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Take It by Francesca Penn (1)


Chapter 1

K alilah Wright pulled her car into her favorite parking spot in the nearly deserted parking lot in the back of Sinclair Enterprises. She loved this lot because it was the farthest from their offices, and nearly all the other employees opted to park in the closer lots.

Using the back lot forced her to enter in the far end and walk to the opposite side of the expansive building just to make it to her office. Kalilah considered it accidental exercise, and she needed those extra fifteen minutes of solitude to get her “happy face” together before interacting with the rest of her coworkers since she wasn’t a morning person. 

Well, the solitude was the original reason for using the back lot, but her motivation had changed considerably two weeks ago when she realized Nick also parked in the deserted lot.

She turned off everything but the radio and pushed her shades up to look around. 7:05 AM. She was five minutes off schedule, but it shouldn’t make too much of a difference.  No one was visible except for Old Lou, the homeless man that frequented the far-left corner of the lot.

Kalilah pulled her shades back over her eyes and unbuckled her seat belt. After moving her driver seat to a more reclined position, she took a bite of her jalapeno sausage and cheese kolache and waited.

“I am officially a stalker.” She sighed and took another look around the parking lot. “Where is he?” she mumbled to herself after taking a sip of orange juice. As if on cue, a black SUV pulled up and parked on the opposite side of the lot. Kalilah’s heart sped up a little as she anticipated Nicolas Sinclair’s appearance on the other side of his driver’s side door.

She didn’t know why she felt the need to watch him walk around the lot with his left hand in his pocket and his right hand clutching his iPhone as he laughed and talked to whomever was on the other side, but she had for two weeks straight without fail.

To the average person, he wasn’t much to look at. Nicolas hardly smiled or talked to anyone at work. He hid his gray eyes behind ugly horn-rimmed glasses, his clothes were always wrinkled, and he was in desperate need of a haircut and shave. Yet, in the two years she worked there, she’d always been fascinated by what made him tick. They’d never said anything more than a very rare “hello” to each other, and he didn’t attend company functions, so the only thing anyone ever knew about him was his status.

As the VP of the Information Technology department, he was hardly a blip on anyone’s social radar, but as the son of the business mogul turned billionaire Andrew Sinclair of Sinclair Enterprises, he was a big deal. Kalilah believed that is why he purposely avoided people.

But, on her second day using the lot two weeks ago, she was surprised to discover the closest thing to a unicorn she’d ever seen, an unguarded Nicolas laughing. His glossy medium brown hair with a hint of red and blonde was accented by the early morning Texas sun and blowing in the light wind. His posture was erect and confident, and he looked… happy.

She was mesmerized by the sight and couldn’t take her eyes away. Kalilah couldn’t help but feel left out; she wanted to be on the receiving end of that smile, but she didn’t know why.  It had nothing to do with his perceived net worth or his position; it was more about Nicolas as a person. Kalilah could not pinpoint the reason.

She chuckled to herself. She felt stupid for spending her time worrying about the wrong thing. She needed to stop trying to figure out who he was talking to on the phone. When she found him the first time, her mind already told her that it was possibly a girlfriend or wife. By the fifth day, her imagination had taken over thinking of crazy over-the-top scenarios.

Kalilah snapped out of her musings when she saw his door open and his long, jean clad legs emerge from his SUV.  He straightened to his whole six feet and three inches.  He yawned and stretched his arms so far over his head that his light gray polo shirt slid up his torso and she could see a sliver of his stomach.

She clutched her hands on the steering wheel fighting the urge to touch his bare skin.  This was crazy!  They were opposites in almost every way. She was black; he was white. She was neat and orderly; he was chaos. She loved to wear nice clothes; he didn’t give a damn about his appearance.

He had the phone to his ear now, but he didn’t seem as relaxed as he usually did when talking to his mystery person. Kalilah leaned forward and tried to get a better look. She wondered if there was trouble in paradise. His back was to her, but she could see the tension in his shoulders.

“What’s bothering you?” she whispered. Then suddenly, as if he could hear her, he turned in her direction and waved.

Kalilah jumped so suddenly that her sunglasses fell off her face, bounced off the center console, and landed somewhere under the passenger seat.

“Shit. Shit. Shit!” she whispered as she tried to locate them. Why was she so jumpy? The windows were tinted and there was no way for him to tell who she was at that distance. She convinced herself that he was waving at someone else, and she was just having a case of the Tell-Tale Heart.


She found her Prada shades.  She put them back on and began to gather her things so she could get out of the car. She pulled her purse onto her shoulder and reached to take her keys out of the ignition. She was startled by sudden knocking on her driver-side window.

This time, her sudden movement caused her to drop the rest of her kolache on the car’s floor mat. She groaned at the thought of losing the rest of her breakfast forever.  She ripped off her shades and threw them in the passenger seat.

Now she was pissed. Without looking, she rolled down the window ready to have harsh words with whomever scared the hell out of her. It better not be Lou asking for money, she thought as she started her rant.

“What the fuck…” the words died on her lips when she lost all conscious thought. Kalilah was currently eye-to-eye with beautiful, angry gray eyes encased in ugly horn-rimmed glasses.


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