Chapter 21

Cold

…the better part of me…

"She can do no wrong. You give in to her."

Sonny stiffened. He gave his wife's reflection a hard look. "I do not."

Simone whipped the brush through her hair. Her movements were sharp and agitated. "Shana wants to go to the concert and you want her to."

"I don't see why she should miss it," he clarified. "I'm sure she's learned her lesson."

"After one night?" She shook her head. "I doubt it."

"Sweetheart," he said, taking the brush from her, "this is a once in a lifetime experience. If she's forced to sit with us, that will punishment enough."

"And then, what? What will she learn?" she questioned. "That her parents are pushovers. She doesn't have to follow the rules."

Sonny frowned. "All of this over her ditching a class? Simone, education is important, but--"

"It's a privilege," she cut in. "She takes it and so many other things for granted. At her age, Tommy would have given anything to go to school."

He placed the brush on the vanity before leaning against it. "Tommy's experience isn't Shana's. It's not fair to compare the two."

"That's not what I'm doing."

"No?" He took her hand and caressed it between his. "Something tells me this is more than Shana ditching a class or going to a concert. Are you having nightmares again?"

"No…just thoughts. We take things for granted."

"Like what?" Her agitation concerned him. What was she so afraid of?

"Life and being able to enjoy it," she said. "Seeing Tom again… I hate to say, but I wished he'd stay away."

"I can make him leave."

"No!" She squeezed his hand. "Please, don't. Leave him be."

"What does he have to do with taking life for granted?"

"I never mentioned this, but the day Tommy and I were taken… Our car had a flat and we were waiting for help. I called Tom. He said he'd come. He didn't. Someone else did and stole our lives. I thought I'd forgiven him, but I haven't. I don't think I can. I took for granted that he'd help, but the fact is, I should have known how to change a tire. If I had…"

Sonny reached for her. Holding her close as the sobs overtook her. "It's not your fault either," he murmured. "Forgive yourself, mi corazón, por favor."

Moments later, the tears subsided. He continued to hold her. "Would you rather stay home?"

"And miss the concert?" she asked, drying her eyes with Kleenex. "No, way. I missed the first time. I plan to see this one."

He cocked an eyebrow. "And Shana?"

"She gets a reprieve for tonight. She can come, but she's still grounded."

Sonny laughed. "Mi vida, ti amo."

She smiled. "I love you, too. I don't know how I would have gotten through this without you."

"I was thinking the same thing."

~ tell me why you gotta be so cold…~

"Bradley and Anya have left for the concert," Justus said as he entered the den. He faced his wife who sat curled on the sofa with a novel in her hands. "I want to know what you're hiding from me."

Alexis frowned. She dreaded this moment. As soon as her discussion with Keesha ended, the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. Justus wouldn't agree with her tactics. He demanded that they conducted business fairly and legally. Her idea of ridding Keesha of Morgan James did not fit either bill.

"I don't know what you're talking about," she answered. The blank expression on her face was the one she used in court.

"Now, that's a bold faced lie." He sat on the coffee table in front of her. "What is it, Alexis? Are you ill?"

"Sick? Me?" She pointed to herself. She remembered her place with a bookmark and placed the book on the end table. "What makes you think I’m sick?"

"You're not acting like yourself," he said. "You've been moody and distant. Cold. The kids are concerned, too. I noticed that you had an appointment the other day, but you didn't note with whom. Was it a doctor? Has the cancer--?"

"No." She quickly cupped his face. Her thumbs brushed his rugged jawline. "Sweetheart, no. I've received a clean bill of health. You know that. I wouldn't keep that from you or the children."

He pulled her hands from him and grasped them between his own. "Then, tell me what it is."

She paused, searching for the best answer. "I can't, Justus. It's regarding a client is all I can say. Attorney-client confidentiality and all that. I can't disclose the matter."

He released her and stood, turning his back to her. "It's more than that. But I won't pry."

"Justus--"

"Alexis, give me more credit than that. I know you. Clients don't get under your skin like this. You don't let them." He headed to the doorway. "I'll be in my study,"

~tell me anything about you I don't know…~

Energy vibrated through Dominik as he entered Jacks. The surge empowered him. Lately, he felt drained and tired. Not so tonight. Tonight, he was ready for anything and anticipated taking the stage with his mother and the rest of the band.

She hadn't given him guidelines so he dressed in black jeans and a black t-shirt. The ensemble must have worked because everywhere he looked women gave him the once over. In some instances, guys did, too. He averted those gazes. That wasn't his kind of action.

"Wow."

The breathy murmur caught him off guard. Dominik stopped and turned. His invisible wall of caution opened a crack. He smiled. "Hello, Robin. I'm surprised to see you here."

Her dark, arched eyebrows drew into a frown. "Really?" A confused smile curved her lips. "I wouldn't think so. I was here the first time DJLS performed onstage. Hasn't your mother mentioned me?"

"My mom?" he questioned. "Do you know her?"

"Of course," she replied. "I signed DJLS to L&B Records. Not to mention produced their early videos which really got their music onto the charts. I can't imagine you not knowing that."

"I knew that Brenda Barrett and someone else were their producers. I suppose I forgot that you were Ms. Barrett's partner." He dipped his head in a slight nod. "Please forgive me."

She released a faint laugh and grasped his arm in a light hold. "There's no need."

"You're a lot like my mother," he commented with an intent stare.

Color heightened Robin's cheeks. "I can't imagine how."

"Neither of you look your age. It's hard for me to believe that you were a record producer twenty years ago. Are you still in the music business?"

"After listening to you play the piano, I wish I were. You are quite talented."

"Thank you." The older woman's attention flattered him. With the Hardy sisters blowing him off, he doubted his ability to capture the attention of the opposite sex other than those entranced by his looks, title and bank account. To have this beautiful woman show a mild interest returned his confidence. The Hardy twins obviously didn't know a good thing when they saw it.

"I'd love to hear you play again," Robin said. "Perhaps we can arrange something."

He nodded. "Perhaps sooner rather than later."

Her velvet voice caressed his bruised ego. "I look forward to it."

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