Irreplaceable Chapter 4

Draining the glass of beer in front of him, Rafferty set it down and waved at the bartender for another. He and his friend Anderson had come to the bar after Rafferty had let Anderson in on his personal assistant’s deepest, darkest secrets. Well, not the darkest maybe, but for some reason, she had never told her boss that she lived above the office they worked in.

Angel was going to be pissed at him when she found out Anderson knew. In truth, he had no idea Anderson didn’t know the woman lived upstairs. She had lived up there for more than a dozen years now—where did he think she lived? Didn’t they talk during all those hours they spent together?

Anderson had offered him a place to land, a job and a work place. But it was Angel who would get in the way of that. She was Anderson’s personal assistant and would walk away if Anderson hired Rafferty. He knew she would, too, and her job was all she had. She had never married, never moved, barely drove, and went to her mother’s every weekend. Her life outside of that building was nonexistent. He wouldn’t take that away from her. She was his sister.

So here he was, nursing a beer, trying to figure out his future when the door to the bar burst open, and Angel and Mia tumbled in from the frigid night and landed in a heap on the floor. Mia yelled out their drink order to the bartender as they got up and stumbled to a table. Her purple hair was all he could see for a moment, then he instantly replaced it with the chestnut it actually was in his mind.

He could feel the moment they both noticed him. The daggers that were sent his way were a little more painful than usual. Just ignore them, he thought, but then he decided he had to take another shot at Mia today. You can’t catch a fish if you’re not fishing.

Motioning to Paul behind the bar, he took the glasses over to the women. Setting them down as Mia was on the phone texting, he turned his attention to Ruth. “And I thought you were against favors, Angel.”

“Rafferty, just leave them alone. Ruth is going to throw her drink at you.” Anderson pushed Rafferty back to the bar and relative safety.

Back on his stool, he chatted about something with Anderson for a while, not taking his eyes off the woman. Silently, he just watched Mia, who was drinking her drink and talking animatedly about something. Or anything; it was Mia.

When the outside door opened again, bringing with it a swirl of cold air, a woman walked in. Rafferty recognized the bank president, Tess Thorn, immediately. She was dressed like this was downtown Minneapolis instead of a hole in the wall in the middle of North Dakota. Mia called out to her as if they were friends, and she acknowledged her but stopped at the bar on the other side of Anderson to order a drink.

When she got her drink and sat with Mia and Ruth, Anderson said quietly, “Looks like the book club is having a midweek meeting.”

“Book club?” Rafferty had heard that they were friends suddenly, but not why. It made sense—Mia and Angel had never been in the same circles, bit lately they were talking a lot more than they used to.

“These three and three others get together ever few weeks to talk about books and drink,” Anderson filled him in.

He noticed that Mia was drinking more than she probably should be, but Anderson kept bringing the table more rounds, and she just kept drinking them. Not that her friends weren’t matching her drink for drink.

Rafferty ordered another beer as Tess from the bank went to the other end of the bar. He watched as she spoke quietly with a man sitting there after she ordered. He knew that man’s face but couldn’t remember his name. He was a few years older than Rafferty and wasn’t one of his customers. He was probably Anderson’s customer—the joys of having only two insurance companies in town.

The man was drinking some mixed drink, and she ordered him another, as well as four whiskeys for the table. Paul poured the drinks and gave them to her. Paul set the drink in front of him, but the man pushed it away with anger. Rafferty had no idea what the woman’s expression was because she was turned away from him, but she took the glass and drank it in one go. Setting the empty glass on the bar, she grabbed the other four with ease and went back to her table.

Turning to see who the drinks were for, he watched her hand them all to Mia, who already had four empty glasses in front of her. When had she had time to finish them all? He had been watching her. His last count had been two empty, two full.

Her back stiff, he watched her pick up one of the glasses and drink it almost to the end. After setting it down, she put her hands in the air in surrender and started to laugh. The bar was now too full and too loud for him to hear the laugh, but he knew what it sounded like. It was a laugh he was always able to pick up in a crowd. No matter the size.

