down. She felt almost chic, a comforting thought, as they were having lunch in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The solarium was all glass. It looked out over the gardens, beautiful even in November. Numerous types of evergreens and boxwoods lined a pebbled path she could see winding off into the distance. And inside the solarium it was like a spring day. They were surrounded by lush green foliage and vivid color. Vases of colorful blooms were inter mixed with live lemon and orange trees. Floor urns with a variety of colors and textures.
It was paradise and lunch was delicious. Thankfully, nothing heavy, just Chicken Caesar salads and fresh, piping hot hearth bread with whipped butter. She filled Jose´ in on her experiences the evening before, beginning with Stinky dumping the drug in her glass and ending with the strange phone call and the sesame seed, managing to skirt over the question of where exactly this all happened by crossing her fingers and saying some trendy restaurant downtown she’d never heard of and couldn’t recall the name.
“Well,” Jose´ recovered, reaching for his wine, “I hope he suffered horribly, foamed at the mouth and died screaming. The little pervert.”
She nearly spit her wine out laughing, when phone started ringing, when she checked the number all laughter died, “Oh no….”
“What?” Jose sobered at her dismay.
“It’s Layla.” She explained.
Her friend slapped his hand over his mouth, his dismay reflecting her own, “Oh shit. Oh Andie, I completely forgot.”
So had she, She answered, hoping they still had some time, “Hello Layla?”
“Andie, where the hell are you? What the hell is going on? Ted called me saying you’d been slipped a roofie? Are you hurt? Is the guy still breathing? Do I need to kick his ass? Should I get the cupcakes from somewhere else?”
Oh shit. Layla was a force to be reckoned with on her best day and this was not Andie’s best day.
“It’s a long story. I’m fine. He didn’t hurt me and no he’s not breathing. So kicking his ass is kind of moot.”
“Who do I send the flowers to?”
“For killing the perv.”
“Oh..that. It was a sesame seed.”
“He was allergic to sesame seeds. He ate one, went into anaphylactic shock, and died.”
Shocked silence, “You’re kidding.”
“Well…damn.” Her friend’s shocked silence lasted for maybe one point three seconds, “Serves him right, the little shit. Did somebody kick his ass first?”
“Oh yeah,” Andie grinned, “A couple of people.”
Layla had black belt in some weird fighting style Judo/Tae Kwon Do thing. Her roommate could kick serious ass and had done so on more than one occasion. Running a private institution that sheltered abuse survivors, she dealt with women who lived in fear of their lives. The secret locations, all over the country, operated like witness protection, but with so many people involved there were occasional leaks and sometimes, those abusers found them. Layla had sent more one to the hospital.
“Where are you?” She asked, “Do you need me to come and get you?”
“No it’s okay. I’m really fine. Just a little headache and Jose is here.”
“Good. Okay. Should I get the cupcakes for Benny’s party from somewhere else?”
A little boy with pale brown skin, big dark brown eyes and a head of dark curls filled her mind. Benny loved her cupcakes. She hated to pass that off to someone else.
She checked her watch, “What time do you need them?”
“We have the party scheduled for three o’clock. We need two dozen. Benny likes vanilla.”
Thank goodness, vanilla was easy, “Okay, two dozen vanilla cupcakes, by three o’clock.” If she left now she’d barely be able to swing it, “Got it. I won’t have time for anything elaborate.”
“Honey these kids are happy with anything. Throw some of those colorful sprinkles on them and they’ll be thrilled.”
It was true. At any given time there were as many as twenty children living at the shelter and children had birthdays. And Birthdays meant parties. Andie had been providing cupcakes ever since Layla had taken over running the shelter three years ago. The children were always happy with whatever she made. “Right. I’ll see you at three.” She disconnected, rising from her chair, “We need to hit it.”
A throat clearing had her looking up to see Barker the Butler in the doorway, “I couldn’t help but overhear. Might I suggest using our kitchen? It would save you time, and I’m certain we have all the ingredients you require. If not, I can have them here in under twenty minutes.”
