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

“Hello,” I say, but he doesn’t look at me. “Hey, fuckhead,” I state a little clearer for him as I lean down to do it.

He whips his head around, ready to fight me, but he’s not going to win this one. I don’t let him speak. Instead, I fill him in on the situation. “You need to stop staring at my woman before you’re sipping your coffee through a straw.”

“Sorry, I didn’t know she was taken. Maybe you need to get a ring on her finger. She’s too damn hot to be walking around clearly unclaimed.”

“I plan on it,” I tell him. He’s right, though. She’s single and fair game for anyone to approach her. But that doesn’t mean I can’t stop them in their tracks. He gets up, taking his coffee and briefcase, then leaves without another word. Without another breath, I make my way to my brilliant woman.

He has no clue that he’s the star of my books. He’s the brilliant detective with a swagger you only read about. Yet the man I write about has no idea that I’m a woman. Everything about Nicholas Knight has my young and inexperienced heart doing flips and pounding out of control. I yearn insatiably for him. But I’m one of his clients, and that’s definitely out of the question. Besides—he’s sexy, and I’m plain Jane.

I just heard about his father’s heart attack last week. It happened months ago, but no one clued me in. Apparently, it was two days after our meeting for my latest release.

My heart aches to be by his side, but we’re nothing to each other. They work for me, but I wish it was so much more. I think about Nicholas every second, and yet I’m forever going to be alone. I can’t get up the nerve to even speak to him about anything other than my manuscripts and he never asks me anything personal. My contract’s up in a few months, and I’m debating whether or not I should go with another publishing house since I have other offers.

First things first, I need to finish this novel. My last book hit all the lists, and now people are foaming at the mouth for the next one. I grab a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop down the street from the Knight Publishing House in the hopes that I’ll run into Nick. I never have. I’ve seen his brother Ian several times, but he doesn’t hold a candle to his brother.

I wash away all thoughts of the Knights and get to work writing. I’ve got my morning cut out for me since there’s a guy staring right at me while I type away. He can’t possibly know who I am because, although I’m a successful author, the publishing house has done a tremendous job of hiding my identity.

I try to ignore him and type away. Luckily my screen is large, keeping him hidden from my gaze as I work. After about ten minutes of hard writing, I take a brief break and enjoy a sip of my coffee. It’s still piping hot, which is good because when I’m on a roll, I forget it’s there. Cold coffee is good when it’s meant to be that way. Coffee that goes cold is gross.

I see a big shadow appear across my arm. I look up, betting it’s the guy who has been eyeing me, but I jump back in my seat when I see it’s Nick.

“Lillian, what brings you in here?” I like that he calls me by my legal name and never by my pen name, but it’s probably better if he didn’t; then maybe I won’t be so goo-goo gaga over him.

“Same here. The coffee pot in my office took a shit this morning, so I came here for a cup. Do you come here often?” he asks, taking the seat across from me.

“Yes, I don’t live far,” I stammer out, feeling butterflies dancing in my stomach. He looks immaculate as usual. He always has a suit on, but today he looks different. His arms stretch his suit jacket, revealing his rippling muscles through the material. I wonder if he works out when he’s not in the office.

His dark brown hair is a complete contrast to my long blonde hair. He’s the exact opposite of me in almost every way. The only thing we have in common is that we are both fit and work in the book industry. I’ve always had a naturally slender build, even though I’m pretty sure I can eat more than someone twice my size in one sitting.

Of course, he knows where I live; it’s in my paperwork. I don’t know what to say, and then I see a saddened expression on his face. It reminds me that he’s been dealing with a lot more since his father’s health scare.

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