Torrid - Book Two(5)

By: Jayne Blue

Again, R.J. wasn’t wrong. I had the urge to punch him for it. “I don’t know if she knows it.” Another honest answer. “Let’s just say she’s got way more on her plate than even I realized until a few minutes ago. So, I have to ask you for another favor.”

“Yeah. I kind of figured.”

“I know I don’t have to worry about you saying anything about what you know about her. Or what you think you know. But I’m going to have to go back to Virginia for at least a few days. Maybe longer. I’m coming back, but in the meantime, I need you to watch out for her, okay?”

“Are you kidding me? Jack ... she’s ...”

“R.J.!” I nearly shouted it, then gritted my teeth to keep my temper in check. “I need you to promise me, okay? If I’m wrong about all of it ... you can have the lifetime satisfaction of knowing you’re smarter than me. And also better at golf. But I’m telling you, very soon that girl is going to need help. I plan on being back here before she does, but in the meantime, keep an eye on her, okay? If something seems off, if you hear something, if she calls you – just be her friend like if it was me.”

R.J. shook his head and gave me a thump on the back hard enough to get a cough out of me. “At least your track record is intact,” he said. “For a smart guy, you are by far the biggest disaster I know when it comes to women.”

“Fair point,” I agreed. “But remember, I know how to get the best ... uh ... contracts. If you’re nice to me I might get you one. Don’t you have a birthday coming up?”

“Triple Ds.” R.J. held his hands out away from his chest to illustrate his point. “No ... triple Es. And bendy. Very bendy.”

This got the first genuine laugh out of me I’d had in a damn long time. “I’m sure I can work something out.”

Chapter Three


I got through it. With Seth’s senatorial campaign ramping up, I knew it was the first of many public performances I’d have to make as his dutiful, dumb trophy wife ... but I got through this one. I didn’t see Jack again. He left quietly and I was glad of it. It was too easy to lose focus when he was so close to me.

“Mrs. Manning?” My blood ran a little cold. This was the first time anyone addressed me as such. I stood in the massive front doorway waving off the last guests to leave – Mayor Glanville and his daughter. Judy Glanville was my age but looked like a teenager. Sweet, young, cute and untouched. She waved back with my bouquet.

“Yes, Ben?” I turned toward the voice calling my new name. Ben was one of the valets we contracted just for today. He was a tall and gangly college kid and he looked at me with a kind face.

“Um ... uh ... do you want me to help you with Mr. Manning? He’s ... he looks a little rough.”

I smiled. That was an understatement. When I left to walk the Glanvilles out, Seth stayed at our dinner table, face down on the white linen.

“You know, Ben? That would be so sweet of you. I don’t think I’m going to be able to manage getting him upstairs by myself.”

I should just leave him there, I thought. But Ben was a witness and an opportunity. We walked out the back door together and Ben helped Seth get to his feet and draped his arm across his shoulder. I got under Seth’s other arm and we more or less dragged him up the stairs.

“You’re a good kid, Berry.” Seth rallied a little, though he got the name wrong. “You going to college?”

“Yes, sir. I go back to Dartmouth in the fall.” Ben shot me a wink. Seth teetered when we took the first step but we righted him and started up. With great effort, we made it up the stairs and I directed Ben to the last door on the right of the long hallway.

The master suite. I’d so far refused to sleep in it while it still contained Miranda’s furnishings, but I didn’t want Ben to think anything was amiss. Ben took Seth from me and carefully deposited him on the bed. Seth fell backwards and stretched out on his back, crossing his feet at the ankles. He had a smile on his face but his eyes were closed and he was already snoring.

“Thanks, Ben,” I said as I sat at the end of the bed and gathered my husband’s shoes on my lap. I started untying the laces, just like a dutiful wife would. I smiled up at Ben. “You can take off for the night. Did my husband tip you?”

Ben’s face went a little white. “Uh ... he said something but uh ...”

I smiled again. “I understand. See that blue velvet jewelry box on the vanity? Get five hundred out of it. Keep half for yourself and make sure the other valets have been taken care of, will you?”

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