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firm of Cartwright & Associates LLP specializing in complex litigation. The two were not just colleagues, but best friends that grew up together in the same neighborhood and attended the same high school. They separated to attend different colleges after graduation where somehow fate reunited them to practice law at the same firm. Both were vying to make partner at the end of the year. The two spots available for the lucrative title to be chosen by the Managing Partners, had Taylor and Dillon looking to further that next step in their careers by snagging the title and larger office. Until the hiring of a new attorney and an envious girlfriend, upset the applecart. Disclaimer This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental. This ebook is licensed for the buyer’s personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold, uploaded via the internet, copied, printed, or redistributed without the written permission of the publisher or author. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or if it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it to the retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. Acknowledgments I acknowledge God as the head of my life and without him, I would not be able to do what I enjoy. Second, I like to acknowledge my family for giving me strength and support to keep me going when I want to quit at times. No dream is worth having if you aren’t willing to put in the effort. My family enforces my efforts. I would also like to thank Alfonso Rivera for his contribution in translating the English to Spanish. And, last, my beta readers for taking the time to read and give their honest feedback
First published by BooksbyToye 2013 Cover design copyright Toye Lawson Brown, Lenny C. Middlebrook, and David Gunnels Editors and Proofreading provided by Lois Jean and Kim Barnum Copyright © 2013 Toye Lawson Brown Published by: BooksbyToye All rights reserved
OBSESSED WITH TAYLOR JAMES Chapter 1
Taylor James and Dillon Stevenson ate lunch together on the patio of the restaurant located on the property of the building where they worked. This routine was one they did almost every day, at the same time, and if the weather permitted, outside. Today was one of those days to eat outdoors. The sun was shining, and the seventy-five degree temperature made perfect for the beginning of summer in downtown Cleveland. Taylor picked apart the majority of the salad she had for lunch. She did this with each purchase of a Spring-mix salad. She hated the dark purple leaves and would dig and deconstruct the salad until every bitter piece was gone. Sitting across from her, watching as she scavenged through the container of mixed greens, Dillon chuckled. “Why do you get that salad and then dissect it down to nothing? You have maybe two forkfuls left to eat after you’re done.” “Yeah, it does look pretty sad,” she laughed. “Why not just make a salad from the salad bar and get the stuff you do like?” Taylor frowned making a sour face. “Ew, I will not use the salad bar. You know I have concerns with people sneezing or coughing over open food.” “You are a classic germaphobe.” “I won’t argue that. Anyhow, I am trying to stay healthy so we can take that cruise to the Bahamas. Will Kate be able to secure a deal for us in August?” He nodded. “Yeah, she confirmed us for the week of August 4th. It will be good to get away for seven whole days. I’ve had it with work and need a vacation.” She threw her hands in the air clapping and wiggling. “Thank goodness you have a sister that is a travel agent. This has been a rough year with the heavy caseloads
and Dustin quitting in the middle of a hot case. Plus, it has been hard for me to keep my tongue in check with some of the other attorneys.” “Tell me about it.” Dillon slathered his burger with mustard and mayo shoving a big bite in his mouth.” “So, have you told Kelly about the cruise yet?” She asked drizzling a tiny portion of the balsamic vinaigrette over the remainder of the salad greens. He shook his head. “Not yet.” “The excitement of holding it in must be killing you. Why won’t you tell her? She will need to request vacation time.” He adjusted his horn-rimmed glasses up on his straight nose. “I’m going to tell her soon. Lately, she’s been a little snippy with me.” He tapped his finger on the table nervously. “I’ve been mulling around the idea of maybe just the two of us going by ourselves….how would you feel about that?” Chewing slowly, Taylor lifted her head squinting from the beam of bright sun shining straight in her face. “That would be awkward.” “Why? Taylor, we are close friends and have been for a long time.” “Yes, this is true, but people also know you are engaged to Kelly. It would be best if we kept the plans the way they are and not give people a reason to talk.” “Geez, would it be a bad rumor being connected to me?” “It is not like that, Dillon, and you know it. If we went out together, it would be like dating my brother. I think of you as my brother from another mother,” she joked. He mumbled under his breath a barely audible reply. “One day I will get you to change your mind about me.” She pressed the button on her cell phone to check the time. “What did you say?” Dillon shook his head disposing the remainder of his lunch in the container after losing his appetite. “I didn’t say anything.”
“Kelly is probably snapping because she is stressed from planning a huge wedding and needs a break,” Taylor said applying fresh lipstick using the mirror of her compact to see what she was doing. Dillon’s mouth dried when she pouted and twisted her lips to check for smudges. She had the sexiest set of lips he had ever seen on a woman. “She probably is stressed and so am I. I wanted this vacation to be my last hurrah before tying the knot.” “Too late for that, your hurrahs ended when you proposed. I, on the other hand, am still deciding if I should take a date or maybe go alone and meet a handsome, mysterious man on the cruise,” she said tapping a long manicured fingernail against her chin. Unexpectedly, he abruptly said, “I don’t want to marry her, Taylor.” Once the shock wore off from his words, she pounded her fist on the picnic table. “Dillon, why didn’t you bring this up when we had time to talk about it? We have to go back to work in a few minutes!” “Come on, Taylor. You know I had doubts about getting married.” “You did mention doubts and they didn’t seem serious to me. I assumed you were kidding. You and Kelly have been a couple since college.” “She has changed over the years. I’m getting a vibe there may be someone else in the picture.” Taylor leaned back looking at her friend. Dillon was the quiet type but likable and witty once he warmed up to people. He wasn’t extremely handsome or muscular, but above average in looks and stood five feet, ten inches tall, weighing around one hundred and fifty pounds with straight brownish-blonde hair and dark blue eyes. “We’ll have to take a break for coffee and discuss this. You can’t drop a bomb like that and not explain why you’re having suspicions about her all of a sudden.” He dropped his head running his fingers through his hair. “My suspicions are not sudden, I’ve always had them.”
Taylor stood up from the table. Her five feet, six inch slender curvaceous frame, filled the sleeveless blue linen dress to perfection. Long thick black curly hair flowed over her shoulders. The auburn highlights streaking through the black tresses, stood out under the bright sunlight. His eyes followed the length her body to meet her angelic face. “Taylor, I need your advice. What should I do?” “Kelly is not cheating on you. That girl loves you too much to jeopardize what you two have together. What you have is a classic case of cold feet, and you are getting them too soon. The wedding isn’t for another year.” “Maybe that is what I’m going through….cold feet.” He rose from the table to follow her. He let her go ahead of him as she started up the steps for the walk back to their office. He didn’t do it as a courteous gesture but as a way to watch her. Taylor James carried herself in a feminine manner. She always smelled good, dressed impeccably and spoke eloquently. He grinned as her plump hips elegantly swayed beneath the tight-fighting dress. Her bare flawless legs were shapely, and the high-heeled shoes emphasized her sexy walk as she took the stairs one at a time. He cleared his head as they stepped into the elevator. Taylor pushed the button for the twenty-first floor. She fingered a wisp of hair away from her face. “Do you and Kelly want to go to a wine tasting at Bella’s tomorrow night?” She asked. A man quickly placed his arm inside the elevator to stop the doors from closing. A handsome man of Hispanic descent stood next to Taylor. Dillon caught the expression on Taylor’s face. She flashed an intriguing smile as his mild cologne filled the car. The man’s eyes lingered on Taylor as he nodded at Dillon. Pushing the button to the thirtieth-floor—the reception area of the law firm, he settled against the wall of the elevator car looking forward. Dillon shook his head knowing he’d lost Taylor’s attention to the muscular, smelly stranger standing beside her, but answered her anyway. “I’ll ask Kelly if she wants to go, if not, we can go together.”
” . Mr. The secretary escorted both inside the spacious office that made two of the standard-sized associate offices. Brantley wants to see us in his office. I think he will fit in with us just fine. Taylor waved as she went to her office. they waited for Brantley’s secretary to announce their arrival instead of walking inside the Managing Partner’s office. “Thank you.” The doors opened to the twenty-first floor. he turned on the computer. Dillon. Grabbing a manila folder from the pile on his desk. I would like you both to meet Mario Infante. I’m sorry to take you away from your work. “Um…oh okay. Mr. Taylor poked her head inside his office. “Hey. Dillon allowed Taylor to exit first. Sitting behind his desk. He watched as the man tilted his head to the side checking her out.She blinked turning her attention to him. he removed the contents. Todd Brantley greeted them. Mario is a highly respected litigator in complex ligation among other practice areas and holds a ninetyeight percent win ratio.” Taylor smiled. Taking the elevator to the thirtieth-floor. I have heard how overworked you two have been recently. He adjusted his glasses and attempted to settle into work. but this is worth it. We’ll find out what he wants once we get to his office. Dillon rolled his eyes slightly and moved behind Taylor to block his view as they entered the security doors.” “I have you extra support. “Lynda caught me in the hall saying he wanted to see us immediately. and I did something about it. He is joining the firm as a partner in the Complex Litigation department. The pair parted ways in the hall. “What does he want?” She shrugged her shoulders now hidden under a blue suit jacket that matched her dress. just let me know. and he went to his. we could use more hands on deck.” Dillon removed his glasses rubbing his eyes. “Taylor. ASAP. His mind drifted to Taylor as it always did when he was alone.” Dillon took his suit coat from behind the chair putting it on as they left his office. Brantley.
Welcome aboard. His Spanish accent flowed prevalent as the words rolled from his mouth. They have been working around the clock at achieving a settlement with opposing counsel. They are mainly responsible for holding down the Gallop Industries matter. please don’t hesitate to elbow into my office and grab me. “Todd.” “I’m Taylor James.” Todd Brantley stood between his two rising-star associates.” .” Dillon frowned. please call me Mario.” Taylor said smiling and extending her hand.” Mario dropped Dillon’s hand to take Taylor’s hand in his. And. Mario. Infante—we met informally on the elevator. “Thank you both for the warm welcome and I will be sure to do that. If I can be of any assistance in helping you get settled. Taylor.Mario ran his hands through his sleek black hair. it could possibly compromise all the hard work we’ve put into getting this matter settled and closed. and. are you pulling me from the case? Taylor and I have been negotiating a settlement for months. If you pull me now.” Dillon removed his hand from the pocket of his trousers extending it to the man politely. I believe they are close to getting one. Mr. “I’ve heard of you and you have quite a reputation around town. “That we are. “Todd. Infante. Mr. you’re laying it on a bit thick aren’t you?” “I’m not embellishing on your talents. I want you to work directly with Mario and bring him up to speed on the Gallop Industries case. The two of you will be handling that project together. You are what this firm needs to kick this practice area up a notch.” “I will make sure my work is up to par to match all the glory you are giving me. “I’m glad you offered your services.” “I’m sure it will and these two are on the fast-track to making Partner in a short time.
my expert talents are needed? Tell me. Keeping her professionalism intact. Well guess what is back. Todd. I’m concerned about leaving Taylor in a loop.” Todd uneasy with Dillon’s tone replied. Anderson Cartwright requested you take lead duties.” Taylor’s eyebrow rose from the blow of Todd’s announcement. she leaned over to him.” “Dillon.“Why would that happen? Taylor will remain on the case. but since you’ve asked. We need your expert talents to help put it to bed again. you were taken away from a bigger case to help Taylor wh en Dustin quit.” .” “I’m aware she is capable of handling it. Why is this requiring me to be promoted now?” Todd became irritated with Dillon’s persistent pressure on talking about a private matter. and is capable of continuing the negotiations. “I had not planned on getting into specifics today. “Dillon. Making Partner has always been my goal. in what capacity will I serve on Electric Tech this time? Last time all I did was coordinate and delegate work to the paralegals. “Really. we will meet later to discuss and go over the details of why this is happening so suddenly. “Thank you. “Congratulations. Todd.” The tone of Dillon’s voice was somewhat arrogant. Electric Tech Medical Products has returned to the frontburner. Dillon. He suggested strongly to the man threatening to cut his own throat. but Partner promotions aren’t made until the end of the year.” Dillon shrugged his shoulders. Todd. I’m just saying we both have contacts we’re dealing with on different levels. Why shake the boat and have people become uncomfortable with the sudden change. Taking on Electric Tech comes with an early promotion to Partner.” Dillon’s body language did not reflect the same excitement as Taylor’s congratulations on his promotion. “I apologize if I sound ungrateful.
I’ll be down shortly to take you on a tour around the firm. Thank you again for trusting me with this project. Turning to Mario. don’t leave yet. If I can remember where my office is located. Hispanic men were her weakness. Stevenson. “Todd. who seemed disheartened about his promotion. I’m going to call Anderson and get the ball rolling on Electric Tech.” Embarrassed.” Todd said. Todd walked with him to the door. “It was nice meeting both of you and I look forward to working with you. “Are you crazy? Take your newfound status and run with it. I want to get a jump on this to avoid the drama we had with them last time.” “Mr. Although she loved the men and . “Thanks. “I will see you later.” Nodding. I will have my assistant organize my files and have them to you by the end of the week.” Dillon threw up his arms and surrendered. Taylor smiled gushing on the inside. “My assistant.” Mario smiled at the older woman holding a basket filled with office supplies. he said. headed towards the door. “Gallop is all yours. and congratulations on making Partner. I’m sure he will catch on quick and be able to charm the client with the change in arms. Adios. Corrine will take you to your office. can you give me a second with Dillon and Taylor?” He obliged by moving towards the door. Certainly she would need a crash course in Spanish to understand what he was saying if he ever lapsed into his native tongue.” Mario stood docile after witnessing what unfolded before him and said. who had lost the sparkle in her eyes and Dillon. “Mario. Dillon. I will forward you all electronic data so you can get familiar with what I’ve done so far.” he bid as his eyes lingered with Taylor.” He looked back at Taylor. folding his arms outwardly upset by Dillon’s strange behavior.Taylor spoke up. Until then. and Mario IS the best in the litigation business. Dillon. I’ll go get settled. I’ll be fine. “Take all the time you need.
“He is an excellent attorney. “I am at a loss on what to say. Once he’s had time to relax and unwind. Taylor. he is getting married next year.” Todd walked around his desk to sit down. but don’t make excuses for him.their culture. Besides Gallop. The firm only employed ten minority attorneys of the fifty-five attorneys in all.” Taylor dropped her head.” “I have to get those files together for Mr.” she said flirting.” Dillon was gone without giving a verbal confirmation for Todd’s request or explanation for his behavior. I know he is your friend and you two have a history outside of the firm. Infante. Maybe Anderson should not have committed him to such an important project right now. But he was her friend. she never took the time to learn the language fluently. you have also pulled his ass out of the fire on occasion. I was against it. Please make sure you are available. We’ll meet later to discuss what happened in front of Mr. Infante. Anderson pushed for his promotion. Dillon. and she needed to defend his oddness. But. She was one of only two black attorneys employed by the firm. He is under a lot of pressure with planning his wedding plus. he will be his glorious self again. Todd waited for the door to close and perched himself in front of his desk as he addressed Dillon. He is just stressed and nowhere near as peculiar as he presented himself in front of Mr. Mario Infante made the first Hispanic and tenth minority. Infante. “You have to excuse Dillon. Taylor released a nervous breath surprised by Dillon’s bizarreness. The wedding is a year away.” Todd removed his glasses. .” “No. “Right. we’ve been working practically around the clock. Todd. don’t take it away from him now. “I’ll come to your office later so we can talk shop. and Dillon has scheduled a week of vacation in August. we have other cases we have been juggling.
If one comes along. but he was coercing me. I’m gone.” “Your accusations are warranted.” “That would never happen. and they are now filled. I can’t overrule him.” “Good. but I do appreciate your dedication and hard work you exhibit towards our clients. I’ve stated such to him. “I’m not mad at Dillon or you. and he made Partner early. “I have it noted. an d I had to tell him. I was hired in as a lateral just as Dillon. My commitment is due to my love for my work. he will be sorry he lost me to a competitor.” “Taylor.” She shook her head leaning in across his desk to look him dead in the eye. I have gone to bat to get you where you belong. I’m putting it on record that my options are open. I wanted you promoted to Partner.” The older man rubbed his forehead.” “I stay because you appreciate me. Todd. Anderson will promote every associate under me before I make Partner. I may be dedicated.“Todd. but I refuse to be over forty and an associate. I have tried as far as you are concerned. Anderson is the Controlling Partner of the firm. be promoted over me. and when other firms hear how good I am. I didn’t want you to find out about Dillon’s promotion this way. Taylor. There was only a place for two new partners for the coming year. I will not be receptive of a paralegal. I’m not making any promises. I won’t say I’m surprised.” . Last year. I’m not bitter because I know I am good. and I feel no loyalty towards Anderson Cartwright. and Mr. “Don’t count anything out. Why you continue to stay and work under these conditions is beyond me.” She snorted a laugh. who returned to school to get a law degree. but Anderson would not budge. but I am open for other opportunities. But. I did not mentor at this firm. Infante came in with the status. I also know not to bother opening the email regarding the new partnerships announcements since Dillon has made it. Taylor.
And this firm can do whatever they want at their discretion.” . “I feel sorry for Mr. The case is beneath Mr.” Todd’s glare bore into her. even if I have to die to get it for you. got him this job. Infante’s experience. I agree Dillon is a good attorney. Dillon doesn’t have the experience to take that into a courtroom and win it. He is a brilliant attorney with exceptional skills.” “I understand the laws of Ohio. Infante. but we are not breaking any laws. Infante and don’t make any trouble for him please.” “Taylor!” “Let me finish. Gallop will settle for no more than a million dollars. Taylor. I’m protecting Dillon. but Mr. tossing her hair over her shoulder. He will find out for himself how his nationality. Infante should lead Electric Tech and not Dillon if Anderson is trying to impress someone. I am not being a good sport at all. I promise. Todd. Todd. but not to guide Electric Tech. and I’m not going to be the one to shed any bad light about this firm to him. Dillon is my friend. Just like me. on the other hand. I know I am being blunt when I say this. I’m thrilled for his success. you have the spot.” She straightened her body and leveled down the creases of her dress. But. Mr. so tread very carefully. Mario Infante does and has the credentials to prove he can win big cases in court. and mine. Infante.” “I’m not trying to make trouble for Mr. The money demanded by the plaintiff’s in that case can go as high as four or five hundred million dollars.” “I didn’t hire Mr. and not his exceptional skills as an attorney. “Taylor.” She sauntered to the door.“Overall you are being a good sport about this. those are pretty strong words.” “Don’t make me any promises. Infante. It’s unbelievable he is stuck on the Gallop case with me because the firm needs to show two minorities can handle a non-complex case. the next partner to leave the firm. It will wrap in less than a month. “And. I respect your anger. just doesn’t know what he is getting himself into. he is here to fill a quota.
she would have declined the offer. ***** Taylor finally made it to Mario’s office after 5:00 o’clock. Infante waiting any longer.” She gave a discomforting laugh.” Todd’s eyes showed age as he pleaded with her. He will be assisting Dillon and does have a good track record for winning also. Todd. triple that stress with Anderson breathing down his neck. why do I care? I’m not at risk of losing anything. I will do my job regardless of my overlooked promotions. Even if she had been. the sooner he can contact his former firm and request to come back. The sooner he is introduced to the crap he will be doing. His stomach would soon erupt and remind him that aspirin is not the drug of choice when suffering from peptic ulcers. . He just needs to refocus—you also said that. I don’t want to keep Mr.” “I said he needs to refocus on his work—not be thrown blindfolded to the wolves. Dillon will rise to the occasion and come out with a victory. Anyhow. we aren’t doing that.” Todd slouched in his chair watching her sashay from his office. With Dillon in meetings with Anderson all afternoon and afterwards the celebration dinner for the new partner. Opening a desk drawer.” “Taylor. But. Please let me finish out my days and then go to battle with Anderson and whoever takes my place. Well. she was elated not to be included on the guest list. “You saw firsthand how well Dillon is handling pressure lately. But watching Dillon become the fallguy for Anderson Cartwright is something I am not willing to do.” “I’m not going to cause a stir in the dirty waters.“Anderson believes Dillon has the passion and drive to defend Electric Tech and win. “I’m retiring soon. he needed something strong and fast to cure the headache pounding behind his eyes and alcohol was off limits. he removed a bottle of aspirin tapping two from the bottle and swallowing them dry.
“Ah. Ms.” He tugged the pleat in his trouser upward before sitting down in his chair never taking his eyes off her. My family settled in Miami when I was a child. “I’m sorry I’m getting to you so late in the day. I will start with myself. His long black lashes and thick eyebrows did not clash with the light color of his skin. The light scent of his cologne lingered in the air of the warm empty office. His dark eyes pierced her soul and caressed her in spots that made her seep uncontrollably. It alone made her knees tremble as she moved across the floor to hurry and sit in a chair. she entered and closed the door behind her. Spanish was the only . She crossed her legs. James. Thank you for checking on me. Regaining stability in her legs. is there anything I can help you with? I’m free to work this evening if you want to get started on the Gallop case. She hurried to clear her throat of the jumpiness. Although I have lived in Miami for the majority of my life. “We could do that or we could get to know each other a little. Puerto Rico. “Please come in and have a seat.” He nodded holding his gaze on her and rubbing his hands together as if to warm them.She knocked on Mario’s door that was slightly ajar. Are you getting settled?” She asked with her voice cracking. Safely seated she said. I am from San Juan. “Hello? May I enter?” Mario Infante was standing at the window observing the view when he turned around at the sound of her voice. He possessed a succulent full mouth and lips she deemed kissable. She wished he would stop looking at her that way. A man hadn’t had that effect on her in eons.” Taylor had not met a man whose smile brightened his whole face or had dazzling features that sent chills down the base of her legs until now. I am getting accustomed to my surroundings. I wanted to check on you earlier. but work got in my way and then you were out making acquaintances with other attorneys. “So. She knew he would get the full view of their length from where he sat.
she answered. The air was off in his office. “Well. . lifting it off the back of her neck.” Taylor squared her shoulders to show interest. impressed. and after doing a long stint at my last firm. a narrow waistline.language spoken in my home. and too damn good-looking to be real. “Well. The crisp white shirt tucked inside the waist of his trousers made her salivate. What details did I omit that you would like to know?” His grin was mischievous and sultry for a man. She wanted to take off her suit jacket but that would be too impulsive of a move. Infante. that is impressive. therefore. But those will get filled in eventually.” Taylor raised her eyebrow. The man was built like a Greek God. And. and the room was uncomfortably warm and stuffy. obviously aware of the elevated temperature in the office.” Taylor’s heart thumped in her ears. I’m here where I plan to stay until another opportunity unseats me. “All right.” “Enlighten me. I don’t have any family living here. Unconsciously she brushed her hair away from her shoulder. “Please. “Opportunities and change of scenery are my reasons for being in Cleveland.” He smiled opening his mouth enough to reveal perfect teeth. how did you end up in Cleveland? And do you have family here?” He stood up and removed his suit jacket. His athletically built body hosted broad shoulders. go on. Finally. The heat from her hair had settled on the back of her neck. Mr. don’t be afraid to ask me to slow down. She would suffer with the sweating rather than appear to be coming onto him. my accent is very noticeable to other people. and squeezable buttocks from what she could see when he briefly turned around to drape his jacket over the back of his chair. If I’m speaking too fast. I think of the many friends I have made over the years as my family. I am a Harvard grad. You’ve gift-wrapped yourself in a pretty package but omitted a few details.
“Do you have any questions for me?” His probing stare returned. He wanted to get a better look at the stunning woman sitting across from him.The cuffs of the tailored shirt were linked together with gold cufflinks. She fought the urge to touch her lip to make sure she was not drooling. and straight. shiny. Are you married with children?” He shook his head.” she said wiggling her shoulders.” She blinked giving a feeble attempt at a smile. His pitch-black hair was neatly cut. “Yes. either.” she said releasing a playful smile.” “You can ask me anything within reason.” “Okay. I have a busy life with no room for socializing at the moment. “Yes. Taylor wiggled from the jacket and spread it across her lap. She tore her eyes away when he suddenly caught her staring. “Yes there is. “Much better. James? I realize the office is a tad warm. The pearl necklace she wore stopped at the scooped neckline of the dress that didn’t give any cleavage. it is warm in here but I’m okay. “I have never been married and I have no children. “He is my father. I don’t mind. “Are you okay. Is there a Mr.” His grin lopped to one side meaning she’d made a score. Her ample breasts were firm and shapely and filled the top part of the dress nicely.” he said leaning back in his chair. James in the picture?” Taylor searched his fingers and did not see a wedding ring. I’ve called maintenance to check on the air conditioning. I will ask then.” .” “Remove your jacket and get comfortable. Her removing the jacket would not only be for her benefit but him. as well. matching the tie clip attached to the silk pinstriped black tie. I do but my questions may be deemed inappropriate and I probably should not ask. which meant nothing since men removed them when convenient. Ms. “I am not married or currently in a relationship. She moistened her lips.
I would not want to deal with the drama of the other woman.” she said standing up draping her jacket over her arm. Are you against a single man having children?” The overheated office rapidly grew to swelter as the palms of her hands dampened. A true gentleman never lets a lady pay for a date. I don’t stand on formality with my colleagues. seeing this is not a date but a business dinner. “I honestly did not mean for my response to be discriminating.” He rocked back and forth in the chair. There is nothing wrong with a single man with children as long as he is taking care of business. His deep-throaty laugh broke the pause in the conversation. Ms. Taylor. “Well.” He stood up taking his suit coat from the chair and slung it over his shoulder.” she said dangling her leg over her knee. it is hot as an inferno in this office and a beautiful day outside. Despues de usted bella dama. “I like how you think. . “I will accept your invitation but under one condition.“We have one thing in common. “Nice recovery.” “What condition would that be?” “I get to choose the restaurant and pay for dinner.” “Taylor. so make sure you have plenty of workrelated questions to ask me. “I can’t do that. James….” he recited in Spanish allowing her walk ahead of him.” Her mouth curled into a grin. I will pay and write it off as an expense. but there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a single father. Personally. “Why are you laughing?” “You didn’t just want to know if there was a wife lurking in my house but if there were kids.” “Taylor.” She tilted her chin upward. Would you like to continue our conversation over dinner? I suddenly have a taste for something roasted over an open fire.
Anderson. and he had just met her. His face flushed with heat when he noticed where Mario’s hand rested on Taylor’s body as he ushered her through the door. I did reach her. Dillon descended the internal stairwell and saw them. “Let’s go.Exiting his office. Sighing. were you able to reach with your fiancée to meet us for dinner and celebrate?” Dillon rolled his eyes as the heavy door slammed shut.” Anderson put his arm around Dillon’s shoulder. he tried to muster a smile. His hand did not belong on the small of her back. “Yes. She will meet us at the restaurant. We’ll have a few drinks before the ladies arrive switching us to tea for the remainder of the night.” . “Dillon. He was bold to touch Taylor in such a commanding way. I could definitely use a couple of stiff drinks about now. Wiping his hands on a paper towel. Anderson exited the men’s room adjacent to where Dillon was standing. he asked.” “Good. they walked together through the corridor that led to the external elevators.
She lingered in the imported wine section mulling what to get.nah. Reaching for a second. Looking around no one was behind her as she looked at the different styles and options for condoms. She and Mario had been together almost every night after work since he’d started four weeks ago. At the bakery. she hurried inside the grocery store to get the ingredients for Chicken Alfredo. She and Mario had not had sex or even approached the subject but with two bottles of wine. She was not ready to be anyone’s mother. . I should get more than one the night could be long. Neither of those went with her menu. Tonight she was cooking dinner for the two of them. anything was possible. A ‘be prepared’ philosophy crossed her mind. Heading to the checkout. She put it back and got a rustic loaf of Italian bread instead.Chapter 2 Four Weeks Later The high heels of Taylor’s shoes clicked as she ran across the wet pavement of the parking lot dodging heavy raindrops. she shrugged her shoulders. garlic on a date…. She hurried through the store throwing items in the cart. Leave it to the grocery store to put condoms in the same aisle as baby and feminine products. Hmm. and she’d invited him over at 9:00pm for a late dinner. She picked a bottle of chardonnay and put it in the cart. A subconscious reminder as what an impulsive night of passion could cause. she passed an aisle that caught her attention. she reached for a fresh loaf of homemade garlic bread and changed her mind. It was after 6:00pm when she left work. and he drank imported tequilas. Her choice of drink was Jack Daniels and Coke. Taking a shopping cart from the rack.
He was brilliant. he flexed letting his broad muscles expand. The registers manned by cashiers had shorter lines but the condoms. Laying the clothes on the bed. She cracked the window to cool her libido and turned up the radio. he went to the dresser and got socks and underwear. He smelled so damn good. he would point the several reasons why a particular strategy would or would not work and. Her favorite song Adore by Prince was playing and getting her in the mood for a wonderful night with Mario Infante. Taylor paid for the grocery. he was easy to get along with. On special occasions. She didn’t know if that was the marketing idea behind the cologne. He chose a pair of black dress trousers and a wide pinstriped black and white polo shirt. Then there were the other benefits of working with him. it embarrassed her somewhat. and it made her want to touch him often. piled the bags in the back of her Lexus.Taking a box of standard size instead of being presumptuous and grabbing the magnums. He kept fit by exercising and eating right. She would find herself touching his arms or shoulder or brushing against him. together they would reach a solution. Besides that. Checking his body over. throwing them on the bed. and headed home to cook. but it definitely worked. Dining at Taylor’s house would not require him to wear a suit but to be casual. She and Dillon would sometimes butt heads when it came to decisions causing a third-party to come in and settle the dispute. he would treat himself to a hearty meal but not often. His favorite cologne was Burberry Touch. and she loved watching his mind work legal strategies. He was forty and every ounce he gained would . ***** Mario stood in the walk-in closet deciding on what to wear. though it showed responsibility. A smile crossed her face as she daydreamed about Mario. With Mario. she tossed them in the cart and headed for the self-check register.
Mario searched for something depressing to deflate the attention of his soldier. The women he’d been meeting were only after one thing—his money. drove an expensive car. he selected a . There were no sprinkles of gray peppering his head either. He harbored good genes. and he was smitten with her. he had a host of relatives in Puerto Rico that he called often and visited when he could. He chose he would wait for the right woman to come along before he was caught in a situation with his pants down. he rubbed his hands around his neck. healthy. He got his attention back on track. he looked for any gray. His parents were alive. He didn’t think twice when he treated women to expensive dinners or purchased nice gifts for birthdays or other special occasions. and always dressed to impress. His sex life has been non-existent for months. His two brothers and three sisters were also healthy and lived productive lives in Miami. He was wealthy and had the possessions to prove it. She fits well with him. Next. and both were over the age of seventy. he checked for wrinkles before putting on the polo. Splashing a little Burberry between the palms of his hands. down his chest. Get it together. He’d planned to ask Taylor to join him on his next visit to meet his parents. he put on the silk Armani socks. Besides them. Checking the soft black patch of hair centering his chest. Pulling up the trousers. He had a feeling Taylor would be the last stop in his journey for love. He owned his three-bedroom split-level home. he couldn’t think of anything because Taylor was the only thing on his mind. life sprang forth. or it will be a long night. He went to the bed getting the black boxer briefs pulling them over his athletic hips snapping the waistband. In the closet.show up somewhere on his body if he didn’t keep fit. Removing the towel from around his waist. but he refused to be a sugar daddy for sex. He groaned shaking his head. there was none. She had been running through his mind since getting home from work. then across his flat stomach to give off a light scent of the cologne.
Whistling an unnamed tune. she smiled admiring her spread.” he said grabbing an umbrella from the stand next to the door. the Louis Vuitton Tambour Chronograph Voyagez II Watch. but romantic and elegant. not bad from a woman that grew up thinking cheese from clear plastic wrappers was fancy. he smoothed his hair with his hands. and red plates with silver chargers underneath. She credited wine tastings at Bella’s on her knowledge of choosing good wines and the correct glasses to drink them from.” he said taking his wallet off the dresser and exiting the bedroom. Folding her arms. The sexual attraction was heavy between them. Not only was it sexy mature food. looked magazine perfect. fresh red roses. “Dang. “Ah. aged cheeses. and returned to get the wine from the fridge. No thunderstorm was going to ruin his evening with Taylor James. to her. a rumbling of thunder shook the foundation of the house. Popping his collar. ***** Taylor dressed the dining room table with tall red candles. the power better not go off now. he smiled. a replenishing rain. Her idea was to have a glass of wine and talk to get to know him better. and conversation had to be diverted other mundane topics to ease it. Turning down the oven so the chicken wouldn’t burn she prepared a light appetizer of olives. She took the platter to the living room.” she fumed. baby. she took that to the living room also. She wasn’t Martha Stewart but the table. she preferred white to red. “Looking good. grapes. he reached the front door. “Darn it. but when she did. a diamond stud earring for his left ear. and crackers. She didn’t drink wine often. The lights fluttered on and off as she returned to the kitchen to check on the food. She didn’t want to rush into dinner once Mario arrived.pair of Gucci leather loafers. and his newest purchase.” . Checking his image in the full-length mirror. Placing it on a sterling tray with two Riedel white wine glasses.
” The after-work Mario was quiet appealing. but then again. Taylor loved how the polo shirt wasn’t too loose or too tight. come in please. she opened the door.” He stepped in the small foyer waiting for her to close the door. Calming her nerves. The snug-fitting halter. she raised her eyebrow flirtatiously. Parting her glossy lips. she checked the food once more. I wouldn’t expect you to look any other way. come on!” She opened a china cabinet door. Mario removed a bouquet of flowers from behind his back. The matching strappy stilettos gave her legs shape. She focused on the man standing before her.” . It contoured to his torso outlining his well-developed abs. Passing the mirror hanging on the wall in the hall. made her look stylish. “Mario. the aroma made her stomach growl. she had to admit she looked gorgeous. flat stomach. “And. she said. The silver dangling earrings hanging from her ears and her hair pulled in a tight chignon. and trim waistline. only realizing she’d been holding it in when she became lightheaded. she wanted to look sophisticated rather than giddy when she opened the door.” he said with a crooked grin. but she didn’t care. and poised. midnight blue dress. He was tall. The doorbell rang getting her attention. It was pouring rain.” Slithering her hand down his arm.The lights fluttered again. “Oh. His attire was appropriate for the casual dinner. Ditching the wrappers in the garbage. ”These are for you. but held her own when it came to simple meals. you look gorgeous. She let out a breath. removing several sized decorative candles and placed them around the living room and dining room in case the power went out during dinner. “Taylor. Unable to remove the smile from her face. handsome and there to see her. “Thank you. you’re looking rather handsome yourself. hugged her in all the right places. She wasn’t a gourmet cook like her sister Sabrina.
” he said looking over the rim of the glass at her as he drank more of the wine. “May I?” He asked. she preferred the hard stuff. “You really have to stop saying things like that. You have exquisite taste in wine considering your drink of choice is Jack and Coke. After a breathless minute of staring into his eyes. “The flowers are beautiful. “We can toast to our health. Shall we make a toast?” Taylor held the glass by the stem waiting for him to sit next to her.” He took a sip. Although she liked the wine. “Shou ld we toast to our health and friendship?” Mario smiled repeating but adding an edit to what she said. The scent of the flowers smelled virtually as good as the Burberry cologne he wore. Taylor dropped her gaze.” She blushed.” she said leading him to the living room. I will deem this night a success.” He took the corkscrew from the tray and watched Taylor sit on the sofa crossing her legs. he replaced the bottle on the tray handing her a glass. Pouring wine into each glass. Dinner will be ready shortly.” Taylor’s laugh was relevant to the airs she was putting on. Removing the gold seal covering the cork.” “I’m sure dinner will be as delicious as the hands that prepared it. She nodded. “This is smooth. “Please do.She took a whiff of the colorful floral arrangement. It could get you everywhere. Now if dinner garners any compliments. “Did I just say that after one sip of wine?” . and hopefully more than just friendship. “I’m batting two for two. “Here you go. The legs he wanted so badly to trace his tongue starting from the base of her ankle to end at her hip. He took the wine bottle from the tray and approved the purchase. Until then. how thoughtful of you to bring me flowers. he inserted the corkscrew opening the wine with ease. I have a nice chardonnay and hors d'oeuvre waiting for you.
If she leaned down a tad further. “Mr. His mouth watered as the ends of his lips curled into a grin. He looked at the clock it was almost 9:15pm. He pulled to the stop sign at the end of her street. Licking her lips. With a wiggle of his brows. she moved her head close to his face and said. If Taylor wasn’t busy tonight.” he muttered. Taylor pretended not to notice his swift but concealing move. Blinking he shook his head. Taylor’s favorite song by Prince was playing— what a coincidence. he said. and soon. The beautiful movement of her body beckoned him. the message was loud and clear to him. “You’re killing me. she would agree to see a movie or go to dinner. he would be able to see the sexy valley between her breasts. ***** Dillon’s head bounced to the beat of the music playing on the radio and his fingers tapped on the steering wheel. and since he was in the area. . you will have to work the old fashion way to learn everything about me. I never let alcohol guide me to spontaneity. The vision of her supple backside caused his groin to clench almost painfully upon watching the gentle sway of her hips. “You have me curious what a whole glass of wine will get me. maybe. grabbing the throw pillow next to him to cover his midsection on the sly.” She leaned forward into him. he wanted to drop by for a visit. Infante. begging him to take her. “I’d better check on dinner. He hadn’t seen his best friend in weeks. If you are curious about me. Keep my seat warm for me?” He leaned back on the sofa resting his arms across the back cushions. Taylor James awakened every membrane in his body. Even if she didn’t know that’s what her body said.His lopsided grin widened.” His eyes traveled to the area of her ample cleavage spilling from the top of her dress. He was on his way to her house. He had to have this intriguing woman in his life. Taylor.
The windshield wipers smeared the glass as he tried to figure out who drove that type of car. Maybe it was Sabrina’s car. Her firmness of being best friends forever was ludicrous. The woman had an effect on him no other woman. He knew Taylor’s likes and dislikes better than he knew his own. He was so sure she would be receptive of his idea he’d packed an overnight bag. the sooner he could go to work on Taylor. Together they would devise a plan on how to let Kelly down easy. and Taylor drove a Lexus. They belonged to a man. They knew everything about each other. Who in her family could afford a BMW? He’d never seen it before. Best friends made the best lovers because there were no secrets or surprises. His pulse raced. Dillon hummed as he drove down her street full of anticipation. And the sooner he could get rid of her. Taylor was visible from where she sat in the dining room. Kelly was a figment to him these days. Parking his car behind the black BMW. and it was not Sabrina. The separation of time is what kept them from pursuing a genuine relationship and now that Kelly was in the picture. Taylor and Sabrina hung out a lot together. they went beyond the point of being best friends when they were teenagers. His humming faded as he spotted a car in Taylor’s driveway. but the visitor. could achieve. Through the thick sheers. He started to ring the doorbell when he saw the shadows of two figures moving in the dining room. But not tonight. Tonight he was going to make her see things his way and agree they belong together. she would not let him bring up the subject of them ever dating. he trotted to the front porch avoiding as many rain puddles as possible. he could clearly see Taylor was entertaining. he could only see the lower legs and feet. and Sabrina made decent money as a hair stylist. He sighed rubbing his forehead. Kelly used to give him moderate arousal but since Taylor returned to town years ago. including Kelly. Taylor was dating and had not bothered to let him know. Dillon continued to look through the window hoping the man would get up from the table to reveal .He did this every time he thought of Taylor. In his mind. so it wasn’t hers.
The power had gone out leaving only the candle on the table burning. Suddenly. he left the porch letting the warm. the quiet street and inside the house went dark. No longer able to see what was happening.himself. . hard-falling rain drench him.
“We don’t discuss business. how long have we gone out— three or four weeks.Chapter 3 “I’m sorry we won’t be able to watch the movie but we can talk instead. so let’s talk. I-I can open a window or the front door to get the air circulating. The mood from the music before it was cut off. “I’m not really into movies.” He winked his eye. call for romance and not work. but that wouldn’t be possible with him doing what he was doing. what is the proviso I must abide by?” He wanted to replace her finger caressing her neck with his. Taylor drank the wine too fast—it went straight to her head. “Is it warm in here to you? When the air conditioner is off.” Taylor said pouring more wine in their glasses. Can we do that again?” “Anything you want.” “I’m cool. He cleared his throat moving closer. Since the room was dimly lit.” Flustered.” Taylor fanned her face with her hand.” he said reaching for her hand. “Hmm. She needed to contain her raging hormones and not jump his bones. “Am I making you nervous?” . Taylor’s throat grew thick from his soft lips tickling her as he kissed her neck. “Wonderful. so close a piece of paper couldn’t fit between them. the house warms fast. “Taylor. I really enjoy the salsa dancing. Mario lit the last of the candles and scooted closer to her on the sofa as they sat down. Lifting and rolling her shoulder slightly got him to stop.” he said placing kisses on her wrist and moving up her arm with gentle kisses until he reached her neck. and the candles. “I can abide by that. throwing in a stipulati on? Okay. She had to know the motion was doing something crazy to him. maybe?” “That sounds right. he could not see her flushed appearance. “Maybe we can do it again this weekend?” Mario leaned back looking at her. So talking is fine with one proviso though.” Taylor stroked the side of her neck.
tracing their fullness. Using the tip of his nose. he touched hers as he whispered lowly. The kiss was not the first.She tried to switch legs to cross but with him so close to her. “Of course not. Turning her head. her lips would touch his. his lips were too close to hers and if she formed her mouth to spit out a vowel. Taylor’s heart thumped wildly against the walls of her chest.” Taylor toppled the empty wine glass on the table so she wouldn’t lose her position by moving. Breathless.” “I think I am. tilting his head to cover her mouth with his. She flipped the end of her earring and said. Her skin sizzled when his hand pressed against her stomach. A quick goodnight kiss at the door was the norm until now. it made the move impossible without her leg crossing over his. she lowered her voice and said. . She heard his intake of breath as her tongue caressed the length of his finger. he managed to keep his hands away from the forbidden zones of her breasts.” he said. “Don’t worry I will not do anything you don’t want me to. she waited to kiss his finger as it made its way down her cheek past her lips. “Why don’t you have a special man in your life?” She didn’t know if she should answer. drawing the tip between her full lips. He tasted good to her. The fire in them burned brighter than any candle in the room. but the first passionate kiss. Her eyes found his. Somehow. I feel the nervous vibes leaping off you. “I’m about to change that.” His hand went around her neck caressing the space between her ear and neck. Taylor's insides melted feeling his tongue pass through her lips and into her mouth. He moved his finger across her lips. “I’m not very lucky when it comes to love and romance.” He caressed her cheek with the side of his finger. traveling to his hair as the kiss deepened. She lifted her hand to caress the side of his face.
“Hello. And it would happen if his hand moved one inch upward. Taylor was too weak to move. I don’t need you to come over. “Hey. Kelly would love to have you spend the night with us. He is the brother I never had. “Just in the nick of time.Her body naturally arched wanting more.” “Dillon. I wouldn’t want my mother to know what I was doing on a date. my power is off also but I’m okay.” The lights illuminated the room just as Taylor got off the phone.” He chuckled from his seat. Taylor. sometimes you have to be subtle.” she said in an irritated voice. “The lights are on. that was him. she wanted nature to take the course.” she laughed.” Sarcastically. she shook her head. women have to hint around they are entertaining a man. Goodnight Taylor.” “I was in the middle of doing something. I didn’t mean to interrupt.” “Depending on whom you’re conveying the message. and makes me glad I have a sister that can take a hint. He would know just how excited he was making her. he said. .” “Are you sure? You sound weird. “Yes.” “It will only take a minute. I will see you at work tomorrow. but thanks for the offer.” “Sure. “Men just blurt it out. but she did not push him. is everything okay at you place? Our power is off. and really want to get back to it. Pinching her lips together with her forefinger and thumb.” “No. “I’m okay with staying home. but the phone kept ringing causing her to move from the Mario’s arms. Her cell phone rang. Dillon.” “Goodnight. breaking them apart.” she spat loudly. I can come get you. I take it that was Dillon checking on you?” She nodded. and I didn’t want you to sit in the dark by yourself.
why do you think Cartwright is doing that?” “That is easy to answer. I haven’t seen Dillon outside of the office since his promotion. I refused to be their yes woman and have my own mind.“Gotcha. Do you let him know when we’re going out?” “I don’t know if he knows we’re together tonight. I think Anderson Cartwright is purposely keeping us apart. Todd is aware my desire to leave the firm. and if I leave. he said refilling his glass. “You and Dillon are that close he deems it necessary to check on you all the time?” “We lived across the street from each other. “We said no talking about work but it seems we are going there.” “Is there any romantic feelings between you and Dillon? I know you see him as nothing but a friend.” . “That explains his fast-track to partner. he seems to call. but whenever we are together. Anderson Cartwright has never liked me. just like family. Mario sat up on the sofa bending over. Anyhow.” Agitated the mood had been broken. He must have some kind of radar that reads ‘Taylor is on a date call and interrupt the moment now’.” Mario nodded. may I ask you a personal question?” She shrugged her shoulders. Todd Brantley is the only reason I’m employed by the firm. so his arms rested on his thighs. Anderson fears Dillon will quit also. It is clear he isn’t ready to handle the huge responsibilities that come with the title. “Go for it. went to school together.” she said making air quotes with her finger. And. We’re damn near family. we attended the same functions. Mario continued. “Taylor.” “What does Dillon has to do with any of that?” “Dillon is being groomed to join their cult. he has perfect timing whenever I have a date.
Taylor. . Things didn’t feel the same as they had when they shared the kiss.” Mario got off the sofa going over to her. she stomped upstairs still cursing and not caring food in the kitchen needed to be put away. We can watch the movie now that the electricity is on. and cover her in kisses. He longed to scoop her into his arms. but her demeanor had changed with the phone call. you don’t have to go. “Adios.” He kissed her forehead and went to the door. Taylor could not believe he was gone. Dillon! You managed to ruin my date again!” She started blowing out the candles. He smiled shaking his head.” he said closing the door behind him. I would sound bitter if I said Dillon is incapable of doing his job. disheartened he wanted to end the date so early. He hugged her.” she said. Stomping her foot she cursed. “I guess I should be going. “Damn it.” “No. “I’d rather not respond to that. “What I have on my mind doesn’t include a movie and I don’t think you are ready to go that far with me yet.Taylor rubbed her hands together. After stubbing out the last candle.
Secretly. The two were becoming too close for his comfort and he had to put a stop to it before Mario Infante sucked Taylor away from him completely. He proposed marriage when an unplanned pregnancy arose. She was sitting at her desk reading and marking a document with a red pen. Kelly miscarried three months into the pregnancy after a nasty fall down the stairs in their home. Taylor was always the person to make his day. He didn’t want to appear to be observing Taylor without her knowledge. he did notice Mario Infante having lunch with her in his absence. he stopped to shoot the breeze with her for a second. Although she continued making wedding plans. He paused to watch her. He looked over to see if Lynda. In spite of how he suffered internally with not wanting this marriage. and that is where he met Kelly. He chose to stay in Ohio and attend Ohio State University. .Chapter 4 Dillon finished a long drawn out meeting with another attorney concerning Electric Tech. He hadn’t had a chance to talk with her with the extra duties added to his already crammed schedule. Some of his male friends didn’t understand how a woman could be his best friend and he not have an attraction to her. He also pondered if he was her mystery date the night he’d stopped at her house. As he watched her. he did have an attraction. She lived in Nebraska but attended Ohio State to earn a teaching degree. He blamed himself for her fall. the secretary he and Taylor used to share. was sitting at her desk. Passing Taylor’s office. he didn’t have the heart to tell her to stop. It was too soon for her to handle losing him after losing the baby. Had they not been arguing. He suspected that would happen since they were working closely together. And she didn’t make it a point to come by his office and talk to him. memories of their earlier years came to mind. However. he would have seen her on the stairs. but her friendship meant more to him than sleeping with her. He’d lost track of her during college. he didn’t halt her planning.
a little hiccup comes along and rips it all apart. “Okay. are you going to say something or just stare at me?” She asked. “Sorry. Mario has been an asset to me.” Taylor flipped her wrist. So how is the big case moving along?” “It’s shuffling along driving me crazy in the process.” . I tried to tell him you can’t switch people in the middle of the game. Just when I think I have all the ‘I’s’ dotted and ‘T’s’ crossed. but he is giving me major insights in dealing with these people I’ve never considered before. “I hate when that happens.” he said entering her office and taking a seat. He is actually very pleasant and highly experienced in handling complicated matters. A second year associate would have a good chance at settling that case. maybe Gallop isn’t Electric Tech material. He laughed. “Thanks for the offer but we’re handling it. Dillon. No head butting with the greatness?” He knew the slur was a mistake the second he said it and couldn’t retract it.“Dillon?” He snapped awake after hearing Taylor calling his name. Taylor leaned back in her chair. my thoughts took me away.” “I take it the two of you are getting along. “Ya know. Taylor rolled the ink pen between her fingers. But our clients are important to me no matter how small the business is I am going after.” “I’m sure he is but Gallop is not difficult. How is Gallop going?” He asked. “Dillon.” “Is there anything I can do to help? Todd would not listen to me. “He doesn’t present himself as arrogant at all.” She rubbed her brow. Mario is only trying to secure a settlement best to benefit our client. Mario and I are in rounds with opposing counsel on the smallest details. Dillon. Not to say you weren’t. I will back him up in achieving that.
