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Chapter 33 – Awesome

“Scooper requested his Angel before even attempting to go to sleep,” Brian announced as he carried Baylee into the living room, smiling at the sight of Cheyanne, Howie, and Austin snuggled on the couch, watching TV. Kevin had slipped to the kitchen to pop some popcorn, preparing for the movie they selected from the TV that evening. After yesterday’s strip poker fiasco, Howie and Kevin refused to leave Austin and Cheyanne alone, ever again. Not to mention AJ and Nick had kept far away, that is, merely peeking into the living room as Brian walked by. “Oh, and J and Nick want to know if they’re allowed in the living room without fear of bloodshed.”

"As long as they keep their hands and eyes to themselves," Howie said with a shrug as Cheyanne snuggled with Baylee for a moment. "Poor lil' guy," he added with a chuckle. "He can barely keep his eyes open…"

"We had a busy afternoon of coloring, didn't we, Darlin'," Cheyanne cooed softly, rocking the boy back and forth gently. "Your Daddy's going to have to buy me a bigger refrigerator to hold all the pictures you did for me and Princess."

Nodding slightly, Baylee buried his face in her neck. "Nigh-night, My Angel."

“Sweet dreams, Darlin’,” Cheyanne sighed, delivering several kisses to the side of his face. She could feel his warm breath even on her neck, realizing he had fallen asleep just as soon as he knew Cheyanne was holding him. Smiling ruefully, she glanced toward Brian. “Do you want to shift him or do you want me to take him back?” Cheyanne glanced toward her boyfriend with a bemused smile. “…He could always sleep with Tea and me…”

"Better take him," Howie said quickly as Austin leaned over to kiss Baylee's cheek. "Just don't go falling asleep with him, okay?" he murmured as Brian helped her to her feet. She shot him a quick smile before following Brian down the hall.

"Please… Mommie Dearest is in there," Austin muttered as AJ and Nick shuffled in, eyes downcast and hands behind their backs.

“You sit next to Austin, she almost broke my nose yesterday,” Nick exclaimed with a harsh whisper, pushing on AJ’s thin shoulder as Kevin returned with a large bowl of popcorn. “I’ll wait for Cheyanne…” He noticed Howie’s dark glare. “And make sure I stay far away from her thighs and her sweet, tight ass…”

Austin inched away as AJ sat next to her. "I swear to God, if you so much as accidentally touch me, you're dead," she announced with a smirk. "And I did not almost break your nose. If I'd wanted to break your nose--"

“You would have done it, I know,” Nick mimicked sarcastically with a dark scowl. “I should just let all your shit bare about what you did with AJ yesterday. Bet you wouldn’t have got that half a million freaking dollars back around your neck…”

Taking his place next to Austin, Kevin shot him a wicked grin. "You mean the lap dance? I heard all the juicy details last night."

“He even got the two hundred dollars with some fringe benefits,” Austin purred, running her hand gently against the inside of her boyfriend’s thigh. She held a pleased smile on her face as Nick muttered a string of curses into the palm of his large hand.

"You told him?" AJ squeaked, staring at her. He'd been trying to play it cool, thinking perhaps he would need to spend more time out on the balcony. "And he got my money?!"

“Would you rather I take my anger out of your flesh?” Kevin growled. “You should have known better than to touch my girlfriend, Aje. You’re lucky I didn’t murder you in your sleep. You owe her an apology. Not to mention letting Nick purposely sabotage Angel’s cards…”

"I swear on all things Backstreet, I did not know he was screwing with her cards!" AJ cried, holding up both hands in an innocent gesture. Taking a deep breath, he looked at Austin intently, making sure his eyes stayed on hers, knowing all too well his fate if his gaze flickered. "And I'm sorry. Really, truly, sorry. I mean it."

"From the bottom of my heart," Nick sang softly, laughing when AJ flipped him off.

“Nick was screwing with my cards?” Cheyanne asked in confusion as she had Brian came back from laying Baylee to rest. She had mentioned they were watching a movie, inviting Brian and Leighanne to join. Leighanne had, like always, feigned a migraine. Brian, annoyed by his wife, gladly accepted the invitation. Though, Cheyanne’s thoughts were elsewhere as she gazed at Nick with hurt.

