This interview originally posted on Cocktails & Books.
The coffee house is bustling this morning, even though it’s the middle of the week. The sun is shining, which takes the edge off the bitter cold. January in Indianapolis – not the warmest of climes.
I curl my chilled hands around the warm, ceramic mug before taking a sip of the steaming coffee. The heavy fragrance of ground coffee beans hangs in the air. I watch customers come in, bundled up in coats and gloves, toting briefcases and satchels on their way to work, needing their caffeine fix before facing the day.
I’m nervous, which seems slightly odd, but it’s not every day I get to quiz one of Indy’s most powerful, successful, and eligible men. Though I wrote about his life on a daily basis, the inner workings of Blane Kirk’s mind were a fascination to me. He’d consented to the interview only after being told Kade had already done this. His inherent competitiveness refused to let even his own brother one-up him.
He appears in the doorway, black overcoat over an expensive gray suit, his gloveless hands automatically holding the door open for a woman to walk out. I watch her head turn, her eyes lingering on him as he enters the café. He doesn’t notice, or if he does, he is so used to it that it doesn’t affect him.
Spotting me, he makes his way over to the corner booth in which I sit. Taller and broader than most men he passes, he makes an imposing figure. He shrugs off his coat, hanging it on one of the nearby hooks before sliding into the seat opposite me. His suit jacket moves slightly and I catch a glimpse of metal against his side before he readjusts his clothing, smoothing the jacket and silk tie into place.
“Good morning, Blane,” I say, pushing a lidded cup toward him.
Blane Kirk acknowledges me with a brief nod and half-smile. “Good morning. Thanks for the coffee.”
He nods, taking a drink of the dark brew. I give an inward shudder. How anyone could stand the stuff without a good helping of cream and sugar is beyond me.
“I know you’re busy,” I say, “so I appreciate you taking the time to answer a few questions from some interested readers.”
“It’s not a problem,” he replies, his tone pleasant enough.
His eyes give nothing away. I can’t tell if he really sincerely doesn’t mind, or if he is counting the moments until he can leave. I feel a pang of sympathy for Kathleen. Men are notoriously hard to read, but Blane Kirk takes it to an art form.
“Okay.” I glance down at my notepad. “Several questions were provided by Shannon from Cocktails & Books, while others were asked via Facebook. It seems a lot of people want to know more about the first time you and Kathleen met, so I’ll start with a question asked by Sonia. ‘What exactly went through your mind when Kathleen fell into your lap?’”
Blane’s lips twitch and I have the distinct impression he is reliving that particular event. “I was afraid she’d hurt herself, falling like that, and I was glad that proved not to be the case. Whether or not that was the very first thought at that particular moment…well…it was at least a very close second. I was certainly relieved she was unharmed.”
“Her pride notwithstanding,” I murmur.
“Did you think she did it on purpose?”
Blane hesitates, his grin slightly abashed as he admits, “The thought did cross my mind.”
I grin back before looking down at my paper. “Shannon had a follow up question to that, ‘Honestly, prior to her falling face first into your lap, had you ever noticed Kathleen?’”
“I make it a point to not date employees,” he says, his tone no-nonsense. “Kathleen, in her position as runner, rarely interacted with the lawyers or partners. So no, I had not noticed her, though she was rather hard to forget after The Incident, as she refers to it.”
His gray eyes soften as he talks about Kathleen, his body relaxing ever so slightly against the seat. I hide a smile and continue with my questions. “Mei wants to know ‘Why did you go look for Kathleen at her desk after she fell onto your lap?’”
Blane takes another drink of coffee before answering. “I’m not particularly sure what I was planning on doing or saying,” he confesses. “I was irritated at the spectacle she’d made, and as I said, thinking she may have done it on purpose. The fact that she was hiding under her desk just so she wouldn’t have to face me convinced me otherwise.”
“You knew she was under her desk?” I ask, surprised. “How?”
He smiles, his eyes dancing and he leans forward as though to impart a secret to me. “I could see her reflection in the window.”
I laugh outright and he chuckles as well, a warm sound that makes me feel as though we’re sharing something just between the two of us. A part of me is amazed to see how effortlessly he does it, pulling me into his sphere, making me feel this moment is special with him.
I realize he’s been talking as I’ve been ruminating, and I pull myself out of my thoughts in time to hear him say “…I realized later of course that she hadn’t, indeed that she had no interest in me at the time other than as the person who signed her paychecks.”
Huh. Well, I know that isn’t true, but I certainly wasn’t going to disillusion him.
“What do you like most about Kathleen?”
“What’s not to like?” he asks rhetorically. “She has a sweet heart, kind nature, and is naturally inclined to think the best of people, which is a trait too seldom seen in this age of cynics. She’s beautiful inside and out and has a smile that makes me forget my past.”
His honesty takes me by surprise, though the sincerity in his voice says he means every word.
I clear my throat and look back down at my paper. “Um, okay, how about this one, what are five things Kathleen doesn’t know about you?”
