Authors: Cee Smith
about to cook me breakfast?”
“Sure, why not? We’re both hungry. We need to eat.” He shrugged his shoulders while he turned to the fridge and pulled out an assortment of things.
“When was the last time you cooked a meal for someone other than yourself, not including the storm?”
“Is this a trick question? My lawyer told me not to answer those.”
“It’s been a while, but that’s not to say that I can’t. It’s just, I never really needed to.”
“Because women across the city are falling all over themselves to get the opportunity to cook for you—”
“And look, I just so happened to find the one coordinated woman who doesn’t know how to fall all over herself. Now, sit there and look pretty and dial back the witty banter about 10%. It’s early and I need to focus on not burning my house down.”
I got up from my seat and made my way around the large marble island, where Joel was bent over wrestling pans from the lower cabinet. Joel was wearing basketball shorts with a tee, which gave me the perfect view of his muscles pulled taut from the strain of his position. It was an effort to keep my hands from molesting him, but I succeeded, barely. I brushed his lower back, grabbing his attention, and he stood back up to his usual towering height.
“Let me,” I said, pulling the oversized pan from his hands. I looked at the pan, not quite sure what he planned on using it for. He gave me an unapologetic smile. “I promise it would have been edible. Am
supposed to sit over there and look pretty now?” he asked while walking in the direction of the chair I had just vacated. I set the pan down and grabbed the kitchen towel dangling from the stove and popped it against the ass I’d been admiring since the first time he bent over.
“Yes. Go sit down and try to learn something.”
“Yes Ma’am, but only if you promise to do that again.” He smiled and I growled.
I made a simple breakfast: eggs, bacon, and toast with jam. We sat at the kitchen island, our stools so close together, our arms brushed every time he lifted his fork from the plate. I think the proximity was intentional, a way to keep me constantly aware of him—as if I needed our bodies to continuously brush for me to remember him. How could I forget when I was sitting in his opulent home, with million-dollar views and eating on plates that probably cost as much as my car payment? How could I when I still felt the ache between my legs as I sat against the hard wood of the stool? That was Joel’s intention though, to mark me in every way so when I left that day I would remember every kiss, every touch,
stretch of my body to accommodate his.
He wanted me to remember and miss him.
For the first time since I’d met him, we sat in relative silence. I knew what I was thinking about: my job, my house, last night, but what was Joel thinking about? A bit of somberness seemed to envelop us, and I couldn’t tell whether Joel or I had drudged up those feelings. Was he thinking about me leaving? Thinking about the last few weeks and whether or not it was worth it? Was he second-guessing everything he’d done, everything we’d done? Suddenly, the remaining eggs on my plate weren’t so appetizing. I let the fork fall back on my plate, the clatter echoing through the empty house. It seemed to draw out the fact that Joel was alone here, in a home with enough square footage to fit generations of families, but seemed to only house a family of one.
I looked around the large home and wondered if this had been his family’s home at one point. Did he take over this home after his dad’s passing? Sometimes it was so easy to forget that Joel was still grieving his father’s passing. Joel was so lighthearted, yet passionate and persistent in turning our tryst into something more. What that was, I still wasn’t sure. He never said exactly what he hoped this would turn into, but as of now, he seemed to just be content to use my body. I still wasn’t sure how I felt about that—except, of course, when he was shoved so deep inside me that my lungs shuddered for breath.
We both broke our moment of silence, laughing that we chose the same exact time to finally speak.
“You go first,” I said, waiting to see what he was going to say.
“Did you decide already? If you’re going to stay?” He looked to be purposely avoiding meeting my eyes. Maybe he was fearful of my response and didn’t want his emotions so easily read by me.
“I haven’t decided. I—”
The shrill ringing of Joel’s phone
sounding like it was coming from inside his shorts.
“You can answer that,” I said after the phone rang a couple times, and it looked like he wasn’t sure whether or not to answer it. His large hands slid into his pocket, pulling out the phone. He kept it beneath the counter so if I tried to glance at who was calling him I would look like a clucking chicken. I didn’t know if he was expecting a call from anyone, but the cold that seemed to sweep through the room radiated from the storm brewing in his eyes. I clutched his elbow with my hand, pulling his attention away from whoever had earned that murderous glare.
