It had been a month since Emmitt had gotten a call from Charlie with some questions, and also about what had happened to his little flaxen minx. Just thinking about the that night she had walked into the Milk Maid battered and beaten pissed him off so badly that he was also looking for her attackers now.
It had been a month of not only gathering information about the night Cooper was attacked but also about the woman herself. After finding out who this woman really was turned him on, and made him take a step back.
Bernadine Cooper was much more than he ever thought possible for a mere woman could be in this day and age. She was a detective, was a key woman in woman’s rights movement, rich within her own rights, and had ever investor whose anybody coming after for either her support, her recommendation, or a generous donation.
He shook his head as he sat up in his leather chair in his office looking out high above the Chicago sky line. As he watched the next skyscraper being built next door, he thought over his options with this woman and in what action next to take.
The pull to get to know this woman was stronger than before, but now he knew it could be disastrous for him if he pursued it. But even that didn’t stop him. Now his thoughts lingered on her accusing him of hurting a woman. And now after his conversation with Charlie... she thought he had attacked her as well. That was something he wanted to set her straight on, but was it better to let it lie?
While he thought what he wanted to do, he heard his office door open and the sound of footsteps coming his way. “Mr. Rosemond, here’s the information you were looking for sir.” His secretary Mrs. Cunningham said placing a piece of paper on his desk.
“Is that everything I asked for?” He asked.
“Yes sir. The staff was very thorough just like you asked.”
“Thank you. That’s all for now.” He answered.
When the door closed, his feet hit the floor as he turned around to read the information. He read over the paper and it was just as he’d thought, Ms. Cooper was on a long list a parties and events that he had been invited to as well. Most of them were unimportant, just the normal meet and greets, but there was one that stood out to him and it was this evening.
With a grin he picked up the phone at get Mrs. Cunningham on the line.
“Yes Mr. Rosemond.”
“Phone Mr. Olson and tell him I’ll be needing my tux ready when I get home tonight.”
“Yes sir. Is there anything else?” Mrs. Cunningham asked.
“Yes. Phone Mrs. LaBrecque and let her know that I will be making my appearance at the fund raiser tonight, and send my apologize for the sort notice. He informed her.
“Right away sir.”
He sat back with the paper in hand as his hand rubbed over his mouth. He stared at the one name on that simple piece of white paper knowing it could spell disaster for him if he went to this party, but couldn’t manage to stop himself when he thought of those soft green eyes... “Let’s see if I can get you to listen to me tonight Ms. Copper.” He grinned.
The ball room at the Drake Hotel always left Cooper breathless. The room looked like the lights shined off bars of gold giving the ball room unearthly feeling as the crystal chandeliers sparkled above. But then reality crashed all around her when she stepped in and saw all the people who were cogitating in the same space.
“Well B.D. old girl, paste on that very fine fake smile of yours. Looks like you’re going to have one hell of a busy night.” She sighed to herself as she sauntered into the room.
Her blush pink silk and beaded dress fit her slender frame perfectly. The cut of the gown was modest for this crowd having the silk cover her knees and hand to the ground in the back.
Her hair flaxen blond hair was softer, letting the finger curls have my volume and the beaded head band hung loosely on her head and had a lovely jewel sitting in the center of her forehead. He beaded shawl was wrapped around her arms as she made her way to the first chatter mouth of the evening.
“Bernadine, my dear how are you? I’m so please you came.” Ruth LaBrecque beamed making her way over.
“I’m grand Ruth, how are you dear?” She asked in trained politeness.
“Fabulous, just fabulous.” She answered kissing the side of Cooper cheeks.
“Come now, let’s go and mingle shall we. You know, I wasn’t sure you were coming tonight, seeing that Stanly’s here.” The older woman admitted.
“Is he now? Well it’s no matter. You know I could never miss one of your party’s Ruth. But I’ll be sure to stir clear of him.” She smiled in all politeness but was actually thinking… that bastard knew I had obligation to be here tonight. He’s lucky I’m not caring my gun right now because I would take a shot at that limp sausage that he has between his legs!
