Read His Love Lesson Online

Authors: Nicki Night

His Love Lesson (2 page)

BOOK: His Love Lesson
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Chapter 2

H
unter looked across the roomful of people at his brother Blake snuggled up against his fiancée, Cadence, on the couch and wondered if settling down was somewhere in his future. No one ever anticipated Blake finding a wife before his big brother, Hunter, who was more laid-back. Drew, forget about it! As the youngest, he was the rebel, completely commitment phobic and having way too much fun running through as many women in as many countries as he possibly could. Jade Donnelly, the only woman the family thought could have been “the one” for Drew, had run off with a chunk of his heart and was never to be seen again. Hunter believed that there was a slight possibility that Drew might have been holding out for her return.

“Hey, bro. You don't hear me talking to you.” Drew pulled Hunter from his thoughts, bringing him back to the roomful of music and people attending his brother's New Year's Eve party.

“What's up?” he asked, sipping the champagne in his hand.

“I said, look at Blake—he's a sucker for love.” Drew's infectious laugh roared, garnering the attention of nearby guests.

“Yeah! Rightfully so, though. Cadence is a great catch.”

“You're right. I'm just teasing. She's good people!” Drew took a long swig of his beer. “What about you? You think you'll find someone that would make you want to quit the singles game?”

“I don't know, li'l bro. I don't know.” Hunter sipped again.

For a moment, Drew seemed caught in pensive thoughts. “I don't know either.”

“What about Alana? The two of you went out before, right?”

For a quick second, Drew looked uncomfortable. “Hmm, Alana,” he said with a puzzled expression. Hunter gave him a look that told him he wasn't buying his poor attempt at acting as though he didn't know whom he was talking about. “Oh! Pfft!” He waved his hand dismissively. “She's cool.”

“Ha!” Hunter shook his head at him and continued sipping.

“Hey, Hunter!” said some girl dressed in baby pink, looking like a happy Easter egg.

“Hey...” He hesitated, trying to figure out if he knew her name.

“Tricia,” she paused a moment, apparently waiting for some sign of recognition to spread across Hunter's face. “I recently joined the New York Association of Attorneys.”

“Oh! Okay.” Hunter had no idea who this woman was. “Nice to see you, Tricia.” He held out his hand to shake hers. She was pretty enough not to forget. Hunter discreetly took in her curves. Obviously, he wasn't inconspicuous enough. She smiled seductively and arched her back slightly, giving him an unobstructed view of her ample cleavage.

“I guess I'll see you around,” she said, then turned slowly and swayed her hips, leaving an imprint on Hunter's mind with her seductive gait.

“Who is that?” Drew reappeared by his side, ogling the woman as she walked away.

“Tricia!”

“Tricia?”

“Yeah...Tricia,” Hunter said, still eyeing her. Though she was beautiful, he already knew she wasn't “the one” kind of material.

Hunter shook his head hard. Why was he even thinking like that? He hadn't been assessing the women he met in order to determine if any of them might be “the one” material before. Maybe he was just caught up in all the love oozing from Blake and Cadence.

Hunter looked over at Drew, who was still taking Tricia in, and laughed. He was at a New Year's Eve party. It was time to act like it. Old-school R & B floated through the hidden speakers. People were bunched in groups, chatting, laughing and sipping everything from hard liquor to bottles of water.

“Hey, Blake!” he yelled, snaking through the lively crowd with his empty flute leading the way. “It's almost midnight! We need to get more champagne in here.”

Hunter's announcement caused a stir of cheer. Excitement rose in the atmosphere.

Blake gave Cadence a quick peck, which brought a sweet smile to her face, and then jumped up. “Let's get some more bottles from the cellar.”

“Turn on the TV!” Alana, Cadence's best friend, shouted. “We have to watch the ball drop!”

Hunter and Drew accompanied Blake to his basement to retrieve more chilled bottles of champagne. When they returned, the crowd made a show of cheering them on as they carefully balanced several bottles in their arms on their way to the table reserved for beverages. Blake danced to the music as he opened a few of the bottles.

The party flowed on, getting louder as it drew closer to midnight. Hunter caught Tricia watching him from across the room. Nodding, he acknowledged her but kept his distance—surprising himself. Any other time, he would have had a pretty girl like that eating from his skillful hands, enjoying flirtatious chatter as he competently weakened her resolve—if in fact there was any resolve to weaken. Hunter simply smiled and raised his glass to her.

Despite the frenzy surrounding him, Hunter retreated into his own thoughts. He'd caught Tricia's continued glances. Her seductive smile was stamped on his mind's eye. Being a man who was keen on women's behavior, he summed her up in seconds. Though she was beautiful, she seemed a little too eager. Like many men, Hunter loved the chase. He didn't mind putting in a little work to earn a woman's affection. The challenge was intoxicating.

