For a limited time I am going to post The V-Day Aversion (Dom & Kate #2), chapter by chapter every Saturday. If you haven’t read Bird Day Battalion (Dom & Kate #1), grab a free copy in any digital format at these retailers:
The V-Day Aversion
by Genevieve Dewey
Copyright 2013 by Genevieve Dewey. All Rights Reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.
“This is not going to work,” Katelyn said as she set her fork down with a long, drawn out sigh.
Dominic set his jaw and slowly breathed in through his nose and back out again. He attempted to smile but it wobbled a bit. They had made it through the antipasti and she had even drunk the wine he ordered, even though he knew she didn’t like red wine. But she was the one who wanted veal and everyone knew you had to order red wine with veal.
He had wanted to make it through at least half the meal before bringing out the ring and popping the question. But true to form, here she was backtracking. Again. One step forward, two steps back.
“I’m sorry Dom, I really tried, but—”
“No, no, it’s alright,” Dom interrupted and tried to keep the high level of irritation he was feeling out of this tone. “I realize you only came out with me tonight because of your sister.”
“Which is why,” Katelyn stopped, scooted her chair forward, and made a grab for his hand on the table. “That’s why I can’t concentrate. It’s not about you—” she halted and laughed. “Stop with the menacing eyebrows thing.”
He hadn’t realized he was doing the ‘menacing eyebrow thing’. He tried to make his face be as emotionless as possible. Whatever the result was, it sent Katelyn into a gale of laughter that had heads turning.
“The ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ has got to be the most over-used excuse in the history of female excuses,” Dom responded.
Kate laughed some more.
She actually had the gall to laugh? he wondered.
“That’s not what I was going to say. I was going to say it’s not about you, it’s that I can’t stop thinking about Kandace sitting home alone tonight while Steve is doing whatever, and I did promise her I’d see if he was cheating, and—”
“Stop,” he interrupted.
He stood up, fished out a hundred, and laid it on the table.
The waitress was going to have a great tip night, Dom thought.
Then he went around and pulled Katelyn’s chair out from the table and raised her up by her elbow. She looked into his face in a questioning manner.
He held his hand out for hers.
“Let’s do this. Screw tradition. We’ll spend our Valentine’s date hunting down cheating husbands. It can be a new tradition. We can start our own company called The DomLoKater—” he stopped as she jumped into his arms.
She kissed him several noisy times.
“I love you,” she said in a breathless and schmoopy manner.
He grinned. A breathless and schmoopy Kate meant many great – largely sexual – things were in his future. Maybe he’d have to wait a little longer to ask her to marry him, but given how the moving in together discussion had gone over, maybe that was a good thing.
She all but bounced in her seat on the car ride to her house.
“So, tell me again why you think we’ll find clues as to where and if Steve’s cheating at your place?” Dom asked.
“I don’t really, but I figure if we swing by and pick up Kandace, it gives her something to do other than stew, and we prove that we’re working on it. Which is part of the whole bet to get her out of my house.”
“Well, not to be picky or anything, but you’re sort of welching on the go out for Valentine’s part of your end of the deal.”
“No, I said I’d agree to go out with you, which I did. I never stipulated what I’d be doing.”
“Way to split hairs, Skate.”
“All part of being an Anderson. It’s survival of the fittest. I’m one of five kids from parents who had six siblings each. Finding loopholes to get out of things is practically a family past time.”
Dominic chuckled then cut off abruptly as he noticed Kandace running from the front door to her minivan in the driveway. She yanked on the door handle in an agitated manner then kicked the door when it didn’t open.
Dom and Kate shared a quick look. He sped up and got to the curb just as Kandace bleeped the alarm on the car.
“Kandy,” he called out the window. “Need a ride somewhere?”
She turned around and it was obvious from the mascara streaking down her face that something had set her off again.
“Uh, oh,” Katelyn voiced his thoughts.
She started to get out of the car but Kandace came hurrying up to Dom’s window.
“Perfect. Just perfect. You two can be my witnesses. And then we can just be done with this once and for all,” she said manically.
“What’s happened?” Dominic asked in that authoritative, yet calm way he used when two of his kids got into a fight in the locker room.
“I just got a call from Kellie’s assistant. She said the hotel as a courtesy tacked an extra day on my Valentine getaway reservation at Castle Corner.”
“The theme hotel Steve and I stayed at for our honeymoon! He’s taking his little tramp there!” she half shouted, half wailed.
Katelyn looked out her other window and Dom knew she was worried just how much Mrs. Dickerson was witnessing.
“Ok, you don’t know that,” he said calmly. “All you know is for some reason Kellie’s assistant—”
“Duh, Dominic! What other explanation could there be? I didn’t make a reservation! She must have just called me when she couldn’t reach Steve. Both our names are on the file from the last time we stayed there,” Kandace stopped and buried her face in her hands for a second.
