The Fourth Season
Parental Advisory Rating: L, N, AC
Break out those V-Chips, everyone!
Created, Produced, Written and Directed:
Episode Twelve: How Do I Love Thee
Ive seen Kels happy before, but this is only the fourth time Ive seen her smile like this. The first two were at our weddings. The third was the day the babies were born and then theres today.
I cross my arms and lean against the van, watching as the real estate agent hands her the keys to the building. She so damn cute. Kels, that is, not the real estate agent.
"There you go, Ms. Stanton. Its all yours, lock, stock and barrel."
"And mortgage," Kels adds, tossing the keys in the air and catching them.
I look down when Collin pipes up. The jingling of the keys must have caught his attention. He loves noisy, shiny things. Hes gonna be a natural for a motorcycle. Now that Kels is riding too, I dont think Ill have as hard a time convincing her to let him ride. They have miniature Harleys for kids as young as five years old. Just a couple more years to go, buddy.
I lift my boy out of the stroller and point to the warehouse. "So what do you think of your Mamas new digs? You and your sister are going to have your own office. Okay, technically, itll be a nursery, but were gonna call it your office."
Kels laughs and picks Brennan up. "Well even get you a little nameplate for the door," she tells our daughter with a wink in my direction. "What are we going to make them Tabloid, Junior Producers?
"Sure, why not?" I kiss my boys head. His hair is finally starting to get some coarseness to it; his baby fine hair is being replaced by the patented Kingsley hair. "They produce all kinds of things."
"Most of which are disgusting," Kels teases, pinching Brennans belly. This causes our girl to giggle and fall onto her moms shoulder, chewing on it. We forgot her bear this morning so she has to have something to replace it.
The real estate agent finishes the remaining paperwork and then hands a folder to Kels. "This makes it completely official. The building is all yours. Good luck." She extends her hand, shaking with Kels before turning to me. "Congratulations to you both, Ms. Kingsley."
"Thank you." I take a step back and take it all in. Its a three-story warehouse, which very shortly will be known as the Kingsley Building and will house the offices and studios for BCH Productions.
Oh boy, what have we gotten ourselves into?
Shut up and jump.
* * *
Rene hands me a fax from a producer friend of mine at The Learning Channel. Its good news. Seems theyll be willing to consider using stories and/or hiring BCH Productions to produce independent pieces for them. I take a deep breath and lean back in my chair, reaching for my tea.
"Its good news, isnt it?" Rene crosses her arms, lifting a brow.
"Oh, its great news. Im just really tired."
"Yeah, its been a long day. Wheres Harper, by the way?"
I have to laugh. "Oh, Harper, went to go shopping for cameras and various other pieces of studio equipment today. New toys. Itll be hours before we see her again. Then shell come in with this very glazed-over look in her eyes." I stand up and head for the kitchen. "As long as she has fun, thats all that matters."
* * *
"Hey, RooToo, what a big girl you are!" Im lying on my stomach on the floor with Brennan. Im doing paperwork to get some of our new equipment delivered, and Brennan is giving me a sweet smile from the other side of my papers. A day or so ago, she started rolling over too and is very proud of herself. She pushes up and laughs at me as I tap the back of her hands with my pen. Her ability to hold herself up doesnt last long yet, but she seems to enjoy it.
Kels and Collin are up in the nursery, I assume getting him ready for bed. Our boy got cranky a little while ago and started having a fit. Hes overly tired and refusing to sleep. He doesnt like to miss anything. He was so cute rubbing his eyes and fighting to stay wake, but he was getting crankier by the minute. Kels decided a nice, quiet room and warm milk would no doubt put him right to sleep.
I watched her last night, as she sat in the rocking chair, feeding Brennan before putting her down for the night. She was singing to her and the look of love in her eyes bought tears to mine. Shes a great mom. I hope she knows that.
I look over my list again and then glance back at our girl. Shoving the papers aside, I stack my fists atop each other, rest my chin on them, and watch Brennan as she lies on her stomach, lifting her head, and turning it from side to side.
