Authors: Lilly James
Denying Mr. Parks
The Park Series, Book One
By Lilly James
Denying Mr. Parks
Copyright © 2015 by Lilly James. All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: August 2015
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
To Keira, keep shining bright like a diamond.
Table of Contents
“Yes, my boss, how did you guess?” I threw myself onto our ragged patchwork couch. Ragged because my flatmate Steph thought it would be a good idea to make a throw out of an assortment of fabrics to make it look unique. DIY style. Obvious disaster. Steph worked at a fabrics department owned by her parents by day, and that alone got her thinking she was going to be the next Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. She was also a crap collector. Always bringing things home from skips or charity shops. She’d insist they were “real gems” when actually they were utter garbage.
“Maybe because you march in here at eight o’clock at night wearing that work frown,” my blonde, curly-haired friend pointed out as she slumped down next to me on the sofa with a book in her lap.
“Who’s your new boss?” Julian asked before crunching into an apple, then jumping up to park his backside on the kitchen counter. Julian was not a flatmate but Steph’s personal trainer. She took kickboxing classes at the gym he worked at, and he’d become a good friend to her. However, Julian may as well have been a flatmate as most evenings he’d call and park his backside anywhere he deemed fit. I wanted to start charging him rent. He pissed me off because I thought of him as a creep. Steph only had Julian around because she fancied him; that was evident. In all fairness he
good-looking, with short, sandy-coloured hair and big blue eyes. But he wore way too much fake tan, was extremely muscular, and was quite short. In fact, he was the same height as Steph, who was petite. But the height thing obviously wasn’t a factor in my dislike of him. What was a factor, though, was that Steph was in a three-year relationship with her boyfriend Mathew. Three years to the day, actually, and Mathew, being the soft sod he was, had organized a romantic hot air balloon ride. Yes,
He wasn’t the brightest button in the sewing box
Steph cancelled and gave him no explanation. I was betting it had something to do with Julian.
I kicked off my black work heels and leaned back into the sofa. “
I sneered her name bitterly. “Stuck-up bitch. She’s making us work round the clock to get ready for some big-shot arsehole to arrive on Monday. He’s the founder of the company or something.” I shrugged, making it clear I wasn’t bothered. Then I spotted a bottle of red wine that had been opened in the kitchen.
Steph saw the glance I gave it. “Look away, Evey,” she warned hastily. “I should’ve got rid of that before you came home. Sorry. Julian, make Evey a cuppa to suppress her urge.”
“I don’t have an urge.” I frowned, irritated, pulling my hair out of its hair tie and watching the chocolate-brown waves cascade down to my shoulders. I always pulled it back too tight, so I always had a headache.
“I did object to Steph having it in the first place,” Julian said. “Do you realise how many calories are in a glass of red wine? And tea, for that matter?”
I shot him a “do I care how many calories anything has” look, so he turned away, choosing not to challenge me. I needed
! I was parched.
Julian rummaged through the cupboards for a mug, tea bags, and sugar. He knew exactly where everything was. Of course he did. He had been at our place enough bloody times. After making the tea, he passed me the mug, and I took a gulp. It wasn’t wine, but it would do. “I needed that,” I gasped, nodding slightly as a thank-you gesture.
Julian backed away from me and sat on the opposite sofa instead. The sofa Steph had left alone—so far. “I don’t understand why you’re moaning about a man you haven’t met yet.”
“You don’t?” I scoffed. “Maybe it’s because he sounds like an arrogant, self-centred, rich pig who thinks he can take over the world.” This man was already annoying me. And yes, Julian was right; I hadn’t even met him yet.
Steph looked up from the book she was reading, finally engaging with me. “When do you meet him?”
Was she listening at all? “We meet him Monday morning. I bet he’s a short, fat man with an ill-fitting brown suit to accompany his small-man syndrome. He sounds a first-class nob.”
“What’s his name?” Julian was still annoyingly interested.
“Something Parks.” I yawned.
