Perfume Ch. 07byMsLaLa31©
Detective Mowry was jolted awake by the sound of his cell phone vibrating on the nightstand. He glanced at the clock...2 a.m.; and it was a private caller.
"Mowry speaking," he answered groggily.
"What's the deal with our boy?" the caller asked.
Detective Mowry sighed.
"Look man, I asked you not to call me on this phone. What part of that is difficult for you to understand?" he said irritably.
"As long as I'm shelling out my money, you answer the phone whenever I fucking call," the voice seethed.
The detective would be so damn glad when his business with Mike Torres was finished; but then again, he wasn't stupid.
Since he'd chosen to deal with a criminal, he knew his business with Mike would never be done.
Before coming to South Carolina, Mike had contacted him with a proposal. In exchange for $500,000, all Mowry had to do was ease off of the case and not try so hard to find the Torres brothers.
He had scoffed, telling Mike he was crazy and not to waste his time.
The next morning, the detective had gone to the ATM and withdrawn $20. His jaw had dropped when his Available Balance had increased by $500,000.
Anxiously, Mowry had returned to his hotel room and stared at his cell phone, willing it to ring. When it did, he'd almost jumped out of his skin.
"Like our little gift to you?" Mike had asked.
"Take it back. I don't want this, take it all back before I turn you in," Detective Mowry had threatened.
"And what will you say, detective? How will you explain to the authorities how you came by $500,000?" Mike had said.
Closing his eyes, he knew he had been outmaneuvered. So from that day on, Mike would contact him concerning a "favor," and the detective complied. In exchange, another $500,000 was deposited into his account.
If he was completely honest, he liked having money. All his life he had worked hard and what did he have to show for it? He was almost 50-years-old, alone, and broke.
What was a little aggravation every now and again compared to what money could buy him? Once he had Wynston, he would be able to take care of her the way she deserved.
But first, he had to tend to the business at hand. "Look, why did you call me?"
"Where is Eric?" Mike asked.
"That's classified. Even I can't divulge that kind of information."
Mike laughed. "You obviously forgot who the fuck you're talking to, Detective. You're in no position to tell me what you can or can't do...I own you. Do you realize that with a single phone call I can crush you?"
Mowry listened to him grimly. "What do I get out of this?"
"You mean aside from the million I'm paying you?" Mike asked incredulously.
"Exactly. You know what, Mr. Torres? The price has just gone up. There's one more thing I need...in exchange for something you might find useful."
Mike hesitated...he was interested. "What is it?"
"When you take care of Eric, make sure you leave the woman out of it. She's mine," he said.
"In exchange for?"
"Pertinent information of course. Your girl, Angela Reed...we know that's only an alias. Apparently, this Octavia Hall spent the day of the robbery depositing customers' money into a one Greer Dunn's account. Ironically, Mr. Dunn disappeared on the same day she did...on the day of the robbery," Detective Mowry explained.
"You'll be able to find Mr. Torres in South Carolina...Summerville. We'll speak more once you get here," he said. "And Mr. Torres, one more thing...don't ever call me on this cell phone again."
With that, he hung up the phone.
There was a soft knock at the door. Greer and Octavia both sat up and looked at each other. Quietly, Octavia hid inside the bathroom while Greer went to the door.
"Yes?" he asked.
"It's me, open up."
He opened the door to reveal Ethan standing there. True to his word, he had managed to find Greer.
As he stood back to let Ethan in, Greer took in his countenance. He too seemed different. If he had to guess, he would say that Ethan had been affected by Rob and Lena's betrayal.
Greer knew that feeling all too well.
Hopefully that would work in their favor...he and Octavia needed Ethan in order to execute his plan.
"You can come out, 'Tay," he called.
Hesitantly, Octavia opened the door and stuck her head out. When she saw that it was Ethan, she grinned; she was genuinely happy to see him. Ethan had come to mean a lot to her.
He was very smart and always cheerful with a laidback air about him. He wasn't arrogant or jaded like his brothers. Octavia had always enjoyed his company most.
When she took in his expression, her smile faltered. Ethan didn't look good; and she didn't need to guess why.
Wordlessly, she walked to him and gave him a big hug. She felt guilty as hell. Octavia knew she had been no different from Lena. How many times had Greer been this upset by something she had done?
