The cupboard door in the kitchen closes and the aroma of coffee drifts into the living room. “MMM, smells good.”
“I’m sorry did I wake you?”
“I don’t know … maybe, but it’s okay.” I answer groggily.
Seth sits down next to me on the couch. He lifts my head gently and scoots and shimmies underneath me. Gently laying my head back down onto his lap, he begins tracing his finger tip softly around my face. First, he circles around my eyes, and then over the bridge of my nose, and then back to my forehead. I hum, “do you remember when mom used to do that to us when we were sick?” I ask.
“Yeah, she always had such a soothing touch. I remember that time I had mono and she sat with me for days.” Seth shakes his head and closes his eyes. “You know Treva, she’s not that bad and mom and dad do love you a lot.”
“Humph, they have an odd way of showing it.”
He’s silent again as he keeps tracing the outline of my face. “Are you okay?”
I look up at him and smile, “Yes, and thanks. Sorry I kept you up so late last night.” I know by the look on his face that he can tell that I am lying; the truth is that I hate thinking about the past ... it bothers me. Talking about it bothers me even more, especially to my brother. The last thing that I want is for him to have to live with those unpleasant memories of yesteryear.
“Nah, sleep is over-rated anyway. Want me to get you a cup of coffee?” He asks.
“Oh yes, that sounds heavenly.”
I sip on my hot morning eye opener—still wrapped up on the couch—while Seth paces around his kitchen. “I was thinking,” he says, “my Christmas party is tonight, and since you have to get all dolled up anyway, why not spend the day at the spa; Massage, hair, nails, toes and whatever other stuff you girls do.”
“OOH, a spa? I have never done that before.” I sit up all excited. “But if I go and get all relaxed I might not make the party,” I say jokingly.
“I think maybe it will be just the thing … so you’re ready for the party.”
“Well, you don’t see me kicking and screaming—sign me up.”
Seth takes me to an upscale salon called ’LE’ SPA. I’m sure he is hoping that it will help me redefine myself, and get that asshole Eric out of my mind. Seth’s kindness is priceless.
It’s three o’clock when Seth shows back up to the salon to pick me up. I am just getting done; I see him as I walk up to the counter. A big smile is plastered across my face … can’t hide my feelings.
“Enjoy your day Sis?” He looks at me and smiles.
“Oh Seth … you are the devil.”
He winces at my comment. So I throw him a quirky look, “Yes … that’s right, you are the devil. You introduced me to something that I could get addicted to. This day has been over the top.” I run over and give him a big hug. “Thanks.”
When we get outside, my eyes squint from the blinding sun. I dig around in my purse to find my sunglasses and I notice my phone is flashing … a voice mail. I put my sunglasses on and decide the message can wait.
“Are you hungry?” Seth asks concerned. “I know the party will have loads of food, but if you need a snack, we can grab something.”
“Actually, I’m good. The spa package you selected offered a gourmet salad that was great.”
“Well, is there anything else you would like to do before we put on our monkey suits?”
“Well, I’m afraid it will only be you putting on a monkey suit, I’ll be the Barbie in platinum.” I joke. “What time is dinner?”
“Seven.” Seth answers.
I look at him pondering, “Hmm, what to do … Well, I can’t mess up my beautiful hair style, and I would hate to break one of these fantastic nails. Can we do something easy like … tour the pirate ship?” I say with exaggerated enthusiasm.
Seth laughs, “sure sis’, whatever you’d like.”
We get back to his apartment after our tour; it’s twenty minutes after five … plenty of time to get dressed. All I have to do is slip on my dress. My hair, nails, and make-up were all done at the salon. I feel absolutely beautiful, and it’s been a long time since I felt this good about myself. My skin feels wonderful from the salt scrub, and the oily massage. The hair stylist and make-up artist did an amazing job. My hair is in soft large curls, and pinned up in just a few places—tendrils cascade over my shoulders. My make-up is perfect—accentuating my full pouty lips and hazel eyes.