You are a good attorney. “It is not about how much experience you have but how you use what talent you have. Dillon. This would have thrown everything we’ve done.” Dillon shook his head. Taylor. I’m on the grind all hours of the day and weekends. He filed a motion showing Gallop’s intentions and the judge ruled to block Gallop from filing bankruptcy. Her voice turned stern. We got a tip Gallop was using underhanded techniques as a way to file for bankruptcy. Where are you on plans to open your own law firm?” Taylor scurried from her chair to close the door. she didn’t take kindly to having to defend her actions or Mario’s. I’m saying we had reached a done deal.” “You can’t stop a company from filing for bankruptcy. Kelly is on my ass about that damn wedding and I’m losing my hair. Why is Mario tearing that apart?” Tapping the end of the pen on her desk. we can’t. please don’t mention that to anyone in this place. “He did it because our client would have gotten the shaft in the end.” .” “No. But somehow.” “The pressure is already getting to me. I’m just asking you to watch your back when it comes to him. Mario was able to prove Gallop didn’t have a need to file bankruptcy and was doing it as a way to avoid legal subjections. Taylor. I said that wrong.“Taylor. He did not want to give the man any accolades but had to admit he acted promptly to avoid a potential disaster. “That is not for the people around here to know! Dillon. All our client had to do was sign the agreement. including the settlement agreement out the window. I have my own problems with Anderson so I can’t say anything about him and not sound hateful. and he walked away with a cool million. “Mario has insiders.” Taylor shook her head. I’m at the end of my rope. Frowning she stood over him. why in the hell wasn’t he assigned Electric Tech instead of me? It’s clear he is far more experienced than I am.
But.” “Kelly will be on board with us doing this. I wish there was something I could do to alleviate your problems. “I’m glad you have faith in me. but my servitude to this firm is going to be a little longer than I expected. When I’m ready to walk away from this I have to be sure I’m doing the right thing because there will be no looking back. And besides that. You are making good money and have great benefits that you can’t flush down the toilet to join my dream. I’ll raise the capital. we will continue to work and build a good reputation with the clients we represent.” She spun on her heels. Taylor.“I’m sorry. and once I have it all. I haven’t mentioned it to anyone. Dillon.” He loved listening to her talk of her dreams. walking towards him. you can’t make decisions as big as this without her input. we could both ditch this place if you’d let me help. “I’m sorry you are going through this. maybe some of them will come along with us. Dillon. we’ll move forward with plans to open the firm. Until then. The lingering question nagging at his . I knew it would happen. You will have a wife to support soon. I didn’t know it was such a big secret. I also have faith that my dream will happen one day. I don’t have anything to lose but my house and the shirt off my back if I fail. I cannot be responsible for you not being able to feed your kids. A woman he admired. You aren’t destined for failure of any kind. Who knows.” “No.” “Taylor.” She leaned against her desk. We won’t bring in any decent money until we are established. The hard part is to be patient and pray. but what happens if she gets pregnant and wants to be a stay-at-home mom. I can’t afford to burn any bridges just yet. Taylor was a determined woman and independent woman.” “There is no way you will fail.” “She might be on board with the idea.
he told me this will be his last stop until retirement.” she said hugging him. I’m sure he doesn’t want to leave yet. He closed his eyes. and I’ve learned a lot from him.” Dillon rose from his chair running his hands through his hair.” he said surprised.” .” “You two talk a lot.” “You will never be replaced as my best friend. He is a wealth of information. His arms went around her body feeling her breasts press against his chest. A knock came to the door breaking them apart as Mario entered. Her hair tickled the side of his face and the scent of her perfume drifted under his nose. “That’s okay.” “I don’t broadcast my business. But you’re a hotshot now rubbing elbows with the big boys who can expand your horizons.neck was if she had discussed any of her dreams with Mario. I didn’t know you were in a meeting. In fact. “Excuse me. Dillon and I were just catching up. I haven’t. Taylor smiled. He looked at Taylor. I miss hanging out with you at lunch. “Have you consulted with Mario Infante about your goals?” “No. “I guess I’ve been replaced as your hanging buddy. Besides. he just started at the firm. and I find him very intriguing as well as interesting. pretending it was more than just a friendly hug. We do have lunch occasionally.” he murmured under his breath. we work closely together. Why do you ask?” “I figured he would be the first to jump to invest in your project. Are you hanging out with him now that I’m out of the picture?” “Dillon. “I want you so bad. I haven’t seen him in forever. She was as beautiful as ever if not more than he remembered. Dillon.
” Taylor said giving him another hug. I had to force myself to work in order to keep my mind off you. I know I am on the low end of the totem pole but don’t forget about me. how much work did you get done this morning if you’ve been waiting to do this all morning?” He twitched his lips “Little to none.” he said lowering his mouth to hers. Dillon.” Dillon returned a limp handshake. ***** Mario closed the door snatching Taylor against him. “Wow.” “Hey. I want to talk to Kelly about the wedding. “Mario and I are going for lunch.” Dillon hurried to his office closing the door. Mario. “Good seeing you again. “We said we would wait before going that route. The short weeks he’d been away from Taylor did nothing to stop his desire for her. Taylor ran her hands through his fresh cut hair. we’ll all get together real soon.” “Yeah. She broke the kiss. lunchtime already. “I was just leaving.” . “I’ve been waiting do to this all morning.” He caressed her arms. “Why don’t we skip lunch and go to my place for a little afternoon fun. Mario extended his hand. “Hmm.Dillon straightened his tie and buttoned his suit coat to hide the imprint of his erection against the zipper of his pants. “The three of us will have to get together for dinner soon. He unzipped his pants to relieve the pressure straining against the fabric of his boxers.” She twisted from his firm grasp. Maybe next time. “Likewise.” he said bowing out graciously. saying. I’m not ready for that step. I’m supposed to have a lunch meeting with Anderson and a rep from Electric Tech. Do you want to join us?” Dillon checked his watch. call me soon.” Taylor went to her desk removing her purse from a bottom drawer. Mario.
” He sat on the edge of her desk. I have created an image for myself that I must uphold at all times. He had never told another soul this story the one incident that nearly destroyed him.” “What is missing?” “You seem too perfect. I do have faults. yet.” She swallowed hard. “I did say that. and soul. Your being cautious is commendable. I would do everything in my power to give her a five-star life. My biggest fault is my lack of trust with women. I end my relationships before they start. When I lived in Miami. I promised myself if I got this woman. I overspend on materialistic items also. “You don’t trust women? Are you saying you don’t trust me?” He shook his head. body. as I should. “Mario…what are you saying?” . “Taylor. Taylor. What are your faults. purchase her expensive jewelry and cars. Therefore. She took you for granted.” “Some women don’t appreciate a good man. I spend excessively on clothes. My biggest fault. I had met a beautiful woman who stole my heart at first glance. I am far from perfect.He placed his hands in his pockets. “I was hurt by a woman. You don’t really know me.” “What?” She asked surprised.” “What happened?” “It was a long time ago.” He paced the office. There is just something missing. and I understand how important it is to know a man before completely giving him your heart. I enjoy the time we spend together getting to know each other. Mario? Every person has faults. is I tend to let my jealousy get out of hand. Whatever she wanted I would do for her. Some of mine are. I do have to have all that before sleeping with you. I would wine and dine her. I get lazy and don’t exercise regularly.” “Yes. “She didn’t only take me for granted. she made me want to kill her.
we spent a lot of time together.” she said crossing her heart.” “What happened after his release?” .“Don’t be frightened. I wanted to clear his name for her sake.” “I won’t say anything. I swear.” “I agree. “I took her on as a client for two reasons. He was comfortable with her and wanted to tell her everything. I did. that is why no one knows. and I’m embarrassed to tell it. since you insist on knowing. “Okay. I ran a successful practice and won cases left and right. some lack experience.” he said sitting on the sofa. second. and it almost ruined me. I believed her brother had been racially profiled. I practiced criminal law back then. so I believed. and she couldn’t get anyone to listen to his side of the story. He’d been wrongly accused of committing murder.” Taylor crossed her legs listening closely.” “It only gets better. I fell for her con. I was infatuated with her. We know court-appointed attorneys are piled with cases and inadvertently overlook pertinent facts. I fought extra hard to get her brother’s case reopened and investigated properly. I did not kill her. He nodded shifting his eyebrows.” “What the hell did she do to push you to the point of wanting to murder her?” “Well. I did a short run as a public defender. And though there are good public defenders. and the attraction grew to love. and I won my case.” she said throwing him off the subject. so far so good. One. it’s not a pretty story. “Anyhow.” “You were able to get him a new trial?” “Si. There are people in the world that can con the most intelligent people. “All right. One day this gorgeous woman walks into my office looking for help for her brother. He’d been charged for a crime he did not commit after I’d gathered the facts. The heavy loads court-appointed attorneys carry is ridiculous.
but my distrust for women never fully faded. I would not have lost the confidence in pursuing a woman for a long-term relationship or believed any woman would want to hurt me unless I wronged them. what she did was appropriate. I have to learn to separate suspicion from truth. that is awful.” “Mario. “The joke was on me. “Oh. I’m being honest because the process of trusting is taking me a little longer to do.” Taylor covered her mouth.“I had bought her an engagement ring. By seducing me. but I didn’t. If I suspect something is not right. I was going to propose to her during the celebration dinner for her brother’s release. The pain from recalling the story tunneled from the depths of hell to burn fire through his veins. it is no different from what we do as attorneys. Her husband ordered her to do whatever possible to get me. she got what she needed for her husband. my God. but she loved her husband more. she would not have duped me.” “How could she do that? She had to feel something for you. she was older and I knew I would get over her eventually. In her mind. I wanted to kill them both.” “You need to explain that.” she said confused. I was young. I respected my life and wasn’t willing to give it up for taking theirs. Hell. Taylor.” . “Taylor. Mario. Had I done that with Savannah. how are you ever going to trust me?” “My heart healing process is over.” “She said she did have love for me. Her brother turned out to be her husband. I have to investigate the truth before presenting my facts. I was on bended knee ready to propose to this woman when she finally told me the truth.” “It was a horrible experience. The best my money could buy. She came to me because she’d heard I was the best criminal attorney in Miami but did not have the money to hire me.” He exhaled a large breath.
Honey. Taylor James. and I’m refusing to sleep with you. However.” “Mario. “I don’t know what to say.” “Great! You only want a friendship because that is all Dillon and I have. that is not my business to discuss.” “Your actions prove to me. you are being protective. so I must trust you and I want you to trust me. I did want more before your confession. you don’t know my background. I’m asking you to work with me.” He held his hands up to calm her down. I’ve dated and kept a sexual presence.” Taylor looked him in the eye. “You won’t have to do that. “Please. Mario. How can I be sure you aren’t only lusting after me?” .” She folded her arms across her chest. You don’t expect me to believe you have been celibate all these years then I come along and cure you of your trust issues?” “That is not what I’m saying.” She rolled her eyes upward. but because I have the same affections for you that Dillon has. “How will I know you will not change and begin to suspect I am doing you wrong? I work in an office full of males. There has been no woman I’ve wanted to pursue a serious relationship with until I met you. For the first time in years.” “It is not all he wants. “I don’t know how anything will work between us. I’m putting me on a limb telling you this. your scars have been rooted for years. Taylor. I want you in my life.” “I know. I don’t know if I can be in a relationship with so much doubt in the air. Will I have to check in a million times a day with you to prove I’m being faithful to you?” He shook his head. I have male friends. I want more than just sex with a woman.Taylor stood up. “Please let me continue. I can only speak for what I want. but never did I get attached to any woman during those trysts.” “Why not? I’m a woman. Mario.
“This is the real reason you’re in Cleveland. and I will help you with your inability to maintain a healthy. he’d tucked his tail between his legs and left his family and friends due to the embarrassment of one woman. He was falling in love with her.” She held her arms open for him. “We sound really messed up to be so put together career-wise. I would have run the first opportunity I got.He walked around her inhaling the soft scent radiating from her body. Do not dispute what we have together so far.” . Mario. Mr. I don’t take pride in the fact I was made a fool of myself and had to leave my life in Miami. “Who am I kidding. Now that he’d met Taylor. He had to do that in order to love her fully. Infante. The humiliation she put me through was painful but I still loved her.” She pulled away from him bending her unflawed eyebrows. Taylor. “Don’t be so sure.” “That seems to be the trend with successful people.” She nodded. he had to endure the pain of reopening old wounds. You teach me to trust. I would have had you in bed by now. I know when a man is only after sex. people eventually forget dumb mistakes we make when we’re young. and he couldn’t stop it. if I had really turned on the charm. I based my practice for my people. Like a coward. and so you know. I would not have revealed my secret because you would not need to know.” He embraced her. Oh. Taylor. “We can help each other. Plus she lived in the vicinity and I would see them on the street or in restaurants. Word spread like wildfire in the Hispanic community.” “They weren’t forgetting fast enough for me. I could not stand the pity or the snickering. “Please. If sex with you was my only goal. long-lasting relationship. I had no choice but to leave to get over her and move on with my life.” She nestled her head on his shoulder.
and he would not interfere or drive him away because of his jealousy.” Taylor hugged him again. He entered the bar searching the crowd spotting Taylor immediately. But he loved the texture and the way it flowed across her shoulder blades. You would’ve fell into my lure without a peep. Taylor. I don’t how I do it. He stopped walking and watched to see how she reacted to the stranger.” ***** Mario checked his watch—it was 6:05pm. she was the only female sitting at the bar alone. he had to know if she truly held his heart and soul close to her. I want this ride to happiness to be the best adventure you’ve ever had. However. “This is going to be one wild adventure.” She kissed him on the lips.” “I like surprises. Mario.” She tilted her head to the side.” He let her wipe the smudges of lipstick from around his mouth before releasing her. but I manage to attract all the gold-tooth womanizers. His suspicions of Dillon were not at ease in his mind. “We better get to lunch. A man sauntered over to her before Mario got there. but that is not what I want. “I promise I will be there at 6:00pm to protect you from the gold toothed womanizers. .” He laughed. Promise to call me if the meeting is longer than expected. I hate sitting at the bar alone. As she had predicted. “I’ll be there. their relationship had bonded long before he came into Taylor’s life.” He didn’t want to mess her hair by running his fingers through it. “I want this more than anything. “Meet me at the Pub say around 6:00pm? I will be done with my meeting and we’ll have drinks before your surprise.” she cooed adjusting the long strap of her purse on her shoulder. If he wanted to be with Taylor.“I disagree. “I have a surprise for you tonight.” “I do also.
at a bar. This nice gentleman kept me company even though I told him I was content waiting for you alone.” Mario extended his hand to the stranger. Please. to keep you waiting. A beautiful woman sitting alone. He left the table when he saw Taylor reading her phone. He sent a quick reply tucking the phone in his pocket. Her actions towards the man proved to him. she was not interested in him and was being polite. Taylor: Where are you? A smooth-talker without a gold tooth is throwing me play.” he said. “Thank you for taking care of my lady. but she was quick to tell me she was. amour. Mario jumped as his phone buzzed in the breast pocket of his suit jacket. He dug it out looking at the text message.” he said noticing the puzzled expression on the man’s face. Text back if you are close. baby. Taylor’s shapely legs uncrossed and her body curved away from the man as he leaned in to talk to her. She then lowered it to pay attention to her phone.” The man said releasing beer remnants on his breath. you two enjoy your night. I’m off to find my wife. could easily attract scuzzy men to hit on her. “It was the least I could do. Taylor tilted her head receiving the peck on the cheek. Anyhow. “No problem. As he leaned closer. let me buy you a drink for your trouble. The man would not give up the effort to gain her attention. she moved to the empty stool next to her balancing her cell phone in her hand.He watched Taylor smile pleasantly to the man as he took the stool next to her.” The stranger slid off the barstool. He appeared on the opposite side of her kissing her cheek. I need you to rescue me. . “I didn’t know the lady was taken when I approached her. She lifted her head high to scan over the heads in the bar. “Sorry.
” She put her hand up to stop him from talking. baby…. “What are you talking about?” She lifted her head to him. I plan on keeping my end of the bargain. Taylor. “You’re married and in a bar with your wife picking up women. “Of course.” he said leaving without taking Mario’s card or offer for a free drink.Mario pulled a business card from his pocket dangling it between his fingers. “You’ve been in the bar for over ten minutes.” He placed the order for a shot of tequila and a refill for Taylor with the barmaid. you don’t have to spy to observe how I interact with other men. “No.” . “Don’t sugarcoat the obvious. “I’m sure disclosing you were a lawyer had nothing to do with that. So.” Taylor fingered her hair away from her face. Returning his attention to her. you think I am too weak-minded to inform such hound dogs that I’m involved with someone?” He was at a loss for words and choked on his tongue. I’d hate to make a scene in a public place.” “I’m glad he kept it moving. Are you drinking your usual Jack and Cola?” She nodded an affirmative. “Mario. Mario sat on the empty barstool. he asked. Why’d you feel the need to watch me? Have you lost trust in me already?” Stunned she knew he’d been observing her.” “I see. My one word answers weren’t exactly conversation holders. “I guess he didn’t want me to buy him a drink. I’m a lawyer. Mario. I’m just out having fun and not causing any problems. I haven’t—I don’t trust other men around you. We promised we’d work on our destructive tendencies. He was done with me anyhow. I wonder if your wife would be interested in talking with me.—hmm. he tried to repair the damage. you are a beautiful woman and men will sniff after you like a hound-dog on a hot trail.” “Man.
followed by his hand. Dillon could learn a thing or two from me when it comes to romance. but don’t let it happen again.” “That is what a man does for the woman he adores. The silkiness of her skin sent shooting sensations through his loins making his penis twitch against the fly of his pants. shall we finish our drinks and go to your surprise?” He asked dangling tickets in front of her face. Her eyes widened. “Am I forgiven?” “This time you are.” “Gracias. you are right.” Taylor sipped her drink. “I’m deeply sorry. Now that you know why I am this way. He rubbed her cheek. lifting her mouth to curve those sexy lips. okay?” Mario drank the shot of tequila in one gulp. senorita.” “I love already how you spoil me. The long lustrous lashes fluttered as she smiled.” Her striking brown eyes darkened as she glared at him. Taylor saw and ignored his twitch.” “Si. it won’t. His eyes immediately. I will get anything your heart desires. but she removed it placing it in her lap. His accent deepened as he apologized. “So. “I know. He caressed her back instead feeling her take a breath and draw her body inward.” Her facial expression evened as she shook her head. “Let’s not talk about them. lowering his head to kiss her neck exposed above the collar of her blouse moving to nibble on her . She used the cocktail napkin to wipe the water ring left on the mahogany bar by her glass.” He changed the subject. Her red summer miniskirt crawled higher up her thigh with the motion. I will need tolerance from you to work through my issues. touched her skin. “You were able to get tickets for the Prince concert tonight? The show has been sold out for weeks. I still don’t appreciate being spied on and will not tolerate it.” “For you. crossing her legs again.He reached for her hand.
. Tengo un problema que necesito resolvel y hay muchas personas alrededor de nosotros para haserlo aqui. “Do I really need to translate what I said?” “No. You seem to have that problem a lot?” He moved his head looking at her confused. Taylor. “But.” She smiled placing a soft kiss on his lips. Translate what you said to me in English. “Vamonos de aqui. what do you think I said?” “We don’t have time to discuss it.” She pressed her forehead against his. you don’t.earlobe. “Um-what. We have to get to the show. “You know my Spanish is terrible. you should see a doctor.” He propped his leg on the lower rung of the barstool. he whispered. It would be impolite to keep Prince waiting.” she said sliding off the stool taking his hand dragging him behind her. In Spanish.
dancing. He didn’t press her for sex when she pulled away when it got hot and heavy. There were hardly any children among the mostly working class residents who occupied modest . but she would not lie to herself. Taylor finally made it to her street.Chapter 5 One Month Later Taylor huffed and puffed. they enjoyed late night dinners. They were taking it slow with the intimacy. but had come close only to stop and regroup. He was understanding. Today she used the short playlist until she regained her endurance for longer runs. and her legs were feeling the burn from the lack of exercise. as the song playing on the iPod was the last on the playlist. long walks in the park and shopping. She had not run in weeks. The when and the where it would happen was the barrier standing in the way. which was getting harder to avoid. as she struggled to finish the last quarter-mile of her early morning run. she finally wanted him to show what he could do. She could blame her laziness on being too busy at work. A mile into her run. She had different playlists she used for exercising depending on her mood. A short playlist lasted for an hour run and the longer playlists she used when she wanted to run for more than an hour. she’d made up her mind the time had come. she was too busy playing with Mario Infante after work and on the weekends. and said it would happen when the time was right. Dreaming about him night after night and playing with him during day hours had her wondering what lay beneath the expensive suits and the silver tongue. The man had managed to sweep her off her feet with his romantic ways. She lived in a quiet bedroom community on Cleveland’s westside. Mario was a tolerant when their dates ended with them cuddling and kissing on her sofa. He had the ability to tell what he could do. Without the sex.
” “It’s too early in the morning to be sarcastic. what are you doing here so early in the morning?” Dillon looked at her. “Hey. The only carpeting was on the steps leading upstairs.homes with well-kept yards. She had photographs of family sitting on the mantle and inside curio cabinets.” she said squeezing by him to walk up the steps. and polished hardwood floors. and therefore kept her running to daylight hours. I was starting to wonder if you’d moved and didn’t tell me. Her mother had given her pieces of furniture from her great-great grandparents that she kept protected from the elements in a climate-controlled warehouse until she had a house big enough to display everything. The one piece she loved and used was the hand-carved mahogany queen-sized bed her great-great grandfather made for his ill wife so she would have a peaceful place to sleep at night. A few houses from her brick colonial. He loved Taylor’s style of decorating. she pulled the buds of the iPod from her ears. Taylor was proud of her rich African-American history. Just because her street was quiet. It reflected her inner beauty and soul. He was reading a book and drinking what looked to be coffee from a fast food restaurant. she noticed Dillon sitting on the stairs of the front porch. She also had very rare photographs of her family dating back as far as the 1800s. it did not mean freaks did not lurk about. She did not have a dog to walk or run with. Wiping sweat from her forehead. but plenty of dogs. He gathered up his belongings and followed her into the house. you do still live here. She picked up her pace to get to her house. “Wow. Taylor had it restored and searched the internet for a dresser and other bedroom furniture of that era that came close to what he’d made to complete her . The African artwork and statutes strategically placed around her modest home accented the modern furniture.
it is a brief wave here and there. “I see you every day at work. Dillon’s reaction was silent as she licked her lips lapping up the sweetness of the apple’s nectar.” He pulled a stool from under the kitchen island and sat down. We haven’t had lunch together in months. Her long hair. Dillon followed Taylor into the kitchen. are you listening to me?” . Putting the glass in the sink. And the black spandex shorts emphasized her full hips.” She held up one finger while she swallowed down the glass of cold water. “Dillon. Those luscious hips that he desired to bare his children one day. what have you been up to lately? I hardly see you anymore. The juice from the fruit dribbled down her lips and chin. and tucked under the white sports band around her head. He’d been inside her home plenty of times.” Taylor took an apple from the fruit bowl on counter and bit into it. Rumor around the office was she and Mario Infante were forming a close bond. We don’t hang out anymore after work either. and knew the layout like the back of his hand. but at least I know you are alive and kicking.” he said ditching the empty coffee cup. He was enthralled in her body and thinking what he wanted to do to her. she said. “Yeah. braided in a ponytail. and dropped the subject as they drifted further apart. but his ears were not tuning into what she was saying. showed the natural beauty of her face that was void of makeup.bedroom. She was talking.” “Really at work. but she denied it whenever he asked her questions about the two of them in the beginning. The short black sports bra exposed a flat stomach glistening with sweat from the run. “You know what I’m talking about. “So.
” She frowned.” “Oh.” “Good for her.” he piped with excitement. My cousin Selma is having a baby shower. Well she is married and expecting a baby soon. I heard what you said. “Huh…yeah. I haven’t had a girl’s night in a long time. I can be your chauffeur today. seriously. you don’t have anything better to do than cart me around to my appointments?” “I don’t have any plans today.” “She hung out with me and Sabrina all the time. I haven’t seen Sabrina in ages. So you want to go to a movie tonight. It will be fun to catch up with her too. Just the two of us to get caught up on what’s been going on lately?” She bit the apple again tossing the remains in the garbage. Hey.” she said checking her watch. “I can handle it. Besides my manicure and pedicure. She was always at your parent’s house when I would come over as a kid. “Dillon. She pulled the headband off her head looking at him strangely. “Look nosy. and that can take hours. Did you meet a new man and waiting to see how things shake out before you spring him on me?” She rolled her eyes at him. It’s going to be a night out with the girls. I need to shower and get changed. “I have appointments starting at noon.” “I remember Selma. How cool will I look to the women as they watch me wait patiently for you to be finished? They’ll wish they had a man so content with waiting patiently for their woman. “I can’t.” . I have plans this evening. In fact.” “I don’t mind waiting. I have a hair appointment.He snapped to reality when her voice penetrated his ears.
I’m the only one that recognizes that.” “You better not be lying to me. She isn’t pregnant anymore. Maybe you aren’t having cold feet but serious doubts. I’m sure she would appreciate the help without her asking you. “Talk to her.” “I don’t want to do that.” . but I will say you make a good visual but with the wrong woman. You should help Kelly with planning the wedding since you have free time today.” “Man. then I’m the bad guy.” “You proposed!” “I did that because she was pregnant.” Taylor paced the kitchen. This wedding is going to happen. and you are a major part of it. not mine. She deserves better than that.She curled her eyebrows. Dillon?” “What?” “Are you seeing another woman and that is why you don’t want to get married now?” He dropped his chin to his chest. and if I walk away from her. You should not enter into a marriage with doubts.” She went over to him placing her hands on his arms. “Is there someone else. get with the program. I don’t know where to begin with that. “She deserves better than me anyhow. I haven’t done anything with any other woman. Apparently. She threw her hands in the air.” He got off the stool. “Dillon. Warm those dang cold feet and get your act together. Is there a nice way you can ask her to postpone the wedding? A little counseling will help you get over your doubts. “Dillon! Is the silence a way of saying there is? Have you been intimate with this other woman?” “Taylor.” “Why do we have to get married? Why can’t we continue to live together and omit the legal documents? This is Kelly’s dream. I would be so disappointed in you if it came out later you did cheat on Kelly before the wedding.
” “I will try to talk to her again. he lingered on her figure standing in the doorway and sighed. she doesn’t hear what I’m saying. “Maybe we can have breakfast in the morning. Call me in the morning if things are okay between you two. She had pleaded with him to stop joking about that. “Yeah. .” He closed his arms around her body. Reversing from the driveway.” She hugged him. and life would be so much better if he could just tell her how he longed to be with her. He loved her. Put that to use for you. but she will start to cry and I will back down as usual.” She followed him to the front door. I will call you in the morning. I’m going to go so you can get ready for the baby shower. I’m gone. You know I love you and Kelly to death. How he wished he could have that vision of her watching him off every day for the rest of his life. “Go shower. I know. ***** Taylor closed the door locking it. She shook her head thinking about Dillon’s comment about him being her man. You make a living getting people to listen and do the right thing. He pushed away from her smiling. “I do talk.” He skipped down the stairs and got into his car. He was close enough to smell the sweat clinging to her neck. This was growing old with her. A smell he didn’t find offensive but an aphrodisiac that awakened every male signal in his body.” He nodded. Her skin had cooled from the air conditioning in the house. “Thanks for stopping by and I hope it works out. Have fun tonight.He shuddered from her touch. especially when he would do it in front of Kelly.” “Then speak louder. You are a litigator. She also wanted him to stop doing it because it made her uncomfortable since Kelly was also her friend.
as she climbed the first two steps to go upstairs to shower. She backed down the steps to look through the peephole. baby. “That is not a true statement. Unlocking the door and yanking it open. I can’t. Men take a minute in the shower. He broke the kiss letting his hands rest on her hips. I would be happy to go with you.” “In that case. The sneaking around like teenagers was her idea and an issue to be addressed with him again. Make yourself comfortable—I’ll only be a minute.” He released her stepping back. “It starts at 4:00 so maybe 7:00pm or 8:00pm tonight. women take hours. Why don’t I come back when you’re done primping and grooming.She didn’t mention to Mario how uncomfortable Dillon’s references made her since technically they had not come forward as a couple. “I would love to spend the day with you. “I’m a mess and stink from my morning run. What time will the baby shower be over?” She calculated in her head. “If you don’t have a date. “I beg to differ.” He hunched his shoulders. It would also give him fuel to boast his argument regarding Dillon’s attraction for her.” . she pulled Mario inside. I can’t imagine it will go longer than that.” he said as his eyes roamed her barely dressed body. She was ready to come clean with everyone about their relationship and let the chips fall where they may as far as Dillon was concerned. I’m getting an eyeful and I like what I see. A smile crossed her face.” She patted him on the cheek. I was on my way to take a shower. Only. I have a party to attend this afternoon. The doorbell rang. she is eight months pregnant and will tire easily. “It’s a baby shower. and we can spend the day together?” She stomped her foot.” she said kissing him. I rescind my offer. “What a sight for sore eyes.
” Taylor braced her hands on his hard chest pushing him against the door. Feathering her fingers across the fly of his jeans. He lowered his head running his lips over her plump nipples poking through the bra. Taylor inhaled when his thumb touched her nipple causing it to harden. The characteristics of his upper body were hard to ignore. he sucked a nipple into his mouth. “I will meet you here at 9:00pm and I’ll bring the booze. The shirt tucked inside his jeans give form to his athletic hips and toned buttocks. she lifted the bra so he could get to the actual flesh. “Oh. “Come on. Her lips parted as Mario’s tongue invaded her mouth. moving up her body until his thumb rested underneath the band of her sports bra. His body filled the relaxed denim material like the male models for the 501 Jeans ads on television. Through the material of the bra.” His look of confusion caused her to arch an eyebrow. I’m sure.” His hand grasped the base of her neck dragging her head towards him. And. I won’t make it to my scheduled appointments or the baby shower.He walked over to the door. she pressed the palm of her hand flat against it. counselor. head fell back from the pleasure slamming her body. His fingers tracing the curves of her side. Using her hand. Mario hands wandered her body. His muscular arms strained against the sleeves of the T-shirt outlining the hardness of his muscled chest and flat stomach. His lips sought hers to weld them together in a passionate kiss. Taylor. Their moaning in the small space bounced from wall to wall. “The booze is fine but don’t forget to bring that other important item. He was wearing a snug-fitting navy blue T-shirt and dark blue jeans. if you don’t leave now. “Are you sure you are ready?” She ran her hand up his thigh. He tasted sweet to her. She kissed the tip of his nose. . you know what I’m talking about?” A salacious grin unfolded across his face. He pulsated against her palm.
. “Um. she moved her hands under his shirt feeling the definition of his hard muscles. not under control came out high-pitched and squeaky. and she stopped moving. Mario opened his mouth to say something. but Taylor vetoed him. Taylor’s hands ran down his broad back to rest at the waist of his jeans. He became still. He inserted a finger causing her to cry out. She tried to gather her senses. She tugged the T-shirt pulling at it up until it was free from his jeans. Can you let me in so I can grab it? I don’t have your keys with me. give me a second to put my clothes on. “Baby. Mario’s back was against the door supporting her weight.” he whispered in her ear. That sent the juices flowing through her loins. She unbuckled his jeans slipping a hand inside to greet what was pressing hard against her abdomen. go upstairs. “Which way to the bedroom. “Who is it?” “Dillon. She could not see through the peephole from her position.” Dillon responded from the other side of the door.” She put a finger to Mario’s lips as he removed his finger and helped fix her clothing.” “Hey. Her legs were shaking trying to support her weight. I forgot my legal pad on the kitchen table. He rolled the spandex shorts from her hips taking her underwear with them. you don’t have to get dressed on my account. As he feasted on her breasts. Her voice. His fingers found the other set of lips in need of attention. I was getting ready to shower.He used the flat of his tongue to tighten the nipple harder. He popped her breast from his mouth to switch sides. I will get rid of him.” she whispered. Her heart was pounding as she clung to him. She had never touched his bare body and the heat of him pressing against her was too much for her handle. She started to answer him when a hard knock hit the other side of the door.
You looked flushed…. “Why the hell does he have keys to your house?” “I will explain it to you later. my neighbor is having his driveway worked on. I’ll talk to you tomorrow for sure. He must not have seen my car in the garage. I didn’t see a legal pad in the kitchen. I’m fine. Just go upstairs and wait for me. “He’s gone and I’m going to take a quick shower. She went to the closet removing her bathrobe. she watched him drive off. he seethed. and now I’m hot again. I told him he could use mine to park his car.are you okay?” “Yes.” “Cool.” “Ok. but I really have to get moving or I’m going to fall behind. I will see you at breakfast in the morning. She peeked over his shoulder. “Hey. I was working on my notes waiting for you to come home.” Once again.” He adjusted his pants and went upstairs. “I hate to rush you off. He did not appear to be angry or upset. are you sure you had one with you?” “Humph. she noticed Sebastian’s driveway blocked off by sawhorses and yellow tape. Dillon. I started cleaning. I could have sworn I had it with me. She dropped her head sighing. Whose car is that in the driveway?” He asked noticing it was the same car he suspected was Sabrina’s. “Oh. She pushed him outside the door.” “Wait. Now to deal with Mario and quizzed on why Dillon had keys to her house. Mario was sitting on her bed watching television when she entered the bedroom. In need of a quick lie.Keeping his voice low. This time she locked the screen door and the front door to make sure Dillon could not get in if he returned. Taylor made sure she was decent before opening the door. Do you want to explain to me why this man who is marrying another woman has keys to my woman’s house?” .
he doesn’t want to get married he believes she will have a meltdown. and you have me now. and he needed to get into the house. I have explained this to you before. You don’t know him.” “Get the key back. He has serious issues surrounding him. Dillon was my friend long before you and I got into whatever we are having. Dillon and I grew up together. She . “Taylor.” “Dillon has always been this way. let me understand this correctly. All she wanted to do was take a hot shower and go get her hair and nails done as planned. Taylor? You have family close by. I am making a personal assessment concerning Dillon. There is something strange about the man. she lost the baby. so you are judging him. He has a key in case something was to happen to me. “I’m going to have to stop you right there. He is like family to me. He told me today that he wants to postpone the wedding but doesn’t want to hurt Kelly’s feelings.She lowered her hands. He is always following you around at work and now after work. “Mario. Taylor. What is his deal?” She folded her arms taking a long hard stance. “So. Her stiff body language repelled his advances. and I don’t like the way he looks at you. Sadly.” “Why does he want to do that? What would be his reason for doing that?” “They were getting married because Kelly was pregnant.” “My sister is busy with her own husband and my parents moved to the other side of town a long time ago. I am not trying to pick and choose your fri ends. You just came into my life. He got this young lady pregnant and offered to do right by her. and you will not dictate who mine are.” “Why is that. As far as you go. Are we clear on that?” He got off the bed going over to her.” Mario walked around the bedroom shaking his head. If he tells her. I’m not going to dictate who your friends are. We have not exchanged keys yet.
Please see yourself out. You’ve assumed the answers and are now prosecuting him without letting him make his case.” He took her elbow before she could bolt from the room. I’m going to take a shower. Dillon is not in love with this woman but with you. why not marry her and try again for a family. Mario. but I can’t if you are going to go insane every time Dillon is around me. Mario? He is my friend. “What am I supposed to do. “We are not ending this on a sour note. He has been there for me whenever I needed to cry on his shoulder.” “You are enabling him. But. I’m not feeling the same about him and he is aware of that. you are correct. I have hit a nerve.” She shook her head. Taylor.yes.am I correct so far?” “If you put it that way…. What happened to you trusting me?” “I do trust you and will keep my sanity intact. You know this.” She tugged at her ear as he struck a nerve under her skin. But you are wrong about Dillon. I can’t just slam the door on him and never speak to him again. “I will tell you why.. I am seeing Dillon from outside the box. and I apologize. He has to learn to accept we are together and get over it.” “Even if he does have a slight crush on me. You don’t need me to tell you how obsessive people can become dangerous.miscarries and he decides there is no reason to get married and wants to end the relationship….” He held up a finger stopping her from answering. I am not saying these things about him to make you angry with me. I’ve dealt with many crimes of passion before turning corporate litigator. “I see why you are at the top of your field. Taylor. If .” “If he loves this woman. He wants to be done with this woman so he can be with the one he loves. and that is why you are keeping us a secret. Dillon does not have a crush on you—he wants you in a romantic way. I want to continue what we have.
” She rubbed the chill from her arms even though she was not cold. what’s wrong?” “Mario. “I suggested he and Kelly get counseling to work on their relationship.” “Sure. “No. Go back to watching your television program or read a book until I’m done. Maybe that will cure him of having any feelings for me other than friendship. he will not hesitate to harm you in order to keep other men from being with you. your idea is not better. He did not trust Dillon Stevenson and if Taylor asked for the key to be returned. “Taylor. call me when you are ready to leave the baby shower. and I will be on your porch by the time you get home. when you come back tonight.” She shook an ill-feeling away from her mind. I’m okay. I didn’t mean to frighten you. tu me estas matando!” He exclaimed pulling his shirt down. but will you stay until I’m done with my shower?” He began to pull his T-shirt over his head.” She nodded. When she stopped at the entrance of the door. will you stay the night with m e? I will call a locksmith to have the locks changed.Dillon’s crush on you grows to an obsession. Taylor. we’ll be home free to let everyone know about us.” “That was a smart suggestion but I wouldn’t count on that curing his desires for you. but I don’t want to be here tonight by myself. Mario became concerned. he had to .” She beckoned him off. Once they rekindle the flames of their love. “I have a better idea—I will join you. “No. no. She debated if he carried the keys all the time or if he had been inside her home without her knowledge. ***** He waited to hear the shower water running before going downstairs.” “Ah. I definitely won’t make it out of this house if you join me in the shower. “Okay. you are pale.” She turned to go into the bathroom thinking about Dillon saying he did not have her keys with him.
“I’m here. The heels of her shoes tapped against the linoleum covering the wooden stairs leading to the finished basement. She did not have a tool in sight. Taylor. In the basement. “I’m seeing how safe your house is.make sure Dillon did not have another way to access her home. She had the window over the kitchen sink raised an inch. he found areas that were accessible for a person to enter the home. This was a typical female occupied home. She had applied makeup and combed her hair into a neat ponytail. Mario went into the kitchen and checked those doors and windows. Do you have any nails and a hammer? I can fix the window where it can’t be accessed from the outside. She had on black skinny jeans and a salmon-colored blouse that matched the high-heeled sandals she wore.” . He shook his head. but the window was not big enough for a person to squeeze through otherwise. He stuck his head through the opening to see which part of the house the window faced. He pushed at the window over the dryer with the palm of his hand—it opened easily. and you would have no clue he is in your house. It was the backyard and low enough to be out of view of the house located across the fence.” he yelled to her. and it opened with no problem.” “I want glass block windows but I haven’t had time to get the estimate. he saw she had secured it. Checking the front door. He looked around for any tools.” “Will you quit scaring me? I’ve lived here for five years and never had a break in. He heard Taylor calling his name as she came near the basement steps. “What are you doing down here?” She asked switching on the lights. An intruder could slip inside while you are sleeping.” “You’ve never had a person obsessed with you before either. It didn’t help a large pine tree stood two feet away blocking any light from the streetlights. take a look at this. I pushed on this window.
” “How do you propose I explain your being with me?” “We’ll think of something in the morning. Sabrina has a habit of taking her time with clients. Please. I’m having breakfast with Dillon in the morning. The scent of her perfume emitted from her body. he may have copies other ways to get inside the house.” “I’ll go with you. I have a lot to do before the baby shower. The blouse she wore was low-cut and showed an ample amount of her cleavage—more than he cared for her to display to others. Even if he returns the key.“I’ll take care of it myself.” “I give up.” “Don’t worry about me…I can handle sitting on my butt reading outdated magazines while you do your girly stuff.” “My obsession is keeping you safe from Dillon. Your car can stay here. “I want you to pack an overnight bag and put it in your car. and since I’m family she won’t cut me any slack. I will take you where you need to go today.” “I can’t spend the night. Now get upstairs and pack a bag. appease me by cooperating…please?” She groaned not address his comment about Dillon being dangerous. Who is more obsessed—you or Dillon.” He went over to where she was standing.” “Mario. Trust me—it would be better if I drove to my appointments. You’re spending the weekend at my place.” . “We’d better go.
” “I should have known. nothing serious yet. He is Hispanic. so ask. she sensed her sister’s vibes bouncing off her. “I don’t want to be nosy. she saw he was engaged in close conversation with the woman sitting next to him.” She walked with her sister back to her station.” “I can read your mind.Chapter 6 Mario sat wedged between two women reading a magazine while waiting on Taylor in a beauty salon filled with talkative women. I’m so sick of hearing that.” she said to her sister not opening her eyes. followed by the warm water rinsing the fragrant shampoo from her hair. So.” “Sabrina. I’ve always knew he wanted more than a friendship with you. Even in a tranquil state.” “He might have a place with Kelly but you are the one he wants. “I know you are dying to ask. She sat in the swivel . I have to stop spending time with him unless Kelly is around. who is the hunk and how did you train him to sit and wait for you in a beauty shop?” “His name is Mario Infante. “I never said anything about Dillon being obsessed. Sabrina was her only sister and two years younger. His place is with Kelly. You’ve been aching to ask me about him since we walked in the shop. Heck. and we’ve been hanging out for a month. She was also a stylist working towards opening her own salon. Glancing at Mario. screw all that since you mentioned it. Sabrina. even Mario. So how is Dillon accepting the new man in your life?” “Dillon doesn’t have a voice in what goes on in my life. and you are crazy for Hispanic men.” “Yeah. believes Dillon is obsessed with me. It was obvious when we were kids he was crazy about you. Taylor enjoyed the feel of Sabina’s fingers massaging her scalp.” Sabrina sat Taylor up in the chair and wrapped a dry towel around her hair.
but I won’t confirm it. he is not available! And if I see one drop of drool curl on her lip. so Mr.” “She looks too great if you ask me. “The Megan Wiley I remember weighed about four-hundred pounds and was a total bitch.” “Ooh.chair with pangs of jealousy shooting through her body.” “He probably has female clients and other female friends I’m sure I don’t know about. Actually.” “Boundaries are set when you make it official. Well.” “Wow. I think you need to confirm it and make a commitment with him and stop pussyfooting around with Dillon. and I’m sure other women are employed at his place of business. I’m going over there. you have him locked-down like that? He isn’t allowed to have a conversation with another woman?” “Of course I don’t have him on a leash. Taylor. He suspects it.” Sabrina laughed.” “So why are you trippin’ over him talking to Megan? You are feeling the same way Dillon probably does when he has to watch you with him.” .” She adjusted the pink plastic cape to cover her lap. He does have to work. Dillon doesn’t know Mario and I are seeing each other. “She looks great since she dropped the weight but her attitude is still the same if not worse. how does he treat Mario or has he met him yet?” “We all work together at Cartwright and Associates. Hottie is an attorney also. you aren’t getting jealous because she is talking to him?” “What could they be talking about? He’d better be informing her. “Who is that woman Mario is talking to?” “You don’t remember Megan Wiley? She went to high school with us. but there should be boundaries. Is she your client?” “Dang. sister.
It is too soon to introduce him to our crazy family. “You can’t do that! Selma is the only close cousin we actually like. “Hey.” Sabrina swung the chair around to face her sister. “Taylor James snagged a man that fine…humph. He winked. Sabrina? You have me all worked up and then burst my balloon by making me feel guilty about ditching a baby shower. Taylor drew in a deep breath licking her lips.” “Sabrina.” “Bring him with you. “Are you ashamed of us?” “Will Uncle Vernon be there entertaining the guests with his off-colored jokes?” . Get a room after I’m done with your hair. after the party. And you should bring that tasty morsel to dangle in front of the females in the family we can’t stand. to mark your territory with Mario. “It would be fun to do t hat but no way am I subjecting him to that crew. Sabrina tapped her lightly on the head with the end of a comb after catching the signals passing between them. you are right about me putting my stamp on Mario.” Taylor rolled her eyes upward.” she giggled.” Sabrina sat the basket containing hair rollers in Taylor’s lap and began setting her wet hair. It’s a co-ed baby shower.Taylor pursed her lips eyeing her new man. I can see their faces and hear the comments. Do you mind taking my gift to Selma’s baby shower? Something suddenly came up. Taylor. Edward will be there. releasing that addictive and sexy smile.” Taylor slung wet hair from her face saying. Oh. what could have been if Dillon had not interrupted again? Mario must have her heated stare as his head lifted in her direction. She returned the flirt use of body language with a sexy smile of her own. you have all night. don’t do this to Selma. “Why do you do this. and I won’t be able to make it. this is a family beauty salon. Their actions earlier flooded her memory. I’m not staying long.
Sabrina. mean nothing to them.” “Then bring him. He would be the one difficult to explain to an outsider. My accomplishments otherwise.” “I’m surprised we are normal. “I am not ashamed of what you do. Walkman’s were still in style the last time you had a boyfriend. “Mario did offer to come with me.“Shoot.” “You followed your passion and that took guts. Not only do I have them on our side but on Edward’s side of the family as well.” .” “Please. can I ask if that is why you haven’t introduced me to him? Are you ashamed of me and what I do for a living?” Taylor swallowed the lump in her throat.” Sabrina grunted a dry laugh.” “He is difficult to explain to people who know him. I had a hectic morning and seriously. I admire how you pursued another career after deciding you didn’t want to be a nurse anymore. I gave it up to be a hairstylist.” “Can you imagine if you’d stayed in the medical profession? You would have them asking you for drugs all the time. You might as well get him used to the dark side of the family. I forgot about him and his colorful sense of humor.” She handed her sister another roller. She had neglected to introduce him to Sabrina. The deadbeats of the family just want free legal advice from me. Sabrina. Taylor. I have the regulars that always want me to do their hair but never have the money to pay me. Please don’t take it as intentional that I didn’t introduce Mario to you. You keep me looking fabulous and you are successful. “True.” “Every family has their share of assholes.” Sabrina said securing another roller in Taylor’s hair. Not all of us are Howard graduates or rising star attorneys. You know it’s been ages since I’ve had a man in my life. I totally forgot. “Um.” “I made a lot of money as an OR nurse.
” Taylor hunched her shoulders. The woman had the body of a goddess. Taylor said to herself. “Megan. you have to keep the body toned and not droopy. You look awesome. Anyhow—what are you doing these days?” “I own and operate a health and wellness gym for women on 4th Street. I need to borrow him for a minute.” “I haven’t been coming to this salon long and Sabrina doesn’t do my hair. “It was time for me to take charge and change my life. and since she and Mario had not consummated their relationship. interrupting Megan’s story. I’m sure you know this already.” Oh.” she said eyeing Mario’s frame from head to toe. She couldn’t lie. I did finish law school and I’m currently practice law. She was not about to let the sideways dig at her age slide. How have you been.” Taylor said taking hold of Mario’s hand unhinging him from between the two women doting him with attention. She stood to allow Taylor to check out her slim figure. Megan’s flirting might put ideas in his head. . “That explains why she didn’t mention you to me either. “Well hello. it’s nice to see you too. Did you become a lawyer? I remember that being one of your goals in high school. Megan put her hand on her hops thrusting her breasts high. “Yes. If you want to keep a man happy. “Where are you going?” Taylor stopped in front of where Megan and Mario were sitting. no she didn’t just call me old.” Taylor said. Taylor James. “Excuse me. Plus you haven’t changed a bit—older but still somewhat attractive. You should stop by and check it out. But since my sister works in a place you frequent praying their magic will keep you looking young then. girl?” Megan asked.Taylor sat the basket of rollers on the counter and got out of the chair. Sabrina caught the rollers falling from her hair asking. so we don’t talk much.
girl. Besides.” she said propping her leg on the chair in front of Mario. He got her warning and kept his head faced in the direction of the large picture window. he was such a dork. watching the traffic whizzing on the busy street and pretending to distance himself from their conversation.” “Well. I wish I could remember his name. I didn’t marry anyone and I’m dating Mario. give or take a mile. I exercise by walking or running at least eight miles. Taylor nudged him with her elbow daring him to touch or look at Megan’s toned leg. “I told you I was with her…. “Wonderful. “You only do eight miles? I’m sure you will work your way up. it was good seeing you. I figured you’d probably married that pitiful white boy that used to follow you around school all the time. Take care. Taylor folded her arms across the cape crushing it to her chest.” she said hurrying on her way. I have calves of steel. by the way. I’m a marathon runner myself. “Make sure to have her tell you about him. He was in love with you. “I’m sure that strength will come in handy if you need to push something with your legs.” Megan wrinkled her nose.” she said fluttering her eyelashes.” “Good timing because I was about to make my move on him.” Taylor tried to keep a smile on her face but Megan was pushing her to release her claws and dig in. but I’m pretty busy with work to drop everything in the middle of my day and workout.” Megan cut him short. Oh. “I have to go. “As you can see. That boy had jungle fever bad. The large shapeless cape hid her body and at thirty-five. Mandy is ready for me. thank you so much for entertaining him. Mario frowned looking at Megan. she definitely was not droopy. .Taylor’s eye flinched.” Megan touched Mario on the chest.
