Authors: Cristina Grenier
Tags: #bwwm interracial romance
Ben blinked. Clearly he hadn’t been expecting it to be that easy. “Really? Just like that?”
Dorian nodded. “Of course. It’s no trouble to accommodate one more person here. Not if it means I get what I want.”
“The things Mr. Kingston is willing to do to get what he wants would baffle you, Ben,” Carlos put in, and Dorian rolled his eyes.
Carlos,” he said again, giving the man a look. “So, do we have an agreement, then? I can have my lawyers draw up a contract and you can move in within the week. Once you’re settled we can start looking for people to join the team.”
He got to his feet, eyes intent as he held his hand out.
Ben smiled and got to his feet as well, shaking his hand. “I’d be glad to work for you, Mr. Kingston. Sounds like a challenge. I’ve always liked those.”
“Oh, he’s a challenge alright,” Carlos muttered, and Dorian didn’t even bother to dignify that with a response. Instead he shook Ben’s hand.
“Excellent. Then, if you have time, we should take a tour of the house. You can pick out what area you’d like for your rooms and your sister’s, and get a layout of the place.”
“Sounds great,” Ben replied. “Please lead the way.”
Chapter 4: The New Arrival
It definitely sounded too good to be true. In her experience, rich dudes didn't just invite their bodyguards' younger sisters to come stay with them. She kept waiting for there to be a catch or for Ben to say that he'd forgotten to tell her that she'd have to clean Dorian Kingston's house or something if she actually wanted to live there.
When she brought that up, he'd just laughed at her and told her to start packing because she was being ridiculous.
It didn't feel ridiculous to her. It felt like she was the only rational person left. But Ben insisted, and honestly the idea of living in a massive manor house with an entire set of rooms to herself was too good to pass up.
If Dorian Kingston wanted to try and kick her out once she was good and moved in, then he could try, but he'd find her hard to move.
So she started packing.
It was hard to hide what she was doing from her mother who seemed hell bent on asking uncomfortable questions.
Andrea had done as Ben had told her. She'd leveled with her and given her an ultimatum, saying that she had two weeks to start showing signs that she wanted to get better before Andrea was gone.
Those two weeks had come and gone, and the number of bottles on the shelves kept growing.
She wasn't thrilled with having to leave her mother behind, but there was no way she was staying in their tiny house where everything smelled like booze and regret when she could move on with her life. The more fights she and Leandra got into, the more she saw that Ben was right. She had to move on.
While she'd never heard of Dorian Kingston before Ben went to work for him, she had done a fair amount of Google stalking when she'd found out that apparently giving her a place to stay was part of the deal Ben had struck.
From his pictures online, he looked like your average rich boy: attractive, pompous, looking down his nose at the rest of the world. He came from England, which probably made everything worse, too.
His house had looked amazing online, but for security reasons there weren't very many in depth pictures to be found. So she supposed she'd just have to wait until she moved there to see what all he had.
Reservations aside, she was excited.
Later that day she was leaving for good. Her car was loaded up with boxes already, and she was just packing away the last of her things so that she could drive over to the manor and start getting moved in.
So far, Leandra had left her alone. She'd walked to the corner store and come back with bags that clinked as she walked, and Andrea hadn't needed to ask what was inside of them.
When Andrea and Ben's father had died, he'd left them quite a bit of money in his will. His entire life savings, and the parts that Leandra had been able to get her hands on went towards feeding her addiction.
It was disgusting, if you asked Andrea. For her to use money left to her by someone who had loved her so much and piss it away on booze.
"Just one more reason to get out of this dump," she muttered under her breath as she folded clothes and put them in the box on her bed.
"Oh, it's a dump now, is it?" her mother slurred as she passed. "Been a roof over your head for your whole life and now it's a dump?"
Andrea closed her eyes and asked for strength. "It doesn't have to be a dump, Mom, but when only one person ever bothers to do any cleaning and the other is bent on making a huge mess..." she trailed off, letting Leandra fill in the blanks there.
Sometimes she was too drunk to pick up on Andrea's quips. Clearly this was not one of those times.
"You think... You think you're so good.
much better than me, huh? You and your uppity brother. Don't you forget who raised you!"
"You raised us until Dad died and then you were pretty much checked out as far as anything useful goes," Andrea said, keeping her eyes on the pile of clothes she was folding. She knew better than to engage her mother like this. Usually all she wanted was a fight, and fighting with her on the last day they would ever be living in the same house more than likely, didn't sound like her idea of a good time. And yet here they were.
Leandra's eyes turned angry at those words.
It was funny how much Andrea looked like her mother (funny in the way that it wasn't funny at all, of course). They both had the same complexion, a caramel brown that was a couple of shades lighter than Ben's dark skin. Where Andrea straightened her hair, her mother kept hers loose and curly in a natural style, more from neglect than any personal preference, but their eyes were the same, and they held their mouths the same way when they were upset, which was how Andrea knew that her mother wasn't pleased.
"Don't you speak to me like that, you ingrate!" she shouted. "Don't you talk about him!"
, Mom? About Dad?" Andrea fired back. "Why? Because you know what he'd think if he could see you right now? If he knew what you've been doing with the money he left you? We never talk about him, and maybe that's part of the problem."
