“Cochrane looks like he’ll be a good addition to the team,” Bas, one of our team leaders, notes as we review the training footage. The security firm is getting more business and I’m not sure whether it’s because there are more people in the world doing shit things or more people in the world are scared of the shit things. Either way, the company has more business than it knows what to do with. We need more bodies here but we can’t hire just anyone who knows how to use a gun. You have to be trustworthy, not swayed by money, and be free of any personal issues that could affect how you do the job. Finding a person with even one of those traits isn’t easy. Finding a person with all three characteristics who can handle a gun and is physically fit is about as rare as locating a four-leaf clover in a field already gnawed to the dirt by the cows.
“Sign him up, if you think he’s a good fit,” I tell Bas. “But make it provisionary. We don’t want another Justin Patterson issue.”
Bas winces. “Our background checks are better today,” he reassures me. Patterson had an animal cruelty problem we didn’t know about until his ex reported it. After we fired him, he went off and beat up the ex. He’s in jail now and we’re keeping an eye out for the woman but it sucks we made the wrong call with him.
“Good. All right…” I check my list. “We did gear inventory yesterday and with our new office manager, our payroll systems should be upgraded.” I check two more items off my to-do list. A quick stop in my office to review last week’s project reports and I’ll be free to get supplies for tonight’s dinner. I’m thinking soup with some homemade noodles. Amie looked a little tired from last night. I kept her up late and worked her hard. She needs a little TLC. Tonight, I’m going to feed her soup and biscuits, draw her a bath, and fuck her real gentle a couple of times only.
I leave Bas with a nod and head toward my office. On my way, a text alert goes off. I read it swiftly.
Kayla: Some rich old broad is here to see you for a private consult. I put her in conf room A. Amie went to wrangle with tech support over the payroll software upgrade.
I guess my dinner plans will be delayed. I text back a response. I’m on my way. Leave a note for Amie that I’ll meet her at home. No need to wait for me.
I’d text her myself, but somewhere along the way I never got Amie’s phone number. She’s been with me nearly every second of the day since she stepped into the office and it slipped my mind. I’ll grab her phone tonight. It doesn’t sit right with me that I can’t contact her at any given second. First, though, I’ve got to get through this new client meeting.
I grab a cup of coffee, a notepad and slide into the conference room. I don’t even need an introduction to know that the woman is somehow related to Amie. Their features are a lot alike although Amie’s are softer and prettier, as if Amie’s wearing one of those internet filters that make you look ten times younger and better looking.
“Ma’am.” I stick close to the door. It’s weird Amie’s mother showing up here like this without advance notice.
The older woman rises from her seat and rubs her hands down her dress. It’s a weird move. Maybe she’s trying to be sexy but it comes off awkward. I stare at some point over the woman’s right shoulder so I don’t bust out laughing.
“I’m Karen Collins,” she says, approaching me with an outstretched hand.
“I figured.” I make no move to take her hand. I know this is Amie’s momma, but she violated Amie in a real bad way and I won’t be making nice with her. “What brings you here?”
Mrs. Collins’ tight face twitches, surprised at my curt reply. “I’m here to see my daughter.”
“Then why the private request to see me?” I peer down my nose at her in a disapproving manner.
“Because my dear Amie’s phone appears to be deactivated. I flew in from New Jersey to check up on her.” The woman dabs at the corners of her eyes. “She might be an adult, but she’ll always be my baby. I’ve been worried sick about her since she left the Lennox resort to come here and work. I just miss her so.”
If it were just me, I’d kick her out, but I’m not entirely sure what Amie wants. I scratch a small spot behind my ear and weigh the options—send this woman home or keep her here until Amie comes back to the office, assuming she is coming back to the office. Maybe she’s gone home like I suggested. The best solution here is to find out where Amie is and what she wants to do. If she wants her mom gone, then the mom is gone. If she wants the mom to stay, I’ll live with it. I’m never going to like the old woman because of her lack of loyalty but I’ll tolerate her if that’s what Amie wants.
“Why don’t you take a seat here? I’ll go see where your daughter is.”
“Wait!” Mrs. Collins cries.
I look up to see her launching herself toward me. I flatten myself against the door and lift the coffee mug high out of the way. Mrs. Collins trips at the last second and starts to tip over. I can see it all play out in slow motion—the way the pointy toe strikes the base of the chair, the way her arms windmill out to try to regain balance, the way she’s about to fall flat on her face. In that instant, my desire to see her on the floor wars with all the years of training about protecting people in danger. I step forward, slide the coffee onto the table with one hand and grab her around the shoulders with my other hand. The opposing force sends her upright and spins her around. I catch her arms and lever her into a standing position.
