And he’s right.

Chapter Ten

Max

“YOU’RE COSTING ME too much money.”

I yank up my pants over my ass, wincing at the sound of Pilar’s shrill voice directly in my ear as I slip through the opening in the sliding glass door and shut it, hoping like hell Lily didn’t hear her screaming at me over the phone. Every time she calls I feel like she’s yelling at me, even when I know she’s not. The woman speaks at a constant high volume.

“What the hell are you talking about? How am I costing you too much money?” I charged her my normal flat fee for my services, including covering my predicted expenses, and I haven’t gone into overtime yet. Though she’s the one who added a bonus incentive, not me. I haven’t cashed that check yet, wouldn’t let myself. The way I’ve been falling down on the job, I don’t deserve to cash that damn check.

The woman is fucking nuts. She likes to complain just for the hell of it. And I take it because she has every right to complain. I’d rather do anything else than take that damn laptop.

I rub the back of my neck as I settle heavily into one of the plush, overstuffed chairs that are scattered all over Lily’s lanai. The view is fucking amazing and I pause for a moment to take in the breathtaking sight of the sun coming up. The sky is hued with streaks of pink and orange, the water a gentle shimmery blue, and the salty scent of the ocean is in the air. This is way better than the shitty view I have from my hotel room.

“Time is money, Mr. Coleman, and so far, you’ve wasted a lot of my time. You promised me thorough and quick. So far, you haven’t lived up to either promise.” She sniffs, sounding disgusted.

It’s late, or early, depending how you look at it. Dawn is creeping in, turning the sky the lightest pink, and I yawn, wishing like hell I could go back in the room and collapse into bed. Gather a naked, warm Lily in my arms and let my dick do all the talking. She responds well to it, that perfect ass nuzzling against my rigid cock. Not that I can fuck her again. Turns out we got lucky. I had two condoms in my wallet and we used them both.

But you don’t need a condom to have some fun. I made her come with my mouth twice. And she returned the favor once. We’ve been messing around all night and I’m exhausted. Though that wouldn’t stop me from crawling right back into that bed and feeling Lily up until she’s awake. I don’t care that she’s tucked in like Sleeping Beauty and down for the count. I know she’d be raring to go for another round.

I glance through the sliding glass door and see that she hasn’t moved a muscle. My ringing cell phone didn’t disturb her, thank Christ. Leave it to my client to call me at dawn, but what the hell does she care? She’s six hours ahead of me. She got her beauty sleep.

“Give me a couple days. I need more time,” I tell Pilar wearily, irritated with how she pushes. The woman is nonstop. Completely unsatisfied. I’d hate to be the poor sap tangled up with her.

It’s my own damn fault, though. I’m the one putting her off and failing at my own job. Why don’t I just do what I’m supposed to and get the hell out of here?

You don’t want to leave Lily, asshole. You like her. You’re insanely attracted to her.

True. I could be fucking everything up, all for a girl. A beautiful, sexy-as-fuck, sweet-as-hell girl.

“Three days tops,” she reaffirms. “Get that goddamn laptop and bring it back to me. I don’t care what you have to do to get it, just do it.” She ends the call before I can say another word.

Fucking woman irritates the shit out of me. I open up the browser on my phone and start a more extensive search on my client, Pilar Vasquez.

I did the requisite search when she first approached me, inquiring about my services. A quick name entry on Google told me everything I needed to know. Her age, what she looked like, where she worked. There were a few photos of her on Forrest Fowler’s arm, but nothing looked out of the ordinary. Once I found out exactly what Pilar wanted me to do, I figured she was out for revenge against Lily because of Fowler family politics.

But Lily doesn’t work for Fleur. She never really has, minus a few summers as a teenager. The minute she graduated high school she did her own thing, unlike her younger sisters. Traveling around the world, partying, dating a variety of men, making the rounds on the tabloids and gossip blogs, looking like a hot mess most of the time. Yes, I did thorough research on my subject, but not enough on my client.

That’s where I failed. And I rarely fail.

Tell that to the guys who died on your watch.

I’d had my shit together. Joined the military right out of high school, eager to follow in my dad’s footsteps, to see combat, to fight this war and serve my country. I didn’t expect it to be so damn hard. To be so mentally and physically crushing. To lose my friends, men who worked with me, defended me, to friendly fire and to fight against the injustice of it all.

The moment I was given my evaluation results and they expressed worry over my mental state, I knew my career in the army was done for good.

Banishing the old memories that love to haunt me at the worst time, I focus on my Google results for one Pilar Vasquez. As one of the top employees at Fleur, she gets plenty of mentions, including a recent article in an online business magazine noting a promotion, accompanied by a photo of her standing beside Forrest Fowler in what looks like a boardroom.

There’s another photo of her at a social event, hanging on Fowler’s tuxedoed arm while wearing a body-hugging gold, glittery dress. I study it closely, noting the way she’s looking at him, how his arm is wrapped tightly around her waist.

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