Jay awoke in the cool room to the sound of the shower in their en suite bathroom. The sun didn’t shine directly into their bedroom until midmorning and he rubbed his eyes and looked across at the digital clock radio on his side of the bed and noted it was only 7:15. “Caitlin!” He moaned, throwing his legs over the side of the bed and walking to the bathroom door. He could hear Cory and Emily talking in the kitchen. The bedroom door was half open, callie wasn’t in her bed. Why was his girlfriend up so early? She’d not got in until turned three and she was up, showering. What the hell?
Emily leaned on the kitchen counter, eating her cinnamon raisin bagel. Cory was on his computer, he had a big case coming up. Pouring some orange juice, Emily smiled at JC who walked into the kitchen in some black sweat pants and a grey t-shirt. “Any idea why that wonderful girl is up at this ungodly hour?” He poured some coffee that had just brewed in the pot. Emily laughed as Cory looked up. “Not used to being up this early, huh, JC?” Cory smiled like they’d suddenly turned into fraternity brothers. Emily appreciated the friendliness and was glad to see the two men getting along. “Nope! Not sober, anyway!” He looked in the refrigerator and got the milk and began making eggs. “Caitlin’s determined, JC,” Emily explained washing her plate and knife. Callie was laying on her back in the living room, pink bear in her mouth, wagging her tail. “Mommy wouldn’t like you being on your back, Callie-Cals,” Emily told her. “up, now.” Her voice was gentle but Callie stood and shook her head to the group’s amusement. “As I was saying,” Emily returned her attention to JC as she filled her water bottle for the day. “When Caitlin has an idea in her head, or she’s excited about a project, she cannot sit still. It means early mornings and not a lot of partying from her. So I’ll enjoy my partying break and you should be grateful this club will be off the ground before you can say Lakers!”
JC looked at her and nodded. He knew this really, didn’t he? That’s why he adored her so much, wasn’t it? “Oh yeah, Em, how was your six club stint?” He asked, ready to walk back to the bedroom with a cup of coffee in hand. “It was a lot of fun. Very informative being with your girl.” They both laughed, JC said later to Cory and they were left in the airy kitchen once more.
Caitlin stepped out of the shower, wrapping a big, fluffy, bath sheet around her. Her body ached and her eyes were sore with exhaustion but she was excited about that day’s prospects. She had to get to the site for nine and a few phone calls were necessary. She needed to talk to a designer, to some builders and electricians. Luckily, she had all the contacts from Viva. Rubbing her hair dry and starting to dress, she heard the bedroom door close and Jay’s cough as he slid the patio doors open as he lit a cigarette.
“Morning!” She called. “Did I wake you?” “No,” He called in a lazy voice as he exhaled a smoke ring onto the hazy air. The smog would be thick today, he could see the dust clouds whirling their way upwards with the intensity of the heat. How was it ninety-five degrees in the middle of November? Even Southern California had chilled slightly by then.
As she finished brushing her teeth and drying her hair, the bathroom door opened and she felt a finger touch her cheek as the warm gusts from her hair dryer dried her long, summer blond hair. “Why did you leave me so early?” His thick, soft, velvet to touch lips brushed against her cheek and without fail, she felt the butterflies stir in her tummy.
“Because, I am setting up the biggest, kick ass, club in all of Hollywood,” She turned off the dryer and putting her brush on the marble work top turned to him as he encircled her in his muscular arms. “And it couldn’t wait a few more hours huh?” he kissed her sensually as she felt the excitement stirring. “No,” smiling, she pulled away. “This is my job and I’ll do it well. Construction workers and designers and such work during day light hours. You want this project to be successful, we need to run at it.” “And that is why I hired you, mamasita,” He kissed her neck as she turned to him with a pretty smile playing her lips. Her eyes were beautiful but so different and he didn’t care. Unseeing or not, she was amazing to him in all the ways a woman should be.
