Chapter 2 a couple of days late.
How is everyone doing on lockdown. I thought it would make me extra organised but not so far. I’m giving myself until April 1 and then I’m expecting only awesome and organised from myself. It’s good to have goals right? Sorry this is a couple of days late. I promise to do better from now on. The good news is Chapter 2 is today and Chapter 3 is tomorrow, so less of a wait!
(Don’t forget this is unedited so there will be mistakes and those will all be fixed up before publishing.
Ch 2: Tiffany
Finally, Alexi wound up his story and she made her excuses to head inside, She encouraged him to go talk to the media before she left.
Inside the club was pumping the heavy base of the music reverberating through her body. They did not play this music on kids television which was where her regular playlist came from. Her co-worker and boss Cynthia grabbed her as she made her way through the throng.
“Good crowd. Lots of celebrities and media. You’re doing an amazing job as usual.”
She smiled, Cynthia was so generous and such a wonderful woman to work with. It made leaving Levi in day care for all those hours and now with an after school sitter so much easier. “It gets bigger every year which is so great for the cause.”
“Absolutely.” One of the sponsors caught Cynthia’s eye and just as she was hoping find Andrew a hand wrapped around her forearm and a familiar voice whispered in her ear.
“I was hoping I might see you here.”
She turned and found him smiling down at her, his breathtaking smile lighting up his face and she couldn’t help but smile back. “Likewise.”
He pulled her in for a hug. Nothing inappropriate there. She hugged a lot of the regulars. What he whispered in her ear might not have been, however and she felt herself blush as she pulled back.
“We’ll see about that.”
He smiled back, a wicked smile that promised he would indeed be more than happy to do what he’d said. And she just shook her head at him.
The conversation was interrupted by Kevin Blanchard one of the regulars and one of her absolute favourites.
“Ah the beautiful Tiffany, if I were twenty years younger and not married.”
She watched Andrew tense beside him. She wanted to say ‘jealous much’ but that would have been wrong on so many levels. Everyone knew Kevin was the quintessential family man.
She hugged Kevin and asked about his wife and kids.
“Any chance we’ll be paired together again?” Kevin asked crooking his thumb at Andrew. “I could be the new Benji while his partner is out of action.”
“You know it’s a random draw.” She said looking towards the stage where the DJ was currently set up. “Speaking of which I better get up there and make sure we do the draw or else we can’t have much of a tournament can we?”
“Off you go honey, you go work your magic.” Kevin said sweetly.
“I’ll catch you guys later.” She said looking between them.
“Count on it.” Andrew replied. And she knew for sure they were on again for the week. She walked off with a little bit more of a sway of the hips than usual. She had to look professional, and she couldn’t let anyone know they were together, but he knew and that sway was all for him.
Andrew watched Tiffany walk away and couldn’t help but smile.
“Pretty girl,” Kevin said beside her.
“You could do worse. A lot worse.” Kevin said.
“I don’t doubt that but we’re just friends, Kev. I see her every year and I enjoy her company. Just like us, man”
“Sometimes friends turn into more than friends.”
“Sometimes they do.” His tone was noncommittal. Andrew looked around the room. The tennis players he knew but the celebrities not so much. Kevin would point out a starlet or young man and give Andrew the whole back story.
“Do you even watch TV?”
“Not really, no.” The truth was he didn’t have a lot of downtime and when he did ,he just didn’t tend to spend it sitting. He was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid which was how he’d ended up in every sport under the sun. He’d loved them all but somehow tennis had been his thing and he’d excelled at it.
“You, my friend are bad for business.”
The music wound down and the DJ announced the draw was about to happen. Fifteen minutes later the official proceedings were done and Andrew was teamed up not with Kevin, sadly, but with a young up and coming movie star who got his start in kids TV according to Kevin.
“Axel is Bit of a punk but it could have been worse.”
Poor Kevin was paired with a young Greek hothead. He definitely drew the short straw. Maybe it was random after all. He caught Tiffany’s eye and she just shrugged a “don’t blame me” kind of shrug. He didn’t and he knew it would make for a good tournament for the crowds and that was what they wanted after all. They were here to pull in the crowds and raise some serious coin. He’d meant what he’d said to Nate, sure a win was nice but here it was all about the kids.
He spent an hour making small talk with his new team mate and some of the other celebs, smiling and hamming it up for the cameras before seeking out Tiffany again. She was stuck in a conversation with Alexi. Andrew knew enough about her body language to knows she wanted that conversation done and dusted and fast.
“Hey Alexi, Tiffany.” He did a chin tilt in the direction of each of them. “Great party Tiffany, am I right Alexi?”
