“Aubree and Skylar ain’t yall a sight for sore eyes,” an older lady states as we walk in the door. The three of them hug and she turns her eyes on me. “Finally another female joining the group.” Skylar tries to interrupt her, but she keeps talking. “Which of the remaining boys have now fallen?”
I raise my brow and turn my questing eyes to Skylar unsure on how to respond to this new development. Boys? What is she talking about? Thankfully Skylar pushes herself into the conversation so I don’t have to respond.
Shaking her head, she says, “Grandma Rose Kinsley is our new hire to help run the project I’m starting up. That is if she still wants to work with us after the crazy day she had.”
Grandma Rose, I presume, eyes me up and down. “She may be working for you two, but no way in hell one of the boys aren’t going to want to make her theirs. She’s gorgeous and has to be smart if you two are hiring her. And the fact she’s standing next to Aubree and Aubree isn’t glaring her speaks volumes.”
“I’m sorry,” I state, “but what boys are you talking about. And by the way you two are talking about them I’m really hoping they are men who act like children.”
All three of them laugh and I cross my arms staring them down feeling like I was on the outside of an inside joke. Grandma Rose sends a glance their way and they shake their heads. A new sparkle enters Grandma Rose’s eyes.
“I’m sure you will meet them before you leave. How’s their project coming along,” she inquires.
This time Aubree answers. “A struggle. They are doing the best they can being down one man, but you can tell their hearts aren’t full involved. They are only going through the motions.”
She pats Aubree’s shoulder. “He will be home soon.” Her eyes soften. “How are you holding up dear?”
Aubree shrugs her shoulders. “As well as I can.” I sheen covers her eyes. “I miss him.” Grandma Rose gathers her in her arms right as a few tears leaked from her eyes. Why is she so upset? What happened? Are some of the questions drifting though my head, but I don’t know her well enough to ask. Even with her dumping coffee all over me.
The whisper a few words to each other and separate. Aubree wipes at her eyes and forces a smile. “Okay enough sad crap. Let’s sit and get to know our new employee.” She says linking her arm with mine.
Grandma Rose smiles and nods her head. She grabs some menus and leads us to a table in back. We take our seats, Skylar and Aubree on one side with me on the other, and she promises to be back soon to take our order.
“Come here often,” I ask them.
“As much as we can when we are in town,” Aubree answers me.
“Sounds like the two of you travel a lot.” I state glancing over the menu and feeling more at ease with the choices.
“Not by choice,” Skylar grumbles. “Sure it starts out fun, but something seems to always happen to make the whole experience feel more like a chore.”
“Finger crossed the next one won’t be as bad as the last one.”
Skylar glares at her. “Everyone keeps saying those exact words, but I think all of you are lying to me to keep me around.”
Aubree rolls her eyes and ignores Skylar’s statement. Grandma Rose returns to take our order and once again disappears. After she leaves both women turn their focus on me. Great.
“So,” Skylar says leaning in closer and resting her head in the palm of her hands. This can’t be good whatever she is about to say. “Tell us more about yourself.” Like I said not good.
I ponder for a second gathering my thoughts. “Recently I graduated with a double major, but you already know all of that,” I finally say blushing. Oddly I find myself opening up to the two women. “Currently I’m raising my nephew. My sister was not a bad person, but she had her demons.” My voice trails off.
“Had her demons?” Aubree gently answers.
“She passed away recently. I’m assuming due to drug use. But even before she was never around much. Was always just me and Hunter,” I say with a shrug.
“I like you even more,” Skylar exclaims. “Raising your nephew all on your own. You really are perfect for this position.”
I turn my head to the side trying to hide my blush from Skylar’s comment. “It was either I raise him or he goes into the system. No way in hell was I going to let him go into the system.” They both nod their heads in understanding.
“Of course,” Skylar softly says.
Tears spring to my eyes because of the new development in our lives. Should I tell them? Other than Trina I don’t have anyone my age I can talk to. I throw caution to the wind. “Currently I’m fighting for custody against my mother.” I shudder when I call Pam my mother. “My sister went from a missing person to be pronounced deceased about a week ago.”
Skylar reaches across the table to rest her hand on top of mine. “I’m so sorry for your loss. None of this must be easy.”
I wipe the tears from my eyes. “Not at all. Children services support me on gaining custody of Hunter, but the problem is Pam, my egg donor, is promising favors to the judge.”
“By the way you are taking about it I’m going out on a limb here and saying Pam isn’t a great place for your nephew.” Aubree states.
