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A Merry Little Christmas(14)

By:Melanie Schuster



Warren nodded his head in agreement. "Okay, you make some excellent good  points. But can we continue this over lunch? You can't maintain a  physique like this one unless you feed it regularly," he remarked,  giving his barrel chest a rub. "I can shoot holes in your argument quite  nicely over a big Greek salad and a gyro."

Donnie agreed that lunch was in order. While he was getting his topcoat  out of the closet, Warren stood up and stretched. "I gotta ask you,  though, how do you manage to get all these fine women in one place?  Every time I come in this building I see one beautiful face after  another. One of them ran smack into me when I was walking across the  lobby, now she was a knockout!"

Donnie put on his coat and picked up his leather gloves in anticipation  of the harsh cold. "Nothing changes with you, Warren. You were on your  way to this serious interview about neurolinguistics and the latest  advances in the field, and you're trying to pick up women in the lobby."

"Not true, Cochran. I was so busy thinking about the interview that I  didn't try to pick her up, but I wish I'd gotten her name or number or  something. She was gorgeous, friendly, smelled like a million bucks and  had dimples you could swim in. Just beautiful." He sighed.

"Warren, I think you need to start getting out more, you're sounding desperate, man. She couldn't have looked all that good."

"You're just jaded, my friend. You're so caught up in finding Superwoman  that you don't know how to appreciate God's bounty when you witness it.  Beauty like that is a gift in itself, Cochran."

The two men continued to banter as they descended in the brass-fixtured  elevator to the marble-floored lobby. The doors opened and Warren's eyes  lit up.

"Cochran, get ready to eat your words. There's the beauty right there. And this time, I'm getting a name," he said gleefully.

Donnie's head dropped and he stifled a groan. "Don't bother to get it; I  can give it to you. Her name is Angelique and she's more trouble than  you want to deal with, now or ever."

Chapter Six

Warren ignored Donnie's words and approached Angelique, who was  exchanging a few words with Fanchon, the attractive, friendly concierge.  "We meet again," he said with a smile.

Angelique turned to face him and her charming smile again allowed him a  glimpse of her dimples. "So it would seem," she replied. "Have you  rescued any more maidens who weren't watching where they were going?"

"Not in the last hour or so. I must be overdue." He laughed. "By the way, I'm Warren Alexander."

Angelique extended her right hand to shake his. "I'm Angelique Deveraux. It's very nice to meet you, Warren."

By now, Donnie had joined the twosome and was looking less than  thrilled. Warren turned to Donnie and said, "I understand you know this  man, so he can vouch for me. I'm God-fearing, clean, wholesome and  healthy and I would consider it a true pleasure if you would accompany  us to lunch." He bowed slightly.

Angelique hadn't retrieved her hand; it was still enveloped in his warm,  strong grasp. She smiled again because there was something truly sweet  about this big guy. "As nice as that invitation was, I'm going to have  to say no," she said softly. "I was just out for lunch and I have to get  back to my studio. I have some appointments this afternoon."

Warren sighed deeply. "I can't leave here without knowing I'm going to see you again. I just can't do it. Do you like art?"

Angelique's interest showed on her face at once. "Why, yes I do. Very much, in fact."

"Would you consider going to a gallery with me? There's going to be a  showing at a small gallery and I think you might enjoy it," he said  persuasively.

"I'd love to go, thank you for asking me," she said, giving him another  glimpse of those amazing dimples. "If you give me my hand back, I'll  give you a number where you can reach me."

Instead of looking embarrassed, Warren smiled. "I was hoping you  wouldn't notice that I hadn't let you go. But since you did … " He lowered  his head and kissed the fingers he was still holding.

Angelique giggled like a schoolgirl and promptly went into her purse to  extract a card case. Taking one out, she handed him her business card  and told him he could reach her on her cell number. "It was a pleasure  meeting you, Warren. I'm looking forward to hearing from you. And I'm  looking forward to the showing."