To his shock, the banker took all four glasses of alcohol and drank them one after another. Even the last bit that Mia hadn’t finished. When she added the glasses to Mia’s stack, he figured out how Mia had drunk so many so fast. Apparently, the banker lady could hold her liquor and everyone else’s.

Soon after her impressive shot line, Tess stood up and said goodbye to the girls and walked out of the bar. Rafferty watched her to see if she was too drunk to make it to her apartment, but she was walking straighter than he could right now.

The two remaining women talked for a long time, and both looked to be having fun. Their earlier animosity was completely gone today. A few of Mia’s friends came in, but Mia just waved at them, continuing to talk to Angel. Soon Heather started to hang on to Anderson—she had been trying to get him since word got out about his break-up. He had shown no interest, but she still tried.

With his view blocked, he almost missed one of Mia’s friends go to the table and talk to Mia. But since he couldn’t see Mia, he watched Angel glance from Mia to her friend to the bar and then back. The dejected expression on her face made him stand up. To do what? Defend his sister? Against what?

He watched her quickly stand up and then stop dead. Rushing to her, he grabbed her around the waist, making her sit back in the booth. She was wasted. “Are you okay, Angel? You know you can’t drink like that.”

“I’m fine. Get away from me, Rafferty,” she told him through gritted teeth. Pushing him away, she got up and he watched her walk out the door. To his surprise, Anderson ran out the door after her. Maybe it wasn’t that big of a surprise since he had done the same thing earlier today. Rafferty knew Ruth was in good hands.

Eyes still on the door, he slid into the booth across from Mia. It took her a moment to realize it was him. Her friend had gone back to her friends, and Mia was alone.

“Are you as drunk as Angel is?” Rafferty knew she was more than buzzed now.

“Nope, I’m good,” she stated without a snide comment, most definitely drunk.

“Your friend can handle her liquor.” Rafferty slid farther into the booth since she wasn’t fighting him.

“Angel? No, she can’t.” Mia looked behind her at the door.

“The other one, Tess.” He laughed at her expression.

“You keep away from her. She’s my friend, not yours.” Her words were slurred as she tried to be stern and giggle at the same time. “God, she can put them back. She drank as much as me in one sitting. Maybe more, I lost count.”

“More,” he confirmed, loving her giggles.

“Where is Angel? She was just here.” Mia looked around the room.

“Gone She went home. Anderson made sure she got there.” Rafferty smiled at her expression. Her expressions were very exaggerated when she drank.

“She likes him, but don’t tell anyone,” she whispered loudly. “She’s his secretary.”

“I know. I think he likes her too,” Rafferty whispered back to her.

Her eyes widened, and she put her hand to her mouth in shock. “She’s his secretary,” she said again.

“He’s her boss.” Rafferty went with her on it.

“Do you think they make out in the office?” She giggled.

“No, they are very professional there.”

“Yes, yes profes … professssion … prof … I can’t say that word anymore.”

“It’s a hard one.” He couldn’t believe how her eyes were sparkling with excitement and wonder.

“Do you want to know a secret?” she whispered loudly again as she looked around to see if anyone was around them.

“Yes.” He wanted to know all her secrets.

“I’m moving before the new year. This is my last year in Landstad, North Dakota.” Her eyes darted from side to side as she said it as if someone was listening to her.

With a sinking heart, he asked, “Where are you going?”

“Don’t know yet. Somewhere big and busy and where everybody doesn’t know my business.”

“Maybe I’ll make you stay. Make you see that this is the town for you,” Rafferty professed. He was sure she wouldn’t remember any of this come morning anyway.

“Not going to work. This town is no fun. I want to live somewhere fun and exciting.” She was slurring more of the words.

“I think I should get you home.” Getting up, he reached a hand out to her. She grabbed it, and he pulled her to her feet.

