Nothing Gets Through Ch. 02
(C) 2009 All Rights Reserved
"Don't touch me," Dom heard the woman say. Her voice was cold and matched the dark ice of her eyes.
"I think you'd better do as she says," Dom suggested as he approached. His voice was calm and belied his anger.
"Who the hell are you?" the man snarled, his eyes still on Lani. Karl tapped him on the shoulder from the other side and he spun around.
"We're friends of hers." Karl smiled at Lani. "Hi, sweetie, how are you?"
She blinked, but then smiled back. "Fine, thanks. Didn't see you there."
Dom watched with satisfaction as the man's eyes grew wide. Karl was lean, but over six feet tall and well-muscled; Dom was shorter and had broad shoulders. Together, he knew they presented a fairly tough image. So said the PR department, which had forced them into a photo shoot along with Karl's defense partner Bobby. Too bad Bobby isn't here, Dom thought. This guy would probably piss himself.
Lani didn't know who these guys were, but the tall one had a devilish grin and a glint in his blue eyes that she couldn't resist. The shorter--but by no means short--one didn't smile, but he had an intensity about him that appealed to her. When the tall one had pretended to be her friend, she had grabbed at the ploy.
The man looked from Karl to Dom, gaping until he heard the police sirens. Finally, Lani thought. She had begun to think they'd never show up.
The man turned to the woman he'd been arguing with and grabbed her hand. "Come on," he growled.
Karl's smile never wavered as he stepped aside to let them pass. They were just out the door when a cop stepped out of his vehicle and in front of them. Whatever he said was enough to send the woman off on another rant.
Lani, Dom and Karl stood and watched while the first cop's partner came around, and then a second police cruiser pulled up. The man who'd been arguing looked panicked, and began shouting over the woman. Two more cops, a man and a woman, got out of the second car and exchanged glances with their colleagues.
Lani almost laughed at the efficiency with which the man and woman were quieted, cuffed, and put into the first car. The first two cops drove off, and the second pair came in and began speaking with the manager.
She turned to Karl. "Thanks so much. I guess I didn't think that through very clearly." She held out her hand. "I'm Lani."
"Delighted to meet you." Karl kissed her hand with a flourish and she laughed. "I'm Karl. The strong, silent one over here is my friend, Dominic."
"Dom," he corrected, shaking Lani's hand. "Nice to meet you." Her hand felt small and smooth in his; he was self-conscious of his own large, rough ones.
"Hello, Karl. Hello, Dom," she said with a smile. "Thanks again." She shook her head. "I don't know quite what got into me. I guess I was just frustrated. Can't work at home, can't work here. You'd think people could scream at each other in the privacy of their own homes."
Karl waved his hand dismissively. "Then where would we get our excitement?" He grinned and Lani laughed again.
"I can live without that kind of excitement," Dom said dryly. He wondered why it bothered him to see Karl flirting with Lani. Karl flirted with pretty much any woman, and had done it plenty of times in Dom's presence. Dom had never minded before.
"So can I," Lani agreed, and Dom felt a small flash of smug satisfaction.
"What's a pretty girl like you doing working on a Saturday?" Karl asked.
Lani laughed out loud. She liked a little flirting, and this guy seemed harmless.
"Have you ever tried getting work done in an office? Impossible. I came here to get some peace and quiet. I'll think twice about that next time."
"Excuse me." The three looked over to see one of the cops approaching. "I was wondering if I could get statements about what happened here." They agreed and took turns answering questions. After they were finished, Lani glanced over at her computer and sighed.
"Well, pardon me, but I should get back to work," she said. "I don't mean to be a broken record, but thanks so much for your help."
"Lani, do you like hockey games?" Karl asked.
Dom eyed his friend warily. If he was working on asking Lani out, his best friend and defenseman might need a talking to.
"Love them," she said, a bit surprised. "I watch on TV whenever I can, but it's been years since I've been to one."
"Tell you what," Karl said, "there's a game tonight and I have two extra tickets. I'll leave them at the will call window. What's your last name?"
"Montgomery," she said, then felt embarrassed. "Look, you don't have to do that. It's really sweet, but--"
"Not a problem." Karl shook hi shead. "I can't use them and so I'd like to know someone can. If you can't make it, don't worry about it." He ignored the look Dom was giving him.
"All right." Lani smiled. "Thanks." She was about to say something else when someone yelled her name.
"Lani! Lani!" A tall, busty woman with copper-colored hair came charging through the doors and nearly bowled Lani over with a bear hug. Dom couldn't stop his grin when he saw Karl's face. If ever a man had been smitten, it was Karl. He wouldn't have to worry about Karl and Lani after all.
"What happened?" the woman asked. "I saw the cops outside. Was there a robbery or something? Are you okay?" She patted Lani's shoulders as though checking for injury.
"Relax, Deanne," Lani said, laughing. "I'm fine. It was nothing so exciting. Just Romeo and Juliet having a spat. Dee, this is Karl and Dom. They kept me from getting in over my head."