Leandra slammed her hand into the wall, and Andrea winced, more because she was worried about the state of her mother's hand than because she was afraid. "Shut up! You shut your mouth! After everything I've done for you. Carried you for nine... nine months. You and your ungrateful brother. And now you wanna act like you're better than me. Please! I'm ten times the person you are, even on my worst day!"
"You know, the sad part is that you actually believe that," Andrea said, her tone soft. "You don't even see what you're doing to yourself. I tried to help you, but you wouldn't let me."
"Oh, get out if you're going," her mother snapped, turning sharply and wobbling as she made her way to her own bedroom, slamming the door as she went.
For a moment, all the energy and excitement drained out of Andrea, and she stood beside her bed, half folded shirt in her hand. Part of her wanted to say that she'd stay, that there was no way she could walk out on her mother, but another part of her was just
Tired and ready for something new and different that wouldn't leave her emotionally and physically exhausted at the end of every day.
By mid afternoon, she was completely packed and ready to go. Her mother had yet to leave her room, and Andrea wasn't holding her breath. She made plenty of noise on her way out, and when there was no appearance of Leandra, come to curse her name or see her off, Andrea sighed and accepted that it was what it was.
She got in her car and plugged Kingston's address into her phone, using the GPS to navigate away from the small streets of the neighborhood she had grown up in towards the larger homes in the hills.
Of course, the house she was looking for had to be the biggest one, and when, almost a full hour later, she pulled up at the destination, her mouth dropped open.
When Ben had told her that Kingston was loaded, she hadn't known that he meant loaded enough to have his own castle.
The house sprawled out for several acres, set back far from the street behind a gate and at the end of a winding driveway. Of course the lawns were an immaculate shade of green, even though it was just barely springtime, and every plant on the grounds looked like it was trimmed and pruned by hand.
Probably because they were. She could only imagine the leagues of staff the man had to take care of the upkeep on this place, and Andrea was suddenly very aware of the fact that she was wearing yoga pants and a hoodie and that she was driving up to this place in her well used Toyota.
Ben had assured her that Kingston was a good guy, though, and she knew that he patently refused to work with people who weren't decent, but still.
The man who owned all of this could easily have whatever he wanted, and that was an intimidating thought, considering she was going to be living with him.
Not that she thought they would be doing much interacting.
Holding her breath, she drove up to the gate and leaned out her window to hit the buzzer.
"Yes?" a crisp, accented voice asked less than one second after she pulled her finger back.
"Um..." How was she supposed to explain that she
here now? "My name is Andrea Samuel," she began.
"Very good, Ms. Samuel," the voice replied. “Just follow the driveway, and I'll meet you outside."
"Oh. Uh. Okay, then."
She supposed she had to give them points for efficiency.
It took every bit of twenty minutes to get all the way up the driveway and then go through the security checks run by an older man with sun-browned skin and a kinder smile than she had been expecting.
"Just this once, Ms. Samuel," he explained after introducing himself as Carlos Ortiz, Mr. Kingston's driver and current head of security until Ben got everything set up. "We can't take any chances after what just happened and how close Mr. Kingston came to being in mortal peril."
Andrea had nodded, wide eyed. Ben had explained to her what had happened with the former security team, and she couldn't blame them for being a bit paranoid.
Once she had been cleared to enter the house, Carlos had directed a team of people to help her with her boxes, and between all of them, it hadn't taken any time at all for her to get her things up the stairs and to the wing of the house that had been put aside for her and her brother.
If the outside of the house was lavish, then the inside was something out of a fairy tale. Everything was dark wood and marble, gleaming surfaces and crystal chandeliers. Andrea was almost afraid to touch anything for fear that she'd leave her prints behind on it and then be billed for the mess.
How was she supposed to feel at home in a place like this?
She didn't get a chance to really look around, as she had to follow the men who were carrying her boxes up a sweeping grand staircase that split off in the middle to either side of the house.
Her things went to the left, so she followed them, assuming that the master of the house would be living to the right.
It was some comfort that efforts had been made to make her rooms less fancy, and she had to hold back an audible sigh of relief. The dark woods were still present, but there was a definite lack of finery in her bedroom, bathroom, and small sitting room that she appreciated.
The space was already bigger than any space she'd had to call her own back at the house she'd been sharing with Leandra, and while she knew she didn't have enough stuff to fill up the space, at least it would be hers.
A maid offered to help her unpack, but Andrea waved her away, preferring to do this bit herself. She had to arrange everything to the way she liked it, and it would just take longer if she had to explain to someone else how to do it. Looking around the room, she rolled her sleeves up and got to work.
“Oh my god, I am so done,” Andrea grumbled two hours later. She’d spent the whole time organizing and unpacking, hanging clothes in the massive closet and putting books and things on the shelves. As she’d suspected, her things barely filled up part of the rooms she’d been given, but that was alright.
Now that she wasn’t going to be paying rent for her mother anymore, she would have a lot more money to work with. New clothes were going to be first on her list, because it had been too long since she’d treated herself to shopping.
Deciding that the remaining boxes could be dealt with later, Andrea listened to her growling stomach and parched mouth and left the room to head down the stairs.
The house seemed quiet, and she had no idea how many other people lived there. Ben would be showing up the next day with the rest of his things, and they hadn’t hired anyone else yet. There was clearly a lot of staff, but Andrea didn’t know if they lived there or just came when they were needed.
Obviously Dorian Kingston had his rooms somewhere, and she hoped he wouldn’t mind her raiding his kitchen for food.