They entered the top floor of the building that opened up to a grand room. The lighting was soft, the decor was elegant, and chandeliers hung from the ceiling. The party guests all stood and chatted with one another.
Davis unbuttoned his charcoal gray suit as he and Abie stepped out of the elevator and observed the scene. “Are you ready, sugar, to meet the people I do business with?”
She glanced up into his eyes with that smile. “You know I love meeting the wolves, Davis. Very exciting,” she told him with a grin, and took the crook of his arm.
“Good, because I love to come late to the party. Gets all the mouths a-gossip over why I’m not here. Then here I am to catch all the things they’ve been talking about. Good way to know your enemies,” he smiled, kissing the side of her head.
“Well, if you wanted to start gossip, you showing me that tidbit of affection looks to have all the ladies’ heads bowed, talking to one another,” she whispered as they made their way to a group of people.
He rolled his eyes at that. “Most women are all about the gossip, Abie. Only one woman I know can keep to herself so completely.”To say that the woman on his arm, who was so full of grace and beauty, made him the proudest damn man there, would be an understatement!
He noticed how the men watched his elegant woman as she walked alongside him, with a poise that most men only dream of in a woman nowadays. The way she carried herself had the women staring at her. He could see envy in some, jealousy in the others, but all of them had their tongues wagging over her wit and beauty.
Never had he felt so proud, and damn downright lucky to have such a woman standing next to him.When they finally made it over to his group of friends, Yancy reached over taking his hand. “Good to see you made it, Davis,” he smiled, as his eyes darted over to the goddess next to him. “And Ms. Black, as stunning as ever. Good to see you again.”
She took his hand. “A pleasure as always, Mr. Clark…”
“Please, nothing formal tonight, just call me Yancy.”
“Thank you, Yancy, you may call me Adire. And it’s always a pleasure being in such distinguished company,” she answered as she looked around at the men that they stood next to. Davis could see all the men seemed to puff up like males in heat at her flattering words. Lord, she knew how to deal with the opposite sex!
He wrapped his arm around her waist, to show all these peacocks whose woman she was. “All right, Yancy, enough with the flattery. Gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to my girlfriend, Adire Black,” he told every one of those drooling idiots who were gawking at what was his.
They all said hello, smiling at her, and she politely smiled back. Davis saw Yancy eyeing him and the possessive behavior he was displaying with this one particular woman, with a knowing smirk he couldn’t keep off his mouth. So he decided to jump in and get all their minds out of the gutter. “So did we find out anything new with the shipping freights?” he questioned them.
That got the conversation started on more appropriate venues and on other things than the woman next to him. Abie stood close, as work became the main topic of conversation. She was quiet and respectful, never really saying much unless she was asked her opinion, and that surprised him. Davis knew her personality, and the dominance that seeped from her. But in this situation she just paid attention to the conversations, and was very demure around all the men.
After an hour she put her arm around his back to gain his attention. He bent to the side so she could whisper in his ear. “I’m heading to the ladies’ room. I’ll be back in a moment.”
He didn’t release her, worried there was something more going on. “Hey, you all right?” he questioned softly into her ear.
“Yes, I’m fine, Davis. Just going to freshen up and maybe get a soda water is all. Don’t worry so; I’m coming back, I promise.”
She looked at all the men around her. “Gentlemen, if you’ll please excuse me for a moment,” she began before taking her leave. The men tipped their heads or glass at her exit, most watching her walk away.
Jeremy Hughes laughed at Davis when she was out of earshot. “How on earth did a Texan bumpkin manage a woman of such sophistication and beauty?” he asked.
“Has to be the money, Hughes, that’s the only way a woman that gorgeous would take notice. Because a woman like that… Damn!” Donald Fraser chimed in.
Davis smiled at the gossips who were as bad as any females. “All right you bunch of idiots. She’s mine, that’s all I’m saying about it,” he replied.
Yancy’s eyes went huge as he looked at him. “I know that look, Davis.”He interjected to the men around him, “Fellas, I think we just met the next Mrs. Mills.”He laughed, and a couple of men slapped him on the back, and all laughed at him.
The smile was plastered on his face with pride once again, but he was done with them at the moment. “I’m heading over to get a drink. Make sure you all don’t sit and talk behind my back now,” he told them.
That had Yancy laughing. “I don’t think it’s you we want to talk about, Davis,” he replied, and the guys started chuckling again. Who would’ve thought a bunch of businessmen would cackle like a bunch of old women!
