Sitting in the naturally-heated, lithium-rich mineral springs water of the grotto pools of the exclusive Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa just south of Palm Springs with tall glasses of fruit juice under the southern California sun, Pepper, Emma and Marina were totally at peace after two days of pampering with massages, facials, manicure and pedicure as well as any other restorative treatment they could get their hands on.
"Mom, I have never seen you so relaxed at one of these spa weekends. You usually relax but there is always something that keeps you on edge. It seems gone this time." Emma commented as she sipped from her fruit punch at Pepper's peaceful state resting against the edge of the pool.
"I'll have to agree with Emma, Mrs. Stark. You seem positively serene." Marina added.
Pepper sighed contentedly and laughed as she sat up a bit and took a sip from her drink. "Well, thanks to very efficient and specific Tony-proofing, I have absolutely nothing to worry about." She said confidently.
"Tony-proofing?" Emma and Marina repeated.
Pepper just laughed again. "I gave the boys a list of approved and unapproved activities that they could and could not do and with Jarvis' help, I am certain that I won't be having my relaxing time interrupted by a ringing cell phone or unwanted news coverage." She explained. "It wasn't always like this. To try to get away, I used to have to do a whole lot more or face the consequences."
"What sort of consequences, Mom?" Emma asked, having a general idea on what she was talking about but not entirely.
"Well…" Pepper said with a well deserved smirk. "If I didn't make sure he had nothing going on before I would leave, he would have surely missed everything to find pleasurable company with something young, female and cute." She explained. "Though one time, he wasn't quite as suave as you may have heard."
"Are you saying you have rather juicy dirt on Dad?" Emma asked, now very curious.
"Emma, I have so much dirt on your father, it could fill a football stadium." Pepper said with a laugh. "But one incident sticks out as the top among the rest."
"Now, this definitely sounds good. Probably so much better than the crap I heard spun around the office." Emma exclaimed. "Deal the dish, Mom."
"Now, if I tell you this, it goes no further than the three of us since I swore to your father that I would never tell another living soul about what happened." Pepper warned.
"We promise." Marina stated.
"Lips are sealed." Emma added as she raised her right hand to swear by.
"Very well. I had to learn to expect the unexpected of any degree when your father hired me as his Personal Assistant and shortly after I started working for him, I caught him in one of the worst possible things he could have been doing. He had told me earlier in the day that he had plans for the evening. I did not totally know that his version of plans meant identical twin Playboy centerfolds aptly named Good and Evil.
"I had brought back groceries for him and stocked his pantry before calling it a night when I heard a few odd noises in the mansion. Now, I had thought I was alone so I went to investigate. As soon as I got within sight of his bedroom, I saw far more than I actually wanted to see. Tony was on the bed with the twins in what can only be described as an advanced state of foreplay. Not a scrap of clothing among the three of them. Tony had his mouth on the breasts of one and his hands exploring the other while the two girls worked their magic on him with one hand from each bringing him to full attention. I quickly excused myself so I did not hear exactly how he put his foot in his mouth but I did hear the yelp of pain he let out before the door slammed. I came out of my office, fully prepared to resign if he wished it, to find Tony sitting on the couch in a pair of flannel pajama pants with an ice pack between his legs, a kitchen towel up to his nose and a scotch on the rocks in his hand which he was sipping from and using to stop the pain by his eye. Apparently, Good had landed a right hook with a big ring to his face and gave him a decent bruise with a scratch down the middle and Evil landed a hard knee right to the family jewels and then proceeded to give him the bloody nose as well. Needless to say, he did not live up to his playboy reputation that night when two centerfolds beat the snot out of him."
Emma and Marina burst out laughing and genuinely could not help it once that story came out.
"I have heard so many stories about how suave Dad was and how he could have ten girls at one time if he wanted but that was priceless." Emma laughed. "But if you think Dad was bad, I have something just as bad on Jamie."
"What sort of dirt do you have on Jamie?" Marina asked cautiously.
"You do know what he was like with girls before you, right?" Emma asked seriously before she continued.
