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I forgot in the last author’s note that you were supposed to know what book to find the Shadow. Now she does appear in about three stories, but she’s introduced in Wicked Chances. Shadow always makes me smile.
In the coming stories, there is a lot going to happen to her. She’s growing up and she still wants things her way and learning the hard way sometimes all her slick styles and savvy ways don’t work; especially when she comes up against her aunt.
Yes, that’s a spoiler. But I digress. Read down the other part for more of my thoughts about this story.
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Now my comments about the story:
What is to come for Lauren?
I really can’t tell without just telling the story. My fingers are typing chapter 19 as we speak, but my brain has already gone and written chapter 22.
IT … GETS… WORSE!
And that’s all I gotta say… oh, one more thing… I’m sorry.
It was very difficult for Lauren not to show her surprise by his hospitality and curious to know how he’d pulled everything off so well in the short amount of time he had from her leaving and coming back, including a shower and a change of clothes?
Usually, in a suit, he only wore a crisp white shirt and some off black slacks with the top button of his shirt open. The white shirt accentuated the darkness about him and damn if she couldn’t stop staring at his broad shoulders. How could they not be padded? They were so perfect.
Before she became a silly staring woman, she forced her eyes away from him.
Walking to the table and running her fingers over the edge of the soft tablecloth until she came to the seat, she was in awe of the setup. Offhandedly, she remarked, “It’s funny how I told Dylan a long while ago, I’d love to have a private dinner overlooking Detroit.” She looked out the window, but in her peripheral watched Tyler’s face.
He raised a black brow – either in annoyance because she had brought up Dylan or just the fact that she was talking.
Abruptly he stopped looking at her and went to the wall near the table to press a button. The wall slid and several shelves of liquor appeared with a small refrigerator and a cabinet at the bottom.
“Drink?” he questioned pouring Canadian Whiskey over rocks.
“No,” she answered taking note he hadn’t addressed the observation about her past life and what she had told Dylan.
“Do you drink?” he questioned turning to her and taking a sip of his drink.
“I like a nice red wine, but I haven’t been able to afford it as you can see.”
He was staring at her intensely again.
The plates were covered. Lauren was in suspense as to what was being served. In her nervousness, she blurted out, “Do you feel a little guilty sleeping with your best friend’s ex-girlfriend?”
Tyler casually corrected her with a smirk, “You mean ex-wife, and no, I don’t. You mean absolutely nothing to him right now. He took your honeymoon with my half-sister and is currently in Africa enjoying himself last I spoke with him less than a week ago.” He finished his drink and moved to the table again. “Sit down,” he ordered.
Moving into the closest chair, Lauren dug her nails into her thighs to stifle the hurt look. True, she knew she would never get back with Dylan but did Tyler have to throw salt on the wound? It took a lot not to get up and walk out of the office.
“And we’re not sleeping together,” he continued. “We’re fucking and in your supposed innocent mind you think that might be degrading but actually it’s a convenience. We are not tied to each other and we don’t owe each other shit emotionally, so when it’s time to walk away from this arrangement it’s going to be easier for you.”
“Logically,” she replied. “That would be fine if you weren’t my first lover.”
He snorted indignantly. “You can pretend to be innocent all you want, Lauren, but we both know the truth.”
“No, you don’t know the truth and you’re being an idiot, Tyler. You’re ignoring the fact that I was a virgin. We both saw the blood.”
He removed the covers off of the food in a possible attempt to change the subject again and for a moment she almost forgot about what she was perturbed with him about as he presented lemon smoked salmon, Caesar salad and fettuccine with parmesan. Her favorite meal.
“How’d you know I would like this?” she asked suspiciously.
“You were eating this one time when I interrupted your date out with Dylan. I remembered,” he said. “Plus Kenneth couldn’t stop talking about you all the time and he remarked about how you ate salmon with a lot of your meals. A chef owed me a favor.”
She narrowed her eyes warily. “So you remembered information about me?”
“I’m a lawyer. I remember everything people say at times when it’s needed.”
Rolling her eyes around in exasperation, she grumbled. “Thank you.”
Lauren really wanted to eat this meal and enjoy herself, so she didn’t harp on the previous subject that she knew would get her upset again.
“How do you not have anyone? Friends? Any other family? I’m shocked. Hell, in this day and age, people are crying on social media to their invisible friends,” Tyler inquired. “Why didn’t I see anyone else at the wedding other than your fat friend Jeanene?”
She cut her eyes at the insult to Jeanene and really started to question what her coworker told her about Tyler, but she didn’t bring that up at this time. “I’ve always lived a private life and social media hasn’t been my forte since whenever I would go on social networks I would get inappropriate pictures from guys. So unless I’m looking at people’s lives from my alma maters or coworkers, I really didn’t participate in social media. And since I have to buy minutes on my phone and the majority of people have blocked me, there’s really no need to go there for anything other than to just see who died.”
“So even though they knew you were broke and homeless, no one came to your aid? Not even a save a ho guy? I would think as beautiful as you are, you’d have a couple of whore knights in the corner just waiting for Dylan to break your little heart to rescue you.”
Again she had to bite her tongue from his absurdity. “I don’t keep male friends around just because and I was going to be a married woman and that’s just inappropriate. After my father’s accident, a lot of people either blocked me or unfriended me and then after this wedding thing…” her voice trailed off. “Like I said, I just look in on people now and I don’t really socialize as much… honestly, not at all.” Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to recover from the hard subject that brought too many painful memories. “Other than the people who borrowed money from me, well, no one really wanted to help me. Dylan’s sister kind of ruined me a lot as well, by sending nasty messages to people in my name when she returned the gifts back. She used a lot of information I’d told only Dylan to get to my friends and made me look really awful. I tried to send apologies, but the damage had been done. I lost a lot of friends.”
