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RULE BREAKERS:
My Best Friend’s Brother

Releasing June 21, 2024

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“Be mine for one night,” he said. But will one night be enough to satiate their fantasies?

 

Oryana Classe and Devon Busi were never meant to hook up. A pact made with Flora—Oryana’s best friend and Devon’s sister—set it in stone. But when the object of a teenage heartthrob promises a night she’ll never forget, Ory decides vows can be broken

 

The confession to Flora that her dominant brother had Oryana writhing beneath him would be horrid, but to discover feelings have developed between them would be so much crueler. 

 

Flora is her rock, but the reality of Devon supersedes anything Oryana has ever imagined. 

 

He’s too good to be true. Taboo usually is.

 

How can she walk away from him?

 

Choose him, and Flora may be gone forever. Choose Flora, and Ory will be back to fantasizing about her adult love that could never be.

 

Warning: This excerpt contains situations involving dominance and explicit sexual acts that may be a trigger to a more sensitive reader.

 

18+ only

TEASER:

Chapter One

       A lion’s roar jolts me awake.

       Damn phone!

       My subconscious creation of the perfect man had just leaned in for a kiss! Who he was, I don’t know. I can never see his face even if I look straight at him. Is he the ideal man I’ve been seeking my entire life? My significant other? If so, I wish he’d get out of my dreams, get off his ass, and find me already!

       Another roar from my phone extinguishes any hope of falling back asleep to find my perfect man and finally get laid. If it happens in a dream—although, not as satisfying—does it still count as a notch on my headboard?

       One more roar and the annoyance falls silent. Whoever it was will leave a message. But I’m granted only a moment’s reprieve.

       Roar!

       “Who the fuck…?” Someone had better be in the hospital, hanging from a cliff, or calling from jail for me to bail them out. If they’re dead, waking me this early is pointless. If they aren’t dead, they soon might be!

       My eyes are too fuzzy from sleep to read the name of the tenacious ass waking me so early in the morning. But only one person I know would be so daring as to wake the beast. The roaring must stop!

       Groggy and frustrated, I angrily tap the speaker button and clear my throat. “What do you want, Flora? Don’t you know what time it is?” Groan. “What time is it, anyway?”

My hand presses to my forehead as I roll to my back, not bothering to hide even a little of my annoyance through a loud yawn.

       “Are you kidding me?” Her higher-than-normal squeaky voice pierces my ears. “It’s 7:30. Get your ass up, Ory! Things to do, places to go, babe.”

       My birth name is Oryana, but most people know me as Ory. It’s rare to hear someone call me by my full name. And even rarer for Flora to call me anything other than babe, bitch, or slut. Best friends love using insulting names as terms of endearment; at least, Flora does. Using my real name and not an insulting term is her apology for waking me.

       I flop the fluffy, decorative pillow over my face to shield me from the blinding sunlight beaming through the slats in the vertical blind. Every morning is a reminder of how I should’ve bought a darker colour blind than soft grey, but I wanted it to match my duvet cover.

       Another gaped yawn sucks the furry pillow fibres into my mouth, so I toss it to the floor with a grumble.

       Flora is still rambling. “…out tonight. I want to see that guy from last week—you know, that hot guy who drank me in with his eyes, the one with the long hair and sexy swagger…”

       Her giddy laugh has the small crease between my brows cratered. It should be illegal to be this excited before 9 AM.

       She continues. “Anyway, he sent me a text to ask if I was going to be there tonight. I said yes. So, I need you to come with me.” Flora pauses to wait for me to speak, but she’s met with silence. “What do you say? Bitch, did you fall back asleep?”

       “How the hell can I sleep with your mousy squeal bouncing off my walls?”

       “I do not squeal!” She scoffs. “Okay, maybe a little. So, are you coming out with me or not?”

       “Oh, my God, Flora! It’s 7:30 in the morning, and I don’t know what I’m doing today.”

