Bonus Scene: Bravado and BFFs, a Rachel Bonus Scene for Defiance and Dedication
Congratulations on hitting 500 reviews for Defiance and Dedication. I gotta admit this takes a little mental readjustment to backtrack both in story and time now that I’ve finished Farewells and Forever. So while I am absolutely still going to do these bonus scenes, they might take on a bit of a twist. I think you’ll enjoy it (I hope).
For context, if you haven’t read D&D, this will contain some spoilers for events within that book. You have been warned.
I was already on the way down the stairs when the doorbell rang. I’d kind of hoped I’d get there before he rang the bell, but Dominic Walsh was both swift and efficient.
“I got it,” I called out for the guys who were upstairs playing a new game Jake had gotten for his birthday and for Jeremy who was down here somewhere. Sliding my phone into my back pocket, I opened the door to Dominic.
He looked every inch the lawyer in his dark suit, with a long, what looked like wool, overcoat and nice dress shoes. Sharp, professional, and not bad looking I supposed. It was hard to tell, though I did like his smile because it actually reached his eyes.
“Good morning,” he said, his breath fogging in the cold air. I stepped aside and pulled the door wider to let him in “Merry Christmas,” he continued as he undid the top buttons of his coat while I closed the door behind him.
“Merry Christmas,” I greeted him with a laugh. “This could have waited until after the New Year. I hate to think I’ve dragged you out during the holiday.”
“Yes and no,” he said, his eyes twinkling as he played along. “Also, nothing to worry about. I won’t even take up that much of your time.”
I took his coat. “Well, come on, let’s see if we can bribe Jeremy into coffee while we talk.”
“Why are we bribing Jeremy and who is here, Baby Girl?” Jake made it halfway down the stairs before he paused. “This is…”
“Dominic Walsh, Jake Benton,” I introduced him. They’d met him briefly before but they’d still been more than a little irritated with my choices and I didn’t think they cared for Dominic much.
Jake descended the last few steps and took the hand Dominic extended. “I didn’t realize we were having company?” The question in his pale blue eyes sought reassurance.
“It’s not about Maddy,” I promised him. I could do that. I’d asked Dominic to come, but I couldn’t tell them yet. I would, surprise be damned, if they needed it. But Jake nodded, the relief palpable.
“Good. What are we doing then?”
“Just have some papers for Frankie to sign,” Dominic said. “Won’t take long at all and then I’ll leave you to your holiday.”
Curiosity flared in his eyes and I could have predicted it, Archie wandered down because Jake hadn’t come back up.
“Right, let’s go on through,” I said, still holding Dominic’s coat. “The boys can go back to their game and I’ll be back up to root for you in a little bit.”
“Who’s here?” Coop called down and I didn’t roll my eyes but this was a little comedic.
“Walsh,” Archie answered, but unlike Jake, he didn’t shake Dominic’s hand.
Yep, time to move. I headed for the dining room and kitchen. It was a fairly public area of the house, but it would also work so we could sit at the table and I could sign the paperwork.
This was a huge transaction and I’d never spent this kind of money before. It had required moving into a trust account, then authorizing an agent, filing the tax paperwork, then transferring it. While that could all be handled electronically, this part still required my signature.
Jeremy was just putting out a pot of coffee and a pair of mugs on the table. I shot him a grateful look. He was in on my plans because he’d helped me track down the right car. We’d poured over the different models for two weeks to get the one I wanted for Archie.
“Mr. Walsh,” Jeremy said as he took the coat from me. “Can I get you and Miss Frankie anything else?” The distinct emphasis on our names wasn’t lost on the guys.
Archie’s eyes narrowed and Jake frowned, but Coop slid over and pulled out the chair I had my hand on the back of. “Need us, Beautiful?”
I could have kissed him, and since I could, I did. He dipped his head with a grin as his lips brushed mine once. A promise for later.
“I’m good. Really, this won’t take long.”
“Then we can wait,” Archie volunteered. Sometimes, they made surprises hard.
“I’m going for pizza,” Ian called. “Anyone coming with?”
Coop chuckled. “Probably not Bubba.”
While they didn’t sit at the table with us, they moved out into the sitting room—where they could see us and most likely listen, but not be in the middle.
Okay. We could work with that.
“Pineapple on mine please,” I called.
“I wouldn’t forget, Angel. Is your guest staying for food?”
Dominic’s lips twitched as he took opened his bag and pulled out three file folders. They were a lot thicker than I was thinking. Rather than waste time, I got coffee poured for us. Jeremy gave the boys look, then glanced at me.
I lifted my shoulders. Not much we could do with this. It would be fine. We’d made it this far.
“Right,” I repeated from earlier as I leaned forward. “What do we have?”
I’d just pretend it was fine for the guys to listen. Dominic understood what was at stake. He also made a good confidant for top secret surprises.