Then she growled a bit and wiped furiously at her eyes.
“I can’t believe he has the gall to take her to our spot. That’s our spot!”
Her eyes had lost their hurt and sadness, and now they look slightly murderous, tinged with a bit of crazy. Dominic swallowed and silently thanked God they’d gotten here in time.
Katelyn made some soothing sounds and got out of her seat to drag Kandace into the car.
“We’ll go check this out together, Kandy. I’m sure it’s just a mistake. Kellie said she just got a new assistant, so maybe she just made a mistake.”
“Huh,” Kandace scoffed and crossed her arms.
“I have a question. Why would you and Steve go to Castle Corner when you could stay downtown at the Marriot or The Cornhusker?” Dom asked incredulously.
It wasn’t as if the theme hotel was a dingy dive or anything, but a guy with Steve’s money could stay at way classier joints.
“Where they stayed on their honeymoon,” Katelyn finished for her, looking at him like he had lost his mind.
Women, he thought.
It had seemed like a perfectly good question to him, but he didn’t say anything else. The car remained completely silent on the ride to the edge of Lincoln.
“Alright, what’s the room number?” Dominic asked as he pulled up to the hotel.
“Room 169. We stay in it every year! I just can’t believe he’d take her—”
“Kandace, what if he made the reservation for you and—”
“Katelyn! I was sitting at home dateless, he didn’t ask me. You were on the phone with us yesterday. He didn’t ask me then.”
“I was going to say maybe he made the reservation a while back for you two and just forgot about it,” Katelyn suggested.
“Yeah, that’s a possibility,” Dominic agreed.
In fact, as far as he was concerned, that seemed like the most logical conclusion. On the other hand, he half hoped Steve was there so that Kate wasn’t doomed to repeat this adventure every time Kandace got insecure. It would just rip the band aid off once and for all.
Of course, as Kate’s boyfriend and Kandace’s future brother-in-law he was going to have to have words with Steve. The thought perked him up. That’d be a great release for the frustration he was feeling tonight.
“Why are you smiling?” Katelyn hissed at him.
He shook his head.
“Stay here, Kandace. It’ll just take me and Kate a second to see if the room’s booked and if anyone’s staying there.”
Katelyn nodded her head.
“Good idea,” she agreed.
She reached out and made a grab for Kandace’s purse.
“Give me your ID, Kandy. I’ll just pretend to be you and it’ll save time.”
“Oh, come on, that stopped working in college. My hair’s darker than yours and completely straight. No one’s going to believe you’re me.”
“I dunno, that might work,” Dominic said. “She could just say she got a bad perm or something. You guys don’t look alike when you’re standing next to each other, but to a hurried hotel clerk, close enough.”
“It’s at least worth a try,” Katelyn said breathlessly as she yanked the proffered Driver’s License. “Stay put, Kandy, please?”
Kandace sighed, crossed her arms again, and looked out her window.
“Fine, but you have to promise to text me whatever you find out,” she answered without looking at them.
Dom grabbed Kate’s hand as she met him at the door, and they walked in to the front lobby. There was a young boy at the front desk. He looked barely old enough to be out of high school, and Dom figured he was probably a freshman at UNL working off his student loan debt. Perfect for their plan.
The kid wore a wrinkled red polo shirt with a name tag that read “Taylor”.
“Help you?” he drawled in a bored tone.
Katelyn smiled brightly and batted her eyelashes. The desk attendant swallowed and smiled back, his previously soporific expression replaced by marked interest. Dominic tried not laugh. Kate didn’t flirt often, but when she did, she had a tendency to dazzle her victims.
He counted himself lucky she would rather play with ancient pottery and dirt than socialize. She never had quite grasped how pretty she was. Thank God.
“I’m Kandace Cheney. My husband and I book reservations every year through Anderson Adventures. I’m just running terribly late and haven’t picked up my key card. Room 169, please,” she said and flashed her ID quickly.
The boy didn’t even look at it.
“Ah, um, yeah, it’s uh…” Taylor looked through a file of envelopes. “The key card’s right here, Mrs. Cheney. The paperwork’s already taken care of through Anderson Adventures.”
Katelyn pursed her lips.
Dominic could tell she was starting to get a little outraged again on Kandace’s behalf at Steve’s supposed gall, but he still had that gut feeling Steve had just forgotten about the reservation.
“Is there anybody already in there?” Dominic asked.
Taylor parted his mouth and seemed to flush a little. He looked between Katelyn and Dominic then he blatantly looked Dominic up and down. Then he shook his head in an incredulous way.
Dom sighed. It probably did seem like an odd question if the boy had assumed he was Mr. Cheney. Still, he had wanted to make sure they wouldn’t be interrupting anything, just in case.
