Ego Maniac(4)

By: Vi Keeland



“Of course. Take your time.”

There wasn’t too much to pack. All of my furniture was also being delivered this week. As were the files from my storage unit. I was going to have to cancel that, too. Where the hell was I going to put everything? My apartment wasn’t much bigger than the file room I’d been sitting in.

As I was packing the last of my things into the box I’d brought them in, the rightful tenant came to stand in the doorway. I spoke before he could.

“I’m so sorry—for falling for the scam, for threatening to call the cops on you.”

“Don’t forget threatening harm with your mad Krav Maga skills.”

I looked up and found him smirking. It was a good look. Too good. His handsome face made me nervous, albeit not the kind of nervous I felt compelled to stand on a chair and call the police over. No, this man’s smile was cocky and hit me in the knees—amongst other places.

“I do take Krav Maga, you know.”

“Good for you. You scared me a little when I walked in. I bet you can kick some little-girl butt.”

I froze mid-packing. “Little-girl butt? My instructor is a man.”

He folded his arms across his chest. His wide, thick chest. “How long have you been taking lessons?”

“Almost three months.”

“You are not going to take down a man of my size with three months of Krav Maga training.”

Maybe it was the late hour, or the realization that I’d been conned out of my life savings and had no office to meet patients in, but my sanity snapped. I lunged at the poor, unsuspecting man. I literally hopped up on my chair, jumped onto the folding table, and dove at him. Dove at him.

Even though I’d caught him by surprise, he had me completely restrained in less than a heartbeat. I wasn’t even sure what the move he’d done was. Somehow he’d managed to spin me around so my back was to his front and my arms were pinned behind me between us.

It pissed me off that he wasn’t even winded when he spoke. His breath tickled my neck as he held me in place, and his voice was low and measured. “What was that?”

“I was trying to show you my moves.”

I felt his body shake behind me, although there was no sound.

“Are you laughing at me? Again?”

He laughed through his answer. “No.”

“I have moves. I swear. I’m just all sorts of off tonight because of everything that happened.”

He still hadn’t released me. Instead, he leaned forward, putting his head over my shoulder, and spoke. “If we’re showing off moves, I’d be happy to demonstrate some of mine, too.”

Every hair on my body reached for the sky while goosebumps prickled my skin. “Umm…I…I...”

He released his hold, and it took me a minute to find my bearings. Rather than face him with the blush I felt on my face, I kept my back to him as I gathered the last of my things and pulled my charger from the wall.

“I have deliveries scheduled and a phone line being installed Tuesday.” My shoulders slumped again. “I paid double for the storage company to deliver this week, too. I’ll cancel everything first thing in the morning, but just in case they show up…if you’re here, if you wouldn’t mind turning them away.”

“Of course.”

“Thank you.” I lifted my box and had no choice but to face him.

He walked around the table to where I was standing and took it out of my hands before leading me to the reception area. Everything else in the space was dark, but the light from what I’d thought was my file room illuminated the hall enough that we could see each other. We stopped in front of the service door I’d been using for the last week. It dawned on me that the fake real estate agent probably had me using that entrance to avoid getting caught too quickly. He’d told me not to use the main Park Avenue entrance because the building didn’t want dust tracked through on our shoes during the construction. I’d bought everything that scammer had said.

“Got a name, Oklahoma? Or should I just call you squatter?”

“Emerie. Emerie Rose.”

“Pretty name. Rose your last name or middle?”

“Last.”

He shifted the box he was carrying from two hands to one and extended the free one to me. “Drew. Drew Michael.”

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