Dangerous Play

Dangerous Play

Status: Finished

Genre: Romance

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Romance

Summary

When Magnus Greybrook attends happy hour at the city's most trendy bar, he never imagines crossing paths with a sultry stranger. What follows is a night of passion he cannot believe, yet he does not even know her name. The next morning she's gone. Unable to get her out of his mind, he sets off to find her with a goal to make her his. However, he discovers that she's more than she seems and in serious danger which could cost them their lives. A/N: This story is a prequel to "If You Dare" as some fans of the story have been asking after the two characters in it.

Summary

When Magnus Greybrook attends happy hour at the city's most trendy bar, he never imagines crossing paths with a sultry stranger. What follows is a night of passion he cannot believe, yet he does not even know her name. The next morning she's gone. Unable to get her out of his mind, he sets off to find her with a goal to make her his. However, he discovers that she's more than she seems and in serious danger which could cost them their lives.
A/N: This story is a prequel to "If You Dare" as some fans of the story have been asking after the two characters in it.

Chapter23 (v.1) - Remembering Beth

Author Chapter Note

“The true man wants two things: danger and play.<br /> For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.”<br /> —Fiedrich Nietzsche <br />

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: July 02, 2018

Reads: 276

Comments: 3

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: July 02, 2018

A A A

A A A

CHAPTER 23

Remembering Beth

 

The Diamond taxi driver pulled into the entrance of the Lincoln Memorial Cemetery on Suitland Road.  Jules paid the fare with a little extra in a tip.  Mr. Bernard, a chatty grandpa of 62, drove a cab long before she had been born, and regaled her with his entertaining stories of the old neighborhood over the last forty years.  The face of the city changed.  Some for the better in improvements to real estate and others not so much like increased gang violence or city politics. 

Mr. Bernard offered her his card with his mobile number on it.  He instructed with the point of his finger, “Now you call me anytime you need a cab again, honey.”

Jules accepted the business card with the taxi embossed in the middle followed by his name and number.  “Thank you.”

“I mean it.”  He shook his finger at her.  “Such a pretty little girl like you should not be traveling about Southeast alone.”

Laughing at the irony of his statement, Jules assured, “I will definitely keep that in mind, sir.”  Smirking with a wave to the kind grey-haired man, she exited the taxi. 

Looking around at the sunny late summer afternoon that greeted her, the petite woman walked forward with her gift of Calla lilies in hand knowing where to head.  Jules called ahead to find where they laid her friend Beth to rest before her arrival.  Following the instructions that were given, Jules ambled along the gravel path enjoying the warmth of the day and her peaceful surroundings.  Not many visitors looked about the green lawns save the groundskeepers who either removed wilted flowers or cut down the grasses low and tidy. 

The simple marble plot professed that she found the final resting place of the beloved mother, lover, and friend Beth McKenna.  Jules thought the spot on the hill closer to the gravel path than the line of trees to her right a suitable.  Beth would have liked it. 

Many times her friend talked about owning a house with a big backyard so that she could sit outside reading.  Beth had a firm love of all things romantic be it historical or paranormal fiction.  If the book had romance in it, she was into it.  During the summer, Beth could be found at lunchtime outside in the park across the street from work with her shoes off reading one of her latest romantic paperback novels.Predictably she would be munching down on a peanut butter sandwich. 

The dark earth told Jules the grave was fresh.  Over a week ago that very day, Beth had been buried by her family.  Touching her head, Jules tried to stand without shaking from the emotions boiling inside her.  It was so unfair that this was Beth’s end. 

With the shake of her head and squeeze of her eyes, Jules glared once more at the peaceful plot.  Sniffling as she attempted to stifle her tears threatening to spill over her eyelids, she supposed until that moment she lingered in a world of denial.  Jules half-expected someone to tell her that the murder was all an elaborate hoax to get her to come home. 

If only… No one punked Jules.  Beth McKenna laid to rest six feet under.  Gone.  She was never coming back.  Kneeling slightly, Jules added her ivory Calla lilies (Beth’s favorite) to the group of red roses and red carnations already there. 

“Hi,” she said to the plot wishing to see her friend’s face just once more.  Tears slipped from her eyes when she squatted and touched the headstone.  Her fingertips shakily brushed against the engravings outlining her friend’s name.  “Sorry, I’m late.”

From behind, she heard the echo of laughter.  Jules turned her head quickly with widening eyes.  Beth materialized out of waves of heat looking happy and bright.  She wore a white pants suit.  “The story of your life, girl.”

“H-how?  Am I losing my m-mind?”  Jules rose to her feet stunned.

Beth looked at her with her cute little pixy cut and chuckled.  “I don’t know.  Are you?”

Jules looked around through the tears making her vision blur.  “How are y-you here?”

“Because of you.”

Jules shut her eyes at the stab of pain and guilt that entered her heart at that statement.  No malice or anger filled her friend’s tone though she believed there should have been.  Beth’s death definitely was all her fault.  “I miss you so much, Beth.”

“I know.  I know.”

Jules looked up at her smile of softness.  “You were so much better at all this.  So strong.  A rock.  My rock.  I don’t know what I’m doing anymore.”