She went on about her business and meet some of the new and up and coming politicians. She made small talk, laughed at the appropriate times, and shook hands with everyone who wanted the name of Cooper to be affiliated with their campaigns.
The evening was going well, and she hadn’t even taken a glass of champagne, but was just about ready to call it a night; when Ruth came up to her. She was smiling that old devilish grin only older woman could have when they were up to something...
“Oh, there you are my dear. I have a group of people who I would love to introduce to you. They’ve been asking about you all night.” She gushed.
Cooper smiled and then looked at the party she was talking with to excuse herself. “Now, what’s got you all excited to pull me away for the governor?” She laughed at the woman who had wrapped her arm in hers and was now pull her along.
“I think it’s about high time you meet some eligible men my dear. Maybe find one to settle back down.” The older woman informed her.
“Now Ruth, have you been heavy into the drink this evening, or have you been talking to Ms. Peabody again…” She asked trying to stall. Ruth didn’t answer and soon se found herself standing in front of a large group of men. There was one man their she would’ve never expected to see at this kind of function, but then again with her luck of late... she should’ve known better.
Ruth gave Cooper a gently push to stand front and center like a peacock on display for the men to buy. “Now, Mr. Miller. Mr. Stout, Mr. Robison, Mr. McGregor, and of course Mr. Rosemond. I like to introduce you to my dear friend Bernadine Helsmworth…”
“Copper... It’s Bernadine Cooper now Ruth, remember.” She corrected.
“Yes, yes, I forgot you go by Copper now. So gentleman here is she the lovely lady you were asking about. Why don’t you all just have a nice chat and get to know each other. Have fun my dear.” Ruth whispered before walking away.
She turned back around to see the wolves staring back at her, and she plastered on that perfect fake smile once again to deal with them. “So gentleman…” she began, But Mr. McGregor stepped up first and took her hand.
“Ms. Cooper such a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” He bowed.
“Yes, thank you Mr. McGregor…”
“Tim, if you please my dear.” He smiled under his very heavy mustache, and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to roll her eyes, cringe, or shave off the dead looking squirrel on his upper lip.
“Alright, Tim…” She answered, but then Mr. Stout with his flaming red hair came up and took her hand and kissed it. Her brow went up in surprise. “My, very gentlemanly indeed.” She replied, with a forced smile.
“Ahy, so your Theodore Coopers daughter. I’ve heard much about you.” He exclaimed in a thick Irish brogue.
“Well I do hope it was all the good things you heard” She teased.
The men chuckled and the man, who still held her hand, smiled. Her eyes glanced over at dark whiskey colored eyes that have haunted her since she’d first seen them, and now they were staring intently back at her. She gave a small grin just to let the handsome scoundrel know she was no way frightened of him, then smiled brightly at the others.
“So Mr. Robinson, I hear your trying to stake your claim in the iron industry. That’s a very difficult industry to get your foot in with the hold that US Steel has on it?” She stated.
The men just stood there silently, but one man chuckled under his breath drawing the other attention. They looked over at Mr. Rosemond then back to her and chuckled themselves before Mr. Robison answered.
“Yes, but Chicago Heights is chomping at their heals, so to speak. In fact I would say in the next couple years we should be able to take some ground from them.” He exclaimed.
“Well that does sound very promising. You know I’m always interested in a good investment. Maybe you and I could have a chat sometime about it.” She smiled, but what she really wanted was to see the reaction from particular man who was looking for investors of his own at the Hopkins club...
“Well, I would be delighted to show you some of our up and coming orders. Then maybe take a tour of the plant…” He was explaining but was swiftly cut short as a hand took her by the elbow and forcibly started to lead her away.
“If you’ll excuse us.” Stanly growled at the men, and then pulling her away.
