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Undercover Lover – Part 41

Brodie and Saige put in long hours on the Stevens project, trying to finish it. Inevitably, Brodie complains about Mr. Stevens, a self-important, annoying pimple of a man. 

“And that was one of the things he wanted from the start. Now he wants it back. So we have to rearrange the entire first floor again,” Saige explained.

“I hate this guy,” Brodie growled.

“Want me to break his legs?” King sounded completely serious. They didn’t realize he was kidding until he started to laugh. “Little bit of strong arm humor,” he chuckled. “You should see your face, Brodie. You’d love for me to do it.”

“I can’t emphasize what a pain in the ass this man is. I hope he dies in his sleep, after he pays me.”

Shortly before noon, they stopped so Saige could pay her lunchtime visit to Julia’s. Flanked by extra security, they moved quickly from building and car, keeping Saige between them. If sheer looks alone didn’t intimidate anyone who might be watching, the weapons they carried would.

Julia had lunch prepared and insisted they all share it with her. Having nothing much else to do, they sat down for fish and chips followed by a desert called Spotted Dick. The men were leery of trying it until she laughingly brought out a steamed pudding.

With many thanks and very full bellies, they reversed the process of their arrival and headed back to Suzie’s by a very indirect route. The man driving constantly checked the rear view mirror and the others kept an eye out for anyone who might be following them.

“Is someone watching Julia too?”

“Don’t worry about her. She’s being seen to. Romy can’t make her security as obvious as he can yours. He told Julia that stalker story to explain our presence,” King explained.

“Do we have to go through this every time we go out?”

“I’m afraid so,” King answered.

“How much is this costing tax payers?”

King’s smile spread across his dark face. His white teeth and sparkling eyes reminded Saige of Mr. Eko on “Lost”.

“We are doing this from the kindness of our hearts,” King replied with a wink. “This costs you nothing.”

“It’s already paid for,” his partner, Harmony said, who was driving. “Why do you think it costs the government three hundred dollars for a toilet seat?”

* * *

Back at the apartment, Saige and Brodie resorted to playing video games. He wanted a first person shooter, but Saige didn’t like the reminder that men with guns wanted to hurt her. They settled for “Guitar Hero II”. Saige had played it on the Sony Playstation, but Brodie had the X-Box version. She refused to play competitive, preferring to stick with the cooperative mode instead.

“You afraid I’ll whip your tight little ass?” Brodie asked her with a challenge in his eye.

“I wouldn’t want to humiliate you in front of King.”

“I hear a challenge in there, Brodie. You can’t let that go, man.”

“How about a compromise? I’ll play however many songs you want in co-op if you play me once in competitive. You can pick the song.”

“Do I have to win?”

“Nope, just give it a try.”

“Okay, deal. You heard him, King. You’re my witness. I don’t have to win.”

“I’m not getting into this battle.” He held up his hands helplessly. “Either way, you lose, Brodie. Cause if you embarrass her, she’s going to make you one miserable man.”

“I’m already miserable, what more can she do?”

Saige went to competitive mode and chose one of the most difficult songs in the game.

Jordan? You want to play me on this? That’s a pretty tough song.”

“You said I didn’t have to win.”

“Okay, but if I beat you, you can’t cry.”

“I promise.”

© 2012 Dellani Oakes

Undercover Lover – Part 40

Because someone’s threatened Saige, she and Brodie plan to work at Suzie’s apartment for the day. He arrives in the morning and identifies himself, making it clear, by the use of Suzie’s confirmation name, that he is who he claims. He and Saige settle in for a day of work.

Saige laughed as she helped Brodie unload. He’d brought donuts and bagels as well as several files they could work on. He also had a bag of movies and video games.

“If we get bored, we can play,” he said with a grin. “Since we can’t occupy ourselves any better way.” He looked very disgusted at that thought.

“Sorry, Brodie. I’m spoken for.”

“I know. I’d try to steal you away, but Romy can kill me with his little finger. No booty is worth getting killed over.”

“Okay,” Suzie said brightly. “You know where everything is, right? You know how to reach us if you need us. I’ll be at Trevor’s,” she told Brodie.

