Thanks, That Was Fun... Ch. 02byRenegadeBelle©
After pulling the shirt over his head, he tugged it down and took a quick inventory of the room.
Aside from the guy who'd fallen from the counter and was now glaring at him, the other girls he remembered from the bar were watching with interest. The tall Pacific Islander leaning against the counter looked at him with a raised eyebrow, while the woman sitting at the table, a shock of short white-blonde hair framing her face, looked as if she was having trouble breathing.
The last was Jane. He remembered her vividly, even if it looked as if she was having trouble placing him. She sat with her arm resting on the back of the chair, biting her lip and watching him through bleary, hung-over eyes. She evidently didn't know what to make of him, as she ran the heels of her hands over her eyes and looked at him again.
Shifting, he leaned forward, bracing his arms against the back of the chair.
"Danny," he said, finally looking at the guy on the floor.
He looked at Jane as if his name would spark some sort of recognition, for her to remember dragging him into the cab, and then into her bed.
The tall woman in the back was the only one to react – her mouth formed an "oohhh", then she glanced at Jane, back to him, and then dipped her head to her coffee cup, her low snicker echoing against the porcelain of the cup.
Jane leaned her head in her hands, propping her elbows on the table, "Oh, shut up, Luce."
She kept laughing.
Jane, who'd been in the process of digging her hand into an open box of Life cereal when he walked him, turned and flung two of the squares at her. Lucy then looked at Danny and said with a smile too sweet to belong to the skeptical look she'd given a moment ago, opened a cabinet beside her head.
"Care for a cup of coffee?"
"Wha'?" Jane made a strangled sound and looked up, "Ummm... he, Danny, that is, was obviously leaving… and… probably has important… y'know…" she shifted uncomfortably, "…stuff… and… well… yes…" she ended, lamely.
He enjoyed watching her squirm. Truth be told, he wasn't bothered by her dismissal. He'd come out looking for his boots, and then would be gone, but instead he'd walked into one hell of a peanut gallery. Danny looked down at the woman in front of him; the contrast between how she'd acted last night and this morning - she couldn't even look him in the eye - was pretty impressive. He then looked back to Lucy, with a grin.
"Sounds great, thanks."
The guy that'd been sprawled on the floor now stood up, tossing the coffee soaked towel into the sink and refilling his own cup after Danny, who sat down at a chair at the table.
From over the rims of their cups, Lucy and the two others switched their gazes back and forth between Danny, the picture of relaxation, as though he was sitting at his own kitchen table and not that of his random one night stand's, and Jane, who studied the wooden grooves on the table, slowly raising her hand to her mouth, nibbling at the cereal in her fingers.
The guy sitting on the countertop coughed behind his hand.
Suddenly, an electronic chime went through the air and all five of them jumped; those with a hangover considerably higher than the dark haired man at the table. Jane found that irritating.
"Jesus," Carrie said, clasping a hand over her heart, before digging into the purse hanging off the back of her chair. Flipping it open, she winced at the voice on the other side.
"Good Morning, sweetie…" she tried nicely, then faltered as the other voice took over. Evidently, she'd forgotten to phone someone last night.
"Danny… Danny…" Lucy intoned softly, as if to herself.
She then looked over at Matt. "Now, why does that sound familiar?"
He grinned slightly, then schooled his face and shrugged. "Dunno… Maybe we heard it somewhere?"
Lucy nodded seriously, "Yeah, I think you're right. Like… over and over again."
"Mmhmm…" Matt intoned, agreeing. "Probably loudly, too." He frowned, tapping a finger against his chin. "Hey, wasn't that just last night?"
"Oh, gosh," Lucy said, innocently, "Heck if I know. Sounds right, but it's not quite striking a chord with me…"
A short, muffled laugh came from the blonde on the phone; she watched her two friends, completely forgetting whoever was on the phone, with a mixture of horror and barely concealed laughter.
"Maaaaaybe," Matt said slowly, "It was... more… you know…"
He paused, as if trying to grasp a concept or phrase on the tip of his tongue.
"Oh Daaaanny, yes, yes, Daaannnnny, yes, more, harder, Daaaaaannnnnny," Lucy finished for him in a feathery, high-pitched voice; she then nodded, the serious look still on her face.