He dragged her to an empty corner of the large dining hall without another word. But once he made sure they were alone, he stood over her like he had done so many times in the years they were married. “What the hell do you think you’re doing here?” He growled taking her by both arms.
“That is a better question for you I believe. I not only have obligations that required me to be here, but Ruth is a very dear friend... to me. So now, why you’re here?” She fumed tugging herself free from his grasp.
His face was turning a very crimson color while he put together his thoughts. “I have every right to be here, and you know that. I’m mayor of Elmwood Park, I’m the one who should be talking to these people not you!” He spat.
She rolled her eyes then glared back at the loathsome man in front of her. “You might be a Mayor Stan, but you don’t have the clout nor the money that I do. Also, I don’t believe you even have a single friend among the crowed. So if you’ll excuse me, I have business to attend to.”
She started to leave when he snatched her by the arm once again yanking her back to the corner. “You have business? The only have the clout with these people is because of the money your father left you. That’s the only reason you were invited to this fund raiser, that’s why Ruth still talks with you, and that’s the only reason those men wanted to talk with you Bernadine!” He roared under his breath.
“That maybe so, but I was always the one with the mind for business, not you. So, why don’t you just go home to Hortense and leave the work to the real players… Stan.” She hissed glancing at his hand that had ahold of her arm.
“You nasty little bitch…” He growled digging his fingers into her flesh, when a hand pulled her away.
“I think you own the lady an apology.” Came a deep rough growl came from behind her.
Stanly released her with a scowl still on his face and she turned to glance up at whisky colored eyes and a handsome face that she wished she could forget about.
“I don’t know who you think you are…” Stanly started.
“Emmitt Rosemond.” Was all he had to say.
Stanly glanced at her becoming redder then he was before. “I don’t care who you are. This is between me and my wife, so why don’t you fuck off.” He fumed.
“You use such words in front of a lady…” Emmitt said shaking his head. “And, I think you mean your ex-wife, don’t you?”
Stan’s eyes grew wide, then narrowed. “Whatever she is to me, is my business and it has nothing to do with you.” Stan spat.
“Gentleman...” She started in trying to cool the situation. Then she turned to tell the man who was defending her honor that she could handle the situation of her ex-husband all by herself.
“I beg to differ, I’m involved. So I suggest you apologize to this beautiful lady right now, or you will be having some real problems coming your way. And don’t make me ask you twice.” Emmitt’s order.
Stanly stood there glaring at Cooper, then his eyes slid over to Emmitt before shaking his head. He stood up straitening out his tie and tux. “Fine. I’m Sorry Bernadine. We’ll talk about this later.”
“Not if I have anything to say about it.” Emmitt warned leading her away.
Emmitt rapped her arm around his and lead her out the French to the outside garden. She glanced over her shoulder at the gossiping woman who watched the fiasco that had just taken place and her now begin whisk away by a very eligible bachelor... alone.
Once she was out of everyone’s sure to be prying eyes, she freed herself from the millionaire grasp and went into her clutch for a smoke. “Thank you Mr. Rosemond for your gallantry. But I’ll see my way back in myself.” She said dismissing him.
He walked up and pulled a lighter out of his pocket and to the cigarette that just went to her mouth. “No I think you and I should have a talk.”
Her eyes went up to look into his and she shrugged at she lit up her smoke. “Is that so. What about?”
“Charlie told me you thought I roughed up a woman. That’s what you were referring to that night wasn’t it?”
“Mmm possibly. The chief should’ve kept quiet about my assumptions though. He must trust you.” She smiled turning from him and looking off into the night.
“Yes he does. But he also told me that you think I was the one who attacked you or that I had some thief that’s working for me do it. He also told me that you think this Jane is working for me.” He said moving in closer.
“Drat that man! Couldn’t keep his big mouth shut for nothing. I thought the chief of police could keep a secret.” She hissed snubbing out the cigarette into an ashtray.
