"So what did my daddy say?"
Royal looked up at Lynette as they remained in the patio after dinner had ended. It had gone smoothly enough. They'd talked about Wyatt's business dealings and Sophia's plans for the gazebo that would be built in the middle of the gardens. The location where Royal and Lynette would take their marriage vows when that day arrived. Royal knew that soon enough, Wyatt would hold a party to announce their official engagement. The rituals that were required for the wealthy to marry in their own circle were complicated enough but he didn't come from that world. So as Wyatt explained to him the process would have to be done more carefully.
"But I'm just interesting in marrying your daughter."
Wyatt had smiled as if he were a father addressing his son as a young boy.
"You're not just marrying into my family; you're marrying into a way of life. We have our own rules for doing things including introducing new members of our circle. You've got more than one strike against you."
His background, the fact that he'd grown up poor and his father had been a failure as a human being. He'd been so determined since he was a little boy not to grow up like him. He'd work hard; he'd build his own company into a success on his own terms.
Problem was, he learned quickly enough the world didn't work that way, certainly not in their corner of it. To get anywhere, you had to please the wealthy class or at least not inconvenience it. One word, one action by one of them could ruin anyone in a lower caste. They were brutal to each other but when they got up to their level, they pulled the ladder up behind them and looked down on everyone else.
They'd hire from the lower echelon as Wyatt had done with Elena's mother. Lulu, what a piece of work Royal thought, she reminded her of his own mama. They were all the same, they let their children down. He didn't know much about Lulu, saw her a few times over the years but he knew that she shacked up with nearly every lowlife in town at some point.
Like mother like daughter…until Elena had met him. She should be grateful he took her under his wing and spent time with her so she wouldn't have to hook up with one of her mama's boyfriends to get it.
Lynette still stood there in another one of her disposable party dresses waiting for him to answer. He pushed the irritation at being at her beck and call back and smiled instead.
"Just business darling," he said, "Nothing to concern yourself about…you're looking pretty tonight."
She smiled just as he knew she would, she loved his compliments about her being so pretty. He knew she was insecure about her looks, that among the ladies in training in the hills that the competition was fierce over the eligible men. He'd never thought Lynette would go for him let alone that they'd be getting married soon. But she clung to him almost like a child would a blanket at times. It suffocated him at first but then he found a way to deal with that. More than a few women in town opened their beds to him. That would keep him from getting too close to the woman who'd be his wife.
"Really…I almost wore the pink dress with the flowers…"
He smiled at her as she approached him.
"You look pretty in all your dresses," he said, "but you'll look prettiest in the one you'll wear to our wedding."
She beamed and god, he was getting so good at saying the right thing. But then that had been one of his talents in a life where talent wasn't enough. She moved close enough so he smelled her lilac perfume, and wrapped her arms around his waist to draw him closer. He ran his hands over her back and she lowered her mouth over his and kissed him as if she'd been waiting all day.
Maybe she had but he wouldn't know, he'd been spending his afternoon in the pool cabana of her friend Whitney as she got down on her knees and had his cock sliding in and out of her mouth. He closed his eyes as she nursed him with her capable mouth. Some of the men Wyatt would select as his groomsmen had raved about Whitney and her smooth as silk mouth. Supple lips perfect for grasping a man's cock…and she knew how to use the right amount of teeth. Not to hurt but to torment…and it hadn't taken him long to come inside her mouth.
She hadn't said much after swallowing his seed. They just adjusted their clothing and he slipped away shortly after to get ready for dinner with Lynette and her parents.
But his future bride didn't need to know about that and the others. She kissed him more intensely and he got into it, trying to unzip her dress. She pulled away from him.
"We can't get too carried away here…my parents are just inside."
He pulled the zipper down anyway.
"They won't care," he said, "Your daddy's probably on the phone on business."
He was about to slide the dress over her shoulders because Lynette did have a great pair of breasts when he saw Wyatt return and behind him two men both with badges on their belts.
He knew they were the police.
