Authors: Anne Connor
A Bad Boy Romance
A Bad Boy Romance
Copyright © 2016 Anne Connor
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Editing by Liz Connor
Proofreading by P.B.
Sign up for Anne Connor’s newsletter
to get updates on sales, new releases, and ARC opportunities!
“Have you seen this shit?”
My brother slaps a newspaper down on the marble countertop in front of me, disrupting my breakfast.
“I’ve seen it. Please, sit down. The coffee is hot.”
I’m keeping my cool. My neurotic younger brother is about to have a conniption over this whole fucking mess.
“There. I’m sitting down,” he says, pushing his coffee cup out of the way and resting his arms on the counter in front of him. He looks like shit. His hair's a mess and he’s still in his Hanro pajamas. He clearly hasn’t slept, and he certainly hasn’t showered yet this morning.
This isn’t like him. He usually hits the gym by seven and is in the office by eight, no matter the level of chaos going on.
“Drew, I can’t sit here all day. We have to get to the office. Do some damage control. God, this is so fucked up.”
“You need to relax.”
Of course I’d seen the newspaper. My attorney called me at five a.m., as soon as the story hit the front page of the
I know the whole affair will end in our favor. We have the best attorneys, the best PR, the best
It’s a lawsuit. We’ve been sued before. But now, we are being sued for the rights to some land that another commercial investment firm has a stake in. A contract dispute is really all it is. Not a big deal. Par for the course.
But this time, our interest in the land is not the only thing at stake. We have the architects, investors, vendors, contractors all lined up for this project. We’ve poured more capital into it than we have any other project in our firm’s short history.
“Shit. Is that my phone or yours?”
It’s mine, but the buzzing inside my pocket sends my brother leaping into the air and checking his personal phone, his work phone, the iPad he’s left out on the kitchen counter all night.
“Eric, would you relax? Take it easy.”
I slip my hand into my pocket casually, as though I’m expecting it to just be a normal text, one that I could get at seven on any morning. But today, I know that it could be anyone, and I already know what the topic is going to be. It could be any number of reporters, my assistant, my father, my mother. Maybe one of my associates or attorneys.
Or my girlfriend.
Text me back or call me. Plz!!
This is not the kind of text I want today.
In the midst of this crisis, I know Clarissa is probably texting me about something superfluous, something I don’t give a shit about.
Like the flower arrangement for our upcoming nuptials.
Or the cake.
Or the color of the linens.
I really love Clarissa. I do. I just don’t know why I have to be involved with every damn detail of the planning.
All I want to do is show up on the day and get it over with.
After finishing my breakfast, I send my brother away to his room to take a shower and calm down. He looks like he’s been up all night, pacing, checking the papers, and calling his attorneys. And that’s fine. He can do that. But he just can’t
like that’s what he’s been doing.
I step out of the Fifth Avenue building, where Eric and I share an apartment, and into the rainy morning. If it weren’t so cloudy, the sun would just be rising, the garbage men and mail carriers just starting their shifts, coffee shops opening and construction sites receiving their early morning crews, the city slowly stretching its arms and yawning awake.
But because of the rain, the city has a heavy fog over it, one that seems fitting for the crap day I know I’m about to have, and it slumps hazily out of its torpid slumber as I bound out of my building.
Damn, who am I kidding? It wouldn’t be a crap day. It’d be a crap month. Or year.
This can all be settled before the suit goes to court. I know it. Our attorneys will come to some kind of settlement and this ordeal will just be a footnote in the legacy of the firm.
I hail a yellow cab and duck inside, the newspaper I was holding over my head to shield myself from the rain crumbling in my hands. I don’t even know why I took the paper with me out of the apartment. Maybe I thought that if I held onto it, the story wouldn’t be real. That it would be trapped in the black and white pages of the news. Plus, I want there to be one less copy of the paper out in the world.
Like my mom always says,
don’t put it out into the universe.
“Madison and 65th, please.”
Normally, the traffic would leave me commanding the cab driver speed up to get me to the office. I can’t help it - I have places I need to be, and besides, everyone in the city acts like a jerk sometimes.
But today, on the day I am dreading going into the office, there is no traffic at all.
Call it karma, I guess. Or irony. I don’t know what you’d call it. But it is definitely a fucking pain in the ass.
My phone rings, and I assume it’s Eric. I answer without even checking.
“I told you to calm down. Don’t call me. Just get ready and come to the office.”
“It’s not Eric. It’s me.”
Great. The last thing I want is for Clarissa to harp on something or nag me and get into my head.
“Hey, babe. It’s not really the best time. Can we talk later?”
I pay the cab driver with my company AmEx, slam the door shut behind me, and chuck the newspaper into a nearby trash can on the corner. There’s a broken, inside-out skeleton of an umbrella on the ground next to it.
I guess I’m not the only one having a bad day.
“I was really hoping to talk to you now, Drew.”
“How about lunch? I’ll come and get you. We can go to lunch at The Regis. Okay? I have to go.”
“Okay, but I need you to really be with me. I can’t just be talking to the top of your head. Please. It’s important. Leave your cell phone at the office.”
“We’ll talk later. I’ll get you at noon.”
I hang up and make my way through the revolving glass doors and into the lobby of my office building.
We don’t need a space as nice as we have, but Eric and I splurged a little bit.
It’s a far cry from the office we worked from when we first started. In fact, after a little windfall we made flipping a commercial building downtown, we were able to buy the building we now work out of.