Some of them are different.Taylor gagged. why do women who lose a lot of weight become the biggest pains in the ass? The nerve of her to say I’m drooping.” “I’m not running anywhere. Taylor’s sister. But. “It is obvious you aren’t the recipient of the baby shower tonight. I’m Mario Infante. But thank you for not mentioning Dillon. “Hello.” Mario said following in step behind her. Are you twins?” He asked looking at each woman at the same time. “Oh. Mr. “Hi I’m Sabrina. Infante?” Taylor dropped her head in her hands.” he said placing his hand on the small of her back. But don’t thank me yet. “Well you might decide to run for the hills after meeting other members of my family beside Sabrina. she extended her hand to him first. “Yes I do…. not something I like in a woman. Do you want marriage and a family. I’m excited to meet your sister. I don’t know about her weight loss but she’s an aggressive flirt. “Ugh. and he assumed they were twins. my God…she did not go there.” “I wasn’t going to say anything about him. Sabrina stood at her station with a huge smile on her face. that means I am making progress with you.one day when the right woman comes along. Sabrina shoved Taylor in the chair to continue rolling her hair.” “Um-hum.” He placed his hand on Taylor’s shoulder after her slip of the tongue.” Mario shook her hand. I bet she was. “No.” She gave a weak smile.” “My husband and I don’t have any children yet. “Thank you for rescuing me from her clutches. Anxious to meet the man her sister gushed over. Her features were identical to Taylor. I’m two years younger and married.” Mario nodded. Maybe one day. Please call me Mario. I’m about to introduce you to my sister Sabrina. we aren’t twins.” .
” “Sabrina!” Taylor hit her sister in the shin with the tip of her freshly pedicured toe. I’m sure she would have gotten around to mentioning that to me. that hurt.” “Is that right? Is there anything you care to share to help me along with the process of getting her to come around?” “Probably nothing you don’t already know. We’ve just been going out a month. I hope you have patience because she really is worth the wait. “Explain how are you comfortable having him watch you do this. Mario.” He looked down at Taylor. “No need to fight. Taylor is an amazing and inspirational woman. We are still getting to know one another.” “There is a lot to learn about Taylor James. and I think you will have fun getting to know the James’ crew. It will take some coaxing on your part to get her to come around. want her to find happiness with the right man. I understand Taylor not being comfortable with me tagging along.” Sabrina rubbed her stinging shin. “No. “Men are attending this baby shower. Mario. Men will be there.” “I don’t understand that.” Taylor said gritting her teeth. You should come to the party tonight. My parents. and me included. “I was led to believe only women would be at the baby shower. Did she mention she mentors high school girls who want legal careers? She has made such a difference in these young women’s lives. Dang. it was a reflex action to get you to shut your mouth. Most women aren’t comfortable with a potential boyfriend watching them get their hair done.“Okay.” “Sorry. she did not.” Sabrina rolled her eyes at her sister. Her hands were covering her face to hide her blushing. You could be that man. Taylor?” . My sister is a great woman who can’t or won’t commit to a man. Mario laughed. Taylor.
I am not putting you on the spot. you are more than welcome to join me. if you want to come to the party. Sabrina will be done with my hair.” . I can actually see myself falling in love. saying. “Oh my goodness.” “Gladly. I’m afraid we will embarrass you. I melt every time he does. If you don’t want me to come.” she said stretching her back. “Really.” She patted the bulge of his forearm groaning. I will not embarrass you. I’m okay with it. You should meet my mother and father and get it out of the way.” Sabrina rolled the last curler in Taylor’s hair securing a hairnet around her head. “I’m not worried about you embarrassing me.” he said giving Taylor a kiss on the lips. I changed my mind thanks to my sister bullying me. senoritas. Mario.” He crossed his arms boasting his broad chest and strong arms.” “Dillon is harmless and I’m letting Mario spook me for nothing.” “I want you to have the love and commitment of a good man. “Thank goodness it is settled. Turning to Mario. Taylor. Taylor.” “Good idea. yet is putting me on the stand. For the first time in my life. Promise me you will take heed to what he is saying about Dillon. By the time you return. I will be another couple of hours. Adios. Sabrina set the temperature for the hairdryer cooing.” “Gracias.” She relaxed the muscles in her face and softened her tone. “Taylor. “Leave it to me to have a sister that is a hairstylist.Taylor bunched the cape between her hands. “Mario. why don’t you go home and change clothes. she said. does he speak love terms to you in Spanish?” “Sabrina. take a seat under a dryer so I can get to my next client.
Her cousin Selma didn’t know the sex of her first baby and the neutral colors defined that.” ***** Mario turned off the car. I’m a fun guy. If he gets too hot for me to handle. “Shall we proceed?” “Yup—right to the bar. You and Mario will see I was right about him.” He laughed and opened the door. I throw a few phrases at him to leave him wondering if I’m all wrapped. he asked. but if he is suffering from an illness.“Okay. but love crimes are committed by the person we least expect. Sabrina danced up to them. wait until you meet my Uncle Vernon. What took you guys so long?” . yellow. Taylor. Sis…hi Mario. he chuckled. Dillon seems harmless to you. “Stop it. Once his problems are fixed. looking at Taylor.” She picked up a magazine flipping through it. Mario carried the large gift-wrapped box to the table holding the gifts.” “I’ll be fine. Sabrina lowered the hood of the dryer over Taylor’s head. “It was nice knowing you.” The music playing inside the party center met them as they entered the foyer decorated in pastels of blue.” she said smiling. he will be back to his normal self. Dillon is stressed and unhappy with the way his life is going.” Taylor lowered the visor to fix her makeup. “Hey. The man is beyond strange. and soft greens.” She looked at him grasping his hand. It will be all right. “You are actually sweating bullets. You will have to overlook a lot of what he says. you cannot put anything past him. Taking her hand. pink. “You don’t know what you are getting yourself into. We’ll have a lot of fun. “I’m going to pray you’re right about that. You think Dillon is weird.” Taylor shook her head.
I will have to get through this night sober?” . you know he is here. I do very much.” Taylor responded.” Taylor frowned. You better keep him close. “There are a lot of single women here that will be anxious to get next to him. There is no liquor. black slacks. cream lace dress. I do. “You’re looking mighty hot too. do you want a drink?” She sighed. “Taylor.” she winked. I’m surprised you didn’t hear his mouth from the parking lot.” Mario interrupted them. She wore her signature sky-high heels that were cream-colored to match her dress.Taylor said. he proudly sported his pierced ear he’d gotten as a teenager. “Since you said it first. But. gave a see-through appearance only it had a nude lining underneath. Is he here?” “Girl. “I had to change clothes and wrap the gift. yes. He had changed into a lavender dress shirt. “Damn.” Sabrina laughed. It stopped mid-thigh showing off Taylor’s fabulous features. “It will be a double shot of Hawaiian Punch. and toeless to show off her pearl-colored toenails.” Sabrina stepped back looking at him.” Sabrina ran her hand down the lacy fabric of Taylor’s party dress. The gold Rolex watch and gold and a diamond stud earring completed the jewelry he wore. He didn’t wear an earring at work. “I like that dress. but for casual events outside of work. we’re here now. The offshoulder. “Yes and make it a double. Mario?” Mario’s face reddened. Don’t you like the way the dress hugs her booty. Not too many men can carry off those colors if you know what I mean. and a black tie. “The only person I’m worried about is Uncle Vernon. Sabrina nudged Taylor’s arm. He had noticed but didn’t comment.
“Ah. this is my husband Edward. Taylor doesn’t keep ‘em around long.” She pulled a small bottle of Jack Daniels from her handbag. “I heard Taylor is really a freak…you better watch her. He then kissed Taylor on her cheek. “Victim….” Taylor put her hands on her hips. “Hello.am I missing…” “I’m kidding. Sabrina introduced the two men to each other. When we actually meet one of her boyfriends. Edward!” Edward hugged her. She turned to Mario. And if we run out. except for that white boy who has been around forever.” Taylor pleaded. She held her head back to let him kiss her.” he said slipping an assuring arm around her waist giving her a squeeze. “Mario. Edward.” A man walked up and put his arm around Sabrina. Mario. I have more in the car.” “Edward.” “Wow.Sabrina pulled them close to her. No hall closet activity for you. so you are her next victim. Mario?” “I’m an attorney. “So what do you do.” They shook hands with Edward saying. man. “You see why I hesitated to bring you?” “Its fine. I work with Taylor. not now. “You know how I roll. I’m standing right here and can hear you. is Taylor’s new beau. “I’m playing.” Edward leaned in close to Mario. He asked. “Get a cup and I’ll share.” Mario raised his eyebrow. That gotta be weird working with her all day and keeping it clean. . I know you are strictly professional on the job. Taylor.” he said winking his eye. Sis. we never see ‘em again.
“Um. right?” . please. Uncle Vernon. “Hold the horses! Who is this dude?” Taylor stuttered. I’m a little too old for that now. “Oh hell that ain’t honest. sir. You ain’t a tax lawyer are you?” “Why? Are you behind on your taxes? I have friends at that the IRS that might be interested in talking to you. He is a friend of mine. And I’m very friendly with your niece.” she answered dryly. Infante? What kind of name is that? Are you Asian or Mexican?” Mario extended his hand. well. Edward shook his head laughing. I’m an attorney. put me down. well. this is Mario Infante. “Hey. she did always like your kind. Just how friendly are you with my niece. Uncle Vernon. “Actually. expensive jewelry…you ain’t the head of some drug cartel are you?” “Uncle Vernon!” Taylor and Sabrina said in unison.” He stopped laughing when he saw Mario. Uncle Vernon.” “Well.” Mario answered.Then it happened. what do we have here? Taylor James is that you?” “Hello. I’m Puerto Rican. Nice clothes.” “You used to like it when I picked you up and swung you around. Mr. Taylor had to hold the hem of her dress down to keep from flashing her underwear.” “I was eight.” He laughed loudly. “Vernon is your name. Uncle Vernon spotted them. “Uncle Vernon. Y’all thieves with the law behind you. “Give the girl a law degree and she thinks she’s grown. He picked her up and swung her around. But you must do very well.” “Huh. “Unfortunately. I have to earn my money the honest way.
Vernon looked around the room. I want to get my groove on. Taylor turned to him with a grin on her face. James hugged her daughter in return. my beautiful girls.” he said walking away.” Mario called after him laughing. for getting rid of annoying people.” “I have a gift. “How did you do that? We have been trying to make him speechless for years. Where is Dillon? He usually accompanies you to family events. Ernst James kissed his daughters on the cheeks and shook Edward’s hand.” Sabrina took Edward’s hand bopping to the old school beat of George Clinton’s Atomic Dog. “Come on. But. I have a few more questions.” “Hi. James. Mario. baby. Mrs. She put on a smile turning to her mother. He released her. “Es un placer en conocerte. Mario refused the traditional handshake and hugged the attractive woman. Dad. “Mom. Mom. you know Dillon is busy. “Wait.” Taylor’s parents entered the party center and joined the foursome.” . but she was fast in getting away. Y’all have fun.” she said gladly going into his arms. “Hello. I want you both to meet Mario Infante. “Well. He is very special to me.” she said unconsciously parting her lips.” Taylor grabbed for her sister’s arm. “Hi. I’m glad you could make it to the party. gotta go.” “Oh my. don’t go—Uncle Vernon.” Taylor said hugging her father.” she recited in Spanish. “Tengo el placer de conocerte también. Mrs.” she said hugging her next. the wife is calling me. honey. “You speak Spanish?” “My daughter isn’t the only one in the family fascinated with the Hispanic culture. “Hi.
The woman doesn’t condone drinking and won’t provide it for the James’ crew.” Taylor rolled her eyes.” Taylor nodded. I’d better stay away from Uncle Vernon. “You know this a dry party. Taylor.. He is an interesting person. I’ll introduce you to the rest of the men in the family while the women do the baby stuff. Taylor’s mouth opened to protest her father taking Mario away without her. and I’m sorry I wasn’t here to warn you about him. He thinks I’m the IRS. I’ve got mine in my purse. Come Wobble with your momma. “Come on.” “That he is. but. right?” “It’s dry for them. “Why does everyone have something but me? You all could have clued me in. Let’s find Selma and get this party started. I did. “Mom…I think I should go with Mario. Mario.” He laughed.” Taylor eyed her mother who was fond of having a drink or two and loved to party.” The deejay started the song by Vic – The Wobble.” “He will be fine. “Yes.” “So you had the pleasure of meeting my brother?” Ernst asked.“Thank you for having me. Mrs.” Taylor hunched her shoulders. James grabbed Taylor’s hand dancing in place.” Ernst said walking away with Mario in tow. She faced her mother. “Okay. just in case. We bring our own and have our own party. Taylor is also special to me. stash a bottle in your purse. Ernst nudged Mario away from the women. “This is going to be a long night.” he said making strong eye contact with Taylor.” ***** . “I forgot about that.” “The rule is when Selma’s mother throws a party. baby.. “Come with me.
Leaning in. Taylor. and she was holding her head in her hands. James caught them in the act. I can’t wait to meet everyone. it was cool hanging out with them.” He put her feet in his lap and massaged one toe at a time.” . Love is such a wonderful thing and my daughter’s finally found it. We will need a few trips to meet all of my family. did you have fun with the guys?” “Yeah. “You look tired. “Aw how sweet. Her shoes were off. My feet hurt from dancing and my head is telling me I had one glass of Jack Daniels too many. His gaze captured hers as he finished her sentence.” she giggled. “I will make the time to join you.” He scooted his chair closer to her. “Are you asking me to join you?” She licked her lips.After the games were over.” His mouth captured hers again lingering in a deep sensual kiss. “I will start planning an itinerary. they are great. I like your family. Are you ready to go?” “Yes I am. “I’m glad they made you comfortable around them despite my crazy uncle. When will I meet your family?” “My parents are alive and I have a brothers and sisters and an extended family still living Puerto Rico I want you to meet. he kissed her. but that cruise I’m taking in August…well I’m the only person occupying my room…” He continued to massage her feet slowly.” She lifted her hand to caress his face.” “That feels good. I don’t know if you would be interested or can swing the time off work. “I haven’t seen much of you tonight.” she said pulling a tender curl of hair. “Mario. He found her sitting alone at a table. He sat across from her startling her. and the gifts opened the baby shower neared its end. “I would not want anyone else but you to join me. Mrs. Mario made his way back to Taylor.” “I love traveling.
” “I don’t have any plans in the morning. it was kissing don’t get carried away. Mom. Vernon and Clara are having an after party at their house and invited us. “All right. You and Mario should join us. it is getting late. “Un-huh. Mrs. if that was just a kiss.” . “Mom.” she laughed. I’m just a passenger and following you around tonight. Taylor eyed Mario grinning and watching him wipe smudged lipstick from his mouth. I don’t know what Mario’s plans are for the morning.” Annoyed Taylor hurried her mother along. I would hate to see what a real one would be like. Taylor scooted upright in the chair and put on her shoes. I think y’all just increased the temperature in here twenty degrees.Taylor jumped away from Mario. Did you stop to say goodbye?” “Yeah. “Anyhow.what do you say?” Taylor hemmed and hawed. Sabrina and Ed are going. and I’m riding with him. “Okay. almost everyone here is going….” he said excited.” she said embarrassed. we are leaving here. you’re grown and can do what you want. “Mom.
Barking dogs echoed on the quiet street. He and Taylor never kept secrets before. The two hit it off too fast. Where was she at this hour and who was she with was on his mind. doing a duck-walk along the side of the garage and slipped around to the .Chapter 7 Dillon slouched behind the wheel of his car. Dillon hustled his pace as he made his way to her yard before the barking alerted someone. The first day he laid eyes on Mario Infante he knew the man would be a major pain in his ass as far as Taylor was concerned. He got out of the car closing the door gently. were strange. and no movement in or around the property set off the motions lights attached to the garage. He bent to his knees. whitening his knuckles. and now Taylor was lying to him about their status. he knew she could not be at a baby shower at this hour. They always seemed to be together talking or touching one another in more than friendly manner. It was past midnight. Dillon tightened his hand around the steering wheel. He had seen her leaving the office with Mario Infante on a number of occasions. Was she doing work-related things with him as she claimed? Or had she taking it a step further and was sleeping with Mario Infante. The BMW parked in the driveway earlier was gone and not parked across the street in the neighbor’s driveway who she claimed the car belonged to. Her relationship with him was more than she was leading him to believe and tonight he was going to confront her. with the majority of the neighboring houses dark. Taylor’s house was dark. and her actions around the office of late. He checked his watch. The street was quiet. The motion lights over her garage came on bathing him in bright lights. He’d parked five houses away from Taylor’s home and drove Kelly’s car to avoid recognition by anyone in the neighborhood familiar with his vehicle.
Taylor left with a man early today and hasn’t been home since.” “You are checking on her in the middle of the night! Why didn’t you use the front door and ring the bell?” “Look. “Call off the dog! I’m a friend of Taylor’s. “Right. bearing killer fangs. and I’m checking on her. he pulled out a small key ring containing the keys to her house. Peeking inside a window. he saw the kitchen was dark except for the bluish glow from the microwave and coffee maker clocks. cornered him against the door. He checked the back door and found it locked. I’m here all the time. Dillon scratched his head. Why don’t you try to call her instead of sneaking up on her?” Having his suspicions confirmed.” The man looked closer at Dillon. “Have you ever seen this man before today? Does he visit her often?” . “Hey! What are you doing sneaking around Taylor’s house?” A strong male voice asked holding a flashlight on Dillon. The man pulled the leash causing the dog to sit next to him but did not lower the flashlight from Dillon’s face. You were perched on her steps this morning. I haven’t seen or heard from her since this morning.” He showed the keys hoping the man would hold onto the leash tight. I’m worried about her. You don’t belong here. “We have a neighborhood watch to ke ep an eye on each other. Dillon braced against the door fearful the dog would mangle him to pieces if he made a sudden move. He started to insert the key inside the lock when a jingling and an intimidating growl from a large dog. Fumbling in his pocket.” “You’ve had to see me around. Well.backyard. I have seen you around before. I have keys to her house. Taylor and I work together.
he had a hunch she was with Mario. Slamming it shut. I’m not telling you anything. I’m leaving—call off the damn dog!” Beads of sweat formed on his forehead as he moved away from the growling dog.” . Dillon slowed the vehicle to a stop. he cursed. Why don’t you go before I change my mind and call the police. he went to the den he used as an office. he opened the drawer searching for a copy of the office’s pocket directory listing the addresses of the attorneys. Kelly. What are you doing?” “Nothing. Kelly entered the den holding a large wooden rolling pin in her hand. Infante’s residence would verify if the two were sneaking around behind his back. Interior lights from neighboring houses came on as the dog barked caused other dogs to bark simultaneously. He walked at a fast pace to his car. Peeling from the curb. A trip to Mr. “Dillon! You scared me half to death. I don’t know you and I don’t like the fact you are lurking around her house in the middle of the night. alright. He stepped cautiously across to the driveway. he started the car observing the man keeping an eye on him.” he said nudging on the dog’s leash causing the Doberman to growl and stand tall on all fours legs. Trembling. Yanking the glove compartment door open. He couldn’t go home without knowing where Taylor was. Irritated he got up from the desk pushing the chair over. he sped down the street giving the man a steely glare before disappearing around the block out of his view. He banged his hand on the desk not able to locate the directory. buddy. Sitting behind the desk. he rambled through it.“Look. Entering his house. He questioned where he’d come from or how he’d spotted him so quickly. “Damn it! I’m not in my car!” Dillon arrived home twenty minutes later. Go back to bed. “Alright. I thought you were a burglar. Although he didn’t get a description of the man Taylor left with.
Dillon finished the beer tossing the empty can in the recycle bin.She walked over to where he was standing and rubbed his shoulders. Other men would do a double-take at her when they were out together. even if it is only for seven days. Kelly wasn’t an unattractive woman. She was a little on the thick side but not overweight. are you serious? The planning is almost complete. If we postpone it. If someone needed help.” Her eyes clouded over.” Dillon maneuvered away from her touch. You have been sitting on pins and needles for months. “I know this is a stressful time for you. “I have a lot on my mind.” he said walking out of the den and into the kitchen to get a drink of water. There wasn’t anything wrong with Kelly physically. He took a beer from the fridge. Kelly sat at the kitchen table. and her voice weakened. He wished he loved her to death. “Dillon. She cooked exquisite meals and kept an immaculate home.” . maybe we should postpone the wedding until my case is over. Popping the tab. Please talk to me. she was quite attractive with hair the color of chestnuts that hung to her waist and warm amber colored-eyes.” He didn’t answer and tossed the warm tap water from the glass in the sink when it didn’t hit the spot. you are scaring me. You have that big case going on. She’d won teacher of the year more than once. and her third-grade students loved her to death. she was always first to offer her services. “Sweetheart. he took a long swig of the cold beer leaning against the sink looking at the woman he was betrothed to. The only woman he wanted to touch him was with another man. Her hands on his shoulders were poisonous. In fact. doing God only knows what. we will lose thousands of dollars. I can’t wait for our vacation to relax and get away from it all. and I’m bugging you with stuff about the wedding. She was the perfect mate. He probably would if he weren’t in love with Taylor James. “Kelly.
Taylor knows what is going in your life more than I do. and I might not be able to be away for two weeks on a honeymoon.” She pulled her silk robe together and nodded. You seemed relieved when it happened. “I called your office and no one answered.” He raised his voice to match hers. but to see if she knew where you were. “Why don’t you ever want to talk about my miscarriage? That hurt me. Why do you want to stop it now. “I’m going to bed.” “Where were you tonight? It is almost one o’clock in the morning. You don’t talk to me anymore.“I know but with the promotion and the new case load. Dillon? Don’t lie and say it is your job. “Don’t be silly. it still hurts. Cartwright guaranteed you the time off for the wedding. he said.” . What is the big deal about that?” “The big deal is I’m going to be your wife! Why don’t you let me know what is going on with you.” he said crushing the can with his hands.” His brow narrowed causing the blue of his eyes to darken. “You called Taylor to check up on me!” “Not to check on you. Dillon. I’m swamped with work. you seem to hate me. I told you where I was going. Do you think that was my fault. Dillon.” Tears ran down Kelly’s cheeks streaking her face. She is the only one I can get answers from concerning you.” “I was at work.” Avoiding her gaze. and I did it on purpose?” “Don’t bring that to this argument. and I don’t know where you’ve been and with whom. Ever since I lost the baby. “She is my best friend so normally I tell her stuff. Anything can come up. “Mr. Is there someone else?” He took another beer from the fridge. Where would I have time to see another woman? I barely have time for you. I called Taylor to see if she knew where you were.
” . We’ll deal with this tomorrow. “I’m going to bed. please don’t say it. If she extended the invitation. There is no walking away after all we’ve been through. She invited me to come along. have given me nothing but coldness. he did not look at her as he spoke. I have given you nothing but love and devotion. on the other hand. We have been together since college. you’re not.” He gently patted the soft hand clutching his arm. “No. “You deserve to be loved by a perfect man. Lowering his voice. I won’t allow myself to hear you say you want to leave me. Give me a chance to make it right. My God.Her hand caught the edge of his arm preventing him from walking away.” “When. I’m not him. tomorrow? Are you going to discuss it with Taylor over breakfast to get her advice and then discuss it with me?” He stopped in his tracks and turned to face her. Taylor is your friend too. you should come. I think I’m holding you back from true happiness. just tell me what I am doing wrong.” “That’s not true. “How did you know about breakfast with Taylor in the morning?” “I talked with her remember. The problem he had most with her was her dependency on him. Dillon. I want to know what the other woman is doing for you that I’m not. and I want us to be together forever.” “Dillon. Taylor was an independent woman who didn’t need a man to define her. I love you. You. I want this settled tonight. that is how he wanted Kelly to be. Holding back his emotions. but now I know you don’t want me anywhere near you so I won’t go. He scrubbed his hands down his face and sat at the kitchen table across from her. He didn’t want her hanging over him every minute of the day or calling him with problems she could handle if she put her mind to it. He hated when she cried. Kelly. Please. he shook his head dreading what he was about to say.” she cried.
He was seeing a side of her he didn’t know existed. Dillon. “No. he said.” “I won’t pretend to be something I’m not.” “Then get over yourself and start acting like we are a happy couple devoted to each other and deeply in love. he rocked backwards on the heels of his shoes. Kelly. “You’re crazy. I was going to ask Taylor to be a bridesmaid since she is like family.” Putting her hands in the pockets of her robe. “Yes. or I will be forced to reveal the secret you have been hiding from everyone.” he exploded. darkening the amber to a hot flaming color.” Her hot breath seared his ear. Kelly’s brain snapped. Her facial expression changed to reflect her anger. I just asked you to think about postponing it for a year. She shouted.Kelly nodded. end it tomorrow!” Stunned. He got up from the table wishing he could get away from her. but we are getting married in eight months. It’s too bad you want to call off the wedding.” . He kept his head straight and stiff. I have no secrets. “There is no other woman. she is a good friend. Kelly.” “Those are your words. Her lips curled in a ferocious snarl and her eyes blazed. we can’t! I don’t know what is going on in your brain. Dillon!” “We can pay them back. and you will be happy on that day come hell or high water.” “You want me to put the wedding off for another whole year! What will our parents have to say about that? They have invested a lot of money. You have no control over my emotions. banging her fists on the table. With his breathing uneven. Don’t push me. “I have more control than you think. Mary Linda had to withdraw from the wedding. Kelly never used foul language or took a forceful stance.” She got up from the table to stand in front of him. she leaned forward aligning her head next to his ear. “Whoever this bitch is you are fucking around with. Tumbling down from his high horse he mumbled.
The irritation came from her head resting partially on his shoulder. “I may be a touch crazy. don’t push me too far or I how I really fell down those stai rs might come out. but the move was futile. then pleasured one another until the wee hours of the night. She closed her eyes sighing. “I figured you would see it my way. She tossed her hair over her shoulder and folded her arms tightly across her chest. They left Uncle Vernon’s house around 1:00am and arrived at Mario’s house around 1:45am. he pulled her back to resume the cuddling position.” ***** Cracking open her eyelids. Hearing the back door slam. but stuck with plans to spend the night with him. It was 4:25am. Taylor adjusted her head on the pillow to stop the strands of her plush hair from tickling him under his nose as he attempted to sleep. She tried to roll over to her side of the bed. My sanity isn’t important to anyone anyhow. which allowed him to relax and be himself. She was exhausted and having trouble sleeping in a strange bed. Seconds later.Kelly’s garbled laugh was devious and hateful. Her family had given him an accepting welcome. She brushed down the curls of her hair with her hand hoping to solve the problem. “That was an honest accident and you know it. The . But I know things. Just keep making your fucking plans and maybe I’ll show up. She recalled the baby shower and was happy he’d joined her after all. She lifted her head to check the clock that sat on the nightstand on his side of the bed. Dillon. she said under her breath. He batted her hand away draping her arm across his bare waist. but screw it! Forget I said a damn thing about postponing your precious wedding. Walking away from her would be in his best interest.” He threw up his hands in defeat and unwilling to argue with her.” he said storming out of the kitchen. It was obvious an evil influx had taken over causing her to lose sight with reality. Taylor longed to sleep in her bed.
he said. “I can’t sleep with your hand doing that. her hand wandered beneath the loose sheet to grab a bountiful handful of him. “Taylor.” “Forgive me for teasing you.” A low gravelly moan escaped his throat.” she murmured as he responded positively to the gentle caressing of her hand. You are in no way overweight. She started to roll off him. but I have to be with you day and night. I don’t know what it is about you. “Umm. are you ready for a serious relationship?” “What do you want us to be. “Am I too heavy?” “You’re crushing the life from me.” Folding his arms around her body pressing her tightly against him. Mario? Are you ready to be exclusive with only me?” “The minute I made love to you. he nibbled her neck.” .” She brushed her lips against his cheeks before kissing each of them. Mario’s head shifted filling his face with her soft springy curls once again. Sweeping fine wisps of hair away from his face. but he swiftly grabbed her by the hips stopping her. “Don’t play like that.” She turned over to lie atop him. Mario stirred indicating he was awakening from her touch. “You are awake. In all. “I was only kidding. “I love th e way you duck hot water when thrown under the faucet.” Taylor folded her hands across his chest propping her chin up to give him a sideeyed glance.men in her family behaved and keep him entertained in her absence and the women were on their best behavior also. I was ready for that commitment. Deciding she wanted him to wake up. the night was a success. you’re light as a feather. Her fingers trace his impressive flaccid length.” he said grinning. Women are sensitive when it comes to weight issues. You’re light as a feather.
he slid lower on the bed until nestled between her lithe thighs. Kissing his rock hard chest. She couldn’t get enough breath in her lungs to release the scream caused by the crashing waves of ecstasy coursing through her body. she licked the flat of his nipple. . she moaned. He was warm and hard as steel. “What do you think?” He flipped her over. as he pleasured her orally.” she said swallowing to coat the dryness creeping in her throat from the heavy panting. watching her recover from the body-splitting orgasm. Pressing. so delicious. changing their positions. her body shuddered from the ripples of aftershocks hitting her. His mouth was so hot.“I’ve been told I have that effect on people. A soft release of his name flowed from her lips as his fingers moved inside of her. Slowly she opened her eyes to Mario hovering over her. With a glimmer in his eye and a smile on those amazing talented lips. “Are you sure you’re ready for more?” The pulsation of his penis beat against the flesh of her thigh. He caught her gaze when he looked up at her. she reached between their bodies to sheath him without moving from her position. Left helpless of everything including breathing. She knew what was to come and bowed her back when his mouth covered her womanhood. and so skilled. so he was on top of her. exploring. With a firm hand pressed against her belly. holding her down. She tipped the box of condoms over on the nightstand plucking a foil packet from the box. moving in and out of her all the while his tongue flickered against her engorged clit. Tearing the foil open with her teeth. “I honestly don’t know if I can handle more of you tonight. She moved her legs to straddle his thighs and raised her hips to allow him access to the gates of her heat.” she said tracing the tip of her tongue along his strong chin.
“Yes.” she said filled with arousal and pulling his hips to place him so he could placate the building ache growing in her loins. and he began moving his hips using short. “Are you okay?” He asked holding still. he wanted to give her a second to get used to him and ease the tenderness she had from the first goaround.” She complied with his demand by dropping her knees apart to allow the first push of him to stretch her opening. “Then stop doing that before I have an accident. Taylor winced out in pain when Mario’s teeth scraped across her swollen and sore nipple. tasting the moisture building on his body. He mumbled an apology and switched to her other breast to . “You have to have something left for me. The long erotic hours from earlier had her body sore. wet heat wrapped around him like a tight glove. She buried her head in the crook of his forearm as he drove inside her sore cavity. He lowered his head to take a nipple in his mouth. Every muscle inside of him wanted to move. Unlike the first time. She arched her back and tightened her legs around his waist. No sounds outside of the soft moans and the meshing of their bodies causing the bedsprings to sing. parting her legs as he positioned himself to enter her womanhood. but not to the point she wanted him to stop. Although she was not a virgin. I’m sure I do have a little something left for you. “Don’t stop moving. His arms strained holding his body in position above her.” She did.” she said grinding her hips and squeezing her inner muscles teasing him. She kissed his forearms. came from the dark bedroom. Her warm. it had been a while since she’d had sexual intercourse and was tight. feel the friction of her body against him. but he needed her to be comfortable and ready to accept him without pain.His hand caressed her inner thigh. easy thrusts. Her hips were now moving in unison with his. Taylor’s body trembled half from pain and half from pleasure as his lips closed over her breast.
He moved his arms so his hands could take a hold of her butt cheeks to spread her further apart to accommodate him. His length penetrated her enough to brush her cervix. she took hold of each of his wrists. slippery skin of his muscular back then lower to caress the firm mounds of his buttocks as he clenched and unclenched. Suddenly her body lost control and bucked wildly under him. Her ravenous hands roamed his backside. He sustained the short thrusting. The embers of an orgasm brewed in her body with each of his thrusts in and out of her body. “I will smother you. She jerked as the sharp pain pinched her.feast. The slapping of sweaty bodies and the aroma of pure hot sex filled his bedroom. Her fingernails raked across the damp. Taylor gripped the fitted sheet. He didn’t hold back his demanding raid on her as she shattered from a massive orgasm to collapse under him. He mumbled in her ear. The move forced his full-weight to rest on her. . pulling his arms over her head. you won’t. To relieve the stress from his arms. He didn’t have time to revel as his own powerful orgasm drew from the base of his manhood to skyrocket him to orbit. And the mere sight of his hips pumping rhythmically was enough to make the fire between her legs unbearable. sucking in long drags of air.” “No. Besides. but his arms were weakening from the strain of supporting his own weight. She unlocked her legs from around his waist. Immediately she concentrated on their bodies melding together. The orgasm came from nowhere. knowing it was her bringing him such uncontainable pleasure. arching her hips upward to meet each of his powerful downward thrusts against her pelvis. I like the way you feel. She loved the manly sounds he made. splintering her body in different directions as she clutched onto his shoulders. and he adjusted the vigor of his thrusting.” His grunting and growling vibrated in her ear as he dropped his head on her shoulder. Her head was light from the lack of oxygen filling her lungs.
I exercise and still don’t have the stamina to keep up with you.” She yawned stretching her arms over her head. “The sun will be up in a minute. We’re supposed to have breakfast with Dillon in a few hours. Mario got out of bed disappearing into the bathroom connected to the master bedroom.” She drained the last of the water handing him the glass.” She pulled her achy body up to rest on her elbows. she would have a freaking stroke. Even he realized he did not have the energy to go another round without having a few hours of sleep to recover. filling the condom and wishing it wasn’t working as a barrier between them. “You’re in shape physically but don’t worry. Mario’s pupils dilated with the rise and fall of her ample breasts. Her heart pounded the walls of her chest at a tempo that scared her. Do you think we can pull it off without looking as if we’ve been doing the naughty all night long?” . As he sat next to her rubbing her damp thighs Mario’s lips quirked. “Drink this. “You are challenging me…. why don’t we take a quick shower and get some shut-eye?” She glanced at the clock it was 6:05am. “Baby. “Baby. And if the unmentionable happened. he rolled off her and onto his side of the bed. I will eventually get you to match me stroke for stroke. Holding his position for several minutes. Taylor was too outdone to move. you are killing me. then so what.A low grating growl rose from the depths of his belly as he released his seed. He returned with a glass of water handing it to her. He wanted the natural juices of their lovemaking to mix. he was ready to settle down and start a family.I like that. He shook his head not believing he was becoming aroused yet again. If she didn’t get it under control.” she said taking the glass and tipping it to her parched lips. It will help you get your senses together. He would not have a problem marrying Taylor James if he got her pregnant.
“Ya know I’m going to learn Spanish and know what smart remarks you are saying to me. “No. Set the clock for 9:00am.” Taylor waited by the bathroom door. Just let me know when you are ready. “I will teach you.He held out his hand to help her up.” She trailed her finger down his chest.” She shook her head standing up. we’ll have to pull this off somehow.” He set the clock alarm and recited in Spanish. we have to show for breakfast. “I didn’t say anything. “Nosotro no nacesitamos hacer esto si el supiera la verda.” “You are too smooth. “What did you say?” He joined her by the door. He already suspects something is going on between us. Mr.” He kissed the back of her hand. Too smooth. “You might have to ask for a raincheck.” she said grinning and stepping backwards into the bathroom. . Infante.
and white tennis shoes did nothing to emphasize her curvy body. Trust me. Mario. amused by Taylor’s disheveled appearance.” The stinging glare had her forgetting the pleasure he bestowed last night. it is just 10:00am. Dillon will be on time for his date with you. “I cannot believe we are up this early.&-half to her coffee cooling it enough to drink and not burn her lips. She combed her usually immaculate hair straight and secured it in place with a headband.” . “The woman he wants to dump is going to be a buffer.” “Sweetheart. on a Sunday morning.” She added half. “I’m his friend and know him better than you do. the tension will be so thick we’ll need a knife to cut thr ough it. You’re free to go to avoid the drama. I’ll need more than three hours of sleep to deal with that. Baby. a plain white knit shirt. if you want. Her outfit was too casual for her fashionable style.Chapter 8 Sitting in IHOP Mario sipped his coffee. Dark blue jeans. Taylor. “Now is not the time to be cute.” “I know we’ll have to explain your presence but let me handle it.” “What? Do you not agree Dillon will not miss this opportunity to be with you alone? Only he will be surprised to see me. She hid her bright brown eyes behind large dark sunglasses. I think inviting her was a mistake. Missing were the healthy curls she sported the day before. I asked Kelly to come this morning to be a buffer. I’m too tired and sleepy to argue your hang-ups about Dillon. and Dillon isn’t even here yet.” He nodded slowly. He found it hard to believe she was in public and not wearing designer clothing or her signature high-heels. Taylor removed her glasses placing them on the table to rub her temples.
” He palmed his coffee cup staring directly at her. “OK. Her tone was dry and unfriendly.” “Ever since we’ve been together. I’ve never had a reason to fear him before you came into my life. Baby. You almost had me believing he was stalking me or wanted to do bodily harm to me because he has keys to my house. If Kelly weren’t in the picture would you be interested in a relationship with Dillon?” Her tired eyes were dry and ached like sandpaper lined her lids when she blinked.” “Taylor…” “I do believe it is my turn to speak. “Then what exactly is your problem with him. you have said that. continue. “I’ve told you on numerous occasions that Dillon and I are only friends. He is showing you two faces.“I only seem to upset you when we talk about Dillon. Taylor. As painful as they were to shut. I was in the picture before Kelly. and I never had the desire then or now to be anything more than his friend.” “You know what. What is it going to take to get you to see that?” . she managed to narrow them in his direction. “Say what you have to say and I’ll determine if I’ll answer the question or not. are you threatened by him? Is that why you want him totally out of my life?” “I am not threatened by Dillon.” “Yes.” “Pardon me. you’ve had nothing nice to say about Dillon. trust me when I say that. May I be honest and ask you a question without getting coffee thrown in my face?” She crossed her legs sitting straight with her back against the leather booth.” “My problem is how you react when I say anything about him you don’t approve of. Mario? Maybe having you come along wasn’t a good idea. she asked.” In an assertive tone.
those gorgeous charcoal eyes that pierced her soul when he looked her. the swagger in his walk. I will not allow your petty jealousy to destroy my friendship with him. We teased and lusted after one another for weeks until we finally had sex. Looking through the large plate glass window. her breasts remained sore and tender from their lovemaking. The flashbacks from less than four hours ago blinded her vision. He has never come onto me. she saw him get into his car and drive off. Dillon has keys to my house and never once entered without me knowing about it. . Her voice was unsteady. is that how you feel? Was last night a one-night stand for you?” Moisture filled her eyes but she refused to cry in front of him.” His thick accent lingered in her ears as the scent of his cologne dissipated from the area as he walked away. How would she be able to work closely with him and not feel or show affection for him? His cologne. and now it was over. I did not see that coming. Taylor. “Wow.” He slid from the booth stopping to caress her hair. Adios. as she nodded. and his incredible intelligence that drew her to him in the beginning. If you can’t accept our friendship.“More than what you are offering.” He rubbed his chin not reacting to her flare-up. One single teardrop traveled down her cheek to fall on the tabletop. but you are calling the shots. He has always been a gentleman and a true friend. All of it gone in a split second. the sexy way words rolled off his tongue.” He leaned back tapping a finger on the table. Crossing her arms over her chest. I will take my walk and not bother you again. “Take care of yourself. We’ve done the sex now it is time to move on. We can work together but that is all I see happening between us. “Taylor. then you can take a walk because true friendships last longer than one-night stands. She had developed an emotional attachment to Mario. We have gone on business trips together. “Yeah. She wiped her eyes with a paper napkin deeming another prospect gone before it even got started.
The redness staining the white of her eyes came from a lack of sleep. Taking her compact from her purse. She adjusted her phony smile as the happy couple slid into the booth. she opened it to see her reflection in the mirror.” he responded picking up the menu the server placed on the table. “I’m just tired. “Nothing is wrong with us but you look a little upset. “Good morning Taylor. Taylor held her cup out for the server to refill with fresh hot coffee. “Hey. she was a mess. what’s going on? Dillon your face is dragging the ground and Kelly is faking happiness. and she showed him the door to protect a childhood friendship. The hours just flew once we got to partying. Dillon. As she drank her cold coffee. “Okay. what time did you get home? Was it later or earlier than midnight?” Kelly nudged him. she is a grown woman.” “Did the baby shower last that long?” Dillon asked.” Dillon folded his menu sliding it across the table.” Kelly arranged her hair around her shoulders to avoid sitting on it. “So. Checking her reflection again.” Kelly said with a wide grin on her face.Men of his caliber didn’t come around often. Is everything okay?” Dillon’s head snapped in Taylor’s direction and she lowered her eyes. “Good morning.” she said noticing the scowl on his face. and she didn’t have any eye drops to use to rid that. her appearance wasn’t going to get any better and closed the compact putting it in her purse before Dillon and Kelly arrived at the table. “It lasted longer than I expected. Good morning. Kelly.” . I was out late last night and up early this morning. she saw Dillon and Kelly entering the restaurant. “Dillon. She sponged makeup under her eyes to cover the dark circles forming. Quit questioning her like she is your daughter who missed curfew. I hung around to talk with family members I had not seen in ages.
I was hoping you would replace her.“I’m not questioning her. Kelly.” Dillon rested his head on his fingertips. I have to watch what I eat if I want to fit in my wedding gown and have room left to move. “See what you’ve done! You’ve put her on the spot. have you had a fitting for your wedding dress yet?” “Oh. Taylor. sure. I think I will treat myself and have bacon and eggs this morning. she wasn’t sure how to respond knowing how Dillon dreaded the upcoming nuptials.sorry.” Taylor bit her bottom lip as Dillon spoke up. what do you need?” “Apparently Dillon doesn’t approve of me asking you this. “I’m starving. I have and the dress is just gorgeous on me. “Why are you asking Taylor for a favor now? Can’t you see she’s exhausted?” Taylor shrugged her shoulders. I will have the fruit and oatmeal breakfast platter. Kelly. I am used to Dillon questioning me about my whereabouts. He’s worse than having a big brother. What are you guys having?” Kelly flipped the menu over scanning it. but one of my bridesmaids had to drop out of the wedding.” She picked up her menu when the server returned to take their orders. I didn’t mean to sound as if I was questioning you….” A mild thumping beat behind Taylor’s eyes. Taylor turned her attention back to Kelly. Kelly. “It’s okay. You should come with me for my next fitting so you can see it. I have a favor to ask you. I’m just asking what time she got home. I would love too.” Playing with the silverware on the table. Kelly. Taylor. “Taylor. “Hmm. “Um.” “You sound like her father.” “Speaking of the wedding. “I don’t mind.” He sighed. “So. explain to me why you’d think Taylor would want to be the only .” Taylor caught sight of Dillon’s red face as he ordered a short -stack of pancakes and sausages. in an annoyed manner.
” she said finally getting a word in. I apologize if I offended you with my request to be in the wedding. not talk about the damn wedding. “It’s a long story. please calm down.” Dillon said not looking down at the table. Dillon. That was not my intention. Dillon removed his glasses pinching the nerve on the bridge of his nose. but you don’t listen! You hear or do what you want and screw what anyone else. “I didn’t think about that at the time. Mario was right about the thick tension. Kelly’s voice deepened as she hissed at Dillon. only it didn’t have to do with them hiding anything from Dillon. “Damn. Taylor. “I’m sorry I ruined your stupid breakfast by coming with you. and keeping him from the woman he’s truly in love with!” . Dillon doesn’t want to get married.black person in our all white wedding? How awkward would you feel if you were the only white person in an all black wedding?” Taylor opened her mouth to speak but Kelly beat her to the punch. whoa. “Whoa. He is blaming me for ruining his life. this is not what I wanted when I asked you to have breakfast with me. Taylor. has to say!” Taylor’s eyes crossed trying to decide if she should jump in the argument brewing before her. whoa! Will you stop bickering and lower your voices? We are in a public place. and you are drawing unwanted attention. Wh-what on earth is wrong with you two?” Taylor asked stunned they were acting inappropriately in public.” “Kelly. I consider who my friends are before I look at their race!” “I told you last night not to ask her. or in particular me.” Kelly shoved Dillon with all her might almost knocking him from the booth to the floor. Dillon and Kelly were obviously in need of serious counseling before getting married. I wanted us to catch up on what is going on in your life. Taylor. Kelly rolled her neck. “Actually it is a very short and simple story.
he has you fooled. Ask what is bothering her instead of accusing her of being crazy. but wait. “Okay. that will give you another reason to continue your affair.” “What’s bothering her is bullshit. Wait —she exists but only in her mind. Kelly. “Dillon! Show her some respect.” “You know I love you and Kelly. She is upset. Taylor’s eyes widened. Kelly. well I don’t.” Dillon spat out angrily. but my number one rule is to stay out of other’s business unless I am retained as legal counsel.” “Cut it out. Taylor lost her temper. Slightly embarrassed.” “Taylor. I have no idea who this person is. Taylor. Dillon has never once put you at blame for what happened. “Taylor. I told you she is fucking crazy! Kelly is paranoid. I won’t entertain her imagination.People in the restaurant turned to eye the table with the loud commotion. you all need a marriage counselor to help you work through these issues.” Dillon growled. and I am tired of hearing about a woman that does not exist. Taylor wished she had followed Mario’s advice and cancelled breakfast. He doesn’t care about our dead baby or me! He won’t even talk about it with me. Secondly.” Bothered by the disrespect he was showing Kelly.” “For the last time. “Hold up a minute. Kelly pulled the big guns from her holster. You are making a scene. if you are saying stuff about an affair assuming I know what you’re talking about.” . The people in here don’t need to know your business. first we need to bring the voices back down. He doesn’t talk about it. but said it was a freak accident. I will not drill him for information to find out either. I’m not having a fucking affair with anyone!” Dillon replied loudly and quieting the section of the restaurant they were seated in. am I an embarrassment to you? God forbid I make the hotshot lawyer look bad in public. “Dillon. and you don’t need a lawyer for this. If Dillon is seeing someone other than you. Oh.
I’m leaving so you can talk about it without me present. at least eat your breakfast first. wait. I thought that was you. “I’m not crazy! She does exist! You know who she is. Are on a run?” “No. Kelly sniffed choking on her tears. “Taylor. “I’m not hungry anymore and definitely not in the mood to continue refereeing this fight. After walking a block or two.” She took a twenty-dollar bill from her wallet and laid it on the table. but the woman was balling her eyes out. A black sedan rolled up beside her. Tired and irritable. “I just want this shit to be over with. Taylor got her purse and slid from the booth as the server returned with a tray loaded with breakfast food. slumped against the windowsill.” Dillon barked. I’m going home to get some rest.” “Why are you walking? Where is your car?” . I was supposed to have breakfast with friends. she realized she didn’t have a ride home. “Sebastian?” She knew it was Sebastian from the color of his eyes. the driver lowered the passenger side window. She kept the phone in her hand ready to dial 911 until she saw the person inside. she took her cell phone from her purse to call her sister to come get her. “I don’t know what is going on and I don’t want to be caught in the middle of a serious personal matter. she would opt to believe Kelly’s claim of infidelity. Leaving the restaurant without looking back. Her words and actions complied with a woman scorned. If Taylor didn’t know Dillon as well as she did.” Kelly sobbed harder.” Dillon tried to stop her. and she is ruining our lives!” Having enough. I will see you at work tomorrow.” She turned to say something to Kelly. They were an Irish green with bits of gold twinkling from the sunlight bouncing off them. she did not have the desire or energy to walk the fifteen miles to get home.“I’m not going to a damn stranger to air my dirty laundry. “Taylor.
I hate being left stranded. Sebastian? You’ve been doing a lot of upgrading to your house. I’ll give you a lift.” “Ah. I was not in the mood to walk home. I enjoy the peace and quiet.” “That’s understandable with the work you do but you also have friends over to visit. I see. and I want to expand on that aspect of my life. I get lonely with just me and Thor around the house. she was grateful Sebastian stopped. Your line of business is construction.” “Nice. She tucked her cell phone inside her purse and got into the passenger’s seat of the car.” She laughed. Buckling the seatbelt. Are you contemplating having someone special move in. I do contract work for many companies around the city and a couple of out-of-state gigs. So. This is the main reason I drive and meet people at the destination. “I’m glad you saw me. You didn’t appear dressed for your usual run. what are you building now?” “I’m remodeling the basement.” . A trace of a grin curled on his thick lips as he said.“I came with another friend but he had to leave. right?” “I’m an independent builder.” “I was coming from the hardware store when I saw you. “Thank you. How would someone like me go about meeting new people? Should I throw a few parties?” Taylor nodded in agreement.” he said opening the door for her.” He drove looking straight ahead. “Maybe. I don’t have company over that much. I’m so busy at work that once I get home. I was calling my sister for a ride.” “I’m on my way home. “There is nothing wrong with widening your social circles.
