Girlfriend By The Hour

Girlfriend By The Hour

Status: Finished

Genre: Erotica

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Erotica

Summary

When Imogen accidentally interviews to be the social companion of Andre Lachlan, she never imagines what the job will entail.

Summary

When Imogen accidentally interviews to be the social companion of Andre Lachlan, she never imagines what the job will entail.

Chapter10 (v.1) - The Turkey

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 13, 2015

Reads: 1312

Comments: 2

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 13, 2015

A A A

A A A

The neatly stapled bag, emblazoned with the logo from Sal's work, came with a glare from Imogen. Thankfully, the death ray was focused on Sal, not Andre.

He accepted the bag with some hesitation and found it to be heavy. Not like it contained bricks or anything, just that it was as full as it appeared.

"Don't give me that, Gen," Sal said as the girls hugged and bussed each other's cheeks like sisters or friends. Not lovers. Then again, they weren’t supposed to look like lovers in public.

"I don't need you packing my lunch," Imogen grumbled.

"Good, because I don't want you eating anything in there. Oh, except the cookies from Gary."

Imogen's scowl immediately leapt into elation. She lunged for the bag, which Andre kept just out of range while Sal smacked her hands soundly.

"Those are to share. Don't let her into that bag, Andre. She will eat every goddamn one of those cookies and ruin—did someone just steal my luggage?"

She spun around, scanning the bustling departure gate frantically.

Andre laughed and pointed to the baggage handler. "Branson checked it in. And upgraded your ticket. I can’t in good conscience allow you to fly economy.”

Sal’s scowl wasn’t nearly as convincing as Imogen’s had been. “That wasn’t necessary.”

Andre shrugged. “I think it was. Pretty sure there’s a law preventing economy passengers from being chauffeured to the airport.”

With a roll of her eyes, Sal accepted the hooded sweatshirt Imogen held out to her. They hugged one more time before they wished each other a happy holiday and parted ways.

Once Imogen and Andre were back in the car, Andre tucked the bag away and pulled out his laptop, signaling his intent to get work done on the way to Macon. True to his expectation, Imogen stretched out on the opposite seat and passed out before they even got back on I-75. He waited another ten minutes and then tore into the bag.

The contents were individually wrapped in additional bags, each one numbered. On the top was an envelope labeled, ‘OPEN FIRST’. Inside was a generic blank card with a message written in a prescription-quality scribble.

Andre—

Gen promised me she told you she’s a handful on holidays, which I’m sure was a lie. Sorry I couldn’t warn you better, but this stuff should keep her from a complete meltdown. If you give her one bag at a time and then give her space it should calm her down. DON’T give it all to her at the same time. Pace her. If you go through everything else before the weekend is up, CALL ME before you give her #6. I AM NOT FUCKING AROUND WITH YOU.

The cookies are for everyone. Don’t let her eat them all or she’ll bitch about how fat she is all weekend.

See you Sunday!

--Sal

Ah, another little Imogen quirk. Andre briefly mused over why she would have issues with holidays, but that was wasted brain cells. The more time he spent with Imogen, the more confusing she became.

He was okay with that for some reason, which was also not worth analyzing.

He was dying to know what was in the bags, though. He was probably supposed to hand them over without opening them, but Sal didn’t explicitly say that. He took one guilty glance at Imogen before easing the staples out of the first one.

A book of crosswords and a pen. Straightforward enough. The second was a basic notebook that had been filled with numbers and instructions on each page. Add these, put those in order, find the median. Weird, but the girl had a degree in economics. She probably really liked numbers.

The third bag contained sneakers and exercise clothes. Andre had seen firsthand how effective that was at relieving Imogen’s stress, but there was a nice bike path by his parents’ property. If he ended up needing a stress reducer for himself, maybe he’d take her out. Four and five were cigarettes and a collection of airplane-sized vodka bottles. Why there wasn’t a shot of vodka in every single other bag baffled Andre.

He pulled out the sixth package—a dense but squishy item even bigger than the exercise gear—but set it on his lap, contemplating what the big deal was, while eating one of the freezer bagged cookies.

It was delicious.

“Imogen?” he said softly.

She murmured something, ‘oddly’ maybe, or ‘opry’, but didn’t wake up.

He was more meticulous this time with removing the staples, just in case there was something in here Imogen didn’t want him to see. It was a stress reducer, after all; there was every chance it was a vibrator tucked inside a pillow.