“Oh, well um…”
“That’s a wonderful idea.” Jose accepted for her, making a big deal of tapping his own watch.
Andie nodded. Yes, he was right. It was already quarter past one. It would be tight as it was
“Are you sure this is alright with Mr. Drake.” She asked as she and Jose followed Barker into her dream kitchen.
“Miss Chase,” Barker went to one end of the kitchen and opened a cabinet to pull out two cupcake pans, “He will be delighted that the double ovens are being put to such good use.”
“Toss me a lemon.”
“What on earth for?”
“It goes in the icing.” Andie dumped another cup of confectioner’s sugar into the bowl of whipped butter and vanilla.
“I thought you were making vanilla?” Jose reached over to stick his finger in the bowl.
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” She yanked it away, fingers in bowls were not acceptable, “Toss me the dam lemon.”
“Okay, okay.” Jose plucked a lemon out of the sleek glass bowl and rolled it across the island, “You’re bitchy when you’re on a time line. I’m going to get the sprinkles from the pantry.”
“You do that.” As he wasn’t good for much else in the kitchen, “Gay men are supposed to cook you know.”
Jose sent his best haughty sniff over his shoulder, “That is a vicious and cruel stereotype.”
Andie ignored him and sliced the lemon. Squeezing a half teaspoon into the bowl. Then flicked the mixer back on. Barker had shown her no less than four different mixers. Four. She was so proud she’d reached for the hand mixer without bursting into jealous tears.
Feeling heat at her back she flicked her hand to the counter, “Hand me the milk.” The icing felt a little stiff.
“Here you go.”
That wasn’t Jose. And really, sneaking up on people was not done so she didn’t feel that bad about jumping out of her skin, jerking the spinning mixer out of the icing, and slinging vanilla buttercream all over what had to be a very expensive shirt and well…. everything else within a 20 foot radius. A chuckle in her ear and a hand covered hers, slipping the button on the side of the mixer to off.
She stood there with the mixer in the air, staring up into dark, laughing eyes.
Oh, that was pretty.
Andie darted her eyes away before she fell in. Now was not the time to be overcome with the beauty before her, “You,” She squeaked, cleared her throat and tried again, “You startled me.”
“Yes, I seem to be doing that a lot this morning.”
She stood there some more. Her eyes locking on a dollop of icing under his perfect jaw. If she just leaned in, just a little and stood on her tippy toes she could maybe just reach it with her tongue…..
“Were the double ovens useful?”
Her eyes jerked up and she saw his barely there, all too knowing smirk. Oh no. She was being obvious and smitten. Andie gave herself a mental slap in the face and lowered her eyes to his shirt. Black silk and now it had white icing sprayed over it, “I got icing on your shirt.”
“Did you?” The hand left hers to cup her cheek. She felt a light brush of a touch on the corner of her mouth. His thumb came away with a dollop of icing. Slowly, his eyes holding hers, he brought the thumb to his mouth and sucked it clean with a hum of pleasure that slid all over, leaving her a shivery mass of hormones. “Sweet and creamy. Two of my favorite things.”
Oh, he should be illegal. She felt herself falling in. Look away. Look away, Andie. Too late.
Those beautiful lips descended, his mouth wet and hot slid over her cheek. She dropped the mixer in her bowl, “What…what are you doing?”
“Sshh, hold still.” The mouth trailed lown to her jaw her throat, “You have icing…here.” She felt the touch of his tongue to her jaw, “And here…” lower on her throat. Her head fell back. “And just a little right here.” Halfway down her throat. He opned his mouth and sucked. She whimpered. He groaned. Then his body was pressed her hers and she was pressed to the counter, “Andie, baby…” hot words pressed to her ear.
The sudden chill of cold air. She was alone. She opened her eyes and the back of Damien Drakes head.
What the hell?
“Maxwell Jenson is here.” Andie peeked over a broad shoulder to see Barker in the doorway.
“Show him to my study.”
