Her four-year-old son collides with my leg, followed quickly by his two-year-old sister.
“Uncle Brent!” she squeals.
I scoop her up. “Annie, baby.”
I look down at Jonathon. “What’s up, dude?”
He tilts his head back, still gripping my leg. “I go poops on the potty now.”
“Welcome to manhood.” I give him a high five, which he jumps to return.
Annie squirms in my arms, so I set her down and they run in circles around us. I glance behind Katherine. “Where’s Patrick?”
She shrugs, and the sparkle in her eyes dims. “He’s in Portugal, on ‘business’ with his secretary.”
Patrick is Katherine’s husband, whose ass I’m going to kick hard the next time I see him.
“Come on, don’t get angry,” she soothes. “It is what it is.”
“What it is, is fucked up. Why do you put up with that?”
She shrugs. “Because when he’s around, he’s actually a good husband and father. Because the kids love him—and so do I.”
“You deserve better, Kat. A lot better.”
“He’s what I want.”
I shake my head as Annie pulls on the leg of my jeans and points toward some bushes. “Uncle Brent, I wants da butterfly, but it won’t come.”
“Okay, let’s you and me and Jonathon go get us a butterfly.”
I get a grateful smile from Katherine, then I hoist the boy over my shoulders and the three of us go hunting.
• • •
Two hours later, I look across the yard at the crowd of chattering, monochromatic people. All of them so eager to clone each other, to not be labeled as too flashy or ostentatious. It’s a sea of beige—tan slacks, taupe summer dresses, and one pair of light brown Ray-Ban sunglasses after another.
Until a burst of red steps out from under the white party tent.
Maybe this afternoon won’t be a total loss, after all.
The dress is tastefully alluring—knee-length, sleeveless, a corded neckline that loops around the collarbone and ties in the back. But the body within it is the real highlight. She’s tiny but unmistakably womanly—warm peach-hued skin, an elegant neck, delicate arms, a slight swell of cleavage, a tight waist, and toned legs with the sweetest hint of muscle. Her hair is thick, a multifaceted blond—pale, almost white strands grace her dainty jaw—but there’s shades of honey-gold and caramel leading back to a low bun.
She’s fucking stunning. I have no idea who she is—but finding out just became my number-one priority.
She spots me as I approach. Bright turquoise eyes, sharp and appraising, rake me over from head to toe. Enjoy the view, baby. I’ll be happy to give her the extended tour later on.
“Hi,” I say, smiling when I reach her.
She raises her chin, straightening her shoulders. “Hello.”
There’s something familiar about her. It tickles the back of my brain and stirs my cock. I wonder if she’s a friend of my cousins’—possibly a bridesmaid I hooked up with at one of their weddings?
“Enjoying the party?”
Her gaze turns toward the crowd as she sips from the crystal flute in her hand. “Yes. I’m sure the birthday girl is ecstatic. Caviar and champagne—what every one-year-old wants.”
Sarcasm. I like sarcasm. It suggests intelligence. Confidence.
I like her ass even more—which I’ve discreetly checked out.
“Word around the country club is you’ve gone into business on your own,” she comments casually. “Got yourself a law firm with your name on it.”
Her tits are pretty phenomenal too. A little on the small side, no more than a B cup—but I just bet they’re firm and perky and magically delicious. The kind that can forego a bra, so her nipples poke against her shirt when she’s turned on. I love that look on a woman.
“Yes, almost two years now. We’ve built quite a name for ourselves.”
“You must be so proud.”
She lifts one shoulder. “I think it’s pretentious as hell.”
My eyes snap to her face. “I beg your pardon?”
“It’s a farce. The brave young defense attorney, giving up the big-paycheck firm to serve the little people.” Her voice turns derisive. “It’s easy to be brave when you have Great-Grandpa’s money behind you.”
My brow furrows. “That’s pretty presumptuous of you.”
“No, what’s presumptuous is thinking you can walk over here, ogle my tits and ass, and assume I won’t call you on it.”
Guess I wasn’t as discreet as I thought.
“Is ogleable a word? Cause if it is—you’re it. A lot of women would take it as a compliment.”
She faces me head-on. “A lot of women are idiots. And not as knowledgeable as I am about what a selfish, immature little prick you can be.”
Little? I resent that—particularly in such close proximity to the word prick.
“Who the hell are you?”
She stares at me for two beats. Then she throws her head back and laughs.
“My God. Of all the ways I pictured this going, I never considered you’d totally forget me. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised—I was pretty forgettable back in the day.”
“What does that even—”
A woman’s voice calls “Kennedy!” cutting me off—and knocking me on my proverbial ass.
Mitzy Randolph, one of my mother’s oldest friends and our next-door neighbor, walks up and plants two air kisses on the blond beauty at my side.