Authors: Cristina Grenier
Tags: #bwwm interracial romance
Dorian was still grinning at her, and at this distance she could see that his eyes were bright with good humor. “What’s good here?” he asked. “Besides the service, of course.”
Andrea barely resisted rolling her eyes at him. “I think the fresh air is going to your head,” she said. “Depends on what you like. This isn’t Starbucks, by the way. You can’t get any of that fancy frappuccino stuff here.”
Camille made a horrified noise from behind her. “But we
know how to make those if you want one, Mr. Kingston,” she said hurriedly. “The customer is always right.”
roll her eyes, arching an eyebrow at Dorian who just looked unimpressed.
“Er...right,” he said. “Thank you, but that won’t be necessary. My tastes run more to the simple when it comes to hot beverages. How’s the biscotti?”
“Delicious,” Andrea answered before Camille could embarrass herself even more. “The scones are also really good.”
“Right, then,” Dorian said. “I’ll have a cup of Earl Grey, black, if you please. And two of the cranberry scones.”
“Good choices,” Andrea said, punching the order into the register. “Your total comes to seven dollars and fifty four cents. Will that be for here or to go?”
“To go, I’m afraid,” Dorian told her as he handed over a shiny credit card. “I’m not allowed to sit in coffee shops yet, apparently. If this place had a drive thru, then we would have done that. I had to pull rank just to be allowed in, actually.”
Andrea smiled sympathetically at him as she ran the card. “Well, at least you’re out of the house, right? That’s something.”
“Yes, I’m contenting myself with that and the fact that we’re going to look at dogs after this. I guess I can’t really complain.”
“Well, I’m flattered that you used your first act of freedom to come see me. Especially since you see me all the time anyway.”
Dorian grinned at her. “Ah, but it’s different to see you in the real world. And I really did want a cup of tea and something to eat. Two birds, one stone, as they say.” He accepted his card back and then leaned forward a bit. “I also wanted to ask you something.”
“Are you working tomorrow?”
She shook her head. “Nope. I’m free all day.”
“Then would you like to accompany me to dinner tomorrow night?”
For a second she said nothing, aware that Libby and Sam could probably hear everything and that Camille was behind her probably hyperventilating. “You mean like a date?” she asked, biting her lip to hold back the sappy smile that wanted to spread across her face.
“Exactly like a date,” Dorian replied. “Are you interested?”
“Sure,” Andrea said. “I’m down to let you buy me some fancy food.”
His answering grin was brilliant, and Andrea was sure she was blushing. “Lovely. I’ll fetch you at seven.” He moved out of the way and Libby put in an order for coffee for her and Sam and Camille and Andrea managed to prepare all of it without either of them dropping anything in their distraction.
Andrea waved as they left, watching them make their way back to the car, where she could just make out Carlos behind the wheel through the tinted window. She finally allowed the smile to spread over her face, a somewhat giddy feeling rising up in her as she thought about the fact that Dorian Kingston had just asked her out on a date.
“Dorian Kingston just asked
out on a date,” Camille said, pushing her over and leaning against the counter. “Or am I dreaming? What in the
“What?” Andrea asked, going for innocence and trying not to dwell on the way Camille seemed shocked that someone like Dorian would want to go out with her. To be fair, she was a little surprised herself, but that didn’t make Camille's utter disbelief any easier to deal with.
“Don’t you what me, Andrea Samuel. Dorian Kingston just came into our coffee shop and asked you out on a date, and I want to know
“Presumably because he wants to go on a date with me,” Andrea said dryly.
“But you know him?”
“Of course I know him. Does he seem like the kind of person who goes on dates with random strangers?” she replied. “Do I, for that matter?”
Camille pursed her lips and actually appeared to be thinking about that. “I guess not. That wouldn’t really make sense for him considering how much danger he’s usually in.”
“Exactly.” Andrea wasn’t about to go into how she knew Dorian or the fact that they were basically living together because that wasn’t any of Camille’s business, and she didn’t know if she was supposed to talk about it. Granted, Dorian probably wasn’t supposed to come waltzing into her place of work to ask her out, but apparently following the rules wasn’t something he was big on. At least not when it suited him to do something else.
And maybe that was a part of his charm. He had that whole straight laced English thing going on, but underneath it he was all about making his own rules, and Andrea was drawn to that.
She was drawn to
and she hadn’t yet decided whether or not that was a good thing.
Andrea had to hear all about Dorian’s excursion to meet puppies from Ben, as the man himself was apparently busy making sure that the four dogs they’d acquired had plenty of space and everything they needed.
Three of the dogs would be for general guarding purposes, and one of them, whichever one seemed to bond the most with Dorian, would become like his personal guard dog.
Ben laughed as he watched Andrea brush her hair. “You should’ve seen him, Drea. It was like the guy had never been mobbed by puppies before.”
“Maybe he hasn’t,” Andrea pointed out, raising her eyebrows at her brother in the mirror.
“Okay, fair. But he was so happy. I think the smallest one is going to be the one that loves him the most. He was practically in his lap the whole time we were there, and he fell asleep before we left, and Dorian had to carry him out to the car.”
Andrea ducked her head to hide the smile that threatened at the mental image of Dorian with a puppy. It was ridiculously adorable, and she was well aware that she hadn’t yet talked to her brother about what was going on with her and Dorian.
“Sounds like he had a good time,” she said softly. “I’m glad. Being trapped here was driving him crazy.”
“I know,” Ben replied. “And I think he did have a good day. I hear there was a stop at Hollybrook this morning.”
Hoping her skin was dark enough to hide the blush that wanted to spread over her cheeks, Andrea nodded. “Yeah. He and Libby and Sam came in. Before the puppies, I guess.”
