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Authors: J. A. Hornbuckle

Tags: #Dance

Pole Dance (7 page)

BOOK: Pole Dance
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My father was the one who broke the house up into apartments after gaining his general contractor's license and learning of the financial issues of his mother-in-law, Lela. 'Issues' was putting it mildly seeing how Grandma had been hiding her almost destitute state from her only child, my mother. It was only discovered when my mom had been doing an inventory to replenish the pantry after Lela's stint in the hospital for a broken hip--caused by tripping over the uneven linoleum of the old-fashioned kitchen. The pantry closet held a surprising amount of gourmet cat-food and crackers amidst the home-canned green beans and peaches.

The hurt of it was, Grandma Lela didn't own a cat.

I glanced at the house and tried to see it through Jake's eyes.

"Yeah, it is," I replied on a whisper. "My parents had to get power-of-attorney over Gram's estate in order to get the necessary approvals to do the renovation when she refused to move in with them. Dad's plan was to have four, one-bedrooms and rent out three to pay both the mortgage and Grandma Lela's living expenses. Worked great until inspections showed that the roof needed to be replaced and the slant of the formal living room that we all found quirky and full of character was actually due to a shifting of the foundation. More money was needed and my parents had no choice but to take out a 2nd on our place in order to get the work done here."

"Your dad do the work?" Jake questioned softly still gazing at the house. I nodded, too caught up in the memories to speak.

"Good job. Can't tell that it's apartments and not a family house," he continued. "Kept the great lines of the original structure. Must have been a craftsman."

It was true. Just from looking at the outside, you couldn't tell that the house was actually four distinct apartments. Dad didn't have the formal schooling to back him up but seemed to have a keen eye for architecture and to detail. He had kept the original front door which led into a hallway with its two ground-floor units and the original staircase that led up to the two other units and small laundry room on the second floor.

Jake's eyes turned to me as he softly questioned, "They leave it to you when they died?"

Again, I could only nod but could feel my teeth worrying my lower lip in an effort to keep the gathering tears at bay, tears I didn't want him to see. Looking up at the house, I again realized that it was one of the only tangible things I had left of my family and it was both a blessing to have and a curse to maintain. I don't know if he could sense my growing melancholy or if he just wanted to touch me again, but Jake reached for my hand resting on the console between us.

"Darlin'," he began as his fingers met mine. The electricity of his warm skin on my hand again brought me back to the moment and I jerked my hand away.

Grabbing the door handle, I prepared my escape. Not to be outdone, I heard Jake's door open prior to me even popping the latch on mine and he was in front of me before I could fully extend myself from the seat.

"You don't have to see me to my door, Jake," my voice sharper than I had intended. I wanted, no, I
needed
to create a distance between us.

"Gonna see you all the way in, Caitlin. Deal with it," he rumbled softly as he once again propelled me forward with just a gentle touch in the small of my back. I gave him a glare over my shoulder as I stomped up the steps before using my key in the outer door.

"You're not bringing me home from a date," I snapped.

As the door swung open, I became aware of the loud voices reverberating around the hall. Pushing the door open further, I could see Layton Jamison, Bank President of Grantham Savings and Loan, towering over Marianne, my across-the-hall neighbor who was yelling up in his face while waggling a finger.

"And, furthermore, you sick son of scum water" Marianne's voice trailed off as both of them turned their eyes towards Jake and me in the doorway.

Because my parents had only inherited the property, its outlying buildings and the house itself about six-months before their own deaths, I was still under the smoking financial gun. Mr. Jamison and the attorney he recommended had explained to me again and again that inheritance taxes killed any equity in the property my parents might have enjoyed and the regular taxes ate up any other profit I might have benefited from.

Then there was the up-keep on such a beautiful, though it must be said, old house.

"Ms. Tomas," Mr. Jamison purred as he turned towards me, smoothing the top of his very thin hairline then running his hand down his loud tie. It appeared to be a print of different colored M&M's. Not the kind of tie you would expect on a Bank President. "A word, please."

"Sure," I muttered trying to think of a reason for Jamison to be here, in my space, at this time of night. Usually I was required to meet him at his office so he could chew me out about being late on my 'financial responsibilities' and to remind me how much he had done for me in settling my parent's estate. I saw Marianne give me a quizzical look before shooting her eyes back to Mr. Jamison, who seemed to be ignoring her now.

I nodded a silent 'hello' to her as I turned towards the door of my apartment my mind searching, seeking a reason that the banker had come to my place.

I heard the meowing of Floyd as I slid my key in the lock, although caterwauling would've been a more apt description. Floyd, my shelter-adopted roommate, bore no resemblance to the small, cute kitty he had been amongst the cages and cages of abandoned animals at the local animal shelter. He was now in all his balls-gone, neutered glory, fifteen pounds of loveable fluff with both a ferocious purr and loud voice that was more of loud demand which could mean anything from 'I need a treat' to 'Sit your ass down 'cause I need a rub'

Floyd, like most cats, owned his owner instead the other way 'round.

