Natural Born Charmer (Chicago Stars #7)(3)

by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Sally opened her mouth, but something in the Beav’s expression must have given her pause because she shut it again. Too bad. He’d have enjoyed seeing the Beav take her. Although Sal looked like she worked out.

“I know you’re upset,” Monty said, “but someday you’ll be happy for me.”

This guy had graduated right at the top of stupid class. Dean watched the Beav rise up on her paw tips. “Happy?”

“I’m not fighting with you,” Monty said hastily. “You always want to turn everything into a fight.”

Sally nodded. “You do, Blue.”

“You are so right!” With no more warning than that, the Beav hurled herself through the air, and Monty went down with a thud.

“What are you doing? Stop it! Get off me!”

He was screeching like a girl, and Sally hurried forward to help. “Get off him!”

Dean leaned against the Vanquish to enjoy the show.

“My glasses!” Monty howled. “Watch my glasses!”

He tried to curl himself into a ball as the Beav landed a chop to the side of his head. “I paid for those glasses!”

“Stop it! Get off him!” Sally grabbed the Beav’s tail and yanked on it for all she was worth.

Monty was torn between protecting the family jewels and his precious glasses. “You’ve gone completely crazy!”

“Your influence!” The Beav tried to bitch slap him, but it didn’t go well. Too much paw.

Sally had some pretty good biceps, and she started making headway pulling on the tail, but the Beav had game, and she wasn’t planning to give up till she drew blood. Dean hadn’t seen a pileup this entertaining since the final thirty seconds of last season’s Giants game.

“You broke my glasses!” Monty whined, pressing his hands to his face.

“First your glasses. Now your head!” The Beav took another swing.

Dean winced, but Monty finally remembered that he had a Y chromosome and, with Sally’s help, managed to push the Beav off and scramble to his feet. “I’m going to have you arrested!” he shrieked like a pussy. “I’m pressing charges.”

Dean couldn’t take any more, and he ambled forward. Over the years, he’d seen enough film of himself to know the impression he made when he ambled—the way his long physique displayed itself to full advantage. He also suspected the afternoon sun might be setting off some fairly inspirational pyrotechnics in his dark blond hair. Up until he was twenty-eight, he’d sported a honkin’ pair of diamond ear studs, but that had been youthful overkill, and now he wore only a watch.

Even with broken glasses, Monty saw him coming and blanched. “You’re a witness,” poetry boy whimpered. “You saw what she did.”

“All I saw…,” Dean drawled, “…was one more reason we’re not inviting you to our wedding.” He made his way to the Beav’s side, wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and gazed fondly into her startled lollipop eyes. “I apologize, sweetheart. I should have believed you when you said William Shakespeare here didn’t deserve closure to your relationship. But I had to go and encourage you to come talk to the poor son of a bitch. Next time, remind me to trust your judgment. But you have to admit that you should have changed out of your costume first like I told you. Our sex life isn’t anybody else’s business.”

The Beav didn’t look like the kind of woman who could easily be caught by surprise, but it seemed like he’d done it, and for a man who made his living with words, Monty’s verbal well had run dry. Poor Sally could barely manage a croak. “You’re marrying Blue?”

“I couldn’t be more surprised myself.” Dean gave a modest shrug. “Who figured she’d have me?”

And, really, what more could they say after that?

When Monty finally got his breath back, he started whining again about Blue doing something with “it,” which Dean finally figured out was an apparently valuable bootleg CD of the original press of Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks that Monty had accidentally left behind at the rooming house.

“There are only a thousand in existence!” he cried.

“Nine hundred and ninety-nine,” the Beav retorted. “Your copy went out with the trash the minute I finished reading your letter.”

Monty was pretty much a broken man after that, but Dean couldn’t resist twisting the knife. As Poetry Man and Sally began climbing in their car, he turned back to the Beav and spoke just loudly enough for his words to drift in their direction. “Come on, sweet pea. Let’s head for the city so we can get a start on buying that two-carat diamond you’ve got your heart set on.”

He swore he heard Monty whimper.

The Beav’s triumph was short-lived. The Focus had barely made it out of the driveway before the front door of the ranch house flew open and a heavyset woman with dyed black hair, painted eyebrows, and a doughy face lumbered onto the porch. “What’s going on out here?”

The Beav stared at the dust cloud on the road, her shoulders slumping ever so slightly. “Domestic altercation.”

The woman crossed her arms over her ample bosom. “I knew the minute I seen you that you was trouble. I never should have let you stay here.” She started lambasting the Beav, which gave Dean enough information to piece a few facts together. It seemed that Monty had been living in the rooming house up until ten days ago, when he’d taken off with Sally. The Beav had arrived a day later, found his kiss-off letter, and decided to stay put until she figured out what to do next.

Sweat beads broke out on the landlady’s forehead. “I don’t want you in my house.”

The Beav couldn’t seem to regain her fighting spirit. “I’ll be out of here first thing tomorrow.”

“You’d better have the eighty-two dollars you owe me.”

“Of course I have—” The Beav’s head shot up. With a muttered oath, she pushed past her landlady and rushed inside.

The woman turned her attention to Dean and then to his car. Generally, the entire population of North America lined up to kiss his butt, but she didn’t seem to watch a lot of football. “You a drug dealer? If you got drugs in that car, I’m calling the sheriff.”

“Some Extra Strength Tylenol.” Plus a few bottles of prescription pain relievers he decided not to mention.