“Thirty seconds!” With her champagne glass held high, Cadence yelled, “It's almost time!”

Hunter became aware of his surroundings once again, taking in the excited voices and the clamor of the guests gathering in front of Blake's TV. On the large flat-screen, the camera panned across the thick crowd of people in Times Square before cutting to the crystal-encrusted ball. The ticker on the TV indicated that there were only twenty seconds left in the year. Blake made his way to Cadence's side. The sight of Drew being so close to Alana wasn't lost on Hunter. He felt Tricia's eyes on him from across the room. Everyone joined the countdown for the last ten seconds. As they drew closer to the final moments left in the year, excitement crackled in the air like fireworks.

“Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Happy New Year!” they all shouted in unison.

Glasses lifted in the air before sips and swallows drained them dry. Blake had taken Cadence in his arms. They kissed as if no one else were in the room. When Drew hugged Alana, it lingered. Lovers became entranced in deep long lip-locks. Others shared hearty hugs and friendly pecks. Hunter gave his brothers, cousins and a few male friends high fives.

After pulling back from his cousin Lance Barrington, he noticed Tricia had slid across the room and was now standing at his side. Mischief sparkled in her eyes as she raised her glass and said “Happy New Year” before wrapping her pink-painted lips around the rim of her champagne glass. Hunter felt as though a match had been lit somewhere in his loins. Tilting his glass, he too took a sip, never breaking eye contact.

Hunter licked his lips and winked. A smile exploded across Tricia's face.

“Don't I get a hug?” she asked seductively.

“You can have more than that,” Hunter leaned forward to kiss Tricia on her cheek. Just before his lips landed, she turned, surprising him with her plump lips. Hunter wasn't one to shy away from a challenge and in response gently parted his mouth. She received his tongue zealously.

Hunter knew right then that she would end up in his bed, but he also knew that she definitely wasn't “the one.”

Chapter 3

T
he week had gone by in a flash and despite Hunter's attempt to be prepared for his annual trip with his frat brothers, he found himself doing a lot of last-minute running around before hitting the road.

“Mom! Dad!” he called out as he entered his parents' home in Long Island through the garage entrance.

“I'm in here, baby!” Joyce, his mother, called out from their laundry room.

Hunter followed the sound of her voice. “Hey, Ma!”

“Hey, honey!” Joyce reached up on her toes to give her eldest son a hug and kiss. “Are you all ready for your trip?” Joyce turned back to the clothes she'd just washed. “I don't see why you need to go all the way to Utah when we've got enough snow right here in New York,” she said, snapping the towel she'd just pulled from the dryer.

Hunter laughed. “You know we try to go to different resorts every year. This will be our first time in Utah. Everyone is pretty excited about it.”

“Well, I guess that's good, then. Your dad hasn't gotten back from the gym yet.”

“Why didn't you go with him?”

Joyce stopped what she was doing and looked at Hunter with twisted lips. “Your daddy bugs me when we go to the gym together. I have to do things at my pace. At my age, I'm not trying to be Serena Williams. Daddy doesn't understand that, so we go to the gym separately.”

“Ha! Dad is still pretty competitive.”

“Yes, he is! Now, what time are you leaving?”

“Six in the morning. I have a few more errands to do, but I wanted to see you and Dad before I left.”

“Have you eaten breakfast yet?”

“Just a cup of coffee.”

Joyce folded the last towel and set it neatly on top of the others. “If you have time, let me make you a quick breakfast and he should be here by the time you finish eating.”

Hunter couldn't say no to spending time with his mother. “Can you make me an egg sandwich?”

“That's all you want?”

“Ma! You make the best egg sandwiches.” Hunter's smile nearly split his face in half. “Nobody prepares them like you.”

Joyce shook her head and carried the laundry basket with her to the kitchen with Hunter on her heels. She washed her hands and then somehow guided the conversation in the direction of Hunter still being single.

“How are you going to let Blake get married before you? Do you even want to get married? I don't know about you young people these days. Everyone wants to stay single. What kind of life is that? You need someone to rock on the porch with when you get old.” Joyce propped her hands on her hips.

“I didn't say I don't want to get married. I just haven't found the right woman.”

“Are you even looking?” Joyce frowned, then turned her attention to the frying pan on the stove.

Hunter cleared his throat and then heard the churn of the garage door. He was saved! Jumping up, he headed for the door leading to the garage to greet his father as he pulled in.

“Hey, Dad!”

“Hey, boy! What brings you by?”

“I leave for my trip tomorrow. I just came by to see you guys before I left.”

“Oh, yeah! Tell the fellows I said hello.”

“Will do!”