Without a word, he kept her hand in his and led her out of the bar, down the street for a block, and into the building where she lived. How long he had known where she lived, he didn’t know, but it seemed like one of the first things he had found out when he moved back to town.

Mia was the one who got away. They were never on the same page. Now he wanted to stay here forever, and she was ready to bolt. Pulling her up the stairs into the hallway, he asked what door was hers. She dropped his hand and reached into her pocket and pulled out a key, opening the door on the end.

The door swung open on the tiny apartment with a small kitchen, a small living room, and two bedrooms. But beyond the size, it was decorated as only Mia could. Bold colors, and old furniture that had been painted or had slipcovers on them.

When they had made it in the door, she put her key on the table and shut the door behind them. Kicking off her shoes, she grabbed his hand and started to pull him toward the bedroom. “Now I’m going to have sex with you, Rafferty Brooks.”

Following, he wondered when she was going to pass out. She had to be close. He would see how far he could get before that happened. Not that he would actually have sex with her in this condition, but he would make out with her forever like this.

The bedroom was cozy and comfortable, just like the Mia he knew was under that purple hair. She had let go of his hand and was in the process of stripping out of her clothes. He kicked off his shoes and shrugged out of his jacket and tie, opening the first few buttons of his shirt. By the time he was getting to the last button she was on him, ripping the shirt open.

Buttons flying across the room.

Laughing as he fell back on the bed, taking her with him, he rolled her on her back so that he was above her. That’s when he noticed she was completely naked underneath him. When had she had time to get everything off? Reaching between them, she caressed his cock through layers of clothing.

His thoughts stopped as she pulled his head to hers and kissed him. Her tongue was in his mouth before he could process it. She was in charge of this. She tasted the same as she had at sixteen, and it had taken him years to forget that taste. But tonight it all came rushing back. She held his head as she deepened the kiss even more. Their breaths were ragged, and they couldn’t get enough of each other.

As the kiss grew heated, he took her breasts in his hands, not letting himself miss this opportunity. They were perfect. Pulling his lips from hers, she whimpered a little until the whimper turned into a moan as he took a nipple deep in his mouth and suckled it, circling it with his tongue, loving it. Then he turned to the other and did the same thing.

He let his hands roam over her body, trying to imprint every dip and curve in his memory. Her body writhed under his caress.

“Touch me, Raff,” she begged as her hips surged up, welcoming his touch.

Suckling her breasts, his fingers slid over her mound and across her core, causing a groan to escape. His fingers continued circling her clit, which caused her hands to fist into the quilt on the bed and her breathing to turn heavy. Her body writhed beneath his hands, and when she came, she called his name in the mostly dark room.

Smiling, he slid his hand back to her hip, caressing the smooth skin as she brought herself back to earth. He wondered if she was still drunk or if she had recovered her faculties enough to have sex with him. That answer came when he looked at her face; though she was smiling, she was also passed out. Mia had come in his hand, then proceeded to pass out cold.

Getting up, he pulled the blanket back and put her in the bed with her head on the pillow. Covering her beautiful body was hard, but she would get cold in the chilly winter night if he didn’t. Going through her apartment, he found some aspirin and filled a glass of water, and placed them on the nightstand next to her bed. Everything would be ready for the morning when she woke up.

With a chuckle, he went to the kitchen and wrote a note and brought it back to the bedroom, placing it under the glass of water. He took out his wallet, grabbed a condom package, and opened it. He placed the empty package by the glass on top of the paper also. Taking the condom into the bathroom, he unrolled it and looked around the room. Finding a container of hair gel, he squirted a little into the condom and took it back to the room. Casually, he tossed it on the floor near the bed.

Leaning down, he kissed her forehead and ran his hand over her purple hair, then kissed her forehead again. Because he could.

“Good night, Mia. I’m going to spend the next eleven months making damn sure that you want to stay here forever,” he promised as he headed out the door. He knew she would be pissed at him, but he couldn’t stop himself from the prank.

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