Knee Deep, book 4 of the Love in the Suburbs series, is almost here. Yeah! I can’t wait to share Luke and Violet’s story with you. Seriously, I can’t wait. So, I decided to share Chapter 1 of the novel on the blog today. Enjoy!
Introducing Violet – the woman scorned
“We need to talk.” Oh, crap. I am so busted.
I should have known better than to try to pull one over on my boss, Frankie. Of course, she figured out what I’m up to. The woman seems to know everything going on in our little corner of the world. It’s like she has the entire suburb bugged or something.
Frankie only moved here temporarily to stay with her grandparents after a horrible accident left her scarred and unable to walk. But then her physical therapist turned out to be a total hottie. One thing led to another and now she’s married to the hottie and has an event planning business with her former assistant, Jackson. An event planning business where I’m currently working.
“I’ll be right there,” I sing as if I have no clue what’s going on. Lie.
I hang up the phone and take one last look around my office. I am totally playing Ms. Melodramatic. It’s not like I’ll be leaving the company this very second, but I am going to miss this place. Whoever Frankie and Jackson had design the offices of F&J’s Events did an awesome job. The place has a modern, hip feel while still maintaining the character of the old mid-20th century office building.
I rush down the stairs and wave to Bailey, the office manager and general all-around get-it-done girl.
“What’s going on?” she asks.
I lift my shoulders as if I haven’t a care in the world. “Nothing.”
She rolls her eyes. “Yeah, sure, that’s why you look like someone stole the last piece of your chocolate.”
I keep my mouth shut and keep on moving. I can’t tell her what I’ve been up to. She’ll see it as a betrayal. Hell, it kind of is a betrayal. What happened to me? I used to be the most loyal person in the entire world. And now I’m lying to two of my closest friends like it’s no big deal. I suck.
Oh, who am I kidding? I know exactly what – or should I say who? – happened to me. Luke freaking Bauer. Former love of my life. Current ruiner of said life. Ugh! Why can’t I stop thinking about the douchecanoe?
Frankie stands as I walk into her office and motions for me to take a seat. I perch myself on the edge of a chair. My knees are bouncing, and my toes are tapping. I am totally giving myself away by acting like a nervous Nellie. I grab the armrests in a death grip and tell myself to calm the eff down. For all I know, my boss called me into her office to talk about an event or, you know, work. Not my betrayal.
Frankie tilts her head and waits for me to speak. Not happening. I keep my mouth firmly shut. I’m not confessing to anything. At least not until I know how much she knows. Sneaky woman probably knows everything.
She folds her hands in front of her and clears her throat. “I hear you’re looking for a new job, Violet.”
Whoomp, there it is. She knows everything. “It’s not that I don’t like it here—” I start but she stops me with a raised hand.
“I don’t care you’re looking for another job.”
My brow wrinkles. “You don’t?” Huh. I’m kinda hurt by those words. And by ‘kinda hurt’ I mean big time hurt.
“Actually, I do. But I care more you didn’t tell me you want to leave.”
I didn’t tell her because she’d not only try to talk me out of it, she would talk me out of it. The woman is a master at getting her way. I do not envy her husband Brodie one bit.
“Um… I don’t want to leave. I have to leave.”
This gets her attention. “Is there something wrong? Has Jackson been harassing you?”
I snort. Seriously? The man may be intense when he’s in ‘business-mode’, but he would never harass me. He is head over heels for Frankie’s best friend, Shelby. Shelby is beyond crazy. Normally, I’d jump at the chance to make friends with her crazy ass, but she and I haven’t exactly warmed up to each other. Not when she’s buddy-buddy with he who shall not be named.
“No, Jackson hasn’t been harassing me.” Unless you count making me work my ass off and being a perfectionist, harassment, which I don’t. I had zero experience in event planning when Frankie and Jackson took a chance on me. I’ll take all the ‘harassment’ Jackson can dish out for the opportunity to learn the business. I’m a glutton for punishment like that.
