Alexandra must have done things to Steven that night that I don’t even want to contemplate. Because ever since, Steven Reinhart would happily take a bullet to the chest for Kate Brooks.
“It’s the boobs,” I tell her. “If I had a set like yours, they’d like me better too.”
A few weeks ago, that comment would have pissed her off. Now she just shakes her head and laughs.
The night before Thanksgiving is officially the biggest bar night of the year. Everyone goes out. Everyone is looking for a good time. Usually, Matthew, Jack, and I start the night at my father’s day-before-Thanksgiving office party and work our way out to the clubs afterward. It’s tradition.
So you can imagine my surprise when I enter the large conference room and see Matthew’s arm around the woman who I can only assume is his date for the evening—Delores Warren. Since he met her two and a half weeks ago, Matthew’s been MIA on the weekends, and I’m starting to suspect why. I’ll have to talk to him tomorrow.
Beside them are my father and Kate.
And for the second time in my life, Kate Brooks leaves me breathless. She’s wearing a deep burgundy dress that hugs her in all the right places and strappy heeled shoes that send my imagination spinning into X-rated territory. Her hair falls around her shoulders in soft shining waves. My hand twitches to touch it as I walk toward her.
Then someone in the middle of the room moves—and I see that she’s not alone.
Everyone brings their significant others to these kinds of things. I shouldn’t be surprised that the dickwad is here. He pulls at the tie of his suit like a frigging ten-year-old, obviously uncomfortable in it. Pussy.
I button the jacket of my own perfectly tailored Armani and make my way over.
“Drew!” my father greets me. Though things between him and me had been tense for a few days, they’d quickly gone back to normal. He never can stay pissed at me for long.
Look at this face. Could you?
“I was just telling Mr. Warren,” he says, “about that deal Kate closed last week. How lucky we are to have her.”
Have her? The word lucky doesn’t even come close.
“It’s all an act,” Delores teases. “Beneath her corporate suit and that good-girl persona beats the heart of a true rebel. I could tell you stories about Katie that would put hair on your eyeballs.”
Kate turns stern eyes on her friend. “Thank you, Dee. Please don’t.”
Cum Stain smiles, puts his arm around Kate’s waist, and rests his lips on the top of her head.
I need a drink. Or a punching bag. Now.
Words fly out of my mouth like well-aimed bullets: “That’s right. You were quite the little delinquent back in the day, weren’t you Kate? Dad, did you know she used to sing in a band? That’s how you supported yourself through business school, right? Guess it beats pole dancing.”
She chokes on her drink. Gentleman that I am, I hand her a napkin.
“And Billy here, that’s what he still does. You’re a musician, right?”
He looks at me like I’m a pile of dog crap that he just stepped in. “That’s right.”
“So, tell us Billy, are you like a Bret Michaels kind of rocker? Or more of a Vanilla Ice?” See how his jaw clenches? How his eyes narrow? Bring it, Monkey Boy. Please.
“Why don’t you grab your accordion, or whatever you play, and pop up on stage? There’s a lot of money floating around this room. Maybe you could book a wedding. Or a bar mitzvah.”
“I don’t play those types of venues.”
This should do it.
“Wow. In this economy, I didn’t think the poor and jobless could be so picky.”
“Listen, you piece of—”
“Billy, honey, could you get me another drink from the bar? I’m almost done with this one.” Kate pulls on his arm, cutting off what I’m sure would have been a brilliant retort.
Are you feeling the sarcasm?
And then she turns toward me, and she doesn’t sound nearly as friendly. “Drew, I just remembered I have some documents to give you about the Genesis account. They’re in my office. Let’s go.”
I don’t move. I don’t answer her. My eyes are still locked in a staring contest with Shit For Brains.
“It’s a party, Kate,” my father says, clueless. “You should save the work for Monday.”
“It’ll just take a minute,” she tells him with a smile—before grabbing my arm and dragging me away.
Once we’re in her office, Kate slams the door behind us. I straighten my sleeves, then smile benevolently. “If you wanted to be alone with me that badly, all you had to do was ask.”
She doesn’t appreciate my humor. “What are you doing, Drew?”
“Why are you insulting Billy? Do you know how hard it was for me to get him to come here tonight?”
Poor Billy. Stuck in a room with the big bad successful bankers.
“Then why did you frigging bring him?”
“He’s my fiancé.”
“He’s an asshole.”
She looks up sharply. “Billy and I have been through a lot together. You don’t know him.”
“I know he’s not good enough for you. Not by a long shot.”
“Please stop trying to embarrass him.”
“I was just pointing out the facts. If the truth embarrasses your boyfriend, then that’s his problem, not mine.”
“Is this a jealously thing?”
For the record? I have never been jealous a day in my life. Just because when I see them together I can’t decide if I want to puke or punch his fucking lights out—she calls that jealousy?
“Don’t flatter yourself.”
“I know you have this thing for me, but—”
Wait one goddamn minute. Let’s back the fuck up, shall we?