He went to the bar to get himself a bourbon, looking for Abie so she would see that he’d left his friends. A feminine hand went to his arm as he took a drink. He smiled, thinking Abie had found her way to the bar to get her water like she’d told him.
He turned around to address his woman with a smile, but it fell as soon as he saw who was behind him, trying to gain his attention. There in back of him stood not the woman that he dreamed of; it was the one woman who’d caused him nothing but nightmares, and he never wanted to see again… Jenna, his ex-fiancée stood there smiling. The one who ran off with one of his supposed best friends the day before their wedding.
It had been seven years since they’d seen one another. Her dark hair was short now, hugging along her face, and her dark eyes watched his reaction to seeing her. The dark mane that she’d had when they were engaged was gone, but that slim tall figure was still in place.
Her dress was tight, as they always were on her body. She always did whatever she could to have men stare at her long legs. With heels on she was surprisingly close to his six four height. And he could tell by the look on her face, she still thought he was caught up in her.
“Hello, Davis,” she said intimately to him.
“Jenna,” came his clipped response.
“I know you can’t still be mad at me from all those years ago, could you?” she purred, acting as if she was still special to him.
“No, Jenna, I think you running off was the best thing that ever happened to me, really. I just didn’t know it at the time.”
That stung her, as a look of annoyance crossed her face. “Well, I must have meant something to you since you haven’t had a relationship since me, Davis,” she mocked sweetly.
He took another sip of his bourbon as he regarded the woman in front of him. “Well, honestly, the only thing you did, Jenna, was make me not trust the opposite sex. Showing me what lying, sniveling, backstabbing little things women really can be,” he confessed, but then he smiled. “But now I’ve got a woman who puts you to shame, darlin’, so if you don’t mind I’ll be on my way to go retrieve her.” Then he saw Abie coming from the ladies’ room, smiling at him as she walked over.
She came to his side, looking over at his ex-fiancée with no idea who she was. “Davis, are you going to introduce me to your acquaintance?” she questioned him politely with a little chuckle in her voice.
That was something he didn’t want to do, knowing the poison that could come from Jenna’s mouth. “Abie, this is Jenna, Jenna this is Adire Black…my girlfriend.”
Jenna’s smile was all falseness and venom. “Charmed to make your acquaintance, ma’am,” she beamed sickly sweet at Abie. Why she would act like Abie was old, he had no idea. But when it came to the cruelty of some of the female race, he never could quite understand it. Luckily men just beat the shit out of each other!
Davis couldn’t believe the gall of that woman, and he was about to pull Abie away when she took the crook of his arm in both hands, smiling the devilish smile she could get. “Well, such a polite young lady, Davis. I didn’t know that men were allowed to bring their children to such formal parties, how adorable,” she gushed, to Davis’s surprise.
He looked down at Abie, as she looked at Jenna. “But I would think the conversation about such mundane issues, for a child such as yourself, would become rather tedious for your young ears. Oh, I’m sorry my dear, the vocabulary that the adult world uses may be quite overwhelming for you. Would you prefer that I use less complex words for your mind to understand my meaning…my dear?” she purred without missing a beat.
Anger was the one thing Jenna could never hide. She had a vicious temper, which Davis had seen on more than one occasion when he was with her. “Who do you think you are, talking to me like that? I’ll have you know my husband…” she started to rant.
Abie chuckled at the woman in front of her. “Temper, temper. You should learn to hold your tongue when you’re upset. If you are here with your husband, I would dare say you are an embarrassment to him at this moment,” she replied to the woman, who was literally shaking in her shoes with anger, and embarrassment of her own.
“Oh, just so you know, you look to me to be no longer in your twenties. You really should dress more appropriately for your age.” She leaned in to Jenna, still having hold of Davis’s arm. “And a word of advice, just because something fits you like a glove, doesn’t mean you should wear it out in public. Really, hasn’t anyone taught you how to dress by now?” she said, sounding truly stunned.
Davis couldn’t help but smile, but tried to keep his amusement in. “Well, we’ll be on our way now. Evening, Jenna,” he said, turning away from his nightmare and taking hold of his sunshine. “Lord, I thought that was going to be a cat fight if I ever saw the making for one,” he laughed.
Abie still had hold of his arm, but he could feel her thin fingers give him a little pinch for the hullabaloo she just went through. “May I inquire who that woman was?”
Davis shrugged, not wanting to get into that topic at the moment. “Let’s just say she was someone from my past, sugar.”
