Mr. Irresistible(10)

By: Karina Bliss

“Never mind that,” said his boss, “let’s get the champagne in.”

Kate buried her face in Peter’s shoulder and closed her eyes. The kiss had been nice, familiar and comforting.

She was safe.

“DIDN’T YOU SAY you’d dealt with this, Jord?” Luke strode into Jordan’s kitchen and threw the newspaper on the table. One look at his weary partner and Jordan headed to the fridge, handed Luke a medicinal beer, then gestured to a stool at the island counter.

“Sit down. You look beat.” He went back to turning steaks in the marinade. “How’s life in Beacon Bay?”

“Insular.” Luke drained half the can before he spoke again. “I’m still getting a hard time from the council, and we can’t find enough tradesmen, so I’ve been helping out at the building site.”

He held out his hands, blistered and callused. Jordan cast them a cursory glance, more intent on scrutinizing his friend’s face. The terrible bleakness that had marked it since his divorce had disappeared.

Satisfied, he reached for his own beer. “You’re a goddamn wimp, Carter.”

“As opposed to having a future in shampoo commercials?” Luke gestured to the newspaper. “No direct references to Camp Chance, but Ms. Brogan’s second character assassination—hilarious though it is—still doesn’t reflect well on a trustee of a kids’ camp. And we need credibility with the locals—” Luke stopped abruptly. “What is that bloody noise…a cat?”

“Yet another reason why Christian and Kez should have made me godfather of that baby and not you. At least I recognize the species.”

“They wanted a role model for their daughter, not a partner in crime,” retorted Luke. He crossed to the ranch slider and opened it. The two men winced as the thin howl gathered volume.

“Kezia’s out buying colic powder,” Jordan explained.

The crying grew louder as Christian came into sight, dark hair disheveled, blue eyes desperate. Tiny feet sticking out from the pink bundle against his shoulder pummeled his ribs.

“I’ve run out of options.”

“Give her to me.” Awkwardly, Luke took the baby and started jiggling her, using muscles that had once powered him to swimming glory. The baby’s cries petered out to surprised hiccups. Luke grinned at Jordan. “Who’s the perfect godfather now? Huh? Huh?”

Hiding a smirk, Jordan gathered lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes and started making a salad.

Christian raked a hand through his tousled hair, making it worse, and retrieved his soda, sitting neglected on the bench. “Okay, where were we? Oh yeah, working out what to do about Kate Brogan.”

Jordan picked up his beer, took a reflective sip. He still couldn’t believe how badly he’d mishandled the situation, but Kate’s ‘I don’t fancy you’ bullshit had provoked him to prove otherwise. “The fiery, feisty, infuriating and fabulous Kate Brogan.”

Christian choked on his soda. “Don’t tell me you’ve got the hots for the enemy?”

Picking up a knife, Jordan quartered a tomato with deft strokes. “Don’t panic, she thinks I’m an immoral, arrogant, lunatic.”

“Two out of three ain’t bad.” Luke stopped jiggling the hiccuping baby. “I assume your arrogance stopped you from clarifying the third?”

“Actually, I tried, but her disapproval extends beyond Penny to my lifestyle.” Jordan savored another sip of beer. “Still, I’ve never liked the pursuit to be too easy.”

“You and your bloody challenges,” complained Luke. “The camp’s too important to…oh, crap!” Little Maddie had puked on her godfather’s black T-shirt.

“Actually, that’s the other end,” Jordan said helpfully, but Luke didn’t hear because Maddie had started to wail again. For a minute or two there was chaos while he and Christian attempted to mop up.

Slicing through the cucumber, Jordan started humming.

Sheepishly, Luke gave the disgruntled baby back to Christian, who returned to pacing. “Yeah, darling,” he crooned, “tell Daddy all about how stupid Uncle Jordan thinks with his—”