"Hey, beautiful." I reach out and tug on her hand to get her attention. She lifts her head and smiles at me. Its Kels smile, only a miniature version of it.
I roll over and look at the ceiling of my home. Not my house, my home.
My home. Where I live a happy and content life with my family. I know so many people who would never believe this would happen to me. I have this beautiful home and two gorgeous children. I have a wife who loves me, and I am surrounded by my family, immediate and extended. Life is good.
I sigh and roll back over to look at my girl. "Not to mention, no one but your Mommy ever took the time to learn to cook for me." Its true. The more Kels does it, the better she gets. "One of these days shes gonna have her own KC and rule the roost. Your brother and I will be out in the backyard with your Uncle Robie and all your cousins. All your little boy cousins, that is. You and your aunts and your girl cousins will be inside plotting how to keep us all in line. Its a proud Kingsley tradition."
I watch as she wrinkles her nose and chews on my finger. "And someday youll do the same thing, wont you? Of course, thatll be when you take the weekend off from ruling the world. Thats your ultimate goal, isnt it, RooToo?"
I glance up and find Kels rejoining us. "Shes going to rule the world someday."
"She is, huh?" Kels laughs and drops down on the floor with us. "Guess wed better stay on her good side then, so she doesnt become one of those evil monarchs that practices matricide." She runs her fingers through Brennans hair and tickles her ear causing a squeal from our girl.
"Guess that means raising her allowance, huh?"
"Probably." Kels yawns and curls in close to me, lying on her back she traces my eyebrows and runs her finger down the side of my face. "I love you, Harper."
"Love you too." I lean in and give her a gentle kiss, which we hold a tick longer than Brennan thinks we should. She gives us a yell.
"Hmm." Kels grins. "Another country heard from. What do you say we put her down and then take ourselves to bed? Its been a long day and Im wiped. I would very much like to curl up with you and spend the evening snuggling."
* * *
Kels and Rene fixed a wonderful lunch for Robie and me, but its turned into an afternoon of storytelling and reminiscing about things that seem a lifetime ago now.
I snort when I think back at Renes urging. It really is amazing that Kels and me ended up together at all, giving the start we had.
* * *
I smile as I drop the kickstand on my baby and park her outside my favorite after-hours hangout. I love The Rio; it serves all of my purposes. I get to hang out with a lot of my friends and there is always someone who wants to go home with me. Quite a few news groupies gather here. Most of them all hope that one of us will be able to help them break into The Business. I let them think that. I know, Im awful. I laugh to myself as I hang my helmet on the handle bar and get off the bike.
I take a good look at myself in the reflection of the bar window before I go in. Black silk shirt open to the third button, small black leather vest to accent the chaps over my dark jeans and boots. I run my fingers through my hair to work out some of the kinks left by the helmet. Oh yeah, I look good and Im ready for whatever the evening might hold.
As I open the door and step inside, I am immediately greeted by a loud round of applause with varied whistles and catcalls inserted liberally. I spread my arms to either side of my body and take a bow. "Thank you! Thank you! No applause, please, just throw money!"
* * *
Gail finally leaves me in peace and I can sip at my tea and glance at all the screens. She was right: Harper Kingsley adorns each one of them at some point. A two-shot shows her to be the same height as Channel 7s Bruce Adams. And I know from experience the clean-cut man towers above me. She has raven black hair thats pulled away from her angular face and I just cant get over the color of those eyes. Despite myself, I find Im cranking up the volume on the set. Shes answering the questions in a husky dark voice. She shows no emotion or any real interest in the proceedings but shes dutifully plugging True TV along the way and I sneer.
Sensationalist television makes my blood boil. The cutting edge camera shots and pure lack of decorum are media and not news. I hate that the business is a reaction to the ratings and not the events of the world. I hate more that my own station is pushing that direction. Our competition has stepped up to the battle, wielding flashy sets and expensive, form-fitting suits of pastels. The ratings show that audiences like this hip look and were losing to the competition. Change is afoot and I can smell it like rotten meat on a campout in June. I wrinkle my nose with distaste as I finish my tea and turn my attention to the stacks of files Gail handed me. I turn down the volume again, finding the tall woman distracting.