“Cory,” Emily called as she picked up her keys and caitlin came bustling out of her room, dressed in jeans and a baby pink camisole. callie bounced happily as her mistress approached and Emily grinned. “On the job, hun?” She asked, walking toward the door and calling over her shoulder again. “Cory, I’m leaving, if you want to car pool let’s go!” “I’m coming,” He called from the bedroom. “You not having breakfast?” JC called as he walked out of the kitchen to Caitlin. “I’ll grab something on the way,” She turned and hugged him. “You got stuff on this morning, baby?” “Yeah,” He shrugged noncommittally and Cory appeared, briefcase in hand. “See you,” he called as he ran after emily who was opening the trunk of her car. “How you getting there?” JC asked his girlfriend as she harnessed Callie up. “I’m going to have Nicki still drive me. I can afford it and it’ll save a lot of time. I love you, Jay, Call me later,” and with that she was gone and off to work.
Slouching on the couch, he wondered what to do. Sure, he could go see what the boys were all doing but none of them were awake at this time of the morning. Thinking, he realised, his girl, the one he loved was doing all the hard work. What the hell was he doing sitting around, waiting for business to happen? He was Jay Carter, he made business happen, he didn’t wait for it to happen.
Grabbing his car keys, he headed to Compton to check on the club. And then he would go and see what needed to be done at the new place. This was his future with a beautiful and smart woman. He had to make plans for that to continue in the right direction.
Emily twirled her pencil as she stared at the grid of figures on her computer screen. Cory had left for a meeting in San Francisco with his colleague an hour before and Emily just knew she’d be playing third fiddle to Caitlin and JC that night. Leaning back in her chair, she yawned and stretched. On second thoughts, she might be in bed by six PM. Maybe, Cory, leaving for the night was a blessing in disguise. She could catch up on sleep. She wasn’t as young as she once was, that she knew to be true. As she let her mind wonder, she noticed a blinking message icon on her phone. Looking to see if anyone was watching, she quickly checked the text.
“Emily, mum here, what are you doing for Thanksgiving? We’re thinking of going to Vegas. LMK if you want to join us?” Us and we meant Emily’s brother and younger sister. She exhaled and typed quickly back. “I don’t know what the plans are yet.” It was true. She’d spent the last seven years with her friends over the Thanksgiving period. Only once before had her mother invited her and that was the year her brother was off training with the marines and her sister was at their dad’s in Florida. Emily rarely saw her family, let alone share the holidays with them. She’d spent Christmas at Caitlin’s dad’s house for the longest time. She couldn’t remember the last Christmas she’d spent at home and was grateful for that. It would have meant a lot of fighting and emotional torture’ memories she’d rather forget.
But now Caitlin was all loved up with JC, and she and Cory were together, what would this holiday season mean for her? She shrugged and went back to the mindless figures on her computer.
Three designers later, two builders hired, Caitlin had the floor plans set for the club. The one builder she’d seen this morning, had looked at the designers sketches and laughed. He said it was physically impossible. But the two builders she’d just finished a meeting with were excited and confident and had very good references. They’d worked on some excellent and successful projects within LA and the Southern California area so she was confident it would work out.
“Miss Dawson?” A young woman’s voice called. Caitlin tensed and turned. “I’m Maria Decante, I’m a cousin of Reenie Canden. She said you might have some work here.” “I’m sorry, who?” Caitlin asked, still feeling a little on edge. She was alone as she’d sent Nicki to get lunch. What if this woman was going to rob her?
