In the Romantic Suspense"7 Days" After sixteen years of military service to his country, Lieutenant Colonel Victor Sexton of the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is looking forward to retiring in seven days, but when an army nurse is murdered in the officer's quarters, time is against him to find the killer.
Lieutenant Colonel Victor Sexton had to go through with it. He realized it the moment he was handed the message from Rosetta Upton, the wife of his former Delta Force Commander and now senator. He was certain she was calling to make sure he’d keep the blind date that night with her niece. A mixture of dread and anticipation bounced through him.
Victor stuffed the message in his army fatigues front pocket. His thoughts scattered as he strode through the highly polished hallway of CID. Long, smooth, and confident strides carried him to the office of Captain Jose Benitez. The room was empty. Since it was Friday and payday, Victor had dismissed a majority of the staff, a privilege he rarely allowed, but they had done exceptionally well on their last training exercise; therefore, they’d earned the day off. He was tough on his personnel, but the brand of military discipline and training he enforced could save lives — theirs and his.
Shifting his briefcase to his left hand, Victor pulled out the manila folder containing a copy of his discharge orders from underneath his right arm and placed it in the box on the desk marked IN. Next week he would begin his life as Victor Sexton, civilian, not commander of the Criminal Investigation Division, which conducted criminal investigation ranging from deaths to fraud on and off the military post.
“Attention!” Sergeant Juarez bellowed.
“At ease,” Victor responded. “I hope you have a quiet night.”
“So do we, sir,” Private First Class Bone replied.
“Colonel Sexton.” Turning, Victor headed towards Sergeant James who met him before he left the building. “Sir, I’m glad I caught you,” he said. “I need your signature on some promotion orders.”
Victor nodded at the highly efficient soldier. “How many do we have?”
“I’m happy to sign the orders. I like it when we pin more rank on our men and women. It helps keep morale up. Anyone from your section?”
“Sergeant Vivian Givens, sir. She made staff sergeant.”
“Outstanding,” Victor said.
Victor quickly signed each document and returned the folder to Sergeant James.
“Thank you, sir. Enjoy your weekend.”
“You do the same.”
Victor exited through the barracks doors and made his way to his black Pathfinder, throwing the briefcase onto the passenger seat. He turned the key in the ignition and pulled out into the late afternoon traffic.
To keep his mind occupied, he turned on the radio. Najee’s smooth saxophone playing accompanied him. It was hard to believe that he let himself be persuaded into a blind date. What was I thinking? He should have just said thanks, but no thanks. It’s not as if it was part of his military obligation, but Rosetta talked him into it. It was too late to back out without looking unsympathetic.
Rosetta’s niece had arrived two months earlier from Frankfurt, Germany. If he believed the senator’s wife had been the type to set him up, he would never have agreed to the blind date. Instead, he believed she was helping her niece be acclimated to the area.
Rosetta informed Victor she would make reservations at Cadence at eight under her name. Victor would meet his date there. Though Victor’s family owned and operated the club, he wasn’t so sure he wanted to meet his date there.
Indecision was a characteristic people who knew Victor would never associate with him. His outstanding military career demonstrated this. Commissioned in 1987 through the Army ROTC program with a Bachelors Degree in International Affairs and a Master Degree in Business Management from Howard University in Washington, DC, he was a third-generation soldier. Neither his father nor grandfather came close to matching his outstanding military career. The walls in his office and home were covered with awards and plaques. His uniform held ribbons for service.
Victor took pride in putting his life on the line for what his country stood for — freedom and democracy. As for his accolades and the danger and risks he took, the way Victor saw it, he was simply doing the job he was sworn in to do sixteen years ago. Before he was the commander of CID, he served fourteen years as a member of Special Operations, one of the most elite units in the world. He had represented the United States in numerous campaigns: Grenada, Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf where he was wounded. He was awarded a Purple Heart, his second for bravery during combat.
Victor eased his truck in and out of the traffic forty-five minutes before parking in front of his split-level house and surrounding acreage. Victor had moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland two years after transferring from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
He’d passed the house with a ‘For Sale’ sign in the yard after visiting Major Raymond Hall, a former team member who currently works at the Pentagon. Victor had stopped and copied down the Realtor’s telephone number.
