David watched as Summer moved around the hotel ballroom as he stood with his brothers. It wasn’t long ago when they were in the same hotel celebrating his brother, Graham’s promotion to Fire Chief. His lovely wife, Aria, his then girlfriend, had finally came to her senses to forgive the man.
That further proved why he would be getting married in name only. He had watched too many of his loved ones hurt by the thing called love and he wanted nothing to do with it. Summer was the perfect wife on paper. She was the daughter of Governor Steve McNeil, who was former Mayor of the city and his name was almost as prestige as his own.
“Trying to follow in your oldest brothers footsteps? I’m still surprised you even considering marriage, you never talked about it.” It was his middle brother, Micah who broke the silence.
“What man does?” He tightened his hold on the drink he held. He had long traded that champagne in for something a lot stronger.
“Still and you haven’t known this woman long enough.” Micah frowned.
“I know everything I need to know about her. I want a family, Micah.”
“What is this? 1952? Have a damn kid but why get married and to a damn McNeil?” He said in disgust.
“Talk some sense into him, Graham. He’s obviously overworked himself tonight with the dinner.”
Of course his brother’s restaurant catered tonight’s event and he was thankful but his brother was starting to piss him off. He had made up his mind and he wasn’t going to change it for anyone.
“I understand wanting to start a family and all but what’s the rush?” Graham asked.
“No rush.” He said nonchalantly. “I just know what I want and I’m going to get it.”
“Congratulations, David.” He spun around to see two females approach them and he hoped this would bring a change of subject.
Aria smiled sweetly as she wrapped her arms around him. She had always been sweet even when people weren’t always so nice to her but he never saw her in a bad mood except when she was separated from Graham for those weeks they had broken up.
“Thanks, lovely.” She moved to hug Micah before her husband snagged her by the waist pulling her close and he knew who was coming up next.
“My favorite girl.” Micah greeted Zora as he eased her into his arms.
David watched his brother’s arm snake around her waist pulling her tight in a hug that left no space between them.
“I thought I was your favorite girl?” Aria teased with laughter.
“I can have two favorites.” Micah beamed as he switched Zora to his left arm and pulled Aria close with his right.
“You’re going to make me blush.”
The trio laughed while David and Graham glared.
“That’s enough of that.” Graham pulled Aria back into his arms.
“Let her breathe, Micah.” David tried to keep his voice light but he heard the slight growl. Laughter sounded out as Micah released her. Zora then placed a quick kiss to Graham’s cheek before she moved back to stand in the center of them.
“The Tucker Boys are getting snatched up like nobody’s business. They’re going to be on you like never before, Micah.” Zora teased.
“I could be off the market too, baby if you would just give me a chance.” He eased her to his side with a hand at her hip.
David felt the need to remove that hand on her hip when he felt arms wrap around his waist. He turned and Summer attached herself to his side. “I hope you guys are enjoying yourselves.”
He took a slow sip of the liquor as he watched everyone’s reaction. Graham gave a passing nod while Aria smiled like she always did. Micah brow arched slightly almost as if she was intruding. He watched Zora the most under lowered lashes.
She smiled but it didn’t quite reach her ears and her eyes burned with something he couldn’t quite put his finger on. He couldn’t help but compare the two women.
Where Summer was tall and slender, Zora was shorter and curvy. Not short but shorter than the other woman. Where Summer’s skin was the color of warm sands of the beaches, Zora’s skin was the color of cinnamon. Summer kept her hair in a blunt cut highlighted bob while Zora’s hair hung in its natural curly state down her back.
However it wasn’t just the physical differences he had notice it was personality as well. Summer was prim, growing up with the finest things in life, trained to be the wife every man desired. Then it was Zora. His vixen. The woman could tempt the control of a saint. She was fun, edgy.
“It’s nice to see you again, Summer.” Graham spoke up to take away the awkward silence.
“Yes, and we are enjoying ourselves. The turnout is huge.” Aria looked around in shock. She pretty much had been looking like that all night.
“The Tucker’s and McNeil’s name carry a lot of weight, honey.”
David winced as Aria faced dropped but she recovered quickly from the term of endearment. He forgot to tell her about how that was a sore spot for her but he would have to mention it the next time they were alone.
“Um, I remember someone said they would owe me a dance later. Well, it’s later…” Graham pulled his wife towards the dance floor.
Summer cleared her throat. “Well, you and Micah make a lovely couple, Zora. You should definitely snatch him up.”
Zora gave that devilish smile and he was already groaning at the number or responses she might come up with.
“Like you did David, right?” Zora replied.
“He kind of swept me off my feet but it’s almost the same.”
“I’m sure David just loves your wit and charm.” Zora said sarcastically as she looked to him.
“You do, don’t you, baby?” Summer looked up, cupping his chin with her manicured hand.
“No need for an answer, friend. We know you wouldn’t be here now if you weren’t madly in love with Win- Summer.” She winked before sashaying off, of course giving herself a mental checkmate. The shot taken at Summer was one that wasn’t missed. He hadn’t told anyone that their marriage was more of a business deal but his family wasn’t easily fooled. Zora included. She saw through them like glass but he did like Summer, he just wasn’t in love with her. He would have to have a discussion with Zora though.
Whatever it was between them would have to stop along with the disrespect towards his future wife. He had promised Summer that he would take care of her and that meant defending her no matter who it was.
