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Authors: Kathryn Shay

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BOOK: Risky Business
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“What’s his name?”

“Carl Sullivan.”

“Seriously?”

Logan blurted out, “Is
that the guy…?”

“Yep.” She cut him off. “I haven’t seen him in ages.” She stood. “Bring him back, would you Laura?”

Without saying more, which she would have done before the kiss (something like
God, Logan, what could he want
?) Magdalena left. Unable to restrain himself, Logan went to the doorway.

Her high school love wasn’t exactly handsome. He was attractive in a rugged way. Very
tall, big shouldered as a lumberjack, with blond hair cut by a barber, he walked toward Magdalena. When he got closer, a boyish grin split his face. Logan was taken aback by the emotion there. Grasping her hand, he held it in both of his. “Hi, Maggie.”

Maggie?
No one called Magdalena
Maggie
. It didn’t suit her at all.

“Hi, Carl. I’m surprised to see you.” Why was her voice so breathy?

“As I told the secretary…”—the assistant, Logan thought—“…I won’t take up much of your time.”

“No matter. I’m glad to see you.” They walked into her office. Over her shoulder, she raised her eyebrows and widened her eyes at Logan
.

Hell, he was only human. When they disappeared, he crept to the outside of her door, off to the left, to listen in.

oOo

“Sit down.” Magdalena
had been so focused on Logan’s remark that Carl’s visit had thrown her. He took a seat on the couch, and she joined him.

“I meant what I said, it’s good to see you. But it’s been years?”

“Yeah, it has.”

“And?”

Carl leaned forward and clasped his hands between his legs. He wore pressed jeans, a light blue dress shirt and a navy sports coat. “I have some news. Sally and I are divorcing.”

His mother had told
Matka
that his marriage was in trouble. “I’m sorry, Carl. You must feel bad.”

He turned to face her more fully. His eyes were a clear brown, unusual with his natural blond hair. “It’s my fault. She was right when she said I never got over you.”

Stunned was too weak of a word to describe how she felt. “I…I don’t know what to say. It was so long ago. How could that
be?”

“Damned if I know. But when the decision was made to split, the first thing I wanted to do was call you.”

“I…what exactly do you want from me?”

His crooked smile made her soft inside. “I’d like another chance with you.”

oOo

Logan rode to Teresa’s at lunchtime, not one bit ashamed that he’d eavesdropped on Magdalena and the guy who had been her first lover. A guy
who couldn’t forget her. A guy who wanted her back. He was glad he’d listened. It made their decision not to see each other romantically easier. She’d go on with her life, her
love
life, as he would. Now, today. With Teresa. It was for the best. This way he could keep Magdalena as his friend forever.

Teresa’s place was in an old part of the city, not too far from Broadway. When the cab dropped
him off, he exited the town car and made his way through the snow and ice into her building. The sun that had shone all morning had gone behind clouds and hadn’t peeked out again. He ignored the ominous reaction of nature.

She buzzed him up and met him at the door in a negligee. A beautiful soft green one made of sheer material. “Well, well, well,” he said smiling. “I don’t have to ask what
you want for lunch.”

Yanking on his tie, she drew him inside, led him by the hand to the bedroom, where he shed his clothes. He settled in next to her on the mattress and took her into his arms. Drew her close. And kissed her. This was just what he needed…

Logan awoke alone. He glanced at his watch and scowled. It was late in the afternoon. For a moment, he lay back and stared at the ceiling.
With a clearer head, he felt guilty about what he’d done—Teresa wasn’t exactly who he’d wanted to make love with today. Wincing at the notion, he slid out of bed and went in the bathroom to dress. A few minutes later, he found Teresa on the couch. She was red eyed
.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, coming to kneel in front of her.

“Y-you don’t even know what you did, do you?”

“What are we
talking about?”

She lifted her chin. Anger blazed from her face, and her body, now covered with a heavy robe, was stiff. “You called me Magdalena when you came inside me, Logan.”

oOo

Magdalena had been working all afternoon and had no idea what time it was when she heard a noise in the hall. Since her door was open, she saw Logan unlocking his office
.

“Hey, Logan,” she
called out
.

