Tied, p.11
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       Tied, p.11

         Part #4 of Tangled series by Emma Chase
 
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  I did eventually give Kate that massage. Not that she needed it, relaxed as she was—but rubbing warm baby oil on Kate’s body is my idea of a really good time. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how things went from there. Which is why, at the moment, Kate is passed out cold on the bed. I’ll let her sleep another twenty minutes or so before I’ll have to wake her. Because it’s common knowledge that women take forever and a day to get ready for a night on the town. Kate may be different from most girls in a lot of ways—but in that way? She’s exactly the same.

  I walk out of the bedroom to the kitchen, looking for some nourishment. Man can’t live on sex alone—as cool an idea as that would be. The house is quiet. Jack and Warren probably took off to escape the sounds of bumping and grinding all around them.

  I make myself a turkey on rye in the kitchen, then I glance out the balcony doors and spot my sister. Sitting alone on the private brick patio in the rear of the villa.

  Mentally I shake my head and step out through the doors. Alexandra glances at me quickly, then turns her eyes back to the foliage surrounding the yard. Forlorn is not a look I’m used to seeing on my sister. It’s unsettling.

  I sit down in the lawn chair beside her and put my sandwich on the table. I should start off kindly. Unaccusing. Considerate. I should be diplomatic.

  “What the fuck, Lexi?”

  She takes a sip from the martini glass in her hand before placing it on the table. “Go away, Drew. I’d like to be alone.”

  “I’d like to buy a private island in the South Pacific and name it Drewland, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon. We can’t always have what we want.”

  I pick up the pink-concoction-filled glass and give it a sniff. My head jerks back and my nose wrinkles. Whatever my sister’s been drinking smells like fruity ammonia—like strawberry-scented bat piss.

  “If you’re going to poison your body, at least have the decency to use a premium-brand toxin.” Cheap liquor is strictly reserved for winos and college kids who don’t know any better.

  Her face is impassive. Slack and sad. She shakes her head slightly. “You don’t understand.”

  I toss her drink onto the grass. “I resent that. I’ll have you know I understand all perspectives—man, woman, or child. God and I are a lot alike that way.” I pause for a second and my voice softens. “What’s wrong, Alexandra? Whatever it is, maybe I can help.”

  Her tone is flat. Lifeless. “Steven is going to divorce me.”

  I snort. “With the way you’ve been acting lately, I don’t blame him.”

  I ready my hand to block the glass that I’m pretty certain is about to come spiraling at my face. But nothing gets thrown at me. Instead something more shocking—more horrifying—happens.

  The Bitch covers her face with her hands and sobs into them.

  I swallow hard. Then I look around. Waiting for that douche bag Ashton Kutcher to jump out and yell, “Punked!” Because Alexandra Evans isn’t a crier. She’s a doer—a fixer.

  And throughout the history of mankind, crying has never fixed shit.

  I stutter. And ask the second-stupidest question ever. “Are you . . . are you crying?”

  In my head Tom Hanks’s voice echoes, “There’s no crying in baseball!” Did Cleopatra cry when Egypt got sacked? Did Joan of Arc cry when the Catholic Church called her a witch? They are my sister’s counterparts.

  Alexandra shakes her head, but the tears keep on flowing. “It’s my fault. I’ve pushed him away. I’ve been miserable to be around. I’ve treated him terribly.”

  “Well, if you know that, why don’t you just . . . stop?” Seems simple, right?

  Wrong.

  “I can’t help it. I’m so sad. And angry. It’s not fair. I’m too young to be a dried-up prune!”

  Now she’s really going at it. Sniffling and snotting all over the place. I don’t have a tissue, so I take off my T-shirt—even though it’s one of my favorites—and hand it to her. Alexandra blows her nose into it. It sounds like a dying goose.

  Even though I have no fucking clue what she’s talking about, I know I’m supposed to say something. “Well . . . prunes have their uses. A few months ago, James’s pipes were backed up. And we fed him a few of those bad boys and they did the trick. It was like edible Drano—cleaned everything out. Prunes are great.”

  She stops. And looks up at me with red-rimmed, perplexed eyes. “What the hell are you talking about?”

  “I have no fucking idea! I’m trying to be comforting.”

  “Well, it’s a good thing I don’t come to you for comfort often. You suck at it!” She goes back to bawling in the T-shirt.

  I pinch the bridge of my nose and breathe deep. Let’s try this again. “You said you were angry. Sad. Why are you angry and sad, Alexandra?”