David was going to try to comfort Summer but then he frowned when he saw Micah trying to hold back his laughter. He gave his brother a hard stare and that caused him to dismiss himself leaving David with his aggravated fiancée.
“That woman is-. Ugh! Why do you continue to associate with her? She’s clearly jealous of our relationship.”
“Not here. Not now.” He pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Then when? Whenever I bring up her and her behavior you never want to hear it. I’m your future and we don’t need that negative energy in our lives.”
“I’ll handle it, Summer.” He said through gritted teeth. At this rate he was going to need another drink.
He watched her pout for a second before she snuggled into his arms. “My parents were wondering when you were going to come back to the table. It’s almost like you’re avoiding them.”
Both their names did carry a lot of weight in the city but the difference between them was that the Tucker’s moved in silence. It had only been a few years ago when people started to find out about the property and wealth they had been inherited and how it influenced the city. Banks, buildings, and restaurants were owned by his family. On the other hand McNeil’s name was across every piece of property and land they own. They hated to be ignored and they always had to be the center of attention.
David wouldn’t be a pushover and Steve knew it but he was sure the only thing keeping the old man cool were the business relationships he could gain for them being wedded. With all that in mind, he was in no rush to entertain his future father-in-law.
“Ah, he has decided to come to you.” Summer said as she righted herself in his arms.
Before he could process what she had said he felt a firm hand at his shoulder. “Tucker.”
“Governor McNeil.” He nodded as he turned to face the man and his wife. “Mrs. McNeil.” He nodded.
“Steve and Sherri.” Summer corrected.
“Please do call us by our first name, we will be family soon. Perhaps we should take this to our table if you’re done conversing here?” Sherri gave him a warm smile.
For some reason he felt the sudden need to look back as he started to move towards their table. His eyes found hers like they always did. Maybe in another time he could’ve been what she wanted, what she needed but not him today. The man now only had room for reality not playing out some fantasy.
“I see some old friends. I’ll meet you back at the table.” Summer leaned up to place a slight kiss to his cheek and moved across the room.
Zora had to find a room or a closet or something. She wasn’t sure because she hadn’t bothered with a light as she rushed in. She didn’t know why she thought she could make it through the night. Her teasing had soon turned into a crush she’d grown to have on David but the more she tried to pursue him the more he pulled away well tonight she was done. Tonight she would throw in her towel and realize that the best woman had won.
Once she had collected herself she was prepared to walk out the door when suddenly the door was pushed open and two bodies came hotly crashing in. She backed against the wall holding her breath as a hand reached out to slap on the low light. She wanted to gasp as she watched a man smoother Summer with hot kisses. She dipped behind a stack of boxes and prayed that they hadn’t seen her.
“Please, Dray.” Summer pushed the man away. “You can’t keep doing this. I’m going to be married soon.”
“Not if you just marry me like we discussed...”
Zora didn’t want to hear this. David had made his choice and if it was the cheating spoiled brat then so be it. Well, that’s what she told herself but she didn’t want to see him hurt either.
She peeked over the boxes and saw that Summer was pacing the floor and the guy was in her face trying to calm her down. She was debating to wait it out of take her chance now.
She made her choice as her hand reached out for the doorknob. Zora wasted no time easing closer to the opening door. She had eased herself out the door and was closing it when her eyes caught Summer’s. She looked horrified as she pushed at the man’s chest. “Get off of me!” She moved to the door.
“Shit.” Zora rushed down the hall.
“What’s the matter, baby?” She heard the man call out to Summer as she march down the hall, her heels knocked against the floor as she made demanding steps for the ballroom.
“Zora. Zora.” Summer called out for her but she kept her stride.
“Zora?” She was getting ready to push the door open when David came through, putting a hand to her waist to steady her. “You okay?”
“We need to talk.” She grabbed his hands and pulled him to the side.
“We do. Which do you want to start with first? You’re attitude, your unacceptable behavior with-?”
“You don’t want to discuss unacceptable behavior right now.” She warned as she tried to put space between them but he gripped her forearms, preventing her from going too far.
“This is not the time to push me.”
“Oh David!” Summer threw herself in David’s arms causing him to release Zora. “She grabbed my arm and told me to stay away from you. She’s so jealous. I knew she was jealous but I didn’t know she was crazy.” She cried in his chest. David inspected her arms and sure enough there looked to be bruises forming on her arm.
“Zora? How-? What the hell happened?”
Zora shook her head in awe that he would believe she did that. She looked at him then to the dramatically sobbing woman in his arms, then back to him. She had to admit that she had been defeated. “I may have won the battle but you won the war. Congratulations.”
She rushed off before she let her demeanor slip. She wouldn’t let him see the hurt, the pain she was feeling radiating from her body.
As she rushed outside she couldn’t quit playing the scenario over and over in her head. There had been not one drop of doubt in his eyes that she had been so jealous of their relationship that she had no choice but to put her hands on the other woman. Logic would have told him that she was not that type of person. Even when females had tried to size her up at the gym she hadn’t resulted to violence, but it was obvious he hadn’t been paying her any attention.
“We have cabs waiting ma’am. Would you like one?” She was holding back the tears in her throat so she just nodded her head as the valet moved to one of the waiting cabs, holding the door open for her.
“Zora!” She heard Thomas call her name as the taxi pulled away from the curb.
“Where to ma’am?”
“Just drive. For a little while, just drive.”