“I have a thing for you? I’m sorry, was it my hand grabbing your crotch in my office a couple months back? Because I remember it the other way around.”
And now she’s pissed. “You’re such a bastard sometimes.”
“Well, then we’re a perfect fit, ’cause you’re a first-class bitch most of the time.”
Fire dances in her eyes as she raises her half-filled glass.
“Don’t you fucking dare. You throw that drink at me, I’m not responsible for what I do after.”
I’ll give you a minute to guess what she does...
Yep. She threw the drink at me.
“Goddamnit!” I grab the tissues from her desk and wipe my dripping face.
“I’m not one of your random sluts! Don’t you ever talk to me like that again.”
My face is dry, but my shirt and jacket are still soaked. I throw the tissues down. “Doesn’t matter. I’m leaving anyway. I have a date to get to.”
She scoffs, “A date? Wouldn’t a date involve actual conversation? Don’t you mean you have a quick fuck to get to?”
I close my hands around her waist and pull her in. In a low voice I tell her, “My fucks are never quick—they’re long and thorough. And you should be careful, Kate. Now you’re the one who sounds jealous.”
Her palms are flat against my chest, and my face is just inches from hers.
“I can’t stand you.”
“Feeling’s mutual,” I tell her quickly.
And then we’re at it again—my mouth, her lips—joined hot and heavy. My hands are buried in her hair, cradling her head. Her hands grip the front of my shirt, holding me close.
I know what you’re thinking. And, yes, apparently arguing for Kate and me is akin to foreplay. It seems to get us both all charged up. I just hope we get to come before we kill each other.
Just when things are starting to get good, there’s a pounding on the door. Kate either doesn’t hear it or she, like me, doesn’t give a damn.
“Kate? Kate, you in there?”
The cocksucker’s voice cuts through the lust that has us stuck together like glue. Kate pulls away. She stares at me a minute, her eyes guilty, her fingers resting on the lips I just tasted.
You know what? Screw this. Do I look like a goddamn yoyo to you? I don’t play games with people—I don’t appreciate being played with. If Kate can’t decide what she wants, I’ll decide for her. Stick a fork in me; I’m fucking done.
I step up to the door and open it wide, giving Shithead plenty of room as he walks in.
Then I smile. “You can have her now. I’m finished.”
And I don’t even think about looking back as I walk out.
THANKSGIVING IS HELD AT MY PARENTS’ COUNTRY HOUSE upstate every year. It’s always a small family affair. There’s my parents, of course. You’ve met my father. My mother is an older, shorter version of Alexandra. For all her strong feminist beliefs—she’d been a top-notch attorney before motherhood lured her away—she loves playing the happy homemaker. After she and my father hit the big-time financially, she also dedicated herself to various charitable organizations. It’s what she still does with most of her time now that Alexandra and I have flown the nest.
Then there’s Steven’s father, George Reinhart. Picture Steven thirty years from now with thinning hair and a serious case of crow’s feet. Mrs. Reinhart passed away when we were teenagers. To my knowledge, George hasn’t been out on a single date since. He spends a lot of time at work, quietly crunching numbers in his office. He’s a great guy.
And that brings us to the Fishers, Matthew’s parents. Can’t wait for you to see them. They’re a fucking riot. Frank and Estelle Fisher are the most mellow people I’ve ever met.
They’re almost catatonic.
Imagine Ward and June Cleaver after they’ve smoked a giant bong of marijuana. That’s Frank and Estelle. You’d think Matthew’s parents would be a little more high-strung, wouldn’t you? I have a theory. They had Matthew later in life, and I think he sucked out any energy they had left—like a parasite.
Topping off the mix is Matthew, Steven, Alexandra, and myself.
Oh—and of course the other woman in my life. I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned her before. She is the only female to ever truly hold my heart in her hand. I am her slave. She asks, and I do.
Her name is Mackenzie. She’s got long blond hair and the biggest blue eyes you’ll ever see. She’s almost four. See her there? On the other end of the seesaw I’m currently riding.
“So, Mackenzie, have you decided what you want to be when you grow up?”
“Yep. I wanna be a princess. And I wanna marry a prince and live in a castle.”
I need to talk to my sister. Disney is dangerous. Corrosive brainwashing bullshit, if you ask me.
“Or, you could go into real estate. Then you could buy the castle yourself and you won’t need the prince.”
She thinks I’m funny. She laughs.
“Uncle Drew. How’s I gonna have a baby wit no prince?”
“You’ve got plenty of time for babies. After you get your masters in business or your medical degree. Oh, or you can be a CEO and start a daycare at your office. Then you can bring your babies to work with you every day.”
“Momma don’t go to a office.”
“Momma sold herself short, sweetie.”
My sister was a brilliant trial attorney. She could have gone all the way to the Supreme Court. Seriously. She was that good.
Alexandra worked throughout her entire pregnancy and had a nanny all lined up. Then she held Mackenzie in her arms for the first time. She told the nanny the same day her services wouldn’t be needed. Not that I blame her. I couldn’t imagine a more important job than making sure my perfect niece grows up happy and healthy.
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