       Bella’s purr grows louder as she nears my face. She yawns and stretches before her face drags across my cheek, leaving tiny hairs stuck to my sweaty skin; hair so fine they’ll stay there until I shower. She settles herself on my chest and stares into my eyes with slanted eyes that suggest she’s plotting my death. She’s only seven pounds, but with my intolerant mindset, her thin, orange-haired body feels unbearably heavy.

       With emphasis, Flora says, “Can you at least give me a maybe?”

       Flora’s been my best friend since high school, when my family moved us to Toronto from London, Ontario, where I’d lived my entire life. I was thirteen at the time and too shy to initiate a conversation with anyone. Not only was I angry that my parents took me away from my lifelong friends, but having to watch my older sister strut around, gaining popularity from the moment she stepped into the school, irritated me to no end.

       She was perfect: cheerleader body, luxurious and shiny hair, long legs, no acne, and confident with a radiant smile that lit up a room. She was everything I wasn’t, and my jealousy made me so angry at her.

       I cried the entire morning before the second day of school. I dreaded spending my day in silence while everyone around me had their groups and side-eyed the new girl. Given a choice, I would have rather gotten shit on by an elephant than go to school; at least, the humiliation would be over quicker.

       My eyes were puffy when I sat at my desk in the homeroom—geography. The previous day proved I was so far behind, and worse was that it was a subject I struggled with.

       Someone walked up and placed a cupcake decorated with pink frosting and colourful sprinkles on the textbook opened in front of me. When I turned to see who put it there, a strawberry-blonde girl with bright blue eyes was smiling at me: Flora. She sat at the desk kitty-corner me and rested her backpack on the floor. From that moment on, we’ve been inseparable.

       My exhaustive sigh is loud when I drag out the word, “Fine! I’ll go… If I can. I have a meeting, but it shouldn’t take long… unless it doesn’t go well. Then I’ll likely be working until late tonight.”

       It’s an excuse in case I don’t feel like being a third wheel while Flora gets pawed at by some loser with a need to get laid.

       Flora huffs. “Bitch, you’re going and that’s that. Don’t make me come to your office and drag you out by your hair.”

       Bella protests with a meow as I shoo her off my chest so I can sit up. “You can come to my office, but I won’t be there. If store 348 doesn’t have their inventory straightened out, I’ll be heading over there to start a fire. I’ve been waiting for three weeks, and the corporate big-wigs are chomping at the bit. They’re taking it out on me.”

       “Of course, they are; shit rolls downhill. So now you have to go to the store, be the bossy bitch I know you can be, and push the shit down to the next in line.”

       My job never fails to challenge me, and I love that. But I have to deal with store owners and managers who can be stubborn and impossible to work with. Not all are assholes. A few of them are proficient and aim to make my job easier.

       I’m in charge of a chain of six grocery/department stores in and around the Toronto area. Corporate prefers me to work from the main office in Mississauga, but I find it too stuffy and impersonal. Besides, I had to dress in business attire every day, and that rarely makes for a comfortable workday. My preference is to wear dress pants or nice jeans and a silky blouse with a casual cardigan when needed.

       High heels aren’t my idea of comfort, but they’re sometimes deemed necessary. I’m only 5’2”, and my female presence doesn’t intimidate enough for some of the male egos who deem me more of a nuisance than a district manager. Maybe high heels boost my confidence enough that I feel tougher and insist they mind me. Or it’s all in my imagination and they don’t respect me—they simply want to get in my pants. Earning respect isn’t easy when I’m dwarfed by tall, thick men swinging their dicks around as if that earns them privilege.

       “Skip the meeting. Come to the shop,” Flora says, but it’s the toilet flush in the background that has my tired eyes rolling. “I’ll make you a special donut just how you like it.”

       “Were you pooping when you called me?”

       My feet press to the chilly hardwood floor, causing me to shiver and sift through my sheets in search of the sweater I wore last night.

       She laughs. “Yeah. Sorry. I was prairie-dogging it.”

       “You’re so gross.”

       She laughs harder. “So, are you coming to the shop?”

