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Authors: Timberlyn Scott

Unhinged

BOOK: Unhinged
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Unhinged

BOOK 1

Timberlyn Scott

 

SL
Independent Publishing, LLC

PO
Box 806

Hutto,
Texas 78634

www.slipublishing.com

 

Copyright
© Timberlyn Scott, 2014

All
rights reserved
.

This
is a self-published title.

 

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
both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

 

Unhinged, Book 1

An
Unhinged Novel
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places,
events and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or
used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead,
business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Cover
Image: © Artem Furman - Fotolia.com

Cover
Design: © Nicole Edwards Limited

 

ISBN:
978-1-939786-30-2

 

This book is dedicated to

my husband, my daughter and my two boys.

 

Your unwavering support and pride in
what I do humbles me.

Because of you, I strive to be better
each and every day.

You are my heart, never forget that.

 

 

Prologue

 

 

I knew I was asleep. I
had to be. Even knowing that, I was having a hard time deciphering the dream
from reality. There was no way this could be real. Could it?

I didn’t want to wake
up. I didn’t want to lose this moment.

This person, whoever
they were, they mesmerized me, drew me in. I couldn’t pull my eyes away,
couldn’t break the spell they had on me. Something in the way they walked,
talked, moved.

Breathed.

So familiar, yet not.

I felt like I knew
them, like I’d met them before, but for the life of me I don’t remember any
such encounter. Had we met? Was this my mind conjuring up the image of
something from my past? Or was this some sort of vision from the future?

Either way, I didn’t
want to open my eyes. Didn’t want to face reality if they weren’t in it. I
wanted to get closer, to look into their eyes, to know what they were thinking.

I was unabashedly
staring, unable to look away.

Whoever this person
was, there was something about them…

 

Something that unhinged me.

Chapter One

Payton

Monday morning

 

“Ms. Fowler, I’ll never
be able to stress enough how important this is,” the domineering woman who
stood just a few feet away, hands on her hips, head cocked to the side, said as
she glared down at me. “Mr. Trovato’s biggest pet peeve is his calendar.”

I tried to pay
attention, really. I was doing my best to jot down notes, but I’d recently
learned

in the last hour and forty-seven minutes

that Jasmine Masters talked faster than anyone I knew. And based on what this
woman told me, Mr. Trovato, the man I was now working for, was quite needy

at least in my
humble opinion.

As much as I was trying
to like Jasmine, the feat was rather difficult to do with a woman I’d met less
than two hours ago. The same one who insisted on narrowing her blue eyes on me
as though I was growing mold on the side of my face or something. Even once I
got past her condescending tone and belittling stare, I still wasn’t sure how
she managed to sneak so many words into a single breath.

Maybe talking like
punctuation wasn’t in existence was one of the requirements of being an
administrative assistant to the most-powerful man at Trovato, Inc., and if that
were the case, I was beginning to wonder whether or not I was actually
qualified for the job.

When a representative
of Trovato, Inc. had called a few weeks ago to tell me that I’d passed the
first series of aptitude tests and to come in for an interview, I had nearly
passed out. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I submitted my application, but
without any other alternatives, I’d given it a shot. Now, I wasn’t so sure I
was going to fit in here.

“Every morning, you
need to make sure you have his calendar printed and placed on his desk. He will
also check and double check it on his phone. He gets here no later than six
o’clock, so I suggest you get here at five.”

I wondered if Mr.
Trovato knew that his admin made him sound like an anal wack job. Who did that?
Who studied their calendar like that? I didn’t state the question aloud. After
all, that wasn’t my business. I’m sure I had a few quirks people didn’t
understand.

“He’ll expect coffee
and a briefing of what his day entails,” Jasmine added before turning and
walking away from me.

Where was she going now
?
I wondered as I took off after her.

“Briefing?” I realized
just a second too late that I sounded like an idiot.

“Yes.” Jasmine glanced
back at me as though I was a third grader who had just screwed up reciting the
alphabet. Then again, maybe I had. With so many instructions and rules running
through my overloaded brain, I wasn’t even sure whether today was still Monday
or if we’d already moved on to Tuesday.

“When he arrives, make
his coffee, give him ten minutes to get situated and then knock on his door,”
Jasmine instructed as she retrieved a sheet of paper from the printer before
thrusting it in my direction.