A couple days later the agent set up an appointment to show him the house; two months later, Victor closed.
Victor got out of the truck and headed towards the front door. Shifting the briefcase to his left hand, he put the key in the lock and unlocked the door. When the door opened, he bent down to scoop up the mail. He entered the foyer then the living room.
Decorated in tan, the room possessed enough space to include the European wall unit and bar he had purchased on an assignment in Germany three years before. Standing six foot three, Victor needed space to move freely without bumping into furniture.
He maneuvered around the La-Z-Boy chair and dropped the keys and mail on the coffee table in front of the sofa. He tossed his briefcase on one of the cushions and looked at the telephone a few feet away sitting on the end table. It rang. Victor walked over to the phone. Maybe it was Rosetta calling to tell me she’d found someone else to take her niece out.
“It’s about time,” the woman’s voice said on the other end. No such luck. It was his sister, Tonya Sims.
“Hello to you, too, sis.” Victor sat down on the sofa.
A soft chuckle came through the receiver. “Looking forward to your date?”
“I’d rather be in actual combat.”
“Stephen, I told you he’d try to wimp out,” Tonya yelled to her husband.
“I am not wimping out,” Victor said adamantly. He began unlacing his Forced Entry Tactical Boots while he held the phone to his ear with his shoulder. He removed the boots, placing them next to the sofa. “I’m just not sure, that’s all.”
Victor tried to come up with an image to match the description Rosetta had given him. Beautiful face; medium body frame; long, flowing hair; outgoing personality; and intelligent. She laid it on so thick that within seconds he visualized the opposite. Dog like features, horn-rimmed glasses, thick body, clothing buttoned from head to toe, and unsmiling.
He shuddered. That’s all he needed to spend the evening with, an ice princess. “I’m sure she feels the same way about going out with you. I mean, I can see how you would be apprehensive, but I’m sure it’s going to be fine.”
Victor closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the sofa. “I thought you would understand my predicament. She could be psycho or something.”
Tonya laughed. “I don’t believe the senator and his wife would set you up with someone with mental problems.”
Victor became silent.
Tonya interrupted his thoughts. “Is it her emotional or physical state that you’re worried about?”
“Both.” Victor laughed.
“Men,” Tonya said, grunting before joining Victor in laughter. “It’s always the looks.”
“I know you’re not talking, Ms. Stephen-Is-So-Fine,” Victor said in his best Tonya imitation. When she first laid eyes on her husband, Tonya had gone on for hours about how handsome she thought Stephen was.
Victor had no problem reminding her about that as they both laughed again. “Okay, okay. So looks are a little important. Who knows? She may look like Halle Berry.”
He chuckled. “I should be so lucky. If she looks like Halle Berry, I don’t think she would be going on a blind date.”
“You need to get back out there, Victor,” Tonya said in a serious tone. “I know how you felt about Felicia, but you have to get past that.”
Victor spoke to Tonya for a few more minutes, promising to tell her about the date. He knew his sister was right about one thing — he had to get on with his life. He’d been distrusting of women since Felicia Connors, his ex-fiancée, called off their wedding two years ago and knew this blind date could not turn into something serious.
He should have known better. In his line of work chances for a serious relationship, let alone marriage, was practically nonexistent. He was traveling to remote locations, sometimes at the last minute, and deployed for an unspecific time, which left him little opportunity for a social life. Felicia decided she didn’t like the uncertainty or the danger of his job. The excitement of being with a man in uniform soon wore off, reality set in, and the engagement ended. Even though Victor had seen it happen he believed their relationship was different and could stand the test of time. He was wrong.
Victor headed to the kitchen. He opened the refrigerator door and grabbed a bottle of water. The liquid vanished in seconds. He headed into his bedroom. After turning the TV to CNN news, he went into his adjoining bathroom and lifted the water lever in the tub. Stripping off his uniform, he stepped into the warm, inviting downpour of the shower. He closed his eyes, enjoying the invigorating feel of the water on his physique. Rosetta never told him the name of his blind date. It didn’t matter. After tonight he’d never call her again.
She had gotten up earlier that morning to make a day of it. It was the first time in the two months she had transferred from Germany that her life had slowed down enough for her to get settled. As an officer in the Army Nurses Corp, her days were filled with long hours in the emergency room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It was the first time she had nothing scheduled, and she intended to take advantage of the free time.
