The steel door is a little intimidating. It has a classy, welcoming silver sign on the front proclaiming—The Jameson Group – International Security Services. The fact it’s steel and the outside of the building looks like pure concrete, it gives the overall message of stay the hell out.
Still, I don’t have time to be intimidated, so I step inside. I’m immediately stunned by the elegant lobby I find myself in. Cream marble flooring, dark paneled walls, and richly upholstered guest seating in a mocha-colored leather. I also note it’s possible to see outside from the inside through the frosted-looking glass but it is hazy. There’s no one in the lobby except a receptionist behind a curved desk who is looking at me with a light smile on her face. Not exactly welcoming but not exactly not.
“Can I help you?” she asks politely.
She’s quite beautiful, and that doesn’t surprise me. Jerico’s staff at The Wicked Horse are phenomenally gorgeous, so why not here? She’s wears her blonde hair in an asymmetrical bob that hangs just above her shoulders with bangs cut straight over her eyebrows. It’s a severe cut, but her face is practically perfect so it can handle it.
“I’d like to see Jerico,” I say as I walk up to the desk. I’m glad to note my voice sounds strong and confident, despite the fact I feel completely out of place. I should have dressed up or something because my white jeans and pink button-up blouse seem way too casual for this place.
“I’m sorry, but he’s not available,” she says with a mixture of apology and aloofness, but without her facial expression changing at all.
Botox! I knew it.
I’m not put off by her tone even though it clearly says, “You can’t just walk in here and demand to see the owner of this company.”
“I insist,” I say firmly. “It’s an emergency.”
Her expression doesn’t change at all. She just blinks those baby blues at me slowly. “As I said he’s not available.”
Leaning over, I place my hands on the edge of her desk. “Listen… I was just at The Wicked Horse and he’s not there, so I’m pretty damn sure he’s here. Just call him and tell him Trista is here to see him.”
She just smirks at me without even having the decency to say a word.
I come dangerously close to losing my cool. It has not been a good day.
Hell, it has not been a good weekend. I spent Saturday alone in my room, feigning sick to my mom and Corinne, but really, I was so angry and hurt I could barely speak without vile curses flying from my mouth… or hysterical sobbing. I was a mess. A complete and utter mess to find out that Jerico was using me for some sick and twisted plot to strike out at my brother.
I hate your brother, he’d said.
I’ll admit that had given me slight pause at first, because his voice was saturated with pain, not anger. For someone who hated Jayce enough to do what he did to me, it gave me more than slight pause. I knew there was something huge underlying that pain in his voice, and for a second, I even thought about staying to find out.
But then my pain roared to life as I realized all the intimacy we’d shared wasn’t real. This slow burn we had that flamed hot in such a quick time, along with feelings that developed in such a natural way between us… it wasn’t real at all, and that almost killed me.
Sunday morning, I woke with gritty eyes from crying and a hole in my heart that was felt more keenly since I’d expended some of my anger.
I hate your brother.
Gah… his voice. The pain. It made my ears almost bleed despite how destroyed I felt. How could I be so angry with someone, yet at the same time feel immensely for him?
I needed to know what happened, but I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know. All day while making pancakes with Corinne and doing some outdoor gardening, it was on my mind. Finally, by midafternoon, I couldn’t take it anymore and drove to see Jayce.
I was stunned when he opened the trailer door and glared at me with one eye swollen and a huge cut on his bottom lip. His jaw was twice its normal size on the left, and he was holding his hand over his rib cage.
“What happened to you?” I asked, but I knew without him needing to answer.
Jayce’s voice was defeated. “Jerico is what happened. Now you need to get out of here. I’m under strict orders not to even look at you wrong.”
“He did this to you?” I asked. Not because it made me angry or I felt sorry for Jayce, I just wanted to make sure it was Jerico and not someone else.