“Everyone’s getting laid but me.” He looked disgusted.

“I love you anyway, Brodie.” Suzie gave him a kiss on the cheek. “See you later.”

“Try not to gloat too much. Hey, Trev. Congratz, man. Give her one for me, huh?”

Suzie slapped him, pretending to frown. “I’ll be sure to call your name loudly when he does. Oh, Brodie! Oh, oh!” She panted and moaned, saying his name over and over.

Brodie went red around the collar of his T-shirt. Swallowing with difficulty, he glanced at Suzie. “You’ve made your point.”

“Ooh, good,” she drawled. “So—good!” She added with a little catch in her throat.

Trevor and King looked mildly amused, but more than a little hot. King and Brodie exhaled slowly after she left. The tall, black man frowned slightly, looking between them.

“Help me out here. Who’s with who?”

“I work with Brodie,” Saige explained. “But I’m dating Romy.”

“And Suzie?”

“Is apparently with Trevor. Though one continues to hold out a vague hope,” Brodie commented dryly. “Me, I’m not with anyone. My life sucks.”

“I hear ya, friend. I broke up with my long time girl about a month ago. I found her in bed with someone else.”

“Me too,” Brodie said stiffly, not elaborating. “Can we talk about something else, please?”

“Yeah. I don’t much like being reminded I ain’t getting any either.”

“I realized after talking to Stan yesterday, we’ve got a lot more to change on Stevens’ project than we realized. He wants some stuff from the first design, elements of the second and a little bit of the third.”

“What a dick,” Saige commented as she cleared the dining table.

“I’m to the point, if he doesn’t like this design, he can go somewhere else. We’ll keep the designs to date and he can eat the expense. I’m not releasing these until the cheapskate pays for them.”

They settled down with their coffee and bagels for a long day of making changes to the plans. Brodie had his laptop with him and they plugged the changes into the architectural program.

“I’ll have Stan clean this up for me before we present. I hate doing it this way. He makes fewer mistakes than I do.”

“He’s good, but you’re a genius. I couldn’t ever do what you do, Brodie. I have no imagination at all.”

He chuckled, closing his computer. “Sure you do. Whose idea was the sushi and salad bar for the new health club? That was an inspiration.”

“People get hungry,” she shrugged. “After a workout, I always want to eat. But you’re there to get healthy and lose weight, so what could be better?”

King was interested despite himself. “This is for the new Stevens’ gym?”

“Yeah, you know him?”

“Not personally. I work out at one of them, but this new one is supposed to be closer to my house. Can I see?”

They showed him the elevation and basic floor plan that Stevens had rejected. He grinned, greatly impressed.

“This is cool. What’s wrong with it? It looks like it’s got everything.”

“I’m not really sure. He wants to increase the size of the lobby for one thing. No one hangs out in the lobby. We have plenty of space allotted to the food court, complete with tables. We had a juice bar, but he cut that after the first draft.”

© 2012 Dellani Oakes

Undercover Lover – Part 39

Exhausted and afraid, Saige finally breaks down. Suzie does her best to comfort her, but it’s Trevor that really starts to make her feel better.

“But I’m not part of the job,” Saige insisted.

“No. Protecting you is. You’re not just his girlfriend, you’re his client.”

Saige giggled, thinking of the odd implications that had. “I want you to know that’s really weird, Trevor.”

He shrugged, agreeing with her. “Never said it wasn’t. This case is almost over. When it is, a lot of these folks will be locked away. You won’t have to worry anymore.”

“I hope you’re right.”

“Of course I am. I’ve been doing this a few years, working with Romy. We go back a long way. He’s the best.”

“Thanks, Trevor. Suzie, I feel a lot better now. Thank you. I’m bawling like a baby.”

“I would be too. I think you’ve held up real well in all this. I’d have fallen apart way before now. Probably somewhere between the chloroform and the coffee.”

“Not you, Suzie, you trash baddies all the time.”

“Oh, stop.”

“You put that one guy in the hospital after he hit your friend.”

“What guy?” Trevor asked.

“My college roommate’s ex-fiancé, Nick. He liked to hit women. Now he can’t hit anyone because I broke one arm in three places and dislocated the other.”

