Not My Lover Ch. 08byJazzMatthews©
As planned, Summer and Gage went to the Alamo the next day. Summer was indeed shocked that her husband knew just as much about Texas history as she did, if not more. He knew about the battle that took place thirteen long days during 1836, and the three key characters, Davy Crocket, William Barrett Travis, and Jim Bowie. Summer found it fascinating to hear Gage Ryan tell her what he knew about the fight for the Alamo.
After leaving through the doors of the historic landmark, all Summer could do was stare incredulously at this man talking about her state's history like a Shakespearean actor quoting Macbeth just for the hell of it. He did this without hesitation at trying to remember every detail. That was commendable, especially when he gave her details even her teachers failed to mention in school.
Gage paused in his reflections as he caught the look she delivered to him. His face hardened into a scowl. "What?"
Summer merely blinked. "How do you know all this? I can barely remember the Spanish general without getting him confused with Santa Claus. I had originally thought he was a woman."
Gage chuckled and it was enough to light Summer's nerve endings. "Well, he was dressed in pink, silk pajamas when Sam Houston was comin' for his ass, so yeah, that's debatable. I think Anna is a fittin' name for a Spanish general who overtakes less than two hundred men in a missionary but keeps in touch with his feminine side."
It was Summer's turn to laugh, her eyes glowing with contemplation and amusement. "Ah, yes, now I remember," she replied. "Wasn't he with the Yellow Rose of Texas?"
Gage nodded. "But I doubt it was for her job description. Maybe he was there to get a manicure or for tips on how to keep his hair nice beneath the general's hat."
Summer roared with laughter again. "I can well believe it."
Gage peered over at her, his green eyes browsing her merry features. "Not everyone knows that," he said. "I'm amazed. Glad that you've learned somethin' from school," Gage smirked.
"Hey, I never said that the Texas school system was perfect."
"I'd pay good money to see one system that is, honey," Gage remarked as they crossed the street. They managed to dodge cars and people as they walked into a local food place who specialized mainly in burgers.
Summer had eaten there several times, and she could clearly say that the restaurant could put McDonalds and Burger King out of business if it was a bigger chain. Summer had decided to get a Texas-style burger that would take days to eat. However, she was starving since they had skipped breakfast altogether.
Gage got the same and they took up a table that was situated beside a large window to glance at the tourist crowding the sidewalks. Gage went on and talked about the Battle for San Jacinto. Usually, Summer didn't care a flying flip about history because her teachers through school had made her dislike the topic, but the way his voice whirred in that subdued, warm twang of his made the subject sound better than any way she had heard it. She wished she could've learned history from him, along with a few other things.
Summer casually nibbled on a fry as she stared out the broad window, listening to his delicious drawl. It was like...she couldn't describe what just listening to him did to her. She guessed it was like coming home. A warmth like a security blanket, so manly and authoritative yet protective. Summer had resisted for a while, but she was truly wondering why she had. She hadn't seen this side of Gage since the first few months of their acquaintance and he burrowed his way beneath her skin.
Summer was suddenly alerted to hearing nothing and looked back to see Gage just watching her. "What?" she asked almost aggressively.
Gage just shrugged. "I'm surprised that you're even eatin' that burger. I figured you to be a meat and potatoes kinda woman and was afraid to show it."
"I'm not afraid to show anything about me," Summer answered.
Gage eased back into his chair as his eyes roamed over her face. "That's somethin' I can easily debate, hellfire."
Summer's cheeks flamed red-hot before she changed the subject. "I still can't believe that you know so much about history, Gage."
He grinned. "It's a secret hobby of mine," he revealed. "I've loved it since a lil' boy, especially with the conflicts from the south. Texas history was just somethin' else I dug into in my spare time."
Summer took a sip of soda through her straw. "You're quite the historian, then. I'm surprised you didn't become one."
Gage scoffed, his sexy mouth tilting with sarcasm. "That's an oxymoron to be a handsome historian. I ain't never seen those two words sharin' the same sentence."
Summer lifted her burger toward her mouth. "There are plenty of good looking men who are historians."
Gage's perceptive eyes of fine jade danced with humor. "Yeah? Name me one."