I had forgotten that there is a message I need to check; I grab my phone to check voice mail before I start to change. A masculine voice creates a deep desire in my belly … an apologetic tone to it: “Treva, my beautiful princess, I am so sorry, but something major has come up, and I have to cancel on you tonight. I was hoping so much to spend the evening with you. Please don’t be angry with me; there is no other place that I would rather be than with you tonight. I promise I will make it up to you.” Then the message dies off.
My heart sinks, as I listen to the message again. He does sound truly upset though, it must be very important.
I sit on the bed looking at my phone. Do I still want to go? I got all fancied up, and Seth bought me the most beautiful dress. I look back at my phone, and decide that him dumping me again, isn’t going to ruin my night. I am here to spend time with Seth, not to run off with some billionaire that’s into one night flings. Maybe this is for the best anyway. I’m not going to let myself get walked all over by some man who thinks he can get whatever he wants just because he has money. I don’t care if he is the most handsome stud I’ve ever seen. I sigh.
I put on my dress and my extremely dangerous five inch heeled red shoes. It takes a minute for me to get my balance in them, and I tread very carefully down the hall to the kitchen. Feeling pretty accustomed to Seth’s kitchen now, I grab a glass and pour myself a glass of wine. When I’m half way done with it, Seth walks out.
I whistle loudly, “hot damn, you clean up nice.” Seth twirls around and I burst out in laughter.
“You’re not so bad yourself.” He looks me over, “Nice shoes.” He puts his foot out and I put mine out to meet his. “Fucking sweet!” He says.
“Yeah, I’m sure we’ll be the talk of the party.”
I drink the rest of the wine in my glass, “I hope you don’t mind me being your date? Mine bailed out.” I say.
The Christmas party is at a fancy hotel downtown San Diego ... in a large conference room. Whoever was in charge of decorating knew what they were doing. I’m amazed by the layout when we walk in; large tables placed at the side of the room indicate that it will be set up as a buffet style banquet. The tables are covered with fine white linens and decorated with hurricane glasses filled with ornamental Christmas balls. The chairs are draped with white slip covers with red ribbon sashes—everything seems to be perfect. A large space is bare in the front of the room. I assume that it will be for dancing, because I see an elaborate audio sound system set up next to a table. Elegant chandeliers hang from the ceiling creating slivers of diamond shapes on the floor.
I have never been to an upscale event like this before, and I’m not quite sure what to expect. I notice there are only a few other people, but I am sure that they are just beginning to arrive.
“Seth!” A voice echoes through the room. Both Seth and I turn to see John, Seth’s boss heading toward us. “I’m glad to see your choice for a date.” He reaches out, takes my hand and kisses it. “I’m very happy to see you again my dear.” He says politely.
“Thank you, it’s nice to see you too.” I give him a big smile.
“Seth you sly dog … what a brilliant idea to invite Thompson Security Company tonight.” John nudges him with his elbow.
“They came?” Seth looks around the room searching for the potential client.
“Joe Thompson and his wife Brenda are here.” John clarifies with a greedy grin crossing his face.
“Wow, I didn’t think they would come. I know its bad form to invite clients to a firm Christmas party, but this is a party right up their alley; I figured it might let them see what we’re all about.”
“Don’t worry about it. If it helps bring in a company like that, I’ll play whatever games we need to get their business.” John smacks Seth on his back. “You should go talk them up a bit though.”
John turns to me, “do you need a drink my dear?”
“Oh yes, I would love one.”
“Good I’ll take you, and you can let your brother go do that boring work stuff.”
I giggle as he puts his arm out for me. I tuck my arm around his elbow and smile at Seth, “go get um’ tiger.”
I stand about two inches taller than John with these stilettos on. He is not a very tall man, and his height is more apparent with me towering over him. I feel very comfortable with him though as he struts his portly body proudly with me on his arm. He is just so easy going. John quickly finds a waitress wandering around with a serving tray …red wine, white wine, champagne. “What’s your poison, Treva?”
“I think I would like to try some champagne.” I sip on it while keeping a light conversation with him.
I had been right about people starting to show up. After just one drink, I turn around and see the room buzzing with chatter and people standing everywhere. The women are all dressed very classy and quite a few men are wearing tuxedos. The excitement in the air tells me that this is just where I want to be. It is such a new and fun experience to be a part of something like this. I try to remember if Helena even has a banquet room that could resemble this. Probably, I just was never on the invitation list. I think to myself.
