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Page 47 of A Beautiful Mess (Beautiful Mess 1)

A lump formed in Alexander’s throat. “Yes, Mr. Peters. That’s correct. I guess it was a nickname that just kind of stuck.”

“I’ll never forget how jealous my Adele was of that girl. She wanted to be your best friend and just hated to share your affections with anyone.” He sighed. “I love my daughter dearly, but that’s not the woman for you. And I say that with all due respect to my Adele.” Mr. Peters smiled fondly.

“Now what have you two been talking about? Hopefully not talking about me, Daddy!” Adele interrupted.

“Oh, you know I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the two most important women in my life,” he said, standing up and kissing his daughter on the cheek.

“Alexander, darling. Let’s dance,” Adele said, turning to him and grabbing his hand. She dragged him inside the posh country club and toward a dance floor crowded with couples moving to a Dean Martin tune. He smiled as he weakly held her arm until they were away from her parents’ eyes.

“I’m not going to dance with you, Adele,” he growled, turning to face her. “I’m sure both you and your mother have those photographers selling their photos to the highest bidder to give you some internet juice. I won’t have anything to do with that, so you can just cut the crap right now. I didn’t want to say anything in front of your father because I genuinely like him, but I will not play your game.” His voice grew louder. “So you can act as an old friend for the rest of the afternoon and we can enjoy each others’ company, or you can continue to try to parade me around as your special friend and you will soon find yourself all alone.” He looked around at the crowd that had gathered to eavesdrop on their conversation. “I’ll be at the bar.” He left Adele, her eyes wide.

“Dude, that was epic,” Alexander heard as he took a seat at the bar. He turned to the source of the voice to see his brother sitting there, enjoying a beer.

“Hey, Ty. What are you doing here? You hate this scene.” Alexander signaled the bartender to pour him and his brother another round.

“I know. But Ma is on my ass about getting out to more charity events, so here I am. Apparently we were all on the guest list. I figured I’d save you from yourself. Or at least from Adele.” Tyler winked. “Carol had a work thing she needed to take care of. A conference call or something about a case, so I decided to drive out here and keep you company now that I can use my real ID to get a drink.”

“I’m sorry I never officially wished you a happy birthday. I don’t know where my head was before.” He raised his drink to his brother and they clinked glasses.

“It’s okay. I know how difficult this day is for you. I’m just here to try to make it enjoyable for once. And I promise not to mention the “O” word at all.”

“What ‘O’ word?” Adele interrupted, slinging her arm over Alexander’s shoulder. He rolled his eyes, his annoyance with the fake blonde apparent. When neither Tyler nor Alexander responded, she raised her voice and laughed. “Oh, you must be referring to the multiple orgasms you gave me last night.” She glanced over to a few photographers, smiling her best fake smile. “Alexander Burnham is an animal in the sack,” she shouted, as if hoping the photographers would be quoting her.

“Adele,” Alexander interrupted, pushing her arm away from him. “What did we just discuss? Do you really have no concept of class and dignity? You were a nice distraction all those years ago and it was great to blow off some steam with you when I was on leave from the Navy, but I could never date someone as superficial as you.” Alexander stood up and slammed back his drink, clearly getting ready to leave.

“You know what, Alex?” Adele yelled as he walked away from the bar. “You need to get over your little obsession with Olivia DeLuca. She’s fucking dead,” she hissed. “And you still mourn her every fucking day. It’s sad, really. You’d think that after twenty-something years you’d be over her. She’s fucking dead! Move on!”

Alexander turned around, his eyes aflame with fury. “The difference between you and me is that I care more about people than whether they have a ten figure bank account. Olivia was an important part of my life when I was growing up. And, yes, I still mourn her death. She was a part of me that died. But you’re too self-absorbed to understand. Good-bye, Adele.” Alexander walked out of the clubhouse and handed his ticket to the valet who brought his car around rather quickly.

“Alex!” Tyler shouted as Alexander was getting into his Maserati convertible. “Wait a minute!”

“What’s up?”

“Hey. Want to go to a real bar?” Tyler asked, his eyebrows raised.

“Yes. I need a drink after this,” Alexander replied.

“Great. Meet me at The Tavern. I’ll text Carol and tell her to meet us there.”

Alexander got into his car and left the parking lot, making his way back to Mystic and The Tavern. It was a bar that he had frequented quite a bit when he was in town. The location right down the street from their favorite oyster place and near Mystic River Park made it the perfect place to unwind.

Twenty minutes later, he pulled up in front of the historic brick building and walked inside the small dimly lit bar to see the place already buzzing at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon. He guessed everyone was getting an early start on the weekend.

“Alex!” Carol shouted as she downed a shot of some amber liquid.

“Hey, sis! How many of those have you had?” Alexander returned Carol’s hug.

“Not nearly enough. Now let’s get wasted. We can always walk back to the house later.” They made their way from the bar to an open high top table. A matter of minutes later, Tyler arrived and Alexander bought a round of beers and shots for his siblings. He was already feeling slightly buzzed from all the scotch he had drunk earlier at the country club.

“Come on, Carol. You need to play catch up!” Tyler shouted as he handed her another shot.

The three siblings drank and caught up, sharing with each other what was going on in their personal lives. Tyler was looking forward to his final year at Boston University, where he studied finance. He planned to go on to graduate school the following year as well. Carol told the guys about a few different cases she was working on at the moment. They all did their best to steer the conversation away from Olivia and their father.

Several hours later, they had consumed quite a bit of liquor. “She sings, ya know,” Alexander said out of nowhere, slurring his speech, his eyes drooping low.

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