"Oh, man," Nick breathed, turning to look at her. Seeing her face crumple with hurt, he suddenly felt like the biggest jackass on the earth. "Sweetheart, I'm so sorry," he said with earnest, clasping his hands over his heart. "Honestly, I was just trying to have some good clean fun--"

"Clean?" Cheyanne repeated with a snort. "Nicky, you left cheetos stains all over me! You ruined my brand new bra!"

"I'll buy you a new one?" he offered, giving her his sweetest smile. "We can go shopping in the morning--"

“You’re not taking her anywhere. You give me the money and I’ll take her out to get the best like always, besides, she has to get a dress for tomorrow evening,” Howie threatened Nick, tempting him to say something further, knowing he wouldn’t leave it up to Austin to throw the first punch.

“Tomorrow evening?” Cheyanne questioned in confusion as Brian wasted no time in plopping on the large couch next to Howie. She shifted uncomfortably as she clasped her hands over her growing abdomen, glancing at her options.

"You're getting all glammed up for a movie premiere," Howie said with a shrug, reaching for the popcorn. "Now come sit down, so we can watch the movie." Patting the cushion next to him, he gave her a wink, his smile growing into a grin when she walked over to ease down next to him.

“Do I get to pick the movie we’re watching now since I’m the youngest?” Cheyanne asked with excitement as she stole the remote from Nick, leaning to curl close to Howie as if that would put more distance between her and the other blonde at the end. She immediately flipped toward the list of movies to select from, suddenly furling her brows as she glanced up. “Glammed for a movie premiere?”

"She's not that much younger than me," Austin murmured in Kevin's ear, snuggling close to him in an attempt to remove herself from AJ.

"We're taking you two to the premiere of The Interpreter," Howie told Cheyanne. "So, yes, you're getting glammed up."

"Is glammed even a word?" Nick asked loudly, tired of all the murmurs going on around him.

“I don’t think you’re allowed to comment on the invention of words, Nick,” Brian chuckled, motioning for him to follow to get drinks and other snacks for everyone.

“Do I get to pick out a fancy dress, too?” Austin instantly questioned with a squeal of excitement.

"You bet, baby," Kevin said with a laugh, easing his arm around her. "We have appointments for both of you at a salon, so you'll be getting the full treatment."

"Salon? Tea…" Looking at Howie with a sigh, Cheyanne shook her head. "We can't afford that!"

“Yes, we can,” Howie accentuated, gesturing between her and himself when he mentioned ‘we.’ Everything that belonged to him, in his mind, also belonged to her the second she offered her heart. He wanted her to have the best of everything. To have the entire world at her fingertips. “This was a special trip to New York and we wanted it to be memorable. You girls have never been to a movie premiere and I want you to be a part of that world with me...”

“Tea…” Cheyanne murmured softly as Austin squealed loudly, moving to straddle Kevin’s lap to invite warm kisses of thanks. She wished she could be as excited as Austin, but she couldn’t help but worry. “…That’s the whole reason I didn’t go to your benefit…”

"Can you guys have this tender moment later?" AJ questioned with a weary sigh as Brian and Nick returned. Propping his feet on the coffee table, he looked from Howie to Kevin, and quickly back to Howie. "I thought we were supposed to be watching a movie…"

“You just need laid, J,” Austin huffed, shifting to seat herself on Kevin’s lap, leaning against him with his arms draped about her.

“Sorry, AJ,” Cheyanne apologized softly, hurriedly turning her gaze back to the TV selection. She tried to ignore the fact that Nick’s hand had again landed briefly on her thigh as he moved to seat himself next to her. Instead, she tightened and curled her free hand into Howie’s t-shirt, resting her head on Howie’s chest. She’d talk to him later about not attending the movie premiere. “White Noise!”

"Hell no," Austin said immediately, sitting up so fast her forehead banged against Kevin's chin. "I do not want to watch a horror movie!"

“Damn, Princess,” Kevin winced.

Princess is scared?” AJ cooed with amusement as he took the remove from Cheyanne, selecting the movie. Triumphed that he managed to gain an upper hand over the bold woman, he tossed the remote to the coffee table, settling back between Kevin and Brian. “You’re telling me little Chey can watch a horror movie but Princess is terrified?”

"I'm not scared," Austin insisted, folding her arms over her chest petulantly. "I just--"

"Piss yourself easily," Cheyanne put in with a giggle.

