Welcome back to another #FreeReadsFriday where I share ‘what happens next’ in order to wet your appetite for a good weekend read!
This week I’m focusing on Chapter 2 of the Amazon Bestselling Novel, Jaded, the second book in The Butterfly Memoirs Series. If you haven’t read Chapter 1, take a second and check it out:
Jaded- Prologue and Chapter 1
So what happens next?
Get to know Zachariah Givens, the man I like to call ‘The Quiet yet Passionate Hero”. 😉
“Mr. Givens, there’s a customer on the line asking for you.”
“Thanks, Ralph.” I studied the flashing lines and sighed. I needed someone who could handle the in-store portion of the job. Ralph, a gangly-looking college kid, made an excellent technician, but his customer service skills were seriously lacking. “Which line?”
He shrugged, sheepishly.
I glanced at my watch, four-twenty-five, not long before quitting time. Perfect. With any luck, I could short cut through traffic, take my mother something for dinner, talk, and be home by seven.
That would leave plenty of time for exploring the benefits of my latest technological gadget. The newest iPad had everything I wanted and more.
First, I needed to send this week’s time sheets to the corporate office, then take my tour around the store and turn off the display computers for the night.
I grabbed the phone and handled three of the five calls on hold in record time; none of them were the customer who’d asked for me. Ralph was still on the original call.
I answered the next call on hold in time to hear an angry curse and the phone disconnect as soon as I spoke. At the same time, the door to the shop flew open and a light-skinned woman wearing heels, a skintight skirt, and a loosely buttoned shirt, stormed up to the counter. She didn’t appear pleased.
“First of all, the customer service phone etiquette here sucks.” Her eyes were blazing as she focused on poor Ralph who appeared to shrink two inches from her glare.
Then she zeroed in on me. Her grey eyes squinted in recognition. I remembered her as well. How could I forget a woman with skin the color of coffee with too much cream and eyes the color of steel? Her body was worth every ounce of admiration.
“You,” a red colored fingernail pointed at me, “you’re…,” she referred to a paper in her hand, “Zachariah Givens?”
“Yes,” I replied, ignoring the flash of heat running to my groin. The woman was sexy and annoying at the same time. Unfortunately, it was impossible to appreciate her looks while she shot daggers at me.
“I remember you. You came to my hotel two months ago and said I needed to upgrade my computer when it crashed. You patched it up, thanks again, but now I need a new one… like yesterday need a new one. I need what you listed here, but instead of one, I want three of them. I don’t have time to waste doing this again.” She waved the paper in front of my eyes.
My hands were resting on the counter top as I counted to ten, and then to twenty, before unclenching my teeth. Patience. Let her vent, get it out of her system, and then we could move on.
“Well, aren’t you going to look at this?” The paper waved again, sending a slight breeze of perfume.
Damn, she smelled good.
I counted to thirty, then reached out and waited for the paper to settle in my hand. Our eyes held for a moment before my attention went to it. Yasmine Phillips was her name and it was one of the last jobs I did as a technician before my promotion to store manager.
I studied my notes. “Do you still need authorization to place this order?”
“No, my father has no choice because the computer didn’t crash, it burned. I still have the metallic taste in my mouth.”
I glanced up. Bad idea. Her tongue ran over pale pink lips. Another shot to the groin. I adjusted my stance, glad to be standing behind the counter.
“I don’t have three of the computer systems listed. We have two of them”
“Two? That is not enough.”
I glanced over the rim of my glasses. “I can get a third one from our sister store, but it will take a day or two.”
“Not acceptable.” She chewed on her bottom lip.
My attention went to her mouth. Focus, man. Why did this woman turn me on? She was nothing like anyone I’d ever dated. Then again, I had no interest in dating.
Ever since Melissa had left.
I did not want to think about her. Not now, not ever.
I walked over to the nearest computer and input the specification of the model in question. “It appears we’ve got something that will still fit your needs. There is an older model on clearance. That will leave some breathing room in your budget.” I explained the details of the computer and watched her eyes glaze over when she stopped listening.
“So it will do everything I need and save money, too?”
“Exactly, and there are three in stock.”
“I’ll take them.” She dug into her oversized purse for her wallet.
With the size of that thing, I expected a poodle or some other small dog’s head to pop up.
“Do you accept corporate cards?”
I nodded. “As long as it has a Visa or Master Card logo.”
She handed me the card and waited for me to type up the paperwork. “Will this be a self-installation or do you need a professional install? There’s an additional fee, per computer.”
“Professional install. Since they are clearance items, do they still come with warranty?”
“Yes, and there’s an additional discount from the warranty from your previous computer, which will increase your savings.”
“Thank you. Now, I need them tonight and—”
“We don’t have an installer available tonight. I can put you on the schedule for tomorrow morning.” I glanced up as her face went from the softened look of relief, to angry again.
“No, I need it tonight, not tomorrow. In fact, I need an entire hard drive saved so I can retrieve some important work.”
I glanced over at Ralph who had finally completed his phone call and looked worse for wear. As great as he was at his job, sending him to handle a triple install with a woman like Ms. Phillips would probably send the poor guy home crying.
“I don’t have anyone available for tonight. Ralph can come tomorrow morning. He’ll get you taken care of and see what he can do about your hard drive.”
She glanced over at Ralph who now quivered in his boots. “No, I want you. I don’t trust anyone else.”
“Unfortunately, as store manager, I don’t do customer installations anymore.”
“That’s not going to work for me. I need you.” Her eyes zeroed on me and softened slightly, almost like a plea.
