The Exception(11)

By: Adriana Locke


My phone buzzed in my hand as I walked across the tile floor. “Hey, Max.”

“Was everything okay in Queen Creek?”

“Yeah, Howard took care of it. In more interesting news, how’s my girl?” A cheeky grin broke over my face.

“Your girl?” Max sounded confused. “I don’t know. Did Miriam text you?”

“Miriam? I mean Jada.” I flopped down on the black leather couch, my thoughts drifting back to her bright green eyes.

Max chuckled loudly. “I’m pretty sure she shut you down, man. That asshole thing you have going on turns some people off. Shocker, I know, but you should reconsider that. You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

“Don’t start your southern boy shit with me now. She’s just doing that little passive-aggressive thing some women do. She wants me. It was written all over her.”

“I thought she may like you, but I’m not sure she does.” His voice was full of amusement, enjoying the fact that Jada didn’t fall all over herself to get with me like women normally did.

“She does. Trust me, she does.”

“The most troubling times in my life are when I trust you.”

“They are also the most memorable.”

“Speaking of which, I’m not going to Payson with you this weekend. Kari has some movie she wants to go see and I told her I’d take her.”

“You’re ditching a weekend at my cabin with all of the Coronas you can drink for a weekend with her? I’m losing my faith in you,” I said, shaking my head.

Max laughed. “You are going to have to find someone else that can stand to be around you for longer than twenty minutes. I know it’s going to be hard, but there are four million people in this city. It should be doable.”

“What-the-fuck-ever. Everyone wants to be around me. I’m the one that can’t stand people.” I sat up and kicked off my shoes. “Come to think of it, I could be around Jada for more than a few minutes. So why don’t I take her out tomorrow night?”

“Because she doesn’t like you?”

“Fuck you. Seriously—let’s do something tomorrow.”

“First—you need to ask her, not me. Second—did the Cane Alexander just offer to take a girl on a real date? And third—she starts work tomorrow. So I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be a good day, even if she did like you. And I have serious doubts about that.”

“What does she do?” Suddenly, I was all ears.

“She’s a realtor. Kari said she’s going back to work for their dad in the morning.”

I smiled devilishly. “That I can work with.”





JADA

I threw on a purple shift dress and a pair of nude heels the following morning, twisting my brown locks into a quick knot on the top of my head. I had overslept after a fitful night’s sleep and being late was not something I was comfortable with.

I had tossed and turned the entire night. Each time I closed my eyes, Cane’s face flashed repeatedly through my mind. I could hear his laugh, see that sexy as hell smirk.

He’s having an adverse effect on my life and I barely had a conversation with him!

Cane’s words echoed through my mind as I tried to sleep that night. “We will see each other again.”

I slammed my mascara wand onto the vanity.

I couldn’t stop thinking about him. But, by his own admission, he was exactly what I had to avoid. I had no business thinking about a man that admitted he took the player role to a whole new level. If I were able to separate things, to block off my heart and operate on a purely physical level, there wouldn’t be an issue. I could get his number from Max and have a good time. But that wasn’t me—it never had been. Even before Decker, I had dated a few guys and wrapped my heart up in the relationship way too soon. I wasn’t sure if that was because I was too caring or because the guys I chose were all the same. Regardless, I couldn’t afford to go that route again. I had to guard my heart and pick a different type of guy.

And Cane was the same as the rest of them.

I jumped into my Jeep Compass just a few minutes behind schedule. Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” album blasted through the speakers, her girl anthems distracting me from the Adonis who had taken over my subconscious. By the time I reached Stanley Real Estate, I was almost on time.

The office hadn’t changed a bit. Dad’s plaques were still on the eggshell-colored walls. The same plant was in the corner, although it was much bigger than I remembered, and the lamp and magazines on the corner table were still in place. All that was missing was Alice, Dad’s longtime secretary.