Sheesh talk about supersonic hearing.

“She’s very nice,” Hunter repeats. “She knows a lot about fish.”

“Good, great. Look, Hunter, she mentioned that you’re afraid of the bathroom now. Because of the leprechauns.”

“That’s where they live,” he says. “And under the bed.”

“Did you want to show me?” I ask, hoping that if I play along, I can act like the leprechauns are our friends.

“I caught one earlier,” he says.

“Oh really. Can I see?” I hold out my hand.

“Yup,” he says, twisting around to reach into his toy box.

Okay, when he shows it to you, there will be nothing there, so just pretend it’s something special and magical and rare. Like, he’s a famous leprechaun hunter now for catching it. Oh wait, work in the fact that his name is Hunter, like it was meant to be. Hunter the Leprechaun Hunter.

While these thoughts are going through my head, Hunter twists around to face me and plunks something in my hand.

That’s when I know something is wrong.

That he put something in my hand.

I look at what it is.

A giant fucking cockroach.

Right there in my palm.

“Oh my god!” I yell, throwing the cockroach across the room and scrambling to my feet.

Hunter starts yelling with me.

Loan comes running in.

“What happened?” she asks, eyes wide.

“Cockroach!” I yell. “Hunter just gave me a cockroach.”

“Was it dead?”

“I don’t know. Hunter, did you kill it?”

But Hunter is staring at us wide-eyed and on the verge of tears, so I know I have to step up and be a motherfucking man for once. “It doesn’t matter Hunter, I’m very proud of you. You said that’s the leprechaun?”

He nods, pinching his lips together.

“Okay, great,” I say then look at Loan. “Want to keep an eye on him while I check out the bathroom?”

“Yes but cockroaches are common here,” she says, grabbing Hunter’s hand and leading him over to the couch.

“How common?” I ask, as I step inside the downstairs bathroom, the one that Hunter uses most often. Loan and I both have our own upstairs.

“You’ll see one occasionally,” she says.

I enter the bathroom but I don’t turn on the light as I would normally. Instead I bring out my phone’s flashlight and shine it on the floor near the toilet where I figure they would be.

I only see them for a second before they hide but it’s enough.

“Fuck,” I mutter.

“Bad word!” Hunter yells from the living room. He seems to have picked up Loan’s crazy hearing.

I step in further and crouch down in front of the cabinet beneath the sink. Other than putting in toilet paper, I haven’t been in this bathroom yet so I have no idea what I’ll find.

I open the doors.

Shudder at the sight.

Double fuck.

I close the doors.

“Hey Loan,” I call out to her. “I think we have a major problem.”

Chapter Five

Nova

“Are you sure you don’t want to visit?” I ask my mom while pulling my Civic onto Queen Emma Street downtown. “I promise I can afford to fly you both. I have a big house and you know there is plenty of room for both of you. If you’re sick of dad, you can even have your own bedroom each.”

My mother chuckles on the speakerphone. “Baby girl, you know we would love to. But I don’t think it’s a good time.”

My heart pinches at that. It’s never a good time. Ever since I moved here, I’ve been the one going across the ocean to see them, they never come to see me, even if I’m taking care of them financially.

I know my parents are stubborn and don’t want to impose on me. But this Christmas will be the first one I’m spending without them in a few years and I don’t like the idea of leaving them alone, nor am I thrilled about being alone myself. It’s been so hard without Rubina.

“When will it be a good time?” I ask quietly.

She sighs heavily. “Nova, you chose to move to a rock in the middle of the Pacific. You know your father hates to fly, especially with his arthritis now. We’re quite happy staying here.”

“But…it will be just you two.”

“I know,” she says, and her voices drops softly. “I know. But we have each other and we’ll get through it. I know it will be hard on us all without her here, but you know she’s in our hearts and that’s how we’ll see it through.”

My mother has always had a voraciously spiritual side and I think it’s her faith alone that kept everyone from falling apart after Rubina died. She’s had to deal with the threat of Rubina dying for years and I suppose when you’re a mother, it’s only faith and love that can keep you going through it all.

“Okay. But that won’t stop me from worrying about you both.”

“I know. And it won’t stop us from worrying about you.”

“You’re the one who tells me worrying doesn’t change anything.”

