Tabitha Ch. 11byLaLaLady©
“Oh my God!” Rose screeched as soon as she entered the foyer. “Wes Roberts is in my house!”
Her hazel eyes went perfectly round and her gray backpack slid off her shoulder to hit the floor.
Patrick, earbuds in and head down didn’t realize his sister had come to a complete stop in front of the door. He ran into her back when he tried to enter the house.
“What the…” he squawked.
He finally looked up and his expression changed to match his sister. “Bloody hell! You’re Wes Roberts!”
Wes smiled and gave them a slight wave.
“How did you…when did you…what are you doing here?” stuttered Rose.
“You must be here to see Uncle Vic!’ Patrick exclaimed.
Tabitha opened her mouth to say something but her nephew had dropped his backpack and pumped both fists in the air. “Uncle Vic is sooo cool! I can’t believe this!”
“Hello!” Tabitha said waving her hands, “Aunt Tabby here…another person in the room.”
Neither child acknowledged her. They had pulled their mobile phones from their pockets and began dialing.
“Lizzie won’t believe this!” Rose muttered to herself.
Tabitha was struck. How did they know Wes and why were they so freaked?
“Lamar is coming over right now!” Patrick laughed. “He doesn’t believe me!”
“Hey!” Tabitha said with her hands planted on her hips. “How do you guys know Wes?”
They both gave her incredulous looks.
“Everyone knows Wes Roberts. He was the original drummer for Falling Line!”
“I have all their CDs upstairs!”
“Uncle Vic is sooo cool!” Patrick exclaimed again.
“Actually, I don’t know your uncle,” said Wes.
“Huh?” said Rose.
“What?” Wes asked.
“Yeah, he’s here to see me!” Tabitha said crossing her arms.
“Now if you’ll excuse us, we were just headed out!” Tabitha said tugging Wes away from her niece and nephew.
They walked toward the back of the house, through the kitchen and into the back garden.
“Wow,” Wes muttered when they walked out into the garden. “That house is unbelievable.”
“Yeah, it’s great,” Tabitha said dismissively as she pulled him into a white wood gazebo. “Would you mind explaining to me why Rose and Patrick know you?”
“Easy, they’re British tweens.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
Wes smiled down at her and moved to kiss her but she stepped back, out of his reach. “Wesley!”
“Sorry, I’m just so happy to see you.”
She glared at him.
“Okay, okay. Have you ever noticed that the people that say, ‘Oh my gosh! I used to love the Spice Girls!’ are approximately the same age?”
“Well, they are. There’s a certain age range that is prime for marketing. Preteens have a death grip on their parents’ purse strings. If they want it, they get it, and if a record company can catch their attention, they’ve got the market locked. So people like Logan pander to the preteens and make money hand over fist.”
Tabitha nodded. “Falling Line was the other band…the one that didn’t go world-wide.”
“Exactly, they’re still together and a big deal over here. Most people that know the band when it first started remember me as the original drummer.”
“Oh, wow. So you’re kinda like a big deal.”
He chuckled and snared her arm, pulling her to him. Tabitha bumped against his chest and laughed.
“What’s so funny?”
She put her head on his chest and listened to his heart for a few beats. “I just realized that can’t really be seen in public with you either. We might actually make the front page over here.”
“So, just so I’ve got this straight, you’re not sleeping with the rich and famous soccer star, well on your way to joining the ranks of Britain’s most stylish W.A.G.S.?”
“Tabitha snuggled against his chest. “You can’t believe everything you read.”
Wes leaned down to drop a kiss on her forehead.
Tabitha watched Dion make her way down one of the paths from the house to the gazebo where they stood in comfortable silence. Dion smiled at them for a moment before she spoke. “I’ve had your things relocated to the third floor, South Wing. There is a king-sized bed in there and two armoires, plus a sitting area, and an amazing bathroom.”
Tabitha freed herself from Wes and faced her sister. “Lady Solomon, shouldn’t you be more concerned with the propriety of our sleeping arrangements?”
Dion rolled her eyes. “Oh, please…like I don’t know how far he’s gotten!”
Tabitha felt her face heat. “What if he doesn’t want to stay here?”
Dion turned to Wes. “Surely you wouldn’t refuse the chance to be a guest in our home?”
“I’d never,” said Wes, “but at present my luggage is in a hotel in Birmingham.”
“Tell me which and I’ll send someone to collect it.”
