Archive | August 2012

Undercover Lover – Part 21

On a date with Romy, Saige finds him incredibly easy to talk to. She can’t help wondering what she’s been missing all this time.

Having put thoughts of reconciliation behind her, Saige had decided to move on. She was tired of Ben’s immaturity, his inability to cope and blatant disbelief in her. He wasn’t worth the time and trouble it would take to get him back and she wasn’t sure she wanted him anymore. Brodie and Stan were out of reach, but not Romy. With his boyish good looks and killer body, she found resistance was futile.

“What are you thinking?”

He frowned slightly, focusing on her eyes. Did he dare to hope? He saw a decision there that hadn’t been there thirty minutes ago. If he was right, it involved him.

“I’ll tell you later,” she promised with a secretive half-smile.

“I’m holding you to that.”

He grinned as he turned down what looked like a narrow alley between hulking skyscrapers. Instead, it turned out to be a dead end street with a restaurant snuggled between the two buildings. Unprepossessing, it had an old world charm about it. It didn’t look like much on the outside, but the interior looked like an English pub. They were seated in a cozy booth near the bar. Romy ordered two pints of cider, setting one in front of her with a flourish.

“What’s this?”

“Cider. Try it. It’s not beer, I know you can’t stand that. I’m probably the only Englishman in the world who doesn’t like a pint of bitters. I prefer this. Take a sip.”

She held the mug dubiously, sniffing delicately before she took a tentative sip. The cold liquid stung the back of her throat, but felt so cool and comforting going down, she took a bigger sip. Her eyes registered her enthusiasm.

“This has become my favorite beverage! It’s incredible.”

“See? I knew you’d like it. I can drink my way through a keg of this and let the beer go. Careful how fast you drink it. You don’t feel the kick until you stand up.”

Their waitress was a petite Irish woman in her fifties. She took their orders and brought them each another pint of cider.

“Good stuff, that is,” she smiled. “Your first time here, is it? I know this young reprobate all too well. Lining up another bird for plucking, Rom?”

Romy looked somewhat embarrassed. “Viv, I promise that this lady is different from the other chippies I’ve had in the past.”
“Oh, so you want me to conceal the fact that you’re a naughty boy, eh?”

Romy chuckled, kissing her slightly wrinkled cheek. “You can tell her I’m naughty all you want. Just dress it up, make me sound mysterious and sexy.”

“Oh, I’m to lie to her then?” She giggled, pinching his cheek. “He’s a good lad. Takes care of his old gran, he does.”

“There’s a recommendation that makes me sound mysterious and sexy, right?”

“You don’t need to make me think you’re mysterious to be sexy,” Saige said without meaning to. The cider had relaxed her, making her defensive walls drop. “You do that just fine on your own without saying a word.”

Romy’s eyes widened. “Is that so? Fancy that. And here I thought I was some scrawny Englishman with an unnatural affinity for rugby.”

“What exactly is rugby? I’ve heard of it, but don’t understand the game at all.”

He spent the next few minutes trying to explain about rugby league vs. rugby union, several sets of rules and what a scrum was. She had no clear idea what he was describing. He was still trying to clarify when their food arrived.

“He’ll talk about that ruddy sport til hell freezes,” Vivian warned her. “At least he’s not going on about Cricket.”

“I don’t know jack about Cricket,” he told Saige. “Dumbest game on the face of the earth. The most pointless is golf. Only rugby is real sport, toss in the odd hockey game and it comes close to being a perfect world.”

“Add a pint or two of cider.”

“Closer. Make it a keg of cider and a beautiful woman, and the world is, without doubt, perfect.”

“Only if the beautiful woman is interested in you.”

Romy laughed suddenly, blushing slightly. “That goes without saying, right? Why would I want some other man’s woman?”

“So you can watch the game without distraction?”

“Fook the game. Better yet, fook the girl and let the game play on.”

“Watch your mouth, young man,” Vivian smacked him on the back of the head as she set their bill down. “His gran would have his hide hearing him talk like that.” She walked away, clearing dishes from another table.

