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Undeniable Love First Chapters

Chapter 1

If Monday had a face…



Have you seen those memes, “If Monday had a face…”? Well, that was exactly the face I was making. And according to the coffee stain above my left breast, it was definitely the dreaded day. Wearing my favorite second-hand Kate Spade dress on a Monday had been a bad choice, especially today.

Fingers poised above my keyboard, I gazed vacantly at the screen, frozen in shock. My boss had been fired and security was about to escort him out. Though why this surprised me was anyone’s guess. I’d been a bundle of nerves, anticipating this moment for a while now. But mostly, I was terrified everyone at the office would find out what I’d done.

It had only been a few minutes since our two security guards, Cain and Donny, had strode purposefully off the elevator. As they walked by my desk, they’d barely glanced in my direction before entering the CEO’s office, shutting the door with a firm click.

Nobody else knew what was happening except me. Yet, there was a tangible stillness in the air, as if everyone in the building was holding their breath. Even the phone lines were silent.

I fixated on the closed door, straining to hear my name mentioned. But even if it was, I wouldn’t hear it; the CEO’s office was soundproof.

The mahogany doors burst open, startling me so much I leaped from my chair. I steady myself as Patrick Henney, my now former boss, stepped out of his office, looking more harried than I’d ever seen him. The lines on his face were deeper, and his complexion had turned ashen. It wasn’t even ten in the morning, yet his suit was wrinkled, and his gray hair stood almost on end.

Seeing my concerned look, he ran a hand through his hair, making matters worse.

“May, did you know about this?” he asked, his scowl shrinking me to an inch tall.

“I only just found out,” I replied, half-truthfully. Though I knew he would be fired, I hadn’t expected it today, until the board’s last-minute message. Naturally, I kept that to myself.

“Get in here, will you?” An unexpectedly gentle tone softened his demand.

“Sir, you cannot take anything else with you,” Cain interjected from behind him. “We will call the police if necessary.”


At the mention of the police, my eyes widened, and I hurried into the office. Cain and Donny stood rigidly by the large window overlooking Charleston Harbor. The room was in disarray. Leather sofa cushions were strewn about, and there was a gaping hole in my favorite painting.

The damage made me step back in shock. Why hadn’t they escorted him out already?

Donny gave me a reassuring nod. “He did this before we arrived. But,” he added, his gaze hardening on the ex-CEO, “if he causes more trouble, we’ll act. Mr. Henney, please collect your things and follow us.”

Patrick stood beside a cardboard box on his desk, a sour expression on his face. “As I told you buffoons before, this isn’t everything. I need my files,” he said with a sharp gesture towards the computer.

“You’re cleared to only take what’s in the box,” Cain explained.

“That’s why I called May in here,” Patrick sneered before turning his scowl in my direction. “It seems these orangutans can’t do their jobs properly. Could you please gather my things and have them sent to me? Including my files?”

Cain was already shaking his head. “Ms. Summers isn’t authorized for that, sir. If you need anything else, you’ll have to speak to the board directly.”

“It’s time to leave, sir,” Donny added, stepping forward.

Knowing there was nothing more I could do, I returned to my desk and watched them escort a silent Patrick Henney into the elevator.

Patrick’s gaze shifted to meet mine, and I held my breath.

“You were the best assistant I’ve ever had, May. You deserved better. I’m sorry I held you back.”

The elevator doors slid closed, leaving me stunned. I slumped into my chair and hung my head. But I only had a few minutes to sulk before my tablet dinged, indicating I had an incoming virtual call. When I saw who it was, my stomach did somersaults.

Before answering, I worked my expression into a smile for the man who appeared on the screen. He smiled back, seeming a little too happy to see me given the circumstances. Though, for a seasoned business owner, he was probably used to this sort of thing. He had no idea how hard this was for me.

Shoulders pushed back, I did my best to portray a confidence I wasn’t feeling in the least.

“May, it’s good to see you,” George Cofield said.

George was the original founder and now lead member of the board for Cofield and McLean Marketing Group, the marketing agency I worked for. He was also from my hometown of Summer Grove. I’d known him most of my life as he was buddies with my ex-best friend’s father and often hung around their house.

As soon as the thought crossed my mind, I shut it down. Today was not the day for a stroll down memory lane.

“Hello, Mr. Cofield. How are you?” I asked, barely able to keep my voice steady through the thrumming of my nervous pulse.

