facetiously when Conrad spun around. “I forgot about all the
things you gave me. I was too busy remembering,” I walked toward him, my voice
lowering, “all the shit you took away from me.”
Conrad glared, but he
We were through here.
There was nothing left to say. This was how it usually ended between us. A
stalemate. He thought he could threaten me, but what he didn’t realize was that
I wasn’t some dumbass fourteen-year-old kid anymore. I’d long outgrown my
initial fear of being accepted by him. I didn’t want his approval. I didn’t
“I’ve got to go back to
the office,” Conrad stated, as though that was the reason for the end of our
“Oh, one more thing.” I
waited until he turned to face me again. He cocked an eyebrow in question.
With that, Conrad spun
on his expensive fucking heel and waltzed right out the door, leaving me
standing there. All alone.
Just as I always was.
I ended up having
dinner out that night, choosing not to face my father’s wrath. I’d pushed him
too far and I didn’t want to deal with the repercussions. Not to mention, I
didn’t want to put Aaliyah through that either.
That and my curiosity
was going to get the best of me if I had to listen to Conrad talk about Payton
over dinner one more time. He would do it too, just to irritate me.
One of these days, I
was going to lose my shit and it wasn’t going to matter who ended up as
collateral damage. Where Payton was concerned, I was a ticking time bomb. It
was as though I needed my next fix. I was a junkie, an addict. I wanted a woman
I knew very little about and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t understand
what the fuck it was about her that had me so obsessed.
I was slowly going
I wanted to know more
about her. No, scratch that, I wanted to know everything about her.
Where was she from? How old was she? What did she look like naked?
I was definitely
interested in the last part.
So, instead of risking
a slip of the tongue in front of my father, I was sitting at a sports bar,
watching hockey and drinking beer with my two closest friends, Leif Connelly
and Toby Brindle.
“Man, are you picturing
some chick naked?” Leif questioned, lifting his beer bottle in my direction.
“I was thinkin’ the
same thing,” Toby added in that slow, southern drawl that drew women like a
“Shut up, assholes,” I
mumbled, hating how well they knew me.
Okay, so yes, I was
picturing Payton naked. Didn’t mean I had to share my thoughts with anyone, let
alone the two people who would harass me until I wanted to punch them in the
“Who is she?” Leif
“No one,” I barked.
“Right. ’Cause ‘ no
one’ makes you drool when you picture her naked,” Toby inserted, smiling
around the lip of his beer bottle.
“Did I mention you
could… fuck off,” I bit out, unable to keep from smiling.
It wasn’t a secret that
I didn’t spend my time with many women. Oh, there’d been a few, sure. After
all, I wasn’t a saint. But nothing serious.
Not that I didn’t find
women fascinating, nor was it due to the fact that I didn’t have my fair share
of female attention. But I’d learned early on, thanks to who my family was,
that women tended to see dollar signs when they found out where I lived. I
didn’t make a habit of bringing women to the estate, but there had been a
handful. Needless to say, the caliber of female that I usually attracted were
more interested in what they could get from me rather than what they
could do with me. If that wasn’t a turnoff, I don’t know what was.
“So now you’ve got
imaginary girlfriends? What the hell is this world coming to?” Leif razzed
“Who the hell are you
tryin’ to kid?” Toby snorted. “He’s always had imaginary girlfriends.”
I knew Leif and Toby
would give me a hard time. They always did. Didn’t