“And where would I fit in this scenario?” Saige asked quietly.

“Where would you like to fit in?” He took her hands, gazing into her eyes.

“I think you’ve figured that out already.” She smiled, letting her feelings show.

“Oh, yes.” He gazed deeply in her eyes, liking what he saw. “Hold that thought, love. I’ve got to make a phone call. I promise I’ll be right back.”

“I’ll be here.”

He trotted out the front door, whipping out his phone. She heard a few words before the door closed behind him. “Oi, Chas. You lot clear out ….” The door swung shut, cutting off the rest of his words.

© 2012 Dellani Oakes

Undercover Lover – Part 20

Saige doesn’t find Julia at home, but she does find Romy. Finally losing control, she finds herself sobbing on his shoulder. Instead of telling her to stop, he holds her until it’s out of her system. 

 Romy got her a clean washcloth and soap. She washed her face, removing the vestiges of her ravaged makeup. Romy came back to the bathroom with two shirts in his hands.

“I need an opinion. Which makes the bolder statement?”

He held the shirts up in front of his chest. One was black with silver and gold lettering and what looked like an old strip of duct tape. It said, “Silence is Golden, Duct Tape is Silver.”

The other was navy blue and said in bold white letters, “I’m not deaf, I’m just ignoring you.”

Saige burst out laughing. “Oh, the blue one. That’s so how I feel right now every time Ben opens his mouth.”

“We’re not talking of other men right now,” he said with strong conviction. “Especially silly plonkers who break your heart and throw your knickers in the street.”

“Deal,” she said, holding out her hand.

Instead of shaking her hand, he kissed it, his lips lingering over the crease between her middle and index fingers. She felt a thrill trickle down her spine. His eloquent brown eyes

riveted hers as he smiled.

“Ever been to Uncle Jay’s Pub?” Romy asked her abruptly.

“I didn’t know you had an Uncle Jay.”

“Not my Uncle Jay. It’s called Uncle Jay’s.”

“I’ve never been there,” she answered as they walked out the back door of the apartment complex to a car she didn’t recognize.

“I should have had you park back here, I suppose. Though, you do live upstairs—or did, so there’s no reason for you not to be here.”

Romy wasn’t talking directly to her, more to himself as if reviewing security measures. He did a quick, surreptitious check of the car before they got in.

“Do you think I need to worry?”

“Unlikely. I’m paranoid, me. In my line of work, you have to be.”

“Do you have a cover? I mean, you know, an alter ego?” She laughed at herself. “Now I sound like a bad movie script.”

“You mean a legitimate identity as opposed to my spurious one? Yeah. I’m a cheap grifter who leeches off my poor, sainted gran. The place is in her name, but I’ve paid for it the last few years. Her pension doesn’t cover much. The lads and me take turns rooming in and paying bills. Keeps her happy and us out of trouble. Course, it makes it damn hard to bring ladies home. Which is why we have an apartment down by the river. Same building Brodie’s in as a matter of fact.”

“You know Brodie?”

“Been his neighbor for nearly five years now. He’s a good, honest man who can handle himself in a tight spot.”

“Do I even want to know exactly what you do?”

Romy opened the door for her, waiting for Saige to get settled. “No. And a car isn’t the best place to have conversations.” His eyes held meaning deeper than his lighthearted words indicated.

“So, Brodie,” she changed the subject abruptly to the last thing they had talked about.

“Nice fellow, good neighbor. I’m not any more interested talking about your buff boss than I am your manky boyfriend.”

Ex-boyfriend,” she emphasized. It was important that he knew Ben was out of the picture.

“How ex?”

“At the moment? About as ex as it’s possible to be and still be on the same planet. Subject change.”

“Hmm,” he thought a moment. “So, you’ve found out in the last few days that you’re more popular than you ever thought.”