” he said putting the gearshift in park.” She flipped her hand. like what?” “I want to open my own law firm. “Well if you need a builder. “Yes. before I go.” . “Sebastian. a small firm and nothing as spectacular as where I am now. How big are you going?” “I don’t know. Of course. “I don’t know his name. maybe three or four lawyers and a paraprofessional.” He laughed. Leaning down to talk to him through the window.“Networking would definitely benefit you. He claimed he was checking on you.” “That’s ambitious and time consuming. If I were you. she said. yeah. They could guide you in the right direction and connect you to the right people. I’m glad I was around.” “I’ll do that. Thank you so much. I haven’t put anything on paper or taken any action yet. I would speak to someone in public relations. She got out of the car closing the door. you know where to find me.” “Oh. I’ve been mulling over making a change with my career. Taylor. I will talk to him about it. “No problem. Oh. “This is all theory. I will need a support staff of no more than three people. but he was sneaking around your house late last night. Thanks for letting me know.” Sebastian pulled into her driveway.” “Are you talking about Dillon?” She asked. “Sorry about that. Home safe and sound. I found it strange he was peeping through your kitchen windows past midnight. How is life at the law firm?” She covered her mouth yawning. you’re my hero today. She had forgotten to call a locksmith to have the locks changed and had not planned on doing it since accusing Mario of making her doubt Dillon. that friend of yours that is always hanging around…the little white dude. that is odd.” A strong chill awakened every nerve in her body. Thor ran him off.
“Damn it.” . She pushed the brew button on the coffeemaker and opened the fridge removing a carton of eggs and butter. Another loud bang coming from outside her house startled her already shaky nerves. Standing on the porch. Let me get Thor. She was on Sebastian’s front porch in six leaping strides. countertops. she placed it on the stove to preheat. she cracked the first egg dumping it in the bowl. Using the drawstring. she wiped the slimy goop from the cabinets and tile floor.” she cursed turning on the water in the sink and pulling several sheets of paper towels from the rack and wetting them. we’ll check it out. “Taylor. A crash hit the window above the sink breaking the glass. she opened the drapes to let in the sunshine. She waited to hear it again before going forward. are you home? Open the door?” He snatched open the front door to Taylor’s wild eyes flaring. Taking a skillet from the rack. The egg in her hand dropped on the counter spilling yoke and whites down the front of the cabinet to the floor. “Sebastian. She turned on the central air and went into the living room. Standing up she bolted for the front door and outside. Going into the kitchen. Getting a bowl from the cabinet. I was in the kitchen. “I think someone is in my house. stuffy and void of light. Silence swarmed except for the water filling the icemaker in the freezer. Banging on his door.” “Slow down and catch your breath. and her. the door did not open and sighed with relief. Shards of glass rained over the appliances. Inside the house it was warm.please come look. she yelled.She waved to him as he backed from her driveway into his. Stooping down. she heard a noise and stopped. and the window broke…. what’s the matter?” She swallowed trying to catch her breath. This is stupid! There is no one in this house but me. she twisted the doorknob before inserting the key.
“Sebastian? Thor?” No answer replied to her callout. Sebastian put his arm around her.” . with thick red hair and a thick short beard and moustache of the same color. Sebastian came on the porch with Thor on a leash. She tapped her foot nervously when minutes passed and Sebastian still hadn’t emerged. The palms of her hands dampened.Taylor sat on the wooden chair looking across the street at her house shaking like a leaf. She heard voices coming from the area of the kitchen. Tiptoeing in the kitchen. muscular. “A baseball through the window is better than a masher prowling around my house. Taylor. I feel so stupid. or if Sebastian needed help. She guessed that would be his standard dress code since he was a builder. I will board it up until Clay replaces it. Stepping outside she saw Sebastian and her neighbor who lived on the other side of the fence talking. Looking for anything to use as a weapon. She had to know what was going on. she poked her head inside the house. Pieces of glass crushed under her feet as she moved to the back door. She placed her hand on Sebastian’s shoulder. She had left the front door wide open. He was tall. “Stay put. On her porch.” he said trotting across the street with Thor leading him. I’ll be back in a second. Clay’s son broke the window playing baseball.” Taylor waited with baited breath for him or the dog to exit her house. Laughter erupted suddenly. “Is everything okay?” She asked interrupting the conversation. Gaining the courage to get out the chair. “Everything is fine.” She exhaled. She had never taken notice of Sebastian before. she slowly walked across the street. she took from the table. an antique African statute with sharp pointy edges. He always wore a lumberman’s shirt and worn blue jeans. she saw the back door was ajar. Her heart raced out of control.
He would only talk to her if she were in the yard or wave to her when she was out running. This was the first time he’d been inside her home. It was just him and his dog. Thor. beautiful women….” “I’m jealous. “Open waters. She would do a thorough cleaning after Sebastian boarded the window. “Come on.” He stacked up the extra plywood on the marble granite countertop and turned to face her.” He winked at Taylor. “Be back in a flash to finish up.that will be a great vacation. “Not the Bahamas but I took an Alaskan cruise once.” He patted his thigh. She removed the skillet from the stove and placed it in the sink.” He measured the area of the window before nailing the plywood to make sure it fit.” he said replacing the hammer in the loop of his tool belt. “Some friends and I are going on a cruise to the Bahamas. “Where are you headed for vacation?” He asked banging lon g nails into the frame surrounding the window.” “Have you ever taken a cruise to the Bahamas before?” She’d lived across the street from Sebastian for years and knew nothing about him other than his name and he stayed to himself. but she never saw him sitting with other neighbors on their porches or hanging out with a lot of people.Sebastian bid his friend goodbye and returned with Taylor to the kitchen. He was friendly when approached. Taylor dumped the contents of the dustpan in the trash and wiped her hands on her jeans. Sebastian returned with plywood and nails.” he said joking. “This won’t be pretty but will keep the bugs out until the window is replaced. He always took notice of the sports attire she . time to go. “Don’t feel stupid for being scared. “That’s fine.” The smell of the smoldering skillet on the stove caught Taylor’s attention. I hope he gets the window before I leave for vacation. Soon as Clay gets the glass I will install it for you. Going to the broom closet. she removed the broom and dustpan and began sweeping the glass.
She’d never been afraid to do anything alone. and the only man she knew that would protect her. “I really haven’t had time to watch television. she had run off. Taylor. but who knows what this sick individual might do.” . He refrained from dating even though he was lonely. Whatever she heard it iced her blood and she didn’t know why. including him. definitely I will do that. “I would like that. I like it black. Removing the headband from her head. She took two coffee mugs from the cabinet filling them steaming hot coffee. The skimpy running clothes fueled every man’s fantasy.” She took a sip of her coffee. suddenly she was feeling scared. Shaking off the feeling. I suggest you get an alarm installed to be on the safe side. “No. What is going on?” “A few women have disappeared. but I know you’re here alone and like to run by yourself. she laid it on the table. she spooned sugar into her coffee. Handing one to Sebastian. she asked. Do you install that stuff?” “Yeah. Um. get a dog.wore. It is happening on the eastside of Cleveland. “Taylor. I don’t want to alarm you. “Do you use cream or sugar?” He took the coffee shaking his head. “I take a little sugar and cream. He found her extremely attractive. have you seen the news lately.” She imagined she heard an abnormal undertone in his voice.” He sat at the table nullifying her suggestion. or friend to run with you.” “Yes. do you want to sit on the porch? It’s such a nice day today. I can if you want me to. but a nasty divorce left him bitter. I’ll drop off a brochure for you to choose what type you want. Also.” Taylor eased in the kitchen chair across from him.
but she was too uptight to sleep. “Would you like a refill?” She asked with her back to him.” “Thank you for everything. She exhaled a breath and turned around smiling. it was gone. “I will make sure you are safe. neighborhood watch. She closed and locked the kitchen door and made sure all the windows were secure. “I forgot my drywall.” Sebastian went to retrieve the drywall.” he said stretching.The slight strands of silver mixing in with the red of his hair showed he was older than she. he winked and said.” He put the coffee cup up to his lips. Her body ached as she stretched. “I will look it over and let you know what I want.” Taylor rose from the table to refill her mug. A hot shower and a nap called her. Sebastian. “Okay. She went to the kitchen to put the coffee cup Sebastian used in the dishwasher. I will put the brochure in the mailbox if you aren’t home. “I always assumed this neighborhood was safe. “No. I’ll be in touch.” she said closing and locking the door. I appreciate knowing that while I’m gone my house won’t be cleaned out. Running her fingers through her hair. His green eyes flickered when he raised his cup to salute her.” Uneasiness rolled through her body. but she remained at ease. “Not under my watch it won’t. Balancing it under his arm.” She nodded her head. That’s why I confronted your friend. I’ll see you to the door.” “We do.” Taylor held the front door open for him to exit. The chair scraped across the tiles of the floor when he got up. “Thanks for the coffee. I better be going. We look out for each other with the . He frowned. I have a lot of errands to run. she went to the table for the headband.
” “I had Mario. What is wrong with me.I can imagine how Mario is dealing with it.” “So you are taking Mario’s side and think I should end my friendship with him?” “No. you don’t have to end it. You should be careful since you like to work late at night. have you seen the news?” “You’re talking about those missing women? Yes.” “Be careful leaving the shop at night. Sighing Thor must have gotten it if it fell on the floor since he was lying at Sebastian’s feet. We broke up today. Sabrina? Why can’t I keep a man?” “What did you do?” “We got into a fight about Dillon. We have a security guard in the parking lot until police capture this fool. CNN was on doing a report on two women that had gone missing from the lower eastside of Cleveland within two days of each other. she lay on the sofa and clicked on the television.She checked the floor. I will keep your advice handy for the next man that comes along. But. “I probably blew it with Mario. it made a lot of sense. But you are willing to forego your joy to keep Dillon…. okay?” “I will. trash. Your man will not understand you are putting Dillon above him. “Sabrina. Taylor.” She nestled the phone to her ear listening to her younger sister’s advi ce. Going into the living room. and counter by the sink. I saw that. Was I wrong to do that?” “YES! Girl. Dialing she waited for her sister to answer. then you have Mario to protect you.” . I told him to take a walk since he can’t accept him as my friend. when are you going to stop protecting Dillon’s grown ass? He is not a kid. You need to let that protective crap go and live your life and let Dillon live his. Why is this happening now? She reached from the phone on the table.
it wasn’t long before the heaviness from her eyelids slammed shut. it’s not even noon yet. You aren’t getting any younger.” “That age thing was a low blow. I will call you tomorrow. I get it. Did you get a chance to um…you know?” Taylor laughed. girl. She turned on her side to watch TV.” Taylor hung up the phone feeling better after talking to her sister. I’m tired of mom bugging me to give her a grandchild. okay. I hope when you have a baby its triplets and all boys…bye. Anyhow. Folding a hand under her head. call Mario. that was mean…bye. and patch it up with him. “I won’t kiss and tell but will let your imagination draw the picture. . I can’t believe you let that man go. forcing her to fall asleep immediately. Taylor.” “Taylor. Oooh.” “Ouch. I’m in dire need of sleep.“Good luck finding one like Mario. Well before you fall asleep to dream about what you won’t be getting anymore.
She missed him even though they had been apart for only one night. snug at the hips. The slate gray suit. Mario sighed. she had on the black power suit he’s chosen for her on their last trip to the mall. Was the meeting arranged this morning?” Confident she would not throw him out. I hate to bother you but we have to meet with counsel from Gallop in an hour. “Good morning.” “Why wasn’t I included on the email? I’ve been working on this case forever…you are new to it.Chapter 9 Taylor swiveled her chair to face the window. I received an email from opposing counsel and they are refusing to sign the settlement agreement. The bodice of the white square-necked shell was cut low and gave a glimpse of her cleavage. she needed a solid four more hours of sleep to feel human again. The view from her office overlooked parts of Lake Erie and Burke Lakefront Airport. It was tucked inside the waist of the skirt with a gold chain as a belt. Her heart softened. stopped at her calf with a tasteful split running down the side that showed her shapely thigh when she walked. “I made it yesterday. Her office door opened. Her internal organs liquefied when he parted those sexy lips to smile. Closing her eyes. The skirt. I was not aware of any meeting with Gallop. and silk gray tie. He sucked in a breath to cover moan of approval. “Good morning. She had slept restlessly and jumped at every noise she heard outside her bedroom window last night. She stood up and gave a careful gaze up and down his well-dressed body. She inhaled lightly taking in his scent. Mario. he stepped into her office and closed the door. Taylor had stood up walked in front of her desk leaning against it. Taylor. encased and molded his body.” Taylor swung her chair around to face Mario. white shirt. Smoothing down his tie he said. Why would they send an email to you and exclude me?” .
you are a partner and higher on the food chain than I. I did not mean to go over your head.” “Of course you didn’t. His family will continue to suffer because of Gallop’s negligence in maintaining the machinery in their factory. “I can’t believe he won’t let this case die! The man will never work again! He lost his leg.” She threw her head back in disgust. check your email…you were included in the chain. I called opposing counsel and suggested we meet this morning and iron out the problem. why are they hedging on signing the settlement agreement? We had it all in the bag.” She moved to the front of her desk again. and even if you did.” “Tucker is willing to keep the deal at $800. “Tucker is such a bastard. “Taylor. “Taylor.” Taylor hissed. That is the highest amount Gallop is willing to go. I’m not pulling rank. We advised our client not to take that position.He slipped a hand inside the pocket of his trouser. what do you want to do?” . His other arm rested at his side.” “Tucker feels the million dollar price tag for the damages our client sustained.” She went around her desk and tapped on the computer opening the email program. I dropped the ball you picked it up and ran with it. “So. Gallop would not guarantee it would not eliminate the position in a year or two. His angle is to prove our client can support his family without a million dollar settlement padding his bank account.000.” He sighed.” “I’m sorry. Tucker argues our client was offered another position with the company and he refused to take it. Reading the screen and biting her lower lip. leaving our client unemployed and piled with medical bills. I know you are doing your job. she mumbled.” “Well. since you object to the new proposal. far exceed his injuries. “Huh—how did I miss this?” “When you didn’t respond to their email.
. She took her purse from the bottom desk drawer and buzzed her assistant to bring in the Gallop Industries file jacket.” Taylor scanned through the files making sure what she needed was there. framed her pretty face.” she said hoisting the heavy file jacket under her arm. “I’ll do my best to keep this from getting any uglier than it already is. why don’t you handle it since I’m not on my A -game today? I will go along with you to show my face. I have a great deal of experience dealing with hard-nose negotiators. I will meet you in the lobby in fifteen-minutes. She sat behind her desk banging her fist against her forehead. if going to trial will be the only way to get our client justice.” “Taylor. But. I’m fine. “Taylor. You are slipping. then we can do that. I wish I had seen the email last night. That was the low end of our settlement demand.” she conceded reluctantly. I will take a shot at keeping our price on the table and possibly out of the hands of a jury. so if an emergency arises. but will let you do the arguing unless you need my help in some way. She nodded looking down at the floor. I could have been better prepared going to this meeting. Lynda came in the office with the jacket and handed it to her. “Do you have a meeting this morning?” “Mario Infante and I are meeting with Tucker Plano on the Gallop matter. If you want. a flat million is not too much to ask.” She patted her hand on the French roll her hair was styled in. I don’t know how long I will be gone. are you okay?” “Yes. Damn. The long bangs swept to one side of her head. I have my cell phone on vibrate to leave me a message. girl. Get it together and do not blow this case because you are suffering from a broken heart.“Mario.” he said turning to leave her office. “All right.
” “We do. Taylor James. I was just suggesting to Mario.” . I bet you all miss Mario.” she said sensing she was acting childish by being jealous of this woman. “Why? This job is not always glamorous. Taylor entered the lobby to see him in conversation with a well-dressed. “A pleasure to meet you. Mario took the heavy file folder from her arm. When the woman touched his shoulder.” “Not for the status but I’d give my left arm to be held up in a room with Mr. “So am I. Heavy age lines edged her peach-painted lips. and sizable wrinkles creased beneath the makeup of the leathery skin of her forehead. this is Allyson Barker.” Taylor forced a smile and stuck out her hand. how I wish I was an attorney. white woman with coiffed honey-blonde hair. She was a colleague from my old firm. The woman was not as perfect up close as she was from afar. or was afraid of aging and tried to hide nature’s natural erosion with Botox injections.” Taylor smiled at the older woman’s giddiness.“Oh. It was obvious she’d either done the tanning booths too often.” ***** Mario waited by the doorway leading to the garage. Pardon my manners. “Hi. In fact. See you later. Taylor kept walking towards them with her head held high and a nagging envy knotting in her gut. Taylor frowned. “I agree—you’ve said enough. how we should get together for dinner and drinks. you’ve seen that first hand many times.” Lynda said shuddering and fanning her face. Allyson. I’m ready to go when you are. Infante for hours! Wow…I’ve said enough and will hold down the fort until you get back. It’s been ages since I’ve seen him. she cringed with jealousy. saying.
from now on. Allyson. My motto is to mind my own business and not step in anyone else’s crap. I have a perfect date night for us. “Mario. coming from a sophisticated and intelligent woman.” Taylor gave half a smile. they stepped inside not saying anything.Taylor lifted her eyebrow as Allyson took his hand. “Uh. drinking. The doors opened.” “Yes it was and I apologize. When the doors opened the lights to a brand new Mercedes blinked on. Mario stuttered with indecision. Taylor. replying. “It is none of my business what you did with Grandma Moses.” she said waiting for the elevator doors to open. he took .” Taylor kept her eyes straight ahead focusing on the muddy smudges covering the dingy metal of the elevator doors. “It was nice meeting you. uh.” he snickered as he opened the rear door of the diamond-silver metallic CLS63 AMG S-Model Mercedes. could it have happened during breakfast yesterday?” “I plead the fifth. How about it? Will you be my date?” Removing Allyson’s hand.” As Allyson went on her way. I would love to get together for a night of dancing.” She dug inside the classic Gucci purse retrieving a business card. I’ll have to get back to you about that. Allyson.” “That was harsh. “You bought a new car?” “Yes. I saw your name on the guest list. “Likewise. The annual Mayor’s ball is Saturday night. She saw the keyless remote in Mario’s hand and asked.” She turned to Taylor offering her hand again. We’re on our way to a meeting and running behind as it is. Putting the file jacket on the floor of the car. He broke the silence. “Here is my card. Mario ushered Taylor through the double doors leading to the elevators to the parking garage. and reminiscing. call me tonight with your answer. “We never dated if that crossed your mind.” “Did something happen to make you adopt a motto? And.
then swallow your damn stubbornness and say so. I will give you a hint. She blew air between her lips opening the door and getting into the car.” “You are the cutthroat attorney—figure it out. “he said knowing she wouldn’t understand. “Where should I begin?” “By saying this discussion is ridiculous. But.” she said shooting him a stark look.” “If I wanted to attend with her I would have accepted her offer. He got behind the wheel waiting for Taylor to get inside the car. “You’re kidding. you cannot have it both ways. “How should I answer and douse your flames of jealousy at the same time. You should accept Allyson’s invitation and escort her to the Mayor’s ball. but I am definitely not jealous of him. the same applies to you when it comes to Dillon. Mario.off his suit jacket laying it across the backseat. But. You’re a grown man and allowed to date whomever you want.” He maneuvered the powerful new machine through the parking garage to the exit gate. batman.” “What?” His expression shifted from wryly to curious. If you do want me. “How am I jealous of Dillon? I may not trust him. He rolled his eyes and got out of the car. Taylor.” “Golly-gee-whiz. Taylor. “Would you have opened the door for Allyson?” She asked as they were both buckling their seatbelts.” “Oh. I’m not jealous of an old ass woman refusing to be her age. please. Plaintively Taylor concurred. “This is the second time you have shown possessiveness when you have encountered me with other women. If you don’t want me. “It is ridiculous and we should drop the whole subject. for me to that. I’m free to date whomever I want. I am sorry about the way I behaved.” he said resting his elbow on the rim of the car door peering at her.” “Tu podria haberme engańado. apparently I have to accept Dillon in the fold of . Either you want to be with me or you don’t. what I want is to date you.
he swiped the keycard to raise the gate. At the exit gate. Yes. “Taylor. he headed east towards the highway. If she gave in. He shook his head. it wo uld mean they could not have anything more than a professional relationship. “Well?” he asked breaking through her cone of isolation. The good-looking man in an expensive suit was growing devil’s ears and she liked them. would it mean he would make other demands when he didn’t agree with her? And. then I want something from you….my arms. His face was so handsome and she had a hard time not giving in and granting him what he wanted. I’ll give in to your demands but I have a demand of my own. Taylor eyed him. “Don’t look at me like that. You will ease your distrust for him and not make him feel uncomfortable when around me. if she did not give in. “All right.” .” She stared at him. Could she actually live never having another night of passion with the man who’d captured her heart in such a short timespan? No was the real answer. If you want something from me. Checking both ways before pulling into traffic. would be the stubborn answer she would likely take. She didn’t know if she could handle working closely with him considering how she was fighting the urge to run her hands up his thick thighs and claim what lay beneath the expensive trousers. “What would that be?” He raised his thick eyebrows.” She skewered him a look. “What if we compromise on the issues?” “What are your requirements?” “I will back away from Dillon but not drop him totally as a friend.” “How am I looking at you?” She knew exactly how she was looking at him. I didn’t get where I am by being a pushover. I don’t want to turn over in bed to hug you and find Dillon sleepi ng between us.” He vacillated.a conciliation of giving and taking. Taylor knew why he was doing it.
” “I admit I do have a ‘green-eye’ problem and it has been the cause of many of my failed relationships.” “What happened after I left the restaurant yesterday?” “The story is too long and we have more important stuff on our agenda at the moment. We’re adults. give me credit.” “Any of it life-threatening?” “None of it is life-threatening but nonetheless requires my attention.” She sighed. Real emotions are involved here. I’m starting to think you may be right about him being possessive of me. why can’t we just do what we do and leave everyone else on the outside?” “Do I really need to spell it out? We are stubborn and possessive.” He nodded. “After the meeting. but we are the odd checkers on the table. I am an associate. We have to build trust. so I do not have the same privileges as you. I’m getting better with handling it. Why are you still an associate?” “For the same reasons you will never handle a major case.” “I can’t ditch work today—I have stacks of cases sitting on my desk. Taylor. Mario.” “That I don’t understand.” “Not enough. “You won’t have to worry about me dropping everything for Dillon. and you will grow fangs watching me interact with other women. My ass has to be in my chair and ready to jump when called upon. and heartbreak will result from nonsense such as this.Taylor fingered the gold necklace around her neck. I hate to break this to you. call your assistant and clear your day. But. What I am asking of you will be assurance that my trust in you won’t be a problem anymore. “We aren’t bargaining on who gets the waffle maker if we break a promise. We will go somewhere private and talk. I will have a problem with you running off to hold Dillon’s hand whenever he has a crisis. but we . Our talents will win the game. Mario.
also. No more sneaking around. He needs to know ahead of time.” “I was telling my neighbor last night my dream to open my own firm. Mario. Now back to my proposal.will never receive the victory for doing it. Taylor chest tightened as his fingers kneaded her skin through her nylons. Taylor. “Sweetheart. business is business but once we close shop for the day. pleasure will rule for the rest of the night. I have to have full composure going into this meeting. I’m tired of working my ass off and not getting the recognition I deserve. And last finding a couple of brave attorneys willing to take the leap of faith with me.” “Well for one. He cannot realize I am on the cruise with you when the boat leaves the dock and I’m still onboard. What I want you to do is tell Dillon I will be joining you on the cruise. Then finding the hours to do the research on how to open and run a successful law firm. “I’m willing to invest in this operation if you make me a full partner. “Stop.” she laughed. Taylor swallowed as her body responded to his creeping fingers. “Yes! Now keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the steering wheel. how are we going to agree to operate a business?” He placed his hand on her exposed thigh. you can cease the colorful prose.” “We’ll continue this later.” “I get it.” Intense heat filled her body.” He slanted his grin letting his fingers crawl under her skirt. They will pluck your brilliant brain until there is nothing left but dangling branches of dried brain matter….” “What is stopping you? You have the years and the knowledge. capital.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Am I flustering you?” She pushed his hand away tugging the material of her skirt down. We can’t agree to date.” “There is a tragedy in the making.” .
“When I set my mind to go after what I want. Taylor fixed her makeup and got out of the car to wait for Mario.” She had no retort for the man with the assertive strut. ***** Taylor went directly to her office after returning to work later in the day. He simply threatened to let a jury decide the outcome of plaintiff’s fate. She made the right choice letting him take the lead.” “You are exaggerating now.” “I see I will have to watch both our backs because you refuse to remove the blindfold from your eyes. The settlement meeting with Tucker Plano went longer than expected but was successful. He has never been cross with you. The Dillon situation was a discussion that would keep looping in circles and never end. They arrived at the office building of Gallop Industries. it had not dawned on her they would be together for seven days and sharing a room.” Taylor turned her head to look out the window and did not comment. Mario secured the original million-dollar settlement without a fuss from Tucker.” He adjusted his sunglasses on his face. Watch the master and learn. “Your confidence is scary. this will be easier than taking candy from a baby. “Are you ready to go to battle?” “Eh. it is best he knows the truth about us. I will tell him this week. my ego is scarier.” he said buttoning his suit jacket.She had forgotten about Mario joining her on the cruise. . “Actually I had forgotten about that.” I didn’t forget and I plan to enjoy my vacation without daggers being thrown in my back by Dillon. Taylor. After what I witnessed over breakfast. When they had the argument in the restaurant.
I got worried. I wouldn’t be able to talk about the fight Kelly and I had with her there. you have to set her straight we are not involved romantically.” “What was so important that it couldn’t wait until we met for breakfast?” “You invited Kelly.” He recoiled. I’m kind of busy. she doesn’t believe me. “Okay. He closed the door to keep their conversation private. and she believes the other woman is you and has always been you. you need to explain why you were snooping around my house last Saturday night. “I wasn’t snooping. I needed to talk to you. you got a minute?” “Um.” “No apologize is necessary.” Taylor cleared the paperwork from in front of her and propped her elbows on the desk. “Does Kelly think I am the other woman? If so.” “I’ve told her I’m not messing around with another woman behind her back.” . you have a second. can it wait?” She asked not comfortable being alone with him. Anyhow. “I have to apologize for the way I behaved yesterday. But. “I promise this will only take a second. Taylor.” “Dillon.” he said entering her office uninvited. She had to finish drafting the settlement agreement before going home for the night. and when you didn’t come home. what was the fight about?” “Her suspicions of another woman are feeding her mind again.” she said placing her elbows on the desk and steepled her hands waiting for him to say what was on his mind. Dillon knocked on her open door. I’m just so frustrated with Kelly I’m losing my mind. “Hey.Taylor turned on her computer.
I will not let that happen!” Taylor cheeks flushed from the rush of heat. I would never hurt you.” she said hoping he would not ask with whom. now we aren’t spending time together and she shouldn’t think that about me anymore. We have a neighborhood watch and anything could have happened to you. you do know him. and I want to complete this settlement agreement first. You are always huddled together in an office or whispering in each other’s ear. The man cannot stand I’m close to you! He will come between us. this is beginning to get creepy. She remained seated and shot a stanch look of disdain in his direction. hissed. Don’t do it again.” He lowered his head. “I understand and it won’t happen again. “First you need to drop that tone with me. He is the reason you want to turn your back on me. My neighbor is worried you are stalking me. His voice.” “Taylor. I only wanted to talk. “Is it someone I know?” Her heart skipped a beat. thickly coated with contempt.” “Taylor…” “Dillon.” “You should have called me if you needed to talk that bad. Let’s grab dinner—it is quitting time after all.” “Tonight is not good for me. “Are you going to keep me in suspense?” “I’m searching for the right words. Seriously. “Yes.” His brow narrowed as he stared at her. But. “It’s Mario Infante. Your neighbor with his killer dog would not let me explain anything. I have a date tonight.” she answered not looking at him. I don’t want you to get hurt if someone catches you around my house when I’m not at home.“Do you blame her for thinking it is me? We were together all the time. His eyes were ablaze and his tone was that of a father scolding a daughter for sneaking around with the forbidden bad boy. I was scared to sleep in my own bed last night. Taylor. I am a single woman and not obligated to reveal to you .
“I’m going home. Dick. That means you’ve been fucking him behind my back!” Taylor jumped up from her chair. you will be an adult about this and be happy for me and hold no animosity towards Mario. If you believe that testosterone-filled bully is the one for you.” “Oh. and should not have to pretend anymore. You’ve been through a number of failed relationships. she uttered. I’m sorry for the way I spoke to you.what I do or with whom. But. I love you like a brother and want us to stay close and not have this come between us. If he turned around to face her.” He sat quietly with his mouth open. “How long have you been dating?” No longer caring her tone had turned sour.” He got up from the chair taking his glasses off the desk. “Why should I be bitter with him? I have a fantastic woman I’m going to marry soon. Mario is the man I am seeing and there is nothing you will or can do about it. the muscles in her face twitched from the anger ripping through her body.” He kept his back to her.” She continued standing. then . So I hope now that you know. “I apologize for my behavior also.” He snarled as her words tore through his soul. We are family. “Dillon. in our business. he could not be responsible for his actions. You have the right to happiness. Second. so you are not just dating. “We have been going out since he began working at Cartwright & Associates months ago. We want to be together. but exclusive. “Ho! Hey! You are not MY father and I don’t need your permission to fuck anyone as you so crudely put it!” “Then why are you hiding him from me!” “We didn’t say anything because we work together and don’t want every Tom. Mario made a good point this morning. aware of the remorse kicking her in the butt. He kept a firm grip on the doorknob. or Harry.
Mario may not be the man I marry down the line.” “Honesty is the best policy.” He answered as if he had read her mind. But you say that about me? Go. I have never been close to having that type of relationship. We should take a break from each other and focus on our own private lives for a change.” She blinked. He wanted you to know about us so there would be no sneaking or whispering of rumors. He has won your heart—you are off the market for any man.” “You’re wrong. You know where my shoulder is when you have to cry from him breaking your heart. You probably want to give them to Mario.” He dug through his pockets to remove a set of silver-plated keys.” Taylor looked at the keys dangling on the side of her desk. I was right. I’m being honest and upfront. Taylor.” “Why are you being hateful? I am not hurting you with words or trying to hurt you at all. When I go home tonight. This is what Mario wanted you to do all along. Who knows. Taylor. You will be one less person on my mind when I go to sleep tonight.” “It’s cool. I need to make this relationship work. She sensed the pain in Dillon’s eyes as she started to choke up. I’ve handed you tissues to wipe your snotty nose when you cried. I have listened to you bitch about Kelly on more than one occasion. but he is the man I want in my life right now. Taylor. Dillon. “Here are your keys. I want to know how it feels to go home to someone that loves me. “I’m not surprised you’re kicking me to the curb. Kelly will be waiting on me with a hot meal and comforting arms. Fumbling them in his hand.go for it. he tossed them on her desk. nonplussed and placed a hand on her hip. This is not what he wanted. I’ve received your message. “Excuse me? You have a lot of nerve.” . I was the one that didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t think you could handle it. “Dillon.
His roaming tongue filled her mouth as she parted her lips to give him access.” He pulled away from her.” he said leaving her office. He believes it will cause strife in the workplace if the romance fails. “I want that so bad. His lips were soft. she entered. closing the office door. Taylor waited ten minutes to make sure Dillon had left the floor. warm and tender. “Now that is how we are supposed to greet each other. Because that glowing happiness you’re feeling when he is around. Mario broke the kiss. won’t be there every damn night. “Hey.” . He belonged in her arms and she wanted to savor the moment for as long as possible. we’ve been over this. but prying eyes are always lurking around corners. well good luck with that.” Mario walked over to his desk. The majority of the offices were dark. he kissed her without saying a word. Turning off her computer.” Taylor wrinkled her nose. Taylor. Anderson doesn’t appreciate attorneys engaging in personal relationships.” Taylor did not release him from the embrace. Taylor heart pounded against the walls of her chest.He snatched open the door to leave. “I wish we could greet this way every day. Tapping on the door first. Her arms crossed over his broad shoulders to caress the back of his head as the kiss intensified and deepened. making a sharp right past the copy room. She came to a stop in front of Mario’s office. “Why don’t we just tell everyone we are a couple?” “Baby. “Yeah. she left her office and walked down the hall. we can do as we please.” Mario took his feet off the desk and walked over to her. Their soft muddled moans broke through the quietness of the office. “When we open our firm. Taking her in his arms. Not many attorneys burned the midnight oil anymore and went home during normal hours.
“That was not my intention either. “I enjoy hearing you saying I’m your woman. was not for you to end your friendship with Dillon. I told him about us.” “He does. Taylor. amor. He ended everything between us. but what happened at breakfast?” “Breakfast was a disaster. Mario. did you talk to him. “What is on your mind?” “You are hurting. He even gave me back the keys to my house. Good enough answer for you?” “Not quiet sufficient enough. Dillon and Kelly were fighting. my plan. Taylor smoothed her skirt over her crossed knee. he swears he doesn’t have an attraction for me. What he said to me ended our twenty-year friendship for good.” “Mi coranzon.” “I did. He said I will be one less person for him to worry about.” he said lifting an eyebrow. I didn’t want to be in the middle of it so I left. a man knows when his woman is being yearned for by another man. but is only looking out for me.” She held off the rush of tears building to spill from her eyes. we have to be patient. She smiled shyly. He tapped the tips of his fingers together.” He sat in the oversized leather chair watching as Taylor crossed the room to sit across the desk from him in one of the black cherry-wood winged-backed chairs.” “Yes.“It will happen eventually. I saw Dillon pass my office a while ago.” “I don’t want to overstep my bounds and make trouble since we’ve made up. I believe him. and he’d better realize that once the reality of it sinks fully into his head. How did you get home?” .
“He was upset we hid it. So Dillon took the news of us dating badly and tried to debase you in the process.” She shrugged her shoulders.” The chair squeaked as his body weight shifted. She said it right in front of me to get him riled. When Kelly accused him of having an affair at breakfast. I didn’t have the energy to walk and I knew Sabrina wasn’t out of bed t hat early in the morning. He called you a testosteronefilled bully. her hair tumbled around her shoulders.” .” He laughed aloud.” “No he won’t. I hear him on the phone with his beloved and there are times he doesn’t act like a man in love. “If you ask me.“I had a choice to walk or call Sabrina since you left me stranded. he could use a little testosterone. Thankfully my neighbor was shopping in the area and offered me a ride home. Mario. We just had a major blow up over nothing. “I see and I’m sorry I left you there. He might not be in the position he’s in if he had the balls to stand up for himself. from her hair. “Couples argue. All hell broke loose after that. I had no idea would be a disaster. He is playing the ‘I’m okay with it’ game because he is pissed off.” “He’s been pissed off for the last eight months. “His office is two doors over. he believes you are in charge and I am doing what you tell me to do. Shaking her head.” “Dillon is really a sweet person.” Taylor removed the hairpins holding her French roll together. On top of that. Mario.” Mario sat back in the chair rocking back and forth with his index finger and thumb perched on his face. He has a tendency to let the smallest problems turn him into a nervous wreck. Taylor. He’ll get over it and make Kelly the center of his world now. He almost died on the spot.
she senses the attraction he has for you. why would she ask me to be bridesmaid? What is her motive?” “There is something seriously wrong in their relationship and it centers on you.” “He is not happy. “I’m not going to hamper on it anymore. We rarely hung together in school. does he talk about the good ole days you two had when Kelly is around?” “Yes he does and I hate that. I was surprised she spilled her guts to me.” “Then Dillon will be upset with me because he wants to end his relationship with her and will think I am trying to keep them together. I only see more trouble brewing for the both of them and you being part of it. I would ease all your fears and let you know I am there for you. Combine that with his being unhappy about me being with you.” She winced rolling her eyes upward.” “If Dillon didn’t start acting iffy until you came around again. and she is not happy. She needs to have you close to keep an eye on you. All I know is if you had been pregnant with my baby.” Taylor groaned. Licking her lips she said. I made sure she was included in whatever we did together. If she believes I am messing around with Dillon. I had my friends and he had his. “Funny that you mentioned that. how? I only know Kelly by way of Dillon.” Taylor ran her hand through her hair pulling the longs tangles free. and miscarried. What can I do to convince her I don’t want to take Dillon from her?” “Talk to Kelly.“It was for something—your friend putting his nose when it doesn’t belong. I would not talk to you the way he talks to Kelly. “Baby.” “Baby. You have to get her to listen to you. He makes it sound as if we were joined together at the hip in school. Kelly was rather emotional and condescending of him.” .” “Mario. I don’t even want to think about that.” “Oh God.
” “You have a point.” He leaned forward in his chair.“If you are friends with other family members of his. She rubbed her arms to warm herself. The lower C. He seriously never stops to talk. When I speak he chooses to ignore me. Mario? I’m supposed to inform them their son may be suicidal and should be on 24-hour watch. “We do not speak at all. Mario chose to have his office decorated in dark cherry wood. and countless accolades highlighting his distinguished law career.” Mario’s sultry black eyes penetrated hers. I’m sure they know Kelly and have been around her longer than me. Hell. He will lose his mind conjuring different schemes to break us apart. I don’t know the guy but he is hiding something and acting irrationally. you might want to contact them. he had made it to the top of his field and strived to go higher. It is something wrong with Dillon.or B-offices were not luxurious or posh as the attorneys with A-offices who had the choice to decorate to their liking. “I had no idea he was shunning you professionally.” Taylor tore her eyes away from him and got up from the chair to pace the perimeter of the office. Not even work related exchanges?” He shook his head. The walls. decorated with framed photos of Puerto Rican landmarks hung next to the many diplomas. with leather chairs and beige carpeting. They will want something to go on and I have nothing to give them. . “Have you noticed he does not speak to me unless you are present?” “My office is on the other side of the floor.” “I’ve noticed that but what would I say to them.” A shiver rippled over her. At forty years of age. “I’m a big boy with thick skin so his silence doesn’t bother me.
“Do you see yourself being happy with me?” She closed her eyes.” Her thumbs caressed his high-cheekbones. The way he romanced her with kisses that levitated her from the floor set her heart aflutter. I’m tired of attending dinner parties with women I have no interest in dating.” . “If you are sure. I want to take you to the Mayor’s ball.” She peppered light kisses upon his delicious lips. Your family knows we are together. Mario. I’m tired of being the pathetic third-wheel and showing up alone or with men I have no interest in dating.” “Then let’s tell everyone the truth. Taylor.” “So what. Our friends and colleagues should also know. her stupidity had almost ripped him away from her forever. The sparks flew between them the moment they set eyes upon one another in the elevator.Taylor stood at the window. His large hands moved down the length of her arms sending tingles down her spine. You should be aware we might get canned. The lowering sunshine skipped across the greenishblue water casting a calm and peaceful scene. And once they had finally consummated their relationship. then we should do it. I want to be with you. Mario came up behind her kissing her neck. “I want the same. Mario was the most exciting and masculine man she’d ever met in her life. Her head tilted to give him better access. One day I want to fall madly in love with you. it will give us time to work on our dream. “I see myself very happy with you. Taylor James for the first time in her life realized she could commit to loving a man. His accent dominated when he spoke. She turned around placing his head between her hands to caress his handsome face. I want everything out in the open.
he picked her up and carried her to the sofa and sitting next to her. “Did you enjoy the pleasure?” He asked licking his fingers dripping with her essence. Taylor lay back allowing him to pull her blouse from the waist of her skirt pushing it up to admire the lacy black bra underneath. but sore nipple.” She raised a shapely arched eyebrow.” .” he said. but I want you. Taylor’s body squirmed on the sofa. Taylor chest heaved upward. right?” “Not tonight but maybe tomorrow. “I would love too.The scent of her perfume made him moan close to her ear.” Smiling. She let his hand on her thigh crawl under her skirt. The wetness spreading through her loins happened each time he came close to her. Taylor could barely speak but caressed the bulge stretching against the zipper of his pants. Kissing her deeply. he kissed the swells of her full breasts and used his thumbs to caress her nipples. His fingers hooked the rim of her pantyhose and underwear and tugged them down enough to slide his hand inside to feel her bare skin. Lowering his head. The warm moisture greeting his fingers was one he had grown familiar with and loved to taste on his lips. “Not tonight. “We should go to my place to continue this. she gasped. ripping them as she erupted in an orgasm. Her legs slackened giving him the freedom he needed to explore. “I want to marry you and have babies. Finding her spot he began a sensual teasing with his finger while gently sucking her nipple. When his lips closed around her nipple. Her fingers weaved through his silky black hair urging him to feast on her taut. The heels from her shoes caught the fabric of her nylons. Mario covered her breasts with his hands massaging the soft flesh. bringing them alive. Now. Mario released her nipple from his mouth to kiss her lips as her body settled.
” he said lowering his body on top of hers. Once they got started it was a marathon until both collapsed. The reality hitting him Taylor was making love to Mario gave .The waves of ecstasy rumbled through her at the notion of them making love in his office. “You are a bad influence on me. He removed his tie from round his neck and unbuttoned his shirt.” He lifted his head from her shoulder saying. He moaned as she rolled her hips against him and placed her hand on his growing member. squeezing gently to release weightier moans from deep inside him. Infante. He was just as skilled as Mario Infante when it came to lovemaking.” She lay back on the sofa spreading her arms open. “Do as you please counselor. She moved him out of the way to tug off the torn pantyhose. and have been since the day I met you. she rolled the tip of her tongue across his earlobe whispering.” Her eyes twinkled when she winked. you are definitely a bad influence on me. Done teasing him. she balled the material in her hand tossing it across the room. “Mr. He sat behind his desk closing his eyes imaging himself with Taylor. “Mi placer. He didn’t want to alert the couple having sex he was still in the office. “Make love to me. kissing and lingering on the spot between her neck and shoulder. I would not either.” ***** Dillon entered his office closing the door gently. “To be honest. Mario was Latino folklore. Taylor shuddered.” He took her fingers and placed them on his lips letting his tongue trace each one seductively. We are wasting time talking. Gliding his hand down her neck. Kicking off her heels. I would not be brave enough to ever have sex in my office but you are enticing me and I’m doing it. Crossing his arm over his forehead. he could hear the faint thumping coming through the thin walls.
He sat up in the chair up abruptly swiping papers and supplies on his desk onto the floor. but he refused to let her style or have the tables flooded with pictures of them smiling and pretending to be the happy couple the firm forced married attorneys to portray. The day Kelly told him about the pregnancy. She refused since her Catholic faith forbid birth control of any kind. It was too much for him to bear knowing Mario was getting what should rightfully be his. His respirations rocked hard and rapid as he got up to pace his office. Removing his suit jacket to cool down. The gold picture frame of him and Kelly was included. His temples throbbed and his head pounded from the headache screeching across his forehead. Dillon’s office was basic. Instantly.him an upset stomach. and the room from spinning. At first the headaches were happening when he stressed about his upcoming wedding but now he was getting them more frequently and sometimes during sleep. The only way he could actually achieve sexual pleasure with her was when he let his mind drift to Taylor. Gritting his teeth. Dillon loosened the tie around his neck. he waited for it to end. Sweat poured down his face as he walked over to the table getting a bottle of warm water. These spells had been occurring more often lately. Kelly took it upon herself to hang colorful drapes to add contrast to the bland walls. he knew she plotted it on purpose. He specifically demanded she get on birth control because he did not want kids. he fell asleep. He chose not to decorate the stark white walls or order any particular style of furniture. He hated the idea of being married to any woman other than Taylor. an attempt to stop the lights from flashing behind his eyes. he turned off the lights and stretched out on the cloth sofa. He opened the bottle drinking the entire content without stopping to take a breath. He grabbed his head. . He’d replace Kelly with Taylor in order to reach an orgasm. He counteracted by using condoms or withheld from having sex with her at all.
His cell phone rang from one of the pockets of his suit jacket. “I didn’t know anyone was here. he passed Mario’s office.” he said grabbing his brief bag and suit jacket. don’t throw any papers away. The door was open and the office dark. Wandering through the quiet halls. Do whatever you want. he answered.” he said staggering to his feet. just throw them on my desk. Dillon. “I don’t care. “Do what you have to do. You can deal with the mess in the basement. The taste of bile filled his mouth as he attempted to shed the reminiscences.Dillon woke up when a member of the cleaning staff came in his office to pull the trashcan.” he replied clicking off the phone and not giving her a chance to respond. I’m leaving.” Several hours had passed since he fallen asleep because the cleaning crew didn’t start until 9:00 in the evening. He looked at the mess on the floor in front of his desk. Kelly. The memory came back of the noises he had heard earlier coming from behind the door. Maybe I’ll go out too since you aren’t coming straight home again. Should I call a plumber?” “I’m leaving the office now and will take care of it when I get home. so don’t bother anything in the basement or call anyone. Will you be here soon?” “I have a stop to make first. “What is it Kelly?” “Where are you? The sewer in the basement is backed up again. Locating it. “Um. He sat up feeling dazed but the headache was gone.” the woman said turning on the lights.” “Okay.” “Fine. ***** . and sighed. He rolled his neck to ease the pain from lying on the hard uncomfortable sofa. “I’m sorry.
Peering through the slight crack. Testing the first carpeted stair for firmness. the lungs of the intruder ached from holding the sharp intake of breath. The empty wine glass disappeared inside the pouch to join the other heisted memento. the intruder spotted a soft light seeping underneath a door not completely closed. The glow of the flashlight stayed low to the floor as the intruder advanced through the dining room and living room making sure to keep away from windows. Pulling the mask down to remain anonymous. the intruder’s motion to the door was cat-like. the beam of light sprayed across the dark basement. The intruder sifted through the silk bras and panties in a palette of colors returning them to the dryer after removing a pair of red panties and the matching bra from the pile. there was no surrender. Taking a sniff of the freshly laundered underwear. appeared recently vacated. The intruder drained the remaining wine from the glass with traces of burgundy lipstick lining the rim. The intruder paused to make sure the sound went undetected. Two frost wine glasses sat half-full on the table. A second set of stairs to conquer came into view. The landing and hallway leading to the bedrooms were clear of any clutter making the progression there. The kitchen dimly lit. the intruder stuck them inside one of the pockets of the brown canvas pouch dangling at hip level. The next step taken was gentler. The first step creaked under the pressure of weight. The gloved hand picked up the empty bottle of chardonnay. The intruder surveyed the area. also. The intruder bent down to retrieve the clothing that fell to the floor after crawling through the window. Two dirty plates and a skillet sat on the sink counter. The flashlight beam returned to the floor to travel along the length of the basement until it reached the stairs. followed by another short pause to listen for movement overhead.The intruder closed the unsecured basement window softly. Taking a flashlight from a pouch. . The wood was sturdy under the carpeting. Turning off the flashlight. easier.
His body lifted to roll Taylor on top on him. She willingly straddled him. The lens of the small recorder focused on the couple unaware of the videotaping. was a welcomed treat. her back bowed as his hands covered her full breasts then lowered to take hold of her hips.On the large antique bed. Her firm breasts bouncing as she rode his bucking body. proved she was enjoying what he was doing. The intensity of their moans filtered the room as her lover pumped his body in a steady motion above her. . He took control of her to meet his tempo. Her lover’s groans overpowered hers as he grunted. The suspected lover appeared to be Caucasian by the color of his skin. making passionate love under the soft sparkle of candlelight. The intruder could not see Taylor’s face. came into view. but the way she was grinding her body on his sex organ. The voyeurism not planned. The intruder grinned wickedly. It was hard to tell—the light from the candle did not give off much in the way of identifying anyone other than Taylor’s darker -colored skin fleshed against her lover’s muscular body. The intruder’s vitals returned to normal. two naked bodies. He made her cry out when her body arched against his. His buttocks squeezed tight then relaxed. Taylor lay on her back with her legs wide and the man on top of her. allowing the observation to resume. To capture Taylor James with her lover and get it on tape was priceless. the intruder inched away from the door bracing against the wall to regain composure. The grind of his hips drove into her with force. slipping a hand inside the pouch to retrieve a small electronic device. It was good Taylor James had an active sex life—it would come in handy when the time was right to confront her. The intruder did not expect this. Highly aroused. The intruder watched as Taylor’s hands grasped the thick thighs of her lover. A videotape was the perfect souvenir—a valuable keepsake to watch repeatedly.
saying.” she said dismissing the incident and capturing his mouth in a passionate kiss. She dared him to go harder. The intruder’s eyes strained to recognize his face but it remained hidden by Taylor’s hair and the dark shadows caused by the low candlelight. on his lap. ***** Mario walked into the hallway to use the bathroom across the hall. The bed quieted with the finale of their lovemaking. and her legs looped around his waist. Her lover had large hands but seemed tender. smells like wine. “What are you looking for?” He folded his foot across his knee. His bare foot stepped in a wet spot on the carpet. Her arms closed around his neck. He looked out the window at the end of the hallway. Their breathing increased as Taylor’s raspy voice dared her lover. her body jerking as she reached an orgasm. The faint sounds of mouths and lips meeting together ensued. she pressed her cheek against his ear. Dragging her lips away from him.” . Rapidly. she dropped her head back. “Something wet is on the carpet. They lay side by side. We’re going to shower and go to bed. She dared him to reach deeper. He must have answered her dares as Taylor’s throat released quick pants of breat hs as he guided her hips with his hands. He used a tender finger to trace along the feminine curve of Taylor’s hip to rest his hand on her narrow waist. “We must have spilled some. Taylor joined him in the hall nude. gliding her hips back and forth. “We have work in the morning so no more loving for you tonight.” he said. Mumbled voices and weight shifting on the bed indicated someone was making a move.The lover switched to a sitting position bringing Taylor closer to him. He released a satisfying animalist growl soon afterwards. it was not raining therefore the ceiling would not be leaking. The intruder turned off the recorder to make an escape and hurriedly tiptoed down the stairs to exit the house.
we will work through it together.” He looked at her feeling foolish for acting the way he had towards her lately.” . They are both arrogant and high-maintenance.” He didn’t lift his head and thumbed the sore spot above his forehead.” “Taylor doesn’t want me and you know it. He sat quietly with his head propped in his hand. I’m having a hard time remembering things and the headaches are coming too often unlike before when I would only have one or two a month. When I saw her…. baby. If you could get over Taylor. you aren’t that way. My family loves you too. It’s something wrong with me. you’re under too much stress. I’m here for you. baby. The doctor will give you something for the migraines and suggest you take it easy.” he said. I’ve always loved you. He couldn’t take the blinding headaches anymore and finally decided to see a doctor. She deserves a man like Mario Infante. “These headaches are not caused by migraines. Kelly caressed his arm. ***** Dillon waited in the doctor’s office with Kelly by his side. “When you saw her what? What did you see Taylor doing?” “At breakfast. Dillon. “It’s going to be okay.He picked her up in his arms. Dillon raised his head and sat up straight. we could be happy together.” “Then why do you want her? She is not good for you. When we had breakfast I saw that she wasn’t interested in you. whisking her to the bathroom to shower. She was willing to see him through an illness and yet all he wanted was to get as far away from her as he could.” She stopped talking. “We can sleep in late.” “Whatever it is. “Why are you staying with me?” “Because I love you. that’s what I was going to say.
