Authors: Tymber Dalton
The reality of the situation slammed home as Aidan drove home to get ready.
love. Even better, he was in love with someone who wanted more than a fast fuck and who was willing to take things as slow as he was.
He changed clothes several times, wanting to look nice for Jeff. He settled on a sedate button-up shirt and jeans. Aidan smiled as he buttoned the shirt. It was new
e’d bought it a few weeks earlier when he took Jeff shopping with him.
“You’re a handsome man,” Jeff had said. “The wild shirts are great. I’m not saying you should stop wearing them, it’s who you are. I love your wild shirts. There’s more to you than a party animal, and every once in a while it’s nice to see that side, too.”
I hope Jeff likes how I’m dressed.
It struck Aidan squarely between the eyes that he’d never,
thought that before. For anyone. He’d never given a shit what others thought about his clothes. He let Kal tease him about it because she was Kal, but he’d never honestly given consideration or weight to her opinion on the matter.
He arrived fifteen minutes early and rang Jeff’s doorbell. He had thought about stopping by to see Will and Kal, then decided against it. They were probably busy in bed, knowing those two.
Jeff opened his door and smiled. “Wow, you look nice!”
Aidan felt the flush in his face. “Yeah?”
Jeff nodded. “Yeah. That shirt looks good with your eyes.”
Okay, he could easily settle for letting Jeff dress him, he obviously had the talent for it. “Thanks.” He leaned in and kissed Jeff and felt his nervous stomach settle. Aidan closed his eyes and savored the sensation. No one had ever made him feel like this before.
“But do you like it, Aid?” Jeff asked when Aidan finally, reluctantly, ended their kiss.
Jeff touched Aidan’s shirt. “I mean, you won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t. I don’t want you to totally change how you dress. It’s…” He shrugged. “Yeah, this’ll sound dumb. I like your wild shirts, but I really like seeing you like this sometimes.”
“Beats a little black dress, huh?”
Jeff burst out laughing. “Um, yeah. No, please don’t ever show up in a little black dress, dude. You don’t have the legs for it.”
Aidan drove them across the bay to St. Pete Beach, to a restaurant on the Intracoastal. He rested his hand between the seats as he drove and was pleasantly surprised when Jeff laced his fingers through his.
Jeff squeezed back.
Aidan glanced at him and smiled, his heart flipping at the sight of Jeff’s pleased, playful grin.
He could easily get used to this.
* * * *
Bera watched from her table across the restaurant. She’d made sure to get one away from the bathrooms, because she didn’t want to risk Aidan passing her table. The two men talked, laughed, and made nauseatingly cute moonie eyes at each other across the table.
If she wasn’t mistaken, Aidan hadn’t claimed the guy yet. Not even fucked him, probably. Not from the way Aidan was acting.
Hmm, that could work to my advantage.
Definitely weren’t soul mates yet, that much was obvious.
Thank the gods for that small favor.
Well, if she nailed Aidan, maybe her kid would be a little on the dorky side, but that didn’t matter. Bloodline was key, not brains or even whether he was queer or not. She’d be hiring a nanny anyway. It’s not like she’d have to take an active role in its childhood once her part in the initial incubation was done. All she needed was a line heir. Nothing in the unwritten rules said she had to be the one to raise it.
Bera ordered another drink and watched the two men.
* * * *
Aidan didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to the clock. All he cared about was staring into Jeff’s eyes. He had to fight the urge to tell the waitress to leave them the home alone until he remembered they were at a restaurant. It was her job, after all.
The evening ended far too soon. They both had to work the next day. As much as Aidan didn’t want to take Jeff home, he knew that for tonight it was the right thing to do.
At Jeff’s front door, Aidan leaned in and kissed him. He closed his eyes and savored every second, the other man’s taste, the feel of his warm body pressed against his, and he fought the urge to…
Aidan stepped back, gasping. “I should probably go.”
Jeff smiled. “Don’t you want to come in for a little while?”