“Is that what you think of me? That I’m the kind of man who goes around hurting defenseless woman?” He asked.
“It makes no difference what I think you’re capable of, or rumors that linger about who you have working for you. It’s what I can prove that matters. So if your hiding something let me assure you, I will find it.” She grinned turning back to face him.
“Be my guest. I don’t have any issues with that.” He grinned back.
“Alright, then I will.” She answered with a small smile
“But I did want to tell you that about the night you saw me stop that girl Jane. I wasn’t going to hurt her but I did have a couple questions that I wanted answered.” He admitted.
“What kinds of questions?”
“Like why she attacked me with a champagne bottle and the ran sacked my room.”
“She attacked you?” She questioned.
“Yes, she attacked me. After I had a talk with her I was going to call Charlie and press charges.” He told her.
“I wanted to ask you a question.”
“What did Maxie say to you?” She asked crossing her arms.
“I don’t know any Maxie.” He stated.
“The little blond that came over the first night I saw you.” She replied.
“She approached me with offer to sleep with her, and then I told her I wasn’t interested, then she left it’s that simple. My plan was to introduce myself to you that night. But the bar keeper seem to already have his foot in the door…”
She remember Emmitt from that night, and the look he had on his face when Rudy touched her. “Interesting…” she murmured at the memory.
“There’s one more thing that I wanted to get straight. I didn’t follow you the night you were hurt. When Charlie called me the next morning, he told me what had happened the night before, and what was done to you, I couldn’t believe it. I’d just seen you before you left… But when you came in that night and I saw what some… son of a bit… man, did to you. I was beyond furious… I swear I wanted to hunt down the bastard who’d dared laid a finger on you.”
“Hunt someone down on my account... are you just that noble, and are you trying to score points with me? I mean, we’ve meet twice and the second time was on rather nasty terms?” She asked cocking her head at him.
He came closer to where they were toe to toe and he pulled the cigarette from her fingers dropping it to the ground. “Because you fascinate me, and nothing has had that kind effect on me in a very, very long time…”
“Men’s fascination pass soon enough. And I have no intention of being one of your conquest.”
“Who said you’d be just a conquest?” He grinned.
“Sweet words always fall from the devils lips. And with that being said I’ll say good evening to you.” She smiled turning her back to him in dismissal, but he didn’t leave.
His hand drifted to her waist to pull her back around pulling her body close to his and feeling the warmth of his touch through the silken fabric. “I’m not the man your thinking I am.” He assured her.
“Really, then why do you hang out in speak easy?” She questioned.
“Why do you?”
“Ah, but I asked you first…” She chuckled.
“I never claimed to be an angel. I have my own investments that I like to keep tabs on…” He started.
“Would that be the booze, the bar, or the girls that you’re referring to?” She grinned.
“That, would be none of the above. I don’t need to step into a speak easy to find a companion for the night.” He told her with a chuckle making his dimple dig deep into his gorgeous face. “And recently the Milk Maid had become a very entertaining place to be at. Especially since a blond haired, green eyed minx stared working there.” He admitted.
“You’ve been paying attention to me? Now that I find very interesting…” She purred.
“I noticed you the first night you walked in with slacks on. I’d been going to that bar for some time before you were hired, but after you came, I’d made sure I was more of a… regular.” He chuckled again.
“That doesn’t strengthen you claim of not assaulting me now does it. If you were watching what was going on, what I was looking out for, than you’d known more then you let on to…So that could mean that Jane was your lover and you two are working together.” She deduced, and took notice when he took a moment to answer.
“I told you that I did bring that girl home. When we went upstairs to get more, comfortable, with each other, she asked for me to bring up some champagne. I turn my back for just a minute and the next thing I knew I woke up the next morning on the floor with bedroom and office torn apart. So wouldn’t that prove she wasn’t my lover?”
“And you didn’t find it, strange, that a woman would ask for a drink before, getting intimate with you? I would think clothing to be stripped off would be the next thing she’d be asking for.” She asked.