“It seems so. It’s a new sensation and not unwelcome. I needed a bit of a lift to my spirits after the incredible crash and burn Friday. I’ve never had a relationship end like that. But I don’t want to talk about that either.”

“Nor do I. Seen any good movies lately?”

“If it’s not on Netflix, I haven’t. I did see the latest “Die Hard” movie in the theater. I went with my mom. She loves Bruce Willis.”

“Pretty big fan myself. The Chinese chick was hot.”

“I liked the computer geek. Nice buff body under that baggy clothing.” She raised an eyebrow, giving him a long appraisal.

Romy chuckled, “Oh, lass, when you look at me like that ….” He sucked in his breath, hissing between his teeth.

Saige blushed deeply as his eyes moved over her body. She could feel him mentally undressing her and decided she liked the sensation. The light changed and he yanked his eyes off her, gazing intently at traffic. A tinge of red lined his ears and the top of his collar betraying his feelings. He was more than a little interested.

© 2012 Dellani Oakes

Undercover Lover – Part 19

Saige left her mother’s house, furious with Ben. In her mind, the relationship is well and truly over. At a loss for a destination, she heads to the one place, besides her mother’s,  she knows she will always find acceptance.

 For a change of scene, she turned right to go around the lake instead of the usual left. It was slightly longer, but not enough to matter and she wanted the extra drive time to make up her mind where she was going to go.

She couldn’t really go see Brodie or Stan. She’d relied on them enough for awhile. Besides, she knew if she and Stan were alone they would break all their promises to be friends. With a spark of inspiration, she decided to go visit Mrs. Cross.

Now that her mind was made up, she drove faster and with a purpose. She arrived at Mrs. Cross’ apartment a little after seven. Knocking loudly on the downstairs door, she got no response. She was about to leave a note and was digging in her purse when Romy arrived. All smiles, he invited her in. He was dressed in a long sleeved, red and white striped shirt and black shorts, carrying a pair of cleats in one hand as he juggled his keys.

“Gran’s at church.” He tossed his keys on the counter. “The lads and me were playing rugby. I imagine I’m a bit ripe. Got a few moments? I’ll take a quick one so I don’t offend your olfactory system.”

“Sure, I don’t have any plans. We’ll chat when you don’t smell like sweaty boxers.” She waved him off.

Laughing loudly, he took off his shirt and socks, tossing them in the laundry as he passed. Saige’s eyes lingered on him until he was out of sight. Once he got in the bathroom, shorts and boxers landed in the hall.

“Be out in a tick,” he called, slamming the door.

Saige amused herself looking at the photos on the wall. There were several with Romy and his brothers clustered around their father and grandfather in one happy, rowdy group. They

looked so much alike, the boys and their elders. Romy had the same grin as his grandfather and his father’s ears and eyes. As a child, his features were almost too big for his face, giving him the look of a caricature. Once he hit his teen years, he had grown proportionally and now his big ears and long nose complimented him nicely.

He stood at the end of the hall in clean shorts, tossing his towel and clothing into the washer, still shirtless. He had as magnificent a physique as Brodie. Leaner of build, he was muscular and delineated like a martial artist rather than a body builder. He sported several scars on his back and chest, some slashes and others that looked decidedly like bullet holes.

“Fancy a cup of tea or something?”

“I’d love some coffee. I missed lunch and dinner. It’s been a day.” She gave him a detailed description of the day she’d had.

“So, you’ve become wildly popular all of a sudden, eh?”

Did she catch a note of jealousy? Impossible. She and Romy were just friends, like Brodie and Stan. Who also wanted more than friendship from her.

“Apparently. Who knew? It’s amazing what a girl misses when she thinks she’s in love.”

“Thinks, is it? I thought you loved him madly.”

“I thought I did. Now I’m not so sure. I don’t really want to talk about Ben. How are you, Romy? Staying out of trouble?”

He winked, sitting beside her with two cups of coffee. Hers was fixed just the way she liked it. She wondered how he knew that much about her.

