OMG! I am still so mad I could spit…okay so there is no way I’m doing something so gross as spitting, so bad way to start out, but you get the picture – I’m as mad as a Hatter.
Jesse, that means you’re crazy, not upset.
Shut up, Ethan. No one asked you. It has been two weeks and I still have trouble talking about it, but Shea insisted the Cedar Falls fans deserved to know why there isn’t going to be a New Year’s Eve story. Since she’s right, as usual, but I can’t write about it, I’m going to let her tell you what happened.
Let her? You do know she’s the author, right?
So what if she’s the author, Flynn. It’s my story.
Hey! It happened to all of us, you know.
Do you see me rolling my eyes at you, Danton? I’m the one that stood up to that jerk.
You’re also the reason we can’t go to the New Year’s Eve Party.
Seriously Ethan, don’t you have somewhere else to be?
Are you kidding? Who else will make sure Shea hears the truth and not your distorted version?
Distorted! I would never. You know what? Never mind. You can all stay but keep quiet so Shea can get this written and posted to the Cedar Falls fans. Again, I apologize to all those looking forward to the New Year’s Eve story but I swear it wasn’t my fault.
Shea, go ahead and tell them.
NAUGHTY OR NICE
“You know we aren’t meeting Ryder for another three hours, right?” Danton asked.
Jesse rolled his eyes. “Of course, I know. Why do you think we came now?” He didn’t bother to wait for Danton to answer as the always positive Danton really didn’t have a mischievous bone in his body. It was one of the reasons Jesse enjoyed having him around. “If we waited until it was time to meet with Ryder, we wouldn’t have time to gamble.”
“Wait.” Danton stopped walking mere steps from the front door of Cedar Falls' casino, Utopia. “I thought we were here to help Ryder come up with ideas for the New Year’s Eve Party.”
Ethan sighed heavily. “Come on Danton, think. Since when has Jesse volunteered for anything without an ulterior motive?”
“Hey.” Jesse stomped his favorite black platform boots with the gold buckles going up the sides. “That’s not…” but as he thought about it, Jesse had to admit Ethan had a point. “Okay, that was fair, but still not cool to point out. You’re supposed to be my best friend.”
Ethan shrugged. “You know I call them like I see them.”
Too true. Ethan wasn’t one to let Jesse’s actions slide without some sort of sarcastic comment. Not that Jesse was any different but that didn’t mean he had to like it when it was directed at him. “Come on.” Jesse waved them forward. “It’s time to have some fun.”
“But I didn’t tell Angelo I was going to gamble,” Kit whined. “He’s not going to be happy when he finds out.”
Jesse gave Kit an odd look. “Then don’t tell him and you won’t have a problem.”
A look of horror crossed Kit’s face. “Not tell him? I can’t do that. What if he finds out I lied to him?”
Jesse loved all his friends but sometimes he just didn’t get their obsessive need to be honest with their significant others. “How is he going to find out? None of us are going to say anything. Stop worrying.”
“But I can’t lie,” Kit insisted. “Angelo would be disappointed in me.”
“It’s not a lie if it doesn’t come up. When he asks what you did today, just mention helping Ryder and leave out the gambling.” When Kit didn’t look convinced, Jesse said, “I don’t tell Parker everything I do.”
“Yeah, but that’s because most of what you do could get you arrested and then he’d be an accessory after the fact,” Ethan quipped.
Jesse gave Ethan one of his best glares. “Hardy-har-har.”
“What?” Ethan tried to pull off innocent but failed miserably. “It’s not like it isn’t true.”
“You know what?” he said to Ethan. “If you keep being mean to me I’m not going to keep inviting you out with me.”
Ethan laughed out loud. “And who else are you going to get to not only drive you but get into trouble with?”
Jesse turned to Flynn, Danton, and Kit, who were studiously looking everywhere but at Jesse. “Fine,” Jesse grumbled. “Let’s just gamble.”
They made their way to the blackjack tables. When he didn’t find his favorite dealer, Yvonne, he chose a table with a dealer he didn’t know. Maybe this one would bring him some much needed luck. But before he sat, he heard one of his favorite security guards, Reed, say, “Look, I told you, I don’t date.”
“But that was before me,” says a smaller man with more confidence than anyone who was being shot down should have. The guy wore a suit in the middle of the day and had a gleam in his eye that Jesse knew spelled trouble, since he had the same look more often than not.
The difference, this guy also had crazy eyes, something Jesse also knew because of dealing with Parker’s mama. It was obvious the guy wasn’t about to leave Reed alone, not without someone intervening.
“I’m not interested, Alcott,” Reed said before trying to walk away.
Too bad this Alcott guy wasn’t about to take no for an answer. He grabbed onto Reed’s arm, but when he wasn’t strong enough to stop Reed, Alcott chased after him. “There is no need to play hard to get. When you come live with me, I’ll shower you with gifts.”
Like Jesse said – crazy.
“Come on, guys. We need to save Reed from his stalker over there.” Trusting his friends to have his back, Jesse made his way to where Reed was once more trying to get away from Alcott. “Hey, Reed. Thank goodness I found you.”
The relief in Reed’s eyes was profound as he looked Jesse’s way. “Jesse. What can I do for you?”
Alcott glared at Jesse as he sauntered up to Reed and linked his arm through Reed’s. “I need some help at the slots.”
“Excuse me,” Alcott put his hand on Jesse’s arm, digging his nails in.
Jesse appreciated a good manicure, but Alcott’s nails were sharp enough to draw blood, which meant he might tear a hole in Jesse’s brand new long-sleeved shirt. He’d gotten it just to wear this time of year and had spent a lot of time figuring out what saying to put on it, finally deciding on, Dear Santa, I’ve been good all year. Most of the time. Once in a while. Never mind, I’ll buy my own stuff.