He did just that as Tabitha made her way back to the house. Things were spiraling out of control. What was supposed to be an extended visit to see her sister and the new baby was turning into a cataclysmic event, Wes had come to tell her that he loved her and she was almost ready to admit the same to him. Vic was returning in a few days to see her and Wes would be staying at the house. Things were getting messy.
Tabitha replayed the conversation she’d had with Vick on the phone that morning as she walked back to the house.
“Hello,” she answered after picking up the phone in the kitchen. She’d been surprised that the customary greeting wasn’t more colloquial, but evidently only the business lines in the home were answered with any pomp and circumstance.
“Well, hello love!” Vick’s voice boomed through the line.
“Hey Vick, how was the game?” she asked as she stirred her tea.
“Wonderful, it was a win. I scored three out of the five goals.”
“That’s amazing!” said Tabitha with genuine excitement. For one player to score three goals in a professional soccer game was quite a feat.
“I know…highest scoring game of my career. I believe you are my lucky charm!”
She smiled. “I don’t know about that.”
“I do. That’s why I’m stopping in for another visit after the game in Turkey.”
“Yup, I’ve got to get all the luck I can before you hop back across the pond.”
Tabitha didn’t know if she was should feel flattered or used. “Well, we’ll look forward to seeing you...uh…”
“This weekend,” Vick finished for her. “Oh, and tell Dion that mum will pop ‘round for a visit on Thursday. She wants it to be a surprise, but its only fair to give warning lest my dear sister be caught unaware and unprepared.”
Tabitha swallowed hard. Lady Evelyn Charlotte Walter-Solomon was going to “pop round” for a visit? Her insides twisted with anxiety. How did her sister deal with her ladyship coming over to hang out?
“Ohhh,” she groaned placing the phone in the cradle.
“You look a bit sallow, Tabitha.”
She grabbed Rick’s arm as he tried to walk past her. “Your mom is coming for a visit on Thursday.”
He smiled. “Brilliant, the two of you can finally have a proper introduction.”
“Yeah, brilliant,” she muttered after a sip of tea. “Now I’ve gotta find something to wear.”
“Tabby!” said Wes snapping her out of her mind and back into the present.
“Dion’s mother-in-law is coming for a visit tomorrow,” she said to him. “I’ll be expected to be here to meet her.”
“Okay,” he said with a shrug. “I’ll have to dress for the occasion then.”
“Do you need to go shopping?” she asked. “We can take a car to the Bullring and find your suit.”
He draped an arm across her shoulders. “Believe it or not, I do own a couple suits.”
“Oh, um…okay. Wait…I’ve never seen you in a suit.”
“I’ve never had the occasion to wear a suit around you.”
“I didn’t even know you owned one…but I guess I should have known, a man can’t live his entire life in t-shirts and jeans.” Tabitha stopped walking and stepped from under his arm. “Wait a minute…you were a bonafied rock star. Why are you working at the music store? Did you lose all your money, you know, gambling, drugs, Enron?”
Wes chuckled. “No, I’m flush. I’ve got plenty. I wouldn’t give my dad the satisfaction of blowing all my money.”
Tabitha frowned. “So you work at Life Sounds because…”
“It’s easy and I love Mr. Dennis like a father. He’s a great guy and his life’s work is no less important than anything I’ve done.”
“Why did you let me think you were…you know…a salesman.”
“I didn’t let you think anything…I am a salesman.”
“You know what I mean,” snapped Tabitha.
“I told you that I wasn’t broke. I just didn’t tell you that I’ve got more money than most in my savings account. I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for what? I mean, you didn’t tell me something that’s a pretty big deal. You could have mentioned that you’re famous and well-off.”
Wes frowned, his gold eyes darkening. “Would that have changed anything?”
Tabitha sighed. “No.”
“Fine, then,” he said curtly. “If it wouldn’t have changed anything back then, it doesn’t have to change anything now.” He turned and walked into the house, leaving Tabitha outside.
That night, Tabitha had been in the bathroom for almost an hour. She was delaying bed as long as possible. Wes was in there and as much as she wanted to have reunion sex, his little lie of omission was weighing on her mind.
She didn’t care that he was loaded. Did he really think her so shallow? Why would he let her believe he was a salesman eking out a living while financing the upgrades on a house willed to him by his grandparents? Bank accounts certainly weren’t first date conversation but a few million dollars would be worth mentioning at some point in the months they’d been together.
She huffed a sigh and spun away from the mirror. Marie. Okay…so Wes had been hurt in the past. Logan’s comment at the listening party made sense now…but she was nothing like Marie. For starters, she wasn’t French…and she didn’t go for girls. For another thing: she never considered fame or fortune a dating requirement…not that she’d had extensive experience in relationships.
