The numbers in front of me blurred. Rubbing my eyes, I tried to refocus but it was useless. Every time I closed my eyes, even for a blink, I saw Marie’s face flash behind my eyelids.
Arcadian lay in the corner of my office behind my desk, lifting his head to whimper as if he could read my thoughts and was missing her too.
Scratching his head, I mumbled. “I feel you, boy. I wish she was here too.”
The administrative tasks awaiting me this morning weren’t interesting. They weren’t nearly enough to keep me from thinking about Marie every other second. Given a choice between sorting out our billing, or thinking about the way her eyes lit up when she was happy, Marie would always win.
The same could be said for just about everything on my to-do list. I got the work done, but my head wasn’t entirely in the game.
The overhead fan in my office did a little more than move hot air around and sweat dotted my forehead. Combined with my brain’s failure to focus on anything other than Marie, if I stayed sitting here, I was going to go mad.
I had to move. I had to do something.
“Come on,” I called to Arcadian with a whistle. “Let’s go see what the boys are getting up to on the Patterson project.”
Arcadian’s nails clicked on the makeshift floor of my site office as he pulled himself up to his full height. Looking like a black beast with his shoulders standing over two feet tall and his head almost to my hip, his appearance was deceptive.
Arcadian was as docile as they came, trotting over with his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. Stroking his head, I stepped aside so he could descend the stairs ahead of me. I was locking up when my phone buzzed in the pocket of my shorts.
Digging it out, I slid my sunglasses over my eyes and whistled to Arcadian to follow me to the truck. I was expecting a message from a guy who was delivering wood for the salon renovation, but I stopped in my tracks when I saw that it wasn’t.
Marie’s name blinked at me from the screen, the mere sight of it a kick to the heart. Punching in my passcode with my thumb, I opened the message.
Marie: Just wanted to pop in to say I miss you.
I blinked at the words, so simple, yet so effective and so honest. I was still working on the logistics and I’d had half a mind to surprise her but fuck it, she needed something to look forward to as much as I did.
Me: Miss you too. Planning a visit to Savannah this weekend, how does that sound?
Bubbles appeared at the top of my screen immediately. Her message popped up a second later.
Marie: Sounds great. Promise?
“You gonna stand there in this blistering heat texting all day, or are you going somewhere?” my brother Sonny’s voice piped up from beside me.
Lifting my eyes from the screen and pocketing my phone, I found him grinning as he approached. “Actually, I thought this was as good a place as any to get a tan on the back of my neck. What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at work?”
“Nah, it’s my day off. Thought I’d stop by to tell you that Tyson wants you to stop by his office when you find time.”
Tyson, the oldest of our band of five Lovett brothers, was also the District Attorney and was planning on filing charges against Marie’s ex for stalking, threatening, and intimidation. As far as I was concerned, he could go ahead and add every other possible crime to that list. “Why didn’t he call me directly?”
Sonny shrugged. “He said he tried and couldn’t get through to you. He’s in the process of filing, but he wanted to talk to you first.”
Reaching for my phone again, I scrolled through the calls I’d missed that morning and sure enough, there were two from Tyson. “Shit. Don’t know how that happened, I’ve had my phone near me all morning.”
Sonny raised his eyebrows, giving a pointed look at my phone and then to my office. “Too busy to answer the phone for your brothers now that you own the company?”
His tone was light and teasing. Pretending to push my sunglasses back into place with my middle finger, I grinned. “It’s not only now, it’s been that way for years. I’ll always be too busy for your gossip.”
Sonny chuckled, shaking his head. “Yeah, because a cop and the District Attorney have nothing better to do with their time than to gossip to and about their brother.”
“You said it, not me,” I shot back at him, smirking as my thumb hovered over Tyson’s number. “Kidding aside, do you know what he needs? Has there been any more news from the DA in Savannah?”
Sonny lifted his shoulders in a shrug, pressing his lips together. “No idea. He called me when he couldn’t get a hold of you, and I said I’d stop by because I was going to be in the area.”
“Thanks.” Apprehension churned in my stomach. Marie’s ex was a tricky fucker to deal with, a scumbag who had zero problems with lying and manipulating the system to get what he wanted and had experienced enough run-ins with the law to know just how to skirt it. “I need to check on the progress at a jobsite, but I’ll stop by his office later this morning. Thanks for dropping by.”
Sonny tipped an imaginary hat at me, his perpetual knowing grin curling his lips. “No worries, man. Marie was good for you. She kept this,”—he waved his hand vaguely toward me—“grumpy, tense asshole at bay. The sooner we get her back for you, the better.”
“What grumpy, tense asshole?” I lifted my brows innocently. “I’m a regular delight.”
Rolling his eyes, he gave me a quick wave as he headed back towards his truck and called, “I think you misunderstood the meaning of the word delight. Invest in a dictionary. See you around.”
“I have a dictionary,” I called back but Sonny didn’t turn around. He gave me the finger with his hand lifted above his head and slid into his vehicle. I let it go, looking around for Arcadian. He was lying under a tree nearby, dozing again. “Let’s get out of here lazybones. Maybe Uncle Tyson can see about getting Marie and Austin back to us.”
Sonny wasn’t wrong, I’d reverted back to my prickly pre-Marie self in the short time since she and her son, Austin, had been forced to move back to Savannah thanks to a court order Wesley had obtained based solely on his malicious lies.
Marie’s lawyer, Savannah Steele, and Tyson were both convinced Marie would prevail in court. Cranking up the air conditioning and the radio in my truck once Arcadian and I were loaded up, I could only hope that Tyson had good news for me. God knew I was over this waiting game we seemed to be playing with courts.
Curling my hands around the steering wheel, I headed over to the jobsite to check on the team there. Next stop, Tyson’s office. And then, hopefully, Savannah to bring Marie and Austin home.
It wasn’t likely to happen today, I knew that. But hey, a guy could dream, right? I had to hang onto hope. Without it, I’d be chasing down Marie’s ex and making things uglier than necessary.
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