Unexpected fate, p.3
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       Unexpected Fate, p.3

         Part #1 of Hope Town series by Harper Sloan
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  Cuddle fuck. What did she call it? A fuggle? I shake my head and wince when my cock swells even further. Fuggle. What in the hell is that supposed to mean, anyway?

  Focus, Cohen. Focus on something other than your desire to bury yourself balls-deep in sweet Dani pussy.

  I look around her room for anything to form some sort of distraction. Her dresser is full of pictures. There are some of her and my sisters. Some pictures of Maddi and Dani alone. Some of Maddi, the twins, and Dani together. More pictures of her and Liam Beckett—her best friend other than my sisters. My eyes go past the pictures to the canvas paintings she has hanging up around the pale-blue room, and I know without checking that they’re some of Ember’s, Maddi’s little sister. She has a huge chaise lounge-type sofa thing in the corner by her floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook their backyard and lake. It has a worn throw tossed carelessly over the back, and a book has been thrown on the ottoman.

  That chair would be the perfect chair to take her on, I muse. I would put her on her knees, facing the back, her elbows bracing her body against it, and take her hard. Goddamn, I could sink myself so deep into her tiny body.

  Okay . . . Quickly moving my eyes past the chair, I look back at her sleeping form. Her tan skin looks flushed, her full lips are parted slightly, and her chest is rising slowly. Just like an angel, my Dani-girl.

  An angel sent from Heaven who is without a doubt always going to be my greatest temptation.

  COHEN WOKE ME UP TWICE while I slept to have me take more medicine. I don’t remember much from that night, just that he never was far from my side when I woke on my own and he played with my hair until I was able to fall back to sleep after a good coughing spell. Well, that’s a lie. I remember dreams so vivid that I’m still getting hot and bothered over them.

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  He was gone when I woke up the morning after, and for once, I didn’t have to wake up to Nate beating his junk with porn on surround sound. It’s been four days of sleeping off and on. Every time I close my eyes, though, it’s all about Cohen.

  Sluggishly, I pull myself from bed and make quick work of showering and getting ready for the day. I’ve missed way too much work, and even though I have the coolest boss in the world, I can’t afford to miss much more. Especially now that, after all of this, I’m even more convinced that I have to get the hell out of my parents’ house.

  Grabbing my phone, I press the screen and wait for Lyn to pick up. One half of my best-friend duo since birth, Lyndsie Cage has been my go-to for everything—and I mean everything. She loves the fact that I have a ridiculous crush on her unattainable brother. She encourages my love for him. God, I love the little head-in-the-clouds dreamer.

  “Yo, bitch!” she laughs, and I smile.

  “What’s up, hooker?” I throw back.

  “Nothing much. Lila just left to head off to school. I swear she is never going to graduate,” she jokes.

  “Yeah, well, that’s what happens when you’re going after your doctorate, Lyn. I think she has to sign her soul away for the next twenty years or something,” I snicker.

  I couldn’t be prouder of Lila though. She has always told us that she is going to be a doctor; I guess we all just assumed she meant the medical kind. It wasn’t until the summer of our junior year in high school, when we were all working at a local day care, that she decided she had found her calling. She didn’t just want to work with kids. Nope. Not our Lila. She wanted to own, operate, and specialize in a day care for handicapped and special-needs children. Ever since then, she’s had one goal in mind. Her dual degree in special education and business management have had her eating, sleeping, and breathing school since graduation.

  “You aren’t far off, I’m sure. Anyway, what’s up?”

  I hear her fiddling with stuff in the background and visualize her puttering around her bathroom, getting ready for work as well. She probably has her thick, black hair up rolled in a bun on the top of her head while she makes sure her makeup is two hundred percent perfect.

  “Nothing much. Just getting ready for work. I feel like I’ve been off forever. Has the place gone up in flames since last week?” I ask, only half joking.

  “Not really,” she giggles.

  Oh shit.

  “Lyn,” I warn. “What did he do now?” I probe, dreading her answer. The last time I took a week-long vacation, I came back to work to a nut house.

