If you missed chapter one, you can find it here.
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I can’t fucking believe she brought that man here. In my shop. Where I work. Hell, it’s where I live.
I lean against the counter and balance myself on my palms. My forehead rests against the upper cabinet, and I force myself to take a deep breath and count to ten. It was all I could do not to jerk him off of her and show him the door. With my foot up his ass.
One of my brothers left shit on the counter that should have been put away so I do it and slam the cabinet door. That feels a little better, but not much more. I can just imagine that douche in the front of the shop. He’s probably got his hand all the way up her shirt by now.
I slam another door.
The curtain rattles behind me and a breeze tickles the back of my neck as someone walks into the space. “Not now,” I grind out.
“Then when?” she tosses back.
Great. It would be her that came to get me. I knew it was her. No one else makes the hair on my arms stand up or gives me fucking chills. Not to mention that the perfume she wears gets to me before her voice does. It reaches across the room, creeps up my nose, and wraps itself around my heart. I lower my head and grit my teeth. “Go away, Friday,” I say.
“You have a client waiting,” she says, as though I don’t know.
“Then what the fuck are you doing?” she asks.
Friday is the only one who talks to me like that in my shop. She calls me on my shit and she has since the day she first walked in here. She was eighteen years old and she had just started at NYU. She walked in looking like she was lost and I hired her on the spot when she told me what was wrong with the tattoo on the side of my neck. She told me how she would change it and that any good artist would have known that it was placed wrong. She pulled out a sheet of paper and drew a quick sketch of a new design.
“Want a job?” I’d said.
“Yeah,” she’d replied. “But only if you’ll fix that fucking tattoo so I don’t have to look at that monstrosity every fucking day.”
I’d grinned. Hell, the thought of it still makes me grin. Logan had fixed the tattoo that day and she’d started working for me. That was four years ago. Four fucking years of looking at her beautiful legs and red lips. Every. Single. Day. Four years of watching her and wanting her. Four years of lusting over Friday. Four years with her busting my chops.
“I’ll finish in a minute,” I say. I heave a sigh and drop heavily into a chair. Friday wears me the fuck out.
She puts her hands on her hips and glares at me. “Why?”
“Why what?” I force myself to look at her face instead of her rack. She has the most beautiful fucking rack I have ever seen, and I’ve been looking at it long enough to know.
“Why are you back here instead of out there working?”
Because I couldn’t watch you sucking face with that douche. “I told you I’m taking a break.” I give her a what-the-fuck look. If I let her think she’s gone mental, I can blame it all on her, right?
“But why?” she asks. She stomps that little foot of hers. But that immediately draws my attention to her feet, and then up her legs, and then… God. I swipe a hand down my face. “Why, Paul?”
“Who’s the douche?” I ask, instead of telling her how I’m feeling.
“What douche?” She still has her hands on her hips.
“The one who had his tongue down your throat.” I glare at her. But she doesn’t back down. She never does.
“His name is Garrett,” she mumbles. She is suddenly really interested in looking at the magnets on the fridge.
“Garrett is a fuckwad. Tell him to keep his dick in his pants the next time he comes in my shop.”
She blows out a breath and raises her finger to point at me, and I can tell she’s about to ream me a new one.
“Weren’t you fucking somebody else last week, Friday?” I blurt out. I want to take it back immediately, because it hangs there in the air between us like a bomb about to explode.
“What?” she asks, and her voice goes soft.
“Last week it was a different guy who took you to lunch.” I grumble to myself and get up, pretending to clean the counter.
She thinks it over. “You mean Cody?”
“How many are there?”
She blinks hard. What the fuck? Friday never cries. Ever. I take a step toward her and she steps back, putting her hand up like she’s going to push the air around me back. “How dare you?” she breathes. A tear falls over her lashes and she swipes it away, and then looks down at the back of her wet hand like she doesn’t know what the fuck a tear is.
“Friday,” I say. I step toward her again. I soften my voice because I have no idea what to do. I have never seen this Friday before. I have only seen the one who can eat my balls for lunch. Hell, she’ll feed my balls to me if I piss her off enough. And make me like it. Four years and I have never seen her shed a tear.
She turns around and runs into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her. I lean my ear against the door and listen, but I can’t hear anything over the sound of the fan. I knock. She doesn’t answer.
“Damn it,” I swear. I lean my forehead against the door.
“Leave her alone,” I hear from behind me.
I turn around because Logan is talking. “I can’t,” I say to him. I knock again, but she doesn’t answer.
“Just leave her the fuck alone,” he says again. He’s pissed and I can tell. “You have a client.” He waves toward my customer like he’s Vanna Fucking White. “Work to do. So, you might want to get to it.”
I heave a sigh and look at my client. “Just a moment,” I say.
“Take your time,” he says with a grin. He’s loving the show, apparently.
I pull my keys from my pocket and fit the key in the lock. I hesitate long enough for Logan to notice.
“You shouldn’t,” he warns.
I know I shouldn’t, but I am.
I turn the key and let myself into the room. I find Friday washing her face.
