“If Braxton Hart was a mountain, I would hang glide into those rock hard abs,” Melanie said as she popped a piece of popcorn into her mouth. “Of course I’m terrified of heights, but I’d make an exception for him.” Her favorite actor flashed on the screen, strolling down the red carpet of a movie premiere. She looked around her hotel room and sighed.
She had wanted a change of scenery, but she realized she should have been more specific. California, believe it or not, was not her idea of a vacation. Melanie wanted to leave the country for a few weeks. But this wasn’t a vacation. She was here to fix something she was told to destroy.
Mel flung onto the bed and thrashed around with a mini tantrum until she realized that no one was there to watch her. She huffed and stepped over to her custom made heavy duty travel case and pulled out her. She sang a long high pitched note as she clicked the locks and lifted it open. She caressed her hand over her custom computer tower.
“Hello my baby,” she crooned. She pressed her cheek against its sleek design and toyed with the foam that had been cut to fit it securely. She delicately extracted it from the case and carried it to the hotel table. She returned to the case and worked quickly, adding the materials she needed before she jacked into the port at the wall.
She loaded her screen and laughed as an agreement popped up on her desktop. She scanned the rental agreement and noted the daily cost of using it, then navigated around it and piggybacked on another room’s rental.
“They were going to be paying anyways,” she justified as she pulled up the Trask company’s employee site. She double clicked on her boss’s hyperlink and brought up her webcam.
Nicole’s face flipped onto the screen and a smile was plastered on her beautiful face. Her emerald eyes held a hint of laughter as she waved. “Hey Mel,” she said into the camera. “We miss you already! How was the road trip?”
“Peachy,” she replied sullenly. “What have I missed the last three days?”
“Nothing but smooth sailing here sweetie,” she said with a smile. “I got all your video messages. You know we gave you a company cell phone. You didn’t have to set up your desktop at every hotel.”
“We’re far too pretty to be talking over the phone,” Mel joked. She winked as Nicole let out a hearty laugh. “Besides, I don’t spend a day without dialing in.”
“Have you told Paul you’ve arrived yet?” Nicole bit her lip and tried not to laugh.
“No, but I’ll just give him a call,” Mel said.
“He’s not pretty enough for a webcam talk?” Nicole raised a brow. Nicole knew that Melanie had been attracted to Paul before they had an unfortunate falling out. After that happened, she figured it would be best to get her job done and get on with her life.
“Why didn’t you send Cid down instead?” Melanie crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back in the chair.
“Well I was hoping you and Paul would get married and have tons of Asian babies,” Nicole replied with a straight face. Mel heard laughter coming from Nicole’s office.
“Who’s listening in?” Mel said as she put her hands behind her head. She became disoriented and shut her eyes. She opened one tentatively and lost her balance. The chair slid forward and she hit the ground hard.
She didn’t really just see the entire Trask family waving at her. She rolled off of the chair and braced herself on her knee before pulling herself up on the side of the table. She saw the concerned looks of the spectators.
Nicole’s husband Riley stood, mouth agape in horror as their eleven year old daughter Jennifer laughed hysterically at his side. Rita and Malcolm stood with their little raven haired daughter Sadie. Penelope Stark, the flawless actress and grandmother, stood with her newest grandson in her arms.
“Dear god, Nicole,” Penelope said looking above the webcam. “Ask her if she’s okay.”
“She can hear you mom. You can hear her.” Nicole’s voice was a little louder and Mel stifled a laugh.
“I’m okay,” she said with an artificial smile. “But I should get going and call Paul to let him know I can start tomorrow.”
“Why don’t you call him and invite him out for dinner?” Penelope suggested. Mel closed her eyes and forced her fake smile wider.
“There’s an idea,” she said, avoiding an affirmative to her proposal. “I’ll talk to you later Nicole.” The camera moved so Mel could see Nicole’s conspiratorial grin. Melanie mouthed three words before logging out of the conversation. ‘Count on it.’
“Brax, I’m cutting you off,” Paul said to the action star as he gulped two fingers of scotch.
“Relax Paulie,” the Brit replied with a slight slur. “You’re dialing into Aidan’s hyper vigilant wheelhouse.