Lucky and Elena sat on the porch. He'd gone out on some errands but came back to eat dinner with her and Lacey before starting another work shift at the fire station later that night. Lacey had heated up some of her lasagna that she and Elena had cooked the previous day and it tasted delicious with tossed salad and some garlic bread.
Elena had made that herself. She had grown up having to cook for everyone in her household. But now at Lacey she cooked because she enjoyed it, not because she had to feed everyone.
"Tastes great," Lucky said, after Lacey had gone back to the store to finish some bookkeeping.
"Thanks…the bread took a couple of tries before it came out right."
He put his plate down and looked at her.
"You are feeling good," he said, "Still having any pain?"
"Not much…only a headache every now and then," she said, "The doctor said they'd start fading soon and my face's feeling better."
He reached over and smoothed a loose strand off her face. The bruising that had been so angry, intense like ripened plums of different shades of red and dark purple had since faded to mottled yellow and brown.
"I'm glad…you know you're going to be okay even if it doesn't seem that way sometimes."
"God I just hate not remembering everything you know," she said, "Someone hurt me…badly almost enough to kill me and I remember nothing about it…who would do that to me?"
"I don't know Elena."
"It's not like I run around with everyone hating me," she said, "More like no one really notices me, certainly not enough to do something."
"Well someone did."
"Maybe it really was a stranger loose, got out of jail early or just got in a fight with someone else and took it out on the first person he saw…but Lucky somehow it just doesn't feel like that."
"What do you mean?"
She looked into his face and saw how much he really wanted to understand…but explaining her gut feeling that there was more to her beating than just randomness and bad luck…when she didn't even understand it.
"I mean I just feel as if someone I knew did this to me…but who and god, if I don't remember and they're still out there…"
He slid an arm around her and the warmth of him soothed her. She'd felt the fear race through her, the familiar feeling that she'd carried inside of her since she woke up in the hospital. Had she felt that fear earlier than that, had she brought it into the beating? Why couldn't she remember that?
Everything just remained muddled inside of her, would it ever unravel so that she'd understand what had happened? The police kept calling though they kept working on it being a random attack because no one in this good town of wholesome people would ever do such a thing to a young woman.
"Elena…I'm not ever going to let anyone hurt you," Lucky said, "No matter who did this, they won't get another chance."
She settled her head against his shoulder and he tightened his hold.
"How can you stop someone if you don't know who they are?"
"I just know that's what I'm going to do," he said, "I care about you a whole lot Elena. I always have and I'll take care of you so that no one hurts you."
She smiled at his words, hearing the tenderness mixed with steeled determination in his voice. She knew he meant it, because he always looked out for her since they were kids. Their friendship wasn't easily definable with words but it didn't need words. Sometimes she wondered what it'd be like if they were more than friends…but then Lucky's girlfriends including Kayla had always been worlds different from her.
That was all she could say even though she wanted to say much more. She just didn't think that he'd understand the kind of feelings she harbored. But he maneuvered so he could look at her directly, their faces inches apart.
"I care about you," he said, "That goes without saying."
"I know…you're the best friend I got Lucky and right now…"
He caressed her face gently with his fingers looking at her. She wondered what he saw there. The girl he'd first met years ago, the girl who'd trashed a man's car after having sex with him. She hoped he didn't see her.
But he smiled and kissed her gently on the forehead before looking at her.
"I got to go to work soon," he said, "but I'll have time for some lunch tomorrow on call."
"I'll see you then and thanks for everything you've done."
He got up to help her take the plates in the kitchen and wash them. He pitched in with the work as if it were ordinary. No one had ever done that while she'd been growing up. She'd just been expected to do everything even as a little girl. Her mama had always been too busy to worry about keeping a household let alone raising a kid and the men had been interchangeable.
She walked him to the door to say goodbye and just for a little while, but as they stood next to each other she didn't want to see him go.
So she did something impulsive, she moved closer and kissed him softly on the mouth. If he were surprised he didn't react. But after the brief kiss, she looked at him and he smiled at her, making her feel lighter on her feet.
"I'll see you tomorrow Elena…"
Then he left her to head to work and she walked back to the kitchen humming to herself.