Tyler looked annoyed again. “I find that hard to believe.”
“Why do you find that hard to believe, Tyler? What have I done to make you think any different than what I’ve always shown you.”
He shifted uncomfortably in his seat for a moment before retorting, “Whores usually stick together.”
Lauren ground her teeth, holding back the anger that wanted to burst forth. She was positive the sides of her thighs were bleeding from where she had been digging her fingernails.
“Unfortunately since I was a virgin, most promiscuous women choose not the hang around me. Regular friends and married women just thought I was silly saving myself. And I didn’t know a lot of things other than what I read, but I wanted my night to be worth it. The annulment and financial agreement along with Dylan’s sister announcing the divorce in the paper seemingly all over the state of Michigan was just proof to everyone else that was waiting for me to fail at something wasn’t worth it and I was made to look like a liar.”
“You bounce back in stride. You’ve adjusted well,” he noted and she wasn’t sure if this was a compliment or a sneak attack on hurting her some more verbally.
“Handling backlash is not new to me. I come from adversity, even before the accident that caused my parents’ death, I had to endure a lot of things people said and put me through. Plain and simple, for my parents was just an accident. He lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the home. At least no one died, except them.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Positive,” she said. “I even made them wait to pay out after three months when everyone was out of the hospital.”
He frowned. “I wondered about that provision in the payout.”
“You know about my father’s case?”
“It was thoroughly studied for negotiation purposes,” he answered. “So losing all that money must’ve been hard, but Dylan’s money must’ve been a Godsend to spend.”
She shook her head. “I didn’t come from wealth. The settlement took all my parents assets and my mother’s side of the family didn’t speak to me because they were terrified one of the victims might go after their money too. I sold her shares of their family business in time so no one could hurt that side of the family-owned company and put them in the trust my father had set up for me in case something happened to them.”
“And her family still want nothing to do with you?”
“They’re in Florida. And I’m the daughter of a man they hated for taking her away from Florida and killing her. I’m not a high priority on their Christmas list. Just a reminder of him.” She continued what she was originally saying. “True, Dylan was successful and had money, but every penny I spent on the wedding and our lives together I either earned myself, took a loan out or used all my trust. I wanted that. I wanted to show him he was stepping into a perfect wife and a perfect life. I felt it was what a wife should do. My mother helped my father build his small business. Why shouldn’t I do the same for my husband?”
Tyler sat back in his chair and actually looked uneasy. “So that’s why you didn’t have any savings afterward?”
“Of course. After purchasing everything for the wedding and buying the house and property that he took in the divorce, what was I supposed to do? The loans I had taken out were not large but I thought I could pay them off with a little bit of work and then retire, while Dylan took over our daily expenses after we were married. All my funds would have been tied up in recovering from the divorce and the wedding, but it wouldn’t have hit him at all. I didn’t expect to lose my job, but it was like a cherry to put on top of a miserable sundae when it was all over. I tear myself apart over and over at the stupid decision of signing all the papers, but that’s how sure I was that love would conquer all.” Forlornly, she looked out at Detroit’s skyline. ”I know it was stupid. You don’t have to remind me.”
Surprisingly, Tyler didn’t take the opportunity to make her feel worse. “You still recovered quite well.”
She shrugged deciding not to read too much into his words. “That’s because I come from struggle. I come from a lot of struggling and I choose not to sit and be miserable about something. If it weren’t for my parents I would have been so strong of mind when things got bad. My parents showed me that I have to work hard if I want my dreams and goals met. I don’t mind.” She paused a moment before saying. “Sometimes it is worth losing everything.”
They were both almost done with their food and he went over to a small refrigerator by a private bar and brought over one single small plate with blueberry cheesecake displayed beautifully.
Skeptically, Lauren demanded as she dug into the sweet dessert, “Why are you being so nice to me?”
“I told you it was your night. This has nothing to do with me or the contract. I appreciate your help in the report you turned in. I’ve been trying to secretly earn some brownie points with the mother side of my family to get some information and a reputation. Also, I really was shocked you were that intelligent. I really never expected that kind of help in getting me those facts so fast.”
“Is that a compliment?” she asked.
“Not really,” he said sourly. “Are you done with your dessert?”
He had been intently watching her eat the dessert those black eyes not missing every moment the fork touched her lips as if he were wishing he were there in her mouth.
Lauren realized he hadn’t eaten any dessert and had barely eaten anything on his plate. “Yes, I’m done. Aren’t you going to eat a dessert, too?”
“Yes,” he said obviously putting his napkin on the table from his lap. “You’re my dessert, Lauren.” He took her hand and pulled her up from her seat. His hand came around her nape and she braced for his kiss.
Tyler kissed her as if he were searching for the sugary goodness she had just eaten, making her thighs feel weak and she was glad his other hand was around her waist holding her body against his.
“I’m going to eat you, Lauren,” he promised.
Her right leg buckled and she whimpered.
He guided her over to his desk pulling her to the side he usually sat at and then positioned her body perfectly in front of him with a very hungry look in his eyes.
©2018 Sylvia Hubbard and The Literary World of Sylvia Hubbard All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sylvia Hubbard and The Literary World of Sylvia Hubbard with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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To read the other Black Family Series, go to the series page. (Each one is a standalone story and it should be a saga and not a series, but I don’t feel like changing the page name).