Authors: Kim Linwood
More and more of the same, and all of it’s too little, too late. The day after, he might’ve gotten me to listen. Two days after, and it was already getting iffy. Four months later... well, now it’s just sad.
What does he think is going to happen? That after all he’s done, he can just send a couple of sappy messages and I’ll take him back? He’s got to be out of his freaking mind.
My phone buzzes again. I can’t help it. My eyes flit over to see the preview.
I’m so sorry, babe. :(
With a sigh, I flip my phone over, so I can’t see the screen. I don’t have time for this. He’s the idiot who chose to throw away three years of our relationship over some big-breasted blonde. There’s no way I’m letting him back in, and good riddance.
Why do all the men in my life have to be such idiots?
hy do all the women in my life have to be so much fucking trouble?
Outside my door, one of them sits there, reminding me of why I have my one night rule. More than that, and suddenly you have to worry about feelings and shit. They expect things. Things that don’t just include a good solid fuck.
Because we did that already, and yet here we are, still going in circles.
We’re dancing around each other like horny teenagers, afraid to make the first move. Every day I’m tempted to put my finger on the intercom and call her into my office.
In my fantasies, she kicks off her shoes and loosens her top before asking me what she can do for me in that husky voice she gets when she’s turned on. I roll my chair back, and she kneels between my legs, licking those sexy lips. Leaning forward, unbuttoning my pants. Opening her pretty mouth. Sticking out her tongue while looking up at me with those big brown eyes.
My pants grow uncomfortably tight at the thought.
I sigh. I can totally imagine how it’d go down for real, and going down wouldn’t actually be part of it.
I should ask to have her moved to some other case, but then she wouldn’t be here anymore, and that sounds just as bad. She thinks I’m a jackass, but I’m not letting her go yet. Not while she’s still this ripe, succulent forbidden fruit hanging just out of reach. A fruit I want to pluck.
And then something that rhymes with pluck.
There’s talking outside my door. It’s too muffled to hear what they’re saying, but it’s Claire and some guy. She laughs, relaxed and easy. Not pissed off and throwing shit, like she does with me. Not knowing what they’re talking about annoys me. I haven’t seen anyone—other than me that is—sniffing around her, but a sexy little intern who’s about to be related to one of the partners? It wouldn’t surprise me if it wasn’t just the donuts attracting attention.
She’s vulnerable; bad breakup, emotional case, asshole boss. If anyone hurts her, I’ll have to smash their face in. The idea of someone else getting in there and taking advantage of her bothers me more than it should.
What the hell? I’m not actually starting to like her, am I?
If it was just Claire, I could deal. Being friends—preferably with benefits—wouldn’t be the end of the world.
But it’s not just her. There’s her goddamn mother.
Annette drives me up the fucking wall. I’ve promised Dad to stop giving her a hard time, but she’s taking over his home. My home until I went to college. New paint, new furniture, new rugs, new paintings, new fucking everything. All being rushed in to get ready for their damn wedding. Every new thing pushes something else out, and I’m watching her erase every trace of Mom we have left, while Dad just smiles like the sun rises and sets in her pussy.
What is it with these women? How have they managed to wrap both of us around their delicate little fingers?
I check my email, not surprised to see a note from my father. He finally heard about my trouble with Cooper. It drives me crazy to have him watching over my shoulder the whole time. Dad knows I’m one of his best. If there’s anyone who’s made him more money this last quarter, I’d like to know who the fuck it is. No one, that’s who. But apparently we care about
not acting like a kid.
If he knew what Cooper said, I bet he wouldn’t be telling me about running out of chances.
Fuck him, and fuck his chances.
What I want to do right now is tell the entire office to go to hell and then spend the weekend getting drunk enough to forget all about Claire, our parents, and this shit show of a case. I’ll find someone who reminds me of her, screw her brains out, and then come back next week ready to get on with my fucked up life.
The one I used to enjoy.
But what I do is pull up yet another boring as shit record of some other poor schmuck’s case defending some other asshole and start taking notes.
Four months ago, I walked into a party feeling like something had to change.
