Unable to remember the last time he stayed at an office until after five, Dan gathered his things and headed out to the Agusta. He didn’t particularly want to go home alone but Jeff would be leaving the Senate soon. Dan had promised a tutoring session and he intended to have it.
Giving into his selfish longing, he touched Fionna’s name on his call list.
“Hey,” she drawled sweetly.
“Hey, baby. I just wanted to hear your voice.” A sense of weakness he despised pervaded his musculature.
“I was trying to be brave and let you work. I miss you. I decided I’m not staying out here for three weeks. I’m already much better.”
“Honey, if you want to talk to me, I don’t care what I’m doing, just call. And Adeline was pretty insistent that you stay out there.”
“Tutu made me take one of her clove baths. I smell like a gingerbread cookie but the inflammation is almost gone. I really am so much better.”
“I’m glad you’re better and sorry I’m not there to take a bite.”
He reveled in her giggle. “So, you’re good with me coming home in a few days?”
“No, but I’m going to let Tutu duke it out with you. That way I get to remain the good guy.”
“You’re eight months pregnant. No man, in his right mind, would do any differently.”
“Maybe I’ll call you back when you’re in a better mood.” Dan wasn’t certain if he was in a bad mood per se. He just missed her.
“I just miss my girl but I know she needs to stay out there.”
“Let’s let Tutu decide,” she conceded.
“Did you brush up on new lingo for Amative Energies tomorrow?” She certainly sounded better than he’d heard her in weeks.
“I don’t even want to know the new lingo. But if you call me tomorrow between one and three, God only knows what you might overhear.” He chuckled.
“I think it’s great you’re talking to them. No one wants to be real with kids. They get in their heads how it’s supposed to be and no one will shoot straight with them.” The pride in her tone made Dan willing to go on with the same class format the next day.
“They did all seem to respond well. I don’t know why they want to hear about from me, but this is one of the first days since I started at Venton where I felt like I might be making a difference.”
“You sound like you had a good day. And they want to hear it from you because you’re an amazing man. They look up to you. And because you’re so freaking hot in bed.”
Laughing, Dan was glad she couldn’t see the cocky smirk that formed on his features.
“Yeah, but only you know that, baby.” That was, in fact, a lie, at least in some part. All of the women that had come before her melted away in the heat of their passion and the light of their love.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all of your skills when I get home, Mr. Vindico.”
A shuddering groan echoed from Dan as he began to formulate just what he and his Maylea could do when he got her in bed.
He bit back a string of curse words a moment later. Fred Sheckles was standing with his arms crossed, pacing in front of Jeff who was scowling and rolling his eyes.
“Honey, our neighbor has captured Jeff in our driveway. Let me call you back.”
“Are you serious?” Fionna demanded.
“I may kill him before you get home, baby. Fair warning.”
“I love you,” Fionna giggled.
“I love you, too,” Dan assured her as he hung up the phone. “What the hell?” he growled as he threw his leg off of the Augusta. “Fred, this is a good friend of mine. He’s coming over to hang out some this week. What are you doing at my house… again?”
“Saw this kid knocking on your front door, Dan,” Fred reported. “I’d heard there was more crime here in Arlington than I’d ever even fathomed coming from South Dakota. So, I plan on keeping my eye out.”
“I told you I’m a police officer, sir. I showed you my badge,” Jeff announced in righteous indignation.
“Well, Dan, you know you’ve got a lot of expensive cars and items in your home. I was just trying to be a good neighbor.”
“How do you know what the hell I have in my house?” Dan growled furiously.
Realizing his mistake, Fred changed tactic quickly. “You said you know this guy?”
“Yes. He’s a friend of mine. I know him because I used to be the head of a Special Ops unit out of Homeland Security that he is currently an officer for. Let me add that I am highly trained, to say I’m overprotective of my girls would be a serious understatement, and I do not take kindly to people butting in my life.”
Jeff stared up at him in awe. His deeply impressed gaze had Dan trying not to chuckle.
“Homeland Security, you don’t say. I’ve read all of Tom Clancy’s and Horowitz’s books. I know all about secret crime fighting organizations.” He gushed excitedly. Jeff bit back hysterical laughter as Dan rubbed his forehead.
“That’s… great.” Dan sighed. “But right now, Jeff and I have a little work to do. I don’t need you to keep up with my house. I’ve got it under control.” Dan assured him.
“Hey do you have like secret spy stuff in your basement?”
Jeff covered his mouth to keep from cracking up as Dan shook his head in defeat. “Sure. Why not? So, for your safety, stay away from my house.”
“Don’t worry. Your secret identity is safe with me,” Fred vowed just before saluting Dan. That did it. Jeff doubled over laughing.
“Hey, I bet Dan Vindico isn’t your real name, is it?” Fred was teetering on the brink of elation. He turned to Jeff. “Do you know his real name?”
“You kidding me? Nobody knows his name,” Jeff vowed this time making Dan have to hold back laughter.
“Wait ‘til I tell Betty and the boys!” Fred gasped.
“Let’s just keep this between the three of us,” Dan ordered.
“Oh, right.” Fred saluted again. Jeff leaned into Dan’s arm covering his face to hide his hysterical laughter.
“You got it. I won’t tell anyone,” Fred assured as he raced back down the driveway.
