I had Kate’s office filled with balloons.
A thousand of them.
Each printed with I’M SORRY.
Too much? I don’t think so either.
Then I had a little something delivered to her office. From Tiffany’s. A small blue box with a note:
You already own mine.
Inside the box, on a platinum chain, is a flawless two-carat diamond heart.
Sappy? Sure it is. But women love sappy shit like that. At least according to the films I stayed up until three o’clock in the goddamn morning watching they do.
I’m hoping it’ll knock Kate off her feet. Right onto her back—and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how much I like her in that position.
Besides, I get the feeling Kate isn’t used to getting presents, at least not of that caliber. And she should be. She deserves to be spoiled. To have nice things. Beautiful things. Things her dipshit ex-boyfriend couldn’t afford and probably wouldn’t have thought to give her.
Things I can. And will.
I wanted to be there when she opened it. To see the look on her face. But I have a meeting.
“Andrew Evans. Still as handsome as the devil himself. How are you, m’boy?”
See that woman hugging me in my office? Yes, the auburn-haired, blue-eyed lady who’s still a knockout, even in her fifties? She used to be my sixth grade teacher. Back then, her skin was as smooth and creamy as her Irish brogue. And she had a body that begged for sin. Lots and lots of sin.
She was my first crush. The first woman I ever masturbated about. My first Mrs. Robinson-like, older-woman fantasy.
Sister Mary Beatrice Dugan.
Yep, you heard me right—she’s a nun. But not just any nun, kiddies. Sister Beatrice was a NILF. I don’t need to spell that one out for you, do I?
In those days, she was the youngest nun any of us had ever laid eyes on—unlike the bitter, black-robed hags who looked like they were old enough to have actually been around when Jesus was alive. The fact that she was a woman of the cloth—forbidden—and in a position of power over us naughty Catholic boys just made it all that much more erotic.
She could’ve spanked me with a ruler anytime.
And I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Just ask Matthew.
When we were thirteen, Estelle noticed Matthew was wincing when he walked. She dragged him bitching and moaning to the doctor’s, where he was promptly diagnosed with CPS.
Chafed Penis Syndrome.
The doc told Estelle the condition had been caused by leaving wet swim trunks on too long. And she believed him. Even though it was November. Matthew’s dick was raw all right, but it wasn’t because of a fucking bathing suit.
It was because of Sister Beatrice.
“You’re as stunning as ever, Sister B. You decide to leave the order yet?”
I don’t go to church. Not anymore. I’m a lot of things, but a hypocrite really isn’t one of them. If you’re not going to play by the rules, you don’t show up for team meetings. Over the years, however, I’ve kept in touch with Sister Beatrice. She’s the principle at St. Mary’s now, and my family has always donated generously.
She taps my face. “Cheeky boy.”
I wink. “Come on, Sister, be fair. God’s had you for, what? Thirty years? Don’t you think it’s time you gave the rest of us a shot?”
She shakes her head and grins. “Ah, Andrew, yer charms would tempt the virtue of a saint.”
I hand her a cup of tea, and we sit down on my unadulterated couch.
“I was surprised by yer phone call. And more ’an a bit curious. What hole ’ave you dug yerself into, m’boy?”
I called her yesterday. And told her I needed her help.
“I have a friend I’d like you to speak with.”
Her eyes twinkle. “Would this be a lady friend, now?”
I smile. “Yes. Katherine Brooks.”
“You always were the one kissin’ the lasses and makin’ ’em cry. And about what would you be liking me to talk to Miss Katherine about? You haven’t gotten her in the family way, have you?”
She raises a stern brow at me.
She nods, and I go on. “I was hoping you could talk to her about…forgiveness. Second chances. Redemption.”
She takes a sip of tea and looks thoughtful. “‘To err is human; to forgive, divine.’”
Exactly. I thought about sending Matthew or Steven to plead my case. But they’re too biased. Kate would never buy it. And before you ask—no—I would never send The Bitch. Too risky. When it comes to persuasion, my sister’s kind of like a pet lion. Sweet and playful one minute, but if you make the wrong move? She’ll rip your frigging face off.
Sister Beatrice is a religious woman. Kind. Honest. If anyone can convince Kate that men—that I—am capable of changing, it’s her. The fact that she adores me almost as much as the woman who gave birth to me doesn’t hurt either.
“And who might the young lady be needing to forgive?”
I raise my hand. “That would be me.”
“Played the cad, did you?”
I shrug in the affirmative. “And I’ve been trying everything I can think of since to make up for it—short of tattooing her name on my ass and streaking across Yankee Stadium.”
I was saving that for next week.
“Men often want what they can no longer have, Andrew. I like to think that you are not that type of man. So if I speak to the young lady and convince her to trust you with her heart again, what are you intendin’ to do with it?”
I look into her cerulean eyes. And speak without a trace of doubt:
“I’ll cherish it. I’ll do anything I have to to make her happy. For as long as she’ll let me.”
