Piper Sullivan Romance Author

Magenta - Chapter 6

“Before I ask you this question, just know that I need you to be as detailed as possible. Okay?” Vivi’s hands rested on top of mine, and I took in her suddenly serious expression, feeling wary now.

“Yeah, okay. What is it?”

The seriousness vanished, replaced with mischief. “How is it living with a smoking hot firefighter?” Vivi, along with Maddie and Trish erupted into a fit of giggles perfect for an eight year old girl’s slumber party.

I should have known when all three women had miraculously been available for lunch in the middle of the week that something was up. But this town had softened me. Made me less suspicious.

“It’s fine. We’ve met before, so it’s not like he’s a complete stranger.” And why in the hell did I share that little nugget with these three? They were remarkable and accomplished women, and they were also predators. One sniff of meat, and they wouldn’t let go until the bone was clean. “So it’s fine. Good. Fine.”

Vivi arched a brow and honed in on the one part of that statement I’d hoped she hadn’t heard. Somehow. “You met before? Oh my god, this story is practically writing itself!” Now the notebook beside her empty place setting made sense. “Have you kissed yet?”

“No. Stop. It’s not like…just shut up Vivi!” Maggie and Trish laughed, but Vivi would not be deterred. “You totally kissed. How was it? Was this the first time?”

“Where is that waitress? I’m dying of hunger over here!” Lame, I know, but we were in a restaurant, so it made a certain kind of sense. They weren’t buying it, but I was saved, thankfully, by the appearance of our waitress. Unfortunately, she was an overachiever and was gone in two minutes flat.

“When you say that you’ve met,” Trish began, leaning in with a gleam in her eyes, “do you mean the meeting of two naked sweaty bodies?”

“Marriage has turned you into a perv!” In response Maddie blushed and put a hand to her heart.

“Thank you, Mags. That’s sweet. Now answer the question woman.”

I knew they wouldn’t let it go. “He was a smokejumper when we met, and I was working in Vegas when his crew came in to get tattooed.”

“And then?” Vivi motioned for me to keep going and divulge details that no one but Davis and I knew. “Do we look stupid? Something more definitely happened.”

More than they could imagine had happened over those three days, but that was a story for another time. As in never. “Why are we talking about me when there are kids to coo over, weddings to plan and husbands to complain about?” They’d all gotten married in unconventional ways, so it was safe to assume big white weddings were in the works for at least two of my new friends.

“When one of us shacks up with a hot firefighter, we’ll talk about it. For now, you’re the one in the hotseat honey, so talk.” Vivi was bossy as hell for someone who looked like she belonged on the cover of Redheaded Bombshell Quarterly.

I sat back and drank from my beer, taking in each of my friends, so different, but of one mind when it came to gossip. “There’s nothing to tell. I’m leaving as soon as I hear back from someone.” It was odd that no one had replied yet. but they would. I just had to summon all my patience.

Trish laid her hands on top of mine, the look in her eyes sympathetic. “Is this about Mason not telling you? I can’t believe he did that.” She shook her head, and I knew she wasn’t saying it just to make me feel better, which it wouldn’t have by the way. “Want me to withhold sex as punishment?”

“Yes,” I answered automatically. “No. Ewww! Whatever.”

“Come on Mags, we’re all friends. Talk to us.”

They were right. I’d made a promise to open up here, and doing that had gained me three wonderful friends. “Okay. It’s not just that Mason didn’t tell me, but that just highlighted that this isn’t my home. I’ve just been crashing with Mase, and that got me to thinking that maybe that meant it was time to move on.”

“Or,” Maddie added, her voice slightly higher than the others who’d chimed in to echo their dissent. “Maybe it means it’s time you put down your own roots here. Get your own place, get a project here in town just for you.”

“Maybe,” I conceded because I still wasn’t sold. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in a holding pattern, just waiting to hear where I would head next, so the thought of staying hadn’t really occurred to me.

“But you can’t do anything until you’ve made more progress with the firefighter.” Vivi pointed a chipped blue nail at me, to let me know she meant business.

“Thanks for your concern, Vivi.”

She shrugged, completely unapologetic, and that’s what I loved about her. Except right now I didn’t. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Before I could ask her what the hell she meant by that, a distinct scent of flowers and sandalwood wafted in, and Aunt Mae appeared beside the table. “Aunt Mae, to what do we owe the pleasure?”