He didn’t answer, didn’t even glance toward her. He let himself in and closed the door. Could he not have heard her? And where had he been all afternoon? She noticed for the first time the room was dim, and it was already getting dark outside.

Rising, she went across the hall and knocked on his door. No response. “Logan, let me in.” Nothing, not even a “Go away.” This was the
oddest thing, unless he was upset by what had happened Saturday at her house. No, he wouldn’t shut her out for that, because they’d talked about it before Carl came and had emailed earlier. Things were a little stiff when they saw each other, but no big deal. She hoped.

Walking back into her own office, she got the spare key to his and crossed the hall again. The lock snicked open and she
stepped inside. The first thing that hit her was the smell of cigarettes. Logan used to smoke, had quit, and as far as she knew, he hadn’t gone back to the habit. She made her way to a little alcove. Sure enough, there he was, on the window seat with the glass open an inch, smoking. He looked up at her. Something was really wrong.

“Busted” was all he said, lifting the cigarette.

“I won’t
say anything about it except I thought you quit.”

“I did. My first one in seven years.”

Since she came to work at the firm. Was there a significance to that?

“I can tell something’s wrong. Do you want to talk?”

He shook his head
.

“Okay. How about if I sit with you?”

His eyes burned with something she couldn’t name. “Sure. You can tell me about Carl.”

She settled onto
the one chair in the space. “You remember who he is, right?”

“The first guy you ever made love with.” She couldn’t decipher his tone
.

But the intimate comment made her uncomfortable, even though they’d talked about this kind of stuff before. “An old boyfriend, yes.”

“And he wants to rekindle the flame.”

She cocked her head. “Did you eavesdrop?”

“Yep.”

“Why?”

“Because
I thought maybe you wouldn’t tell me about him after…you know, Saturday.”

“Is that why you’re not telling me what’s wrong with you today?”

“No! Jesus, just let it go.”

She caught her breath. Her eyes rounded in shock. Then she stood and strode out. They had
never
had a cross word that she could remember. Her eyes prickled with tears. Silly, she thought. He’s in a bad mood. It’s his
prerogative. She closed her office door in case she broke down
.

It flew open. His hair was askew and his eyes wild. “I’m sorry I snapped at you.”

She couldn’t face him. Sitting behind her desk, she folded her hands in her lap and stared down at the surface. “No problem. We’re fine.”

“Magdalena.
Kochanie.
” Hell, she looked up.

“You’re all teary eyed.”

“You never yelled at me
before.”

He dropped down on the chair in front of her. Gone was his easy grace and comfort with his body. This man was strung tight as a bow. “Something happened today that I’m super pissed at myself for doing.” He glanced up at the ceiling. “It was unconscionable.”

“Logan, it can’t have been that bad.”

“It was. But I don’t want you to know about it.”

“All right.”

“Will you
still tell me about Carl?”

“Yeah, sure.” This kind of confidence sharing was more like their relationship. “He and his wife have divorced. They sold their farm. He’s taken a job teaching in an agricultural program in our old high school.”

“I see. And this affects you how?”

“I don’t know exactly. He wants to talk at length. We’re going to dinner Wednesday night.”

“He’ll make a case
for a reunion.”

“Logan, it’s been years since we were together.”

“I heard him say he wanted another shot.”

“He did. I don’t know. I can’t imagine going back there.”

“Was he good in bed?”

“Ha! We were both new to the game, so to speak. The first few times were a disaster.” She laughed, remembering. “We got better by the time we split up.”

He bolted out of the chair. “You
know what? I don’t want to hear about this after all. I missed too much time while I was out today. I’ve got to work.”

Openmouthed, she watched him walk out of her office and into his. This was a side of him she’d never seen before. She didn’t follow him. Whatever was bothering him, he’d made it clear he wanted to deal with it alone.

oOo

Had he ever hated himself more? Logan
could barely think about his actions as he packed his briefcase and snuck out of the office like some sleazy thief in the night. He hadn’t stolen anything from Teresa except maybe her pride. But it didn’t get any sleazier than calling out another woman’s name in the throes of passion with someone else. If he’d been able, he’d kick himself in the butt all the way home. As it was, he walked four
blocks to his condo in the nasty ice and snow, got to his place and slithered inside like the snake he was. Striding to the bar, he fixed himself a drink, turned on the gas fireplace and sat in front of it, staring into the flames.