Barker left. Andie gripped the counter and pulled air into her lungs. Holy shit, what had just happened?”
“Hey,” She looked up. The Adonis in front of her looked… chagrined.
He was? “Oh..oh that’s okay.”
“No, Andie it’s not. You’ve had a bad experience. You’re not well and I’m a horny Jack-ass.”
“Oh.” A horny jack-ass. She pressed her lips together to keep from smiling.
“Mmmn-mmm,” She denied, still pressing her lips together.
“Oh, I think you are. You find my horny state amusing?”
She shrugged. If she opened her mouth she’d laugh.
“Right.” He leaned over and pressed a kiss to her forehead, “You’re dangerous, Miss Chase.”
Then with one last rueful smile and a shake of his head, Adonis turned and left. Andie tracked his heavenly ass all the way out the door.
He’d left her sight then his head popped back into the doorway, “Save me a cupcake.” Eyes that still smoldered trailed down her throat and back up, “I want lots of icing.” Then he was gone.
Oh the wicked, wicked man.
Something hit the floor. Spinning around, she saw Jose standing in the doorway to the pantry the bottle of nonpareils at his feet, eyes wide and staring at the door Adonis had just walked through, one hand clutching his chest, “Oh…oh…my…god.. That was…him…and….you…Sweet Baby Jesus!”
Andie watched with a sense of impending doom as her friend shook off the Adonis effect and got focused, “Okay missy, spill.”
Oh crap. The inquisition had nothing on Jose, “Spill what?”
“Whatever it is you’re not telling and don’t you leave out one delicious detail.”
Andie escaped Jose, saying she needed to collect her things from the Wisteria Room. It wasn’t really a lie. Her purse was in there. She was halfway down the hallway leading to the room when she heard her name. Now she’d been raised right and eavesdropping was a big no-no, but she’d heard Adonis’ sexy rumble say her name so she held her breath and put her ear to the door.
Most of it was muffled, but she did hear had her heart crumbling and her stomache churning.
Non-disclosure, last night…confidential Fifty thousand dollars.
Everything zoomed away and she swayed on her feet. Stumbling past the door, she somehow she made it up the stairs and into the master bath. Her chest heaving. Pain taking her breath.
God she was so naïve. This was why he’d brought her home. This was why he’d taken care of her, gotten her a doctor. He was worried about her going public.
In a way she couldn’t blame him. Of course he’d not want the whole sex club thing to get out.
Fifty thousand dollars.
Oh God he was going to buy her off. Paying her money after what had happened between them. Oh god it made her sick.
She had to get out of here. Now.
She splashed her face with water, and made tracks. Getting Jose moving with a big fat lie, telling him Layla had called her saying she needed extra help with the party, so she would ice the cupcakes after they got there.
She got Jose out of EverMay by saying she needed a private word with Mr. Drake. Oh, he was all for that, suggesting she say thank-you with a kiss or two or three our better yet, “Give that man the V- chip.” He fanned himself with one hand grabbing the cupcakes and icing she’d tossed into the paper bag Barker had provided.
Barker now he was more difficult to handle.
She then wrote a hasty note and slid it under the plate with six cupcakes, complete with extra icing and rainbow sprinkles.
“Miss, allow me to go inform Mr. Drake…” Barker suggested, his normal unruffled veneer shaky around the edges.
“No.” It came out stronger than she intended, “I mean, um he’s busy and we need to get going.”
“Very well, if you insist.” Barker relented with obvious reluctance. Seeing her to the door.
“Thank-you for everything Barker.”
“Not at all.” He gave her a small, perfectly proper bow, “And while the circumstances were unfortunate, it has been a true joy having you here, Miss Chase.”
Andie turned away before she broke down and balled. Telling herself she was just emotional on account of being drugged and had nothing to do with the Adonis who’d given her a spectacular orgasm and then held her hair back when she’d puked her guts up.
She was getting to be a right little liar.
