All They Need - By Sarah Mayberry
FLYNN RANDALL SWALLOWED a mouthful of champagne as he stepped through the French doors onto the terrace.
It was February and even though it was nearly ten o’clock at night, it was still warm. Sweat prickled beneath his arms and he tugged at the collar of his shirt as he surveyed the sea of people. Like him, the men were all in formal black and white, the perfect foil for the women in their colorful gowns. There must have been close to two hundred people congregating on the wide, long terrace and the sound of their laughter and chatter drowned out the jazz band playing on the lawn below.
He searched in vain for a familiar face but everyone looked the same in their penguin suits. He shrugged. The perils of arriving late.
He was about to start down the stairs to the lawn when someone called his name. He glanced over his shoulder. A tall redheaded man was waving at him.
“Tony. Good to see you,” Flynn said as he joined his friend.
“Bit late, aren’t you?” Tony said, tapping his watch.
“I’m a popular guy,” Flynn said, deadpan. “Gotta spread the love around.”
Flynn kissed Tony’s wife, Gloria, before turning his attention to the tall, blond man standing next to her.
“This is a bit of a coincidence,” Owen Hunter said as Flynn shook his hand. “I’ve been trying to get an appointment to see your old man all week.”
It was said with a grin, but Flynn could see the glint in the other man’s eyes. What was that Shakespeare line his mother was always quoting? Cassius has a lean and hungry look.
In Flynn’s experience, Owen always looked hungry, despite the fact that there was nothing lean about him. He was as tall as Flynn and built like a football player. Flynn guessed women probably found him attractive, with his square jaw and very white teeth.
“Well, you know, my father’s a busy man.” Flynn raised his glass to his mouth.
“Don’t I know it,” the other man said ruefully.
Flynn smiled but didn’t pursue the subject, well aware that Hunter was waiting for Flynn to offer to set up an appointment. Owen Hunter had political ambitions; no doubt he planned to ask Flynn’s father for a donation.
Maybe Flynn was getting cranky in his old age, but he couldn’t help thinking that Hunter could have waited a few minutes before hitting him up for a favor. A little civility never hurt anyone.
A cry rose over the general hubbub, drawing people to the balustrade. Flynn drifted over with the rest of his group, idly curious. The lawn was six feet below, a lush green carpet dotted with yet more people. A large marble fountain sat in the center, decorated with cavorting cherubs and nymphs, many of whom spouted plumes into the wide, deep basin. The thing had to be well over ten feet tall, easily dominating the formal garden. Flynn winced, wondering where his hosts had found the monstrosity, before he shifted his attention to the source of the scream.
A couple he recognized as Andrea and Hamish Greggs were standing at the edge of the fountain, Andrea gripping the edge with both hands as she peered into the bubbling water. In their fifties, they were old friends of his parents and regulars on the social circuit. Towering over them both was Melanie Hunter, wearing a blush-colored gown, her hair in a sophisticated updo. Her face was creased with concern as she talked to the older couple.
She was easily the tallest woman at the party—at least six feet tall—with broad shoulders that would put a lot of men to shame. Her breasts were full and round, her hips curved. As much as Flynn was wary of Owen’s naked ambition, he’d always liked the other man’s wife. There was something about Mel Hunter that always made him want to smile. Maybe because she was often smiling herself.
“I wonder what happened?” Gloria murmured.
“Looks like someone’s lost something in the fountain,” Tony said.
“Isn’t that your wife, Owen?” Gloria asked.
“Yes, that’s Melanie,” Owen said. He was frowning, his gaze intent on the trio by the fountain.
“Shit,” Owen said, so quietly Flynn almost didn’t hear him.
He glanced at the other man briefly before returning his gaze to the lawn. He soon realized what had made Owen swear—his wife had stepped out of her shoes and was hitching up the skirt of her long dress. A crowd had started to gather, drawn by the promise of a spectacle.
Still talking to the older couple, Mel put a knee