“I don’t particularly want to talk at all, but I suspect you do. So, what shall we talk about, Saige? Shall we make small talk for a wee bit before I admit to you I too have carried a torch lo these many years?”

Romy’s smile was tinged with tenderness. He had incredibly expressive, dark chocolate eyes. They revealed a lot that she’d never seen before. Either he was good at hiding his feelings, or she was blind. Perhaps a smattering of both? She set her coffee down, suddenly moved to tears. Romy put his arms around her, holding her close to his bare chest. Saige could hear his heart pounding with a comforting beat.

“Romy, I’m so confused! I thought I knew what my life was like and nothing’s the same. It went upside down and cockeyed.”

“Shh, love, don’t cry. I’m here. It’s all right.”

He talked to her continuously, saying little, but comforting with his tone and nearness. His hands held her, stroking her hair calmly, with a gentle strength. Slowly, gradually, his touch changed, becoming a lover’s caress. He let his hands tell her how he felt, what he wanted, without him saying a word.

Once Saige calmed down, Romy held her away from him, gazing in her eyes. “Come on, fix your face. I’m taking you to dinner.”

“I don’t have anything with me ….”

“Wash it off then. You don’t need all that to look pretty. You’re beautiful without makeup. Come on. Gran’s going to be home soon. I want you to myself a while longer.”

© 2012 Dellani Oakes

Undercover Lover – Part 18

The conversation between Saige and Ben deteriorated rapidly to a shouting match. Is there anything left to salvage? Does Saige even want to try? Ben revealed that Brodie’s ex-girlfriend told him Saige was having sex with Brodie in his office. You can imagine how well she took that.

“Oh my GOD! And you believed Psycho Barbie over me? Let me get this right. She told you I was doing Brodie — In his office?”

“Yeah. On the desk.”

“Have you seen his office? It’s ninety percent glass! Can you picture me humping in front of the rest of the staff? Even a quick boff on the desk, someone’s gonna see.”

“I guess I didn’t think it through.”

“Amanda was a liar, Ben. She liked to cause trouble. Did it occur to you to ask me?”

“No. I didn’t want to know if it was true.”

“So instead you quit making love to me. Were you afraid I’d compare you to him? Oh, my God. That’s it, isn’t it? You dumb ass!” She wanted to throw something at him, but she knew her mother would have a fit.

“I didn’t say it made sense, Saige.”

“It’s the stupidest thing ever, Ben. What’s wrong with us? When did we become the couple who can’t talk to each other? The only way we know how to communicate is to argue. We’re doing it now.”

“I don’t know.”

“You can’t keep blaming all our problems on Brodie. He’s done nothing to deserve it. Since we broke up, he’s been a good friend to me.”

“Oh, a good friend you have drinks with the night we break up and have breakfast with him the next morning? Did you spend time with him this afternoon as well? Is that where you were when I was trying to call?”

“Actually, the majority of that time, I was making out with Stan. Are you satisfied now?”

“Stan? When did he get into this?”

“Apparently several men at the office find me attractive and were hoping we’d break up so they could ask me out. Stan’s one of them. He’s a hell of a kisser too.”

“And I’m not?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“That’s the implication.”

“You’ve hardly kissed me in so long, I can’t remember! We used to make love every night. Then suddenly, you won’t even touch me unless you’re trying to apologize for yelling at me. Even then, it’s like I’m not really there. You put about as much thought and effort into is as you do opening a box of Fruit Loops.”

“I don’t!”
“You couldn’t give a shit if it was me or Margaret Thatcher there as long as you get some pussy. I’ve had my eyes opened over the last two days. There are men out there who want
me. Not a handy pair of tits and a tight ass. I’ve turned down more offers for sex in the last two days than I’ve had from you in six months.”

“Saige! That’s not fair!”

“I’ll tell you what’s not fair. Being treated like I’m a slut because my boss has a reputation. Rejecting me because of your own insecurity, isn’t fair. I loved you, Ben, but I don’t like you at all right now.”