The lines in the corner of his eyes deepened as he smiled. His salt and pepper hair had more salt than the last time I saw him, but his brown eyes still sparkled with youth. George and I had always gotten along, but this situation had me uneasy.

“How many times do I have to tell you to call me George? I’m doing well, May. Or as well as I can be.” His smile slipped away as his forehead wrinkled. “I was informed that Patrick Henney is no longer on the premises.”

“They escorted him out only moments ago,” I told him.

“Guess you know, then. We reviewed the evidence you sent, and you were right to bring us your concerns,” George said.


“Thank you for that warning text this morning.”

“You’re welcome. I didn’t have time to call, but I wanted you to at least know what you were walking into. I thought about asking you not to come in, but it might have raised Patrick’s suspicions if you weren’t there.”

“I appreciate that.”

I took a deep breath, a mixture of relief and sadness overwhelming me. I actually liked my boss. Patrick Henney, had been good to me. I admired him for how fairly he treated all the employees, no matter their position within the company. It had been a shock finding out he’d been embezzling.

“Your job is safe,” George said, mistaking my expression. “In fact, after inspecting Patrick’s files, we found a lot of issues and inconsistencies. We’re considering a more significant role for you, given your performance. You’ve gone above and beyond. Which means you could be helping us in better ways. We’ll be looking into this.”

“Thank you, sir. I hate that this happened,” I told him, pained by the truth. Finding out he’d betrayed my trust, and that of the board, had been horrifying.

I first noticed inconsistencies in the financial reports in December, and then again in January. It had been obvious someone had moved the money between accounts. I’d immediately brought my findings to Mr. Henney, who had assured me he would take care of it. Instead, the reports had stopped coming to my desk, causing my suspicions to grow.

When our financial accountant told me Mr. Henney had asked her to deliver the reports directly to him instead, I’d decided something must have been wrong.

At first, I’d struggled with whether to bring my findings to the board. The amount of money he’d embezzled hadn’t been huge, not compared to what the company was worth. If they thought I was trying to cause trouble, it could have meant losing my job.

No matter how angry I became after losing out on promotion after promotion, I desperately needed the paycheck. Between my student loan debt and my mother’s medical bills, money was tight.

But in the end, wrong was wrong. I wouldn’t have been able to look at myself in the mirror if I hadn’t reported what I’d found. It had been the right thing to do.

“I hear you, May,” George sighed. “I always liked Patrick, too.”

“What’s going to happen to him now?” I asked.

“What he did was illegal, but we want to handle this as quickly and quietly as possible. I can’t promise charges won’t be filed, but for now, know that we’re going to do everything we can to keep your report anonymous.”

I breathed out a sigh of relief. The one thing I’d asked of the board was to keep my name out of the paperwork. Most of the employees liked Patrick Henney. If word got out that I’d had anything to do with his termination, it would be bad for me.

“I appreciate that, Mr. Cofield,” I said.

“George,” he reminded me again, but I only hummed, causing him to laugh.

He could keep asking me to refer to him by his first name, but it wasn’t happening. When at the office, at least.

We finished up with a few pleasantries, then I ended the call with a sigh, my gaze landing on a framed picture of Patrick, his wife, and their ten-year-old son. They’d had him late in life.

I closed my eyes, a wave of guilt hitting me like a sucker punch. What I’d done had been necessary and the right thing to do. If I kept repeating it, maybe one day I’d forgive myself.

“I need to get out of here,” I muttered under my breath. I grabbed my purse from the locked drawer and left the office. Which was my next mistake of the day.

Downstairs, in the lobby, we had a coffee bar that also sold cold sandwiches, salads, and pastries. That was my destination until I turned the corner and noticed the crowded room. I narrowed my eyes as I took in the scene. Though it was too early for lunch, the few bistro tables scattered around were full, with some people standing as they huddled in small groups.


“They’ve let go almost the entire staff in finance,” I heard someone whisper and turned toward the source.

Two men were leaning against the wall, their whispered words carrying through the room. “I talked to Ted this morning, one of the guys they fired. He heard it had something to do with Henney’s assistant. Do you think they were having an affair?”

The other man shrugged. “Wouldn’t surprise me.”

Gasping, I looked around the room to find all eyes on me. A few gazes held sympathy, but most were hard and accusing. I’d thought it would take a while for word to get around. Apparently, not. The rumor mill had worked fast.

I pursed my lips and lifted my chin. They could judge me all they wanted. I’d done the right thing. They’d see that, eventually. And if not, there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.

