When she had tried to broach their lack of intimacy, Max had changed the topic, invariably escaping to the garage to work on his furniture. Often, she would go inside and take her Kindle when Cole was in bed. She would read while Max worked. The soothing sound of him working so near gave her a sense of tranquility that she had searched her whole life for. After the years of stress living with Renee then the fear for Cole, it was everything she had wished for in her life.
“I have a donation from the bank. All the branches donated.” Gianna waved a check in the air. Casey reached for it, but she pulled it away.
“Uh-uh, I have a favor to ask first.”
Casey waited while the other women stared at them in amusement.
“What do you want?” Casey asked apprehensively.
“I want you to host my next lingerie party.” She rushed on, “You owe it to me since you missed my last one.”
Casey stared at her in dismay. “I’d be happy to attend one. I wouldn’t even mind having it at Max’s house, but I wouldn’t have very many women to invite. I don’t have many friends.”
“I’ll come.” Vida smiled. “I need to shake Colton up.”
“Me, too,” Sawyer chimed in.
“Partay! Partay!” Penni slammed her fist down on the collection table.
Casey raised her voice to be heard over her loud yells.
“Okay, okay. I could even ask the women from the clubhouse,” she said out loud, looking at Grace.
“I think they would love to come. I would, too.”
“I’m going to be rich,” Gianna crowed. “Next Friday?” she prodded.
Casey nodded. “I’ll buy some wine and make some snacks.”
“I’ll bring something, too.” Penni snatched the check out of Gianna’s hand, stuffing it into the collection box. “We’re going to have some fun!”
Casey stared at the women, seeing their excitement as each volunteered to bring something. The small party she had envisioned became larger by the moment. She didn’t think Max would mind having his home invaded by the women, though. After all, he would have a free night with the Predators.
He still went by every night after work yet would come home after an hour or two. During the lingerie party, he’ll probably get drunk and stay the night, Casey thought unhappily to herself, hoping all the women would come to her party. She didn’t want any left behind to entertain Max.
* * *
“No! Make it for another night.” Max’s refusal surprised Casey when she told him at dinner the next night.
“I can’t. It’s too late. It’s already organized.”
As Cole’s eyes went back and forth between them, Casey smoothed out her expression, seeing Cole’s wariness.
“I had something special planned for that night. I asked Mrs. Wesson to keep Cole for us, and I asked the kids’ mothers to switch nights.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize. I feel terrible.” Casey wanted to cry at missing out on some alone time with Max.
“Don’t. You didn’t know.” He pasted a smile on his face. “We’ll do it another night.”
Casey gave in. She had already ruined whatever plans Max had made.
“I’ll make it up to you,” she promised, cutting him a large slice of cake.
Max eyed the piece. “That doesn’t look like you’re sorry.”
Casey smiled, cutting him another piece. “I’m really sorry.”
Max took a bite, washing it down with a glass of cold milk. “I’m feeling your apology, but if you really want to make it up to me, you can make an extra pot of your meatballs for me and the brothers to snack on during your party.”
“I can do that.”
It hadn’t taken her living with him long for her to learn that Max had an addiction to food porn. He loved to be bribed with food, especially sweets. She would find recipes sitting around the house where he knew she would see them.
“I’ll stop at the bakery after work and buy some sub rolls, and I’ll get Jackal to buy an extra case of beer.”
“I’ll even make you an extra cake to take,” Casey offered.
“No, don’t do that.”
“Because I don’t want to spoil the fuckers. They might start showing up for dinner and shit. I’m a generous man, but I’m not stupid.”
* * *
“I can’t wear those.” Casey began to think she was going to get whiplash as the lingerie was passed around the room.
“Of course you can. You’ve got the tits and ass for it.” Gianna tossed two bright red items onto her lap. “Go try it on.”
The women had made Max’s bedroom a changing room. If he’d known so many women would be in his room changing into the seductive clothes, she would have never gotten him out of the door with the Crockpot full of meatballs. The bed was covered in lingerie that had been tried on and discarded.
“Try it! Don’t forget you have to show us, though.” Penni was sprawled out on the couch with a glass of wine in one hand and a brownie in the other.