Gina was sitting outside enjoying the balmy weather and the sunlight. Tanner had gone inside to get a drink for her. While he was gone, Matt and Melania arrived. It was hard for them not to notice her sitting there.
“Hello,” she said, her eyes settling first on Matt and then on Melania. Really, she thought to herself, where is her fashion sense? That black dress with the mesh wasn’t attractive at all. Matt, on the other hand, looked good. He was wearing a really nice outfit.
“Hello, Gina,” Matt said.
“Hello,” Melania said grudgingly. Why was she always wearing outfits which exposed her legs? She saw a man glance at them as he walked past. She was such an exhibitionist.
Gina noticed the way Melania looked at her and smiled. She’s just jealous because she knows that I looked damned good in this dress. “Tanner went to get a drink for me.” She was still looking at Melania when she said that.
Melania didn’t answer but inside she was stewing. How she longed to slap that face. Stay cool, she urged herself. Don’t let her get under your skin.
Matt said to Melania, “Why don’t you go on inside? I’d like a word with Gina.”
“Sure.” Melania walked away.
When she went inside, she was greeted by Natalie and Graham, the hosts. “It’s too bad that Joel and Kira couldn’t come,” Natalie said.
“They’re sorry too but they had accepted another invitation.”
“How is Kira doing?” Graham asked.
“She’s doing well, thanks.”
“When is she due?” Natalie asked.
“Well, give her and Joel our regards when you talk to them again.”
“Where’s Matt?” Natalie asked.
“He’s outside on the porch talking to Gina.”
Natalie and Graham exchanged glances. “Tanner is around here somewhere. Why don’t you go and say hello to him?” Natalie suggested, looking closely at Melania.
“I will,” Melania said. “Excuse me.” She turned and walked away. Her eyes scanned the room which was filling with guests for Tanner. He was standing at the bar. She headed over to him.
Tanner turned and smiled when he saw her. His eyes traveled over her. “Hello, Lana.”
Melania’s own gaze took in his appearance. He looked very handsome in the suit. “Hello, Tanner.”
“Did you come alone?”
“No. I came with Matt. He’s talking to your date.”
“I’m getting a drink for her. I would offer to buy one for you too but I don’t think Matt would appreciate that.”
“I wonder what he wanted to talk to her about.”
“He didn’t tell you?”
“It’s probably to do with Cam.”
“You look lovely, Lana.”
“Thank you. And you look very handsome in that suit.”
“Thank you. Would you like me to stay until Matt comes?”
“No, thanks. I’ll be fine.”
“Maybe, we can talk again later in the evening.”
“Maybe, if your date doesn’t have a problem with that.”
He smiled and excused himself. She leaned against the bar, her eyes following him. A few minutes later, Matt joined her.
“What would you like to drink?” he asked.
“I’m not sure,” she replied.
“How about a daiquiri mocktail?”
Matt turned to the bartender. “Two daiquiri mocktails, please.”
“So, what did you want to talk to Gina about?”
“I just wanted to talk to her about moving Cam to a daycare closer to where I live. Right now, he’s in the one in Woodbridge and it used to be a hassle leaving downtown to get there before 6.”
“It makes sense that you would do that. What does Gina think, though?”
“She agreed with me.”
Matt handed her her drink. “So, I was right about Gina and Tanner.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it’s obvious that they are dating. When I left them together on the porch, they were sitting very close to each other and Gina had her hand on his thigh.”
Melania’s fingers tightened around the glass. “There’s no accounting for taste,” she muttered.
“You mean on his part?”
“He doesn’t seem to have any reservations about Gina and she seems to be into him.”
“I’d rather not talk about Gina.”
“All right. Let’s go and mingle for a bit and then have something to eat.”
They took their drinks with them and mingled with the other guests. Melania saw when Gina and Tanner entered the room. Gina was holding his arm as they walked over to Natalie who greeted them with warm hugs. Melania’s mouth tightened when she noticed how Gina threw her head back as she laughed at something Tanner said and how she kept rubbing him on his back.
“Hungry?” Matt asked her.
