Beyond The Masque Part II

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Chapter 23

I go off in search of Casey. I’m torn between whether or not I should just confront her or allow her to tell me about Seth when she’s ready. I just don’t want to have any more secrets between us. I find her hanging out by the pool, chatting with a cute waiter. I approach them, and the waiter looks nervous when he sees me.

“Oh, relax,” I say to him, and he takes a deep breath.

I guess he’s worried that I’ll think he’s slacking off. He nods at me, then smiles flirtatiously at Casey.

“See you later, Case,” he says to her.

“Remember, we start next Monday,” she replies to him.

“I’ll be there with bells on,” he winks at her and then walks away, leaving Casey and me on our own.

“He was cute,” I say to her once he’s out of earshot.

“Yeah, I know him from the gym. I’m going to be his trainer,” she tells me.

“Is that all?” I hint.

“Yes, that’s all. I don’t sleep with clients. Besides, he’s only nineteen,” she tells me.

“Yeah, I guess he did seem pretty young,” I agree, then we stand there awkwardly, just staring at each other, not saying anything.

“So Casey,” I finally say, I can’t take it anymore.

“Do I have to ask, or are you going to tell me?”

Casey’s eyes go wide, an array of emotions crosses her face, starting with confusion, then nervousness and ending with realization, the realization that I know something.

“You and Seth hooked up last night?” I ask when she still doesn’t say anything.

“Who told you?” she finally responds.

“Lucas told me. He said he saw you two making out last night before you disappeared into the VIP area,” I reveal.

“Fucking Lucas, he should just mind his own fucking business,” she mutters.

“So, what happened?” I prod, and she sighs deeply.

Casey grabs my arm and pulls me over to a deserted sun lounger, and we take a seat on it, facing each other.

“First of all, I have to know…are you mad?” she asks hopefully.

“No, I’m not mad at all, just confused. I already told you that I’d be okay if you and Seth got to know each other, so that’s why I was wondering why you hid it.”
“Well, it’s not something I planned on pursuing. I thought it’d be too weird because of his history with you. And truthfully, it still is.”

“Seth is a great guy, I’d like to see him be happy,” I tell her.

“Anyway, I went to the bar to grab another drink, and I found him there, looking upset. Like, truly sad,” she explains.

“Um…yeah, that was Spence’s and my doing,” I say, and she nods.

“I know. I asked him what was wrong, and Seth didn’t want to tell me, but after a while, I was able to get it out of him what had happened. Pretty intense stuff Roxie,” she says, giving me a worried look.

“So that’s why you kept asking if I was okay?”

“Um yeah. I can’t believe Spence forced you to kiss Seth. I mean, I sort of understand why he did it, though.”

I frown at Casey for this, but she continues.

“Come on, Roxie. You know it was something that needed to be cleared up. Maybe that wasn’t the best way to go about it, but it worked, didn’t it?”

I shrug, not entirely convinced that it was necessary.

“Tell me then, honestly, do you still feel anything for Seth?”

“No. It’s not there anymore. I guess I had been a little thrown back when Seth reappeared, but I realized when I kissed him, that it wasn’t the same.”
“See? Now you know for sure. Personally, I would have decked Spence for that, but he’s a smart guy, he knew what he was doing.”
“I did slap him pretty hard,” I admit.

“Good,” she smiles.

“Okay, but back to how you two…you know,” I wave my hand at her to continue.

“Anyway, Seth told me that after you stormed off, Spence asked him if he had his answer, and Seth told Spence that he did. That he now knew that you two were done, then Spence went after you. Seth told me that it felt like it did last year when he lost you to Spence the first time…except for last year, he didn’t know that you never went home with Spence. He felt so stupid for not telling you how he felt sooner.”

“He just kept taking a step forward, and then he’d pull back again,” I murmur.

“He said he knows it was his fault, that he should have just been a man, and picked up the phone.”

“I hurt him, though, so I understand why he didn’t.”

“Yeah, he said he was hurt, but regardless. He was in love with you, and he didn’t do anything to change your mind for you to choose him. He knows he pussied out.”

“Then he chose to try again, only after he finds out I’m engaged to Spence.”

“Yeah, he knows that wasn’t very cool of him.”

“Again, what does this have to do with…” I trail off.

“I’m getting there,” Casey assures me, “anyway, he just looked so sad, and I felt bad for him. So I hugged him, and all of a sudden, we were kissing, which turned into us practically dragging each other into the back rooms.”

“Comfort sex?”

“Yeah, I guess so,” she nods, “But then after that, he joined me in my hotel room as well.”

“What? Really? So how was it?”

“I feel funny talking about this part with you…you know, because of your history.”

“But it’s just that Case, history. I’m happy with Spence. Do you see this becoming more with Seth?”

“I don’t know Roxie; it’s a little soon to tell. It was just a one-night stand so far. Like you said…comfort sex, and we were both pretty drunk. I just felt so bad for him, you know?”

