“What do you mean she’s gone?”
“As I already stated sir, the young Mister’s party was moved up and Miss Chase had to rush out.” Barker explained reasonably and for some reason he wanted to rip his very competent butler’s head off.
“Hey, what smells so good?” His lawyer pushed by him, “Cupcakes, oh man. Did the she make these?” Drake was so busy trying to keep himself from killing his butler, he was too late with his lawyer. The ass had one of his cupcakes stuffing it in his mouth.
“Oh..oh…” The man moaned, then groaned, then mmmm’d, then swallowed, “Holy shit! That’s the best damn thing I’ve ever put in my mouth.”
Then he was chomping and groaning again. It was practically food porn. With his cupcakes that Andie had made for him. The fucking pervert.
“Damn! Why the hell is this girl teaching? She could make a fortune selling those things. Shit!” He crumpled the paper and damn if the man didn’t reach for another one.
Drake was across the kitchen swiping the plate from under the ass’s hand.
“Uh…right…” His lawyer looked sheepish, “Sorry, uh… I’ve got a sweet tooth.”
Well, whoop-dee-fucking-doo and he didn’t give a shit. And if his very competent lawyer got anywhere near his cupcakes again, he’d rip his arms off. He figured he might as well act like the possessive crazy Neanderthal he was becoming in his head.
“Uh…okay so Miss Chase isn’t here?” His Lawyer backed up out of his reach.
“Right well, you need to get her to sign that non-disclosure.”
“I’m not worried about it.”
“Drake, you asked for my advice.”
“And you gave it.”
“Look, I can understand your reluctance to cough up fifty grand, but….”
“No, you don’t.” He didn’t give a shit about fifty thousand but damn if he’d insult Andie by offering her hush money.
“Uh…okay I don’t, but Drake you are vulnerable until she signs. She could say you assaulted her. She could blackmail you. She could do anything.”
“Mr. Jenson,” They both looked up at Barker who stood in the kitchen, stone-faced and holding Jenson’s coat, “Your coat sir.”
Well….damn. Jenson was getting thrown out. Icy disapproval rolled off Barker as he perfectly and very politely tossed the other man out on his ass. That was a neat trick.
“Uh…right…okay.” His lawyer put the coat on and damn if he didn’t reach for another cupcake, “Maybe just one for the road…”
This time Barker was the one who pulled them away, “Miss Chase made these for Mr. Drake.” And with those frostbitten words the temperature in the kitchen dropped to single digits.
“Right, okay. If you need me…”
Then because his lawyer was just doing his job, “Thanks for coming out.”
“Sure…sure…see you tomorrow.”
“I’ll see you out, sir.” Barker followed the man out.
And Drake was alone. He sank down on the stool behind his island and looked around his kitchen. It smelled like vanilla and Andie. He reached for a cupcake. It had lots of white icing and colorful sprinkles. With extreme care he pulled back the paper and took a bite.
Silky sweet vanilla and moist buttery cake filled his mouth. He heard moaning and realized it came from him. Jenson was right, best damn cupcake…shit.
He’d finished his first and was unwrapping his second when Barker stepped back into the room, “She left a note sir.”
“Hmmm…” He took the note Barker extended, “Mmmm-hmmm….” He took a bite before setting down his cupcake and snatched the note from barker’s hand.
Thank-you for your kindness and generosity and for taking such excellent
care of me when I was ill. And I’m sure you want to keep your private life
private. I won’t say anything. If anyone asks, I was drugged so I don’t remember.
Enjoy the cupcakes,
p.s. I couldn’t find a cake dome so you might want to cover the cupcakes with a bowl to keep them fresh.
He read the note once. He read it again. It sounded so…. final.
“Are you alright, sir?”
“You’re rubbing your chest.”
Damn if he wasn’t. He lowered his hand, “I’m fine.”
“Very good sir.”
Barker turned to leave the kitchen.
“We need a cake dome.”
“Sir? “ He paused in the doorway.
“It’s in the note. She said to uh…keep the cupcakes fresh.”
“Ah, yes sir.” He may have seen his butler crack a smile, “I can pick one up tomorrow when I do…”
“No, we should get one now.”
“Very well, sir.”
Yes, that was a smile alright.
“In the mean-time, she says we should cover them with a bowl.”
“Right.” Barker went to one of the numerous cabinets and pulled out a large crystal bowl and fitting it down over the plate, “There that should do until I return.”
“Good, yes. That’s good.” He stared at the five cupcakes with their piles of creamy icing, thinking he’d much rather lick that icing off of satin soft skin.
