air greeted Monique as she entered Dave Summerville's living room. Dark
eyes blinked when he dimmed the lights.
Leaving Monique to fend for herself Dave went into his kitchen. The
woman across the way reminded him of the wine that splashed into his
glass; crisp, chilly, sensual and evocative. "Feel free to make
home. I run a help yourself type place."
Monique tucked a strand of hair behind her ear debating whether she wanted to
sit at the end of the couch or on the love seat next to it. After Dave was
seated on the far side of the couch she perched on the other end. "Thanks
for giving me a ride back. You don't have to come to the zoo tomorrow either."
"We can't let your niece and nephew
down." The edge of his glass touched the rim of hers before he took a
drink. "If Brad promised Connor and Olivia a trip to the zoo then
that's where we'll go."
Monique yawned, stretched and shivered against the back of the couch.
shouldn't have stayed out so late. I'm going to regret this tomorrow."
green eyes followed the contours of her body as she moved. "Let me know
when you're ready and I can give you a ride back home. Or you can spend the
night here. There's clean sheets on the bed in the guest bedroom and," the grin on his face was boyishly cute. "I know I
have an extra toothbrush."
Drowsily Monique leaned her head back wishing she
could read the microwave clock. "I'm okay. Or I will be in a minute. As
soon as I wake up from my nap. What are
you going to do if I fall asleep on your couch?"
a blanket on you and head upstairs. Help yourself to whatever's in the
if you get up before I do. Did you have a good time tonight?" Another
shiver ran through Monique. "It was a side of Brad I've never seen
before." Her head found a resting place on her hand. In the
semi-darkness Monique smiled again. "When Brad told me he had
an uncle who wore jeans and rode a Harley to work I'm afraid I didn't believe him."
okay. I didn't believe Gretchen when she told me Brad had met the woman of my
dreams either." Quickly Monique glanced at the man next to her. If she
put her head down she could rest it next to his leg. Impulsively she smiled at
him. "You are not what I expected at all." Smiling at her was an
automatic reaction. So was resting his arm on the back of the couch. "You
can sit next to me you know. My teeth are clean and I don't bite that
"Did you really throw a dry erase marker at
Brad in the middle of a meeting?" Monique inquired impishly.
lunch meetings. When lunch is over so is the meeting. If you would have been
there you would have thrown something at him too. No one but Brad gives a damn
about how some mutual fund went up a tenth of a percentage point. My God."
helped him put that presentation together. You should be more appreciative of
our hard work." Monique chided him. Dave reached for his glass before
replying. "If it would have been you up there droning on about fund
performance I would have kept my markers to myself."
used to work for a stockbroker. I learned a lot working for that son of a
bitch." The caustic comment had Dave smiling again. "One of my
ex-wives used to work for a broker that she later married. He really was
a son of a bitch. He left her with nothing when they got divorced."
many ex-wives do you have?"
One of them liked sleeping with my partner better than she liked sleeping with
me. The other one, she's the one who was married to the stockbroker, they had a
daughter together and she thought she might want to have more kids but then she
changed her mind. I still miss her."
Monique sank further into the couch. Discussing Dave's ex-wives had not been on her agenda. "What
do you miss about her?"
like to be friends with her again. She goes out to lunch with Brad but she
doesn't talk to me."
"Brad goes out to lunch with a lot of people doesn't
dates are his thing. His calendar is full of lunch dates."
"Brad took me
out to lunch a couple of times. He took Cassandra and the kids out too. I like
going out to lunch."
"I'll take you out to lunch." The way he said made
Monique realize that lunch with Dave would be a lot more interesting
than going out to eat with Brad. Cautiously she considered edging
closer to him while he spoke. "Give me a call and let me know when
you'll be free." Her soft round shoulder was close enough to touch but
Dave kept his hands to himself as he listened to the woman across from
him. Her next words made him wish she had fallen asleep instead of
continuing the conversation. "Can I talk to you
Uneasily Dave reached for his glass. "I guess so.