“I know,” I nod sadly.

“However, I did like that side of him, the sensitive side. So, I wouldn’t be entirely against seeing him again if he was so inclined.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, really,” she sighs, then adds, “he was pretty incredible…if you know what I mean?”

“Um…yeah, I know what you mean,” I smirk at her.

“See? Weird.”

“I don’t want it to be weird Case. So why didn’t you tell me this before?”

“Well, I just wasn’t sure I should or not, and Seth kind of asked me not to.”

“Why?”

“I’m not sure. I guess he was a little unsure about what happened, just as I was.”

“Well, I hope it can work out for you guys,” I encourage.

“I guess we’ll just see what happens. We exchanged numbers, but didn’t make any plans to see each other again.”
“I think you should ask him out first,” I tell her.

“Really? Why?”

“Well, I know Seth has issues with feeling like the guy who always comes in second, and I blame myself for that. And I know that he’d probably appreciate being the one who’s pursued, for once. He can be stubborn about being the first one to call, afraid to show too much interest. Silly, I know, but it was also part of his downfall. He just needs a little encouragement.”

“Thanks for the advice. I’ll keep that in mind.”

“I just don’t want to see him miss out again. I think you guys could hit it off on more than a physical level, I mean.”

Suddenly, we are joined by Lena, who plops herself down between us.

“Hey, guys, what’s up?” Lena asks.

“Not too much Lena,” I smile at her, “where’s Chris?”
“Oh, he’s off with Spence somewhere. I swear he’s got a man-crush on him, it’s just too fucking cute.”

“Yeah, they are pretty adorable together,” I agree.

“So, Chris is a groomsman now?” she asks.

“Yup,” I reply, and she nods.

It suddenly dawns on me that I haven’t officially asked Lena to be a bridesmaid.

“And you’re going to be a bridesmaid,” I tell her.

Lena’s bright blue eyes brighten, and she grins at me, then at Casey, then back at me.

“Really, Rox?” she breathes.

“Of course, Lena.”

“Oh my god, I’m so excited!” she squeals and then reaches forward, locking me in a tight hug.

For someone so tiny, she sure is strong.

“You know, we’re going to have to go dress shopping soon,” Casey says.

“Oooh! That will be a blast!” Lena giggles.

“Yeah, there’s not a lot of time,” I say.

“What are your colors?” Lena asks.

“No idea yet, but I have a meeting with Les on Tuesday. I’ll see what he has in mind.”

“Just please, not brown or orange,” Casey pleads.

“Ewe!” Lena makes a face.

“Oh, goodness no,” I frown; although those are kind of fall colors, aren’t they?

“How about your gown, though?” Lena asks.

“Well, my mom has demanded she be there for that one, but I’d like to have your input as well. I just don’t know when I’ll start looking. I don’t even know what I want.”

The three of us are lost in some truly girly wedding talk when Spence and Chris find us.

“You guys hungry?” Chris asks us.

“Starving,” I answer first, and as if on cue, my stomach growls loudly. I had forgotten all about the food. We stand up, and I take Spence’s hand, and he leads us to an empty table that has been reserved for us. We take our seats, and Spence leans over to whisper in my ear.

“How’s your evening going so far?”

“It’s good,” I smile at him, “and yours?”

“It’s just fine, but I am looking forward to being alone with you again.”

“Me too,” I reply, and Spence slides his hand onto my thigh and squeezes it.

He sits back up straight but leaves his hand on my thigh. I hold his hand and slowly slide it up further until his hand is at the very top; his fingers graze me between my legs. He shoots me a bemused smirk and flicks his pinky finger against me, and I pretend not to notice, keeping my face neutral. Some waiters come over and place a large tray of barbequed fare in the center of the table. It has a little of everything that was on the grill. Reluctantly, Spence pulls his hand away, and we all proceed to dig in.

After dinner, I spot Frankie and Les and decide that I should introduce Spence to Les before our meeting on Tuesday.

Spence is standing at the bar with Victor, both of them with cigars in their mouths, and Victor is handing Spence a shot glass. Uh oh! I sure hope that’s not tequila. I go over to them just as Spence takes the shot.

“Wow! Shots again? Are you sure that’s such a good idea?” I ask him, hoping that I don’t sound like I’m nagging.

Victor chuckles.

“Relax Rox, he’s a big boy, he can handle himself,” Victor says, and I roll my eyes at him.

Spence smiles at me and leans in to kiss my cheek.

“Don’t worry, my love, only one tonight,” he assures me, then adds, “besides, it wasn’t tequila.”

Oh good, at least he understands my concern then.

“Only one?” Victor complains, “don’t tell me she’s got you trained?”

Spence shoots Victor a look that says, ‘be careful what you say next,’ and Victor puts his hands up in a placating gesture.

“I drank far too much tequila last night,” Spence explains to him.

