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          “I told you no.”
I spun in my chair, releasing a heavy breath into the phone. “Why not? When’s the last time you’ve been out?”
     Nathan groaned. “You’re killin’ me, Jamie. I don’t have time to go out. Our meeting with Kobiashi is Friday, and I’ve got a feeling that what he wants us to build will be a game changer.”
     My eyes rolled to the back of my head. Nathan, my friend and ‘boss’, was a workaholic. There was no such thing as a weekend or a vacation in his schedule. He craved success and money. It was one of the qualities I admired about him. “Good. It’ll be a reason for us to celebrate.”
     I could already picture Nathan standing in front of the floor to ceiling window in his ultra-modern office in Chicago wearing a pristine charcoal Prada suit with a splash of color in his tie. I’m sure his eyebrows were crinkled as his hand would be at his temple, his finger running along the length of his designer glasses, making a path to his ear as he thought.
     “All right, fine,” he snapped, surrendering under the peer pressure. “Only if our meeting goes smoothly, and I get to pick the club.”
     My long caramel hair whipped through the air as I leaped triumphantly from my office chair. “Thank God! I haven’t been out in forever. I don’t even care if we go to the gay bar.” Getting Nathan to relax and live a little outside of work was a difficult task, but I loved seeing him let loose.
     Nathan gasped. “Well, no shit. You really think I’d go to a straight bar?”
      A smile escaped my lips.
     “You know, we’re going to have to go to a straight bar for Tyler and Becca’s bachelor/bachelorette party, right?”
     Becca, my best friend, was marrying Tyler, Nathan’s brother and co-owner of Conklin Architecture Construction and Design. I was the maid of honor and Nathan was the best man. I’d originally wanted to throw a rocking weekend in Las Vegas, but Becca and Tyler weren’t into that. If it were up to the two of them, they’d completely skip the party altogether. The fact that they lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, while I was currently tied down in Miami, didn’t help with planning.
“Mitch wants to do them separately—no women. Well, none that we know,” Nathan mumbled.

      I narrowed my eyes.  “Screw Mitch. Tyler won’t want strippers. You know that as well as anyone.”
     “Probably not, but Mitch has the horrible quality of overriding plans.” Nathan’s voice was laced with disappointment.
      I understood his frustration with his younger brother.
     He was arrogant, self-centered, and thought he was God’s gift to women.

     Mitch was a grade-A douche.

     Every day he’d walk into my office with a shit-eating grin in place, and some cheesy line coming from his mouth. His pick-up lines were the lamest I’d ever heard.
     I was feeling a little off today, but you definitely turned me on.

     You look cold. Want to use me as a blanket?
     Did you clean your pants with Windex? I can practically see myself in them. Nathan was oh so kind to give Mitch my cell phone number, and every day I was graced with a new line.       
Mitch used to rarely make an appearance in Miami, and only manned the construction sites in Grand Rapids or Chicago, but what did Nathan and Tyler do? They relocated him.
“Speaking of Mitch, why has he been in Miami for so long?” I groaned irritably.
Nathan chuckled. “Because he needs to stay out of Grand Rapids, that’s why. I’ve got an inkling he’s involved with Chino.”
I sighed. Chino was a major client for the Conklin’s in Grand Rapids and he was intense. He had his own side drug business and wanted the properties as a place to stash his drugs.
“We can talk more about Tyler and Becca’s party at the bar this Friday.
My face brightened as I remembered our plans. “You almost sound excited now.”
“Well, I realize it has been a long time,” he admitted.
 “A little wound up?"
“I’ve never been wound up. If I need release, I get it,” Nathan said, trying to sound offended. “I have a phone full of available prospects to get the job done.”
I tapped my chin as I sat back down in my chair. “You never seem to use them,” I taunted. I knew this because Nathan always stayed at my Condo whenever he was in Miami. I was sure once the Miami location took off, he’d find some snazzy place, but until then, I’d enjoy his company.
“Ha! That’s what you think.”
“Yeah, that’s what I know. You get it about as often as I do lately,” I muttered. “I could really use some attention between my legs.”
Just as the words came out of my mouth, the office door swung open, and that damn hot shot with his cheeky grin came walking through the threshold. I knew he’d heard my inappropriate comment. I rolled my chair the opposite way of Mitch, swinging in the direction of my computer, I wanted to seem busy and not like I’d been discussing my lack of sex life over the phone.
Nathan groaned with disgust. “If you think I’m going to help you find a carpet muncher, you’re insane.” I had to pull the phone away from my ear because he was so loud.
“Don’t worry, one just walked in,” Mitch flirted as he sat down on my desk, completely invading my bubble. My face turned beet red in frustration and embarrassment.
“Nathan, I have to go. We’ll talk Friday.” I slid as close to my computer screen as possible, making my stomach flush with the desk.
A rumble of laughter emerged from the phone as I hung up, and I knew¬Nathan had heard Mitch’s bold interference. Damn those Conklin men. I swore they fed off each other.
“I’m free for the next hour if you want to satisfy your need for attention,” Mitch teased
My embarrassment quickly faded into anger as I spun in my chair, jolting from my seat while giving Mitch the best glare I could.
The worst part about him? He was attractive. And by attractive, I meant sexy as sin. His sandy blond hair and emerald eyes fit perfectly with his tanned skin. He wasn’t the trendy male I usually dated, suits and ties were my typical turn on, not washed out jeans, work boots and white T-shirts. All of the Conklin brother’s could turn heads, but for whatever reason, Mitch got to me.
He stared back at me, his mischievous smile never leaving his face. “What do you say, Jay? Want to have an afternoon delight?”
My eyes shot to the sky as I crossed my arms. “It’s not even the afternoon. It’s 11 am.”
Mitch hopped down from my desk so we were standing face to face. There couldn’t have been more than six inches between us. The twinkle in his eye faded as he blinked, his strong jaw ticking in thought. Fantasies of what that jaw could do popped in my mind.
“I have a meeting in twenty minutes. What do you want?” I snapped.

