I move around the crowds, making my way to my apartment. The throngs of people have always excited me. I love living in New York; it has been my dream since I was a little girl. Even the asshole who just banged into my bag can’t sway how I feel. He might have thought he was going to lift my wallet, but little does he know I’m not a newb to the city. My gym bag jostles around on my shoulder, and I continue toward the subway entrance.
I ended up working later than I wanted to, and now I’m going to be running late to get ready. My boss demanded I get him information for a case before I could leave even though I’d already given it to him. Apparently, he lost it. It’s a good thing I keep everything backed up, and all I had to do was reprint it.
I push through the turnstile as I scan my transit card, then I make my way to the platform, where I wait for my train. I pull out my phone and send Morgan a quick text.
Me: I’ll be there promptly at 7.
Morgan: I changed my mind. I don’t want to go.
Me: Too late. Your sister is counting on us.
Morgan: Fine. But I won’t be happy. I’m jumping in the shower now.
I smile to myself because that means she hasn’t seen the dress Madison and I picked out for her to wear tonight yet. I met Morgan six months ago at the dojo and we became instant friends. She, like me, is into Taekwondo. Using it to help relieve stress and for protection. Her sister, Madison, had just gotten home from being deployed and was in the hospital still. Morgan needed someone to vent to and I needed someone too, because I had just gotten my job at Greysen, Javier, and Messina. I’ve wanted to be an attorney since I was young. Now, I’m almost there. I work as a paralegal while I’m in law school at Columbia. I could be doing more, but the attorney I work for only lets me do paralegal duties because he’s an asshole.
I board the train and sit down, then I work on some schoolwork from my phone so that I can spend the rest of the weekend relaxing and hanging out with my girls.
Tonight is the Veteran’s Fundraiser Gala, where Madison will be recognized. I was excited when they asked me to go with them because it was a chance for me to dress up, and I never pass that up. I work so I can not only pay for school but so that I can pay for my wardrobe. My brother insists on helping me pay for my apartment. My phone rings in my hand, and I smile as I connect the call. It’s as if he knows I’m thinking about him.
“Hey, big bro, how is my great white tuna man?” I joke. My brother, Paxton, is first mate on a tuna fishing boat. He’s been more like a parent to me than a brother. He’s raised me since I was twelve when our father died in a boating accident.
“Why does your landlord say that your rent has already been paid?” he growls through the line in his deep voice. I can picture him standing there with his large hand holding the phone to his ear as his extremely muscular legs pace the area. His other hand is either clenched in a fist or waving around. “Em, did you hear me?”
“Oh, yeah. Sorry about that.” I try not to laugh. “I paid my rent myself.”
“You’ve been working too much overtime. You need to be focused on school.”
I don’t tell him he’s correct because then he’d come down here and beat my boss into the carpet through his expensive loafers.
“I got it. I am an adult, after all.”
“The deal was as long as you are in school, I pay for your apartment. You agreed to that.”
“I’m okay.” I wish he’d stop trying to take care of me. He’s done this all of my life. I love him, but I hate that I’m his main priority. He needs a life of his own too.
“Emily, I’m not going to argue with you.” His growl deepens. I look up and see that the subway is coming to my stop.
“We are at my stop; I have to go. I’m going to a veteran’s gala tonight with Morgan and Madison. I love you. I’ll call tomorrow.”
“I already deposited the money into your account. Bye, Em, I love you.” He hangs up and I grit my teeth. I knew he was going to do that, but I can’t stop him. He says it’s my share of any money dad would have left us, but unfortunately, he didn’t have insurance and Paxton got stuck taking care of everything. He even bought us a house when we lost our family home.
I make it home to my Midtown apartment. By the time I get done with my shower I have only an hour to get ready. Because of my small B-cup breasts, I don’t have to wear a bra, which is a good thing as this dress has a deep V that goes to my waist. It has long sleeves and a long maxi skirt with a slit so high up my thigh I’ll have to be very careful as not to be arrested for public indecency. The dress is black with embroidered roses all over the skirt. I put my long blond hair in a low ponytail with the top smoothed to my head. It’s a sleek style and helps that my hair was flat ironed straight after I blew it dry.
