South Beach - Stanfield Residence: between 6 and 8 AM
Cooper awakened disoriented and exhausted. Dealing with Nate's arrogance, Eric's quiet defiance the previous night he'd struggled not to lose his failing patience. Harmony's wide eyed trepidation at the chaos along with the raging storm had prevented him from sleeping and it hadn't helped that the opposite side of the bed had been empty, a situation he intended to rectify soon. Enforcing his parental authority that morning, and that had been a lot harder than he expected, insisting the twins come directly home from school and scrambling to find Ericca to watch Hugs, Cooper headed downtown to meet with Beth.
Oceanside 9 AM
Preoccupied, ambling down the sidewalk with a strong cup of coffee he thought about how to approach her. Beth had been furious at him last night and it had set him on his heels. Frowning, he considered how he would make it right when he walked head on into a guy who had just rounded the corner. Losing his grip on the cup it tumbled from his hand splashing its contents on the concrete between them.
"Shit! Sorry about that man." Coop looked up, studied the guy for a few minutes before recognition set in. Rob Porter, backup guitarist for Flight. What was he doing here?
"It's all good man, no worries." Brushing a spot of liquid off his jeans he added, "I'd love to catch up but I've got a 'thing' and I'm running a little late." Gesturing with a nod of his head, Rob turned and headed toward the strip. He stopped, shot a final enigmatic glance back at Cooper, speculative, before he walked away.
Oceanside - The Palms Hotel: 10 AM
Finally making it to The Palms he went up to the room, found it vacant and ended up checking at the front desk, relieved to hear she was in the dining room and not simply gone. Entering the restaurant he saw Beth sitting at a table talking to someone, laughing; maybe a waiter said something amusing. Coop moved toward her, smiling and confident until, stopping abruptly at the table, he glared at the cause of her laughter.
Alex Ferguson. Blade. It didn't take much to figure out Blade's motives. Coop had seen him openly admiring Beth on more than one occasion. He'd let it go at the time, Coop couldn't blame him for appreciating his wife, until now. Cooper folded his arms and struggled to keep his face devoid of expression.
"Hello Coop, it's been awhile." Blade barely glanced up, his eyes riveted on Beth.
"Alex." Cooper never called him by his nickname. It bothered Alex and Coop knew it. While they weren't exactly enemies, they weren't friends. Rival was a more accurate assessment and Alex had just upped the ante. "Aren't you a little out of your domain?"
Blade rose from his seat, tall and lean and in his face. He was the same arrogant asshole Coop recalled shutting down years ago when he dragged his 'band' into the studio. "We were just working out details for Beth to check out the place I bought out by the beach. It could use her expertise in decorating."
"Is that right?" Coop folded his arms and held Blade's gaze. The corners of Coop's mouth turned slightly upward but the smile never reached his eyes. Did this arrogant prick actually think he was going to worm his way into Beth's bed? Whatever game he thought he was playing Cooper would effectively end it. Stepping closer to him, Coop asked, "What gave you the impression that she had the time or inclination?"
Blade held his position and returned the smile. "Actually your ex did. We met up last night out on Coast Road. I rescued her and that little car you've got her driving from the brink of disaster. We worked out the details over dinner and drinks."
What the hell...he had dinner with Beth and she hadn't mentioned it? Coop's eyes narrowed as he reined in his anger. "She's not my ex, Alex, she's my wife, although I know how hard it is for you not to confuse the two. What is it, three or four divorces under your belt?"
Blade laughed and turned toward Beth who had been watching the scene with amusement. Taking her hand, lightly squeezing it, he took his leave. "Last night was a singular pleasure, Beth. I'll see you soon."
Straightening, he slid those blue eyes on Coop, began to walk past him and in a smooth, low voice taunted, "You better watch it Coop, your crown is beginning to tarnish."
"Game on." Coop muttered before he turned back to Beth who met his gaze with obvious challenge. Holding his breath long enough to pull back an angry expletive he demanded, "You want to tell me what that was about?"
She stood up, putting one hand on the table to steady herself, never dropping her gaze, but Cooper saw her hand shaking. "Why do you think I'm here? I drove through a hurricane to meet you. I left my children alone in that storm to meet you. It's not enough. You want to know what it's about? It's about nothing; it's about the same thing it's always about. I'm tired, Coop. I'm going home."