       The bathroom ignites with LED brightness and my squinted eyes don’t ease the painful glare from the pale blue-painted walls. The reflection of my puffy eyes and a cheek indented from a pillowcase wrinkle are causes for another groan.

       My tired voice matches my appearance. “If the meeting goes well, I’ll go. But I can’t make any promises.”

       “All right. If you show up, you show up. Please come to the club.” Flora pauses before she adds, “I have to let you go. Text me if you’re coming… Or if you’re not… Whatever. No pressure! Okay, so maybe a little pressure.”

       Exasperated, my voice rises. “Um, yeah! Vice-like pressure.”

Flora snickers before she says, “Bye, bitch. See you later!”

       “See you—maybe.”

       I laugh, hang up, and set the phone on the sink’s edge. One more disappointed look into the mirror proves the indents likely won’t puff out for at least an hour.

 

Chapter Two

An accident spanning three lanes turns a ten-minute drive into nearly an hour. With my purse and briefcase in hand, I bump my leg on the car door when the wind catches it and shoves it back. My pantyhose run, and I drop my coffee mug and its contents on my new white ballerina flats. Why did I wear a skirt today?

       This day has to get better!

       With much cursing, I slip back onto the driver’s seat to remove the hose and toss them to the floor on the passenger’s side. A glance at my stained shoes has my lips pinched in a tight line, but I make my way inside the department store while still cursing the morning. At least it’s crowded with shoppers, which always makes me happy.

       If the store earns enough money by the end of the year, I get a sizable bonus. Last year, they gave me $5,000. The money went toward paying off my car. Hopefully, I can surpass that this year. I’d love to put a lump of money toward the hefty mortgage for my condo.

       The elevator doors open, and I step out. I’m not surprised to see Helena at her desk, typing on her laptop while she reads from a yellow pad of paper. Her arced desk resides near the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the department store.

       As I round her desk, I sport a wide smile despite the lousy start to my day. There’s a saying that if you act like you’re happy, happiness will come. I’m not sure how true that is, but it can’t hurt. The way this day is going, it wouldn’t surprise me if I tripped and smashed my face on her desk. Since my teeth are no longer sheathed by my lips from the forced smile, they’ll all be knocked out, leaving me with a jack-o’-lantern grin.

       My smile quickly eases. “Good morning, Helena.”

       She looks up at me with a gleaming grin, as if to gloat that she woke up on a cloud and rode a unicorn to work after being dressed by mice.

       “Good morning, Ory. They moved your meeting. They’ve requested you go to them instead of doing an online conference.” She winces her apology. “They need you there in half an hour.”

       Whoever claimed sporting a smile would bring happiness my way is a fucking liar!

My tight expression and flared nostrils have Helena turning her chair to face me. Her expression and soft voice beg my forgiveness. “If they hadn’t called earlier, I’d have texted you to send you straight there.” Her elbows meet the desk as her palms press together before her face. “Please don’t blame the messenger.”

       Her dark brown eyes pity me and plead for mercy. It’s not a good look on her enchanting face. She knows I have to get back in the car and drive twenty miles in the opposite direction, past my condo. At least the accident is contained in the northbound lanes and not the southbound. Being stuck in that for a second time this morning could break my spirit into tears.

       “It’s not your fault.” I set my near-empty travel mug on her desk and sigh as I recall how I spilled most of it on my shoes. I pick up the mail she sorted for me and flip through the envelopes. “Anything else I should know before I go?”

       “Our main freezer unit went on the fritz through the night, but someone’s on the way to fix it. It’ll be taken care of, so don’t stress about it.” She waves a hand between us. “Other than the location change for this morning’s meeting, you have nothing pressing.”

       I set the mail on her desk, pick up my mug, and exhale with a glance at the ceiling. “Okay. I have to fill my mug, get another pair of pantyhose, and then I’m gone.”

       Helena bites her lip as she assesses my slumped shoulders. “Bad morning?”