* * *
Glancing around, Im relieved to see Im not the only one staring. The show is quite amazing; I think the passenger may have actually orgasmed as her gyrations slow and the kisses lose steam. The taller woman is murmuring something, grinning rakishly, and she looks around to the growing crowd. It is Harper Kingsley and I am even more repulsed now. Theres something else inside me, maybe jealousy, that Harper has the ability to so freely display herself when I do not. It certainly isnt jealousy for the Biker Bitch who is now stumbling to her feet and being steadied by large hands.
I am merely yards from them when, much to my amazement, Harper hails a cab. She gives the woman a last, long, lingering kiss and tucks her into the back seat. When the cab pulls away, she waves to the small audience without even a hint of shame, and she turns my way briefly.
* * *
My audience is still there. I recognize one of the women immediately, now that my focus isnt otherwise distracted. Kelsey Stanton, the hot, young anchor for the network is staring at me, looking like a pickled fish. Obviously, she thinks Im a cad of first order. I stand still for a long moment, taking her in. Shes shorter than I expected, but, damn, if the proportions arent all right. I wouldnt mind giving her a ride on my bike. I might even use my hands, just to enjoy the feel of her. Knowing it will infuriate her, I smile and wink at her. I cant believe shes straight. Doesnt seem right.
* * *
"What do you know about Kelsey Stanton?" the orange-haired kid asks, hating silences. He talks to hear himself talk; it was the first thing I learned about him.
"What about her?" I query. I dont know a ton, but I sure do have my suspicions.
"I hear shes a bitch on wheels," Conrad speaks up. "The whole news room hates to work with her. They fight over who has to do her stories and promos. The makeup lady dreads that part of her day."
"Yeah," Jimmy agrees. "I hear the same. Why did we have to get the bitch, Harper? That Samantha woman seems like a better bet."
"Every team needs a problem child." I shrug. "And we all know it aint one of us," I drawl softly, pleased with myself. It isnt until that moment that I turn around to face the room.
Wouldnt you know Kelsey Stanton is standing in the doorway? Her expression is frozen, her green eyes shuttered. Shes a woman used to hiding her emotions.
* * *
She stands before us and the room is filled with uneasy silence. Shes wearing a copper colored pantsuit with a light colored blouse, no skirt today. Im glad for it since well be doing some walking. She seems nervous, but determined not to show it. Her body also radiates anger.
"Queen Bitch reporting for duty," she says slowly, taking a seat at the far end of the table, and I realize that our first meeting could have had a better start.
* * *
Kelsey Stanton is sitting in the seat beside me, fuming still. Her arms are folded tightly across her chest, her legs are crossed and everything about her is screaming dont fuck with me. If she were a porcupine, Id be picking quills out of my ass right now.
* * *
I lean forward, once again making myself ignore her perfume. "And youre jealous. You know that, right? Ive got your number, Kelsey Stanton. And, one day, Ill make the Ice Bitch thaw. And, youll thank me for it." I smile warmly as I pat her butt, admiring its shape and feel under my hand. "Lets wrap up."
"Touch my ass again, Harper, and youre dead. Now get your camera. Ive had a hell of a long day." She shoves me away without real vehemence and uses steady fingers to start combing through her hair and preparing for our final wrap.
I smirk. And I know she wont be able to relieve any of that stress with Erik. I, however, plan on relieving as much stress as possible. I shoulder my camera again and glance at Kelsey. Unaware of my eyes focused on her, she is casually checking out Marion the librarian.
Straight, my ass.
* * *
"Yes, you do, Kelsey Stanton." She leans in on both her arms very nearly coming clear across the table. "The Im straight game. Its bullshit and we both know it. You dont have any more of a relationship with Erik than I do with whats-her-name. The only difference is Im gonna get laid tonight and youre not. Youre gonna go back to your fancy penthouse and get into your big old bed and curl up around your pillow. Must be getting awfully lonely there, Kels. I bet its been a long time since youve been held in the warm embrace of a lover. An even longer time since you fell asleep with your head resting on someones shoulder while they held you and caressed you, worshipping your body with their fingertips."