Walking behind his desk. Until I know what is wrong with me. he sat down opening the chart. “Dr.“I’m glad you’ve come to terms with that.” He said as the door to the doctor’s office opened. Dillon’s head began to throb to the beat of his heart sensing whatever is wrong with him would not be simple to cure. I’m really not up to entertaining relatives. Miller. what is it? What is wrong with me?” . Miller came in his office closing the door with a grim expression on his face. Dr.” “So are we okay? Should I call mom and ask her to come for a visit?” “Please put it off for now.
and she was nowhere near ready. The intruder sighed wishing for such grace and elegance. She slipped her feet into high-heel red satin shoes and admired her look in the mirror. The intruder had watched her perform tasks such as talking on the telephone and paying bills.Chapter 10 Taylor rushed around her bedroom dressing for the Mayor’s ball. she tipped the bottle over squeezing the thick liquid in the palm of her hand to apply to her body. She was beautiful as usual with her hair styled atop her head to show off her slender neck and the teardrop diamond earrings she attached to each earlobe. Taylor disappeared out of view. She had a small red clutch purse in her hand stuffing items from the big purse inside of it. The series of videos the cameras had captured so far was not of good quality since the room was dark. floor-length and form fitting. But none of those actions was as exciting as the sex between Taylor and her lover. The intruder picked up the live feed of her in the living room. then in the dining room where she switched purses. The red formal dress with glittery sequins decorating the bodice was strapless. Sitting on the bed. The intruder’s eyes followed her to the dresser where she attached a diamond necklace around her neck. Taylor was back in her bedroom standing at the dresser spraying perfume behind each ear and on her . Those would be the videos to get her attention. starting with her legs. The motion of her hands stroking her body electrified the senses of the intruder who sat glued to the computer screen watching her unscripted. She removed the towel from around her naked body. Mario would be to get her in less than an hour. The intruder zoomed in on Taylor wiggling into and adjusting a black thong around the shape of her full hips and then her dress. The feed lost her again. That correction would be made once entry into her home was attainable again and a better camera installed in the bedroom. Switching to a four-block frame on the computer. The eyes of the intruder watched as Taylor rubbed creamy lotion on her skin.
and they left the house. ***** Sebastian stood on his front porch leaning against the post with Thor lying at his feet. Dressed handsomely in a black tuxedo immediately gave Taylor a hug and kiss. .where you off to all gussied up?” Taylor waved back. The feed did not have sound so the intruder could not pick up their conversations. “Thanks for the compliment. The Hispanic man who the intruder now knew was Taylor James’ current boyfriend. and began stuffing it with clothes and shoes. we are attending the Mayor’s ball tonight. She then went to the closet and removed a travel bag. He waved at Taylor as she descended the stairs of her porch holding the arm of the man accompanying her. answering. The doorbell must have ringed because she hurried from the bedroom where the camera caught her opening the front door.” “You all have fun. The feed ended when she turned off the lights. the driver looked in his direction and suddenly increase in speed and sputtered down the street. The intruder closed the lid of the laptop to plot the next move. “Hey. entered. Taylor. She then handed the man the travel bag and covered her hands with long red satin gloves that ended at her elbows. he watched a van with the lights approach drive slowly down the street as it passed Taylor’s date car. Her running back and forth was tiring the intruder watching her. The two were laughing at something the boyfriend was saying as she held out her right hand for him to clasp a diamond bracelet around her wrist. He took a sip of coffee listening to the purring engine of the expensive Mercedes make its way down the street and out of his view.wrists.” he said. As the rusty white van passed his house. Sitting on the porch. The intruder watched as she hauled the bag off the bed and walk out of view back to the living room again. you all look great….
” She bumped his shoulder teasing.” “You’ll recognize more people than you think once we make our way through the crowd. These types of events did not normally include associate level attorneys. Her parents didn’t have money. I have not attended this type of event before. Taylor took in the sights and sounds of the elegant setting. Seriously. “Was I not clear I hate politics. “The only crust I want is on pizza. I’m used to the wine and cheese socials and annual holiday dinner parties. They made their way down the grand staircase. and polished silverware atop a pristine white linen tablecloth. She’d finally paid off the last student loan three years after graduating. “Why don’t you say what you really feel?” He looped her arm through his. Are you ready to rub noses with the upper crust?” Taylor rolled her eyes. I don’t know any people here. They followed behind the man as he escorted them to an elegantly dressed table filled with crystal glasses. What I hate is how the mayor thinks he can sucker us in with alcohol and food and then pick our pockets to back him or some other flunky of his that may be running for an office. The exception to that rule would be fundraisers since money was welcome from all sources willing to give. Mario.” he grinned. gold-rimmed China plates.***** They arrived at the grand ballroom of the Ritz Carlton hotel. They were day laborers who lived a modest life and did the best they could to help their children financially with college. But. Mario stopped handing his invitation to the man dressed as a head butler in a black tuxedo with long tails and high shirt collar with a neat satin black bowtie. she received a scholarship that paid part of her way through school and used student loans for balance. Mario patted her gloved hand. . “There are a lot of people here.
Sweetheart.” Tipping her glass against his.” “I will tell her the truth.” “That could cost you. “I had you in mind when I picked it out. Are you sure you want to do that?” “Sometimes you have to lose allies to get a piece of mind. I’ll be waiting when you get back.” Taylor joked.” Mario scooted his chair away from the table and said.” “She seems old enough to be your mother. “To the woman who has tickled my fancy and captured my heart…salute. don’t worry about that tonight.Mario pulled a chair out for Taylor to sit. Mario winked and said. Lucky it was only the two of them seated at the table for several. I did not connect with her on a personal level. “She is older.” Taylor swallowed another sip of the champagne. I like to pursue the woman who has tickled my interest. He laughed. Mario accepted the champagne and held his glass up to her for a toast. “To the man that has captured my heart and may get me fired if my boss is here tonight. “The table is beautiful. With Allyson. and overly-aggressive for my taste.” she said placing her clutch bag in her lap. she took the first sip.” She blushed.” The waiter stopped at the table offering to pour champagne. I have been dodging her for years. “Go ahead. The tiny bubbles went directly to her nose to burst into a flavorful bouquet as it traveled down her throat. “The table is nice but not as beautiful as you are in that dress. She has been looking for a way to get me alone from the day we met.” . She didn’t feel it appropriate to lay it on the elegant table.” “Taylor. “I guess I should mingle and make my face known since I was invited. We are here to enjoy ourselves and not worry about Anderson Cartwright. so it never happened. what are you going say to Allyson if she is here tonight? She wanted to be your date for this shindig.
Across the dance floor. “Remember that when we are alone tonight.” “They are but. she plucked another glass of champagne from a passing waiter and observed the room waiting for Mario to return from the restroom. Taylor quickly grew tired of making rounds and was ready to return to the table to sit and watch the crowd until dinner was served. Kelly was with him and looking proud to be a part of the glitz. For I am an eager student and you’re the great fountain of knowledge for who I must drink. “Stop being naughty. we will do a little schmoozing of our own. you could use this forum to network and get your name known. If you want to open your own firm. So instead of benefiting the mayor tonight. “I may not be a social butterfly. After meeting senators. Some of them were exceptionally nice while some were as phony as twoheaded coins. she wasn’t nearly as thrilled as she assumed she would be.He shook his head looking down at her. .” Taylor put her hands together bowing her head. Standing off to the side people watching. “Teach me.” he teased as he threaded his fingers through her gloved ones. council members. but I know the rules of the game.” She placed her gloved hand in his standing up. these people could be potential clients.” She crinkled her nose.” “I will when you stop being so damn sexy. So who do we kiss ass with first?” “Taylor. Master Infante. Dillon was laughing and talking with Anderson Cartwright and a group of men she did not recognize. this could benefit you so don’t think of it as kissing ass.” “Wait you practically said this is what these parties are about. she spotted him. Tilting his head next to hers. “Taylor…” “I know—I have to do this with you. and various religious dignitaries.” He put his arm around his waist leading her to the floor. he whispered.
“You are good at this. but she was a line-dancing. “Did you take ballroom dance lessons?” “No.” . He’d obviously learned to ballroom dance at some point in his life.” “I’d prefer to do that. Mario tapped her on the shoulder. but I’ve been to enough of these uppity parties to pick it up naturally.” she joked. She embraced Mario as he led her through the dance.” she said to him. She would have blended into the crowd easily except there weren’t many black women at the event. Therefore a song would be played for us to show off our talents. “How incredibly racist of them.Freaking great! She hissed.” she said downing the champagne in the glass. You will have this down just like salsa dancing. hip shaking kind of dancer that loved R&B and hip-hop. He surprised her. The three glasses of the bubbly beverage had worked its magic and loosened her stiffness but not her boredom. She presented herself as chic and classy. She worried if Dillon or her boss had seen her networking with Mario.” Taylor clicked her tongue. I'm usually one of a few Hispanic in attendance and it was expected we knew every Latin dance. She did not ballroom dance. Could you imagine the look on their faces if we did a Merengue for them?” He laughed. “I’ve had that happen before. “How about a dance before they seat us for dinner?” “Sure.” “Good. The live band played a waltz-like number. She was out her element and it was awkward. Taylor shook her head. There had to be over a hundred people in attendance and many women wore red. Hopefully you can cover my mistakes because I have no clue what I’m doing. “You’re doing great.
I would have noticed you.” Mario drew her closer to him as they danced. with Dillon pissed with me.” “Umm. I don’t know if they saw me. that’s all that matters right?” He wanted to kiss her but knew she would object.“That kind of racism is everywhere and I had to learn to ignore it laugh it off. who knows what he is telling Anderson behind my back. “You are down to earth. You are my guest. He and Kelly were talking with Anderson Cartwright. “We are together now.” “We might have but not noticed each other.” he said spinning her around on the dance floor. Anderson doesn’t decide that for me. “What happened to you not caring what Anderson thinks?” . “Another reason I’m glad I’m not invited to these things. This will give him the advantage to use against me. my invitation included a guest.” He looked her in the eye. You are so beautiful. Mario.” “Taylor.” She rested her arm on his shoulder as he slowed the pace of the dance. “You are my debonair prince in a tux. I saw Dillon. He whispered in her ear. And. “Exactly. I’m too down to earth to treat people like that.” It was his turn to pull away to look her in the eye. The whips of her hair tickled the side of his face.” “Anderson wants me out of the firm. “I find it hard to believe we have never crossed paths before. we are together now. Taylor you remind me of Cinderella in that dress.” She pulled back enough to look at him.” “No.
and Anderson and his wife. The firm could really benefit from your experience. the way you smell and look. Anderson. Taylor legs wobbled as she made her way to Kelly giving her a hug. I didn’t expect to see you here tonight. It’s out of my head.” Anderson’s unpleasant look did not change as he spoke to Taylor. Cartwright. it has been a while since I’ve seen you. “Please sit down.” . “Okay. “Dillon. Kelly. I had not planned to stick around long.” “Thank you. I’m ready to go whenever you are and get our own party started. You look beautiful.” “I can take my talents anywhere. “Baby. Mario. You both look well. “Kelly. Seated she placed her hands in her lap to greet everyone else. how are you? Mrs. I won’t sit by and watch you be raked over the coals and not say or do anything. Taylor. okay?” She shrugged her shoulders. plus Todd and his wife seated at the same table. You look great also—I love the dress. and we should be out doing something fun. get that out of your head.” She looked around the table noticing all the men standing. Taylor and Mario got to their table and surprised to see Dillon.” “No me tientes mujer. Mrs. I didn’t know you would be here tonight.” The music stopped for the announcement of guests to return to their seats for dinner. I didn’t want you drawn into the black hole with me.” He smiled. “Ms.” she said making her way back to her seat next to Mario. Brantley. It’s Saturday night. Todd. I’m dispensable. “We’ll make it through dinner and leave.” She inhaled his scent. James. Associates aren’t usually invited to the Mayor’s ball. how are you?” “I’m good.“I don’t care. Taylor.
Are you dating Ms. Everyone is replaceable.Taylor’s heart pounded from his harsh stare. he would ask. James outside of the firm. she could not stand the short and doughy man wearing a penguin suit talking down to her like she was dirt under his shoe. But. he got comfortable.” Mario nodded.” Mario narrowed his dark eyes at Dillon. Infante. Anderson. James? We have a strict policy against dating at the firm. “I’m asking. if Anderson is interested in knowing about my love life. “Yes we are. Mr. and the person who signed his paycheck. “I’m sitting here and capable of speaking. it is none of your business what I do outside of the firm. “I guess you came with Mario Infante. . Anderson.” Anderson’s graying crown of hair did not show any signs of thinning for a man his age.” “I disagree my personal life is not any of your business. Stevenson or you have a problem with that.” Dillon leaned back in his chair with a look of coy on his face. and you may want to get a few candidates in mind. “I was invited. I may need to be replaced sooner than you think.” “Watch yourself. And if Mr. then that’s a personal problem you will both have to deal with. then I guess it’s no secret that you two are sort of dating. Taylor sat quietly waiting for the ceiling to fall as Mario answered.” “Well.” Mario did not let it concern him that Anderson was the controlling partner of the firm. Infante. yes. Stevenson. Unbuttoning the jacket of his tuxedo. “Quite frankly.” Mario shot him a look. Mr. I do enjoy the company of Ms. “What you do while employed at Cartwright & Associates is my business. “I'm sure.” “What is that supposed to mean?” Anderson asked.” Anderson’s authoritative scowl turned to Mario. Mr.
I don’t take threats kindly. Let’s just relax and have fun…okay. Taylor squeezed his thigh under the table hoping to calm him down. “Kelly. Inside the garage.” Mario raised his glass and drank slowly staring at Dillon. Dillon had crossed the line making a big mistake.” “Where are you going?” She asked pulling the gloves off her hands and shoving them in the small clutch purse.“It means exactly how it sounded. Mario walked across the garage until he was face to face with Dillon. Todd picked up his glass. he spoke. Mario held the car door open for Taylor to get in. He bent down looking inside the car.” The other guests seated at the table fell silent. “Babe. Anderson. people. Kelly gave Taylor a glance quickly looking away knowing Dillon had started a war and Mario Infante was not going to walk away defeated. and I won’t subject myself to being controlled by anyone for a paycheck. ***** After dinner. “Listen to some music and get in the mood for me. He saw Dillon and Kelly walking to their car. She would warn him to back off Mario before he got hurt. “I want to exchange information with a friend. It will only take a second. this is a party. alone? I promise I won’t keep him long.” He closed the car door before she could protest. Dillon’s face reddened as he witnessed the smoke seeping from Anderson’s thick ears. do you mind if I speak with Dillon. We can settle this on Monday. The many glasses of champagne had put her in a mellow zone. No shoptalk tonight. Mario and Taylor said their goodbyes and departed the party before after dinner drinks were served. Giving Kelly a smile.” . I’m a self-made millionaire and don’t need your money or bullshit. “Come on.” He tossed her the keys. I’ll be back in a second.
then back off and leave her alone.” Dillon asked loosening his tie. Apparently.” . “What do you want.“No problem. I’m looking out for Taylor. She is with me because she wants to be and your interference in her life will only push you further away. “Accept Taylor is a grown woman and not easily persuaded to do anything she doesn’t want to do.” “Oh. “You would like that but I won’t give you the satisfaction of quitting. Then again you have no need to work. I don’t know what you were trying to prove by mouthing off to Anderson. Mario. You have connections…go somewhere else and practice law. she had not given Mario enough privacy. but my advice to you is to move on and get over it. I know you are hurt and can’t accept Taylor is with me. Taylor told me you two are dating. You have a beautiful woman. She saw him escort Dillon by the elbow and walk with him to make sure she did not overhear their conversation. you’re a millionaire and don’t need the money. She doesn’t know how big of a mistake she is making getting involved with you. so you want to get her fired in order to keep her away from me? I see how that would help her. You are pushing her into a relationship too soon. If you value the same with her.” “I know what I have with Kelly. shower her with affection for a change and leave Taylor alone. “What do I want? I want you to know you crossed the line at dinner. but for some reason she values your friendship.” “You could leave and she wouldn’t get fired.” “I didn’t lie.” Mario thinned his lips holding in his anger.” He poked a finger in Dillon’s chest. I’m all for you being gone. but I’m too old for games.” she said walking to the back of the car.” “That doesn’t give you the right to announce it.
He got in the last word saying.” “Trust when I say. “Fuck you. Mario. “Why. and you will be gone…. but you have no idea where I am coming from. “It won’t last. “I’m not scared of you. I’m going to sit back and watch you bury yourself chest -deep in your own shit trying to find ways to break me and Taylor apart. I’ll give it another month before she serves you with walking papers. “I’m not going to do anything.Dillon released a crooked grin.” Mario balled his fists at his side. Tenga una buena tarde.fuck you! Taylor will open her eyes.” “Don’t hold your breath waiting for that happen. All of them were successful.” “What are you supposedly dangerous now?” “Let’s just say as a former criminal attorney. you may think you are one of the big boys by hanging out with Anderson tonight. I know where you are coming from. but you don’t want to mess with me or…” “Or what.” Dillon swallowed hard. handsome. “I know Taylor. he let the words fly from his mouth. I’ve made friends who owe me favors. Taylor is onto you. She has dated your kind before. The bright lights of the parking garage bounced off the high gloss of his Armani shoes.” Dillon rubbed his right temple. Infante….” Dillon’s eye twitched and his breath stuck in his throat. “Look. I’ll bide my time and wait like I always do.” He got in the car and was instantly met with the burning sting of Taylor’s hard glare. Why did you have to say anything to Dillon?” . and losers. Your dark side you are hiding from the world doesn’t faze me.I promise you that!” Mario smoothly spun on his heels to walk away. you don’t. Mario. Before he could control it. Infante! What are you going to do to me?” Mario chuckled putting his arm around Dillon’s shoulder. “The countdown to self-destruction has begun Dillon. you do not want to bring that dark side to the surface. You will fuck up and have her running back to me crying.
baby. Kelly is holding something over his head.” .” “I agree Dillon is acting vindictive. I’m worried about you being able to do the same. I can walk away and survive. “I hate I consented to go on vacation with them. He is not about to crack! He didn’t have a problem throwing you under the bus at dinner. Mario.” he said backing from the parking space.” “He’s not right.” “Dillon is gunning for blood. I hardly believe he would hurt Kelly or me.“It’s a man thing. Do not think Anderson will forget about tonight. Taylor gave a wistful sigh.” “Really? What do you know about her miscarriage? Was Dillon in the house when it happened?” The lump in her throat rose. “Dillon is playing with your emotions. “No. you were taunting him. that’s why he can’t break free of her. The alcohol buzz clouded her memory and ability to think. I will talk to him. I don’t want to see him go over. “I don’t know. I didn’t get a chance to tell him. You and Kelly had better watch yourselves. How is this going to work with the four us not even speaking?” “Does he know I’m coming?” Taylor lowered her head. baby. He might have been home when it happened.” “Dillon did surprise me by doing that.” He tapped her temple frowning. Taylor.” “He knows what he is doing and now he’s involved Anderson. and it’s my fault. He is so close to falling over the edge. and I was too outdone by his behavior to address it at the table.” “It is time to investigate what is going on in that house. It is no telling what he will to either of you.
he would observe Dillon and piece more of it together. that is stopping him from leaving. she might take it upon herself to go to the police and tell what actually happened that day.” “Not necessarily. If she is holding her miscarriage over his head. she would be glued to Dillon’s side. if he wanted to get away. Hell.“If that were the case. Can we discuss this tomorrow?” He let her rest her eyes.” Taylor rubbed her forehead. Once on the cruise. “I’ve had too much to drink for my brain to filter all this investigation stuff. If he dumps her. He comes and goes as he pleases. . He has to stay close to her to make sure that won’t happen. he could take a business trip and never return to Cleveland. The pieces were falling together. and he concentrated on the road.
He knew the belt matched the hairclip because he’d given them both to her as a Christmas present last year. and not many people were around at 7:00am on a Monday morning. The tight navy blue skirt stretched across her firm behind screamed smack me. Engrossed in the article she was reading. Sighing. What they shared went deeper than friendship. They were fantastic as usual. And. a woman he could not get out of his mind no matter how hard he tried. Dillon’s breath caught in his throat seeing Taylor leaning over the counter reading the newspaper. ***** The aroma of freshly brewed coffee had a way of luring people to the lunchroom. Taylor powered on the computer. only she refused to let nature take its course and join him on a . Only Taylor was early. While it did the grunts and sputters to get the programs up and to run. she didn’t look up from the paper to see who’d entered. His eyes lowered to examine her shapely legs. Her hair was free of curls with a silver hairclip holding her bangs in place. “Damn” was the unheard communication that crossed his lips. Removing her personalized mug from the cabinet. moved from the bottom of her list to a priority. she went to the lunchroom to fix her usual morning coffee. she paged through the outdated Plain Dealer newspaper left on the counter. The night had such promise until Dillon opened his mouth causing Mario to react. she took the section containing the real estate and folded it in half. Opening Legal Minds. Leaning her body across the counter. the name she had chosen for the firm. she stirred in the standard two packets of Splenda and three half. What a disaster.Chapter 11 After flipping on the light in her office. She let her mind drift to the night of the party. She wore a light blue silk blouse tucked in the waist and secured by a wide silver belt. Taylor was the most beautiful black woman he’d ever laid eyes on.& -half creamers and waited for the strong Columbian coffee to brew.
” Taylor shuffled sideways to get to the door. taking the mug from the counter and filling it with cream. Please. Taylor. I can’t stand this tension between us. Staring long enough.” Her eyebrow rose. “Good morning. but it wouldn’t last long.” he said. “What spirits from the heavens is channeling you this information?” “C’mon. Anderson forgot all about it after Todd stepped in and calmed the hostility. She never stayed mad with him long. “Taylor.” “Oh. When she turned to look at him with those eyes he adored. you got me fired!” “Anderson is not going to fire you as long as Todd is in your corner. Dillon. he became aroused. Taylor. and the area around his eyes sagged with heavy bags. He knew she was upset and giving him the silent treatment. Dillon. please! Again. you could see the veins in Anderson’s head throbbing through his hair.” she said stretching her arm across him to get the coffee pot. Taylor did not offer her trademark smile as she moved from the counter to the coffee machine. “Excuse me. “Good morning. He must not have slept a wink the whole weekend. curse me out. hit me. The tiny space between the coffee station and the . She saw his color was chalky. he cleared his throat.quest to pure bliss. do whatever you need to do but don’t give me the silent treatment. She had convinced herself that was what she wanted with Mario Infante. at what table were you sitting? When Mario said what he did. She took a spoon and stirred her coffee. He let his petty vengeance eat at his conscious but not enough for her to withhold the guilt she was about to lay on him. Her arm brushed across his chest arousing him more.” she said politely but coldly.” She turned her head to look at him. “Your display of ignorance last night was new even for you.
not you. And contrary to what you may believe. Dillon covered her hand with his. I invited Mario to come along.” Sitting down at her desk. Taylor. “Taylor. “Save it for the next person you screw over. If I’m not gone by the end of the day. He followed her inside closing the door. “Listen to you? Go away. and I apologize. seeking your permission to ask him to join me wasn’t even a consideration. We are going to be stuck on a boat for seven days. “It didn’t take him long to get you to a lot of things. “Taylor.” “I won’t go away. Her glossy lips formed a straight line. you have turned naïve in a span of months.” . she chose her words carefully and through clenched teeth.center counter dividing the room in half didn’t leave enough space between them to pass without touching. I was out of line. Goodbye. Dillon. her fingers tapped hard on the defenseless keyboard. instead. “You won’t have to worry about Mario flaunting me under your nose. “That pompous ass happens to be the man I’m dating. said.” He dumped his coffee in the sink to go after her.” she demanded. If you don’t mind I have to work to do. How are we supposed to get through that if we aren’t speaking?” “It will be easy for me. “Would you stop pretending you’re busy and listen to me!” Taylor laughed from her place behind her desk. Who I share my bed with is none of your business either. I paid for my ticket.” Furious she pushed her chair away from the desk and stood up. I will be by the end of the week. God.” “You asked that pompous ass to join our cruise without consulting me?” Taylor burned to tell him off.” She sifted through the stack of papers on her desk. wait.” Dillon shook his head and groaned sternly. “You have worn your welcome.” She kept walking until she was in her office.
“We never fought because we respected each other’s space! Somewhere along the line. right?” He nodded.” She snarled her lips as his eyes glared at her. Look at us. “You are going to tell me how. I will speak with Anderson about getting rid of him.” He reached for the doorknob but drew back his hand saying. But if you want to continue working at Cartwright & Associates. I’ve bailed you out of trouble when your mistakes in court got back to Todd. You’re so against Mario being a part of my life that you don’t care my career may be tanked. I will not go away! We have to figure this out and remain friends at the same time. I don’t need you to do that!” “Taylor. there would be nothing between us…. like how you’re paying me back. “You can stop it all from happening. I’m looking out for you.” She pointed her finger in his face. you’ve promoted yourself overseer of everything I do. Even if Mario were to go too.” . I’d rather go elsewhere than play by your rules.not even friendship at this point. Sort of. “Get rid of Infante. thanks. I even took the blame for a default on a summary judgment deadline you missed!” “I didn’t realize you were keeping count.“No. and everything will return to the way it was before Infante got here. and you caused it.” “No.” “Some things you just don’t forget. I’m already there. you have to play by the rules. “Go to hell.” He shrugged his shoulders feeling cocky.” “Is that right? Well how many times have you put your ass on the line for me? I’ve stuck my neck out for you on numerous occasions. “As I’ve said before.” She folded her arms. Dillon. we never fought until that fool came along. Taylor.” “I knew I ruined our relationship Saturday night.
You never gave me the chance to prove I could be the only man you would ever need. but was uncertain of what he might do next. “Friends have a tendency to last longer than lovers. “Not for me! I would have done anything for you. Her reflex to his anger encouraged him to continue. This Dillon was unfamiliar to her and her knees shaking indicated a little fear in what he might do if he snapped. “Do you really want me to answer that question?” . What you are doing is a danger to our careers. and she jumped. Dillon. You know that. I worshiped you.” he said smelling the fresh coffee on her breath. Did you notice me? No. What will you regret from this. I was just a friend. He had her under his control for once. I regret my touching you didn’t make you shiver. “I’m already in the doghouse with you. he admired the fact that she continued to stand up to him and show no fear. If you had said jump.” Taylor swallowed the knot growing in her throat.” “Do you want me to feel sorry I don’t feel the same way about you?” With his face inches from hers.” “Yeah. she said confidently. I bet Mario makes you shiver hard—doesn’t he?” She didn’t move away from him and asked.” Focusing on his vacant blue eyes. The angry heat surrounding her turned him on. “I want you to regret you never felt that way about me.” He slammed his hand on her desk.” he said circling around her. Dillon?” “I will regret a lot. Taylor. But. Do you remember that?” “That was personal drama. I would have said how high. She didn’t answer him as he sat on the edge of her desk. so I have nothing to lose by telling you this.” “You know what.” he said with a sting to his voice.“Then why are you here? Your mission has been accomplished. you didn’t. “I don’t regret anything. “I was there for you when Miguel dumped you. Regrets lay in the heart of the beholder.
“Might as well.” “Fine, but remember you asked for it. He does make me shiver just by kissing me. I love when touches my body all over. The intimacy we share will never be duplicated with anyone else. Did that satisfy you?” Without warning, to himself included, he wrapped her in his arms, crushing his lips against her mouth. The coffee flavor mixed with the sweetness of her taste excited his blood. Taylor kept her arms at her side. He was incredibly strong, and if she fought, he would squeeze the life from her body. His hand cupped her neck as he forced his tongue in her mouth. She wanted to bite a chunk of the flesh alien invading her mouth and spit it at him. Panicking Dillon released his hold pushing himself away from her. “What the fuck am I doing?” Sweat beaded his forehead. “Taylor, I’m sorry. I would never hurt you. I don’t know what came over me.” She stood frozen in place. Too scared to move and too afraid of what she would do to him if she did. In a low graveled voice, she ordered, “Get out before I call the police.” His heart thudded against his chest. He had to explain that was not him acting in a garish manner. “Taylor, I don’t know what came over me. I’ve been having these spells and acting irrational at times. You know I would never harm you.” She repeated in the same voice. “Get out!” Rubbing his face, he walked to the door looking over his shoulder; she had not moved. He dropped his head exiting her office. Closing the door hard, he rushed to his office. Leaning his back against the closed door, if she did not call the police, he would be surprised. He’d forced himself on her like an animal. He held his head walking to his desk to sit down. The headache began pounding at his temples again. “What have I done? I’m a damn idiot!” He scolded himself. Opening
his drawer, he removed a bottle of aspirin. They were useless and like popping candy since they did nothing to relieve the blinding pain the headaches caused. He swallowed four of them dry and laid his head against the back of the chair to wait. He waited for the headache to ease up or bang hard enough to burst his brain and cause death. ***** The diplomas on the wall shook when Dillon slammed the door. Tightening her lips, she rubbed her neck where his handprint burned her skin. She tossed the ink pen lying on her desk across the office as hard as she could. What was wrong with that man? Her hands shook uncontrollably. Grumbling she snatched the receiver off the base and punched in a number. “Taylor, you’d better be hurt or sick to be calling me this early in the morning.” “Sabrina, I’m sorry to call so early. Girl, I have a problem,” she said hearing the heavy coarseness of Sabrina’s sleep-laced voiced. At 7:30 in the morning Sabrina, normally didn’t get going before mid-morning. “What is the emergency?” “I may lose my job and soon. Sabrina is your day full or will you be able to have lunch with me?” “You’re in luck. I’m off on Mondays. What time and where do you want to meet?” “Lola’s on 4th at noon. “I am buying before you ask.” “You gave me incentive to get out of bed. I will be there at noon sharp.” “See you then,” she said hanging up the phone. Placing another call, Mario’s assistant answered on the second ring. “Hi, Denise, is he around?” “Good morning, Ms. James, he’s in depositions this morning. He expects to be gone all day.”
She clicked her tongue. “Right, he did say he would be out most of the day.” “Would you like his voicemail?” “No, it’s nothing that can’t wait until he is back in the office.” Taylor said a quick goodbye and hung up the phone. Unfolding the real estate ads, she perused the section for office space.
Taylor made her way through the crowd of people in search of her sister. 4th Street bubbled over with people in the summer. The outdoor seating for the many restaurants and merchant shops drew people to the one-time alley recently updated and reserved for pedestrian’s only. She reached the restaurant. Scanning the faces dining at the outdoor tables for Sabrina; she saw she was not there. Lola’s wasn’t crowded on the inside. She waited to be seated by the hostess and ordered a glass of lemonade when the server came to take her order. Sitting close to a window, she laid her cell phone on the table and watched the people outside enjoying the day. Her cell phone vibrated on the table; it was a text message from Sabrina stating she’d be late but was on her way. A light tapping on the window took her attention away from her phone. It was Kelly waiving to her. A tingling fanned through Taylor’s body. She smiled and returned the friendly greeting. In a nanosecond, Kelly was standing at the table. Taylor, how are you?” Kelly asked disrupting Taylor’s interaction with her sister via texting. In a normal voice, she said, “I’m okay, Kelly. Are you and Dillon having lunch today?” “Yes. He called out of the blue and asked me to join him.” Taylor glanced out the window with hope her sister would come into view. She did not want to talk about Dillon. She did not want to tell anyone about what Dillon had done until she figured out what was going on with him. “And you are eating here?” “Yes, we love Lola’s. Are you waiting on Mario?” “No, Sabrina is meeting me for lunch today.” “I haven’t seen her in ages. Maybe we should join you two.”
Taylor scraped her teeth across her bottom lip. Kelly was not a stupid woman. She had to know there would be fallout between her and Dillon from what happened Saturday night. Taylor adjusted the sunglasses on her nose. “I don’t think so, Kelly. Saturday night did not leave me very pleased with Dillon. Actually, I’m going to reschedule my vacation. I’m not going on the cruise.” “Please don’t do that. Dillon didn’t want me to come and if he is cooped up with only me, I don’t know what will happen to me, Taylor.” A tendril of dread filled her belly. She reserved lunch for her to unload on Sabrina, not for Kelly to empty her burdens on her. Kelly eyed her waiting for her to respond. Shifting in her seat, she asked. “Kelly, are-are you saying you’re afraid of Dillon?” Kelly played with the straps of her purse staring blankly at Taylor. “I’m saying he is a different man these days. His mood changes from one minute to the next. I am walking on eggshells around him. I’m thinking about calling off the wedding and moving back to Nebraska.” “Kelly, I had no idea it was so bad. But, go with your instincts. If you are having doubts about Dillon then do what you have to do.” Relief filled Taylor’s chest. Maybe Kelly already knew Dillon was possibly a psychopath in a suit. Kelly narrowed her eyes. “Does he talk about me to you?” “Dillon and I really haven’t talked much since….” “I know—since you got with Mario. So he has withdrawn from you also.” “That is so far from the reason we aren’t talking anymore. You were at the party and saw what he did to me.” “I was surprised at his behavior. I was too speechless to intervene. I would never expect him to do anything to cross the perfect Taylor James. You have always been the center of his world. The woman that does nothing wrong in his eyes,” Kelly responded oddly.
you would do whatever you could to keep him.” “You don’t see the big picture. You occupy his mind. that is not of my persuasion. “What you’re saying is I’m the cause of your problems with Dillon.” Taylor saw the beginnings of another public scene in a restaurant happening and was unable to stop it.” Taylor’s already brittle emotional state took over. Suddenly.Taylor shook her head and sighed. your name was mentioned so often.” “You can control yourself. Stop being so YOU all the time!” “I don’t even know how to respond to that because it was stupid! I will not change who I am for anyone. I doubted she even remembered mine.” . Her bottom lip trembled. Taylor.” The crocodile tears formed beneath Kelly’s eyelids. what do you want me to do? If Dillon is in love with me. I have no romantic interest in Dillon whatsoever and you are aware of that. We are two different people with our own agendas. Taylor.” “That may be true for you. “Kelly. If the tables were turned and I was going after Mario. but this has to stop. “Some friend you are.” She took the empty chair across from Taylor and sat down. She heard her voice rising. Do you know how hard it to compete with you?” “You shouldn’t have to compete with me. I was holding on by a thread but now that has unraveled and broken off. “It’s funny. He never mentioned you or once treated me like a disease until you returned to Cleveland. I’ve heard Dillon has been in love with you since you were kids. and he has pushed me out completely. I cannot control his heart. we were happy until you came around again. “Yes.” Kelly didn’t shy away. “I am going to ignore your jabs at me. I don’t satisfy Dillon anymore.
I was able to put it there because when I’m with Mario. Your track record isn’t that great . I know I am the only woman he wants. then so be it. “I heard you and I have advice to give you. to stay out of our lives and let us be. If it is your desire to marry him in his current state of mind.” Kelly took a tissue from her purse and wiped her nose. I have no beef with you and never have.” Taylor rolled her neck. “Taylor.” “That is not true. were you listening to any of this conversation? I don’t want Dillon. I’m asking you woman to woman. She said in a calming voice. Being his friend has been my only intention and nothing else. Kelly. However. If you pursued him and he responded. I cried with you when you lost the baby. and he is making love to me. Just leave us alone and don’t offer Dillon any more helpful advice.” Kelly’s amber eyes glowed. Instead of worrying about what Dillon and I are doing in our relationship. don’t you Taylor?” Taylor relaxed in the chair wanting to clear the air of the tension. that is in the past. I have to trust him. maybe you should work on trying to keep a relationship with Mario.” “He has you believing that crap? Men love to fantasize about other women when making love to their woman. I know he is only thinking about me. I was jealous when other women approached my boyfriends. “Kelly. then do it and be happy.” “You have it all. I know about your trust issues. I don’t pester Mario throughout the day.“This is where we are different.” “Excuse me? I don’t think I heard you correctly. Whatever he does when I’m not around. “Not Mario. I don’t want him that way. When he says my name at that crucial moment. I have stood by your side during your relationship with Dillon.” “I never had trust issues.
when it comes to men. I would walk away while you have a chance with all your limbs attached. she touched Taylor’s hand. thank you.” Kelly stormed away leaving Taylor angry and confused by the soap opera tantrum she threw in front of the patrons of the restaurant. She only needed to look once at her sister’s blowfish express to know she was pissed beyond words. she bit down on her lip hard enough to draw blood. “Why. She gripped the wood edge of the table to keep her hands from going around Kelly’s throat. The hostess pointed her where Taylor was sitting. she fumed. Slapping the hard table. Thank you. Composure was not an option with her mood. Sabrina entered the doors of the restaurant in search of Taylor. “First. You should work on keeping him happy if you expect him to stick around. “What’s the matter. she was mad as hell and the anger had to be release before she exploded on the next person to step in her path.” Kelly’s voice rose to alarming levels as she stood up from the table. Taylor! You’re ruining my chances for happiness with Dillon.” . second.” Taylor heard the thundering in her ears from her blood pressure rising. Taylor? Who has pissed you off?” Still staggering from the implications Kelly placed upon her. “I want out of this damn city and away from crazy ass people. What in hells bells is happening with the crazy ass people that are supposed to be my friends? She crossed her arms tightly across her chest avoiding the eyes of the people in the restaurant. my love life is not any of your concern. And. Sitting carefully. Why did you have to return to Cleveland? I hope you enjoy watching Dillon’s sanity deteriorate watching you with a man that makes him feel inferior. Taylor. if I were you. The adrenaline pulsed through her veins underneath her skin. She didn’t care they looked anyone was looking this time.
Lord. I saw her as I was walking over here. Behind the big dark sunglass.” “You are in no shape to work. I see the tears in your eyes.” Sabrina signaled for the server. “Girl. “That will be a mistake. I spoke. “Be grateful she didn’t stop to talk to you.” She took another drink trying to calm her nerves realizing plain lemonade was not going to get the job done.” Thankful the sunglasses stopped Sabrina from seeing the tears brimming.” “Well. are you going to explain why you want to leave? You’ve been talking about opening a law firm soon. I have never wanted to punch a person as much as I want to punch Kelly and her stupid ass boyfriend. Kelly must have really pissed you off to make you cry. Taylor. she seemed upset and nearly ran me over.” Taylor removed her hand to drink a sip of lemonade. “Um…” “What did you do.“Taylor. I have a feeling we are going to need something stronger than lemonade once you tell me this story. I should have taken the position in New York the moment I found out Dillon was working at Cartwright & Associates.” “If I never see her or Dillon again.” Sabrina held Taylor’s hands that were shaking. Sabrina?” . Sabrina pursed her lips. it wouldn’t bother me!” She said aloud. “She better be glad she was able to walk down the street and not need EMS to pluck her ass from the one of these walls. she swallowed to keep her voice steady.” “I have to go back to work. “Tell me what happened between you and Kelly. You don’t cry. but she blew me off.
Anyhow.” Taylor said removing money from her purse. I was being sociable and invited them to our barbeque. We’ll order a pizza and go back to my place and have an old-fashioned bitch-fest with hard liquor. this is going to take all day and one glass of lemonade will not get me through it.“I sort of invited them to the house for the Fourth of July picnic Edward and I are throwing. I’m in no mood to work.” “I’m sure they won’t come seeing how today went.” “Why would you even invite them? You don’t invite them to anything else you have. Why do you think you might be fired?” “Oh God.” . forget them for a minute.” She moped. “This is just great. I had extra invitations and stamps. Taylor.” “They sent us a wedding invitation. I didn’t know you were mad to the point of breaking ties with them until now. “You are right.
you’re the best thing to happen to me in forever.Chapter 13 Taylor waited for Mario to finish with his phone call. Edward had just picked up Sabrina to take her home. Mario. I’m a lucky girl that gets groovy sex at night and wakes up next to a handsome man in the mornings. “Baby. The James’ clan liked to drink. she stood at the window woozy and a little tipsy from drinking with her sister. You and Sabrina were drinking pretty early in the day. “Okay. Still upset. “You could use a nap.” She shrugged her shoulders. We clicked right away and get along now that we’ve come to an understanding. what happened?” She didn’t release him but tightened her arms around his neck. I’d like to think I’m adding to it. why are you drunk?” . I had a great life. What happened to it?” He walked her to the sofa sitting down with her. but were responsible and would never drink and drive.” The sting of the heavy alcohol vapors wafting from her mouth smacked him in the face.” “Baby. “I’ve been pushed over the edge and can’t stop the fall. Mario. Taylor. He didn’t like seeing her upset or worse yet.” Taylor dropped her arms from around his neck. if you are happy with all that. or is it me you’re complaining about?” She patted his cheek slurring her words.” “I gathered that. this has got to stop before it tears you apart. Mario’s gaze followed her as she walked around the living room languidly. “I had a really bad day and I’m glad you’re here now. drunk. “I don’t need a nap. “Amor. I need a change of scenery. It’s too late for that.” He patted her back. “Your life is the same.” she said strolling over to him and wrapping her arms around his neck.
She yawned slumping against the cushions of the sofa. that man….” she mumbled. You were right. he laid her on the bed to remove her shoes and taking all her close off except her underwear. Apologize profusely and do not side-step the truth if confronted was the mantra Dillon repeated walking the slow gait to Mario’s office. He knocked on the door before going inside. He scrolled through the contacts until he located the number he was looking for. He knew Mario would pulverize him to a grain of sand if they got into a fistfight. It didn’t matter how many times he repeated it. he left the house to get answers.that…. Twitching the muscle in his jaw she passed out before finishing her sentence. He turned up the air conditioner then covered her with the bedspread and left the bedroom. One stupid mistake years ago is coming back to haunt me. What he didn’t understand was why he wanted to do it at work and after hours. Speeding from the driveway he narrowly missed hitting Taylor’s neighbor who was pulling into his driveway. Not wanting to do what was on his mind. Mario maneuvered her until she was over his shoulder and hauling her up the stairs like a sack of potatoes. you wanted to talk. he did anyway. Taking her to the bedroom. ***** Be nice. Sebastian shook his head as the maniac sped down the street. is out to destroy me. and now he wanted to confront him. um. it would not sink beneath the surface of his skull to penetrate his brain. don’t fall asleep! What stupid mistake and did Dillon do to you?” “We had…” She passed out cold before finishing the sentence. Baby. “Taylor. “Hey. Grabbing his keys from the dining room table. Taylor must have told him what transpired earlier. “Cause I hate Dillon.man I believed was my friend.” . Downstairs he noticed her cell phone on the coffee table. He shook her on the shoulder.
” “I asked Taylor to stop worrying about me. Kelly and I are not fighting. you’re learning to lie and smile while doing it.” “Look.” he said positioning the door where Dillon could get inside. Dillon. But here is the real deal…Taylor and I are skipping the cruise. “No. Would you enjoy your vacation sitting across the dinner table laughing and toasting glasses with the person who may have gotten you fired?” Dillon listened concluding this conversation and Taylor’s inebriation was to do Saturday’s event and not today. “Are you speaking for Taylor now? She didn’t say she wanted to cancel the cruise. Kelly and I are working through a rough patch. “Wow. Crossing his hands behind his back. he shrugged his . I want you to know where I stand when it comes to her. But. Dillon eyed him strangely.” Mario shook his head disagreeing. you’re not cool. but we’re cool. man! I’m looking forward to us having a great vacation together.” The smile on Dillon’s face faded. I don’t have a clue where you’re going with this. “Mario. Anderson is grooming you well for the legal field. and Taylor told me she asked you to join us on the cruise.” “Put your feet in Taylor’s shoes for a minute.Mario looked over his shoulder to make sure no one was around.” Mario chuckled. I don’t appreciate seeing my woman drunk in the middle of the day. You and Kelly go alone and have that great vacation together without us. This will be cool. “You know what this is about.not mind. then again that’s your headache…. “Is this about Taylor? I apologize for my actions on Saturday. Whatever is going on between you and Kelly is affecting Taylor in a bad way and therefore it is affecting me.” Stewing in his own juices he saw Mario’s dark eyes were hooded as he watched him intently.
Dillon. If I want to talk to her I will. “This conversation is over!” Dillon attempted to shuffle Mario aside to escape the office. He leaned closer to Dillon. She is pissed. that’s it.shoulders. “Leave her alone. So I don’t have a problem saying it…vete al carajo.” he said in a challenging manner. Mario shoved his hands in Dillon’s chest pinning him against the door. I will be a better man and give you a chance to tell me what happened or we can do this when Taylor is on her feet. Using a nonchalant tone he said. I hope we won’t have this chat again.” “All right. this morning we had words regarding last Saturday. The choice is yours. “Mario.” “Taylor has a mind of her own and doesn’t need you to speak for her. Taylor and I have been friends for years. Once she cools off. Mario placed his hand on the door blocking Dillon from opening it. Mario.” Mario’s pupils were black as tar. “I know something happened today and it involves you. “You will not talk to her. Taylor won’t tell you to fuck off. “Nobody is playing a sick game. I jumped to conclusions before thinking. said. I wouldn’t let the expensive suits and education fool you into thinking I won’t rip your . I wish it never had.” he said stepping closer to the door. Your name was the last she sputtered before she passed out.” Dillon’s head pounded as sweat beaded on his face. I’m sure we can smooth this over once and for all. let me just talk to her. and I don’t blame her. I can’t take back what happened Saturday. we’ll work it out.” Mario folded his arms across his chest to match Dillon’s machismo. The tone of his voice laced with ire. and she wasn’t having it. I tried to apologize. She will not tell me what exactly happened. but it had to be bad enough for her drink herself into a stupor. but I have nothing to lose by not being your friend. I will not allow Taylor to be a pawn in your sick game or let you manipulate her anymore. “Listen. I’m going to talk to Anderson and get it all straightened out.
pushing her down to pin her on the sofa. as he pressed his lips against her neck. The image of Mario’s smirked face burned his retinas. Wasting no time.” he said fixing the collar of Dillon’s shirt. He walked heavy-footed down the hall in search of her. he could be a former gang affiliate or knew people that belonged to Puerto Rican gangs and would hire them to come after him. “All right. “Dillon.” Mario winked a mocking eye. ***** The paranoia set in as Dillon drove home. He pushed his hips against her pelvic bone.” he gasped against her skin. “Here or upstairs. he threaded his arms around her body. His hand balled a bunch of her hair yanking her head back. She disappeared into the living room when he entered the house. I won’t need to make a phone call for that to happen. His dislike for the man just soared to heights beyond retrievable. For all he knew. Kiss and make good with Kelly. you’re hurting me.” Dillon threw up his hands coughing from Mario’s hand tightened around the collar of his shirt.” she cried struggling to breath under his weight. Dillon closed his eyes taking in a breath. We both care about Taylor and want the best for her.” . He looked at Mario with the same fear Taylor looked at him. It will make our relationship a lot easier around the office. He knew nothing about Mario Infante. only she stood her ground where he caved. I’ll back off. We don’t have to get physical. “I’m ready to give you what you’ve been asking for. The man wasn’t from Cleveland but obviously had connections in Miami and Puerto Rico with seedy people. Now I have one more thing to say before you go change your tidy-whities.heart from your chest with my bare hands personally. He turned into his driveway to see Kelly entering the side door carrying grocery bags. “I’m glad you’re coming around.