"I'm alright," Ethan said quietly. "Let's talk business."
"Actually, I'm glad you mentioned that. We have a business venture for you," Greer said.
At Ethan's questioning look, Greer launched into the details of his plan. As he explained that the three of them could seek revenge against Rob, Ethan smiled wickedly.
"So are you in?" Octavia asked when Greer finished.
"I'm in," Ethan replied without hesitation. "But this needs to be kept between the three of us. Mike is completely loyal to Rob...even worse, he's a follower."
"Understood," Greer replied.
"We leave Mexico soon, so we got a lot to do before then," Ethan said.
"You two need to lay low as much as you can while you're traveling. The cops are onto you. Apparently Angela Reed was busy depositing money into your account, Greer, which led to them sniffing you out," Ethan said, staring at Octavia.
The disapproval in his voice was evident.
"What?!" Greer exclaimed. "You mean you—'Tay, really?!" He couldn't even get the words out.
"I know...and I'm sorry!" she whined.
Disgusted, Greer turned away. He had traveled in the wide open like an idiot. It was a miracle he didn't get picked up on his way to Mexico!
"Octavia, you have to act natural around Rob, but don't overdo it. Pout a little and act hurt, but don't be going back to the villa all chipper and happy," Ethan was saying.
"Got it," Octavia said, but her attention was still on Greer who was clearly agitated.
"There's something else you should know," Ethan warned. "Rob was getting tired of you. When he and I were going to leave for Amsterdam, he had planned to leave you behind...with nothing."
Octavia's eyes rounded into big circles. "That piece of shit," she hissed.
Greer couldn't help but smirk.
Some women never learned. They all wanted the bad boy, then when he was true to his nature, they wanted to act all hurt. Greer could never understand the logic.
"I swear, 'Tay, you'd better start worshiping the fucking ground I walk on," he grumbled.
Sheepishly, Octavia attempted to change the subject.
"Hey, what will we do about Lena?" she asked.
"That part's easy. She switches places with you. Instead of leaving you behind, that will be Lena. Let's see her find her way back to Baltimore with nothing but the shirt on her back," Ethan said grimly.
Octavia looked at him. She'd never seen this cold side of him before. Ethan was definitely a Torres.
"Mike also found out that Eric and that woman are in South Carolina. So that will require some traveling on my part," he explained.
As the trio continued to talk, they made plans to set things into motion immediately. What they had planned was so bad that Greer almost felt sorry for Rob.
Almost...but not quite.
It was Thursday evening and Wynston, Eric, Bo and Lacey had all decided to go out to dinner. They'd chosen McKelty's, a local bar and grill. It was a nice, clean place, with a mixed crowd and excellent food.
As Wynston backed into a parking space, Eric watched her expertly maneuver the big truck.
It was sexy as hell.
"You anticipating a fast getaway?" he asked.
Wynston smiled. "By the time we gaze at each other soulfully all evening and get all horny, you'll be glad I backed in."
She had a point. "Stay right there," Eric said.
He got out of the truck and came around to the driver's side opening the door for her. But as Wynston slid onto the ground, Eric didn't move back to give her room. He just stood there, towering over her.
Her tantalizing perfume wafted around him, making him lean forward to catch more of her scent.
Wynston and Eric looked at each other. There always seemed to be a magic, love spell that twirled around them, invisible but powerful.
"See this is the soulful staring I was talking about," she joked.
Eric wrapped his arms around Wynston's waist and pulled her closer. "Kiss me like you mean it," he whispered.
Placing her arms around his neck, Wynston complied. She kissed him with all the ardor and intensity she felt for him.
When Bo and Lacey pulled up, it was to find the two putting on a show...as usual.
Over the past couple of months, Eric and Wynston had been inseparable; and more often than not, they were in the middle of making other people feel uncomfortable with their public displays.
"Wow. I thought he would've cooled off by now," Bo said.
"What do you mean? The boy's in love," Lacey replied. "Personally, I don't think he could've found anybody better."
Bo grunted his agreement.
They had gotten to know Wynston and had found that she was just as smart and funny as Eric said she was; but most importantly to Bo and Lacey, Wynston returned Eric's affections...that much had been obvious.
