Handling the Perks
D.A.R.K, Inc, Book Three
Copyright © 2018 by Aliyah Burke
Rhodi hopped out of his jeep and strode across the parking lot toward the front door to the new facility that was housing the headquarters of D.A.R.K., Inc. warm Montana sun streamed down on him from the cloudless sky. The two-story building fit the needs perfectly.
Individual offices for him and each of his brothers. All four had joined and created this. At him, Derek, Kristopher, and himself—Rhodi.
Opening the door, he waved at the woman behind the counter.
“Good morning, Mr. Wilder.”
“Emma Jane,” he said with a smile nearing the counter. “I look for my father when you call me that.” He leaned over the barrier and kissed her cheek. “Rhodi is fine. Hell, we grew up together.” He winked. “Did a lot of things together.”
She smacked him in the arm. “Stop trying to make me blush. You’re as bad as your brother.”
Had her smooth skin not been so dark, she would have been blushing.
He laughed and rubbed his hand along her swollen belly. “How are my boys doing?”
“From the way you all carry on, you each claim a set of twins, then there’s my husband so am I carrying ten?”
He skirted the counter and wrapped his arms around her before kissing her neck. “They are mine. I need you to tell me you are leaving Earle and are ready to be mine.”
She leaned against him and patted his arm. “If only I thought you meant it Rhodi.”
One of the twins kicked and he grinned. Teasing her was a highlight of his day. If the world had angels, she was one of them. Never a bad word to say about anyone and always willing to help.
“Are you telling us if we are having boys and girls?”
“We don’t know.”
“Earle’s okay with that?” He retreated and fetched her a cup of tea as she waddled to her chair and sat.
She shrugged and rubbed her belly. “For whatever reason we want to be surprised.”
Handing over the herbal drink, he crossed his arms. “As much as I love seeing you, why are you here? And please tell me you didn’t drive yourself.”
She hemmed and hawed for a moment before giving him that same grin that melted his heart when they were growing up. “I have to interview my replacement. Been doing it all morning and only have one appointment left for the day.”
He watched unsuccessfully try to hide a grimace of discomfort. Concern flooded him. She was family, both her and her husband.
“I’m fine.” She waved him away as she sipped on the tea he’d given her.
Rhodi headed for the stairs when the door behind him opened once more. He skimmed his gaze along the tall leggy blonde who walked in, a sensible blue pantsuit fitting her rather nicely, he could say.
The multi-shaded blonde hair tumbled from a clip of sorts. As she moved over the tile floor, he admired her sure stride, the natural feminine sway of her hips. He found himself rooted to the spot, not wanting to move. There was something about her, calling to him.
“I’m Emma, I take it you’re Karen Womber?”
“Yes, I am. Thank you so much for meeting with me.”
Her words, low and seductive poured over and around him. The hairs on his body rose. Electrical pulses pushed through him. Forcing his mind from this woman, he continued up the stairs. He’d just reached his office when Emma’s cry filled the air, filling his blood with ice.
Emma’s pain laden cry, had him pivoting and dashing back down to the first floor. Emma, he discovered, hunched over, hands gripping the counter. Her dark face unnaturally pale.
The blonde glanced between him and Emma. He didn’t pay her any mind.
“It hurts. Oh God, it hurts.”
He vaulted the counter, not bothering to take the time to go around to the entrance of the front desk area. Rhodi settled a hand on the small of her back, eyes darting down when his left foot slid. The thought her water had broken vanished the moment he realized he stared at blood. A growing amount.
Shoving his hand into his pocket he tossed the blonde the keys while he slipped his left arm around Emma. The second the keys were airborne he scooped Emma off the ground and into his arms.
“Let’s go,” he barked.
Karen paced him to the door and held it open for him. An action she repeated at the Jeep. Emma’s cries ripped through him and he wanted to do whatever necessary to ease her pain. A suit coat was shoved into his face.
“For her head.”
A light, soft vanilla scent filled his nose as he clutched the material and balled it up before gently putting it under Emma’s head.
“Where’s Earle right now? Can we reach him?”
“Yes,” Emma gasped. “He’s on the road. Phone will be with him.”