Jay finished his paperwork as the door opened. He turned to see a smiling face he knew and knew why she was there. “Ebony?” He asked, turning back to his accounts and not looking at her as he spoke. “So, I met your girl last night,” Ebony leaned on the door, insolence etched on her dark skin. “I heard,” He answered without looking up. What she had to say didn’t interest him. She had caused enough trouble within the family growing up and especially when it came to his sister. Ebony had a terrible habit of getting other people into some dangerous shit. “That’s rude, cuz!” She admonished. Her long braids waggling as she spoke. “Cute girl, too. Not your usual kind. No loose lips, pretty and demure, bit classy for you, ain’t she?” He turned them, anger glittering in his light eyes. “Stay away from Caitlin!” He growled. A throaty snarl of warning that would have made a grizzly bear proud. She flinched, but ever so slightly. He saw it. His perceptive eye never missing a thing. “I like her,” Ebony fluttered her eyelashes at him. “I want to get to know her more.” Moving across the room toward him, JC stood up. “I said,” He grabbed her around the throat. “Stay…… away…….. from……… Caitlin! Or else you won’t know what hit you!” “What is your problem,” She flung his hands away as she staggered backward, gasping for breath. “I ain’t into that shit no more. Ask anyone!” “I don’t care,” His voice was raised now and his fists clenched into balls in his jean pockets. “I don’t wanna risk her for anything. Now, fuck off and crawl under the stinking rock you came from beneath.” “How you get this place?” She asked, switching the topic as fast as lightning strikes. “What?” He looked perplex, a frown creasing the beginnings of lines on his otherwise young face. “Well, you got this place, and the one up in Hollywood about to boom out. I thought she’d given you the dough, but she didn’t, huh?” “It’s got nothing to do with you, Ebony, now get out of here! And you may as well tell that asshole who let you in, he’s fired!” He turned from her again and frowned pensively. What in hell did she really want? This was a smoke screen. A game; so what was her real reason?
“I need money,” and there it was. “I’m living in a hostel cuz, I need some cash.” He sprang the chair and grabbed her hard. “What happened to your mama’s compo? You know, the money that my lawyer won for your ass when she died?” “It’s gone!” Tears sprang into her chocolate chip eyes as he gripped her. “I spent it.” “On what?” He gritted his teeth, really not needing family shit to stomp on his parade right now. He was just getting set. “I got no were to go!” She sobbed. He stepped back and glared at her. “Thought you were staying with Caitlin’s friends, Jasmine and Kira?” He suddenly remembered that’s how Caitlin had met her, only last night. She looked shocked. “Oh, you weren’t ready to tell me that part huh? I don’t think Kira and Jasmine would like you calling their apartment a hostel, ebony!” She looked down, knowing she’d been stupid.
“As I said, get out!” He slammed a fist on the desk and Ebony fled, knowing when she was beat. JC returned to his paperwork, resting his forehead in his hand for a moment. Looking up, he realised it was only a week until Thanksgiving and he inwardly groaned again.
Cory opened his briefcase at the conference room in the hotel and turned on his phone. Seeing he had no messages, he quickly called a number he’d never used before. “I’d like to order some flowers to be delivered,” He said. He knew she wasn’t a girlie girl like that but he didn’t care, she’d been through hell and deserved a nice surprise. He didn’t know what else to send apart from flowers. His dad had never been the romantic type and he’d never even seen him give his mom flowers but he wanted his and Emily’s relationship to be different. Hanging up the call, he prepared for his meeting.
Caitlin eased as she heard Nicki’s voice. “I’m sorry, but we’re a long way from opening. I’ve not even drawn up the advertisements for vacancies yet. Just keep an eye out and be sure to drop in your resume when the positions are announced,” Turning from the woman and to Nicki who smiled slightly at the young Hispanic woman, Caitlin took her lunch into the make shift office and sat down. She knew Nicki would ensure the woman left. As she opened the cellophane wrapper, her phone rang. “Hello?” She answered, hearing Jay’s name spoken by the synthetic speech. “Hey, where you at?” He sounded stressed. “The club still,” She answered, fiddling with her sandwich wrapper. A feeling of unease coming over her. “I’ll be there in twenty,” He told her and disconnected the call.
Emily text Cory to thank him for the flowers. She received a text message back asking her if she’d like to go to Hawaii for Thanksgiving, just the two of them. She instantly replied and squealed inwardly at the excitement of the plans to come.