“Then why do you have to leave?” Her eyes widen. “Oh shit. I’m not harassing you, am I? Hold on. Don’t answer. I’ll call Jackson in here and you can discuss it with him.”
I roll my eyes. “You can jump off the crazy train now. You are in no way no how harassing me. How could you even think such a thing?”
Frankie takes a deep breath. “I have been told I’m a bit hard to take and something of a workaholic.”
I feign surprise and clutch my non-existent pearls. “You? A workaholic? Say it ain’t so.”
“Hardy har har.” She taps her fingers on her desk. “If it’s not a problem with me or Jackson, what is it? I know it’s not Bailey. You two are as close as sisters from different misters.”
“Can we just leave it at I need to leave?” I plead.
“Um, no.” She shakes her head. “You’re an asset to F&J’s Events. I know better than to let a good employee walk away.”
Who knew being a good employee would ever cause a problem? I keep my lips zipped. I’m not talking about him. And yes, this is all about him. Of course, it is.
Frankie’s eyes widen, and she slams her hand on her desk. “Holy cow! I should have known it. It’s Luke, isn’t it?”
My head drops and I stare at my hands fisted in my lap. I can’t look her in the eyes and admit how weak I am. “I can’t be around him. It hurts too much.”
“But he doesn’t work here.”
“Maybe not, but he’s in your little group of friends. Every time you invite me somewhere, he’s there. Every time I meet you at the bar, he’s there. Every time there’s a dinner at your grandma’s house, he’s there. I can’t get away from him.”
And I can’t see him. It hurts too much. The man ripped my heart out and then stomped all over it with his shitkicker boots. I’ve used duct tape and string to put the thing back together, but those repairs fail in a spectacular fashion whenever the man is near.
The door flies open and Bailey stomps in. “You’re leaving because of Luke?” At my nod, she growls. “Men! They ruin everything!” Since she’s wearing a big honking engagement ring, her tirade doesn’t have the effect she’s hoping for.
“What if we promise to ban Luke from the premises?”
I snort at Frankie’s suggestion. “As if. Shelby will kick your ass if you dare to suggest such a thing.”
“Hey! I’m the boss here not her.”
“Does she know that?”
Bailey takes the seat next to mine and grabs my hand for a squeeze. “We really can’t convince you to stay?”
“You’re leaving soon anyway,” I point out. Not only is the woman engaged to Roman the billionaire, but she recently inherited a shit-ton of money from the dad she never knew. Well, she knew him, but she didn’t know, know him as she had never met him. It’s a complicated and long story. Anyway, her days as an office manager are limited.
“Well,” Frankie says as she stands. “I hope we can remain friends.”
Is it wrong I’m hurt she’s giving up so easily? Of course, we’ll remain friends. Friends from afar, that is. Frankie and Bailey are awesome. Some of the best women I’ve ever met but being in their vicinity means staying in Luke’s crosshairs. And I need to get out of the target zone as soon as possible. I keep my thoughts to myself. No sense in them realizing how bad Luke has hurt me, although I think they might be starting to figure it out.
At Bailey’s sniffle, I start backpedaling. “I’m not gone yet. I still need to find a job. Plus Ms. Bossy-Pants made me agree to a two-month notice period.”
“It’s standard industry practice.”
I ignore Frankie’s comment to apologize to Bailey. “I’m sorry. We can always see each other when you’re not off galivanting with your future husband.”
“And you’re my maid of honor.”
“I am?” I assumed I’d be in the wedding but maid of honor? I’ve known her for a few months whereas she’s known Frankie for years. “But—”
“Nope. It’s settled. I don’t want to hear anything about it.” She stands and strolls from the room as if the matter is settled. I guess it is.
I knew leaving F&J’s Events would be tough. I didn’t expect it to be this tough, though. Damn it. Just when my life is getting back on track, Luke rolls in and dumps all over it again. Maybe I should move to another city. No, another state. Maybe another country. Wherever I end up, it needs to be far, far away from Mr. Life Destroyer.