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Authors: Delaney Diamond

For Better or Worse (5 page)

BOOK: For Better or Worse
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“First of all,” Antonio said, “he shouldn’t
have put his hands on you.”

“He didn’t know we were together.”

“When I told him we were, that should have been
the end of it. Anyway, the reason I hit him is because he called you out your
name when we started walking away. I couldn’t allow that.”

Cassidy preened with pleasure and rubbed his
back. “Thank you, baby, for defending my honor.”

Antonio’s thoughtful gaze scoured her face.
“What have we here?”

“What?”

“You’re horny, aren’t you?”

Cassidy playfully sighed. “I can be
affectionate without wanting to jump your bones, Antonio.”

“No, the way you’re rubbing on me this morning
. . . I think you want some more loving.” A lazy smile lifted the corner of his
mouth, and he reached around to cup her bottom in his big hands. “I didn’t give
you enough last night?”

Cassidy laughed and pushed against his chest,
feeling the insistent prodding of the appendage between his legs against her
stomach. He’d gone from flaccid to hard in seconds. “You know good and well we
don’t have time for this.”

Antonio bent his head to her ear and drew her
closer. “It won’t take long, I promise,” he said in that low, sexy voice of
his. His warm breath wafted against her sensitive ear and neck, making her
insides quiver with longing. “I’m already hard. I’ll just lift your skirt like
this . . .”

She shoved away his hand. “If you wrinkle my skirt,
I’ll—”

Her tirade broke off when the other hand popped
the button at the back and started to lower the zipper. She’d forgotten how
fast her husband moved. She swatted away his hand and took several steps out of
reach. With trembling fingers, she refastened her clothes. It was difficult to
keep her frown in place because she did want to stay and make love, but she had
to go to work.

“You’re the one who’s horny, and I’m leaving.”

“So you’re just going to leave me here like
this—in this condition?”

Antonio spread his arms wide. Tufts of curly
hair stood out at odd angles on his head, making him look adorably sexy. He
stood there in his birthday suit with a shadow of a beard on his face, a
mischievous grin, and his erection pointing toward the ceiling. She almost
wanted to take a picture because he looked so gorgeous. Moments like this made
her realize that her silly overreacting created unnecessary friction between
them.

“I didn’t do that,” she said.

“Well, I sure didn’t do it.”

She giggled and hurried from the bathroom
before he came after her.

“I’m gonna make you pay for this. You know
that, don’t you?” he called out.

Cassidy smiled, picking up her satchel and
phone.

She hoped so.

In the kitchen, she set the timer on the coffee
machine so Antonio would have a fresh pot waiting for him when he came
downstairs. She set his daily dose of vitamins on the counter—because he never
remembered to take them if she didn’t—and left the house with a little extra
pep in her step.

****

“Want to go grab some lunch?” Janice asked
through the partition between her desk and Cassidy’s.

Cassidy logged off her computer. “I can’t. I’m
eating fast food today because I have errands to run.”

Janice harrumphed on her side of the wall.

Cassidy’s eyebrow lifted. “What’s wrong with
you?” she asked, picking up her bag and standing. She leaned over the separator
to look down at Janice, who was in the process of shutting down her computer,
too.

“Nothing. It’s just that every time I talk to
you, you’re doing something for your husband.”

“I didn’t say—”

“Oh, honey, I know it’s for him. You don’t have
to deny it.” Janice had a way of making her feel ashamed of the things she did
for Antonio.

She took a deep breath, knowing she was about
to get unsolicited advice. Ever since Janice found out Cassidy’s parents died
when she was seven, she’d been treating her like a daughter—albeit one she went
partying with every now and again. At random times, she was prone to offer her
counsel whether Cassidy wanted it or not.

“Well, he
is
my husband.”

Janice gave her a look of pity. “Honey, I know,
but every time I talk to you, you’ve got to do this for him and that for him.
When do you make time for Cassidy?”

Cassidy laughed. “You’re being ridiculous.”

