South Beach: 10:00 PM - #10 Coast Road
Blade waited for her half an hour after he arrived at Stanfield's place on the Coast Road, waited in a high white foyer hung with paintings of the man himself, and why the hell did she have them still hanging up there, while their little girl ran around and one of their teenage sons watched him, guarded and narrow eyed, a boy who was definitely Cooper's kid right down to the attitude. Did any of those kids spend more than a day a month, a day in three months with him?
She was late. He'd begun to think she was backing out, again. He had had enough of it; he was going to push it hard tonight. Rob's place was a good neutral setting. Cooper looked down at him from the massive wall wide painting, a warning, a threat he was beginning to take seriously. Not tonight, he thought, meeting that gaze across the room, you're not getting in my way tonight.
Shooter watched as Mackenna and Lily walked toward the bathroom together. He knew girls had some kind of unwritten rule that they went en masse to the restroom but it seemed a little weird in someone’s home. On the other hand, they were here with a rock band, drinking and partying. Shooter figured that might warrant some excited discussion in the privacy of the bathroom. He and Mackenna had instantly made a connection. She was laid back, shared similar interests and laughed at his stupid jokes.
He turned his attention to Duff leaning against the pool table and watching the girls with interest, a little too much interest for Shooter’s comfort. Shooter walked toward him.
“Hey man, you want to back off with Mac?”
Duff shifted his dark eyes toward Shooter before sliding them back toward Mackenna, allowing them to rake her body and linger on her ass for longer than Shooter liked.
In his typically smooth tone Duff replied, “Your inability to keep a woman interested is not my problem. Perhaps she's not that impressed with your boogie board.”
“Yeah? I don't see Lily crawling all over your ass. Wasn't she your sure thing? Maybe you should go beat off while looking at some girl in a picture.”
Shooter caught the flash of anger in Duff’s expression before he masked it again behind idle boredom. He’d struck a nerve, found a crack in the facade.
South Beach: 1:27 AM - #142 West Marina Drive
Blade eased past the large piano, a few barefoot strides from his bed across a room he didn't yet feel was his. He'd never lived in a house that felt like his own. The wall of glass faced the beach, lights from tall city buildings winked, sparkled, reflecting in the water, rising and falling and falling again, light in the water, light moving with the gentle swell. An unfamiliar vista. It was his house, and it was his view, and it was a good one. And it was one Beth had insisted he consider, leave the one he thought he wanted, try this one. She'd been right. She knew him.
His body was still warm having just risen from his bed. Stretching languidly he leaned against the grand piano and thought about Beth; their argument was still fresh in his mind. Blade wanted her more than he had wanted another woman in a very long time. He’d been patient with her not wanting to push it until her wounds had healed. But she had always been on the brink of letting go, of letting him in, until something, whether it was guilt, fear or her obsession with Cooper, pulled her back and she pushed him away. He’d said things he wished he could take back but the truth was he was tired of waiting. Either she wanted him or she cut him loose.
A soft sigh of sheets drew his attention. He smiled as he watched her shift under them. Blade carefully climbed into bed his weight causing the mattress to give under him. The blankets draped provocatively over her curves and as she stirred slightly, her lips curved into a half smile.
“Mmm, I thought you were getting us something to eat; I’m hungry.”
Blade playfully nipped at her ear allowing his eyes to slowly roam over her curves as he pulled the blankets aside. “I’m hungry too sweetness but it isn’t food I’m interested in right now, it’s you.”
South Beach: 9:52 PM - #140 West Marina Drive
"You've met Duff and Shooter, and you know Rob."
Blade kept her close as they walked into Rob's house, plant world, picky plant world. Rob didn't throw parties here unless he felt like he had to do it, got sideways about people screwing with his place. Beth felt easy against him, calm and relaxed, her arm tucked into his, and they'd gotten into it in the car after he'd parked, coming up into him, giving him her mouth and taking his, her hand down between his legs. He'd had trouble getting out of the car, and smiled down at her now.
"You know the deal with the women; Rob's girl Sydney is a friend, looks after his dog, the rest of them you can blow off."
Syd strolled past the trees and ferns and rocks, smiling, holding out her hands, dressed to fucking kill as usual, everything hanging out. Even before she greeted them, she checked the room, looking for something somebody spilled, something somebody knocked over. Rob's perfect woman, except for the fact that she was married and showed up when she pleased and didn't when she didn't please.
"Alex, you're late, we missed you, and you missed all the fireworks."
Somebody upstairs shrieked, giggled, and Sydney briefly cast her cool pale gaze up past the trees toward the upper loft, smiled, and looked back at them.
"Duff and Shooter and company. Or maybe Charlotte bit someone. You must be Beth Stanfield, and please don't worry about Charlotte, she really does not bite."
South Beach: 11:48 PM - #140 West Marina Drive
"Sydney." Looking out, looking down, one long clear view to the western shore of Bay View, the boats and the marina, water and wood and rock, somebody's boat tied up to the dock next door always knocking around, banging up onto shore, sailor next door running out hauling it up and dumping it back and looking right up into his windows.
He thought it would be private here. It wasn't private. He should move again. She sat down on the side of his bed after looking not at him but down at the pool. He loved her. He thought he loved her. He thought she loved him. She understood him. It was close enough.
