The night I met Drew Jagger, he’d just broken into my new Park Avenue office.
I dialed 9-1-1 before proceeding to attack him with my fancy new Krav Maga skills.
He quickly restrained me, then chuckled, finding my attempted assault amusing.
Of course, my intruder had to be arrogant.
Only, turned out, he wasn’t an intruder at all.
Drew was the rightful occupant of my new office. He’d been on vacation while his posh space was renovated.
Which was how a scammer got away with leasing me office space that wasn’t really available for rent.
I was swindled out of ten grand.
The next day, after hours at the police station, Drew took pity on me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. In exchange for answering his phones while his secretary was out, he’d let me stay until I found a new place.
I probably should have acted grateful and kept my mouth shut when I overheard the advice he was spewing to his clients. But I couldn’t help giving him a piece of my mind.
I never expected my body to react every time we argued. Especially when that was all we seemed to be able to do.
The two of us were complete opposites. Drew was a bitter, angry, gorgeous-as-all-hell, destroyer of relationships. And my job was to help people save their marriages.
The only thing the two of us had in common was the space we were sharing.
And an attraction that was getting harder to deny by the day.
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Sometimes what you’re looking for comes when you’re not looking at all.
Two hours in traffic to make it not even the nine miles home from LaGuardia. It was after ten o’clock at night. Why weren’t all these people at a party by now? Whatever tension two weeks in Hawaii had relieved was already back to coiling tighter and tighter inside me as the town car inched its way uptown.
I tried not to think about all the work I was coming back to—the endless string of other people’s problems to compound my own:
Get me full custody of the kids.
She can’t have the house in Vail.
All she wants is my money.
She hasn’t given me a blowjob in three years.
I rubbed the back of my neck, feeling slightly claustrophobic in the back of the Uber, and looked out the window. An old lady with a walker passed us.
“But you have luggage?”
I was already exiting the back of the car. “Pop the trunk. It’s not like we’re moving anyway.”
Traffic was at a dead stop, and it was only two blocks to my building. Tossing a hundred-dollar tip at the driver, I grabbed my suitcase from the trunk and took in a deep breath of Manhattan.
I loved this city as much as I hated it.
575 Park Avenue was a restored pre-war on the southeast corner of Sixty-Third Street—it was an address that gave people preconceived notions about you. Someone with my last name had occupied the building since before the place was converted into overpriced co-ops.
“Welcome back, Mr. Jagger.” The uniformed doorman greeted me as he swung open the lobby door.
“Thanks, Ed. I miss anything while I was gone?”
“Nah. Same old, same old. Peeked in on your construction the other day, though. Looking good.”
“They use the service entrance down Sixty-Third like they were supposed to?”
Ed nodded. “Sure did. Barely heard them the last few days.”
Thick plastic remained taped over all of the interior doorways when I walked in. The little furniture I hadn’t put in storage was also still covered with tarps. Shit. They aren’t done yet. The contractor had assured me there would only be finish work left by the time I returned. I was right to be skeptical.
Flicking on the lights, I was happy to find the lobby completely done, though.
I took a quick look around, pleased with what I found, and was just about to leave when I noticed a light streaming from under the door of a small file room at the end of the hallway.
Thinking nothing of it, I headed to turn it off.
Now, I’m six foot two and a half, two hundred and five pounds, and maybe it was just my frame of mind, my not expecting to see anyone, but when I opened the door to the file room, finding her there scared the living crap out of me.
I took a step back through the door.
She got up, stood on the chair, and began yelling at me, waving her cell phone in the air.
“I’ll call the police!” Her fingers shook as she dialed nine, then one, and hovered over the last one. “Get out now, and I won’t call!”
I could have lunged for her, and the phone would have been out of her hand before she realized she hadn’t dialed the final digit. But she looked terrified, so I retreated another step and put my hands up in surrender.
“I’m not going to hurt you.” I used my best soothing, calm voice. “You don’t need to call the police. This is my office.”
“Do I look stupid to you? You just broke into my office.”
She wobbled atop the chair, holding both arms out to regain her balance, and then…her skirt fell to her feet.
“Get out!” She crouched down and grabbed her skirt, tugging it up to her waist as she turned her back to me.
“Do you take medication, ma’am?”
“Medication? Ma’am? Are you joking?”
“You know what?” I motioned to the phone she was still holding. “Why don’t you push that last one and get the police over here. They can drive you back to whatever loony bin you escaped from.”