Another horrified squeal of laughter came out of the woman on the phone at the two's antics, and she got out of her chair, quickly leaving the room, cell phone clutched in her hand.
"Oh, my God, you guys," Jane finally said, her head snapping up. The action caused the hood of her sweatshirt to fall back; her hair, a long, wavy mix of dark blonde tangles, cascading over her shoulders. The look on her face was nothing short of a full-blown case of mortification, and had her cheeks not gone a non-too delicate shade of beet red, she would have appeared deathly pale.
Danny's grin that developed watching the two heckle their friend lessened slightly at the sight of her long hair tumbling down as the hood fell back. He felt his pulse quicken as he remembered being in her room, cradled between her legs, running his fingers through that hair.
He sat forward, shifting in his seat, suddenly uncomfortable. Jane continued to glare at her friends.
Lucy was laughing, though she sobered slightly at the look on Jane's face. Matt kept howling.
"Oh, c'mon, Jane," she said, sitting down in the seat Carrie had scrambled from. "After the day you had yesterday, you deserved a big hunk of man. Lighten up."
"Hear, hear," Matt said, lifting his mug up in agreement. "I mean, it's not like you did anything wrong. For all intents and purposes, it was totally healthy. A rebound guy, if you will."
"It happened yesterday, Matt. Luke and I broke up just yesterday. This isn't a rebound, this, is like… drunk and out of control," Jane groaned, rubbing her temples. She felt herself panicking a little, now that the events of yesterday afternoon, last night and this morning suddenly came to bear. "Who, y'know, over the age of 25 sleeps with someone without even knowing their last name?!" She vaguely noticed her southern accent coming in to full swing as disappointment in herself mounted, "I'm such a mess. How did this all happen?"
"I do it all the time," Matt retorted with a grin. "And as for how it happened…" He wiggled his eyebrows at her.
Lucy sighed, "Janey, I hate to pull you out of the little one-woman Blanche Devereaux revival thing you've got going, but you've been 25 for three months," she said. "It's really not that big of a deal. And why is 25 suddenly a magically mature age, anyway?"
"Amen," Carrie said, clicking her phone closed as she walked back into the kitchen. "You were out to have a good time, and it certainly seems like you did. Besides," she smiled in that almost too sweet way of hers, "Nobody said it had to be just a rebound. Take it slow, enjoy it, he's heinously good-looking. Could be something there," she nudged.
Danny watched them, his eyebrows raised. "Y'all know I'm sitting right here, don't you?"
Jane snorted a laugh and shook her head; it was her turn to look over at him with amusement on her face. He'd picked up a out-of-her-mind drunk girl at the bar, let her take him back to her place, spent the rest of the night, treated himself to a cup of coffee and a shower, and then, somehow, managed to scrape together the grace to look affronted.
Jane's grin also faded as she finally managed to make eye-contact with him.
The sudden rush of warmth that floated over her when he first came into the kitchen returned in full-force. God, she thought, he is gorgeous. Flashes returned to her as if they were being excavated; she'd fallen on her way to the bathroom in Weaver's Pub, and came back out with her high heels in her hand. Somehow, it hadn't improved her balance any, and she'd fallen. Again. And right into Danny. The rather twisted tape that made up her memories for the past day swung into overdrive as she saw herself giggling and laughing into the cab with her friends, dragging Danny along, then to her apartment, her friends melting off to stumble into the couch or the pullout in the spare bedroom, and she to her room – Danny still in tow. And her clothes coming off. The mental image of her body wrapped around the man in front of her as she tossed her black heels into different corners of the room was the last one that escaped without being marked by more blushing.
They seemed to trade grins – Jane's vanished as her cheeks inflamed again, and Danny's lit up, the look of recognition he'd searched for in her face earlier suddenly appearing, alive and well.
Matt looked to Danny, then Jane, then Lucy.
Lucy looked to Jane, then Danny, then Matt.
They grinned at each other. Luke Sonofabitch Keller was never this much fun.
Jane blushed harder.
She jumped up then, mumbled "Okay, great, thanks, bye," and ran from the kitchen.
"I think she's trying to drown herself," Matt mumbled.
