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Security Breach #1
AMAZON US | AMAZON UK | AMAZON CA | AMAZON AU
While I sit in the back of the Uber that’s taking me to the restaurant to meet my blind date, my mind is swarming with everything that went down this past week. It started out well enough, with Mom and Tad coming to get Gretchen Sunday night and us going out for pizza as a family. But Mom was in her “why aren’t you dating?” mode, which is always followed by, “When are you going to get married and give me grandchildren?” Fuck me, I’ve never really wanted that. I enjoy the casual flings: no expectations, no promises…easy peasy. Emphasis on the easy.
Usually, Tad comes to my rescue, reminding my mom that when they met he’d never been married. Out in the parking lot after dinner, I carried my giggling sister over my shoulder to their car. I promised Gretchen we’d talk soon and planned for her to come stay with me again.
As far as work goes, the new guy, Reece, started this week. We hit it off pretty quickly while I gave him a tour of the city, and then to make things even better, I found out he drives a badass Shelby. My 1970 Impala is in the garage across the street from my apartment—I pay a hefty price to keep it there, but at least I know it’s safe. I’ve already invited him over to come take a look at it.
But then shit hit the fan when Delilah was attacked outside of her apartment. Luckily her roommate scared the guy off, but she still ended up in the hospital. She and her unborn son are okay, thankfully. To make the clusterfuck even worse, though, we found out that Reece is the father of the baby. Apparently, when he came to town to talk to Jack six months ago, he’d hooked up with Delilah without having any clue who she was. They hadn’t seen each other since…well, that is until he showed up for his first day. I’m honestly surprised Jack didn’t kill him—they must be even closer than I’d guessed.
Now Del’s staying with Reece in Oak Park while we try to figure out who hurt her and why. Our whole team has been on edge about it. Delilah is our office’s baby sister, and we’ve all given Jack our word that we won’t stop until we find the motherfucker who touched her.
I blow out a deep breath to calm my nerves—just thinking about the dark bruises on Del’s face makes me want to punch someone, and that’s no mood to start a date in. Earlier I’d picked out my royal blue chambray shirt, the sleeves rolled up to my forearms; a pair of black slacks; and the one pair of dress shoes I own. I keep my blond hair buzzed close to my scalp, so I didn’t have to do anything to it. Once the driver drops me off, I head inside the restaurant, called Starlight. I glance around; I have no idea who I’m looking for. Carrie said that Shayla would know who I was. But why is it such a fucking secret? I kind of have a bad feeling about this, and why wouldn’t I? I know her name, and that she’s supposedly my type—that’s it.
The hostess walks up in the tiniest black dress I’ve ever seen, and my dick immediately likes what he sees. “Hi, welcome to Starlight. Table for one?” She licks her glossy red lips in what is clearly an invitation. Hmmm…maybe if this date is a bust, she and I can hook up.
“No, darlin’, I’m waiting for someone.” She gives a fake pout and goes to greet the next customers.“Erik?” The sultriest voice I’ve ever heard rises from behind me. After I turn slowly around, my eyes widen. The sexy voice belongs to a woman who is not my type at all. She’s shorter than the women I tend to go for—a lot shorter. And I like blondes, but she’s a dark brunette with dark-brown eyes. The red dress she wears hugs her curves—I usually like my women a bit thinner too. I know that makes me sound like a dick, but I can’t help who I’m attracted to.
Her light-olive skin tone pops in that dress, and her tits are practically spilling out of the top. They look real too. “Um…hello? My face is up here.” I look up and she’s glaring at me; huh, she’s kind of hot when she’s pissed. Under her breath, I hear her whisper, “This was a bad idea.”
“Sorry. I’m Erik—you must be Shayla.” I hold out my hand, and she reluctantly takes it. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Yeah, you too.” Fuck, her voice is sexy.
The hot hostess leads us to an intimate table in the back. I pull Shayla’s chair out for her, and push it in for her once she sits. Our hostess hands us our menus and tells us the specials. Yes, my eyes follow her as she walks away from the table. What can I say…it’s a bad habit.
“Are you serious?” Shayla snaps. I can tell she’s pissed—her cheeks are turning red.I grimace and clear my throat. “Shit, I’m sorry. So, uh…how do you know Carrie?”
She doesn’t look up from her menu. “We met at the Starbucks by my job. There wasn’t a place to sit and no one would give up their seat, so I slid over and shared the love seat with her. When we started talking, we just really clicked.”
“Carrie’s a sweetheart, and her husband is a great dude.” Shayla, again, doesn’t look up from her menu—she just nods her head.
Our waitress comes to our table, and I don’t miss the “come fuck me” eyes she’s giving me. I ignore her, but when I look at Shayla she’s glaring at our waitress, who’s oblivious. Why is her irritation making my cock twitch?
Shayla slaps her menu down on the table. “Miss, I hate to interrupt you while you eye-fuck my date, but I’d like to order my meal. Is that okay with you?”