Trevor winced then chuckled. “What discipline do you study?”

“I’m a black belt in karate and working on Krav Maga.”

“Really?” He looked impressed. “Cool.”

They made sure Saige was all right and went back to the living room. Saige could hear them talking as they walked down the hall.

“What can you do, Trev?”

“I’m a black belt in Capoeira and Kung Fu. Working on Krav Maga too. Can you shoot?”

“Baby, I ‘m Southern. I could hold a gun before I could talk ….”

Their voices faded to a low mumble as she fell asleep. It seemed only minutes that she slept before Suzie woke her.

“Hey, wake up, sleepy. It’s almost nine. Brodie called, he’ll be here soon. The new guy is here. He’s having a cup of coffee with me and Trev.”

“K, I’ll be out in a couple minutes.”

Saige dressed in some clothing Suzie had loaned her and went to the living room. A huge, dark skinned man sat across the coffee table from Suzie and Trevor. He stood when she walked in.

“Hi, Miss Ingalls. I’m King.” He sounded like a cross between Tone Loc and Barry White.

“King? Is that your first name?” She blinked blearily, slightly confused.

He chuckled, sitting back down. “Yes, ma’am. You know, kind of like Prince?”

“Can you sing?”

“Not that well, ma’am. But I’m a hell of a dancer.”

“Good. The world needs more dancers. Coffee?” She smiled, inhaling the mug Suzie handed her. “Sorry, I’m not much good without out a few of these. Nice to meet you, King.”

“We’ll stay long enough to vouch for Brodie,” Trevor told him. “But you know how to reach me.”

“With luck, we won’t have to interrupt your—sleep,” King laughed.

There was a tentative tap at the door. Trevor and King flanked it, Suzie and Saige stayed put, out of the direct line of sight.

“Who is it?” Suzie called, trying not to sound scared.

“It’s Malcolm Wallace Brodie,” he answered. “Suzanne Colette Joan Graph, let me in. My hands are full. I bring documents and food.”

“That’s Brodie,” Suzie winced. “He’s the only one besides my family who remembers my confirmation name.”

“Saint Joan of Arc?” Trevor asked as he carefully opened the door, checked the street and closed it quickly behind Brodie. “Why did you pick her?”

“She stuck up for what she believed in. I admired the hell out of that when I was a kid. A little bitty girl got to tell armies of grown men what to do and whooped some serious ass.”

“Until a man betrayed her,” Saige reminded her.

“Yeah, I know. The bastard.”

Undercover Lover – Part 38

Saige and Suzie settle in for the night, with Trevor to guard them. He and Suzie seem to be hitting it off rather well, so Saige decides to make herself scarce.

“You know, I think I’m going to go to bed,” Saige said, feeling like a fifth wheel. “It’s been a long day and I’m super tired. I doubt I’ll hear a thing all night.”

Suzie laughed as Saige yawned and stretched dramatically. “See? Super sleepy, that’s me.”

“Don’t feel like you have to rush off on my account,” Trevor looked uncomfortable. “I’m on duty. When I’m working, there are no distractions.” He eyed Suzie with deep regret. “But I’m not working tomorrow.” He raised an eyebrow.

“I don’t have to be in until six P.M.,” Suzie grinned. “Oh, Brodie and Saige will be here.”

“No reason for you to stay and be bored,” Saige suggested. “Maybe Trevor could take you to his place?”

“I could do that.” Trevor winked at Saige. “Hell yeah, I could. Oh, there will be different guys on during the day. I’ll confirm their identities. They don’t need to know, you know….” He turned slightly red.

“Thanks, Trev. You’re a peach.” Saige kissed his cheek. “I really am tired. I’m gonna crash, Suzie. Night, both.”

“Night, hon. Sleep well.”

“I’ll try.”

Saige went to her room trying not to let herself get upset. She missed Romy, but that wasn’t the only problem. She hated to admit that she was scared. The day had come at her too quickly for her to think about it. Now that it was quiet and she was alone, she started to tremble.