For a crazy person—now that I was really looking—she was pretty damn cute. Fiery red hair piled on top of her head seemed to match her firecracker personality. Although from the looks of her blazing blue eyes, I was glad I’d held off on telling her that.
She pushed one and proceeded to report the crime of entering one’s own office. “I’d like to report a robbery.”
“Robbery?” I arched an eyebrow and looked around. A lone folding chair and crappy metal folding table were the only furniture in the entire space. “What exactly am I stealing? Your winning personality?”
She amended her complaint to the police. “A breaking and entering. I’d like to report a breaking and entering at 575 Park Avenue.”
I smirked. “And strong. Don’t forget to tell them I’m strong, too. Want me to flex for you? And maybe you should tell them I have green eyes. Wouldn’t want the police to confuse me with all the other really big thieves hanging out in my office.”
After she hung up, she stayed standing on the chair, still glaring at me.
“Was there also a mouse?” I asked.
“Considering you jumped up on that chair.” I chuckled.
“You find this funny?”
“Oddly, I do. And I have no fucking idea why. It should annoy the crap out of me that I come home from a two-week vacation and find a squatter in my office.”
“Squatter? I’m no squatter. This is my office. I moved in a week ago.”
“Why don’t you get down? You’re going to fall off that thing and get hurt.”
“How do I know you’re not going to hurt me when I get down?”
I shook my head and contained my laugh. “Sweetheart, look at the size of me. Look at the size of you. Standing on that chair isn’t doing jack shit to keep you safe. If I wanted to hurt you, you’d be out cold on the floor already.”
“I take Krav Maga classes twice a week.”
“Twice a week? Really? Thanks for the warning.”
“You don’t have to ridicule me. Maybe I could hurt you. For an intruder, you’re really kind of rude, you know.”
After a full minute stare-off, she climbed off the chair.
“See? You’re as safe on the ground as you were up there.”
“What do you want from here?”
“You didn’t call the police, did you? Y
“I didn’t. But I can.”
“Now why would you go and do that? So they can arrest you for breaking and entering?”
She pointed down at her makeshift desk. For the first time, I noticed papers all over the place. “I told you. This is my office. I’m working late tonight because the construction crew was so loud today that I couldn’t get done what I needed to. Why would anyone break and enter to work at ten-thirty at night on New Year’s Eve?”
Construction crew? My construction crew? Something was going on here. “You were here with the construction crew today?”
I scratched my chin, half believing her. “What’s the foreman’s name?”
Shit. She was telling the truth.
“And you rented the space from whom, exactly?”
Both my brows shot up this time. “John Cougar? Did he drop the Mellencamp, by chance?”
“How should I know?”
This wasn’t sounding good. “And you paid this John Cougar?”
“Of course. That’s how renting an office suite works. Two months’ security, first and last month’s rent.”
I shut my eyes and shook my head. “Shit.”
“You got conned. How much did all of that cost you? Two months’ security, first and last month? Four months in total?”
“Ten thousand dollars.”
“Please tell me you didn’t pay cash.”
“You paid John Cougar forty thousand dollars in cash?”
“I paid him ten thousand in cash.”
“I thought you said you paid four months.”
“I did. It was twenty-five hundred a month.”
That did it. Of all the crazy shit I’d heard so far, thinking she could get space on Park Avenue for twenty-five hundred a month took the cake. I broke out in a fit of laughter.
“What’s so funny?”
“You’re not from New York, are you?”
“No. I just moved here from Oklahoma. What does that have to do with anything?”
“That can’t be.”
“What do you do that you need office space?”
“I’m a psychologist.”
I held out my hand. “I’m an attorney. Let me see your contract.”
“You’ve been scammed.”
“But I paid him ten thousand dollars!”
“Which is another thing that should have tipped you off. You couldn’t rent a closet on Park Avenue for twenty-five hundred a month. Didn’t you find it strange that you were getting a place like this for next to nothing?”
“I thought I was getting a deal.”
I shook my head. “You got a deal alright. A raw deal.”
She covered her mouth. “I think I’m going to be sick.”
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In 2013, she released her first romance novel and never looked back. To date, she has thirteen novels released, with PLAYBOY PILOT also releasing in 2016. Her novels have appeared on #1 on Amazon and are currently being translated into German, Polish, Portuguese, Korean, Hebrew, French and Italian.