"Oh, thank you so much!" Before either could react, Dee gave Dom and Karl each the same bear hug she'd given Lani, plus a loud buss on the cheek. They stood there, stunned, as she thanked them again. "I'm so glad you were here! Lani just got into town and she's never lived in the city--"
"Dee." Lani put a hand on her friend's shoulder. "They don't need my life story." She was hard put not to laugh at the expressions on the men's faces. Deanne had that effect on people.
"Oh, right, sorry," Dee said. She took a closer look at the men. "You two look familiar. Have we met?"
"Oh, no," said Karl, his flirting grin back in place. "I'm sure I'd remember someone as unique as yourself." Deanne blushed and started to say something but Karl continued. "I was just telling Lani that I would leave her tickets for the hockey game tonight. Perhaps you could go with her? Do you like hockey?"
"I--sure--I don't--" Deanne couldn't talk, so Lani stepped in.
"That would be great, we'd love to," she told Karl.
"Wonderful." Karl nodded in satisfaction. "Why don't you meet us afterwards? There's a restaurant not far from the stadium called Boorman's."
"Won't we see you during the game?" Dee asked, puzzled.
Karl gestured with his hands to show he was helpless. "I'm afraid we'll be entertaining some clients during the game, but we'll be free when it's over."
"Thanks again." Lani tugged on her friend's arm. "I really do need to get my computer and work a bit. Come on, Dee. Can I work at your place?"
"Sure." Dee nodded but kept her eyes on Karl.
"Until tonight, then." Karl kissed Deanne's hand as he had Lani's before they stepped away.
"Bye." Dee followed Lani, casting glances behind her as she did.
Dom watched the women go and then turned to Karl.
"What?" his friend asked, the picture of innocence.
Dom shook his head. "Clients?" He arched an eyebrow. Karl just grinned. "Come on." Dom sighed. "Let's go grab some sleep before the game." He headed to the door, Karl on his heels.
Lani began packing her bag while she waited for the computer to shut down. Deanne watched the men leave, then turned to her friend. "I'm sure I recognize them," she said, "at least the tall one, Karl. I just can't remember where."
"Probably at one of the events we've managed." Lani shrugged. "I can never remember all the names and faces." Deanne worked for the same children's charity that Lani did, coordinating events like fund-raisers and the occasional celebrity meeting with a group of kids.
"I don't know." Dee frowned. "It feels more like I've seen a picture or something."
"Well, keep thinking. Maybe it'll come to you before the game." She looked at her friend. "You have anything to wear to a hockey game, Dee?"
"Entertaining clients?" Dom repeated as he and Karl sat in the locker room.
Karl watched with a sort of awe as Dom started strapping on his various pads. He would never have the nerve to play Dom's position. More than one puck had come out of nowhere at high speed and left bruises on various portions of his anatomy. He had thrown himself in front of more than a few shots; it was part of the job. Dom's job was to get in the way, all the time, and that was just crazy.
The tall, lanky Swede shrugged. "Well, it's true. Sort of." He grinned. He let his mind wander back to Deanne. Lani was very attractive, but Karl had nearly forgotten to breathe when Deanne had come in. That lithe body with the amazing curves . . . the caramel-colored skin . . . golden eyes and all topped with that lovely burnished-copper hair . . . He bit back a wistful sigh.
"Who's got clients?" asked Greg Olshefsky. The team captain took a swig from a water bottle. "One of you guys moonlighting as a gigolo?" Karl blinked and came back to the locker room.
Dom snorted. "Yeah. Make sure there's no OT tonight. Karl has a date."
Greg laughed as he sat down to put on his skates.
"What's she look like?" Greg asked. "Or is it a blind date?"
"Must be," said Jim Lorton, Greg's linemate. "Otherwise she'd never agree." Karl glared and Lorton just laughed.
"She's a knockout, I'll give her that," Dom said, and described Dee. Greg gave a low whistle.
"You have a date, too." Karl grinned. "A petite brunette with guts to spare." He gave everyone a quick summary of the events at the coffee shop.
"Wow, sounds like you found a hot one, Bad Boy," Greg said with a wink. He reached up for his pads. Dom rolled his eyes.
The media had decided that Dominic Baddano required a suitable nickname after he'd been in a fight. Dom rarely fought on the ice, but tensions had been running high in that particular game as each team needed the points to secure playoff positioning. When one of the goons from the other team had taken a cheap shot at his captain, Dom had seen red. He'd flown across the ice, taken the guy down with a flying tackle, and popped him good. From then on, he was "Bad Boy" Baddano and the fight had played on the ESPN highlight reels for days.
"Oh, a double date, how cute," said Bobby, Karl's defense partner. "Who's buying the ice cream sundaes?" He guffawed as he slid on his socks.
"Shut up, Osterman," Dom grumbled. He stuffed one foot into a skate, yanked the laces tight.
"Uh-oh, it's starting," Karl warned in a stage whisper. The other guys around just grinned. As game time approached, Dom got irritable and withdrawn. As the goaltender, he was given a lot of latitude for locker room behavior. Since irritable and withdrawn were pretty mild tics as goalies went, no one minded. Especially since it seemed to mean fewer goals allowed.
To be continued . . .