CHAPTER 21 TEASER

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His desk was exactly how he'd left it the night before his world had imploded. Screen turned off, files neatly stacked to the side, chair tucked underneath. You wouldn't know, looking at the small space he called his own, that his whole life had changed. He glanced at Ricardo's closed office door and felt his chest tighten. They hadn't spoken, not since the Gala - though not for lack of trying on Ricardo's part. Jaimee just hadn't felt ready to see him. He was ready now...perhaps. He hadn't thought of the man much with everything that had been going on but there was a part of him that missed Ricardo, that missed being in their own private bubble.

He knocked, waiting for a reply. When it didn't come, he frowned and stepped back, looking down at the bottom of the door. The light from inside was glowing through the thin gap above the carpet. Ricardo was definitely in his office. When Jaimee finally let himself in, he couldn't help but let out a string of expletives. Laid out on his desk, Ricardo was hunched over, face down on a stack of paperwork. Teetering close to the edge was an empty bottle of vodka, and lying on the carpet was a glass which hadn't been quite so lucky. Jaimee stalked forward, picking up the glass and slamming it down on the desk right beside Ricardo's head.

He jumped up, nearly headbutting Jaimee in the process. Bleary eyed, he flung out his hands and balanced himself on the edge of the desk, clutching with shaky fingers. His hair was flat on one side, a damp patch from the vodka - presumably - spread across the side of his shirt. His sleeves were rolled up to reveal veins straining against his skin, no doubt from dehydration. Jaimee hadn't seen him for three days but you would have thought it had been weeks from the stubble adorning Ricardo's jaw. He scratched at it now, opening his mouth wide to yawn. His breath stunk of alcohol and - even more surprisingly; cigarettes.

"Ricardo, what the hell are you doing?"

Fuzzy green eyes focused on Jaimee before narrowing and coming into semi-clarity. "Taking a nap. What does it look like?"

He was drunk, that much was clear to see - and to smell - but he wasn't slurring which was a good sign. He had a pretty high tolerance after so many years of unadulterated drinking. Jaimee gestured at the bottle. "You had to drink the whole bottle to take a nap?"

"It wasn't the whole bottle. It was already half empty-"

"I restock your bar. I know how much you had." Jaimee snapped. "And really, Ricardo? At work?"

Ricardo rolled his eyes before shrugging. Jaimee knew he wouldn't get an reasonable answer off him when he was steaming like this. He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. Even though this was the last thing he wanted to deal with right now, it was proving to be a hell of a distraction. He was almost glad to talk about something other than his failures.

"You don't answer my calls for two days and you want to come in here like nothing has happened, like you didn't just shove me aside?" Ricardo finally said, brow creased.

Jaimee stared at him in disbelief. "You can't be serious."

Ricardo loosened his tie, chucking it absent-mindedly at the other end of the room. "You're not happy to see me."

He wasn't wrong. Whilst Jaimee had definitely missed him, he was not happy to see Ricardo lying face down in his own drunken mess. Jaimee was entirely too fragile at the moment for this kind of drama. However, Ricardo's comment brought Livvy to mind again - not that she had been far from it. He sighed again, sitting against the desk. "She hates me."

Ricardo blinked. "What did you expect?"

Jaimee winced. Okay, there was a time and a place for such bluntness but right now wasn't it. Jaimee wanted it sugarcoated until he could stomach his own cowardice. He wasn't going to get that from a drunken Ricardo. He pushed away from the desk and headed for the mini fridge, rummaging around for a bottle of water. He twisted off the lid and held it under Ricardo's nose. "Drink."

Ricardo pushed it away. "I have achieved the perfect level of intoxication, thank you very much. Drunk enough to forget."

Jaimee frowned. "Forget what?"

"Everything."

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