  She wipes at her face and talks quickly—rushed. “I could set my watch to my period. Every twenty-seven days on the dot. So when it didn’t come, I thought, Oh, crap, you know? And even though the test said negative, I assumed it was just too early. So I went to the doctor and I was so sure he was going to tell me I was pregnant. And even though it wasn’t planned, I started to get used to the idea of another one. I was excited. But then . . . then he told me I wasn’t pregnant.”

  A cold ball of ice settles in my stomach. “You’re not . . . you’re not sick, are you?”

  She shakes her head. “No. I’m not sick.” She takes a cleansing breath. “He said it’s menopause. Early-onset menopause. I can’t have any more children—ever. I’m infertile.”

  She weeps quietly for a minute.

  I rub her shoulder gently. “Did you and Steven want a lot more kids?”

  Her brow furrows slightly. “Well . . . no. We’d always planned on two. After Thomas was born, I’d even talked to Steven about getting a vasectomy. He wasn’t keen on the idea.”

  I try to understand the problem. That fails, so I ask, “But, if you don’t want any more kids—then why are you so devastated about not being able to have any more kids?”

  “Because I’m a woman, Drew! Creating life. Nurturing—that’s what we do.”

  Nope—still don’t get it. “But that’s not all you do. I mean, Jesus, Alexandra, it’s not like you’re a Handmaid’s Tale breeder here. So the egg basket’s empty? Big deal. You have two beautiful children—be happy with them. Maybe this is nature’s way of telling you that you shouldn’t have any more. I’ve seen what pregnancy does to your body. It ain’t pretty.”

  Now she’s glaring at me. Which is a good sign. Pissed-off Alexandra I can handle.

  “I am happy with the two that I have. It’s just . . . having the option to have more was nice . . . even if I never did. I feel . . . cheated. And old. I have the insides of a sixty-year-old woman, Drew. How long before the outside reflects that? And have you looked at Steven lately? Every year he gets more handsome—more distinguished looking. Soon some gold-digging bimbo is going to try to get her claws in him, and he’s going to be saddled with a wife who looks like Barbara Bush!”

  She buries her face in the shirt again, and I can’t help but laugh. Just a little. “Lexi . . . you’re hardly Barbara Bush. I’d say you’re more of the Christie Brinkley variety. And besides—Steven loves you. You. Not your goddamn ovaries. You’re the bitchy-boss center of his universe. You always have been. When the rest of us were jerking off to thoughts of Sister B, Steven was jerking off to thoughts of you.” And don’t think I’m comfortable knowing that. “He’d never trade you in for some skinny-legged twit who’s only interested in the size of his bank account. Steven is too smart for that.”

  She looks up. Almost hopefully. “How would you feel if Kate told you she couldn’t have any more kids?”

  I take a moment to ponder. To imagine the possibilities. “If Kate told me I could bang her all I wanted and I never had to worry about knocking her up? I’d do the Irish jig down Fifth fucking Avenue. It’d be like Christmas every day. No more PMS, no more abstaining for three to five days every month
. . . unless you let Steven go wading in the crimson tide? Which, if you do, please lie to me.”

  Period sex is a deal breaker for Kate. No matter what I say, no matter what I do, she’s not interested. Which I will never understand. We’re hunters, ladies. We like blood. It’s part of the reason action flicks and war movies have so much of it. We don’t think it’s gross. We don’t think it’s messy. It’s just . . . more lubrication.

  Don’t look at me like that. I’m just being honest.

  The tears have almost dried up. Alexandra sniffles and hiccups. “But don’t you want more children?”

  “Sure, I want more. James is the best. I’d have twenty with Kate. In theory. Reality’s a different story. Kids are hard.”

  Alexandra nods.

  “You need to talk to Steven. You’re torturing the guy. It’s cruel and unusual punishment.”

  “What if he looks at me differently?”

  “He won’t.”

  “How can you be sure?”

  I lean forward and try to find the right words. “Because . . . because when Kate was pregnant with James? She was as big as a house—and I still wanted to fuck her every bit as much as I want to right now. Because when I look at her? I just see Kate . . . the woman who walked into my life five years ago and screwed it all up. Who shook me out, turned me upside down, and made me . . . more. So even when she gets wrinkly or gray? She’ll still be Kate. She’ll still make me laugh and make me crazy . . . and she’ll still love me more than I will ever deserve. And I know that Steven feels the same way about you.”

  Alexandra wipes her eyes with my shirt one last time. She starts to look more like herself. “So . . . you’re saying I’m making a bigger deal about this than it is?”

