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Stormy Nights C.M. Steele 2022/8/5 16:57:56

I enter the conference room and shake both gentlemen’s hands. “Thank you for coming in today, Ms. Strong.” That’s my pen name. They always refer to me that way.

“It’s a pleasure. The last two quarters have been truly excellent for me. I know that we have a lot to discuss, so I’ll let you two get this show on the road.” All the while I’m saying that I’m thinking about running into Nick. I nearly ripped that girl’s blonde hair out of her head. The way she fawned all over Nicholas made me so angry. I’ve never been jealous of anything or anyone in my entire life. It’s freaking destroying me to see him and not get to spend more time getting to know him. I want him more than I can say. My next character to die will be that bubbly, flirty Makayla. I hate myself for the pettiness, but what’s a girl to do when the only man she’s ever loved is out of reach?

“Ms. Strong,” Ian calls out. I shake my head and blush because I am mortified that I haven’t heard a word they said.

“Sorry,” I mutter, looking back at Nick’s brother. He’s handsome like Nick, and so is their father. But I get nothing at all. When I look at them, they might as well not be here. “I was lost in my story in my head,” I bumble out. I don’t know if they believe me, but then Ian touches my hand and tries to ease my humiliation.

“Don’t apologize. We have met many authors who lose their attention span. We were talking about another two-book deal. Same numbers as before, but a few book tours that we pay for.” I tap my nails on the table, contemplating their offer. “What kind of book tour are we talking about?”

“We would do a two-week, six-city tour. I’m sure they would want more, but you know it’s not worth it unless it’s a well-populated reading community.”

“That’s not bad. Give me a couple minutes to think about it.” They go about talking shop when I finally answer them, “That’ll work for me. I’m not a people person, but it’s about time I met some readers.”

“That’s what we like to hear. They’re going to love you. We’ll get everything worked out and double check with you to see if it meets with your approval.”

“Fantastic. Thank you, gentlemen.” We all stand up and gather our things to leave. I head out of the conference room, hoping to see Nick, but he’s not around, and neither is his bimbo assistant. It hurts to think he’s probably banging her brains out.

As I leave, I turn to see him going down the street in the opposite direction. He doesn’t see me, and it’s good because he’s with his assistant. Now it’s time to prepare for my vacation. I leave in two days for a nice trip to sunny Miami. I’ve never been there before.

I need time to clear my head and move on. My heart is so mixed in its feelings for Nicholas and the fear that I’m never going to get over them. I pack up the things I need, but it’s not going to be enough. I’ve spent way too much time inside or in the cold. I have no beach clothes or anything summery like that.

The next morning while out shopping for my beachwear I run into Mrs. Knight, of all people. “Hello, Lillian, dear. How are you?” She’s a lovely woman, but she’s the mother of the man that haunts my dreams and lives in my fantasies. I want Nicholas to give me his babies and a happily ever after.

“I’m doing well,” I remark, although my voice doesn’t come off well. The woman is too perceptive, and I see it in her eyes. I have to be careful or my emotions will get the better of me.

“Shopping for bikinis?” she questions suspiciously.

“Yes, I’m planning on taking a vacation.”

“Oh really? Does my husband know?” she asks, holding and staring at a pretty green swimsuit. I’m looking for a few one-piece suits. I’ve never owned a bikini before.

“I didn’t think I had to inform anyone,” I say, grabbing the white version of the same swimsuit.

She spins around and looks at me in contrition. She pats my hand like only a mother does. “No, you don’t, my dear. I was curious, is all.”

“I’ve never been on vacation, and since I don’t have to report to you all for two months, I figured it didn’t matter.”

“Oh, well, my husband thinks of you as a daughter. Never mind all that; I think this blue one will match your fair tone.” She hands me a sexy bikini with a little mini skirt that doesn’t hide much. It’s extremely revealing.

“Yes, it is, but you’re the beautiful one,” I remark and blanch, knowing I said that aloud.