Driven to Distraction

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A few hours later, I'm in the coffee shop across the street, my body still pulsing from staring at Justine's cleavage

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A few hours later, I'm in the coffee shop across the street, my body still pulsing from staring at Justine's cleavage. She's driving me to distraction.

Getting coffee will hopefully set me back on track to work. I need to focus on the paper, and whether it's a decent investment. As much as I want to sleep with Justine and ruin her dead father's legacy, I also want to make some money in the process. I can't be stupid about this deal just because I'm out for revenge and thinking with my dick.

I can't help but smirk as I stand in line for my espresso. Justine is so fun to tease. I'd almost forgotten how her sarcastic, snarky humor made me laugh. She's so witty and sharp — most women get tongue-tied around me and just flutter and giggle.

God, this café is slow. Not like my usual places in Miami. The line crawls along and I tap my foot. This is what happens in a small town, I guess. My mind slips back to Justine and last night, and how she'd interrupted my plans with protests of not wanting to cross lines. Like Justine and I ever had any boundaries.

Still. I'd always respected her wishes when she said no.

The sight of Mark, the café owner, interrupts my thoughts. "What'll it be, man?"

I tap my wallet on the counter. "A triple espresso to go." Yesterday, this guy showed a little too much interest in Justine for my liking. I warily size him up, assessing whether Justine would be attracted to him. Mark is tall, dark haired and has a slightly big nose, a little like me. He seems like a decent enough guy.

For someone other than Justine.

Mark acted a little too familiar with her, though. Had they gone out? I hate competition. The question tips me into a sour mood.

"You a friend of Justine's?" Mark asks, working the espresso machine with rapid-fire hands. My mouth tightens.

"Yes, you could say that. We met at the University of Miami." Mark grins again, and I tap my wallet faster on the counter. I just want to get the fuck out of here.

"Wow. I can't imagine Justine in college. She's something else, a real pistol. I don't think I've ever met anyone like her. Comes in here every day. I met her when I opened the café six months ago. I've been thinking about asking her to dinner."

My right hand slides off the counter and hangs by my side, instinctively twitching into a fist. It's an old habit, left over from high school when I was an amateur boxer.

"Oh? How do you know she's not dating someone?"

"She told me a month ago that she's single." Mark puts a lid on the espresso and slides it toward me.

"Thanks. I'll take one of those pastries, too." I throw a few dollars down as Mark steps toward a glass cabinet.

"We've got homemade donuts, muffins and something new, churros."

He says churros like an American — he can't roll the r and it comes out sounding stiff and hard.

"Two churros please." He slides them into a paper sleeve. Justine always loved those.

"Thanks." I try not to grip the coffee cup so hard that I crush it. I walk back into the newspaper. Was Justine interested in that guy? How many men had she dated since we split? Thoughts of another man touching her will spiral out of control in my mind if I dwell on it too much. When we dated in college, I tended to be hotheaded and jealous. Time and perspective have mellowed me. At least I had thought so, until the conversation with Mark. The old feelings of jealousy that cropped up in the cafe hadn't emerged with any other woman.

As I stride into the newsroom, I see Justine bending over a reporter's desk. Justine's wavy, dark hair is scraped back in a severe ponytail. Her nose still crinkles when she laughs, and it's cute as hell. I stand against a wall, watching her from across the room and sipping my coffee. Who, or what is giving Justine pleasure now? Could I ever again be the person who makes her happiest?

Probably not, because I've forgotten how to make anyone happy, even myself. Life is about business deals and travel and money. There's no room in my life for frivolous emotion. Why the fuck am I even entertaining this question?

Justine stands and straightens her posture, holding her cell in one hand. The smile fades from her lips. She senses that I'm near. We have an uncanny sixth sense about each other, a magnetic pull that hasn't faded over the years.

Her eyes scan the room until they find mine. We stare at each other for long beat. Yes, I'll have to think of something to get her to spend more time with me, more than a business relationship. To tease her, I look around the newsroom and sip my coffee, pretending to ignore her eyes.

What does Justine want more than anything? What would inspire her to give herself to me? What would it take to make her act the way she used to, when we were young and carefree and eager to play sexual games with each other?

My eyes land on the newspaper's city editor, a disheveled, hulking older guy who's hunched over a computer. He's grumbling, and he throws his hands in the air as he stands up.

"I just don't have enough fucking reporters to cover this city adequately," he says in a half-shout to the nearly empty room. While hiking up his ill-fitting chinos, he walks out of the room. Yikes.

I glance at Justine, who's staring at him, wide-eyed.

That's when it hits me: I know exactly what to offer Justine in exchange for her time, her body and her passion. First I must get her in the right mood, make her feel comfortable and wanted. Ease her into saying yes. I turn to my phone and tap a text to Justine.

Want a churro, little girl?

I look up in time to see her frowning, then laughing, at her phone. She tosses her ponytail flirtatiously and my phone buzzes.

Keep your churro to yourself, pervert.

As she turns and walks out of the newsroom with a sexy sway in her hips, I grin. Tonight, I'm going to offer her something even sweeter than a churro.

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