Look the Part (Page 20)
“No. I’m taking you shopping for a new space to rent.”
“Do you think I’m incapable of doing it on my own?”
“I know the area. And I know some places that might be available, but they’re not advertising it to everyone.”
“Oh, you’re connected.”
“And you can’t stand having me here.”
“I can’t work with you here.”
“Because I’m not a ten?”
“Because you’re too loud.” I turn and walk down the hall before this gets any crazier.
“On a scale of one to ten…” she pokes her head around the corner just as I push open the door to the stairwell “…how loud am I?”
I manage to grab a nap before Amanda squeezes in a last minute appointment at the end of the day.
“Your husband ‘not looking at you the same way’ does not prove that he’s having an affair. I can’t make a case out of that. I need more.”
“He sends me chocolates at work every week. That proves he has a guilty conscience … and that proves he’s trying to make me fat because he knows I don’t want to have sex when I feel bad about myself.”
“Bernie. Gordon calls me Bernadette. You’re on my side, not his.”
I set down my pen and lean back in my chair. “Bernie … I get paid whether you win or lose. But I don’t feel right about taking your money when I know you don’t stand a chance of winning with nothing more than a look and chocolates. So either you stay and see if things get better or you file for divorce. But without proof of an affair, you won’t get a dime since you signed the prenup against my advice.”
She sighs as a sad smile pulls at her glossy lips. “He told me the prenup was just something stupid his attorney wanted. He told me I was his forever.”
“All good attorneys want their wealthy clients to have prenups. And…” I stand and button my jacket so she gets the clue that our meeting is about over “…nothing lasts forever.”
“Don’t sugarcoat it.” She stands, shimmying her tight dress down over her chocolate-indulged hips.
“Never have, never will.”
I glance up as Ellen smiles at Amanda before making eye contact with me. I should have kept my blinds shut.
“I thought I was your last appointment today,” Bernie says while hoisting her fancy purse over her shoulder.
“You here to chat with me or see Flint?” Amanda asks.
Keeping those fucking seductive eyes on me, Ellen’s grin intensifies. “Flint. We have a date.”
My eyes narrow a fraction as I usher Bernie to the waiting room.
“A date?” Amanda whips around to me with wide eyes.
“Well…” Bernie huffs “…if he asks you to sign a prenup, I’d advise against it.” She marches past Ellen, straight out the door.
Women. If I could convince my dick I didn’t need them, my life would be a hell of a lot easier.
“Not a date. I’m finding a new space for Ms. Rodgers to rent.”
I don’t have to look at Amanda to know she has some knowing look on her face. She knows nothing. Ellen knows nothing either, but I get the feeling she thinks she does. I step back as she moves toward me.
Don’t touch me. I warn her with a stern glare.
My next step ends with my legs backed into Amanda’s desk and Ellen’s body crossing every possible personal space boundary.
“But if I buy you dinner afterwards, it’s a date.” Ellen keeps her gaze locked to mine.
It’s a miracle her hands remain idle at her sides instead of wrapped around my tie.
“Is it just me or is it warm in here?” Amanda asks behind me.
“It’s Ms. Rodgers’ fever, which would also explain her hallucinations.” I take a step forward, forcing her to retreat a step, refusing to let her ruffle me. “Shall we go before you get any worse?”
“You mean like … a seven?” Her head cocks to the side. “Right now I feel like a ten, but if this fever of mine persists, my condition could downgrade to a seven, and I have it on good authority that a seven is like getting a D in school.”
“Yep,” Amanda mumbles, “it is definitely hot in here.”
“Let’s. Go,” I say.
Ellen tips her chin up as if she’s readying another comeback. I narrow my eyes a bit more to let her know this conversation in front of my secretary is over. She can be so damn infuriating and stubborn.
Tilting her body to see past mine, she flashes Amanda a toothy grin. “Bye. See you tomorrow.”
“You two kids have fun.”
It’s torture, not fun.
“My car or yours?” Ellen asks, slipping on her wool jacket just as we emerge from the building.
“Why did you have to say this is a date? Amanda’s a dog with a bone when it comes to my personal life.”
“What’s Harry doing? I’d hoped he might stop by.”
I grab her arm and turn her toward me. “Did you hear my question?”
Blue eyes scan my face before landing on mine as she scrapes her teeth across her bottom lip several times. “Do you think about what happened at your house? I’m not asking if you regret it or not, just … do you think about it. Do you think about me?”
My mouth opens, but my brain vetoes the idea of acknowledging this. “We’ll take my car.” I nod to the right.
Her heels click behind my long strides. “You didn’t answer me. Where’s Harry?”
“You didn’t answer me either.” I unlock my car, instinctively opening the passenger door. Heidi liked it when I opened the door for her. The night I killed her, she opened her own door.
Ellen tosses her handbag on the seat and turns toward me instead of getting in the car. “Your question? Why did I tell Amanda this is a date? Well, I’m struggling to figure out if what we’ve done makes me spontaneous or just cheap. And since you like to analyze the stereotypical male and female roles, I would guess that men never feel cheap. I bet you haven’t lost a single second of sleep over wondering if what we did makes you cheap and easy. Correct?”
“Please tell me this isn’t leading to a discussion about emotions and expectations. There’s no place in my life for that right now.”
She deflates on a slow sigh, staring at her feet for a few seconds before inching her gaze back up to meet mine. “But the sex was good, right?”
“Get in the car.”
“Better than average?”
“Get in the car.”
“Was the seven a rating of my appearance or my performance?”
“Fucking hell, woman, get in the car!”
She grins like the snake-charmer-to-my-dick that she is. What have I gotten myself into?
“This feels too residential for my business needs.” Ellen stops humming long enough to speak.
I had her in my bed, but we didn’t sleep. There’s a good chance she snores classical music.
Pulling into a driveway, I slip off my sunglasses as the sun takes up residency beyond the horizon. “I have to pick up Harrison.”
Harrison appears at the front door and hikes his backpack over his shoulder. He frowns at me as he walks down the porch steps, but as soon as he spots Ellen in the front seat, he grins.
“Hey, Harry.” Ellen twists around to greet him as he gets in the back seat.
“What are you doing here? Please tell me this means we’re going out for dinner.”
Ellen says, “Yes,” as I say, “No.”
I shoot her a disgusted look that she ignores as we back out of the drive.
“Your dad offered to help me find a new office space before taking us to dinner.”
I hate her.
“Why do you need a new office space?”
“My new one burned down.”
“But why don’t you just stay at my dad’s office? I didn’t understand why you were leaving anyway.”
I haven’t had a chance to discuss this with him in detail.
“Your dad finds me too distracting.”
Nice of Ellen to do it for me. I clear my throat. “Did you and Drew get your science project finished?”
“Yes, but the supplies were cheap crap.”
“Harrison,” I warn.
“Why didn’t you buy the ones I told you to buy?”
“Drew’s mom said she’d get the supplies if I covered half the cost.”
“They were crap.”
Ellen bites her lips together, hiding her amusement. I’m sure her rats don’t talk back to her like this.
“Where are Grandma and Grandpa?”
“Home packing. They leave in the morning.”
“You think everything sucks.”
I shoot her a sideways glance. She bites her lips together again. Harrison shoves in his earbuds and zones out. I’d like to escape for a while too.
“No,” Ellen says as we pull into the parking lot of the building. One of my clients owns it and it has two vacant office spaces.