It would have been bad enough trying to forget what happened in Magdalena’s house Saturday morning, knowing he’d rejected a chance with the one woman who really
meant something to him, then seeing her for the first time today. But to do what he’d done with another woman…Logan wondered if he’d ever forgive himself. He stared into the fire, long into the night, feeling like crap.

 

Chapter 6

 

That next day, Logan called in to the office to say he was working from home. Magdalena thought about phoning him or walking over to his place during lunch, but she didn’t. He wasn’t himself yesterday, and she was confused about the tack their relationship had taken
.

He didn’t contact her all day.

So that night, she drove out to Queens to see her family.
She knew
Matka
had a date, but her sisters would be there. When she walked through the door, she heard them in the back, felt the warmth of
home
surround and comfort her. The scent of spicy sauce reached back to her, making her stomach growl
.

“No, you can’t put chocolate on your pizza, Ben.” Paulina’s chiding voice
.

“You said whatever we wanted.”

“Within reason, kid.”

She found
all of them around the kitchen island, assembling their choices for the eight-inch-round dough in front of them. The boys knelt on stools, their faces already stained with sauce. “Hmm, I’ll bet those will be delicious.”

Everyone looked up
.

Sal said, “Aunt Mags,” eased off his stool and ran to her.

“Don’t get her—” But it was too late. When he eased away, she saw red splotches on her
blouse. She didn’t care, because his firm little body pressed against her had thawed her insides some.

“Oh, no, honey.” Nia came over to her sister.

Sal frowned. “Did I do something wrong?”

“No, sweetheart.” Magdalena glanced at Nia, who nodded for her to handle this her way. “Your Mom thinks you got me dirty, but I’m going to get lots more stuff on this blouse tonight.” Standing,
she led the boy back to the countertop. “Hey, Ben, Tommy.”

“Aunt Mags.”

“Hi.”

The surface was a mess, with cheese spilling out of its dish, pepperoni with bites taken out of them and vegetables left untouched. Puddles of sauce dotted the space
.

“I’m done,” Ben said.

“Me, too,” Tommy added.

Sal climbed back up on the seat. “I’m not. Wanna help me, Aunt Mags?”

“Of course.”
She kissed each sister on the cheek, then settled next to Sal.

The chatter of children and loving comments from her sisters was the antidote she needed. It was fun helping Sal with his pizza, though it was more of a work of art when he finished. The three adults made veggie pizzas, enjoyed them with beer, and the six of them cleaned up
.

“Okay, adult time.” This from Nia.

“That’s only
with Rafe and Adam.”

“No, Sal, sisters need time together, too. Go play your half hour of video games while we chat in the family room.”

When the women settled onto the couch and a chair, Paulina turned right to Magdalena. “Spill. What happened?”

She ran a hand through her hair, messing it. “I don’t know where to begin.”

“Tell us what this is about.” Nia’s tone of voice was worried,
rightfully so, because Magdalena rarely shared personal problems. She rarely
had
them.

“It’s hard for me to narrow down what I feel.”

“Hell, Mags,” Nia said. “Just talk. You’ve helped me so much. Give me a chance to listen to you.”

So she spilled. Everything. Once she started, it all came tumbling out. She related the events since last Saturday morning, and they came out a jumbled
mass of thoughts and reactions. But she felt better when she released the tension she’d been holding inside her.

Paulina leaned over and grasped her hand. Hers was strong, callused, comforting. “I don’t know what to comment on first, Carl or Logan.”

“Start with Logan. That’s what I’m most upset about.”

“We can see.” Nia left the chair and sat in front of her sisters on the coffee table
facing them. “Why did you say no to going further when he kissed you?”

“Because it was a mistake. I can’t lose him as a friend.”

“You could gain a lover, a husband, maybe.”

“Sixty percent of all marriages end in divorce.”

BOOK: Risky Business
4.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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