Home > Wicked Intentions (Wicked Games #3)(8)

Wicked Intentions (Wicked Games #3)(8)
Author: J.T. Geissinger

She laughs, thinking I’m joking.

I make a motion with my index finger, indicating she should turn around. I have to see this masterpiece from all angles. She takes a step back and twirls. It looks professional, like she’s been performing spins in front of a camera for years. Two guys near the front desk who are watching look like they’re having heart attacks.

“That’s some dress, Angel.”

“This old thing?” She bats her lashes at me. It’s my turn to laugh.

I grab her, pull her against my chest, bury my face in her hair, and inhale deeply. “Have you been rolling around in a clover field?” I murmur against her neck. “You smell like spring. And spices.”

“That’s my perfume. It’s Caron’s Poivre. You like it?”

I lightly bite her neck. I whisper, “It’s edible. Like you.”

A little shudder runs through her body. She pulls away and tilts her head toward the restaurant. “Shall we?”

“Yes. But don’t be surprised if I drag you off halfway through dinner. This dress is testing the limits of my self-control.”

Her smile is pleased. Apparently, devastation of the male population was her goal when she dressed. Nailed it.

She takes my arm. We stroll toward the restaurant while I enjoy the unexpected pleasure of being the envy of every man in sight. Even some of the women look like they’d like to take my place. The rest look like they’re hoping Angeline will trip.

“So, did you finish your article?”

There’s not a quiver in her voice when she answers. “I did.”

“How’d it go?”

From the corner of my eye, I see her mysterious smile. “There are always some unexpected difficulties near the end, but nothing insurmountable. I think my editor will be very pleased with how it turns out.”

“Turns” out, not “turned” out. Which indicates the work is still in progress, but she just said she finished it.

Interesting. I make a vague “hmm” sound and settle my arm around her waist. Our steps fall in sync like we’ve been walking together for years.

When we reach the restaurant, I check in with the hostess. She says the rest of our party is in the bar, so we head over, holding hands.

“Hiya, kids,” I say when we reach them. “This is Angeline.”

I introduce her to Tabby, who’s wearing ponytails and what looks like a turquoise tube sock for a dress, Connor, in his usual all-black ensemble of T-shirt, cargo pants, and boots, and Darcy and Kai. Juanita is nowhere to be seen.

After the introductions are made and everyone has said a friendly hello, I ask Tabby, “Where’s Juanita?”

“She found an MMA match on cable. I left her in front of the TV with Elvis and enough Red Bull and Cheetos to last a lifetime.”

Angeline says, “Elvis?”

Tabby nods. “The rat she never goes anywhere without.”

When Angeline’s brows lift, Tabby grins. “It’s a long story. I love your dress, by the way.”

“And I love your Tinker Bell tattoo,” Angeline counters, looking at Tabby’s ankle. “She was always my favorite Disney character.”

“Mine, too!” says Tabby, smiling. “She’s badass.”

“But also fragile. She can’t exist unless Peter believes in her. Faith is the only thing that keeps her alive.”

I see it the instant Tabby’s curiosity kicks into gear. If she were a cat, her ears would’ve just pricked and her tail would’ve begun twitching. She says, “All you need is faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust.”

Without hesitation, Angeline responds. “Never say goodbye, because goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting.”

Tabby claps her hands and hoots. “Oh my God! I think I love you, Angeline!”

I look at Connor. “Brother, you have any idea what’s happening?”

Darcy says dismissively, “White girls be crazy, Ryan, you know this,” and downs the rest of her martini.

“Let’s eat,” says Kai, stroking Darcy’s arm and staring up at her in adoration. “My Häschen needs fuel for later.”

They exchange a pair of truly lascivious smiles. Before the conversation can get any weirder, I motion for the hostess to seat us.

 

An hour later, dinner is over, Kai and Darcy are fondling each other under the table, and Tabby and Angeline have become fast friends.

“You do not like Hello Kitty!” pronounces Tabby. She’s been peppering Angeline with questions for the past twenty minutes as Connor and I listened, stealing amused glances at each other.

Angeline nods, swallowing another spoonful of her dessert. She delicately pats her lips with her napkin. “I know you probably think it’s silly, but I was obsessed with her for my entire teenage years. I had this backpack I carried everywhere. It was pink, with little butterflies and flowers—”

“And Kitty was wearing an embroidered kimono,” interrupts Tabby in a low, thrilled voice. “I had the exact same one.”

Angeline blinks. “You like Hello Kitty?”

Tabby pounds both fists on the table and shouts, “I fucking love her!”

They beam at each other.

I say, “Would you two like to get a room?”

Tabby says, “Don’t hate, Ryan. Kitty’s worth seven billion dollars a year. What’re you bringing in annually?”

Connor says, “Not enough. He’s due for a raise.”

Now he’s got my attention. “Oh yeah? This is news.”

He smiles and slings his arm over the back of Tabby’s chair. “Just got a bonus from Karpov. A big one. And that’s thanks to you, brother. That job would never have gone so well if it weren’t for you. I think the guy wants to put you in his will or something. He wouldn’t shut up about how you saved his daughter’s life.”

I chuckle. “Well, you never know when you might need a favor from a Russian oligarch. His gratitude could come in handy someday.”

Beside me, Angeline falls still. Her gaze cuts from Connor to me. “You two work together?”

“Yep. This big ape recruited me straight outta the corps into his security firm. I thought we talked about that.”

“No, we didn’t. You said you knew each other in the military, and then we all started talking about the wedding.”

I think for a minute. “Oh yeah.” I shrug. “Anyway, we work together. Tabby helps, too.”

Angeline turns to Tabby with a new look on her face, one of wariness, as if she’s seeing her for the first time. “Oh?”

Tabby leans back into Connor’s arm and smiles at him. “Technically I work for the government, but these bozos need a little assistance from time to time.”

Angeline says tightly, “Assistance?”

Tabby looks back at Angeline and says what she always says when someone asks what she does, with the same flat, no more questions delivery. “I’m in computers.”

It’s like a wall comes down over Angeline’s face. Her smile vanishes. The light goes out in her eyes. She says tonelessly, “You’re a hacker.”

That almost jolts me out of my seat. How the fuck did she put that together? Connor and I glance sharply at each other. Tabby merely smiles.

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