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Stuck-Up Suit by Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward (1)

CHAPTER 1

 

SORAYA

 

MY RIGHT FOOT STEPPED ONTO THE TRAIN, and I froze mid-step spotting him already in the car. Shit! He was sitting across from my usual seat. I backed up.

“Hey, watch where you’re going!” A suit bobbled his coffee, barely keeping it upright as I reversed out of the third car without looking and smashed into him. “What the hell?”

“Sorry!” I offered a fleeting apology and kept going, ducking down below the train’s window as I ran down the platform a few cars. The small lights next to each door began to flash red, and a loud buzzer sounded signaling the train was about to depart. I jumped into car seven just as the doors started to slide closed.

It took a full minute to catch my breath from running the length of four train cars. My ass definitely needed to get back to the gym. I found an empty forward-facing seat, settling in next to someone rather than sit in one of a half dozen vacant interior facing seats. The man lowered his paper as I settled in next to him. “Sorry,” I offered. “I can’t ride facing sideways.” The two seats in front of him were empty. Proper train etiquette would have been to take one of those, but I figured he preferred cozy seating to vomit.

He smiled. “Neither can I.”

Popping in my earbuds, I breathed a sigh of relief and shut my eyes as the train started moving. A minute later, there was a light tap on my shoulder. The passenger next to me pointed to the man standing in the aisle.

I reluctantly pulled out one earbud.

“Soraya. I thought that was you.”

That voice.

“Umm…hi.” What the heck was his name again? Oh, wait…how could I forget? Mitch. High pitch Mitch. I still wasn’t speaking to my sister for that disaster. Worst. Blind. Date. Ever. “How are you, Mitch?”

“Good, actually great now that I ran into you. I tried to reach you a few times. I must have typed in the wrong number, because you never responded to my texts.”

Yeah. That’s it.

He scratched his crotch through his trousers. I had almost forgotten about that little gem. It was probably a nervous habit, but every time he did it, my eye followed his hand, and it was all I could do not to crack up. High pitch Mitch with the Itch. Thanks, Sis.

He cleared his throat. “Maybe we could get some coffee this morning?”

The suit next to me lowered his paper again and looked at Mitch and then to me. I just couldn’t bring myself to be mean to the poor guy; he was nice enough.

“Umm.” I put my hand on the shoulder of the suit next to me. “I can’t. This is my boyfriend, Danny. We got back together a week ago. Right, honey?”

Mitch’s face fell. “Oh. I see.”

Fake Danny joined in. He put his hand on my knee. “I don’t share, buddy. So take a hike.”

“You don’t have to be so rude, Danny.” I glared at the suit.

“That wasn’t rude, babe. This would be rude.” Before I could stop him, his lips were on mine. And it wasn’t a quick peck either. His tongue wasted no time pushing its way into my mouth. I shoved hard at his chest, pushing him off of me.

I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. “Sorry, Mitch.”

“It’s okay. Umm…sorry to have interrupted. Take care, Soraya.”

“You too, Mitch.”

The second he was out of earshot, I scowled at Fake Danny. “What the hell did you do that for, asshole?”

“Asshole? Two minutes ago I was honey. Make up your mind, sweetheart.”

“You have some balls.”

He ignored me, reaching into the inside pocket of his suit jacket to grab his buzzing phone. “It’s my wife. Can you keep it down for a minute?”

“Your wife? You’re married?” I stood. “God, you really are an asshole.”

His legs were stretched out, and he didn’t move them to let me out, so I stepped over. As he lifted the phone to his ear, I grabbed it out of his hands and spoke into the mic without listening. “Your husband is a giant asshole.”

I tossed it back into his lap and walked away in the opposite direction that Mitch disappeared.

And it’s only damn Monday.

This kind of shit was the story of my life. Running into bad dates. Men who turned out to be married.

I made my way into another car so that I didn’t have to look at either “Danny” or Mitch again.

Much to my delight, this car wasn’t as crowded, and there was an empty seat that was forward-facing. My blood pressure immediately went down as I sank into it. I shut my eyes for a moment and let the swaying motion of the train calm me.

A man’s gruff voice disrupted my serenity. “Fucking just do your job, Alan. Do your job. Is that too much to ask? Why am I paying you if I have to micromanage every last goddamn thing? Your questions make no sense! Figure it out then come back to me when you have a solution that’s worth my time. I don’t have time for stupid questions. My dog could probably come up with something more intelligent than what you just brought to the table.”

What a dick.

When I looked over to catch a glimpse of the face from which the voice came, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. Of course. Of course! No wonder why he thought he could shit all over everyone. With looks like that, people probably dropped to their knees around him all of the time, both literally and figuratively. He was gorgeous. Beyond gorgeous, reeking of power and money. I rolled my eyes…but still couldn’t look away.