I need to talk to you. Dillon threw her on the bed straddling her so she couldn’t move. biting the lobe of her ear. Looking into his lust-glazed eyes as he stripped off his shirt. Then he demanded. Nervous she waited for the person to answer. “Do you want it or not?” She closed her eyes and let him have his way. Kelly bit her lip. Tiptoeing down the stairs. squeezing them with rough hands. He grunted watching the pinkish-brown nipples swell under his fingers. ***** Kelly made sure Dillon was sleeping before getting out of bed. and she was not going to miss this opportunity by complaining. Kelly at first was frightened of his intentions. and there was only knew one way to do it and have it be permanent. Kiss me like you mean it. “Baby. before sucking one into his mouth. she was afraid to ask for a favor. He had not made love to her in months. She wasn’t sure what had come over him to act so animalistic. Everything he was doing to her now. She used her cell phone instead of the house phone to make the call. Not this time. Kelly’s hands worked fast to unbuckle the belt of his pants and push them down his hips. The mélange of their tongues and their flavors spread. The primal instinct to have sex cleared his mind of Taylor.” She reached up and clutched his shoulders drawing him down to meet her mouth. he normally would pretend was Taylor. He ripped the thin material of her blouse exposing her breasts.” He continued his frenzy. She whispered into his ear. causing her to cry out from the dry penetration. he drove into her. don’t be so rough. Where can we meet?” . She sat behind the desk and opened the middle drawer removing a phone book. she went to the den and closed the door. “It’s me. “Kiss me. and when he did. She needed to help Dillon. Once he got her skirt and panties off.He got off her dragging her to her feet and up the stairs to their bedroom.
” “That would only be $900?” “Handling fees ain’t included. drove to the spot indicated by the mysterious caller. He is not well. She was in an area of town that she never visited.” “Okay. I won’t call you anymore. “How many Oxycodone pills are there for a $1000?” The unidentified man counted the money after handing her the pouch containing the illegal drugs. you do not call me again. “You got a month’s supply. She turned to the man saying. You got the money?” She went in her purse and removed the envelope containing the money. and a white woman alone would stand out as peculiar. once Dillon left for work Kelly. I will call.” .” The next morning. She got out of the car holding her purse close to her body. Is that all you needed?” Kelly nodded. Two men approached from across the vacant lot.“Are you sure you want to go through with this?” “I have to help Dillon. “Thank you.” “I’m busy today. Can we go somewhere else and talk? I have another problem I want to discuss with you. A homeless man sleeping under the bridge kept her close to her car. I got what you want.” “Okay. “Yeah.” He walked away leaving her and the other man together. “Yes…no. We’ll have to do it another time.” “Watch him with that stuff. The one man she knew the other she didn’t. “Do you have it?” she asked clutching her purse tighter. I will call you tomorrow on were to meet. He could get addicted and kill himself. and I can’t stand to see him suffering anymore. If this will help him then I have to do it.
“Okay. Give me a call when you have a chance.” She turned and got inside her car drove off with the man watching her.
The next morning Mario awoke first. Taylor was sleeping soundly next to him. He sat on the side of the bed deciding to let Taylor sleep instead of waking her for work. He shook his head listening to her light snoring. She would not be able to keep her mind on work suffering from a massive hangover. He went into the bathroom to shower. Turning on the shower water to warm he went to the sink to shave first. Dropping the shaver on the floor, he kneeled down to get it from under the pedal sink where it rolled. He looked closely at the substance lying on the floor. Wetting his index finger, he dabbed the substance and held it under the light. It was particle dust from the plaster. Mario turned up the hot water in the shower. The steam from the shower flowed upward to the ceiling revealing tiles in the ceiling were slightly different in color. “Maldita sea!” He cursed quietly. He rushed from the bathroom to the bedroom. Closing the curtains facing the bed, he searched the walls of the room. The noise he was making caused Taylor to shift on the bed, kicking off the covers to expose her body clad only in skimpy underwear. He continued to search conspicuous places to hide a camera, trying to be quiet. The light switches were flat on the wall so that would not be a good place to hide anything. He searched the lampshades and perfume bottles on her dresser. The picture frames and various knick-knacks on shelves. He came up with nothing. Taylor sat up looking dazed. “Mario, why are you making noise?” She asked in a ragged dry voice. He jumped on the bed pulling the cover over their heads. “Baby, did you replace any ceiling tiles in the bathroom lately?” “What are you doing?” she asked trying to remove the cover from over her head. He put his finger to her lip to quiet her. “Keep your voice down.”
“What are you doing and why are we whispering? Who is here?” “Taylor, cut it out and listen to me. I’m dead serious…think baby. I know you’re dealing with a massive hangover but push past it and clear your head. Have you done any work in the bathroom or anywhere in the house requiring you to hire workmen?” “I haven’t done anything lately. Why?” “Promise you will stay calm when I say this. Don’t jump or scream; we have to stay quiet.” She licked her lips. “You’re scaring me, Mario.” “I know, and that’s the last thing I want to do, but I believe you are being watched.” “What? Who would want to watch me?” She asked. Scratching her head, she sighed when he lifted an eyebrow. “You can’t seriously believe Dillon snuck in my house and installed cameras to watch me.” “Who else is infatuated with you to the point of obsession?” She put her hand over her mouth. “Excuse my breath because I know it’s bad, but what did you find in the bathroom?” “Plaster dust on the bathroom floor. I turned the on the shower to let the steam rise. There is a tiny hole in the ceiling; I found a camera inside. Baby, it’s directly over your shower.” She looks as if a wave of nausea was rumbling in her belly. “Did you find any cameras in here?” “No, but I don’t suspect whoever is watching you is into bathroom fetishes. I'm guessing cameras are in every room of the house.” She folded her legs holding onto her ankles. “My God, I walk around my bedroom naked. I do my womanly grooming in the shower.” She sucked in a frightened breath.
“What, do you remember something?” He asked. “Baby, we’ve been spied on having sex. What if we’re being streamed across the internet?” The heat was stifling under the tent of bedding. He rubbed his brows. “I guess we’ll both be answering questions about our new career as internet porn stars.” “This is not funny. How are we going to find these cameras and disable them?” “You stay under the cover. I’m going to the basement to shut-off the power,” he said getting out of bed. Taylor cocooned the bedspread around her and hopped to the closet to get a robe; cameras or not, she had to brush her teeth. The peeping pervert would get one last look before the curtain came down for good. Mario located the electrical box pulling the lever shutting power to the entire house. He looked around the basement for any obscure wiring. Whoever installed the cameras knew their way around electricity. He dropped his shoulders remembering the window by the dryer. He cursed again. Damn it, the window! He pushed on it, but it did not open. It had been nailed shut. He went upstairs. Walking through the kitchen, he noticed the window over the sink was new. He shook his head continuing to the second floor. “Taylor, where are you?” He asked not seeing her in the bedroom. She came out of the closet dressed in jeans and a cotton shirt. “Here I am. What did you find in the basement?” “Nothing, but I’m not an expert at looking for hidden cameras. You had the window nailed shut in the basement?” “Yeah, I did. You told me to do that.” “Yes, I did. Who installed the window in the kitchen? I asked if you had any workers in the house.”
She paced the quiet bedroom. With no power to run the central air, the light humming of the unit stopped. “Sebastian replaced the window.” “Who the hell is Sebastian?” “He’s my neighbor across the street. The builder I told you about. He saved me the hassle of calling someone to fix the window the neighborhood kids broke.” Mario beat his fist against his forehead, frustrated. “Yeah right; I remember. He is a builder who had access to your house. Why didn’t you tell me any of this?” “Mario, I was here when he installed the window. I sat in the kitchen and watched him do it. He didn’t go anywhere else in the house.” “Did he do the window in the basement?” She chewed her lip folding her hands together. “Yes! It took him five minutes to do it. He was not down there long enough to do anything else.” He went to the bed laying on his back staring at the ceiling. Taylor opened the curtains to let in sunshine. The sun’s rays bounced off the ceiling fan’s gold base. He rose to stand on the bed and fiddle with the fan. “There is a camera hidden in the ceiling fan.” He attempted to pluck it from the base with his finger. “These things are small and may not need electricity to power them.” Taylor rubbed her arms. “So the snake could be watching us now?” He nodded. Let’s go,” he said gathering his shoes and shirt.” “Mario, shouldn’t we call the….” He hurried over to where she stood and pinched her lips together. “We’ll talk in the car. I don’t know if these damn cameras carry sound or not.” ***** The laptop closed when the screen went black. The intruding eyes lost the feed to all cameras instantly. The intruder got up from the desk and walked to the shrine holding the items lifted from Taylor’s house. Fingers brushed across the red bra and
who else could it be? What other person have you cut loose who isn’t taking it well?” She shook her head missing his sarcasm. Taylor. Anger grumbled in the belly of the intruder. Taylor finally let what was happening sink in. The boyfriend had discovered the cameras cutting off the viewing of the desired object.” “Wh-what do you mean?” “A couple of weeks ago. “What if a client is behind this?” “Do you suspect any of your clients could be stalking you?” She grimaced.” Taylor’s eyes shot to Mario’s face.” “I’m not convinced it isn’t Dillon. call them. A plush towel she’d used after a shower lay folded in a plastic bag. remember? I stepped in a wet spot on your carpet.” He shifted his weight in the bucket seat to face Taylor. you never know what is on the mind of a sick individual.” “Baby. I deal with heads of corporations. None of them would be interested in me personally. Clenching a fist.” “Yes. But humor me. We had wine with dinner that night but did not take it upstairs with us. I have to call the police. the intruder pounded it against a stiff leg deciding the boyfriend had to go if he continued to interfere.” . ***** Seated in the car. Mario. “Not likely. “I haven’t had a serious boyfriend in years. There is no way he could install cameras in my house. They need to know what is going on.panties pinned to a white satin pillow. It smelled like wine. The wine glass with the lipstick imprint of Taylor’s perfect lips lay protected in a clear glass box. I don’t even know where he is these days. Mario. “This is not Dillon. He couldn’t change the battery in my car. “The person we are dealing with knows where you live and has been in your house before.
I don’t know what could be missing or just left at your house. I’ll send him an email that you won’t be in today. Lynda.” “Hmm.” “Missing? What would be missing besides me if I don’t leave?” “I’m talking about personal belongings of yours. Did I leave those at your place?” “I don’t recall. I will not be in today. voyeurs take keepsakes from their victims.“The scumbag was watching us then? I am not going back in that house. true. He has taken something of yours. we have to go in one more time and look for anything missing or moved out of place.” Taylor frowned shaking her head. Taylor. but will look for those later.” “No. Taylor.” “You will stay with me so I can keep an eye on you.” she said answering it. However.” Her cell phone rang startling her.” “Good morning. “I’ve been taking stuff to your place when I spend the nights with you.” . “Good morning. trust me. but I’m done. He has been in your house before watching you on camera. Come to think about it. He asks you call as soon as you arrive. What is easier to take other than clothing items?” He snapped a finger. I have a power failure at the house. “It’s work. “The wine glasses? Do you remember washing both of them?” “You’re right. I remember only washing one wine glass. I haven’t seen my red lacey underwear I purchased from my trip to Italy. I will stay with Sabrina until I find a place. Are you coming in this morning? Mr. Cartwright has been calling for you. Did he say what he wants?” “Not to me.
” “Taylor. we can’t bust inside his home and demand anything. Cartwright wants to talk about with you. wherever you go. Spying is illegal for common folks.” “I’m going to go before I start crying like a baby. Maybe that is what Mr. Stevenson has not shown up either.” “Mario. “We’re going to pay Dillon a visit at home. Lynda. I want you to know you have been a valuable assistant. “I might take you up on that.” he said tooling the Mercedes down the street. I will let him know you won’t be in today. and I’ve enjoyed working with you the last five years. Anyhow.” “And he’s not the NSA. He knows you two are friends. I’d leave here in hot second.” Taylor’s tears cut off. . Can you do me a huge favor and work on getting my files in order for all current cases I’m working on. Taylor.” Mario reversed out of the driveway before Taylor could hang up the phone. I suspect the rumors have already circulated around the office concerning me. Lynda. Mr. FYI. “Lynda. “Dillon isn’t in the office?” “No one has seen him since yesterday around noon.” Her eyes leaked tears as Mario rubbed her leg comforting her. “I have a feeling I know what he wants. There is a good chance I won’t return to the firm at all. what are you talking about?” She switched the phone to her other ear. will you call me if he doesn’t show up at all today.Taylor rolled her eyes upward. I know you are a good person and take your job seriously. please let me know if you need an assistant.” “I haven’t spoken or seen him since early morning yesterday. we’re not cops. it will make the transition easier for the next attorney.” “I’ve heard but don’t pay attention to the rumors. If I see him later.
she called it quits with her long-time boyfriend. When it ended. possible. but his heart weighed heavy with sadness. but he knew he had special feelings for her from an early age.Chapter 15 Dillon sat in the attic of his home flipping through his journal. It didn’t matter they shared many interests such as both wanting careers as attorneys. His headache was easing from the pill Kelly had given him. Not able to deal with other men being with her. He always a day late when he mustered the courage to approach Taylor with the subject of them being a couple. The first time he got the nerve to ask was during their first year of high school. He tried to give her subtle hints of his attraction to her throughout high school. and her family had just moved into the integrated neighborhood. They also enjoyed scary movies and rollercoasters. but so did every other teenage boy in his school. they wanted large families. Taylor was in a relationship. once they found love and marriage. however. He didn’t push himself on her out of fear of destroying their friendship. The secret crush he held for Taylor started the first day he laid eyes on her and never ended. They were both nine years old. They were kids. the tears ran down his face. Once he discovered girls aroused his libido. but a rocky one. with a member of the football team. No other girl in his high school held a candle to her. When he was old enough to date. During senior year. Taylor blossomed into a beautiful young woman with a personality to match her womanly assets. Taylor became the object of him satisfying himself in private. he set his mind to make Taylor love him. He recalled her smile and the twinkles her light brown eyes gave off when she introduced herself at the playground. As he looked at the pictures of happier times in his life. He . she was too distraught to talk about being in a relationship with another boy. And. he only wanted Taylor. but Taylor didn’t see him as a love interest only a good friend. His heart shattered when she would talk about her dates to him.
He closed the book shoving it aside. At the last minute. It wasn’t his first choice for college. He’d never dropped the plan to get Taylor to fall in love. he got off the floor looking out the window. and she would take care of him if the operation failed. Kelly advised him to have the operation. The news he received from the doctor about the tumor growing in his brain explained a lot of what was going on with him. It was a night he would never forget only Taylor didn’t see it as memorable and went on to make plan s to attend college out of State. He’d rather die first. He would often find himself daydreaming about her in the middle of the day. They’d spend the whole night together talking. Taylor had set her sights on attending Penn State after graduation. he made sure to sit between the two women. Everything was over. “What the hell…” he said leaving the window. He fantasized about tasting her full lips and running his fingers against her soft skin. He had to have his Taylor fix. She opened up letting him comfort her. Even though he was in a relationship with Kelly. . The tumor was operable. He was there for her. It was over. ended his quest to get her to marry him before embarking on their legal careers.figured his chance had finally arrived. And that was a possibility if he didn’t make a decision soon. she attend Howard University instead of Penn State. It didn’t take him long to resume his obsession with Taylor once they were reunited at the law firm. A man and woman were standing in the yard arguing with Kelly. Why he’d ruined his relationship with Taylor and possibly why he treated Kelly the way he did. He didn’t want to burden her with taking care of an invalid if the operation left him a vegetable. but one hundred percent recovery the doctor could not guarantee. with that. and it didn’t matter his current girlfriend was in the room. but he was going wherever she was going to be near her. Hearing a ruckus outside. and she would come along with them on movie nights.
We’ll call the police and let them handle it!” “Let me go. Mario!” Kelly ran from the house holding the phone. please let him go. “Leave her alone. Mario fixed his gaze on him and charged after him. slamming him against the front door. Taylor. that doesn’t make you the better person. “He has a brain tumor.” Mario kept Dillon in place and fumed at Kelly.” “Mario.” Taylor begged tugging at his hands. He could die. “Please! If you hit him. Taylor grabbed his hand before it could make contact with Dillon’s face.” She stood straight backing away from him “What?” . He slumped to the ground. “I’m calling the police! I want you both arrested for trespassing. “It’s not Dillon doing this. Kelly rushed over to him holding him in her arms. “You took to spying on Taylor as a hobby?” “What are you talking about? I’m not spying on anybody!” Dillon grabbed Mario’s wrist trying to pry them away from his neck. Mario!” He shouted. Mario. “We found the cameras in her house! You planted them so you could watch her.Outside he confronted a heated Mario yelling at Kelly. “Don’t hit him.” Mario released Dillon. “Why were you at the emergency room?” He didn’t say anything or look at her. You sick motherfucker!” He spewed drawing back his fist to punch Dillon. Taylor. I’m ending this bullshit once and for all!” He growled. “What about your boyfriend? Are you going to tell the police he is spying on Taylor? I guess you are okay with that?” “He isn’t spying on anyone! He has been home since coming from the emergency room last night. Taylor kneeled down beside him.
” he shouted at her. I won’t shut up. I’m so sorry.” Taylor scanned their faces. I can’t.” she said walking away and over to Mario. “He doesn’t want them to know. tell me. She would deal with him later. but he won’t have the surgery…” “Kelly. “I can’t deal with this and everything else going on in my life. “No. shut up. Kelly brushed strands of hair away from his face.” Taylor blinked letting tears fall down her face. They can remove it. have you talked to your parents. Go away and leave us alone.” He shook his head. “I want to hear it.Kelly’s face reddened.” Taylor watched Mario storm to the car and lean against it pouting. “And. but recovery of all his motor skills isn’t guaranteed. if he’d hit him. “Yeah. She should hear this.” ***** . They both looked to be under great stress. Kelly. what has to be done to remove the tumor.” “Me neither. No one else knows but you and Mario now. I never wished him an illness. your boyfriend could have killed him. “Kelly. Streaks from her makeup stained her face from her tears. “I’m sorry. I was willing to take care of him even though he loves you. baby.” She looked down at Dillon.” Taylor asked swallowing. if they don’t remove it?” “He will die as the tumor grows and takes over his brain. This is what you wanted. ”Dillon. She believed Kelly was being truthful and not covering up for Dillon.” “The tumor is growing slowly. and now you have it. Mario welcomed her in his arms.
is someone I don’t know.” “Concentrate! I don’t have anything to concentrate on. Taylor! This is not a joke! Whoever this person is knows your routine well enough to get inside your house any time of the day or night. I acted an ass. However. You are in danger.” “I don’t want to eat. I understand you are upset about Dillon and my heart is breaking knowing I can’t fix that for you.” “Taylor. If Taylor hadn’t intervened. you are my first priority.” she yelled at him. But in my defense. or call the police yet. “I was wrong about him. “I don’t know who the hell.” he said calmly. “I’ve known him since I was nine. “Where do we go from here now that you realize Dillon is not out to harm me?” Mario shook his head.” “He told me about the headaches and I wouldn’t listen to him. He is taking small stuff working his way up to getting you. whoever this person is. he could have killed Dillon had he hit him. Taylor. she didn’t want him to die. is after me or why. You should eat and get a little rest before we go to the police. and I owe him an apology. “Get real. Although mad at Dillon to the point of never wanting to talk to him again. I mind my own freaking business. She wiped her nose. I want a private investigator. He is part of my family. he was acting weird and gave me reason to believe he could stalk you. So. I don’t lead men on at bars or parties.They drove in silence as Taylor sobbed. She was beyond upset and teetering on the edge of collapsing. I threw him out of my office without letting him explain he was sick. He was upset for charging after Dillon. rest. we have to concentrate on you right now. How many times do I have to tell you that?” “Okay. I understand what is happening in your life is building you with enough rage to .” The tears returned. and until we find the person responsible for installing the cameras in your house. I want this asshole caught and brought to me so I can fucking rip his guts out with my bare hands!” His hands tightened around the steering wheel. he can’t die and leave me.
but don’t be a fool—this person is more dangerous than you. my God. Mario couldn’t control the vehicle and jumped the curb slamming into a tree. and will not hesitate to kill. Taylor touched the stinging on her forehead. You have distrust issues. and clearly.” She didn’t answer but yanked on the door handle. and she tasted the metallic substance seeping in her mouth.” Punching him repeatedly on the arm. “Oh. she tried to open the door but it would not open. what have I done? Mario. Hitting a bump in the road.” Her eyes burned into him.kill someone. quit hitting me before I crash the damn car!” The car swerved as he tried to control her hands and steer at the same time. She looked over at Mario. People on the street ran over to assist but couldn’t get the doors open.” “Do you hear what you are saying? Why would I need to stalk you? We are dating. Her heart raced with fear as she tried to locate a . you have a problem with Dillon and me being friends. “Let me out now!” “Taylor. Mario!” “I’m not going to let you out of the car while you are behaving like a mad woman. he was bleeding from the head. You have been trying to get him out of my life since we started dating. We’ll be at my place in a minute. His head was slumped against the airbag deployed from the steering wheel. she screamed. “Help!” She screamed banging on the window. blood stained her manicured nail. “How do I know it isn’t you?” The car swerved with her question. so chill. The air bags deployed instantly. Unbuckling the seatbelt. He did not respond. “Pull the car over and let me out. “What? You honestly think I am stalking you…seriously! Why would I do that?” “None of this started until I got involved with you. wake up!” she yelled shaking him.
please don’t let him be dead…please. “I can’t leave my boyfriend.” She resisted the firefighter’s assistance and fought with him. Give me your hand. I didn’t mean what I said. can you get out of the car on your own?” Blood from her head dripped on her white shirt staining it. are you okay. “Mario. get up! Don’t you die on me!” A man yelled through the window the fire department was on the way. “I can’t leave him. Please help him. Minutes later a fire engine was on the scene with firefighters working to get the driver’s side door open. she tried to wake him. This is my fault!” Tired of fighting with her.pulse on Mario’s wrist. “Ma’am. he picked her up and carried her to an ambulance. We have to get you out first.” “We’ll get him out.” she cried. Again. Taylor sat on the gurney watching the firefighters work to free Mario from the wrecked Mercedes Benz. “Dear God. A firefighter freed her first. .
he will die.” Sabrina said twitching her lip. “I only have a cut across my head.” .” “I would say so. The bandage wrapped around her head covered the three stitches it took to patch the cut on her forehead. “Girl. Sabrina. I could go to jail for what I’ve done. Sabrina. Seriously. what did you do?” Sniffing. How is Mario?” Taylor hunched her shoulders.” “Well. Sabrina. tears managed to escape her aching eyes.” Sabrina scooted closer to her sister and out of earshot of the others in the emergency room. He’s sick. I couldn’t think of anyone else who would do it. What I did is worse. Running over to her. so we went to confront him. I consider him more of a puppy dog lusting after you. “Taylor.Chapter 16 Sabrina found Taylor sitting alone in the emergency room. He accused Dillon of installing them to watch me. she hugged her. “They won’t tell me anything. and if he doesn’t have the operation.” “I was terrified of what I would find when I got here. I caused the accident?” “Did you get in an argument about Dillon kissing you?” “I didn’t tell him. Taylor sat comatose. “The whole morning is a blur. Mario located cameras hidden in the house. He has a brain tumor.” “Damn.” “Start from the beginning. How bad are you hurt?” She asked. this is my fault. Taylor wiped her nose with the back of her hand. I never figured Dillon to be a pervert and snoop on you. “Not that kind of sick.” “He’s not a pervert. I got here as soon as I could.
” “I’ll call him later. It can’t be a jealous wife or could it be?” Taylor shifted her eyes to her sister.” “Not a wife. Why is this happening to you? You aren’t famous or have a stream of men knocking down your door every night.” Sabrina’s voice cracked with sad emotion from the news.” Sabrina said shaking with fear.” . and there wasn’t a thing I could do to help him. but a jealous girlfriend who blames you for ruining her future. “Kelly? No. she wouldn’t risk losing Dillon. “You are a lawyer for Pete’s sake. Now tell me what caused the accident?” Taylor folded her arms across her lap bending over rocking back and forth. “I know and I’m sick about it. He was laying there bleeding.” “This whole story is crazy and ridiculous.I snapped. I sat and watched firefighters cut him from the wreckage. Have you talked to the police?” “Not yet. Sabrina. “Taylor! What is wrong with you?” The tears flowed heavier. he wasn’t moving. “We have to talk some sense into him. I snapped and accused him of being the stalker. I’m at a loss for words. and I did this to him.“Wow. He was helping me.” Sabrina jumped from the chair. Sabrina. I snapped.” “Lord have mercy. “I have never dated a married man in my life. “Mario and I were going to his place and discussing the cameras and who could be watching me. you are in big trouble. I don’t know anyone in Mario’s family to call and let them know he’s in the hospital. I didn’t mean to hurt him…. He lost control and hit the tree. Sabrina.” “He’s not accepting the news well but I’m sure Kelly will get him to have the surgery. The sickness in her stomach churned realizing the severity of her actions.” Taylor sat up straight. I started hitting him when he wouldn’t let me out of the car.
” “Do you know that for a fact?” “I know for a fact he isn’t with me at night.” .” “Don’t rule out her installing the cameras herself.” “Stop it. Taylor walked to the window. Kelly has been tipped off and will get rid of everything. Seeing her reflection and the blood staining her shirt. Taylor.“Think about it for a minute. She has time on her hands and motive. “I do love him. If she did plant those cameras. I am stunned you would suspect Mario. we might not be able to solve this. Mario may be onto something. I suppose he heard us arguing. she knows he isn’t with me. “This is silly.” The last person sitting in the emergency waiting room left allowing them the freedom to talk without whispering. How would she know how to install surveillance cameras?” “She could hire someone to do it. Neither. Taylor.” “It makes perfect sense to assume them.” “Or. He didn’t know what we were talking about and what would Kelly gain by spying on me? Dillon is home with her every night. Kelly is on summer break from school. You don’t want to look at them because Dillon is close to you. I wish I could click my heels and start this day over. Sabrina. Kelly. Dillon could have been disposing of the evidence. or Dillon is not spying on me. Taylor.” “My neighbors would have noticed suspicious work vehicles around my house. she swallowed. Dillon has keys to your house. and Dillon came outside. Did you and Mario go inside their house?” “Kelly was outside when we drove up. Without his help.” Taylor shook her head feeling the stiffness settling in her neck. You told me you were falling in love with him.
I can’t leave without word on Mario. I don’t know how someone so educated can be so freaking stupid. Scanning his body. “Just a bump on the head and whiplash but I’m okay. I am okay. I have ruined every relationship I’ve had. Besides some bruises. I hear your stomach growling. Sabrina hugged Taylor from behind knowing everything was all right with Mario.” “Then your family will suffer. “You’re okay? I didn’t kill you?” “I don’t feel dead but I’m sure by morning I will. “A person can only be so understanding. she saw a bandage placed on his temple.” Taylor rubbed the sore spot on her neck. She said. How are you?” She wanted to hug him. Is that what you want. She started to say something to him.” “We can talk later. Maybe the stalker will get me and put me out my misery. I am sorry for what I said. he will forgive you. I did not mean any .Sabrina smiled when saw the nurse and an alert Mario walk into the waiting room. You probably could use some food too. I’m sure he will press charges against me and never speak to me again. Taylor.” “Sabrina. touch him but kept her distance. He silenced her by holding up a hand and following the nurse to the front desk. Her eyes welled with tears. If you love him. Sabrina.” “Don’t be negative. The airbag knocked the wind out of me. “Have you told Mario your feelings for him?” “That won’t do me any good now. you have to fight for his forgiveness. Damn. Taylor?” She turned around at the sound of Mario’s voice. My stomach is growling with guilt. I’m going to take you home with me so you can rest. I’ll never get over this. if he loves you. And. and a dark bruise formed around his cheek. Mario. He will understand how overwhelmed you are with this stalker business and didn’t mean to hurt him. This one will be the hardest to get over because I really love Mario.
I’m not pressing charges against you.” “No. She turned away from him. I would never hurt you based on an incident that happened in my past.” “I need to be alone. Why don’t we get out of this depressing place and go to my house? I will fix you both a nice meal and put you to bed. “However.” His words slapped her harder than the car’s airbag. Taylor had no rebuttal because he was right. I deserve to be punished for the crime. I want to make sure you are okay. believe I am hurt you questioned my loyalty to you. don’t worry about me.” “Are you sure? I don’t want to leave you alone.” Sabrina insisted. I’m pleading temporary insanity and will not fight any charges you press against me.” “You know the law.” “Mario. Sabrina but I’m going home.” “Gracias. “You are both lucky to be alive. Sabrina stood between them.” Mario put his hands in the pockets of his jeans.” He cracked a weak smile hugging her. but no thank you.of it. “At least let me take you home. That fancy car with all those airbags saved you guys. Mario.” Mario pinched the nerve between his eyes. I will call a taxi. “Taylor.” .” He stopped her from talking. I don’t hold grudges and definitely not against someone that did not harm me. but Sabrina pulled her back. “I will be okay. The judge will take your lapse in judgment into consideration and agree you may have been in danger. I cannot believe you. “Thanks for the offer. She had wronged him and the consequences she faced losing him were her fault and hers alone.
Is it okay if I call to check on you later? I promise I won’t be a pest. She visualized the majority of their days were spent searching for food or teaching their young survival tactics. you may. She had never seen her sister broken and defeated. She broke the hug saying. I’m elated you weren’t hurt other than the bump on your head.” He started to walk away and stopped. Inside.” She opened her mouth to respond. No credit problems or competing for popularity. Take care of yourself. you will find your way back to one another. no broken hearts to deal with.” “Si. If you two are meant to be together. She watched him walk away and disappear from her view and her life forever. but Sabrina stopped her. She watched the deer chew at a small bush. and the best. Taking another sip wondering how life would be as a deer or other animal. For whatever reason. The deer had no idea how fortunate it was not to be human. A few deer had wandered in the yard in search of foliage. the house it was dark and quiet as Sabrina and Edward slept. Only the brightest stars were able to penetrate the layers of clouds floating across the full moon. I want to take Taylor home so she can clean up and rest.” ***** The sounds of crickets chirping filled the stuffy night air. . Sabrina took her hand. “Taylor. Sabrina and Edward lived in a two-story house abutting dense woods. “Taylor. she wasn’t afraid sitting outside alone in the vast darkness. No stress of careers or paying taxes. give him space to breathe. Their only worry was when the human would be home to feed them or let them out to play. Taylor sat on the deck sipping a glass of chardonnay looking into space. Household pets had it easy too. “All right.She looked at Taylor who appeared to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. if you insist. Taylor kept quiet not scaring the animals away but observing them.
she closed the blinds and ran upstairs locking the bedroom door. Was the wine making her see things or was there a man standing in the rain watching her? Shaking and afraid to look again. She stared at the text message she assumed was from Mario. it hurt from the accident. She put the phone down thinking he must have forgot he was mad at her or meant to text someone else. Her back and legs were sore also.She drained the wine glass refilling it from the bottle sitting on the table. There was no response from him after ten minutes. She sat the bottle down hard startling the deer eating dinner. . Large tears fell from her eyes as she sat on the floor praying. Sorry about that. It was 2:30am. She went inside the house locking the patio door. and ran for cover in the woods. Another big flash of lightening streaked across the sky. She stretched grabbing her shoulder. Large raindrops fell upon the wooden deck. She glanced at the clock on her phone. Taylor: You should rest. and typed him back a reply. Please God. she put the cork on the bottle and slowly got up from the table. Her cell phone vibrated on the table. She looked out the door. Taylor: I am up. Why aren’t you sleeping? Text message: too much on my mind to sleep. please make this stop. hurried. Its head popped in her direction. She had to make an appearance at work and to show up bruised and hung over would not go without questions. A human image appeared along the edge of the woods boarding Sabrina’s backyard. Taylor’s blood turned cold. It was a text message. Drinking the rest of the wine in the glass. A crack of thunder and bright lightening lit the dark sky. She drank half the glass waiting to see if the deer would return to finish eating. paused.
“Taylor. “Come in.Chapter 17 Taylor arrived early for work wishing she had called off again but was afraid to stay home alone. she tried to log in.” “Good morning. “I know what this about. she hobbled to her office like an eighty-year old woman down on her last leg. It was too early to call tech support.” “She leaned forward holding in the pain with each breath she took. and I wanted to talk to you privately. I can’t log into the system. Do you have the paperwork for me to sign?” “Is that why you were out yesterday?” “Yes. “Good morning. You’re here early. “Taylor. and Mario Infante is disruptive to the firm. are you hurting?” “I was involved in a car accident yesterday. She had not slept a wink last night. Turning on the computer. The concept of a man in the woods watching her. I hate to say this.” she said surprised anyone was around. your personal life is your business. kept her curled on the floor the rest of the night. The system refused her logon and password. but I’m surprise d my ID worked downstairs at the security gate.” He didn’t hinge on his original purpose of business. but I’m okay. Anderson determined the only way . This morning.” He took a seat across from her desk.” “Of course. Taylor. Getting her coffee. Todd opened the door. Todd.” He noticed her stiff movements. A knock on the door got her attention. and I don’t want to talk about it if that’s okay with you. The aching in her body came from the accident and lying in a crouched position on a hard floor. Dillon. “I know you come in early. it was only 7:00am and the department didn’t take calls before 8:30am. but Anderson is terminating your employment with Cartwright and Associates. Whatever is going on between you.
to restore peace is to release the person with the least seniority. Unfortunately, that is you.” Taylor didn’t bat an eye at the news of her dismissal. “Naturally it would be me; I’m not a partner. “I’ll be gone as soon as I pack my personal belongings. I knew this was coming and had my assistant clean my files so the distribution of my workload would be smooth as possible.” She stood up wincing. Holding her hand for Todd to accept, she remained professional. “Thank you for the years of friendship. I’ll never forget how you battled Anderson for the people you respected.” “Taylor this didn’t end well for either one of us. I’m retiring at the end of the month instead of waiting until the end of the year. Anderson is controlling the company in a way I don’t agree with. It is best I sever ties while I have my sanity.” Taylor’s eyes brightened. “If that is true, Todd, please call me when you make a formal announcement. I have a proposition for you.” He stood buttoning his suit jacket. “I will do that. I will see that a messenger handles your boxes and other items you want to take home. Goodbye, Taylor.” She gave it a second and walked out her office and down the long hallway. Passing Dillon’s office it she was it was dark. She took a deep breath and kept walking until she got to Mario’s door. He was sitting behind the desk drinking coffee. The bruise on his cheek had darkened to a purplish black color, and he’d removed the bandage from his temple. She knocked on the door. He looked up at her and her heart melted on contact. “Good morning, Taylor,” he said respectfully. She stood in the doorway with her weight braced against the arch. “Good morning. How are you doing?” “I’m here and thankful for that. How are you?” “Sore all over. Anyhow, that is not my purpose for being here. I came to say goodbye. Today is my last day. I’ve been formally given the boot.”
“You’re kidding,” he said setting his mug on the desk. “Anderson let you go today.” She nodded. “Todd gave me the news a minute ago. I’m leaving before the office is full, and the rumors go flying off the hook.” “So where are you going when you leave here, back to Sabrina’s house?” “No, I am going home. I’m sure the place is stinking of rotting food from the electricity being off.” “Taylor, I don’t think it is safe for you to go home.” “What am I supposed to do? I cannot abandon my home. My car is there. Everything I need to function is there.” He scrubbed his hands down his face. “I can’t with good conscious let you go home alone.” He removed a set of keys from his pocket. “Here are the keys to my house. Go there and wait for me.” “Mario, my problems are not your responsibility. You are no longer obligated to help me.” “I’m doing it because I am concerned about your safety. You will have privacy to call a private investigator to help you solve your problem.” “I don’t feel right doing that. I messed up. I can’t accept help when I know how much you hate me right now.” He got up from the chair slowly, holding the ache in his back. “I don’t hate you. I could never hate you.” She stretched her arms as if to catch him if he fell. “Look what I’ve done to you. If I’d been the girlfriend you deserved, I would be taking care of you.” Mario inched his way to stand before her. Taking her hand in his, he lifted it up to kiss the back of it though his gaze stayed focused on her eyes. “Per haps I forced a relationship with you too soon. Nonetheless, I do not regret what we shared together.”
She squeezed his fingers with hers. “I have no regrets what we shared either. You are the first man I’ve come close to loving in years.” “I normally take pride in my accomplishments. With you, I fell short.” He released her hand. “It won’t be the same around here without you.” “Nancy Quinn will likely assist you with finishing the Gallop matter. She is attractive, and I hear she is single again.” He nodded of his head. “Yes, but she is not you. I’ll miss you, Taylor.” “We can’t be friends anymore?” He placed a hand on his chest covering his heart. “What I hold in my heart is deeper than friendship. I don’t see how it would be possible for us to hang out as friends only.” “I understand. I wish you the best, and I have the last two text messages we exchanged late last night as a keepsake.” “What text messages? I didn’t text you last night.” “Oh, that explains why the last text I sent wasn’t responded to. After all, I did wrap your expensive car around a tree. Why would I expect you’d want to talk to me ever again?” “Taylor, I did not text anyone last night. The pain pills had me out in a flash. Did my number appear in your phone?” “No, it was unknown. I assumed it was you because we texted often and at night. Well that clears one mystery. Goodbye, Mario,” she said leaving his
office. Fighting the misery and pain breaking her heart, she walked back to her office to pack.
Dillon heard talking as he neared the den. He’d taken the day off work after visiting the doctor and receiving the bitter news concerning his options for removing the tumor. Listening through the door he heard Kelly. She was on her cell phone. He had a strong feeling she was up to something but could not get her to talk. He had caught her on the phone talking oddly to someone more than once. She claimed the calls were regarding wedding arrangements. He pressed his ear against the door to hear the conversation, determined to know if she was behind Taylor’s mysterious stalking. Her voice low and soft left him unable to hear anything but her saying goodbye. He hurried to the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee. Standing at the sink, he pretended not to hear Kelly enter. “Good morning, baby. Are you hungry?” He opened the fridge to pour cream in his coffee. “Not really. I’ll make me a slice of toast.” Kelly perched her hand on her hip. “You will eat a healthy breakfast. You will need all your strength for the surgery. Sit down and drink your coffee while I make you breakfast,” she ordered going to fridge to gather ingredients. He rimmed the edge of the coffee mug with his finger. “Kelly, who were you talking to on the phone?” Kelly cracked eggs in a bowl whisking them with rapid motion. “That was mom. She wanted to come for a visit this weekend. I told her this would not be a good weekend to come.” “Why didn’t you let her come?” “Dillon, we have a lot to discuss concerning the wedding and your surgery. I didn’t want my mother throwing in her two-cents.”
He drank the coffee letting her dig herself in a deeper lie. “I’m not having the surgery, so that is not up for discussion. As far as the wedding, why do you want to marry me knowing I may be dead in a year or so?” Kelly dropped the glass bowl on the floor shattering it to pieces. “Why don’t you want to fight for your life!” “Why can’t you get it through your head I don’t want to be a fucking vegetable? I refuse to live the rest of my life confined to bed with tubes and ventilators pumping life into me.” Kelly braced her arms on the table. Her eyes blazed with anger. “It is not always about you! There are other people you should consider, Dillon. You have parents. You have sisters; me if I am even on the list.” His lips thinned. “This is my life, therefore, my decision!” She stood straight lifting her eyebrow. “We’ll see about that.” “Kelly, the subject is closed.” He moved from the table to get the mop to clean the mess in the kitchen. “You don’t have to wait for me to lose my abilities to function. Go out and find a healthy man. Get in a relationship, get married, and be happy.” Kelly parked her hand on her hip. “God, what a wonderful man you are. Not many men would give their woman permission to cheat.” “The mold was broken when I was made,” he said wringing the mop and applying it to the mess on the floor again. “Dillon, if Taylor had not accused you of stalking her and the friendship was strong as ever, would you have the surgery for her?” He stopped cleaning. Holding the mop stiff, he twisted his lip. “Do you want me to answer that honestly?” She crossed her arms. “Yes.”
” He dropped the mop in the bucket and went to her. “I’m tired of competing with a woman that doesn’t even want you. You are crowding me and making decisions without listening to me. He called after her. wait! Where are you going?” She stopped in the hall not facing him. I’m sorry I have to find myself before I commit to you or anybody.” She twisted the engagement ring off her finger and put it on the table. I do care about you.“Okay. “You’re going back to Nebraska today? Kelly. I will be brutally honest. Why do you even care?” She asked narrowing her brows. The face he once dreamed about when he’d first met her. yes I would have it done for her. Kelly. Dillon. “I’m packing my stuff and going home. If you nullify it. “Whatever. We ate at the restaurants she liked. it was over between you and me. That did not happen and it never will. you try too hard to impress. When Taylor came home. We saw the movies . “Kelly. I’ve lost everything else. “Kelly. When I asked you to postpone the wedding. you have a contract with the school board. Like a fool. Were you finding yourself when you would buy me gifts? You wanted me to be Taylor so bad that you bought me the same type of clothes she wore. I have no way of reclaiming your love. “I can’t do this anymore. You are a beautiful woman.” Kelly burst out crying. you will lose your pension.” “Did you ever think the clawing and over-compensating are probably what pushed me closer to her.” “Please.” She nodded with tear-filled eyes. I kept clawing and hoping I would rise above her in your eyes. Any man would be lucky to have you. it was not because I didn’t want to get married….” she said walking away.” “So what. He fingered her dark hair away from her face. If Taylor and I were together romantically.
“Yup. half the house belongs to you. For instance. I got drugs for your headaches when the aspirin stopped working. An unfamiliar sensation other than the normal headaches he would experience. how many times did I tell you I didn’t want a baby.” . and you’re sticking with it. What did we ever do that I suggested?” “You’re exaggerating as usual.” He balled his fists at his side.” Dillon was dizzy.” “I’m trying to be fair. yet you came up pregnant anyhow?” “I didn’t do it on purpose and you had a hand in getting me pregnant. that has been your story.she suggested.” Her tongue played with the inside of her cheek. Kelly. and I’m still with you. none of that matters.” “None of what you’re saying is true.” Her chest heaved from the surging adrenaline. I was filled with joy watching you being sworn in. You were all those things to me. I didn’t see you on the stairs.” “Am I? Dillon. We did everything Taylor suggested. I will move out and continue making my obligation to the mortgage so you can stay here. “That was an accident. But. “Don’t do me any favors. We had problems before Taylor returned to Cleveland we just didn’t discuss them and pretended they weren’t there. I was proud of you when you passed the bar exam. you would. I’m done being your bucket to kick around. and you deserve to have the house. I can’t even hang the toilet paper right in the bathroom. if you could turn me black like Taylor. Why are you sweating that now? You took care of the problem. all you do is criticize and belittle me. “You had me! I’m a good woman willing to do whatever you wanted. You win. I’m done with you. “Kelly.
” She shoved two fingers in his chest. Banging on the door. come on. good luck getting Taylor away from Mario. “Hmm but. he yelled. what are you doing? Open the door.“You are pathetic. You’re never where you say you are going to be.” She ran the tip of her finger across her glossy red lips. She shifted her eyes to the door cracking under the weight of Dillon’s fists. “I’m not stalking her if that’s what you’re thinking. “I didn’t say you did. You disappear late at night. Are you stalking. are you stalking her?” “What?” “It would make sense. I know who does.” she mumbled nervously while Dillon pounded on the door.” He asked.” “How do you know. “Have I? Or have I caught…” Suddenly she ran past him to the den closing the door. His head whipped in her direction as she fled to the den. Anyhow. But.” He rubbed the spot in his chest nervously. Taylor?” “You have totally lost your mind!” He fumed. He tried to open the door.” “Come on. The search bar dragged. I can almost hear the gears clicking in your damaged brain. Kelly? Did Taylor tell you?” “Don’t use mind tricks on me.” “I know for certain they are in love. . but she’d locked it. “Kelly. “How do you know they are in love? They’ve only been dating a few months. I have nothing to do with cameras being installed in her house or any of that spying crap. and back to the computer shaking with fear evidence of Taylor was on the computer somewhere. She really loves him and she isn’t going to leave him for you.
“I have to know if you are stalking Taylor. Why didn’t you just use the garage remote? He asked lowering the door so it wouldn’t slam. Going to the mailbox. my car is in the garage. Kelly? Are you looking for pictures or videos of Taylor?” Kelly’s jaw dropped.” She opened the car taking her cell phone from the front seat. Sebastian came to her rescue. “You’re searching our computer. Dillon’s haunting rage zeroed in on her as he yelled.” “I told you I wasn’t. “Thanks. ***** Taylor paid the taxi driver and took a deep breath and stared at the front of her house.The door broke open. “What the hell is your problem!” He went over to the desk shoving her over. I didn’t stay home last night. slamming it to the ground. . Fumbling for the phone. Kelly froze as Dillon fell to the floor appearing to have a seizure. That dang door is heavy. “Dillon!” She yelled. she promised Sabrina and Edward she’d wait for them to arrive before going inside her house. as you can see. she sat the box on the porch and removed the mail shuffling through it before sticking it in her purse. and her body was too sore to lift the heavy door by herself. Sebastian. you need help with that?” He asked pushing the heavy door up enough for her to go inside.” “The door isn’t that heavy it’s the steel attached to the frame of the door making it heavy. Inserting the key. ”Hey. Balancing the box in her arms. She dropped the door.” “It’s in my car and. She may have pushed too far this time. The door was heavy. She dug the keys to her house from her purse and went to the garage. She wanted to back her car to the apron. What are you looking for. Why don’t you believe me!” He grabbed his head staggering as whitening pain seared behind his eyes. she dialed 911. she manually unlocked the garage door.
” he offered.” he said walking to the door. “Do you need a flashlight?” She asked as her knees knocked together. Taylor?” “What?” She asked wishing she paid attention when people warned her against doing stupid stuff.” She opened the door to the small hallway. His emerald green eyes locked with hers.” “Why. “Sebastian.” She turned around to Sebastian staring at her from the archway leading to the basement. “I didn’t even think about that. The garage. The stuffy heat and odor of rotten food coming from the kitchen smacked her in the face. “So you haven’t been home because of a power outage. she turned it as he continued to make conversation. Sebastian.” “Let me take a look. Taylor grabbed his arm.” she replied sending Sabrina a text message. “Why haven’t we gotten to know each other better? I’ve lived across the street from you for years. Taylor. I have someone coming to check it out later. “You don’t have to bother with that. You could have asked me to look at it for you. but had a separate door leading inside. I stayed with my sister last night. “I don’t mind. “Unlock the door…I’ll check out the electric box in the basement.“Is everything okay?” She stalled uncomfortable they were alone inside the semi-dark garage. You probably tripped a circuit. “I don’t need a flashlight.” Taylor swallowed and stepped a single foot back only to have the kitchen island block her path. Placing the key in the lock. “You know where the basement is. connected to the house.” She sensed his eyes following her strode to the door. I’m going to open the windows and start cleaning the fridge.” She frowned waving her hand under her nose. “My power is out.” . I really appreciate your help.
“You said no one was here?” Taylor shook her head.” She panicked shaking her head. but a pair of strong arms grabbed her from behind throwing her against the kitchen island. “Let go of me!” Reaching her hand for the counter feeling for the knife block that sat on the edge.” Her breath became in short.” “Yeah. his large frame filled her space and was intimidating to her. Taylor staggered holding her chest after falling hard against the edge of the granite counter.” “Wait outside while I take a look. I really want to get to know the neighbors.” she said backing around the island. she couldn’t get to it before the intruder. My sister and brotherin-law are on the way over. “No one is supposed to be here. we speak in passing.” “Good idea since I don’t have Thor. Sebastian fell to the floor with a thud by the basement door. as panic spread through her body. Sebastian motioned for her to be quiet. She smoothed down her hair. He grabbed the knife block with one hand throwing it to the floor scattering the knives in different direction. We should have a block party or something before the summer is over. that sounds like a plan. let’s call the police from your place. “We should discuss it at the next neighborhood watch meeting. “Yeah. “What do you want from me?” . She attempted to fight the arms holding her by flinging her arms about. We never invited each other over for coffee until recently.She struggled to keep her tone upbeat and her fear intact. “Sebastian!” She scrambled to get to him.” Suddenly.” A loud noise from upstairs drew their attention to the living room area.” he said. Taylor’s heart stopped as blood oozed across the beige tile. Before they were able to leave. “I speak to you all the time. “You won’t need those. “No.
He cornered her against the counter.” “Do you want money? I will give you money if you will just go away. “Oh yeah. He is my neighbor and never hurt anyone. She pleaded with him. The callous on his finger scratch her skin. She had to get this maniac out of her house before he killed them all on the spot. “Seeing you in person. “Do you get my drift?” “I will go with you if you get help for him. let me get help for Sebastian.” His rough hand touched the side of her breast squeezing.” she begged resisting his pulling her. I’m not giving you a choice of what you want to do. She had to think fast if she wanted to survive.” “He’s probably dead. I see why you are menacing to other women. and pocks from bad skin acne scarred the pink face of the man smiling and exposing off-white teeth under a thick unkempt moustache. I won’t even call the police.” Her mind sped faster than the second hand on a clock. This is what we are going to do. and you aren’t going to make a scene.” he said tracing a finger down the side of her face. “I don’t want money. His breath was raspy as he moved closer to her face. I would assume any woman is threatened by you.” He lifted his weight off her. I want to know what bedding you will be like.” Taylor closed her eyes as he lips moved dangerously near her mouth. “What other women are you talking about?” The untamed hairy eyebrows over dark eyes. “You are one hot ass babe. “Please. “We are wasting time. We are going outside.” . I want something else. Sabrina and Edward were apt to walk in on them at any moment. you might live to see another day after all. “Apparently you are confused.” He poked the gun in her side. The raucous laugh he released iced her veins.