“Get my phone and call Earle James.” Emma squeezed the color from his hands. Her expression conveyed her fear and fed his. Battle, he could handle. Woman in labor, not so much in his wheelhouse.
A featherlight touch against his back as Karen leaned against him and dug his phone free. He finished climbing in the back with Emma.
“Which hospital?” Karen’s husky voice peppered the increasing moans from Emma.
“County.” Emma gasped, tears welling up and spilling over.
He realized as they moved, Karen was extremely capable of handling his stick. Rhodi glanced at her, seeing as she shifted gears and in between she scrolled in his phone for who she needed to call.
Her words as she spoke to Earle gave him comfort to pass it along to Emma.
“We reached him, Emma.”
“It hurts, Rhodi.”
“I know, baby. Slow, deep breaths. I need you to relax. We’re almost there.”
He met a bright blue gaze in the rearview. She gave a nod.
“He’s on his way. You’ve been in labor all day long, haven’t you, Emma?”
“Most of it,” she admitted, sweat dotting her brow.
“Why would you do that and not say anything?”
“Needed to find the right person to hire for the job. You lot can’t survive without me.”
“Sweetheart, your health is always far more important to us.”
“Don’t argue with the pregnant woman, Rhodi.”
The knot in his chest eased at her teasing. Only a bit.
“They’re waiting.” Karen’s announcement as she whipped them in the hospital lot, was a welcome one. So was the way she handled his jeep.
The moment they stopped he was out, lifting Emma to the waiting gurney.
“Move!” he commanded.
He vanished into the hospital, Emma’s hand tight in his.
Hours later, he waited with his family, all except his mother who was on a much-needed vacation, outside the door leading to surgery. Hoping for any news and that it was good news. His aunt however was there, she was helping out at D.A.R.K. during the time his mother was gone as well. In a sense, she was as protective if not more than their mother.
“I’m going for coffee,” he announced. “Bring some for anyone?”
His three brothers accepted but his aunt declined. He took the elevator down to the cafeteria and fixed up four hot coffees. Riding back up, he frowned when the stopped on the second floor. At least until the door opened.
The blonde who stepped in remined him of a few things. One, she still took his breath away. Two, her sleeveless shirt had red stains on the white silk. Three, he forgot but her eyes were fucking stunning.
“That’s me. How is she?”
“Still in surgery.” The door slid shut and they moved once more. The silence held hints of something else in it. He remained locked on her and she stared right back. Both of them challenging the other to make the first move. For what, he wasn’t sure, but he wanted to test it out.
Once more the doors opened, allowing him to see the waiting room and his family that waited. Together they headed to the hovering group. He handed out the coffee and took a long drag of his before Wild jerked his head in direction of where Karen stood off to the side.
Swallowing the hot drink, he waved her forward even as he removed his jacket and draped it over her slender shoulders. “This is Karen Womber. She was integral in getting Emma here with me today. Thank you for that by the way.”
Wild stepped forward and offered his hand. “Thank you. I’m Wild.”
Derek and Adam followed suit as did his aunt. She was gracious and didn’t look at all put out. As conversation around them resumed, he focused back on her.
“Why are you still here?”
“I drove your Jeep and I’m assuming if everyone in the family of a family run business is here, stands to reason the building will be locked up. I know my purse and car keys are still there.”
He pinched the bridge of his nose. “Shit, I’m sorry.”
“Mind your tongue, Rhodi,” his aunt said from where she sat on a microfiber couch.
Karen handed him back his phone. “Plus, I had that.”
Fingertips grazing along hers as he retrieved his cellular device from her hand, his breath hitched, once more. “Thank you.” He’d not even realized it hadn’t been with him. “I can take you back if you’d like.”
“I don’t want to take you from your family. I know this is important to all of you. I’ll be fine waiting over here.” She gave him a small smile and walked to a corner alone and sat on the couch, reaching for a magazine and flipping it open.
Rhodi turned to watch her walk away and found four pairs of eyes on him when he again faced his family. Each one of them a questioning look on their expressions.
“What?” he said, shrugging his shoulders.