She collapsed on the bed, sobbing uncontrollably. She felt like throwing up. Her headache pounded, her heart raced. All the happy, perky, upbeat shit she’d been dishing out was all lies. She had never in her life been so afraid. Why did someone want to hurt her? Some random, faceless, nameless entity wanted to use her to send Romy a message. What message? I’m a crazed, psychotic, douchebag?

Life wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was predictable, orderly, neat. Since Friday night nothing was at all controlled. Everything was crazy. She felt like she was on a roller coaster with broken tracks and no brakes. There was a light tapping at the door and Suzie peeped in.

“Are you all right, honey?”

Suzie was at Saige’s side in an instant. Comforting arms held her as she cried. Suzie talked to her like she was a child, holding her and letting her cry. She didn’t rush Saige, didn’t try to get her to stop like the men did.

“You go ahead and cry all you want,” Suzie said softly. “You deserve it, honey. The guys can say what they want about being calm and not getting upset, but you’ve got a right to have as big a fit as you want tonight. Then tomorrow, you put on your big girl panties and face the day with a bazooka.”

“I’m so scared. And I’m worried about everyone else. My mom. What if they try to hurt her?”

Trevor came in quietly, treading softly to the bed. He sat on the floor, facing the bed. His huge form was comforting. Saige felt that nothing could hurt her as long as he was around.

“They aren’t going to bother your mom,” he assured her.

“Why not? What’s to stop them?”

“They figure she’s not that important. Losing you would upset Romy. Something happens to your mom, not going to affect him that much. But they do something like tonight, it makes everyone paranoid. You start thinking ‘what if?’ Scared people panic and make mistakes. They could have killed you tonight, but they didn’t. This shows Romy that they could if they wanted to. It’s supposed to make him so scared that he panics.”

“And he’s not?”

“Not Romy. The man is cold as ice when he’s working.”

Undercover Lover – Part 37

Saige is safely ensconced at Suzie’s apartment. She and Brodie had a revealing chat on their way there. Now, he’s not talking to her or anyone else.  Shortly after she gets there, Ben calls. The conversation doesn’t go well.

“Saige, what the hell is wrong with you? I asked where you’d been. This is not the third degree here.” He sounded wounded.

Saige was tired of the whining quality of his voice. He sounded defeated, sorry for himself. She couldn’t stand it.

“Is there some reason you called?”

“I saw your car at Brodie’s yesterday. Mind explaining?”

“I mind quite a lot, actually. Why do you care?”

“You said you weren’t sleeping with him.”

“I’m not. There are other things you can do at a man’s apartment than sleep, Ben. But I don’t suppose you remember those activities very well.”

“Now you’re just being waspish. What are you PMS-ing?”

“You know that’s one of your least attractive traits. I get irritated with you for spying on me and not only do you pass it off on hormones, you toss it back in my face. No, this isn’t PMS

speaking, it’s me. A. Don’t spy on me. B. Don’t try to blame me and everyone else for your problems. C. Grow the fuck up and D. Don’t call me anymore. Ever!” She hung up on him and purged his number from her phone.

Back in the living room, her friends gave her a mixed variety of non-verbal messages. All of them wanted to know who the call was from, but none of them wanted to ask her.

“That was Ben,” she explained. “I told him not to call me anymore.” She flopped down on the couch between Stan and Brent. “He thinks I’m having a thing with Brodie.”

By the door, Brodie snorted, laughing mirthlessly. “Would that were true,” he mumbled to his knuckles.

“He saw my car over there last night and made a series of wrong assumptions.”

“This is your ex, right?” Brent asked her with a frown. “How much of a problem is he likely to be?”

“Ben? Not much. He’s a pussy,” Stan answered.

“Even wimps can cause trouble,” Trevor countered.

“He’d rather cry about how the world is treating him than do anything about it,” Saige added.

“Is it time for me to go yet?” Brodie asked impatiently.

“Sure, you’ve had time for a quickie,” Brent said after glancing at his watch.

“I don’t do quickies,” Brodie smirked. “I like to take my time and savor the sensual sensations.” His eyes lingered on Saige. “Suzie, you have anymore coffee?”

“Yeah, Brodie. I’ll get you some.”

