Annamarie watched the couple wander about the room. She smiled when Royce ran his hand down Kasey’s back and nearly burst out laughing when the little chit smacked him and glared. The two of them were going to be a lot of fun to watch. She wondered how long it would be before either of them figured out that they were in love.
“They ever figure out what you did and they’ll be really pissed at you, Mom.” She turned to look at her son. “Do you think they’re in love yet?”
“Yes. And Curtis Hunter, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I did nothing at all to either of them. What a thing to say to your own mother.”
He laughed. “Of course, how silly of me. You didn’t tell Royce not to marry her because you really didn’t want him to. And you didn’t convince us that it was true as well. Mother,” he said with mock sternness, “you try that on me, and I’ll see you for the fraud you are.”
She only smiled. She knew she already had someone picked out for him. Curtis hadn’t been easy to match up. Well, for that matter, neither had the girl. If Curtis thought Kasey was a hard nut, wait until he… That was down the road. She wanted to see Royce married and happy first. She decided to change the subject.
“What have you found out about that White person? Is he still making noises about suing Kasey?” Annamarie smiled when she noticed Royce usher Kasey to a dark corner. She wondered if they’d make it home before they had to pull over to a dark street.
“Yes. He seems to think she was the reason he’s being sued. There are now six other women that left because of his poor treatment. And so far only two of them aren’t going to come forward.” She glanced at him when he seemed to hesitate. “One of them claims he forced her into having sex with him that resulted in a child. She is willing to have a DNA test done next week.”
That was unexpected. Annamarie knew about the other women. Curtis and Royce had been keeping her up on the issue from day one. She walked to another piece of pottery and saw them attach a small sold sign on the piece she’d wanted. Oh well, she’d call the artist and see if he had anything else similar to the large blue vase and buy it.
“There’s this woman at the newspaper I want you to contact when this is over. She’ll put a nice spin on it, if that’s even possible. She knows what’s happening, of course. I’ve been talking to her father. I want it out there that we are doing everything possible to make this right. Also,”—she looked at her son—“I want you to make sure that it never happens again. Never.”
“It won’t. I’ve already taken steps to make sure we’re doing a better background check. There are also agencies that will help us with weeding out others like White. I’ve started a retraining program for our officers that we have and most, if not all, like the changes.” He handed her a thick envelope. “This I did on my own. If things go the way I think they will with White we could have a major falling out. I’ve come up with a press release that I want you and Kasey to give. But you have to convince her to help you.’
She and Kasey still hadn’t spoken. The girl avoided her at every turn. Annamarie looked at Curtis and frowned, but he was already shaking his head at her.
“She doesn’t like me. This is a bad idea if you think that she and I could put our differences aside and make this work. I hurt her and she has every—”
“Maybe so. But you want her to be a part of our family then you have to figure out a way to make nice. And if they don’t marry, and that is a good possibility, then I for one want to bounce the baby on my knee. It may be the only chance I get to do so.”
Annamarie nodded. She thought he was wrong about them marrying, but didn’t say anything. She took the envelope and put it in her handbag. With a deep breath she walked toward Kasey with Curtis close behind. She felt as if she were walking to her demise. Putting on a smile she knew would look strained, she kissed Royce on the cheek and looked at Kasey.
She nearly laughed when she saw a blush creep over Kasey’s face. That’s when she noticed that her hair wasn’t quite as perfect and her dress was slightly wrinkled. Annamarie glanced at her son and noticed that his shirt was misbuttoned. She knew the exact moment when Kasey saw it too.
“Royce, darling,” Annamarie started with a small laugh, “why don’t you go and freshen up? You look a little…overdone. I’ll keep an eye on Kasey while you’re gone.”
“Mom, I don’t think that—”
“Royce, your shirt has lipstick on it and you’ve done it up incorrectly. Please, you know you don’t want to make a bad impression on the patrons here. I promise to be nice to her. I’d like to…I need to tell her I’m sorry.’
As he walked away with Curtis, he turned back to look at them several times before he disappeared around the corner. Annamarie turned to Kasey when she started talking.
“I don’t need your apology, Mrs. Hunter. I’m the one who was rude to you. I can see now that you were only protecting your son. I was only making a list. I’m a terrible list maker.”
“It has been pointed out to me that I may have expected you to be impressed by me. Well, not so much me, but by my name and money. And to be honest, I did think that you should have been.” Annamarie raised her hand when Kasey started to speak. “I did. I’ve been having people bowing and scraping at my feet for so long I just expected it.”
Kasey snorted. “I don’t impress easily, nor do I bow and scrape to anyone. And if you’ve come to expect that then there is no way you can be impressed by much. You seem like a woman who needs to get her hands dirty again.”
Annamarie smiled. “I believe you’re right. And you’re going to help me. We need to blow this bastard White out of the water and help the other women like you…well, not like you. Women he’d taken advantage of and hurt. You, my dear, are much too stubborn and strong to have let him get you, aren’t you?”
Kasey looked to where Royce had gone. Annamarie knew that look. It was of love and longing. When Kasey glanced back at her, Annamarie saw the sprinkle of tears in her eyes before she turned away.