Now I want to go back in time and tell myself to run the other way, because change fucking sucks. I don’t want to feel drawn to my soon-to-be step-sister, and I don’t want her self-righteous morals to infect my brain, making me question everything I’m doing.
I need to get her off my mind, or onto my dick.
One or the other needs to happen soon or I’m going to fucking blow.
onday. I’m so over this stupid elevator ride.
I had a nightmare last night where I was stuck in a twilight zone version of reality where the floor numbers kept going up in smaller and smaller fractions, and the closer I came to the fifty-fourth floor, the slower it rose, so slow that I never quite got to work. Eventually someone would probably come to check, finding my desiccated corpse inside, a tiny fraction of an inch away from freedom.
Maybe I’m just too excited to be patient this morning, because today is a special day.
Today I get revenge.
I step out, a little earlier than usual. Just making sure that I get here before Declan.
Carl looks up and smiles. “Donuts again? But it’s not Friday.” Realizing he shouldn’t be looking a gift horse in the mouth, he quickly adds, “Not that I’m complaining.”
Laughing, I open the box and present it to him. “It’s a special occasion. Help yourself, but I advise strongly to keep away from the Boston cremes.”
He raises an eyebrow in question. “Really? How come?” One troublemaker to another, he can probably sense something juicy is coming.
I shrug with feigned nonchalance. “It’s a surprise, but it’s specifically for Declan. Maybe you should find something to do near our office when he comes in. And that’s all I’ll say about it.” It’s probably all I
to say, because I’m sure my crazy grin says the rest.
He pointedly picks out a cruller and bites into it after a suspicious look-over. Gesturing at me with what’s left, he speaks with his mouth full, “You’re making me curious, young lady. Very curious. How do you know I won’t just warn him? I’ve known him a lot longer than I have you.”
“Because those other two crullers are also yours.”
Carl shakes his head sadly. “I see all hope is lost. Your argument makes it obvious you were destined to be a lawyer. Obviously my suspicions were misplaced, because that looks like a box of perfectly normal donuts to me.” With great care, he removes the remaining two crullers, as if every donut around them might be explosive.
“I thought you might see it my way. Anyway, I have to get to my spot.” Closing the box, I set off towards my office.
“Claire!” Carl calls after me.
Looking over my shoulder, I wait for the inevitable. “Yes?”
“What can a goose do, a duck can't, and a lawyer should?” He grins over his second cruller.
“Still no idea, Carl.”
“Stick his bill up his ass.” And with that, he sits down out of sight from where I’m standing, undoubtedly enjoying his third cruller. I like Carl, but he’s a total weirdo, not to mention sugar fiend.
Picking up the pace, I rush to my spot, putting the box down on my desk, open and facing the door. Everything looks the same as Friday. There’s no way Declan won’t notice it. Now all I have to do is wait and hope I’m not too obvious when he walks in.
I get the sudden urge to rub my hands together like a super villain.
Three well-prepared Boston cremes are lined up next to each other, just waiting for my target. I take a regular glazed and munch on it happily while I wait. It’s a good thing it doesn’t take long, because there’s no way I’m getting anything done before he gets here.
Declan strides in like he always does, tall and straight, dressed in an immaculate suit that’s obviously tailor cut. He almost walks right by, but spots the donuts and stops. “Again? Is this going to be an everyday thing?”
Out of the corner of my eye, I spot Carl doing the world’s slowest walk-by just outside our door. I smile, pretending innocence. “We’ve been working hard, and I felt like a treat this morning. That’s allowed, right?”
Do it, do it, do it!
“Yeah, sure, of course.” With a dexterous nab, he pulls one of the Boston cremes from the box. “Thanks.” He salutes me with it before taking a huge bite.
Watching gleefully, I can see it happen moment by moment. His teeth cut through the surface and punch down into the filling as it squirts out into his waiting mouth. It’s like watching a cartoon, where time stops as the main character figures out what just happened to them. It doesn’t take long.
His eyes pop open wide. With a deep hack, he spits out his bite, right onto the carpeted floor. “Oh my God. What the fuck is in this donut?” He spits again.
“Oh, that one?” I pause, savoring the moment. “It’s a special one for my boss. Packed totally full of creamy... thick... mayo.”
