“I’ll fix that bitch.”
“Wyatt, don’t start any trouble.”
Wyatt gestured and dialed his phone. “Frank, this is Wyatt. I need to use your company’s private room at Andre’s tonight. I’ll give you my box seats at the Super Bowl.”
Wyatt laughed “Damn straight, she’s that hot. Thanks. I’ll have a courier bring the tickets by tomorrow.”
He turned to his grandmother. “Go get dolled up. I mean smokin’ hot. We’re going out to the best restaurant in the state. I’ll teach that skank to insult you.”
He waved his hands toward her bedroom. “Shoo. We have to hurry. I still have to confirm our table time.”
When she came out Wyatt looked her over. “Too conservative. Try again. Imagine you’re going out with the hottest man in the world and this is your one and only chance to impress.”
“Full of yourself, aren’t you?”
He winked. “You know it. We’ve got a forty-five minute drive so times a wasting.”
Gloria laughed “Yes, your worship.” She returned a little later.
“Whew! Now, that’s what I’m talking about. You are gorgeous. Ready?” He walked with her arm in arm to his Lexus and held the door for her. He nodded to the neighbor lady as he went to the driver’s side.
“Good Evening, Roberto.”
“Mr.Benning. How are you? Who is this vision of loveliness with you?”
“Roberto, I’d like you to meet my date, Gloria Hendi.”
“A true pleasure, madam.” Roberto bowed. “Sir, if you’ll follow me.”
Once seated, a server brought them a small loaf of warm house bread and melted butter on a wooden platter with water. “My name is Rachel. I’ll be your server this evening. The Chef will be in to discuss your meals. Would you like the musician to play for you?”
“Would you like to listen to some soft Jazz as we eat Gloria?”
“That would be nice.”
“I’ll send him in. Please be aware that all tips are already taken care of. If you need anything press the small gold button on the wall. Otherwise, I’ll be back with your drinks.”
“Thank you, Rachel.”
Wyatt cut a small slice of the bread and spread butter on it. “Here try this. Uh-uh...”
Gloria dropped her hand and leaned forward taking a bite. Her eyes closed as she chewed. “That is so good.”
He finished feeding her the piece, then buttered one for himself. “We don’t want to fill up on it. The meal will be even better. Oh, here comes the chef.”
After the Chef left with their orders Gloria spoke “Honey, thank you for bringing me here. But why?”
Wyatt smiled. “I told you. We’re going to fix that bitch.”
“Anne? What she got to do with this?”
“I heard what she said to you when I was walking up to the house and I saw the look on your face. NO ONE speaks to you like that. The skank thinks she’s hot shit because she brought a frat boy home. We’re going to show her what type of man a true cougar can pull. That bitch will be ashamed to call herself a woman when I’m done.”
A small grin crossed his grandmother’s face. “What are you thinking?”
“For the next few weeks, I’m your boyfriend. I hang out around the house. We go out on dates. You get some flowers, a few gifts from your rich young boyfriend. Then when you’re ready, YOU break up with me in front of her and send me packing. It’ll drive her nuts because you throw away more than she can hope to get.”
Gloria laughed. “You’re evil.”
He took her by the hand and kissed her inner wrist. “So, Gloria Hendi will you be my girlfriend?”
“Why, Wyatt Benning, I believe I will.”
As they stood on the porch, Wyatt pulled his grandmother to him. “Did you see her expression? She was green. Kiss me.” Gloria pecked his cheek. “Woman, you better kiss me.” She touched her lips to his. Wyatt pulled her closer and deepened the kiss. Gloria stiffened and then relaxed against him. He touched his forehead to hers. “Damn, we’ll be doing that again.” Gloria slapped his arm. “I’ll be over tomorrow.” After she went in, he walked to his Lexus. He had to adjust himself when he got in. “Pervert.” He laughed.
Gloria’s face lit up when she saw the single rose Wyatt had brought. “Thank you.”
“I brought some steaks and beer. You can make lunch while I work on the yard.”
“Honey, you don’t have to do that.”
He looked at her.
“At least, let me pay you.”
“If you want to pay me then make some of your mashed potatoes to go with those steaks.”
“Wyatt.” She crossed her arms.
“Where’re the keys to the garage?”
“On the hook by the back door.”
He stole a kiss as he passed her. “Bring me a beer out later, please and remember, potatoes.”
Wyatt grinned back at her and winked.
He was cutting the last of the front yard when the neighbor woman walked over. Wyatt shut off the mower and grabbed his T-shirt from its handle and wiped his face.
