A week later September 16 - 8 A.M. Denver, Colorado
“I call to order the meeting of JAM properties,” Max said.
“Do you have to say that every time?” Alex whined.
Max laughed at Alex’s distress. They sat together in a chair in the hotel suite’s sitting area. John looked up from a stack of papers to watch the twin’s make faces at each other. He sat in the middle of the couch.
“Let the notes reflect that we have guests. Cian Kelly and Eoin Mac Kinney are here to discuss a project,” Max said.
“Who keeps these notes?” Alex asked.
“We tape the meetings, love. We have for the last three years,” John said. He had to work to keep the exasperation from this voice. Alex attended their monthly financial meetings but never paid attention.
“He’s not a guest then?” Cian asked. He pointed to Raz, who sat down in a chair across from John.
“He’s a member of the corporation,” John said. “He joined a couple years ago.”
“There’s no ‘R’,” Eoin said. “John, Alex and Max, I get that.”
“They call him Art,” Cian said to Eoin. “Do you share our Alex’s ‘A’?”
“Something like that,” Raz said.
“Ew, Rasmussen is not his real name,” Eoin said.
He and Cian shared a look.
“What was that?” John asked.
“We’re just with the big boys….” Cian started.
“…and girl…” Eoin added
“Now,” Cian finished. “Cloak and dagger.”
Alex furrowed her brow at Cian and Eoin, then laughed.
“Are you going to pay attention this time?” John asked Alex.
She nodded setting her eyes to her most sincere look. Raz and Max handed John five dollar bills.
“Betting?” Alex asked. She gauged her voice for offended rather than amused.
“It would be a first, love,” John said.
Alex rolled her eyes at the men.
“Will you two sit down?” John asked.
“We’re a bit nervous, Johnny,” Cian said. “Do you want to try our cookies now?”
“Sure,” John said.
“You said, Johnny, that if we came up with five recipes we could talk about a bakery. We have ten different kinds of cookies here.”
“We made them at an industrial bakery,” Eoin said. “No explosions. Very safe. Very sanitary.”
“I made some special coffee for my favorite sister-in-law,” Cian said. “We think that coffee and pastries in the morning could be a good thing for us. Lots of people around the building in the mornings…. Foot traffic it’s called.”
Alex smacked her lips like a child when Eoin handed her a cup of coffee. Alex took away the cup Eoin gave to Max.
“You can’t have coffee,” Alex said. “It’s hard on your heart.”
“You put your God damn finger in my heart so you could drink all the coffee.” Max laughed.
When the surgeon came to talk to the family after Max’s heart surgery, he told Patrick that the hole in Max’s heart was the size of a small child’s finger. Of course, the entire family assumed that it was Alex’s finger made the hole in Max’s heart.
“Give me that.” Max snatched the cup back from her.
Alex lifted her index finger and pointed it devilishly at his chest. Max put a hand on his chest to protect his heart.
“How long does this go on?” Eoin asked under his breath to John.
John looked from Alex to Max.
“A lifetime, if I’m lucky,” John replied. “Alex. Max. Our Irish friends would like you to settle down.”
Alex and Max, with matching looks on their faces, turned to Cian and Eoin and stuck their tongues out at them. Raz started laughing so hard that he had to stand up to keep from choking.
“You better give us your proposal,” John said laughing.
“We’d like to open a bakery in Denver,” Eoin said. “We….” He looked at Cian then stopped talking. “I….”
“We need some financial help getting started. We also don’t know how to….”
“We need help with the forms,” Eoin said. “We got confused and fucked them up.”
“The truth is that we don’t know anything, but we’ll work hard and we can learn.” Cian’s face blushed bright red and he looked away.
John’s cobalt eyes searched Cian’s face then Eoin’s face.
“We have already decided to help you,” John said. “Raz?”
“I completed the start of business forms,” he said. He handed Eoin a couple of forms then sat down in his chair. “When you pick a name for the bakery, we’ll file for trademark and create the corporation.”
“The point is this,” Max said. “If you are willing to do the work, we are willing to invest in your bakery, teach you how to run it and, when or if the time is right, sell it back to you.”
Cian’s mouth fell open. He looked at Eoin and the men shared an awkward hug.
“I’ve reviewed the property you selected. It has an apartment over the store front. Who will live there?” John asked.
“Eoin,” Cian said. “I like being with family. If it’s all right, that is.”
“Of course,” Max and Alex said in unison.
“Eoin’s already… well….”
“I’m going to find myself a wife,” Eoin said. “A bakery and a wife. That’s my dream. Well, kids too.”
