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Authors: Maddie Cochere

2 Big Apple Hunter (5 page)

BOOK: 2 Big Apple Hunter

“Me? Trouble? I don't get into any trouble,” I said innocently, but I almost laughed out loud.

“Well,” he said. “I'm going to ask Darby to keep an eye on you just the same.”

“Ok by me.” I said. “We'll find something to do.” . . .


A honking horn brought me back to reality. I had been sitting in Martin’s parking lot for
nearly fifteen minutes
listening to the Monkees on the 8-track player
while the tournament and party memories flitt
through my mind. I would have been happy and content if I hadn’t just heard the news about Mrs. Blakely and her lies. Disconcerted, I pulled out of the parking lot and headed for home.

Ten minutes later, I pulled into the carport behind my apartment building, a
-unit, three-story structure with a faux Tudor facade. I ran up the three flights of stairs to my apartment
which was the first door to the right at the top of the stairs.

Darby's apartment was directly across the wide hallway from mine, and he must have been waiting for me to come home, because he
stuck his head out
as soon as I hit the landing. “Hey, Susan. You workin' at the club tonight?” he asked.

“I am, but not until 9:00,” I told him. “What's up?”

Smiling, he hurried back into his apartment.
I unlocked my door and waited for
. He appeared a minute later with a large, covered platter and a bottle of white wine tucked under his arm. “I made dinner for you,” he said proudly. I stepped aside so he could enter my apartment with something that smelled oceanic and wonderful.

He had a big grin on his face and said, “I had a cooking show on this morning while I was working. My mouth was watering just listening to it, and when I saw the finished product, I had to run to the market and get everything to give it a try. I've been waiting for you to get home.”

I took a deep breath towa
rd the covered dish. “Hmmm,
” I noised appreciatively, the smell sending my taste buds into overdrive. “I’m sorry I was late. I stayed at the center until closing, and then I stopped by the deli for a few things.” I started putting my groceries away while Darby was setting the table. “What is it?” I asked him. “It smells fantastic.”

“Lobster Newburg. It was
easier to make than I thought, and I think it turned out just right.” He opened the bottle of Riesling and poured two glasses. He uncovered the dish, and it looked amazing.

“Darby, it looks like something from a 5-star restaurant!” I exclaimed with delight. He had plated the creamed lobster over buttery puff p
astry shells and garnished
ith chives. My mouth was
aching with anticipation.

We sat down and took
big bites at the same time. “Hmmmm . . . yum,” I mumbled. The flavor was heavenly. “Darby this is excellent,” I said with my mouth still mostly full. “Nutmeg, brandy, sherry?” I asked.

“All three,” he said with his own mouth full. “And plenty of cream and butter, too.” He took another big bite. “Wow! This really is good, isn't it?” He was grinning with a proud look of culinary satisfaction on his face.

“Don't forget to put this recipe in the keeper box,” I told him between bites. “We don't want to lose this one. Did you buy fresh lobster and cook it yourself? Or frozen?”

,” he replied. I was impressed. “By the way, Susan,” he said looking at me with a
playful smile
, “I overheard some women at the market today. It seems your name is being bandied about as one who
participated in some sort of
naked orgy this weekend.”

I kicked him under the table and said, “That horrible Mrs. Blakely was the woman next door glaring at us all day yesterday. I didn't even recognize her, and I can't understand why she would spread such terrible rumors.”

“I don't know,” Darby said shaking his head, “but how did you get away before the police showed up?”

I gave him a big grin. “It was Mick's idea. Once Lou and Jeff ditched their clothes, and the neighbors went indoors, he figured they were calling th
e police and suggested the
getaway. What happened after we left?”

“The officers let the four guys put on clothes and then took them downtown
,” he said

I think they were cited for public
. Samantha picked them up a couple of hours later, and the
party moved indoors. When I left at midnight,
were still playing cards

I smiled again thinking of those knuckleheads running naked down the yard. I'd have to call Samantha tomorrow to find out what was going to happen to them.

I glanced
at my watch and then at Darby. “I have to get ready
for work,” I said as I stood
from the table and moved toward the bathroom. “I'll
be a few minutes. Stick around, and I'll have another glass of wine with you before I go.”

“Ok,” he said. “I'll clean up the kitchen. You want any leftovers in the fridge?”

“Of course,” I called to him. “They’ll make a great midnight snack later.”

“Hey,” he yelled from the kitchen, “Mick called me today. Said he's going out of town on Thursday and asked me to keep an eye on you. What was that all about?”

“Wait a minute,” I yelled back from the bathroom. I had
washed my face and was now brushing my hair. I applied fresh mascara and swiped my lips with a shiny gloss. I dashed into the bedroom to change into a club shirt and jeans. It all took less than five minutes. Darby was waiting for me in his usual spot on the sofa. He handed a glass of the Riesling to me, and I plopped down beside him.

“I'm not sure what's up with Mick,” I told him. “Maybe it's because of all the crazy things we do at the club, or maybe he's a little insecure because of the way other guys talk about me around him, but there’s definitely something that's the teeniest bit different about him. Like he's thinking about something and doesn't really want to bring it up. He said we needed to talk next week when he gets home.”