“And yet we do it anyway.”

“Okay, I’m at work now. I’ll call you in a few days to check in.”

“You take care baby girl. We love you.”

She hangs up and I can feel a thread being cut somewhere in the middle of the ocean.

Feeling despondent and melancholy, I head up to the office, prepared for another day of nonsense with Kessler.

I mean, seriously. The last thing I expected to see on Friday after work was his penis, but there it was. Just waving in front of me at half-mast.

Thank god the whole story about the chicken was ridiculous. I didn’t doubt him because he did seem awfully shaken up and I think he would have thought up a better excuse to wave his giant cock around than to be attacked by another cock. But the ridiculousness of the matter kept it from being real.

Because, lord, it could have gotten very real. I shouldn’t have even been the slightest bit turned on at the sight of him like that but there was a very raw and powerful part of me that was. It’s like my body remembered just what it was like to have that beast pumping inside of me and it was immediately game for more.

My body is a traitor.

Luckily my mind was able to shut it all down before things got weirder and I got out of there fast.

That said, after I was done with my volunteer work and I drove back home, the first thing I did was crawl into my bed and bring out my vibrator. It doesn’t have the personal touch of Kessler’s cock, but it did the job. Several times over. Until the post-orgasm, late-night shame washed over me.

Maybe shame is too strong of a word. It’s not that I’m ashamed that I’m still turned on by that man, it’s more that I’m disappointed. For five years I wasn’t even allowed to think about him when it came to my erotic fantasies. I stuck to people like David Gandy, or Jeff Goldbum, or my surfing instructor who looked like Jason Momoa. Okay, so my vagina has eclectic tastes.

But Kessler was off-limits. It was the only way to get over him. That and dating a whole bunch of guys who, sadly, never measured up in the end.

Now, he’s been back for a week and not only is the sweaty monster setting my loins on fire, but he’s doing so in this weird dominant position of power way. He’s my boss, and as much as I balk against that term and the sad reality of it with every ticking second of my day, for some reason it just fuels my sexual fantasies.

The forbidden and all that shit.

“Good morning,” Kate says to me in her deadpan voice as I walk in. “Hey did you hear about what happened here over the weekend?”

“What?” I ask, pausing by her desk.

“I think some of the custodians had an illegal cockfighting ring somewhere in the building. Maybe even the office. There were feathers everywhere this morning.”

I exhale loudly, feeling exhausted. “I swear, if we could just go a day without saying the word cock.”

“You okay?”

“I’m fine.”

“You don’t seem fine. You seem wound up tighter than a whale’s asshole. You should have come out with us on Saturday night.”

“Whale’s asshole?” I repeat.

“Yeah. Because it has to be water tight. Otherwise the whale would be in a lot of trouble. Think about it.”

I wave at her dismissively. “I’m going to go work.”

“Okay but we need to have drinks this week because we still have a lot to discuss,” she calls out after me as I go down the hall.

I close my office door, sit down at my desk and attempt to get to work.

Normally on Monday mornings I have a meeting with Mike to go over the rest of the week. I don’t think Kessler ever got that memo and I’m not about to bring it up. The less I see him the better, and I have great satisfaction making him go through Mahina every time he wants to talk to me.

The only problem with that is that Mahina has been called into his office frequently.

And, well, not only is she a bright go-getter but she’s all sorts of gorgeous.

Native Hawaiian. Expert surfer (her ex was that Jason Momoa-looking guy).

And Kessler’s type with her being seventy-five-percent legs or whatever his Russian model ex was.

I shouldn’t be jealous. I’m fairly secure with myself. I know my good sides (hair, skin, face, waist, arms, booty) and my bad (undereye circles, cellulite, jiggly thunder thighs, boobs that could be bigger). And I really do love sex, which I’ve been told repeatedly is a great asset.

But even so, I’m thirty, Mahina is young(er) and, well, I guess there’s a tiny part of me that wants to keep Kessler’s roving eyes to myself.

Because the fact is, his eyes are roving. Every time he lays them on me, they never stay in one place very long, unless they’re soaking up my lips and attempting to hold my gaze. Otherwise they’re constantly running over me like hot flames licking out from a fire, burning my breasts and my waist and my hips and my thighs.

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