I worked at Parks Law Firm as an assistant secretary. The firm was owned by a rich tycoon who was performing routine checks on all his companies. All week he’d been sending orders over to our new boss, Carla, and she was cracking up under the pressure to make sure everything was
for him. Thank God it was Friday or I would have seriously lost the will to live.
Julian looked completely interested at the mention of the man’s name. “Parks? As in—Wade Parks?”
“I don’t know, Julian.” And I didn’t care, but Julian clearly did. He leaned forwards, looking more alert and anxious.
“He owns all of Parks law firms, restaurants, hotels. The hotel I work at is owned by him, hence the name: WParks Hotel. He’s loaded, man.”
I took another swig of my tea, feeling drained by the subject. “I don’t care who he is. As long as he stays out of my way.”
But by then Julian wasn’t listening. He’d gone into panic mode. “So that means he’s going to be doing routine checks on our place?”
“Hmm,” I answered without an ounce of concern. “Anyway.” I frowned, annoyed at him. “Why are you here?” Again.
Julian answered confidently, but I still felt his sheepishness. “It’s Friday; we’ve been for a late-night run. Have you been swimming lately?” His gaze flickered oddly from Steph’s eyes to mine as he quickly tried to flip the subject onto me. I knew what their definition of a “late-night run” was. And I also knew my suspicion was correct. Steph cancelled the balloon ride for another “run” with Julian, which were becoming quite frequent. She was so mean.
As for me, I only went swimming because it was therapeutic to me. It helped me clear my mind and relax. “I went swimming last night, actually. Is that okay with you?” My tone was more than bitchy. Julian was one of those fitness fucks who always made you feel fat and useless if you missed one day of exercise or for eating any kind of junk food. I loved eating unhealthy crap in front of him just to receive that disgusted, raised eyebrow he would throw my way. I loved winding him up.
“I would tell that boss of yours to get fucked.” Steph’s language and temper weren’t the best, though neither was mine.
“Don’t worry, I will. What are you reading?” I glanced over at her book. She never read. She was clearly trying to look intelligent in front of Julian.
“This”—she pointed to the pages proudly—”is a beginner’s guide to meditation. Quite informative, actually. I’ll give it to you when I’m done, Evey.”
Like I needed it.
Okay, maybe I did.
Julian scoffed as I chuckled discreetly, but Steph caught us in the act. “What’s so funny?” Her voice pitched up, her annoyance palpable.
Julian went first but not before throwing his apple into the waste bin and pulling his elbow into his chest like getting it in one shot was a victory.
“Self-mediation? I’ve never heard such shit.” Julian’s laugh could have easily passed for a woman’s. It didn’t go well with his manly physique. “You’ll be filling your flat with Buddhas next,” he added.
I stopped him with a pointed finger. “Don’t give the scrap queen ideas.”
Steph threw her book at me, and it landed in my lap. “I am not the scrap queen,” she protested. I laughed out loud at her outburst, then eyed Julian up in his gym gear, which consisted of the tightest pair of cycling shorts I’d ever seen and a white, fitted tank top.
“By the way, did you take Steph for a session, or did you apply for
?” I pushed to my feet and shrugged off my black blazer whilst walking into the kitchen.
Our home was a ground-floor studio flat on a quiet, tree-lined street in London. It was quite small, so the living area and kitchen shared the same space. But the bay widows were large and allowed all the sunlight in, which made it look bigger.
“Fuck off, Evey.” Julian scowled, self-consciously looking over his gym attire. “You’re always bitching at me. Anyway, I’m going. I have a late-night client that lives nearby.” He stretched his fingers out in front of him, looking rather pleased with himself.
“Man or woman?” I rummaged through the cupboards for some bourbon biscuits and made a mental note to send myself to bed after I’d devoured half a packet. An early night on a Friday? What was wrong with me?
“A woman today. Tall, brunette, arse like a Kardashian.” He swooned as if the girl’s arse was positioned right in front of him. “A bit like your arse, Evey.”