I hope that the lust Im feeling isnt showing on my face as I smile at her. "My life with Erik is none of your goddamned business. We have a perfectly marvelous relationship and I would like to invite you to get the hell out of my bedroom."
Harper leans back giving me her trademark smirk as she lifts her wineglass to her lips. "Yeah, I figured as much. Truth hurts doesnt it, Kels?"
God, I hate this woman.
* * *
Robie howls with laughter as Kels and I relate to him the days prior to and just after our first meeting. I pitch my napkin at him. "Its not funny."
He nods vigorously. "Yes, it is." He wipes his eyes with his own napkin and looks at me, after giving a glance toward the kitchen where Rene and Kels have wandered off to. "How in the hell did you change her mind? She thought you were the most disgusting things on two legs."
I lean back in my chair and sip my wine. "I have many skills."
"Apparently," Robie agrees.
"Oh, brother." I can almost hear Kels rolling her eyes as she comes back in to the room. She smiles at me and caresses my cheek. "Youre feeding him that many skills line of B.S., arent you?" She winks at me.
"Well, I was until you showed up." I smile back and wrap my arm around her waist.
"The one thing Ive always wanted to know," Rene says as she pours coffee for us, "is where did Little Roo come from. I mean, Tabloid is pretty obvious, but Little Roo is a little weird."
"Hmm, well, it was a weird story." Kels sits down and adds honey to her tea. "It all started with a piece we were assigned to do "
* * *
The woman is eyeing us warily. "I need to get the Principal for this. Would you two take a seat over there, please?" The registrar points to a wooden bench placed beneath a bulletin board.
I give a flourish with my arm. "After you, Miss "
"Just shut the fuck up, Harper."
I love life. Sometimes, I really, really do. "Hey, look, Kels, theres a dance this weekend."
All I get for my effort is a sullen stare.
"Come on, buck up, Little Roo."
She turns her green eyes on me and I feel a little bit of my heart melt. Damn, shes good. No wonder they made her an anchor. "Why probation officer?" she asks.
* * *
Harper and I look at each other and smile.
"I still don't get it," Robie complains. "Where did Little Roo come from?"
Harper shrugs. "You know that Mama used to read the Winnie the Pooh books to us as kids. I always liked Roo. He was so cute and sweet and he had a Mama who loved him as much as ours loved us. So, when Kels was sitting there looking so sad, all I could think of was Roo. It just slipped out, and stuck."
"Weve come a long way," I say, never taking my eyes off her. God, I do love this woman, in more ways than I can ever begin to count. Hard to believe, considering the start that we had. I look up and point to my loving spouse. "She ever tell you about the first time she kissed me?"
Robie bites his lip to keep from grinning. "No, do tell, Kels."
"Well, you guys remember the mess in Omaha "
* * *
Its not really a question or a demand, more of an expectation. One we both dont want to disappoint. I find myself opening my arms to her. She moves into them easily and snuggles in, laying her head on my shoulder. I can still feel the tension in her body as I enclose her in my arms. She is truly terrified. "I got you, Little Roo. Just relax."
She nods, her chin brushing the cotton over my breast. I scratch the base of her neck instinctually. She looks up at me and our eyes truly meet for the first time.
Ah, what the hell. We may end up dead anyway, despite my assurances to Kelsey, so I may as well take the chance. I pull her close to me, molding our bodies together, noticing how her breasts fit under mine, how good she smells, how green her eyes are, and a thousand other small details. I duck my head closer to hers. Our lips barley brush against each other, as if it were almost an accident.
* * *
"Aw, thats really very sweet." Rene flashes Harper a smile that makes her blush.
"Overall, it really was," I affirm, taking Harpers hand. "She took really good care of me." Then I give it playful squeeze. "Right up to the point where she sprayed me with Mace."
Harper groans and lets her head drop forward. "Its was an accident."
"Thats her story and shes sticking to it."