  “Well, where do you want me to start? You should know by now that, just because he has calmed down some over the years, when he gets some wild hair, there is no stopping him. ”

  “Start from the beginning,” I spit out through my teeth.

  Using my shoulder to hold the phone, I pull my black pants over my hips, step into my favorite four-inch, black-suede heels with the gold-studded bowtie adorning the top. They’re freaking fabulous, and with the “must wear at least one item that is gold” requirement at work, they work perfectly. Of course, my feet will be screaming before the day is over, but at least they’re going to be screaming while looking badass.

  I’ve worked for Dilbert Harrison for the last two years. Dilbert Harrison also lovingly known as Uncle Sway. He’s the most over-the-top, not-a-care-in-the-world, fun-loving, and flamboyant man I know. I’ve heard stories about how, when we were younger, before he and his partner adopted their daughter Stella, he would prance around with a long, blond wig and heels taller than any of our mothers would brave wearing. Even Aunt Dee, who always has the coolest heels, wouldn’t even touch them.

  But his fun-loving, not-a-care-in-the-world personality can also be a little larger than life at times. I mean, hello. Because of him, the whole sidewalk outside the salon and a few other local businesses, including Corps Security, is painted gold with flecks of glitter.

  “Well, first he decided that we needed to touch up the flooring. Since we had to close down because the paint fumes were a little much for the clientele trying to relax the last time he touched it up, he was doing it in sections with a huge box fan bungee-corded to the rolling front desk chair. Then Samantha almost broke her neck when she tripped over the extension cord, so I talked him into waiting until we closed and stayed until four in the morning helping him touch up the damn floor. I told him he needed to consider having a laminate company custom make him some gold glittered flooring and maybe it wouldn’t need touching up. I believe he might be considering it. ” She stops, and I hear her moving around her house.

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  “Is that it?” I ask, knowing that there is no way that’s all.

  “Nope,” she states but doesn’t elaborate.


  “Then he decided we needed to have theme Fridays. Dani, theme fucking Fridays. You are going to shit yourself. This week, he wants a burlesque-type theme. He actually wants all of us girls, plus Jonathan—the new guy that started while you were out—to dress up in complete burlesque gear. If he could get away with it, I think he would even incorporate some sort of dance number into the end of every hour. ”

  “You’re joking?” Son of a bitch. I knew better than to leave Sway unattended for too long. I’ve always been able to keep a leash on his wilder-than-normal ideas.

  “Not at all. He even mentioned something about a pole-dancing class to teach us how to move before we had a stripper-slash-Vegas-showgirl day. Dani, he mentioned headdresses. Head. Dresses!” she yells in my ear.

  “I’ll talk to him when I get in. Maybe I can talk him out of this. ”

  “I wouldn’t put any money on it. He’s already taken an ad out in the local paper. He’s gone off the deep end ever since they wrapped filming of the reality show for last season and started their pre-filming for the next season. Sway All the Way is definitely making him battier than normal, and you know, once the show airs it’s only going to get worse. ”

  “God, Lyn. Can you freaking believe that is actually happening? I’m going to die when the first show airs. ” I sla
p my palm against my forehead when I remember what happened during the first episode’s filming.

  “Well, that’s your own fault for not rescheduling my brother’s haircut for a non-filming day,” she laughs.

  “Jesus, he’s going to see it, isn’t he? Do you think we can break all the televisions he could possibly be around before it airs? Luckily, Daddy already said he wasn’t watching that ‘chick shit,’ so he will remain blissfully unaware. ”

  “You can only hope, Dani. I don’t know what the big deal is though. It isn’t that bad. ”

  “Uh. I basically have ‘I’m daydreaming about running my hands through your hair while you fuck me’ written all over my face and then I stupidly admitted my feelings to the producers during our camera interview!” I shriek.

  “Ew. Don’t be so dramatic, loser. You didn’t look that obvious, and I’m sure they won’t even show that part of the interview. It was the first show. They have to . . . I don’t know . . . introduce the place and all that is Sway first. They wouldn’t start off with your crazy ass lusting after my brother. ”

  “You don’t know that,” I challenge.

