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Fueled (Page 81)

“Fuck,” I mutter under my breath as I rub my temples to assuage the beginning of a headache. I hope it’s not one of Teddy’s endless brainstorming sessions. Our optimism had been tested earlier in the week when new budget projections showed us falling short of funding due to changes in California insurance laws. And since we’ve tapped every fundraising well dry, we’re crossing our fingers and hoping that Colton’s team pulls through with the needed sponsorships to keep everything on track. I look down at my schedule again, reining in my impatience at Stella’s lack of response, and remind myself of Haddie’s accusation when I’d snapped at her earlier this morning.

“Ooooh, someone’s having Colton withdrawals,” she chided as she added creamer to her coffee.

“Shut up,” I muttered, shoving my bagel in the toaster with more force than necessary.

“I guess it’s the toaster’s fault you’re pissy then.” I shot her a glare of death, but her only response was a smarmy smile. “Look, I get it. You’re so used to getting fucked into next week that when you’re stuck in this week you’re beyond sexually frustrated. You’ve gotten used to having incredible sex regularly, and now he’s been gone now for what? Nine days?”

“Eight,” I snapped.

“Yeah.” She laughed. “But it’s not like you’re counting right? And now Momma needs to get some to make her happy.” I stifled my smile then even though my back was to her. “Christ, Rylee, it’s nowhere near the real thing, but Skype the man and get yourself off if it’s going to stop you from being such a bitch!”

“Who says I haven’t,” I responded coyly, extremely happy that she didn’t see the blush creep over my cheeks as I remembered Colton’s and my chat last night. Oh the marvels of technology.

“Well hot damn!” She slapped the kitchen table. “At least someone’s getting some in this house this week.” She laughed. I caved and finally turned around, my laughter joining hers. She brought the cup to her lips again and looked at me while she blew the steaming coffee cooler. “I’m happy for you, Rylee. Really happy. The man looks at you as if you’re the only woman in the world.” When I snorted at her telling her she’s completely wrong, she just continued. “Colton’s put that spark back in your eye. Made you confident and sure of yourself again. He’s made you feel sexy too…don’t give me that look,” she told me when I narrowed my eyes at her. “I’ve seen the lingerie hanging to dry in your bathroom, sister, so don’t even try to deny it. I love it! So when does the handsome stud get back anyway?”

“Two more days,” I sighed.

“Thank God! Then you can stop being such a raving bitch!” she teased with a smile. “You’ve got it bad girl!”

“I know. I know.” I shot her a quick smile as I stuffed my lunch into my bag, knowing the following forty-eight hours were going to drag big time. “I gotta go before I’m late. Love ya – bye.”

“Love ya – bye.”

I take a deep breath as I shake myself from my reverie. Haddie’s right, I’ve got it bad. I turn in my chair and buzz Stella again.

“Yes?”

“There you are…hey what’s up with this meeting taking up my whole afternoon?” I try to keep the irritation out of my voice, but it’s hard. I’ve been working non-stop since Sunday and just want the afternoon to catch up.

“Um, I’m not sure.”

What? Who took my overly efficient assistant and hid her? “What do you mean you’re not sure?”

“Well…” I sense her discomfort even through her disembodied voice on the intercom. “I mean—”

“What’s it for?”

“Well someone from CDE called over and asked that I clear your schedule for a very important meeting about the sponsorship program. Teddy was right here when they called and okayed it. Said he’d tell you…and I’m guessing by the sound in your voice that he didn’t?”

My heart flutters at the mention of Colton’s company and then deflates knowing that he’s not going to be there. And then my mind starts turning and my heart accelerates because I have a feeling that this means I’m going to have to be one-on-one with Tawny and her team. Just the person I want to spend four hours confined in a room with.

“No, he didn’t. Are you fucking kidding me?” I say before I can catch myself.

“Nope.” She chuckles sympathetically, knowing I’ve been burning the candle at both ends. “I’m sorry. I know your day was packed, but I was able to move everything around. I left you a voicemail…I guess you didn’t get to that either, huh?”

“Haven’t even had a chance to listen to them since I first checked them this morning.”

“Well at least you might get to see that hot hunk of a man hmmm?”

I laugh overtly at her comment, knowing the rumors are swirling around the office about what Colton and I are or aren’t doing. I’ve yet to justify any of them except to say that we attended the gala together to promote the sponsorship despite what the caption in People said. I’m not sure if anyone believes me or not—and honestly I am way too busy to care—but I’m sure the water cooler has been a busy place as of late.

“Nah. When we spoke last week he mentioned that he’d be out of town for the week for some kind of promo junket,” I lie.

“Too bad,” she murmurs. “Looking at him during a four hour meeting would definitely put some pep in anybody’s step.” Her hearty laugh comes through the line, and I can hear it echo in stereo outside my office door.

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