“Hey beautiful!” A familiar voice catches my attention.
“Why hello, Matt,” I smile at him.
Matt leans in and kisses my cheek. “Holy hell woman, you are absolutely stunning.”
I watch him swallow hard with his Adams apple bobbing up and down in his neck.
“Oh good, I see you’ve already met Matt,” John says.
“Yes, I had the pleasure the other day.” I tell John, winking at Matt.
“Well, I’ll leave you two together, but you better save me a dance for later,” says John before walking off to talk to someone else.
“How’s your stay going?” He asks while we both watch his boss wander off.
“I can’t say it’s been boring. Actually, I hate thinking about the idea of going home. I thought Helena was dull before, but now it’ll be in snail mode.” I joke.
“I’m sure Seth would let you stay if you really like it that much here.” Matt pulls on his cuff nervously, trying to pretend to straighten something that is already straight.
“That might be so, but I think my advisor at school would kill me since I’m almost done.”
He shrugs, “yeah probably”.
“Do you need another drink?” He points down to my now empty glass. I look at my drink, shocked that it had gone down so smoothly.
“That would be great. I’ll have another glass of champagne.”
Matt seems more than eager to please. He quickly leaves to find a waiter, and my eyes scan the room to see if I can spot Seth. Before I can find him, Matt returns with our drinks.
“Thank you.” I take a sip and the soft bubbles tickle my mouth.
Seth finds both of us after doing some schmoozing with the Thompsons. “Are you enjoying the party?” He asks me.
“Seth it’s wonderful.”
“GREAT! We better find a table though, the announcements will be starting soon.”
The three of us find a table with a couple sitting down already. “Jim, Anita.” Seth acknowledges. “This is my sister, Treva.” They both stand slightly and lean over to shake my hand.
“Pleasure to meet you,” I say politely.
John is tapping on the microphone trying to get everyone’s attention. The room quiets and people scoot into their seats. “First off I would like to wish everyone ‘Happy holidays’, and second I would like to thank everyone at Schillings for another wonderful and prosperous year.”
The whole room perks up and gives a cheer. “Yes, yes well onto some business … as you all know every year we give out our company awards and it’s time to begin the ceremonies.”
There was one lone ‘woohoo’ from the crowd and everyone claps. John entertains the crowd for a few minutes and the he gets down to business.
“First off: our top three design teams pulling in the most used presented art designs are;
McMillan, Brown and King.” Everyone claps loudly and I notice 9 people walking up to John. He hands all of them what appears to be some kind of trophy.
“Next up - The top three teams bringing in the most new clients are;
Stone, Flaggerty, and Shields.” Again everyone claps and then my brother and Matt are among the others that stand to go to John this time. When they both come back they are gleaming with joy. It makes me smile.
“Let me see.” I take the item and look at it closely; it’s a little Trophy shaped like a silver cup with etchings that read, ‘Top sales team’. I nod at Seth with approval.
Matt sits back down and scoots his chair even closer to me. There is something so comforting about him and I don’t mind him being so close. I feel his arm brush against my shoulder as he places it over the back of my chair. My skin tingles from his touch and I can feel my cheeks heating up. Damn all these California men, driving my senses into overload.
“And as we all know, we do appreciate those individuals that really stand out on their own … So with that, our top three sales associates for this year are;
In third place, Matt Long” Matt stands looking shocked, and he gently squeezes my shoulder before he leaves to go to the podium. Seth hoots and hollers as Matt walks to John. I notice an envelope is handed to Matt instead of another trophy. Matt returns back to his seat while John announces another name.
“And in Second place, Frank Webb.” I see a dark haired man with glasses stand and head to the front. I lean over to Matt and whisper my congratulations to him. He stares into my eyes and for an instant we both seem completely lost in each other. When the speaker talks again, I blink breaking the heated moment between us.
“And drum roll please—number one in sales with new clients and keeping the old satisfied,” John says with a quirk. “Is, Seth Stone.” Everyone whistles and hollers. Seth stands and does a bow to all the spectators and adds a little jump as he approaches John. I laugh as I watch my goofball brother bounce around. Seth walks up to John and gives him a big bear hug.
