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Thirty Day Fiance
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It’s only thirty days.
That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.
Can I make it to day thirty without losing my mind?!
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My still clenched fist shakes on top of my desk, right where I sent it slamming into the mahogany. The black and silver pen, one of many that plummeted over the edge when the pen holder fell, continues to roll across the floor. It only stops when it crashes into the tip of a green leather boot, one worn by a man wearing a plain black shirt like the ones he used to wear when he was still in Special Ops.
“Having another Aaron Bentley patented temper tantrum?” he teases me, his signature grin taunting me over his cleft chin.
I unclench my fist and grip the edges of my desk.
“Still wearing those ugly-ass boots?” I jab back at him.
That’s not enough to pierce Nixon Llewell’s armor, though. His grin remains in place, wider than before. Of course. I’ve known Lew long enough to know that the only way to wipe a grin off his face is to punch it, which isn’t an easy feat. He may be a few inches shorter and a couple of years older than me, but he’s lightning fast even when he’s had a few bottles to drink. I’ve only succeeded once, and I still wonder if it’s because he let me. I could try again, confirm it wasn’t a fluke, but I don’t want to make a bigger mess in my office than I already have. Besides, right now, Lew’s face is not the one I want to smash to bits.
“Ross Dietrich?” he asks.
“What did he do this time?”
He took away one of my clients. A big one. I know it was him, and he probably did it because I took away one of his top engineers. Tit for tat. Just like that time I exposed the flaws in a bridge his company built which resulted in the deaths of dozens and then he retaliated by burning down one of the factories that supplied beautiful reclaimed lumber for my projects. Yeah, this has been going on for quite a while. For four years, in fact.
Far too long.
I meet Lew’s gaze. “Just tell me you have news.”
He smirks. “Well, I definitely didn’t come here just to gawk at your handsome face, hear you whine about all the women who throw themselves at you, or watch you try to wreck your fifteen-hundred-dollar desk.”
He picks up the pen from the floor and puts it on my desk. Then he frowns as he stares at it.
“Oh, shit. I think you made a dent there.”
I look and find none. Lew chuckles as he sinks into a chair.
I glare at him. Very funny.
He raises an eyebrow at me. “If you’re that disappointed, maybe you should try working out a little more. How much time do you spend in your fancy gym?”
“Enough,” I answer.
Maybe I should just go ahead and have that fight with him.
He picks up the paperweight that managed to remain on my desk through the temper onslaught – a warrior wasp encased in resin.
“Lighten up, Aaron. There are no cameras here. You can drop the spoiled brat act.”
I sit down. “Tell you what. I’ll lighten up when Dietrich is rotting, either behind bars or under the cold ground, which I believe is what I’m paying you to make happen.”
“Rub your billions in my face, will you? Well, I’m sorry, but no amount of money can make me into a genie. I can’t just snap my fingers and make Dietrich disappear. But I have found something out.”
I glance at my watch as I tap my fingers on the arm of my chair. “I’m still waiting.”
He puts down the paperweight. “Ever heard of William Bowen?”
I shake my head. “No.”
“They called him Bill, of course. He worked for Dietrich about seven years ago. His pet geek. Worked magic on computers. Did a lot of stuff for Dietrich on them, most of it illegal.”
“No surprise there.”
“He didn’t mind breaking the law, I suppose, but I guess the guy still had a conscience. Saw something he didn’t like. Tried to foil one of Dietrich’s plans. And you know he doesn’t like it when his plans get foiled.”
“Few weeks after that, old Bill was found dead along with his wife, his teenage daughter, and his six year-old son.”
“Fuck.” I touch my forehead.
“Cops said he shot his family then shot himself. Not everyone believes it.”
Hell, I don’t.
“Dietrich did it,” I say with full conviction.
Without a fucking doubt. And the cops played along. Why not? He’s got a number of them on his payroll.
“Wow.” Lew slouches in his chair. “You think so, too?”
“Is there any proof?” I ask him. “Evidence that the cops didn’t get rid of?”
That is the most important question.
“No evidence,” Lew tells me.
He sits straight and raises a finger. “But I heard there were witnesses. Two. Gordon Sloan, Dietrich’s lawyer at the time, and Ezra Byrd, one of his older bodyguards. They were close. They were close to Bowen, too.”