“You’re making me crazy in that outfit. You know that,” he murmured. “The hair, the perfume, you look amazing and you won’t even let me kiss you.”

“You want me now, you have to earn it. We broke up. You’re back at square one.”

“We didn’t officially break up, babe.”

“You threw my things out the window! Where in your logic is that not breaking up? What do you call that? Redecorating?”

“Children, enough!” Blair walked out of the kitchen wiping her hands on a towel. “What’s wrong with you two? All you’ve done is spar the entire time he’s been here. You kids can’t have a conversation without an argument of volcanic proportions. You used to be so happy.”

“Ask him why,” Saige remarked coldly. “It’s his bruised ego to blame for all of it. I’m reacting to a difficult situation not of my making. So if you want to fuss at someone, Mom, fuss at him. I’m out of here.” She grabbed her purse and keys.

Ben stopped her as she stalked toward the door. “Saige, please.” His eyes held an appeal she found difficult to ignore. “I’m not above begging. Please stay.”

His non-verbal appeal almost convinced her. She was simply too angry to listen. She could scream at her mother for putting her in this position. It would have been better to wait and see Ben when she’d had a chance to calm down more.

“You should have done your begging a long time ago. It doesn’t have quite the same effect it used to. I’ll see you later, Mom. I expect you won’t be here when I get back?” She directed that remark to Ben quietly, calmly. The tone was unmistakable.

He let go of her hand as if he’d been shocked. Taking a few steps back, he hung his head, turning away.

“You’ve got me parked in,” she continued as she opened the door to the garage.

Silently, he moved his car. He was still sitting at the wheel when she pulled out. His head was down, shoulders hunched. It might have been her imagination, but she thought he might be crying.

“When did I turn into this cold, heartless bitch?” She wondered aloud. “About the time he started ignoring me,” she answered herself.

© 2012 Dellani Oakes

Undercover Lover – Part 17

Saige gets home to find out that her mother has invited Ben over for dinner, hoping to get them back together. Unfortunately, the evening doesn’t go quite as she’d planned.

“Who was that, Saige?” Her mother asked when she got back in the house.

“That was Romy.” She proceeded to tell her a slightly embellished account of what Romy gave her as a cover story.

“Oh, my! Well, I hope she’s all right soon.”

“I’m sure she’ll be fine.”

“I’ve something to tell you,” her mother admitted. “I invited Ben over for dinner.”

“Mother!” Her tone was full of anger and disgust. “Why?”

“You two need to talk. I’ll even make myself scarce if you want to have some quality time.”

“Not comfortable with this conversation,” Saige walked away, hugging her arms to her sides. “I really wish you hadn’t done that, Mom. I’m trying to put my life back together. Seeing him is going to make it really hard for me.”

“Love isn’t easy,” was her mother’s harsh reply. “If you expect it to be, then I didn’t raise you right at all. Go get cleaned up. He’ll be here at six.”

Angry despite the fact she knew her mother was just trying to help, Saige stomped to her bedroom and got ready for Ben’s visit. She was determined to make him realize what it was he was missing out on and dressed accordingly. She chose a dark red silk top and matching pants that she had bought for their first Valentine’s Day. It clung in all the right places. As she recalled, she hadn’t worn it long and they never got out of the apartment for dinner.

She fixed her hair and makeup carefully and wore his favorite perfume. If she was going to be miserable, Ben could be too. She hadn’t forgotten that Ben had proposed the night she wore the red outfit. He bought her a ring a week later. It was pretty, simple and unassuming. He couldn’t afford fancy and she didn’t mind, but it was shortly after that they started having problems.

Taking the ring off, she put it in her pantie drawer. Slamming the dresser shut, she tried to put it out of her mind. If someone had asked her even earlier that day if she wanted Ben back, it would have been a resounding yes. Now, after spending time with Stan and Brodie, she realized how badly he treated her. She wasn’t at all sure she wanted him anymore. She had made up her mind to move on with her life.