“No… I mean, yeah, I do.” He laughed. “If I do come in, it won’t be for just a little while.”
Jeff closed the gap between them. “I’d be okay with that.”
Aidan gulped and fought the urge to push Jeff inside his condo and follow him to his bedroom. “Man, I want this to be right. I want to do the right thing.”
“Who says we’re not?”
“You ain’t making this easy on me.”
“I was hoping to make it hard.”
Aidan started to reply, caught the playful glint in Jeff’s eye, then laughed. “Um, yeah, no problem there.” He kissed Jeff once more. “I don’t want to rush you.”
“It’s only been a few weeks. I don’t want you waking up hating my guts.”
“I’d never do that.”
Aidan squeezed his eyes shut while his brain and body each vied for control over the situation. “Hey, I let you pick out clothes for me. That’s a huge step right there. I’ve never let anyone do that for me. In some cultures that would make us married already.”
Jeff laughed. “Okay. I can settle for that. For now.” He kissed Aidan one last time. “Drive safely.”
Aidan waited until Jeff closed the door to return to his car. In his brain he chanted
over and over again.
Big freaking chicken, that’s what he was.
At least Jeff seemed patient. That was a good thing.
* * * *
Bera grinned when Aidan left Jeff’s. Nope, the big doof hadn’t taken him yet.
That made life much easier. Now she had to figure out when to grab the guy. She couldn’t let Aidan spot her following them around, either. She’d hoped to make contact with Jeff when he got up to go to the bathroom at the restaurant, but the guy must have a huge bladder and she never got the opportunity to touch him.
She thought she’d managed to allay the worst of Ryan’s suspicions with that cock
bull story she fed him and Will about the guys who killed Abby and what happened to the lone survivor when he returned to Tavares. They seemed to believe her.
The amulet Boorman had given her helped with that. If she’d had only her amulet from The Firm, no doubt Ryan would have seen right through her.
This should not have taken this long. She wouldn’t screw up her next opportunity.
Kal tried to not let her mom catch her sneaking pe
ks at her BlackBerry while they were at the cake
This is sooo boring.
A quick trip to Vegas was looking better all the time. Yes, all her life she’d dreamed of Mr. Right on his white steed and a storybook wedding. What she’d gotten was a reluctant archdemon who had to pop her cherry to get rid of the wraith inside her, becoming his soul mate in the process.
Not that she was complaining, because an eternal life with Will Hellenboek was pretty dang sweet, to say the least. The problem was, with reality shaving the pretty edge off the dreams, the wedding didn’t matter to her anymore. What mattered was surviving the sugar coma her mother and best friend, Becky, were determined to put her into sampling wedding cakes.
“What do you think about that one?” her mom asked.
Kal tried not to roll her eyes. “It’s chocolate.”
“No, Kalypso Kid, it’s not chocolate. It’s ‘Viennese Mocha Truffle.’” Becky grinned.
Kal’s will gave out. Her eyes rolled. “It’s chocolate. It’s good chocolate, but it’s still chocolate.”
never should have told Mom that Ryan insisted on paying for everything.
Even though her mother hadn’t met Ryan, she was already gushing over him as if he was an adopted son.
Without a budget to stick to, her mother went nuts. It was a small secret between Kal and Ryan, a wedding gift, he’d explained when he presented her with a corporate credit card to use for all the wedding expenses.
Both realized it would be more comfortable to not tell Will that part.
Her mother didn’t care
t meant she could throw the wedding she’d always envisioned. Another set of samples was placed before them. Kal never realized cake tasting parties were so popular, and she wished she’d eaten a decent, protein-packed lunch beforehand.
Her mom pointed to a red velvet cake sample. “What about this one?”
“The term ‘bleeding armadillo cake’ comes to mind. And that would be a firm no.” Kal tasted it anyway because it was her favorite flavor of all the ones offered so far.