“Miss Chase is lovely girl.”
“Offering her money would be…hurtful to her, under the circumstances.”
Hell, his Butler didn’t know half of it. Offering her money would be hurtful and insulting. He’d dry humped the girl against a wall. And she’d been perfect luscious and fuck, he had to push his mind away from that memory before his expanding dick tented his slacks.
“Thank-you for your honesty Barker.”
“You’re welcome sir.”
“So you see we need to preserve the precedent the Tolmac memo put in place. In order to do that we need it made into law.”
“We can’t pass a federal law about something that is regulated by the individual states.”
Drake listened with half an ear while the men around him argued over legislation that would make their questionable practices legal. Drake very rarely did things he detested but the ones he did have to do made up for it. He inevitably had to attend at least one of these dinners a week. Some lobbyist or businessman would host a dinner for numerous politicians and their crew of people. Because even a Congressman from the smallest district had a crew of people around him.
Drake heard things at these dinners he’d never hear elsewhere and not from the men. No, he always got his most useful information from their women.
“Drake, this affects you as well.”
“Gentlemen, all of the effort you are putting into this effort is useless. You won’t get it passed as long as the insurance industry is regulated state to state. Attempting to do so will only bring to light practices that could be interpreted as fraudulent. Let it lie.”
The men stared, muttered, and nodded.
The way things stood now also made it easier for him to take their companies out from under them when they became vulnerable. That he felt no need to share.
“Mr. Drake sir?”
Drake looked up. Barker was staring at him with the strangest look on his face. He pulled the paper he’d been sucking the last of the icing off of out of his mouth, “Is there a problem?”
“No, not at all sir.” Barker showed not a speck of emotion, but Drake had the feeling he was being laughed at, “I thought I’d left the light on. I didn’t expect you back this evening.”
Yes, that had been the plan originally, but shit, plans changed.
‘I’ll just go turn down the bedding.” One of the quirks of Barker being a butler is that he made a big deal of turning down the bedding. Drake didn’t get it, but he put up with it, because truth be known Barker intimidated him a little.
Barker then went to take the empty cake plate, “I’ll just wash this up…”
If he washed it, it wouldn’t smell like vanilla…. like her.
He slammed his hand down on the dome, “No.”
Barker lowered his hand and took a deliberate step back.
“That is, I’ll take…uh..I’ll wash it.” Fucking hell, but he was losing his mind.
He definitely saw lips twitching, “Very well sir.” Barker was almost to his dining room with his magic chandelier when he turned around, “Sir, you do know that Miss Chase lives in Alexandria?”
Hell yes he knew. He’d had Simon drive by her building twice in the last two days, “And?”
“If you’d like…more…. uh…cupcakes, I’m certain she would make them for you.”
“Thank-you Barker. I’ll keep that in mind.”
With a small nod his Butler left. And he was alone in his Kitchen with the empty cake plate. He lifted the dome and the sweet aroma wafted up to him. He closed his eyes and inhaled. He could almost taste her. Sweet and hot, pressed against him and coming apart in his arms. He heard a low groan…He opened his eyes to see his hand on his dick. Shit he’d been stoking himself about to come in his pants sitting in his kitchen with his nose in the cake dome.
“Holy Fuck!” He wasn’t losing his mind. He’d damn well lost it.
“Sweetheart, we’ll be on the first plane out of Heathrow.”
“Mom, really there’s no need. I’m fine.”
“Andromeda Adrianna ….”
Andie winced at the use of her full name and made a mental note to clobber Jose. The blabbermouth. Her mom called her childhood friend once a week. Jose had no filter.
“…some rapist drugged you. Who knows what he would have done….”
“He’s dead. I’m fine and he’s dead.” Jose wouldn’t be…oh shit… Uh..You didn’t mention this to Gran did you?”
“Oh no honey…”
Oh thank God. Her Grandmother finding out would be….
“She’s the one who called us.”
…. Disastrous. That’s what. “How did she find out?”
“Well, honey you know she has dinner with Jose’s father twice a week.”
“Right.” Yep. Jose was getting a beat down.
“She called us when she couldn’t reach you. Why didn’t you answer the phone?”
“She called me at five thirty.”
“Oh, yes, Daphne always was an early riser. You should call her…”
“In will. Mom I’ve got to go I’m in the middle of a class.” Thank-you God. “Look, Thanksgiving is not even two weeks away. I’ll see you then.”
“Delores, don’t hover.” Her Dad piped up.
“How can I hover when I’m three thousand miles away?”