This guy was wearing a fitted, pinstriped shirt that made it easy to figure out the sculpted silhouette beneath. His expensive-looking navy jacket was draped over his lap. The black pointy dress shoes on his large feet looked like they’d just been shined. He was totally one of those guys who let people shine his shoes at the airport while he avoided making eye contact with them. His most notable accessory, however, was the angry glare on his perfect face. He was off the phone call now, looking like someone just pissed in his Cheerios. A vein was popping out of his neck. He ran his hand through his dark hair in frustration. Yup. Switching to this car was definitely a good decision for the eye candy alone. The fact that he was so oblivious to everyone else around him made it easier to ogle him. He was fucking hot when he was mad. Something told me he was always mad. He was like a lion—the type of species best admired from afar, whereby any actual contact could lead to irreparable harm.

His sleeves were rolled up, showcasing a massive and expensive watch on his right wrist. With that sourpuss expression, he stared off out the window as he fidgeted with the watch, twisting it back and forth. It looked like a nervous habit, which was ironic considering I was sure he made plenty of people nervous himself.

His phone rang again.

He picked it up. “What?”

His voice was the type of raspy baritone that always hit me straight between the legs. I was a sucker for a deep, sexy voice. It was rare that the voice actually matched the man, too.

Holding the phone in his right hand, he used his other hand to continue messing with the metal of his watch.

Clickety Click Click.

“He’s just going to have to wait,” he snarled.

“The answer is I’ll be there when I get there.”

“What part of that is unclear, Laura?”

“Your name is not Laura? What the hell is it then?”

“Then…Linda…tell him he can reschedule if he can’t wait.”

After he had hung up, he muttered something under his breath.

People like him fascinated me. They felt like they owned the world just because they’d been blessed by genetics or handed opportunities that put them in a higher financial bracket. He wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. I bet his day consisted of nothing but self-serving activities. Expensive espresso, work, eating at high-end restaurants, loveless fucking…repeat. Shoe shining and maybe racquetball somewhere in between.

I bet he was also selfish in bed. Not that I’d throw him out of bed—but still. I couldn’t say I’d ever been with anyone as powerful as this guy, so I wouldn’t know from experience how that translated into the bedroom. Most of the guys I’d dated had been starving artists, hipsters, or tree huggers. My life was far from Sex and the City. It was more like Sex and the Pity. Or Sex and the Shitty. I guess I wouldn’t mind playing Carrie to this guy’s Mr. Big for just one day, though. Or Mr. Big Prick in this case. Absofuckinglutely.

One flaw in this little fantasy of mine: I was definitely not this dude’s type. He was probably into submissive high-society waifish blondes, not curvy Italian girls from Bensonhurst with snarky attitudes and multi-colored hair. My long, black tresses hung down to my ass. I looked like a cross between Elvira and Pocahontas with a big ass. The ends of my hair were dyed a different color every couple of weeks depending on my mood. This week was royal blue, which meant things were going pretty well with me. Red was when you’d have to stay out of my way.

My random thoughts were interrupted by the screech of the train coming to a halt. Suddenly, Mr. Big Prick got up, a cloud of expensive cologne saturating the air in his wake. Even his smell was obnoxiously sexy yet overbearing. He rushed out the doors, which closed behind him.

He was gone. That was it. Show over. Well, that was fun while it lasted.

My stop was next, so I walked over to the same door that he’d just exited. My foot hit something that felt like a hockey puck, prompting me to look down.

My heart started to beat faster. Mr. Big Prick had apparently left a piece of himself behind.

He dropped his phone.

His fucking phone!

He’d flown out of the train so fast, it must have slipped out of his hand. I’d apparently been too busy admiring his juicy, trouser-hugged ass to notice. Picking the iPhone up, it felt hot in my hands. The case smelled of him. Wanting to sniff it closer to my nose, I restrained myself.

I covered my mouth and looked around. If my life were a TV show, the laugh track would have been inserted right about now. No one was looking at me. No one seemed to care that I had Mr. Fancy Pants’ phone.

What was I going to do with it?

Placing it inside my leopard-print purse, it felt like I was harboring a bomb as I made my way out of the station onto the sunny Manhattan sidewalk above. I could feel the phone vibrating with text notifications, and it rang at least once. I wasn’t ready to touch it again until I’d had my coffee.

After stopping at my regular street vendor, I sipped my cup of Joe as I walked the two blocks to work. On this particular day, I was running late, so I decided to forego uncovering Mr. Big Prick’s life until after lunchtime.

