The photograph of Payton kept catching his attention. For the past year she had been increasing in popularity, but it was only now that he had ever seen her. It was only on rare occasions that she was seen on events.

Pulling up his internet search, he used Daryl’s name and password to look find her. Her profile picture on all of her social media accounts was of her hands above her head, her raven hair cascading all over the place, and she was wearing some kind of white shirt that went down to mid-thigh. The laughter on her face was so clear to see that for several seconds he could do nothing but watch and admire.

He read her life motto, imagining she was standing there right now speaking to him. “You live one very short life. Live it without regrets, and to the fullest.”

Sitting back, he wondered what had inspired those words.

One way or another, Payton Hicks was now on his radar, and he wanted her … badly.

****

“This is torture,” Payton said, sitting back up for what felt like the hundredth time.

“Are you going to fart?” Rick asked.

“No, but you’re not helping. Why are you here anyway? Want to see me torture myself through exercise?”

“Please, you won’t torture yourself. You’re fit, and we both know it.”

“I think if I get asked one more time what my BMI is, or my blood pressure, I think I’m going to hit the roof. I mean, seriously, do they know how unhealthy having all low ones are?” Payton collapsed to the floor with sweat dotting her brow. She was in the spare room, which she kept as a gym so she could work out. Sit-ups were a pain in the ass, but three times a week she was here, doing what needed to be done to keep herself fit, not to lose weight, but for her health. She and her curves had been through a lot together, and she didn’t want to see them leave.

Rick handed her some water, and she sat up, leaning against the wall to drink. “You’ve got that weird look on your face. The one that says I may or may not like what you’re about to say.”

“I don’t know how you’re going to feel about what I’m about to tell you, but it’s your life and all that.”

“Just tell me, Rick. Tear that Band-Aid off.”

“I’ve been getting a call from Daryl Biggs.”

She thought about the name and came up with nothing. “I don’t know who he is. Is he pretending to be my baby daddy?” She winked at him. A few months ago, there were several men who had claimed she had been their girlfriend, willing to pay the price to sell their lies. She wasn’t some simpering virgin. She’d had a sex life, but those men hadn’t come out of the woodwork. It wouldn’t bode well seeing as her previous lovers had all gone on to get married. If she didn’t know any better, she’d say she was cursed to meet men who would marry other women.

Pushing those thoughts aside, she focused on Rick.

“He’s Hunter Reynolds assistant.”

Now that name she did know, and she stared at her bottle. “What do they want?”

“They want you to go in for an interview.”

“Image Counts told me they didn’t take my kind,” she said. At the time it had stung. The woman that had told her had been vile, nasty, and an all-around bitch.

Payton hadn’t liked her one bit, and still didn’t. The woman was way too negative, and she refused to be around those people.

During her rise as a plus-size model, she had encountered a great deal of animosity, and even unflattering headlines. Rick had been there every step of the way. Some of them hurt more than others.

“I know, but you see this isn’t to see Patricia. This is in fact to see the big man himself. You must have made quite an impression the other night.”

“We danced.” And he held me in a way that I just knew he’d be good with his hands. She had in fact lost a lot of sleep fantasizing about him. Nothing would ever happen though, especially if she decided to work with him or for him. She didn’t sleep where she worked. Never ever. She wasn’t going to be known for sleeping her way to the top, not happening.

“Please. You and I both know it was more than a dance, and even as you’re trying to pretend nothing happened, we both know it did. You want to see him again?” Rick asked.

“I don’t know what I want.”

“You never do.”

“So, what do you think, boss man? You’re the one in charge. You pimp me out to one function or another.”

“Well, I do a damn good job seeing as you never know what you want. I think we should go for the interview, and see what it’s all about.”

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