“You do, Jules.  Don’t sell yourself short.”

Jules frowned in confusion.  “Is that what I’m doing?”

Beth nodded with certainty.  “You’re surviving as you always do and always will.”

Jules released the breath she held.  “Is it enough just to survive?”

“You’re more than a conqueror.”

“So were you.”

Beth waved her hand back and forth.  “My salvation has been my faith, Nick, and you girls.  You know that.”

“And Daniel?”

“Oh, no…my little Danny boy is my heart.”  Beth lifted her beautifully arched eyebrow with her hands on her hips and tapped of her sandaled foot.

“What?” Jules asked for she didn’t understand the look of scrutiny that she received all of a sudden.

“You’re his godmother, and you’ve barely seen Danny.”

Jules wiped her smoky eyes and bit the side of her lower lip guiltily.  “I know, but it’s too hard right now.  As soon as I can, I will see Daniel, I swear.”

Beth tilted her head at her in study.  “You’re scared.”

Julien shook her head with more tears slipping down her cheeks.  “So much has happened, Beth.  There’s a man--”

Beth interjected with the annoyed roll of her eyes, “When isn’t their one when it comes to you?”

“I’ve always had guy issues, huh?” Jules chuckled at length, and her friend laughed with her. 

Beth rubbed her chin thoughtfully.  “Not until the last several years because you never chose the right ones.  Either that or you just attract the wrong ones to you.”

“Do I?” Jules asked, blinking her tears away.  She considered the truth in that statement.

Beth offered her a look of derision.  “You really need to ask me this?  How many times did I have to hear you sob about the dark prince or worst the fool?”

Staring at her hands, Jules scowled.  “I am the wrong kind of woman.  Perhaps that’s all I deserve.”

“The hell it is!  If I’m not allowed to have a pity party and feel sorry for myself as you constantly pointed out to me over the years, you sure as hell can’t now!”

Jules blinked up at her friend in the anger that knit Beth’s dark brown eyebrows.  She confessed in despair, “You didn’t deserve what happened to you!”

Her dark brown eyes softened.  “That’s not your fault.”

“It should have been me!”  Jules nodded as she squeezed her eyes closed to the tears.

“You still have more living to do.”

Jules snorted, “And you didn’t?”

Beth grinned and said as if Jules had not spoken, “Hey, you remember when we used to lay on the flattop roof of my row house?”

Jules sniffled while wiping her cheeks.  “Yeah.  Today before coming here, I thought about those times.  It was the only place to hide from your whack-job dad.”

Beth’s eyes glittered as she smiled with the memory.  “All three of us used to stare at the stars spinning dreams.”

Jules stared at her and shook her head with a little smile.  “We’d lay there for hours and fall asleep sometimes.”

“Yeah, even though Court wouldn’t stay long because she was so scared of heights.”

Jules laughed.  “She’d never go near the edge no matter how much we teased or dared her to.  If Court did cave and go near it, she’d start freakin’ out.”

“It was a running joke we had for years about her being a little fraidy cat.” 

Jules smiled wider because those times they spent up there together were some of the best of her life.  “Being up there, it was like we left the world behind, you know.”

Beth nodded with her half smile.  “I remember.  It felt like we were the only ones on the planet.”

“Nothing and no one could hurt us as long as we were together like that.  Anything felt possible.  We could beat any addiction.  Any abuse.  Anything because we had each other.”

Beth tilted her head in study.  “So you wish for that rooftop now?”

Jules bottom lip trembled as her voice cracked with her anguish gushing forth.  “You needed me most, and I wasn’t there for you!  I’m s-so sorry.”  She sobbed with her misery before letting her head fall into her hands.

When she felt the hand on her shaking shoulder, she stared up into the kind eyes of her friend.  Tears glazed in Beth’s eyes, too, “And remember how you always said you didn’t care how long it took, but you were gonna make it?”

Jules nodded with a sniffle and a trembling smile.  “I do.”

“Over and over again you said it.  And you worked so hard.  You were orphaned, homeless, but still, you kept pressing because you knew it had to get better.  You never gave up hope even as Court, and I did a time or two.  You never wavered.  You never gave up.”  Beth shook her head at her and sighed.

“Because if you give up you die,” Jules whispered, still looking into the proud dark eyes of her friend.

“That’s what I learned from you.”  Beth nodded her slow agreement.  “And you also said you would never give up on Court and me.  Even when you did make it flippin’ houses and making that mint you always knew you would. You never forgot where you came from.  You never forgot about us your sisters.  Remember?”

Julien sniffled with a bigger smile and wiped her face with the heel of her hand.  “You two were the only family I ever had.  You know that.”

She nodded and wiped at her wet cocoa cheeks.  “I know.”

“What am I gonna do now without you, B?  I’m crying all the time, and I never cry.”  She rose her hands and shook her head at the reality of her condition.

Beth tilted her head at her and said with confidence.  “You know just who you are.”

“Besides a bitch.”

Her friend lifted her chin so that Jules would look into her kind eyes.  “You are Julien fucking Harrington with a mind for business and a bod for sin.”

