Chapter 11

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© 2013 Sandra Corton

Chapter 11

His family filled the kitchen making Brianna feel equally panicked but wistful as well. She had never had this. She stood back and watched them all taking in the essence of a true family. Will and Chase still bickered back and forth most of the time. Janet talked with both of them or her parents as she held her husband’s hand.

Her husband Joel was not what Brianna expected at all. He was a tall thin man with wire frame glasses and a balding head. When Janet looked at him there was love in her eyes which shone brightly between them. Brianna sighed hoping one day someone like that would come along for her.

"Buttercup are you even listening to me?" Chase asked in exasperation making her focus on him. She blushed as every eye in the room turned to her.

"Sorry what did you say?" She asked quickly.

"I said 'let's cook this meat' and 'can you give me a hand. '" He sent a look down at all he was carrying and she rushed over to take something from the huge pile in his arms.

"Of course." She said helpfully.

She took the utensils that dangled from his hands which included a rather lethal looking knife. She grabbed the large bottle of oil as well leaving him with the platters of meat. He gestured out the back and she followed.

Instead of heading to the barn, he made his way down the side of the house. A tall imposing gazebo that contained a very impressive looking grill took pride of place. An outdoor lounge setting sat nearby with a small table and chairs as well. It looked like a place Brianna would be happy to sit at all day reading.

"Are you ready for some serious barbecue?" He asked her with a wink and she just let out a laugh.

"Just get on with it Chase."

"Do you doubt my cooking skills?" He sent her a fake hurt look.

"I never really knew you liked cooking. I prefer baking, lots of cakes and biscuits are my favourites." She said as she sat down and tucked her legs beneath her.

"See we are the perfect combination. I'll cook the meals and you can cook dessert." He told her as he leaned over to drop a quick kiss on her lips.

"You two really are too darn cute together." Janet said from behind them making Brianna hastily push Chase away.

"At least your reaction is normal." Chase replied with a grumble.

"You know Will it always takes him time to let new people into his world." Janet defended her brother but Chase just let out a grunt. "Plus he's a tad jealous, isn't that obvious?" Janet said with a tiny smirk towards Brianna who seriously doubted the other woman's reasoning.

"Well he should be." Chase replied smugly. "So what did you come over to tell us?"

"Nothing you forgot the eggs and the onion." Janet said with a laugh as she gestured to what she had dropped onto the table while they had been kissing.

"Right." Chase shrugged and turned back to flick the grill on.

"We are going to have to catch up after lunch. I'm supposed to be in charge of making the salad and Mum can be such a slave driver." Janet said to Brianna.

She then gave Brianna a sisterly grin before tackling her brother in a brief hug and toddling back to the house. Brianna watched her go deciding that she quite liked Janet.

She watched Chase as he moved around the barbecue as though he had done it a million times. He always seemed so effortless and graceful when he moved which belied his tall frame. The flex of his muscles as he squatted down to adjust the heat had her mind going where it shouldn't.

She deliberately moved her eyes away from him only to notice the chestnut haired woman named Amber sauntering towards them, her eyes never once leaving Chase. Oh well back to feeling awkward, Brianna thought dryly.

"Hey Chase is that you?" Amber called out in a flirty way.

Chase stiffened and tried not to groan. Brianna watched them as Amber got closer. Not once did the woman notice Brianna sitting there, her focus was purely on Chase.

"Yeah of course." Chase answered gruffly as Amber quite literally threw herself at him. With a gentle cough Chase avoided her hug as he picked up the platter of meat.

"Sorry I thought it was you before." Amber twirled her long hair around her finger and looked expectantly at Chase.

"No problem I'm used to it. You didn't get to meet Brianna." Chase turned towards her as did the other woman whose smile dropped a little. "Buttercup this Amber a girl I went to school with."

Brianna saw the woman's composure drop the second he had called her 'buttercup'. Amber now looked like she wanted to cry. Brianna wasn't sure what to do or say to make the woman feel better.

"It's nice to meet you Amber, would you like to sit." Brianna asked nervously as she pointed to the lounge next to her.

"Um yeah I think I need to." The devastated woman said as she sat down.

Chase went straight back to the grill. He frowned at it before gesturing he was going inside. "I forgot the chicken wings." He said lamely before scurrying off and leaving the two women alone.

"Are you alright?" Brianna asked with concern as the other woman stared after him and seemed to choke back tears.

"Sure listen do you mind if I ask you something?" Amber looked seriously at Brianna who felt like following Chase and hightailing it out of there.

"I guess." Brianna shrugged awkwardly.

"He called you buttercup?" Amber seemed to have trouble saying the words.

"Yes his Mum told me the story." Brianna replied quickly and the woman managed a weak smile.

"She wouldn't have told you this. About a week after his dog died he told me something. We were together then you see." Amber let out a breath as she looked Brianna in the eye.

"Okay so what did he say?" Brianna asked into the silence, feeling like that could be her only response.

"He said the next time he used the name buttercup would be to one he truly loved with all his heart." Amber choked up then. "I waited and waited for him to call me that but he never did, not even once." The woman broke into tears then and Brianna wasn't sure what to do.

"I'm sorry?" Brianna said but it came out more like a question than anything else.

She was hoping to calm the woman who just cried harder before getting up and stumbling away. Brianna sat there with her mouth agape not quite sure what had just happened. She heard the woman's car driving away and could only wonder at what she had been told.

"So making friends and influencing people hey?" What sounded like Chase's voice said but Brianna could detect a hint of hostility that Chase had never had in his voice.

"Hello William." Brianna said simply.

"Looks like you don't know one from the other." He taunted and she let out a sarcastic laugh.

"Just say what you came here to say." Brianna told him as she crossed her arms defensively.

"Fine I know all about girls like you. Gold diggers and nothing else." Will's eyes narrowed as she couldn't help but snort.

"That’s what you see me as?" Brianna asked and he nodded decisively.

"I've seen it happen to him more than once. My advice to you is walk away now before I tear your world out from under your feet." He threatened and she felt her heart start racing. "Gotta go and keep this to yourself." He said as he stood and towered over her.

He disappeared as quickly as he came. Brianna realised why when Chase walked back out to her with his arms filled once again. She tried to put on a smile and pretend she hadn't just been threatened by the identical twin of the man beaming at her.

"Sorry I left you with her but she drives me crazy. Plus I assumed she'd follow me inside. Where did she go?" He looked around the area before noticing the shocked look on her face. "Buttercup what's wrong? What happened?" He asked with concern.

He sat down next to her in the same spot his brother had just been in which seemed a bit surreal. Luckily she was able to recall the fact that Amber had run off too. She quickly explained the situation and Chase reassured her, telling her not to worry about Amber. She bit down on her lip far more worried about what his brother insinuated than anything Amber had done.

He kept trying to engage her in conversation but she seemed distracted. He had a feeling there was something she wasn't telling him. He frowned as he wondered who had said something to upset her. He knew if it was anyone it would be Will.

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