The padding was a blanket. He squeezed it to see if there was anything hidden inside, but it felt uniform. He removed it from the bag and found nothing more than an old, ragged quilt. The thing was quite falling apart at the seams, and there were so many patch jobs on it that it was impossible to tell what was from the original blanket. His only explanation was a security blanket, but that was crazy. Imogen may have been quirky, but there was no way she’d still find comfort from a possession she had as a child.

Still, maybe he needed to reconsider his plan to spend the entire weekend in Macon.

 

~..~

 

Imogen had no doubt this was the house Andre had grown up in. There were no relics of computers past in the yard or fantasy art hanging in the windows, but it had that look a house got when generations had been born and raised there then moved on to make generations of their own. It was a modest ranch with a tidy yard and a dormant garden and love. Yes, this was a home that contained love.

Imogen chewed on her thumbnail while she followed Andre up the porch steps. He was smiling when he glanced back at her, but as soon as he saw her he stiffened up.

“What?” she asked.

“Are you okay?”

“Uhh, I was until you asked me that.”

The front door opened and a tall, teenaged girl with bright gold eyes, pale skin the tone of a well-creamed coffee, and a huge, dirty blonde afro peeked out. “Unka Dey and his lady-friend are here!” she yelled back into the house before lunging at him.

Andre grunted on impact but deftly swept her up in the air and spun her. “Starting to get too big for this, Cor,” he laughed before setting her back down.

She stuck her tongue out. “Maybe I’m just getting too tall. I’m the second tallest girl in my grade now! Mama said you’re gonna take me driving this weekend.”

“They don’t give licenses for height. You are fourteen and we’re only here for the day.”

Which was a weird thing to say; Imogen had packed clothes for three days at Andre’s request.

The girl looked just as dismayed by this. “But I just did up the guest room for your lady-friend,” she complained.

Andre shrugged apologetically. “Sorry, plans had to change. I have too much work to get done. My lady-friend does as well; isn’t that right, Imogen?”

“Yes?” she agreed, unable to keep the questioning tone off.

Andre nodded his silent approval. “This is my niece, Cordelia. Cor, this is Ms. Zelenka.”

The girl extended her hand politely to shake with Imogen as she said, “Leah, please.”

“Don’t you dare,” Andre warned Imogen. “Cordelia is her name. I have no idea why she dislikes it so much.”

Imogen laughed to ease the tension as she shook Cordelia’s hand. “We all went through that phase,” she reminded Andre. After all, she’d abandoned her birth name. “Although Cordelia’s a beautiful name. It means ‘jewel of the sea’, you know.”

Cordelia’s cheeks took on a rosy hue. “Really? That’s nice.” Then she squealed and darted across the yard. She leapt at Branson just as she had Andre, this time yelling, “Daddy B, you never come home anymore! And Unka Dey says you’re not staying the weekend!”

Branson scruffed her hair and said, “I missed you, too, Coconut. Where’s your mama? I got something for her.”

Cordelia looked at his hands. “But you don’t have any--!” She gasped. “Oh my God, eww! You’re too old for that.”

Imogen leaned in toward Andre. “I wish you’d told me your sister and Branson are…?” She hesitated, trying to remember if Branson wore a wedding band and cursing herself for missing details like that.

Andre closed the gap somewhat, but his focus was entirely on the reunion in the yard. It was weird; Andre and Branson were close friends. Hell, Imogen played cards with them on Tuesday nights. But it was impossible to interpret Andre’s gaze as anything but irritation now.

“Married,” Andre said vacantly. “Sixteen years now.”

“Really? Why does he live with you?”

“They went through a bad patch a few years back. Moving up north eased the tension. He usually visits them every month, but I’ve been too busy lately to let him go.”

“So Cordelia is his daughter?”

Andre nodded, but he scowled as he did so.

Thankfully his mood lightened once they were inside the house and Imogen was being passed around his family. Far too many people crowded into the small ranch for her to remember them all, but she made it a point to memorize his parents, Linda and Pat, and his sisters, Regina, Shelly, and Margot. Then there were five additional nieces and nephews who got far less attention from Andre than Cordelia got. Added to that was Linda’s brother and his family plus some neighbors and the household was filled to the brim.

Imogen loved them all immediately, and then felt guilty because she couldn’t help putting all the pieces together to figure out how Andre, Regina, and Cordelia were biracial while the rest of the family was clearly white. She didn’t mind—from the purely physical standpoint, the genetics came together to make the trio beautiful and exotic—but it was still a little weird. And Macon wasn’t necessarily known for accepting weird.  

