Capture Me Slowly

By: Joya Ryan


Acknowledgments


Thank you so much to my family for your patience and allowing me to do what I love. Thank you to the best critique partner in the world — you’re willingness to drop everything to read this means so much to me. Thank you Jill for your advice and helping me calm the frick down when I get too psycho. Thank you so much to the rockin’ (literally) copy-editor Martha for you fabulous work and catching all the uni-brows.






Chapter One


“We have a thirty-day billing cycle, Miss Wade,” Randall Hamm, my “boss,” said from across the desk. If his creepy gaze drifted to my chest one more time, I was going to sock him in the throat.

It was one thing to own your sexuality and choose what, or who, you wanted to screw. There was empowerment in that, after all. But after a month of “accidental” gropes and the extra-long staring contests my boss had going with my boobs, I was done. Done with him. Done with this city. Just done.

Taking a few freelance programming gigs was how I had been supporting myself since moving to New York and crashing in on my friend, Megan Riley. Only now, New York was no longer safe, Megan Riley was off honeymooning as Mrs. Preston Strauss and my savings account was down to almost zero.

“Yeah, I get that. But I got your company’s server cleaned up, the website running and all malware erased. I fixed all the issues over two months ago. I’m leaving town tomorrow and need that money.”

“I’m sorry, my hands are tied,” he said, opening his folded hands atop his desk, obviously demonstrating the opposite of his words. “But perhaps I can send an e-mail to HR.”

HR? That was laughable. If by “HR” he meant the crabby old woman pushing files in the basement, then sending an e-mail to her would be of little help. This guy and his startup company were just trying to screw me out of my money.

“I could look into this for you,” he said, as his beady eyes roved downward again.

Instead of shrinking back or tugging on my shirt, I pushed the girls out and let him look his fill. One thing I learned growing up on the streets of Chicago was that pervs will be pervs, and if you want to survive, use what you have to your advantage.

“Oh, yeah? Well, I’d sure appreciate that, Mr. Hamm,” I said in the sultry voice I’d perfected over the years.

“And just how appreciative would you be, Miss Wade?”

He licked the small amount of spit at the corner of his mouth and shifted his hips in his chair. Never once taking his eyes from my body.

Definitely not that appreciative.

Yes, I needed the money and, yes, logic told me to do what I had to do to get what I needed to survive. It had been ten years since I’d had to beg for food or a place to stay.

Still, old habits die hard.

But not this time and not for this guy. He could take his receding hairline, potbelly and poor excuse for hygiene and fuck off. My patience was gone, my stress level was through the roof and the ability to run from a past that was literally hunting me down was weakening. I had officially met my asshole quota for a lifetime.

“I would be so appreciative, Mr. Hamm, that I would be willing to not tell everyone what a sick bastard you are, or that you have a tiny penis.”

His face fell briefly, then rage overtook him.

“How dare you — ”

“How dare I? You’re the one jerking it in your office twenty-four seven.” Last month I had walked in on him and while that was an image that would haunt my nightmares, he hadn’t noticed my momentary interruption. “For God’s sake, at least lock the door.”

“You can see yourself out, Miss Wade,” he snapped.

I stood and slung my satchel over my shoulder. “I want my check.”

“We thank you for your freelance work,” he said in a snippy tone. “If you want to leave a mailing address, I’ll send your check out as soon as the thirty days has come up.”

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