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Stormy Nights C.M. Steele 2022/8/5 16:57:55

I stroll into the office a little earlier than expected because I can’t seem to find sleep. My office has its own coffee maker, so I rarely step out to get any, but after five minutes that changes. My machine has crapped out. It’s long since been overdue with the way I drink several cups throughout the day. It’s what keeps me going when reading through hundreds of manuscripts a year.

I’m the acting editor-in-chief of Knight Publishing while my father recovers from a heart attack. It’s only been a few months, but I have worked myself to the bone just to get things back on track and, well, mainly because I need a distraction.

I’m in love with a woman I can’t have. She’s one of our clients and the most beautiful woman I’ve ever laid eyes on. I think about her more than I should. We don’t ever speak about anything but her work because she avoids me as much as possible. It’s like she knows I’m interested and doesn’t want to get involved. Fuck, it burns in my gut to feel that, but I can’t stop these feelings.

I have her latest book in my hands. I’ve read it at least a dozen times from the time we received the first draft and now as a finished product for my shelf. I’ve read over the author bio, which is vague and on the verge of misleading. She’s been living here for four years and working with us for that long as well. I didn’t get to meet her until the second contract was being negotiated, and I fell head over heels in love with her from that moment on.

I’ve been doing all I can to maintain my distance because mixing business and pleasure are a big no-no in this world. A bad relationship can destroy her work and therefore be my fault, although I know that I wouldn’t give her reason to ever doubt me. Damn, I’m so frustrated, I run my hands through my hair for the hundredth time today. I toss the book down on my desk, then get up like a bolt of lightning struck my ass. I need some damn coffee now.

I wave bye to the receptionist and let her know that I’m stopping at the coffee shop. She’s already got hers in hand, so I don’t bother to offer. It’s about half a block down, and I really need a cup or four at this moment. This job has suddenly taken a toll on my energy. I know it has nothing to do with the job and everything to do with her, but until something gives, or she shows me some interest, I’m stuck.

As soon as I open the door to the coffee shop, I’m standing at the back of the line. Apparently, this is a peak time to get coffee. I’ll have to make note of that for the future. I don’t bother looking around because I’m hoping that I don’t run into anyone I know and have to make small talk. My temper is usually mild to pleasant; right now, it’s on full alert. I’m so unbelievably frustrated that I don’t know how I’m going to get through another day.

My brother, who’s supposed to be helping me run this company, has been completely absentminded because he’s been hit by the damn “Love Bug” as well. The thing is, I actually know where my woman lives. He can’t seem to find his woman as if she just disappeared into thin air. I hope he finds her soon because if we both don’t get it together, the company is going to slip out of our grasp. With the markets saturated with new novels and the Indie world taking the bulk of the growth, many publishers—us included—are suffering. We have to get our shit in order, but first I need my coffee.

I get to the counter with a smile plastered on my face. It’s genuine because I’m close to getting some coffee, and that in itself makes me happy. I place my order, then step to the side and wait to be called. I notice a guy at a table staring straight across from him as if he’s interested in something. Curiosity gets the better of me, and I look. What a big mistake.

Sitting there with her “Piss off, I’m writing” sticker on her laptop is the woman I can’t get enough of. I look at that motherfucker leering at her like he’s ready to get his ass whooped. A storm of jealousy hits me dead in the chest. If he makes a move toward her before I get there, I may be going to jail today.

I don’t even know if she has a boyfriend, but I can see from the way she’s hiding her head that she doesn’t want his attention. I take my cup with a thank you to the barista and walk over to the prick eyeballing my beautiful dream girl.