“I wouldn’t get so glorified there, Cheyanne Grace, ‘cause Ollie is going to be pounding on your bladder in a few weeks. More so than she already is and I won’t be sympathetic,” Austin threatened with a firm pout and glare. She looked as if she might leap over all the men to tackle Cheyanne quickly, but Kevin held her firmly.

“Austi,” Cheyanne whimpered.

"I'm just saying…"

"So if I dress up like Jason from Friday the Thirteenth, what'll happen?" Nick asked with a gleeful grin, rubbing his hands together in excitement.

"She'll fucking chop your head off… And not the one on your shoulders, either," AJ informed him quickly, raising a brow as Austin slid between he and Kevin. "Don't worry, Baby Girl… I'll protect you--"

“Would you watch your mouth and don’t even think about touching her,” Kevin growled, sitting the popcorn bowl onto AJ’s lap. “Just hold that you dirty bastard.”

“Do you have those ranch packets for making ranch dip?” Cheyanne suddenly asked as the credits rolled for the beginning of the movie.

"Chey, dear, this is a hotel, not an apartment," Brian said with a chuckle. Hopping up, he skipped across the room to call room service, tripping over Kevin's outstretched legs. Landing with a thud, he muttered a curse at the pain throbbing in his knee. Shooting his cousin a glare, he continued his trek for the phone. "But I can order some!"

“That’s what you get for being smart to my Angel or Baylee’s Angel, whichever you decide,” Kevin murmured lightly, throwing an arm around Austin’s shoulder to pull her close. Her face was already burrowed against his chest, folding her hands over her face to barely peek through her fingers to watch the beginning. He gently rubbed her shoulder, kissing the top of her head. “Why do you need ranch anyway, Angel?”

“To steal some of the popcorn and sprinkle it on some popcorn… It sounds really good to me right now…” Cheyanne answered softly with a light blush on her cheeks, feeling Nick’s hand tuck underneath her backside.

"Okay, that just sounds gross," Austin said, her voice muffled behind her hands. "HOLY HELL!" she screamed, leaping into Kevin's lap.

AJ shot Austin a bewildered glance, furrowing his brows with a wicked laugh. “That was just a cat, Austin…”

"Unless there's a fucking cat under the sofa cushion, Skinny, that was your hand," Austin shot back, taking deep breaths to calm her racing heart.

"I just poked your side!"

“To give me a heart attack!”

“Because you’re a wuss!”

“And I’m going to make you into a pussy! Literally!”

“Hey! You two don’t have a big hairy hand grabbing your entire ass so pipe down,” Cheyanne growled with disgust, upset that she couldn’t pay attention to the movie with the other two squabbling.

"My hand is not hairy!" Nick immediately defended himself. Seeing Howie's glare, he pulled his hand from beneath Cheyanne, clearing his throat uncomfortably. "Whoops?"

"Hands where I can see them," Austin told AJ, sliding back to the cushion. Snuggling as close to Kevin as she could, she turned away from AJ, feeling secure when his arm slid around her. If only they could watch something a little less horrifying…

"Y'know, Princess, it'd be easier for me to concentrate on the movie without you jumping up and down on my lap…"

“We could go to the bedroom,” Austin suggested hopefully, rubbing her hand against his inner thigh in order to stimulate him. Anything to get away from the horror movie and AJ’s potentially slippery fingers.

"Sounds like a plan to--"

"Oh, Hell no! Movie night means everybody stays and watches the movie," Brian said, lingering by the door to wait for the room service. "What's taking them so long? How much time does it take to grab a packet, toss it on a silver tray and make some skinny little guy bring it up?"

"Would everybody just HUSH?" Cheyanne demanded, slapping Nick's thigh for emphasis.

“HEY!” Nick yelped as a sharp pain radiated up from his thigh, causing him to lurch halfway off the couch. He immediately narrowed his dark blonde brows, reaching over to tickle Cheyanne as means of payback. “If you’re going to slap me, how about we take it to the bedroom where it can be really fun?”

"STOP!" Cheyanne screeched, swatting his hands away.

"Nick! I swear to God… If she just woke up Scooper, you'll have Hell to pay," Brian warned from the door.