Although Dominique was dog-tired, she had forced herself to get out of bed. She had managed to unpack some of her household goods, which had arrived from Europe but still had several boxes to go through. She let out a small sigh. She hated moving, but it came along with her career choice.
Dominique looked through the windshield. It had been raining for the past two days. Some people complained about the absence of the sun, damp days and nights, but from where she transferred, no sunshine was the daily forecast.
She took a couple of days off to include unpacking, viewing a couple of movie DVD’s she had purchased several weeks ago still buried in a box somewhere, visit Aunt Rosetta and Uncle Harold on Sunday for dinner, and attend Lieutenant Robbin Greene, her friend/ coworker, 32nd birthday party.
Dominique stopped for the traffic light then glanced along M Street aligned with shops, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. The light changed and she pulled off. Her aunt and uncle were pleased she transferred to the area, but her uncle, Harold Upton, retired as a Brigadier General, and now served as senator of Virginia, was disappointed that she chose to live in D.C. instead of Virginia. Aunt Rosetta and Uncle Harold were the only family she’d ever known. They had raised her since the age of two when her own parents died in a motor vehicle accident. Everyone was surprised when Dominique joined the military. Despite her Master’s degree in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a sufficient trust fund left by her parents, Dominique believed the army was the obvious choice. She considered herself a military brat. She traveled and lived in numerous locations: Europe, Texas, Georgia, Japan, and North Carolina, to name a few. Uncle Harold, a former special operations commander, commanded troops in several campaigns and had a great influence on her. She was proud of his military and civilian career and hoped to achieve half of his accomplishments.
Dominique was anticipating decorating her apartment as she pulled in front of her building forty minutes later. Adjusting her bags in hand, she opened the door and stepped in the entryway just in time to hear the antique Grandfather clock chime the hour — six o’clock. She placed the bags on the sofa and noticed the red light flashing on the answering machine. Wondering who phoned, she opened the top drawer of the end table and retrieved a notepad and pen as she listened to the messages. There were two. One from a long distance representative trying to get her to switch carriers. How did they find me so soon? The one that caught her attention was from Aunt Rosetta.
Aunt Rosetta had called Dominique a week earlier and informed her that she was giving Dominique’s phone number to a fine commanding officer whom she and Uncle Harold looked at as a son. She thought they would make a cute couple. Dominique could just imagine why her aunt and uncle would like him. He was a former special operations officer like Uncle Harold.
Dominique listened as Aunt Rosetta voice filled the air.
“Hi, sweetie. I’ve arranged a blind date for you at eight o’clock at Cadence Supper Club. The reservation is in my name. I really think you’re going to like this young man. He’s like the son your uncle and I never had. Call me tomorrow and let me know how things go. Love you.”
Dominique took a deep breath and tapped her pen. Her aunt was meddling in her life again. She wondered how her date felt about Aunt Rosetta’s interference. Dominique was sure he was used to being in control, but not of this situation. He was only taking her out because her aunt had asked him to. It appeared Dominique’s aunt assumed she would be lonely at her new assignment.
Dominique wanted to make Aunt Rosetta happy, but wanted her to stop interfering once and for all in her love life. Aunt Rosetta and Uncle Harold Upton had been married more than thirty years, and Aunt Rosetta felt it was her job to match up all the single family members. Dominique agreed that she wanted a man in her life, but she didn’t need a mercy date, especially one from an unwanted arrangement.
Dominique stood, staring at the telephone. She actually felt sorry for her date. It wasn’t his fault he was in this situation. She knew how persuasive her aunt could be. Her head tilted to one side. “Why not?” Dominique said to herself. “It’s only one date.” She punched in Aunt Rosetta’s number and listened as the answering machine clicked on.
No one’s home, Dominique thought and shook her head. I can’t believe she set me up on a blind date. She left a message.
“Aunt Rosetta, I got the message and will meet…” Dominique realized she didn’t know the name of her date, “…my blind date tonight at Cadence.”