I turned on my heels and returned to my desk. There was work to do, and no one was running me out of there. At least, not yet.



Chapter 2

You call it destiny… I call it fate




“Now that you’ll have more free time, I expect you to actually answer my phone calls for once.”

I held in a sigh and gave my mother a smile I wasn’t feeling. Holding the door, I waited impatiently for my family to say their goodbyes. They had shown up at my midtown Atlanta apartment unexpectedly to celebrate my recent success. But now that the evening had come to an end, my parents lingered.

“Leave him alone, Mother,” Milly admonished as she linked her arm with our mother’s.

I opened my mouth to thank her, then hesitated. Knowing my twin sister better than myself, I narrowed my eyes at the brat and waited.

“Can’t you see the man needs to rest? I can see the gray hairs from here,” she said as they stepped past.

“Brat,” I whispered loud enough for her to hear. 

She wrinkled her nose and stuck her tongue out at me, but since she was leading our mother out the door, I gave her a grateful smile in return.

“Yes, you’re right,” my mother said. “But I still want to hear from you at least once a week. I mean it.”

“Yes, Mother.” I sighed.

Kathleen Easton Boudreaux gave a regal nod and allowed my sister to lead her out the door.

“You owe me,” my sister mouthed before turning the corner, leaving only one family member left to get rid of. 

I had four siblings, but the others led busy lives and had sent their congratulations via telephone. For which I appreciated.


Hamilton Boudreaux, the Second, clapped me on the shoulder. “Son, I’m proud of you. Your third successful sale this year. That’s impressive.”

“Thank you, Dad. You taught me all I know, of course.“

My father laughed, a robust sound that made me smile. We butted heads more often than I would have liked, but he’d been a wonderful dad. A great man to look up to all these years. And supportive of most of my endeavors.

All but one. The one I wished more than anything he’d care about.

“You’re on a roll, Son. You can’t let the momentum fade. I have a lead on a business that would fit right into your wheelhouse. I’ll make some calls this week, and we’ll set something up.”

“I’ve already told you, I’m taking a vacation.”

The lines around his mouth deepened as he frowned. “Now, Son…this isn’t the time.”

“It’s definitely the time, Dad. I’ve been working for three years straight with no time to myself.” And that didn’t count the four years spent busting my ass in college. “I have things I want to do with my life.”

“Not this again.” My father rolled his eyes. “I admire a man who has a hobby. It’s good to have something to take your mind off of business from time to time, but—”

“Writing isn’t a hobby.” I gritted my teeth at the old argument.

Even at a young age, writing was important to me. The imagery in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl had inspired me to create my own world, and so I began writing fan fiction. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time dabbling away on my laptop. Now, I wanted nothing more than to be a novelist and screenwriter.

My father, on the other hand, had always seen me following in his footsteps, just like my brother Hamilton had done. They bought, fixed, and sold companies in trouble, and had made millions doing so. It was a craft, an artistry in its own right, but no matter how good I was at it, it didn’t make me happy. It was the one thing we butted heads on the most.

Milly and my father had a similar relationship. I didn’t know if it was a twin thing or not, but my sister and I were similar in that we both enjoyed the arts more than business. Milly was a masterful painter. The difference between us, however, was that she had the courage, even at a young age, to ignore our father’s disappointment and pursue her dreams.

“Tonight’s a celebration,” my father said with a sigh. “Let’s not argue. I’m going with your mother and Milly back to Summer Grove for the weekend, but I will be back in Atlanta by Monday. I’ll expect your call within the week to discuss this more.”

My jaw tightened as he spoke. I was twenty-seven years old and still had the urge to make my father proud. However, I also realized time moved fast. If I wanted to reach any of my personal goals in life, I had to accept the fact that I was a disappointment in his eyes.

“I’ll call you this week,” I promised him.

My father smiled, his familiar blue eyes sparkling with triumph. Which was fine. If it got him out of my apartment, I was willing to let him think he’d won this round.

He patted me on the shoulder once more before finally leaving. I shut the door behind him and sighed, happy to reclaim the space as my own.

Taking a moment to collect myself, I poured a glass of Jameson and took a sip before sitting at my desk. I opened my laptop and read over the words I’d typed earlier that evening before meddling family members interrupted me. Milly was the least meddlesome of the three, but she accompanied my parents everywhere. And as my twin, she showed up more often than not when I didn’t want her.