"I thought you were supposed to keep your hands to yourself?" Howie asked carefully as Nick sat back.

"Oh. I forgot?"

“Why don’t you go sit on the floor?” Austin suggested, narrowing her dark coffee eyes toward the cumbersome blonde as the room service finally arrived. “You’ve been touching Chey-Chey enough between two days. Don’t think I can’t let your shit bare to Howie, especially considering the excitement of your…what do the fans call him? Thor?” Austin snorted.

"What shit?" Nick asked, whirling around to face her, his face blank. "I don't have any shit… And yes, the fans call him Thor." His voice raised in volume as Cheyanne snatched up the remote, increasing the TV volume with each word.

“You offered to give Chey passionately wild, animalistic sex since you believe that Howie couldn’t rise to the occasion,” Austin confessed, glancing to Howie to make sure he knew she wasn’t exaggerating.

“I can just watch this in the bed, that’s where I’m supposed to be anyway,” Cheyanne sighed, knowing it was futile as she attempted to stand.

"I said that in a joking--" Nick cut off when Howie's hand sharply connected with the back of his head. "Ow, fuck, I see stars now."

"You did what?!" Howie asked, pulling Cheyanne down into his lap. "And you're not going anywhere."

Turning to look at Kevin, AJ sighed dramatically. "I thought this was supposed to be a fun movie night with popcorn and nail painting and sex stories?"

“Austin can go get her nail polish and you two can just have a grand time,” Kevin chuckled, not knowing why AJ was so insistent on having things go according to plan. Nothing ever went according to plan when it came to this group of friends. And, Brian seemed to accept that much as he returned with a small bowl of popcorn covered in ranch for Cheyanne, though she wasn’t able to take it with Howie’s cinched hold.

“Tea, I can’t hear the movie and why are you getting so mad at me?” Cheyanne whimpered in shock at Howie sudden force, cutting off Nick’s means of salvaging himself.

"I'm not mad," Howie assured her, easing his hold. "Don't worry, Honey… Everybody will be quiet now."

"Promise?" Cheyanne asked softly as she slid next to him, adjusting just right, her popcorn in his lap.

"Promise," everyone echoed.

“And you get the Hell on the floor before I have means to make this group look for another young, blonde heartthrob,” Howie threatened Nick, jabbing a sharp finger toward the carpet as his arm eased protectively around Cheyanne.

With a dramatic sigh, Nick did as he was told, smirking to himself when Cheyanne rested her foot on his shoulder.

"I thought we were all supposed to be quiet?" Austin whispered to AJ a she leaned past him for her soda. "Oh my god!" she cried, dropping her soda on the coffee table at the sight on the TV screen. Turning, she buried her face in the nearest male chest. "Somebody better stay up with me watching Disney movies," she hissed.

“Damnit, Austin!” Howie cursed as the soda began to spill over the glass coffee table. Reluctantly pulling himself away from Cheyanne, he leaned forward in order to salvage the mess, trying to ignore the soft sound of Cheyanne’s giggles while Nick tickled her foot.

“I’ll stay up watching Disney movies with you, Baby Girl,” AJ promised with a wicked grin, wrapping his arms around her protectively as Kevin reached to throttle his neck.

Grinning from ear to ear, Brian leaned to the side, tapping Cheyanne's shoulder gently before reaching forward. At Cheyanne's gasp, he paused in his task, but continued almost instantly. "Hey, Howie, watch out for that snake!" he said softly.

“Watch out for--” Howie had no chance to finish his sentence as Brian’s fingers sank deep into the tight flesh of his backside for a firm pinch. The sharp pin prick sent Howie leaping into the air with shock, actually flipping over the coffee table to land hard on his back, pushing all the air from his lungs. And, all he could hear was the hysterical giggles bursting from his adorable girlfriend.

Lifting himself into a sitting position, he turned to look at her. "And you find that funny?"

"No," Cheyanne said through her giggles, tears rolling down her cheeks with her mirth. "That's not funny…"

"That's awesome, man!" Austin cried.

*~*~*


Turning in front of the mirror, Cheyanne smoothed the knee-length skirt of the sapphire blue gown, shaking her head slightly at her reflection. She barely noticed the woman gazing back at her. Her hand reached up to touch the upswept hair, trailing over the perfectly arranged spirals framing her face. With a sigh, she tugged upwards on the bodice of the strapless gown in an attempt to conceal some of her cleavage. Shaking her head once more, she turned to look at Austin, who had one foot perched on the bed, tying the straps of her high heeled sandals. "I'm not going," Cheyanne announced.

