The Exception(10)

By: Adriana Locke

Bending down, his breath hot on my cheek, he whispered, “I will be looking forward to seeing you again.” I started to respond, but he cut me off. “Oh, Jada. We will see each other again.”

His words, both a threat and a promise, ignited my core and I shifted in my seat.

“I’m not sure why you are playing hard to get,” he breathed, his lips so close to my skin that I fought hard not to shudder. “You shouldn’t try to play games with me because I’m not a player. I’m the coach.”


I pulled my Denali quickly out of the parking lot, cutting off some poor fucker in the process. The guy shook his fist at me out his driver’s side window.

He thought he was frustrated. I just had to leave a very promising dinner to take care of some bullshit my employees couldn’t manage.

How did I not know Kari had a sister that looked like that? And why didn’t she want my number? Am I slipping? Am I losing my touch?

I ran my fingers through my hair in frustration.

Why do I even care that she didn’t want my number?

I thought about it for a few minutes and was left with no answers and a little pissed off. My phone began to ring, diverting my attention. “Howard? What’s going on over there?”

“We got it figured out, boss.”

“What was the problem?” My annoyance began to bleed away. There was no sense in being a dick to Howard. He was the best employee I had, besides Max.

“The utility subcontractor called and said they wouldn’t be able to show up tomorrow. I got ahold of the owner and it’s taken care of. They’ll be here. No worries.”

No worries my ass.

“Are you absolutely sure? It is imperative that we stay on schedule on this. We can’t afford any delays at this point.”

“No worries, boss.”

I shook my head. It was still odd to hear Howard, who had worked for my father for decades, call me boss. But I wrote the paychecks, so I guess it made sense. “If I don’t worry, who is going to make sure everything doesn’t get fucked up?”

“Me. Max. I’ve told you this a time or two, Cane—relax a little. Trust us. You are so hard-headed, just like your old man used to be.”

I blew out a breath and swallowed hard, not wanting to go there. “You know I had you put on this job because it’s the most important one. I want the expansion of Benjamin Estates done on time and with no corners cut. I need you to make that happen.”

“I’m on it. I’ll bitch out Franklin for calling you. I was on the phone getting everything figured out when he decided we couldn’t handle this on our own.”

“Let me know if you have any problems. I’ll be by early in the morning to make sure everything is kosher.”

“Will do.”

I ended the call before tossing my phone on the passenger seat.

I needed to make sure I was there before the guys in the morning. That’s what Dad would have done. He led by example and that’s why everyone respected him. He kept calm, made rational decisions and didn’t get worked up. Unfortunately for me, my maternal DNA was a little stronger than his.

Treat me good, I’ll treat you better. Treat me bad, I’ll treat you worse.

I saw that in a bar in Newport shortly before my world flipped upside down. I liked the little motto that had been carved into a wooden table and it had stayed with me. It appealed to the side of me that was more like her, the side of me that was a pure hedonist.

Fuck her.

I tossed my sunglasses beside my phone as I glanced at the clock.

7:54 PM

I briefly considered turning around and heading back to the restaurant and to the beautiful brunette that pretended like she didn’t want me. Traffic was a motherfucker and it would be an hour to get back in the other direction, so I continued towards home.

I zipped through the lanes, weaving in and out of the cars, my driving a little erratic; it mirrored my thoughts. I had spent less than thirty minutes with Jada and now my mind was focused on her?

What the fuck? This is not how I operate.

She told me no. I shook my head, a grin touching my lips.

I jumped off the freeway and meandered through the streets before taking a left into my subdivision. The cookie-cutter houses annoyed me as they always did.

The idea of it—each house the same but in various color schemes—was the epitome of what I hated. They were just like people, all the same underneath their personal color palette. When you broke ninety-nine percent of people down, they were all assholes. Some people just covered it up a little better.

I arrived home and walked into my house. The warm scent of baked goods met me at the door. Although Penny was originally hired to clean up and do laundry, over the years she had taken pity on me. Very rarely did I come home on a day she had been by and not find a cake or cookies in the kitchen. She said I needed a mother; I said I would keep paying her salary.