  “I’m saying if you tell Steven, it won’t feel so big anymore.”

  She gives me a small smile. “You’re right. I know you’re right. I’ll talk to him tonight.”

  “Good.”

  Alexandra stands up, leans in, and hugs me. I squeeze her back, letting her know that I’m here for her. To listen, and to kick her in the ass whenever the rare opportunity presents itself.

  “And don’t go making a habit out of this falling-apart thing,” I chastise. “I have an exclusive on self-destructive behavior in this family.”

  She chuckles and heads toward the house. Then she pauses and turns toward me. “Hey, Drew?”

  “Yeah?”

  “When did you get so smart?”

  That’s an easy one. “About five years ago.”

  After I finish my sandwich, I head back to the bedroom to wake Kate. But when I get there, she’s already up and in the shower. Washing the body I obsess about and singing.

  Nobody does it half as good as you

  Baby, you’re the best

  Her voice floats around the bathroom and echoes off the tiles. It’s a cheesy song—Carly Simon—from some seventies James Bond flick. But pleasure still rises up from my gut and spreads out through my chest at the sound. Because as sure as I know Delores will one day be committed to a home for the criminally insane, I know Kate is singing about me. I fold my arms, lean back against the door, and watch her through the steamed glass. She tilts her head back under the hot stream of water. Her rack juts out high and proud—more tantalizing than any Vegas showgirl’s set. Her long hair brushes against her ass, playing peekaboo with the butterfly tattoo on her lower back.

  Kate turns off the water and steps out of the shower. She smiles when she sees me. “Hey, you. Where’d you go?”

  I should probably hand her a towel. It would be the nice thing to do. The bathroom tiles are cool, and if her pointy nipples are any indication, she’s a bit chilled. But you don’t really think I’m going to do that, do you?

  Come on.

  Like I would ever pass up the chance to eyefuck Kate Brooks in all her wet, bare-ass beauty. And pointy nipples are awesome. So, like the giggly, perverted schoolboy part of me still is, I don’t move an inch as Kate scurries across the bathroom and grabs a robe off the hook on the far wall, then covers up my favorite viewing pleasure.

  “I was on the patio with Alexandra.”

  Kate twists a second towel around her head in that high-crown style that only women are capable of. Then she frowns worriedly. “She really hasn’t been herself lately. I hope she’ll talk to me tonight about whatever’s going on between her and Steven.”

  “Way ahead of you. It’s all taken care of.”

  “What’s happened?”

  I reach into the shower and turn the water back on full blast. Then I slip off my boxers. Despite the seriousness of the conversation, Kate does a little eyefucking of her own.

  Nice.

  “Her baby-making factory got an early foreclosure notice.”

  “What does that mean?”

  “Doctor told her she’s menopausal.”

  Kate’s hand goes to her chest with a sympathetic sigh. “But she’s so young!”

  I nod. “Yeah. She’s a hot mess about it. She’s been afraid to tell Steven, but I convinced her to talk to him later. They’ll get back on track.”

  Kate’s eyes widen. “You convinced her to talk to Steven?”

  “Yep.”

  “How did you manage that?”

  “She talked, bawled her eyes out, and I . . . comforted . . . her.”

  Now Kate looks confused. “You comforted her?”

  “What are you, a fucking parrot? Yes, I comforted her—why are you shocked?”

  Kate folds her arms across her chest. “Well, let’s see. Could it be because your idea of comforting Mackenzie when her cat died was to tell her not to be sad because now Snowball was with all his other feline friends in hell?”

  I possibly could have worded that better.

  “Or maybe it’s because when my mother missed James’s christening because of that blizzard, you comforted her by saying that when he grows up, he’ll barely know who she is anyway?”

  Some people just can’t handle the truth.

  “Then there was the time—”

  I put my hand over her smart-ass mouth. Her dark, deep eyes stare up at me with warmth and teasing affection.

  “I admit, not everyone is able to absorb my particular brand of comfort. But in this case, Alexandra did. Because of me, she and Steven are on their way back to marital bliss. For that, I deserve a pat on the back. A hand job would also do nicely.”

  Kate busts out laughing. She wraps her arms around my neck, pressing her terry-cloth-covered stomach against my dick. She tilts her head up. “It’s nice to be the stable couple in the group for once. Go, us.” She holds up one palm. “High five.”

  I glance at her hand, then shake my head dismissively. “I don’t do high fives.” I wiggle my digits. “But if you’re interested in some fingering, I’m happy to oblige.”