She laughed at that statement. “That, Davis, was obvious to me. The way she was trying to purposely be so spiteful. Not a very attractive woman, with such a character flaw.”
He sighed. “I know all too well about her flaws, sugar. That was the woman I was once going to marry,” he revealed.
Her head snapped up to him. “Are you telling me that she’s the one who ran off with your best friend?” she asked.
“Yeah, ran off with him the day before our wedding.”
She stopped and looked up at him. “I’m sorry, Davis. But better to run off the day before your wedding than to run off on you after you’re committed to one another. That would’ve been so much more heart-wrenching for you to go through,” she tried to soothe him.
They walked along slowly together. “How about you, sugar, you ever been married?” he asked, then winced to himself that now, after a couple of months of seeing each other, he’d bring this subject up.
She rubbed his arm with her hand, still holding onto him. “No, I’ve never been married. I thought I told you that when we first met. But I’ve had a couple proposals over the years,” she confessed.
That pissed him off, and that possessive beast was poking his green little head out once more. “A couple proposals? And you never said yes to any of them?” he asked, letting a little jealousy slip out by accident.
“Oh Davis, I just met your fiancée…”
“All right, ex-fiancée, but I’ll tell you everything. I’ve had five proposals that I turned down, and there was one man many years ago I wanted very badly to ask me to marry him,” she told him sadly.
The man she was seeing must have been a fool not to ask this angel to marry him, but… “This man you wanted to marry, what happened with him?” he asked.
She regarded him before she answered. “He devastated my heart, Davis. That’s all there is to say.” She remained silent after that.
He released the arm that Abie was holding onto, slipping it behind her back to lead her back to his friends, some of whose wives had made their way into the group. “Come on, sugar, I want you to meet some of the wives.”
That got her laughing. “Meet some of the wives? Davis, what dastardly plans do you have in mind for me?” she said, feigning dismay, and he held in his chuckle.
“Come on, sugar, let’s go.”
They were having a nice time, and a couple of men that Davis had wanted to meet had shown up tonight like he’d hoped. Abie was over talking to all the wives, and his mind was running wild with ideas he hadn’t had in many, many years now. He liked that one of the women in the group was his. He was thinking he’d like a more permanent arrangement, as Abie would call it.
That’s when he saw Jenna stroll over to where the ladies chatted, and he heard someone interrupt the conversation around him, making him turn back around. “Hi fellas,” Jon hailed them, shaking hands with associates that he knew as well as their friends. He stared at Davis with a cocky grin. “Well, Davis, long time no see.”
Most of the group stopped talking after Jon came along, knowing he and Davis had a very combustible past, and Jon loved to piss Davis off. “Jon,” came Davis’s clipped tone. “I don’t think it’s been long enough,” he said. “So what brings you to the party?”
Jon took a sip of his seven and seven, regarding the people around him. “My father wanted to get back into some of the oil game. I told him Jenna and I would fly out and have a look-see and see what I could come up with,” he said with a shrug. “And you?”
Yancey looked pissed, as did Hughes and Fraser. They all knew that meant that Jon was hoping to get some information or shares from Davis.
“Don’t play dumb with me. You know damn well I’m the owner of all the corporations now. I’m here working, and seeing some friends, and you are no longer on either of those two lists.” Davis drank the rest of his drink, then looked back at his friends. “If you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to get Adire, and head home,” he said.
Jon’s head popped up, looking over into the group of women. “Well, I’ll be damned! I knew you and I liked the same kind of woman, but to get two that were mine…what’s the luck in that!” he laughed curtly to Davis’s back.
He walked toward Abie, not knowing what the hell Jon was going on about and not really giving a shit anyway. His woman looked a little too calm for comfort. From the way she held her body, he could see that she was trying to hold a civil tongue in her head with Jenna around. He made his way into the group of women. “Sorry, ladies, but I’m afraid we’re off to go catch our flight,” he said.
Abie looked pleased with those words as she walked over to him. She made very polite goodbyes, even to Jenna, and walked away with Davis. “Thank you. I was ready to vacate the premises when your ex came over to the group. I’m telling you, Davis, such a cruel personality.”
“Sorry, sugar, I should’ve come earlier; just needed to get something ironed out with the Caster-Ryan shipping corporation,” he told her, taking her by the small of her back to lead her to the elevators.
That’s when Jon stepped in front of them, and he heard Abie gasp. “A.B. Well, it’s been a very long time, hasn’t it, baby.”He grinned at her.
