Authors: Cristina Grenier
Tags: #bwwm interracial romance
“Any luck?” he asked, nodding to the screen.
“Some,” Ben replied. “We’ve got two guys coming in tomorrow for interviews, and a couple of ladies that I have a good feeling about that we’re waiting to hear back from. One of them guarded the president when he was in the state a little while ago, and her references are excellent.”
Carlos nodded his agreement. “So far, so good, Mr. Kingston. Of course, the background checks will be much more extensive this time around because we do not need a repeat of the last time.”
“No,” Ben said. “We do not. I’m going to interview everyone personally before they even get to meet you, Dorian, and we’ll go from there. I’ve been told I have a good instinct about these things, but the checks will definitely help.”
“Sounds good to me,” Dorian replied, satisfied that the two of them would make the best decisions for his safety.
“You’ll be able to leave the grounds again in no time, sir,” Carlos teased, rising from his chair and clapping Dorian on the shoulder. “I should be getting to my other duties. I’ll see you both later.”
They bid Carlos farewell, and then Ben turned his attention back to the computer, making a few notes before he glanced back at his employer. “Thanks again for letting Drea move in,” he said. “I haven’t had a chance to track her down yet, but she was really excited about the opportunity.”
Dorian couldn’t hide his smile. “You’re quite welcome. I’ve already met your sister, as it happens. We had a lovely lunch together just a little bit ago.”
Ben choked and spluttered on the water he’d taken a sip of and then wiped his mouth. “Yeah?” he said, looking shocked. “I. That’s great. I’d been hoping to give her a premiere on the house and your schedule before she met you, but apparently I wasn’t fast enough.”
“It was no problem,” Dorian assured him. “She’s lovely, and I enjoyed her company.”
“That’s a relief. She can be...blunt?” Ben tried, clearly looking for the right word. “But that’s not really her fault. Things have been hard for her.”
“You mentioned that there was some...drama with your family.”
He nodded. “Yeah, and that’s really putting it lightly. I won’t bore you with the details, but she’s had to put up with a lot of stuff and do a lot of things that she shouldn’t have had to do. She made it though because she’s amazing and strong, but sometimes her filter isn’t the best because of it.”
“I don’t mind that,” Dorian said. “I’ve been tiptoed around for a disturbingly long time, and I am quite pleased whenever I find someone willing to speak their mind. It’s one of the reasons why I think you will be such a good fit here, actually.”
Ben’s answering smile was a bit lopsided. “Well, that’s good to know. I haven’t been able to protect her from a lot of things in her life, but hopefully having her close will change that.”
There was a thread of steel in those words, and Dorian was definitely of the impression that if anyone tried to hurt Andrea, they would have her brother to answer to. It reminded him what a strange conflict of interests it would be if he had to decide between his sister and his employer in any sort of way.
Just another reason why his attraction to Andrea should be nipped in the bud before it went any further. The last thing he wanted was to make things harder for the head of his security, and Dorian could already imagine the scolding he’d get from Carlos if he allowed something to ruin a good working relationship that was meant to keep him safe.
The meeting didn’t last much longer, and Ben promised to keep Dorian informed. Without the freedom of being able to leave the house, Dorian made his way to his study and spent a good portion of the evening entertaining himself with other things, determined that seeking out Andrea and trying to find out how she was settling in would probably just distract her from settling in, which wasn’t what he wanted to do at all.
If they were going to be eating meals together, he’d see her again anyway, and when he retired to bed that night, he found himself hoping that she and Anita would get along because anyone that Anita liked got roped into helping her in the kitchen eventually.
As if his wishes were directly coming true, Dorian found Andrea sitting in the kitchen with Anita the next morning. She was wearing what clearly served as her pajamas, an oversized t-shirt and a pair of floral patterned shorts that Dorian just knew would display her legs to amazing effect if she was standing up. It was unclear how long she’d been there, but it was very clear that they had been having a good talk. Both of them looked up when he entered, and Anita moved to kiss his cheek, ushering him to the table.
“I was going to make French toast,” she said.
“Cheers, Anita,” Dorian replied. “Is there coffee?”
She gave him a look that could only be described as dirty. “Of course there is coffee. When do you get up and have no coffee?”
“Never, Anita,” he said, making a show of hanging his head. “I don’t know what came over me.”
Andrea covered her mouth with her hand and laughed, and Dorian took a moment to study her. The morning light was certainly a good look for her, falling in through the windows and lighting up her lovely skin and hair. Laughter lit up her eyes, and when she smiled at him before picking up her own mug of coffee, he had to blink and stare for a moment.
“What?” she asked. “Is there something on my face?”
Dorian shook himself and his head and then gave her a polite smile. “No, no. You’re lovely. I suppose I’m just not used to having company for breakfast. Other than Carlos and Anita, of course. Will Ben be joining us as well?” he asked, trying to cover up any awkwardness.
“No, he was up and out of here at some ridiculous hour of the morning,” Andrea answered. “I know this because he felt the need to wake me up before he left. The jerk.”
But her voice was laced liberally with fondness, and it was
clear that there was a real bond between the Samuel siblings.
“He popped in for coffee and a chat first,” Anita pointed out. “He’s a very nice young man.”
“Are you insinuating that I’m
a nice young man, Anita?” Dorian asked with a little pout, and he smiled to himself as Andrea laughed into her cup.
“Is it always like this in the mornings?” she wanted to know.
“And the evenings and the afternoons,” Anita said in a dry tone from the stove. “He’s a mess, this one.”
“I’m hurt,” Dorian replied.
“I am not moved,” Anita shot back.
It was their usual back and forth, but somehow having Andrea there to witness it made it feel more like a performance. Her eyes were bright with good humor, and she looked back and forth between them like it was a tennis match.