“Hmm.” Ben hummed and looked at her. “Can I play the older brother card here for a minute?” he said.
That probably didn’t mean anything good, and Andrea sighed, meeting his eyes in the mirror. “Yeah, go ahead.”
“I’m not going to sit here and try to tell you what to do with your life, Drea. You’re an adult, and you’ve had more responsibility than you deserve piled on you for a long time. I want you to have fun and get to live your life. You know that, right?”
She did know that, and she nodded. “But?” Because there was almost definitely a ‘but’ coming.
“...But I want you to be safe, as well. Dorian’s a great guy, and I’m really glad you two are getting along, but…”
“But there’s a bunch of people who want him dead?” Andrea said, filling in the blanks for him.
Ben sighed and nodded. “Yeah. That.”
“Isn’t that what you and the others are for?”
“We’re going to do our best to keep him safe, you know that. But that doesn’t make it any less dangerous for you to be out with him. If something happens, and you get caught in the crossfire…” Ben trailed off, shaking his head. “I already lost Dad, and Mom’s basically a lost cause, too. You’re all I have left, Drea.”
Now it was her turn to sigh. Part of her wanted to be righteously indignant about him trying to tell her who she could and couldn’t go out with, but when he put it like that…
“How’d you find out?” she wanted to know.
“Dorian told me, actually. He said he didn’t think it would be wise for me not to know, considering your safety might fall to me someday as well.”
“Sounds like Dorian.”
“I appreciated it,” Ben said. “And I think he’s coming to care for you, and I know he wants you to be safe with him, but the fact of the matter is that’s outside of his control. And if it came down to it and I had to choose which one of you to keep safe…”
He didn’t need to finish the sentence. Andrea already knew that family would come before his job, especially considering the fact that she was his little sister. The last thing she wanted was to put him in that position, but she didn’t want to give up whatever she might have with Dorian, either.
It was a hard position to be in, really.
“Like I said,” Ben continued, and Andrea focused on him again. “I can’t tell you what to do, and I wouldn’t want to. You have to make your own decisions and all that. I just want you to be safe. So even if you do go out with him, just. Promise me you’ll be careful.”
“Promise,” Andrea replied, because that much she could do. She was a smart girl. She could keep her eyes and ears open and not do anything stupid to make things harder for Ben or the other guards. On impulse, she got up and threw her arms around her brother, hugging him tightly.
Sometimes it hit her hard that even though she’d done things that he hadn’t approved of, he was still her biggest supporter.
He hugged her back and then dropped a kiss to her head and sighed. “Okay, I better go. Someone’s going to have to take charge of training all these puppies and making sure they’re fed, and Carlos has already made it clear that he doesn’t want any parts of it. I’ll take you down and you can meet them in the morning.”
“Sounds good,” Andrea replied and kissed his cheek before he left the room.
Her talk with Ben didn’t do anything to calm her nerves before the date, though. The next day found her trying to fill the hours between her waking up and her needing to start getting ready with things to keep her busy so she wouldn’t focus on the fact that she hadn’t been on a date in years. Probably not since she was in high school, actually. And now she was going out on a date with one of the richest people in the country.
Great. No pressure.
Spending time with the new dogs helped, at least until Dorian had come down to see them as well. It was easy to see which one of them loved him best, even though all of the rambunctious animals were clearly fond of him.
The smallest of the lot clambered away from Andrea as soon as Dorian walked in, practically tripping over himself in his haste to get to the man.
Dorian grinned and scooped the puppy up, cooing nonsense to him and petting him while the dog tried to lick his face.
It was probably one of the cutest things Andrea had ever seen and did absolutely nothing to make the flip flopping of her stomach and pounding of her heart any better.
What she hadn’t realized, though, was that trying to fill her time was going to be the easy part of the day. The hard part came some hours later when, with two hours to go before she needed to be ready so Dorian could pick her up, she was standing in front of her closet, eying her clothes with distaste.
Dorian hadn’t given her much information about where they were going. When they’d seen each other, he’d stopped to make sure she was still free to go with him and mentioned that it would be a classier place that they were going and then practically dove back into his pile of puppies.
“What does that even mean?” she muttered under her breath as she stood there in her underwear. “Classier than what?”
Classier than what she was used to, she was willing to bet, and it made the nerves she’d already been combating even worse. What if she made an idiot of herself? What if she messed up so badly that Dorian didn’t want to be seen with her again?
Maybe stuff like this was part of the reason that she didn’t date in the first place. There was so much expectation and fanfare that went along with stuff like this, especially when it came to going out with someone like Dorian. If every date was going to come with the hours of worry beforehand, was it even worth it?
“Snap out of it, girl,” she muttered to herself and then squared her shoulders. She’d faced down her mother in more drunken rages than she wanted to think about and had lived to see the next day. This wasn’t anything compared to that.
Deciding that what she really needed was some music, she turned on her getting ready playlist and started pulling things out of her closet, holding them up to herself in the full length mirror and throwing the selections into one of three piles. One pile for definite nos, one pile for maybes, and one pile for slightly better maybes.
She bobbed her head and sang along as she went through anything that was remotely nice enough for dinner with a rich man and then combed through each pile, throwing anything that didn’t fit right to the side.
There was a black dress in the maybe pile that she hadn’t worn in ages. A quick check showed that it still fit well, and since she hadn’t worn it in a while, it was still in great shape. It was a classic little black dress. Short enough to draw attention to her legs, but not so short that she would have to worry about trying to keep her thighs and butt covered. It fell a bit above her knees, but the shape of the skirt hugged her hips, keeping it in place.