“Dear God,” Dan spat as he opened the garage door. Jeff was wiping away tears from his hysterical laughter.
He followed Dan into the kitchen shaking his head. “Man, you and Fionna are gonna wake up one night, and that guy’s gonna be in your basement,” Jeff warned.
“We don’t even have a basement but trust me if that moron wakes up my wife or my girls in the middle of the night I will not hesitate to blow his ass back across the street.”
Jeff shook his head. “I’m telling you. He’s going to be under your bed one night.”
“He decided to bring over cookies while we were in Kauai and he intercepted my shield. When I got home, he was face down in my front lawn surrounded by barely recognizable cookie remains. Want a pizza?” Dan quizzed as he opened the refrigerator to get Jeff and Dr. Pepper. “I don’t cook anything like my wife so unfortunately, I don’t have much besides protein bars in the way of food,” he apologized.
“You don’t have to feed me. I just appreciate your help.”
Dan called the local pizza delivery and ordered two large pizzas. “Come on, I’m gonna go crazy without Fi. At least keep me company for a while. Your mother-in-law’s still camping out at your place right?” Dan reminded Jeff.
“Yes.” Jeff rolled his eyes. “You sure you don’t mind me hanging out?”
“We can just go through what will be on your defense exams. I understand if you’d rather go home or hang out with your friends.”
Heat crawled up Jeff’s neck and settled in his face. “I’m sure this is really lame but hanging out here with you would probably rank right up there with like graduation and helping you out with the cases at Venton.”
Laughing, Dan willed away his own embarrassment. “I’m really kind of boring.”
“Right now, you’re like the coolest teacher at Venton.”
“Why?” Dan directed Jeff to the couch.
“Everybody is talking about our Amative Energies class. That was awesome. No one will ever like tell us stuff. There are guys that are planning on skipping the class they were assigned to and sneaking into ours tomorrow.”
Not certain what to think about that, Dan’s brow furrowed. “Why?”
Jeff hemmed uncomfortably his face coloring again.
“Come on I shot straight with all of you all afternoon,” Dan pointed out.
“It’s like,” he seemed to force himself to go on, “everybody starts sleeping around or with whoever you’re dating. But no one knows what they’re doing. So, guys start watching porn partly because you want to be good at it and that’s obviously readily available. But that’s crazy, wild shit that most people don’t actually do so you’re still confused and thinking that you’ll never be any good at it. And no one real will ever talk to you about it. So you hear crazy crap from other guys, most of which is bullshit,” Jeff elaborated. “It was the best Amative Energies class I’ve ever taken and everyone was talking about it. Every guy in there is probably home right now coming up with more questions for tomorrow.”
“Great,” Dan teased not certain what to make of that information either.
Jeff cell rang in his pocket. He smiled as he saw who was calling. Dan excused himself back to the kitchen trying to give him a little privacy.
“Hey, baby, you feeling okay?”
Dan smiled at his concern.
“Yeah,” he assured her of something.
Suddenly, he was chuckling abashedly.
“Uh, did your mom just hear you say that?” He gasped and Dan tried to find something to do that would make noise.
“Yeah, but not with your mom there,” Jeff offered sheepishly. “Like you wouldn’t believe.”
Dan cringed. He had a pretty good idea what Becca had just asked.
“Couple hours,” was the next comment. Dan considered turning on Fionna’s coffee grinder.
“No, believe me, baby, I am all over you as soon as your mom goes home,” Jeff couldn’t get the vow out quickly enough. “You’re sure Adeline said it was ok?”
The doorbell rang and Dan moved quickly to answer it. He paid for the pizza giving a generous tip and thanked the delivery guy.
“Okay, Bec, you gotta stop. You’re killing me. Get rid of your mom and I’ll be home in a couple of hours.” he promised. “I love you, too,” he concluded before ending the call.
Setting the boxes on the coffee table, Dan pointed back to the kitchen.
“You want a plate?”
“I’m good. Thank you, sir.”
Dan opened the box and they both pulled a piece off of the piping hot pie. “Becca feeling better?”
“She’s much better. She went to see Adeline after I left school today, just for a quick check up. Her mom picked her up so I could go to work. She still has to take it really easy, but she’s hoping to come off of bed rest in a week or two. At least long enough for school.”
“You want to study a little and then head home?” Dan gave Jeff a knowingsmirk.
“Are you that good of a detective or did I just talk louder than I meant to?”
“Why don’t I show you how to cast the sound waves around you to create a barrier,” Dan offered.
“Sorry. It’s just… you know when you go like three weeks before the one night and then another two weeks and then that’s all you’ve heard about all freaking day.”
“I got it,” Dan allowed. “If Fi had called me and made that request, believe me, I would not be here hanging out with you. Did Portwood get anything today?” he asked curiously.
“Bunch of curious stares, but not much besides that,” he lamented.
Dan spent a solid hour trying to teach Jeff the things they would cover after Christmas break. He feigned exhaustion when he understood that Jeff had no capacity with which to think with the head above his belt line.
“We’ll pick it back up tomorrow night,” he assured him.
“Okay, great thanks,” Jeff agreed instantly. He nearly tripped over the coffee table making his escape.
As Dan closed the door behind him, he shook his head. “That’s gonna last approximately three and a half seconds from the moment he gets her clothes off.”