| 9 | Cold Bed Sheets ||

He was so different from Jacob.

That was the first real thought she remembered having when the late morning brought her to the world of the living. She hadn’t even opened her eyes yet, and the damn man already captured her mind.

She just laid there, allowing herself to feel the radiant energy flowing through her exhausted limbs. She hadn’t felt that in a good while. She frowned when the silent air made her very aware that she was alone. Her eyes popped open, and she patted the bed next to her. There was no hot, dark-haired lump. In fact, the sheets were cold.

Her insides sank.

She had to stop doing this to herself. She was a good, worthy woman. She was ambitious, driven, hardworking. She deserved better than some ghost lover. She deserved more if that’s what she wanted, and that was what she wanted. It was what she always wanted, and what she would always want. She wanted to be the type that could sex and pass, sex and move on to the next, but she accepted that woman wasn’t her a while back.

Was that all Devlin Sinn would ever be able to give her? A vanishing moment of unadulterated release? She deserved better.

She whipped her legs over the edge of the bed.

Jacob was her dream mate. He was perfect: kind, thoughtful, consistent, stable, goal-oriented, compassionate. She couldn’t have molded a better example of what she wanted in a partner.

He was gone, however. Another reminder of how cruel the universe could be. With his loss, on the other hand, purged the guilt she harbored from the vivid dreams she had, more frequent than she cared to admit, about Devlin. In all honesty, it made her angry. Angry that the fiendish man held so much of her, and he probably hadn’t given her a second thought since their first night.

“Rise and shine, sleeping― my God, girl!”

She rolled her eyes and pulled the sheets up to cover her nudity when Rita made her way into the room. “Don’t you believe in knocking?” Lacey shouted.

Rita frowned her nose up and leaned on the doorframe to the bedroom. “Well, I don’t have to ask if you believe in protection, chica, damn.” She gestured toward the garbage can near her vanity with condoms hanging part way out. “I know we’re both adults and all and no judgement, get yours, boo. I’m just sayin’ you could have told me so I could stop setting updates that you’re not going to show up to.”

Lacey stretched under her covers. “I told you a while back to stop.” Rita had insisted on Lacey dating after Jacob’s untimely ended, but she didn’t want to. Did that stop her friend? Of course not.

She set up in the bed. “You don’t listen to me. That’s what the problem is. That’s the reason for me being stood up at a coffee shop a few days ago.”

Her friend turned around. “I just got some nipple action; so, I’m just, uh, going to wait in the living room. Oh, there was a little box in front of your door. I put it on your island counter.”

“Don’t you change the subject Rita Marie Gonzalez.”

“Who is this guy? Looked like a jewelry box or somethin’.” Rita disappeared into the living room but started up talking again. “So, uh, wedding stuff. I already have a couple places in mind for dresses.”

Lacey pushed herself off the edge of the bed. She forgot she set this shopping day up a couple days before. In all fairness, she wasn’t expecting to be busy the night before it. Especially not busy getting ravished, time and time again by a rogue biker. “Nothing too expensive. It’s not my wedding.” It took her awhile to get her legs in working order enough to make her way to the bathroom. She sat on the toilet, mostly to get herself functioning properly.

Near an hour later, Lacey was freshly showered, hair combed, and in the kitchen making a smoothie, listening to her friend talk about some Italian guy she met while at a photoshoot in Miami.

“Why do your smoothies always end up green?” Rita’s cute nose was scrunched up in distaste, making Lacey giggle.

“Because they actually have nutritional value.”

“Well, hurry up, Green giant. We’ve got nails in thirty minutes.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Always rushing me, when you’re the one we’re usually waiting for.”

“That’s right, and that’s how I like it.” Rita’s attention went to her phone when a message came through. The way the woman smiled, it was no doubt her new guy.

Lacey hated that she smiled too. Smiled because her memory brought up intense black eyes promising to satiate a hunger she didn’t know she had. “What?” Lacey asked when she looked up and saw her friend staring at her.

The woman shrugged. “Nothing, girl you just― You just glowing and shit, that’s all.”

Lacey hid her hot face by turning toward the sink.

“Let’s stay talking about the task at hand, please.”

“Let’s not―” Lacey brought her attention to her phone. She rolled her eyes and responded to the text.

“Are you answering work email on your day off?”

“I’m a business owner; there’s no such thing as a day off. I’m meeting up with a client in Atlantic City the week after my Valentine’s day event. I need to prepare.”

The woman popped her tongue. “Well, don’t think you’re going to be spending my day off on your damn phone, okay? I should be packing for my trip, but I’m being a good ass friend.”

Lacey sent a desperate look to her friend when her phone rang again. Honestly, she was desperate for the distraction. All the distractions possible were what she needed to keep her sanity. She didn’t want to think too deep into whatever the hell was with Devlin because, after the wedding, things would return to normal.

“It’s the florist for my Valentine’s Day Event. That isn’t work, right?”

Her friend rolled her eyes. “Fine, take it. I need to get me a friend who actually has time for me.”

It was Lacey’s turn to roll her eyes. “When you go gallivanting off with your Italian lover, you won’t hear any bitter ass comments from me.”

“If you were getting dick like you obviously were last night, I’m all for that, by the way. There would be no need to be bitter. All work and no play makes the kitty dry and irritated.”

“Ew! Seriously, woman, grow up.” Lacey brought her attention to the phone right before she missed the call. “Hello, Mr. Dallas.”

“Miss Diaz, I’m glad I caught you. I have some news. There’s been a mix up with the rose shipments. An over-shipment of pink roses.”

Lacey frowned, but inside, an extreme feeling of joy washed over her: conflict! Her favorite distraction. “If you show up at my event with pink roses, you will be sorely disappointed that I will make you pack them back into your little delivery truck and carry them on somewhere else. I was very clear that I wanted Pink Charm Daffodils and off-white roses.” Lacey paused at the door with her smoothie in one hand, purse and keys in the other.

“It’s Valentine’s Day, Ms. Di―”

 

“Ah, ah, ah.” Lacey scolded, she closed the door after her friend joined her in the hallway. “Tell me, Mr. Dallas. In fact, read my order form to me and don’t forget the date or your guarantee.”

The man sighed on the other end of the phone. “There is no problem, Ms. Diaz. You will receive the flowers as agreed upon.”

“Excellent news, Mr. Dallas. Thank you.”

She heard the man grumble before he hung up the phone. She smiled and met her friend’s eyes.

“What?”

The woman shook her head as they walked side-by-side down the corridor. “You’re a python, girl.”

“Listen, people will walk all over you if you let them. You already know I’m not the type to allow those sorts of things to slip through the cracks. Flower arrangements? Oh, please. I ordered those damn things a year ago. Don’t mess with me.”

“I just don’t get why you still put so much into that event. You don’t even go anymore.”

Lacey shrugged, descending the stairs. “I might not participate in the event, but you’d be damn sure I’m going to make sure it is a stellar event. Nothing would keep me from that.” She checked her watch and grimaced. “Don’t forget, I have to get over to Jacob’s grave before it gets dark.” She hated driving in the dark especially when there was a storm in the forecast.

Her friend rolled her eyes. “Jacob is dead. He’s not going anywhere. Me, on the other hand, I’m alive and well, and wanting, nay, needing your full attention much like a small child. And if I don’t get it, I will have no choice but to wail loudly at the top of my lungs in a large crowd of people.”

Lacey didn’t try to hold back the laughter that erupted past her lips. She bumped her friend’s hip with her own before they both put on sunglasses and stepped out into the crisp, sunny afternoon day.

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