Nobody's Obligation (Swimming Upstream #2)

Nobody’s Obligation



Rebecca Barber



Nobody’s Obligation


Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Barber.

All rights reserved.

First Print Edition: December 2015



Limitless Publishing, LLC

Kailua, HI 96734


Formatting: Limitless Publishing


ISBN-13: 978-1-68058-396-0

ISBN-10: 1-68058-396-4


No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.




For the boy who inspired me and gave me a reason to dream.











Chapter 1





He stormed through the door, his long strides filled with purpose. He was stunning, but angry. His slightly too long dirty blond hair was tousled as though someone had run their fingers through it in frustration. His piercing chocolate eyes were filled with determination and something she couldn’t quite place. With his shoulders square, jaw set, he pushed open the heavy glass door and entered the crowded reception area. If he was frustrated before he noticed the queue of people waiting to be helped, he was beyond reason now. Clenching his fists at his side, he forced himself to take a long, deep breath as he attempted to control the fury bubbling inside of him.

He counted five groups in front of him, at least two with a handful of paperwork to review, and another with a whining child perched precariously on her hip. Running a hand over his chin for the first time, he regretted not stopping to shower and shave as his fingers caressed the two-days’ growth before he confronted her, but he knew he had to do it now. Do it before the rage faded. Before the embarrassment consumed him. Before he lost his nerve.

Ten minutes later his temper had mellowed slightly as the young girl looked up at him with eyes filled with recognition. Gulping, she managed to barely mumble the words, “G-Good morning, sir. Can I help you?” as the blush crept up her neck.

Tyler swore under his breath. He’d hoped to get in and out quickly without anyone recognizing him or even bothering to take a second glance, but his hopes were dashed as the perky brunette behind the counter gazed up at him. Despite his annoyance, mainly at himself, he forced a warm smile back at her and indulged in a second look. She was a stunning young girl who couldn’t have been more than eighteen at the most. She straightened her back and thrust forward her perky breasts as she tried to capture his attention.
Nice try, sweetheart.
He shrugged casually.
Not on your life

“Hi.” He shot her his widest, warmest smile—his most panty-dropping smirk. “I’m wondering if you can help me. I’m looking for someone, and honestly I’m not even sure she works here,” he admitted as unease consumed him. It was as if reality suddenly smacked him up the side of the head. What was he doing, really? He’d been up all night reading that damn book before filling his travel mug full of the strongest coffee he could stomach and driving three hours down the highway just to confront her. He didn’t even know who she was or where she worked. Last night his plan seemed brilliant, but in the light of day he was not only having second thoughts, but third and fourth as well.

With a wide, perfect pout, her eyes filled with lust, she summoned all of her courage and asked in what he only assumed was her best bedroom voice, “Absolutely! Who are you looking for?”

Stifling the laugh that caught in his throat, he managed to stop himself from blurting out his innermost thoughts.
Honey, stop trying so hard. And if that’s your bedroom voice, I have to wonder, do you even know what to do once you get there?
Instead he used all his years of coaching and experience to put on a show. “Her name’s…” He reached into the front pocket of his navy blue hooded jumper and pulling out a dog-eared book. “Ava. Ava Jacobs.”

As her name tumbled from his lips he knew there was no turning back now. If she was here, he was going to come face to face with her in moments.

With a deflated smile, the perky receptionist replied, “Yep. Ava works here. I’ll just call upstairs and she if she’s available. Is she…is she expecting you?”

A flash of panic consumed him. Did she know he was coming? Hell no! Unable to string words together, something that had rarely happened to him, he managed to shake his head softly and watched as she picked up the phone and dialled. Roughly he ran his hands through his hair, causing his jumper to rise with the movement. At that exact moment he noticed all the eyes blatantly staring at him. He wished the floor would open up and swallow him. Or he’d thought of another way. A better way. But it was too damn late now.

Forcing himself to focus on the task at hand, he bent forward, leaning his elbows on the counter. Taking his time to really see the receptionist for the first time, he noticed how pretty she actually was. She was skinny, too skinny, but not in a ‘look at all my bones’ way, but more of a ‘this is how I am so deal with it’ way. Her eyes were alive and she obviously spent time taking care of herself. He smirked as he noticed the fake French manicure on her dainty fingers and the perfectly straight hair that hung halfway down her back. As hard as she was trying to capture his attention, she was definitely not his type. And that was before you took into account the age difference.

“Hey, Amanda. Is Ava around? I have—”

Just as she was about to say his name, he reached out and covered the phone with his large, warm hand. “Please don’t give them my name. She won’t come down,” he begged pathetically as he plastered his panty-dropping smile across his face. He knew without a doubt that would and could get him anything that he wanted. History had proven that more than once.

“Sorry. I dropped the phone.” She looked up into his face from under her thickly painted eyelashes. “I have a gentleman down here who would like to see her. Oh okay. No problems. I’ll let him know.” She giggled into the phone before dropping it into the cradle. Being only able to hear one side of the conversation was beyond frustrating.

He could see in her playful eyes that she was enjoying his misery and so prolonged his torment, taking her time to relay the message. “Ava is just finishing up a meeting so she shouldn’t be long. Then Amanda will send her down.”

He exhaled the breath he hadn’t even been aware that he was holding. “Thank you,” he breathed, suddenly filled with trepidation. “Is there somewhere I can wait?”


“Maybe somewhere…private?” he asked, glancing around as casually as possible to indicate the wide-open scrutiny he was currently under.

Indecision consumed her. She clicked her mouse then stood up, straightened her too short, too tight skirt, and tottered down the hallway, beckoning him to follow her. He had no idea where she was taking him but he followed anyway, unable to tear his eyes off her toned legs, wondering how the hell she balanced on the stiletto heels as she clicked along the corridor.

Just as he was dragging his gaze from the back of her legs, her voice shocked him out of his daydream. A daydream he should definitely not be having. “If you want to wait in here, I’ll send Ava straight in. She shouldn’t be too long.”

“Thanks for your help.” Tyler forced a tight, relieved smile.

“No problem, Mr. Andrews. And please let me know if there is anything else you need,” she almost whimpered. With another wide, fake grin, one final thrust of her chest, and what he could have sworn would be counted as a curtsey, she pulled the door closed and vanished down the hallway.

Once the clacking receded he knew he only had moments to pull himself together before Ava appeared. Now he was so close, all his thoughts evaporated. On his drive down he’d played out the scene in his head over and over again. But now the time had come, words failed him. Did he yell? Did he demand an explanation, or did he just simply sit there with an annoyed look on his face and give her enough rope to see if she hanged herself?
That’s what she deserves,
he thought smugly. Running his hands through his hair and across his jaw, he realized he was nervous, and that intrigued him. He knew why he was there. He had been in situations through the years infinitely more nerve-racking than this, yet for some reason his stomach was filled with what could only be described as vultures—circling their prey, waiting, biding their time before they swooped in and devoured.



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