His lip quirked into a smile again as he reached behind him. “I just wanted to bring you my latest upgrade.” He pulled a brick from behind him and held it between us. “Tell me what you think?”
I pushed his chest with annoyance as I turned to find my chair again. “I don’t give a shit about those stupid bricks. I don’t know why you insist on constantly showing them to me.”
     Mitch found his spot on my desk again. “Because you need to tell clients about them. They’re safe boxes. You can’t even tell they open. It’s a great seller.”
     I closed my eyes and put my hands on my head in frustration. “Mitch, I can’t just market the bricks. It’s not a deal breaker for clients. Besides, Nathan doesn’t want them to be well known. What’s the point in having a secret safe box if everyone already knows what it is?”
     The thud of Mitch slamming the brick on my desk caused my eyes to pop open. “Well, hook the client and then tell them about the bricks. I don’t see why you need to get into such a huff about it.”
      My hands left my head and moved to the air as though they were trying to help defend my point. “I’m not in a huff about them. I just don’t see why you feel the need to tell me they’ve been upgraded.”
      Mitch narrowed his eyes slightly, but then relaxed his features again. Sliding off the desk, he took a step to fill the space between us, leaning down and placing his hands on either side of my chair. His face mere inches from mine, he’d never gotten this close before. My mind became distracted by his scent. It was a woodsy yet refreshing smell that made my breath hitch for the slightest second. The quickest flutter of my eyelashes brought me back to the now, until my eyes found his pecs straining against his white shirt. The muscles in his arms bulged as his hands flexed to grip my chair tighter, and by the veins protruding from his arms it was obvious he lifted heavy objects most of the day.
     Damn it.
      I could feel his breath as his deep, husky voice asked, “Did I ever tell you how sexy you are when you’re feisty?”
      “Did I ever tell you that you remind me of a Neanderthal?” I hissed.
      He grinned knowingly. “If I had to guess, a Neanderthal is exactly what you need. Someone who’ll take the bull by the horns and drive you screaming into the red.”
      I prayed the snort of disgust hid how much his statement turned me on. Our proximity was too close, so I shoved his chest and turned toward my computer.
     The sound of Mitch chuckling made my ears burn with annoyance instead of attraction. “Let’s do dinner tonight.”
     “Can’t,” I muttered.
     “What’s your excuse this time?”
     "I have to organize my closet.” I sighed dramatically, flipping my caramel hair over my shoulder, my focus remaining on my computer screen.
     I heard a deep breath, then the heavy steps of Mitch’s boots walking away from me. “You’ll say yes, one of these days. By the way, I brought you the mail,” he tossed a stack of envelopes and a few magazines in front of me. “See you later.”
     The door clicked shut, and I puffed out air. I couldn’t believe how stupid I was. Closing my eyes, I attempted to clear my thoughts, but the way his biceps flexed as he gripped my chair wouldn’t leave my filthy mind.
     Shaking my head, I reached for the pile of mail, hoping to find something else to focus on besides that asshole. It amazed me the ridiculous amount of junk mail we received, considering we’d only been in Miami for six months.
     I skimmed the stack, noticing the array of magazines mixed between the electrical bill and an invoice. Architecture’s Digest, People with, of course, a Kardashian on the front. And hello, Property Brothers.  Mmmmm…What those two dark haired gorgeous men could do to me at once.