What's on your mind?"
not trying to get anyone into trouble but is Brad’s brother having an
affair?" The word affair brought a bitter twist to Dave's mouth. "He
better not be. What makes you ask?"
sent his brother's wife's diary to my sister. There were some pictures
of it and in one of the pictures Brent has his arm around his wife and
another he's kissing someone else. So I wondered what was going on."
Monique's explanation relieved most of Dave's tension. Pictures of
Brent kissing people were everywhere. "Brent
kisses a lot of people. I've had friends of his kiss me. That’s just
the way he
"In the picture he's lying on the couch and kissing
someone." Monique said stubbornly. "His hand is blocking the camera but you can still see them."
have to see the picture but Brent has been kissing women for as long as I've
known him which is his entire life. He's affectionate."
both almost naked in the picture." The rest of the wine filled
Monique's glass. Obviously he wasn't taking this seriously or he
wouldn't be so patronizing. She gave his explanation half an ear.
some wild parties at his place. Right now Brent's brother-in-law is in
for escorting a woman who took her shirt off at a party of Brent's. She
to claim that Brent raped her but now she's bringing assault and
charges against DJ. Everyone who was at the party is willing to testify
Brent never touched the woman but DJ put his hand on her shoulder and
her out the door so now he's in trouble."
have the pictures if you want to see them." Smiling to herself Monique pulled an
envelope out of her purse. "I want to know what's going on. I won't say
anything to anyone else." Across the room Dave made the lights brighter
before resuming his seat. The first picture had Brent in between Fern and DJ.
Brent's arms hung around both of them. Three beautiful people were smiling three gorgeous smiles.
"That is his wife isn't it?" Monique asked
pointedly. Dave nodded while he studied the picture. Everyone in it
looked happy. "That's
her. Her brother DJ is on Brent's left." Decisively Dave put the first
picture behind the second. A kissing couple he recognized was stretched
the couch. Neither of them were clothed from the waist up.
"You see why I
wondered what was going on?" Monique asked quietly. Dave held the picture
up before setting both pictures on the trunk he used as a coffee table. "You can stop worrying about Brent having an
affair because that's a picture of Brad. Where did you get these pictures?"
sent them to my sister. I told you that."
"The hell he did." Dave declared. "I work with Brad, he's my nephew and I know him. He did
not send anyone these pictures."
was there when Cassandra got the package." Exasperation made her voice shrill.
"Doesn't his brother live out in Seattle?
That was the return address on the package."
doesn’t mean that Brad sent it. I want to know what the fuck is going on
be mad at me. I was just curious." Hard green eyes pinned her against the
couch. "You had no right to snoop in things that don't belong to you.
Christ Monique. What were you thinking?"
thought Brent was having an affair."
if he was that isn't your concern. And now I'm glad you know that he's not. Is
that what Cassandra thinks?"
didn't talk to her about it. She got a package and she was snotty about it when
I asked who it was from. My grandma used to give us journals when we were
little. It was an inside joke between us so when she got one I thought I would
tease her about it. Olivia wanted to color in it and I knew Cassandra wouldn't
care so I let her have it. Olivia opened it up and the pictures fell out. So it
really wasn't me snooping in anything."
were sitting next to each other but the romance of the evening had
fled. Dave didn't owe Monique an explanation but he wanted her to
understand why he was upset. "Today
Gretchen called me up and asked if I wanted to have people over for
birthday. During that conversation she told me she wants to go out with
She's wanted to go out with Brad for a long time and my guess is he'll
out with her partly because she used to go out with Brent. It was a
ago but no one has forgotten about it mainly because Brent was such a
after she broke up with him. Gretchen didn’t get invited to Brent's
I think she should have been. You might not like her but Gretchen is a
girl and Brent owes her a couple of apologies she'll probably never
would be crushed if she saw that picture of Brad."
The picture of Brad kissing another woman captured Monique's voyeuristic attention. "Are you
sure that's a picture of Brad?"
positive. Brent wouldn't care who took a picture of him. We have tons of
pictures of him kissing other women. Hell, we probably have pictures of him
kissing some male friends of his. Not only that I recognize Brad. That is not a
picture of Brent." His words were convincing but Monique was skeptical.
