Page 8 of The Other Man

We tried to talk Frankie and Estella into joining us, but they had plans that involved not waiting an extra hour or two to get home to their St. Andrew’s cross.  They were heavy into kink, to put it simply.

We said goodnight to them with hugs and airy cheek kisses.

“Hey, Blake,” I said as I got into the dark SUV idling at the curb in front of Bev’s house.

“Hey, girl,” Blake said, smiling at me in the rearview mirror.  She was Bianca’s longtime bodyguard/driver/friend.

“How come you didn’t come into girls’ night this time?” Danika asked as she slid in beside me.

Blake was usually a participant.  She went where Bianca went, with few exceptions.

“I had to make some phone calls for work, so I stayed out here.”

“Hey,” Bianca said to Blake, patting her on the shoulder as she got in last.  Another security guard, a male I wasn’t familiar with, closed the door behind her, then climbed into the front passenger’s seat.

“Hey,” Blake said back.  “How was the therapy session?”

Danika shot me a teasing smile.  “Pretty awesome.  You missed out with this one.  Lourdes had some bombshells to impart.”

I found myself blushing as I thought of all the things I’d let slip out of my mouth with just a few glasses of wine as lubricant.  “She’s exaggerating.  You didn’t miss anything important.”

“You might as well just tell me,” Blake said as she put the car into drive.  “Bianca will spill the beans later, if you don’t.  We all know it.”

I waved my hand in the air.  “That works for me.  Let her tell you.  I can’t seem to open my big mouth without oversharing.  Some details no one needs to know.”

Blake laughed.  “Oh no.  Will someone at least clue me into what kind of details she’s talking about?”

Without a word, Danika met her eyes in the rearview mirror and held her hands out with a good ten-inch gap between them.

We all started giggling.

“Well, hell,” Blake said when she caught a breath.  “I missed a doozy, huh?”

I glanced at the one male in the car, but he was sitting in the passenger’s seat, eyes aimed forward, acting like he couldn’t hear us.  I appreciated that.

“Where’s James?” I asked Bianca.  I just assumed he was out of town, because when he wasn’t, he usually showed up in person to pick her up, sometimes even coming early to sit in on girls’ night.

He was famously possessive of her time and person.

“New York.  It was only a two-day trip, and I’d have missed girls’ night, so I stayed in Vegas.”

Danika snorted.  “I bet he loved that.”

Bianca bit her lip, but it didn’t hide her smile.  “He did not.  I’m expecting him home anytime now, though he’s scheduled to come back in the morning.  You know how he is.”

“I can confirm that Mr. Cavendish boarded a flight about four hours ago, Mrs. Cavendish,” the man in the front seat said.

Bianca grinned.  “See.  I know my man.”

Danika nodded that she did.  “Whenever I catch myself thinking that Tristan is a possessive nut-job, I just remember that he’s mellow compared to James.”

“Just keep telling yourself that,” Blake muttered, eyes on the road.

That got another round of laughs.

Going anywhere with Bianca Cavendish was an experience.

The two, yes two, bodyguards we had with us that night were what they considered a light detail.  There was no current known threat to the soft-spoken woman, but due to past dangers to her person, and how high profile she was, (She and her husband were in the tabloids on a weekly basis.  Just a few days ago, I’d seen media coverage of her shopping for shoes.  Seriously.) she required at least two bodyguards when she went out in public.

I’d once asked her why two, and James had answered for her with, “One to cover her, the other to shoot back.”

In this instance, since we were in her husband’s resort, and at her best friend’s bar, it was fairly effortless to set up.  A section was roped off for us, the male bodyguard manning the ropes, with Blake sticking close to Bianca.

We sat on low, cushy sofas in the swanky bar and got beyond the normal VIP service.  Both owners greeted us with the drinks they knew we wanted before we could even order, and sat down for several minutes to chat with us.

I took a sip of the spectacular cabernet Stephan had handed to me and waved at my son, who was manning the bar.

