night of the party, he hadn’t warned me to stay away from
her, at least not verbally, but I knew he was thinking it. I could tell by that
tell-tale gleam in his eyes that he was just waiting for me to defy him.
Just so we’re entirely
clear, I fully intended to defy him, but it had nothing to do with getting back
at him. Not this time.
From the moment Payton
walked out the front door with that blond guy, the noose had continued to
tighten around my neck and it wasn’t easing up. The longer I waited before
seeing her again, the more frustrated I was becoming.
I had dreamed about her
again. The night of the party. I don’t know if it was because I’d been thinking
about her, or trying to decipher the original dream, but she’d appeared out of
thin air. Waking up had been brutal. Reality could be a cold bitch sometimes.
Reaching down, I
grabbed the wrench I’d discarded and as I was standing up, the music cut off
suddenly and I heard someone clear their throat. I knew without looking who it
“Yes?” I asked my
father, not bothering to look at him.
“I need an estimate on
when you’ll have that finished.”
Yep. Just as I thought.
He was there to ride my ass about the project, wanting me to be finished
already. I’d told him a hundred times, I didn’t know. He obviously wasn’t
accepting that answer.
“When I’m done,” I told
him honestly, tossing the wrench onto the toolbox, letting it clank against the
other tools. Grabbing the grease rag, I wiped my hands as I turned to look at
“Not good enough,” he
Holding my hands up in
mock surrender, I smirked at him. “Have at it, old man. You wanna take a shot
at making it work, do your worst. Or wait, better yet, why don’t you get your
guys over here, see what they can do with it.”
He’d tried that before.
Not that the guys he had working for him weren’t good at what they did. They
were. I was just better. It required a good ear to listen to a car, a steady
hand to fine tune it, and I’d proven time and time again that no one could
solve an issue better than I could.
I didn’t bother to tell
him that I was stalling on purpose. That wouldn’t have gone over very well.
“Yes?” I feigned
innocence. I was so fucking tired of this dance we were doing. Conrad could
give two shits about when I had this prototype complete. I was pretty sure,
after the spectacle he’d made at the party that someone was ready to throw a
ton of fucking cash at him and he was just greedy.
As far as I was
concerned, they could wait. And so could he.
“This is absurd.”
Conrad moved closer. He didn’t get too close, probably worried he’d get grease
on that pretty fucking shirt of his.
“You’re tellin’ me,” I
agreed. If he would stop breathing down my neck, we wouldn’t have to go through
this every damn day.
“You’ve got three
days,” he finally said, surprising the shit out of me.
I spun around to face
him directly, trying to rein in my temper. “Excuse me?”
“You heard me. Three
days. I want that damn thing finished by Monday. If it means you work through
the weekend, so be it.”
I could hear my teeth
grinding together, feel the muscle in my jaw flexing.
“And if I don’t agree?”
Conrad took a deep
breath. “Then we’ll have to have a discussion regarding our little
“Good idea,” I taunted
as I took a step closer. He took one step back. “Why don’t we do that, Dad ?
Why don’t we just sit down and hash it out? Maybe call a press conference. I
think the media would be thrilled to learn more about the man behind the fake
fucking smiles and the fancy ass suits.”
Conrad yelled, storming across the room and stopping abruptly, his back to me.
“Why the fuck do you have to keep doing this? I’ve given you everything you
could possibly want. Every goddamn thing and this is the thanks I get?”
I swallowed hard. “I’m
sorry,” I said