Dominique hung up and walked into her bedroom. She slipped out of her black, low heel pumps and glanced at her watch. She had two hours. She unbuttoned her green army jacket, shirt, and her matching slacks. She hung the uniform on a padded hanger and wondered if she had lost her mind accepting the blind date. She briefly thought about calling back to cancel. No one would blame her if she did. It was a blind date, and for all she knew he could be psycho. She pushed the thought away. There was another way to handle it.
Dominique sauntered over to the nightstand, picked up the phone, and pushed the numbers to Lieutenant Robbin Greene. Although married to Lieutenant Thomas Echols, Robbin chose to keep her last name, claiming it was a hassle to go through the paperwork to legally change it. Dominique hoped she did not have plans and could accompany her to the club. If her blind date didn’t turn out to be a wacko, then Robbin could make a hasty exit.
“Hello, Robbin.” Dominique’s voice came across the line.
Although Dominique was an Army Captain and Robbin was a Second Lieutenant, they became fast friends after only two months of working together at the Medical Center. “Dominique, how are you?”
“I’m fine. You?” “Things could be better.”
“Maybe I have the answer.”
“Do you have plans for this evening?”
“I don’t have any plans,” Robbin vented. “Lover boy got started early watching sports. He’s parked in front of the TV.”
Dominique was aware of the strained marriage between Thomas and Robbin. Robbin had confided to her that she believed Thomas was involved with another woman, but she didn’t have proof. “How would you like to go out with me tonight?”
“Where are we going?”
Robbin was celebrating her birthday at the upscale and classy establishment tomorrow night. Dominique was invited. She’d never been there, but her other girlfriend/hairstylist, Rowena Harris, recommended the club, boasting the clientele was impressive among the African-American community.
“What do you say?” Dominique pressed.
Instead of answering Dominique’s question, Robbin replied, “Maybe some fresh air is just what I need.”
“Meet me at my apartment at seven-thirty. I’ll fill you in on what’s going on.” “What do you mean, fill me in?” Robbin asked.
“I’ll tell you once you get here,” Dominique said. “See you around seven-thirty.”
Dominique replaced the phone in the cradle. She finished undressing and slipped on a cream-colored silk Victoria’s Secret robe with matching sandals. Entering the bathroom, she turned the oval glass knob on the tub and water flowed from the faucet. Twenty minutes later, with her skin wrinkled from sitting in the water, she dried herself and then moisturized her body with Marc Jacobs Body Lotion. She stood in her closet and agonized over what to wear. She wanted to select the perfect outfit. She’d heard from other service members who frequented Cadence that it was known for its music, excellent food, and diverse clientele. Cadence drew people between the ages of thirty to sixty. It was more of a social and dining club for professionals who wanted to mingle with other professionals. It was a place where new friendships were formed and contacts made.
Dominique held a blue pantsuit to her chin as she slowly turned in front of the
“Too boring,” she said, tossing the garment onto her canopy bed. Since she agreed
to the date, she wanted to select the perfect outfit. A moment later, she settled on a cappuccino colored, off the shoulder top with raglan sleeves and a bandless waist skirt with stitched down pleats.
The doorbell rang at thirty-five minutes after seven. Dominique put on her two inch cappuccino colored, sling back sandals and pressed the button for the intercom.
“It’s me,” Robbin’s excited voice said through the speaker.
Dominique buzzed Robbin in from downstairs. She left her apartment door open and headed to the bedroom. Exhaling, she performed one final appraisal in the floor- length mirror. She smiled, pleased with the image.
Robbin found Dominique in the bedroom, primping in front of the mirror. “Nice outfit,” Robbin complimented.
“Thank you. You look nice. I like that brown on you.”
Robbin stepped in the bedroom. She sashayed to the mirror in her brown wraparound miniskirt. The outfit was completed with matching four inch heel pumps, which showed off her long, shapely legs. “So what’s going on that you couldn’t tell me over the phone?”
Dominique turned around, looking at herself from behind in the mirror. She knew once she told Robbin the news, Robbin would think she had lost her mind.
“I’m going on a blind date tonight.”
Robbin looked at Dominique as if she’d grown two heads. “Blind date? You can’t be serious.” Her lower lip trembled as she attempted to come up with another comment. “Why?”
“I’m serious. I want you to come along with me to check him out.”
“Check him out?” Robbin placed her hands on her hips. “I don't believe you.”