"So, Harper," Robie wiggles his brows, "whats your favorite first time story?"
"Thatd have to be when Kels and I shared a Twinkie for the first time."
"Hey!" I protest, but it doesnt do any good. I can only bury my head in my arms and hide my face. "I cant believe youre going to tell them that story."
* * *
I pick up the Twinkies, remembering her comment about licking out the cream. I open the package and wait until Im sure were going to be left alone. Then her eyes meet mine.
She thinks she can beat me at this game? I invented sexual frustration and have honed it to perfection over the years. After taking a small bite, I lick my lips and then take my finger and insert it slowly into the creamy center. I swirl it around, letting her see the effect of my finger on the spongy texture.
When I withdraw it, it is coated with the sugary nectar. I look at it for a long moment. Then, slowly, while watching her, insert it in my mouth. She groans and I cant help but grin.
"Get everything you need?" I ask as I remove my finger from my mouth. Is that a slight tremor I see?
"Oh, dont go there right now, Little Roo, especially with what we need to do," she growls at me as she steps forward.
I offer her a bite of the cake. "Im sorry, Tabloid." She takes hold of my wrist and my eyes as she takes a long, slow bite. Oh Lord, well, we just might be evenly matched. "I I needed to play a little, to break up the tension," I stammer.
"You call that breaking up the tension? Good God, woman, youd kill a normal person in the bedroom." She drops her backpack to the ground and begins unzipping it. "Good thing for you, Im not a normal person."
I chuckle as I pop the last of the cake into my mouth and bend down to see what shes brought back. I recognize the transceiver, pinhead mike and receiver. "What are these for?"
She smiles. "Ah, thanks for finding those, baby." Before I realize what is happening, she stands up and drops her jeans to the floor. I am now kneeling by her backpack staring at a miles worth of leg ending in a white thong.
"I I " I am going to pass out. "I always figured you for a boxer gal," I manage finally.
She laughs, low in her throat. "I didnt know you thought about me in my underwear, Kels."
* * *
I reach over and run my hand through Kels hair, trying to get her lift her face to look at me. Its not happening. "Then, of course, she copped a feel "
"I did not!" She sits up now. "You imagined that."
"Un huh." I roll my eyes. "Sure I did."
"You did. I was a perfect lady."
"Right. Do you mean before or after the night you got drunk and bit the buttons off my shirt?."
"Details! Details!" Rene gestures wildly at that one.
"Well, after surviving Omaha "
* * *
"Did I do that?" she asks my shirt, as if it might answer her.
"Un-huh," I answer on behalf of my shirt. This is one of the few things I recall from last night. "You bit the first two off, then you just ripped it open." Surprised the hell out of me. Little tiger. I may have to change her nickname.
"Oh please. I have never in my life bitten off a button, let alone two." The most precious blush is creeping up her neck and cheeks.
"Well, you did seem to find ripping them off far more satisfying." Come on, Kels, this isnt so bad, is it?
"Harper." She sounds so weary. "Can I ask you a question?"
"Will you answer it honestly?"
I smirk, a bit relieved that she doesnt know either. At least, we have a level playing field. "You mean you dont remember?"
"No," she squeaks.
* * *
"So did you or didnt you?" Rene looks confused.
Time to confess, I guess. "To be honest, Rene, I still dont know if we did or not. What about you, Kels?"
She smiles and shakes her head, giving a little shrug. "I really to this day dont have a clue." She leans toward me. "But you know what?"
I lean toward her so were only a whisper apart. "What?"
"Im glad I dont remember because our first real time is the one that means the most to me." She leans in and gives me a very sweet kiss, which is cut far too short by my brother making gagging noises.
"Get a room!"
I turn my head slowly to look at him. "Hush. This is your fault anyhow."
"My fault." He points to himself. "My fault. How in the hell is it my fault?"
* * *
Kelsey is still laughing when we reach Robie and Rene. "Ready to go?" he asks. He is standing by a red carriage drawn by a white horse.