I would not kill a precious flower such as you. She was sweating profusely. I’ve waited too long to have you. “Damn. But. “You gotta be wild in bed to have three men vying to do anything for you. “Yeah. she refused to die without a fight. You chose the Hispanic over the two white men that came to your house. “I’ll give you anything you want. I should have done this sooner. and Sebastian probably was already dead.Her dry mouth and thick tongue made it hard for her to form words.” The tip of his tongue found her lips and traced her top lip. tsk. Do you know how many men you tease on a daily basis? I wonder how many of ‘em are glued to the window or front porch waiting every morning for you to . baby. and he got a mouth-full of her sweat as his tongue trace the length her neck to dangle the gold loop earring gracing her ear. Her heart raced as his body pressed against her. tsk. Just help Sebastian. Where they not good in bed?” Taylor’s eyes blinked uncontrollably letting the image of Sebastian laying by the basement door slip her mind.” “We’ll talk about him later.” She choked on the vomit lining her throat when he put his fat arm around her waist. her perfumed hair reminded him of fresh citrus and flowers. “Y-you put the cameras in my house?” He didn’t answer as his bushy face touched her smooth skin sniffing her hair. and get it over with! I’d rather face death than have you touch me. Taylor struggled to wiggle from his grip. She wanted to throw up from feeling his disgusting penis pressing into her abdomen. “Tsk. “You are sick! If you are gonna kill me. The man palmed her face between his hands. just do it. She folded her lips together turning her head away from him. watching you had me hurtin’ bad.” she said infusing coldness into her voice.” Whom was she kidding? He was going to kill her.
sound. he rushed through the living to the kitchen to check the back door. For a moment. “You are hurting. The heavy drapes pulled together obstructed the view from prying eyes witnessing activity inside the house. The glass of the door did not have a curtain allowing anyone the ability to see inside the spacious open kitchen. “Taylor.” she winched. The knocking continued with her sister discussing the situation on the other side of the door with Edward. She might be sitting in the back yard. Then she heard a voice. She kicked her feet at the lower cabinets hoping to get the attention of her sister and brother-in-law. Go around to the back. He pushed Taylor around the kitchen island and down on the floor. The pain from the car accident intensified when she fell to the hard floor.” Not releasing Taylor. The overweight man inhibited her movements by turning her on her stomach and lying on top of her trapping her legs beneath his chubby tree log legs and deflating the breath from her lungs as his big belly crushed her back and hips. “Shut up! He whispered harshly in her ear. The doorbell rang followed by a hard knocking on the front door.” “Edward. she suspected she was saved. but how without bringing harm to them? “Sabrina.run or walk by their neighborhood dressed in those tight spandex shorts. Regaining strength in her arms. she pushed against the intruder’s chest wi th both hands. call her. Maybe she got held up. are you in there?” The intruder smothered Taylor’s mouth with his hand. Taylor’s nose stung from the heavy inhaling.” He dragged her deadweight body through the living room.” His leer roamed her body along with his free hand. She had to get their attention. Taylor cringed with each stroke of his hand on her body. It was Sabrina. “Don’t make a . she sent a text saying she was home.
” . please. “Sabrina. She stopped squirming.” “She isn’t with him. She moved her head in a negative motion scraping the bottom of her chin on the floor. His stubby fingers partially covering her nose cut off the little air she could breathe. The house is dark and locked. Do you want that on your conscious along with the death of your neighbor?” Taylor’s eyes widened with shear fear. “Edward. it would be loud and definitely heard. Walking towards the house. It was her favorite paring knife. lying on the floor. “Shut up or I will kill both of them. It was lying atop the headband she’d been looking for.” Taylor assigned an annoying ringtone for when Sabrina called. The pressure of his hand smashing her lips against her teeth hurt. She had to figure out a way to conceal it without him finding it on her. If it went off. But to please you.He kept her mouth covered with his hand. I got plans tonight. Just call her and ask where she is. she heard the phone ringing. Her fingertips touched something cold with a sharp tip. They broke up. she was able secure the 3-inch paring knife under the palm of her hand. She could be with Mario. Her legs were numbing and her toes tingling. She moved closer to the door. ***** Annoyed Edward asked again. The only limbs not going numb were her arms. but her fingers and hands were able to move. I will call her since you can’t wait for her to get here. call her. Sabrina dialed Taylor’s cell phone and waited for her to answer. Using her fingernail. the phone is ringing from inside the house. He warned her again. Taylor could not open her mouth to bite his hand. They were pinned against her body. as his girth was too heavy for her to fight anymore.” “Obviously she ain’t here.
” “She called you from work telling us to meet her here and her phone is in the house. Taylor is always where she says she’s going to be. She didn’t just disappear into thin air. Something is wrong.” “We should talk to Mario.” Edward attempted to comfort his wife. and this was out of character for her. “Okay. “Something is wrong. “Where did Taylor call you from.” “Yeah.Edward could hear the phone ringing before it stopped. even if she’s not. He knew Taylor too well also. Baby. don’t panic yet. Maybe she was here and left. she calls to let someone know where she is. she probably did since he is hurt. Sabrina?” “She called me from work but sent me a text from her phone.” . baby. Come let’s go over to his place. that don’t make any sense. Where would she go if she came home first?” Sabrina shook her head twisting the doorknob on the kitchen door magically waiting for it to open. Maybe she went to visit him. Edward. We have to retrace her tracks after she left work.
“I’m coming. he eased from the chair to put on his robe bunched on the sofa.” Sabrina buried her face in Edward’s chest.” he greeted. He wasn’t expecting company. “What brings you to my casa?” Sabrina did not return his enthusiasm and pounced. Pushing forward to upright the recliner. but his favorite chair. and he definitely was not dressed to receive company.” he called. Her hands and legs were shaking. tenderly taking baby steps until he reached the door. We got to her . I’m actually championing for you and Taylor to patch your differences and get together again. Taylor called and asked us to meet with her. the doorbell rang. The perfect temperature radiated from both heating elements soothing his aching muscles. “Mario. I have not seen her since this morning. Edward held her close to him and spoke to Mario. “I’m okay with that.” “I’m not prying in your business. The leather recliner was not only extremely comfortable. Crossing his feet at the ankle. Sliding his feet in house slippers.” Mario looked at Edward. As he reached over to the table to get his slice of pizza. “I swear she is not here. “Man. please tell me Taylor is with you. He clicked the remote to turn on the television.” He opened the door for her to step inside into a small hallway. A feeling of fear overcame him. He was only clad in black Armani BoxerTrunks. One on his back and the other on his chest. “Sabrina. Mario. Edward joined her. he relaxed. Sabrina. So if she is upstairs waiting for you.Chapter 19 Mario adjusted the heating pads. I just want to make sure she is here. “Hola. he walked slowly to the door. I’m alone.” she said roaming her eyes over his barely dressed form. who held his wife steady by the arms. He groaned.
house, and she was not there. We could hear her phone ringing from the house, but the house is sealed tight. We aren’t sure what’s happened to her.” Mario slicked his hands over his hair. “I warned her not to go home alone. Ella es terca!” His rant was angry and rightfully so. Edward nodded. “Taylor has always done her own thing. Both sisters are the same, so I know what you’re going through with Taylor.” Mario rolled his eyes upward. “No comment, amigo. Have you called, Dillon? She may be with him.” Sabrina let the tears fall from her eyes. “She wouldn’t go to him. She made a point of telling me she was distancing herself from Dillon and Kelly. She is angry at what she did to you. That is why I came here first. She wanted to apologize.” Edward pleaded. “Look, I don’t know the story that went down with you two, but that ain’t important to me. I could use your help in finding her, Mario. I really don’t want to involve her parents or the police until we are sure there is a need to go that route.” Mario folded his arms thinking what he could do to help. Sabrina’s worried face touched his heart and the vision of Taylor’s face full of fear, begging her captor not to harm her, raised his blood pressure. Mario took a deep breath and slowly blew it out his mouth attempting to get his aching body to relax and to tell himself it was his duty to help. Although Taylor put him in the same position he’d been in years ago, his love for her was insane. “Give me a minute to change. The first agenda is getting inside the house. Taylor is never separated from her cell phone,” he said hobbling up the first step to go upstairs. Sabrina took his elbow. “Thank you, Mario.” He smiled. “Gracias,” he said grunting as he made his way up the rest of the stairs. *****
Kelly snuck away from Dillon’s family for privacy. His surgery was anticipated to last at least two or three hours. She walked to an area outside the hospital to assure she would not be overheard. She put the phone to her ear looking around to make sure no one saw her. “Hey. I don’t have a lot of time but my plans have changed.” “Too late.” “What do you mean too late? I ordered you not to do anything until you heard from me….what have you done” “You paid for a job. I hired a person to take care of it—your problem will be resolved tonight.” Kelly covered her mouth. “No, no, no. He has to release her unharmed.” “Impossible. She will be able to identify him. He has no choice but to carry out the job, or we’re both going down.” She kept her voice low as a group of nurses passed her. “There has to be a way to let her go. Have him drug her, leave her at home, or better yet, dump her in another part of town. I don’t care how you do it as long as she is alive when found.” “This is not how this business is conducted—there is no return policy. If he has made contact, there is nothing I can do to stop it.” Her eyes watered. “I wasn’t in my right mind. I cannot go through with this. Please, do whatever you can to stop it.” “I suggest you carry on as if you know nothing. Be as surprised as everyone else is when you get the news. I will be in touch.” The phone on the other went end dead. Kelly lifted her head letting the hot sun beat on her forehead. What had she done? She let her obsession of Taylor push her over the edge. Why didn't she leave it alone? Taylor was dating Mario and that should have been good enough for her. Dillon was stressing harder than ever over Taylor being with him. Taylor had to be completely out of the picture in order to regain
Dillon’s attention; so far, out of the picture, she’d hired someone to dispose of her for good.
The sun was setting over the western sky as Edward parked his car across the street from Taylor’s house. Mario shifted to face Sabrina in the backseat. “Sabrina, stay low and keep an eye on the house. If you notice anything suspicious, don’t hesitate to call 911 immediately.” She nodded fiddling with the screen on her phone. “Hurry up, please.” She fastened her hand on Edward’s shoulder. “Hey, you’d better be careful…both of you.” They exited the car and went across the street. The dog barking from the house behind them caught Mario’s attention. He slowed. “Edward, wait a second.” “What is it?” “Do you hear that dog barking?” Edward shrugged his shoulders. “So?” “That’s Taylor’s neighbor’s dog.” “And, he’s barking, so what.” “That guy has his dog trained. He sits quietly at his feet, and sneaks up on people without making a sound. The dog would not be barking unless something is wrong,” Mario said running at a speed reduced by his sore body would only allow. They reached the garage and lifted up the door. Edward supported the door letting Mario slip underneath. Mario checked the doorknob leading to the house. It was locked. Using his shoulder, he attempted to break in the door. “Cabron!” he bitched as pain engulfed his shoulder to spread through his arm. Edward helped him lean on the car. “Dude, you okay?” “Yeah,” he said swaying his forearm to rid the pain. “I’m not trained to knock down doors. I’m a mild-mannered attorney.” “Well, you’re banged up from the car accident. Let me put these size thirteen’s to use,” Edward said reeling his leg back to kick in the door with his foot.
“Hold up, Edward. Taylor’s purse is on the ground by the door. She has been here.” “Ah, that son of a bitch is gon’ be sorry he messed with us!” He kicked the door in with two hard foot jabs. Edward stepped aside saying, “After you.” Mario retrieved the purse from the ground throwing the strap around his neck to carry it. Entering the house, he flipped the light switch with no illumination following. “We need a light source.” “I got a laser. It won’t give off much light but enough to see what’s in front of us.” Edward flipped on the penlight making sure it worked. “It will have to do until I get the power on. I’ll go to the basement and restore that while you look around the living room.” Edward cleared his throat reconsidering. “Yo, man, we should stick together and not split up. We don’t know what or who is in here waiting on us. I mean; I’m sure the door smashing in tipped off anyone inside.” Mario procured the small laser from Edward’s hand and whispered, “Calm down, Edward. This is not a movie. There won’t be any bad guys jumping out of closets.” “Oh yeah, then why are we whispering? Dang it, Mario, I’m a postal employee and not disgruntled. I ain’t count on this shit getting my ass killed.” Mario frowned. “Nobody is going to get killed. The less talking we do, the quicker we can get this over with. First, we get the power on then search the house. If Taylor isn’t here we move on to the next phase.” “I got a bad feeling about this, Mario.” Mario sucked in a breath to psych himself, “Man up, Edward; we’re losing time with petty bickering. If we want to find Taylor alive, we gotta do this.”
” Edward counted on his fingers. Edward scooted over to the kitchen door unlatching the chain and releasing the deadbolt.” “You should be nervous. “Who the hell is this?” Edward nervously swiped at his nose.” Mario wished Edward would shut up and help him with the victim. please? We are not leaving him to die. they readied to enter the basement.Creeping through the kitchen. it’s two of us.” “Screw that! I’ll call the cops from the car. Strike three—we are in a dark house that we don’t own! Who in the hell else you think the cops are gonna suspect did this to a WHITE man?” “Chill. Strike two—you are Hispanic. A mumbled moan halted both of them. “Then. Edward. we won’t be considered suspects. “Man. “Strike one—I’m a Black man.” “Wanna bet? We got three strikes already and haven’t ever got to bat.” Mario said flashing the light around the man’s chest looking for the gunshot wound. Dude could be a hired gunslinger who prefers using bullets instead of his fists. “Can you shush it and help me. what if whoever did this is watching and wants to finish the job? Now he has two more people to take out?” . “He’s barely alive. We’re going to help this man. If you look at it from his perspective. Freaking relax! You’re making me nervous. Mario lowered the slivered beam of light to see a body on the floor.” he said feeling the victim’s blood squish between his fingers. Hell from around the corner! Do you realize how much trouble we are in?” “What are you talking about? We didn’t do anything.” Mario kneeled down to get a better assessment of the man’s condition. “Hell if I know! Man. we’d better book. “Edward. we gotta raise our non-gun toting asses the hell up outta this joint!” Mario shifted his weight to one knee. we’re out-numbered four fists to his one gun. We already have this person out-numbered.
The police had to be called since a man was shot inside Taylor’s residence. There is too much blood on his shirt for me to locate the wound. Police cars zoomed in as Mario and Sabrina worked to save Sebastian. in a roundabout way. she pushed the men aside. “I’m going to look for my girlfriend in her house.” Sabrina removed the scarf from around her head.” “Y’all the police are coming. he would have killed us already after listening to your idiotic ramblings!” “We gotta let 5-O handle this. Mario got off his knees. Help me get him outside. He has a gunshot somewhere in the upper chest area.” .” Mario recognized the man once under the bright street lamps.” A police officer stopped him. I repeat…I ain’t trying to die tonight!” Mario sighed heavily. If he had. Hysterical. Wiping his hands on the lawn. “Where do you think you’re going?” Mario did not waver and answered curtly. he started across the street. Laying him on the grass Sabrina hopped from the car. “Was Taylor inside? I called the police when I heard yelling coming from the garage.“I doubt whoever did this to him stuck around. “All right. “Find it! We have to stop the bleeding. you win.” Edward carried the man’s feet letting Mario haul his bloody torso. EMS took over the duties once they arrived. Safely away from Taylor’s house. they hurried to the front yard of the house across the street. Tossing the purse in the car. Edward was right. Sebastian. “This is Taylor’s neighbor. “I’m going in to look for Taylor.” “We didn’t get a chance to look for her yet.” Edward said noticing the blue and red flashing lights headed in their direction.
would you be content standing behind some damn tape instead of doing whatever you could!” “Sir. but neighbors were lining the sidewalks gawking. “I told you who I am! This is her sister and brother-in-law! If this were a woman you cared about. if she doesn’t mention . Her bright yellow tank shirt and white cotton pants were covered in blood also. There weren’t any news crews on scene. “Oh no. You and your friends are suspects until we verify who you are and why you are here.” Her cell phone rang. What am I supposed to say to her?” Mario lifted his head looking around.” Riled. “Because she is Taylor and does what she wants. Stand behind the tape or go to jail…the choice is yours. “Mario. “You don’t understand what’s at stake— Taylor James is likely in danger. I sympathize with you. Until we secure the scene. We found that man shot inside her home and no signs of her!” “We’re investigating so please stay behind the yellow tape. I can’t afford to have you thrown in jail. Mario roared at the officer. “Don’t make me cuff you. you’re not.” “You can get my statement later! Right now I’m going in for clues to where Taylor may be and who might have taken her. sit down. Mario pressed. it’s mom. It would be big help to us if you’d kindly go with this officer and give him your statement.” The officer refused him entry and secured his arm re-igniting the flares of pain to his shoulder. this is how it works.“No. “Sabrina.” Narrowing his eyes. “Why didn’t she listen to me instead of pushing me away?” Sabrina held onto Edward. no one is allowed inside except law enforcement. Unfortunately.” The blood on his hands transferred to his face after rubbing it.” Sabrina wiped her hands on her pants tugging Mario away when the officer reached for his handcuffs.
I want to talk to Dillon later.Taylor.” Sabrina closed her eyes. Maybe he has seen her.” . He is in the hospital listed in critical condition. “You can cross Dillon off the list of suspects. She is looking for Taylor to let her know. but I will tell her. what’s up? What! Mom. “What was that about?” Curling her fingers under her nose. she sniffed. Mom said Dillon collapsed at his home earlier today.” “Okay. when did it happen? I’m not with Taylor now. “Hi. Mario waited patiently for her to repeat the conversation.” She put the phone to her ear. Mom. Bye. don’t you mention anything about her missing. when she didn’t he asked.
The only call she made was to Yellow Cab. Detective after detective questioned him about his relationship with Taylor. Taylor’s likeness appeared. They wanted to know how and why the car accident happened. The screen opened with a picture of them together set as her wallpaper. She seemed scared and calling to him for help. . Those could have been work-related calls. Mario turned it on hoping it wasn’t password protected. and the police were more concerned about his and Taylor’s relationship rather than her disappearance. He scratched his fingers through his low-cut hair. a few from a repeated number he could not locate in her contact list. His body hurt. Frustrated and perplexed twelve hours had passed with no trace of Taylor or any evidence of who she might be with. He would check on those tomorrow at the office. There weren’t any text messages after 2:30am that morning.Chapter 21 Mario entered the front door of his house throwing the keys in the dish on the table. There were several missed calls. Even though he offered to front the reward money for her safe return. police advised him not to leave Cleveland. He’d taken it from her purse before handing it over to police. He scrolled through the text messages looking for anything received before she left work. The dominance of exhaustion took over forcing him to close his eyes. but it nonetheless left him appearing he was the main suspect in her disappearance. Drifting off to sleep that was his last image of Taylor James. His background in criminal investigation had him understanding it was standard routine. Where are you Taylor? Where in the hell can you be? He stood up taking the cell phone from his pants pocket. He kicked the magazine stand sitting by his recliner across the room. He sat in the chair propping an elbow on his knee caressing his forehead with his fingers. He laid the cell phone on the table next to the chair and leaned back. his stomach growled from hunger. or any unusual texts such as the one she’d told him about.
not dropping her weight from his sore arms.” “Mario. “Jesus. on. They were too injured for us to move them.” She cried against his chest. . He’d heard the steady pounding in his sleep thinking he was dreaming.” He hugged her grateful she was alive. Mario. I didn’t think I would ever see you again. Let me get you all to the hospital.” “Baby…. we had to leave two women behind. He opened the door stepping backwards from astonishment.” Mario could not make sense of her conversation and believed she may have been drugged. what happened to you?” He looked up to see three more women standing in the doorway bloody and terrified. I can’t put what you are trying to tell me together. “Mario. Slow down and tell me what happened to you? Who did you all kill?” “There was a man in my house. You have to get those women out of there if he isn’t dead. and was incoherent. we have to hurry before they die. I’m calling for help.” “Taylor. Sleeping in the chair had stiffened his muscles to a state where every step he took was a major feat to accomplish.***** Mario’s eyes opened hearing the loud noise. I will get them help. “Okay. I’m glad to see you. baby. Taylor.” she rebutted. “You have to help them first.” She grabbed his shirt. He pulled the lever sitting the recliner upright to get to the front door. give me the whole story. “You have to help them now! He was stabbed. “Hold your horses…I’m moving as fast as I can.” “No. We aren’t sure he is dead. “Hold. “Taylor?” She took one step forward falling into his arms. He held onto her. “What the fuc…. We can get help for the others on the way. listen to me. on the verge of hysterics.” he said limping to the door. The bastard shot Sebastian in front of me!” She covered her mouth crying.
from what I could tell she has been in a fight. She began taking off her torn clothes.Mario went to the bar and poured three glass of water handing a glass to each of the frightened women. “She is with Detective Diego in my office. I’m calling the police now.” . He returned to Taylor. “Where is Taylor? She asked in a frantic voice. She has cuts and bruises on her body. he asked. Thirty minutes had not passed before Detective Diego. I have to warn you she arrived on my doorstep with three other women. I have to call the police. I know you don’t want me to do that until we get help for the others. Mario? Did that asshole beat her?” “Mr. okay. They wanted to speak to Taylor and the other women alone.” Mario called the number Detective Diego gave him.” Sabrina crinkled her brow. He then called Sabrina to let her know Taylor was at his house.” “Call them. Mario.” He waited for her to take a few sips and calm down. could those be the women that went missing a few weeks ago?” Mario nodded. I would say so. I have to let them know you are safe. James. Those women need help before they die from their injuries. and his partner was on his doorstep. “How did you get here?” “We took his van and got the hell away from that house. just sit still. but they are looking for you…all of you. James paced.” He tried pacifying her by picking up the phone and dialing. “Taylor. “Is my baby girl hurt. “Baby. don’t take off any of your clothes. Mario gave them access to his home office to conduct an informal interview. Taylor said there are two more women in the house they couldn’t free because of their injuries. “From the way they look. I couldn’t help them.” Mr. “What three other women? Mario. Sabrina and Edward entered his house with her parents in tow.
“Mr. why?” “That is how he entered her house. she is alive. please?” Mario followed the detective to the kitchen after seeing Mrs. my baby!” “Mom. “Let’s go. can I speak to you alone.” Sabrina cried cuddling her mother on the floor. James sitting under her own power. James house?” “I didn’t.” . Everything she described is exactly what each woman described happened to them. “Oh. That is the same condition we found the other homes have in common. that woman is here. my lord. Infante. “She’s pretty adamant the abductor is dead.Mrs.” “She mentioned that to me. Did she expand on that?” “Yes. “What’s wrong?” “Ms. I don’t know how I missed that. We recently received a report of a woman missing from the westside.” “Damn. Detective Diego came into the living room. Forced entry was made through the front doors. we believe she her abduction is connected to the recent disappearance of women on the eastside of Cleveland.” “Detective Diego. so this has nothing to do with the cameras found in her house?” “I don’t believe it does.” Detective Diego held up his hand. The perpetrator would hide and wait to pounce. he said. From what she has told us. She’s only going if you come along with her.” Eager to be of assistance. James collapsed to the floor crying. James is going to take us where she was held. She also mentioned two other women are seriously injured. Did anyone bother to check the front door to Ms.
two women were found inside beaten violently but alive. That won’t be easy to live with.” “Yeah.” “I assume those other people are family members?” “Yes. The suspect was found in a bedroom with multiple stab wounds to the neck and torso. The paring knife remained embedded in his jugular. so am I.” “They are pretty shaken up and wish to stay here until we return. all of them would be dead. we have zone cars in the area looking for the house to rescue the other two women. Treading through the trash strewn about the house Taylor claimed she was held. I don’t want her to see the coroner removing his body.“You’re not a trained police officer. I’ll talk to the boyfriend to see how she will react to the news.” Detective Franco smacked the gum he was chewing while writing in a notebook. Is it okay with you if they stay and contact their families and wait for them to arrive?” Mario nodded. Well. They are Taylor’s parents.” . “He’s gone. He shook his head looking at his partner. The other women have not asked for anything but to use the phone. “She’s a hero. The rest of the run-down homes were waiting for a brisk wind to knock them over. if she is ready to go. Tell him to hold off until we clear the area.” ***** Detectives and police officers searched the property of an abandoned house located on a residential street with only three or four houses actually occupied. “This is unreal. If she hadn’t initiated the fight. but one of them killed him.” Mario scrubbed his hands over his face. She saved those women who could not escape on their own. Detective Diego poked around the man’s body for a pulse. I will ask Sabrina to look after them until their families are contacted. Also. “Sure. Anyhow.
He followed the aroma of coffee once in the hallway. llevala al hopital para un chequeo.***** Mario was standing against the car. Sespues de eso. Ella nova a ser acusado da nada. he tended to Taylor by bathing and feeding her before going to sleep himself. “Que encontraste a dentro?” “Encontramos dos mujeres. Detective Diego. he went in search for Taylor. He rubbed the crust from his eyes sitting on the side of the bed. she was gone. Ella va a creer lo que ella hizo es correcto y acepto la resposabilidad.” He said preferring to speak in Spanish. Mario screwed his nose turning his lips to the left. que tanto creses Ms. “I am Latino. Taylor had her head down with her hands folded in her lap. he turned over in bed slowly. The woman had been through hell and lived to talk about it.” ***** The clock ticked to 7:00am with the alarm promptly blaring. pero el sospechoso esto muerto. Mario swiped his hand across the night table searching for the button to turn off the annoying noise before it woke Taylor.” he asked. Dragging his robe from the chair.” Detective Diego folded his arms across his chest. Mario asked. He had finally laid his aching bones down a few hours ago. Pero necesitamos su declaracion en el expesiente. “Well?” Detective Diego looked inside the car.” “Bueno. . “Tenemos que llevarla a la estacion. Silencing the alarm. James va ha recivir la noticia?” Mario shook his head. After leaving the police station and the hospital.” “Gracias. “Do you speak Spanish. “Ella es una mujer fuerte. He straightened his body when Detective Diego approached him.
” “I don’t care who he is. “It happened so fast. God. “Taylor.” She nuzzled her head against the bulk of his shoulder.Taylor sat at the kitchen table nursing a tall mug of hot coffee. He knew I ran and what time I usually did my runs. “I know and I would probably do it again if I had to. He forced me into a windowless van and handcuffed me inside a dog cage. why are you up so early?” “I couldn’t sleep. I want to forget his face. I don’t know where he went or if he was in the house somewhere torturing those other women. “I am not home.” “They haven’t identified him yet. they will have to wait for DNA results to come back. I have never seen him before. Every time I close my eyes. Mario sat opposite the table from her. I will never get the smell from my nose. The kitchen will be a constant reminder of Sebastian on the floor gurgling. he said. I get an instant replay of what happened. Her heart panged with guilt for taking a life to save her own. The four of you saved two lives because of what you did.” “Do you want to talk about it?” She lowered her eyelids. Embracing her. It was awful. “Baby.” . I’ve never seen so much blood drain from a body. how will I live with this?” Mario held her hand. did you know the man?” She shook her head. Mario. He had to be from around the neighbor.” “Taylor. I will never be able to go home again. You are home. otherwise. She had cornrolled a long braided to the back of her head. it was self-defense for all of you.” Mario moved over one seat next to her. The police are hoping someone will report him missing. I want to forget how he shoved me in a closet and left me there for hours. “No. “Hey. The place stunk of trash and dead animals. you are safe.” She shrugged her shoulders. There was no other way out.
I had no clue if he was coming for me next or saving me for later. I felt the knife poking me in my side and reminded myself that . that is not true. She had not revealed the full impact of what happened to her inside the house of horrors. All I knew was I had to get out of there. “When you were in the closet. “Last I heard he is in guarded condition.” “Taylor…” “I’ve managed to hurt any man that has had any contact with me lately. He is fighting to live. “I was terrified he would find the knife before we left my house.” She rocked back and forth to stop her stomach from quivering. Where did you hide the knife?” Her widened and her nose flared. Do you want to go on or is talking about this too painful?” “I have to get it out before the media comes knocking.” “If it wasn’t for me he wouldn’t be fighting for his life.” “I had to help them.“Sebastian is alive because of Sabrina’s quick thinking.” Mario hesitated to touch her too much in her fragile state. Do you have any word on his condition?” She asked leaning away to wipe her eyes. It scared the hell out of me. Mario. “I’m listening.” “She used to be a nurse. I had the nerve to be scared of him when he was only trying to help me.” “Sweetheart.” He held her hand. if you could have heard the chilling screams it would have made you sick. That fucker was not going to take my life. He is a nice person willing to help his neighbors.” “It was smart to arm yourself. you could hear everything he was doing and realized you couldn’t leave without those women. “I heard one of the women screaming.
“Go ahead. the women got the courage to help me fight his big ass. I was protecting my life and saving those women if they weren’t already dead. When he attempted to um… I fought him like a man and he hit me in the same fashion.” Mario dropped his head. I whipped the knife from hiding and plunged it in his body repeatedly. “My intention was not to kill him.” The gulps from her crying mixed in with her weak voice. My knife was small and he was huge. They were kicking and hitting him with whatever they could find lying around that trash heap. I would incapacitate him long enough to escape. “Damn. The knife was stuck in his neck. “Please let me tell you everything. But he hit me knocking me to the floor and I dropped it. Taylor. We were fighting his big butt and then he fell at my feet. He dragged me from the closet into a filthy bedroom where the other three women were.what I was thinking of doing was legal. squeezing her hand.” She shuddered as she talked. I had to think how I was going to escape. He wasn’t sure he was strong enough to hear the rest of the nightmare she’d lived through. he closed his arms around her tighter.” . you are my hero.” “After all that he managed to stand on his feet?” “I only slowed him. “Hey.” Mario wiped tears from her watery eyes with his finger. I swear. why don’t we take a break? We can talk about it later if you’re up to it. When he lunged for me again. The police have cleared you of any wrongdoing and those women cannot thank you enough. “Baby. Finally.” “Hours had passed and the place got quiet. I don’t remember grabbing the knife from the floor when I fell.” She swallowed shaking her head. he lifted her chin. Baby. I lost it. I heard the chain on the door move then the door opened. you did the right thing. At best. Mario.” With a gentle hand. but I wasn’t giving up.
” “Disregard that. You are bruised and missing a day of work to babysit me. “Do you really have to ask me that?” She nodded.” “The car can be replaced and work will always be there. He didn’t get a chance to torture me the way he did them. “Are you hungry? I will fix you breakfast. He removed the coffee urn and poured fresh coffee in her cup. How did he get in my house to plant cameras? It doesn’t make sense.” Curling her hands around the mug. “Right…what did I say again?” . “I don’t know why he would target me personally.” He stroked her thick puffy braid with his hand. They will keep you informed.” “I’m sure they are grateful to be alive no matter what. “Do you remember what we talked about in my office before you left?” “We said a lot of things. “I’m not hungry.my treat. What we have to do today is get you settled. Anyhow. How could he tell her? The two incidents weren’t related. he could have easily attacked me the same way. “Mario. Sabrina is coming over to do your hair and take you shopping….000 car. she asked. What I remember most is you saying we couldn’t be friends anymore.” Mario pushed his chair away from the table to get up. If he was the man snatching random women. I wrecked your $100. “Yes.“Those women will never be the same.” She gave a trembling smile. I would hate me. how are you able to forgive me so easily after what I did to you?” He kissed the bruise on her forehead. I want to concentrate on what you said. I have to put this puzzle together. “Taylor.” She sipped her coffee that had grown cold. the police are investigating. Do you know if he’d stalked the other women?” Mario leaned against the sink.” She pushed the coffee mug away. that asshole is off the streets and no woman will fear him ever again.
Taylor. sit down. He had given it to her to sleep in. I may be a lot of things. She was being honest with him. We found the injured women in different rooms of the house. You said I was the first man you’ve come close to falling in love with in ages. but I have something to tell you. I promised to get help and the first person that came to my mind was you. They weren’t in any condition to be moved.” His conscious and guilt got to him. You offered those women a safe refuge and gave me a place to sleep. now it was his turn to be honest and reveal everything to her. I want you to feel comfortable coming to me when you need to talk. you came to me instead of calling the police. Taking a seat.” She pushed the sleeves of his shirt she was wearing up to her elbow.” “You’re cornering me while I’m vulnerable…is that fair?” “I want to help you through this. Why?” Taylor stood from the table. She had to put space between them. I knew you would get them to safety. “Why are you so tense all of a sudden?” “I know there is a lot of processing going on in your head. please.” “Again.He sat next to her. Taylor. “Taylor. I ask why? I accused you of being the stalker. “Okay.” “You are stubborn. maybe that was not my best judgment call. I was scared. “I am quoting you. He took a deep breath and scooted the chair from the table.” “I wasn’t going to slam the door in your face. when you freed yourself. I have to ask. You looked for me. Had I listened to you.” .” “I know that was meant for me. I wouldn’t be in this predicament. Besides your family. she watched his face grow tense. I am selfish. When he didn’t move we took the keys from his pocket. I poked his body with my foot. but I’m not selfish.
Who the hell is after me.” “So I’m still in danger is what you are saying. He said he had been watching me.” “I will do whatever it takes to keep you safe. Baby. As far as the other women. “You can’t guarantee my safety. she sat stunned. The guy may have broken into your home but he did not put the cameras there.” “Of course I’ll take you to see him. His fingerprints are probably on the cameras. Detective Diego is working on the case. Mario?” He shrugged his shoulders.“What. I need to apologize to him also. they were attacked inside their homes. Mario? Don’t tell me he isn’t dead?” “No. his size wouldn’t allow that. I hope he is okay.” “What about him?” “He had a seizure that required him to have surgery. I’m not letting you out of my sight anymore until this person is caught. Your mom called looking for you and told Sabrina he collapsed. It’s about Dillon. Mario. but it isn’t Dillon. I don’t know his condition because I was looking for you when it happened. “God.” . listen please.” She cried. “This is just freaking great! I survive one attack to possibly be killed by the original stalker. not on the street like the media led everyone to believe.” She hit the table with her fist.” “No they are wrong.” “More? What more could there be?” “The police can’t connect the cameras in your house with the guy that kidnapped you. Did you give the evidence to the police?” “Taylor. that guy is toast.” Covering her mouth. Mario. “We don’t know. it was him. I have to see him. but there is more. I asked him to personally handle it.
I have my people on the job already. One night you’re sitting around the house and someone decides to drop by unannounced. “Taylor. If it is a man you know. that is too dangerous.” “My trusting you has nothing to do with this. I can’t stay here forever or hibernate for the rest of my life. It was losing me that we suspected would cause him to do me harm. I’m responsible for protecting me. apparently you trust me or you wouldn’t be here after experiencing such a traumatic event.” “No you can’t hide because of an idiot.” “I can’t deal with looking over my shoulder every time I go outside. he is too shy to approach you.” Mario narrowed his eyes. “That is farfetched. You open the door and realize you just shot an innocent person. holding her arms.” “There is only way to stop it.” “Damn it. I don’t bother anyone. this person hasn’t made contact with you.” . say you do that. We’ll get him without you putting your life on the line.” She folded her arms.” “When we suspected Dillon. I have to draw him out of hiding. Detective Diego finds that strange. Why is this happening to me?” “Whoever is obsessed with you is a coward. They are knocking on the door.” “True. Taylor. I will drive myself crazy.” He reached her.” “Taylor.” “Okay. you panic and shoot before thinking. he already had contact with me.“Taylor. “How are you going to do that? Are you planning on doing it alone?” “I will get a gun and learn to shoot it.
one day I will give you my whole background. right now let me and the police handle this. “Yo te amo.“Your people? What people do you have?” “Taylor. I have been such a fool. She relaxed her shoulders. the feel of your arms around me at night when we cuddle in bed. .” he whispered in her ear.” Her eyes captured the sincerity of his eyes and the calmness of his voice. It took this. I was a damn fool to want to throw you out of my life. never letting her go. he had to hold onto her. for me to realize how much I love you. “I thought about you.” He gathered her in his arms. About how much I would miss your laugh. He rubbed his face against the skin of her cheek. Mario. Sore or not.
she needed to walk it off but didn’t dare leave the ICU. her jaw clenched. She didn’t have $10. His eyes had little movement and the harsh wrinkles he’d developed faded. she was stuck. She didn’t have a year to dedicate to retraining him to do the simplest of tasks. Dillon’s recovery expected to take months if not a full year depending on the loss of motor skills. Rubbing the nape of her neck. While Taylor had escaped.000 payment. .000 left in her bank account after giving the initial $10. and police connected her disappearance to the rash of kidnappings. She had until 6:00pm to get the money or kiss her own life goodbye. She fingered his sleeping face. it did not end her contract with the assassin.000 for a job not done. In order to withdraw a large amount of cash from the joint account she needed his signature. Until other family came to sit with him. She had not seen him this peaceful since Taylor returned to Cleveland His head wrapped in a layer of thick white gauze showed no seepage of blood to stain the white bandage. He’d made it through surgery and doctors expected him to recover fully although a slight chance he’d suffered minor memory loss was probable. Kelly’s cell phone vibrated on the aluminum vents covering the air condition unit. Glancing at the screen. Her mission to leave Cleveland took precedence over taking care of him. She had to deal with the man hired to take care of Taylor. folding her bottom lip between her teeth. Kelly sighed. The beeps and dings from the various machines echoed in her ears. Kelly went to his bed fiddling with the blanket.Chapter 22 Kelly’s knee bounced nervously as she sat at Dillon’s bedside. There was money in the account she and Dillon shared. He was demanding the balance of the $20. Her actions had come home to roost. Dillon wasn’t stable enough to be left alone. In his current condition that was not going to happen. The anxiety got the better of her as the tiny hairs on the back of her neck prickled her skin.
If you need anything.” the nurse said leaving the room. Her hand accidentally covered the tubing feeding him oxygen. Keep talking to him letting him know you are waiting for him to come to you. but if you had died. God. The nurse reset the alarm after straightening the IV tubing. Her fingers squeezed gently but not with enough strength to sound the alarm. “He got his hands tangled in the tubing.She shook her head. I’d be a rich woman and not have this monkey on my back. “I was just talking to him. I didn’t do anything. buzz me. An alarm went off bringing the ICU nurse in the room. I do love you. What are you doing! Scolding herself. he is doing well. she raised her hands turning away.” she said excited. “Don’t worry. Dillon. Kelly jump away from the bed. She let her finger run along the length of the clear tubing. am I so desperate I would take his life too? .” “So he is okay?” The young pretty nurse patted her on the shoulder.
” She replied changing into a quarter-sleeve blue cotton shirt. “Have you told him how you feel. Sabrina. Sabrina blew a sharp breath between her lips seeing the dark bruises on Taylor’s body. but it is quieter here.Chapter 23 Sabrina sprayed a light sheen on Taylor’s freshly washed hair. she put on her earrings. “Most of the bruises are from the car accident. Are you sure you’re ready for that?” Taylor looked at her reflection in the mirror as she buttoned her blouse. “Today you want to venture outside to see Dillon and Sebastian.” Sabrina lowered her brow. “It’s pretty. if that is the bases for that question. I’ll stay with Mario. So. “Taylor.” “No offense.” She shrugged from under Sabrina’s hands. “I understand.” “Yes. “Do you like this style?” She asked looking at her sister’s face through the mirror. Walking to the dresser. Taylor twisted a curl between her fingers and answered dryly. do you want to talk?” “I’m all talked out. Taylor? The last 48 hours have been hell.” . In the midst of the dark clouds surrounding her. I will go home eventually but for now. thinking about Mario always brightened her day.” “Tell me something I don’t know. Sabrina massaged Taylor’s shoulders. how long are you staying with Mario? You can stay with me if you’re not ready to go home. “I’m in love with him. I have it under control. Sabrina.” “Have you and Mario come to an understanding regarding your relationship?” A yearning look crossed Taylor’s face.” “Do you.
You are forcing yourself to be normal. “All right. How are you really dealing with it? I would be ready to crawl under a rock. Sabrina. “Let’s go to the hospital and see Sebastian. And once I digest what happened to me internally. Smoothing the wrinkles of the bedspread.” “He didn’t give you a choice.” “I have to make myself do it. you are evading the question. “I know that in my head! I know what I did was right. Taylor. What I cannot absorb is another person is fighting for his life because of me.” Throwing cosmetics and hair products in a duffle bag. You did what any normal person would do. she arranged the many pillows on top. I will be in a funny farm. Taylor. None of this is comfortable for me.“That’s what I’m talking about. Although she and Mario shared the bed. I disturb Mario by keeping him awake.” Her lip twitched. I don’t want to be this way. We are sisters.” Taylor narrowed her eyes and tapped her index fingers to her temples. It came down to your life or him. I’m not so sure he wants to see me though. I cannot sleep at night.” “Have you considered counseling?” “Yes I have. That is what I cannot live with. I know the way you are when you don’t want to talk about something. Taylor began making the king-sized bed keeping her hands busy. I don’t give a damn about the asshole that died at my feet. Sabrina zipped it closed.” . but he holds me and comforts me until I fall asleep.” To avoid her sister’s questions.” “I should let Mario know where I am. Sabrina! If I don’t. “Taylor.” “Write him a note.” “One way to find out—get your purse. they had not attempted to make love. I will seek help from a professional to deal with what I did to that man.
James was not home. He could not believe the story the pictures in his hands told.” Mario sat behind his desk. Dios.” . I came to you with the information because Ms. we believe the other prints belong to one of the other women.” “I’m sorry. How are they doing?” “I can’t disclose the condition of those hospitalized but the other women are recuperating nicely. “I’m one-hundred percent positive.” “I’m glad to hear that much. There were two sets of prints on the knife and two different blood types. I’m sure you have heard of this before since you’re in the legal field. While we are on the subject.” He nodded. James as handling the knife and another unknown source. esto la va a matar. prints from the knife came back from the lab.” Mario rubbed his finger on his chin. only his shoes were made of the finest Italian leather.***** Mario rounded his desk uncertain how to react. “When do you plan on making an arrest?” “We are waiting for the judge to sign an arrest warrant.” “Could the suspect have tried to remove the knife from his neck?” “That hasn’t been ruled out.” “That makes sense. “And?” “We verified Ms. He crossed one leg over his knee and tapped his finger against the heel of his shoe.” Mario leaned his back against the soft leather chair mirroring Detective Diego’s body pose. “Yup. And one of many reasons I turned to corporate law. Detective Diego?” Detective Diego sat in the chair across from Mario’s desk. “Are you sure. However. “She is staying with me. Taylor has been worried about them. Mario.
” Mario sighed and picked up his cell phone and spoke lowly into it after the person answered. how should I say this and be tactful. Mario. we share the same informants.“Um.” “I heard. no harm will come to her. “I’m done with my business.” “You have made a success of yourself. She has been through a lot and doesn’t need to know about this until we make the arrest. We have more in common than you think. And the way you are going about is wrong. but things have a way of coming back to haunt us. Life will return to normal for both of you.” “Good cause I would be worried about her going after the person before you were able to make the arrest. Mario. I know that was hard and the only reason I know about your involvement is because we share. should we warn Taylor about the hit on her head?” “I’ve been struggling with that. how about we get together for a beer. I got this under control. I know about the crew you have hunting down Ms. “It’s done.” Mario walked with him to the door. don’t let this blow all that for you. “Is that right?” . Call them off to be on the safe side.” “You are right. You have loyal advocates that won’t implicate you.” Detective Diego stood fastening the button of his black JC Penny suit.” “Well it will be over in a few days. “Cancelarlo.” Mario paused before saying anything.” “I know. Look.” “What can I say? You can take the boy from the hood but a little of it will always remain with me. Oh. “I have to help her. I wasn’t using my head. after we are through with this case. but since the man hired to do the hit is an undercover cop. You have to call them off before you get in trouble.” He looked at Detective Diego. James’ stalker. So.
Until then I’ll be in touch.” . but he would endure it if it meant helping Taylor cope. I’ll give you a call. Closing the door to get back to work it opened again with Anderson Cartwright entering. “Taylor will survive. and not to add to her stress. amigos. I am just as guilty as she is of violating the rules. Adios. I think it would be good for us to start making new friends. what brings you to my office?” He asked shoving the pictures in his desk drawer. Your presence with the firm is a higher priority. She may not work here any longer but she will always be a part of this firm. The lack of sleep was taking a toll on him physically.“Yes.” Mario extended his hand waiting to shake his new friend’s hand.” “Please call me Alfonso. I wanted to know how Taylor is doing.” Mario pasted a smile on his weary face.” “Last I saw. The woman I love is a strong African-American woman also. “Detective Diego. Alfonso. I remain. I think the four of us should get to know each other better. Once Taylor is up to going out again. He frowned seeing the mad standing in his office “Anderson. “Okay. “I’ll wait for your call. Mario. her office was cleaned and her name plate gone. When a person is fired that usually equates expulsion from the family. he said.” “Not to sound harsh…she was only an associate.” Returning the handshake.” “Yet. “I won’t stay long.” “I had no choice.” Mario released a sarcastic laugh.” Mario waved as Detective Diego left his office. I won’t tell her you asked about her. Taylor violated the rules.
“Anderson. “Enjoy the rest of your day. You may have prestige following your name but when you are out of the game. “First.” Anderson’s mouth opened. I am not your son.” Mario folded his hands together on the desk. She noticed Dillon was incensed Taylor was with you.” “What does Kelly have to do with this?” “I felt bad for her the night of the Mayor’s ball.” Mario reply angrily. “Don’t snap at me. Anderson. Infante.” Mario stared at him for a moment without saying a word. let me remind you that people who sit on towers have a longer fall to the bottom.” . Second. two peas in a pod.” Anderson’s jaw hardened. “I have a meeting to attend shortly. Stevenson’s fiancée’s reason for not trusting her. I have a tendency to snap back. Women come and go so don’t let sleeping with that woman ruin your career. people tend to forget about you. and then opened again.” Anderson braced his hands on the back of the chair. and the face of his future wife boasting his efforts. He obviously has an attraction to her. I don’t need you as I’ve stated before. “I definitely understand the attraction to Ms. The furrowed of his brow showed detest for the undercurrent the conversation had taken.” He managed to say glancing at his watch. Clicking his tongue. we saw two different scenarios that night. Slowly he rose from his chair. James. son? I believe you misinterpreted me. Anderson puckered his lips.Anderson shifted his weight against the door. “You and I don’t have to be on bad terms.” “Wow. This clearly exemplifies Mr. “Excuse me. closed. What I witnessed was the vindictiveness of a man plotting to get his best friend fired.” “Then I suggest you don’t threaten me because you wouldn’t like the way I snapped back.
. he crossed his feet on the edge of his desk to make a call. Mario reclaimed his chair feeling superior at knocking the wind from the snobbish windbag.Anderson retreated from the office. Removing his cell phone.
I will give him a piece of my mind. “I’m getting better according to the doctors. I’m glad to see you. Sebastian. However. His red hair seemed brighter against the stark white pillowcase.” . Taylor brushed her hair back. you can do this. “We will spend a few minutes sitting with Sebastian then visit Dillon. it’s me. pausing at the door of Sebastian’s hospital room.” He struggled to take air in his lungs.” “I have no objections to visiting Dillon. girl. He opened his eyes suddenly causing Taylor and Sabrina to jump. A single IV ran in his arm and the plastic tubing inserted in his nose was the only apparatus helping him function. “What do I say to him. when he is better. Taylor. “I’m positive its’ not a dream. Sabrina?” “You ask how he is doing and give him the flowers. Sebastian appeared to be sleeping. I’m so sorry this happened to you.” “So soon? You seem weak to me. “Taylor?” He rasped. it was cold. Sebastian. I’m going to make sure you have care when you’re released from the hospital. I will be fine. but he is my friend and I care about his health. God. “Get in line behind me. she covered his hand with hers. Are you sure I’m not dreaming?” Handing the flowers to Sabrina. “Yes. His eyes scanned the two women. How are you doing?” His dry lips cracked when he smiled. “No. I should be out in a week or so.” Taylor eased the door open and went inside the hospital room. The curls had started to fall from the humidity of the July day. I may be upset with his actions.” Sabrina replied with a bite to her tone.” Filling her chest with air and releasing it.Chapter 24 Taylor inhaled.