“Yes, one would think it would not be possible, and yet somehow you defy the laws of simple physics….”
“Mom. Dad.” Andie cut her father off. Once her parents started arguing science it could go on for a while and inevitably it turned into geek foreplay, “I’ll see you soon. Good luck with the dig.” They’d been on the Stonehenge dig for the last four years.
She heard a wet smacking sound and a giggle. She had to get off the phone before she was permanently scarred, “I’ve got class starting. I’ve got to go.”
“Yes, I have something here that needs attention…” Her father chortled.
Andie yanked the phone away and disconnected. While it was wonderful that after so many years they still adored each other, she could do without the evidence.
“Miss Chase, Something went wrong with my souffle.”
Grateful to have something to take her mind off her parents phone make-out. She crossed the large room to the back where the ovens were lined up on the wall. Thursdays were lab days. And today they were going “wild” with pumpkin Since Thanksgiving was coming up and she’d had no time to put together her original project what with being drugged and spending the night in a strange bed that smelled yummy like Adonis….No! She squashed the stream of thought like she’d been doing the last two days. Her adventure on Mt. Olympus was over. Finished. Kaput.
She shoved it from her mind and focused on the round disappointed face of her student, “Let’s see Ryan, Oh no, that doesn’t look quite right does it.” The pumpkin souffle was more of a pancake. “Did you use the convection option?”
“Uh….no.” Ryan slapped his forehead with his hand, “Shit no…I mean. Shucks no.”
Andie waved off the language. It was a cooking class. Cursing came with the territory, “Even if you had, it still would have been tricky. These are not the best ovens.”
Not like double ovens in the dream…No!
“Andie..I mean…Miss Chase…, my cake fell.”
Shellie, another student, who was also a resident in her building, rushed over with another pancake this one in a nine inch round cake pan. A frown marring the smooth caramel complexion.
“Which mixer did you use?”
Shellie slapped her hand over her mouth, “Oh, no! Fu…udge” She caught her curse halfway out. “I used the big one. Dammit. I know better. I swear Granny Bazinet cursed me good. The bitch.”
Shellie was a fantastic cook, but for some reason baking eluded her. She was from New Orleans and insisted her Great-Grandmother who had not approved of Shellie being a lesbian or having dreads or moving to D.C. had cursed her with some type of baking Voodoo hex on her death-bed.
“Right, well other than the curse, what happened?”
“Too much air in the batter.”
“Right. So what would have been a better way to go?”
“A hand mixer.”
“Right, in fact, for a simple batter cake I prefer a hand mixer.” Unless someone startled you and you got icing all over his black silk shirt and his gorgeous chin with his morning stubble and his warm nuzzle-worthy throat.
No. No. No. Stop! No. Bad! At this rate she’d have to wear a rubber band and snap it every time her mind wandered to Mr. Universe.
“I swear I’ve got a mind to call mama and ask her if I was terrorzed by a peach cobbler when I was a kid.”
“I thought we were going with the cursed theory.”
“I’m open to other options.”
“Yeah, Maybe Grandma force fed me apple dumplings or some shi…izz.”
Andie’s phone vibrated for the second time in less than an hour and oh crap, it was her Grandmother.
“Give me a second. It’s Grandma.”
“Oh yeah, you should take it.” Shellie nodded vigorously, “Don’t want to make Grandma mad.”
“Adrianna dear, I just spoke with your father.” Andie pressed the phone to her ear and gave herself a moment to adjust. Her Grandmother made every word longer by at least one syllable and didn’t believe in the “er” sound. Any word ending with “er” got either “uh” “ah’ or “eh”.
When she was little she thought her Grandmother spoke another language. Then she grew up and realized it wasn’t just another language, it was an entire alternate universe.
Daphne Adrianna Morris-Chase was the Propuh Southuhn Lady, from the top of her bobbed and still blond head to the tips of her perfectly manicured fingers. She was convinced anywhere north of Fredericksburg was lawless wild country. “Where-ah they will kill you for a nickel and had no understandin’ of the finuh things in life.” Like linen napkins, a propuh Mint Julip, and Sunday Bah-runch.
“Hi Grandma. Um I can’t really talk right now. I’m teaching.”
“What you need to do is come back down here to Richmond,” Her Grandmother proclaimed in all her Grand Damme Glory, “Where people are civilized and don’t drug young women, murduh them, and thah-row their-ah lifeless bodies in the sewer.”
“Grandma he was from Richmond.”
“And he had to go to Washington to get a victim. We don’t tolerate that nonsense down here.”