"Sure enough." I give Kels a boost into the carriage, resisting my urge to pat her on the rear. Somehow, I doubt if it would be appreciated. I climb up and sit beside her, spreading a blanket over our laps and legs. It can get a bit chilly during the ride.
I look down to see Robie and Rene engaged in a rather heated lip lock. Lucky bastard.
Reluctantly, my brother disengages. "Tell you what, little sister, why dont you two go on in this one? I think my beautiful bride and I will find our own carriage."
"Or, better yet, a room."
Robie sweeps Rene up in his arms and spins around. "Now that is the best idea youve had yet tonight, Harper Lee! Well see you tomorrow!"
* * *
"You two," I wave an accusing finger between them, "set us up. Dinner and then the ride through the park."
"You both were being so pig-headed." Rene stirs a little more cream into her coffee. "You two were the only ones who couldnt see how well you fit together."
I look to Kels and then take Renes hand and kiss it. "Thanks for stepping in."
"Were glad it worked so well. You should have heard what the rest of the KC and the boys had planned if it hadnt."
"Yeah, actually, we saved you." Robie chuckles as he gets up and takes his plate to the kitchen. "It was ugly. Very ugly."
"Then on behalf of the entire Harper Kingsley section of the Kingsley family, thank you." Kels laughs a little, then glances at her watch. "Holy smoke, guys, if were going to make it to the party, wed better start getting ready. Wouldnt do for the hostesses to be late to their own party."
"Very true." Rene stand up and grabs me by the arm. "Can I borrow Harper for a few minutes? I need her and Robie to get a couple of boxes out of the attic?"
Kels looks to me and gives a confused little nod. "Sure." She stands and places a kiss on my lips. "See you in a bit."
"You know it." I lean over and watch her go. I look back to Rene. "Are you sure about this?"
"I am very sure about this, Harper."
I swallow hard. "Okay, lets do it."
* * *
I knew I was going to have to come over to the property early. I only wish Harper was here too. I have huge butterflies in my stomach. God, nearly everyone we know, both personally and professionally has been invited, and everyone is showing up. Good thing were hosting this in an ex-warehouse.
Weve also managed to garner a good deal of media attention for our formal little soiree. Seems the folks at E! and ET think that two multi-award winning journalists starting their own production company might be worth taking a look at. They might get enough filler to give us a thirty second mention.
The guest list doesnt hurt, either. Unless its a political gathering of some kind you dont generally get this many faces that cross so many industry lines together in one place. There are actors, politicians, news industry folks. The black ties, evening gowns and limos keep showing up. And Im in what will be my office on the third floor watching all of it, trying not to be sick.
My office door opens and I turn to face my father and my father-in-law. God, wheres Harper? Im actually starting to shake from nerves. "Hi, guys," I manage to squeak.
"Kelsey." My dad approaches, his arms open wide. "Honey, you look great. Congratulations."
I return his hug and pat him on the chest before offering my hand to Papa. "Thanks. Thank you both. None of this would have been possible without your support."
"If anyone can make this work, Kels, its you and Harper," Papa assures me with a wink.
"Speaking of Harper, where in the hell is she? Weve got to be downstairs for the start of the party in about five minutes."
"She just called, sweetheart. Shes on her way." My father rubs my back trying to make me relax.
"Shall we go downstairs?" Papa offers me his arm and the three of us head into the fray.
* * *
The good news is I had to face the cameras. The bad news is I had to face them alone because Harper got caught in traffic. Rather than hold this thing up, when she called from the car, we decided Id go ahead and make the announcement to get the party rolling.
Thank God, its over now, and I can relax. Im accustomed to this sort of thing, but theres always a nervousness right below the skin that you never get rid of. Any entertainer who says they do is either lying or on drugs.
Everyone is having a very good time from the looks of it. There are lots of interviews going on all around the room. Im grateful to all our friends and family who have come out to get us started right and give us so much support.
Absolutely everyone is here. Its amazing. Beth, Foster, Kendra and Frankie. Even Bear and Jimmy Olsen made it from L.A. I have to smile. Harpers never gonna recognize the kid. His hair isnt orange anymore. Its more blonde with purple highlights now.