“Watch where you’re going,” I snap.
I let the woman go and step back. She spins around and throws herself into my now empty arms.
“Thank you for saving me,” she cries so loud my ears ring. “You’re a hero. A true hero.”
“This may be the most disgusting scene I’ve ever witnessed,” I hear from the door.
Looking over my shoulder, I see Amie framed in the doorway. Damn. I made the wrong call.
It’s as if a hot blade is slicing right through me seeing my mother all over Grey. My stomach turns and I have to fight not to vomit. Hell, I have to fight to have no reaction at all. I won’t give her the satisfaction of knowing that this bothers me. Even though I know what my eyes are seeing, my heart can’t believe this is happening again. I school my face and adopt a no-nonsense tone to my voice.
“Payroll is fixed. The new system is in place.” I turn to leave because if I don’t, I might lose my cool. I don’t want to give her the time of day. Worse, I don’t want Grey to see me like this. The last twenty-four hours with him have been perfect. My cold wall that I’ve been holding up had fallen away and I didn't want to resurrect it because of that woman. That’s how I refer to her now. She doesn’t deserve the title of mother.
I don’t want Grey to suffer because of her either. There is no way that I can keep a level head when she’s around. I don’t want Grey to get caught in the line of fire. I know at this point there is only one way that I can be when I am around her, cold as ice. It is the only defense I have when I’m in her presence. If I’m honest, I’m more mad about her keeping Violet away from our family for all of those months because of the bullshit kidnapping thing she pulled than I am about her fucking my ex. I could honestly give a shit about him. He doesn’t even cross my mind these days. When he does all I can think is how I dodged a bullet. Now that I’ve been with Grey I see what kind of men are out there in the world. I’ve not only seen it with some of the men around here but with Grey and my sister’s new husband.
I never loved that dipshit in any way. Grey is the only one I’ve ever truly let break through my barrier. In saying that, I still don’t like that Grey is meeting with my mother and not telling me. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s not that I don’t trust him. It’s her deceitful and conniving ways that put me on edge. I still have scars that are healing. I know I shouldn’t hold them against Grey but he made me believe he was going to fix them. He knew my story. I told him about my ex and my mother.
er thought of Grey as the secret-keeping type. At this moment I’m unable to read his face. So I do what I do best and leave. I head towards my office to collect my things. Needing to put some distance between myself and that toxic human being who calls herself my mother. I ignore her calling my name. It’s impossible to ignore Grey though. He calls out my name softly at first. Then he yells it out with that stern voice that I’ve heard him use on his men. The same one that does funny things to my insides. My nipples immediately go hard as if he were giving me a command in the bedroom. I want to immediately go to him but know that it’s not an option right this second.
“What’s happening?” Kayla pops up from her desk, ready for whatever is about to go down.
“My bitch of a mother is here.”
Her eyes narrow. I might have told Kayla about my mother over lunch. It is hard not to open up to her. The five million questions she asks on a daily basis eventually get you to spill every secret to her. When I first met her she reminded me a lot of Violet but now, I’d swear she’s a mix of my sister and me all in one.
“Oh, I’ll cut a bitch. I don’t care if she’s from Jersey. She’s not even really Jersey if you ask me,” Kayla says as she starts to take her hoops out of her ears. Leave it to Kayla to make me laugh. No, Mother would never be caught in hoops. Diamonds and pearls, sure, but never hoops.
“She’s not worth it. She’s here because she wants something and I’m not going to give it to her.” I keep walking past Kayla’s desk.
“Doesn't mean I can’t give her a little something.” She drops her hoops down onto her desk.
“Sugar,” Grey tries again. He gets me with that one. He’s been calling me sugar all day because I keep eating the giant bag of baked goodies that he brought this morning. He keeps saying that every time he kisses me all he tastes is sugar. He keeps claiming it’s not the baked goods I’m eating that are making me taste so sweet, that it’s me. I know it’s all the powdered sugar I’ve consumed. Either way I am enjoying the nickname. It is sweet and different than I am used to. I’m sure most people wouldn’t use the word sweet to describe me. Violet is the only other one but she is my sister. She has to see my tender side. Times like these are when I miss her the most, even though she’s only a phone call away.
I almost reach my office when I feel a hand grab my arm. I know it’s Grey before I even turn around fully. I can feel the energy coming off of him. Before he’s able to say a word, I begin speaking.