“Believe it. When it doesn’t work out, my Aunt Rosetta can stop trying to fix me
up with every available man in the Army.”
Robbin raised a perfectly arched eyebrow. “Have you talked to her about this?”
“Of course. You don’t know my Aunt Rosetta. It’s like talking to a brick wall. I’m through talking. I intend to prove blind dates don’t work.” Dominique went to the closet to retrieve her black, short jacket.
“How long has it been since you’ve been on a date?”
Robbin’s question caught Dominique off guard, and she stopped in mid-motion. “It’s been a while,” she answered, putting on the jacket.
“What’s a while?”
“Why all the questions?”
“Don’t you want a man in your life?”
“Of course I do.”
Robbin smiled wickedly. “The way I see it, the Army is a smorgasbord of men waiting for you to make your selection. You can have him any way you want him.” Robbin counted on each finger. “Short, tall, younger, older, light, dark.”
“I get the picture.” Dominique knew Robbin and Aunt Rosetta didn’t understand why she felt the way she did about dating men in the military. “It doesn’t matter. As long as I’m in the military, I’ll remain single.”
Robbin frowned. “As long as you’re in the military, you’re going to remain single?”
“Yes. I definitely won’t date a man in Special Operations.”
“Hmm. Special Operations. Sounds like my type of man. Intriguing, dangerous, and tough.”
“Whatever.” Dominique grabbed her clutch purse off the bed. “Can we get this night over with?”
Robbin playfully bowed at Dominique and with a wave of the hand stated, “Lead the way. I still say he sounds intriguing.”
***** When Victor arrived at the club, it was in full swing. That was no surprise to him. Many of the patrons had fast become regulars.
“Hello, Colonel,” said the bartender, Israel Hunnicutt. “What’s going on in CID?”
Victor settled himself on the tall, padded barstool. “Same thing, just a different day.” He took a handful of peanuts from the bowl then popped some into his mouth.
“Then how about the usual?”
Victor nodded and Hunnicutt placed a scotch and water before him. Before he was a bartender, Hunnicutt served twenty-one years in the Army, retiring as a sergeant major. He moonlighted as a bartender several nights a week for enjoyment. Since Victor first met Hunnicutt more than a year ago he’d liked him.
“Is my brother in his office?” Victor asked, lifting the glass to his lips. The drink felt good going down the back of his throat. The warm sensation helped calm his jittery nerves.
“No. He’s somewhere out in the club. He’s training a new employee.”
“When you see him, tell him I’m in the office.”
“I’ll be sure to relay the message.” He raised his right hand and gave Victor a military salute.
Victor returned the salute and headed toward the office.
The hostess, Kim Moffett, clothed in black slacks, red vest, and a white blouse, came into view. “Hello, Colonel,” she greeted. “Are you ready to be seated?” She flashed him a warm smile. “Your party hasn’t arrived yet.”
Victor’s brows rose a moment. He let out a small sigh and then glanced at his watch. His date had fifteen minutes. “No. I’ll wait until she arrives to be seated. I’ll be in Mr. Sexton’s office. If she arrives before I return, escort her to the table and make sure she’s taken care of.”
“Yes, sir,” Kim responded.
“Thank you, Kim.” Victor turned and continued toward the office.
Victor went inside the office, making himself at home. He settled behind the large oak desk. Their parents would be pleased at how successful his younger brother, 35-year- old Gerald Sexton, had made Cadence.
Gerald never served in the armed forces, preferring to pursue a college education, graduating from Howard University with a major in Business Management and a minor in Music.
Upon Gerald’s graduation their father, William Sexton, offered him co-ownership of Cadence. When William passed away four years ago, Gerald became a full owner. William Sexton, a retired Army First Sergeant, had opened Cadence two years after leaving the service. It had been a dream of both parents to open a supper club. The club opened, but their mother died of breast cancer a year later. Under the leadership of William, Cadence became very prominent in the area. Many top performers had graced its stage: Sade, Brian McKnight, Will Downing, and Branford Marsalis, to name a few. Not to mention a cuisine to die for. Since their father’s death, Gerald had managed to run Cadence with the same grace and style.