Alex took in his bright face, bright red hair and sparkling eyes. She laughed and everyone followed.
“I put an offer in on the building,” John said. “We are waiting to hear from the owner. I believe, with the renovations, the space will be ready before the end of the year. Will you be ready?”
“Yes, Johnny,” Cian said. His smile seemed to emanate from the very center of his being.
“We’ll meet every week - you and me - to take care of paperwork and financing. My schedule is tight but I’ll make time,” John said. “You’ll also need to meet with Max to learn about employment laws. I set an appointment with the Small Business Administration for you and I tomorrow.”
“Yes, Johnny,” Cian said. “Thank you.”
John looked up at his older brother and smiled.
“It’s our pleasure. Now sit down while we figure out what to do about the house.”
“He’s is very aggressive,” Eoin said to Cian.
“And smart. Mum was right,” Cian replied.
John moved over and Cian and Eoin sat down.
“I have received three offers on our houses,” John said. He passed pieces of paper to Raz and Max. “A developer offered us three times what the homes are worth for the property. He has some in with the city and wants to build six walk ups…. What do you call them here?”
“Townhouses?” Alex asked.
“Right. The neighborhood is a historic district so there’s no building there.”
“Unless for some reason the building comes down,” Max said. He passed the paper to Alex, who glanced at the offer and set on the coffee table down.
“I have also heard from two builders who would like to rebuild the houses. One is an expert in historic homes and would rebuild them down to the details.”
“You mean the details that were sold out of the houses in the 1940s?” Raz asked.
“Exactly,” John said. “The other builder is a ‘green’ builder and would like to re-build the homes as a showcase for his work. He said, he is willing to donate his time and do the work for cost and materials.”
“And advertising,” Max added.
“Exactly. Our homes will be showcased in the paper and magazines.”
“How is that going to work?” Alex asked. “Oh, Colorado Homes and Gardens, this is the super secret secure, but green, office that belongs to my spy wife. That? That’s where expert profiler Rasmussen keeps his computers. Of course he won’t mind if you take pictures.”
Raz and Alex looked at each other and laughed.
“Right,” John said. “You looked at houses at Lowry and Stapleton?”
The twins nodded their heads in unison.
“And?” Raz asked.
“The realtor got mad at us and won’t show us any more,” Alex said.
“That happens every single time,” John said.
“What happens?” Raz asked.
“When we get around people we don’t know, we tend to clam up. And realtors don’t like it,” Max said.
John laughed again. “They talk to each other silently and creep out the realtors.”
“Ah,” Raz said. “Did you see anything that would work?”
“I don’t know,” Alex said. “We can live in one large house with space for everyone but… I don’t know. Everything is so…”
“…modern,” Max said.
“We looked at the old base housing at Lowry. But…”
“That’s like the house we lived in when we were kids,” Max finished. “Too weird.”
“We looked at condos,” Alex said. She and Max shrugged their shoulders in unison.
“We looked at townhouses,” Max said. He and Alex shrugged their shoulders in unison.
“We looked at lofts,” Alex said. She and Max shrugged their shoulders in unison. “Speaking of lofts, Matthew would like to purchase Erin’s loft from the corporation.”
“Tell him to call me,” John said. “We spent a small fortune fixing it up after the rampage. I’d like to wait until the loft increases in value a bit.”
“Makes sense,” Raz said.
“So you didn’t find anything,” Eoin said.
Alex and Max shook their heads.
“Not that we liked. If we’re desperate to get out of the hotel, we saw things that would work, but….”
“I’m not here full time,” Raz said, “but I want to be comfortable when I’m here. I’d rather wait until we find something that works.”
“I agree,” John said. “Cian? Eoin?”
“Oh, we get a vote?” Cian said. “Um, whatever you say Johnny.”
Eoin laughed. “We’ve always lived where ever.”
“Emily Lamberton’s father called the General and offered us apartments in the Beauvallon.”
“That luxury condo thing up the street from the dance club these guys picked us up from,” Alex said. “Raz, are you still dating Emily?”
“No,” Raz said. “Vince finally asked her out.”
“It’s about time,” Alex said. “Anyway, the General… uh … Patrick, said that her father said to say ‘hello’ to you.”
“That’s a generous fourth offer,” John said. “Do we have any decisions?” He looked from face to face. “No decisions. Let the record show that we are tabling the ‘where shall we live’ question.”
“Max and I will go look at the Beauvallon. If it’s big enough for all of us, then we can move out of the hotel until we decide. Patrick said Emily’s dad offered one of the penthouse apartments, I guess, near where Emily and Amelia live. You’ve been there Raz, what’s it like?”