I look around the room and see so many of my friends and colleagues. George made it. I chuckle. Im going to have to introduce him the Brian later just so Brian can drool.
Mama and the rest of the KC come over and hugs are shared all around. This is a wonderful evening. I cant wait for my better half to get here. Were going to have a great time tonight.
My conversation is interrupted by the sounds of a few gasps, then the room goes deathly quiet and everyone turns. I wonder if someone took a header while coming in. Thank God, our insurance has already been bound. But, still, I dont want to get sued already.
I crane my head to see what, or who, everyone is looking at. When I finally do, my knees go weak. Its Harper. Only it looks like she climbed right out of my fantasies for all the world to see. I swallow and hope nobody will notice my drool. Oh, who cares?
Shes wearing a tight-fitting black dress.
Yes, a dress.
Its sleeveless, showing off broad shoulders and flawless skin. Its fitted. Everywhere. I stifle a groan. The neckline scoops a little drawing my eye to her breasts, which are outlined perfectly. The material must be stretchy. Either that or it was custom made.
It hugs her hips, not even moving when she walks, and ends mid-thigh, giving a lovely view of legs that go on endlessly. Not just legs. Legs covered by sheer, black hose that end in the sexiest high heels I have ever seen. Im drooling again.
I force my eyes up, allowing them to drink in every luscious curve. Harper may think like a man, but her body is all woman. Lucky me. Her hair is loose and slightly disheveled, sparking earrings glitter amidst the dark locks. She looks fabulous. And shes all mine.
Air. I seem to recall that humans need air to survive, and thus I must start breathing again or Im not going to be able to enjoy this. Oh, my God. She is positively spectacular.
She stops when the crowd has parted and she knows she has my full attention. She raises a perfectly sculpted brow, while shrugging slightly and giving me a come hither smile.
Every pair of eyes is on us and I dont give a good Goddamn. Im am simply drawn to her like a moth to a flame and no one is going to stop me until I reach my goal. My entire body is on fire. Simply looking at her makes me want her. I have nerves pulsing through my body threatening to break through my skin if she touches me just right.
She looks down at me when Im less than two inches away from her. Her eyes are dark blue from desire and the look on her face is designed to make me gasp for air.
"Youre beautiful." Its all I can whisper almost reverently to her before I slide my arms around her neck and kiss her for all Im worth. I feel her arms slide around me and we are lost in this kiss.
I hear applause in the background.
Shes definitely earned it.
* * *
We move through the crowd effortlessly together. My hand is engulfed in her larger one, and I swear I still need it to keep me steady. The heady scent of her perfume, the even headier plunge of her dress, and I can barely see straight. Harper acts completely natural, however. She moves with an easy grace, as if three inch heels are her normal choice for footwear, and turns heads everywhere we go.
Beth sidles up and smiles. "Damn, Harper, if I had realized you were this good-looking, I might have tried to steal you away from ol Kels here."
Harper smiles, enjoying the compliment. "You might have tried, but I think at that point I was pretty well hooked."
"Well, Kels was arrested as a hooker once," Beth teases.
I flush and am so grateful that none of the reporters are anywhere near enough to overhear that little bit of trivia. "Be good," I growl.
"One of my fondest memories," Harper drawls, rubbing her thumb on the back of my hand.
"Congratulations on your latest venture together. I hope its as successful as your others."
Ill always be grateful to have Beth as a friend, and advisor. I lean forward and kiss her cheek. "Thanks."
We head over to Bear next. He appraises Harper with the same scrutiny that Beth just employed. "Hubba hubba."
She laughs and backhands him in the gut. "Good to see you too." They embrace and he kisses my cheek.
"I had an interesting phone call the other day," he informs us, sipping on his wine. "Seems an extremely high-priced, exclusive protection agency heard that I might be looking for a new job."
Harper beams. "Really? I wonder where they got that idea."
"I have an interview later this week. Thanks, Harper."
"Id like my kids to have a chance to get to know you, Bear. Wont happen if you get shot on the job. Id much prefer you to be an overpaid consultant."
