Authors: S. Simone Chavous
S. Simone Chavous
Copyright © 2015 S. Simone Chavous
Cover design by Lindee Robinson Photography
Editing by Lauren Schmelz of Write Divas LLC
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Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media and events are either a product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, events or locales, is entirely coincidental. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Without love, marriage is just business. At least that's what Claudia Mason tells the women who seek her firm's unique services. With wealthy husbands who see their wedding rings as meaningless pieces of jewelry, they trust Claudia to do whatever is necessary to gather the hard evidence needed to shatter an ironclad prenup.
She is the best in the business and has yet to meet a mark she couldn't get the goods on, solidifying her belief no man can be trusted. After landing a client who is her ticket to retirement, she is on top of the world. Until a chance encounter with Greyston Michaels turns her carefully controlled world upside down.
Greyston shows Claudia a part of herself she thinks she's lost, making her question everything she believes about men--and love. But in Claudia's world, following her heart is bad for business. And business is everything.
*Homewrecker Incorporated is an 85,000 word standalone novel best suited for mature readers*
For Mom, I miss you everyday.
Table of Contents
"What the hell, Claudia?"
I looked up from my theory of architecture textbook. Grace Dawson, my new roommate, glared at me from the doorway of our dorm room with her hand on her hip.
"You were supposed to get dressed while I was gone. The party started almost two hours ago!"
I glanced down. "What's wrong with yoga pants and a T-shirt?" I smirked with a wink.
"More than I have time to explain to you right now," she quipped back with a slight Southern accent.
I looked at the time on my phone. "It's late. I have practice early tomorrow."
"Oh, hell no! You swore if I gave you an hour to study you'd come with me, bitch. So let's go." She stomped into the closet. I sighed and closed my book to the sound of hangers scraping the rod as Grace continued to chastise me.
"We've lived together over a month, and you haven't done anything but go to volleyball practice and do your homework. I really don't know how I got stuck with such a nerd for a roommate."
She leaned out from the closet and flashed one of her bright smiles, letting me know she was teasing.
"All of us can't be freaks of nature who don't need to study to get straight As. Some of us have to, you know, try a little."
I studied more than I needed to because, as my mom put it, I was persnickety in my need to be the best. I smiled, thinking about her. Our family had been through some hard times the past couple years, especially my mom. So much so I'd wanted to stay home another year before going to Cornell, but she wouldn't let me put my life on hold. Coming to the University of Illinois was a reasonable compromise since home was about an hour away. Not to mention they'd offered me a full ride athletic scholarship.
"I don't want to hear it! I have three jobs and a full schedule. I just know how to relax and have a good time once in a while." She danced her way over to my chair. "I swear it's the secret to my success, so you have to give it a try. You know, for scientific purposes," she drawled with a grin in perfect mocking of my Midwestern accent.
If that was true, it explained how she scored As on tests without cracking a book. She hadn't missed an opportunity to socialize in between work and class since school started. I don't know how she managed to find the time.
"Yeah, well, you don't have to drag your ass out of bed at six in the morning just to have Coach ride it about your run time being too slow," I replied in one last-ditch effort to avoid fulfilling my promise.
"No, I have to get my ass up even earlier to cover the morning shift at the athletic center." She crossed her arms over her chest.
Shit, she had me. I scowled, glancing at the stack of study cards on my desk.
"Just come out for an hour. You'll be tucked into bed before midnight. I saw Lance coming in when I left." She wagged her eyebrows, no doubt hoping his presence would entice me.
As much as I was against relationships and hanging out socially with men in general, I had to admit Lance was ridiculously hot. I'd made the mistake of mentioning that to Grace after he started as the TA in my Intro to Architecture class. After watching what my mom went through with my dad, a boyfriend was out of the question, but the occasional hookup with a guy who was incredibly sexy and, based on the work I'd seen, extremely good with his hands sounded good. Meaningless sex seemed to be the only thing that kept my mind off of all of the other shit in my life, and it'd been a while since I'd had any.
"Fine, one hour."
The following squealing and hand clapping made Grace look a bit like a seal before she darted back to the closet.
"I have the perfect dress for you!" she said, rummaging through the packed space.
When she pulled out the cute little designer knit dress I'd admired on the first day of school, I felt genuinely excited to go out. She loved to tell the story of how she picked it up for ten dollars at a secondhand store, like most of her rather stylish wardrobe. She liked to say, "You don't have to spend a million to look like a million."
Having grown up with money, I wouldn't have batted an eye at paying full price for designer brands, but when my father left, all of that left with him as far as I was concerned.
I'd just pulled the dress over my head when my phone vibrated on the desk. Grace frowned at me.
Jess's cell number flashed across the screen and I smiled. "It's just Jessica. I'll make it quick." I crossed my fingers over my heart as I picked up the phone.
"Hey, Jess," I answered, my tone cheerful.
My little sister calling meant she was at home with Mom since Dad banned her from having a cell phone at his house, which always made me feel better about being gone. Mom hated being alone, and she'd been crushed when Jess chose Dad in the divorce. I understood. She'd always been a daddy's girl, and Mom could be intense when she got into one of her moods.
Instead of hearing Jess's sweet, happy voice, all I heard were her wailing sobs and indecipherable rambling. The only words I could make out were
. I looked at Grace. Her face mirrored what I was sure was panic in mine.
"Jess, what is it?" My voice rose with fear. "I can't understand you. Where's Mom?"
I pressed the phone hard against my ear as if it would help me to understand her better. Somehow Jess managed to calm down enough to say four words that changed my life forever.
"Mom won't wake up."
Fourteen years later
"Oh fuck yes! That's it!" I screamed as Ty Harris pounded into me.
My screams were 85 percent faked and 15 percent ecstatic anticipation from my imagining the new pair of red-soled heels I was going to buy with my commission.
As I lay on my back, staring up at the reflection of this hulking linebacker's impressive physique in the mirror on the ceiling, I thought idly of a funny video I'd seen featuring an enthusiastic Pomeranian and an unlucky teddy bear. I bit my lip to stifle a laugh.
"Aahhhh!" He groaned against my ear as his orgasm pulsated through his body.
At least it was over quickly.
"Damn, baby." He rolled off me. "That was fantastic. Just what I needed. Tonight's game was brutal."