She glared at me, but her eyes sparkled with glee. “None of that from you girly. Listen up, because I need a favor.”

“From me?” I sat back and caressed my beer mug. “After your behavior, I’m not sure I’m in a listening mood.” The girls snickered, but Mae wouldn’t be so easily deterred.

Her lips twitched, because she got a kick out of my smart mouth even though she pretended not to. “You will listen, and you will get it done. I need six dozen cookies,” she said and began naming cookies. “Chocolate chip, oatmeal, shortbread and-,”

“I don’t bake Mae, so unless you want me to go buy some, find someone else. Like any of the other women at this table. This one owns a bakery!” I pointed at Trish.

“They’re busy with husbands and babies, while you’re just hiding away from the world at Billie Jo’s B&B.”

I clucked my tongue. “Sounds like you’re out of the loop Mae, I haven’t been there for almost a week.”

“I know that,” she snapped because I dared to suggest she didn’t have the most current information on what’s what in town. “But now that you mention it, I recall hearing that Davis is an excellent cook. Tell him we need six dozen, including peanut butter, lemon and something else. Something fun but delicious.”

Oh no, I wasn’t’ getting in the middle of another of Aunt Mae’s schemes. “Tell him yourself, the firehouse is on your way home.”

Mae ducked down and got in my face, eyes blazing with a level of determination one only sees in politicians and serial killers.

“You live together, and you will definitely see him. Tell him to make sure those cookies get to me by the day of the fundraiser, Magenta. Don’t let me down.” With one last look, Aunt Mae stood and smoothed her dress at the sides.

I just had to push it though. “Fine Mae. If I’m here then I will make sure the cookies find their way to the community center next week.”

She gave a nod and a sniff and walked away. “Good afternoon girls.”

“You are in soooo much trouble.” The reverence in Maddie’s voice brought a smile to my face.

“So much trouble,” Vivi affirmed in a whisper.

“I’ll be fine,” I told them with a confidence I didn’t feel.

“You say that now, but these old ladies have a way of making things happen.” Maddie wasn’t wrong, but I wouldn’t be around long enough for this town, or the old ladies who ran it to interfere in my life.

“I’m not worried.”

“You should be,” Vivi added with a smug smile. “But for character development, I suppose it’s good that you’re not. It’ll make the story so much more satisfying.”

I glared. “Don’t make me hurt you, Vivi.”

She grinned in response. “Don’t be that way. I’ll give you a shout out in the acknowledgements, and I’ll make a list of the ingredients the hot firefighter’s gonna need to make all those cookies.” She wiggled her flawless red brows suggestively. “I’ll even write down the recipes if I can get a photo of him shirtless with an apron.”

As much as I now wanted to see that exact photo myself, I rolled my eyes. “Not happening, but I’ll take the list for the hassle of you three.”

Trish stared a little too hard, and her face was more than a little too close to mine. And the truth was, as they say, always watch out for the quiet ones.

“Something more happened between you and Davis. I’m sure of it.”

I shook my head, ready to deny her words, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t lie to my sister-in-law. Then again, if I was lying to myself, wasn’t that basically the same as telling the truth?

“I think maybe you’re too caught up in Vivi’s stories.”

Trish placed a hand on my shoulder and sighed. “Since we’re family now, and I always wanted a sister, I’m going to be brutally honest with you. You’re lying to yourself. Whatever happened, it isn’t over.”

Well, wasn’t that creepy as hell? “I didn’t realize psychic readings came with lunch.”

“I think you’re right, Trish.” Vivi’s gaze was now boring a hole through my forehead. “That means we need a girls’ night to get the truth out of her!”

I groaned, because the last few girls’ night I’d had with the so called good girls, ended with me drunk, my bra discarded in the back of an Uber, pink toenails and a facial. It wasn’t as bad as I’d always imagined. Except, for the talking and the sharing of feelings part, it was worse. Way, way worse.

“Why are we friends again?”

“Because you love us, that’s why!” Trish pulled me in for a hug, and smacked a kiss on my cheek. “If your friends can’t bug the hell out of you, who can?”

Good question.