Ben arrived promptly with a bottle of wine and more flowers. Her mother insisted that Saige answer the door. His anticipated reaction to the outfit made her smile to herself. He still liked it. She could see his interest in his expressive eyes. When he tried to kiss her, she leaned away, unsure how she felt about that contact yet. In the last couple of days, she’d kissed three different men and all of them left Ben in the dust.

“How have you been?” He asked

“Keeping busy. You?”

Ben nodded. “The same. Got some interviews next week. Here’s hoping,” he crossed his fingers, smiling shyly.

“Good luck,” she said sincerely. Despite their problems, she did wish him well.

“So, what have you been doing? You’ve been out a lot.”

Saige shrugged, curling her feet under her as she sat on the couch with a glass of wine. She didn’t owe him an explanation.

“This and that. Spent some time with Brodie and some of the folks from the office. You met Stan and the others on Brodie’s team, didn’t you?”

“Yeah. At the Christmas party.” He nodded, perching on the edge of a chair with his glass of wine. “So, Brodie, huh?” He tried to sound casual. “How’s he doing?”

“Still buff and gorgeous. Amazingly witty, erudite, clever. Did I leave out anything? Oh, charming and a hell of a kisser.”

A pained expression crossed his face. He set the glass down on the table, putting his head in his hands. “I can’t do this,” he murmured calmly. “I thought I could, but I can’t. You hate me so much and I know I deserve it…. You don’t know what it’s like for me, Saige.”

“Because you don’t tell me, Ben. You get angry and yell, but you don’t tell me why you’re upset. You think I’m having a thing with Brodie and that hurts.”

He didn’t have to say a word. His anguished look told her all she wanted to know.

“Ben, when in our relationship did you lose faith in me? Have I given you any reason not to believe me?”

“I don’t know and no. I didn’t really know until now that I had. Jealous, yeah. But any man in my position would be. I mean Brodie! Jesus, I can’t compete with a man like that.”

“You don’t have to!” She wanted to scream. “It was never a competition. What do you take me for, a slut? Where in my life did I turn into the kind of woman who would sleep with her boss? Did I make some huge metamorphosis that I don’t know about?”

“He’s got this rep….”

“Oh, the infamous rep! So what! Just because he’s a player doesn’t mean I got played. Did you boff every woman you worked with?”

“That’s a ridiculous question. Of course not.”

“Then why assume Brodie does?”

He said nothing, not meeting her eyes.

“Did I ever once compare you to him?”

“You remember his girlfriend, Amanda?”

“His ex, you mean. Resoundingly ex. What about her?”

“She told me once that she found you and Brodie in his office having sex. She said you two were having an affair and had been for some time.”

© 2012 Dellani Oakes

Undercover Lover – Part 16

Saige has finally made up her mind about Stan and Brodie. Deciding that their friendship is more important than whether any of them get laid, she reluctantly declines to get involved with either of them. Though disappointed, both men accept her decision. Saige leaves the bar and heads home.

Saige’s mother was a little chilly when she walked in. She didn’t want to talk, but couldn’t ignore her only child for long.

“Any calls while I was out?”

“Some nice sounding British boy,” she said. “Ronny?”

“Romy. My neighbor’s grandson. I ran into him when I was in town, but he was working. Hmm, he said he’d call, but I assumed he’d call my cell.”

“He said it was turned off, he couldn’t get through.”

“I’m an idiot,” she laughed at herself as she turned her phone back on. “Hm, twenty-seven voice messages. I wonder who they’re all from?”

She looked at the list with a resigned sigh. Surprisingly, they weren’t all from Ben. Seven were from Brodie, three from Romy, one from Stan, two from Joni and Tracy wondering where she had gotten off to, two from her mother and the rest from Ben.

Ignoring Ben’s, she listened to the ones from Brodie, Stan and Romy. Stan thanked her for the fun time on the deck and hoped one day to get beyond talking dirty to her voice mail, which he then proceeded to do. She kept that message.