She poured him a cup of coffee from the insulated carafe on the table. She fixed it just the way he liked it and brought it to him.

“Thanks, Suz. That marriage proposal is still open, you know.”

Suzie winked, tugging his face toward hers. Almost, but not quite kissing him, she smiled. “Yes, I know. Pity I have to turn you down —again.”

He groaned before sipping his coffee. “You’re killing me, Suzie. I just want you to know that.”

“I know, Brodie. You’re always saying I’m evil.”

“In ways that other people aren’t,” he countered.

Saige’s phone rang again. This time it wasn’t Ben, it was Romy. She stepped into Suzie’s bedroom again, shutting the door behind her.

“Hi there!”

“Hey, beautiful. Having a good time?”

“It would be better if you were here with me. Barring that, it’s oodles of fun sitting around sipping coffee like civilized people. Are you all right?”

“Yeah. It’s been a long day. I’ve been explaining to my boss’ boss my actions over the last couple days. Not fun.”

“Did I get you in trouble?”

“Not really. Well, indirectly. I got myself in a mire when I spoke to you. But I would’ve been there eventually anyway.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because I’d decided to ask you out. I wasn’t going to let someone else snatch you up. I knew you’d been spending time with Brodie and it was eating me alive inside.”

“I’m not that special, Romy.”

“Oh, love, you’ve no idea. I think that innocence of spirit appeals to me the most. You really don’t know why I’m crazy about you, do you?”

She giggled lightly, loving the sound of his voice. “Brodie says I sparkle.”

“That’s too mundane a word. Scintillate, that’s what you do. Like a star. You light up a room with your smile.” He sighed longingly. “God, I miss you. Is everything all right?”

Undercover Lover – Part 36

After a brief, but revealing, conversation with Brodie, Saige realizes how his last relationship tore him up when it fell apart. Amanda trashed his heart and his spirit with her actions.

“Brodie, from a strictly objective standpoint, you have a perfect life. You’re creative, successful, intelligent, handsome, comfortably well off. God, are you sexy! If you let that little plastic lipped slut make you think there’s something wrong with you, I’ll personally bitch slap you to South Dakota!”

He laughed quietly, his eyes misty. “It’s a long way to South Dakota. Sure you have the stamina for that?”

“I’ll beat you all the way to Oregon if I have to. You helped me see myself in a different light. I’m trying to help you too. I’d have quit my job to be with you,” she admitted quietly. “I’d never have done it to keep Ben, but I would have if it had meant I could keep you.”

“You’re serious?” He was stunned. “Why didn’t you, then?”

“I couldn’t come between you and Stan. You’re jacked and smoking hot, Brodie, but no nookie in the world is worth losing your best friend.”

Brodie hated to admit she was right. He took her face in his hands, bringing her lips to his. Just before he kissed her, he spoke so softly she hardly heard him.

“I’ve got to do this just once more.”

His kiss was overpowering, mind boggling, full of missed opportunities and promises forever unfulfilled. As suddenly as he started, he stopped. Putting the car in gear, he took off in a shower of gravel. He wouldn’t talk the entire twenty-five minutes it took to get to Suzie’s. He turned up the Metallica CD until it was almost painfully loud.

Saige closed her eyes against unexpected tears. She wasn’t sure why she was crying, but she thought it was for Brodie. He was so lonely and every moment he spent with her made him think about it even more. She hoped he’d meet a woman soon who would love him as wildly and passionately as he would love her.

He drove with a singularity of purpose, concentrating on the road, shifting gears as if the car had insulted him. Roaring down the road at over a hundred miles an hour, she was afraid he was going to get stopped for speeding. By some miracle he didn’t.

When they got to Suzie’s, he walked her in, but she didn’t keep up their pretense. Touching him would have upset him too much, so she pretended instead that they’d had an argument and kept her distance.

 Brent and Trevor stood in the living room with Suzie and Stan, sipping coffee, waiting patiently for Brodie and Saige to sit down. The huge hulking bodies of the two large men dwarfed Suzie’s small apartment. Stan was the only one who didn’t look as if he’d break a chair by sitting in it.