“Why are you not going?” Austin laughed, assessing the velvetiness of her leg before removing her foot from the bed. Wiggling slightly to smooth the wrinkles of her beautiful backless, floor length, scarlet gown with a rhinestone bodice, she glanced to Cheyanne. For a moment, she held her breath, amazed at the final picture of perfection. They had spent the day shopping for the gowns for the movie premiere, ending the festivities with a trip to the spa. Austin had never been pampered so lavishly before, relishing in the sweetness of ecstasy it provided. She had even had her dark hair curled into perfect spiral curls, thrown into a messy bun that offered a sexual appeal.

Cheyanne threw her arms up with a distasteful sigh. "Look at me, Austi. I look--"

"Gorgeous. Every man that sees you is going to be singing 'who's that girl', you know that, right?" Austin asked.

"I'm not cut out for this. Seriously, Austi. I'm not glamorous and sophisticated. I'm going to end up making a complete goof of myself, and embarrass Howie. I don't want that. I'll stay here. Brian can send the nanny off for the night and I'll watch cartoons with Darlin' and color pictures."

Austin smiled sadly toward her best friend, reaching to delicately cup Cheyanne’s rosy cheeks. The younger woman was so insecure about herself and her abilities. When she looked in the mirror, she didn’t see what everyone else saw. She didn’t see the radiant beauty she projected with such a sweet air of innocence. So many women envied her, yet she would never even begin to understand that. It hurt Austin to see her so unsure, so fragile, but knew that would always be a work in progress. “So, is that why you declined Howie’s invitation for that benefit dinner?”

“Like he wants to tote around a fat pregnant woman who isn’t carrying his child… Hell, Austi, I’ve never been in heels in my entire life! And what if I fall and hurt Ollie? The fans hate me. Nick’s told me that. He showed me the sights. They call me a whore--”

"Listen to me, Cheyanne Grace. Number one, you're not some fat pregnant woman. And as far as everyone in this penthouse is concerned, Ollie is Howie's child. Number two, who gives a flying shit what the fans think? Hell, they hate me too, do you think I care? As long as I know at the end of the day that I've got Kevin's heart, that's all that matters. Look at me." When Cheyanne lifted her head, her eyes bright with tears, Austin gave her a warm smile. "You love Howie, right?"

"Yes, but--"

"When you curl up next to him at night, after the lights are turned off and it's just the two of you, how do you feel?"

“Happy,” Cheyanne whispered softly as Austin offered her a Kleenex to dab the tears away, not wanting to ruin her makeup. “Like I’m actually complete and nothing can go wrong… He’s my world, Austi… Without him, I’d be nothing… Y’know that poem I love so much? So I love you because I know no other way than this: Where ‘I’ does not exist, nor ‘you.’ So close that your hand on my chest is my hand, So close that your eyes close and I fall asleep… That’s my Sweet Tea, Austi.”

"Isn't that all that really matters?" Austin murmured, reaching for a Kleenex of her own. "I was listening to one of Boobah's songs this morning, and--would you not laugh? I'm being serious!" she exclaimed with Cheyanne giggled.

"You were listening to Nick's solo stuff?" Cheyanne asked with a snort.

"It was in Kevin's CD case, and I… Oh, forget it!" Austin threw up her hands in defeat. "All I'm saying is that you and Howie have each other, so who gives a rat's ass whether the fans like you? As long as you and City Boy are happy, who cares? Besides… Just let 'em try to rough up my Chey-Chey. And why the Hell was Nick showing you the hate sites?"

“I don’t know why he showed me… Just said he saw something that I’d be interested in…” Cheyanne whispered as Austin fussed over her, making sure they were pure perfection for their boyfriends.

"Hmph. Probably trying to get a piece of the Chey pie," Austin grumbled under her breath. "I swear to God sometimes that man just makes me want to scream!" she shrieked, whirling around when the bedroom door opened.