Taking one more look at myself in the mirror on my closet door, I twist around and admire how sexy I look. My silver platform cage style heels bring my five-foot height up to five foot four. Which I’ll need if I stand next to Morgan too much tonight. I grab my little black clutch when my phone beeps, letting me know the car is waiting for me.
By the time the Lincoln pulls up to the venue where the gala is, Morgan has worked herself up into a tizzy because her dress has an open back. Morgan is beautiful, but she says she looks butch with all of her extra muscles and her five-foot-eight height. I don’t understand the issue. I think she looks sexy. And when she finds out what Madi did to her, she is going to need to look extra special. To help get extra donations, they are auctioning off the first dance with select people, and Madi signed Morgan up for it. I try not to chuckle when the lady tells her. I know a lot of Morgan’s issues have to do with her mother.
What is it with mothers and making their daughters have issues?
Don’t get me started on that tangent.
I have more mommy issues than I do daddy or big brother ones.
Madi is about my height and dressed in an all-black single sleeve dress, showing off how trim and slender she is. It’s hard to believe she was a badass Army MP. Morgan, of course, is pissed when she finds out about the auction, but Madi and I get her under control before we move into the venue.
The ballroom is elegant with tables all around the edges of the dance floor. We claim a table, then decide to walk around and look at the silent auction items. I bid on a couple since I have the extra money from Paxton; I’ll get him a Christmas gift. Hopefully, I’ll be able to go home for Christmas. I won’t be able to for Thanksgiving since Bill, my boss, is prepping for a big case and wants all hands on deck. Paxton wasn’t happy when I told him I wasn’t coming home. But hopefully I will for Christmas and New Year’s. I’m due the time-off.
I’m looking at the auction table when the hair on the back of my neck rises in awareness. I’m just about to turn around and take a look when a voice washes over me.
“Well, well, well. I never thought I’d see Greenie looking like a real girl.” The deep voice is like whiskey swirling in a glass.
Soft, husky, and smooth. A voice that would make a women come while he whispers in her ear. I steal myself as I turn around with Morgan. I know it has to be a firefighter because of the use of her nickname. She is named after the green M&M because of her name and her colleague and other best friend Mitch. They are two peas in a pod and have known each other since they were in high school. I don’t steal myself hard enough when I take in the over six-foot tall man standing there. His dark hair is wavy on top and short along the sides in a long scissor fade style. But it’s his baby blue eyes that pierce through me. My body starts to react to him as he moves his eyes up and down me. He’s supposed to be talking to Morgan, but his focus is completely on me. It’s like standing in the sun and feeling its warmth on my skin. He’s in a tux that molds to his tall body. He’s not overly muscular, but I can still see that he’s defined. He’s got a very close, dark straggling of scruff along his chin and upper lip. Beard burn would be so sexy from him.
Morgan introduces us, and when he takes my hand, that awareness from earlier causes a fine sprinkling of goose flesh up my arm. He pulls me toward him. I’m so petite next to him, but I’m not scared or intimidated by him. I’m turned on and feel protected. The feeling of protection scares me. I can handle turned on. I’ll tell him the rules and then we can scratch the itch I know we both are feeling. But the protection part can’t happen. I have rules for a reason. I won’t let my heart get involved. It’s just sex. I don’t make love. I’m not a virgin. But I’m not a slut who sleeps around either. I know sex is a physiological need that every human being has. That’s all it is. I’ve never wanted or needed a relationship with a man. I also only give into my body’s need for sex rarely.
But right here with him holding my hand, pulling me around and close to him, him making me feel protected and desired, goes against the rules. I take a deep breath and pull myself away from him so I can get the smell of him out of my system. I need to get this desire under control. His cologne and leather scent is overpowering my need to push him away, and the desire for him is causing my body to react the way it is. But he pulls me back without even looking down at me.