His hand moved against the fabric causing her to shiver, and his chest rumbled. “No, most woman see the money before they truly see me. So asking for champagne, that’s nothing new of what a woman would want. The timing was strange, but I took it as nerves.” He confessed.
“Maybe finding a woman more in your realm of wealth would better suit you then. Instead of one who has to struggle day to day for a paycheck. I’m sure most woman sees a sugar daddy in her future by you taking her to bed.”
“I prefer woman without wealth. I find woman with money very needy, whinny, and boring. Those are the kinds of woman who only see is a husband and marriage … that’s not something I’m interested in.” Then he stopped and his grin turned into a cocky dimpled smile. “But I might’ve just found the one woman who might just change my mind on that subject…”
“If you think that little offer will make me swoon or detour me from digging into you background, you’re sorely mistaken. I’m not in the least bit interested in going down the path to matrimony ever again. I will never have a man seriously in my life again, and that includes his life time gift of servitudes that I’m required to give to him with his promise of a ring.” She murmured.
“I’ve never heard a woman speak like you do.” He chuckled, then he pulled her tightly to him. “One thing is for sure, I’ve never meet a woman like you. You’re a one of a kind.” He murmured.
“You say only are looking for a night worth of pleasure. But do all your woman know this before you take them to bed?” She questioned trying not to think about how she enjoyed being in his arms.
“It’s no secret. I tell them what I’m interested in and if their not interested in my proposal, I have no problems with it.” He answered.
“So there might be many a snubbed woman out there who’d be willing to work for you to help get back into your bed? Or could there be one out there who might help to destroy you?” She pondered, but he remained silent. “Tell me, what were you doing at the Milk Maid of recent? It seams strange that you didn’t call the chief right away knowing where Jane worked.” She asked.
“I was looking for something.”
“More like someone.”
“Jane again perhaps?”
“You think she’s up to something?” She pushed.
“You thinking she might be involved in someone or something untoward? Because honestly, I don’t think Jane capable of much for thought, especially robbing a millionaire.” She admitted.
“I stumbled across some information that there’s someone targeting me. Someone who either owns or has a connection to the Milk Maid, that’s why I started going there.”
“I must say that tid-bit peaks my interest. What sort of information do you possess that would have people coming after you?” She questioned.
“I can’t give away all my secrets to you now, can I?” He answered as the corner of his mouth twitched up.
“So let me see if I fully understand. You’re looking for someone who you believe wants something you possess, then you were waiting for Jane so you could question her and see if she was a part of it?”
“You could put it like that, in a way. People think just because I have money that I’m all fluff, and no bronze, but that’s not who I really am. I’m also very good at reading others around me. That’s why I like to observe people, to get a good feel for what there up to.” He commented.
“So, you’re telling me you went to a place knowing you could become a target for the Mafia? I would think a man such as yourself would have someone who could investigation that for you while you sit back and sip on your brandy.” She question with a shake of her head.
“The Mafia knows who I am, so I’m not worried about them. I don’t infringe on there business, and they don’t infringe on mine. But if you’re worried about me I could ask the chief of police if a beautiful female detective keep an eye out on things for me. You know, come to my place to protect me.” His voice rumbled.
“Charlie told you my job was in the department as well? Damn that man…” She hissed.
“Yes, he let that one slip. But I already knew that you were something different. You got into a men’s club undetected...”
“Didn’t get past you...” She murmured.
“Well, I’m different.” He Chuckled.
“Yes you are...?” She wondered.
“You might not believe this but, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon, I worked for everything I have. I’m just a Missouri boy who can’t stand brandy, and prefers the taste of good ol’ taste of moon shine.” He grinned.
“Missouri is it?” She purred.
“Yes, and I prefer being around regular folk. But that doesn’t mean that I have something nefarious going on either.” He answered with a little twang slipping out.