       “You could say that.” My head sags as I glance down at the drying coffee stains. “If I could start the day again—”

       “I hate those days; nothing goes right, and the universe seems to have it out for you. Been there!”

       Has she? Has she really? I’ve never seen her look anything but absolutely model perfection. I can’t imagine her with pillow indents on her cheek, stained shoes, a bruise forming on her leg, or puffy eyes from lack of sleep. Nope. Never.

       “I’ll be back after lunch. Text me if something comes up.”

       After I fill my mug with more coffee, I quickly head downstairs to the women’s intimates department, pick up a fresh pair of hose, and self-checkout. After slipping into the public washroom to put them on, I rush to my car. I’ll never make it to the other store with only five minutes until the meeting is set to start. But they changed the plan at the last minute, so they can damn well wait.

       This day has to get better. Doesn’t it?

 

***

 

       The drive seemed quick because the radio played songs I grew up listening to. I sang along even though some words eluded me.

       As I walk through the store toward Ida’s office, I try to maintain my lighter mood. This proves impossible when a woman looking in the opposite direction runs her cart into my Achilles tendon. My immediate shout and limp have the woman begging my forgiveness while she tries to offer me assistance. I hobble to a shelf for support until the shock and pain eases and I can breathe again.

       The heavyset woman puts her hand on my shoulder. “I’m so, so sorry.”

       “It’s okay. It was my fault for walking in front of you.” A breath fills my lungs as I test whether it’ll hold my weight or she severed it completely. “See, I’m okay. Think nothing of it.”

       “Are you sure? Can I do anything?”

       “No. No, I’m fine. Really. It’s okay. Enjoy your day,” I say with a smile and do my best to walk away as normally as I can so she won’t feel bad. But if my pantyhose is ripped, I’ll scream and fall to the floor in the fetal position and beg for my mommy. Well, maybe not to that extreme, but it won’t be a pretty scene.

       My knuckles rap lightly on the open door of Ida’s office.

       “Come in.” The older woman looks over the frame of her glasses and our smiles meet, which improves my mood instantly. She stands as she waves me in. “Ory! Come in. Come in.”

       We hug as if we haven’t seen each other in years, yet it’s only been a few weeks. 

       My voice muffles into the shoulder of her thick sweater, and Ida’s signature vanilla scent teases my nose. “How are you?” It’s only her in the office. “I was expecting more people. Are they running late, too?”

       She shakes her head and smiles. “Nope. This meeting is with me and only me. There’s no need for the floor supervisors to sit in. I can handle it. Besides, this way I get you all to myself. Call me selfish.”

       Ida and I have gotten to know each other very well over the years. This was the store I worked at from the young age of sixteen. She was my boss, and now I’m hers. After working an eight-hour night shift, I’d go to school. Since I aced my way through the tough university courses, I quickly moved up to the district manager position of six department stores in the Toronto area.

       Ida leads the way as we weave through a small family with four young children gathered around the section of stuffed toys. Their excited high-pitched voices and delighted screams pierce my ears, and I’m reminded of why I doubt I’ll ever want children. She leads me to the end of the aisle to a section bare of everything except for a large plastic barrel resting in the center. What catches my eye are the sporadic drops of dirty water dripping from the ceiling into the barrel.

       “So, this started some time through the night. Arron—the man who restocks this section of shelves at night—noticed it. Thankfully, he did! It was like a small waterfall earlier because of the downpour we had last night. It’s better now.” Sadness, almost apologetically so, has her head tipped to the side. “The toys that were here are soaked. We can’t sell them. Arron cleared the area and put the barrel here. As you can see, this is an urgent matter. But it’s not the only reason I asked you to come to the store.”

       “Oh? There’s more? I’m shocked.” I tilt my head left to right to prepare my shoulders for the next heavy weight I’ll have to bear. “Okay, hit me with it.”

       I pull my phone from my sweater pocket. Since I don’t have the number, I text Helena to ask her to call the roofers on my behalf. They redid this roof less than a year ago, so it shouldn’t be dripping. She’ll chew them out. Despite her prim and proper appearance, she can be scary when the situation calls for it.