He sticks his tongue out at my words, batting at it with his hand like he’s trying to brush the taste off. Then his eyes go wide. “Holy fuck, my tongue burns. That’s not just mayo.”
I bat my eyes sweetly. “You’re right. There’s also a huge dollop of puréed chili mixed in, if you’re curious. It wasn’t even the hottest pepper I found, you big pussy. How’s it taste? Because from here, it looks really freakin’ sweet.”
His face is beet red and his eyes huge. Is that a tear I see? “Motherfucking Jesus Christ on a fucking pogo stick! Water. Fuck, I need water.” He tears open the door and charges down towards the reception where the water cooler is. He’d probably be better off grabbing milk from the fridge, but I’m sure he’ll figure that out on his own.
That’ll teach him to mess with me.
Carl pokes his head in, grinning like the Cheshire cat. “Remind me not to get on your bad side. Or take the Boston cremes out of your donut box.” He laughs, a bit hoarsely. “I bow to ye, O Mistress of Practical Jokes.”
I acknowledge him with a queenly tip of my head and a smile before he turns, chuckling as he leaves. I have to admit to feeling pretty awesome right now. It was almost too easy. He never saw it coming. Victory feels so good.
I’m going to have to watch my back. For real.
But right now, I’m going to enjoy being in the lead while I figure out how to help Cooper Holdings win their case without totally selling myself to the devil or killing Mr. Cooper.
I’m just getting stuck in when my phone rings. Distracted, I don’t bother to check who it is before picking up. “Hello?”
“Claire, sweetheart. You’re there.” Michael’s slimy voice worms its way into my ear.
Why did I use to think he was charming, again? I really need to block his contact in my phone.
“I have nothing to say to you.”
“Wait! Don’t hang up. Please. We were together for three years. That has to count for something, right?” He sounds so pathetic that my finger pauses over the end call icon. “It’s not for me, okay? I’m calling for my parents.”
“Your parents? Did something happen?”
“No, not like that. They’re celebrating their thirtieth wedding anniversary next Sunday. Renewing their vows and they’d really like for you be there.”
“What? But we’re not together anymore. They know that.” Silence on the other end. “Right?” The terrible thing is that I actually like Michael’s parents. They’ve always been really nice to me, so I have no idea how their son turned out so rotten. “Michael?”
He hesitates. “Well, not in so many words, I guess. I’ve hinted at it.”
Oh, for... “You haven’t told them anything.” Avoidance was always one of his primary techniques. I shouldn’t be surprised. “So now they’re expecting you to be there with your fiancée and if I don’t show, you either ruin their night or make me look bad. Is that it?”
“Look, if you don’t show, I won’t say anything bad about you. I just—I just figured they’d appreciate it. They really like you. You’re the daughter they never had.” Am I actually feeling bad for him? Shit, I am.
“Alright.” Oh God, what am I doing? “Fine, I’ll go. For them, since they’ve always been good to me.”
“Really? You will? Thank you! Thank you, Claire. Maybe afterwards, we can—”
“I will say my greetings to them, give them a gift and then try to be social. Afterwards, I will leave and you will never call me again. Got it?” In, out, gone.
“Yeah.” He sighs melodramatically.
I used to appreciate that he wasn’t forceful or pushy like a lot of guys, but he just sounds spineless to me now. Typical. What I used to want has no appeal anymore, and what I shouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole looks like a nice juicy steak. I can’t win.
“Was that it? I’m supposed to be getting work done.”
“Yeah, I guess that was—”
I hang up, done. I’ll see him on Sunday, and then no more. I’m finished with him.
eclan’s revenge seems to be making me wait for his revenge.
It’s diabolical. I’ve been afraid to move all week.
That, or standing up to him taught him a lesson and now he’ll respect and treat me like an equal. I’m hoping for the latter and betting on the former. He’s biding his time, like the deep weeds dwelling trouser snake that he is.
I snort at the mental image of Declan hiding in tall grass and waiting for me to walk by so he can crawl up my skirt.
It’s Friday, and we’re across his desk from each other, working on the Cooper case. I glance over at him, but he’s completely focused on reading some documents in a tan folder. His face is furrowed in concentration.