I skimmed the page,
unable to read the fine print, but I did clearly see the title:
HOW
TO MAKE COFFEE.

Awesome. I could hardly
make coffee for myself and now I had the responsibility of making it for
someone else. The day just kept getting better.

 “Once he invites you
in, you’ll go over his meetings for the day,” Jasmine continued. “Be sure to
tell him who he’s meeting with and when, whether or not he’ll be taking a call
or if he’s expected to be somewhere.”

Wouldn’t he already
know this if he studied his calendar three times?

Rather than ask that, I
nodded. “Are most of them calls?” I waited for Jasmine to answer while I
wondered just how this all worked. Since the extent of my job history was as a
billing assistant at a small computer company and the little bit of time I’d
worked at my dad’s body shop, I just didn’t know.

“Not usually, although
he’ll have plenty of them. Most of the time he’ll meet with people in his
office.”

I would too if I had an
office like his. The place was the size of a starter home and that made me
wonder just what kind of pompous asshole I was going to be dealing with. I mean
seriously. The building wasn’t all that big to begin with, but that office… it
was roughly the size of the warehouse area downstairs.

“If he has a trip
coming up, make sure you remind him every day until the day before,” Jasmine
continued, evidently oblivious to my internal thoughts. “Getting his itinerary
right is crucial. Make sure everything’s in order, flight information, car
service, hotel, dinner reservations. And if you screw that up, he’ll make you
come along on future trips so you can suffer right along with him.”

Come along? Oh, no. No
way. I certainly wasn’t signing up to travel that was for sure.

“But that should be easy for you,” Jasmine commented snidely.

What
should
be easy for me? I was lost for a moment, staring back at Jasmine. Was she
saying that I wasn’t capable of handling this job? Did she doubt me, too? Or
was that just me?

I didn’t get to ask any
questions because Jasmine tacked on, “I’m sure you know what I’m talking
about.”

No, actually, I was
completely lost, thank you very much.

My head was spinning
and I was already convincing myself that I would screw this up. I possibly
already had based on the way Jasmine was scowling at me.

“Come on, girl, you can
do this, right?” Jasmine pinned me with her sapphire eyes.

I was pretty sure those
were contacts, but I wasn’t getting close enough to find out, mainly because
Jasmine never stopped moving.

Focus, Payton.

“Sure,” I lied, trying
to sound confident. I’d been an assistant before, so surely I could figure this
out. It wasn’t rocket science. I mean how freaking hard could it be to manage
someone’s calendar and to bring him coffee every morning?

I got the distinct
impression that those were just two of the millions of things I would have to
do as Mr. Trovato’s assistant. The only frame of reference I had where the job
was concerned was my father’s shop. I’d been his assistant for a short period
of time, but since he owned a small body shop with roughly ten employees, it
really wasn’t the same thing. Jasmine had kindly informed me that Trovato, Inc.
had somewhere around two hundred employees.

Yep. That’s like… one
hundred times two.

That might not sound
like a lot, but to me, it was.

Jasmine placed her
hands on her slender hips and faced off with me once more. Not wanting to
appear any more incompetent than I already had, I squared my shoulders and
looked up at the woman. She made me feel as though I were two feet tall and
that didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I was short either.

I fought the urge to
squirm in the ill-fitting business suit I was wearing. Although it was supposed
to be a power suit, it didn’t help me feel at all powerful when I was greeted
by Jasmine, who was wearing a pair of designer jeans and a colorful blouse, her
auburn hair severely pulled back in a ponytail. I figured the woman was in her
mid-thirties, but she looked all of eighteen dressed like that.

Since I hadn’t seen
anyone other than the gray-haired receptionist who greeted me at the main
entrance

and she was sitting behind a desk

I really wasn’t sure what the dress code actually was around this place.
Was
it different for me because I was new? Or did everyone wear casual wear to the
office on Monday?

As I fought the urge to
scratch beneath the itchy polyester blend, I prayed someone would tell me. I
wasn’t looking forward to dressing up tomorrow, not to mention, I really wasn’t
sure what else I had to wear. I’d spent a pretty penny on this stupid suit,
along with another one that I’d worn to the interview three weeks ago.

“What time did I say he
gets here?” Jasmine asked, her snootiness dragging me out of my thoughts,
forcing me to forget about what was hanging in my closet in my tiny little
apartment.