       “Well,” Ida’s arms lift and drop at her sides as excitement brightens her expression, “the wedding is coming up quickly. Did you book your room?”

       Everyone was shocked when Ida announced her engagement to Kenny. They’ve been together for what seems like forever, but everyone doubted they’d ever make it official.

       “You and Kenny are finally going to tie the knot. How many years has it been?”

       Her arms cross over her chest, and she shakes her head. “Oh, no. I changed my mind. I’m not marrying Kenny.” She looks around aimlessly for a man—any man—and points behind me. “That guy over there, the delicious one, I’m marrying him.” Before I can turn around to glimpse the random man, she grips my arms and gives me a shake. “Of course, I’m marrying Kenny!” She laughs. “Even though he asked me only three weeks ago, you should know it’s not a shotgun wedding. Pregnant, I am not!”

       “Has it been three weeks already?”

       Time has been flying by lately, and the announcement of her wedding has loneliness creeping in on me. A relationship would be too difficult to maneuver around my career. He’d have to be a very understanding man with immense patience.

       “…Can you imagine? At my age? I can’t imagine chasing a kid around at fifty years old.” Ida’s eyes roll as her hand flails between us. “What was I getting at? Oh, there was a problem with the florist. She said…”

       Ida’s ramble fades into the background as my eyes wander down the toy aisle. My heart suddenly pounds into overdrive when I catch sight of a tall, thin-framed man wearing a familiar face. 

       Flora’s deliciously sexy brother I crushed on all through high school, Devon Busi, stands not forty feet away. How does the mere sight of him bring me back to my insecure teenage self?

       I watch as Devon reads the label on a stuffed pink elephant, shakes his head in obvious frustration, and sets the stuffy back on the shelf. His weight shifts to one leg when he picks up a large yellow kangaroo and turns it to read its label.

       As if I’m not under my conscious control, my legs carry me toward the man like a magnet is drawing me nearer. My arms cross over my chest to hide the diamond-hard nipples aching to poke free of my shirt.

       Oh, God! What am I doing?

       I should turn around and walk away. Maybe he hasn’t seen me. No! Dammit! I’m a fucking adult with big lady-balls! Time to pull up my big-girl panties and talk to the man whom I’ve dreamed of for many years.

       “Need any help, Mr. Devil Busi?” I snicker at the nickname his sister gave him. It caught on with his friends and haunted him all through school. “I mean Devon Busi.”

       Devon’s face whips around and, upon recognizing me, he leans his elbow on the shelf while his free hand holds the stuffy to his chest.

       “Well, hello there, Miss Classe. Still using the nickname, huh?” His voice is as deep as I remember it to be, if not deeper. “What are you doing here?”

       My reply carries more attitude than I had planned: “My job.”

       “Are you a door greeter? Where’s your vest?”

       “Don’t poke fun at our door greeters. They’re very helpful in customer assistance.” My finger aims toward the kangaroo. “Did you have a kid and not tell anyone? Or do you have one on the way?”

       Why does the thought of him fathering a child bother me? We’ve never dated. He’s not the one who got away. He was a youthful crush. That’s all.

       Devon scoffs and looks down at the kangaroo before his arm drops to his hip. “No! Definitely not. A friend’s wife popped out a daughter yesterday, and I’m trying to find a gift for the kid.”

       My eyes gesture toward the kangaroo in his hand. “That’ll be an acceptable gift. When she’s older, she’ll love it.”

       To prevent myself from scaling his body with my eyes, I peruse the shelf filled with stuffed animals.

       “There isn’t much in the line of toys for a newborn. Rattles and singing crib toys would be about it. Newborns don’t actually play with toys. If I’m not mistaken, they like bright colours and things that move. Singing! Yes, they like things that sing… or music. Noisy things.”

       My lips pinch tightly to stop the ramble. A deep breath brings with it a waft of a cologne sweet and manly. The suppressed need for a male form resting between my legs suddenly wakes from a prolonged sleep, and a moan eases from deep inside me. I’m quick to disguise it with a clearing of my throat.