They made it to the shelter by two thirty. No not a shelter, Andie reminded herself it was a house. They never used the word shelter for security reasons. The large two story building sat on five acres behind a stone wall in one of the most exclusive areas in Georgetown, and though large enough to house as much as fifty people, it had the quaint look of a bed and breakfast. The whitewashed exterior with its large covered porch welcoming to the most weary of travelers.
Layla greeted them both at the door, taking the bag from Jose, and leading them through the large living space, saying the party was in the basement. Basement a very humble word for the large partially underground room. It had everything from a pool table to air hockey to a real bowling alley and a huge 70 inch T.V.. It was a teen’s dream and as one end of the room was above ground there were sliding glass doors that led outside. The plopped everything down on the pool table that had been covered and converted into a dining table for the party.
“Heys” and “Hellos” were exchanged with the various residents and volunteers hanging streamers and birthday banners.
All of this directed by one Layla Delsi Markham. In a plain white shirt and jeans, she was the kind of beautiful that stopped men in their tracks and turned their brains to mush. Five feet ten inches of long legs and perfect body. And if that wasn’t enough her Anglo-Indian blood gave her golden skin, sheets of black satin hair and the exotic features found on the world’s most elite runways.
The only daughter of one of the wealthiest men in the world. Layla was raised with the kind of privilege that was so far above Andie she couldn’t begin to wrap her mind around it. But while being born to wealth made some people blind to the horrors of poverty, Layla had done everything she could to use her privilege to aid others. Standing up to her father and getting out of college with a degree in social work as opposed the pre-law.
Layla lived the way she wanted, worked for what she believed in, and ran over anyone who got in the way. And she made it look easy.
Oh, and she had a razor sharp mind. A probing intellect that would have made her a brilliant attorney and that intellect was now focused on Jose’s enraptured tale of the Virgin and the Gazillionaire. And Andie didn’t need a mind of razors to see that her friend was not pleased.
“Then he leaned around the door and said, “Save me a cupcake I want LOTS of icing. Whew,” Jose made a huge deal of fanning himself, “That look he gave her was scorching, pure panty-melter.”
“Uh-huh…” Layla tied off the balloon she’d been blowing up and tossed it to Jose whose job it was to tie them to ribbons and attach them to the walls. Something he could do while talking, but as he’d been fanning himself for the last fifteen minutes he’d fallen behind.
Andie found Layla’s sharp gaze probing her as it had been doing again and again in the last half hour, “Are you okay?”
“Yes, of course.” Andie picked up the balloons at Jose’s feet and began tying them to the backs of the chairs. The decorations were simple but colorful and festive. A round table set for a dozen children covered in plain white paper tablecloth, but there were crayons so the children could color it however they’d like.
Layla looked doubtful, “It sounds to me like Billionaire Boy was taking advantage.”
Billionaire Boy. Sheesh.
“No, it wasn’t like that.” Well, not really. Yes he’d given her an orgasm against the wall, but he thought she was someone else and what about that scenario suddenly didn’t make sense. Andie shoved the random thought aside and met Layla’s probing gaze. Yeah, now was not the time to ponder anything, not with her friend so focused on her. Avoiding that assessing gaze by paying careful attention to tying the balloons to the chair, she allowed her frustration and fatigue to seep into her words, “For heaven’s sake Layla, he’s one of the major contributors to this shelter. Hell, he helped found it.”
“No.” Layla shook her head, “The Drake Charitable Trust is our partner in this. And it was his mother Vivian who worked with my Grandmother to set this up. A great lady by the way, who contributed the funds to build this place. And Andie honey, I hate to bring it up, but you’re not the best one to judge.”
That got her eyes up again, “Layla, I was there.”
“And you have no experience with men and Drake has a reputation with women. Not a good one.”
“That’s all horse hockey.” Jose waved a hand abandoning all pretense of tying balloons to grab one of the extra cupcakes out of the box.
“And how would you know that?” Layla demanded
“We gay boys have our sources.” He said peeling the paper back, “He’s seen with lots of beautiful women, but he’s not involved with any of them. All that shit is cover.”