“Oh yes, so did I, but it was just so much fun now, wasn’t it?” Victor smiles, possibly remembering the body shots we all took part in last night before all hell broke loose.

“Yes but, you know how I can get when I drink tequila,” Spence adds.

“I certainly do,” Victor nods then looks at me, pointing his thumb at Spence, “let me guess, he got a little unruly?”

I can’t help but laugh.

“You could say that,” I say, raising an eyebrow at Spence.

Maybe I should ask Victor for some tequila stories about Spence.

“Hey now, let’s just drop that topic right there,” Spence says, guessing correctly what I must be thinking right now.

“I’d never elaborate. What happens in Mexico and Vegas and everywhere else…stays there,” Victor laughs raucously.

“Well, now I’m dying of curiosity,” I say.

“Trust me, sugar. You don’t want to know,” Victor tells me.

“Okay, Vic, time to shut the fuck up,” Spence laughs nervously, and Victor swats Spence on the shoulder.

“Relax, Manfredi. Your secrets are safe with me.”

Victor is beginning to get on my nerves now. There’s only so much of him I can take sometimes. He’s all right in small doses, but sometimes those small doses are pretty potent.

“Anyway, I need to steal my fiancé away for a moment,” I announce, taking Spence’s hand and tugging on him slightly.

“Are you taking me somewhere to have your way with me?” Spence asks hopefully, not even trying to hide it from Victor.

I can tell by the sound of his voice that he’s nearing on drunk…again.

“Geez Spence, how much have you had to drink already?” I ask him as we walk away from Victor.

“Yeah, I need to cool it, don’t I?”

“Please?”

“Of course,” he agrees readily.

It usually doesn’t bother me because Spence doesn’t drink all that often. He is pretty good at limiting himself, but I think last night's events are still too fresh in my mind, and I’m worried about those feelings being triggered again.

“So where are we going?” he asks me, trying to compose himself.

“I want to introduce you to Frankie’s boyfriend Les, who we might hire to be our wedding planner. We have a meeting with him on Tuesday, but I thought we could make introductions tonight,” I explain.

“You’re planning already, babe? That makes me very happy,” he smiles, goofily, and stops walking.

He pulls me against him and grabs my chin and tilts my face up to look at him.

“You can have whatever you want,” he whispers and kisses me.

“I just want you,” I whisper back at him, and then pull him forward.

We finally make it over to Frankie and Les. Les starts smoothing his blazer nervously as I make the introductions.

“Spence, I’d like you to meet Les Florence, and you, of course, know Frankie,” I say happily.

Spence holds his hand out to Les, and Les takes it eagerly. He starts shaking it vigorously.

“Oh, Mr. Manfredi, sir, I am so pleased to meet you,” he gushes. Spence has an amused grin on his face as Les continues shaking his hand.

“Les honey, release the poor man,” Frankie chides him lightly, and Les blushes as he releases Spence’s hand.

“So my Roxanne has told me that you are a wedding planner?” Spence asks him, and Les straightens his posture.

“Yes, sir,” he nods, “I own and run Florence events.”

“I do believe I’ve heard of your company,” Spence tells him, “in fact, I think you did the wedding of a friend of mine last year, Tom Goodwin?”

“Yes, I certainly did,” Les beams, obviously pleased with Spence’s sharp memory.

Most men wouldn’t remember that kind of detail.

“If I remember, it was done quite beautifully.”

“Thank you, sir,” Les blushes.

“Please, call me Spence. Well, as far as I’m concerned, you’re hired, if this is what my beautiful bride would like,” Spence smiles warmly at me, and I nod.

I don’t want even to bother interviewing anybody else. I wouldn’t want to disappoint Frankie like that, and if Spence has already seen his handiwork and was pleased, then I’m sure he can do anything.

“Really? You don’t even want to see my portfolio first?” Les asks, looking a little shocked.

“Well, you can show us on Tuesday if you like,” Spence says.

“Oh my goodness,” Les claps and looks excitedly at Frankie, who gives him an encouraging smile, “I will not let you two down.”

“The sooner we can start planning this, the better,” Spence says, “October will be here before we know it.”

“October, yes, that doesn’t give us a lot of time, but I have worked with less. I am up for the challenge.”

“We can work out the details on Tuesday,” Spence chuckles.

Les’s enthusiasm is infectious. I like him already. I think we’ll work together, just fine.

“Roxanne, sweetheart?” Les addresses me.

“Yes?”

“I very much look forward to creating your perfect day.”

“Thank you, Les, so do I,” I sigh happily, and gaze up at my beautiful Spence.

He smiles back down at me with so much love and desire in his eyes that it makes my knees feel weak. I want him so badly right now.

“Oh my goodness,” Les gasps and starts fanning himself dramatically. Spence and I look at him curiously.

“You two could light fires with the way you’re looking at each other right now.”

Spence and I, and even Frankie burst out laughing.

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