“We’ll start with the trust paperwork,” he told me. “Thank you,” he added as he picked up his coffee and took a sip. “We went over all the changes last month, but I just finished having it drafted. I read through it—” He slid the first folder over to me. “I’ve marked where you need to sign, but as always, read through the areas we changed and make sure the language works for you.”
“Right…” I flipped it open and sure enough it was the trust paperwork. Bless him, he’d not only marked the pages for me to sign, he’d included sticky notes with the details that we’d changed.
“I made sure to include the provisions you asked for,” he continued, then paused when I turned the page. “We split it across three of the accounts, while the trust as a whole is one fund, we’re not investing it all in the same manner. Spreading it out may slow the income, but…”
“…it’s better for the overall risk,” Archie supplied and Dominic glanced at him.
I bit my lip as I scanned the words, before I added my signature. “You were able to add the fund at the school for the LBGTQ+ resources…”
“I was,” Dominic said. “But, I made sure to include it as partial tax shelter for your income. The donations will always mark a ten percent slice off the overall income per quarter, with the first donation being a flat fee.”
That would work. Rachel had been talking about the center and the resources it offered for college kids who were just figuring out their sexual identity or needed more support. She volunteered there when she could, but they needed a bigger space and more counselors.
“This is excellent,” I said as I followed the notations down. Dominic had detailed bulleted requests for where we’d like the money to be used. “Can we do this?”
“We can. It doesn’t mean they’ll follow it. The donation, and the subsequent pledge gives them the money to use at their discretion. But, it doesn’t hurt to make the request. As they say, money talks.”
“Bullshit walks,” Jake volunteered and I didn’t laugh. Coop did, but I didn’t.
“Thank you.” Those signed, he handed me the next folder.
“These are the investments that you’ve already made, most of them are just for your review and to sign that you did authorize it. They’ll go over to the accountants and tax attorneys for later filings.”
I made a face, but the second page was where the sale paperwork for the car began. It would be in Archie’s name, but I would be the signatory to the full purchase. It had been paid, along with the tax, title, and license. There were provisions for the alterations made to assure it was street legal.
“I was thinking of dropping something off for Rachel after the holidays.”
“She’s not a huge fan of flowers,” I told him, frowning at the language on the engine changes. It had been certified by the mechanics and the experts, but maybe I should ask Jake—then again that would mean sliding this to him and trying to sneak it past Archie right in front of him.
I was good, but not that good.
“Well,” I said with a blink. “She likes flowers, but she used to work at a florist when we were in high school, so she’s kind of picky.”
“I like a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it.”
A laugh escaped me. “Then Rachel is perfect.”
“Yes,” he said. “She is. But I would like to do something. I didn’t get to see her before the holiday. Thoughts on what she’d like? Jewelry? Chocolates? A teddy bear?”
I frowned. “Teddy bear?”
“She has one, in her room,” he murmured. “Thought it might be something she collects. Or likes to do. The woman is somewhat hard to pin down.”
I finished signing the last few pages and then moved to the final folder that had a Christmas card in it along with a set of keys. I made sure everything stayed in the manilla envelope and then glanced over at Dominic.
“Well, she likes photography,” I offered. “But gifts are personal.”
“Yes, they are,” he agreed with me and took the file folders back sans the manilla envelope. “Those are your copies. Everything else will be certified, filed, and then I’ll send over the duplicates after.”
“You’re welcome,” Dominic said as he tucked the folders away, then pulled out another one. “As for presents. I hope you’ll enjoy this. Maybe just don’t open it until Christmas.”
Surprise flickered through me at the cheerful red envelope, but he was already rising and finishing his coffee, then the guys practically swarmed us to escort him out. Coop looked so damn amused it was funny. Thankfully, during the distraction, I passed the manilla envelope with the title and the keys to Jeremy and he secreted them away.
It wasn’t until we were back upstairs and Ian had returned with the pizza that Archie asked about the red envelope. I’d just set it on the coffee table.
“He said not to open it until Christmas,” I reminded him.
“Yeah, but we’re rebels and I say we can open it early,” Archie declared. “Who’s with me?”
Ian and Jake voted yes, but Coop shook his head. “I abstain, it’s Frankie’s gift.”
That earned a few crestfallen faces and I couldn’t resist them so I opened the envelope and pulled out the card. It was a pair of huge googly eyes with a Santa hat on.
Inside, Dominic had written naughty girl, you weren’t supposed to look until Christmas. Enjoy the tickets.
The tickets were for Hamilton and I laughed. We’d been wanting to see it and they were almost impossible to get. He’d also gotten us five tickets.
“Eh,” Jake said, his nose wrinkled. “That’s almost too good a present.”
“Then you’re going to have to help me come up with something for him.”
There was more grumbling but when I climbed into Archie’s lap and kissed him, they changed the subject.
Whew. Just two more days and I could spring my surprise.
That was a lot of kissing, but totally worth it.
On all counts.