“Howdy, Ladies!” Baylee announced with a proud grin, stepping into the bedroom after some fumbling with the doorknob. He patiently brushed his jeans as if he had been dirtied from the slight fall, but hurried over to the women. He smiled cheekily at their looks of confusion. “Uncle Howie tol’ me to come get you! You hold my hands! ‘Rincess and…My Angel, so pretty!”

"Our own little escort," Austin mused with a grin. Stooping so she was eye to eye with him, she tapped his nose playfully. "Does Kevvy look handsome?" she whispered.

“’Rincess,” Baylee groaned as he took her hand, obviously deciding to escort her first so he could reap some benefits of having alone-time with Cheyanne. “I not ‘posed to know that!”

"You are such a little pipsqueak, Bayster," Austin said with a chuckle. "Alright, my little gentleman, you do know to escort me out with--why are you running!" she cried, hurrying to keep up with his fast pace.

“’Cause Kevvy misses you!” Baylee exclaimed, playing his cheeky innocence. “Kevvy! I d’ot her!”

“Good job, Bay! ‘Cause if I had to hear Howie complain about me sleeping between Cheyanne and Austin one more time…” Kevin’s voice naturally trailed as Baylee pulled Austin into the living room, hurriedly turning to go back and find Cheyanne. But, Kevin didn’t let Austin go without a male companion for long, reaching to curl his arms around her waist. She was so beautiful. The sweeping, floor-length gown fit like a second skin, the tight rhinestone bodice hugging her torso glittered underneath the lighting. She was so sensually alluring with her dark ringlets tossed upward, the most expensive makeup touched to her already beautiful face. “God, Princess… You are so beautiful…”

"You… Whoa, Pretty Boy, let me get a good look," Austin murmured, taking a step back to admire his simple black suit. The white shirt was stark against his tan, open at the neck. Peeking from the left breast pocket a scarlet handkerchief that matched her dress perfectly. His hair, which had grown out a bit from the last trim, was combed back, and she felt a thrill go through her body when she saw the fire in his emerald eyes. "Holy Hell, I need to go change," she said, turning in his arms. There was no way she looked good enough to be at his side the entire night.

“Hey!” Kevin chuckled in surprise, tightening his hold to turn her back to face him. Cupping her face with a warm hand, he leaned down to kiss her softly. He felt his heart swell with adoration for the woman, tasting the sweetness of her lips mixed with the faintness of her perfume. It thrilled him to know that she was his and only his, knowing he’d make it permanent. Someday. “You are flawless, Austin. I refuse to let you change. You cannot get any more beautiful than this. Please, don’t leave me. I don’t think I could stand on my own.”

"But you've got that very convenient third leg there," she murmured against his cheek, breathing in the scent of his cologne as her arms curled around his neck.

“I’m going to have to keep you in front of me on the red carpet so no one else notices,” Kevin chuckled, pressing several more soft kisses to the side of her face. “I love you, Princess.”

"Sounds good to me… I love you too, Kevvy. So much." Closing her eyes, she turned her face, capturing his lips with hers. "If my heart should shatter watching you, there'd be one less thing I'd have to do," she whispered as he broke the kiss.

"Oh Lord, she's quoting our songs now," Howie muttered to himself as he waited impatiently for Baylee to bring Cheyanne out.

“I think Baylee is keeping Chey for the night,” Brian chuckled, having snuck toward the bedroom for a quick glance while his wife finished preparing. Sure enough, Baylee was serenading Cheyanne from the bed so he could reach her height for a quick dance. And, Brian couldn’t resist filming the precious scene.

"After the long ass pep talk I just had with her to talk her into going? Oh, Hell no. Baylee! Bring your Angel out here!" Austin called softly, turning in Kevin's embrace only to see Brian's camera trained on them. "Were you filming us?"

“Never!” Brian breathed in horror, unable to hide a pleased grin.

“Wait… You had to talk her into coming?” Howie interrupted with hurt, hearing Baylee’s hard sigh of protest.

"She just needed a little encouragement, Howie. She's… She doesn't think she's cut out for the whole going out on the town with screaming fans and cameras on her. So whatever you do, don't--"

"She doesn't want to go?" Kevin asked, brows furrowing at the thought.