Summer placed a napkin toward her lips, covering her mouth as she chewed her food thoroughly. All the while, she was thinking of a suitable man who was a historian and handsome at the same time. She hardly knew any except for those she had graduated with, but Gage probably wanted someone famous. She gave him the only well-known name she could think of.
Gage shook his head. "He's fictional and don't count. I meant someone more tangible."
"He's close enough," Summer debated. "Watching that series made archeology appear so cool for the first time since the discovery of King Tut. I'm sure after the first movie premiered, he had people rushing to digging sites to get their hands on the next wonder, so you can just chew on that for a little."
Gage was silent, only observing her for a while. Summer trembled beneath the rough scrutiny of his eyes as they continued their abrasive study. She didn't care what he thought. She made her point and a damned good one, too.
"Is the rest of your family as friendly as your cousin from last night?" he asked, totally denying her an answer.
Calmly, Summer allowed that to pass. "My cousin has always been that optimistic sort of person. Sometimes she makes me sick with it."
Gage shook his head as he took a draw from his cup. "Too bad you couldn't inherit that cheerful personality," Gage teased, though his tone was entirely humorless. "You'd be a helluva lot more approachable."
Summer's eyes discharged the sharp flare of fire. "Take your own advice before you try to tell me what to do, Gage."
Again, he quietly browsed her without another comeback. This was interesting to see that Gage Ryan wasn't willing to fight her as fiercely as he once had.
Gage finished off his burger before pushing the plate aside and thrusting a toothpick into his mouth. "Who else are we meetin' besides her fiancé?"
"My aunt. She's a hard woman who won't take crap from no one." Summer's eyes lifted to Gage's. "Not even yours."
Gage leaned forward until his elbows were propped upon the table, the light dangling above them shadowing his face partially in a way that made him resemble a pirate. Summer kept the thoughts to herself of how she wanted him to swab her deck.
The toothpick shifted from side to side in his mouth and bouncing up and down before it stopped. Gage's fingers joined together as he carefully regarded her.
Then, he gave an imperturbable smile. "Honey, your aunt hasn't met me, yet, and if she's as you say, God help her when she does."
"Mama! Look who's here!"
Gage and Summer were escorted into the grayish-blue brick home situated in the neighborhood she had spent many of her childhood holidays and school breaks. It was as she remembered it and she reminisced each time she appeared on her aunt's doorstep.
They stepped in the large hallway that adjoined the dining room, the living room, the kitchen, and the stairs to the second level. It was still inviting and nicely decorated, thanks to her aunt's addiction to HGTV and Trading Spaces.
Her Aunt Belle, the sister of her late father, came into the hallway, an annoyed expression on her face as she took in Summer, whom she hugged and gave a brief smile to before scowling at the one standing behind her niece. Her dark brown eyes sized up the fairly tall Gage, who could only stare at the woman in turn.
Angel cleared her throat. "Uh, Mama, this is Gage Ryan, Summer's husband."
Gage didn't budge an inch, his arms crossed like a sentinel as he nodded his head in quick acknowledgement. He was insightful in knowing when he wasn't liked. "Ma'am," Gage drawled with cool civility. "It's an honor to meet a relative of my wife."
Belle's displeasure was clear, and her eyes scrolled down Gage's body and back up again. Her dark, mature features twisted. "He's white," she emitted condescendingly.
"Mama!" Angel exclaimed in horror.
Belle's flashing eyes went to Summer, then to her daughter. "I don't know what went wrong with you two," she preached. "All that potential. We raised you in strong black families to fall for strong black men. Now you both bring Wally Cleaver's cast-off sons to my house."
Summer was offended by that. There was not a chance in hell that Gage could ever be related to Wally Cleaver, even distantly. Summer was about to say something when her cousin stepped in, the jovial disposition replaced by a grim, warning tone. "Mama, we went over this. I won't have it."
Frankly, neither was Belle and she went upstairs, leaving her niece and the nephew-in-law she wouldn't claim with quite an impression. Summer whirled to face Angel. "What's got in her girdle?"
Angel sighed sadly, gaining her composure. "She's angry that our significant others aren't what she expected."
"Expected?" Summer echoed, but then, her curiosity was fulfilled when a man walked into a room. A handsome white man, at that, with thoughtful brown eyes and a curly, dark brown mane of hair. He was suave and looked debonair. Judging by the rock he placed on her cousin's finger, Summer could only supposed that the man had a sizeable wallet as well as a lifestyle.