Victor looked at the family photos in elaborate frames arranged on the desk. Photos of their sister, Tonya; her husband, Stephen; and their two children, Roderick who was five and Kiara, three; Gerald dressed in cap and gown; and Victor in his military uniform. A photo of their parents, William and Elizabeth Sexton, had been blown up and hung on the wall along with Gerald’s diploma from Howard University. African- American paintings of Alice Kent Stoddard’s Young Man in the Blue Suit and Bus Stop Hyacinth Manning added to the ambience.
Victor stared at his photo, sitting alone. He was thirty-three then and ready to start his own family. He wanted a wife. Thought he had found her once. What if his blind date...No way. He didn’t even want to think about his date being the future Mrs. Victor Sexton. Gerald’s appearance interrupted his thoughts.
“You plan to hide in here all night?” Gerald asked, smiling from ear-to-ear. “Tonya told me about your date tonight.” He walked over to the wall safe, putting in cash and receipts.
Victor nodded. “I’m meeting her tonight at eight.”
“Great. I’m dying to see what she looks like,” Gerald said, trying to smother a laugh.
“Me and you both.”
“What made you decide to go out on a blind date? It’s not like you’re obligated to the senator’s wife.”
“I don’t know. One moment Rosetta was talking about how beautiful her niece is, how talented she is, how we would make an attractive couple, and the next thing I know, I was agreeing to meet her.”
Gerald laughed. “Wait a minute. I gave the same description for the eligible ladies I tried to hook you up with and you weren’t interested.”
Victor joined in his brother’s laughter. “I’ve seen some of those women you tried to set me up with. No thank you.”
“What are you saying?” Gerald took a seat in the chair across from the desk. “I have ugly lady friends? Besides, you don’t know what your date looks like.”
Victor became quiet. Gerald was right. Ever since his breakup with Felicia, Gerald and Tonya had been trying to fix him up with every single woman they knew. They didn’t have to worry, Washington, DC, unlike the military community, had more women then men. Victor could have had a date with a different woman every night if he wanted. He didn’t have to be ambushed into one.
“Eight o’clock, huh.” Gerald glanced at his watch. “You still have a few minutes.”
“Don’t remind me.”
“Don’t look at it like that. She may turn out to be the woman of your dreams.”
Victor sat up straight in his chair and chuckled. “Yeah, right.”
Dominique self-consciously ran her hand over her skirt and hoped the outfit wasn’t too revealing. Too late, she could do nothing about it. I can’t believe I’m going through with this, she thought.
“Look at the people,” Robbin said enthusiastically. “I wonder who’s here. I hope we see someone famous.”
A valet stood waiting for the keys. A moment later the young man sped away.
“This is it,” Robbin announced. “Last chance to change your mind.”
Dominique forced a tight smile. “Let’s go inside.”
They stepped inside a set of massive mahogany doors affixed with brass fixtures and found themselves engrossed in a beautiful spacious foyer, with soft beige furniture. Dominique’s coworkers had been right. She didn’t know if she was taken aback with the clientele or the scenery.
“Good evening and welcome to Cadence.” A woman greeted them with a friendly smile. “My name is Kim.”
“Good evening,” Dominique spoke. “I believe you have a reservation for me for eight o’clock. It should be under Rosetta Upton.”
“Yes, we have your table ready for you.” Kim threw Robbin a curious look. Following Kim’s gaze, Dominique offered an explanation. “This is my friend Robbin Greene. She’s going to join me for a quick drink. I hope it’s okay.”
“It’s fine.” Kim beckoned for a waitress who came and escorted them to a table where they had an unobstructed view of the stage.
“I’m Mya, and I’ll be your waitress for this evening. The colonel will be right with you. He has instructed us to take care of you until he arrives. While you wait, can I offer you a drink on the house?” Mya handed them each a menu.
Dominique arched an eyebrow and looked at Robbin. She was impressed. She wondered what clout her blind date had for her to get preferential treatment. “Thank you. That’s very kind of you.” She ordered a cosmopolitan. Robbin ordered an apple martini.
“I’ll be back with your drinks.”
The sultry lyrics of Anita Baker’s “Rapture" filtered through Cadence’s built-in speakers.
“This is nice,” Robbin said, moving her body to the music. “No matter what he looks like, the man has good taste. The evening is starting out fine.”
“You just remember you agreed to stay with me until he checks out.”