“Da, is great.”
“Thanks. Las Vegas is a party town so its hard to have an impact.”
“The wait staff in the old fashioned tennis whites is doing that.”
He wanted to get her alone but ten minutes of small talk with the Russian continued. It was tedious but Andrew knew it was important for Tiffany that their annual fling stay under wraps. She’d said it might make her look unprofessional and he understood that. He wasn’t used to being the sort of guy that women hid, he was much more likely to see them share a connection all over social media, but he had agreed to that. A decision he was regretting at present. Luckily Alexi’s phone rang and he had to step out and take the call.
“Thank goodness,” Tiffany said rolling her eyes. “That man can talk.”
“Do you say that about me when I walk away.” She just rolled her eyes at him in response. “So, when can you leave?”
She looked around, the crowd was starting to thin. “Maybe half an hour or forty five minutes I guess. Why what did you have in mind?”
He had a couple of things in mind but first dinner. “I need to eat. Maybe a steak, a glass of wine?”
She nodded. “Sounds nice.”
“I’ll make us a reservation at the Club Room in the hotel. Does that work? Is it okay to be seen alone with me or do you need cover because I’m sure Kevin would be happy to go with and maybe your boss?”
“Maybe we should do that, at least tonight.”
“There will be other nights then?” he asked, his voice a combination of hope and suggestiveness.
“If you’re lucky.” She gave him a wink.
He definitely felt very lucky indeed right now. He knew he’d been looking forward to seeing her but that promise of spending time together was now real and he knew he was grinning like a fool. He liked her. If his life was different, he were a different guy he’d pursue it further, but he wasn’t. He had no plans to settle down ever and he was fine with that but he had a feeling Tiffany was very much the settling down type. Maybe not today, but in a year or two so he would enjoy every moment he got and be grateful for it.
“Okay I’ll book for four and make it happen.”
And he headed off to do just that. It was no hardship but he would much rather have been eating alone with Tiffany, preferably naked. But that could wait.
Torture, that was the word Tiffany would have used to describe the dinner. Andrew sat across from her rubbing his foot up and down her calf as she ate. It was not at all fair and he knew it. It wasn’t that she hated it, it was just that it wasn’t enough.
Then of course there was the fact that her boss started to tell a story about inappropriate staff fraternisation with celebrities a while back. Andrew’s guilty foot slunk away from her calf.
“People are adults, they should be allowed to do what they want.” Kevin responded.
“We’re a children’s charity, that’s all. It doesn’t look good.”
“I don’t think should matter.” Kevin added.
Andrew sighed. “I’m so sick of people’s private lives being a matter for anyone else but them. I kind of get the celebrity fascination but who cares otherwise. I mean you’re good hardworking people trying to make a difference in the world. That’s what people should focus on. I’d be disappointed to think any organisation I worked with would judge or penalise a staff member for their after hours decisions.”
“Well, no of course we would never,” Chelsea said clearly trying to back track but she wasn’t especially convincing and the warm happy buzz Tiffany had been experienced was gone.
“Excuse me for a minute.” The men stood when she went to leave. Such gentlemen. That was the thing. People could make her relationship, friendship or whatever the heck it was seem sordid but it wasn’t. He treated her with respect and kindness always. When she stepped out of the powder room he as waiting for her.
“Hey.” He didn’t stand too close he just snagged her wrist. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I just…I can’t lose my job Andrew.”
“I know. I would never let that happen.”
“Not intentionally, I know that, but I don’t want to be part of some sort of a scandal.”
He looked down at her his eyes searching her face. He didn’t know the full story, the real reason that she couldn’t take the risk and it didn’t matter.
“Of course not, my partner Ben and his girl Abby just went through something like this. It was a hot mess and it’s part of why he’s taking a break right now. I wouldn’t want either of us to have to go through anything like that.” She smiled at him, that was right. She’d watched that story from the sidelines just like everyone else who had any interest in tennis. “In our case we’re supposed to be having fun, so if it’s not fun we don’t do it.”
“Okay, so we just are friends with no benefits then?” Even as she said it out loud it felt wrong. It was clearly not what either of them wanted.
“I guess so.” He didn’t look any happier than she felt.
They walked side by side back to the table. Neither of them having much of an appetite and Tiffany wondering if she hadn’t just turned away the best thing that had ever happened to her, even if he was only a temporary best thing.
Have you read Playing at Love or Playing it Safe yet? Playing it Safe tells the story of Abby and Benjamin (The other Benji mentioned in this chapter above).
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