Stepping inside the impressive house Talia instinctively smoothed her hair. “Mom” Will whispered leaning in close “you look fine.”
A nervous giggle escaped as she gazed around the home of his girlfriend. “I… thanks” she gave him a small stiff smile. “I’m just a little nervous.”
“No need to be” a pleasant female voice announced.
Glancing up Talia found herself staring at a beautiful green eyed blond a couple years older than her. “Thanks for inviting us to dinner” she held her hand out.
Taking it Hannah gave her an inviting smile. It’s the least we could do after what our daughter convinced your son to do for her.”
“From what I understand it was Will who did the convincing.” Talia gave her son a warm loving smile, her eyes shining with pride.
“Mom please” Will’s cheeks burned uncomfortably beneath their combined gazes.
“Don’t worry young man” Donovan said as he came into the room “not all of us are entranced by your romantic gesture.” Turning to his wife “where’s Temperance?”
Laughing softly Hannah rolled her eyes upwards “she’s probably still making herself beautiful for a certain someone.”
“She’s always beautiful” Will enthused with such intensity that all the adults turned to look at him.
“If you keep that up she’ll be yours forever” Donovan gave him a glower.
Elbowing him in the side Hannah shook her head. “Don’t over do it” she warned “a girl knows when a compliment isn’t sincere.”
“I’ll keep that in mind” Will assured her eyes scanning the room hoping that Temperance would be joining them soon.
“Dinner will be ready in a few minutes” Hannah informed them “you can wait in the living room. Make yourselves at home while you wait.”
“Would you like some help” Talia offered.
Glancing towards her husband Hannah grinned. “Of course I’d love some company.” Leaning towards her husband whispering “be nice.”
“I’m always nice” he objected.
“Uh huh” she gave him a piercing stare. “Remember your daughter may never forgive you if you chase him away.”
“I’m hurt” he professed miming being shot in the heart.
Raising an eyebrow she shook her head. “I guess you’re on your own” she patted Donovan’s arm. “Remember what I said.”
“It’s been duly noted” he eyed the young man in front of him.
“And completely discarded” she observed as she turned to lead Talia to the kitchen. “I hope Will’s prepared.
“I’m sure he is” Talia said confidently “he’s a good kid most of the time.”
“Let’s go outside” Temperance suggested taking Will’s hand.
Craning his neck looking around “shouldn’t we offer to help clean up?”
“If I did that both my parents would die from shock” she was half teasing. Sighing as she saw how her comment bothered him. “Sorry. You’re right we should help.”
Entering the kitchen where the adults were standing around talking and drinking coffee. “Need any help” she asked.
A flash of surprise lit up her dad’s eyes “no sweetie we can manage. Why don’t you take Will outside and show him around.”
“Thanks daddy” she gave him a peck on the cheek before giving her mom a hug.
Will hesitated before following her from the room. He smiled when his mom nodded him to go. “Thanks” he said relieved following Temperance who was halfway down the hallway having assumed he was behind her. “Wait” he called afraid she’d get too far ahead.
“What’s taking you so long” she tapped her foot impatiently on the floor while she waited for him.
“Sorry” he panted somewhat out of breath “mom wanted to tell me something.”
“Oh” an eyebrow rose “did she tell you to behave?”
The way she said it was more like a challenge. Nodding afraid he was falling in her estimations if she knew he’d really waited for permission.
Taking his hand Temperance pulled him through a door leading onto a deck outside. Inhaling deeply of the cool island air “this is my favorite place” she spread her arms wide.
Will grinned watching her unable to take his eyes away. The late evenings sun caught her hair bathing her in a halo of light. His eyes softened in appreciation. Taking a step forward, “your so beautiful.”
Temperance turned giggling “me?”
“Yes you” he shrugged, shuffling his feet beneath her gaze. Her perfume filled the air between them as she moved closer. He fought the urge to step back needing space yet desiring the closeness. The memory of how her body felt snuggled up against his inside the trunk of his friends car making him feel hot and tingling at once. “Um” he gulped, feeling as if he’d fallen into the deep end of the pool.
“You think I’m beautiful” the touch of her fingers of skin was like touching a live wire. Stepping closer her breath wafted across his face. He moaned when her lips pressed lightly into his.
Time seemed to have stopped. The kiss was everything he hoped it would be only disappointing him in how brief it was. Stepping back their eyes locking “wow” he murmured too flustered to form words.
Sed entered the resort, eyes scanning his surroundings. Stepping to the side he watched Benjamin and Jonas stand to greet a man in a business suit. Ignoring the twisting of his stomach he watched their meeting begin. He had to find out what this was all about.
Inching out of his observation post he mingled with a large group checking into the resort. Drifting as close as he could to the tri he overheard snippets of conversation confirming his fears.
Jonas’s web design for the resort had been brilliant, something Sed would never admit aloud. He could barely admit it to himself. He was better than Jonas if only Benjamin had let him show him what he could do. He swallowed the groan building deep inside him.