       Devon smiles as his head tilts. He’s polite enough not to question me about it, but I’ll breathe through my mouth from now on.

       “I just want to make sure she won’t choke on a button or anything. Being the guy responsible for killing the one thing the man treasures most in this world probably wouldn’t go over well.”

       Has my biological clock switched from digital to analog and awoken my ovaries with its impudent ticking? I swear I feel a twinge from my eggs releasing.

       No! Babies with Devon?! It would surprise me less to see Devon grow D-cup breasts as we stand here.

       My eyes drop to his chest, and nothing happens. Thank you, universe.

       From the moment I met Devon, he’s been standoffish. That may be because he’s Flora’s older brother by three years. To him, we were an annoyance and childish. Who could blame him for keeping his distance?

       He was sixteen when she and I were thirteen, and I was crushing on him hard. Devon was the typical bad boy with long hair and a dangerous glare. The way he looked at me set me on fire even though he showed me no regard.

       Flora and I held no secrets from each other, except for that one. If she knew I was hot for her brother, she’d have been grossed out and teased me relentlessly.

       He wasn’t necessarily rude to me back then, but he wasn’t shy to let us know he didn’t want us around him, especially when he was with Levy, his best friend.

       “So, Devon, when did you move back? How long were you gone?” These are questions I already know the answers to because his sister told me, but it’s all I can think of to say.

       “Gone eleven years. I came home a few weeks ago. Surely, Flora must have told you.”

       I tuck my hair behind my ear and glance down at my coffee-stained shoe. “She didn’t say what brought you back.”

       “It felt like it was time.” Devon’s gaze drops to the kangaroo, and something seems off. “I work mostly freelance now, so I can work from anywhere.”

       Devon moved away for university on a full scholarship and didn’t return after he graduated with honours. He got an engineering job right out of school and only came home to visit on rare occasions. Oddly, I could never make it to their family dinners when he was home, and he never stayed more than a day or two.

       I haven’t seen him since I was in high school. His adult body has filled in quite nicely. It doesn’t hurt that he’s obviously a fan of the gym!

       “I think the kangaroo will be a good choice,” I say as I notice Ida jolt her face away as if she isn’t desperate to listen in on our conversation. “I should get back to work.”

       “Of course. Sure.” He spins the stuffed kangaroo over to look at the price tag stuck to the tag protruding from its butt, and I turn to walk back to Ida. “Oryana, have you eaten?”

       “Ever?” I stop and turn to him while grinning.

       Devon chuckles. In the same deep, growly tone that used to drive me wild with desire, he says, “Still a smartass, I see.”

       His eyes drop to my chest as his tongue graces his bottom lip, and my middle section hollows as if I’ve fallen three stories.

       With an obnoxious sigh, he asks, “Have you eaten today?”

       “Ah! You should have been more specific. How was to I know…” My palms rise beside me and drop. “No, I haven’t eaten this morning. I usually skip breakfast. There’s no time in the morning to eat. Lunch is more my thing.”

       Lunch is my thing? I couldn’t have stopped yapping at no? Am I doomed to always be the awkward girl when I’m around him? Nobody gets me all twisted up like he does.

       Devon’s seductive dark blue eyes lock on mine, stealing me from the present to take me back to our youth, where on the rarest of occasions we’d meet eyes. Only now, his skin is stained by years of sunlight, and tiny lines scar his face from many laughs.

       “I was just about to head over to Skip’s Diner across the street and fill my belly.” Devon’s fingers comb through his scruffy hair but fail to shape the mahogany curls into order. “It’d be nice to not eat alone.”

       “If you tip one of the wait staff, I’m sure they’d love to sit with you.”

       Wow! I can’t believe those witty words came out of my mouth without pause or a stammer.

       “That’s not what I was—” Devon chuckles and passes the kangaroo from hand to hand. “I’d much prefer you grace me with your presence. What do you say? It’s on me.”