He grinned and waved back.

Rafael had a great personality for bartending.  He liked people, liked to chat them up, liked to listen to their stories, enjoyed bantering with the tipsy and the outright drunk.

Currently, he was deep in discussion with one of the customers, a middle-aged man that looked three sheets to the wind.

Raf was good at humoring drunk people, though, and looked genuinely interested in whatever the other man was saying.

I decided to leave him be until he was unoccupied, because even though I was friends with the owners, this was a job for Raf, and I’d taught him from a young age that all jobs should be taken seriously, even the fun, part-time ones.

“James is on his way here now from the airport,” Stephan told Bianca as he pulled back from kissing her cheek.

Danika snorted inelegantly.  “That didn’t take long.”

“Psh,” Stephan returned, his eyes twinkling at Danika.  “You’re one to talk.  Tristan will be on his way here the second his show finishes, I guarantee it.”

“He doesn’t even know I’m here,” she pointed out.

Javier, Stephan’s husband, rolled his eyes.  “Pu-lease.  We all know he will track you down in under five minutes.”

She couldn’t exactly argue with that.  We all knew it was the truth.

Tristan and Danika’s story was an epic one.  Tragic in its way, but somehow all the more beautiful for it.

I’d joined the girls’ night just after they’d gotten married, and Danika had shared a bit with the group about their past and how it affected the present, how every time she woke and he was there beside her, it still hit her like a punch to the gut, because the two had been to hell and back together.

I was a hopeless romantic and so I’d gobbled their story up.  After all they’d gone through, that they’d somehow ended up back together after years estranged.  It was amazing how they’d been able to put the painful past behind them and remarry.  It pulled on my heartstrings in the best possible way.

Sure enough, not thirty minutes later, I heard a muttered, “Here comes Trouble,” come out of Danika, her eyes across the large bar aimed at the entrance.

She was smiling with what could only be called a besotted look on her face, but it turned mischievous as her eyes swung back to Bianca and I.

“Watch this,” she told us.  “It’s the funniest thing.  I can get him to go full caveman in under thirty seconds, I shit you not.”

Danika made her way to the bar, taking an empty stool between two men.  One of them turned immediately and said something to her, leaning forward as he did so.

She said something back, smiling blandly at the man.

Going by her expression, and his, they weren’t talking about anything particularly racy, but it was clear pretty quickly that it didn’t matter.

Tristan had arrived.  He was a great, massive hunk of a man, several inches over six feet, and built broad and muscular, his fitted shirt hugging every inch of his rock hard frame.  It was a white shirt, and you could see under the white that his chest was as covered in ink as his arms.

Tristan spotted and converged on them like a force of nature.  He was across the bar, wedging his huge self in the narrow space between the two stools before you could say caveman.

We could have counted it down, it was that fast and inevitable.

Five.  Four.  Three.  Two.  One.

“You know this is my wife, right?” Tristan’s voice boomed loud enough to be heard by all.

I covered my mouth, trying hard to stifle my laugh.

Bianca was doing the same a few feet to my left.

“And she calls him Trouble,” Stephan laughed.

When the smiling couple moved across the room to join us, Tristan’s arm wrapped around her small waist, anchoring her to his side.

They made a striking pair.  Both with pitch black hair and turn your head stunning looks.  They complemented each other in the best way.  She highlighted his massive size, and his virile presence emphasized her extravagant femininity.  Danika wasn’t short, but he towered over her, making her look tiny, like he could pick her up with one hand.

They were walking, but his whole self was focused on her, head bent down, body turned in.  He was whispering something into her ear that had her giggling uncontrollably.

What I’d give to have a man love me like that.

Tristan’s dimples flashed as he greeted our group.

I wondered who was bigger, Heath or Tristan.  It was hard to say.  They were of a size.  They’d have to be side by side to tell for sure.

The next big entrance was made about twenty minutes later by a fresh from the airport James.

Tags: R.K. Lilley Romance