“No ma’am.” Her Grandmother had been trying to get Andie to move back ever since she’d graduated college.
“Washington DC is a cesspool of depravity….”
“Yes..ma’am. I’ve got to go…bye now.”
Andie disconnected while her Grandmother was still going on about corrupt politicians and their
10,000 dolluh whorahs.
“That was your grandmother.” Shellie said, wide-eyed.
“Um…she was still talking.”
“If I hung up on my grandma, I’d never hear the end of it.” Shellie whispered in awe. They’d had numerous conversations about the matriarchal power structure of the southern family dynamic. One did not put off one’s Grand Damme of a Grandmother.
Andie’s phone buzzed again.
“You should answer it.” Shellie said with conviction.
Resigned, Andie put the phone to her ear, “Grandma, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have hung up on you, but I really can’t talk right now and the man’s not going to be throwing anyone in the sewer because he’s dead.”
There was silence, then a voice very much not her Grandmother’s, “You hung up on your Grandmother?”
“Oh…um…” Andie searched for something to say and got… nuthin. “Hi.”
“Hello.” One word. The man said one simple greeting and made it sound like carnal invitation to wicked sins done in the dark. Now that was skill. “So…” Amusement crept into his voice, “Did you hang up on your grandmother?”
Her grandmother? Oh right. “Well kind of…” Andie hedged, a rumbling coming from the stove tops distracting her.
Rumbling from the stove tops was never good.
“Um not really….” She took two steps in the rumbling direction, “Okay, well maybe…you could say….” It took two more steps to see what was happening, “Oh shit.”
Maybe he could say ‘oh shit’?
“Carmichael, what have you got in there?” Andie’s question and a distant rumbling cut him off. “Who’s Carmichael….what’s that noise…”
She cut him off again. This time with a shout, “Everybody. Down.”
What the fuck? “Andie what the hell is going….” And he was cut off for the third time by screams, curses, and a sonic boom before he was cut off altogether.
Holy Fucking Shit!
He jerked the phone from his ear and jumped to his feet, redialing even as he bolted from his office. He didn’t stop until he reached the elevator, slapping the down button.
“Mr. Drake?” Abbot was on his feet behind his desk, phone already in hand. Thank God the man was back.
“Get Simon around front and call the Culinary Institute. Find out what the hell exploded out there.”
Abbot stared at him in shocked confusion for maybe half a second, then, “Yes, sir.”
“I’m heading out there,” He stepped onto the Elevator, “Let me know.”
“You have an appointment with Senator Graves in a half hour.”
“Cancel it.” Spinning to face his assistant he slapped the lobby button, “Cancel my entire afternoon.”
“Cancel…” Another hesitation, before once again Abbot regrouped. “Your entire afternoon. Got it.”
Really, the man was remarkable. Drake knew how crazy he was acting. He just didn’t give a fuck.
Andie got up off the floor, her ears still ringing from the explosion. All around her students were either cursing screaming or high fiving.
“That was awesome!”
“Did you see that?”
“Damn, I didn’t get my phone out in time.”
“Did you get the top flying off?”
“It’s like that Stephen Segall movie…
“You are all idiots! This is culinary school not a playground.”
“Damn Justine get the stick out of your…”
“Malcolm!” She intervened in her most severe teacher’s voice, “That’s enough.”
“Sorry, Miss Chase.” The burly La Crosse superstar backed down.
Her gaze shot past him to her second problem child Brian, another hefty sports star.
The culinary institute had a new partnership with several local Universities so that students could take her class as an art credit. Fine good yes…but it meant she got students, such as these two, who were here not for a love of baking so much as an easy elective. And that would be alright as well if only they would not whisper their evil suggestions they called experiments to problem child number three.
Carmichael Monroe, a six foot something string bean with baggy clothes and messy hair. He looked exactly like the science geek he was.
Andie kept her gaze straight ahead, focusing only on him because really, she didn’t want to see it yet, “What was in that pressure cooker?” Not eggs. Oh please please please not eggs. Anything but….
Bracing, she took stock. Little white and yellow specks dotted the entire left side of the room – the walls, the floors, the stove tops, the refrigerators. She looked up and… yep, there too. Oh, and there was a huge dent or chip or whatever happened to a ceiling when a top blew off a pressure cooker and flew into it at something close to light-speed. She turned to the opposite wall where the mixers and pastry tables were lined up and…oh…okay splatters of pale orange…..something…
… mousse…. were everywhere all over everything. How the heck that happened she didn’t know but as Malcolm had been filming, she’d have the answer soon enough. That is if Justine didn’t beat the boys to death with the empty mixing bowl she’d retrieved from the floor. The girl was her best pupil. A true artist and she had an artist’s temperament. Although, this time Andie could understand the girl’s fury.