It was nice, he decided, having someone else there, and though they ate in relative silence, Dorian found himself speaking up towards the end of the meal, when they were both sitting with sticky plates and the dregs of their coffee.
“Has anyone shown you around the grounds yet?”
Andrea looked up and then shook her head. “No. I haven’t seen more of it than what I saw when I was coming up the driveway. What I did see was beautiful, though.”
“Would you like a tour? If this is to be your home, you may as well be acquainted with it, yes?”
Her eyes lit up at that, and Dorian had to take in a breath.
“Really? You have time for something like that? I figured you rich types were always busy doing something or other.”
Anita snorted, amusement clear on her face. “That’s just what they want you to think, dear. Really, they’re just lazy louts living off of the work of others.”
Dorian pursed his lips and arched an eyebrow at her. “Yes, thank you, Anita. Your stunning commendations of my character are what keep me going every day.” He rolled his eyes and got to his feet. “Andrea, shall we meet at the front door in say, ten minutes?”
She nodded and got up as well. “Sure, yeah, sounds great.” Then she was off, hurrying out of the kitchen to go get dressed or whatever it was she planned on doing. And, yes. The shorts did show off the long expanse of her legs, and Dorian had to pointedly look away as she left the room.
When he glanced back, Anita was watching him with raised eyebrows and he made a face at her and ducked out himself.
The weather was quite nice for a walk around the grounds, and Dorian was grateful for it. He had on a light jacket and his usual home attire of dark jeans and a button up shirt. The grass was still a bit damp from morning dew, so they stuck to the stone walkways as they walked about the front lawn.
Andrea had appeared, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, and she’d been pulling a hoodie on as they stepped outside. Dorian could just imagine how scandalized his father would be if he could see what Andrea was wearing, especially as there appeared to be some kind of cartoon fox on the back of the hoodie, but the way Andrea had her hands casually shoved into the pockets showed how comfortable she was with herself and her clothing choices.
Dorian admired that.
There weren’t a lot of people in his circles who were comfortable with themselves to that extent.
“This lawn must take forever to tend to,” Andrea said, breaking the comfortable silence. “How many acres is this even?”
“A bit less than forty-five,” Dorian replied. “The house takes up a good bit of that, as you can see, but there’s still plenty of room for gardens.” The lawn itself stretched out to the gates which led to the street, but they couldn’t see that from where they were standing. In front of the house were the garden plots, bursting with color and vibrancy at the moment.
The garden was separated from the walkways and the rest of the lawn by chocolate dark stone
Dorian didn’t know the names of all the different flowers that were blooming, but he could tell they were beautiful. His gardeners took amazing care of them, together with the groundskeepers that were overseen by Carlos himself.
“Here, let me show you this,” Dorian said, leading Andrea over to the large plot that Anita had set aside to grow herbs and vegetables. “Anita is a stickler for fresh grown ingredients. All of this would be herbs and tomatoes if she had her way.”
“It’s amazing,” Andrea replied, stooping down to get a better look and letting her fingers trail lightly over fleshy green leaves. She inhaled deeply, and Dorian remembered how impressed he’d been when he’d first seen Anita’s plans for her plot. There’d been no question that Carlos would give her what she wanted, and it had turned out almost better than expected.
“This whole place is amazing,” Andrea continued as she stood up. She shaded her eyes against the bright sun and pointed off into the distance. “What’s that?”
Dorian turned his head to look and caught sight of the small building she was pointing to. “That’s the guardhouse. Or at least that’s what it’s supposed to be. The previous owner’s children lived out there with their nanny, if I remember correctly.”
“His adult children?” Andrea asked.
“No, I think they were younger. They definitely weren’t teenagers from what I remember Carlos telling me. They still needed nannies, at any rate.”
She frowned. “And their parents made them live in a small house alone?”
“Well. Their nannies were there with them. And the house is hardly small.” It was big enough for four guards to share without any problems, after all.
Dorian wasn’t sure what it was, but apparently it was a sensitive subject for her. There was a story there, clearly, and he was curious, but Ben’s words from the day before made him stop before he asked anything that he would regret asking later. It wasn’t his business, and Andrea had been through a lot. He wanted her to relax and be able to have a good time now that she was out of whatever stressful situation she had been in before, and harping on hard times wasn’t going to help make that happen any sooner.
So he continued the tour, pointing out the different areas of the grounds and showing her where horses and other animals could be kept.
He mentioned how he was thinking of getting dogs to help guard the place and told her about the dogs his father had kept and how he’d sneak out after his lessons to play with them and always managed to get caught by one of the guards before he’d been out there for too long.
When she asked to be allowed to help him pick the dogs out, Dorian agreed instantly and was rewarded with a brilliant grin from Andrea.
Making her smile was quickly becoming something he enjoyed immensely and the longer they spent together, whiling away the time before lunch by walking and talking together, the more Dorian was feeling himself pulled towards her.
And with each glance Andrea sent his way from the corner of her eyes, he was more and more sure that she was feeling it, too.
Chapter 6: Opposites Attract?
Living in luxury, even if it wasn’t strictly
luxury, was taking some time to get used to. Andrea supposed that she’d gotten so used to the way she’d lived before, that her new life was still so strange.
There was no morning alarm set to make sure that she could shower and get breakfast before her mother woke up and started her usual hangover histrionics.
Lying in her soft, queen sized bed, she relished the quiet. Her body was still primed to wake up by no later than seven, and she listened to the grounds coming alive outside. The sound of birds in the trees and the scurry of animals through the leaves. In the distance she could hear the low murmur of voices, but the fact that it was Sunday meant that everything was slow and peaceful, and she loved it.