“Ok, Seth,” John pushes him away and Seth scampers back to our table. “Congratulations to our winners this year, and please all of you keep up the good work. Now, enjoy the food and be sure to drink your share of libations.”
“Let’s get in line,” Matt says to me with a whisper. We get up to join the people that are already getting in line, and Seth follows us.
“What’s in the envelope bro’?” I ask while I edge further into the line.
Seth leans down closer so only I can hear, “A nice big hefty bonus.” He winks at me.
“Oh,” I hadn’t expected that.
The line of people in front of us seems to be moving in slow motion. Matt has his hand gently placed at the small of my back, and the soft pressure is like hot liquid smoldering through the thin material clinging to my body. I’m not sure why I feel this way. I am so attracted to Ronin it’s almost maddening. Yet, Matt is superhot and so easy to get along with. He’s so straight forward without all of the hidden mysteries.
“Here you go, Treva.”
I look up and realize that we have made it to the tables lined with food. Matt is handing me a plate; when I glance up, I see him smiling at me. My body never responds in accordance with my brain. I lean up and give him a soft kiss on his cheek. I turn away embarrassed and start placing food on my plate.
Back at our table, Matt boldly places his hand on my exposed thigh, sending shock waves that make my body tingle. I don’t protest the gesture. I just quickly chance a glance over—watching him struggle to eat one handed. Maybe it’s wrong, but I feel very relaxed with him touching me.
After a while, some of the guests finish eating and start to mingle, I hear music coming from the front of the room. I didn’t even see the band setting up their equipment while we were eating. “Wow, your company thought of everything didn’t they?” I point out to Matt. “Yep, the Shillings group knows how to party.”
The band plays a few songs while waiters and waitresses bustle around cleaning off the tables. The energy in the room is humming, and I watch as more and more people get up to hit the dance floor. I recognize most of the music the band is playing—songs that I really like. After a few drinks, it doesn’t take long for me to join Matt on the dance floor. It isn’t easy trying to dance with these stilettos on, but I feel very sexy in my get up. I enjoy the feel of the material sliding against my skin as I move, and the way the shoes elongate my legs as I sway back and forth … putting on a show for everyone to see.
Matt’s hands gently caress me while we dance. It seems as though he’s placed an invisible boundary between us … maybe keeping himself in check. His hand on my lower back is sending all the wrong signals to my libido. Cautiously, I am sending him the signal to let him know that he can place his hand even lower—swaying into him so that my body rubs against his. With my eyes, I tell him to fuck me now. I have no idea what I am doing. I am so lost and confused. I want Ronin so bad, yet he seems so far out of reach. To be honest, I shouldn’t want anyone. I don’t live here, and I have a career ahead of me to concentrate on. So let it go and just have fun for god sake, Treva. I push my body into Matt tighter, and reach down and grip his ass pulling him into me. Matt isn’t so quick to follow my boldness, but he finally lets his hand move down so that he can feel my ass.
“You are so fucking sexy, Treva.” He whispers into my ear.
I feel like butterflies are flapping their wings in my stomach. I keep moving rhythmically to the music. My head resting on his hard chest, I inhale his masculine scent. “MMM, you smell good,” I mumble. Being with him is so easy and uncomplicated … fun to be with.
We dance a lot, but we stop now and then to have another drink. The night seems blurred with the constant mingling of sweaty bodies … and the alcohol. I danced with John and a couple of other guys, but I don’t remember their names. However, it’s been just me and Matt most of the night. Moving and twisting against each other. It’s disappointing when the band announces that this is their last song. Everyone around us, including Matt and I boo at them. Seth had been dancing with a red head most of the evening, but makes his way over to where Matt and I are. “Misty wants to grab some coffee after this. Are you up for it?” he yells over the pounding music.
“Sure why not,” I look at Matt and give him a questioning look.
“Sure I’ll go,” he says.
The party is over—we walk outside into the brisk night air. I can’t believe the look of the parking lot and along the streets … cars everywhere.
“The Boss knows that we’re in no shape to be driving a car –Free Transportation,” Seth announces.
“Wow, what a guy.” I’m thinking to myself.