Stiff:A Stepbrother Romance(8)

By: B. B. Hamel


“Don’t make me regret it.”

“You won’t. She’s a really bright girl.”

I grunted something vague and then hung up the phone. I already felt like it was a bad idea, but I poured another whisky instead of dwelling.

I had an envelope full of cash and a case. And apparently I had some unpaid labor heading over to help out.

Tomorrow was looking like a decent day.





3





Laney





I felt oddly nervous as I walked up the stairs toward the third floor.

His office was in a pretty nondescript office park in the middle of town. It looked pretty much like anything else in Mishawaka, and I briefly wondered how he even got any clients. I wasn’t sure if I was dressed appropriately, or even what I would be doing, but I was determined to find out.

I had hoped for some more time to get used to being home. Instead, Susan told me to show up at this address at exactly ten in the morning. I was a few minutes early, but I figured that wouldn’t matter since he probably opened up at nine anyway.

I kept thinking about him, my stepbrother. He seemed too young, too attractive to have been an FBI agent. Nobody would say why he had left the bureau, and the curiosity was practically tearing at me. Maybe he had gone rogue or something like that, or maybe he was totally incompetent.

Finally, I found his door. In the glass, a few sentences were etched in fancy lettering. It read, “Easton Wright, Private Eye. Ring the bell if you need help.”

I tried the knob, but it was locked. I hit the bell and heard it buzz on the inside.

Nothing happened. I bit my lip. Maybe he hadn’t heard? I hit the bell again and listened to it buzz, and part of me thought that it sounded a little louder.

Again, nothing. I waited for almost five minutes and didn’t hear a peep from inside. I was beginning to wonder if I had came at the wrong day or time, but I was positive Susan had said today at ten.

I rang again. Inside, I heard what sounded like breaking glass and a muffled curse.

“I’m coming,” someone yelled. “I’m fucking coming. Hold on.”

More muffled cursing. I stood back from the door, my eyes wide, my heart pounding. What the heck was going on?

Finally, he opened the door.

I stood there staring at him, my mouth open. His shirt was unbuttoned and his pants were hanging loosely from his hips. His defined chest was covered in tattoos, and I watched as they snaked down around his cut hips. My eyes came back up and stared at his square jaw, the stubble on his chin, the red under his piercing eyes, and his tousled hair.

Instantly I felt my heart begin to beat faster, and a slight heat spread itself between my legs. He looked incredible, like he had just woken up.

“It’s you,” he grunted. “You’re early.”

“Susan told me ten,” I managed to say.

He kept staring at me for a second. “Yeah, that’s right,” he said finally, and he moved back from the door. “Come in and sit.”

I followed him inside and he pointed at the chairs in front of his desk.

“Uh, did I come at a bad time?” I asked.

“You’re fine. Just give me a second.” He disappeared into the back and I heard more muffled cursing.

This was the famous FBI agent? The front room was pretty sparse, with his degrees and credentials hanging on the walls and a big filing cabinet pushed against the wall. He had a laptop on his desk but nothing else, no pictures, no personal items, not even a pen.

It was a little strange, actually. I craned my neck to get a peek in the back room and caught sight of a coffee table with a half-empty whisky bottle in the center just before he blocked my view.

“Welcome to work,” he said.

I stood up. “Thanks for having me. If this is a bad time, I can come back later.”

“It’s fine. Sit back down.”

His pants were fastened and his shirt was buttoned and tucked in. It looked like he had run his fingers through his hair but hadn’t bothered with much more. He looked tired, and I thought I smelled alcohol, but despite that he looked pretty incredible.

“So, Laney,” he said. “What experience do you have?”

I watched as he sat down at the desk and leaned back in his chair.

“Well,” I said, “not much if I’m honest. I’m a criminal justice major back at school, and Susan thought I could help out around the office.”

He raised an eyebrow. “And did Susan say why she thought that?”

I paused. “Probably because you need some?”

He laughed. “If you should know anything about my mom, it’s that she doesn’t do anything that doesn’t benefit her.”

“Okay. What does that have to do with us?”

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