Ten minutes later, the woman was still a little bit apprehensive about their approximate encounter earlier, and he knew that from the way her eyes averted every time he gazed at her. However, just sitting beside the woman made him think naughty thoughts.
She was of sufficient height to be a reasonable match for him on the battlefield of sexual escapade. As if she was ready to take on the world with her simple, taunting smile, she walked with legs meant for high heels and curves that wouldn’t stop straining against the taut texture of her simple white shirt.
With her chestnut-blond hair brushed back from her shoulders and long bangs falling to frame her heart-shaped face, she resembled spun gold. Even though her features were not particularly elegant, they were invigorating and inviting, like a summer breeze against the cold of his dead and frigid heart. Her eyes glisten with humor and keen understanding, and her heart-shaped lips are delicate, rosy pink, and full. The love that went into her creation was apparent, God must have spent a little more time on her. He thought.
Her ring finger on her left hand indicated that she had been taken. Shawn did not doubt anything she set her mind to that she would succeed at. The disappointment was too much for him, and he felt bad about himself for being so disgruntled unexpectedly.
“So, what do you do for a living?” He inquired after the flight attendant had arrived to provide them with bowls of nuts and cookies and take their drink orders. They’ll each have a cup of coffee. She, on the other hand, chose an almond from the nuts. A pecan follows that as she answers him, “I’m in the hotel industry, I work as a receptionist.”
Okay, he could see that.
She looked like the kind who could take a highly emotional holiday clientele, probably from unstable circumstances, and swell it down to something manageable that made the holiday goers relax and feel at home. “Which hotel?“
“My rival…” he mumbled with a smile as she reached into the pocket of her carry-on and plucked out a hotel souvenir gift card. “I thought I could use this after some busy days, but now I guess it’s already expired. This trip of mine is unplanned and my friend’s doing.” She added a lopsided smile. She paused to sip her coffee and let her words sink in, then set her glass down on the tray. “This is my first ever holiday and I am not as excited as I was supposed to be because Las Vegas is not my getaway plan.“
Her outstanding serenity rankled; he couldn’t say why.
“And how about you, Mr. Ten Years?” She smiled.
“Well, Miss Getaway, I’m here for business, I need to settle some family issues.“
“Huh! I know that look. It’s a family money issue and therefore let London’s problem off the h**k,” she said grimly, reflecting on another time. Another crisis a long time ago. She missed them so much and was just another horror whose actions she resented to this day. If only she had awakened on time and shooed the burglars away from their home. “Whether they deserve to be spared any accountability for what they’ve done or not, they are still family… right?” she added.
Taken aback, Shawn Richmond squinted at her, and she thought she must be from a happy, small family who never had a problem like him.
“Are you speaking personally?” he asked.
Catherine thought, “Hell, yes, it has been personal!” Family is family no matter what, and she didn’t have one anymore. Only her brother.
Being orphaned, alone, always hungry, and then backed into a corner was always.
Not that she lamented protecting her little brother; he always comes first. He’d done nothing to deserve having their names dragged through the mud. After all, it was a memory she never wanted to relive again.
“I’m guessing that’s a yes,” he muttered.
The silence stretched between them, awkward now.
“Are you always this black and white in your thinking, Mr. Ten Years?” She finally said as she proceeded to check him over. “Family is always a family, no matter what.”
His turn to shrug. “But not to me…” He whispered under his breath, finishing what was left of his coffee. “My life isn’t always hugs and kisses, rainbows and sunshine. Sometimes we have knives and guns.” He added as he set the cup down with a thud.
The flight attendant appeared with a refill.
“Is that why you looked so tense talking about them?” Catherine knew her curiosity was going nowhere, this man had a huge family problem, and she realized that. She asked curiously when they were alone again.
However, it was all a part of it. The rest of the conversation was more personal. “Money changes people.” His grandfather had passed on the opportunity. He and one of his siblings had not.
“And…?” she urged.
He breathed out, not above admitting that money and power were everything to him.