I had almost forgotten Jake was behind me until I felt his warmth at my back as I turned my key in the lock to my apartment and stepped in. I quickly began turning on lights in my small space as Jake took up a casual pose leaning against the wall near the door watching my cat make a mad dash down the short hall to my room. Mr. Jamison came all the way in and set his thick file folder on the bar that separated my kitchenette from the living room. Clearing his throat he began speaking, "Ms. Tomas, this is a matter best discussed in private about your personal financial situation."

His eyes cut toward Jake in emphasis.

I, too, looked at Jake and found his eyes on mine. His steady gaze seemed to give me the power to decide if I wanted him here for this discussion or not. Since he had already seen almost all of my body without clothes, heard a large part of my past, was already aware of my financial straits, and had just threatened one of my bosses, I figured he wasn't going to be surprised by any other news.

Plus, he was a great buffer against the swarmy Mr. Jamison. If Jake could cow Mr. Mahmood, he could damn well handle my banker.

No two men could be more different. While Jamison had about 15 years on Jake, he also had about 80 pounds on him as well. Since he was also a bit shorter than my height of 5'9" compared to Jake's towering 6' 4", he was like a short, white dumpling--soft and squishy. But, most dumplings don't sport multi-colored M&M festooned ties.

"You can speak in front of Jake," I said, perching on the arm of my couch a scant foot from Jake's casual, though alert position. It wasn't lost on me that I had placed myself so that Jake was between where Mr. Jamison stood and I sat.

"Jake? As in Jake Stanton?" Jamison asked giving Jake the once over.

"Yep," Jake replied as he straightened away from the wall and came to stand next to me, one hand softly resting on my shoulder. Jamison didn't miss the hand movement as Jake rumbled at him to 'get on with it'.

"Well," Jamison started on an inward breath. "You're behind on your payments again, Ms Tomas"

"How much?" Jake barked cutting off Jamison's mellifluous banker's voice that had only gotten started on his well-known theme. I was thinking that Jake had kind of had enough, with good reason.

"Now, Mr. Stanton" Jamison said clear in his effort to gain conversational control after Jake's highly unwanted and explosive interruption.

"How much is she behind, Jamison?"

"Well, let me see," Jamison reached for the file on the bar and began flipping through the multitude of pages. "One month and eight days. Which, as you know, Ms. Tomas, is clearly in violation of your mortgage agreement--"

"Bullshit," Jake stated firmly in his deep voice as I felt his hand tense on my shoulder. "That's a load of crap and you know it. She might pay extra interest and maybe a penalty but only being 39 days late shouldn't be enough to have the head of the bank on Caitlin's doorstep after fuckin' bankin' hours."

Jake dipped his chin towards me and captured my eyes, seeming to give me some kind of warning. He looked back at Jamison with a frown.

"What kind of shit are you trying to pull, Jamison?" There were more than a couple of beats of silence as Jake stared down Mr. Jamison who had puffed up considerably at the first sound of Jake's challenge.

I had remained quiet during their brief exchange that seemed to contain a lot more under-the-surface-stuff than I was hearing. The tension in the room was palatable but, again, I didn't know why. Truthfully, I hadn't expected Jake's immediate involvement in dealing with my banker although I must admit I was grateful for it. Well, kind of. Maybe if he hadn't already had to put one of my bosses into check today, that is.

"You know that I'll take care of it, Mr. Jamison," I said, finally joining the conversation. "One of the tenants is behind on her rent and I haven't had the money to pay but I did send what I had on hand in on time." Pam in Three was notorious for being late on her rent and, since I didn't have a cash-cushion to absorb it, I had to make a short payment on the mortgage. This was the third time it had happened and the third time I had to face Mr. Jamison as a result.

I saw the bank president's face redden as I spoke, although I wasn't sure if it was from anger or embarrassment from being called to task in front of a witness. He glanced again at Jake as he snapped the file close.

"We'll look forward to your account being current again," Mr. Jamison said curtly as he looked at me sternly before I saw his eyes drift and his face take on a different look as they dropped to my chest where my coat had fallen open exposing the thin gauze of my top.

'Ewww,' my mind groaned as I quickly secured the belt of my thin jacket hoping against hope the slimy man hadn't caught a glimpse of my nipples through the gossamer fabric. I had forgotten that my bra was still crammed in my purse.

"You're done," Jake barked at my movement, taking a step towards the chubby, ageing banker as he jumped, startled. From Jake's tone I knew he had either caught my movement to conceal myself or he had caught Mr. Jamison ogling.

"I'll just be going, then," I heard Mr. Jamison mumble as he quickly exited my door.

After hearing the outer portal thud as he left, I stood and turned to Jake.

*.*.*.*.*

"Stu? Listen, I was just at Caitlin Tomas's place and she was there with Jake Stanton. How would I know why he was there? Uh-huh. Yep. A fly in the ointment is a good way to put it. Will do."

Layton Jamison closed his phone and stared at the lit windows of Caitlin's apartment.

He had spent so much time, so much effort to bring that gorgeous little filly into line. He almost had her where he wanted her. But now he'd had to cross swords with that smut peddler.

And he had lost to the younger man. Jamison was under no illusion about his own looks. He knew that Stanton appealed to the ladies. But beauty fades and hard times had a way of showing on a person's face, even a face as handsome as Stanton's.

If memory served, Stanton's father had drank himself to death. Was there hope that this would play out as 'like father, like son'?

BOOK: Pole Dance
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