Beneath Him

By: Komal Kant


DEDICATION



To my friends who hold me together.





Prologue



Someone once told me that we are only as good as we believe ourselves to be.

I’ve let myself forget for too long.





Chapter One



Sky



The guy standing in front of me was about to get smacked across the back of the head.

Yes, I knew I was only 5’2”—barely.

Yes, I knew I slapped like a girl—obviously, because I had the girl parts to back that up.

Yes, he looked like he was built like a brick wall and could probably knock me down with a single finger if I started any trouble. But he was seriously pissing me off.

The rude tone of voice he was using to speak to the young girl behind the counter, like she was beneath him, was rubbing me the wrong way.

Anyone with half a brain knew you didn’t give attitude to the person who served you. Not unless you wanted to find something in your drink that didn’t belong there. So, either this guy had half a brain or he was just a huge snob.

I was going to go with the latter, considering he was dressed in an expensive, navy suit that could probably pay my rent for a month. The Rolex that I spied around his wrist could easily pay my rent for a year. High roller. Jack ass.

“I specifically asked for my coffee black, so why is there milk in it?” His tone was scathing, and a complete overreaction to the situation. We were talking about milk. Get the hell over it.

“I’m very sorry about that, Sir,” the girl apologized with a forced smile. Her name tag said ‘Aria’. “Let me get you a new coffee.”

He snorted, and I pictured him rolling his eyes. “I don’t understand why it’s so hard for you people to do your job properly. It’s not very difficult to master.”

You people? Wow. What a complete and utter douchebag. What was this guy’s deal?

“Sir, once again, I apologize.” The girl was gritting her teeth like he was really testing her patience. “If you could take a seat, I’ll serve these customers and have your order out to you as soon as it’s ready.”

Naturally, The Java Bean was crowded this early in the morning, and this guy was holding up the line over something that didn’t really matter. I’d just spent eight hours on the road—with an overnight pit stop—driving from Carson City, Nevada to Beverly Hills, California, and I needed a coffee fix before I started my new job.

Glancing over my shoulder, I noticed ten people standing in line who appeared just as irritated as I felt. Honestly, I did not have time for this. No one did this early in the morning.

“Hey, pal.” I tapped him on the shoulder.

He jerked away from me as though a leper had touched him. My mouth fell open a little as I was confronted with his face.

The guy was attractive. Really attractive. He had a chiseled jaw with a cleft on his chin, dark hair that fell into azure blue eyes, and a deep tan that was accentuated by his dark suit.

“What?” He narrowed his eyes at me in a “Who the hell are you, and why are you talking to me?” way.

The look on his face was enough to slap some sense into me. Hot or not, this guy was a jerk. Focus, Sky, focus.

“The nice girl has apologized twice already. I think it’s completely unnecessary for you to continue complaining to her about milk.” I pointed a thumb over my shoulder. “You’re not the only one in line. I’m sure these other people have better things to do with their time. I know I do.”

My words didn’t seem to have any effect on him at all because all he did was sneer at me, like I was an ugly duckling who had dared to speak to a beautiful swan.

All of a sudden, I felt naked.

It was like one of those bad dreams where you got up in front of the entire school to give a speech and then for some irrational reason you were naked.

This was one of those moments—one of those cringe-worthy moments—where I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole. Because that was how he was staring at me; like I was naked. Exposed. Vulnerable. Which wasn’t how I wanted to feel when I was trying to fight for equal rights for early morning coffee drinkers in The Java Bean.

“Zero,” he said.

“What?” I blinked, completely confused.

Was this guy deranged, too?

“That’s how many shits I give about your opinion.”

With a widening sneer, he started to turn, but I reached out and grabbed his arm. I felt like an over boiling kettle right now, ready to blow. I was about to kick this guy in the baby maker.

“Listen here, you’re the one being obnoxious and holding everyone up. Just get your damn coffee with no milk, and leave.” No one was going to miss him.

He pulled his arm away from me as his eyes flicked over me, like he was appraising a garbage dump. “When you can afford to dress the way I do, then your opinion matters to me. Until then, be on your way, baby.”

Baby? BABY? Who the hell was he to call me baby?

I couldn’t believe the level Jerkface had taken this too. I’d been trying to keep it classy, but clearly he liked to play dirty. I knew I wasn’t dressed anything like him, but there was nothing wrong with what I was wearing—jeans, a white tee, and a pair of black Converse.

Yet, somehow he really did make me feel like an ugly duckling the way he was staring me down with his piercing, blue eyes—like I really wasn’t good enough to address him.

I maintained my composure as I spoke, though from the unimpressed look on his face, I knew he could care less about what I had to say.

“I am not your baby!” I fumed. “You go around acting like you’re better than everyone else, but really you get a kick out of making everyone feel like shit so you can feel better about your own inadequacies.”

Harsh? Maybe. But that “baby” comment had pushed me over the edge.

“I don’t have any inadequacies, but I can see that you certainly do.” His expression darkened, and if looks could kill then this was lethal. “Plenty of them.”

My face flamed immediately, but before my jumbled mind could think of a biting comeback, he pushed past me and strode out of The Java Bean.

The encounter with him had definitely been unnerving. The way he’d stared at me with those blue eyes was hard to forget. It was too bad that someone so attractive had such a horrible personality. I didn’t like getting into pointless fights, but I wasn’t a pushover.

“Thanks for stepping in. I was trying not to lose it,” the server, Aria, said, shooting me a grateful smile as she tightened her ponytail. “Now, what can I get you today?”

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