I loved my job and the money was good, but a day hadn’t gone by when I didn’t miss going on service calls and working alone. I reviewed my options. Dale and Stephanie would be here in the morning and both were great techs.
I studied her. Her cat-like stare bore into me, waiting for my reply. She was determined to have her way. If I said no, I was sure she’d have a challenging remark to convince me to get the job done. I liked challenges. Working with Ms. Phillips seemed like a challenge. Since tomorrow was my day off, ensuring she was a satisfied customer, wouldn’t be a problem. I could handle this job off the clock. It would be a great change of pace.
“How about this…I’ll do the install myself in the morning. What’s the earliest I can arrive?”
“I’ll open for you anytime.”
I swallowed hard. Her statement, coupled with the ‘I need you,’ was not helping. I ignored my thoughts, chalking it up to over a year of celibacy and the presence of a fine woman. How the hell did she manage to stir me up on so many levels?
“How about six a.m.?”
She grimaced. “I’m not a morning person, but I need this done, so six it is.”
I finished writing up the sale, processed her payment, and handed her the receipt. To my surprise, she held out her hand to shake mine.
“Thank you, Mr. Givens. You have no idea what this means to me.”
With that, she disappeared out the door and into the cool evening air.
“Zachariah, you don’t have to hang around with me,” my mother said.
“I know.” I reached into the cabinet for two plates, silverware, and cups.
I studied my mom’s profile as she peered into the bag of chicken wings and French fries. She was still too thin to my liking, despite my attempts to help her eat healthy. Six months of chemotherapy had taken its toll, whittling away the vibrant woman who raised me. Her skin had lost its healthy glow; her caramel complexion waned and held a dark grey undertone.
Her long graying mane no longer graced her shoulders. Once her hair began falling out due to chemo treatments, she’d had it cut low. It had grown since then, but she decided to keep it cut short, barely longer than my own close shave. I missed the grey and black curls that once adorned her head. They had been a testament of her wisdom and amazing ability to persevere through the hardships of her life.
Yet, despite everything she’d endured physically and mentally in the last year, her eyes still conveyed the true beauty of her mind.
I loved my mother. Not just because she was my only living parent, but because she taught me so much.
After setting the dinnerware on the table, I took a moment to pull her into my arms while being sure not to squeeze too tightly. Even though her cancer had gone into remission, and she no longer received chemo, her body still ached.
She sighed and leaned against me. “I enjoy you checking on me, but you need a life of your own, son.”
I kissed her forehead before releasing her. “You are my life, Mom.”
She laughed lightly. “You know that’s not what I mean.”
I bit back my reply because no matter what I said, this conversation was going in one direction.
“You need a wife, Zachariah.”
I selected a few chicken wings from the box, put them on my plate, and followed up with celery sticks. “Been there, done that. It didn’t work.”
“That’s not true. Engagement is not the same thing as being married.” She picked up a wing without setting it on a plate and nibbled.
I didn’t like the fact she wasn’t eating a lot. She seemed to enjoy protein shakes more than actual food.
“Close enough,” I muttered before stuffing a hot wing in my mouth.
Melissa. For the second time today, her name popped up in my head. Damn. The thought of her messed with my appetite. Not wanting my mother to give up picking at her food, I forced myself to chew.
“All things happen for a reason, baby, whether we agree with them or not. Melissa was not meant for you.”
“Maybe, but it wasn’t because you had cancer. Don’t tell me you got sick so we would not get married. That’s messed up.” Unable to chew further, I tossed my wing on my plate. My mom didn’t even blink.
“Zachariah, you know that’s not what I meant. I got cancer because I got cancer. Melissa left because she wasn’t the woman you needed. She didn’t support you in your time of need, and I was the sick one. What do you think would have happened if you had gotten sick? The poor girl would probably have run home to her parents the moment she learned you were ill. Marriage vows include staying together through sickness and health, not just for richer or poorer.” She smirked. “I don’t think Melissa would have handled the ‘poorer part’ too well either.”
I wiped my hands on my napkin and allowed myself to smile. “Yeah, she was money hungry, which was not new. I would have provided for her, given her everything she wanted and then some.”
“True, and she would have drained you dry, financially and mentally,” she added, disposing of the wing she had finished. I held my breath and waited for her to pick up another one; she did.
“I know how to pick them, huh?”
My mother patted me on the knee. “One day, when you least expect it, the woman of your dreams is going to walk into your life and knock you sideways. Mark my words.”
I thought about the woman who’d come into my shop. Ms. Phillips was probably on the same high-maintenance level as Melissa. All beauty and attitude wrapped into one. I could imagine what her man put up with in order to be with her.
Then I pictured her body without the hip hugging skirt and low cut blouse covering what I imagined would be perfect breasts. One night with her would make a man overlook her issues.
I chuckled. “Glad at least one of us feels that way.”
I sure as hell didn’t.
Available on AMAZON, B&N, iTunes, and SMASHWORDS for $3.99! Also available on PAPERBACK!
***JADED can be read as a stand-alone or as part of The Butterfly Memoirs series. Buy your copy today!***
A devastating breakup leaves Yasmine Phillips in shambles. Unable to trust another man with her heart, she focuses on the one thing she can control—starting her own business.
When her computer crashes, taking months of hard work with it, she must rely on computer genius Zachariah Givens to save her. A complete opposite of men from her past, she doesn’t expect the passion that ensues. But just as she finds happiness, she learns the truth about the other women in Zachariah’s life.
Amazon Barnes & Noble iTunes Smashwords Paperback
***Read as a STAND-ALONE or as part of The Butterfly Memoirs series!***
Looking for Book 1? Follow this link to learn more about A Heart Not Easily Broken!
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