“Have you told him, my dear?” Kasey looked at her when she asked. “You love him, don’t you? I’m happy for you both. He is—”
“He doesn’t want me. Just the child. He told me…he made it perfectly clear that he wants this baby, but he never… I’m a fool.” Kasey fumbled for a tissue in her small
handbag and wiped at the tears. “You won’t tell him, will you? Please don’t. It will only serve to make him pissed and he’s that enough at me.”
Annamarie wanted to pull the young woman into her arms and hold her. She also wanted to go and find her son and beat his ass.
“I won’t tell him, I promise. But I think you’re wrong, Kasey. I think he loves you as much as you do him.” Kasey stiffened and Annamarie knew her son was returning. “If you ever need to talk, you can call me.”
Kasey nodded, but somehow, she knew she’d never hear from her. The girl was just as stubborn as her son and she wanted to scream at both of them. But she simply accepted the kiss from Royce and watched as they walked away.
Kasey came home with Royce. He could see that she was slightly overwhelmed by the house. Hell, he was too, but he was beginning to like the big place. The construction on the second floor was nearly complete and he’d moved all his things into the large office just today. He took Kasey to the kitchen.
“Are you hungry? I had groceries delivered today. The housekeeper put it all away, but I’m sure there are things I’m still missing. I doubt I’ll ever fill the pantry. It’s as big as someone’s small apartment. But I like it.” He realized he was babbling. He took a deep breath and began to pull out the fixings for a couple of sandwiches. “I could cook you something if you’d like.”
“No. Whatever you’re having is fine. I’m not really very hungry.” She moved to the sink and washed her hands. “What can I do to help you?”
Her voice sounded sad. He didn’t know what had happened between her and his mother, but he knew it wasn’t bad. Not in the sense that they were still angry with each other. His mother had been acting strangely too after he’d come back, he only just realized. Kasey wasn’t her usual smart-assed self. And he realized that he missed it. He decided that he’d risk pissing her off just to get her fired up again.
“I thought maybe I’d move you in here.” He grinned to himself when she stiffened. “That way I can make sure you’re eating properly. Then there is your employment. I think you need to stop working until the baby is born. That way if—”
“Stop working,” she said in a low growl. “I most certainly will not quit working, you egoistical asshole. And I’m not moving in this monster. It would take a week just to clean it. And—”
“I’d hire you some staff. You’d not have to lift a finger. As for the name calling, that’ll have to—” His head snapped back. He didn’t know which of them was more surprised by her punch to his nose, her or him. He grabbed the towel off the counter when he felt the blood seep down his chin and glared at her. He hadn’t meant to make her that mad. But looking at her, he swallowed whatever he was about to say.
She was crying. Great sobbing sounds came from her and tears streamed down her face. When he stepped toward her to hold her, she took three steps back and nearly tripped over the chair. He stopped. He didn’t want her hurt; he’d already done that enough.
“Kasey, honey, I was—”
“I hit you. I didn’t…I shouldn’t have hit you. No matter how mad you make me, I know that violence isn’t the answer.” She sat down then popped back up. “I need to go home. I need to…you can’t believe how sorry I am that I…please, I need to go home. I’ll call a cab.”
“Kasey, honey, please don’t leave. I was trying to make you angry. Something had made you up—”
“You wanted me mad at you?” she asked incredulously. “You baited me until…are you insane? Of course you are. What sane person would piss someone off on purpose? I can’t believe…well, I don’t have a clue why I didn’t believe it. Look at your track record so far. You people seem to thrive on pissing people off.”
“Now just a minute. I told you I was—”
“No,” she snapped back. “I don’t care what your reasons are. Do you have any idea how emotional I am right now? I feel like everything anyone says to me makes me want to burst into tears. That man tonight, the one that bought me that vase, do you know that he treated me better than you did just now and he was a stranger? You wanted to make me mad. Well I hope you're fucking happy because you—”
He kissed her. Probably not the smartest move to get that close to a pissed off hormonal woman, but he wanted to touch her. Needed to hold her. And he was willing to have some of his parts bruised to do so.
Her body softened by degrees. Her mouth was firm beneath his, but she didn’t fight too hard to get away. He wanted to feel her wrapped around him, her body touching his, so he lifted her against him, sat her on the counter, and stepped between her legs. He pulled away long enough to look down at her, but didn’t back away.
“You are so beautiful when you’re pissed,” he told her softly. “I love the way your eyes spark daggers and your arms move. Your breasts do the most amazing dance when you do that.” He cupped one gently as he leaned down to run his tongue over the top. “And the way you look when you come makes my cock hard just thinking about it.”
“Stop it,” she told him as she arched into his body. “I’m mad at you. How could you do that to me? I realize that you only want the baby, but you could be a lot nicer to me until you have it.”
Royce felt as if she’d hit him. It wasn’t so much what she said, but that she would believe that he only wanted the baby. He took another step back when something else occurred to him. “I love you.”
Stay Tune for Next Week Chapter 16
Books In the series
THE HUNTERS -
1 ROYCE – http://smarturl.it/royce
2 CURTIS – http://smarturl.it/curtis
3 JESSE – http://smarturl.it/jessethehunters
4 DANIEL- http://smarturl.it/danielthehunters
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