“It’s very plush,” Raz said. “Pool on the roof.”
“Won’t it be weird to live there now that your girl is dating someone else?” Eoin asked.
“No,” Raz said. “Vince is the love of Emily’s life. They have a child together. I only hope they can make it work..”
“And you’re cool with that?” Eoin pressed.
“I can’t really do love now, Eoin. It’s not in the cards,” Raz said.
“Raz has ladies all over the world,” Alex said.
“Really??” Eoin asked. “You’ll have to tell me how you do that.”
Raz shook his head slightly, “A man who wants a wife doesn’t need that information.”
“True,” Eoin said. His face broke into a big smile. “Who would have thought it Cian? We’re really doing this!”
Cian turned to Eoin and smiled.
“If that’s it, I need to get to the hospital,” John said. Turning to Alex, he asked, “What’s on your agenda today?”
There was a knock at the door. Max stood to open the door for Samantha. Alex crossed the room to answer John’s question.
“Sam is here to help us get some clothes. Raz and I are going with her. I have a list of what everyone needs.”
“What about these guys?” John asked. He pointed to Eoin and Cian who were wide eyed at the beautiful Samantha. Max was attempting introductions but the men could barely speak.
“Vince Hutchins,” Alex said. There was another knock on the door. She watched Raz open the door. “Vince is a munitions expert. He drooled all over himself that he might actually be able to speak with someone who knew something about VBIEDs, uh, car bombs particularly PIRA.”
She noted Vince shift away from Raz. I guess he found out about Raz and Emily. Turning back to John, she smiled at the grin on his face. Max held his hand out to John who placed the fifteen dollar bet into it.
“Max won the bet?” Alex asked.
“I knew you’d pay attention.” Max laughed and let himself out of the suite.
“Oh no you don’t,” Sam said as John and Alex moved to their bedroom. “I’m not sitting here with your…” She looked Raz up and down and curled her lip in disgust. “…friends while you slip off.”
“I’m going to chat with him while he changes into scrubs. He has surgery in less than an hour,” Alex said. “Ten minutes won’t kill you, Sami. Just be pleasant. You can do that.”
Samantha made a face at Alex and opened her mouth to say something snide.
“You can practice your secret Navy hand shake with Vince.” Alex spoke first.. “You remember him. He shared my room at Walter Reed?”
Sam squinted her eyes at Alex then spotted Vince Hutchins. Vince flushed at the look the beautiful Samantha gave him.
Laughing at Samantha, Alex closed the room door then leaned against it. John had removed his t-shirt revealing his muscular chest. He was unbuttoning his jeans. Alex watched as one button at a time he revealed his cropped pubic hair.
“You’re not wearing underwear?”
“I hoped you’d notice,” he said.
She raised her eyebrows as his interest became apparent. Her lips turned upward into a crooked smiled and he pulled her to him. He plucked off her clothing. Taking her mouth, conquering the territory with his own receptive mouth, he mumbled, “Come up.”
She jumped into his arms. With her legs wrapped around his hips, he pressed her into the wall away from the suite sitting room. His lips moved down her neck returning to her lavish mouth. He shifted his hips until he hit exactly the right spot. Alex’s breath caught with the intensity of sensation. He pushed forward until she broke off from his lips. Rising together in fast, silent love making, they let go in a breath.
Laughing, he pulled her into the shower. They rushed through soap and shampoo then dressed together. They shared one last pulling kiss before Alex left for the other room.
“See. Ten minutes,” Alex said coming out of their bedroom.
“Twelve,” Samantha replied. “Did you shower?”
“I had to change into my Alyssa clothing,” Alex said. John came up behind her. He gave her a chaste peck on the cheek then left for work.
“Alyssa’s boring. You don’t expect me to continue… this… do you?”
“Let’s hope not,” Alex said.
“Is this creature coming with us?” Sam flipped her hand toward Raz.
“Yes. He lives with us” Alex held her hand to Raz. “His clothing was blown up as well.”
“Fine. You’re lucky that I do charity work.”
Sitting in the back seat of Sam’s silver Mercedes Benz convertible, Alex watched Raz win over Samantha. For the first hour or so, he subtly watched Sam in silence. When he spoke, he asked Sam thoughtful questions. His eyes never left her face when she spoke. He even went out of his way to ignore the women who bumped into him, winked at him, and otherwise threw themselves in his direction. He gave the impression that for this afternoon, he belonged solely to Samantha.
And he was the perfect gentleman. He held the door for them, helped Sam out of the car, and carried all of their bags. He encouraged Sam to try on a pair super sexy Christian Louboutin heels, then insisted on paying for them. He waited for her when she fell behind and included her in every conversation. While he never went out of his way to touch Sam, his hand accidentally brushed her hip in one store and stroked her hand when he reached for the radio.