Andie acknowledged this was getting tiresome, taking in the mess around her. The only area spared was the back wall where the ovens stood.
So the “go wild with pumpkin” lesson was literally and officially a crash and burn. This could not go on.
“Carmichael…” Andie turned her attention to her wonderfully enthusiastic and very problematic student. The boy looked down at his shuffling feet, “Yes ma’am, I know….” Skinny shoulders drooped, “Get the mop.”
“Right.” Andie stared after him, wondering if having this disaster cleanup down to a rote formula was a reflection on her teaching skills.
“Miss Chase that boy is …he is…. I mean…look.
Andie spun around to see Justine, Carmicheal’s opposite in every way, short, curvy, blond and seriously pissed off, “Look at my mousse. It’s frickin’ everywhere.”
It was that. Pale orange cream was spattered all over the wall. Andie winced and looked up. Yep. Mousse joined the egg in decorating the ceiling. She dipped her finger in the bowl Justine held, running it along the remnants of Justine’s hard work. Knowing it would be excellent, she licked her finger, “Full credit. An A+”
“Yes, thanks for that and all,” Justine crossed her arms over her chest, “But my mousse is ruined.”
“Sorry Justine,” Carmichael apologized, pulling the mop and bucket behind him. The ladder under his other arm.
“Sorry…Sorry?” She stalked over to him, the stereotypical outraged temperamental chef. The boy had a good half a foot on her, but he had sense enough to know that she could wipe the floor with him and took a cautious step back.
“You are a menace. This is not a science experiment. It is art. ART.” Justine “Pfftt’ed” him, flicking a dismissive hand and turning her back, “You have no soul.”
Carmichael stared after her with the exact same look Layla would get when faced with Andie’s Tarimisu while training for a marathon. Longing. Abject, misery infused longing.
Oh. Now she got it.
Carmichael was some kind of science prodigy a full scholarship to Georgetown. He didn’t need the art credit. He had no talent in the kitchen. Zero. None. What he did have were two friends who encouraged him to disrupt her class and a giant crush on Justine.
“Miss Chase?” She spun around to see a short man in a wrinkled suit and a short crop of silvering hair.
That was fast. Usually she had to go to him with the happenings. Then she looked beyond him to see a tall man with the most gorgeous silky touchable hair…
“Holy shit!” Shellie elbowed her in the ribs and hissed, “That’s Damien Drake.”
Ouch. And yes it was and… “Oh shit.”
“Miss Chase what on earth happened in here.” Simms stopped by the stove tops.
“It was me sir.” Carmichael volunteered.
Simms rubbed a weary hand over his resigned face, “Again Carmichael? And what science experiment were we running this time?”
Andie was interested in the answer, she was, but Adonis approaching with his effortlessly graceful stride was wreaking havoc with her ability to see anything else in the room.
The female murmurings around her let her know she wasn’t alone.
He stopped in front of her, scanning her from head to toe, “Are you hurt?”
“What? No. What are you doing here?”
“You hung up on me.”
“You did?” Shellie’s mouth dropped open.
“Oh well, there was an explosion….”
“Yes, I heard that part. You screamed. Then it sounded like the entire building blew. I tried you back and couldn’t get you.”
So he’d gotten in his Gucci-Gucci SUV and had Simon drive him down here. That would explain the President’s involvement.
“I dropped my phone.” Andie looked around. Her phone had skidded under one of the mixing tables. Shellie reached it for her. Thankfully it was in one piece.
“Here it is…”
“Wow, you hung up on your Grandmama and Damien Drake in the same day. The same hour.” Shellie shook her head, muttering under her breath as she left them to aid in the clean-up, “My mama would tan my hide.”
Andie heard a male whisper over her head, “Now that is an intriguing idea.”
She spun around to see Mr. Perfect smirking down at her, “What was that?”
Midnight blue eyes honed in on the top of her head, “Is that pumpkin in your hair?”
Oh, crud on a cracker.
“And here’s where the top flies off…man look at that….”
Oh, Andie was looking alright.
“And then it ricochets off the ceiling…..”
“And slams into the mixer….”
Yes it did.
“And the bowl hits the floor and rolls….”
Affirmative. Andie watched spirals of mouse fling all over the walls like some free form modern art exhibit.
