Tristan hated these goddamn fucking social events. So much so that he hadn’t even bothered to ask what this one was in aid of. It was bad enough that he had to organize the damn thing, never mind attend it. Why he even had to was beyond him. He was only the CEO of Bailey Airline after all, no one of great importance. Taking a deep breath, he put on his happy facade, huge shit-eating grin in place, and finally allowed his introduction to be made. Head held high, Tristan Bailey descended the grand staircase into the ballroom below, every pair of eyes in the room on him. All he had to do was welcome everyone and praise the charity. Then he could leave.
As he stepped up onto the podium the crowd cheered. Lights flashed wildly as the photographers called out his name, vying for attention. Giving them what they wanted, Tristan kept the fake smile securely in place. Preening some for their enjoyment as he winked at the cougars in attendance in order to curry their favors. He preened some for their enjoyment and winked at the cougars in attendance to curry their favors. Fuck, he hated that whorish behavior, yet it was expected of him. Finally getting serious, he addressed the room. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It is an honor to have you all here tonight on this special occasion. I do so hope you are ready to spend a ridiculous amount of money. After all, it is for a good cause.” Tristan grinned wider as everyone clapped.
As the sound of his assistant’s sweet voice came over his earpiece Tristan smiled fondly. “Okay, Mr. Bailey, repeat after me.” The girl was a life-saver. His rock.
“When I was asked to host this fundraising event tonight I jumped at the chance. I mean, who wouldn’t want to participate and help out such an amazing cause?” As the crowd erupted in another round of cheers, Tristan gripped the ledge on the podium stand. “The AWAN Project was founded in order to raise awareness and empower wounded warriors. Veterans of wars past. Men and women who have risked their lives in order to save millions. Without their aid we may very well be living in a different world right now.” Tristan straightened his spine before inclining his head in the direction of Mr. Thompson, a veteran of the Vietnam war. “I think it is about time we recognized this, and in turn do whatever we can in order to repay their kindness. Their sacrifices. No matter how small.” Somewhere toward the back of the room someone whistled and clapped. “Hopefully tonight’s auction will raise enough money to help those men and women who need it. Don’t be shy now, ladies and gentlemen. It is for a great cause after all.”
With another of his world-famous grins Tristan winked at one of the female reporters before stepping down from the podium. Such fickle people, fawning and swooning over his money. None of them were truly interested in the man he was, or the real reasons for this function in the first place. It was all about the size of a person’s bank account, nothing more, and it was the main reason he hated doing these damn events. With a sigh, Tristan tucked his left hand into his pants pocket and made his way across the room to the bar, avoiding all conversation. He only needed to spend a half hour at the most pretending to be interested, then he could leave.
Rapping the top of the bar, he called for the barman’s attention. “JD and coke please, and make it a double.” Nodding once, the barman went to retrieve the drink, returning quickly with the amber liquid and cold coke from the fridge. When the younger man returned with the drink and placed it on the bar, Tristan said his thanks before finding a quiet table to sit down at. Thirty minutes and then he could leave again. That was it, thirty minutes, his support would be given and witnessed by all. Glancing around the room his eyes began to roam the crowd of people in attendance. He smiled and nodded when appropriate, praying that no-one would come to speak to him. He hated this. Still lacking interest he surveyed the main entrance of the room, and when Tristan’s eyes landed on the tall blond standing by the staircase his heart stopped. One word came to mind. Mine. A sudden unfamiliar surge of possession wrecked his body, leaving him shaken. He had to introduce himself. He needed to know who that was. Rising from his seat, he quickly made his way toward the beautiful blond.
“Yo, Bailey! How goes it, my man?”
At the sound of his cousin’s voice Tristan stilled momentarily. He loved his cousin, he truly did, but the guy had a habit of getting him into trouble. The one and only reason he tended to avoid him. “Callum, how are you, cousin? It’s been a while.”
With a snort the slightly shorter, dark-haired man replied. “You’re telling me. Two fucking years now. If I didn’t know how much of a damn weirdo you are I would think you were avoiding my ass.” Walking over, Callum grabbed him up in a big bear hug. The guy was huge, and freakishly strong, always had been. With a laugh, Tristan smacked him on the arm, growling to be released as the hired photographers for the nights fundraising event started snapping pictures. It wasn’t as if people didn’t know who the man embracing him was. They knew every goddamn detail of Tristan’s life. He just preferred to keep some things private.
“Let me go, asshat. This will be all over the damn internet tomorrow.” Smirking, Tristan nudged his cousin in the back. Callum dropped him with a laugh, causing Tristan to lose his footing. The grin on the other man’s face said he’d done it on purpose. The fucker. Tristan glared as he smoothed his jacket back into place before turning in the direction of the staircase, cursing at the realization that he had lost the blond.