It wasn’t fair. Suddenly having enough he turned formulating a plan as he walked briskly towards the exit. He’d make them see how good he is. All he had to do was show that business man who was better. A smile crept across his face. He knew exactly what had to be done. Digging through his backpack he retrieved this laptop. He doubted Jonas had set up enough firewalls to keep out a determined hacker. There was no one more determined than him.
His fingers flew across the keyboard, eyes flicking to the screen as he overcame one obstacle after another. “Gotcha” he clapped his hand together when he broke the final firewall to his goal. “Now the fun begins” he chuckled a little. He knew what he was about to do was torpedo any hopes Jonas had of becoming a web designer. Probably ruin any chances Jonas may have entertained of getting with Benjamin.
A little creative photo editing and a boy and his dog became something so much worse. When he was done he wondered why he hadn’t done it before. He let out a satisfied grunt. He had never been more proud of his work.
Closing his laptop he put it away. Going back inside he waited for the real fun to begin. Smirking as the business man’s face twisted in disgust. Jonas’ bewildered wide eyed look as he attempted to explain.
As soon as the business man stormed from the lobby in a huff Sed stepped forward. His business just beginning.
Jonas bent forward, face hiding behind his hands. Jerking at Benjamin’s hesitant touch on his shoulder. “How did those pictures get on there” he cried “I’d never do that.”
“I know” Benjamin said. He may not understand the need to have a pet but he knew Jonas was incapable of doing what those pictures implied. “The first thing you’re going to do is take these pictures down” sensing that Jonas needed someone to guide him through this. “Then you’re going to post that your account was hacked. Post an apology to your followers.”
Wiping his hands across his eyes he nodded “okay” he murmured. His fingers visibly trembled as he reached for his laptop. “Who’d do such an awful thing and why?”
“Don’t worry about that now” Benjamin encouraged. Scanning the lobby he had a feeling someone was watching them. He had an idea who…Sed. The only person who had it in for Jonas and who had the skill to pull off this kind of hack.
Kade walked from his room. Stretching as he went. A smile tugged at his lips recalling moments from a night not too far in the past. He hoped he’d been somewhat instrumental in alleviating some the sadness they guy seemed to be carrying around with him. So deep in thought he at first didn’t notice his phone ringing.
“Hello” he answered distracted from his thoughts and somewhat annoyed at the disruption.
“Hey,” Benjamin said, “I know we had plans for a picnic and it’s the second time I’ve cancelled….”
“Are you busy now?” he asked barely listening to the guys apology. “We could meet for coffee or something.”
“Um” he hesitated a moment before adding “yeah sure.”
“Then it’s a date” he said with more enthusiasm than he felt. Putting the phone away his thoughts drifted back to the guy from the beach. The way his eyes brightened when he saw him. He’d blown off a business meeting to be with him. It had been worth it.
“If I had known it was ultra casual I wouldn’t have bothered getting dressed” Benjamin teased taking a chair across from him.
“Oh” he looked down at his attire. “I was going for a swim when you called.”
“Don’t worry about it” he waved his apology away. “Besides” he leaned forward eyes sparkling “haven’t you noticed all the appreciative glances you’re getting?”
“Do you think I should go change?” he asked looking uncomfortable. He worked with some of the people looking in their direction.
“You’re fine” Benjamin assured him “most of the business clientele have been up and gone an hour ago. Relax.”
“How did you know I was worried about that” he leaned back in his chair.
“I guessed” shrugging he waved a waitress over. “I know how important appearances and reputations are in the business world.”
“Jonas” he said taking a sip of his coffee.
“You heard” Benjamin groaned “I was hoping it wasn’t up long enough.”
“I still follow his simstagram” Kade shook his head “tell him I’m sorry. He really torpedoed him.”
Benjamin sat forward rubbing his chin. “You think it was him too?”
“I’d bet good money on it” he took a sip. “Sed has a vendetta against Jonas. He wants to be the best and when you didn’t take him up on his offers I’m sure that’s when he decided to take action.”
“Damn” he leaned back “Jonas doesn’t deserve this. He worked hard and deserves this opportunity.”
Resting his hand over the one Benjamin had lying on the table “you like him don’t you?”
“What” he voice cracked “he’s a good guy. We’re friends.”
“Uh huh” he gave him a knowing smile “Sed’s bad news. Jonas needs someone to be his knight.”
“Are you volunteering for the job” he asked, stomach churning at the prospect despite his proclamations that they were just friends.
Shaking his head he retracted his hand. “I’m not the one he needs. I’ve seen the way he looks at you.”
Benjamin felt his cheeks flush with heat. He turned to look out the nearby windows. He knew the look Kade referred to. He just hadn’t expected anyone else to have noticed it too.
Standing up Kade tossed a couple of dollars on the table to cover his coffee. “If you want my advice I’d say go for it. Jonas is a nice guy. I wish I had been the guy he needed to stand up to Sed. I wasn’t but you just might be.”
Benjamin nodded watching him walk away. His mind a million miles away. Did he want to play hero?