“Thank-you Malcom. You can go.” Director Simms dismissed the boy.
“Right, okay.” Malcolm slid a sympathetic look Carmichael’s way, shoved his phone in his pocket, and headed out the door.
“Malcom, you need to head back over to the institute and get two more ladders from housekeeping so that you and Brian can assist Carmichael in cleaning the ceiling.”
“But I’ve got LaCrosse.”
“No, you’ve got to clean the up egg that the awesome Stephen Segall explosion left behind on the ceiling.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Slumped in defeat, he left the Dean’s office.
That would be the Dean of the Science Department at Georgetown University as they were now seated in his office. At Georgetown.
In the five minutes it had taken her to get the mousse out of her hair, the meeting had been set. The Dean of the Science Department had been called. Carmichael and Malcolm were already on their way to Georgetown. The video had already been downloaded and Director Simms was informing his staff he’d be out of the building for the next hour. All of this thanks to one Mr. Damien Alexander Drake the third.
Then, Mr. Drake, all charming smiles and gallant arm offering, had informed her she’d be accompanying him to the Dean’s office.
She’d hitched a ride with Director Simms.
He’d hijacked her student, undermined her authority, and pissed her the hell off, all in one grand sweeping gesture of Arrogant Demi-Goddery.
Andie sat beside him in some ridiculously expensive leather chair gritting her teeth to keep from screeching something she wouldn’t regret, but would be construed by The Dean and Director Simms as unprofessional. So she sat still and silent while Mr. Too the Fuck Gorgeous and Too the Fuck Up In Her Business got on with being up in her business.
“Carmichael, this is the fourth incident in less than two months.” The Dean informed her student.
And it was five, but the Dean of the Science Department at Georgetown wouldn’t know that and she wasn’t telling.
“I know sir. I’m sorry.”
“Sorry, doesn’t cut it.” The Demi-God spoke.
And, oh fuck no.
She unclenched her jaw, “Mr. Drake, while I appreciate your concern, this is a school matter.”
“Yes,” He agreed with a single curt nod, “And since I donated quite a large sum to Georgetown University to build their brand new science lab. Carmichael should be doing any and all experimenting in that building. Not in a cooking class.”
“Ah, it’s ready.”
“Here.” Adonis put his Guccie-Gucci tablet on the Dean’s desk and started the video they had already seen, “You see this is where Miss Chase and her student are standing.” An elegantly masculine hand pointed to the screen, drawing red stick figures over her and Justine on the screen. She’d done something similar using paint-shop pro on a photo. Apparently you could do it on a video as well.
“And here we see the trajectory of the cast iron top,” He slowed the video feed and drew a straight diagonal line tracing the path of the lid of the pot, “Now, if Miss Chase and her student had not ducked…”
That strait line drew straight across her throat and Justine’s head.
Oh. Shit. Okay, now she was little impressed and a lot freaked out.
But her reaction was nothing to Carmichael’s. His youthful face lost all color, tears filled his eyes, “Oh…oh God, Justine…”
“Miss Chase and Justine would have been seriously injured at best. At worst,” Adonis’s hard stare held no sympathy for Carmichael’s distress, “I’m sure I don’t have to explain velocity and mass to you. You know what that lid could have done.”
Gripping his hair, he stared at the image on the screen with damp, stricken eyes, “Oh God, I’m sorry. It won’t…. I mean…I won’t. Oh man…oh man…”
Dean Thatcher sat forward, cutting off the distraught babble, “You understand why we can’t allow you back in the class.”
And that was Andie’s one bridge too far. No one, but no one was throwing her student out of her class but her.
She put on her best courteously frigid face, “Dean Thatcher, while I appreciate the visual aid Mr. Drake has provided, I will be handling this from here, as this is my student and my class.”
“Now Miss Chase…” Director Simms began to protest. Andie cut him off.
“My student. My class. My decision.” She rose from her chair and turned her back on the Dean’s shocked face, leaning against his desk to face her student. Director Simms wiggled uncomfortably in his chair. She had no idea what Drake looked like. She refused to look his way.
Oh, the little minx was pissed as hell and cute as fuck. Leaning back against the Dean’s desk, in a white button down shirt and black slacks. Her silky hair haphazardly tossed up in some kind of clip and just where the hell had those glasses come from? Black, horn-rimmed, perched on her pert little nose. She was every schoolboy’s sexy teacher fantasy. He adjusted himself and attempted to settle his dick down.
“Miss Chase, I’m sorry.” The kid didn’t seem to notice. His head was hanging down in misery.