Oh boy, Andie knew what was coming.
“Well, the consensus in the community was it was cover for him being gay.”
“Uh..he’s not gay.” That she knew 100% and no doubt.
“Which is why I’m consoling myself with sugar.” Jose took a large bite of his cupcake.
“Then it’s not cover.” Layla matched his eye roll and called with a dismissive turn of her back, taking Andie by her shoulders, “Just be careful, okay. Drake is ruthless. I’ve heard things…..”
“Layla,” She was so absolutely done with this conversation and the sooner she got her friend’s lazar sharp mind off it the better. So she braced herself for the twist of pain and said the words, “I’ll probably never see him again so can we just drop it.”
Layla shrugged, “Okay.”
But before Andie could exhale the breath she’d been holding her other friend chimed in.
“PAAHHH-LEEEEZE,” Jose’s eyes rolled so far back in his head all she could see was white, “That man is craving some Andie. “ He pointed one finger at her over his cupcake, “He’s coming for you, Baby-cakes. That man wants some sugar in his bowl.”
Oh for the love of Pete…
“Who wants sugar…” All three of them looked to the doorway. A small boy with cappuccino skin and big brown eyes lighting up, “Cupcakes!”
“Hey now, no peeking, Birthday Boy.” Layla ran over and scooped Benny off the floor, swinging him around in her arms.
Giggling and laughing as only little boys could, Benny waved at both of them, “Hey Jose. Hey Andie.” Then he held up one hand, fingers extended, “I’m five.”
“Hello there, five. It’s nice to meet you.” Jose’s greeting earned him more mouth wide open, head thrown back laughter.
Layla set him back down, and he promptly began jumping in ecstatic circles, fist pumping the air. His favorite thing besides beating pretend bongos, “I’m five. I’m five. Cupcakes. Yum. Yum. Cupcakes. I’m five.”
“Benny, sweetie You’re not supposed to be in here.” Benny’s mother came in, a burst of bright color in a canary yellow sweater and old denim jeans, “Sorry guys.”
“That’s okay. It’s hard to wait.” Layla set Benny down, “Tell you what, you can help me round everybody up.”
Benny jumped and pumped his way through the door. Candace stayed behind crossing the room she took Andie’s hand in hers, “Thank-you.”
“No it’s not,” Candace shook her head of springy curls, “I heard about what happened. I can’t believe you were still able to make Benny’s cupcakes.”
“It wasn’t that bad, truly.”
“Still, this is above and beyond.” Candace insisted, grabbing a balloon and a ribbon and aiding in the task Jose was woefully behind on, “I’m so glad you’re the one getting the…”
“Oh honey, you don’t understand, Andie met a Billionaire. A Gorgeous hot as fire Billionaire who took care of her. She slept in his bed.”
“JOSE!” She shouted.
“What?” He looked at her with wide innocent eyes.
“You can’t pull off wide-eyed innocent.”
“Uh, I’m sorry,” Candace got between them, “But I gotta know about the hot billionaire’s bed.”
“Well, honestly I don’t remember. And Jose’s exaggerating.”
“The hell I am. That man has got a taste and he won’t be happy till he’s gobbled the whole pie.”
“Oh get your mind out of the gutter.” He slapped her with a balloon, “I meant regular pie, you know like apple.”
“Fine Apple whatever. Now, drop it.” She turned her back and started lighting cupcakes. Hopefully that was the end of…
She heard four distinct finger snaps.
“Bumba, bumba, Bum Ba,
Oh dear God…
“Ooohhhh, honey honey…”
For the love of Moses, “Jose”… Andie tried to cut off the Archie’s tribute before it began.
“You are his candy girl….”
No such luck.
“And you’ve got him wanting yooooouuuu.”
“Jose…” She sent him a hard stare, “Cut it out!”
Her friend did a spectacular job ignoring her, jumping from his chair and hip bumping her and Candace, who was bent double laughing. And the floor show commenced, Jose hip-thrusting, finger snapping, and Sugar-sugaring his way all around the table.