Home > The Rule Book (The Rule Breakers #1)(13)

The Rule Book (The Rule Breakers #1)(13)
Jennifer Blackwood

She was scheduled to be in a doctor’s appointment during my lunch, so I sent off a quick I love you and am thinking about you text as I navigated through the heavy foot traffic. The early October sun warmed my face even with the biting chill in the air. I cinched my favorite Chanel belted cardigan tighter around my waist and snuggled into the warm fabric. The fog had burned off and left a cloudless, blue topaz sky in its place. This was the first time in the past few days I’d been able to really breathe, deep breaths that didn’t feel like tiny holes punctured my lungs.

After finding a bench in Wyatt Park, I pulled out my salad leftovers and scanned the expanse of lush greenery. A guy wearing tweed sat on the bench across from me, yelling into his Bluetooth about stock portfolios. Two moms with newborns made loops around the park area before disappearing into a coffee shop. And a pair of street vendors shot each other evil glances when they thought no one was looking.

This area of Seattle was feeling a lot like Portland, minus the eccentric flair—nobody could beat the “Keep Portland Weird” mentality. Plus, they didn’t have Voodoo Doughnuts, which was a shame, because everyone should experience a Cock-N-Balls at least once in their life.

A calm blanketed my frayed nerves, and I gave myself this brief moment to believe that everything would be okay. I slouched down in my seat and took a second to close my eyes and rest my head on the back of the bench.

Everything was going to turn out fine. Mom would get through chemo like the champ she was. The only thing that worried me was her being alone during this process. In a desperate attempt, I’d tried calling my father and telling him about Mom’s diagnosis, but he’d brushed me off, too busy with his new family. His other life. It was still hard to stomach the idea of having a half-sibling almost the same age, and to think that every time he’d been on a “business trip” he was actually spending time with their family. His family. Someone who’d claimed he was an open book had hidden chapters riddled throughout. Seriously, it sounded like something from a soap opera, not a downtown Portland neighborhood.

My phone rang, hammering through the trip down memory lane. I pulled it out of my purse, frowning when I saw Jackson’s name on the screen. The dude was pushing it with encroaching on my only thirty minutes of solitude in a ten-hour workday.

“Hello?” I balanced the phone between my ear and shoulder as I readjusted my purse on my shoulder.

“Two lattes, extra foam. Be in the conference room in ten.” His haughty tone sent a jolt of annoyance down my spine.

Before I could say anything, the line went silent. I glared at my phone and shoved it into my purse, muttering under my breath. What a jerkoff.

Ten minutes. It took at least five minutes to get to the fortieth floor with a crowded elevator. Which meant I had to find the nearest coffee shop and get two lattes made in half that time. Okay, no big deal. There were a dozen Starbucks in a one-mile radius.

I got my order and sped back to the building. Five minutes until whatever was going on in the conference room. I was totally golden. To top it off, the elevator was empty, which meant I’d have a straight shot up forty floors.

Just as the elevator doors were in mid trash-compactor mode, a hand stuck between the two slabs of metal, and the doors retracted. Just yesterday, I saw a secretary from another company get hammered by the doors. They had no mercy except, apparently, for my boss.

My heart sunk faster than a penny in a wishing well as I eyed Brogan. He gave a tentative smile, one that seemed polite, but I could really tell he would rather be anywhere else but here. (Because you called him the devil, you idiot!)

The doors closed and “Tainted Love” softly played in the elevator. I stared at the coffee cups in my hand, my purse on the ground, the smudges on the elevator door, trying to keep my mind busy, but the silence was too much to handle. I couldn’t just ride up forty floors saying nothing to the man who’d hired me.

“We meet again,” I said, and cringed at how stupid I kept sounding in front of him. Seriously, a Master’s degree, and that was the best I could come up with. Cheesy chitchat usually only made an appearance with red wine and too many shots of tequila. The guy had hired me to help with the basics, and this wasn’t exactly showcasing my competence.

“Yep. Just out for a quick walk.” He nodded and picked at an invisible piece of lint on his sleeve.

Did he pass by me in the park on his walk? Oh God, had he seen me chewing? My mom’s chiding about my eating habits suddenly didn’t seem so stupid.

I chanced a quick glance his direction. Since that awful encounter in the break room the other week, his hair had been neatly trimmed into a stylish cut that accentuated his face. Brogan was all strong angles and broad shoulders. Normally my reaction to forced proximity with a hot guy in an elevator was that of a) glee b) praying I didn’t have horrible coffee breath, and c) the obvious hope of said hot guy jamming the big red stop button and proceeding to give a mind-blowing elevator romp.

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