She always looked at him with adoration. The two of them joked and teased each other often. They were a good match, Bo had to admit that. But he wondered if his best friend was moving a little too fast.
Eric tended to do things in grand style and the reality was he and Wynston had only known each other for a little over three months.
Bo - who was level-headed - just wanted to see a natural, lengthy courtship take place.
They needed to learn each other outside of these extenuating circumstances. Right now, Eric and Wynston were thrown together, but what would happen when they went back home and real life began again?
Would they fit into each other's lives? Would Eric want to be a father to Wynston's son?
All these things ran through Bo's head often. His best friend's happiness was important to him, after all. He just wanted to see the two do things right.
The husband and wife continued to silently watch Eric and Wynston. "Wow," was all Bo could say as he drove off to look for a parking space.
As the foursome entered the restaurant, they took in the atmosphere. The crowd was boisterous and the energy was upbeat.
Tonight the bar was having a singing contest. It was very much akin to Karaoke Night, except they had a live band complete with back-up singers and all. There was a cash prize of $100 for the winner.
While they perused the menu, the two couples listened to people as they went up on stage.
Some were good, and others were in it purely for the fun...they had to be because they sounded horrible. But it was all very entertaining; until several people began singing the same song.
When the third person got up and sang "California Gurls" by Katy Perry, Wynston put her head on Eric's shoulder in misery.
Lacey was none too pleased. "Damn kids," she muttered. "They're not even California girls!"
"Seriously! Bo, where's your gun?" Wynston asked.
He laughed at her, almost choking on his iced tea. "I'll make you a deal. If somebody else gets up there with the same song, I'll hand you my gun under the table."
Wynston tossed back her head and laughed the way she did when something was really funny to her.
Eric chuckled and put his arm on the back of the booth, behind Wynston. "You know, Hughes, you should go up there and show them how it's done," he said.
They all had taken to calling her by her mother's maiden name for some reason.
Wynston had thought about getting up to sing. But she wasn't sure if she was in the mood. Her vocal chords were practically jumping at the chance, though.
"You sing?" Lacey asked. "Girl you better go up there and do the damn thing! That is, unless you're scared."
"Oohhhh. You gonna take that, Hughes?" Eric instigated.
Wynston laughed. She knew exactly what they were doing.
"I don't think she has the guts, personally," Bo said, throwing in his jab.
"You all are so ridiculously transparent," she said. Throwing down her napkin, Wynston nudged Eric to let her out of the booth.
"Let me show these chirrun what the business is. Eric, order me the seafood platter, will you? Be right back!" With that, she glided to the front in only the way she could.
"Down boy," Lacey said as Eric watched Wynston walk away.
She and Bo never got tired of teasing him about his fascination with Wynston. The girl had Eric wrapped around her finger.
"Don't even bother. He'll be in another world until she comes back," Bo said loudly.
Eric didn't even hear him.
When Wynston had made her way to the front, she spoke with the emcee and gave him her name and song selection. Once he spoke to the band and got the thumbs up, he took to the mic.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have another victim—oops, I meant CONTESTANT coming to the stage. She goes only by Hughes, everybody; let's welcome her to the stage!"
As the crowd welcomed her, Wynston looked at her table and saw that they were going ballistic, making a ton of noise for her...and of course, Eric was standing, cheering the loudest.
She smiled at their enthusiasm.
As the band began to play the first chords of Ledisi's "Goin Thru Changes," Wynston felt herself begin to transform. The music moved her in a way that she could never put into words.
She could completely relate to Beyonce when she spoke of "Sasha Fierce."
As a vocalist, something overtook Wynston when she got up to sing. It was as if she was no longer herself, which made her able to do things she ordinarily wouldn't...like singing in front of a crowd of strangers.
She held the mic in one hand and allowed the other to hang loosely at her side.
Her eyelids became heavy, her lips were luscious and full, and her body swayed provocatively in time with the song. She opened her mouth and gave her vocal chords free reign.
"I wish that I could stay," she sang with feeling.
The chords and notes flowed from Wynston expertly as she performed. She gripped the mic stand, moved her hips and made love to the song.
She really began to groove when she heard the backup singers chime in, their harmony flawless.
The trill of Wynston's alto flowed over the audience smoothly, her pitch perfect. Her vibrato was easy and natural as it glittered at the end of each note. She was in control and riding the waves of her craft.