  “Yeah, and you don’t know they will do anything different. Calm your tits. Look, I have to go and finish up my makeup. I’ve got a wedding party of five coming in today, and if I want to grab up all those hopeful bridesmaids’ business, I have to look like hot shit so they know I’m capable when the time comes for them to not be the poorly dressed extras in the wedding. Marketing is such a bitch sometimes. ”

  She doesn’t even give me a chance to say bye. She just clicks off the phone. I can imagine she is going all out on her makeup—not that she needs it. Lyn is stunning. But she always gets a little eccentric when it comes to wedding makeup. She’s convinced that the bridesmaids are living in some jealous fog and, when they get makeup done by her, meet their Prince Charming, and then in turn have their wedding in the plans, they’re going to somehow remember the girl who made them stunning and created that snowball effect.

  Yeah, Lyn is also the most confident person I’ve ever met, and she’s convinced she can do anything. Since she’s booked for more weddings of repeat bridesmaids, I have to kind of agree with her logic here.

  Burlesque- and showgirl-themed days? Good lord, it’s going to be a long day.

  AS PREDICTED, IT IS INSANE the second I step foot inside of Sway’s. The madness starts with Sway and ends with Sway. Madness and insane being the keywords.

  “Sweet heavens you, my little belle! Sway was imagining you on your deathbed! When that hunky father of yours—stop looking at me like that, you would have to be blind not to see how hunky he is! Anyway, when he told me that my Danielle-Bell was sick, I was so worried. Darling, you look like you’ve lost weight. Weight, I will remind you, that you did not have to lose. Such a tiny little tinker. ” He spins me with two hands on my shoulders, and I have to work hard not to bust my ass when my heels struggle to keep up with the rapid movement. “It’s a good thing you have your mother’s lush bottom or you would look like a stick. As it is, you look like a stick with a great ass. ”

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  He spins me back around and looks down at my chest. Oh here we go. Reaching up to my black blouse, he unsnaps the two buttons that kept me decent and nods to himself when my red bra is peeking through the opening.

  “Perfect. Now give the girls a little tuggero and we’re done. I’ll make sure to put some more weight on you, Belle. ”

  “You do realize that this would be considered sexual harassment in most work environments,” I remind him. Again.

  “It would. But lucky for you, I haven’t swung for the kitty cats once in my life. I think, for the harassment to be sexual, I would have to actual want to get in those pants, darling. The only pants I ever want to get into happen to be carrying far different equipment than you, sweet girl. ” He laughs and smacks my rear when I turn to walk to my station.

  “Good God, Pops! Do not talk like that!” I hear Stella yell as she walks in from the back room, where we do all of our color mixing. “That’s just . . . No, that’s just too much, even for you. I don’t ever want to think about my dad’s junk or my pops lusting after it. ” She rolls her eyes and walks over to give me a hug. “Hey, you. I missed you around this circus. ”

  “I heard that, Stella!” Sway laughs and struts to the front of the studio in his glittery, gold heels—heels that, as predicted, are taller than mine.

  “I wasn’t trying to hide it, Pops!” she yells at his back.

  Ah. Never a dull moment at Sway’s.

  I was busy doing Karen Oglethorpe’s hair for about twenty minutes before the cameras walked in. Of course. Film day. I must be completely off my game if I had already forgotten the filming rotation.

  I loathe film day.

  Not only are the cameras always in my way when I’m trying to do hair, mix color, and move between the washing station or the blower station, but the producer and his people are freaking annoying. Devon Westerfield. He’s been a constant presence around the salon since this time last year, and I think I might actually hate him more now than I did then. Not because he’s a bad person. He really isn’t. He’s doing his job just the same as I am. But it’s because of him that I might publicly, in front of millions, make a fool of myself when the reality series goes live.

  “Ah! Danielle Reid. Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,” he says and leans in to give me a light hug. “You know Don and Mark?”

