As I was kissing Chiandra for the shoot, I heard a loud, “YES!” coming from behind me.
Yanking my head around, I saw Devon pumping his hand in celebration without a camera.
Were they playing me?
Immediately, I gripped Chiandra’s hands and snarled, “What gives?”
“S-Stop it, Alex, you’re hurting me,” Chiandra whined.
I held on even tighter, making her wince. “I thought we were kissing for the shoot. Why isn’t Devon using his camera?”
“Oh, lighten up, Alex,” Devon said with a laugh. “It was all in good fun. Chiandra offered a bet is all. She claimed that I couldn’t get you to give her a deep kiss and I said I could if I directed it. I have that kind of charm over people. Guess I won, old chap.”
I wiped the kiss off my mouth. “I’m done here.”
“Come on, Alex, wait. Don’t go mad,” Chiandra called after me.
I cringed thinking how she played me like that. No wonder Knight broke up with her. She was a piece of work.
“You liked it. Didn’t you?” Chiandra asked behind me.
“I could tell by that kiss. You like girls. You just won’t admit it.”
I wasn’t even going to give her the satisfaction of an answer. I didn’t argue with fools.
Without another word, I stormed out of the studio, slamming the door.
Grabbing my sister and our stuff from Chiandra’s, I drove over to Benton’s house. Bri was annoyingly happy. She blabbed the whole way over. “You’re the best brother anyone could ever have. I love you. You know that, Alex? I’m going to make you something special for being so good to me. What would you like? Cookies? Brownies? A triple decker chocolate fudge cake? Just name it.”
I didn’t say anything. I was so mad about my situation. I was penned into a corner with no way out. Knight was gone and couldn’t help me, and I had to get back on my feet to support my sister somehow.
When we arrived, Benton was waiting for us on the front porch. I could tell from his eyes that he liked Bri, but she assured me they were just friends. I didn’t buy it.
“Aren’t you coming up, too?” Bri asked me.
“I’ll be back later. I’ve got some business to take care of.”
I watched as my sister walked up the steps, hoping this was the right decision.
But I’d be back that night to watch over her. I gave Benton a threatening glare any father would to a guy who might be after his daughter. I had to do that for my dad. I think he got the message.
I wasted no time and drove over to Antonio’s mansion. It lit up like a beacon beckoning a fly to the flame. I was definitely the fly.
When I entered, the butler tried to stop me, but I scowled and pushed past him, hissing, “Don’t mess with me.”
He shrunk back and let me pass.
I found Antonio entertaining two women at his bar. Both were giggling at his jokes and flirting. I shook my head.
“Antonio, I need to speak to you. Now,” I ordered.
Not happy with my outburst, he shot up from his chair. “This is a surprise, Alex. It would have been nice if you would have called first.”
“I’m not in the mood to put up with your shit, Antonio. Did you or did you not threaten my landlord to evict me?”
A malicious grin swished over his face. “I believe someone forgot to pay their bills. That’s not a very smart thing to do, Alex.”
Like steam in a pressure cooker, I was about to explode. “So, you did threaten poor Mr. Lee. And not only that, but when I got to my training session, my coach quit. You said you’d give me a day. You didn’t even give me fifteen minutes. You lied.”
“I didn’t lie. I am giving you a day. I wasn’t the one who didn’t pay your bills. And all I did was offer your trainer a job here if you so chose to take the job. He declined. I cannot help these circumstances.”
I wanted to strangle him, coiling my hands into fists. “And you want me to work for you when you treat me like this? Threatening people and ruining my life?”
“You are jumping to the wrong conclusions, Alex. I want you to be a part of our organization for your own good. It seems you want to be in my son’s life. My work involves people who are not the best of society. They naturally will want to threaten my family. But you aren’t in my family if you don’t work for me. Does that make sense?”
I was stuck the moment I started this whirlwind romance with Knight. But when you fall off a cliff, how are you supposed to save yourself? I loved Knight and wouldn’t give him up. I’d decided once I left the photo shoot what I had to do. “If I do work for you, I will demand several things.”
“Of course, Alex. I will do my best to please you. What are your requests?”
“You will give my sister and I a place to stay. She will not be going to boarding school.”
“I see...well, we do have several houses owned by the company that are near to the mansion, but you will need to be available to me. If you don’t mind driving here when I need you then I don’t see a problem with that.”
“And no matter what happens to me, you will leave my sister alone. She cannot be involved in your operations. She’s under my protection, not yours.”
He waved his hand in assurance. “I don’t foresee anything happening to you, Alex. But if it will make you happy, we won’t approach your sister in any way. I promise.”
After I stood there for a long time, clenching my jaw, Antonio smiled broadly and asked, “So, is it a deal?”
I nodded curtly, fists still pumped.
“Then welcome to the family, Alex! You may have a few days off to get settled. Let my secretary know when you wish to move. He will show you a few places you might desire.”