Brodie’s messages were mostly work related, although he thanked her for joining him for breakfast. Romy’s messages were a bit odd. One was light and upbeat, but the others sounded a little more ominous.

“Call me as soon as you get this,” he said with some urgency. “I called your mum, but you weren’t there. Where are you? Dammit, turn on your bloody phone. Manky poxed bollocks! Call me!”

Without hesitating, she called him. He answered distractedly.

“Yeah, hi there. You got your messages, finally.”

“What’s wrong, Romy?”

“Look, love. I can’t talk at the mome. Can we meet?”

“Yeah, name a spot. I’m there.”

“I’ll come to you. Where are you?”
“My mom’s up at the lake.” She gave the address.

“Stay put and shove the car in the garage or round back.”

“What’s wrong, Romy?”

“Don’t ask questions, do it. Please?” He added the last as if he thought he should be more polite.

“Yeah. I’ll do it right now.”

“I’ll be there in twenty minutes.” He hung up.

“Mom, is there room for my car in the garage?”

“Sure. Why?”

“Nothing really. I think I have a small leak around the front window. I’ll see if I can get it fixed this week.”

“There’s plenty of room.”

“Thanks. Be right back.”

She put her car in the garage and closed the door. Not long after, Romy drove up, pulling around the side of the house with his car well away from the road and out of sight in the trees.

“Can we talk somewhere alone?”

“Yes. Would you like to meet my mother?”

“In a minute, maybe. Listen, someone saw me get in and out of your car. These are not nice people, Saige. They do bad things to nice people. If they think they can use you as leverage against me, they could hurt you.”

“What are you in the middle of, Romy?”

He closed his eyes, licking his lips slowly. “I shouldn’t say anything, but I’ll square it with the boss later. I know I can trust you. Okay.” He led her to the deck on the roof. “I’m ATF. Actually, I’m an independent agent and I work some with them. We’ve been working a gun smuggling ring that operates out of the city.”

“And they saw me with you?”

“One of them did, yeah. He’s a bugger under me who wants to make a name for himself. This is a very cut throat business, love. He’d kill his own mum to get my job.”

“Oh, God! Romy, you weren’t followed here were you?”

“No. I made sure. I’ve got friends keeping an eye on us. It’s okay, you don’t need to worry.”

“You’re not in danger are you?”

“No more than usual, love. I’m great. But I am worried about you. Be very careful where you go and what you do, all right? I shouldn’t have come up to you, but I didn’t know if there would be shooting and I didn’t want you hurt.”

“Should you be telling me any of this?”

He flashed a wicked smile, giving her a quick kiss. “Not a bit of it. Some pals of mine will be keeping an eye on you.”

“Do I get to meet these mystery men?”

“Better you don’t. If you get in trouble, call me at this number.” He handed her a slip of paper with a number scribbled on it. “If you can, say ‘911’. If you can’t say anything, leave the line open and we’ll find you.”

“This isn’t some sort of bullshit scam to get in my pants, is it?” Saige didn’t want to believe it could be true.

“I promise you, Saige, I’d rather just ask you. This isn’t bullshit, but I do want in your pants.” Winking, he kissed her quickly, trotting down the stairs two at a time. “I’ll meet your mum later,” he promised. “I have to run right now and talk to my boss. Remember, be careful.”

“What about my mom? What do I tell her?”

“Tell her Gran’s not well, I’m worried about her and asked you to look in on her periodically. Really, Saige, this can’t go further.”

“All right. No further, I promise.”

“I really do need to go,” he said reluctantly.

“Be careful.”

“I will.”

“Hey, Romy. If you see Ben, do me a favor?”

“Sure, what?”

“Kick the fooker in his ass, huh?” She imitated his accent.

He laughed abruptly, his eyes twinkling merrily. “Yeah, be happy to. Does this mean you’re a free agent?”

She shrugged. “That’s still pending. Call me, even when it’s not urgent.”

“Will do.”

© 2012 Dellani Oakes