She wasn’t but she nodded.
“Let’s go and grab something to eat.”
She followed him to the table. The food looked very appetizing and normally, she would have looked forward to sampling as much of it as possible but she selected very few of the choices. They went over to the side of the room to eat. She tried not to look over to where Gina and Tanner were but, she couldn’t help herself. They were talking to another couple and Gina had her hand on his arm. Was she always that touchy feely? Did Tanner like her touching him like that? He didn’t seem to mind.
“Are you all right, Mel?” Matt asked.
Forcing a smile, she said, “Yes, I’m all right.”
He seemed to believe her and resumed eating. After they were done, she escaped to the washroom where she unfortunately ran into Gina.
Gina looked at her reflection in the mirror after brushing her long, dark tresses. “Nice party, isn’t it?” she remarked. “Are you having a good time? I know I am. Tanner looks very handsome in his suit, doesn’t he? I noticed that you couldn’t keep your eyes off him. You weren’t the only woman who couldn’t keep her eyes off him.”
Melania glowered at her. “You’re mistaken. I wasn’t staring at him.”
“I don’t blame you for not wanting to admit it. I mean, there’s Matt. He’s supposed to be your date but there you were, making eyes at my date.”
“I wasn’t making eyes at Tanner.”
“Natalie said that you were and I believe her.”
“Natalie is mistaken.”
“Fine. Have it your way, Melania. You’re wasting your time, though. Tanner, unlike Matt, wants a real woman, not a girl almost half his age.” With that, she turned and walked out of the washroom.
Melania stood there, fuming. How she had longed to slap Gina hard across the face. Why was she always rubbing her face in the fact that she was dating Tanner? Did she know something? No one knew that she and Tanner had once been lovers. No one. Had Gina sensed that she was jealous and that was why she was always trying to get a rise out of her? Damn her. And damn Tanner.
Grabbing her bag, she marched out of the washroom. She needed a breath of fresh air. Instead of rejoining Matt who was chatting with Graham and another man, whose name she couldn’t remember, she went outside.
A gentle breeze was blowing and it felt nice against her hot face. She gazed up at the sky and saw the twinkling stars. Usually, she felt a sense of peace when she gazed up at the sky but not tonight. All sorts of emotions were churning inside her. She wished she hadn’t come tonight. It would have been better if she had stayed home and read a book or watched TV or…
She started when she heard a sound behind her. Swinging around, she saw Tanner standing there, watching her. Her heart began to beat fast as he approached her. “How long were you standing there?” she asked.
“About five minutes,” he replied quietly. “I saw you come outside and I followed you.”
“How did you manage to escape from Gina? I thought she had you on a tight leash.”
His expression changed. “No one keeps me on a leash.”
“All night, she has been sticking to you like glue and you didn’t seem to mind at all.”
“Why are you out here, Lana?”
“I wanted to get a breath of fresh air. It was becoming a bit stuffy in there.”
He looked at her closely. “You’re upset.”
“I’m not upset.”
“Yes, you are. What has upset you like this?”
“Nothing,” she insisted.
He reached out and touched her face, making her catch her breath. “Lana, please tell me what’s upsetting you.”
The feel of his hand on her skin was doing crazy things to her. Her heart was pounding, her pulse was racing, her breath had quickened and desire raged inside her. She could feel the burning heat and heaviness between her legs. “Tanner…”
It was meant to be a protest, albeit a weak one, but his name sounded more like a soft, husky whisper. “Lana…” he moaned. Cupping her face between his hands, he lowered his head and kissed her. Instead of resisting as she knew she ought to, her arms went around his waist and she pressed against him as his mouth moved hungrily on hers. The kisses were wild and passionate as desire consumed both of them.
Suddenly, there were voices and they broke apart just as a young couple came outside. They barely acknowledged them as they run down the steps and disappeared around the corner of the house. Melania tried to catch her breath. “We’d better go back inside,” she mumbled.
She brushed past him and went back inside the house. Several minutes later, he rejoined the party and Gina who had begun to wonder where he had disappeared to.