“Are you OK?”
Those green eyes stared into mine, but I wasn’t so sure it was me he was seeing. It looked like he’d seen a ghost that he had every intention of killing. I knew that look wasn’t directed at me, but then again Joel was definitely not himself.
“Did someone upset you?”
“Yes…I’m sorry. Blaire. I don’t think you can go home.”
“—I told you. I can’t stay here,” I didn’t bother telling him I was waiting to speak to Kerri; I didn’t like the way he assumed I was just going to stay with him, just like that, without any second thought as to the effects this would have on my career, my life. Not to mention that Joel had his own issues to deal with. The last thing I wanted was to be roped into their tug-of-war game. It was bad enough his drama had already overflowed into my life as it were.
“No, Blaire. Look.” Joel threw his cell down onto the counter, making my plate rattle with the force of his throw. I didn’t know whether to look at the phone he nearly broke or to watch his quickly changing moods. He inclined his head, and I followed his eyes back to the phone that sat ominously still next to my plate.
I tilted my head confused at what I was looking at. Picking up his phone to get a better look, the picture was starting to look a little clearer. Something that looked like blood was dripping down something blue. I held the photo closer, swiping to the right to see if there were more photos that would show me what exactly I was looking at. The next photo that lit up the screen put everything into place.
The same blood-like substance I found inside the box she sent was thrown all over my front porch and door. The air froze in my lungs, and I was at a loss for words. I could feel Joel’s eyes on me, intense as he awaited my reaction.
That’s what he’s waiting on, right? For me to completely lose it. I must admit, I’m close. Closer than I may have ever been.
“You see why I can’t let you go. It’s not safe. I knew she was a little off with how she accused me of beating her, but this is…I don’t know where she’s going with this, and I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Doesn’t really seem like I have a choice.”
“You’re safe here. She’s never been here. She doesn’t even know I have this home. Plus, there’s security. Just stay, at least until after we go to court. I’ll get you whatever you need.”
How could she know where I live and not know about this place?"
“Because this is—was my father’s house. He figured she was just like all the others, so he never wanted to meet her. Hell, I didn’t really want him to anyway,”
said a bit forlornly. I assumed that had more to do with his father’s passing than the fact that he stayed dating a woman that his father disapproved of so much that Joel didn’t even feel comfortable bringing her around.
I expected Joel to be happy about the circumstances—happy that I would be stuck with him so he could continue his assault of my body—but instead he looked sad and angry. He probably wanted me to stay of my own freewill, not because I was forced by his crazy ex-girlfriend. Now he’d never know whether I wanted to stay because that’s what I wanted, or because it was out of my hands and I needed shelter—at least for the time being.
When Joel stood up to take our plates over to the sink, I left the kitchen, making my way back to the foyer where my purse still sat. I took my phone out and shot a text off to Kerri.
Me: Scratch the trip to my house. It looks like I’m staying.
As the screensaver of my phone faded to black, I thought over my options. I could go to the police, file a report, and possibly seal my fate as an ex-employee of Henderson & Fitz Legal, or I could end this once and for all and beat Lara at her own game.
To Be Continued…
Coming December 7, 2015
Shut Off (Just This Once, Book 3)
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Also by Cee Smith
Just This Once Series
Shut Out (Just This Once, Book 2)
Shut Off (Just This Once, Book 3) releasing 12/7/15
About The Author
Cee Smith is a lover of the written word. Since first learning how to string a sentence together, she’s been putting pen to paper and hasn’t looked back. Though she’s no longer obsessed with blood and gore, the dark side still calls to her, often finding refuge in her current writings. Her addiction to reading is what finally inspired her to take a chance at publishing.
A California native, currently residing in North Carolina with her husband. She loves salacious stories, true love and forbidden romances—the more angst the better. Other than reading and writing, some of her other obsessions are peanut butter (don’t get her started), Michael Fassbender, and watching TV.
She loves talking about the creative process and what books she’s reading, so feel free to shoot her a line
. Or if you just want to say hi that’s fine too. She swears she’ll respond.