Floyd stepped in carefully and walked over to Joyce in their sizable kitchen with a limp. Joyce inclined her head toward her tall husband. Floyd kissed her forehead. Something that all the towering Barrington men did with her.

“What happened to you?” She looked down at his leg.

“I think I pulled a muscle at the gym.”

She looked at Hunter with a look that said,
See what I mean?
Hunter chuckled.

“Go on and get your shower. I'll fix you something to eat.”

“Thanks, babe!”

Hunter assumed that the interruption of his father's entrance was enough to shift the conversation. To his dismay, Joyce went right back to the same subject.

“Well? Are you looking?”

“No, Ma. I haven't exactly been looking, but I do think I'll know when the right one comes along.”

Joyce placed Hunter's plate in front of him and poured a glass of orange juice for each of them. She took a sip and eyed Hunter. When he noticed how intently she was watching him, he stopped chewing and looked back at her curiously.

“Humph. I hope she comes along sometime soon. I'd love to have a few grandchildren before I leave this world. I need granddaughters to leave my jewelry to.”

Hunter chuckled and began eating again.

“So, the woman you left Blake's house with on New Year's Eve apparently wasn't the right one?”

Hunter almost choked on the chunk of egg sandwich he'd just bitten. For a quick moment, he wondered how his mother knew, but he was sure it had to be Drew who'd opened his huge mouth. He was the youngest and had been the tattletale since they were kids. Only he told everyone's business except his own.

“Let me guess! You spoke to Drew?”

“Humph.” Joyce didn't confirm or deny anything. “You're thirty-two now, honey. It's time to do what men do. Find a nice woman, have a family and take care of them just like your dad did. Trust me. You don't want to grow old alone.”

Hunter quickly finished his sandwich so he could make a clean exit. He thanked his mother and ran upstairs to chat with his father before leaving. As he walked out the door, Joyce called out to him.

“Don't forget. You're a Barrington, son. Don't waste too much time with women who aren't well intentioned enough to bear your last name. The Barringtons worked some of the biggest, most important cases in our African-American history. You know they wanted your dad to run for office, but he refused—said he didn't do politics.”

“Yes, ma'am!” Hunter stood erect and saluted his mother. He'd heard the stories all of his life. Of course he was proud of his family's legacy.

Joyce tossed the cloth she was using to clean the counter at him. He caught it, carried it back to her and pulled her into a tight hug.

“See you when I get back, lady,” he said and bent over to kiss her on her forehead.

Hunter jumped into his SUV, revved the engine and pulled out of his parents' wide driveway. Down the road his phone rang. He answered the call through the car's Bluetooth system.

“Hey there, cutie.” Tricia's seductive voice warmed the inside of the vehicle.

“Hey, yourself.”

“Are you ready for your trip?”

“Almost. I still have a few errands to run.”

“Want me to come over tonight and help you finish packing? I'll make it worth your while.”

Joyce's words came crashing into his thoughts.
Don't waste too much time with women who aren't well intentioned enough to bear your last name.
He couldn't say he didn't enjoy Tricia's company. Any man with the senses he'd been born with would enjoy a woman like her. Yet Hunter knew he wasn't interested in her for the long term and in that moment decided that he'd cut this thing short as soon as he got back from his trip. As for now, he'd try to find a way to politely let her down. Maybe.

“That would be nice, but with all that I have to do, I wouldn't even have the time to enjoy your company. My flight leaves at six in the morning, which means I have to get up and out of the house by no later than four fifteen, four thirty at the latest.”

“I could stay the night.”

“I'd hate to wake you that early and you have to go to work.”

“I wouldn't mind. I doubt we'd be doing much sleeping anyway. I'll just down a five-hour energy drink to get me through the next day. I've done it before.”

Hunter fell silent. When she said that she'd done it before, he wasn't sure if she was referring to downing the energy drink or staying up half the night with another man. He preferred not to ask.

“That didn't sound right, did it?” She laughed. He didn't laugh. “In any case. I'll be home early. Call me if you want me to come by. I'll be waiting,” she crooned.

“Okay...” Hunter paused there, refusing to finish with the words at the edge of his tongue,
I will.
That was because he knew he wouldn't. “I'll call you when I get back so we can have dinner. How's that?”

“Bummer! I wanted to see you before you left.” She groaned. “Enjoy your trip. I'll see you when you get back.”

Hunter thought it impolite to end their rendezvous in any other way than in person and tonight he truly didn't have the time to deal with that. Besides, waiting until next week would give him time to come up with a mannerly way to let her know that despite the fun they had during the past week, he wasn't interested in pursuing a relationship with her. Those conversations never went well, and he didn't expect this one to be any better.

BOOK: His Love Lesson
11.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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