He, Carrie and Lucy were piled into Jane's bed and had been taking turns watching the bathroom door since Jane'd disappeared into it almost an hour ago.
"Well," Carrie clucked, looking at her watch and combing through her short, wet hair with her fingers, "she has to hurry. We have to be downtown in 30 minutes."
The three of them had taken turns showering in the spare bathroom during Jane's confinement, coming back at intervals to sit on her bed and wait for her. Carrie stopped the other two from banging down the door; she remembered quite vividly a boyfriend cheating on her, and the emotions that followed. Even though they had an appointment downtown, she privately thought that Jane could stand underneath the water in the shower as long as she wanted.
"After the day and a half she's had," Lucy said quietly, mirroring Carrie's thoughts, "I don't blame her. The shit she must be feeling in light of the fact that Luke turned out to be as big a dick as everyone told her he was probably only compounded by the little show in the kitchen this morning."
Matt shrugged, then nodded.
"Still," Carrie said, lowering her voice, "What a man."
"I know, right?" Lucy said, grinning. "Total score."
"Oh, and those eyes," Carrie purred.
"…and his hair, my God," the other woman agreed.
"Ladies, ladies, control yourselves," Matt admonished, shaking his head, "That's Janey's rebound boy you're talking about."
When Carrie shrugged, Matt nudged her with his elbow, "Not to mention, Miss, you're about to become a Mrs. in a few days – shame, shame, shame…"
Carrie opened her mouth to retort, but stopped when the hair-dryer going in the bathroom turned off, and the door opened.
Jane smiled at her three friends, sprawled out on the bed as if sitting vigil for her. She really wouldn't have survived very much in the past few years, not to mention the past few hours, without them. Running her fingers through her wavy hair, she walked over and pulled a pair of blue flats out of her closet, then grabbed her purse.
"Are we ready?" she said, as if she hadn't spent the past hour trying to knock some normality into herself.
Well, she thought, slipping her feet into the shoes, fake it 'til you make it, right?
Her three friends scrambled off the bed, watching her as she left the bedroom and passed through the large, well lit living room.
"He's gone, then?" she asked, over her shoulder.
There was no need to name the "he" in question.
"Uhh, yeah, a little after you went to take a shower," Carrie said, picking up her own purse.
Jane nodded, not sure if she was disappointed or not. On one hand, she knew herself to be the truest of red-blood American females; the guy she'd picked up in the bar was nothing short of delicious. He'd also been very cool this morning, all things considered, and any breathing, good-looking, tolerable male was worth a second glance. And Danny was so much more than just breathing and tolerable. She'd be lying to herself if she tried to deny that most of her hour-long shower was devoted to regaling herself with all the details she could remember from the night before. It was almost like a dream that was just out of reach – she remembered the warmth that had coursed through her body when he'd moved against her. She could recall the scratch of his slight stubble against her cheek, her neck, her chest, her waist…
"He left you a note on the kitchen table, though," Lucy said matter-of-factly, as if she realized Jane needed to be picked up by the scruff of the neck.
Jane nearly decided she didn't want to read it, and reached for the door knob, then stopped.
Curiosity killed the cat, Jane reasoned, and I'm about done for anyway, so why not.
She found a business card folded on the kitchen table when she entered, and picked it up gingerly, half grimacing at herself and her fluttery stomach. What, was she 12 again? Geez.
Pressing the crease out with her fingers, she looked down at it. There was no business title or address, just the name, Daniel Wright. Three lines were scrawled underneath his last name, as if to emphasize that she did, now, know her drunken lover's last name. Underneath that was printed his phone number.
Jane exhaled slowly just as Carrie's breath hitched, her eyes going misty – it was the same way she looked at the kids in the 2nd grade class she taught or puppies on the street. It was the only precursory warning to something ridiculous, romantic and/or soppy coming out of her mouth.
"Oh, Janey," she breathed softly, a fairy-tale tone to her voice that made Jane want to duck and cover, "don't you see?"
Against her better judgment, she shrugged. "What?"
"Danny Wright. Get it? He's Mr. Wright!"