Brodie said nothing when they got inside. He stood by the door with his fist pressed to his lips, leaning against a bookshelf. Suzie offered him coffee, but he didn’t seem to hear her. A curious glance at Saige didn’t tell her anything. Stan cleared his throat, but still didn’t get his friend’s attention. Saige figured a bomb going off might have had a chance, but nothing short of a holocaust was going to make much of an impression on her moody boss.

They sat in relative silence for several minutes while Brodie brooded. Usually a man of action, his static pose was disconcerting for everyone. The emotions radiating off him were

enough to set the air in the room vibrating. Tension was thick, palpable.

Saige’s phone rang, breaking the silence and easing a tiny bit of the tension in the room with the silly, upbeat pop tune. She looked at the name and number. It was Ben. Walking into Suzie’s bedroom, she answered.

“What?”

“Where the hell have you been? I’ve been trying to reach you for over an hour.”

“Why does it matter? I don’t remember having to report my movements to you,” she snapped.

Undercover Lover – Part 35

On the way to Suzie’s, Brodie reveals to Saige that he knows more about Romy and his profession than she’d realized. What he has to say is somewhat disturbing.

“Why do you know all this?”

“He and I have known each other a long time, Saige. He lives in my building. He thought I should know in case anything ever went wrong and they came after him at home. He thought it was important for me to know he wasn’t a criminal, since I helped them get the place.”

“I’ve gotten myself in a mess, haven’t I?”

“Kind of a big one, yes. But he really cares about you. It’s funny, I just remembered he used to talk about you. He didn’t always call you by name, but he’d mention this beautiful girl who lived above his Gran. He helped you move in.” 

“He and his brothers, but mostly Romy. He figured out how to get my grandmother’s piano upstairs. I was so excited, I gave him a big kiss and told him he was amazing. I’d forgotten that.”

“He hasn’t.”

“Brodie, what makes me so special? There are prettier girls with better figures, better everything. Why me?”

“You really don’t know?”

She shook her head, wide eyed. Brodie huffed into his fist, leaning his elbow against the window as he sped around another car. He didn’t answer right away and Saige began to wonder if he would.

“I can’t speak for everyone, only myself. But it’s the way you get so excited about everything. You throw yourself into a project and and don’t stop until it’s done. Or you laugh at me and don’t take me too seriously even when I am myself. You have this energy that pulls a guy in and makes him feel as if he’s the most important person in the world…. The last few months though, you haven’t been yourself. It’s good to see that sparkle back in your eyes.”

“Thanks, Brodie. It’s good to be back.”

He laughed sardonically. “I wish to God I could take the credit. You’ve no idea how much.”

“So, what happened between you and Amanda? I know you broke up and she’s seeing someone else, but you were never specific.”

He gave her a sidelong glance as they drove up and parked by the lighthouse on a small peninsula that jutted into the lake. “You won’t say anything?”

“Of course not.”

“Because not everyone knows and I’d just as soon they didn’t ever find out.” He continued as if he hadn’t paused. “She left me for a woman.” He said so quietly, she almost didn’t hear him.

“Oh, Brodie! No wonder your confidence is shot to hell.”

“Thanks for the upbeat commentary, Saige.” He snorted, laughing into his knuckles.

“Can I tell you something from a woman’s point of view?”

“Sure, why not?”

“Forget whatever she said to you. You are an incredible man and any woman would be lucky to land you. If circumstances were different, I’d have snagged you ages ago.”

“Really?” He sounded so hopeful. “We keep missing one another. Timing, I suck at it.”

“The timing is bad because we aren’t meant to be together. If we were, it would all have worked out.”

“You really believe that, don’t you?”

“Look at me and Romy. Through an odd and random series of circumstances, we got together. When you meet the right woman, everything will line up for you too.”

“I hope it’s soon. I can’t begin to tell you how much being celibate sucks.”

“I have a pretty good idea.” She smiled, laying her hand on his.

He squeezed her fingers and kissed her hand. “Yeah, I know you do.”

“Where’s the old Brodie confidence?”

“Amanda smashed it into infinitesimal pieces, trampled what was left and hurled the rest into outer space.”

“You’re letting her win.”

He chuckled softly. “Yeah, well ….”