“May I help you?”
The woman smiled and pushed her bikini-clad breasts out a bit. “I’m Anne. I live next door and thought I would come over and say hello. Do you work for the woman who lives here?”
“Gloria? No, She’s my girlfriend.”
Anne looked puzzled. “You know this is the Heights right? Nobody has much money around here.”
Wyatt frowned at her. “You see that new Lexus parked in front of the house, don’t you? Doesn’t look like I need any help. I’m with Gloria because I like her.” He smiled. “Speak of the devil, there she is.” He took the beer from her and put his arm around her. “Thank you, sweetie. Anne came over to say hi.”
“How did you meet?” Anne asked.
“We’ve known each other a while. We met through some mutual acquaintances.” Wyatt said. “She finally agreed to start dating me. I’ve been crazy about her forever.” He gave Gloria a squeeze.
“I saw you all dressed up last night. Where did he take you?”
“Andre’s in Chicago,” Gloria said.
“Andre’s? That’s like two hundred a person.” Anne said.
“More actually, we were at the chef’s private table.” Wyatt glanced at his grandmother “She’s worth every penny of it and more.” Gloria blushed. “Speaking of food, will I have time to cut the back grass before lunch?”
“If you can get it done and be washed up in forty-five minutes then the answer is yes. Oh, and I’m making your potatoes.” She gave him a kiss and walked away with a gentle sway in her hips.
Wyatt grinned. “If you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to work. She makes the best damn mashed potatoes in the world.”
“I noticed some things that need to be repaired. I’ll be having some crews coming in to do the work I can’t handle.”
“You most certainly are not!”
“I can’t afford anything like that.”
“I know. I’m paying for it.”
“Don’t Wyatt Benning me, it needs to be done. I can do it, so I am.” He scooped more potatoes onto his plate.
“Honey, you need to save your money, not spend it on me.”
“I’ve already got more money than I can spend. I can’t turn around without making more.”
“Then give it to your parents.”
Wyatt snorted. “I’ll take care of them the way they took care of me.”
Gloria said “Wyatt...”
“Don’t get me wrong, they’ll never lack for anything. They’ll have the best care money can buy. Cards and phone calls on their birthdays. They did their duty to me and I’ll do mine to them.” A look of disgust crossed his face. “They’re millionaires and they don’t give you a dime and never have. All they care about is swinging with their friends and going to Cabo.”
“Since I was seven. I woke up one night while they were having a party.”
“That’s the point, the only people they’ve ever cared about is themselves. You and grandfather were more like parents to me than they have ever been.” He sat down his fork and looked at her. If I had known things were tight for you I would have been here. I wasn’t paying attention. I’m sorry.”
“I’m not your responsibility, Wyatt.”
“I wasn’t yours either, but you and grandfather gave to me. I want to fix up your house and take you shopping and do fun things. My businesses don’t take up that much time anymore. C’mon it’ll be a blast.”
Gloria threw up her hands “OK, but we’re not going too crazy. You understand?”
“Did you see the look on that bitch’s face when you told her we went to Andre’s?” Wyatt laughed. “She almost had a cow.”
“It was glorious, wasn’t it?” Gloria smiled. “What am I going to do when she finds out the truth?”
“That I’m your grandmother.”
“I don’t see how she could. Nobody here knows either of us. We can keep it going as long as we like. In fact, I’m thinking of cultivating her.”
Gloria raised an eyebrow at him.
“I have a business associate that cheated me a while back. He thinks that I don’t know. Anne might be perfect for ruining his life.” He gave a dark smile. “I always pay my debts.”
“What? He gets a hot wife, for a few months, anyway. She gets a lot of money and some social status. Then he loses everything and she becomes a rich, lonely lush and I get revenge all the way around.”
“You WILL NOT do that to that woman. I won’t have it, It’s too much.” She crossed her arms. “I won’t be proud of you if you do.”
Wyatt blanched. “Ow, you hit where it hurts. OK. I won’t do it.”
“Come here and give me a hug.” Gloria kissed him on the forehead. “I love you.”
“I love you, too. Tuesday morning, I’m going to pick you up and we’re going to Chicago to do some of that fun stuff. Pack a bag and we can spend the night at my place. You haven’t seen it yet.”
“You sure it won’t be a problem?”
“None at all.”
“Is she having fun?” Wyatt asked.
“Yes, Mr. Benning, the girls have kept her so busy trying on outfits that she hasn’t had time to worry about the price.”