     But then…

     My hands pushed the magazines to the side, and a thick, strangling gulp pushed its way down my throat .
     There it was—ghostly familiar black envelope addressed to me; my first name written in perfect script letters with white ink. It had been nearly a year since I’d gotten an envelope with that eerily perfect handwriting. The air was stolen from my lungs as my shaking hand lifted the haunting letter.
He'd found me.


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She’d want me if I could provide for her.  She’d want me again if she knew I got help. She’d want me again once all those other assholes were out of her system.
     I knew this was true because she never stayed with them, and if it seemed like they were starting to stick, I reminded her I was still here by sending her my love notes.
     I pulled my hood down farther over my head, trying to count to ten before I’d explode.  Then I saw her through the glass of the diner, smiling and giggling with her roommate.  My heart fluttered at the sight of her happiness.

I used to make her happy.
I could still make her happy.
Only a few more things needed to be done.

But then all those warm feelings turned to stone as I watched the two douche bags walking behind Jamie and her roommate. The smiles on their faces were ones I knew well. Their shirts were too tight, stretching over their muscles. They were about to get some—at least they thought they were… I glanced down at my arms; I could stand to increase my weight on the bench press again.
    “Sure you don’t need anything else?” the waitress asked again. Now she was hovering, which only irritated me more.
     My breathing increased as the meatheads followed them inside.
     “Can I get another coffee, please? And a grilled cheese with bacon,” I demanded, squeezing packets of sugar in between my palms


     A few more hours had gone by, and controlling my sanity was getting harder and harder.  What was she doing with those men inside her apartment? Was she with one while her roommate with the other? Maybe they were just playing cards, watching a movie?
     Yeah, watching a movie. The last time I’d watched a movie with Jamie our pants were around our ankles.
     Just as I was about to storm out of the diner, activity started to move in front of her apartment building.
     It was Jamie, disheveled and wearing a tank top and little shorts; her ass would hang out if she bent over far enough. And that meathead was there, behind her, a smug grin plastered on his face.
     I wanted to rip his jaw in half.
     Standing from my seat, I paced the diner, my eyes glued to the interactions I feared they’d begin to share.

     Then it happened.

     She stepped toward him, wrapping her arms around his neck. His hands moved around her waist, reaching for her butt. I saw red when he grabbed it as though it were his, and that little slut let him. In fact, by the way she pressed into him, moving to kiss his lips, I’d say she enjoyed it.
      I gripped my hair, willing myself not to do what my head was telling me, but there was no use. Watching them say goodbye tore me apart, fueling my rage for what I was about to do. She gently pushed him away, the one good thing she’d done since that meathead was in her presence.
     She closed the door with a satisfied grin on her face while that fucker practically skipped down the steps.

     He wouldn’t be skipping for long.

Follow him.
Make him pay.
Make him realize he can never fucking touch her again.

Copyright Brooke Page 2015

I had been sitting in this diner for three hours, my gaze fixated on the apartment building across the street.
“Do you need anything else, sugar?” the plump older woman asked as she held a coffee pot in one hand and a cloth in the other.
“No, thank you,” I rasped without meeting her eyes. It was 12 am, and my heart raced faster with each passing moment.
     I was waiting for the girl who’d stolen my heart. When she’d left earlier, her caramel hair was curled, floating over her perfect breasts; breasts that should have been covered up, but instead were on full display under her black halter top.
Anger fueled me as I pictured her leaving her apartment. She had looked confident and sexy, her head held high as though she were about to take over the world. Thankfully, her midriff wasn’t showing tonight, but her skirt was too short, revealing her toned thighs; thighs that needed to be wrapped around my waist, the sky-high black heels digging into my back.
     I shifted in my seat, my arousal trying to overpower my anger. That was always my problem. I mixed the two together in a dangerous way. It was why she no longer wanted me.
     Taking a deep breath, I pulled my phone from my hoodie pocket. The agony of not knowing where she was tortured me. I needed to distract myself until she came home. I pulled up the most recent background check on her, divulging nothing new since she’d moved out of her apartment a month ago into a new on
     I should have followed her tonight, but I knew my emotions would overtake me, blowing my cover. I wasn’t ready to swoon her back into my life, not yet. I still had a few things to take care of; a few thing to make disappear.

Author Brooke Page