Shaking my head at his dramatics, I ask, “That good, huh?”

Max rubs his hands together in a greedy way, eyes sparkling. He utters, “She better fucking be.” He resorts to begging. “Please, man. I’ll owe you big time.”

My eyes roll and I remind him, “You owe me for the last five things I did for you too, remember?”

He shrugs as if there’s no issue and exclaims, “You know I’m good for it!”

I mutter, “Yeah, yeah. Whatever, man. I’ll do it.” He looks like he might just man-hug me, so I raise my hands in warning. As Max backs away smiling like an idiot, he says, “I could kiss you right now! I mean, I won’t, but I could, dude. I owe you one.”

More like six, knucklehead.

With a wave of my hand, he leaves me in peace, so I continue to do what I’ve been doing all morning and watch Nat on the CCTV. I watch her fold clothes and greet customers. She’s so pretty when she smiles. I wish she’d do it more. Then I see something that turns my good mood to shit. I slap my hand down hard on the desk and glare at the screen.

Tina’s still away from work. I spoke to her this morning and Tatiana’s fever broke, which is great, but she’s still really stuffy. My poor little angel is frustrated. I mean, c’mon, I would be too if I couldn’t breathe.

Luckily, today has been an easy day. Serving customers and folding clothes have been my main job, and I gotta say, this makes me happy. I love an easy day as much as the next person. I hum and go about folding sweaters until hands cover my eyes and a deep voice in my ear says, “Guess who, sunshine.”

A full-blown smile breaks out on my face and I squeak, “Cole!”

He chuckles as I turn around. Smiling my head off, I slap his chest playfully and ask, “What are you doing here?” I narrow my eyes. “Are you stalking me?”


He’s dressed in black sweats and a white workout tank, obviously having come from training with someone. He scratches his head as if thinking, then answers, “I came to buy myself a new sweater.” He picks up the one I just folded and puts it to his muscular chest. I burst out laughing. The sweater is white and a small size, against his broad chest it looks like a baby’s bib. “It might not fit though,” he admits dejectedly.

His chuckles join mine and he pulls me into a warm bear hug. I wrap my arms around his toned waist, place my head on his firm chest and sigh happily. He whispers into my hair, “I missed you, sunshine. I couldn’t stay away.” I pull back and smile up at him. His eyes darken and his face turns serious. His hands move from my back, up my shoulders and into my hair. My breath catches. He holds my head steady and lowers his mouth to mine, planting a slow and sensual kiss on my lips. He pulls back a little and says hoarsely, “That’s a promise of what’s to come tonight.”

Through hooded eyes, I gaze up at him and whisper back, “Yay. Can’t wait.” And I really can’t.

Smiling a bright white smile, he lowers his gorgeous face to mine once more and kisses me deeply. Then he lets go of my hair, backs away and is out the door, all the while smirking and leaving me to my own thoughts.

What the heck was that?

I shake my head as if trying to clear it and go back to folding clothes with a huge smile on my face.

I spend an hour soaking in the tub when I get home from a great day at the store.

Knowing that Cole will be here soon is doing funny, fluttery things to my belly.

I haven’t felt this way about a guy in a long while. And secretly, I’m waiting for something to go wrong because, let’s be honest, I’m Natalie Kovac. It’s known by most of my friends in Cali, Tina included, that I have the worst taste in men. You name it, I’ve had it.

Cheaters, a man with a foot fetish, men who like to role-play and let’s not forget the guy who wanted me to pee on him. Role-play is fine. I’m into role-play. It can be seriously hot. I do not, however, think it’s hot to want to do father-daughter incest role-play.


I still shudder at that one.

I still don’t know what to make of this whole insta-relationship Cole and I have going on, but I know I did something today to cement where we are in this… this… thing. During my lunch break, I went over to see my friend Tanya at Bells and Whistles salon and got my hoo-hah waxed. So that pretty much means tonight Cole is going to get lucky.

Excited much?

Hell yeah! I’m getting the sex tonight!

Smiling, I let out a mini whoop, stand up in the tub, rinse my body and step out.

Time to get beautified.

I apply my makeup a little more dramatic than normal, just a little darker around the eyes with soft pink lip gloss. I want Cole to notice I’ve made an effort. Not that he will.