My nostrils flared at his comment. Not because of my arse, because I knew it was on the rump side, but because he was sleazy, and his ways resembled a letch’s.
Steph moaned. “You’re a tart, Julian. Why don’t you pass some of your clients my way? The men of course,” she added dreamily.
Julian laughed. “Steph, are you forgetting your boyfriend Mathew? Now that’s greedy.”
You’re telling me.
“You should remind yourself the same thing, Julian,” I accused.
He narrowed his eyes at me, and Steph sighed on behalf of her boyfriend. “Mathew’s boring and getting on my last fucking nerve. I swear he’s balding. He has more hair on his willy than he does on his head.” Julian shuddered at the thought and gathered his gym bag together.
“That’s because he has to put up with you,” I scolded.
“Right, girls, I’m going to love and leave you.” Julian gave Steph a peck on the cheek and then went to hug me but thought better of it as I retreated. He straightened himself out, gave me a curt nod, and then made his own way out.
I raised my eyebrow over my mug when he was gone.
“What are you looking at?” Steph was being all defensive because she knew what she was doing.
“He has a thing for you.” I pointed with my bourbon biscuit, leaning my hip against the kitchen worktop.
“Fuck’s sake, not this again. He’s a friend, Evey.” She reached over to where she threw her book and opened it back up aggressively.
“Hmm.” I didn’t believe her. I drank the rest of my tea and placed the mug into the sink. When I glanced to the side, I caught sight of the wine bottle again but shook the thought out my head. “I’m off to bed,” I declared. I was pooped.
“Evey, I hope you’re not going to make this a regular thing?”
I turned around yawning, eyeing Steph up, clueless. “What?”
“You know.” She gestured towards the wine bottle with her head. “Kat told me that you’ve been stopping at the bar after work for a glass.”
Kat? Who worked at the bar? Snitching bitch. “Steph, it was two glasses of wine after work yesterday evening with Clarke. Besides, with the week I’ve had, you should be glad that’s all it was.” I didn’t mean that. I was just mad because of Kat the Twat.
“Okay.” She shrugged coyly, which suddenly made me feel bad.
I sighed. “Trust me?” Because I needed her to.
She sighed back. “One hundred percent.”
I was well aware she was looking at me suspiciously, but I was telling the truth. I knew how to limit myself now. After two glasses of wine it was a no-go. I’d got to a place where I could pace myself and take control of the situation. Before I’d been able to do that, I wasn’t able to have one drink and stop myself, and I couldn’t even look at a bottle of alcohol without drinking the entire contents and wanting more. But right then, I was in a stable place. I could have one glass of wine and stop. It was all about being in complete control of my life for me.
“Oh, are you seeing Alex this weekend?” she added hopefully, stopping me again from heading to my bedroom.
“He’s taking me out Monday night. It’s his night off.” I grinned, and it mirrored Steph’s.
Alex was Steph’s older brother. He recently moved back to London as he got posted here by his police force. Until three weeks prior he’d been living in Ireland, and before he left we broke off a causal relationship. Now he’s back, he wasted no time in asking me out on a date. I was single, so I thought, why not? We’d been on a few dates since—well, if going to Steph’s parents’ house for dinner whilst Alex was there could be called a date. I’d always gone with Steph to her parents’ house for Sunday dinner for as long as I could remember. I thought more of her parents than I did of my own. Actually, I didn’t think of my parents at all.
“What?” I questioned her giddiness.
“Nothing.” She shrugged it off with a smirk and shifted her focus to her book.
I knew that look. The look of eagerness to get her best friend down the aisle with her brother. That definitely was not going to happen. Yes, Alex was sweet and caring. He was cute and had a huge heart. But it never went deep with us. It was just a casual thing.
“And, Evey,” she called after me as I walked away. Yawning, I turned to see what she wanted. “I just want to say I’m proud of you.”
“Really?” I smirked.
“Yeah, you’re finally getting your life together. You have a good job, you’re sober, and you seem happy. That makes me happy.” Steph was so emotional that she wore her heart on her sleeve.