Blane’s face expression turns cold immediately, his eyes narrowing. “What kind of things?”
Taken aback, I stammer, “Um, I don’t know. Anything, I guess.”
“Oh. All right,” he answers, his body relaxing again. “Five things, let’s see. She probably doesn’t know that I love the smell of her perfume on my clothes after we’ve been together, or that I don’t like potato soup.” He pauses to admonish me, “Don’t tell her I said that. It’s the only thing she can cook.”
“Got it.” I scribble on my notepad.
“Let’s see,” he continues. “Kathleen probably doesn’t know that I hate doing yard work, prefer dogs to cats, and that she’s my favorite flavor.”
I look at him quizzically, then guess at what he meant. “Aw, that’s sweet. You mean kissing her?”
“You could call it that, but I believe there’s a more clinical term for that kind of kiss.”
The dryness of his tone and the wicked gleam in his eyes make me realize exactly what he is talking about.
“Oh. Oh!” Oh my. It’s hot in here. Is anyone else warm? I fan myself with my papers while I scramble to think of the next question.
“Ann would like to know if you would you try to stop Kathleen if she beats the crap out of Kandi?”
“Violence is never the answer,” Blane dismisses.
I look at my papers. “What did you do to James when you found out he had hit Kathleen?”
“Let me rephrase,” Blane says. “Violence is almost never the answer.”
I smother a grin. “Shannon asks ‘If you didn’t live in your palatial family home, what would be the perfect “Blane” home?’”
“Places aren’t home,” he replies seriously. “People are home. If you have no one to come home to, it’s just a house.”
I can’t disagree, and considering how much time he’d spent on deployment, I have a feeling Blane would know the meaning of “home” more than your average person.
“Here are a couple easy ones,” I say, skimming down my list. “Favorite band?”
“Jeans or pants?”
“Depends on what I’m doing.”
“How big is your gun?”
Silence. I look up. His lips twitch as he says, “Big enough to get the job done.”
“Um, okay.” It takes me a precious second or two to get that image out of my mind.
“Who taught you how to play the piano?” I blurt.
That gets my attention. I look quizzically at him.
“She was a very talented woman,” Blane says matter-of-factly.
You gotta admire a guy who loves his mom. Just sayin’.
“We asked Kade a question that I’ll ask you as well. If you could be a paranormal being, have special powers, that sort of thing, what would it be?”
An eyebrow lifts and I squirm under his gaze. “I like that question,” I mutter.
He heaves a sigh of long-suffering before answering. “Bullet-proof.”
“You mean like Superman?” I ask.
Blane’s lips lift as though he’s considering smiling. “The Man of Steel? Sounds perfect.”
“Of course, Superman has a fatal weakness,” I remind him. “Kryptonite. If you’re Superman, what’s your fatal weakness?”
Blane’s expression turns serious, his gaze turning inward as he takes a sip of coffee and murmurs, “Too many.”
I’m not sure how to respond to that, and I don’t think he’s going to elaborate, so I continue my list.
“Shannon asks ‘You’ve had to work hard to ensure Kade’s a part of your life. What’s it been like having Kade as a brother?’”
I can almost see the wheels turning in Blane’s mind as he takes another drink of coffee, his eyes staring off into space as though seeing memories inside his head.
“Kade is a hard man,” he says, his eyes swinging back to mine. “A hard man to know, a hard man to reach. He’s both the most difficult and best family I’ve ever had. If I could do it over again, find him before too many years went by, I would move heaven and earth to do so. Not that he would thank me for that. He wants no one’s pity, that’s for damn sure. But I know I can count on him, the same as he can count on me. It doesn’t matter the choices he makes or whether or not I approve. We’re brothers. Nothing can change that.”
I don’t want to ask my last question, especially after such an earnest declaration from Blane, but I force the words out anyway.
“Angela wanted to ask you if you realize your brother has a thing for Kathleen?”
Blane looks at me, then his lips twist in a humorless smile. “That would be an ironic twist. However, Kade and Kathleen have formed a tentative friendship, and for that I’m grateful. Kade helped keep Kathleen safe, protected her when I couldn’t. I’d hardly call that something I should worry about.”
“I’m not sure that’s all-” I begin.
“I’m not discussing this further,” Blane interrupts, his voice like steel. “If there’s anything to discuss, and I’m not saying there is, Kade and I will handle it.”
That effectively silences me.
“Is that all?”
I nod, still too nonplussed to speak.
Blane stands, reaching out to shake my hand. My hand is swallowed in his.
“Thank you for the interview,” he says, his tone gracious and sincere. His smile is deep enough to crease a dimple in his cheek. My hand remains in his while I stare at him. “I’ve enjoyed speaking with you, and I hope the feeling was mutual.”
“You bet,” I mumble, my eyes lost in the sparkling gray of his, flecks of green flickering in the depths.
His smile remains, though his eyes have a mischievous glint that makes me think he just might know exactly the effect of his charm turned full wattage.
I watch him shrug on his coat and walk out the door, more confused than ever as to what exactly would become of Blane Kirk.