Stupid men.

Ever so carefully, I remove the tags off the brand new lingerie I bought, and slide the barely-there lace black and white panties up my legs. I put on the matching bra and check myself in the mirror. I can’t help the grin that forms. Not bad for the time I had to work with. I hop into a pair of tight jeans and finish my look off with a white see-through sweater. Actually, the very same sweater Cole was joking around with today. I look in the mirror once more and see my bra faintly through the sweater. Perfect.

Ding Dong.

Checking my watch, I smirk. He’s early, the eager beaver. I fluff my hair and apply some more gloss to my lips before heading barefoot to the door. I don’t wait this time; I open it and smile big. He looks gorgeous, dressed in black jeans, a black long sleeved tee and his white sneakers. As soon as he smiles, I grip his shirt and pull him inside.

It’s on.

We’re all over each other like PB on J. I’ve been waiting for this all damn day.

Frantically kissing and pulling at each other’s clothes, Cole manages to slip my sweater off me. I try to do the same to his shirt but it gets stuck around his head, and after a few seconds of pulling and getting nowhere, I burst out laughing. I hear Cole laughing too but can’t see his face which, of course, makes it funnier. I gasp through my laughter, double over and clutch my belly. He pulls himself free of the shirt and throws it to the side. The sight of that gorgeous toned body makes me sober.

I get a total lady boner. My lady bits are way too happy. So happy it’s crying juicy tears.

Fuck me, please!

He picks me up and plops my butt down on the counter. He puts his hands on the edge and leans over me, forcing me to lean back and take his deliciously forceful kisses. I hold his face in my hands and give as good as I get. My back hits something and it starts falling. Cole tries to grab the fruit bowl but fruit flies everywhere. Laughing hard, Cole moves around the counter and behind me to pick up the apples and oranges from the floor. He comes back around to me, and immediately I know something’s wrong by the look on his face.

What the feck?

He holds a piece of paper in his large hands, a deadly expression on his face, his once warm eyes now colder than ice. I don’t know what it is he’s found, but my hands start sweating. Cole looks scary and I’m suddenly frightened.

I make a move to slide off the counter but he pushes me back. Hard. My shoulder jars and my eyes widen in shock. He looks me in the eye and growls, “Want to explain this to me?” He flings the paper right in my face.

What the fuck? Where has my sweet Cole gone?

With trembling hands, I take the note and my stomach flips. Of all the damn notes he had to find, it had to be the one Ghost left when he brought me coffee that morning. I have to admit, it looks bad. Cole doesn’t wait for an answer. He snatches the note from my shaking hand and reads aloud in dead calm, “Sorry I kept you up last night. I think you’ll need the coffee this morning. I got you a muffin to say thanks for breakfast yesterday.” He nods slowly. “Looks like someone’s been a busy girl.”

Oh shit! No!

This is not how I planned my evening going. I planned an awesome evening of Cole, sex, sex and more sex. Maybe stopping in-between to eat, but definitely ending with more sex!

The expression Cole is wearing says I shouldn’t lie about this. So I don’t. I try my hardest to steady my voice. “Honey, Asher from next door doesn’t have a TV, so he comes over sometimes to watch with me. That’s what he meant by keeping me up. I swear Cole, it’s nothing to worry about. We’re friends, that’s all.”

Cole looks at me through scorching eyes and answers through gritted teeth, “Don’t. Fucking. Lie. To. Me.”

I pull myself back from him. Voice shaking, I tell him, “Cole, you’re scaring me.”

He leans forward into the space I’ve created for myself and puts his nose to mine. He asks, “This is what you were doing last night, huh? He’s your friend? Yeah, right. How long have you been fucking him?”

I choke out, “We’re not sleeping together.”

He roars right in my face, “Don’t lie to me!” Spittle speckles my face and I flinch.

Trembling hard, I whisper, “I’m not lying to you, Cole.”

A deafening slap fills the room and before I register what’s happened, I’m lying on the floor with a pounding head, a throbbing eye and an aching wrist.

Cole paces back and forth in my kitchen. He’s visibly upset. He runs a hand through his hair and whispers over and over again, “Fuck.”