Refusing to look down
at my notes, it took me a second to scan my memory. I had to mentally flip past
the few pairs of jeans in my closet before it came to me. “Six,” I stated
uncertainly.

“Good.”

I was tempted to stick
my tongue out at her, feeling incredibly childish and a tad rebellious. I
wasn’t sure what it was about me that made this woman want to look down her
narrow nose, but it was really beginning to grate on my nerves.

Jasmine laughed
haughtily, at what, I don’t know. I don’t think I stuck my tongue out, but
hell, maybe I did.

“And what time will
you
be here?” she asked, her arms crossing over her chest, as though she figured I
surely couldn’t answer two questions in a row.

“Five,” I stated more
affirmatively. Although I sounded somewhat sure, I was already trying to figure
out just how I was going to drag my ass out of bed that early in the morning.
As it was, getting here at eight that morning had been hard enough. But to be
there by five, I was going to have to get up at… three.
Oh, crap.
I
fought the urge to hang my head in defeat.

When I had originally
applied for the job, I admit that I hadn’t paid any attention to where Trovato,
Inc. was located. I’d Googled the address for the interview only to find that
the company had recently moved. Rather than their previous location near
downtown Austin, they had moved to be more centrally located to the Circuit of
the Americas. Since the new Formula One race track had been constructed south
of the Austin airport that put me, oh, like an hour away. Okay, maybe not that
far, but it was at least a forty minute drive and that was if I took the toll
road. The idea of paying for tolls didn’t sit well with me, especially when
money was tight at the moment. But then again… a few dollars for an extra half
hour of sleep. Hmm.

The job was paying
well, so maybe I could work that into my budget.

Jasmine leaned over her
desk, placing her perfectly manicured hands flat on the top as she stared back
at me. When she began to tap one fingernail repeatedly, I realized she was
waiting for me to say something.

Oops.
I think I’d gotten lost in my own head again.

Rather than answer, I
got distracted by the little design on her fingernail.

Note to self: this
weekend get a manicure and have highlights touched up.

Yeah, it was safe to
say that even wearing this uncomfortable blue suit, by comparison I still
probably looked like a slob although I was the one dressed up. Where Jasmine’s
chestnut hair was pulled back in a ponytail, not a single hair out of place, my
waist length brown hair was loose, not to mention frizzy, thanks to the
humidity. I hadn’t bothered to curl it, something I knew helped me look not quite
so young, because I’d been out of time. Thanks to my alarm clock. Well,
technically it was the snooze button’s fault. If there wasn’t a snooze button,
I probably wouldn’t have hit it five times. As a result, I’d been running late
on my first day.

“There’s no option for
failure here, girl. He’ll eat you alive if you don’t get it right.”

“Don’t listen to her,”
a rumbling voice sounded from behind me.

My heart kicked into
high gear, mimicking the way it beat when I attempted to work out at the gym.
Attempted
being the key word there. I was pretty sure I looked like a floundering hog
when I struggled to run on the treadmill.

Hoping whoever was
behind me didn’t realize I was startled, or thinking about floundering hogs, I
spun around to face him.

Oh, wow. He was… so not
what I expected to see attached to that deep, booming voice.

If I thought Jasmine
was tall, well, this man made the other woman look petite by comparison. It
didn’t help that I barely topped five feet, although my driver’s license read
five-two, thanks to a little fudging on my part. Aside from towering over me,
the man was nicely dressed, clean shaven, with thick eyebrows hovering low over
piercing brown eyes.

“And you are?” he
asked, his voice reflecting the authority I was pretty sure he brandished.

I glanced down to see
his hand

also well-manicured

as he held it out to me, I tried to remember why I was there. Pure instinct had
me reaching out to take the proffered hand as I said, “Payton Fowler.”

His grip was firm,
confident. His skin strangely soft.

Manicure. Right.

“Nice to meet you,
Payton Fowler. I’ll call you Payton if you don’t mind.”

I shook my head. “I…
uh… No, sir, I don’t mind.”

“Good. And you can call
me Conrad.”

I nodded, trying to
figure out where I’d heard that name. Conrad… Conrad…

Oh, for heaven’s sake,
there was no doubt about it. I was screwing it all up.

BOOK: Unhinged
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