I laughed to myself at the lie. I loved my family, even if they were tiresome more days than not. In fact, it was one of my goals to start a family of my own someday soon. One that would be as loving and as irritating as the one I’d grown up in.


Shaking my head, I set down my glass and had just put my fingers to the keys when my cell phone rang. I closed my eyes and groaned. I should have put the damn thing on silent.

A quick look at the screen had my brows lifting to my hairline. “George?” I answered. “How are you?”

“I’m good, Lee. I hear congratulations are in order. Another big sale for the business mogul.”

I smiled, happy to hear from an old friend of the family. “Thanks, George.”

“Listen, Lee, I won’t beat around the bush. I need a favor.”

“I had a feeling,” I said with a chuckle. 

George’s laugh reminded me of my father’s. Because they’d been best friends since my childhood, he’d been a prominent figure in my life.

“We’re shopping for a temporary CEO at Cofield and McLean,” George announced, speaking of his lucrative marketing agency, Cofield and McLean Marketing Group. The company was based in Charleston, South Carolina, only a short drive from our hometown, Summer Grove.

“Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you with some recommendations,” I replied. “Wait, what about Frank?” I asked. “I heard he’s eager to leave the company in Manhattan that his uncle owns.”

I knew I was grasping at straws. I’d heard no such thing, but I was really hoping he wasn’t about to ask what I thought he was.

“Actually, we want you,” George confirmed.

“I was afraid of that,” I grumbled.

To my surprise, George laughed. “Listen, we had a minor hiccup and had to replace a lot of people. We need someone to hold down the fort for a few weeks.”

“I’m sorry, George, but you’ll have to find someone else. I have a vacation booked.”

“When does it start?” George asked, his tone suggesting the news didn’t surprise him in the slightest.

“The end of next week. You’ve been talking to my dad, haven’t you?”

“Maybe,” George chuckled. “But hear me out. If you start now, you can take your personal assistant, make it a working vacation, and write it off on your taxes.”

George had thought of everything. This was why he was a shark in the business world.

“Depends on the assistant.” Why was I even considering this?

“May Summers. If anyone deserves a vacation, it’s her.”

May Summers.

A strange feeling rushed through my body at the mention of my childhood best friend. My eyes tightened as I gazed down at my desk, seeing nothing as I tried to ignore the memories pushing to the forefront of my mind. I’d done my best to avoid May and any talk of my ex-friend over the years. And George knew this.

“May works for you? How did I not know this?”

“Hmm? I don’t know. It wasn’t a secret. Guess it just didn’t come up in conversation.”


I gritted my teeth in annoyance. George never did anything accidentally. He definitely had something up his sleeve. I thought about calling him out, but would play along for now.


“Why not give her the job?” If she was anything like the girl I remembered, she was smart enough for the position. “This isn’t a sexist thing, is it?” I asked, purposely riling him up. He deserved it for the stunt he was pulling.


“Absolutely not!” he snapped. After a pause, he muttered, “It’s complicated.” 


“If I’m going to take the job, I need to know what’s going on, George.”


“Fine.” He sighed. “May found evidence someone was embezzling from the company. And all the numbers pointed to Patrick.”


I whistled. Patrick Henney was their CEO. I’d only met him once, and he’d seem like an up and up kind of guy. However, first impressions could be deceiving.


“We’ve tried to keep May’s part in this quiet, but rumors are going around, and everyone is on edge. We’d thought we’d give her a few weeks for things to cool down, then offer her the position. She’s young, but I have no doubts she’d be perfect for the job. She doesn’t realize it, but she was practically doing Patrick’s job, anyway. In the meantime, we need someone to fill the spot until things calm down.”


When I still hesitated, George continued, “Listen, Lee, I know this is a big ask, especially with the history between you two, but you owe me.”


I groaned. “You’re still holding onto that?” He was right. I did owe him. Sort of.


George laughed. “Being at the right time at the right place has served me well in life. I knew when I caught you sneaking out of the house when you were sixteen, it would be beneficial at some point.”


I rolled my eyes and muttered, “Sneaking out of the house… I was helping Milly sneak out, actually.”


“And you didn’t want your father to know what a wild child she was.” George chuckled. “You were a good brother. But it’s time to pay up. What do you say? I’ll even pay for May to go on the trip with you,” George offered.


When I continued to hesitate, George hammered the last nail in the coffin. 


“Look at it this way; this is an opportunity to patch things up with May. The two of you were inseparable as kids. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I think enough time has passed. Whatever grudge you’re holding isn’t worth it.”


