“What took you so long to answer the door?” Marquess asked as he staggered into his brother’s hilltop house.
“Never mind that. What are you doing driving drunk?” Baron countered, frowning at his inebriated sibling.
Ever since that herpes diagnosis ushered in a costly divorce settlement and no hope of a future with Paula, Marquess had been drinking even heavier. Now he was drinking and driving, putting the lives of others at stake, too.
“I got here safe, didn’t I?” Marquess insisted from a drunkard’s mentality. Alcoholics never thought about the consequences of their actions. They just acted.
“Barely,” Baron replied. “And you practically parked on my lawn.” He frowned out at the gray Mercedes parked halfway on the curb where a row of shrubs aligned the driveway.
Closing the front door and locking it behind them, Baron was inwardly glad that Aurelia’s car was parked safely in the detached four-car garage near the back of the house. It gave them more privacy and also kept her vehicle out of harm’s way yet again in light of his brother’s unexpected arrival.
“I’ll move my car in the morning,” Marquess said, heading for the stairs where his favorite guest bedroom was.
Although there were two bedrooms downstairs in the large house, one of them had been turned into Baron’s home office/study. The other only had a daybed, which was entirely too short for Marquess’ long legs.
“Give me your keys and I’ll move it tonight,” Baron said.
“Suit yourself.” Marquess reached into his jacket pocket for the keys to his Mercedes. When he swirled around to hand them to his brother, he stumbled. Ironically, his mind could remain steady with alcohol on the brain, but not his body.
As usual, Baron was right there to catch Marquess and hold him up. He’d held him up in a different way when Paula broke his heart all those years ago. Back then their camping trips had been inundated with long conversations about the female lawyer. Sometimes Paula’s name still came up in conversation.
“You smell like sex,” Marquess said, having gotten close enough to get a good whiff of his brother. “Is that what took you so long to answer the door tonight? Were you knocking boots with someone?”
“Yes,” Baron replied, neglecting to say anything beyond that as he pocketed Marquess’ keys in his black bathrobe with one hand and continued to hold his brother upright with the other.
Baron didn’t want to take his new relationship with Aurelia public until she gave him the official okay to do so. If she said yes to his pending marriage proposal, they would go all the way public, lavish wedding and all if that’s what she so desired.
Marquess grinned. “It’s about time you gave Jordin something to write home about. How was she? Good, I bet.” He withdrew from his brother and headed for the stairs again.
“Jordin and I broke up,” Baron informed, following him upstairs after he stumbled yet again. “I’m with someone else now.”
Marquess chuckled. “You dawg! Does this one have a plump rump, too? I bet she does. Ever since you got a sample of that black girl in Cabo you’ve been stuck on bodacious buns. What was her name?
“You sound like Earl now – stupid. Real stupid,” Baron countered.
“Even so, on that particular issue Earl does have a valid point. People really do judge you by your profession or lack thereof. People also judge you by your ethnicity, which would have proven to be yet another strike against
“Keep your voice down!” Baron hissed, looking back at the closed door to the master suite they just passed. He hoped against hope that Aurelia had fallen asleep in his absence and missed Marquess’ comments. Especially the last few.