He came up to Angel's side with a boyish smile slashed across his face as he gave her a tender kiss. Angel giggled as he whispered something in her ear, but then, she looked to Gage and Summer, who were only staring at her with eyes that craved for explanations.
Angel hugged one of the man's arms, a smile of genuine pleasure on her face. "I would like you both to meet Orlando Stanton, my fiancé," she announced proudly. She glanced up to Orlando, still grinning stupidly. "Baby, this is my cousin, Summer, and her husband, Gage."
The cordial and elegant Orlando shook both of their hands before rewarding them with another wholesome smile. "It's a pleasure to meet both of you," he replied a rich, deep tone. "I've heard a lot about you, Summer. You work for the FBI?"
Summer smiled. "Yes, and not as a damn secretary."
Orlando laughed. "Yes, Angel told me you were always good with a weapon and took cops and robbers seriously."
"That was a game of inspiration," Summer replied as the memory engaged her briefly into the past. "It got me looking into guns and wanting to uphold the law."
"She would play the cop in every game," Angel cried. "She was the robber just once and she complained the whole time about how she was supposed to be the justice. Same thing went for Cowboys and Indians. She just had to be the first black female sheriff in the Wild West."
Summer recalled that vividly and how she would argue for minutes on end with Angel and her older brother, Chad, about who was to be the sheriff. Aunt Belle had always told her children to let Summer do what she wanted since she was a guest in the house. That won arguments every time.
"Ya'll weren't playing the part right," Summer countered. "Ya'll did so many things wrong that I had to correct you or do it myself."
Angel peeked up to Orlando. "See what I grew up with?" Then her eyes transferred to Gage. "I've no idea how you two met, but I can imagine how if you're at the FBI. She probably held you at gun point and demanded you go out with her."
Gage did the sexy lift of a corner of his mouth. "I'd say that's just the opposite of what happened, but I used a different sort of weapon."
Summer's face flushed as Orlando and Angel laughed. She never been so embarrassed and Gage had no shame.
"I won't ask what weapon you did use," Angel said. "But we should all move into the dining room. I'm almost dying for Mama's baked chicken."
That sounded good to Summer. The burger she had consumed during lunch was already digested. They were just about to progress to the dining room when they heard the thumping sound of feet flying down the stairs and the perpetrator stopped in their circle. The young girl took one good look at everyone before narrowing her irritated, chocolate brown eyes upon Angel.
"What the hell is this?" the girl asked with enormous attitude.
Summer rolled her eyes. God, not another one.
Angel's own dark eyes morphed back into aggressiveness. "Don't get that kind of attitude with me, Attanisha," she snapped. "As you know, this is Summer and her husband. They're family."
"They're your family, Angel," she spat saucily. "I ain't claimin' that." And with that statement, she tossed a frown at Orlando right before she turned her glare to Gage. Summer saw the unperturbed smile slashing across her husband's mouth and she braced herself for him to say something harsh, and he did.
"I wouldn't claim you, either, you lil' fast ass," he growled. Gage seemed justified for calling her that since she dressed like a streetwalker.
"Stupid cracka," she hissed at Gage before staring at Orlando. "The both of you. Just because you're in this house and about to marry Angel doesn't mean I gotta respect you."
Finally, Orlando showed some gumption against his provoker and grimaced deeply, his coffee eyes narrowing with intense contempt. "You can think of me how you want," he retorted in a passively calm voice. "You're just mad that you can't do better."
The young girl rolled her eyes and huffed before she headed toward the door. "I'm going out. Don't wait up."
"Have fun gettin' a STD," Gage chimed.
"Whatever," was the response and a door being slammed harshly.
Gage turned to his hostess. "What's that girl's problem?"
"Damn her," Angel breathed vehemently. "I'm sorry, guys, really. She's so unnerving since I've brought Orlando home. She and my mother share the same view on..." She paused a little to give Orlando and Gage a look. "That."
"I see it's hereditary," Gage assumed.
Angel shook her head. "No, she's just here because my uncle couldn't take care of a piece of meat, let alone his teenage daughter. We've never been close, so I don't bother. Neither does my brother, Chad, and for good reason. I don't claim her. Not after insulting the man I love."