"You said you wanted me to distract him. I need to do that now, can you keep Duff and Shooter from impaling one another while I take care of it?"
Looking down at Alex, with another woman who would fuck it up again, there would always be another one. Rob watched them. Hopeless. Screw it. "No."
South Beach: 3:47 AM - #142 West Marina Drive
The incessant purring of his cell phone slowly pulled Blade from a deep, dreamless sleep. He was relaxed, his body nearly boneless from marathon sex, his arm limp and dangling over the side of the bed. Reaching for the phone laying on the floor next to the bed he willed his eyes to open and focus on the caller ID. Groping for the cell several times he finally managed to find and wrap his long fingers around it.
Blade sat up tapping the screen as he rose and putting it to his ear. Still groggy he spoke into the cell his voice rasping, rough with sleep.
“Hey...it’s late...or early...is everything all right?”
He hadn’t expected to hear from her particularly not at this hour. What time was it anyway? Pulling his body off the bed he walked past the bathroom and towards the bar listening to her soft voice, hesitant, uncertain as she spoke.
“Look I’m sorry about the things I said...no, I’m not sorry about what I said, just the way I said it. I meant it though Beth. I want you and I want more than dinner and a movie; I think you do too if you’ll just give it a fair chance.”
He listened to her talk, gave her time, didn’t interrupt. Beth didn’t say anything he hadn’t already known or guessed at. She was having trouble with all of it, didn’t know how to let go. Blade let her go on hoping that speaking the words could convince her more and more that she was ready to move on. Her voice sounded weary; she must have been up all night.
“Beth, I’ll help you let go, let me do that for you.”
“Really...I’m not dreaming right?” Blade smiled. He needed to stop talking before she changed her mind.
“Listen, get some sleep. I’ll call you tomorrow afternoon and we can talk...just talk okay?” He hesitated and drew a breath. The RMAs...he’d ask her...tomorrow.
“You’ve made me really happy Beth; I intend to return the favor.”
South Beach: 11:59 PM - #140 West Marina Drive
Blade pulled Beth into a secluded corner near the pool, pressing her gently against the wall. Muted sounds from the rest of the guests confirmed they were out there alone. Sliding his hand along her side Blade cupped her breast while the other hand grazed her bare thigh as he slowly lifted the hem of her dress.
Beth pulled him tight against her body, rocking her hips up into his, sliding her hands down his back, slipping them down into his jeans, finding skin, raking gently with her nails, her breath coming hard and then gasping, tried to push him away.
“What's wrong...shhh...hey come here, nobody's watching, trust me.”
Taking her hardened nipple between his fingers Blade squeezed and twisted it, eliciting another gasp as he fumbled to unbutton his jeans and free his erection.
She leaned into him, reaching down, silking her fingers over him, a light skilled exploration, closing, tightening, both of them moving with it now finding the rhythm breathing into the heat, before she abruptly turned her face away, shuddering, pulling back.
“Oh god...no...I can't, I can't do this someone might see us...”
Keeping his stance in front of her, struggling with a raging hard-on, not allowing her to move, Blade glared down at her and fought for control, controlling his voice, keeping it low, keeping it even.
“This isn't about anybody watching us. You're doing the same damned thing you always do, you take it so far then you fucking shut down on me. Beth, I'm tired of this. What the hell do you think you're doing?”
"You don't understand, I can't do something like that to him again, I have to get out of here!" Beth shoved him hard, pushing back and using strength he hadn't known she had, determined and unexpected.
Moving in tight, Blade placed his hands on either side of her, trapping her against the wall. “No you don't...stop, stop NOW. Listen to me, are you listening to me?”
“Let go of me.” Beth’s eyes narrowed as she glared at him, breathing heavily from both anger and the heat that had been between them moments ago.
Throwing his hands in the air in frustration Blade moved back. “I'll let go. You want to know why? You're chasing a man who doesn't want a goddamned thing to do with you, you've got his damned pictures on your walls, you're doing everything but camping outside his house, and maybe you're doing that too. You know what you are? You're nothing but an obsessed woman stalking a fucking rock star. Hell no I don't want to hold onto you!”
South Beach: 3:51 AM - #142 West Marina Drive
“She sounds very special.”
Blade pressed the off button, moved toward the bedroom and the woman standing outside it, Danica, his third wife.
They’d been married a year before it fell apart. Out of all his ex-wives only Danica had remained on friendly terms with him. To be truthful it had been more than friendly considering what they had spent the better part of the night doing. Sex had never been a problem between them and they would meet occasionally, no strings, just mind-blowing sex.
“She is special.”
Danica moved toward him, taking his hand and pulling him down onto the rug. “Oh Alex...I’m happy for you. I do hope you’ll be careful; you lose your heart so easily.” She rested her head on his shoulder as her delicate fingers wove into his. “You mean so much to me still. I shouldn't tell you but I’ve always hoped we could...”
“Dani, don’t. You know I can’t give you what you want.”
She rose, shifted her position until her slender legs straddled his, her hands gliding along his chest until they rested on his broad shoulders. Aroused, Blade instinctively wrapped his hands around her waist pulling her toward him. “Dani...”
“Shh, don’t talk Alex. Just kiss me...”