“I know you are.” She accepted the boy’s apology with a prissy little nod. “Carmichael, baking bores you.”
The boy’s head shot up, “Uh…”
“It also bores your friends, who encourage you to disrupt my class.”
Ah, that was smart. He’d suspected as much. The kid didn’t look like one to instigate trouble.
“Justine, however does not bore you.”
“Uh…” The kid turned beet red.
“I’m going to let you in on a secret about women.”
Drake sat forward. This was getting interesting.
“Okay.” Even the kid sat up a little straighter. Hell, so did Simms and Thatcher.
“We don’t like it when you men trivialize what we value.” Teacher informed them all.
Drake knew where this was going and it was brilliant.
“You have a choice, Carmichael. A: You can continue to listen to your friends.” Miss Chase paused then, plucking a piece of lint from her sleeve, one delicate brow popping up over the glasses, “By the way…do they have girlfriends?”
“The kid shook his head, “Uh…no.”
“Yes, somehow…” She paused, met Carmichael’s bewildered gaze, “I thought not,” And flicked that imaginary lint into the air, “So, you can keep entertaining your friends who can’t get a date…..”
Oh, teach was going for the throat.
“Continue to anger Justine and fail my class.” Bracing both hands on the desk beside her hips, Miss Chase leaned forward and delivered a hard stare to her wayward student, “Because Carmichael, while I will not allow you to drop my class, if you disrupt it again, I WILL fail you.”
The kid’s long face hardened to the outrage of youth done wrong, “But my GPA…”
Teacher wasn’t having it.
“Do not,” She cut him off, raising one hand in a firm stop motion, “Interrupt me.”
The kid slumped, “Sorry.”
He wasn’t because damn, she was sexy. A throat cleared. He pulled his eyes away from the mesmerizing sight of his sexy teacher long enough to see the Dean was red as the kid. Simms had sweat beading his forehead. Both men were staring, riveted, at his Miss Chase. Drake had the overwhelming urge to slam both their faces into that desk he no doubt paid for.
“Or B:” Miss Chase continued, oblivious to the effect she was having, “You can show the girl you say you care about that you respect and value her, by taking an interest in what she considers important.”
“Uh…okay.” The kid nodded, his expression turning thoughtful.
Drake should have kept his mouth shut. He knew it, but he needed the teacher’s attention, “I’d listen to her.”
Without taking her eyes off her student, she extended her arm in his direction, her index finger raised, “You stay out of this.”
And ah fuck, that was hot, “Yes, ma’am.”
She ignored him, lowering her hand, “Now, you should go help your friends with that ceiling.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Carmichael leapt from the chair and bolted.
Teacher rose and grabbed her purse from the floor. Following her student to the door, she turned to face them, “Gentlemen, I have another class. Director Simms, Dean Thatcher, Mr. Drake while I thank-you for your interest and assistance, I’ll take it from here.”
It was a proper dismissal and damn if all three of them didn’t respond with an enthusiastic, “Yes, ma’am.”
Not that she heard them. She was already gone.
Well, how about that. Miss Adrianna Chase just handed them their collective asses on a plate.
“Mr. Drake I apologize.”
He turned to Simms, “For what?”
“Was exactly right.” He finished for the man, “The Dean overstepped.”
“I…well… the danger…” The Dean puffed up.
“The point was made. The young man won’t give you any more trouble.” The kid had fallen apart when he’d seen what could have happened to Justine. The best way to assure he didn’t pull any more stupid shit was to place him right beside the girl he was so obviously crazy about.
“Well, uh I guess that’s it then.” Mr. Simms rose, “I’m Miss Chase’s ride…”
That wasn’t happening. “I’ll give her a lift. It’s on my way.” Drake rose and beat Simms out the door. Searching the hall for copper red hair. He made for the elevators, rounding the corner just as she was stepping on, “Miss Chase, if you could hold the elevator….”
She promptly turned around let loose a derisive snort and a, “Uh….no.” Right as the elevator doors closed.
Did she really think he’d let her go so easily. Silly woman. He strolled to the elevators, slapped the button and got on his phone, “Simon.”
“Miss Chase is on her way down.”
“We will be giving her a lift back to the Culinary Institute.”
“She may not be on board with this plan.”
That was met with silence then a, “No sir?”
He couldn’t fault Simon for the surprise. A woman running away from him was a new circumstance, “No. That is. Right. I’ll uh… need you to stall.”
More silence and a good bit more surprise, “Stall sir?”
“Yes, I’ll be down shortly.”