Finally, she took a deep breath and left the bathroom. She walked slowly to the bed and let out a relieved sigh at what she saw. Wes was asleep, his ink black hair across the pillow, his chest rising with slow, even breaths. She slipped into the bed beside him and let sleep take her.
The next morning, the house was in a bustle. The servants had never been more visible. They were cleaning, rearranging, cooking, and inspecting every room and surface. Tabitha trudged to the kitchen and brewed her tea. Lady Solomon’s name was floating off everyone’s lips around the house.
After her cup of tea and a pile of scrambled eggs, Tabitha showered and dressed for the day. Wes was still asleep, recovering from jet lag. Quiet as she could, she dressed in a floor-length summer dress covered with pink, yellow, and green flowers. After slipping on her flip-flops, she made her way downstairs and came upon Dion’s sister-in-law in the parlor.
Posie was model tall and ballerina slender. She wore a blue and white paisley tea dress, short enough to show off a set of mile long legs, with cap-sleeves to show her slender, toned arms. Her skin was fair but with evidence of a slight tan. She had gold, silver, and copper bangles up one arm, a set of diamond drop earrings that hung to her shoulders, and wide blue eyes. She favored her brothers with the blonde hair and high cheek bones, but she was feminine and far less imposing.
“Posie?” Tabitha asked when she entered the room. “Dion didn’t tell me you were coming.”
At this rate every one of Rick’s family members would be in that house.
“It wasn’t planned. She told me that Vic was coming and then mum was to come here, along with you and I knew I had to fly straight from Milan to complete this happy reunion! I can’t believe we haven’t seen each other since the wedding!”
Posie leaned down to breeze a kiss on both Tabitha’s cheeks. “I know.”
“It’s my fault; I’ve only been stateside once since the wedding and I didn’t stay very long.”
Tabitha shrugged. “It’s okay. I know you’re busy.”
“I’m busy dodging playboys!”
They both laughed. “I’m so glad you came for an extended visit.”
“Thanks, did your mother arrive with you?”
Posie laughed. “No, mum is coming in from Paris this afternoon.”
Tabitha sat on a couch and pulled a book from the nearest end table, History of the British Isles.
Posie wrinkled her nose at the book. “Studying?”
Tabitha shrugged. “I guess. I just don’t want to be caught off guard.”
Posie sank gracefully into a chair and folded one long leg over the other. “Don’t worry about discussing the origins of the royal family with mum. She’s not into such droll conversation.”
The day went on in a similar vein. She and Posey talked until lunch. Wes woke up in time to eat lunch but went straight back to bed. Tabitha was relieved he was so tired. She still wasn’t sure what she wanted to say to him about…well, everything. Rose and Patrick were infatuated with him, Dion liked him, but Tabitha didn’t know what the hell to do anymore. How could she be in love with someone that she didn’t even know…and why was the thought of being in love at all so damn scary.
An eerie stillness came over the house at around three o’clock. It was as if the entire house drew in a collective sigh and held their breath. The babies didn’t even cry since they were both down for naps. Tabitha was in the suite reading when the pewter grey Rolls Royce Phantom pulled in to the estate. The sound of slamming doors drew her from the love seat to the window. Tabitha watched as the driver opened the back door. There was a woman with dark hair rushing around the vehicle to the trunk. She talked to one of the maids, their heads close together. A small hand extended from the car and allowed the chauffer to help her out. The hand was attached to a narrow arm that was followed by a neatly dressed, white haired woman, small in stature, but big in presence.
Tabitha stepped back from the window so she wouldn’t be caught staring. This was it, then, the moment of truth. She hurried over to the vanity to brush her hair and “put on her face” as Dion would say.
Wes walked into the room and she turned to look at him. He wore a black button up shirt, open at the collar, slim fit khaki pants, and square-toed black slip-ons. Her breath caught when she saw that his hair was combed back, no longer in his face, leaving his squared-jaw on display. He was clean-shaven, his eyes traveled over her before he smiled.
“What are you looking at?” she huffed.
“You look scared as hell,” he teased coming up behind her. He slipped an arm around her waist and dropped a kiss on her shoulder.
“I am,” she muttered wriggling from his grip. “I have to get downstairs, are you coming?”
“I’ll be down soon, it’s not like she’s expecting me,” he said with a laugh.
Tabitha glared and walked out of their room. She had to get it together and stop being mad at Wes long enough to make a good first impression on her Ladyship.