I blew out a breath. I didn’t care about things Milly or I did when we were kids. George wasn’t really holding that night over my head. It was all a joke to him. The person I really owed was May. And I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make it up to her.


“And wait until you meet May,” George added, causing me to frown.


 “Uh, George, are you okay? You’re not getting dementia are you? We just discussed this. You know I’ve already met May.”


“I know you’ve met May, but wait until you meet adult May,” he said. “She’s really turned into an amazing young woman.”


“I’m pretty sure she hates me,” I muttered under my breath.


“Ah, now. I find that hard to believe. You’re very likable.”


I rolled my eyes at his placating tone. “You’d say anything to get me to do this, wouldn’t you?”


“I would, but I don’t believe it’ll come to that.”


“What does May think about this? She can’t be happy.”


Silence stretched on the line between us. Groaning, I slumped in my desk chair. “Please tell me you told her you were contacting me.”


George cleared his throat. “It’ll be fine,” he said dismissively. “Especially when she realizes she’ll get a paid vacation.”


George’s words did not reassure me. The May I knew would skin us both alive if she knew he was keeping something like this from her. 


I pinched my bottom lip between two fingers. Two weeks with May on a tropical island... On one hand, it would give me a chance to clear the air. On the other? She could kill me.

I grinned at the possibilities.


“Alright,” I agreed. “I’ll be on the first flight out in the morning. And George? After this, my debt is paid in full.”



Chapter 3

Ex’s and Oh’s…




There were two things people complained about in the South: the heat and the cold, depending on the time of year. It was mid-spring in Charleston, and we were experiencing the worst spring heatwave in years. It was bound to bring out the bitchiness in everyone. Including me. But it was my tardiness that had me scowling.

Rushing into the air-conditioned coffee shop, two blocks from work, I left the breath-stealing humidity behind, making sure the door shut quickly behind me before someone inevitably complained. Then I headed straight for the counter, my sights set on a cold brew.

I was running unusually late this morning, and I desperately needed a shot of caffeine. One that didn’t come with a side of icy stares from my coworkers. Hence the reason I wasn’t grabbing a more convenient cup of joe at the office.

Only four days had passed since Henney’s firing, and the rumors had only gotten worse. By now, I should have dropped dead from the glares thrown my way. I’d basically become persona non grata. At least with George hanging around until the new CEO showed, no one had confronted me directly with their suspicions.

The cafe was quiet and mostly empty, besides the tall man in a charcoal suit standing in front of the counter. I sighed and stepped in line behind him, my thoughts moving toward my plans for the weekend. It was my friend Julia’s birthday, and we were taking her out to dinner on Saturday. Sunday, I would spend the day with my mom, then I would relax at home and prepare for Monday; the day I’d meet the new CEO.

My stomach knotted up, wondering what kind of boss they would be. If the staff talked to them, I could only imagine the hell they’d give me. I might have to look for a new job.


The guy in front of me stepped to the side, and I rushed to the counter, my elbow clipping his arm in my haste.


“I’m so sorry!” I exclaimed, chastising myself for my rudeness.


“No problem, May.”


There was something familiar about the voice… Almost like…


My pulse quickened as I got a glimpse of the man’s profile as he slid a cardboard sleeve up his coffee cup. I studied his features, taking in his styled, short, dark blond hair, slim nose, and squared jaw. With the perfectly pressed business suit, the scruff covering his chin looked a little out of place. But I had to admit, it was sexy as hell.


My heart pounded as I licked my lips. “I’m sorry, do I know you?” I asked, knowing damn well who it was. Though I was hoping against hope that I was wrong.


The Adonis before me turned his baby blues in my direction and smiled, sending a shot of adrenaline through my veins.


“I hope so,” he said. “But it has been a while.”


My mouth fell open, then closed, then opened again. I probably looked like a gaping fish. 


It was definitely him. Still the same piercing eyes that knew how to paralyze my limbs and weaken my knees. But the rest of him had filled out. A lot. The scrawny boy who’d stolen my heart all those years ago could now model in his underwear on the billboards in New York and stop traffic. He was that hot.


“Lee? Lee Boudreaux?” I couldn’t keep the shock out of my voice.


He looked down shyly, then back up. His smile widened, showing off a perfect row of white teeth, thanks to two years of braces. I’d been a part of that awkward phase of his life. Along with a few others. 


Lee Boudreaux was no longer an awkward teenager. Though I wouldn’t have called him awkward towards the end of our senior year, either. But I could admit, the years had been good to him.