“She’s naturally shy, Kevvy--”

“You done talking about me?” Cheyanne interrupted softly as she walked into the room with Baylee primly holding onto her hand. She smiled meekly at those who just stared at her, causing a blush to accentuate her glimmering cheeks. The maternity dress displayed her figure beautifully beneath its silky sapphire material. The bodice clinging to her full breasts showed an ample amount of her endowments before tucking into an empire waist while the skirting flared to kiss the middle of her thighs, displaying her creamy legs. Her long honey curls swept upward as some curled against her face like always. And, Howie’s birthday gift hanging gently along her graceful neck.

She was, without a doubt, the most beautiful creature on the planet. Her eyes shone with a mischievous glimmer, the tiniest hint of reluctance flickering through the sapphire orbs. Letting his eyes sweep her figure, Howie saw her wriggle her toes in the high-heeled sandals she wore. Stepping forward, he reached for her free hand, knowing he would be shot a scathing glare if he dared take her from Baylee. "Honey? You don't want to go?" he asked worriedly.

“I want to go,” she promised softly, raising his hand to her shimmering glossed lips for a gentle kiss. It may have been a white lie, but the devastation threatening his dark eyes was too much to bear. She couldn’t very well disappoint him when he had worked so hard and paid so much money to see this night occur. He was so excited and she would not ruin that. She refused. No matter how uncomfortable she was nor how nervous. She just didn’t want to disappoint him. To embarrass him. To ruin his reputation because she was just a ‘country girl.’

"You sure?" he asked softly, brushing his thumbs over her powdered cheeks.

"She's sure, let's go," AJ announced, hopping up from his spot on the sofa. "My date's supposed to meet me in the lobby!"

"You hired an escort?" Austin cried in horror, shaking her head at his stupidity. "Just remember… If you slip between her thighs, be sure and condomize, okay?"

“Baby Girl, when you’re this good looking, rich, well endowed, and famous; hiring an escort ain’t a priority. I just step out onto the balcony and select the girl with the biggest pair of tits flashing me,” AJ answered with a matter of fact tone to his raspy voice. Grinning at Austin’s surprised facial features, he patted her behind before jogging toward the elevator, assuming everyone would follow his actions.

“I’m sure you could get a much more elegant woman following his advice,” Cheyanne sighed softly, watching Leighanne breeze from the bedroom. Her bleached locks crimped in a fancy fashion, dripping with diamonds, and coated with an expensive perfume. Her gown looked to cost far more than Cheyanne’s and Austin’s combined. And, it stung as Cheyanne glanced toward Howie. He looked so gorgeous in the jet black suit and silver dress shirt and tie. His dark curls untamed, coaxing Cheyanne to toy with them. He smelled faintly of Drakkar Noir, causing her to tingle with arousal. He was so gorgeous.

"Honey, I've got the most elegant woman in the world standing right in front of me," Howie assured her, offering his arm. Her insecurity worried him at times. The fact she thought herself unworthy of being with him, especially on a magical night as this… "You sure you want to go? You wouldn't rather stay here with Baylee and color?" he asked in a whisper, hoping the toddler wouldn't hear him.

"Well endowed?" Austin repeated, following AJ to the elevator, knowing Kevin was right behind her. "Are you stupid?"

“Don’t make him answer that, it’d only ruin the movie,” Kevin sighed with a rueful smile, hurrying to catch his lovely woman.

“…Darlin’, you better go play with the nanny,” Cheyanne murmured, stooping slightly so she could meet Baylee’s eye level. She smiled sweetly as she leaned forward to kiss his wrinkled brow, playing with his curls. “I left Moth here for you to take care of. Can you do that for me, Darlin’?”

"You come back 'fore I go sleep?" Baylee asked hopefully.

“I think we’re going to be back a bit later than that,” Cheyanne answered honestly, allowing Baylee to wrap his arms around her neck so she could hold him close. Leighanne was still barking orders at the nanny as she stalked into the hallway, finally bellowing for Brian. “But Moth can sleep in your bed with you tonight and I’ll make sure to kiss you when I get back? Maybe Daddy will let me wake you up for a tiny second to say goodnight?”

"O'tay. I take care of Moth," he promised solemnly. "Love you, My Angel," he murmured, pressing soft kisses to her cheeks. "Uncle Howie be a gen-ta-mun, o'tay?" he questioned, turning his gaze on the man waiting somewhat impatiently for Cheyanne.