  “Hey, Dev. Nope, I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure,” I respond with fake enthusiasm.

  “Hmm. Oh that’s right. You weren’t here the other day when I brought them by to meet everyone. They’re my assistants this go-around. Here to help with the crew and also with anything small to large that I might just be too stretched thin for. ” He starts looking around, and I can tell he has already forgotten about me.

  “Okie dokie, Devy boy. ”

  Returning my attention back to Karen is effective enough in getting him off my back, but the two shadows-to-be stick around. I pause in my brushing of her color and look up.

  “Is there something you two need?” I ask in annoyance.

  “Well, Devon said you were the go-to person here. Manager and head stylist of Sway’s. We just thought—” the short one—Don, I think—starts, but I interrupt him before he can get started on his crusade to get me to tell him how to do his job. They’re all the same. Devon has been through more assistants than I can count in the year and a half I’ve known him.

  “One thing to know and remember, boys: I don’t have time for you to act like you don’t know your head from your ass. Nice to meet you and all that, but please don’t act like the last few idiots who all but licked the ground Dev over there, walked on. It won’t earn you points with him. In case you haven’t noticed, he’s a little tunnel-vision prone, and I assure you that it won’t do you any good to try and fuse yourself to me. ” Dismissing their shocked faces, I look in the mirror and give Karen a wink, earning a giggle from her in return. She loves it when the girls around here are sassy.

  They mumble something under their breaths, and I turn to give them a sharp glare, which of course they miss because they’ve tucked their tails again to run after an order-barking Devon.

  Two hours later, I finally have a chance to go grab a quick bite to eat. Well, I would have if Sway hadn’t yelled from the front that I had a call-in that would be here in fifteen.

  I hate call-ins. Since I’m one of the best stylists in the local area, my appointments are booked weeks out. But there are a handful of people I always allow to call in, and Sway wouldn’t have said yes to them had it not been one of those select few.

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  Mentally, while shoving as much of the sandwich Stella grabbed me when she did a lunch run down my throat, I try to figure out who could be coming in. I know it’s not Nate or Liam; I cut their hair last week. Daddy doesn’t need a cut since I did his the o
ther day. I’ve seen the others it might be recently enough. I pause with my last bite to my mouth when I realize who it will be—the only person who I haven’t cut in a while.

  Cohen. Freaking. Cage.

  Son of a bitch. I know I told Sway no more scheduling or allowing him to come in on a film day.

  “Breathe, fancy pants,” Lyn whispers in my ear on her way towards the back breakroom. “He hasn’t been a biter since he was a kid. ” She continues walking with her laughter trailing behind her.

  I’m going to kill Sway, I think to myself before going to wash up so I can prep my station.

  I have just put down my trimmers when I feel it.

  That magnetic charge that floats over my skin, heating every inch and leaving a trail of awareness in its wake. That pull that has always been connected to one man. I shiver and give myself a pep talk about how to treat him with friendly indifference while there are cameras around. Of course they have been filming a few things that the cameras mounted all over the room can’t capture perfectly. I have already tripped over one of the assistant asshats twice today.

  “Dani-girl. ” His voice, that rich rumble of masculine excellence, washes over me and I shiver again before cursing under my breath. The rumble of his low laughter tells me that he definitely didn’t miss that little move.

  Kill me now.

  “Hey, Coh,” I say with a smile. “What brings you in? Last minute, I might add. ” I pat the chair before walking around and holding the back while he sits down.

  When his scent hits my nose, I almost come on the spot. Lord, he smells good. I wonder what he would smell like while his body covered mine, all sweaty from hours of good lovemaking. I run my fingers through the longer lengths on the top and feel my cheeks heat slightly, thinking about doing the same when his face is buried between my legs.

  “ . . . needed a trim. ”

  Shit. I missed what he said because, naturally, I was thinking about him naked. Naked and thrusting into my body. Naked and feasting between my spread thighs.

  “You feeling okay? I thought Nate said you were better?”

  “Uh, I’m fine. Just—is it hot in here?” I fan my face and avoid his eyes.

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