I cough to cover up my laugh, which just pisses Shayla off more, and our waitress’s face is beet red. We both order, and the woman hightails it away from our table.
Shayla plays with her napkin, and without thinking, I reach out and grab her hand. “Listen, tonight hasn’t started right. Let’s do this again. I’m Erik, and you’re Shayla.”
She studies me for a long time, and then, thankfully, nods her head. “Starting over sounds great. Are you from Chicago?” She takes a sip of her wine.
“No, I’m from Kenosha. My mom, step-dad, and baby sister live there, and I lived there for a short time after I left the Marine Corps. What about you?”
Shayla rubs her arms like she’s cold. “I’m from Madison. I moved here two years ago. How old is your sister?”
“Gretchen’s fourteen and spoiled, but she’s not a brat. I try to have her stay with me at least one weekend a month so we can hang out. This weekend we watched My Girl and she cried herself to sleep.” I shake my head remembering the way she sobbed…and sobbed.
Shayla gives me a knowing smile. “That is a tearjerker for sure. What made you choose that?”
“My mom suggested it. I know she did it on purpose.”
Our waitress interrupts us to drop our food off, hightailing it away from our table like her ass is on fire. Conversation is stalled while we eat. The girl moans around each bite of her steak, and my eyes keep going to her lips. I can picture them wrapped around my dick.
“What do you do?” I ask her while cutting into my T-bone.
“Umm…I’m a temp right now. Not the most glamorous of jobs, but I always get asked to go back to the same places, which is great, and hopefully, I’ll bide my time and get offered to work one of those places full time.” She takes another sip of her wine. “You mentioned your mom and step-dad, but what about your dad?”
That familiar pain hits my chest. Don’t get me wrong, I know it was a long time ago, and I still have a lot of amazing memories of my dad, but I miss him every day. I clear the frog in my throat. “He was murdered when I was a boy.”
She surprises me by reaching out and grabbing my hand. “Oh God, what happened? Of course, I completely understand if you don’t want to talk about it.”
I squeeze her hand. “It’s okay. It was a long time ago.” I don’t let go of her while I grab my water with my free hand and take a sip. “It was a carjacking. The kid was young and messed up. My mom forgave him a long time ago, and then he became an assistant pastor. He got hired by my step-dad, and that’s how Tad and my mom met. I miss my dad every day, but if I hadn’t lost my dad, then Mom wouldn’t have met Tad, and then we wouldn’t have Gretchen.”
Where the fuck did that all come from?
“That’s really amazing that you both were able to forgive that man.”
I shrug. “I didn’t forgive him for a long time. When I was thirteen, I was a really angry kid. I actually went after him one Sunday after church. He let me hit him a few times, too, before my step-dad pulled me off. Tad counseled us together for a while, and after getting to know him, I was able to forgive him. It doesn’t mean we’re friends, but I don’t want to kick his ass anymore.”
The mood needs a serious lift. “Anyway. Tell me why you’re still single, gorgeous.” I give her my trademark cocky grin, which has melted many a pair of panties off of willing females.
She rolls her eyes and drains her glass of wine in one swallow. “Way to ruin a nice moment.” Shayla leans forward, and my eyes immediately go to her breasts. “Seriously, dickhead, my eyes are up here.” She narrows her eyes at me. “Does that smile really work?”
I stroke the back of her hand with my thumb. She tries to pull it from my grasp, but I hold firm. “It sure does.”
Shayla studies me some more, and I don’t like it. It’s like she can read me and the pain that lives inside me. I hold her stare because I’m not going to let her see it. I’ve never let anyone other than family see it. And by family, I mean my mom, step-dad, and my dad’s parents.
I pay the check, and while we’re waiting for the waitress to bring my receipt, I get her to agree to go see a movie with me. We decide on the newest Will Ferrell comedy. The waitress brings my receipt to sign, and when I open the little holder, her number is scribbled on a scrap of paper right on top. Before I can grab it, Shayla does, and she waits for the waitress to look our way before making a show of crumpling it up and throwing it in her water glass.
This girl is something else, but why does it turn me on? I get up from my chair and walk around to pull hers out for her—my mom would kick my ass if I didn’t do that for a date. With my hand to the small of her back, I lead Shayla out of the restaurant. The theater is a block over, so we decide to walk.
A Midwesterner and self-proclaimed nerd, Evan has been an avid reader most of her life, but five years ago got bit by the writing bug, and it quickly became her addiction, passion and therapy. When the voices in her head give it a rest, she can always be found with her e-reader in her hand. Some of her favorites include, Shayla Black, Jaci Burton, Madeline Sheehan and Jamie Mcguire. Evan finds a lot of her inspiration in music, so if you see her wearing her headphones you know she means business and is in the zone.
During the day Evan works for a large homecare agency and at night she’s superwoman. She’s a wife to Jim and a mom to Ethan and Evan, a cook, a tutor, a friend and a writer. How does she do it? She’ll never tell.