“What the fuck, Paul!” she cries. She turns back to the mirror and dabs beneath her eyes. She looks at me in the mirror. “Get out.”
I close the door behind me and lean against it. “Why are you crying?”
“I don’t know,” she bites out. But another tear slides down her cheek. “Fucking hormones,” she says as she swipes it away.
All this because she has her period? I know better than to say that out loud. “Oh,” I say instead.
She turns to face me, hitching her hip against the sink. She crosses her arms beneath her breasts, which pushes them up and makes little pillows over the top of that low cut dress she’s wearing. My God. I look up at her face. She smirks at me. I like a smirking Friday a lot better than one who’s crying, because I don’t know what do with tears. Not from her.
“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” I blurt out when she just glares at me.
“Yes, you did.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yes, you did.”
“Fuck me, Friday,” I breathe. I swipe a hand down my face again and growl to myself.
She turns to face the mirror and starts to put on her lipstick. “I tried to do that and you didn’t want to,” she says. She purses her lips and kisses toward the mirror. The move shoots straight to my dick. “So, you — mister-I-am-jealous — don’t get to tell me who I can and can’t sleep with.” She looks directly into my eyes in the mirror. “So, I can sleep with Garrett. I can sleep with Cody.” She throws up her hands. “Hell, I can sleep with both of them at the same time, if I want.” She turns to face me. “And you don’t get any say-so about it.” She walks toward me. “You can’t say a word, because you didn’t want it.” She gestures toward the front of her body. “You said no to all this, so you get no say.”
“I didn’t say no,” I mumble.
“You kissed me and then you tried to take it back!” she yells.
Okay, I like Friday yelling. I like it so much more than Friday crying. “I didn’t try to take it back!” I slap my palm against the wall, but she just looks at my hand, smirks, and rolls her eyes. “I just… Never mind.”
“Just what?” she asks.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s over and done with.”
“Yep,” she says, letting her lips pop on the P. “Over. Done.” She dusts her hands together. “So you don’t get to go all Neanderthal when someone else kisses me.”
“I just…” I shake my head. “I had something I needed to take care of.”
“Don’t you mean somebody?” She smirks and shakes her head. “Was it Kelly you had to take care of? Heaven knows Kelly needs to come more than I do.”
Did she just say “come”? I shake the thoughts away. They’re not going to get me anywhere.
Friday tolerates my daughter’s mother. But I don’t think she’s ever really liked her. “It actually was Kelly I needed to take care of.” I say. I may as well lay all my shit bare. Friday cried, for God’s sake.
She lets out a heavy breath. “You kissed me and then you went and got some from Kelly?”
Her voice is soft. She’s… what is she? Is she hurt?
“No, I didn’t go and get some from Kelly. I went and broke things off with Kelly.” I take a step forward until I’m towering over her and she has to tip her head back to look into my face. “I had to go and tell her that I kissed you and that you rocked my fucking world.”
She freezes, so I take a chance and put my arm around her, pulling her against me. “What?” she breathes.
“I haven’t slept with Kelly since before I kissed you. I don’t want to sleep with Kelly. I have you on my fucking mind and I can’t get you out. So, I went and broke things off with Kelly. Completely.”
She blinks her brown eyes at me. Blink. Blink.
“Then I came back to see you, but you were pissed. You wouldn’t let me in. You said ‘no fucking way, you stupid son of a bitch.’ And you told me to go home. So, I went. Alone.”
“Kelly and I weren’t dating. We were just friends with benefits. Or parents with benefits. Whatever. Now we’re just Hayley’s parents.”
“I went and told her that we couldn’t do that anymore, and she understood.”
“You told her?” she whispers. “That you… what? What did you tell her?”
“I told her that I can’t stop thinking about you.” I brush her hair back from her forehead. I kissed Friday that one time when I walked her home and she invited me inside, and we both knew what she was offering, but I don’t think I’ve ever just held her in my arms. I like it. She lays her palms flat on my chest, like she needs to steady herself. “I have a thing for you,” I admit. I wince inwardly, because that sounds so lame.
“A big thing.”
Her gaze drops.
“Not that thing.” Although now that she’s looking down at it, it’s ready to rise to attention. Fucking attention whore. I tip her chin up. “But,” I say.
“Then you showed up with that first douche. And then that second douche. And I had just changed my whole life for the possibility of you. But you had moved on. Quickly.” I drag my fingertips up and down her bare arms and chill bumps rise. She shivers. “So, yeah, I’m mad. Sorry.”
“You don’t sound sorry.”
She laughs, and the sound of it shoots straight to my heart.
“Am I too late?” I ask. I wait, with my heart in my throat.
She steps back from me. “Paul,” she says. Her voice cracks. “I’m so sorry.”
I don’t need to hear any more. I go out and start my machine up and get back to work. I hear her move around in the shop, and I glance up at her every once in a while, but she gets busy with clients, drawing tattoos, and she ignores me. She doesn’t look in my direction. Not even once. Not for the whole rest of the night. And when it’s closing time, Logan volunteers to walk her home. I let him.