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“Bro.” I used his word right back. “You talk a lot.”

He grunted. “True. Still. My Soul Brotha Connection sensations are tingling. Something’s up with you. What is it?”

I had to grin at that.

Logan Kade was a lot. He could be a dick, annoying, loyal, funny, but sometimes, like just now, he was endearing. And if you were one of the people he cared about, it was a privileged world to live in. I never took it for granted, not anymore. He and his brother.

“I’m good. I think I just need a hard run, that’s all.”

“Too many business meetings. You should stick to a max of two a week. You’re rich. You can afford it.”

“Like you can talk. You’re a workaholic.”

“Sticking it to someone is my life’s passion. That shit ain’t work.”

“You still work a lot.”

“It’s called playing. I play a lot, and I know what you’re doing. Stop distracting me, dude. What’s up with you?”

“Nothing. I mean it. Just need a hard workout. That’s all.”

Logan was quiet for a moment. “Okay, but I’m here. I always give you shit, but I love you.”

See? Endearing.

“I know. I appreciate it. Right back at you.”

“Go and get fucked.”

We said our goodbyes, and Logan was right.

I was best friends with him and his brother, Mason. I knew Mason first, but then Logan and I became tighter later in the years. I might talk to Logan more, but my bond with Mason went deeper at times. I couldn’t explain it. Both were family to me, so I wasn’t surprised Logan had picked up on my restlessness.

A good fuck was needed.

Tossing the rest of my drink back, I ignored the burn and scrolled through my phone.

Valerie was from here. She traveled almost as much as I did now, but she and I weren’t a steady item. We were more steady bedmates. No exclusivity. No relationship. That’d never been her and me, even since the first time we hooked up back in college. It was after a big game for Mason, so the festivities had been extreme. I went to a bar and picked up a redhead who had me smiling the first second I saw her. She had me laughing within the next thirty seconds of talking, and I then took her home.

I meant to reach out later, maybe see what could be there, but I didn’t. I didn’t know why I didn’t, I just didn’t. Then she reached out six months later.

We met up and had a hot night.

The day after, she flew to Chicago, and I had my first investment meeting.

No phone calls were exchanged. No texts.

Until the next time she was in Boston, and we had a repeat. After that, it became our thing. If we were ever in the area of the other one, we shared a night, then went on with our normal lives the next day.

That all ended two years ago, and I had no idea why.

I called that night two years ago and was sent straight to voicemail.

I texted her. No response.

A few months into ghosting me, she changed her phone number.

Nothing new had been posted to her social media.

I tried looking her up at her job, but nothing. She wasn’t on their website.

Then I got an event notice online for her engagement party. She and another guy were smiling all nice for the photographer so that explained what happened. Still, though. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about her.

Something still nagged in the back of my mind about her.

Tonight, looking at her phone number in my phone all these years later brought back memories that didn’t necessarily improve my mood. She’d be married by now. Maybe even have a kid, too.

A hard run it was then.

That was what I needed to push the niggling out of my mind.

After that, well… I’d see who was in the hotel bar.



I was annoyed.

I was annoyed Carl got made.

I was annoyed I had to leave my studio.

I was annoyed I’d been putting this meeting off for a full month but couldn’t any longer.

I didn’t want to see this guy.

I didn’t want to meet this guy.

I didn’t want anything to do with this guy, but Valerie was having none of it.

I was following her wishes, doing what she wanted. Though I hadn’t a clue why she was doing it this way.

She met the guy, hooked up with the guy, and here I was, giving him the 411? Me?

That wasn’t my job.

It wasn’t supposed to be my job. It was hers.

But, damn.

Maybe my anger wasn’t anger at all as a tear worked its way up my throat. I was not doing that shit. I couldn’t. Tightening my hands around the steering wheel, I forced that emotion to the bottom of my stomach, and I was hoping to wash it out of me forever. I would not could not break down now.

No way.

Not ever, to be honest.

Ring, ring.

I reached over to hit the accept button on my car and heard my dad’s voice come over the car’s speakers. “Are you there?”

I heard shrieking, followed by high-pitched giggling, and I automatically smiled. “Is that Nova?”

“It’s the kid I kidnapped on the way home from the bakery today.”

I flicked my eyes up, but I was relaxing. “Not funny, Duke.”

He was my father, but in so many ways, he wasn’t fatherly at all. I’d been calling him by his first name since I was ten years old. He never said a word about it, and neither did I. I was supposed to follow orders, and I had all my life, except now.

I wasn’t following his orders. I was following Val’s.

“Are you there yet?” he asked again.

“No. Not yet. But I’m not far.”

My hands tightened on the wheel once again, and just then, I turned the corner, and the hotel where he was staying came into view. The Corebar Hotel was small and exclusive and well-known among the famous and wealthy.

“I’m here.”

I was so tense.

I felt like two fists had been thrust into my stomach, holding my organs with a firm grip, and wouldn’t let go. And I wasn’t sure if I wanted them to let loose or just rip my organs out of me. It was an I-need-a-drink kinda feeling. A strong drink. I should have gotten trashed before I saw him.

I still could.

I wasn’t a drinker, never had been with what I did for my profession, but today was an exception. A very big exception. My body would forgive me eventually.

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