“Lady Solomon,” Tabitha said as she shook hands with Rick’s mother…Dion’s mother-in-law. The woman was a walking Chanel ad. Her suit was fitted perfectly to her slim frame, her hair was coiffed, and her makeup was flawless. She had porcelain complexion, and delicate bone structure.
She smiled. “Please call me Evelyn. I’ve heard many good things about you.”
“All lies, I can pretty much guarantee,” Tabitha muttered before she could stop herself.
Lady Solomon laughed. “Yes, I was told that you’re quite funny.”
“Just as I thought, my humor is about as dry as a Tyrannosaurus femur.”
Evelyn laughed again. “Please have a seat. I was also told that you are a wonderful conversationalist.”
“Now that’s actually true. I love to talk!”
“As do I, maybe we should have someone join us so there’ll be someone who will actually listen.”
Tabitha glanced around the parlor. It was suspiciously empty. “Where is everyone?”
“People have a habit of disappearing when I come around. Dion has gone to feed Ash. The nanny has the older children upstairs…making them presentable I assume. Rick isn’t home from work, my staff is unpacking, and Posie has a nasty habit of avoiding me until it’s a hair from being rude. You’d think I was an axe murderer. I’m not that frightening, am I?”
Tabitha swallowed. “I wouldn’t say frightening.”
Lady Solomon lifted a perfectly arched brow. “What would you say?”
Lady Solomon smiled.
“Yes, I’ll go with intimidating.”
Wes walked into the room as Lady Solomon laughed aloud.
“Oh my!” she said standing. “You’re that rock star Patrick and Rose have been gushing about since yesterday! They’ve sent me at least twenty texts about you being in the house.”
Wes smiled. “I’m Wesley Roberts, Lady Solomon; it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Tabitha blinked at him. Why did he sound so…so un-Wes-like?
“The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Roberts.”
Wes kissed her hand and Tabitha thought she’d swallow her tongue in shock. Luckily, the children entered at that moment and Lady Solomon was too enraptured by her grandchildren to notice the way Tabitha stared at Wes like she’d never seen him before.
He sat beside her and kissed her cheek.
“Who are you?” she whispered.
“You know exactly who I am.”
“I’m thinking I don’t,” she whispered. “You’re freaking me out.”
“Would you rather me show her my tattoos and chase you around this room trying to get your clothes off?”
“You’ll be lucky if you ever get my clothes off again,” she hissed before almost leaping off the couch and walking over to join Lady Solomon and the kids.
Posie entered the room and gave her mother a polite kiss. “Mum, Vick has just arrived.”
“I thought he wasn’t coming until the weekend!” Tabitha almost screeched.
Posie shrugged. “He’s just pulled up.”
Tabitha’s stomach fell to her feet. She wasn’t ready for Vick. She’d just gotten over her fear of his mother, and she was hoping Wes would be gone by the weekend so he wouldn’t run into Vic. Her luck was really going to shit lately.
“Tabitha!” Vick boomed when he entered the room. He enveloped her in a hug and bussed her cheek. “My good luck charm!”
Tabitha laughed and patted his arm. “Hi Vic, congrats on the win.”
“Thanks to you, love!”
Tabitha stepped away from him. “I’m sure I had nothing to do with it…just a coincidence.”
“I don’t believe in coincidences.”
She winced as he turned to greet the rest of the family, including Dion who’d just walked into the room holding the baby. Vic took Ash in his large hands and looked him over with a serious expression. He handed the bundled baby back to Dion and smiled. “He’s perfect,” he said with a nod. “You never cease to amaze me, sis.”
Dion blushed and handed the baby to Lady Solomon.
“Whose this, then?” Vic asked walking toward Wes.
“That’s Wes Roberts, Uncle Vic!”
“Oh, right! The pop singer.”
“He’s a drummer,” Patrick said rolling his eyes.
The apology didn’t seem genuine. The two shook hands and Wes set his gaze on Tabitha. His expression was drawn and his jaw was clenched. Tabitha tried to ignore the daggers coming from his dark gold eyes. Vic slipped an arm around Dion’s shoulder and kissed her forehead.
Tabitha was so distracted watching Lady Solomon coo at Ash, that she didn’t notice when Wes got close enough to slide an arm around her waist. She stiffened, but didn’t pull away…not in a room full of people…especially these people. He leaned over to whisper close to her ear.
“I’ll see you naked again tonight, bet on it.”
Tabitha gasped and felt her face flush.
Vic noticed their close embrace and smiled. “You two look quite cozy.”
“We’ve been seeing each other for months,” said Wes, his voice a low growl.