My body froze when Jonathan stood in front of us. “What are you doing here, Jonathan?” I tried to maintain my cool, but the sight of this man had me stumbling all over the place.
He stood easily in front of me, looking over at Davis then back to me. “I see you were looking for a man now not worth millions, but billions, is that how it is, baby?” he hissed at me, and I had no idea what he was talking about.
Davis was really starting to lose his composure. “What the hell are you talking about, Jon?” he seethed.
“Oh, didn’t you know, A.B. and I used to see each other a long time ago.” His head turned towards me. “Isn’t that right, baby?” he goaded me now.
My confidence around this man went out the door, and all I could see was what he did to me, and the words that he said to me at the black door before he left. “You’re not supposed to get within a thousand yards of me, Jonathan. You standing this close, I could easily call the police and have you arrested,” I stammered to him.
He sneered at me once more. “You could try, now, couldn’t you? But it’s been seven years, sweetheart, and we are at a party that I should be at, and you on the other hand, well, you know you shouldn’t.”
Davis’s head turned to me curiously as Jon spoke only to me. Then who Jon was to me clicked into place for him. “Abie…not him,” he murmured, and my body started to shake. He was my heartbreak.
I saw the look on Jonathan’s face, and knew he wanted to let Davis know what trash he thought I was; I could see that much in his eyes. “You’re still a nothing little girl from Revere, even if you bought the million dollar brownstone on Beacon Hill, your address can’t change trash into diamonds, A.B.” The sting of his words cut through me like a knife, and Davis pushed him. “You will shut the hell up about her, Jon!” Davis growled at him.
Jonathan had that spiteful look he gets when I know whatever is going to come out of his mouth will hurt me. “You know what’s so funny, Davis? This is the one I left to have Jenna! Rich, young, beautiful Jenna. But then again, I guess you always liked my sloppy seconds!” he chortled.
Davis lunged at him, and Hughes, Yancey, and Fraser came running up to stop the impending fight. They were all arguing with one another and Jonathan was in the thick of it. I carefully edged away from the situation as my anxiety was starting to overwhelm me, and I walked away to the furthest wall to calm myself down.
A moment later a hand grabbed me from my spot, pulling me around a corner and out of sight. Jonathan glared down at me with all the hate and disgust he showed when he showed up at my door so many years ago. “You think you’ll ever be anything more to Davis than a fun fuck? Because you and I both know that’s all you are, A.B. He’s not going to want some middle-aged used-up whore, when he can have some young piece of ass sucking his dick, and doing his bidding, sweetheart!”
His face came close to mine, and I could smell the alcohol on his breath. “I know all your rules, I know how you live your life. I take it you haven’t let him in your personal space yet? Take a shower with him, or let him sleep in bed with you, and we both know why, don’t we. Because if he sees the real Adire Black, the one with no makeup on, no black leather and attitude to hide behind, the one who is so damn needy, and not the fucking bad-ass dominatrix she spouts off to be, he’d leave your ass in a heartbeat!” he yelled in my face, then pushed me back roughly against the wall and I slammed against it, as he stomped away from me.
Davis ran to me. “Abie, sugar, are you okay?” He glared at the elevator doors that were shutting on Jonathan and his wife. That’s when it hit me… Jenna was Jonathan’s wife. She was the one he’d told me about, and she was the one Davis was in love with! Jonathan was right; I was never going to be anything more to this man than what I was right now. A fun fuck…
“Abie?” Davis said again, but I couldn’t answer. He pulled me into his arms and kissed the top of my head. His voice rumbled as he held me in place, my ear plastered to his chest. “Did he hurt you? If he hurt you, I will beat the fucking hell out of him!” he growled.
He pulled me back, and his eyes roamed over me for injuries. But I wasn’t quite sure how to answer that. Did he hurt me physically, no. Did he hurt me mentally? He was one of only a few who knew how to devastate my world.
“I would like to go home now, Davis,” I told him quietly. My body was shaking and my vision was like peering through a tunnel; my heart was trying to pound out of my chest.
He tried to look into my eyes, going so far as to try and lift my chin with his finger. But I fought him. The words that Jonathan had said rang through my head. And the absolute truth in them. “All right, honey, I’ll take you home,” he said softly, without further argument.
When we arrived at the airport it was very late. I climbed my way aboard and saw Tony sitting in a seat, reading. He glanced over and offered me a smile, which I returned, then headed for the seats to try and distract my mind from what just happened.
