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Chapter 89: Arrivals

Shivaughn Flowers stared out the window as the car sped along the coastline.  This was the first time she had ever seen the Pacific Ocean.  It was the first time she had ever been to California.  And it was the first time she had ever ridden in a limousine.

Something told Shivaughn that this trip would include a lot of firsts.

Next to her, Jeannie was pointing out various sites.  Famous restaurants that Shivaughn might have heard mentioned on TV, the homes of certain celebrities, etc.  Jeannie described them in a rather blasé tone, as if everyone lived like the people of Malibu.  The people of Shivaughn's home town couldn't have imagined this place.

The limousine pulled off the main road, stopping at a gate.  An armed guard waved them through.  The car drove down a road, tennis courts to the left and immense homes to the right.  Did people really live like this?

They finally came to a stop in front of what Shivaughn might have thought was a small hotel had she not known otherwise.  The driver got out and opened the door for her.  For a moment, she wondered if there was something she was supposed to say or do, but Jeannie had already pulled out a $20 bill and handed it to him.  As the driver began pulling their bags out of the trunk, Shivaughn studied the house.

It was two stories, with white walls and a dark roof.  Except for its size, it didn't look that unusual.  Of course, she couldn't really ignore the size.  To her left was a garage.  Next to that was a gated courtyard.  In the distance, she could hear a rumbling sound, maybe waves, but she could not tell because the source was obscured by the sound of running water much closer to the road.

"Come on," Jeannie said.  She had piled her laptop case on top of her Prada rolling bag and began pulling it toward the gate.  Shivaughn looked at the tattered bags that she had received as high school graduation presents, and felt a sudden attack of nerves.  Jeannie pushed the gate open and looked back.  "I'm telling you, the house is a lot more comfortable than the road."

As Shivaughn grabbed her bags, she heard Jeannie let out a shriek and yell, "Andy!"  Coming through the gate, she saw her roommate in a bear hug with a young man.   He had lifted Jeannie about a foot off the ground.

"Hey, Sis," Andrew said, setting Jeannie down.  He spoke in a lilting accent, completely unlike Jeannie's.  "Why didn't you tell me when you were getting in?  I would've picked you up."

Shivaughn did not hear Jeannie's answer, because she was still focusing on her brother.  He was tall, with dark wavy hair that curled up at the back, just above the neck.  He was wearing only a pair of brown, knee-length shorts, revealing well-defined muscles on his arms and chest, as well as a nice six-pack.  She was so focused on his appearance that she didn't even realize that he had turned to address her.

"Enchanté, mademoiselle."  He flashed perfect smile, as he held out his hand.  She held out hers, expecting to shake, but he took her hand in his and gave it a gentlemanly kiss.  "At-il mal quand tu es tombé du ciel?"

Shivaughn smiled back. 'Did it hurt when she fell from heaven?'  Did he really think she would fall for a line like that?  Well, two could play at that game.  "Probablement pas autant que quand vos parents vous tomber sur la tête."

"Ouch," he said, feigning a dagger to the chest.  Then he laughed.  "Actually, they only did that to Jeannie."  He looked at his sister, still grinning.  "She even speaks my language."

"Oh, please," Jeannie said.  She rolled her eyes at Shivaugn.  "He's just showing off.  He speaks something like eight languages."

"Actually, it's nine.  I read linguistics at university."  He motioned toward his sister.  "She's just jealous because she barely passed the AP Spanish exam.  Andrew Donovan, at your service.  Welcome."

"Shivaughn Flowers," she replied, with a return smile.  Andrew reminded her of a lot of the frat boys she met at Ole Miss.  Rich and cocky, believing the world revolved around them.  She knew the type, and knew she could handle him.

"I've heard a great deal about you from my sis," he said.  "Let me turn off the hose and then I'll get your things."  He walked over to the wall and that was when Shivaughn noticed the source of the water sound.  There was a hose on the ground, and she realized that they had interrupted Andrew washing a very expensive looking motorcycle.

"What did you say to him?" Jeannie asked.

"He fed me a line about whether it hurt when I dropped from heaven.  I told him not as much as when his parents dropped him on his head."  She and Jeannie both laughed.

Andrew pretended not to notice the exchange as he turned off the water.  Then he walked back and took all of the bags.  "I still can't believe you didn't let me come pick you up," he said to Jeannie.  He waited for Shivaughn to go past him and enter the house before he did.  She had the distinct impression that he was taking a good look at her ass.

All thoughts of him fled her mind as they stepped through the doorway.  "Wow," she exclaimed as she got her first glimpse of the inside.  The entryway reminded her of photos of a palace, with the floor a light colored marble.  It entered straight into a large open room, with several couches and chairs, and a wall of windows and glass doors that opened out to the ocean.  She thought her entire parents' house could probably fit in this room.

Jeannie interrupted Shivaughn's thoughts.  "Where's Mom?"

"She and Uncle Bo are getting some tests done at the hospital.  Grandma and Aunt Marlena went with them.  They should be back soon, but they might have stopped at the market.  Gram said something about cooking up a pot of chowder."  Even though he was speaking to his sister, Shivaughn could feel Andrew's eyes upon her.  "How about I show you to your room?"

Shivaughn followed Andrew through an arch into a kitchen that would have made her mother cry in amazement.  It was better equipped than her parents' restaurant, and had a row of windows that allowed the chef to watch the ocean while cooking.  Andrew turned left and headed down a corridor.  Shivaughn followed, as did Jeannie.

"We're a bit full-up at the moment, so I hope you don't mind the small room," he said apologetically as he stepped through one of the doorways.

"Small" was not a word she would have used to describe the room.  The bedroom she shared with her sister back home was small.  Her dorm bedroom was small.  This room held a queen-sized bed and other furniture, and all fit quite easily.  Jeannie and her brother just had a very different frame of reference than she had.

Jeannie pointed to a door.  "The bathroom is shared with the room on the other side."  She looked at Andrew as if asking a question.

"Gram's," he said.  "Sorry it's not en-suite."

"I'll live."  Shivaughn said the first words that came to mind, then flushed as she realized what she'd said.  "I mean, it's great.  Sorry."

"Nothing to apologize for," Andrew said, flashing that smile again.  "Why don't you get settled and--"

"Andy," Jeannie interrupted, taking his arm.  "Can I talk to you for a minute?  In the hall."

"Sure, Sis."  He was nearly jerked off his feet as Jeannie pulled him out of the room. 

Jeannie pulled the door closed once he was outside, but Shivaughn could hear their muffled voices in the corridor.

"Don't you even think about it," Jeannie said in a low voice.

Andrew seemed to be protesting.  "How can you expect me not to?  She's gorgeous."

"And she's my roommate.  I'm not going to have you causing problems.  Or don't you remember my sophomore year of college?"

"Come on, Jeannie.  I was on leave.  What did you expect?  I'm a red-blooded Englishman."

Shivaughn raised an eyebrow, wondering what that was all about.

"Let me put it this way, Andy.  You touch Shivaughn and I'll castrate you."  Jeannie sounded quite serious.

There was a long pause.  "When you put it that way. . . ."

"Andy."  That was a warning.

"Okay, okay," he said.  "I am rather attached to that part of my anatomy."

Shivaughn heard Jeannie groan, then say, "Andy, I'm serious.  Hands off."

"Fine, Sis," Andrew said in a very disappointed voice.  "But can't I at least look?"