Copyright © 2016 by Samara King.
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. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.
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Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.
* * * * *
Ria walked swiftly through the doors of Core, wearing oversized shades. She refused to acknowledge the blush that crept through her body as she thought of last night. Not to mention the two times Garrison had made her climax before denying her request that they complete the deal.
He’d denied her dick! The words didn’t sink in. It had never happened before. She had been turned down—for sex?
Ria grumbled a “morning” in passing to some co-workers and marched toward her office.
She gripped her caramel latte closer, using the coffee to gain the strength not to go off on her husband when she spotted him from across the room. His eyes burned after her as she walked into her office and slammed the door behind her.
“Well, look who crawled in as prickly as a cactus this morning.” Cat sat regally in the chair, with her BlackBerry and notebook ready. Her designer skirt and crisscross ruffled blouse was a high contrast to Ria’s tight black denim, knee-high boots and tuxedo jacket.
Ria grunted at Car, slung the black derby hat off her head, and ran a hand through her short-cropped hair. Peeking from the mini blinds of her office window, Car looked over her shoulder. “Can you believe this?” Her gaze skimmed over Garrison’s slacks and white shirt. She decided she liked the more casual side of her husband. It suited him and her. Looking at him now, she could almost forget the money and fame attached to the man. For a moment, she saw him solely for himself as he talked amongst a group of staff writers. His head tilted back as he laughed.
Her throat constricted. She loved the way he laughed. It was rich and wholehearted. His entire face lit up, and those dimples…
Damn, the dimples! Ria thought.
If there was one thing she could say about her husband, he and his brother were the only two of that entire soap-opera worthy family who appeared genuine. From the looks on her co-workers’ faces, they thought so too.
There was something about his face that called out to her like honey to a bee. Her body instantly reacted to everything about him, just as it had the moment she’d first laid eyes on Garrison. It was as if a switch suddenly flicked on whenever he was within her space.
And you need to learn how to turn it off.
“Believe what, darlin’?” Car replied, trying to keep a straight face.
“That devil of a man waltzes back in my life, gives me the best orgasm—or two—I’ve had in months, and then refuses to close the deal!”
Car grinned, covering the smile on her lips. “Are you telling me that you two—”
Ria sighed and turned to her friend. “Yes, a lack in judgment on my part.” She instantly wished she hadn’t let her emotions get the best of her and spoken so rashly.
“Honey, I can think of many women who’d like to give up a bit of common sense for a piece of your husband.”
She stepped away from the blinds, tugged the black scarf off her neck, and flung it on her desk. “That’s just it. I never wanted a sex symbol as a husband.”
“Sweetie, no offense, but didn’t you think about that before you went on the show or jumped the broom with him?”
Of course she had. However, the idea of her actually being picked out of ten other women had been more of a daydream. Ria had fallen for Garrison hook, line and sinker. And when he’d asked for her hand in marriage, she’d finally felt like she’d met the man she was meant to be with.
“Not as much as I wish I had.”
Ria felt her lips tilt upward as she thought about the first time she’d been introduced to him. Unlike the other contestants’ dates with Garrison, their time together had been a comedic string of errors, right from the moment she’d dumped ice cream in his lap and then slipped and fallen directly on top of him.
“That’s the way love goes, I suppose,” Car said, with a quiet smile on her face. “I get all the reasons you went along with it. I mean, it’s Garrison Fox, but do you really regret marrying him?”
Ria smiled wider, thinking how easy dumping ice cream on him had been compared to the dissention between them now.
Marrying Garrison Fox had been one of the biggest events in her otherwise uneventful life. He’d changed her world in ways she couldn’t imagine. Although her mother, Janelle, had been all over the news, instructing Ria what to do with all those dollar signs.
She frowned. In fact, her life was just what money-hungry Janelle had sought for herself since her daughter was knee high and her father had run out on them. There’d been the endless stream of men termed “Uncle this or that” and the cosmetic surgeries and three marriages later, Janelle Phillips was no better off then she’d been when Ria was eight years old.
“It’s complicated,” she answered.
“Yes, I can see that, but humans have a way of making things overly complicated.” Car smiled. “I think when two people are meant to be together, they’ll find a way to defy the odds.”
Did she regret Garrison? No, but as for the money he came attached with, yes. She was anything but her mother, and every day she fought like hell to make sure she never crossed that line.
Garrison’s mother, Elaine, had already hinted at the mini investigation she’d concluded in her son’s honor. Though Ria had nothing to hide from the matriarch, she hadn’t wanted to hear anything new, especially about her mother’s tirades. Leaving had seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
“I don’t know if loving Garrison can defy the odds of the world he comes from.”
Carlyn put her arm around her. “Well, call me a sweeter-than-Tinker-Bell’s tinkle, but I believe things will work out between you two.”
“You’re such a hopeless romantic, girl.” She smiled sadly, despite the hope that shot through her chest. Her friend was indeed a romantic; stories like Ria’s weren’t usually attached to happy endings. She’d learned that lesson young.
Ria’s eyebrow arched. “Since when does Tinker Bell have a tinkle?”
The two women laughed.
“C’mon, let’s get to work. Augustine’s new winter collection fashion show is approaching, and I want to do a marvelous spread. Ready?”
Car took a seat, pen and pad ready. “Let’s go!”