Look the Part (Page 11)
Amanda doesn’t give me the you-two-almost-had-sex-yesterday look, so I assume it’s safe to act normal. Whatever our normal might be.
“Thank you.” I take the small plate of cake.
“It’s gluten and dairy free—for Harrison.”
I take a bite.
Flint gives me another quick glance.
“Harry has a lactose and gluten intolerance, huh?”
“Flint has him on a strict diet for his—”
“Amanda, I fired you. Why are you still here?”
She shakes her head and slings her purse over her shoulder.
My eyes widen. Holy shit. He really did fire her.
“I have a doctor’s appointment,” she whispers. “Don’t worry, I’ll be back tomorrow. He wouldn’t function without me.”
I nod slowly. “Thanks for the cake.”
“Oh …” Her eyes affix to my arm where the bandages peek out at the cuff of my sleeve. “What happened?”
Flint eyes me like pressing the tip of a sword to my carotid artery.
“Rough sex.” I grin at Amanda. “Roleplaying taken a little too far.”
Her face flushes around her cow eyes. “You’re joking,” she whispers.
I give her a noncommittal wink.
“Okay then … fantastic. I’ll see you later.”
After the door closes behind her, I set my cake on her desk and lean against the doorframe to his office. “Happy birthday.”
“We didn’t have sex.” He keeps his focus on the contents of the file folder in front of him, thumbing through the pages.
“We did. I finished out the scenario in my head when I got home last night. I was amazing. You were just okay. I have to say … you’re the first guy I’ve been with who cried during your orgasm. What you lacked in manliness, you made up for with complete tenderness. I will always remember the soft caress of your tears falling onto my cheeks.”
Flint eases his squinted gaze up so slowly it’s torturous. I nibble at the inside of my cheek to keep from grinning. Dang! He looks so sexy with ruffled feathers.
“I don’t need this today.”
“Because it’s your birthday?”
Flint swallows hard as something unpleasant or painful ghosts across his face, disappearing in a blink. “It’s my fucking birthday all right,” he mumbles, returning his attention to his work.
“Had I known it was your birthday, I would have gotten you a gift or at least a card.”
“Don’t sweat it.”
He looks up again, expelling a heavy sigh like he couldn’t possibly be more irritated with me.
I smile a toothy grin. “Consider stroking your dick yesterday your birthday gift from me. No need to send a thank you card. I’m sure you’d outsource it to Amanda and that would rob all sincerity.”
“Twelve days. Now go.”
He felt me up. Tasted every inch of my mouth. Let me stroke his dick. And yet … twelve days. “Abigail Hamilton said I should get an attorney to fight you on this. She said she knows a good one.” I bring my shoulders back, straightening my spine because two can play this game.
Even with his chin tipped down, I can see the twitch of a smirk flirting with his lips. “Does she now? I wonder who that attorney might be. Do you have any educated guesses, Ms. Rodgers?”
Of course. Dammit all to hell anyway. “You,” I whisper on a defeated sigh.
“To be honest, you had a case before you brought your rat to work.”
“I brought him because I thought Harry would like him.”
“Not a good defense, Ms. Rodgers.”
Ms. Rodgers. Ms. Rodgers. MS. RODGERS! Gah! He can’t address me like a school teacher after telling me—in the gruffest, sexiest voice ever—to move my panties out of the way.
I fish a pen out of my bag and pop all of his balloons.
Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop.
Childish? Absolutely. Do I regret it? No way. “I have to go. My next appointment likes to use drums and cymbals for therapy. Enjoy!”
It’s not a lie. Landon finds loud beats therapeutic. He was abused by his father for years. Banging on a drum or clashing cymbals gives him a sense of power and control. In our hour session he goes from a timid child to a confident nine-year-old wearing a huge smile. My smile is for his progress and also because I know Flint is downstairs with his fingers in his ears, chanting, “Twelve days.”