As Wynston sang from her diaphragm, she sustained high notes and dug deep for low ones. She let go completely, adlibbing and wooing the crowd with her strong, sultry voice.
She continued to dance, her hands on her full hips while they undulated flirtatiously. She could feel the pound of the drums and the strum of the bass guitar deep in her chest.
Wynston reached out her hand to Eric as she sang to him from the bottom of her soul; always to Eric where she directed her affection.
When the song wound down and whispered to an end, there was a brief pause. Once her own alter-ego drifted back to sleep, sated, Wynston stood in front of the crowd as if she had been startled awake.
The crowd erupted, shaking the rafters. Their applause and cheers were deafening. The previous contestants had all gotten up and bowed to her as if to say, "We're not worthy."
Even the owner, servers and some of the chefs had stuck their head out to see who the voice was coming from.
Laughing, Wynston shyly thanked everyone and made to leave the stage, but was intercepted by the emcee.
As he tried to quiet the crowd, he announced that there was no question who the winner was. He presented her with a crisp, new $100 bill amid more cheers and applause.
Before leaving the stage, Wynston turned toward the band and backup singers, thanking them. They had deserved an ovation.
Back at the table, Eric was obviously extremely proud. "That's right, this is my woman," he was saying.
Everyone at her table gushed over Wynston, making her blush.
"Where the hell did all that come from?!" Bo asked.
"She has a gift; that's where," Lacey said.
As the evening went on, the quartet ate and laughed. Lacey and Bo teased Eric over the lapdog look he wore the entire time Wynston had sung to him.
Even more surprisingly, the owner of the restaurant walked over and sang Wynston's praises. He told them that after a performance like that, there was no way they would charge them. So their meal had been on the house.
It was a perfect ending to a perfect evening.
Once at home, in Eric's room, he and Wynston undressed each other. Their love-making was slow and languid. After bringing Wynston to a shattering orgasm, Eric erupted inside of her, the intensity of his release surprising him.
He bit back the words he wanted to say so badly.
He knew he had come to love her...he was in love with her, maybe from the first moment he laid eyes on her.
But none of it made sense to him. It defied logic, and it was too soon.
So he swallowed back the words and instead kissed Wynston with everything in him.
He hoped the way he felt translated in the kiss. Looking down at her, he flexed his chest.
Wynston was sound asleep.
"That's right," Eric said arrogantly and rolled off of her. He pulled the covers over them and drew Wynston into his arms. Kissing her temples, his thoughts plagued him.
He wanted her, Eric knew that much; but he wasn't sure how he should proceed. He was well aware that the life they were living was a secluded, unrealistic one.
He had a career; she had a life and child of her own.
Where would they mesh in all this? When they got back to Baltimore, would they date? Would they move in together?
"Shit," Eric muttered. What the fuck was he doing?
For the first time in his life, Eric was unsure of himself when it came to a woman.
He didn't even know how Wynston felt about him. Did she love him the way he loved her? Would she want to continue their relationship once they got back to Baltimore?
Then his thoughts turned to Terrence. Eric had wanted to find a way to bring the child to South Carolina, but the fact was it was too risky. What if Rob or the others came after him? He couldn't risk putting the boy in danger that way.
Eric looked at the clock. It was a little after midnight.
Sleep eluded him and he needed to think, so he gently disentangled himself from Wynston, threw on some clothes and went downstairs to the garage.
Absently, he reached into one of his tool boxes and pulled out the small, velvet ring box. Opening it, he gazed at the platinum diamond ring he had bought only a few days ago. It had cost him a small fortune, but Wynston was worth it.
He had no idea when he would pop the question...if he would do it. He hadn't even told Bo that he'd bought the ring.
Eric only knew he was scared to death of rejection. He didn't have any answers about anything; this was a foreign sensation he was experiencing.
Hopefully, while he built something, he would be able to work through at least some of his demons.
It was Friday afternoon, and as Wynston placed the last batch of cupcakes in the oven, she breathed a sigh of relief. She had baked 200 cupcakes in one day...if she wasn't bad ass, she didn't know who was.
She and Eric had been in South Carolina for two months, now; and Wynston had been making a killing with her baked goods. It had all started one night a month ago when she had invited Bo and Lacey over for dinner.