“I know. I know. I promise I won’t leave until we check out Mr. Special Operations.”
At Dominique’s uneasy expression, Robbin said, “You don’t have to go through with the date. We can get up and walk out. All you have to do is say the word.”
“I’ve told you, I’m staying.”
Dominique shot her a look.
Robbin shrugged. “What did I say?”
The waitress placed their drinks on the table.
“I heard they have live bands here on the weekends,” Robbin offered. It was obvious she was attempting to lighten the mood. “Maybe I can talk Thomas into bringing me back to check it out.” She took a sip of her drink and popped her fingers to the beat of “Can’t Stop,” by After 7.
Dominique continued scanning the interior of the club. The golden recessed lights glistened against gold-toned fixtures, floor-to-ceiling stained-glass windows, and green leafy plants near a man-made waterfall. There were large pillars erect like military soldiers standing at attention. Customers seemed to be enjoying themselves, laughing, talking, or sitting at tables with dim shaded lamps. She couldn’t help but wonder if her date was watching her at that very moment.
Victor and Gerald traded curious glances.
Kim sauntered farther into the office. “She brought a friend with her,” she offered.
She was cautious, Victor thought. Nothing wrong with that.
“What does she look like?” Gerald questioned before Victor had time to cross examine Kim. With his connections Victor could have downloaded a picture of her from the military locator if he had gotten her name.
“Come see for yourself.” Kim still had the smile pasted on her face. It made Victor a little nervous. He couldn’t determine whether he would be pleased or disappointed.
Victor stepped out into the club. He zeroed in on the table. His gaze fixed on two women engrossed in conversation, heads bobbing up and down in synchronized motion. Then he sharpened his gaze, recognizing the familiar face.
It can’t be. What were the odds of Dominique Frazier being his blind date? He looked around, glancing at Kim to make sure she’d given him the proper table. She was seating a couple. He gestured with his finger in the direction of the table. Kim nodded at him and grinned.
He allowed himself to think about how long it had been since he’d seen Dominique. It was three years ago when they met in Frankfurt, Germany. Victor was on temporary duty, teaching a class on terrorism, and Dominique was assigned to a nearby hospital unit.
Victor remembered an intense curriculum during the day and the passionate nights they shared. He felt his body tremor when he remembered how Dominique felt hot, naked, and needy underneath him. Most of all, he remembered lovemaking that left them both fulfilled.
“Are you satisfied?” Gerald asked, walking up behind Victor.
Victor glanced over at Gerald and saw Gerald looking at him curiously. “Very.” Victor glanced back in the direction of the two women and saw Mya removing empty glasses from their table. Victor took a deep breath to control the soft groan threatening to escape him.
Gerald followed the direction of Victor’s gaze. “Wow!” His eyes widened. “I should have the senator’s wife set me up on a date. Which one is yours? Don’t tell me, I guess it’s the one with the nice assets.”
Victor shot a look at Gerald. He’d forgotten how crude his brother could be sometimes. Gerald shrugged. “What did I say? You like women who are heavy on top.”
A smile ruffled Victor’s mouth. “True. It’s just that I know one of the women.”
“What?” Gerald glanced back in the direction of Dominique and Robbin.
Victor tugged on the end of his jacket sleeve. He’d never discussed the two weeks he’d spent with Dominique. What they had shared was private and personal. He had been engaged to Felicia, but Dominique was never too far from his mind.
“I met her while teaching a class in Germany,” Victor said proudly, hoping that would quiet Gerald, letting him know he wasn’t the only male Sexton with game.
“You mean that beautiful woman is in the military?”
“Last time we met,” Victor answered.
“What about the other lady?”
“We’ve never met.”
“Why don’t we go over and say hello?”
Victor noticed the challenge in Gerald’s eyes. Victor returned his look with one of his own. “Give me a second.”
The smile at the corner of Gerald’s lips widened. “Don’t tell me the big, bad army man is scared.”
“I’m not afraid of anyone, and to prove it I’m going to march over there and say hello.” Victor strolled with purpose toward the table.
As he headed toward them direction, again he thought about what he and Dominique shared. It was a period in his life he’d never forgotten. How could he? Their time spent together was passionate, sensuous, and mind-blowing. As he neared the table, he hoped Dominique was willing to pick up where they left off.
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