Sebastian’s struggle to breath was painful to her. Dillon is in ICU.“My collapsed lung is healing from the gunshot wound.” “I bet you are on the top of the list if Dillon has anything to say about it. “Clayton is taking care of Thor. “I’m not going stay long. Is there anything you need? Who is taking care of Thor?” He shook his head to keep from talking too much. and my clients won’t die on me.” Taylor pushed it from her face.” He gave a thumbs-up. though.” “I’ll fill in the blanks when you are better. we have a block party to plan.” “Sorry. “Consider going back nursing. Sabrina leaned over her shoulder holding a chart. “That is confidential. Sabrina.” “Sebastian. I was worried about you. she backed away from the bed. “He’s sleeping.” Sabrina snickered. You saved Sebastian’s life. My chances of visiting him are slim since I’m not a family member. Get plenty of rest Sebastian.” “Too much pressure.” She called his name when he closed his eyes. Taylor shot her sister a mean eye.” Taylor‘s heart sunk to the bottom of her feet. I didn’t know what happened to you.” She pressed the elevator button making a joke. According to this chart he is on heavy medication. “They could if you screw up their hair.ever!” . Placing a kiss on his cheek. Sabrina. “Don’t ever joke about that…. “I’ll be ready.” Taylor left the room with Sabrina on her heels. I forget I’m no longer a nurse. Doing hair is less stressful.
you weren’t. Look. We were so worried about you.” “Yes it was. Kelly broke the silence.” “No. The doctors are waiting for him to wake up. “I’m lucky to be alive. I suggest you do the same. The elevator opened to the quiet ICU floor. What happened between Dillon and me was a long time ago.” “He is in a coma?” She asked scared of the answer. I meant his mother probably put you on the list as a visitor. “Um the doctors had him in a medically induced coma but stopped it when he was responding to commands but has sensed stopped. Taylor! You look fabulous considering what you’ve went through in the last forty-eight hours. How is he doing?” Kelly tossed her long hair aside. “He is making progress. I’m concerned about Dillon. Taylor located the phone to inquire about Dillon.” .” Angry Taylor jammed against the small corner of the elevator ignoring Sabrina.I didn’t mean anything by it. Before she could dial. I’m not here to reminisce.I have enough shit to deal with. returning one of her own. Kelly exited the doors.” “I was praying for you.” “Taylor! Relax…I wasn’t talking about that! Damn. “My goodness. I don’t need you to bring it up now…. Taylor accepted the fake hug. Kelly fidgeted letting her attention wander to the hallway whenever the elevator doors opened. Their eyes locked immediately.“Put the eyes away…. Kelly.” “I’ve haven’t told anyone but you about that night. When I heard about the other women released with you…it was amazing. We have forgotten about it.” She hugged Taylor.
” “Ooh.” Taylor nodded.” “Um-hum. Kelly. “Hey.” she said smiling and lying at the same time.” Taylor proceeded to the phone. where are you?” “I’m at the hospital with Sabrina.” Her cell phone rang. what’s up?” “Baby. I also noticed her engagement ring is missing. “Shoot!” She dug it from her purse putting it to her ear.The stuttering and nervousness caused Taylor to think Kelly was hiding something. She kissed Taylor on the cheek.” She twisted the gold watch on her wrist. “I’m not worried about her right now. Maybe we can have dinner and discuss Dillon. Taylor?” “I did indeed. you have my cell number. “I’m so happy you are safe. Was the surgeon able to remove the whole tumor?” “The CT Scan showed most of it was removed. Bye.” Like THAT will ever happen.” “Okay. I’ll talk to her. “Of course. You sound strange. baby” “Taylor. I want to check on Dillon then go by my house to collect the mail. “Well that is good news. I wonder if Dillon called off the engagement before he had a seizure. I know how glad you are about that. I will call you. saying. “Sure. There has been a new development in your case. “I’m in a hurry to make an appointment but Dillon’s mom is with him if you want to talk to her. We visited Sebastian and now trying to see Dillon.” “Did you notice how nervous she acted. have Sabrina drive you to the police station now.” . Dillon should make a full recovery but will need rehabilitation to gain whatever motor skills he may have lost.
“I want this over with. James arrives.” .” Diego loosened his tie. he gagged from the bitter quality coffee the police had grown accustomed to drink on a daily basis.” Mario pushed the cup over for a shot and drank from it again. he would not believe the bizarreness of what went down. “Umm. how soon can you get here?” “I’m there already. It went down smoother. “Well. Mario stood to pace the bland gray office. I won’t find that hard at all. If he didn’t see if.” Mario choked down another gulp of the coffee. Taking the first taste. what kind of development? Mario. for himself. we make do with what we have. has there been an arrest?” “Taylor.” Rubbing his hands together.” he said putting the cup on the desk. “That was an improvement. James is free of this mess. ***** Mario waited in Detective Diego’s office. My partner is working an angle to get a confession. Detective Diego handed him a styrofoam cup filled with black coffee. She is going on like nothing has happened to her. “If we get the suspect to roll over on her contact. Ms.” she said twirling an eavesdropping Sabrina around in a circle to face the exit. “What are the chances of that happening?” “With this suspect.” He opened the lower drawer of his desk hauling a half-filled bottle of dark tequila. “This stuff is awful.Taylor legs suddenly had the strength of cooked spaghetti noodles. “Add a shot of this and it will taste premium brewed. Taylor is a strong woman refusing to let her weakness show. I honestly believe we will have a signed confession before Ms.
do you notice any item of clothing or jewelry she wears often that you would recognize?” Taylor held the picture closer to her face. baby. “I saw her at the . “Ms. “The woman looks like Kelly. I can take it. “The engagement ring. “If you aren’t positive Kelly is the woman in the picture. in custody?” Detective Diego sat on the edge of his desk hiking his knee. “When you say it is over.” “She has not been home or faced the person doing this to her yet. “Tell me. sit down.” She entwined her fingers between his. Only dark sunglasses are covering her face. Most women would hide away and never want to venture outside alone.” Taylor opened the folder. That is Kelly’s engagement ring.” she said dotting the picture with her index finger. “Baby. He pulled the chair away from the desk so she could sit before she fainted. It’s all over.” Mario held her trembling hand. then she will have conquered her fears.“You should welcome that. Detective Diego has made an arrest. Taylor opened the door relieved Mario was present. The pictures were high quality color and crystal clear. I think she is brave to get back to her routine so soon.” Detective Diego handed her a folder. James. “What is going on?” Mario rubbed the small of her back. “Sweetheart. She walked over to hug him.” Detective Diego asked. and her hair is tied in a bun. “Inside that folder is pictures. Please look at them and tell me if you recognize anyone in them.” She sat crossing her legs. If she survives this.” A light tapping on the door quieted both men. does that include you have the person who put the cameras in my house. it is all over. What I have to tell you will knock your socks off.
Okay.” “Ms. “I assured her I was not interested in Dillon. I encouraged him to seek counseling to help with their problems.” “Mario.” “This is unfreaking real. I don’t want any water! I want to know why she wanted me dead.” Taylor dropped the pictures and immediately paced the office. “This is a joke. did Dillon have part in this?” “From what Detective Diego uncovered. James. James. What did I do to her?” “My partner is interrogating her as we speak.” Taylor snapped her head to face Detective Diego. she is knee-deep in it. she asked. She would have videotaped proof we were sleeping together only she got you on tape instead?” “That seemed to be her plan. I didn’t have anything to do with his wanting to call off the wedding. She wanted to trap Dillon in a lie. “That is what I told him. can I get you some water?” Detective Diego offered to help relax her nerves. please tell me Kelly is not the one doing this?” Mario massaged her shoulders letting Detective Diego break the news.” Diego said in a calming voice. I didn’t think she hated me enough to cause me harm. She rubbed her forehead with the palm of her hand. We hope she will reveal the reason she went to this extreme.hospital and she didn’t have it on. Police are searching Dillon and Kelly’s house for evidence other than what they have already. before I start hyperventilating. The high heels of her shoes clicked on the hard floor in a synchronized rhythm. In a concerned voice. “No. “Detective. do you have those tapes? If those videos get in the wrong hands. no.” Mario wrapped his arms around her. my . “Ms. okay. If anything. Why would Kelly want me dead? We’ve butted heads but damn. She met with an undercover cop she tried to hire to assassinate you. baby.
“I have to talk to her. he is ruined.” “I can’t wait until she is given a court date to talk to her. there is a good chance Dillon has lost some of his memory.” . Taylor needed to hear directly from her. if Mario decides to run for public office. Taylor?” “Mario. “He may have lost his memory. I can’t allow you to do that. Taylor…” “Baby. but listen to me. If Kelly is the only person he recognizes once he is out the coma. If he wakes up only remembering the good memories he and Kelly had. If there is anything on those laptops.” Not accepting Kelly would stoop to murder.” “I know I sound silly. James.” Mario threw his hands up turning away from her. You will have a chance to have your say with her in court. Kelly has been at his side for several days talking to him urging. Hell.” He put his hands on his hips not believing the words coming from her mouth. and him and Kelly will live happily ever after. why she would do it.legal career is over. and those tapes surface. I can live with that. I can’t believe you!” he fumed. she will need to be there for him. Dillon is in a coma.” Mario sighed rolling his eyes slightly from irritation. but if Dillon had nothing to with this.” “Ms. Doctors won’t know the extent of memory loss he suffered until he is awake. “What ar e you saying. him to fight for his life. they will find it. “The woman tried to hire a man to kill you! You’re an attorney. I know this is wrong on so many levels. “God. Dillon won’t have any memory of me. we confiscated two laptops from the residence and technicians are combing through the hard-drives.” “I’m sorry. then he shouldn’t suffer. Taylor.
he remembers everything? Will Kelly try again to have you killed but only succeed this time? Baby. and I’m done trying to figure out the unorthodox relationship you have with Dillon. “His memory loss may not be permane nt.” he said sternly going to the door. I would put her in jail. she has to be punished for it. He is going to need her if she is the only person he remembers. you gotta leave your heart out of this.He walked over her. I’m thinking about what is best for him. I don’t condone what Kelly did and if Dillon wasn’t fighting for his life. From now on.” Mario’s facial expression hardened. please work with me. Letting her hands fall from his. Taylor. I’m asking both of you to hear me for a minute. “Mario.” .” “Honey. months from now. Kelly committed a serious crime. this is your fight and I’m out of it. “I don’t get you. he shook his head.” “No—I’m done. what if.” Taylor swallowed. I hear what you and Detective Diego are saying. “I’ll see you at home. taking hold of her hands he brushed a kiss across her knuckles then bent his brows saying.
” He shook his head. She shrugged her shoulders.” . why?” “He was my friend long before they became engaged. I had no idea Kelly was capable of doing anything illegal.” “You aren’t answering my question completely. Infante was willing to front money as a reward for your safe return. “Okay. “I’m not hiding anything. but what are you hiding?” Her skin prickled with tiny bumps from his accusing penetrating stare. Ms. I have been doing this a long time. Detective Diego slid off the desk walking over to her. Infante? What does Kelly know that you don’t want revealed?” Taylor chewed the inside of her jaw remembering one thing Kelly might have learned from Dillon. Is the man worth losing your relationship with Mr. “Nothing that I can think of. You are protecting her boyfriend. My family has been friends with the Stevenson’s for over twenty years. “I-I didn’t handle that well.” Detective Diego stayed seated on the edge of his desk. there is no romance between Dillon and I.” “I see. But. Truly. we just lost touch for a few years. now that the friendship has been rekindled. And.” she said. I want you to know that Mr. “Ms. Infante?” “Detective. She won’t even step on ants. I understand you have the best interest of your friend at heart.Chapter 25 Taylor rubbed her hand down her face turning to face Detective Diego’s amazed expression. James. James. “I’m not talking about her. Letting Kelly go is the honorable thing for me to do. I think he deserves the truth on why you’re dumping him for someone else to be happy. is he more important to you than Mr. I can’t make you tell me.
He believed he’d beaten his disease with me.” “He is a wonderful person.” Diego removed his suit coat hanging on the back of the closed door. As a third-party and a man. but I have done something he doesn’t know about. Every square foot of the home had his personal stamp of approval on it. I’ve spent time with him. and I am lucky to have in my life. Detective Diego dropped her off over an hour ago and she’d been sitting outside on the porch dreading what she had to do. I don’t want to hurt Mario. “Detective. I will destroy his trust in women forever if he leans what I’ve done. Shuddering. If I tell him. She took in a long look to remember as much as she could.” “You will agree I deserved to lose him. “Let me buy you a cup of decent coffee and we’ll discuss what you’ve done. He means the world to me.She closed her eyes. She knew he was home because his BMW was in the driveway. she had no need to stay with Mario. She opened her eyes slowly. Even if she wasn’t ready to go home. I might be able to measure how well Mr. She sighed looking around the richly decorated home of leather and tan furniture. and he seems very laid-back and not the type to fly off the handle or pass judgment. it will make him lose all respect for me. Now that Kelly was behind bars.” she said walking towards the door. she walked slowly up the steps to the bedroom. She fingered the two house keys before putting them in a glass dish on the table. he was going to ask her to leave to avoid prolonging the agony of looking at her after she revealed everything to him. He’d been driving that car since the accident.” “You don’t know that. . Infante will take the news. but trusting women has been a huge hurdle for him to get over. ***** Taylor closed the front door leaning against it. the anger and pain on his face appeared.
she finally asked. She heard voices coming from inside. I didn’t want to…. he could dispose of. She would go home.” He walked around her in studying her. Had Mario sensed something about her? He had a habit of taking normal situations. it didn’t matter she was listening. Had he applied an algorithm to her situation and summed her up? And. “Um. Taylor opted against confronting him with the truth. I-I was going to pack my suitcase but you were on the phone. He had already ended their relationship so why throw salt on an open wound. “What are you doing. Mario opened the door before she made it to the stairwell. They had been together for months and he was unable to teach her his language. “Were you looking for me?” he asked flipping the light on in the hallway. Taylor did a slow rotation until she faced him. she couldn’t understand what he was saying since he was speaking in Spanish. she stopped to take another breath before opening the door. His words were flying rapidly and she could not determine if he was angry or using his normal tone. She kept her eyes downward to the floor not wanting to see the look of disgust on his face. and the belongings she had there.Walking to his bedroom Taylor’s fingers rested on the doorknob. was the phone call pertaining to what he’d learned? Unnerved with his looking at her the way he was. and applying legal strategies to reach a conclusion. Backing away from the door. However. She put her ear to the door knowing it was wrong to eavesdrop on a private conversation. I’ve imposed on you long enough. “Really? Are you ready to stay alone?” Her eyes followed his walk around her. She could kick herself for not learning any Spanish from him. Mario? Should I get the spotlight and chair so you can interrogate me correctly?” . he was on the telephone.” “Where are you going?” “I’m going home. or pack and send to her.
“No. he answered. But.” he said not raising his voice. Taylor. she would interrogate him for a change. and you might as well finish me off by hitting the hand to flush me down the sewer. he was doing the exact opposite. you should know I was talking to Detective Diego. “Then what is it? Why are you acting so strange?” “I’m not acting strange. “I’ll make it easy for you.” Her voice raised an octave. I’m curious why you want to leave?” She raised her shoulders. Taylor. He wanted to make sure I listened to you with an open mind. What happened between you and Dillon when you returned to Cleveland?” .He shook his head. Look. did he think I wasn’t going to tell you? How dare he undermine me!” “He wasn’t doing that. “May I ask what Detective Diego told you about our little chat?” He wasn’t the only one with the ability to use legal strategies. he told me everything. “For the obvious reasons.” “We had a disagreement. since you heard me on the telephone. “I disagree. “Damn. Mario held his breath as she crossed the threshold into his bedroom. You did break up with me at the police station. “That is not my style. His calm voice was unusual for a person who’d made a scene by storming out on her.” She walked into the bedroom and sat down on the end of the king-sized bed planting her feet close together and keeping her spine straight as a razor. Sliding his hands in the pockets of his fitted jeans.” She frowned. I would not do anything to add to the pain you’re experiencing. just curse me out and get it over with—my life is totally in the crapper. She cleared her throat and tossed a question to him to see exactly what he knew.
so let me tell it to you.” Agitated. “That was a mistake. how could you?” Taylor shook her head.” “I did tell you the truth!” “Hmm. he leaned his buttocks against the large oak dresser crossing his legs at the ankle. Dillon heard what happened and came to my apartment to check on me. So. “Pardon me for interrupting. I swear it meant nothing.” She caressed her forehead to ward off the headache knocking on her temples.Smoothing her palms over the narrow indent of her waist. forget it. continue.” “If you were drunk. Oh yeah. “You wanted to hear it. and I wanted to forget Miguel. I was in a bad place because we had been dating since I returned to Cleveland. I liked what he was doing. I must have missed the part where you slept with him!” “It’s not what you think! Let me explain how it happened. You could have told me the truth.” “All right…where was I. It was Christmas. I don’t want to know.” “The fact he was your best friend and engaged to another woman didn’t make it weird?” . Dillon figured a little nip would take my mind off Miguel. liquor was plentiful in my house. Well. I was beyond comforting.” “Taylor.” he said running his hands down the front of jeans. It is not a secret I like to drink and sometimes too much.” “I asked you about the relationship you shared with him. “I wasn’t that drunk. Her eyes bucked. one sip led to our drinking half the bottle. it didn’t matter Dillon was my best friend seducing me. I didn’t stop him. she bit down the lower edge of her lip wishing she could become invisible in the room. “When he started to kiss me. and I had broken it off with my boyfriend.
I was hurting. All it did was make matters worse. I feel guilty for what I’ve done to Dillon. I may not be the cause of his health problems.” “You were able to have sex with him. “Taylor?” “Of course it made it weird. Mario. He cocked his chin a fraction and arched a brow. Damn.” . comfort you with sex. Mario pinned a look directly on her.” He shook his head retaining strict eye contact with her. “You can stop. I am the reason she became obsessed with getting rid of me. her morals. He wanted more and I couldn’t give it to him. Taylor. but I am the cause of his heartache. so dark she couldn't tell where the black ended and the black of his pupil began. What happened between you and Dillon was before me. My concern is what you feel for him now?” “Nothing has happened between us since. you should have been able to tell him you didn’t want it to happen again without it being an issue. Mario. he propped his elbow under his head and rubbed her stomach with his free hand. I started dating but nothing ever came of those dates until I met you. was wrong. “I can imagine. I swear. The way he assessed her felt like a shredding of her character. Kelly has somehow learned about Dillon and me. her soul. I had to put distance between Dillon and me but I didn’t know how without it being obvious. baby. Because of me.” Mario finally moved after standing in the same position for most of her story. and thinking Dillon making love to me would do that.” “I’m not good at hurting people’s feelings so sue me. Lying next to her.” She lay back on the bed emptying her emotions. He had eyes the color of burned coffee grounds. you let a man already in love with you. You used him. “Don’t you think I know that? I made a mess of everything. I wanted the pain to go away.Before she could think to shape an answer.
he was able to stir an arousal. He was addictive to her.” “So why would he tell her? He could have hoped the information would run her away. They both knew I had problems with holding onto relationships and Kelly would have won. “Yes. “Well it’s all out in the open now.” “How? She would have ruined my relationship with you. Dillon won’t remember any of it when he wakes up.” Taylor removed his hand and got off the bed to go to the closet and remove her suitcase.” “Dillon swore he would never reveal our secret. “And you won’t because you’re a .” “No she would have lost Dillon and threw you two together for good. Kelly probably found it. you know that right?” The tears dangled on the lower lids of her eyelashes. Taylor. I’m going home. Her object was to get out of his house and home without jumping his bones. He had to know that would piss her off.“You aren’t responsible for everything. “I remember he kept a journal. he was the only man I knew that kept a diary. If he wrote about it. My actions ruined four lives and with any luck. She lifted her shoulder to clean away the tears that had fallen down her cheek. I’m baffled why Dillon would tell Kelly about sleeping with you. “That explains her actions.” Taylor untucked her hair from under her head. stuffing them in the suitcase without folding them. Even in a depressed mood.” “I’m not asking you to leave.” He blew a breath from deep in his belly still massaging hers. but it could have backfired. I would have lost you forever. a hanger-full at a time.” she said unzipping the luggage. I had a feeling she was holding something over Dillon’s head. “So you’re still leaving?” Taylor removed her clothes.
you aren’t. She caught him from the corner of her eye. . Taylor. you must hate me. I can’t hold the weight I’m carrying alone anymore.” He took the bottles from her hands throwing them on the bed. Baby. Taylor. I had a hand in taking a man’s life and it doesn’t matter he was the scum of the earth.I drove her to act irrationally” Mario took her in his arms laying her head on his shoulder.” “Why? I’m going home. there are some secrets that should be stored away forever. we’ll get through this together. I love you. She would never hurt a fly…. Even what Kelly is going through is my fault. Mario took the clothes from the suitcase and hung them back in the closet. “We’ll get through this.” he said smoothing her hair. The hard tear jerking of her body sunk them both to the floor where he held her and let her cry. “I love you too and I do need your help.” When she went to the dresser to get more of her stuff. but I understand it now.” “No. “What are you doing?” “What does it look like? I’m hanging clothes. You have not done anything for me to mistrust you since we’ve been together. and I have been nothing but deceitful. including you. I was thrown why you didn’t want Kelly in jail. Sebastian is hanging on by a thread because of me. and you need me whether you believe it or not. “Look.gentleman and would not ask me to leave. God. You were honest about your distrust for women. I’m leaving because I’ve caused enough problems for everyone.” The lump in her throat fell to her stomach with a splash.
Chapter 26 Taylor stirred shifting to her left side to drape an arm across Mario’s chest. Pressing the button for the jets to spray water on her lower body. Stretching to relieve the kinks in his back and neck. She got her toothbrush and toothpaste from the holder on the sink. Taylor kicked it next to the bench against the wall. She didn’t care her hair was getting wet. She stepped under the warm pulsating water of the shower. she relaxed to enjoy her shower. he got up to relieve the other kink in his body. she would call Sabrina later to get it fixed. After rinsing her mouth. She had talked and cried herself to sleep last night forgoing her normal nighttime routine. it was 7:30am. but Taylor was in the shower. Filling a sponge with cucumber aloe scented bath soap. The vanity lights atop the massive bathroom mirror showed a reflection she no longer recognized. she warmed the water in the freestanding shower. You like hell. . She rolled her neck as the water ran through her hair and down her back. Dropping the silk white nightgown to her ankles. she exhaled. ***** The sound of the shower running woke Mario from a deep sleep. She especially liked how she was able to adjust powerful streams of water to jet from four different angles. She leaned into the mirror running an index finger under her eye. she began to brush the horrible taste away in her mouth. She loved Mario’s bathroom done in expensive European black and white marble and polished tile. She had shed the tears now it was time to heal the body and soul and try to move on with her life. Turning on the water in the basin. girl. She pulled the cover back and slid out of bed to go to the bathroom. Her eyes cracked open to see him lying on his back with an arm crossed under his head fast asleep. He pulled himself up to sit on the side of the bed and looked at the clock.
” he answered removing underwear from the drawer.” he said using the smaller towel to pat the water draining from his wet hair. seriously. Stroking his wet skin. the sent coming from him was fresh. I don’t think so. please. did this have anything to do with me?” . “Good morning.” “Taylor. My opinion of him would not allow me to work for a piece of shit like him. She grasped his head turning him to face her. that is not an option.” “Baby. a sandalwood scent left by his soap. Taylor lifted her head in his direction as she rubbed her leg vigorously to blend the lotion into her skin.” Taylor massaged lotion between her hands applying it to her arms and elbows eyeing him. I resigned two days ago. “Mario. Taylor was sitting on the bed applying lotion to her body. “Mario.After using the bathroom down the hall. “Good morning. I hope I didn’t wake you with my shower. “Umm. His shower lasted ten minutes while hers had gone on for about thirty minutes or longer. “Are you going to work?” He went to the dresser getting his own toiletries. he returned to the bedroom.” Her eyes blinked to give him a surprised look. what’s going on? You never miss this much work. and don’t say it’s because of me.” she said walking over to him. “What are you going to do? Will you rejoin your old firm?” “Nope. “What? Wh—why did you quit?” “Anderson and I had a difference of opinion.” he said adjusting his towel around his waist.” “I had to get up anyway.
I cannot smile in the face of a person that doesn’t respect the woman I love. so her shape was free of obstructions. A warm sigh left his mouth. an enticing smell that made his mouth water. He wanted her to make the first move. but it was my decision to quit. covering what she could of her ample breasts with folded arms. If I don’t make love to her soon. The damp towel loosely wrapped around her chest fell to the floor.” “God. Mario.” She moved away from him. I’m far from being penniless. He had been sympathetic of her plight and didn’t want to push sex on her. Taylor. “I will be okay. but you are so strong-headed. he didn’t see it coming.” she said embracing him. and not get a raging erection. Now was not the time to get a woody. You are more important to me than some job.“It had everything to do with you. making a few wet tendrils of her hair flutter.” she said dropping her arms. I love you. “I know that look.” “You should. but he wasn’t sure he could be within a foot of Taylor. soft body against his. Taylor’s lid lowered as her mouth descended to his. He cursed his twitching penis as he held her pliant. His penis twitched as he breathed in her alluring scent. and he responded with an uncontrolled desire that nearly pushed him over the edge. Mario’s eyes closed. She tasted like woman and need. and his one hand traveled up to the back of her head. his fingers sifted through her thick mass of wet dark hair. Deep in his own fantasy. Her tongue teased him . You are relentless. Taylor sprang forward rushing into his arms. His arms tightened around her nude body to keep them from tumbling to the floor and hurting themselves. I’m going to become unhinged His erection strained against the soft cotton of the thick towel. She smelled like freshly sliced cucumbers. He let his eyes roam to her firm breasts pressed against his bare chest. He had to bite back a smile as her face flashed an implacable expression.
” He picked her up carrying her to the bed. Putting pressure to the back of her head.” Her breath hitching as he caressed the tops of her breasts lightly making her shiver with desire. His hand on her waist slid down to cup the soft. making him groan into her mouth as their tongues dueled and tasted.” Her saying those words in a seductive voice.” he said in a hoarse voice. made him groan.between little nibbles on his lips. baby. “It’s been a long time since we’ve made love. firm mound of her butt cheek. and it made him want more. She dragged her mouth away panting as she buried her face in his neck. “I’m ready. Mario. His penis was ready to explode from the pent up pressure of lying next to her night after night and not touching her soft body when she curled into him. Mario. as she lay completely naked on the bed with him leaning over her. I’m ready to put it all behind me and move forward with you and only you. . She too was responsive. I need you to make love to me. “You are so incredibly beautiful. wanting to plunder and explore every inch of the sweet mouth.” he growled his hand cupping her breast. so eager to reclaim what they both had been without far too long. Mario could feel her hot breath against his ear as she trailed licks and nips down the side of his neck. I want…no. bringing her almost fully against him.” “Too long. “Make love to me. he crushed her mouth to his.” She pulled back to look at him. “I’m ready for the same. ***** Longing and apprehension warred in Taylor’s mind.” he said putting her in the middle of the unmade bed. I don’t know where to start. her eyes burning with need. “Are you sure? If you aren’t ready…. “That feels so good.
his hands wandered her body. darting his tongue inside her womanhood. the kiss was voracious and filled with longing. He manipulated his tongue harder on her clit until her body quivered. He did things to her no man had ever done. . we have all day. levitating her from the bed.” he crooned as he kissed down her chest to her stomach letting his tongue circle her belly button. She arched her back releasing a moan into his mouth. my lord!” She grunted trying to push his head away. skilled fingers playing with the damp curls protecting her womanhood. stroking her naked body. Taylor’s fingers dug in Mario’s shoulders while pushing her hips upward for his tongue to devour ever bit of her. His tongue traveled lower to bathe the lips hidden within to delve into her slick folds to bring incoherent mumbles from her throat. “Relax and enjoy.” she begged. raking her long fingers along his sensitive flesh. alternating with his thumb to stimulate her.” he said lying on top of her. Mario patted her thighs smiling. please. Circling his tongue around the fleshy nub. dipping inside. While his marauding tongue claimed her. “Oh. The hardness of his penis pressed against her womanhood as he cradled her beneath him. he nibbled with his teeth.Taylor’s brain screamed just start anywhere…. baby. Clutching a fistful of his hair an orgasm took over her body as he mouth closed in on her clit again. baby. “The best is yet to come. She broke free of his kiss. When his mouth covered hers. she stroked him. baby. He smothered her mouth with a kiss and Taylor tasted her essences on his lips. “Don’t push too much foreplay. Teasing her hardened nipples. “Now.” he said positioning his hips between her thighs. He flicked his tongue underneath her clit. Sliding her hand between their bodies.just touch me now. He rolled slightly removing her hand and placing her arm over her head.
” “Damn. loving the feeling of him inside her again. with unbelievable restraint. Kissing the damp skin of her shoulder. baby. “Yes.Slowly.” Her hands roamed his back.” . he eased into her. then an inch more. “Do you still want to go home?” She smiled wiping sweat from his brows and answered. its’ been too long. milking him deep inside. Generations of photographs and items. don’t move. His breath on her neck was hot as his body started to move with small thrusts. Her legs closed around his waist squeezing him like a boa trapping its prey. Until. drawing a deep. He placed his hands on Taylor’s hips to keep her steady. “Eventually. He lifted his weight to rest on his forearms. Just the tip of his penis. “I’m not. finally. I can move somewhere else and I probably will. and even more after that. Within minutes. he plunged deep. he asked with a smile on his face. that can’t be replaced. Tracing a light finger from the base of his spine to the nape of his neck. As long as those were not damaged.” “I have a lot of my family’s history in my house. I think Detective Diego is done processing the house and it’s safe for us to go inside. She whimpered moving under him. that’s it…don’t stop. I do need to check the mail and make sure the house is still standing. you’re going to make me lose it. maintaining the motion of his penis on the sensitive area of her clit. but not today. guttural gasp from both of them. baby. He quickened his pace to reach an orgasm with her. Mario complied.” she moaned. Taylor’s muscles reacted by squeezing him.” “We can do that together. “Wait.” he whispered. he picked up the tempo deepening his thrust until they were rocking together. Taylor’s body tensed and erupted.
I will write a statement for you to give to them.” he said with a laugh.” she said reaching for it. my last experience there was not good. I will get the statement to the media when you are ready. Taylor. I want to put it behind me and not profit from it. I can’t just walk out on him. .“You can move in with me. “Yes I am. “We will deal with it.” Mario lifted his hips to withdraw from inside.” Mario traced a finger down her chin. but I want no part of anything. We can go somewhere to eat but not IHOP. Now that we have that business out of the way. I have plenty of room. and ask that you not be contacted with any other offers. how about a hot shower then breakfast? I’m starving.” Mario said getting out of bed. “Yes you did. What I do not want is a book deal or any talk shows. “I’ll start the shower while you answer. I have to know why…that will be my only closure to this ordeal.” She patted her stomach. and Dillon. There is the trial unless Kelly waives and agrees to a plea deal.” He rolled off her to his side of the bed.” Her cell phone vibrated on the night table.” “Baby. “What you are doing is exactly what I expected you would do. What those other women do is on them. “I am hungry. “I wonder who is calling this early. I’ll retain you as my lawyer and you can deal with the media. As for Kelly. are you ready to face her?” Taylor nodded. do you think we are ready for that? I mean this isn’t over yet.” “I stepped right into that didn’t I. Until Dillon recovers. “What about the exposure from the kidnapping? The media is fighting to get your story?” “Well. we’ll help him. And as my first official duty.
and her hands cuffed together.” “That might be wise. “Dillon was going to leave me. My attorney advised me to use the guilty plea and let the judge sentence me instead of a jury of my peers.. “I asked you to come so I could apologize to you in person. You drove me to suspect he was leaving me for you. as far as the apology. This could have been avoided and you wouldn’t be sitting on the other side of this table waiting for a sentence if you’d just talked to me first. Kelly sat quietly in an orange jumpsuit.Chapter 27 Detective Diego stood in the corner with his arms crossed and his legs slightly apart while Taylor sat at the table.” “That would not have happened. But.” “It ate me alive knowing Dillon wanted you more than ever. Taylor cleared her throat breaking the silence. Kelly? Why did you go so far? I was never a threat to come between you and Dillon. I was losing him forever. You saw my death as the only way for you to be happy with him. Across from her. With no makeup on and her long dark hair divided into pigtail braids to rest on her shoulders. You should have talked to me if what happened between Dillon and me three years ago was bothering you that bad. What do you want to see me about?” The tears ran down Kelly’s face without her making any sobbing noises.” “Death…what a word to use. Why. “I’m sure you didn’t ask me to come here just to look at you. Taylor. I don’t know if I can accept it. That you had convinced him to be with you.” Kelly lifted her cuffed hands to wipe her wet face. she looked older than thirty years of age. This was senseless and stupid! You have ruined your life for what…. He is my first and only love.” . You might not have wanted him but he wanted you to death.another woman who doesn’t want your man.
Dillon made a mistake. I swear. But the circumstances behind it far exceed what you did.” Taylor bared her teeth. “Hey!” Detective Diego yelled from his corner. Kelly. Kelly. I made an unforgivable mistake.” “Yup.” “Cut the tears. “You did not have to compete with me…I was not after Dillon! You should have talked to me instead of acting irrational. I couldn’t compete with you anymore. It was my priority to get rid of you. If I could take it all back. We chose to fight for our lives . the chair creaking under her weight. Taylor sat straight. I’m not perfect and yes.” Taylor slammed her hand on the table making Detective Diego jump. what did you expect to prove with the cameras?” Her eyes flickered a brief reluctance then she squared her shoulders. My parents won’t take my calls. Those brave women who helped me take him down. you are right. He was never where he said he was going to be. my career is over. because Taylor James is so damn perfect that you are al lowed at least one mistake! Well you took a life so don’t sit there and throw stones at me. everything is gone. Detective. I would. “You weren’t in my position and don’t know how it is to have the man you love wish he was with someone else.” “Yeah right.” Kelly said with a puffy face and red eyes glaring at Taylor. “Dillon was always gone. did what we had to do.” Kelly said sniffing her nose. “You weren’t thinking about anyone.Kelly broke down. What you’re getting you deserve. That didn’t start until you came home and started working together. but it never happened again. and I don’t feel sorry for you anymore. “Everyone has turned against me. “It’s okay. She has a point.” Taylor said not moved by them. I knew he was lying to me and I had to see for myself if he was with you. “That is just sick! Yes. I did have a hand in taking a life. Her body shook and the metal handcuffs scratched the surface of the worn wooden table from her hands dragging back and forth. not even yourself when you planned this.
I took a worthless life and saved five others in the process. But while you are feeling sorry for him.” “I’m sure you will receive a medal rewarding you for your valor.” Kelly raised an eyebrow and gave a sinister grin. I hope you never learn Mario slept with someone you considered a friend. so we are clear.” “You can try to bring me down to your level. I was able to forgive him for that but in the end I’m the bad person. but be assured I’ll handle it in a mature way instead of hiring an assassin to take care of the problem.” Taylor leaned her upper body across the table. on the other hand.” Disgust filled Taylor’s voice as it fell two octaves. I would love to see your face if he droned over it wishing he could do it again. “God.I believe him and hope any memory of you is wiped clean from his mind. I would do it again if it came to my choosing to live or to have someone else decide my time is up. “I can’t control what he will or won’t do. will go back to a small cell. “Touché.” Taylor got up from the table slamming the chair against it. and have years to think about how silly it is to be jealous of another person. When I’m done with you. “So yeah.” “There is no doubt in my mind you won’t work hard to make him forget about me. “Well.rather than be butchered by that mother fucker who had already begun to slaughter two other helpless women. You. Who knows he might become smitten with Sabrina. I hope he remembers how he pushed me down the stairs at three month pregnant and made me miscarry. Taylor. And. Detective Diego will open the door for me to walk free.” . Dillon said you are crazy…. but it still doesn’t change you killed a man and ruined my life. Although. but it won’t work.” Kelly stopped crying and turned on an arrogant attitude. I cannot believe I was blaming me for your actions.
” . Don’t let what she said get to you.” she said tersely looking straight ahead.” Taylor shook her head speechless. “God. It sounds to me there were problems well before you came along.” “I refused to crumble at her feet. I’m shocked she wanted to ma rry him considering he was the cause of her miscarriage. I don’t think he even cared what he did to me after a while.” “We all make mistakes and have to own up to them but she took it too far. Entering the elevator Detective Diego said. Only you stayed in the picture and his attraction for you never left.” “Goodbye. ***** Once in the lobby of the Justice Center. You can’t kill a person because they’ve been unfaithful. Kelly if you would’ve opened your mouth. her feet would not move.” he said calling for the jailer to release them.Taylor froze. What happened was a mistake I regret and wanted to fix. Detective Diego. Detective Diego.” “That is not always the case.” she said walking to the door. Taylor had not talked about her visit with Kelly during the short walk. James. Kelly. I will pray for you. “Ms. all of this could have been handled differently. If I had stayed away they would be happy together. you handled that very well. “But she is right. “Why didn’t you say something when I asked you about that night? I asked had you been arguing and you said no. none of it would have happened at all. “Yeah. it is time to go.” “And if you would have stayed away. I’m ready to go.” “I’m not a home-wrecker.” “He promised if I didn’t say anything we would get married as planned and leave you alone. Detective Diego and Taylor walked back to police headquarters where Mario was waiting for their return. You said you tripped over his briefcase. One day you will find true happiness with yourself.
” The elevator doors opened. she approached the subject carefully. She knew Dillon spent a lot of time in his attic fixing it up. But.” “This is unreal. Running her hand up the sleeve of her blouse. if he recovers. he will have to answer for his part in Kelly’s mental breakdown. None of that stuff is rare.” A strange tingling filled Taylor’s chest when Detective Diego said that. Well.” “Before I forget. what are you feeling is wrong with her story?” . we located the items Kelly took from your home stashed in storage bags under a floorboard in the attic of their house. “I don’t evaluate them. I wanted to let you know. if I can answer it. James. “Wait. and I don’t understand why she would take those things.” “He was sick and didn’t know it. I have to ask you a question. Ms.” “That is part of their MO. and she could purchase it from any store if she wanted to imitate me.“I can’t believe Dillon would do that.” “Lay it on me. “Mario assumed it was a voyeur taking trinkets. Voyeurs will dress up dolls or put on the items taken from their victims and act as if they are the person they are obsessing over. I only lock them up. and he held his arm out to keep the door from closing letting her pass before him. That damn tumor changed his whole personality.” “Something is very wrong with Kelly’s story.” “That is disturbing as hell.” “Sure. She questioned if Kelly was taking the fall for him and he did actually put the cameras in her house. investigator did not find pictures of Kelly wearing or handling the items you listed as missing.” She stopped him from entering the department by taking hold of his forearm.
” “Detective. James. She won’t rollover on him. “That is a huge relief. even if that is true.” “My job is to serve and protect. I’m glad to have been able to solve two cases with one. He was so angry when I told him I was dating Mario that he threw the keys on my desk. We had to keep any eye on you just in case Kelly’s plans changed or she figured out we were onto her.” Detective Diego nodded. that was the undercover officer. Did you see the look on her face when I mentioned the cameras? I know Dillon was remodeling his attic.” “Ms. There was a man in the woods behind her house…” “Oh yeah. “It is possible she is not telling the complete truth. and we’re hoping her attorney will get her to talk. I stayed at my sister’s house the night of the car accident. Detective Diego. Dillon gave me the keys back to my house. Thank you so much for everything. Gracias. Mario mentioned you wanted to get together one day soon. but she signed a confession stating she stole the keys to your house. I would love to have you and your wife over for dinner next weekend if you are free?” “We’d love to come.” Taylor sighed.“It is possible Kelly is taking the fall for Dillon. She is taking responsibility for everything. There is no way Kelly could have stolen them away from him if I had them. Do you believe he had a hand in that?” “I don’t know what he would be capable of doing anymore.” he said smiling. But I would like to know how Kelly knew how to inquire about hiring an assassin. Kelly could have found the videos and stuff he took from my house and used it to blackmail him. Kelly tried to hire an undercover officer to murder you. . Did she look it up on the internet?” “We have a person of interest who may have helped her in her quest.” “I don’t believe her and I’ll tell you why.” “Me too! Um.
He knew every inch of the house because he’d been inside it often as a kid. Taylor licked her lips. “Call me a cynic or whatever you like.” “He played me and Kelly like a cheap guitar. I purchased it from them. He would know where to place the cameras where you wouldn’t notice them. Heck. “Damn.” “Yes.Mario joined them in the hallway. he would. “What if he does remember and lies about it. really? Aren’t you grasping for straws?” She folded her arms tightly across her chest.” “Just to strengthen your theory. specifically the bedroom and basement?” Detective Diego asked. “She has been there but not as often as Dillon. he might not even know who he is. what’s wrong? Did it go okay with Kelly?” He asked rubbing her arm gently.” she answered.” . she didn’t put those cameras in the house. and she would not know the layout of the house. “Hey. he may not remember doing anything.” She cocked her head to one side. My house belonged to my parents.” “Ms. why would you suspect Dillon all of a sudden? You were in his corner believing he was being bullied by Kelly.” “Taylor. He had the opportunity and my neighbors were used to him around my house. about how often was Kelly inside your home. “I made changes to the house but not that many.” “Baby. Dillon had to do it. When they moved to the eastside. “Mario. He knew I would suspect Kelly since she was insanely jealous of our friendship and Kelly would overact to him finding out we had slept together. And when he is conscious. questioned his being there when I wasn’t that night. but I will bet my last dollar Dillon did it. Sebastian for some reason. James. we can’t interrogate an unconscious man. the layout is basically the same.” Mario slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand.
” he said as he walked inside the police station. He chuckled. I have a man in a coma that is now a suspect. there isn’t anything you can do right?” “Technically. we can be on the Royal Caribbean Allure in a few days if you’re willing.“Wow. Stevenson. his charge will be lesser than Kelly’s. Mario hugged her from behind. no there isn’t.” “What will be the next step. “Detective. James. . I can take my lady on a much needed vacation. Ms. If you had not been kidnapped. “Good luck with your cruise and I will be in touch with developments concerning Mr. This is the wackiest case I’ve ever worked. Detective?” Mario asked. I cannot wait to get away from all this for a while.” Detective Diego gave Mario the thumbs up.” Her arms went around his waist clutching him tight. there is a strong possibility you could be dead. “I have no idea. “He is a modern day peeping Tom. He has to be conscious to understand the charges being filed against him and aware of his rights to have a lawyer. We have the tickets for the cruise. Why waste time looking through windows when you can do it from the privacy of a computer screen. until Stevenson is conscious.” Detective Diego said shaking his head. and his girlfriend behind bars for attempted murder. In the meantime.” “Unfortunately. “Really—you want to go to the Bahamas now?” “I will call the travel agent and see if I can exchange the tickets for August to an earlier departure date.” Taylor’s light brown eyes brightened with her smile. and what a better time to go than now.” she said sarcastically. “I am so willing to do that.” “Who would have known the fat bastard would be the one to save my life. With any luck.
“Who says I am forgiving? Once we are on that cruise. Come on. you might have to do some freaky things. “I like it when you call me Papi. you should don a magnifying glass and pipe and become a PI. but you two listened to me. “Just name it. You pretty much solved the case.” Taylor looked at him.Mario kissed the top of Taylor’s head. and I will do it. Papi. Instead of putting on a power suit every day. . “You have skills.” he joked.” He grinned.” she said teasing him. “I could not have done it without you and Detective Diego. I am so lucky to have such a forgiving man like you in my life. Men don’t normally listen when women speak.” he said sliding his arm around her waist. let’s get out of here.
my painters should be done with your house in a day or two. I am confident I won’t get ripped off anymore. Also. this is what I do best. Taylor gushed.Epilogue Four Months Later The brisk November air had Taylor pulling the lapels of her coat around her neck to shield the cold. I’m going to make sure you always have the best representation if you ever need it. and they were making every effort to impress current and potential clients. We’ve survived it and moved on with our lives. No one would expect this type of elegance for a one-story building with six offices. Sebastian.” Taylor rubbed her gloved hands together to ward off the cold.” he said gathering up his tools and tarps.the detail you put into the outside or the offices you remolded. “I don’t know what will get more oohs and awes…. I have the best legal counsel representing my company now. before I forget. “You took a bullet for me. Sebastian. In a few days. the grand opening of Legal Minds was set to happen. “How do you like it?” “I love it. Thanks to you and Mario. How can I ever thank you?” “Ah shucks. The reception area is absolutely beautiful. You have done an outstanding job remodeling this old building into a modern and efficient place to do business. Are you sure you want sell it after putting all the extra work into it?” . She admired the calligraphy on the sign above the double glasspaned door Sebastian had hung. Sebastian folded the stepladder together leaning it against the building.” “Let’s put that incident behind us.” “It does me proud to know how satisfied you and Mario are with my work. I have gained a lot more exposure. Oh.
The fresh paint and clean smell of the reception area hit her nose immediately.” she laughed going inside the building. It wasn’t hard to do once the FBI named Anderson Cartwright as the person of interest in helping Kelly with getting an assassin. I think it’s for the best. “I’m so happy for you! I can’t wait to meet her. “Say it ain’t so. If I play my cards right. Sebastian.” “Nah. I could be getting married come next year.” She hugged Sebastian elated with his news. Taylor. who chose to work with them instead of retiring as planned. I’ve been seeing a nurse I met when I was in the hospital. Taylor dropped her eyebrow. I’m kidding. “Yes.” “Have fun tonight and behave. “I will be back to get the ladder in a second. her name is Kathleen. I do.Taylor nodded. The cream-colored modern furniture was stylish and elegant. What is her name?” “Kelly. Now that Mario and I are married.” He tucked the dusty tarps under his arm and picked up the red toolbox.” he said with a wide grin on his face. I will miss seeing you every day but you have to do what is best for you. I’m gonna scoot.” “Well. The high-polished marble floors and warm brown hues on the walls were pleasing to the eyes. we selected to live in his house and sell mine.” Taylor raised her brow questioning him. . And you should get inside before you catch a cold. He had convinced a majority of Cartwright & Associates clients to follow him to Legal Minds. Mario was standing by a large oak bookcase talking to Todd Brantley. I will see you tomorrow. I have a date tonight and don’t want to be late. “Who is your date with tonight?” “I’ve been keeping it quiet until I was sure we would hit it off.
She’d moved some of the artifacts from her home to her office since Mario’s home didn’t have enough room for all her belongings.” The gleam in her eyes told how happy she was. in a way he is being punished.” “It has all been worth it.” “Baby. He has to re-learn the basics of talking. Fingering the large round Chocolate Diamond engagement and wedding ring. . I will be sure to remind him of the hell he put you through. reading. when he regains his memory. she was happy again—happy with her life and deeply in love with the man of her dreams. Taylor. He is sitting in a convalescent home with no memory of his life. Mario knocked on the opened door. we want. The nightmares are finally behind me.Taylor waved to both men as she went to her office. that has to be hard. and some stress trying to get this office together. We are finally ready for business. baby. “We did it. she said. it was crazy. With Kelly locked away in a prison facility thousands of miles from us. How is he going to function not knowing who he is?” “The doctor’s aren’t saying he will remain an amnesiac.” “I have to pinch myself to believe it is real.” she said drinking the water and feeling sad. But. The décor of her office reflected her love for African art. closing it behind him when he entered. After months of pure dread. I knew in my heart we were doing the right thing and so far. however. I still wouldn’t believe Dillon doesn’t r emember anyone.” “It’s all about new beginnings. We’ve had four months of being newlyweds and the years to come will be even better as we grow old together. and Dillon having no memory of anyone. we are free to live our lives. and using the bathroom. “If Detective Diego had not witnessed it for himself. it has been four months of wedded bliss. walking. Taylor. “I could not have done any of this without you. But. When we asked the captain to marry us on a whim. She walked over to where Mario was standing.” Taylor moved away from him to pour a glass of water.
” He took her in his arms hugging her.” she said fingering the tip of his chin. I’m fine. He had not spoken a word since opening his eyes four months ago.” “Sweetheart. His parents had sent him to a convalescent and rehabilitation center.” “Hey! What are you trying to say?” He frowned pretending to be upset. Illinois for care until he was able to function on his own.” “That is true. are you okay?” “Yeah. I love you. I feel bad for him. I should’ve never let him comfort me. “You are too caring and passionate to be angry with him. I’m not taking his side or anything.” She awaited his lips to capture hers saying. It’s like I’ve lost a family member that I will never have a chance to get back.“Taylor.” “Taylor.” ***** Dillon sat in a chair staring out the window at the vastness of Lake Michigan. and he should’ve been upfront with me about his feeling. but he’s choosing not to talk to anyone. you just didn’t see it the same. he can talk. “I will never be too old to do that with you. Anyhow.” Mario tilted her chin upward.” “I accept we have to share the blame in what we did to each other. . Taylor. But. I’m going to be honest. “I am younger and you might not be able to keep up with me in the bedroom. He could not walk but had limited use of his arms and legs. in Chicago. “We have a bright future ahead of us. but I think he did show you how he felt about you. “Yo te amo.” “He did and I ignored it on purpose. Mario. that is in the past. That is so rare to find in a person these days. I was thinking we could maybe try for a baby or two before you’re too old. He was my best friend at one time.
The nurse came to check on him. he murmured.” . here is your special call button. The nurse patted him on the shoulder and left him alone. if you do need anything. He reached inside the pocket of his robe removing a wallet-sized picture. He blinked twice and continued to stare out the window. Stevenson. “I will never forget you Taylor James and I will be back to get you.” she said adjusting the blanket on his lap. do you need anything? Blink once for yes and twice for no. “Mr. Thumbing the image. You remember how to use it right?” He closed his eyes and opened them once. “All right.
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