Jane looked at her, confused, then at Lucy, who, as usual, got the pun light years ahead of everyone else. Lucy rolled her eyes at Carrie and shook her head as if something painful had just happened.
"Oh, spare me, please," she said, turning and walking out of the kitchen, still shaking her head. "Mr. Right. Uggggh, that's the worst joke…" she said, leaving Matt to fall into laughter, Jane to grow nauseous and Carrie's eyes to further glaze over.
Jane could almost see Carrie monogramming towels for Jane & Danny Wright in her mind. Grabbing her friends arms, she pushed them ahead of her out the kitchen.
"This is ridiculous," she said, "We're late as is. Let's go…"
As they filed out, Jane looked at the card in her hand again. Visions of his body entangled with hers swam in front of her vision, and she folded the card closed again, tapping it against her fingers for a moment, before tucking it into the pocket of her jeans and following her friends to the cab waiting outside.
An hour and a half later, while Jane and her friends nursed cups of coffee in the office of a wedding coordinator, Danny Wright sat in his own office, several miles across town, not at all paying attention to the meeting happening in front of him.
"…which I think, you'll agree, is just what you're looking for, Mr. Wright," one of the men sitting in front of his desk was saying.
Danny blinked, and looked at them. He had no idea what they were talking about.
Grinding his jaw in annoyance with himself, he leaned forward in his chair, taking the proposal that was offered to him earlier and flipping through it again. The three men in front of him watched as he drew a hand through his hair, and then looked at them again.
"Mass producing is not what we're looking for, Mr. Franklin," he corrected politely. "These are specialty guns we're talking about here, with a family owned and operated factory that employs far too many local workers for us to be able to take this offer seriously. You're suggesting that over half of our assembly be shipped overseas…"
Danny trailed off and shook his head slowly, going back over the numbers on the sheet in front of him. This would never work. The hunting rifles and shotguns that his company produced today were of the same distinction as those that his great-grandfather first produced – to take them out of American hands, some of which had worked for Wright & Lewis for generations, and put them overseas, was not going to happen. Danny wasn't about to let this business go somewhere where the case coloring wouldn't be overseen by his father, Mack Wright, who'd done it for a lifetime… not to mention the cutting of hammers and sears for their guns would be done continents away…
Danny shook his head again, and stood up. An imposing figure, it was only a matter of moments before the others stood up as well. He smiled, flipping the proposal in his hand closed and setting it on his desk.
"It's obvious that what you've come up with will maximize profits," he acknowledged, moving around his desk and opening the door, "but I can't see Wright & Lewis outsourcing jobs from South Carolina. Nonetheless, I'll show what you've given me to my brothers, and we'll have an answer for you next week," he finished, walking the three men out to the wide reception area. His secretary stood there with their jackets, and Danny turned back to his office.
"Thank you for taking the time to meet with me on a Saturday, have a good weekend," he intoned, closing the door to his office as the returned the pleasantries to him. He sat down hard behind his desk again and spun around to look out the window.
The Wright & Lewis factory, where their specialty hunting rifles and shotguns were produced, sat on the same land that Danny's great-grandfather purchased when he first moved his family to Charleston. Since then, though the technology changed, the factory floor had grown larger and their production was much higher than old Great Grandaddy would have ever dreamed, Wright & Lewis was known in the south for producing the same caliber gun as ever. These days, and especially on the weekends, though the factory was closed, the expansive grounds and gift shops were a-buzz with visitors and tourists.
Three stories below his office window were families enjoying the preserved Wright family cabin that sat at the end of a nature walk two miles away from the factory, beside a creek, where generations were born and died, and many guns were made in the old workshop near the house. This time of year, autumn was just coming in and the tips of the trees on the expansive property were beginning to change. A clear weekend like this would mean good sales in the ornate shops, not to mention the large café that touted some of Danny's mother's best recipes. Normally, Danny would be down there; he enjoyed answering the questions of the discerning collector or two that always stopped in to see the collection of antique guns stored in the shops below, just as his mother could usually be found baking the scones and turnovers that sold so well during the fall.
Today, however, was not normal. In fact, had he been anyone else, he would have had a laugh at how ridiculous he was being. But Danny felt foolish, not funny, for not being able to get the image of the woman he'd spent the night with out of his head.