“Harry, how was your day?” I ask, closing my computer and leaning back in my desk chair as he gets out his guitar. I’m not entirely sure how this happened, how offering to teach him a few chords has turned into a regular thing. I’m not a music teacher, but I can’t turn this kid away, even if his dad is the world’s biggest jerk. I’m certain I like Harrison more than Flint, but he’s also the reason I do like Flint. It’s complicated.
“There was a fire drill at school. I think the loud alarm punctured my eardrum.”
“Well, I hope not. Did you get a piece of your dad’s birthday cake?”
“Yeah, it was dry.”
It was. I smile.
“What are you going to do for his birthday tonight?”
“Same thing we do every year—watch videos of our family before my mom died.”
“Oh. That’s …” Depressing?
He sits on the floor and picks the strings a few times. “Yeah. She died on his birthday.”
The floor disappears beneath me as his words suck all the oxygen from the room. I’m a terrible person. How the hell can I make this right?
“You warm up. I’ll be right back.”
I take the stairs since my body won’t hold still long enough to ride the elevator to the first floor. Flint’s still at his desk. It’s hard to walk with my tail stuck so far between my legs. I cringe at the dead balloons.
He glances up as I slither my way into his office. I take calculated steps toward his desk, and his eyes narrow while mine hold his gaze the entire time. What do I say? What can I say? As I slide beside him with my butt rubbing the edge of his desk, he inches his chair back until I’m standing between his legs.
After a few more seconds of silence, he lifts his hand and takes my arm gently in it, ghosting his thumb over the bandaged cut. “He told you.”
I nod, grimacing. “I popped your balloons on the anniversary of your wife’s death. And I said stroking your dick was my present to you. I may be the worst person ever.”
He stares at my arm, brow drawn tightly, as his thumb continues to trace the path of my cut. “I’m the worst person ever, so you’re off the hook.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” I want to hug him, kiss that frown from his face. Touch him in a way that takes away the pain. But … it’s not right. Not the circumstances. Not the place. Not the day. Everything’s off. So I let it go.
I ease my arm from his hold, feathering my fingers over his palm just before releasing my arm back to my side. “I’m truly sorry for what I said and for your grief.”
Flint nods once, gaze affixed to my arm.
Nearly two weeks drift by without any more mention of my eviction countdown. I’ve looked for new places, but I can’t find any that will work, so I’m grateful for each day that I squeak by without Flint saying anything. He’s been distant but polite. I’m not sure if it’s the anniversary of his wife’s death, my willingness to give Harry my time without asking for any compensation in return, or if he’s still thinking about what almost happened.
When we see each other in passing or he comes upstairs to get Harry, his gaze always goes straight to my arm. The stitches are out. The wound is healing nicely. He doesn’t need to hold such anguish in his expressions. But maybe it’s not the arm. Maybe it’s what the arm represents—what almost happened.
Today should be an anguish-free day since it’s the weekend—my favorite time to be at the office with no one else in the other offices, no guilt over the noise. By six thirty, I grab my bag and escort my last client out of the secured building.
I look over my shoulder as Harry waves, jogging toward me with Flint a few steps behind him.
“See you next week,” I say to my client as she digs out her keys and heads toward her car.
“My grandparents are in the car. Can we play our song for them?” Harry asks.
“Harrison, can’t you see Ms. Rodgers is leaving for the night?” Flint puts on a fake smile.
“Please. It won’t take long.”
I look at Flint.
“We have dinner reservations. Maybe some other time. I just need to grab the files I left here. Get back to the car.”
Words linger on the tip of my tongue, uncertain if it’s okay for them to be heard. I don’t get the feeling Flint wants my opinion.
“I want to play it. There won’t be another time before they leave.”
“Dad! I want to play it.” He starts to lose his cool.
Flint stiffens, frustration lining his face.
“It won’t take more than five minutes to play.” I shrug. “If you have five minutes to spare?”