“Not at all. No child should ever be left alone with her. The only reason Pam and her boyfriend want Hunter is because of Emma’s life insurance policy. Whomever has custody of Hunter will get to control the money.” I sit back in my chair feeling drained.
“If you don’t mind sharing how much money are we talking about,” Aubree asks.
“Fifty thousand. Which I would more than happily give her every single cent if she will drop trying to get custody.” I say from my heart.
Aubree and Skylar share a glance before Aubree says, “we might be able to help get rid of Pam, but I’m going to have to talk to the guys I work for.”
“Are they the same man children Grandma Rose was eluding too?” I ask curious of the answer.
Skylar laughs taking a drink of water and almost choking. Aubree pats her on the back and answers, “the very same. They may be childish at times, but they have huge hearts.”
“I’ve heard no mention of Hunter’s dad I gather he isn’t in the picture,” Skylar states once she stops choking.
Glancing off to the side I say, “No he isn’t.” I return my gaze to them. “From what I’ve been able to piece together over the years Emma had a one night stand at a rock concert and got pregnant. No matter how much I would ask she would never answer and usually she would leave for months at a time when I did. So I stopped.” I pause to take a drink of water to hydrate my dry throat. “The other day I was going through my closet and stumbled over a box she used to keep. She was very protective of it so out of respect for her I never opened it.”
Skylar taps his fingers on the table. “Till now,” she states.
“Till now,” I repeat. “Inside I found some pictures and a letter addressed to someone named Lucan,” I was so lost in thought trying to remember the last name on the envelope I almost missed Skylar’s and Aubree’s intake of breath. “Sadly for the life of me I can’t remember what the last name was.”
Aubree exchanges another glace with Skylar and swallows. Eyeing me with uncertainty and in a shaking voice asks, “was the last name Taylor by chance.”
I try so hard to remember, but I keep coming up blank. “I’m sorry I don’t remember.”
They study me for a moment till both of their phones light up and when they look at their messages both of them groan in displeasure. “Maybe we should have stayed at the other restaurant,” Skylar groans.
“Too late now. Plus, she was going to find out sooner or later,” Aubree states typing on her phone.
“But I’d rather she finds out later,” Skylar complains pouting.
Aubree glances up from her phone and rolls her eyes. “They will be here in about thirty minutes depending traffic. We better use what little time we have left to discuss the business plans with Kinsley.”
They launch into explaining what they are trying to create and what my role is going to be. The more they talked the more excited I became. This was going to not simply be a job, but a carrier. Something I could do till I was ready to retire and ten times better than working at the club. Also my career change might help with court.
Remembering court reminds me I can’t fully commit till I have the custody battle resolved with. No way in hell would I be able to move away from him knowing what he would be dealing with and nor can I move anywhere till the issue is resolved. The air in my balloon completely depletes to the point my sadden expressions catches their eye.
“Kinsley what’s wrong,” Skylar asks. “If you don’t agree with something we can talk about other options.”
Before I can answer our food arrives and I wait for Grandma Rose to leave before I answer. Having Skylar and Aubree in on my fucked up life was already new to me I wasn’t ready to add another. Once she left the table I continued.
“I more than want this job and am more than happy to move.” I state.
“I feel a but coming on,” Aubree interjects taking a bite of her food.
“But I can’t move till custody of Hunter is resolved,” I explain.
Skylar waves her fork in the air. “No worries. We aren’t offering the position to anyone else.” Skylar goes to say something more, but a man wraps his arms around her ending her statement.
They kiss and he whispers something in her ear. She gazes at him with so much love and him her I almost gag. Aubree picks up her plate and takes the open seat next to me. Neither one of them notices she changed her seat.
Leaning in close to me she says, “yes they are almost always like this.”
The man flips her the bird and claims the seat she left. “And you and Ryder are no different.” Instead of responding Aubree takes a bite of her food. “That’s what I thought he smirks.”
He looks familiar, but I can’t place why. His eyes shift to me and he sends me a warm smile. “Hi I’m Dimitri. You must be Kinsley.” He holds out his hand for me to shake. Slowly I place my hand in his. “I’m engaged to this beauty,” he says knocking his shoulder against Skylar.
“Very nice to meet you,” I tell him.
“Hope Aubree has kept her claws in,” he says stealing a bite of Skylar’s food.
Aubree and I share a glance then burst out laughing. Dimitri stares at us in confusion. “The claws have not come out though I wish they would have and maybe I wouldn’t be sitting her covered in coffee.”
Dimitri’s eyes shit to Aubree and narrow. “Aubree?”