Wyatt smiled. “Good, good, make sure each one gets a five hundred dollar cash bonus and add it to the bill. Ramona, thank you for making this such a wonderful experience for her. We’ll take a few with us so she won’t suspect what we’re doing. Ship the rest to my home.”
Ramona giggled. “She’s gonna shit.”
“This is yours? It’s huge. You could put two of my house in here”
“I don’t know if it’s that big. It’s only three thousand square feet.”
“How much is the rent?”
Wyatt grinned. “For me nothing, I own the building.”
“Wyatt, This is a skyscraper.”
“I know and I own every square inch of it.” He guided Gloria onto the balcony and pointed. “See that one over there.”
“The short one?”
“I own it and twelve more in different cities.” He faced her. “I wasn’t exaggerating. Gloria, I pay more in taxes than my parents make in ten years.”
“But how? You just got your Master’s last year.”
Wyatt shrugged. “I’m a mathematical genius with a flair for analysis. I made my initial stake gambling when I turned eighteen and I’ve invested well. Hell, I just turned old enough to get control of my trust last year.”
“It’s getting chilly.”
He put her arm around her.
Gloria looked up at him. “Thank you for today: The spa and shopping,” she squeezed him “the restaurant, everything was wonderful.”
“You’re welcome. We can do it as often as you like. I have plenty of room here. You can move in if you want to. I’d like it if you did.”
She laid her head on his shoulder. “You don’t need me here cramping your style.”
“What style? Oh, I could make a phone call and get us a couple of girls up here if you want.”
Gloria slapped his stomach. “Stop that.”
Wyatt chuckled. “I discovered a long time ago if I can buy a woman then I can’t afford her. My problem is finding one I can’t buy.”
“She’s out there. Keep looking.”
“Would you like a nightcap?”
“That would be nice. What do you have?”
“I’m sorry I’ve only got one bed. You’re not going to try to jump my bones are you?”
Gloria giggled. “You never know.”
Wyatt was almost asleep when Gloria started to shake in his arms.
“I’m sorry ... I’m being a silly old woman.”
“No ones held me since Bob died.”
Wyatt caressed her face and kissed her forehead. “I’ll hold you anytime you want.” He pulled her head to his shoulder. “Go to sleep.” He stroked her face until she drifted off.
The smell of bacon and coffee teased him awake. He dressed and made his way to the kitchen.
“Good morning yourself beautiful. Did you sleep well?”
Gloria beamed. “Sit down. I have your plate ready.” Once she served him she joined him with hers.”What’s our plans for today?”
He sipped his coffee and looked at her. “That depends, are you sure you don’t want to live here with me? There’s plenty of room and you’re more than welcome.”
Gloria shook her head. “This is really nice, but I like living in a house that I bought with my own money. It’s plain, but it’s mine.”
Wyatt nodded. “I respect that. Then we’re going to go pick out some new appliances.” He held up his hands. “They can be as plain as you want, but the ones you have are worn out.”
“Honey, you’re already spending so much on the repairs.”
“We talked about this yesterday. Please don’t spoil this for me.”
“I was looking at your dining room table.”
“You leave my furniture alone!”
“Yes, ma’am.” Wyatt grinned.
“Did you bring a gun into my house?”
“Yes. A shotgun.”
“Get it out.”
“Wyatt Benning, I’m not telling you again. Get that damn gun out of my house. I’m not having it here.”
“Do you love me?”
“Do ... You ... Love ... Me... ?”
“Yes. What’s that got to do with anything?”
“It’s not safe here. The gangs are moving in.” Wyatt stared at the floor then looked at her. “You are the only person who doesn’t want something from me.” Tears ran down his cheeks. He held up his left wrist. “This Rolex cost sixty-five thousand dollars. If I misplaced it, I wouldn’t try to find it. I could lose ten million dollars tomorrow and wouldn’t notice.” Wyatt wiped his face. “I have a safety deposit box that has my most valuable possessions in it. Do you know what’s in there?”
“Mr.Tindle? The bear I made you?”
Wyatt nodded. “Mom threw him out when I was twelve. I told her if she didn’t get him back, I would burn the house down.”
“I did. It took her four hours of driving around, but she found him. It was that or never leave the house again. I know Mr. Tindle is just a toy, but he’s special because someone who loves me took the time to make him for me. You are the only person who ever thinks about me. The shotgun stays.”
“OK, if it means that much to you.”
“Let me show you how it works.”
“Gloria, There’s somebody at the door for you.”
“Who is it, honey?”
“Some kind of delivery person.”
“Wyatt Benning! What have you done?” Gloria asked as she rushed from the kitchen.