Wicked Game Ch. 17


He went to the phone and dialed a number he knew well from memory. Deloris Scott answered on the second ring.


“Hi, Mom. It’s Shane.”

“Oh, hi, Shane! I’m so glad you called … “


Nathan polished the mirror and checked his jacket and hat. Everything was crisp and clean. The limousine was back to perfection and it was finally time to go. He had arranged for everyone’s return tickets, making sure that they all left at the same time so no one was left behind to face the separation alone.

Beverly and James were the first to arrive. She looked especially beautiful today. Her glossy black hair was done up in an intricate chignon and she was wearing a pantsuit that emphasized her luscious breasts and her receding waistline. Nathan held out his arms and she came into them without hesitation.

“You look absolutely beautiful!”

“Thank you.” She said shyly, tossing a glance back at her smiling partner.

“How much have you lost?”

“Nearly eighteen pounds.”

“Wow! I can really tell. Keep up the good work!”

“I don’t want her to lose too much.” James stepped forward, resting a hand on her waist. “I love her the way she is.”

“You want to keep me fat?”

“I want to keep you happy.” James kissed her soft mouth. “Whatever you want is my command.”

Nathan laughed. “That’s a dangerous thing to say to a woman.”

“Maybe, but I mean it.” James extended his hand to the driver. “Thanks for everything, Nathan. If you’re ever in Seattle, please look us up.”

“I’d be glad to, sir. Thank you for being a gentleman.”

James gave him his famous smile. “Takes one to know one.”

Beverly gave Nathan a quick kiss and ducked into the limo, James right behind her. Ashley was next. She gave Nathan her bags and spent a long minute in his arms, trying to stave off her tears.

“I hate to say goodbye, Nathan.”

“I know, Miss Swenten, but it’s not really goodbye. I’m sure we’ll see each other again.”

“You mean a lot to me, you know. I won’t be able to look a limo again without thinking of you and how you saved my life.”

“We all saved your life, Miss Swenten. Don’t just thank me.” Nathan stepped back and smiled into her eyes. “What will you do now?”

“Go back home. Decide what to do with the house … and then … “

“Mr. Marcus. Miss Marcus.”

Ashley turned to see Kevin and Kelly Jo coming out, their hands clasped and their faces long. Kelly Jo dropped his hand and came running to her, grabbing her and hugging her tightly. “We came by your room but you’d already left. We afraid that we’d missed you.”

“I knew we’d all be going to the airport together. I would never have left without saying goodbye.”

“Oh, Ashley! I don’t want you to go! I want you to come with us!” Kelly Jo sobbed.

“I want to go, too, Kel, but I can’t.” Ashley pulled back, wiping the tears from her cheeks. “I know what I have to do. You have to trust me.”

“I do trust you, Ash. I just love you so much!”

Ashley hugged Kelly Jo again. “You have Kevin, Kel. You have to take care of him for me.”

“Will you come to us? When you’re done with everything?”

“Yes, baby. I will come to you.”

Kelly Jo hugged her tightly, taking the words deeply into her soul. “We’ll be waiting.”

“I’m counting on it.”

Kelly Jo moved aside, turning to Nathan for comfort as Kevin stepped forward, sweeping Ashley into his arms and crushing her tightly against him. They remained that way for several moments, no doubt remembering the secret lovemaking that they’d shared just a few hours earlier. That he’d left his sister’s bed, after telling her where he was going and receiving her blessing and that he’d knocked on her door. That he’d brought her a gift and asked her to remember him always. That she’d invited him in and together, they’d lost themselves in a few hours of enjoying each other’s company.

The gift he’d given her was in her purse right now. It was a small stuffed unicorn with a silver horn and rainbow-colored hooves. And stuffed into its belly pouch was a ring. It was made of candy and the note tucked around it was a coupon with no expiration date written by Kevin. It said that this could be traded in for the real thing whenever she was ready and that he would be waiting.

“Come back to me.” He whispered now, nuzzling her ear softly. “Please come back to me.”

“I will, Kevin. I love you.”

“I love you, too, Ash.”

Nathan released Kelly Jo, giving her a warm smile. “Thank you for everything.”

“You’re welcome.” He cupped her chin. “She will return. Give her space and she will return.”

Kelly Jo’s bottom lip trembled and she nodded in understanding, stepping into the limo. Kevin helped Ashley into the limo, then he gave Nathan a quick, hard embrace. “Thanks, Nathan.”

“You’re welcome.”

As Ashley was stepping into the limo, Shane came striding out, his handsome face drawn but an easy smile touching his lips. “Hey, Nathan.” Shane gave him a hard hug, feeling tears making his eyes ache.

“Made your decision?”

“Yes.” Shane sighed, stepping back. “I’ve made it.”

“Good for you.” Nathan shook his hand. “Let me know what you’ve decided, will ya?”

“You’ll know.” Shane smiled. “All of the nation will know.”

“Well, it’s time to head out, sir.”

“Nathan, please don’t call me sir.” Shane gave him a rare grin. “My name is Shane.”

Nathan just smiled.

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