“In my family, there isn’t much space for rainbows and hugs or kisses, because there are always money problems—or gray areas.”
Either it’s right or it’s wrong.” Simple, fundamental, and important.
Unlike the way he’d grown up.
Catherine just stared at him. ‘Unbelievable? Is this what rich people only have in mind? Money and more money? Pathetic… downright miserable.
Then she asked, “…and you think what I am doing is wrong? Having to take care of my family before my own?“
“I wouldn’t have put it that way,“
Her delicate pale brow arched.
“But you think so, don’t you?”
Wishing she hadn’t put him in the hole, he repaid her with a strong, evaluating stare.
“You’re alone and miserable?”
“Yes and no…”
“Well, that’s too bad.” Catherine took a deep breath that lifted her magnificent b*****s.
He took a moment to let the beautiful blonde’s word sink in.
Thirteen hours later, Catherine was now getting dressed for their Vegas sleepless getaway as Jane and Chelsea got dressed in their luxurious hotel room, courtesy of her two friends, while the hot stranger on the plane was forgotten.
Earlier, upon arriving at her destination, Catherine went inside her best friend’s room with irritation thrumming through her veins.
“Chelsea, Jane, guess what happened to me on the way here?“
“I don’t care what happened to you, girl, but we need to get dressed now. We are here to enjoy and not to lament your never-ending observation of everything. Vegas s*x and the boys are waving and we are getting laid here.” Chelsea replied, the most elegant, beautiful, and glamorous of their group, a model who belongs to an affluent family in London.
“And we are getting late, Cath…” Jane added, the one who was mothering them all the time. She is married to a lawyer and a mother of two.
“Are you not going to even ask why?” Catherine asked her one and only friend and sat in bed watching her rampage through their closet and make-up.
“Catherine, I already knew about your boring fiance. We talked for hours on the phone, remember? What is worse than that?“
“I’m not talking about Jason, silly.” Catherine took her comb and make-up from her red suitcase and waved it in Chelsea’s face. “See this, I’m getting dressed so, listen… I met a guy and-“
“Is he hot?” Jane halted and smirked.
“Jane, I’m serious here.“
“I’m asking if he’s hot or not. If so, stop wasting our time…”
“Fine, he is soooo hot and…“
“Oh, really?” Chelsea took the lipstick from her purse and turned her head towards her. “Wow, you are growing, dear. Maybe that hotty can change your mind and stop this ‘I’m marrying Jason no matter what thingy‘.”
Catherine sighed. “Girls, how many times do I have to tell you that I-,“
“Yeah, yeah! You love Jason so dearly… Whatever… ” Chelsea mocked and returned to her so-called important color shading.
“Okay, who is this hotty, you say?” Jane asked and took her hairbrush as she sat on the oak wooden dark colored vanity.
“Well, he is a … Well he says he is rich and he is a b****y CEO, but I don’t believe him nonetheless, and yes, he is sooo f*****g hot. I met him on the flight!” Catherine groaned as apparent excitement poured through her, transforming her mood spark into a sizzling warm necessity.
“What?! An impostor?” The two wailed.
“Now, did I get your attention?”
“Oh yeah,” Jane replied, with a raised brow.
“Not really… I mean, he was not an importor, he just thought I didn’t know the name he was using… However, he was a force to be reckoned with… a man who is obsessed with money, only money, so disappointing really.“
“Disappointing? Is that what Jason is, right?” Jane mumbled
“Come on, guys. Jason loves me… And he is a family man. He proposed to me, remember? See this?” pointing to her ring.
“Yeah, that cheap ring.”
“Chelsea, it’s thought that counts.” Catherine answered back, took the hairbrush, and started combing Chelsea’s very long purple hair.
“Okay, I know that look, so what is your plan?! I’m all in… I am your friend for a reason. What’s the itinerary for tonight?“
“Let’s f**k someone and get drunk.”
They all giggled.