Davis pulled Tony aside and said something to him, still very upset. I just wondered if it was because he believed what Jonathan had said to him about me. My hand came up to my temple, as a migraine was threatening my already aching body.
I felt the seat next to me move, but I didn’t bother to look. I just wanted to take something for my headache and go lie down, and have myself a good old-fashioned crying session by myself. Then maybe have myself a chocolate feast.
“Abie, look at me, sugar,” Davis said, and I shook my head.
“When did you break up with him? Was it about seven years ago…right?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I whispered.
He tried again. “You said he wasn’t supposed to be within a thousand yards of you. Did you have a restraining order against him?”
“I don’t want to talk about it…please,” I whispered once more.
“Abie, did he hurt you?” he asked, sounding just as miserable as I felt, and it took every ounce of control I could maintain not to cry in heaping sobs at that moment. So instead I became angry. “I told you I don’t want to talk about it, Davis!” I turned and shouted at him. I turned back around, glaring out the window, not once looking back at him.
I felt a hand make its way under my arm, retrieving my hand. Fingers wove in between mine, as a thumb caressed my skin. “Everything will be all right, I promise,” he tried to comfort me, but I just couldn’t look at him.
When we arrived at Logan, my mind was settled on one thing. I needed time alone to think things through. I’d been living with my mask on for months now, and I’d grown pretty damn tired of it.
Did this man mean more to me than Jonathan ever did? The answer was a very easy…yes. And I knew that what Jonathan spouted hatefully at me tonight was meant to throw doubt in my path, and once again he had succeeded at his task.
I had let just one man into my world, one man to know my rules, one man I trusted in my bed, and that one man had broken something in me. Just like a man broke something inside my mother. I guess the apple really doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
Davis sat in the back of the Rolls with me as Tony drove us back to Revere and the apartment. He was holding my hand; I remained quiet. Once we were in the parking lot, I didn’t wait for anyone to open my door, I just jumped out, running away from him.
“Abie!” he called after me. I heard the door slam shut, and I ran the best I could in my heels, but he caught up easily with me. He stopped me and held my arms gently, trying to get me to look at him, but I just couldn’t, so he pulled me into his arms instead. “Please don’t do this, please!” he whispered, as my body trembled with the longing to let my emotions go free.
I tried to pull away from him, but he kept me tight in his grasp. “God, Abie, don’t do this to me,” he begged, and those words made my heart ache. “Let me take you up to your apartment, please, honey. I need to make sure you get into your apartment safely,” he said into my hair, so softly, so lovingly it almost made me break down right there.
I didn’t nod assent but remained still, and he loosened his grip, led me into the building and up the stairs. When we made it to Allie’s door, he stopped me from just walking in. “I don’t know everything that Jon said to you, but whatever it was that made you not trust me is a fucking lie,” he told me, trying once more to make me look at him. “Sugar, you know this!” he exclaimed, trying to make me see reason.
I shook my head at him. “What I see is a beautiful man, who before I came into the picture enjoyed the company of much different women than I am. I’m sorry, Davis, but you know this is the truth. You need to go back to what you’re used to, and I’ll go back to what I’m used to. It’s really as simple as that,” I whispered.
He took both my hands in his, dipping his head so my eyes met his. “No, I won’t accept that, sugar. This isn’t over because of what that lying bastard said to you.” He stopped looking me over. “He did say something, didn’t he, I can see it written all over your face, Abie.” I turned quickly from him.
I once again tried to pull free, as my body was feeling the approach of the meltdown I didn’t want to have in front of him. But he wouldn’t let me go. “I need to go, Davis,” I whispered.
He pulled me into his arms, holding me tightly to him. “I’ll give you a couple days, sugar, that’s all I’m going to be able to handle away from you. I won’t be pushy, but I won’t let you go, either, Adire Black,” he whispered fiercely in my ear before kissing my temple and letting me go.
Once I’d shut the front door I slid to the ground, and my sobs grew uncontrollable as my body shook on the floor. “Allie?” I called out. “Allie…” I heard her bedroom door open, and feet running down the hall.
“A.B.?” she answered. The kitchen light came on and she found me in a pile in front of the door. “A.B.! What the hell happened?” she yelled, falling to the ground and hugging me, and I couldn’t hold back.
The tears broke free as the pain ripped through my body, shaking from anxiety and distress. Allie pulled me up off the ground as Peter put on the kettle. “Come on, sweetheart, let’s go get you comfortable,” she soothed, and helped me down the hall.