“I’m serious. I bet those errands you have to
run are for him, aren’t they? Picking up his dry cleaning, getting his lunch so
he doesn’t have to leave work, filling his prescriptions—”

“He’s my
husband
. I’m off on Fridays, so
it’s more convenient for me to run these errands.”

“You work a forty-hour week just like he does,”
Janice said with a pointed stare. “Look, far be it from me to comment on
someone else’s marriage, but I can tell you from experience it’s not good to
lose yourself like that, doing and doing for a man. Where will you be when he
leaves you?”

“Who says he’s going to leave me?”

She ignored Cassidy and continued. “With my
first husband, I thought I wasn’t doing enough, so I overcompensated the next
time. After my third divorce, I realized it was
them
. I was the kind of
wife you are, and they still weren’t satisfied. The truth is, they never
appreciate everything we do. My ex-husbands are living proof of that. You have
to be careful, honey. You’ve only been married a year, and it sounds like he
already takes you for granted. What you need to do is pull back every now and
again and don’t be so accommodating.”

“I’m
not
too accommodating.”

Janice tsked. “Don’t get upset. I’m older and
wiser, I’ve been around longer, and what I’m telling you comes from a good
place. Have you ever thought about just popping up at his job one day?”

“Why would I do that? He’s busy, and—”

“That’s what he says.” Janice directed another
look of pity her way. “If I hadn’t shown up unannounced to my second husband’s
office, I’d never have found out he was banging that slut.”

“Antonio is nothing like your ex,” Cassidy
said, even though the doubts were starting to creep in again. Every time she
visited Antonio in his office, she called ahead or they made plans in advance.

Janice put up her hands defensively. “Okay,
I’ll only say one more thing to you, and then I’m done. You keep telling me
he’s your husband. But are you his wife or his slave?”

Before Cassidy could respond, she was slapped
on the back.

“What’s up, princess?” Matthew Hawthorne, the
youngest of her brothers, grinned down at her. 

“You’re stronger than you realize.” Cassidy
glared up at him. Dressed business casual in slacks, a tie, and a button-down
shirt, his six-foot-three frame towered over her.

Janice popped up from her seat. “Hi, Matthew,”
she cooed.

Cassidy tried not to roll her eyes as Janice
practically drooled over her brother. Her interest in Matthew was ironic since
he used to be one of the biggest players she knew.

He never lacked female attention, and he
thrived on it. At least he used to, but things had changed ever since he and
her best friend started seriously dating again. They’d announced their
engagement last week, and she couldn’t wait until it filtered around to the
staff so her coworkers would stop bugging her to put in a good word with him on
their behalf. 

Matthew held up his hand for a high five. “I
heard you’re taking the Ethical Hacker exam.” Cassidy slapped her palm against
his. “I know you’ll do fine. I’m not even worried.”

“You’re so supportive of your sister. That’s so
sweet.” Janice looked at Matthew with longing, and he flashed one of his
charming smiles.

“Gimme a break,” Cassidy mumbled, before saying
louder, “All right, you two, I have to run.” She pretended not to see Janice’s
raised brow.

Janice said her good-byes to them, and Cassidy
gathered up her belongings.

“Hey, Cass!”

Cassidy turned to see her best friend, Lorena
Vega, coming toward them. Lorena was Antonio’s younger sister.

“How do you keep getting in here?” Cassidy
asked.

“The security guard likes her,” Matthew said
with a scowl. “And she enjoys it way too much.”

“No, I don’t.” Lorena slipped her arms around
his waist and rose on her toes to give him a quick kiss. “But I have to admit
it’s nice to know someone else finds me attractive besides my fiancé.”

Matthew grunted. “I’m kissing you right in
front of him when we get downstairs.”

“Is that really necessary?”

“Yes.”

“Are we still going shopping tomorrow?” Cassidy
asked. Lorena had offered to help her pick out decorative items for the house.

“Yes. When you come to my parents’ house tomorrow,
I’ll show you that vase. I think you should get one like it for your place.
It’ll be perfect.”