“The one and only. I’m surprised you remember,” he said.


My best friend. My first crush. My worst heartbreak. How could a woman forget? Even eight years later, the moment he stomped all over my young heart was still fresh in my mind. 


My cheeks heated at the memory, but I pushed the old anger and hurt down, because as I’d said, it had been eight years.


Too long to hold a grudge. Or at least, to admit to holding one.


I shoved my inner bitch to the side and mustered up a smile. “Of course, I remember you. How could I not? What are you doing here?”


His smile slipped a little, and he cleared his throat. Raising an eyebrow, he lifted his coffee cup. “Fueling up. What have you been up to?” 


Oh, you know…getting my boss fired, going nowhere in my career, and being essentially hated by everyone in the office.


And that wasn’t including my personal life. Which consisted of lonely white chocolate raspberry ice cream dinners, multiple first dates that went nowhere, and constantly worrying about my mother, who was in remission from ovarian cancer.


When the doctor had diagnosed her four years before, I’d wanted to drop out of college and move back home, but she wouldn’t have it. The only thing she let me do to help was pay the medical bills and drive her to her appointments. Even that had been a fight. I was so relieved when the doctor announced she was in remission. 


“Oh, this and that,” I replied. 


“Wow,” he said. “How long has it been?”


“Eight years,” I replied without hesitation.


“You look amazing.”


If he’d leered, I could have prevented the blush that heated my cheeks, but his gaze never strayed from my face.


“Y-you too,” I managed to stutter.


We stared at one another; the silence stretching uncomfortably between us. At least for me. I shifted from foot to foot and looked away, needing a moment to catch my breath.


“I’d love to catch up,” I lied, “but I’m late.” Catching up was the last thing I wanted to do, but I’d been born and raised in the South. As frustrating as it was, manners were too ingrained in me to be rude.


“I understand. How about dinner or lunch sometime?”


He tilted his head, trying to catch my gaze. When he finally did, his eyes pleaded with me to comply. It was like high school all over again, when he’d used that look to get me to sneak over to Mr. Jacobs pond to go swimming. And as predicted, I caved.




His lips spread into a wide, genuine smile, causing my breath to hitch in my chest. 


“Great.” He placed his coffee on the counter and took a pen from the cup next to the cash register.


Before I knew what was happening, he grabbed my hand and began writing on my palm. Lightning zapped me where he touched, and it took everything in me to hold back a gasp. Startled at the unwelcome sensation, I tried to pull away, but he held onto me for a second longer before letting go.


“Call me tonight, and we’ll set something up,” he instructed, prompting me to glance down at my hand. He’d written his phone number on my palm. It was like I’d gone back in time. 


When I looked up, he winked. “I’ll see you soon, May.” 


I opened my mouth to reply, but I didn’t know what to say. Who was this man? Definitely not the shy kid who stuttered every time Bethany Ann, the hottest cheerleader in school, walked into the room.


My skin continued to tingle with the memory of his touch, and I flexed my fingers as I watched Lee walk away, my eyes glued to his ass. He’d always had a great ass.


“Ma’am? What can I get for you?”


The fog lifted, and I blinked a few times at the barista, the ability to form words gone for the moment. I shook my head and sighed before ordering my usual.


Lee Boudreaux—the man I’d done my best to forget, yet failed consistently. He was honestly my Roman Empire. 


He was a hard man to forget. As one of the richest bachelors in the country, his name and face popped up in the news from time to time. And the gossip rags, with pictures of his girlfriend of the moment.


The first few times I’d seen his face in a magazine, I gathered them up and read each page again and again, crying into my Ben and Jerry’s. It took a while, but eventually I’d developed the ability to skip the articles like they weren’t even there. 


I sighed, wishing I could skip this day. How was I supposed to concentrate on work knowing Lee was in town? What was I thinking, agreeing to dinner? I couldn’t go to dinner with him. The awkwardness alone would kill me.


What would catching up accomplish, anyway? I could imagine how it would go. We’d start off with pleasantries about our work and before I knew it, we’d be rehashing the past, pointing accusing fingers, and splashing wine in each other’s face. 


Okay, that was a bit dramatic, but I seriously couldn’t go through with it.


The barista handed me my iced coffee, and my eyes fell on the ink smearing on my skin from the condensation. A sudden grin spread across my lips. My hands were feeling awfully dirty. I might have to wash them. And if I lost Lee’s phone number as a result, well… Oops.

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