Her fingers smoothed out the fabric on his chest of his already seamless jacket. “I’m sorry if I can’t take you at your word at the moment, or anything you’ve told me thus far. In my experience men are exceptional liars when they’ve done wrong.” She answered glancing up from under her lashes.
“And woman aren’t?” He asked.
“No we came be just as sinister. But I find that men are more interested in power, and go to great length to achieve that power.” She shrugged.
“That’s a very jaded way to think of us. Not all men are like that.” He argued.
“Then you shouldn’t think of all woman as husband hungry money grubbers then either.” She smiled.
“Touché.” He grinned.
“Besides I have firsthand expense of the idiocy of men…”
“When you fought for woman rights? I read that about you…You are quite a fighter.”
“You read about me?” She asked.
“Yes, I ready everything I could find about you.” He confessed.
“Then you understand that I am not the kind of woman who can be tempted with sweet words and extravagant things. I will never be owned by a man.” She frowned.
“You do say what you believe in don’t you?” His smiled.
“I’ve fought hard, and paid much to have that the right Mr. Rosemond.” She confessed, but a little more breathless then she was hoping for as she stared into his eyes.
“It’s Emmitt, Bernadine. I want you to call me Emmitt…” He whispered in a deep gruff voice.
She blink up at him a couple times as he pulled her tighter to him. “Bernadine is a name I don’t use any more. That’s my past, and that’s a place I don’t dwell in...” She whispered while his lips lingered over hers.
“What do your friends call you then?” He asked.
“People call me Copper. My friends and family call me B.D.” She breathed.
“Bernadine Dorothia Cooper. B.D.”
“And what about a lover. Does he get to use your name while he makes love to you?” He growled.
“I don’t think you’ll ever have that kind of a chance to find out…” She started say, but the conversation stopped as he pulled her chin up and stared into her eyes right before his head dipped down and kissed her.
His tongue licking her lips asking for entrance and she opened for him, tasting champagne and the absolute passion he could give her. She let him take what he wanted and relished that moment of pleaser, right before she pulled back.
“That, was lovely.” She smiled trying to get free from his spell, but was failing miserably.
His lopsided grin made its way to his face, and his dimple depend while his eyes hooded. “I can give you so much more with that. Why don’t we go back to my place for a night cap?” He whispered lightly kissing her lips again.
She smiled as the hand came down and a finger traced the lips that just had control of her. “Tempting, very tempting, and I imagine you could make my night very delightful indeed. But you see, as much as having a night of unattached ecstasy thrills me. I don’t sleep with the men I could possibly destroy.”
“Destroy, is that what you plane to do to me?” He asked.
“No, there’s no plan for it... if your telling the truth. But neither am I naïve enough to take you at your word.” She grinned maneuvering out of his arms. “Now, thank you for all the information you gave me about yourself this eve. I’ll be sure to look into the matter first thing in the morning.”
Emmitt leaned against the waist high rod iron fence with his arms crossed. “That’s fine by me. And after you do your digging and find out that I have nothing to hide... I’ll be over to finish were we’re leaving off tonight.”
“You know something, I hope your right Mr. Rosemond, I truly do. Now, Good evening to you…” She grinned then turned to leave. But before she could he took her back into his arms, and kissed her like she’d never been kissed before.
When he had his fill, and she was breathless, he pulled back and whispered in her ear while he pressed tightly against her body. “I’ll let you call me Mr. Rosemond, for now. Because the the next time you say my Christian name it will be while I’m making love to you. Just remember that… Bernie.” His voice rumble in her ear.
He kissed her cheek, before letting her go and walked back into the ball room. She watched his tall, lean frame walk away, and her hand went to her flushed cheek. “Why in the hell are the ones I’m always attracted to the trouble makers?” She sighed.
With a deep breath she straitened out her dress, threw her shoulder back, and plastered on her polite smile before making her way back into the ballroom... to face a dozen or so gossiping woman.