She curled an arm around Orlando's waist. "I can be happy without her or my mother's concern."
"Glad to hear it," Gage affirmed after he gave a guttural growl. "Well, I'm starvin'."
"Then let's go eat," Angel said as she walked into the dining room on Orlando's arm. They arrive and found that the food was already situated upon the table and the aroma of it was exciting to the senses.
Gage's eyes browsed the room. "I take it your mother ain't gonna join us?"
"She refuses," Angel informed them. "She's eating in her room."
"Even better," Gage smiled. "Wouldn't want her foul mood to spoil my appetite, though I'm sure that the woman would try and poison the hell outta me."
Angel smiled as well. "Don't worry, Gage. She was acquitted," she joked, although the look Gage had revealed that he wasn't too sure about that.
"So, Orlando, what is it that you do?" asked Summer as she served a couple of spoonfuls of scalloped potatoes.
"I'm the CEO of my own company out of Austin," Orlando kindly replied.
"The CEO of what?" she countered.
Orlando took a brief sip of his iced tea. "Of a company I named O.S. Tech. It deals with technology for Internet protection such as firewalls, patch software, virus scans and coding that prevents even the most skilled hackers from breaking into governmental protected servers."
"It sounds like you have a lot on your hands," Summer replied.
"A little, but I can't complain. Business has been doing fine with the help of the governmental ties that I have."
Now this was something that gained Gage's attention. "Governmental, huh?" he said before he took a bite out of his piece of chicken. "Were you involved in any special intelligence work?"
Orlando's spoonful of potatoes was midway toward his mouth. "How do you figure?"
"You look like you might've done somethin' in that field."
A corner of Orlando's mouth lifted in humor. "Yeah, I was in the DIA for a couple of years as a HUMINT Intelligence Officer before moving into technical intelligence."
Gage was aware of the DIA. Graham once submitted his application for the agency and had been offered the job. But for some reason, he turned it down to work for the Philadelphia PD and to this very day, Gage had no idea why Graham refused to job when it was his to have but he assumed that it was to prove to everyone and himself that he was capable of making the grade.
"What made you give that up?" Summer asked.
"I've always wanted to go into business for myself. That was just a step up in experience that I needed and it paid off. Now it is one of the best technical businesses in the US, especially when everyone wants protection while surfing the Internet with all these viruses and hacking going on."
"And is that how you and Angel met? Through your company?"
Angel shook her head, passing a shy glance toward Orlando. "No, actually, we met during a speed dating meeting."
Summer's eyebrows shot up. "Speed dating?"
"Yeah," Angel continued. "Where a group of people meet and we talk one-on-one for a few minutes before we switch and talk one-on-one to someone else. Orlando was my very last person to talk to and the only thing we talked about was what we did for a living. At that time, I had just graduated from Texas State and I needed a job. He said he was looking for some people for his public relations department and that if I wanted a job, call him for an interview."
Summer's dark moon eyes shifted toward Orlando. "And what were you doing at this place?"
Orlando shrugged. "I was bored and I was dared by some friends to attend one meeting. A Stanton never backs down from dares so I did." His gaze lifted to observe the lovely features of his fiancée. "And I'm sure glad that I did."
"But from what I gather, ya'll were just startin' on a professional relationship," Gage replied. "How did it get serious?"
"One late night and an empty office was all it took."
Angel glanced down into her lap, a shade of crimson coming into her cheeks. Summer was amazed that her cousin would even do something like that. She might have been the outgoing one, but Angel was the most pure person she had ever known.
"How did the first meeting with Aunt Belle go?"
"Naturally, she threw a fit but far worse than the one she threw tonight," Angel replied frankly. "That's one of the reasons why she's being so hard on Orlando. But I must confess, when she saw how much he was worth, she's been somewhat courteous to him ever since."
Gage chuckled. "Money's good to shut people up, if only for a while." He pushed back his chair and stood. "Pardon, but where's your bathroom?"
Angel pointed toward the entry hallway. "The toilet down here is broken. It's better for you to use the one upstairs, second door to your left."
Gage ascended the stairs and took care of his business in the bathroom, but something had disturbed him on the way there. Before he got to the bathroom, a door was ajar to a partially lit room, and he witnessed Angel's mother sitting in a rocking chair in the corner, staring hard at him as he passed.