When I arrived at my desk, I took the phone out and realized the battery was in the red, so I connected it to my charger. My position as an assistant to a legendary advice columnist was certainly not my dream job, but it paid the bills. Ida Goldman was the owner of Ask Ida, a daily column that had been around for years. Ida had been trying to groom me lately, asking me to try my hand at writing some of the responses. Select write-ups were printed in the paper while answers to other submissions were posted on Ida’s website. Part of my job was to screen the questions that came in and decide which ones to pass along to my boss.

While Ida’s advice was always sensitive and politically correct, my take on things tended to be more to the point, basically cutting out the bullshit. As a result, she never actually published my responses. Occasionally, I couldn’t resist taking it upon myself to answer some of the questions that didn’t make the cut—the ones that would have ended up in the trash bin anyway. Some of these people really needed a clue, and I felt it was a disservice to ignore their pleas for help.

 

I just recently discovered that my husband has a porn stash. What do I do? –Trisha, Queens

 

Score! Invest in a good vibrator. Make sure you put everything back the way it was after you get your rocks off while he’s at work.

 

I got drunk at a party and kissed my best friend’s boyfriend. Now I can’t stop thinking about him. I feel horrible but think I might be falling for him now. Any words of wisdom? –Dana, Long Island

 

Yes. You’re a cunt. C you next Tuesday, Dana!

 

My boyfriend recently asked me to marry him. I said yes. He’s the sweetest, kindest man I’ve ever known. Problem is, the diamond he gave me was smaller than I hoped for. I don’t really want to hurt his feelings. I need to know a polite way to express my disappointment. –Lori, Manhattan

 

God has the same dilemma when it comes to you, sweetheart. P.S. When your fiancé dumps your selfish ass, give him my number.

 

Answering a few emails in an honest and forthright way always seemed to give me the energy I needed to jumpstart my day. The morning went by quickly. By noontime, Mr. Big Prick’s phone was now fully charged, so I took it with me into the break room. I had ordered Thai food in for both of us.

After we finished lunch, Ida left the room, giving me about ten minutes of privacy to sift through the phone. Luckily, it wasn’t password protected. First stop: photos. There weren’t many of them, and if I thought I was going to be able to collect clues as to who this guy was based on the pictures in his library, I had another thing coming. The first photo was of a small, fluffy, white dog. Looked like a terrier of some kind. The next photo was of a woman’s bare tits with a champagne bottle planted in the middle. They were pale, perfectly round and totally fake. Yuck. Then there were more photos of the little dog followed by a picture taken of a group of elderly women who looked like they were in a Jazzercise class. What the hell? I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. The last photo was a selfie of him and an old lady. He was dressed more casual, his hair a little mussed, and was actually smiling. He looked so incredibly handsome in that shot. It was hard to believe that this was the same stuck-up guy in a suit from the train, but the gorgeous face confirmed it was him.

Five more minutes until I had to return to my desk. There was no email account linked to the phone, so I opened his contacts instead and decided to call the very first name on the list: Avery.

 

***

 

“WELL, WELL. GRAHAM MORGAN. It’s been a long time. What happened? Have you run through the entire alphabet so soon and now you’re starting back at the beginning again? You remember I wasn’t one of your playthings, right?” I heard the blare of a horn and traffic in the background, followed by a car door slamming that muffled the city sounds. “To the Langston building. And don’t take the park. The cherry blossoms are in bloom, and I don’t need puffy skin before my meeting.” She finished barking at the driver and remembered the phone. “So, what is it, Graham?”

“Umm. Hi. It’s not Graham, actually. My name is Soraya.”

“Sor –what?”

“Sore-ah-yuh. It’s Persian for princess. Although I’m not Persian. My father just thought—”

“Whatever your name is, tell me what you want and why you are taking up my valuable time. And why are you calling me from Graham Morgan’s phone?”

Graham Morgan. Even the damn name was sexy. It figured.

“Actually, I found this phone on the train. I’m pretty sure it belongs to a man I saw this morning. Late twenties, maybe? Slicked back dark hair, kind of long for a suit-type, curled up at the collar. He was wearing a navy pinstripe suit. Had on a big watch.”

“Gorgeous, arrogant and pissed off?”

I chuckled a little. “Yes, that’s him.”

“His name is Graham Morgan, and I know just where you should bring the phone.”

I fished a pen from my purse. “Okay.”

“Are you anywhere near the 1 train?”

“I’m not too far.”

“Okay. Well, hop on the 1 and take that all the way downtown. Pass Rector Street and get off at the South Ferry Terminal.”

“Okay. I can do that.”

“Once you’re off. Take a right on Whitehall and then a left on South Street.”

I knew the area and tried to visualize the buildings around there. It was a pretty commercial neighborhood. “Won’t that take me to the East River?”

“Exactly. Toss that asshole’s phone in, and forget you ever saw the man.”

The phone line went dead. Well, that was interesting.