In return Sam warmed in a way that Alex had never seen. Sam’s defensive snapping style slipped away. She chatted about whatever came up in the conversation. Like watching a flower blossom, Sam unfolded with gentle radiance that made her natural beauty glow. She laughed at jokes, asked questions and, to Alex’s surprise, shared a little of herself. She even paid for lunch.
Late in the day, when Raz was trying on a pair of jeans and a stack of shirts, she asked Alex about Raz.
“So what’s your relationship with Art?”
“He’s been my partner for five or six years. We consider him family.”
“Are you sleeping with him?”
“I’ve slept in the same bed with him more than once. He doesn’t snore and I don’t think he ever stole the covers. Is that what you are asking?”
Sam made a face at Alex.
“No Samantha, I’m married? Remember? Raz and I are close friends.” Alex shrugged. “What about the Senator?”
Sam shrugged. Sadness crept across Samantha’s face. Samantha had been having an affair with a married Senator for the last three years. Working as his lawyer by day, she was his bed partner by night. Sam defended her relationship with the Senator saying that she was a modern woman who didn’t want to be held down by a man. But over the last year the family, Colin especially, saw the relationship begin to tear Sam apart.
At that moment, Raz came out of the dressing room. Alex hugged Sam, whispering in her ear, “He’s a wonderful person - funny, interesting, very loyal. I’ve heard that he’s amazing in bed. You should go for it. Have a good time.”
Sam’s cheeks were pink when she hugged Alex close.
“This has been fun,” Sam said. “It’s nice to spend some time with you. I’ve missed you.”
“For me too,” Alex said. “Oh God, please don’t tell Mom that I like shopping. Please.”
An hour later, Raz and Alex were sitting across from each other in a booth waiting for the waitress to bring their beer. Sam was in the Ladies Room “freshening up” and checking her messages.
“Would you mind if I took your sister out?”
“Erin’s probably going to marry Matthew. You’d have to talk to him.”
“This sister,” Raz said. The waitress deposited their beer. “Thank you.”
“You bet,” the waitress said batting her dark eyes at Raz. He winked at her.
“Sam is very soft hearted.”
“More than you?”
“Yes,” Alex said. “She’s mean and ornery because she’s so soft at heart. I’ve never known her to get close to anyone. Will you promise to be extra kind? Extra clear?”
Raz smiled over his Heineken. Raising an eyebrow to Alex, he turned to watch Sam walk across the floor. Sam, absorbed in her own thoughts, was looking down at the Mexican tile floor. She blushed bright red when she realized Raz was watching her. Holding his eyes, she sat next to him in the booth.
They drank beer and discussed what was left on their shopping list. Alex groaned. She was tired and sore. Whimper, blah, ache, blah, moan, Alex went on and on. Finally, she turned sideways in the booth, tucked her legs into her chest and closed her eyes. She knew that Raz wasn’t fooled by her act, but she didn’t care. How else could she listen in?
“I’d like to take you out, but you need to know that I can’t have anything serious in my life right now,” Raz said in quiet tones. Covering Sam’s hand with his large hand, his thumb stroked the back of her hand. “I travel almost every week of the year. It makes love impossible. I’m simply unable to do that.”
“What does that mean?” Sam asked.
“We’d go out, have a good time, but I can’t settle down, get married, or even be exclusive. If you want any of that then we shouldn’t start. I’m simply not that guy.”
“So I’d have to see you with other people,” Sam said.
“You would never see me with anyone else.” He paused for a moment, then added, “Anything is possible. You could see me with someone else, by accident. That could happen. It’s just unlikely. There would be other women in other places at other times.”
“And I could have other men?” Sam asked.
“You are incredibly beautiful and charming. I would be surprised if you didn’t have other men,” Raz said. “Of course, there is a level of care that an adult takes in modern times.”
“Of course,” Sam said.
They were silent for a while.
“You should know that I’m seeing someone in Washington,” Sam said.
Sam laughed. “I’d like to go out with you.”
“Let’s get Alex back to the hotel then see what might be fun.”
Alex’s eyes bounced open. “Boy I don’t feel good. Sami, would you mind taking me back to the hotel?”
“We need to stop and pick up socks,” Sam said.
Alex made a face. “Tomorrow? Please Sam. I need your help but I can’t do anymore today.”
Stifling a smile, Raz held Sam’s hand in his own.
“Let’s take the veteran back for her rest.”
“Thank you,” Alex said.
The Fey continues next week….
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