Authors: Karen Erickson
To my family, for always being patient with me.
“That movie sucked.”
Mia Skinner smiled at her friends as they exited the theater. “It wasn’t so bad.”
Morgan actually snorted. “It was totally unbelievable.”
“What? You don’t believe in fate?” Jenna smiled, her expression dreamy and her eyes went hazy. “Brett and I always joke about how we were meant to be.”
“Because you two met in the rain and shared an umbrella? Then went back to your place and had crazy monkey sex? Give me a break. I think that was more about being hot for each other than fate.” Morgan pointed this out, ever the skeptic.
Jenna shot her an irritated glance. “Fate put him in front of me that afternoon. Something possessed Brett to start talking to me.”
“Yeah, it was your umbrella. He was tired of getting drenched.”
“Stop fighting, you two,” Mia admonished as they entered the noisy restaurant a few yards away from the theater. She glanced about the crowded place. “Think we’ll be able to get a table?”
“We can always sit at the bar,” Jenna said as they approached the hostess.
“I should check my voicemail and make sure Larry didn’t call,” Mia said, referring to her boss. As his assistant, he kept her on the go twenty-four/seven. Unfortunately, everyone thought he took total advantage of her.
But it was her job, right? She needed to be available to him at all times. He was a busy man with a busy life. So she made a few sacrifices, so what? She didn’t have time for a relationship but she was still young. Heck, she barely had time for friends. Thank goodness she saw Morgan and Jenna every day at work or else she’d be a total recluse on the weekends. They forced her to go out with them, telling her she needed a break and secretly she knew they were right.
“Whatever you do, don’t check your voicemail,” Morgan warned, pointing a finger at her. “Larry can cool his jets on a Friday night. He’s probably taking his wife out to some swanky place anyway. Showing off her latest boob job or whatever he bought her.”
Jenna rolled her eyes. “I heard they’re not doing well. Might even be on the brink of divorce.”
Mia kept her lip buttoned. It wasn’t her place to talk about the private life of her boss. Besides, she knew what was going on and didn’t plan on spreading the gossip because he would realize she was the source. “He doesn’t tell me anything.”
“Liar,” Morgan drawled, her lips curling into a little smirk.
Mia ignored her comment and searched her purse. Her fingers slipped over her keys, her iPod, her wallet. The notepad she always kept handy, a couple of pens, her sunglasses, a lip gloss she constantly forgot to wear even though she loved the color.
Panic welled and she held the purse open in front of her, scanning its contents. Jenna grabbed her by the arm and tugged her to the side so they stood out of the way of the hostesses’ podium.
“What’s wrong?” Jenna asked, her voice low, as if she sensed Mia’s growing panic, which, knowing Jenna, she probably could.
“I can’t find my phone.” Mia’s breath came short as her fingers scrambled past every scrap of paper and neglected receipt, yet another pen, a wad of gum wrappers. God, her purse was a mess. She should buy a smaller one. One that wouldn’t allow her prized BlackBerry to hide from her like it was prone to do.
“It’s in there somewhere,” Jenna said, her voice kind. Oh yeah, she knew Mia was freaking.
“Wouldn’t it be great if you lost it?” Morgan’s tone held a particular high note of glee. “Larry wouldn’t be able to get a hold of you for the entire weekend. You’d be free.”
“That’s not funny,” Mia muttered. If she weren’t in the middle of a packed restaurant she’d turn her purse upside down and dump its entire contents out. “I don’t think it’s in here.”
“Well, where did it go?” Jenna peered over Mia’s shoulder, staring into the gaping black hole of Mia’s purse. “That thing is huge.”
“I know. I have to get a smaller one.” She’d go to the mall first thing tomorrow and buy one. She couldn’t live like this. It wasn’t the first time she thought she’d lost her phone. But usually, it turned up.
This time, it wasn’t turning up.