Jules rolled her eyes remembering she stole that line from one of her favorite movies Working Girl.  “Oh, God, stop it.”

“It was the line you used on—”

Jules cringed with her hand covering her face when she interrupted, “Oh, please, don’t remind me.”

Beth laughed heartily with the slap of her arm.  “Come on, that story is classic Jules at her best finally letting her hair down!”

Jules shook her head vigorously as she knew she would never live that experience down.  Beth had been with her that particular night encouraging her to have fun for once.  “Yeah, and I was drunk no thanks to you.”

“Not drunk enough to remember to use a condom to protect yourself,” Beth said with sisterly pride.

“Or drunk enough to see that guy in the coat closet at Italian embassy was a flamin' hottie.”  Jules fanned herself.  She had a particular weakness for tall, dark, and handsome, which puzzled her so much about Magnus because that was not how she would describe him.

Beth nodded with a wink and smug grin curling the corner of her mouth.  “And you loved every minute.”

“I totally lost common sense after graduation was what happened.  How could I possibly forget how I let Court and you talk me into partying every night for five days straight?”

Jules chuckled involuntarily at the memory of just how she sought to cut loose and party.  Beth, in fact, encouraged her to dance with said masked hottie when he had been eying her for some time.  Beyond her solid introduction that left him slack-jawed in surprise, they danced and chatted very little.  Feeling very frisky by the way he moved, how he smiled, Jules asked him to meet her in the coat closet for a bit of fun. 

When the hottie showed up much to her doubt, what transpired ranked as one of the spiciest impromptu sexual experiences on someone's mink coat she ever had.  Maybe the champagne made her bold enough to accept the Italian stallion between her wet thighs.  It might have been how with every stroke the hottie spoke a breathy Italian.  All Jules clearly remembered was that she never felt more turned on or satisfied before by anyone.  It was the first time she ever did anything so reckless or exciting as sex with a stranger.

“From that moment, you began to truly live.  It was beautiful finally to see you enjoying yourself.  You deserved that most, Jules.”

“I enjoyed myself before then.”  She blinked at her friend in confusion.

Beth shook her head as she crossed her arms over her chest.  “You were always the responsible one.  You looked after me when I relapsed.  You looked after Court who got caught up with some douche who pimped her out claiming that he loved her.  You took care of your mom.  You took care of yourself and only thought of these things up until you graduated.”

Jules frowned with concern marring her brow.  “What’s wrong with doing that?”

“Nothing, Jules.  But, for once, you deserved to be young and not be responsible or think about everybody else.  Just like you deserve happiness now.”

Jules thought that she began to understand. “So do you and Court.  It’s all I ever wanted for all of us.”

“And we found it because of you.  Now it’s time for you to find some for you.”

Jules closed her eyes from those of her wise friend who always told her things like it was without ever sugar coating anything.  As usual, Beth was right.  It made her miss her more.

“I love you, girl.  I always will,” Beth whispered with tears in her voice.

“I love you, too, B.”  Jules sniffled and rubbed at her wet, smoky eyes.  “Who hurt you?”

A haunted look entered Beth’s eyes.  “You already know.”

“No, I don’t.”

“You must remember.”

“Remember what?  I don’t know who would do this!”  Jules blinked at the slight woman in white but still saw Beth standing there looking somewhat annoyed surprisingly enough.  Her friend regularly wore that expression when Jules stood in denial, which was often. 

“You do, and you know why.”  Beth began to fade from her sight.

“No!”  Jules tried to catch her friend but only grabbed hold of a man standing before her who materialized in her place.  She jumped at the breadth of him.  He wore a dour expression with his black suit.  It fit him well over his barreled chest and broad shoulders.  Even the cuffs of his slacks fell attractively to his ankle with perfection.  His advanced height dwarfed her as she gaped at him.  He stood every bit of six foot five inches. 

The man failed to smile around his well-trimmed goatee.  Jules wondered how in the world she did not notice him before.  His big hand reached to steady her by her shoulders with care when she looked to faint.  His ink hair sported a trendy yet small Mohawk.

“Stephan?” Jules asked nearly breathless in the fright at seeing him. 

The big man nodded with a dazzling smile, which met his dark eyes.“Hello again, Miss Julien,” he said pleasantly with warmth.

She looked beyond him and saw the familiar artic white Rolls-Royce Phantom parked on the side of the gravel path in the grass.  It shined just like all of his things. 

Jules glared back at the big Samoan ex-Sumo wrestler and shivered.  Where Stephan went, his master was never far.  “Is he here?”

Stephan shook his head.  “He’s asked that I bring you to him since he knew you would seek him next.”

“Aww, hell, of course, he did,” she grumbled, hating the know-it-all bastard.  Nonetheless, Stephan’s master was perhaps the only person who could shed any light on how much trouble she was in, why, and from whom.

The big man gestured toward the beautiful car.  On numb legs, Jules marched forward in her increasing dread.  There was no use in refusing the summons by the prince of the city if you knew what was good for you.  She might as well suck it up and get her game face on.  With this man, she would need all her wits. 


© Copyright 2019 Amy F. Turner. All rights reserved.

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