Compensating for his living on the East Coast, are you? Unlike you Americans, a Brit learns at an early age to hold his liquor.”
“I thought you wanted to chat about your car, buddy. Not about how uncouth the American public is, or the actor that resuscitated you in Fiji. Might I remind you of the fact that that very public are your biggest fans.” Paul sipped his first beer of the evening.
“I guess I should be impressed that someone crashed your website by overloading it with pictures of me.” He raised his brow. “Unless there’s something you haven’t been sharing.”
“You can see right through me,” he replied wryly. “I’m madly in love with you and hope one day you and I will have a Brokeback moment.”
Braxton Hart leaned forward and clutched his stomach as he laughed. Paul looked up at the waitress that was standing at the table, gaping at his famous friend.
Paul grew up in a famous family so he was accustomed to the attention, but he also hated it. The waitress had unbuttoned her blouse to show the base of her demibra and was leaning over the table. He was pretty sure that if she coughed, her tits would land in his leftovers.
“Was there anything else you needed?” The girl purred. Paul smiled politely and declined. Brax waved her away without sparing her a second glance.
“I really hate fame sometimes,” the action star confided. He spotted a table of grinning women and winked at them. Paul heard the patrons erupt into giggles.
“Yeah, you look like you have it rough,” he said as he put the bottle to his lips.
“What?” Brax smiled and a dimple appeared to the left of his mouth. “You misunderstand me. The women can be fun, but I enjoy the stunts much more. There’s no longer a challenge.”
Paul’s phone vibrated in his pocket. He drew it out and looked at the number. Melanie Chen. He rolled his eyes as he flipped open his phone.
“What?” He said tersely. He flashed an apologetic smile to his friend.
“I’m here,” Melanie said listlessly. “I can start tomorrow.”
“I don’t want you here,” he said flatly.
“It sucks to be you because I was paid to help you out. Unlike you, I don’t have a trust fund to allow me to pick and choose what jobs I want.” He bit back a retort as let out a sigh. “I’m not here to fight. I’m here to work.”
“Fine,” he replied. “We open at nine.”
“I’ll be there,” she said before hanging up.
Paul returned the phone to his pocket and apologized to Braxton for the interruption.
“That’s quite alright,” he said with a smile as the waitress handed him the check. “I thought we could chat about my girl.” The girl’s face fell as she left the table with the check. Little did that poor waitress know, Braxton’s true love was an Aston Martin.
“She’s doing great,” Paul replied. “I have some work left on the body before I get ready to do the paint. If you want to stop by and pick a color, I’ll be working tomorrow.”
“Smashing,” Braxton replied. “I should really see how those lovely ladies at the table are getting home.”
“You are a true gentleman,” Paul said, smiling despite himself. He finished his beer as the well-built action star pulled a chair over to the table of women. He was amazed how their childish giggles had all ceased and their posture changed to that of a dowt of jungle cats sizing up their prey.
He tossed an unnecessary tip on the table and gave his friend a wave before stepping out of the restaurant. He handed his ticket to the valet and waited for his car to arrive. The yellow mustang galloped to the curb and he slid into the smooth leather interior. He adjusted his seat and mirrors before slamming the clutch down. He shifted to second and gunned the accelerator, the screech of tires reminding him of a horse’s whinny.
“And now,” Paul said as he hit the highway, “Onward to an empty house.”
Paul missed his family. Things were a bit easier when his dad was still on this coast. Since his mother’s show and contract had been renewed for another year, however, Wilbur had moved back to New York.
He was used to meeting with his dad for random coffee breaks. His father would let him explain the inner workings of engines because he had been writing a fast paced car chase for one of his newest screenplays. A screenplay that Braxton was salivating over.
But now he was the only Trask on the West Coast. It took every effort to not sell his business and move closer to his family. He turned into his driveway and pulled into his four car garage.
As much as he hated to admit it, he was looking forward to Mel’s visit. He hadn’t wanted her to come out to begin with. He found her arrogant and opinionated. Then he realized he’d have someone around who would have updates on his family. Her visit was something he had been looking forward to, not that he’d ever admit it to her.
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