“I will be the perfect gen-ta-mun,” Howie promised softly, crossing his heart.

“Ni-night, My Angel,” Baylee finally consented with a soft nod, releasing Cheyanne and hurrying to Howie’s room to locate the probably sleeping Moth.

“Night, Darlin’,” Cheyanne called sweetly, moving to stand as she braced her tender abdomen.

Catching her arm, Howie tucked her safely against his side, steering her towards the door. "I'll bet you fifty bucks he's in our bed when we get back," he mused softly as they headed for the elevator. Seeing Kevin there alone, he raised one brow curiously. "Where did everyone go?"

“Downstairs on the elevator. Princess wanted to approve of AJ’s date. Leighanne wanted her and Brian to be the first in the limo. Nick wanted to stop by the kitchen to sneak some snacks… And, I wanted to be the one to compliment Angel once more, because she is drop dead gorgeous. And, I bet you a hundred that Bay kicks your ass out of the bed and takes Angel for himself,” Kevin answered easily with a genuine smile.

"Thank you, Kevvy," Cheyanne cooed with a blush, shaking her head with delight. "I'm sure my little Darlin' won't kick Howie out of bed…"

Brushing a piece of near invisible lint from the sleeve of his jacket, Kevin shook his head. "I wouldn't be too sure. After all, he was the one who insisted he escort you ladies out to us."

Giggling, Cheyanne turned to Howie. "Oh, really? He told me that Uncle Howie told him to come get us," she said with a playful smile, reaching up to adjust Howie's tie. "Acted as though Uncle Howie was having a fit from waiting for me…"

“I just hate having to share my Honey with some little pipsqueak?” Howie trailed with a shrug of his shoulders, reaching to press the button for the elevator.

“You have me all to yourself tonight,” Cheyanne offered, wrapping her arm around his waist. Tucking herself neatly against his side once more, she tilted slightly to catch another waft of his sweet cologne. She could feel the tenseness of his body and she wondered if she was the cause. He seemed different, but she didn’t want to embarrass him in front of Kevin, especially if she was just being overly anxious. “…And, did I mention how astoundingly handsome you are?”

"I don't think so… But you can mention it now," he murmured, brushing his lips over her forehead as he leaned close. He still couldn't believe he had been so lucky to have found her. "Have I mentioned how breathtaking you are?"

"No fair, I was supposed to give her the last compliment before we left the hotel," Kevin grumbled as the elevator doors slid open. "Alright, hop on, I'm sure Princess is being overly judgmental of AJ's date."

“She’s always overly judgmental and you can still be the last to give me a compliment. We’re not outta the hotel yet,” Cheyanne promised, rubbing Kevin’s shoulder lightly as Howie ushered her inside. She made sure to stay close to his side, glancing up to catch his smoldering eyes. “And, I wouldn’t rather be coloring with Darlin’ tonight. I’d always choose to spend time with you, Tea. Whether you’re gorgeously dressed to the nines or lounging in boxers and a muscle shirt… I just want you.”

"Whoooo Angel's getting frisky," Kevin announced with a chuckle.

"Are you drunk or something, Kev?" Howie questioned with a smirk before pressing a kiss to Cheyanne's forehead. "So Bay's big blue eyes and blonde hair don't sway your affections from me? I know he's only two, but he has a lot of charm--"

"He's been around AJ too much," Kevin muttered, rubbing his hands together in anticipation of the evening. He couldn't wait to see Austin outshine every other woman on the red carpet. He was certain she would love sharing the spotlight. As long as she was willing to share it, he thought, watching the numbers light up as the elevator slowly descended. Surely she wouldn't want to hog it all?

“No one could ever sway my affections from you,” Cheyanne promised, lightly ignoring Kevin’s various comments. Moving her hand from his waist, she gently slipped it into the back pocket of his pressed pants. “My heart and soul has always been yours. Besides, I like the smoldering Latin sweetness… You’re my Sweet Tea and you exude far more charm than Baylee. He tugs on my hand to get my attention, but one look from you and you catch my heart.”

Warmed by her words, Howie kissed her gently, trying to think of a proper response to such a declaration. How could he put into words the feelings he had for her? There were so many words, yet none seemed to perfectly match his love for her. Breaking the kiss, he looked into her sparkling eyes. "Te amo, Miel," he whispered.
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