“It’s gone.” Mia looked from Jenna’s face to Morgan’s. “I lost it.” Despair filled her, thickening in her throat, nearly choking her. She swallowed hard. Told herself not to panic.
Morgan frowned. “But how? And where?”
“Probably the movie theater.” Mia rifled through her purse one last time, her hand stirring the contents. She didn’t want to admit she’d snuck a look while they were in the middle of the movie, checking her text messages. Of course, there had been three waiting from Larry, one with the original question and two more asking her for the answer. She’d texted hurriedly, not wanting to get caught, and she’d dumped the phone back into her purse.
Or so she thought. Maybe it hadn’t gone into her purse at all. For all she knew it was lying on the sticky, nasty floor of the movie theater, still under her seat.
“I need to go back to the theater,” she declared, heading toward the double doors of the restaurant.
“Oh, no, you don’t.” Morgan grabbed her arm to keep her from walking straight out. “Let’s call the phone first. Maybe someone found it and they’ll answer.”
“But what if they found it and they don’t answer? What if it’s sitting under my seat in the theater? I need to go make sure before the next movie starts. God, they probably swept it out. It’s probably in some giant trash can as we speak, beeping away and letting me know I have a message.”
“Calm down, sweets.” Jenna offered an easy smile and gave her a little shake about the shoulders. “Morgan’s right. Try and call it first. If no one answers, then we’ll go back to the theater. We’ll find it. Don’t worry.”
Hah. Right. Easy for her to say, it wasn’t her phone. It wasn’t
boss she had to deal with calling and texting all through the weekend with the most inane questions and statements ever. Mia swore the man did it just to keep her on her toes.
And to bug the ever loving crap out of her.
“Here.” Morgan handed over her precious iPhone. “Call yourself. See who answers.”
Mia took the phone and punched in her number. She waited, listening to it ring and ring as her friends stared at her expectantly. One more ring and it would go to voicemail. Proving no one had it, which of course, Mia always believed. It was lying under the chair she sat in at the theater. It had to be…
Mia froze at the sound of the deliciously low, masculine voice that answered her phone, her skin prickling with awareness. She forcibly ignored her odd reaction. “Who is this?”
“Who are you?” he returned, his voice laced with lazy amusement.
“I am the owner of the very phone you’re talking on.” She sounded like a snot, but she didn’t care. How dare this thief answer her phone and then question who she might be?
“And how do I know you’re the owner?”
“Well, first of all, for you to make a statement like that proves the phone doesn’t belong to you. And second, I lost it at Edward’s Movie Theater.” She looked up and caught her friends watching her curiously.
“I found it under a seat at Edward’s. I was just about to turn it in at the ticket counter.”
“I appreciate that, but it’s not necessary. I’m not too far from the theater. Would you meet me out front so I can get my phone back? I really need it.” Relief flooded her. Thank goodness someone found it. At least she didn’t have to go back inside and search for the thing.
“Sure, no problem. What do you look like?”
Mia paused, suddenly unsure. What should she say? The more she thought about it, the more she realized he had a really sexy voice. Of course, if he was in the same theater as her watching the sappy movie
then he most likely was with a date or girlfriend or whatever.
“I’m wearing a pink tank top and jeans.” She glanced down at herself. “Dark blonde hair in a ponytail.”
“I’ll watch for you.”
“Wait, what do you look like—” She started to say, but he had already hung up.
“You found it,” Jenna said with a smile as Mia handed Morgan back her phone.
“I think you should’ve kept it permanently lost. At least over the weekend,” Morgan said as she shoved her phone back in her tiny purse.
Mia shot her a withering glance. “Like that would ever fly. Larry would probably fire me.”
“Well, good. He can’t keep an assistant. He never has been able to do it for longer than six months and no one could figure out why. Now I realize why.” Morgan shook her head. “He treats you like his slave. Everyone deserves time off. He gives you none.”
“I like my job.” She did. Really, she did. But she had to agree with Morgan that it got tiring, always being at the beck and call of someone else. She’d even conjured up a fake boyfriend to use as an excuse so Larry would call her less.