"I especially like the overpaid part," he admits.
"Youll do great, Bear," I assure him. "And I hope we never need your services."
"Amen," he intones and both he and Harper cross themselves.
Frankie comes over to us at that moment and gapes at his former mentor. For a moment Im afraid that he might faint. I should know, Ive seen that look on him before. I reach over and, using my index finger, gently close his mouth. "Careful there, youll catch flies. And, down here, theyre huge."
He blushes, his features darkening. "Umm, hi, Kelsey."
. "Im glad you remember my name, Frankie," I tease him. Poor boy. Ill bet he never considered Harper could look so incredible. "How are things going up at Exposure without us?"
He sighs dramatically. "I miss you both. Aunt Kendra says there are no good producers left now. And Bruce thinks he should be the new anchor."
Harper shakes her head. "He wont be. Dont worry."
"My money is on your aunt. But Ill deny it, if you ever repeat it." She pinches his arm, to emphasize her seriousness, but softens it with a wink.
"Why are you dressed like that?" Frankie asks without taking time to censor himself. God, I love teenagers.
Harper blushes. I watch it travel across her cheeks, down her neck, and toward her breasts.
"I thought it might make Kels happy."
I am so lust-smitten, I almost miss her statement. When I realize what she said, I look up and smile at her, quickly becoming lost in the gentleness I see in her eyes. Boy, did I get lucky with her. "Thanks, darlin."
"And I thought it would be fun to shock my brothers."
Thats more like her.
Kendra joins us at that moment, and kisses my cheek, then leans up to do the same to Harper. She looks stunning, as usual, wearing a blue silk dress that matches the shade of her eyes. "You two have outdone yourselves," she announces. "Im sure BCH productions will do wonderfully." She carefully pronounces it bitch and smiles at the joke.
"Thanks," I say, sincerely. "Your opinion means a great deal to me." It does, too. Kendra is one of the best in our profession. "We will want to steal you away soon."
"Thatll make Langston happy," Harper mutters.
Kendra laughs. "Can anything do that?"
"Other than an exclusive?" Harper asks rhetorically. "Nope. So I see no need to try to shield him from the hard knocks in life."
"Its a hard knock life, for us!" Brian sings, overhearing her last comment. "Stead of treated, we get tricked." He cracks up at that, doubling over with laughter.
I can only shake my head and sigh.
Kendra rolls her eyes and pats his back. "Weve missed you around the office, Brian. I hope theyre still treating you right."
"Oh, sure. I get spit up on, pooped on so much it seems just like the network."
We all laugh. Its an accurate description of television life.
Thank God thats all over.
* * *
Harper comes over to me when the last of our guests has departed and wraps me up in her long arms. "Have fun, chér?"
"Oh, yeah. It went great. I think everyone had a good time, and Im sure we ended up with good publicity out of it, too."
"Im sure of it."
I nuzzle between her breasts. "I think your dress is part of the reason why. You look," I struggle to find the right word, "splendid, amazing, stunning, gorgeous." I settle on a few when I cant find one that will do.
Harper smiles indulgently. "Its just a dress."
"Oh, no, thats where youre wrong. Its the woman in the dress." I reluctantly step back so I can enjoy the view. Who knows when Ill be able to again? "You need to wear this more often."
"You dont like how I normally look?"
I shake my head emphatically. "Not at all. Youre gorgeous no matter what you wear, or dont wear." I leer and trace the edge of the dress around her cleavage. "Its simply nice to see you like this once in awhile. But, more than anything, I like you to be comfortable and who you are."
This causes her to smile brightly. "Thanks, chér." She takes my hand and kisses it gently. "Lets go home, kiss our children goodnight, and make love all night long."
This causes me to mirror her smile. Ooo, I like that idea a lot. "Thats why I keep you, Stud. Youre the idea man in this operation."
"Why, thanks." She leads me out of our studios, telling our cleaning foreman to be sure to lock up and set the alarm behind them. As we walk to the Mercedes, she leans over and whispers, "I cant wait to get out of these heels."
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