Home > Right Where I Want You(17)

Right Where I Want You(17)
Author: Jessica Hawkins

She’d worked the kinds of jobs I couldn’t even wrap my head around. As a child, I hadn’t liked it, but as an adult with money and an understanding of the nasty side of human behavior, envisioning my mom that way sometimes got to be too much.

Even though she would’ve preferred to shelter me from it, I’d often witnessed it firsthand. Her bussing diners’ meals while Libby and I did homework at a nearby table. We’d been too young to stay home alone and too poor for a sitter.

What had I learned at that diner aside from multiplication tables? That some people cared more about their burgers than about being decent human beings. When I’d asked my mom why people spoke to her that way, she’d shrugged it off and tried to hide the fact that it hurt her. Mom had never had much of a poker face, though. Especially not with Libby and me.

Libby. Fuck. I’d been avoiding her calls today so I wouldn’t have to shoulder her pain along with my own. On the one-year anniversary of our mom’s death, it wasn’t any easier to be without her. Maybe even harder. Libby and I had not only survived despite our beginnings, we’d thrived. But while money could make my mom comfortable in her home at the end, it couldn’t stop cancer.

Mom had known it, and she’d still smiled until the end. Smiled, held my hand, and told me in her thick Mexican accent, “Stop dating girls you know you’ll never end up with, Sebastián. Find a nice woman who loves you and treats you well. Treat her well. Love her. Be nice to her. Please, just find someone kind.”

Wendy, who I’d been dating at the time, hadn’t been that different from the ones who’d come before her. To say Libby and Mom hadn’t liked her was putting it mildly. Wendy had been mean to Libby, my mom, Justin, waitresses and valets, and she’d been mean to me. She’d also been smoking hot and adventurous in bed. That’d been enough for me back then. Not anymore. Now, I’d have given anything to go back in time and introduce my mom to a “kind” woman—someone she and Libby would like. And to be able to assure her that I wasn’t alone in this world.

It appeared I wasn’t going to find that with the social life I led now—bars, clubs, events, weekend getaways. In one day, Georgina alone had proven that even coffee shops were dangerous. Nowhere was safe, not even happy hour with the guys. She’d be infiltrating that too.

That was assuming, of course, that Georgina and I even made it to the end of the week.



I paced the sidewalk in front of Cantina Santino, willing myself to stay calm. As much as Justin had insisted that happy hour wasn’t a work event, I needed to believe it was—or else transform Georgina into a completely different person in the next few minutes.

They were just my coworkers. Nothing more. I’d been working alongside them without incident so far. Of course, it helped that the workplace had clear boundaries, whereas happy hour had none.

And that Sebastian and I had been doing a decent job staying out of each other’s ways.

My phone lit up with a call, and I answered on the first ring. “I’m not sure I can do this.”

“Unless the objective is avoiding death or taxes, it can be done,” my boss replied.

I checked the screen. I’d texted Luciano to call and talk me off the ledge, but instead, I saw Dionne’s name. “Sorry,” I said. “I thought you were Luciano.”

“I just got back from Italy and wanted to check in. How’s the assignment?”

“The men have been resistant,” I said, double-checking that I was alone on the sidewalk, “but I anticipated that. I think some of them are coming around. The rest are waiting for someone to tell them I’m not there to burn the place down.”

“Let me guess—that someone is Sebastian Quinn?” she asked. She and I had been e-mailing the last few days, and I’d briefly filled her in on what I was dealing with.

“Yep. Sebastian and I share an office, which makes it hard for him to ignore me completely,” I said, “but we’ve mostly been working around each other. At some point before the next issue goes to press, he and I will have to collaborate.”

“I have faith in you. That’s why I put you on this assignment. So, what is it you don’t think you can do?”

I glanced at the door to the cantina the men had just walked into. “Happy hour.”

“You’ve been to plenty of those in your life.”

“Not like this. It’s not a work thing. More like hanging with the guys. Or, I’m afraid, initiation.”

“Ah.” After having spent enough time with me around Neal, Dionne was familiar with my insecurities outside working hours.

“I’m afraid if I don’t bond with them, I’ll make this whole assignment harder on myself. I’m not sure I’ll ever get Sebastian on board, but at least his team is receptive.”

“Your team,” she said. “Don’t let Sebastian push you around. Not at the office, and not outside of it. He’ll get on board, because he has no choice.”

“It’s just that he . . . well, you know his reputation. He’s not used to taking orders, especially from women.”

“There’s more to someone than their rap, Georgina. I don’t let others walk all over me and that has earned me the bitch label, but anyone who knows me understands I’m not that.”

Was Sebastian more than the image he projected, or was he an actual bad boy to handle with caution? I’d seen glimpses of both. Then again, he’d witnessed different sides of me as well. “At work, he’s intimidating,” I said. “Outside of the office . . . forget about it.”

“Fight that feeling,” she said. “Remember, he’s not Neal. He’s just a regular colleague.”

She’d obviously never seen him in a suit. Or up close. Or at all. Regular guys didn’t leave a trail of longing sighs in their wakes.

My phone beeped with an incoming call. “I’ll come by the office tomorrow to debrief,” I told Dionne.

“Good luck,” she said and hung up.

I switched lines, but this time I answered with, “Can you teach me to be a bitch in sixty seconds?”

“I’ve been trying for years,” Luciano replied, “but unfortunately it won’t take.”

“I don’t know how to act in there. They think I’m someone I’m not—someone cool and confident with actual game.”

Luciano didn’t bother to mute his laugh. “Wait. Slow down,” he said. “Where are you, and who thinks that?”

“My new boss wanted me to go to happy hour with the guys, so I’m here. I believe he said I could ‘teach them a thing or two.’”

“Why does he think that?”

“I was critiquing their current methods by pointing out better ways to pick up women. My ideas make sense in theory, but I never thought I’d have to test them with everyone watching.”

“Relax,” Lu said. “Buy them a few rounds of drinks, and they’ll forget all about that. And if they don’t, just approach a man the way George would—like he’s a situation to be handled.”

“I can’t be George in there, Luciano. I’m supposed to show them I can hang outside the office, but I can’t. I don’t want to turn into a wallflower and lose the shreds of respect I’ve started to earn the past few days.”

“So Sebastián is coming around?”

“No, I meant with the other guys. Things haven’t progressed with Sebastian.”

“Well . . . for tonight, just try to look past the fact that he’s drop-dead gorgeous.”

“Is the drop-dead really necessary?” I asked. Why couldn’t Sebastian just be decent-looking, or even just attractive?

“You’re trying to work with him,” he continued, “not sleep with him. Unless—”

“Don’t go down that path.”

“Why not, G? It’s been like a year. I think you’re officially revirginized.”

“Luciano,” I hissed, turning my back to the bar as if someone might hear. “It’s barely been four months. Rude much?”

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