There was no way he was going to let his shirt get ruined the first day he’d worn it. “Unless you plan to pay for expedited shipping for a new shirt, get your paws off me before I make you.”
Alcott was more crazy than Jesse had thought, for instead of taking his hand off Jesse, he sneered and dug his fingers deeper into his arm. “Try it and I’ll make sure you’re never seen again. Now get lost.”
Alcott finally released Jesse’s arm but only after pushing him. The thing was, Jesse had a hard enough time walking without falling in flat shoes. Add in his platforms and someone shoving him, he just had no chance to stay upright. The next thing he knew Jesse was hugging the floor like the old friend it tended to be.
“Hey, jackass. That was my friend you pushed,” Ethan yelled as he got right up in Alcott’s face with Flynn at his back.
Danton and Kit knelt on the floor next to Jesse. “You okay?” Danton asked.
“I’m on the floor, Danton. Of course, I’m not okay.” Sometimes he wanted to smack some sense into his friends, but Jesse refrained or he’d end up with no friends.
“Come on. We’ll help you up,” Kit said.
“Unless you want to end up like your friend, I suggest you get out of my face,” Alcott said as Jesse was once more standing.
Even though he was happy his friends had his back, Jesse wasn’t about to let anyone push him around and get away with it. “You have two seconds to get out of here before I go all ninja on your ass,” Jesse threatened.
Ethan gave him an odd look. “But you’re not a ninja.”
Jesse glared at Ethan for bringing that up. “Yes, I am.”
“No, you’re not.”
“Did you see me do that?” Jesse asked.
Ethan frowned at him. “See what?”
Jesse grinned. “Exactly.”
Ethan just rolled his eyes.
Alcott, on the other hand stepped right up to Jesse with a haughty look that screamed Alcott thought he was so much better than Jesse. “Reed is mine,” he declared. “So get the fuck away from him.”
Jesse cocked his head to the side and considered what to do. It was clear Alcott was unhinged. So did he push him over the edge or try to reason with him. “You really are bat shit crazy, aren’t you?” Jesse never was good at reasoning with people. He found it generally pointless as they didn’t listen anyway.
Maybe he should have tried.
The next thing he knew a fist was flying toward his face. Having lots of experience hitting the floor on a daily basis, Jesse didn’t even hesitate to drop down onto his ass. Unfortunately, Kit, who had been behind him, hadn’t realized what was happening and Alcott’s fist headed right for him.
With Kit short and Jesse in his three-inch heels, Alcott’s aim was too high to actually connect with Kit, but Alcott’s forward momentum had him pushing right into Kit, knocking him into a set of chairs that thankfully weren’t occupied, but when they toppled over, a dealer who had been walking by tripped, falling into Kit and they both took a dive onto the floor.
As that was happening, Alcott, who hadn’t been able to stop himself from continuing forward, knocked his fist into a customer, punching him in the back of the head, causing him to slam into the poker table he was at, chips and cards flying everywhere.
Maybe if it had stopped there, all would have been fine, but Alcott was too incensed at not having hit his target and charged after Jesse, who had just managed to get back on his feet. “Shit,” Jesse yelped when he saw an enraged Alcott, fists raised, come after him once more.
Throwing up his hands to ward off the blow had one of those hands connecting with Alcott’s chin. Alcott’s head snapped up as he stumbled backward. His foot caught on one of the overturned chairs sending him reeling to the side, arms flailing as he unsuccessfully tried to keep from falling. Before going down to the ground, one arm slammed into the face of another dealer, who had been trying to help his coworker untangle himself from Kit and the chairs.
Blood spurted from the man’s nose and a tooth popped out of his mouth to land at his feet just as he went down in a mass of limbs with Kit and the other dealer. But it was when his head banged into the corner of one of the legs of a chair that he finally lost consciousness.
“Jesse Grant,” Stone said from just behind him. “Why am I not surprised you are in the middle of this?”
Jesse whirled around to face an angry Stone. “I didn’t do it,” he instantly said. Then he tried switching tactics, knowing Stone would never believe he wasn’t responsible. “I can explain.”
But Stone held up a hand to stop him. “I don’t want to hear it.” And he hadn’t.
In the end Jesse, Ethan, Flynn, Kit, and Danton had been banned from all of Utopia, including the restaurants and hotel, for 60 days. Not even knowing Alcott had also been banned had helped Jesse deal with the harsh punishment of not being allowed to attend the New Year’s Eve Party so he could wear his beautiful outfit that he’d had specially made for the event.
The End (of the story that wasn’t my fault)
Do you see why I’m so upset? I had Lucian design new boots. I had to force Macon to help me draw my costume. Then I had to beg and plead with Cora, Helen, and Vera to sew it. For weeks I’ve worked day and night getting others to make my outfit and I won’t even get to wear it all because I tried to help a friend.
Lesson learned. No more helping others.
Don’t you mean meddling?
You were right there next to me, Ethan so you have no room to talk.
It wasn’t like you gave us a choice. Hell, you didn’t even tell us what we were about to get involved in or that Alcott was a lunatic.
I was only trying to help a friend, Flynn. Admit it, if I had told you, you still would have been right there with me.
Flynn gave a put upon sigh. Fine, he admitted. I would have had your back but I’m not sure I wouldn’t have voted to let Reed deal with Alcott on his own. He is a security guard, former military, and more than capable of handling his own mess.
Maybe. But I wasn’t about to admit that to Flynn or the others.
Anyway, that is my story. Look for new books in the Cedar Falls series for more of my exploits coming soon.
They aren’t just your exploits, Jesse.
Happy New Year everyone. See you next year!