Darby's eyebrows shot up. “That's never a good thing,” he said with alarm. “You just got the
we need to talk

I punched him on the arm and laughed a little. “I did not. Mick isn't going anywhere. He's not going to leave me.”

eyed me
dubiously. “Have you guys, uh, you know. Have you guys, uh, ...”

I butted in. “Sex? No!” A second later my shoulders drooped, and I looked at him with a miserable look in my eyes. “I don't know. It's not that I don't want to, I just can't yet. After two
years of thinking
Louie and I were going to get married, and then finding that girl in his bed, I just don't want to jump into anything without being 100% certain.”

“Susan,” he said. “You can never be 100% certain. How long have you two been dating now?”

“Not long enough. Maybe six months total.”

“Do you love him?” he asked while giving me a
tell the truth

I hesitated. I hadn’t yet said it out loud. “Yes, I love him.” It came out with a resigned sigh. I certainly couldn’t deny it.

“Have you told him?” he asked.

“No!” I snapped at him. “And he hasn't told me either. I'm not going to say it first.”

Darby looked exasperated. “Susan, you guys are going to mess this up if you don't start communicating wi
th each other. By now, y
ou should
be able to tell the other how you feel, and I think you guys need to put out that fire between you, too. Sometimes, when you two are together, you
can see the smoke coming off
your bodies.”

I punched him again. “I don't know what to do,” I told him with despair. “This relationship isn’t like anything I've ever experienced. It feels different, really special. But Mick
married right out of high school, so I assume he didn't date
, and if I'm only the second girl for him, what if he's simply wearing rose-colored glasses for now? I'm not putting out just because that might be the way to keep him around for a while longer. I want someone who's in it with me for the long haul.” I
at my watch again. “I've got exactly eight minutes to get to the club.” I
stood up, grabbed
my jacket
and moved to the door. “Will you turn off the lights and be sure the door is locked when you leave?”

“Of course, but Susan,” he paused to be sure I was listening, “Mick's not wearing rose-colored glasses. You're the real deal and he knows it. Maybe he doesn't want to mess things up either.”

cared, and I smiled at him
. I dashed out the door.


Chapter Four


By Thursday, I was miserable.

The enrollment drive in the weight loss center
was still going strong
, and our center was leading our division
in most new members, but I
received word from Corporate that Mrs. Colter had called them with a complaint. Betsy Ann Tucker, the Human Resources Director from the corporate offices in Las Vegas, was coming in today to talk with me, an
d I had a sick feeling
in the pit of my stomach.

To make matters worse, Mick and I had dinner together last night, and for the first time, there were some awkward silences between us. The evening was nice, dinner was good, and we enjoyed our co
nversation, but there were
too many unspoken words. When
we arrived back at my
apartment, he walked up the three flights of stairs with me, but declined to come in as he had work to do before leaving for Celina in the morning. The look in his eyes was soft, almost sad. He wrapped his arms around me, pulled me close to him, and kissed me hard taking my breath away and nearly causing my knees to buckle. It was almost as though he was never going to see me again.

It w
asn’t even three weeks ago
I thought my life was picture perfect. Today my life was confusing at the least. I had no idea what was going on with Mick, I was going to be disciplined in my job, and I was cranky from lack of exercise. With the center being so busy this week, I hadn't had time to squeeze in any racquetball matches between jobs. Samantha and Larry were lying low at their house this week anyway. There were so many rumors flying aro
und town about their party,
she prefer
red to stay home rather than
deal with the gossip. She was supposed to call me on Saturday to let me know if she wanted to play a few games in the afternoon.

I walked through the center trying to shake my blahs. Angela was doing a weigh-in, and Grace
was in a consultation. I pee
into the waiting room to be sure no one had been missed. The door opened, and one of my earlier presentations walked through the door
. A lovely, mid-30's woman, who really had very little weight to lose, had been in on Tuesday and was now back in the center. I walked over to greet her.

“Sally Hagar, right?” I asked as I shook her hand and smiled. “It's nice to see you again. Come on in. We can talk in my office.”

We walked through the center
, into my office
, and I motioned for her to have a seat in front of my desk. I sat down in the chair beside her. “I'm glad you came back in,” I told her. “Have you made a decision to enroll, or do you have more questions about the program?” She seemed
nice, and I had
enjoyed talking with her on Tuesday.

“I just have two questions,” she said smiling sweetly at me. “What about caffeine? Can I still have my pick-me-up in the morning?”

“Every person is different,
so you may have to decide
for yourself,” I told her. “But caffeine is known to stimulate your appetite for sweets and fatty foods, and in many people, caffeine can be the one roadblock to losing weight effectively.” I could tell she was listening intently to what I was saying. “
We've had several members who have
had trouble losing weight until they eliminated caffeine from their diet, and then their weight started coming off steadily.”

“Ok,” she said nodding her head. She seemed to accept th
response. “And my only other question is
Can you
to Las Vegas in January
?” She asked the question in an excited tone.

“What?” I asked
, confused
. I had no idea what she was thinking or why she would ask such a thing.

A huge smile crossed her face,
reached over
to touch my arm. “Susan, I’m
sorry to have put you through all this. I'm not Sally Hagar, I'm Betsy Ann Tucker, and I've been doing some secret shopping in your division this week.”

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