       My nervous tummy grows nauseous. Would filling it with food help or worsen the situation?

       “You want to take me out for breakfast?” I ask meekly. 

       Sexy eyes look at me from below his brows, and my vagina tightens. His deep voice rumbles despite his whisper. “It’s just breakfast, not a marriage proposal.”

       I glance over my shoulder at Ida, who’s given up on hiding her interest in us. My index finger lifts to let her know I’ll be with her in a minute, but her hand flops at her wrist to urge me to stay with the eye-candy.

       I lift my shoulders and shake my head far too quickly to be cool. “I’m working. Ida’s waiting. I… I have to get back. To her. To work. I’m working.”

       “As you said.” His lips quirk, which proves his entertainment at my ramble. “Another time, perhaps?”

       “Mhm. Uh, yeah. Perhaps.” Where did the cool woman with the snappy comebacks go?

       He takes a step back, as do I.

       Even with my back to him, I can feel him watch me as I walk towards Ida, and I’m suddenly very conscious of my walk.

       “Who’s that tall drink of water, and why did you let him get away?” She looks past me to watch him walk away with the kangaroo clutched in his fist. “You should have roped him like cattle.” 

       “Who? Him?” I turn to look for Devon, but he’s gone.

       She points to a sixty-something-year-old man sifting through the dinky cars and rolls her eyes. “No. Him.”

       My shoulder lifts to meet my ear and drops, leaving my head tilted at a weird angle. “He’s my best friend’s brother. I’ve known him forever.” Before she tries to play matchmaker, I straighten up and shake my head as my nose crinkles. “Don’t even think about it!”

       She pokes my arm with her stubby finger. “Did he ask you out?”

       “No. Well, yeah. But no, not in the capacity you’re suggesting.” My eyes skirt over to a man eyeing the little cars as I explain. “He asked if I wanted to join him for breakfast.”

She leans on one leg and defiantly crosses her arms over her chest. “Let me guess—you said no.”

       My arms lift and flop at my sides. “I’m. Working. Ida.”

       “Not for long. I’ve shown you the leak and, if you’ll follow me, I’ll get that paperwork you’ve been pestering me for.”

       She leads me back to her office and hands me the items.

       Playing the miserable boss role, I snip, “It’s about time you got these signed for me.”

       “Yeah. Yeah. You have them now, so skit. Go have breakfast with that delicious hunk of man. Get married and pop out ten kids. I want to be an auntie.”

       “You wouldn’t be a legitimate auntie.” I slip the paperwork into my bag and grumble. “I won’t date Devon, and I’m certainly not making babies with him.”

       The idea of him and I falling asleep after making passionate love every night and waking up together each morning warms my core. But bearing his children doesn’t suit me, and ten sounds like a nightmare I could never wake up from.

       She raises her voice as she points out the door and sits in her squeaky chair. “If you don’t hurry up and hunt that man down, I’m going to.”

       Should I eat breakfast with him? Would Flora be angry if she knew? It’s not like I’d hide that we ate together. It’s no big deal. Right?

       I can’t believe I’m saying this, but…

       “Fine. I’ll go if you promise to never bring this up again. It’s only food, not a steaming hot date.” I wag a finger in her direction. “I know what you’re thinking, and you can stop it.”

       Ida snickers. “I’m not kicking you out of my store but skedaddle. Get your ass out of here and find that guy. Get a move on before someone else lands him.” Her arm waves dismissively.

       “It’s not like that with him, and you don’t have to be so pushy. Are you trying to get rid of me? I mean, I’m here for what… ten minutes, and you’ve already had enough. Wow! I feel so loved.”

       With a lowered voice, she says, “Sweetheart, someone has to make the first move. He showed you his cards. Go show him yours.” She shoos me away. “Now, get out.”

       I sling my bag’s strap over my shoulder and lean down to hug her. “I’ll talk to you later.”

       “Bye, sweetie."

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RULE BREAKERS:

MY BEST FRIEND’S BROTHER, Book One

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