To Have and To Hold
By Michaela Bray
Date: October 23, 2020
Ch. 44

Casey knew she was a mess.

Thankfully, she had never used too much makeup or the face that stared at her from the bathroom mirror would have been a far more horrible sight than she could care to dream about. Her blonde hair hung in a limp braid over her shoulder and her clothes were a bit rumpled from her impromptu run through the city.

She had called her cousin the moment she was able to get past her shock and get to the nearest payphone. Her cousin had picked her up the cheap diner in less than fifteen minutes flat.

A few hours later, Megan had her comfortably ensconced in a large hotel in Las Vegas, claiming that she had a job to do, covering a new casino. Casey had only managed to nod weakly before toppling over into the queen-sized bed in a boneless heap.

“There you are!” Megan announced, bursting into the bathroom like it was nobody’s business. She took in her cousin’s appearance from her disheveled hair to her lackluster eyes down to her bare feet. Her own gray eyes flared in anger and disgust but she managed to tamp down her stronger feelings to gently smile at Casey. “Looks like you need a makeover, hun.”

Casey could only smile weakly at her. “I’m not exactly fit for a public viewing right now.”

“Nonsense. Take a bath and I’ll take care of the rest.” The taller woman pushed her to the general direction of the shower. “Take a nice long shower or a good soak, if you’re up to it. I’ll take care of the rest.”

Casey sighed and took off her clothes, briefly wondering what she was going to wear after her bath. After the whole fiasco of finding her boyfriend doing the horizontal tango with an officemate in her apartment, she had only been able to throw a toaster at the nubile pair before hightailing it out of the building.

She had not even told her brothers yet and had practically begged Megan not to press the button on James’s number. There was no doubt the twins would avenge her “honor” and commit bloody murder the moment they learned of Dave’s latest transgression. He had not been in their good graces the past few weeks when the boys found out that Casey had been paying for his apartment for the last three months.

She sagged into the warm, scented water and closed her eyes, wondering if it had been her fault all along. They had been going out for a little over a year and aside from the occasional kiss, things had never gone far enough for Dave’s liking. Maybe if she had agreed to sleep with him…

“Don’t you dare think about that asshole while I’m paying for your accommodations!” Megan’s voice rammed through her musings. She cringed a little and thanked God for her cousin’s timely intervention.

I respected myself and that is what is important, she reassured herself. It was just too bad Dave couldn’t see me beyond a regular lay.

She smiled a little and allowed the water to soothe her frazzled nerves. If she had given in to Dave’s advances, she would have lost respect for herself, too. If there was any message that the twins and their late father had drilled into her, it was to never hand over her self-respect to any guy.

Or anything, for that matter, she thought wryly as she sank deeper into the bubbles. It had been a long time since she had enjoyed a luxurious bubble bath. She had a feeling she was going to enjoy this “post-breakup pampering” Megan had been talking about.

Three hours later, Casey stared at her reflection in the mirror, her expression a mixture of shock and awe. Megan’s kind of “post-breakup pampering” had yielded a sexy blonde siren in front of her that she hardly recognized as herself. She wondered briefly if there had been some kind of minor plastic surgery involved but her cousin had reassured her there was none.
Like she would take Megan’s word for that. Her cousin was known for bending the truth to suit her needs.

Her long blonde hair had been stylishly hacked into shining layers that looked more carefree than she felt. A bit of eyeliner brought out the exotic slant of her green eyes. A slight blush graced her cheekbones and for the first time in a few years, she was wearing a light coat of lipstick. She had not worn lipstick since her father’s funeral and had stuck with a lip balm for the past three years.

She started to pull at the short hemline when her hand was slapped away. “Quit fidgeting,” Megan admonished her. “You’re going to ruin the dress.”

“I’m not really comfortable in this,” she muttered. She shot her cousin an accusing look. “Is this your idea of helping me get over Dave? Because, really. I think I can do better.” And not get killed by the twins in the process, she added mentally.

Megan huffed and put her fists on her hips, giving her cousin a stern glare. “Hey, I’m your fairy godmother here. If I say you wear that, then you are going to wear just that.”

“Alright, alright.” Casey rolled her eyes and tried not to pull at the hemline again. Her legs were beginning to feel a bit drafty from the cool night air. She glanced at her cousin again. “Did you call Mrs. Brimble about Sephy?”

An odd light flashed in her cousin’s eyes for an instant. “Your dog? Yeah, she said they hadn’t seen her.”

“I hope Dave didn’t do anything to her. They never did get along well.” She frowned at her reflection in the mirror. Sephy was a large, wolf-like dog she had taken in last winter. Large enough to ride into battle, her brothers often remarked.
Strangely enough, Sephy despised Dave and took to growling and snarling at him whenever he came over. She began to worry that he might have done something terrible to her pet after she threw the toaster at him.

“He might have set her loose when you ran away,” Megan assured her offhandedly as she put the finishing touches to her lipstick. She looked at her cousin from the corner of her eye and her face softened at her forlorn expression. “I’m sure Sephy’s fine, hun. It’s you we should be worrying about.”

Casey shrugged her slender shoulders and looked out the window. The city was aglow with lights of every color everywhere. She watched the scene before her, mesmerized. It truly was a very beautiful city and tonight, it seemed that a lot of possibilities were waiting to happen.
She felt a sudden rush of vibrancy and grinned. She had not felt so excited in many years. Things just seemed to settle into a routine after her father died and she had to move to New York for her job. Tonight, she could believe there was something magical about to unfold.
Something wonderful.
“Well, it’s Vegas. I’m sure I can find something fun to do while you do your work.”

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