"How can you tell? They both look the same to me."
can tell just by looking at the picture. If you need proof Brent has a tattoo
on his left arm and Brad doesn't." He held the picture higher. No tattoo
marred the arm in the picture. Monique's attention moved from Brad to
the woman he was with. "Who's the girl?"
Dave wouldn't have seen the picture he wouldn't have believed it existed. Why
had Brad sent pictures and a diary to Monique's sister? Dave had no reason to
doubt Monique but he wanted an explanation. "No one you know."
never kissed me like that. I'm impressed he got the girl's shirt off all by
you knew the girl you'd be doubly impressed. I'm almost inclined to think that
this is some sort of a joke. I have a hard time believing that Brad would be
fooling around on the couch when anyone with a camera could walk by and take a
picture. His hand is blocking the picture but still. That doesn't make sense to me."
was wondering about that earlier. Who do you think took the picture?"
don’t know but I'm going to try and find out." Monique had to move
before he could get his cell phone out of his left hand pocket.
Enviously Monique watched his fingers move over the touch screen.
"You're not calling Brad
are you?" Dave
shook his head, stood up and went back into the kitchen. Less than a
minute later he had Brent's voice in his ear. "Hey."
Tiger. This is Dave. How are you?" Rain streaked down the window of Brent's
hotel room when he pulled the curtain aside. "Not too bad. What's new with you?"
good." Dave decided not to mention that Monique was sitting on his
couch listening to his every word. "I heard your game got called on
account of rain."
Not that I would have played anyways. How're things at Summerville
Now that he had his nephew on the line Dave regretted the hasty call to
Brent. Waiting for Monique to leave would have been a better idea. "You
sound like you've had better days kid. Your brother hasn't been himself
lately either. You guys didn't get into a fight did you?"
sent me a text message earlier today." Brent winced as lightning split
the sky. Rain fell fast and furious against his window. "Gretchen
is mad because I tried to help these people who were looking for a
what Brad’s message was about." Inwardly Dave cursed. He liked Gretchen
but she was an irresolvable conflict where Brad and Brent were
concerned. This time Dave sided with Brent. "I
told Gretchen I'd rather live on the beach than across from it.
Ultimately homeowners have to decide where they want to live."
guess so." Still fully clothed Brent lay down on his bed. "I can hardly wait to go out
with her parents." While Dave respected Greg and Gloria Schwartz he could understand where Brent was coming from. "Tell
them you'd rather not get together."
easier to go see them. Then they can feel like they did their duty
while they were on vacation."
sound bummed. What's the matter?" Talking seemed to require more energy
had at the moment. But he knew if he didn’t talk then Dave would tell
his parents something was wrong wtih him. "Nothing really. I'm just
won't keep you then. I was just calling to see if you knew what was up with
Brad. You take care of yourself Tiger. Get some rest. You'll feel better in the
morning." But Brent was reluctant to let his uncle go. Hearing his voice reminded him of home. "I
haven't talked to Brad since he was out here. How's he doing?"
had some people over and we went out for your birthday. How's your shoulder
better. I got a massage and that really helped. Fern is coming down
she'll take care of me." Casually Dave rested his arm against the back
of the couch. From there Monique's shoulder was an easy reach. "How's
good. Her parents are coming out the week after next so she's stressed
that." Desperately Brent wished he was back at home. In his own room.
Listening to music and having his mother yell at him because his room
wasn't clean. Thinking of his own mother reminded him that his sister
would be giving birth in another nine months. He'd probably miss that
event too. "How's Natalie doing?"
When Monique moved closer to Dave he pulled a
throw blanket down from his chair for her. Brent sounded depressed so
Dave made an effort to keep things positive. "She's doing well. Ryan is
excited about the baby and your parents are excited to be grandparents.
We went over to
Natalie and Ryan’s for breakfast this morning. Rita made eggs and Ryan
and gravy. I know you don't like pork but those biscuits were good.
