Empowerment. Engagement. Authenticity.

Rangers Lodge Saga - The Dance

Coloured lights swept the indoor lounge. The bar was set up on the patio where round cocktail tables had been arranged under orange lanterns. The music was already pumping when Adam and Kristen arrived. Kristen’s hand rested lightly on Adam’s elbow but he kept a hand on the small of her back as they threaded through the crowd to the bar.

Adam ordered two pineapple and rum punches and touched his glass to hers. “Here’s to change one dance step at a time.” She nodded, butterflies in her stomach, and took a gulp of her drink. No, Adam had no intention of giving her up. And that pleased her, Kristen realized. It felt so good to have someone else fighting for her happiness for a change.

“Lucky man, guest entertainment is a part of your job,” Logan teased as he ordered a beer. “Where’s Adrian?”

“Working.” Adam took Kristen’s arm. “Shall we dance?” They moved onto the dance floor, leaving an amused Logan staring after them.

“I finally get my wish,” Adam smiled. At Kristen’s questioning look, he continued. “A week ago, I danced with this girl and ever since I’ve wanted all her dances.” Kristen couldn’t stop the smile that curved her mouth. “We moved extremely well together and I lost myself in the most beautiful brown eyes.” Adam noted the unguarded pleasure in those eyes now and gave himself up to the enjoyment of the moment. He had a feeling that neither he nor Kristen did that often enough.

“You just liked having an audience.”

He flashed her a cocky grin. “We’re about to have another one.”

Dancing and that dangerous dose of charm, Kristen mused dreamily. She was all too willing to surrender to both. Adam was true to his word, keeping her on the dance floor with him dance after dance, relenting only when her girlfriends begged him to back off.

He was heading to the bar for another drink when he felt a beefy hand settle on his shoulder. He twisted around and found himself face to face with, damn what was his name? He flashed back to the dance last Saturday, to the cluster of Logan’s uncles, and then tensed inwardly. This one was Adrian’s stepdad, he recalled.

“Nice job out there,” Jeb said and Adam knew he wasn’t talking about the event. When Jeb laid an arm across Adam’s shoulders like a band of steel, Adam had another flashback, this time to his childhood and his father herding him in a similar way, usually when he was in some sort of trouble. “Got a drink for you to enjoy with us old folk,” Jeb said companionably and gestured Adam to a chair in the adjoining sitting room.

Here, burgundy leather chairs were arranged in conversation clusters around squat tables.
Guests could still hear the music while enjoying drinks and chatter. Now Adam saw the other three uncles straighten in their chairs as he and Jeb joined them. One he recognized as Logan’s father and he nodded warmly to the man he’d affectionately regarded as an uncle himself in the past five years. He leaned forward to pick up the glass Jeb had indicated was for him.

“Was just telling young Ranger here,” Jeb grinned at his brothers-in-law and made his bulk comfortable in the plush chair as he picked up a highball glass from the table in front of him, “that he’s doing a good job tonight.”

“But, according to his father, he’s not working tonight,” Casey, Logan’s father, said pointedly. With his shaggy hair, unkempt brows over a craggy face and deceptively bony build, he looked like a street fighter. “So what exactly are you doing tonight, Adam?” Casey’s voice had just a hint of steel. Ironically, the use of Adam’s first name sounded more threatening than when Jeb had used his last name.

Adam knew the question had nothing to do with how he spent his off-duty hours and, again, he flashed back to last Saturday and his remark to Logan about not wanting to tangle with Logan’s uncles. Adam decided the straight answer was the way to go. “Adrian didn’t want to come to the dance tonight.” Adam was careful to conceal the contempt in his voice but offered the statement bluntly. “Kristen was upset and I knew being here would make her feel better.” He flexed his jaw. “I wanted to make her feel better.”

“Because you care about your guests.”

This uncle was built like a square pillar and his crew cut grey hair didn’t weaken the flint in his voice, or in his eyes. Adam met his stare head on. “Because I care about Kristen.”He looked at the other three in turn. It was true, he realized. But, dammit, they had no business knowing that until he and Kristen had figured everything out themselves.

“Casey tells us you care about a lot of women,” Jeb said and his voice was ice now.

Adam winced. And care was a very loose term for the girls he’d been with in the past five years. Casey would know that. Jesus, it was Kristen they were protecting, Adam realized with amazement and just a touch of pity for Adrian. “I intend to make it clear, to Adrian and whoever else, that Kristen is much more than just another woman to me.” He shifted to his feet. “Thanks for your concern.” With that, he returned to the lounge to find Kristen.


 (c) Kristy Kassie, 2016

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