Catherine thought maybe it was not too unfair to enjoy herself before marrying. After all, Jason told her to enjoy herself and be happy. Speaking of Jason, he didn’t call her or give her a text? Oh, never mind. Tonight she will celebrate, get herself drunk and maybe flirt a little, because this will probably be her last moment enjoying her single life.
Two hours later, they were now inside an expensive Vegas nightclub.
“Catherine, let’s enjoy this night. Stop pouting around.“
“I am not.”
In her ear, Chelsea’s almost tipsy, harsher voice yelled. “Tonight is your night, get your self a man and enjoy.”
Yes, she will be drinking until she can no longer walk. She thought to herself.
“Chelsea, I’m trying m-my best. Let’s look for some boys and s*x… ha-ha! d-don‘t worry about m-me.” She yelled back. Well, she must be drunk yet, she grinned, and ordered more of the cocktail, because it was her night, right? She watched the tremendous minds of her generation get destroyed by red toxic shots and green yellow alcohol mixtures served from expensive shot glasses. Sweat-beaded bodies wriggling suit-expensive-drunk people, frenzied, hypnotised by subliminal ripples of electronic arousal. How she ended up here was still a shock. How could she say yes to Chelsea when she was not even a party girl anymore? And yet here she was, intoxicated and irritated by the many s*x-ego-maniac males who thought they could have her tonight. Not that she wasn’t dressed for tonight either, but her tight mini dress wasn’t doing her any good.
The dark, cold, and sweat-alcohol-odour and luminous place was filled with wall-to-wall adults acting out their job and office resentment on unsuspecting future rich politicians or even businessmen, planting the seeds of the blackmail cheques they’ll be writing in the future years. Yes, it was a night for fun, but Catherine knew better. Deep inside, these fully dressed and coat-and-tie warriors were braindead, alone or poor, doing all their might to h**k up tonight.
“Then start enjoying the night, Catherine!”
“I’m trying okay. Where is Jane?“
“Getting herself a man.”
“Oh, very good. I despise her husband for denying her this sweet nectar of alcohol for, what, ten years? Jesus girl, she wasted her time… Anyway, have you ever noticed how dance music kind of sounds like listening to drunk people having s*x?” Catherine remarked as she smiled and winked at the nearby waiter. She was standing beside her in the corner, where they had wedged themselves between the elite area and a standing electrical torch to best blend in with the furniture.
She gets it. It’s the weekend, and that means the weekly end of the busy days of business industry bosses and office workaholics.
Working as a receptionist in a five-star hotel made her wish she belonged to the group of people who had never worked a day in their lives and could still afford to party all night.
And tonight was their night, one of the many nights her friend referred to as “mandatory fun.” As one of the elite daughters, Chelsea was required to attend, even if that meant bringing Catherine and Jane with her, and just like the first time, her own presence was more decorative than functional.
“Look out.” Cassy nudges her with her elbow at the sound of shouts and whistles from the aisle. “Here comes the hotties of the century.”
A wall of unabashed, still in office suit maleness crashes through the front door to chants of “Here we are, ladies.” Like a team of Wall Street geniuses, they trampled through the bar, all thick shoulders and broad chests.
“All hail the conquering heroes!” Catherine exclaims sarcastically, while Chelsea covers her snide grin with the side of her thumb and orders more tequila. So back to your so-called vengeance. “I’ll go look for Jane. Okay? You’ll be good here, right?
“Of course…” She replied and watched her friend go to the left side of the pub.
A while later, a voice came from her side. A manly, firm voice that never left her mind and wreaked havoc on her senses. “Fancy meeting you here, Miss I love my family.”
“Sweet lady, you are drunk!”
“Of course I am… F-fancy meeting you here, Mr. Ten Years. But what the hell are you doing here? Trying to get some girls?” She added as he raised her brows and sipped her margarita again as her mouth curved into a smile while the hotty’s corner mouth turned up and whispered something in her ears that made her blush. “I love the dress… You look amazing tonight, sweet.”
D**n if she was not blushing and wet.