“You know what? Nevermind,” Dominic said and patted the counter. “Uh, just let us know if we get any calls.”
“I’m about to get off shift here but I’ll leave a note for my replacement,” he answered in a way that had Dom knowing he would do no such thing.
But he didn’t have time to argue because Katelyn was already headed towards the room. He caught up with her just as she opened the door.
They both stopped and gaped in astonishment.
“Wow,” Kate said.
“Wow is right. It looks like a Pepto Bismol bottle exploded all over a murder scene in a Star Wars porno,” Dominic said when he could get his brain to stop screaming in horror.
The walls were entirely painted red with pink-framed pictures of artfully posed, mostly naked, women and men in various states of bondage on the walls. Most of them contained recreated scenes of Princess Leia chained to Jabba the Hutt, or sultry female bounty hunters pinning Fabio-knockoffs to the ground with their stiletto heels.
All of the curtains and the bed coverings on the large heart-shaped bed in the center were shockingly pink. There was a buffet table with chocolate covered strawberries and chilling champagne on it. In a basket full of goodies behind it were two red light sabers with a pink velvet heart dangling from the middle.
“Wow,” Katelyn said again. “This is… I just…”
Dominic walked forward and bent down slightly to examine the silver and black thing that was hanging from the edge of the bed.
“Yep, restraints. Ooh, and lookie here,” Dominic said with a grin.
He turned around and showed her the wooden paddle that was lying on the bed. On one side was a Darth Vader mask on the other, a Boba Fett mask. He enjoyed the fire-red flush that streaked across her cheeks.
She held up a hand and started backing up towards the door.
“You come near me with that thing and you better sleep with one eye open for the rest of your life!”
Dominic grinned wider at the way her wide, shocked eyes kept making their way to the bed.
“What’s the matter, babe? You like it when I smack your butt while we’re—”
“That – that’s different, it’s – it’s in the middle of – when we’re – and that’s—”
He doubled over in laughter at her flustered babbling.
“And you liked it that time on New Year’s when I tied your wrists together with your pantyhose—”
“Well, that’s above your pay grade, Mister,” Katelyn interrupted, pointing at the bed and wall full of contraptions.
Then she stopped, covered her eyes with one hand, and put the other hand on her hip, with a short ‘tuh’.
Dominic chuckled at the way she kept peeking out from her fingers at the bed. He set the paddle down on the couch by the wall and wandered over to the music system next to the shelves of brand new, unopened, sex toys.
“Wow, this is pretty slick for a hotel like this,” he said, trying to distract himself from the sudden image that had flashed through his head of Katelyn over his knee in nothing but a teddy.
“Actually, Kellie said lots of people use it for their honeymoons.”
“And this is really the room they stayed in?”
“Well, maybe they’ve changed the themes around, or maybe the boy was confused.”
“I guess. I mean, I know Kandace is a wild child and all, but I seriously can’t picture Steve throwing it down in kinky town.”
Katelyn started giggling. Then it morphed into chuckles so deep she snorted.
Dominic came towards her and grabbed her hand.
“Let’s go down and ask for the manager. Maybe Kandace remembered it wrong.”
“Doesn’t explain why this is the key we were given if so.”
“You know, the more I think about it, isn’t it a bit odd for someone to remember the room number they stayed at on their honeymoon?”
“Not if you’re in the habit of returning to it on a yearly basis.”
“Still…” Dominic trailed off.
He was trying desperately to get back the fantasy of Katelyn and the paddle, to replace the sudden image he had of Kandace and any of those toys on the wall. Worse, Steve and any of those toys.
“Let’s go down and see if they changed themes or room numbers.”
Katelyn was frowning intently at the strawberries.
“You ever have one of those feelings where you think, something’s not right here?”
He waved a hand at the room.
“Uh, where to start?”
“No, I mean, there’s just something weird going on start to finish and I can’t quite put my finger on it. First, Kellie’s assistant makes a big mistake like that? You know Kellie doesn’t tolerate stuff like that. And second, Kandace hates strawberries,” Katelyn said, pointing at the plate. “Which I suppose could go to support the cheating theory but, then again, if Steve was going to carry on an affair why on earth would he use his sister-in-law’s agency and the room he likes to go to with Kandy?”
Dom frowned and looked around the room.
“These are good points. Like I said, let’s go back to the beginning. Besides making sure this is the right room, we need to figure out if Steve’s even been here tonight or if he’s been seen with someone other than Kandace. If they make a habit of coming here, surely the manager should know them.”
Katelyn squeezed his hand in agreement and they headed back to the front desk.
–Copyright 2013, Genevieve Dewey.
Read on in… CHAPTER SEVEN.