After several childhood anecdotes from Shelly attempting to embarrass Andre, Imogen excused herself to the kitchen. She laughed quietly to herself when she saw it. In this house, the Time Machine would have looked natural, so of course this kitchen was all brushed metal and computer touch pads. Of what she’d seen, Andre’s parents’ house was every bit as incongruous as his own: weathered sofas facing gigantic plasma TVs, a shed nearly the size of the living space, professionally manicured topiaries hiding a tiny vegetable garden.

And everywhere she went she heard happiness. Even in the kitchen, Imogen peeled the eggs she brought and listened to the din of too many conversations three rooms away. She knew this sound already—the Zelenkas sounded like this. She’d peeled many an egg in their kitchen as well. This peace never lasted very long in that kitchen, though. Someone was always sent for her, just in case.

In case of what, they never said and Imogen never asked. The list she came up with was far more impressive than the likeliest concerns, that she was running away or hurting herself or finally giving up entirely with an alphabet of mood stabilizers and a bottle of antifreeze.

Breathe, she told herself now. The Zelenkas were trying to save you, that’s all. They didn’t understand how much it hurt to see what your life could have been without the monster in your bedroom.

Because of her shit luck, Andre walked in as she’d calmed herself but before she could wash her hand to wipe the tear off her cheek.

He froze in the doorway. “I have a bag for this.”

Imogen laughed and cursed herself for the sniffle that came with it. “I’m fine. Are there cigarettes in the bag, though?”

“Yeah, but they’re number 4. I’m supposed to give those to you after you’ve already gone through the crosswords, the math problems, and the running clothes.”

He looked so serious about this task, and just behind him Shelly and Linda pretended not to be watching but totally were. Imogen gestured for him to come closer so she could kiss him without abandoning her eggs.

Shelly and Linda snuck a casual high-five between them.

“Will your family be upset if I smoke?” Imogen asked. “I swear I quit years ago, but it calms the jitters.”

Andre rubbed her jaw with the side of his thumb, roughened from too much time with the space bar. He stared down at her with those impossibly amber eyes, creating an intimate tableau for his family to speculate on. Despite the façade, Imogen felt her heart slow back down to a steady, comfortable beat.

He leaned down and said, “They won’t mind, but I won’t kiss you if you taste like an ash tray,” softly in her ear.

She nudged him away playfully. “Am I allowed to set terms like that? Because I don’t particularly care for kissing you when you taste like a steak pit.”

His lips quirked up. “Dually noted. I’ll be sure to carry breath spray with me on dinner dates in the future. Now what do you need me to do in here?”

She pushed the last dozen eggs his way and set to work halving and gutting the ones she’d already peeled. They worked side by side mostly in silence, although Imogen reprimanded Andre twice for destroying his eggs and Andre had to set his work to the side several times when his mother and sisters asked him to tend to the pots on the stove. Imogen thought it weird how everyone leaned through the threshold, made their request, then walked away. The room was plenty big enough for anyone who cared to enter, but only Cordelia, who smashed the egg yolks for Imogen until she was called back to the living room by Regina, stayed for any length of time.

When Imogen figured out what was going on, she blushed brightly.

Andre poked her cheek. “What’s that about?”

“Your family. They’re giving us space. Because we’re, you know, new lovers or whatever. We’re literally making deviled eggs but they think we’re having a lovey-dovey moment.”

“Lovey-dovey?”

Imogen shoved him as well as she could with her shoulder. “It’s sweet. They want you here way more than you are—you know that, right? You’re two hours away, it’s crazy you haven’t been here since Fourth of July—but they’re still letting me monopolize your time. Everyone except—where’s Cordelia’s mother?”

Imogen held back her gasp. She hadn’t meant to say that. She’d been toying with this all afternoon, deciding whether she should mention it sometime or just let it go. She certainly hadn’t intended on blurting it out now.

And Andre thought he was so smooth she couldn’t possibly be asking what she was. “She was in the living room ten minutes ago.”

“Not Regina. Her birth mother. The woman you had her with.”

Andre's lips pursed together as he put all of his focus into laying out the egg halves on the trays Imogen had brought with her.

"I'm sorry," Imogen said quickly. "It's none of my business."

He shrugged. "It's fine. I just didn't realize it was so obvious."

"It's not. But she has your eyes and the way you..." Imogen scooped the filling into a bag and cut the tip off, the whole time doing her best to not look at Andre. Shit, if this was the worst skeleton in his closet, good for him. The last thing she wanted to do was make him think it was okay to pry into her history. He had money savvy and several computer geniuses on payroll. She’d been assured it was virtually impossible for anyone to access her records, but Andre’s head of security, Sipex, was certainly able to get past that. She needed to shut up now.