With a last brilliant smile, she turned, leaving Warren and Donnie  staring after her slender figure as she walked away. Warren gave a low  whistle as he watched her sexy walk. "Cochran, now that's what I call a  woman. You see how things just work themselves out? I was in the right  place at the right time and I may have just met my dream girl," he said  gleefully.                       


"Oh, no, you haven't, Warren. What you just met was your worst nightmare."


The two men faced each other across the table while waiting for their  lunch orders. They had opted to eat in a small diner near the office  known for good food, large portions and swift service. Warren looked  amused, while Donnie's face had a look of intensity that to Warren  seemed all out of proportion with the situation. His words to his friend  reflected this. "Well, now, Cochran, I met a nice young woman and asked  her to go to an art gallery with me. You're acting like I'm selling  arms to Al-Qaeda or something. What's the problem?"

Donnie took out his frustration on the ice in his glass of water,  crunching it noisily and violently before answering. He was also buying  time, because he wasn't sure why he'd reacted so strongly to the scene  in the lobby. Warren standing there, dripping his legendary charm all  over the place, and Angelique acting like a debutante at a social had  irritated him mightily and unexpectedly. He shook his head before  speaking.

"Warren, if you knew Evilene like I knew her, you wouldn't be asking me  that question. You know how she is; you've heard me talk about her  before. She's Bennie's sister-in-law, the little piece of work I've been  telling you about. The woman is evil, I'm telling you. She's nothing  but trouble."

Warren raised his brows at the passion in Donnie's voice. "So that's the  woman you call Evilene? You never told me she was that fine, Cochran!"

Donnie ignored the heat that gathered in his face. "Yeah, well, if you  think she's fine, good for you. But it's like I've been telling you,  Warren, she's mean as a black snake. She's hot-tempered, she's spoiled  rotten, she's …  Man, if you were to look up the phrase ‘high-maintenance'  in a dictionary, there'd be a picture of her sharpening her claws."

Warren laughed out loud at that one. "Aww, come on, Cochran! So you two  don't get along, that doesn't put her on America's Most Wanted list,  does it? There're lots of people I don't get along with, and some of  them are female. Take my cousin Charice, for example. We can't be in the  same room for ten minutes without getting into it about something and  we're both adults, both physicians, both had home training and we can't  stand the sight of each other. So Angelique's high-spirited and a little  spoiled. If I was that good-looking, I'd probably be spoiled, too."

Warren stopped talking because the waitress had arrived with their food.  He said a quick grace, and then took a mouthful of the piping-hot gyro  that had been placed before him. After chewing it thoroughly with a look  of total enjoyment, he resumed his interrogation of Donnie.

"I've never known you to get this bent out of shape about anybody,  Cochran, especially not a woman. Why do you let her get to you like  this?"

Donnie stared morosely at the Reuben sandwich that lay before him. For  some reason he seemed to have lost his appetite, even though the food  looked delicious. "Because she's not only a spoiled little princess,  she's a player," he said finally. "She's dating this other guy but that  didn't stop her from making a date with you, now, did it?" He picked up  half his sandwich and took a huge bite. "And it didn't stop her from  kissing me on New Year's Eve, either."

Warren finished the bite he was consuming before picking up his glass of  iced tea. He looked long and hard at his old friend before pointing out  that this disclosure put a new spin on the situation. "Well, now, seems  to me like there's a little more interest on your part than you're  letting on, my brother. Do I detect a little bit of jealousy in there  somewhere? Could it be that you're more involved with Miss Angelique  than you're willing to admit?"

Donnie sputtered and almost choked on his Boston Cooler. "Man, what are  you trying to do, kill me? Jealous? Of Evilene? Me? Not now, not ever  will I be jealous of anything she does and anyone she does it with. It's  not like that, Warren, not at all. I just know her for the deceitful  little wench she is and I'm telling you as a friend to stay away from  her."