Chasing Vivi(9)

By: A.M. Hargrove



“Maybe it was the owner.”

“Nah, he was a good guy. He told us the dog had brain damage from birth or something.”

The conversation has me picturing Joe with a goofy bulldog head. Only this dog has greasy wavy fur and is constantly barking. I cover my mouth to try and hold back a laugh. It doesn’t work. A loud snort bursts out of me, and Vince looks at me as though I’m on drugs.

“What was that all about?”

After I tell him about Bulldog Joe, he cracks up too. “Oh, Vivi, I can picture him barking, nipping your heels, and following you around the coffee shop.”

Vince does his best imitation of that then.

“If you don’t stop, I’m not going to dinner.” My ribs ache from laughing so much.

“He’s the biggest loser, though, isn’t he?”

I don’t immediately respond. I’m still not one hundred percent sure I can trust Vince. What if he goes back to Joe and tells him?

“Oh, he’s not that bad.” I watch him for any type of sign to see if he’s on Team Joe.

“Seriously? He’s disgusting. He makes a play for all the female employees and should be sued for sexual harassment. What he does is illegal as hell. Jenny was telling me the other day that he tried to push her into the storeroom and grabbed her breast while he did it. Then he claimed it was an accident.”

Jeez. That’s not only disgusting, but scary. “I didn’t know. Is that why she quit?”

“Yes! She was worried the next time, he’d fully assault her. As if what he did wasn’t an assault. You should be careful around him.” Vince’s narrowed eyes and set jaws tell me he’s serious. “Don’t trust him at all, especially when you’re alone with him and try not to put yourself in a situation where you are.”

“I’m not worried about that anymore. Something happened to that end and I put a stop to it. Let’s just say he’s more than a little afraid of me.”

“So that’s it. That’s why he hangs on every one of your words.”

“I suppose.”

“What did you say to him?”

I lift a shoulder and scrunch up my mouth. “I sort of name dropped.”

Vince stares at me beneath furrowed brows but says nothing. By this time, he’s finished cleaning up and puts everything up for the night.

“Hey, let’s go eat. I’m starving,” I say to change the subject. We grab our things, lock up, and head to the pub.

The place is fairly packed when we arrive, but we luck out and grab an empty booth. The waitress drops off a couple of menus and takes our beverage order. When she brings us our beers, we give her our dinner selections.

“So what’s next?” Vince asks.

“Monday I start on the Upper East Side. I’m rotating in all the shops. This one was the main store and now that the program is implemented, I just need to make sure everyone is trained properly.”

“Ah, the Upper East Side. You get to mingle with the rich folk.”

I shake my head and take a long swallow of the ice-cold beer. It hits the spot. “And what exactly do you call all those suits who come in and frequent this shop? We’re not exactly slumming it down here.”

“True, but the Upper East Side is the crème de la crème.”

“Puh-lese.”

“No, it’s true. Down here, you get more of a blend. You have the wealthy, but you also have the working class, students, artists, etc. It’s more of a hodgepodge. Up there, you’ll have the mainstream elite.”

“You may have a point. I don’t know, in fairness, but it doesn’t matter either. I have to go up there no matter what. Ditto to all the other shops in Manhattan. I’m kind of excited to get a taste of different neighborhoods in the city. Haven’t had much time to explore since I’ve moved here.”

He reaches over, lays his hand on mine, and asks, “Aren’t you going to miss me?”

I know he’s just playing around. Vince always does stuff like this. But his fake-serious expression is spot-on this time. “Of course I’m going to miss you. You’re my favorite—”

A shadow falls over our table and I think it’s the waitress. I look up straight into golden irises. If I wasn’t already sitting, I think I would’ve gone weak in the knees.

“Your favorite what?” Prescott asks in that rich voice of his. His tie is loosened and the top button of his collar is undone, but his shirt is crisp white again and his pants look to be expensive and tailored. They hug his hips and muscular thighs, which are mere inches from me. I tip my head back up to his face and see his familiar strong square jaw highlighted by his chiseled cheeks, and lick my lips. He’s definitely one hundred percent male.

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