Eric insisted that when he and I broke off from our father’s firm, if we wanted to look legitimate and attract serious investors, we make sure to
the part. And he was right - it worked.
It’s not a high-rise or a tower or a skyscraper. It’s a relatively modest midtown building. Twenty floors. Nothing like the towers uptown owned by the more established firms. But we’ll get there someday.
Without me having to look over at him, the front desk attendant quickly buzzes me through and I stride through the turnstiles, making my way to the elevator bank.
It’s a nice building. Modern, glass, and cool, with geometric lines made out of luxurious materials and finishes.
It’s more Eric’s style than mine. I like the style of the buildings more uptown, near the park. Gothic arches framing the interiors of the windows, old wood and brass. But he thought the newer, younger, hipper style would attract the kind of investors he wants. And more importantly, the kind of women who are attracted to style and money, and don’t care if their proximity to it might be temporary.
I get out of the elevator on my floor and make my way past the reception desk, through two sets of double glass doors, and down the hall and into my office. It looks like the sun is starting to peek out from behind the clouds through the full floor-to-ceiling Eastern exposure windows.
The receptionist and most of the associates aren’t in the office yet. My engineer and architect are just taking off their coats, and I duck into each of their offices to say hi to them quickly.
My assistant, Sarah, is already outside my office with my Starbucks.
“Here. You’re going to need this,” she says, handing me the cardboard cup. “There was a reporter here from the
, but I got rid of him. You’re welcome.”
“Do I detect some concern in your voice? Nothing to be worried about. Close the door behind you.”
I enter my office and Sarah follows me in with a portfolio of what I assume to be architectural plans for the new lobby we are building out in one of our residential sites, a stack of legal-sized folders, other bits and pieces I know I don’t want to look at, and a small cardboard box.
“I know there’s nothing to be worried about.”
She puts everything down on my desk and sinks into one of the white leather and chrome chairs facing me. She has a look of defeat on her face, but I try to be optimistic for her and get to the other pressing business I have looming over me.
“Would you please do me a huge favor and make a reservation for me and Clarissa at The Regis for lunch today?” I bury my face in my hands and ask Sarah through parted fingers.
Sarah is my right-hand. She does so much for me around the office, and she even takes care of some of my personal life, too.
Like corralling Clarissa at the firm’s five-year anniversary party six months ago when my blushing fiancee had too many glasses of champagne.
Or hailing a cab for Clarissa when she insisted on coming to my office to wait for me while I finished up my work one Friday night but then changed her mind, threw a tantrum, and ran out.
“Hot date?” Sarah scribbles something on her yellow legal pad.
“Something like that.”
I lean forward, placing my arms of the desk, and look out the window. The sun is starting to shine, and it actually makes me feel a bit better. But I still have to get down to business. It’s too bad no one is in the office yet, and I’m a little surprised that my phone has stopped blowing up.
“Got it. What else?”
“God, I need a vacation.”
“Can I please remind you that you and Clarissa went to Turks and Caicos a couple of months ago?
“That wasn’t a vacation. I was answering my e-mails non-stop. And trust me, having to dote on Clarissa constantly does not a vacation make.”
“I see. Well, maybe I can go to Turks and Caicos instead of you, next time. If you’d pay for my plane ticket and hotel. And food.”
“And while we’re at it, why don’t we throw in unlimited pina coladas, too.”
“Sign me up!”
A little bit of levity to brighten my morning. I know I can always count on Sarah for that.
“Anything else you need right now, boss? If not, I’ll get to work typing those contracts.”
“Nothing else. Let me go through all this stuff.”
Sarah walks back to my desk and parts the stacks of papers to reveal the cardboard box she’d plunked down.
“I almost forgot. This came for you.”
“Did you open it?”
I examine the box. The tape doesn’t appear to have been tampered with. I’m not expecting anything in the mail. Everything is usually couriered to my office, or emailed. I can’t think of any reason I’d be getting an actual package in the mail at the office.
“No, didn’t open it. I thought it looked personal.”
I grab the letter opener from my desk drawer.
“You ever use that thing before?” Sarah arches an eyebrow and crosses her arms in front of her chest.
I slide the thin metal across the edges of the box, slicing the packing tape open.
Inside the box is yet another box. This one is made out of wood, and has a beautiful finish and grain to the material.
I recognize it instantly, because I made it.
“Dear Drew,” I read aloud from a notecard slipped into the box. “I found this when I was cleaning out the attic. I’m getting ready to sell it and move into something smaller, maybe something in the Everglades. I thought you should have it. Love, Mom.”
“What is that?” Sarah uncrosses her arms and leans over the desk, peering at the box, her curious green eyes flashing.
“It’s a little box I made in woodworking. In high school.”
“Wow, that’s really cool.”
“I guess my mom is really serious about moving to Florida.”
“She’s been talking about it for a while now. You think she’s really going to go through with it?”
“I’m not sure. She always has some plan to get out of New York, but she never does it.”
“Well, I’m glad she sent this to you. It’s really nice of her. And it’s cute. Want me to put it on your bookshelf?”
“That’s okay. Let’s just get back to work.”
“Alright. Let me know if you need anything.”
Sarah leaves the office and closes the door behind her. I close the blinds on the glass walls of my office. I need some privacy.
I tuck the box inside the bottom drawer of my desk and opened my email on my computer. It’s time to do damage control.