Still not believing I was standing here, undercover, trying to gain information from a trusted friend who was suspected of dealing with mafiosos, I said, "I'm looking forward to tonight. By the way, what brings you here to San Myshuno?" Might as well start working.
"Over the years, I've been doing a bit of investments and the opportunity arose where a few buildings went into a short sale here and I jumped. Always wanted to turn them into hotels. Took two years, but they're finished. Damn tedious work, though. Doubt I'll build more."
He skirted any mention of the Bambinos. Before I could ask him something else, a familiar voice rang out. "Well, if it isn't August Day? Is this the surprise you were telling us about, Roberts?"
Before I could move, Amber launched herself into my arms. I almost laughed. I thought how far we'd come from the days when she used to do nothing but cuss and glare at me.
"August!" she squealed.
Rubbing her back, I said, "Hey, Amber! It's great to see you guys."
"You've grown, haven't you?" Ethan asked.
Shrugging, I said, "A little."
Ethan punched my arm. "A lot. How the hell have you been? I've missed your sorry ass. You went away to Windenburg and no one has heard from you since."
Thoughts of Beau and Briar hit me again, lodging something in my throat. All I could do was shake my head and squeak out, "Sorry, man. It...was...tough. You know?"
Clasping my arms, Ethan said, "I know, bro. It was hard on all of us, but hey! You're here! We've got to celebrate!"
"I'll buy the first round," I said. "What brings you guys here with Wilder? Just came out to his party?" I really hoped that was the case. I didn't like the idea of both Ethan and Amber being mixed up with this mafia gang.
"No, August," Amber said. "We both work in Wilder's corporation. I'm his chief marketing officer. Got my degree in marketing and he put me right to work. His company has been growing leaps and bounds. It's amazing. And Ethan..."
"I run his finances," Ethan interjected.
Yeah, money laundering does pay well until the feds catch up. But I was getting ahead of myself. Maybe Wilder isn't in business with the Bambinos and just dating their sister. Could be innocent, although I had a sixth sense they were all involved. And unfortunately, it was my job to sniff this out.
"Sounds like you've all been doing great while I was away. A true gang."
Wilder laughed. "If you want to call it that then...yes. Quite."
He went on, "But I hate to break up this little reunion. Unfortunately, the three of us do have some business to attend to. I'd love to introduce you to your host for the night, August, if you don't mind?"
Oh, I'd forgotten all about the blind date I'd promised. Shit. And I was about to pepper these three with tons of probing questions.
"Uh...yeah...sure, Wilder." I guessed I could catch them at a later time.
Wilder took me over to a guy who looked very familiar. "Good to meet you, August," he said in a slight Scottish accent. "I'm Rune Iversen." He shook my hand politely.
Then it hit me why he seemed so familiar. He was the star of the hit show on Simflix, Northmen. He played the blustery, love interest and leader of a fierce clan in this epic fantasy that everyone was talking about. War, blood, mystery, and romance? It was one of my favorite shows. Suddenly, I got starstruck.
"No shit," was all I could say as he shook my hand. "Y-You star on Northmen. Right?"
"The one and only, Rune Iversen," Wilder said. "August is no stranger to fame either, Rune. His grandfather was none other than Jackson Day."
"Oh, I adore The Llama Kings music. You have a wee bit o' the lead singer's look, don't you now?" He winked at me.
I swallowed. "T-That's what they say." And it was my luck Rune was gay. Wow. His gorgeous blue eyes threw me in a trance. I totally forgot I was here, working undercover.
"Come have a look at the new area we just shot. The dragons have come into the scenes. I think you're going to love it, if you watch, that is."
He showed me pictures of himself all decked out in his warrior outfit, slicing into a dragon on top of a mountain. "Amazing," I whispered.
"Now that's all done with cgi, but I thought it turned out right nice, eh? That's me. I look a wee laddie there, but they shot it from above to give it depth. See?"
Giving me a look that sent shivers through my body, he asked, "What do you do, August?"
Blinking, I said, "Um...I...er...I work for my mom's company, Hot Bod. Just paper pushing is all. Nothing exciting."
"Oh, aiy, I love them gyms. Got a membership myself. No wonder you're quite the muscular specimen, eh?" He took my hand, sending tingles down my arm.
He led me to a couch and we started chatting, getting to know one another. He'd been acting since he was a child. I never realized he was that plump kid on the Frooty-O's commercial. "I was quite roly poly until I hit puberty and grew into my blubber. Dinna believe it myself when I looked in the mirror one day, and me mum cried out, 'yer all bones, you are. Where'd my fluffly wee laddie go? She is quite the cook, you know. You'll have to come over and have her make you Toad in the Hole."
"Sure. Any time I can get home cooking, I'll be there." This date was turning out way better than I'd expected. He was easy to talk to. And crazy handsome.
"What about you, August? Have you lived here all your life?"
I shrugged. "Mostly. I left my senior year of high school and lived in Brindleton Bay. That's where I met Wilder, then went to Windenburg for many years. Now I'm back. Not much to tell, really. I don't have an interesting life like you do." A lie, but I had to make my cover seem real--a spoiled, twenty-something, living off his parents' business. Now was the time to get closer to him. Maybe Rune could tell me more about Wilder's business dealings.
I scooted next to him as our legs touched then said, "I'm glad we met, Rune."
Placing his warm hand over mine, he gazed into my eyes and said, softly, "Aiy. Me, too."
He draped his arm over me and said, "How about we say good bye to Wilder then head back to my flat? I've got a wee bit o' Scotch that I know you're going to love."
I knew where that was headed but at this point, I didn't care. Rune Iversen was just the guy to make me forget all about my woes of Jake Williams. And pillow talk was great for prying.
After we said our good-byes to Wilder, we headed for the elevator, when my stomach dropped as Etoile Amari sauntered past me. "Etoile?" I said, grabbing her arm. "Hey! It's me. August."
Next chapter on Wednesday, March 7th!
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