She waved him off. “Someone bumped into me and knocked my coffee out of my hands. In my defense at the time I didn’t know Kinsley was who I dumped my coffee on.”
I shrug my shoulders. “Now we have a fun story explaining how we met.”
Dimitri smiles. “I like her. She’s going to fit in just fine. Have you warned her about…” Unfortunately, Dimitri is unable to finish his thought because two more males join the table eyeing me as though I’m the meal. Instantly my guard goes up.
“Well hello there,” one of them say grabbing a seat and sliding in as close to me as he can get. “I’m your next mistake.”
A sugar packet goes flying across the table hitting him in the face. I follow the direction where it came from and discover Skylar sitting there gripping the container of sugar packets ready to release more. “Tray don’t fucking start. She’s in no way here to be able notch on your bed post. In fact, none of you should be here this is a business meeting.”
Tray pouts and steals a drink of my water. “Please can we stay bestest best friend?”
She stares him down for a moment. “Fine.” Tray smiles and aims a wink in my direction. “But only if you leave Kinsley alone.”
“Bestest best friend,” he whines. “I’ll leave her alone, but you can’t be mad when she throws herself at me.”
His words cause me to go into a coughing fit and everyone looks on in concern. “I can promise you that won’t me happening.”
“Damn straight it won’t because she’s going to be throwing herself at me,” the other male states squeezing his way in between Aubree and me. “Hello beautiful I’m Mason. Though I’m sure you already knew that.”
I stare at him as though he has three heads. “You seem pretty sure of yourself, but I can tell you with full honesty I had no clue who you were till you introduced yourself.” I hand drifting up my back catches my attention and I turn in my chair shoving Tray from his. “Keep your hands off of me or next time I won’t be so nice.”
Tray stands from the floor and dusts himself off while the others at the table laugh at him. “I can’t believe you knocked me out of my chair. Me of all people.”
Aubree clears her throat and chuckles. “Jokes on you two Kinsley has no idea who you are.” The three males now stare at me as though I have three heads. How I wish the floor would open up and swallow me. “Guess no time like the present to clue you in. Though it was refreshing while it lasted.” Aubree turns to me. “Please don’t freak out or scream.” She takes a deep breath. “Dimitri, Tray and Mason are all members of Steel Wolf. I’m their manager and Skylar is my assistant.”
I sit there for a moment stunned shifting my eyes back and forth between the three males. “You guys play rock music. My sister was obsessed with your band. I’ve only ever heard your music a handful of time.”
Tray holds his heart and swoon backwards. “You wound me.” Aubree tries to reach him, but he’s too far away so Skylar does the deed for her and hit up upside the head.
“Thank you Skylar.” She tells her with a nod of her head.
“Anytime,” Skylar replies smiling.
“Fuck the both of you.” Tray exclaims rubbing his head and earning himself another whack from Dimitri.
“Don’t talk to Skylar like that,” he commands Tray.
Turning to the only sane people at the table, Aubree and Skylar, I say. “I now understand the man child reference.”
“And to think two members are still missing.” Skylar explains.
“Will the both be joining us,” I ask.
A sadness enters Aubree’s eyes. “Ryder, my boyfriend, is currently working on himself and isn’t currently in Nashville.” Easily seeing how upset Aubree was I decide not to push the matter.
Tray wanting to tempt fate rest his arms along the back of my chair. I glare at him and he wiggles his eyebrow causing me to roll my eyes at him. Skylar jumps in trying to help me. “Tray seriously back off she already has a man child at home.” She sends me a wink telling me she’s talking about Hunter.”
“Fuck me.” Tray pouts once more. “I can’t per sway you to take a walk on the wild side.”
“Afraid not,” I inform him with a shake of my head. “One man child is more than enough. He’s pretty demanding and takes up a ton of my time.”
“Tray already getting shot down,” a new voice says joining our group. He must be the another member of the band.
I lift my gaze to meet his and almost fall out of my chair. My heart sinks in my chest and I start to rapidly take in air. There is no denying the resemblance I’m staring at an older version of Hunter.
“I hope these idiots have been playing nice. If they haven’t let me know and I’ll kick their asses.” Tray grumbles something under his breath, but I was too busy staring at the man before me to hear him. “I heard celebrations are in order. Welcome to the team. Well sort off.”
I can only nod my head because my voice has entirely left me. He frowns in Aubree’s direction. “Another fan?” She shakes her head. I can sense everyone staring at me in confusion, but I have eyes only for him.
Some of the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place. Hunter’s dad is a famous rock star. I’m going to lose him.
“Anyways my name is Lucan.”