I may be hot-headed, but my father taught me a number of things in life. Pick your battles was one of the many important things he taught me. Sure I could use my badass boxing skills on him, but there’s no way I could knock him out, which would leave me with a very angry, unstable man.

Not good.

Cole is twice my size. If I try to fight him, I know I’ll end up badly injured or even dead, so I do what any person in my position would do. Using my feet, I slide myself as far away from him as possible. Distance is what I need right now. My vision blurs as tears fall freely down my cheeks.

I start to hyperventilate. My chest tightens and I feel as though I’m going to faint.

Cole stops in his tracks and looks over to me. His face has softened and he looks remorseful. He starts, “Sunshine, I-”

But I cut him off on a hoarse whisper, “Please, Cole. Just go.”

He places a hand on his hip and nods solemnly, agreeing. “Okay, I’ll go.” He walks over to me. I use my feet to push myself back but hit a wall. I whimper as he kneels down to me. He touches my cheek gently and says softly, “Look at what you made me do, sunshine.”

I lift my face to look him in the eye.

Is this fucker for real?

It’s hard but I restrain myself from clawing his eyes out. He smiles at me. “We’ll try this again tomorrow, okay?” His hands cup my cheeks and he lowers his gorgeous face to mine, kissing me gently. I don’t kiss him back. My mouth is lax and useless. This makes him angry. Using his thumb and forefinger, he holds my chin in his palm and grips my cheeks hard enough to make me yelp. His rage-filled glare bores into me. He demands, “Kiss me. Like you fucking mean it.”

Who the hell is this man?

I purse my quivering lips and he lowers his face to mine. I do my best at attempting to kiss him like I mean it. That’s actually quite hard to do when all you really want is to bite through his lip. Seeming satisfied, he pulls back and smiles at me. “That’s better, sunshine.” He sighs as he stands. “I’ll let myself out. You think about what you’ve done. I don’t want a repeat of this tomorrow.”

Never taking my eyes off him, I watch as he opens the door, turns to me smiling, blows me a kiss and shuts the door behind him. The realization that something super bad just happened in my home hits me and I scramble to stand. I steady myself as much as possible and shuffle on wobbly legs to the front door. I lock the dead bolt and chain with shaking hands. Unable to think about anything else right now, I send a text message to Tina.

Me: Hey, Sorry for the late notice but I’ve got the flu! I’m alternating sweating like a pig and freezing my ass off so I won’t be in tomorrow.

I re-read this message about ten times before I’m satisfied it sounds like me and press send. A few minutes later, I hear my phone ping.

Tina: Oh honey! I hope Tatiana didn’t get you sick! :( Of course, take as much time as you need. Cecelia is watching her tomorrow so I’m back in. Want me to send anything over for you?

The thought of her seeing me like this is enough to make me burst into tears. I’ve always been the strong one. I couldn’t bear for Tina to see me like this. I compose myself enough to write a reply.

Me: Thanks, babe. I have everything I need right here. Love you. I’ll let you know how I’m feeling tomorrow afternoon.

Tina: Okay, honey. Feel better. We love you too! Xx

There’s only one person I trust to help me in this situation.

Rather than stay at home to hear the concerto of sex coming from Nat’s apartment, I decide to hang out with the guys. It a long time coming, but we’re finally having a Trick intervention.

“Things are looking like they’re pretty serious with Lola. You know you gotta tell her soon, man. She thinks you’re not into her anymore.” Nik directs this to Trick.

Trick responds without heart, “I know, bro. I know. I just don’t know how.”

Trick, for lack of a better term, looks like shit. He’s a fraction of the man he was a year ago. With bags under his eyes and his constant bad mood, anyone could tell something was up with him.

“Just be straight with her. She loves you. She’d help out. You know she would,” Max says.

Trick scoffs, “I know she would, Max! The question is why should she have to? I want her more than anything, but I can’t commit to her without her knowing what comes with having a relationship with me. It’s not too late. She’s young. She can find someone who doesn’t carry a shitload of headaches with them.”

I shake my head and try to reason with him. “You can’t decide for her, Trick. You should just lay it out and let her make a choice.”

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