Her fake boyfriend excuse really wasn’t working though. Larry still called her all the time. And sometimes he asked her rather…personal questions. Oh yes, and sent her rather…lascivious looks too. Hence the big, burly, fake boyfriend, a minor detail she’d never shared with her friends. It was too embarrassing.
“Listen, I need to go meet this guy and get my phone back. He’s waiting for me out in front of the theater,” Mia said as she waved toward the restaurant entrance.
The hostess called out Jenna’s name, letting them know their table was ready. “We’ll go with you,” Jenna said, ignoring the hostess.
“No, no, no.” Mia shook her head. “You two go sit at the table, and I’ll be right back. It won’t take but a minute. Order me a drink, would you?”
Morgan frowned. “You shouldn’t meet this guy alone. What if he’s a serial killer?”
“Please.” Mia sighed. “It’s packed outside. It’s packed in here. It’s Friday night, everyone’s out. If he even touches me I’ll scream bloody murder.”
“Hurry back then,” Jenna urged. “You’ll have a big, yummy drink full of alcohol waiting for you.”
“Thanks, guys.” Mia flashed them a quick wave and hurried out of the restaurant.
Jake Miller stood in front of Edward’s Movie Theater, clutching the sleek BlackBerry phone in his right hand. He scanned the crowded walkway, surprised at the endless stream of people that passed by.
When was the last time he went out on a Friday night? He couldn’t remember. He’d been too busy recovering to think much about his social life.
“Where is she?”
He glanced over at his younger sister Krista. She watched him warily, slender arms crossed in front of her, foot tapping impatiently. “She’s coming. She said she was close by.” Jake shook his head. “I still can’t believe you convinced me to go to that shitty movie.”
Krista grinned. “Next time you get to choose.”
Next time he would pick the most violent, shoot ‘em up movie he could come up with. Or maybe he’d choose a vulgar comedy instead. “You so owe me.”
“I know.” Slipping her arm through his, she gave him a quick squeeze. “I’m so glad you’re out of the hospital.”
He was glad too. After a steel beam landed square on his back and broke it, he’d been recovering first in the hospital, then in a rehabilitation center.
It could’ve killed him. A realization he’d pondered more than once.
Now he just needed to figure out if he wanted to go back to his construction business. He was part owner thanks to his dad, and they weren’t pushing him to come back.
He hated to admit it, but it had scared him. He still had nightmares about that beam landing on him, how he’d been trapped. Afraid he might die pinned to the ground, his crew surrounding him, trying to help.
She had a hot voice, the mystery owner of the phone. Even when she’d been all prickly over his questioning, he couldn’t deny the sweet sound had spiked his interest. He’d always liked his women feisty. But when was the last time he’d had a feisty woman? Hell, when was the last time he’d had any woman?
Too long, brother.
Jake checked out the phone, hitting a few buttons until he was magically in the settings area. He hit contacts and punched in his name and cell phone number, just for kicks. There were no other Jakes listed, which he found promising. Though he noticed she had a few unopened text messages, all from a guy named Larry. He didn’t read any of them, he wasn’t that nosy, but he could only assume they were from a boyfriend or whatever.
“You think that’s her?” Krista gave him a nudge in the ribs.
He glanced up to see a tall blonde walking hurriedly toward them wearing a simple pink tank top that clung tight to her small breasts. Firm breasts that drew his gaze, and he couldn’t stop staring. Her ponytail bobbed as she approached, and when their eyes met her expression became expectant, hopeful.
His cock gave a little jerk of reaction. She was pretty, with long legs encased in tight jeans and sweet, little smile on her face. He wondered what she looked like naked.
He wondered again when the last time he got laid.
“I think that’s her,” Jake murmured to his sister as he disengaged himself from Krista’s grip.
The blonde stopped just in front of them, her gaze darting from Krista to Jake. “Are you the guy with my phone?”