But her mouth refused to listen to the logic. "Cordelia knows, right? She really wants to be—dammit, I'm gonna shut up now. Please pretend I never said anything."

Andre sighed. "I dated her mother in high school. She got pregnant right before I left for college, and she thought a baby would hold me back. She broke up with me and never told me why. Totally killed me. I mean, I was a stupid kid who thought first love—hell, love in general—was life. I don't know what her plan was, but Cor wasn't more than a couple months old when Lucy dropped her off here and ran away. California last I heard, but I stopped tracking her years ago. Anyway, Regina can’t have kids and she and Branson were having problems getting an adoption approved, so it all worked out."

He seemed okay with it, but he'd had fourteen years to deal with it. It was just as obvious he wanted to be her father as she wanted be his daughter, but fate was cruel. Family had been sacrificed in the interest of stability and financial security for both of them, and family was everything in this household.

Imogen threw her arms around Andre's waist and squeezed fiercely.

"Uhh, you okay?"

"It's so fucking tragic!"

Andre chuckled. "It's fine. Better than fine. Regina and Branson are great parents, they don’t mind having me around as sort of Cordelia’s dad, and I never have to worry about screwing up my child. Everyone who matters knows. Hell, I'm even first listed on her emergency contacts at school."

Imogen looked up at him, confused. "In Macon? That doesn't sound practical."

"She goes to Woodward up in Atlanta, dumdum. No progeny of mine is attending a public school in Macon. Now can we finish these deviled eggs and get back to the living room before everyone starts to think I’m banging you on the kitchen counter?"

~..~

Andre's arm was still tender where ma had slugged him for not telling her Imogen didn't eat meat or dairy. Also, every time Cor hit the gas pedal his life passed before his eyes.

What flashed by was mostly awesome, but he made sure to pick up Listerine strips at Wal-Mart along with everything listed to throw together a suitable meal for Imogen. As much as Imogen had protested the impromptu father-daughter outing with the claim she was used to salad-and-naked-potato holiday meals, he didn't want turkey breath to get in the way of the many kisses he expected from her for this.

To prove the validity of the relationship to his family, of course. Not because he enjoyed kissing Imogen. That was crazy.

As crazy as Cor. "What kind of car are you gonna get me?" she asked as she nearly knocked over a snack cake display by ramming the cart into it.

Andre grabbed a box of honey buns from it. He'd seen Imogen sneak one out of her desk drawer before, so they were definitely safe if a little embarrassing. "I'm not for at least two years."

"One year, four months," Cor reminded him. Ah, the sweet sixteen countdown. "Nancy's dad's getting her a Porsche."

"Nancy's dad wants his daughter to die in a horrible, fiery car crash. If I find out you are ever in a Porsche operated by anyone under the age of 25, I will ground you."

"Mama says you're not allowed to ground me," Cor reminded him as she threw at least six boxes of sugary cereal into the cart.

Andre put them right back on the shelf. "Mama doesn't let you eat that crap, either."

"But it's so good!" she whined, stomping the monstrous heels Andre didn't approve of, either. Those ankle destroyers had been a concession made during the great midriff-banning ordeal of last Christmas.

"I don't care. And a Volvo. That's what you'll be getting."

The sound Cor made better fit a casket-side lament than a casual supermarket conversation. "No! They're so lame, Unka Dey!"

"No, they're incredibly safe. I only have one child, I'm not letting her die because of my own irresponsibility."

Cor clicked her tongue. "What about Imogen?"

"She drives a truck with a roll cage. As terrified as I am to find out why she needs a roll cage, at least she's safe."

"Not that!" She nudged him with her elbow. "The only child thing. I know I'll never get any sorta-siblings from mama and Daddy B, but I bet a half-sister between you and Imogen would look just like me."

Andre choked on his own spit.

Cor took the opportunity to smuggle in a box of toaster pastries. "She's cute. And normaller than your other lady-friends. You should make babies with her."

"I would absolutely love not hearing you say anything about making babies for at least, mmm, ten years. Do NOT follow in your father's footsteps. And I pay 25 grand a year for your school. Please never say 'normaller' again."

She shot him an enormous grin before saying, "love ya, Unka Dey," and turning the corner.

For the millionth time, Andre regretted teaching Cordelia to call him ‘Uncle’.


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