Somehow, the thought of a red cake at an archdemon’s wedding was just a little too much for Kal to bear. It would be hard enough getting through the ceremony without breaking into a giggle fit as it was. If Aidan so much as cracked a smile at her, she’d lose it.
Thank God her mother had accepted Will without hassle.
Her BlackBerry buzzed again, a text message from Jeff. Her mom and Becky were debating the lemon chiffon versus the key lime fondant while Kal quickly punched in an answer to his question. A moment later, a reply.
You need rescuing? :)
It was tempting. Sooo tempting. An excuse to duck out and let them pick, but she did want to at least have a say in this part. The food and the cake were things she’d have to eat. The dress she had to wear, and the tuxes and bridesmaid dresses she had to see in pictures. Everything else she could care less about.
I’ll let u knw. Tks.
This situation was reality bent into an irretrievably whacked pretzel of ginormous proportions. She had no idea where they were honeymooning. When she’d told Will he could plan that, Aidan had immediately jumped in and volunteered to make the arrangements. It was now officially a secret the men and her mother were keeping from her. It would have worried Kal except she knew Aidan well enough to know he would pick something sweet and nice. Just because he had horrible fashion sense didn’t mean he was a total doof.
Plus Will got the final say-so.
“Kalyani Martin, put that away!” her mother scolded.
working, you know. The office has to be able to get in touch with me.” She played the guilt card. “I mean, my boss
the one paying for this. I feel like at the very least I should try to work when I can.”
Kal felt only a little guilty about that.
It had the desired effect. “Well, at least keep it out of sight. That’s rude.”
“We’re not having dinner. We’re tasting wedding cake samples.”
Becky burped and put a hand to her mouth. “Sorry. ’Scuse me. We still doing lunch later, Kaliente?” Becky had a never-ending list of nicknames for Kal.
Kal pushed away the remains of an “Ivory Elegance Vanilla” sample. “Yeah. If I’m not being pumped full of insulin at the ER.”
“I can’t make it, girls,” Laura told them. “I need to shop for groceries, and I want to get home to your father. He had another headache this morning.”
“When is his appointment?”
“Day after tomorrow. I’m sure he’s right that it’s migraines, but I’ll feel so much better to have a doctor tell me that.”
Kal suddenly lost what little appetite she had left for cake. “You know what? I’m done. I’m going into sugar shock. I want to leave room for a real lunch.” She examined the remnants and pointed. “That one, what was that?”
Becky consulted the list. “Vanilla Cake With Looey Lemon Crème Filling.”
“Done. Looey Lemon Crème it is.” Kal held up her hand, waving one of the “Let Them Eat Cake” staff over. They were just one of twenty tables full of prospective brides and their posses deciding what to serve on their big days.
“No, young lady, we’re not done,” her mother scolded. “That was just the flavor. Now you have to pick the style.”
* * * *
An hour later they bid good
bye to Laura in the parking lot. Becky followed Kal to a nearby restaurant. On the way, Kal called Ryan on her cell.
“Did you survive, love?”
“Barely. Looey Lemon Crème won. I gave up with about twenty samples to go. I couldn’t take it anymore.” Ryan truly had seemed to put their little squabble behind them. She’d been worried when she called to him that morning to go to Columbus, but he’d greeted her with a smile and hug.
“Sounds wonderful, I’m sure. What’s next?”
“Lunch with Becky. If you’re not busy, why don’t you join us?”
For a second, she thought the call dropped. Then he said, “I’d love to. I’ll return the car for you. Just tell your friend I had someone drop me off so I could run you to the airport.”
“You’re good.” She told him where to meet them before ending the call.
He’s such a sweetie.
And after the friggin’ wedding, she
get him and Will and Aidan back together again for good.
* * * *
Ryan hung up and looked at the phone. He shouldn’t. It was wrong. Yet he couldn’t refuse a chance to spend time with Kal without Will around. He wouldn’t have to shield his thoughts
and part of his mind could pretend.