“I hope I can afford it. Your mom has expensive
taste.”

“I’ll get the details when Matt and I go over
there today after lunch.”

Matthew groaned, and Lorena gave him a
sympathetic look.

“He dreads seeing my mother,” Lorena
explained. “Now that we’re engaged, she’s full steam ahead with all her plans.
She’s driving us nuts. She wants me and Matt to come over to do some wedding
planning. I told her if she keeps this up, he and I would get married at the
courthouse and not have the wedding she wants.”

Lorena enjoyed torturing her mother. For
years, Mrs. Vega had tried to make her into a younger version of herself, but
Lorena had been a tomboy growing up and still preferred hanging out with her
brothers and father talking sports instead of doing the activities her mother
wanted her to. No doubt Mrs. Vega felt the wedding was her one chance to have
the little girl she’d always wanted, and no expense would be spared.

“You can’t do that,” Cassidy said. “Your
mother would have a heart attack if you got married in a courthouse.”

“I know. You should have heard her. ‘
¡Ay
no! Dios mio, mija. Por favor
. . .’” They laughed at Lorena’s humorous imitation
of her mother’s distressed wail. “Seriously, though, she was so happy when you
and Antonio married so she’d finally have a girl in the family.”

“You’re all girl—all woman.” Matthew
gave her a quick squeeze. “Don’t worry about your mom. We’ll handle her
together.”

“I’m glad you said that, because she
scheduled dance lessons for us.”

“Huh?”

“They start next year, but she had to
schedule them now because we’re getting private lessons from some expensive
celebrity dance coach who’s booked months in advance.”

Matthew looked at his sister.
Save me
,
he mouthed.

Cassidy and Lorena laughed at his
comical expression, and the three of them walked toward the elevators.
Underneath the laughter, Cassidy’s mind raced with the conversation between her
and Janice.

She’d stop by their favorite bakery and
take Antonio a little treat. He loved anything chocolate—cakes, brownies,
me

She smiled to herself at that thought.
It couldn’t hurt, and it would prove Janice wrong.

****

Cassidy entered the offices of Vega PR Group
and greeted the receptionist. “Is Antonio here?” she asked.

“Yes, he’s in his office.”

On her way to the back, Cassidy poked her head
into Lucinda’s office and stopped to talk for a few minutes. Then, as she
approached his open door, she heard Antonio laughing, and the smile on her face
wavered when she took in the scene before her.

He sat behind his desk, his chair turned
sideways to engage in conversation with Ronetta, the way-too-attractive
publicist on his staff. She was Cassidy’s complexion, with skin that seemed to
glow, and thick hair cut in a severe bob. She stood in front of the windows,
wearing a dark pencil skirt and a long-sleeved blouse that showed a bit too
much cleavage for Cassidy’s taste.

They both looked surprised when she entered.
The scene before her appeared intimate, which wasn’t the most disturbing part.
A plate of brownies sat on the desk, and they both had one each in their hands.

“Babe, what are you doing here?”

“I thought I’d surprise you today.” Cassidy’s
gaze dropped to the plate of desserts and rose again to Antonio’s face. “Looks
like you don’t need what I have.”

She dropped the white paper bag containing the
brownies she’d picked up at the bakery onto his desk. Antonio frowned, but
didn’t comment. 

“It’s my fault,” Ronetta said with a smile,
raising her hand. “I’m a bad influence.”

Cassidy didn’t crack a smile, taking a good
look at the other woman. She was thicker than Cassidy, with large breasts and
wide hips. “Where’d you get the brownies?”

“Oh, I made them.” Ronetta laughed. She’d never
noticed before how attractive her laugh was. “Baking is a hobby of mine. It’s a
great way for me to unwind after all the stress we deal with every day with our
demanding clients. I sometimes bring in whatever I make for the staff and leave
them in the break room, but I made a special delivery to the boss man. I can’t
eat them all by myself. I can’t afford to get any bigger.” She laughed again.

BOOK: For Better or Worse
6.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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