A slow smile spreads across Sister Beatrice’s face. “And they say miracles don’t happen anymore.” She sets her cup aside and stands up. “It appears I have the Lord’s work to do. Where are you hidin’ the dear girl? Is she expectin’ me?”
“I took the liberty of speaking with Kate’s secretary. She’s expecting someone. She just doesn’t know it’s you.”
She chuckles. “Don’t you think that’ll ruffle her feathers a bit?”
“Probably. But she won’t take it out on you. She’ll save all her feathers for me.”
We make our way to the door.
“Have you tried praying, Andrew? Prayer is a powerful thing.”
“I think your prayers are a little more powerful than mine these days.”
She smiles and touches my cheek like a mother would.
“We’re all sinners, m’boy. Some of us just enjoy it more than others.”
I laugh as I open the door.
And then the smile slides off my face as I stare at Erin’s back. She’s standing in front of my office with her arms out. Blocking it. From the woman in front of her.
Who just happens to be Delores Warren.
After Erin escorts Sister B to Kate’s office, I turn toward Delores. She’s wearing a black bustier, tight leather pants, and red stiletto heels. If this is what she wears to work, I can’t fucking imagine what she wears in the bedroom. Must be interesting.
Steven walks up to us, his eyes on the retreating forms down the hallway.
“Was that Sister Beatrice?”
He nods appreciatively. “Nice.”
See? NILF. Told you.
He smiles evilly at Delores. “Hey, Dee, did Matthew tell you about Sister B?”
“Kind of. He introduced us at church last week.”
Unlike me, Matthew still attends church regularly. He likes to keep his bases covered, just in case.
Steven smiles wider. Like a toddler who’s about to tattle on a sibling.
“Did he tell you about CPS?”
Her brow wrinkles. “What’s CPS?”
“Ask Matthew. He’ll tell you. He’s kind of an expert on it.” He nudges me with an elbow. “Alexandra and Mackenzie are coming by later. You want to join us for lunch?”
I scratch behind my ear. “Can’t. I’ve got a meeting…with a guy…about a thing.”
He’s a skywriter. He’s supposed to fly over the building at four. I just need to work out what he’s going to write. But I don’t want Delores to know. Can’t have her warning Kate ahead of time.
Steven nods. “All right. Later.”
I look Delores in the eyes. And flash her one of my classic smiles.
She just glares back.
I must be losing my touch.
“We need to talk.”
There are only a few reasons why Delores Warren would want to talk to me at this point in my life. None of them are pleasant.
I motion toward my office. “Come on in.”
This is how it must feel to invite a vampire into your house.
I sit down behind my desk. She stands.
You ever watch Animal Planet? Women are kind of like a herd of elephants. They stick together for protection. And if one senses danger? They all stampede.
I need to play this carefully.
“What can I do for you, Delores?”
“Self-castration would be great. But I’ll settle for a flying leap off a bridge. I hear the Brooklyn is nice this time of year.”
Oh yeah—this is going to be fun.
She braces her hands on my desk and leans over, like a snake getting ready to strike. “You can stop fucking with my best friend’s head.”
Not a problem. Kate’s head isn’t the body part I’m looking to fuck at the moment. Think I should tell her that? Probably not.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I’m talking about last week, when you treated her like a used condom. And now, all of a sudden, you’re all flowers and music and love notes.”
Heard about those, did she? That’s a good sign.
“So I’m thinking you’re either a split personality—caused by the raging syphilis coursing through your bloodstream—or you’ve got an itch for a good challenge. In either case, move along, jerk-off. Kate isn’t interested.”
I’m not into challenges. When Kate blew me off that first night at REM, did I chase her? No, I went with the sure thing. The easy out.
Or in that particular case—the double play.
“Let’s not bullshit each other here. We both know Kate is very interested. You wouldn’t be so eager to rip into me if she wasn’t. As for the rest of your concerns, I don’t do head games. And there’s a line of women around the block willing to scratch any itch I can think of. This isn’t about getting laid.”
I lean forward on my desk. And my tone is straightforward and persuasive, like she’s a client on the fence. One I need to sway to my side. “I’ll admit, my feelings for Kate caught me off guard and at first, I handled things badly. That’s why I’m doing all this—to show her that I care about her.”
“You care about your dick.”
Can’t really argue with that.
She sits down across from me. “Kate and I are like sisters. Closer even. She’s not a one-night-stand kind of girl—she never was. She’s a relationship kind. It’s very important to me that she’s with someone who treats her right. A man.”
Couldn’t agree more. Most guys would sacrifice a limb for some juicy girl-on-girl action. It’s a turn-on—big time. But when it comes to Kate? I don’t plan on sharing. With either sex.
“Last time I checked, that’s what I was.”
“No. You’re a dog. She needs a good man. A nice man.”
Good guys are boring. You need a little bad to keep things fun. And nice guys? Nice guys have something to hide.
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