"Yes, like father like son." Marina deadpanned. "I have heard the stories from quite a few sources."
"Well, I just wanted to prepare you if you didn't know." Emma stated. "This goes back to just after Dad gave him the suit. Dad warned him that extensive use of the suit can be exhausting but Jamie didn't listen. He just brushed it off that Dad didn't have the stamina that he did because he was older. So, while out on a mission with Dad and Uncle Rhodey, one of his little bunnies called him up and wanted to meet up that night. So he said sure and told her to be at the mansion around nine for a little fun.
"The girl shows up right on schedule and I tell her that Jamie is waiting for her upstairs in his room. Apparently, this was a repeater since she knew where to go. Not more than half an hour later, the bunny comes back downstairs in a full snit and ready to storm out the door. This sparked my curiosity a bit so I put my book down and asked her what was wrong. She told me that just as they were getting into the fun stuff, Jamie fell dead asleep with snoring and drooling right on top of her. No matter how much she nudged him or played with him, she could not get him to wake up. She then told me to make sure that Jamie burned her number because she was never coming back."
Marina had to fight back a snicker at the comment especially since she knew Jamie's reputation in the bedroom from first hand experience.
"Does your brother know you know this?" Pepper asked as she tried desperately not to laugh.
"Probably not. He just thinks he woke up alone that morning because his bunny had an early appointment that she couldn't miss." Emma said as she tried to stifle her laughter.
"So that's what you told him." Pepper exclaimed. "I was wondering where he came up with such a weak story."
"Okay, I get Mr. Stark and I get Jamie but isn't there usually a third conspirator when they get together?" Marina brought up.
Pepper and Emma just looked at each other with a smile. "Rhodey." They said in unison.
"Okay, this has to be good if you both know about it." Marina commented.
"Emma only knows because I told her about it. This story happened a few years before she was born." Pepper stated. "It would have been a better story if the aftermath hadn't happened."
"The aftermath?" Marina asked.
"This was the trip that my Dad was kidnapped for three months." Emma interjected solemnly.
Pepper took a deep breath to push that terrible memory back out of her head. "Anyway…I heard this from the flight attendants on Tony's private jet. I usually just brushed off what they said for the most part but this time something stuck out. The girls usually bragged about being in the Mile High Club with Tony but one of them mentioned 'the Colonel' and that caught my attention so I eavesdropped a little bit. They first mentioned 'the drunk one' and I thought they meant Tony and then one clarified that it was Rhodey instead and paid attention. Apparently, one of the girls was doing some heavy flirting or teasing, whichever you want to call it and Rhodey was so drunk that he could not perform at all and ended up passing out on her just when she was trying to make it good. The next morning, he was suffering from an extreme hangover and the girl never brought it up again."
"I guess they never had that complaint with Dad." Emma said through her laughter.
"No but once he and I became a couple, those girls got bored and I had to hire all new ones to replace them."
Hours later, Pepper, Emma and Marina were dropped off to a dark and very quiet mansion. Pepper told Marina she could stay for the night instead of going back to her small apartment so late.
As the girls headed up to bed, Pepper took stock of what potential damage there could be from leaving Tony, Jamie and Rhodey alone for three days. She scanned the living room and smiled. Aside from James Rhodes passed out and snoring on the couch, everything seemed to be in order. With that assurance, Pepper went upstairs.
Without turning on the light, Pepper slipped into something referred to as small and cute and lots of fun to take off before she slipped into bed next to her sleeping husband.
Tony stirred with the slight shift of the bed and the soft scent of Pepper's perfume roused him just enough to spoon up next to her. "Have I mentioned how much I like it when you return from the spa?" he murmured sleepily as he nuzzled at her neck.
"You might have before but you may need to prove it to me again," Pepper teased as she turned on her other side so she was facing Tony.
"If I must…" Tony sighed playfully. Within seconds, Tony's shorts got kicked to the edge of the bed and Pepper's negligee was in a small ball on the night stand and Tony proved how much he liked it when Pepper came back until dawn started to pink the horizon.