Catching his reflection as he entered the elevator, Drake found himself wondering why Miss Chase handing him his ass had him grinning like a damn fool.
“Miss Chase, be reasonable.”
“Mr. Drake, please go away. People are staring.”
Yes, they certainly were. The parking lot was a busy place, but it seemed all business stopped to watch the tiny woman stalk away from the black SUV with the insane man hanging halfway out the window.
Stalling had been a no go.
He’d come out to find Simon standing by the vehicle scratching his head, saying Miss Chase was adamant about not needing a lift.”
He’d hopped in the SUV and they’d taken off after her.
“And just how are you going to get to your class in time.”
“There’s this thing we normal people use called the metro.”
“Oh yes, it’s a marvel. It’s a huge network of tunnels under the city with these trains on rails and they transport you wherever you need to go.”
“Mmm-hmmm. Now go away.” She shooed him with a flick of her hand.
She was shunning him yet again. Fine. He was flexible, “Simon, I’m getting out.”
“Yes sir.” Simon stopped the car and he jumped out. Jogging to catch up with the little minx making him crazy.
“So how exactly do we get to this wonder of wonders?”
The woman in front of him froze, he heard some unintelligible muttering then she spun to face him, “We don’t.”
“Uh…no.” She spun back around and started walking.
No again. This was new. He just fell in step behind her, it was a great view, “You’re angry with me.”
“Oh, well spotted.”
“I thought the visual aid would be helpful.”
“But you’re mad.”
“Oh yes, I’m quite peeved.”
“And why is that?”
“Oh for fuck’s sake, you really don’t know?”
No, he really didn’t, but he was enjoying the hell out of it.
“Alright,” They had made it to the underground. He followed her onto the escalator, “Just for a moment imagine supplying me with your enhanced video, perhaps via e-mail. As opposed to setting up a meeting with the Dean of students at Georgetown and hijacking the discipline of my student.”
“Ah, right.” In hindsight, yes that might have been overkill, “I’m used to running things.”
That got him another snort and a big blue eye roll, “Really, Mr. Hot Shot. I would have never guessed.”
“Mmm, yes it surprises most people.”
“Oh, I’m sure.” She stepped off the escalator. He followed. But was held up because unlike Miss Chase he didn’t have a pass. Making quick work of buying his ticket, he plowed through the throngs of people keeping an eye on that copper hair he managed to follow her into the car just right as the doors closed.
“The cupcakes were delicious, by the way.”
“I was calling you to see if I could get more.”
“Oh.” She blinked up at him.
“I don’t suppose you have any more?”
“Could I talk you into making more? I’ll pay you of course.”
“Oh, I don’t really sell them.”
“Barker wanted some as well.” He shamelessly lied through his teeth, “He said he and the Mrs. enjoyed them with tea.” Another bold faced lie. Barker hadn’t gotten so much as a crumb.
“Oh, okay. I can make some more. Um do you want a different flavor.
“No, I want the same thing.”
“Yes,” Silky sweet vanilla that tasted like Andie and sin.
“Aright, would you like another half dozen?”
No no that wasn’t nearly enough, “No..no I need more like five dozen.”
“Five…” um are you having a party?”
“So are you giving some away?”
Hell no. “Uh well like I said Barker and his wife liked them with tea.”
“Oh, well understand they won’t stay fresh forever. I don’t know how many you eat in a day…”
“Oh, right, how long will they stay fresh?”
“Properly stored you’ll have about four days before they start to go stale.”
“Oh…I see. So I’d need to have them delivered every four days.”
“I’d like a standing order of one dozen vanilla cupcakes Tuesday and Friday.”
“A standing….uh…order.” She repeated, giving him a look that said she thought he wasn’t quite right in the head.
Didn’t he know it, “Yes.”
“Uh..okay, I guess.”
“Great, here.” He reached into his wallet and handed her a card with his number, “Just call me and let me know when to pick them up. I don’t suppose you could have a dozen for me tomorrow?”
“I’m having dinner with the family. We do it every other Friday.” That much was true. Not that he’d be sharing his cupcakes…..
“Okay”.She looked bewildered, he needed to keep her off balance so she wouldn’t change her mind.
“Ah here’s your stop.”
Taking her shoulders, he turned her around and held her until everyone around them filed out. He indulged himself by lowering his head and breathing in the sweet scent that clung to her, His lips grazing the silk of her cheek, of her, “See you tomorrow, kitten.”
He pushed her out the door right before they closed so she couldn’t change her mind and he couldn’t go after her.