Can I talk to you about something?"
it is I didn't do it." That comment was more like the Brent Dave was
used to. Having Monique next to him was nice as well. He could get used
to sitting on the couch with her. "I
didn't think you did. I saw a picture of Brad and I was wondering who
took some pictures when he was out here. I took a couple and Lana took some. What's he doing in
"He's kissing Lana and neither of them are wearing shirts. What the heck
is going on with the two of them?"
bet that Brad couldn't get Lana's shirt off using only one hand. I came home and everyone was
sleeping in the basement until I went downstairs and woke them up. I'm pretty sure I was the only sober person there."
did his shirt get off?"
wanted to see how hard it would be to take a shirt off with one hand."
Tiredly Brent rubbed his eyes. How could he be tired from doing
nothing? "At the
time it was funny."
knew Brad wouldn't be kissing someone when just anyone could walk by."
shows what you know." Brent said with a smirk. "I have a video of Brad
kissing Lana." Dave's earlier conversation with Gretchen echoed in his
mind. Two sisters fighting over one man wouldn't end with everyone
living happily ever after. "How'd
you get that?"
told him to kiss her and make it hot. Jim and Rita will be so happy
shitty shortstop turns porn king. Brad could make a lot of money
I'm not that great with a camera and the video turned out well."
Distractedly Dave listened to what his nephew was saying. Currently
Monique's toes were more interesting than what Brent had to say. "I
didn't know Lana had plans to visit you guys."
didn't either. She showed up one day and Brad showed up the next. He left
without saying goodbye to me and she left without saying goodbye to anyone. He
was on the phone with Gretchen the night before Lana left. How much do you want
to bet that conversation is why Lana left early?"
and Gretchen have been friends for a long time. Just like you and Lana have."
build each other up Dave. They don't play mind games with other people and they don't
call late at night when other people are out having fun. A really good friend
is going to be honest about what they want and they're going to help you self
actualize as well. Gretchen wants to get married and Brad has more money than
almost anyone else she knows."
know you and Gretchen don't get along but she is Brad's friend. What would help
is if you and Gretchen both could put the past behind and move forward. This is
ridiculous. Gretchen knows that Lana likes Brad and Brad has told her
interested in what she has to offer. If this was a guy pursuing a girl he'd
a labeled a stalker."
think Brad and Gretchen would be a good couple. Lana isn't around, she doesn't
want to get married and he does. Anyways, it'd be nice if everyone I knew could
get along with everyone else. I'll talk to you later Tiger. Good luck with
the finger and the shoulder."
for calling. And I have tried to get along with Gretchen. I wouldn't be
meeting her parents if I was the uncooperative one." Resentment further
blackened his mood. He went out of his way to be nice to Schwartz's and
they still treated him like he was the bratty neighbor kid. Gloria was
okay but Dr. Schwartz was a pompous prick. Briefly Brent wondered why
he had been so afraid of him when he was younger. Meanwhile Dave was
thinking that Monique had smooth soft skin. "Tell
Greg and Gloria I said hi. Gretchen knows you don't want to be meeting
fine. I really don't give a damn either way. Have a nice life. Hope things go
well for you and Summerville Dentistry. Tell Brad to give me a call if he wants
will. You hang in there Tiger. Get some rest. Tell Fern I said hi, let me
know what she wants for your anniversary."
Will do. Bye." Waves of exhaustion made the room around him blurry.
Brent knew he
should get up and get ready for bed and he would. In another minute.
had more energy. Dave set his cell phone on top of the magazine he was
using as a coaster before he leaned back. Next to him Monique shivered
as his hand moved up and down her arm.
"I guess Brad and Lana got drunk and ended up kissing on the couch." Dave explained. "Brent doesn't sound good
either. Normally he's so talkative you can hardly keep up with what he's
and Cassandra were talking about affairs. He talked to me about it too. It made
me wonder who he was talking about and then when I saw the picture I thought I
you do me a favor?" The spot where his arm had been lost heat to the surrounding air. "What's
we not talk about Brad for the rest of the night?" Monique's lower lip
trembled when his finger raised her chin. "What
should we talk about then?" Later that same evening it occurred to her
that kissing him
didn't require any discussion at all.