A Case of You:Suncoast Society(5)

By: Tymber Dalton

“I know,” she quietly said.

“If you repeat the same mistakes over and over, sure, that might make you look stupid.” Fortunately, he got a smile out of her for that. “But Emma’s wicked smart, Trace. Set a good example by improving yourself. That’s what’ll make the difference in the long run, and she’ll respect you for it.”

“I was looking into a program they have at work for store managers and assistant managers. They’ll pay for college classes. Our regional manager said I should apply for it, because I’ve been there long enough. I’m eligible. It could mean advancement, finally.”

“That’s great. I think you should try it.”

“I just hope I’m smart enough.”

“Stop. Seriously. You’re an office manager. They wouldn’t have put you in that position if you couldn’t do it, right? There’s nothing to say you couldn’t learn what you need to be a store manager. Have a little faith in yourself.”

“Promise me something, please?”

“I’ll try, but I have to hear it first.”

“If you see me being stupid again, like I was with Pat, tell me, okay?”

“You sure you want me to promise to do that?”

“I do. I wouldn’t have listened to you about Pat, but it’s obvious to me now that I need a second opinion.”

“Fair enough. You’ll get five opinions, though.”


“Yeah.” He smiled, ticking them off on his fingers. “Me, Jeff, Stuart, Em, and Grace.”

“Now that girl is scary-smart. Emphasis on the scary sometimes. Do you think they’ll stay together for the long haul?”

“I don’t know, but I’m kind of glad Grace is a girl and not a guy.”


“Because can you imagine the kind of uber-supervillain those two could give birth to?”

At least he could still make Tracey laugh.

Chapter Two

The tow truck finally showed up and loaded Tracey’s car, taking it to the mechanic Brandon recommended she use.

At least Tracey was listening to him again.

The only thing he worried about was her trying to lean on him too much, rely too heavily on his opinion and try to slip back into a submissive role with him. Yes, they’d had somewhat of a BDSM dynamic in their marriage, with him absolutely the Dominant partner, but nothing as formal as what he had with Jeff and Stuart.

Brandon had already spoken with the “Frightful Five” at Venture, the group of women handpicked by Tilly to help play matchmaker and keep people from making boneheaded relationship decisions. Once Tracey started dating again, they would help her navigate the treacherous dating waters and hopefully prevent her from hitting a reef.


After dropping Tracey off at the house where she was renting a room from a friend and coworker, he headed home. He was a little surprised to see Nate’s car still parked in the driveway, especially since it’d been nearly two hours since he’d left to help Tracey.

When he walked down the hall, Emma stepped out of the master bedroom and immediately motioned for Brandon to be quiet. Peeking in through the door, he realized Jeff lay sound asleep on the bed while Nate was removing acupuncture needles from him.

Brandon and Emma walked out to the kitchen. “He fell asleep about ten minutes ago,” she told him. “I brought him his evening meds earlier and made him take them. We decided to let him sleep. Nate said it likely meant the treatment helped.”

“Okay, good. I didn’t think Nate would be here this long.”

“Jeff had some massive knots in the backs of his shoulders. Lots of pain there. Nate did another treatment on him with the cups.”


“Maybe I should think about going into physiotherapy or something instead of criminal justice.”


She hooked a thumb in the general direction of Brandon’s bedroom.

“Honey, we’re grown men. We’re perfectly capable of getting someone to take care of our medical needs. You decide what you want to do based on you, not us.”

“Well, Grace has been looking at possibly going into sports medicine. She hasn’t made up her mind yet. She’s having fun working with the swim coaches.”