  Kate giggles. “Such a pervert.”

  I give her lips a peck. “For you? Always. Now stop trying to seduce me, and let me take a shower.”

  As she turns away, I swat her ass for good measure. Then I step into the shower and close the glass door behind me. I stick my head under the searing water and let the heat relax the muscles in my neck and back.

  Through the glass a blurry Kate moves around, beginning the long getting-ready ritual. “I called your parents to see how the baby was doing.”

  “What’d they say?”

  “Your mother sounded half-dead, but all of the kids are great.”

  Just as I expected.

  Five minutes later, I’m out of the shower. I towel off and slip on a fresh pair of boxers. Then I step up to the sink and lather shaving cream on my face. Kate reenters the bathroom and stands beside me, putting makeup on. Her hair is damp but the robe is gone. In its place is a mouthwatering matching bra-and-panty set.

  They’re pink silk with a black lace overlay. The panties are high cut—bikini style—and the bra pushes her tits up and together, creating a sexy-as-all-hell deep cleavage line. She dusts powder onto her face while I ch
eck her out.

  “New underwear?” I keep a mental catalog of all of Kate’s undergarments, organized by color and style. I’ve never seen these before. I definitely would’ve remembered them.

  She turns her hips, showing me the goods. “Yeah, aren’t they cute?”

  Cute? No. Boner inducing? Definitely.

  “There’s a La Perla boutique downstairs. I bought them before our spa treatments.”

  I can’t help but contemplate what she was thinking when she bought them. I mean, a steamy night at home after James is asleep is one thing—a new outfit always makes that more interesting. But tonight we won’t even be hanging out together. Depending on what condition we’re in when we make it back to the room, we’ll be lucky if we even pass out next to each other.

  “Huh.”

  That one syllable gives her pause. The hand that was applying eyeliner stops and she looks at me. “What?”

  I keep shaving. “You don’t have any . . . other . . . underwear with you?”

  Her brow wrinkles. “Sure I do. You don’t like these?”

  I rinse my razor in the sink. “No . . . they’re fine. I just thought maybe you could wear something different. Something whiter, cotton, more full coverage.”

  A triple-locked chastity belt would also suffice.

  Her head tilts, trying to figure out where I’m going with this. “No, Drew, I didn’t bring any granny panties with me.”

  You think I’m crazy, I know. But I’m not. I told you a long time ago—I play chess. I don’t just think about the next move; I think about the move five moves from now. So I can’t help but question why the hell would Kate buy new panties that would make any man with half a pulse want to sink to his knees in front of her and shred them with his teeth? It’s like . . . when a woman shaves her legs before a first date, even if she’s wearing pants. Maybe she doesn’t realize it, maybe she doesn’t want to admit it—but the only reason she’s doing it is because some part of her brain is hoping she’ll get laid.

  “Huh.”

  Kate just looks sideways at me. I pat my chin with a hand towel while she finishes her makeup. As she smooths gloss over her succulent lips, I can’t help but speak up.

  “Flavored lip gloss, huh?”

  “Okay, that’s it.” She puts the cap on the gloss with a snap and drops it in her bag. Then she turns toward me quickly. “You need to stop. Right now.”

  “Stop what? I didn’t say anything.”

  “You didn’t have to. I know what’s going on in that deviant head of yours.”

  I cross my arms. “You think so?”

  “I know so. You’re having this whole conversation with yourself about why I would buy new underwear and who I’m going to let see it. Then you’re thinking, why am I putting on flavored lip gloss? Why not just plain lip gloss—unless I want someone to taste it?”

  God, she’s good.

  “But the truth is, I bought the underwear for me. Because having bras and underwear that match make me feel more put together. And you should know, Mr. I See Everything, that the flavored lip gloss is the only gloss I use. Every day.”

  “You sound awfully defensive, Kate.”

  “This isn’t defensive. This is a natural reaction to having to deal with the twisted way you view the world.”

  We stare at each other for a few seconds, arms crossed, not giving an inch. Until Kate does. She plucks a tissue from the box on the back of the toilet and wipes the gloss off her lips. With a ring of sarcasm in her tone she asks, “There. Happy now?”

  I should be. I mean—I won, right? But it’s kind of hard to be happy when you’re acting like a douche.

  “And since the underwear concerns you so much”—she slides the scrap of silk and lace down her legs and tosses it to me—“I won’t wear any.”

  She moves to exit the bathroom, but I step in front of her. “Whoa! Wait
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