I was officially done with this monogamous game we’d been playing for the past couple weeks. It was quite fun—different, but since Aubrey could never be mine and I could never be hers, it was quite f**king pointless, too.
I headed back into my bedroom and saw Aubrey smiling as she settled into the bed.
“Where’s the dinner?” she asked tilting her head to the side. “Did you leave it at the door?”
“No.” I shook my head and started packing up her things, stuffing them all into her purse.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“You can’t stay the night.”
“Okay…” She stood up. “Did something just happen? Do you want to talk about—”
“I don’t want to talk about anything else with you.” I hissed. “I just want to take you the hell home.”
“What?” She looked confused. “What’s wrong with you? Why are you—”
“Make sure you get all of your shit out of my bathroom. You won’t be coming back here again.”
“Because I need to start f**king someone else.” I picked up her headband. “I think I’ve spent more than enough time with you, don’t you think?”
“Andrew…” Her face fell. “Where is all of this coming from?”
“The same place it was always coming from. You lied to me once, you’ll lie again.”
“I thought we were over that.”
“Maybe you were, but I wasn’t.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that you need to get all of your things so I can take you home, and from here on out, you are my intern and I am your boss. You will forever be Miss Everhart to me, and to you I’ll be Mr. Hamilton.”
“Mr. Fucking. Hamilton.”
She rushed over to me and snatched her things, letting a few tears escape her eyes. “Fuck you. FUCK. YOU. This is the last time you’ll ever pull this hot and cold shit on me.” She stormed out of my apartment, slamming the door behind her.
I sighed and felt an immediate pang of guilt in my chest, but I knew it was the right thing to do. It was either cut this bullshit off now, or be responsible for breaking her heart later.
I stepped onto the balcony and lit a cigar—looking up at the moonless sky. Even though I felt bad for ending things so abruptly, for putting her out with no explanation, I needed to get back to who the hell I was and fast before I f**ked up and put my heart on the line again…
For my BFF/ultimate beta-reader/amazing assistant/shoulder to cry on whenever I’m acting crazy/ “person” like they say on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’… Tamisha Draper. ( My books would suck without you…)
To Tiffany Neal. Thank you for being the balance. You’ll always be the perfect balance…
To Natasha Gentile…How did you become my friend? LOL
And for the F.L.Y. crew: I f**king love you more than you’ll ever know…
Several months ago…
It was all there in black and white, front and center, no filler.
Although the facts were skewed and The New York Times had once again neglected to post my photo, the damage to my firm—Henderson & Hart, was now done. And I knew exactly what was about to occur, step by step.
I’d seen it happen in this city too many times before.
First, the top clients who’d sworn to always stay by my side would call and say that they “suddenly” found new representation. Then the employees would file letters of resignation—knowing that having a tainted firm on their resumes would hinder their careers. Next, the investors would call—pretending to sympathize as they publicly denounced me in the media and promptly pulled all funding.
Last, and most unfortunately, I was sure to become another hotshot lawyer who ruined his career before it could even begin.
“How much longer do you think you’ll be able to get away with stalking Emma?” The private investigator I hired stepped beside me.
“She’s my f**king daughter. I’m not stalking her.”
“Five hundred feet.” He lit a cigarette. “That’s how far you’re supposed to be.”
“Are they treating her right during the week?”
He sighed and handed me a stack of photos. “Private preschool, early tap-dance lessons, and weekends at the park as you can clearly see. She’s fine.”
“Does she still cry at night?”
“Does she still beg to see me? Does she—”
I stopped talking once Emma’s blue eyes met mine from the swings. Squealing, she jumped off her seat and ran towards me.
“Daddyyyy! Dadddyyy!” She shouted, but she was picked up before she made it any closer. She was taken away and put inside a car just as she started to cry.
I immediately sat up in bed, realizing that I wasn’t in New York City’s Central Park. I was in Durham, North Carolina, and I was having another nightmare.
Glancing at the clock on my wall, I saw that it was just past one o’clock. The calendar hanging directly above it only confirmed that I’d been living here for far too long.
All the research I’d done six years ago—weighing the pros and cons, checking the records of all the top firms, and scouring the make-up of women on Date-Match, was now seemingly invalid: The condo I purchased was a mere remnant of what had been advertised, there was only one firm worthy of my time, and the pool of f**k-worthy women was dwindling by the day.
Just hours ago, I’d gone on a date with a woman who told me she was a kindergarten teacher with a penchant for the color red and history books. In reality, she was twice my age, color blind, and she just wanted to “remember what some good c**k felt like.”
Frustrated, I slipped out of bed and walked down the hallway—straightening the “E” and “H” frames that hung on the wall while trying not to look too hard.
I was going to need more than my usual few shots to get through tonight, and I was starting to become extremely annoyed that I hadn’t f**ked someone in what felt like forever.
I poured two shots of bourbon and tossed them down back to back. Before I could pour another, my phone vibrated. An email.