include_once("common_lab_header.php");
Excerpt for Remember Me by , available in its entirety at Smashwords




Remember me

Jules Rae

Copyright 2018 Jules Rae

Smashwords Edition

Thank you for downloading this eBook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author and may not be reproduced and copied for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy. Thank you for your support.

This is a work of fiction. The events and characters described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or living persons. The opinions expressed in this book are solely based on the imaginations of the author and do not represent the opinions or thoughts of the publisher.


Chapter 1 – An unexpected encounter

AMANDA KNIGHT hated being in this part of city. Only the deliveries of her homemade pastries took her there. The streets was flooded by the high class people strutting down the sidewalk like shoals of fish in a myriad of direction, all in their flashy designer clothes that could probably be worth more than she would ever make in her life. They held their head so high, Amanda thought they might trip. She rode her bicycle and noticed how the walls were an unvandalized perfection, and the street was free of litter but lack identity compared to her neighbourhood where she’d lived.

Amanda tightened her grip against the handle bars of as she manoeuvred the busy street. Her grandfather had given her the bike just a few months ago and it became her means of movement, it never matter that the tires were bald and the brake pad were unevenly worn. Not until now.

“Oh no…the brakes are gone.”

She had entered down a slope and her speed increased. Then out of nowhere, a car blocked her way and she was heading straight for it.

“no. no. no.”

She let down her feet off the pedals and her sneakers scrapped along the concrete to slow down her speed. But the bike kept on moving forward in the soft mud. The front wheel hit the bumper with so much force that she flung off her bike. The front tires crooked with the impact and the boxes of cupcakes flew right on the ground.

Bouncing right to her feet, “My cupcakes, not my cakes.” she whined and managed to pick up a few but it could not be saved from the dirt of the unpaved street. That was it, if she couldn’t make her delivery she would lose the customer and it obvious she had lost this one.

A lanky man emerged from the driver’s door. “Oh my God, look what you did, young lady.”

She cast her sight to the car and gasped at the dent. That would cost a lot. “I'm so sorry. I didn’t mean—her words got caught in her throat when another man appeared from the passenger’s side much younger and opulent than the first.

He wore a long ash coat that revealed the black suit underneath and a white scarf hung around his neck. He leaned to peek at the dent and the broken head light.

“What the hell? Who did this?” the young man roared.

The cupcakes Amanda picked fell to the ground as if she had lost strength in her hands. She swallowed hard and stared right at him. He stood tall, like basketball player tall, with shoulders wide enough to block any jump shot. His thick eyebrow furrowed causing the skin on his forehead to fold.

He reminded her of someone.

“You ruined my car.” he jabbed his finger at her.

Then it struck her. Dominic Carmichael.

Her face turned pale, her stomach cringed, and the images from her high school years flashed before her eyes and made her blood boil inside. She was scared and angry at the same time but didn’t show it. Couldn’t even, too transfixed to make any movement.

Please don’t let him remember me. She prayed.

“You wrecked my car, are you freaking blind?” His eyes travelled from her tousled hair, washed up jeans and down to her dusty sneakers. His upper lips curled up and gave her a dirty look.

“It was an accident, the car just came out of nowhere.” The words came out almost with difficulty.

Dominic took out his phone. “What’s your name?”

“Amanda knight.” Shoot. She would have given him a fake name. Her lips were quick to answer before her brain could work on a lie.

A flash of light from his phone blinked at her. “Did…Did you just take my picture?”

“Just in case I may need a wanted poster...or a mug shot.” He disappeared right back into the car.

She felt her stomach tighten and swallowed a string of profanities as she watched him drive off. Amanda pushed her broken down bike along the pavement back to the familiarities of her neighbourhood. The street was barely wide enough for two cars to pass in opposite directions and when people parked, it was an obstacle course for pedestrians and drivers alike. She sauntered along the derelict buildings that stood like rows of broken teeth and stopped in her tracks in front of a building.

The roof had been neglected for decades passed its intended life span, the building was far more than old but utterly dilapidated, and Amanda noticed the birch wood door was left hanging on a single hinge. When everyone saw ramshackle all she saw was her restaurant. She had pleaded with the owner to wait for her while she gathered enough money to buy the building and have refurbished it to her dream restaurant.

Everybody will come far and wide to taste the food of Chef Amanda knight. Her smile soon faded when she recalled the event of earlier that day. If only she made her delivery, then her savings would have increase but now she had lost her most valued customer and met Dominic Carmichael again. Could this day get any worse? According to her daily horoscope it was supposed to be the best day of her life but it turned out to be anything but that.

Anger boiled deep in her system, as hot as lava. It churned within as she continued her way to a small diner, huddled despondent among the huge city buildings. She tossed her bicycle helmet onto the table and took a seat in front of the girl. Grace, her best friend and only person she could vent to.

“Good you are back. You won’t believe this so, I was on my way to the orphanage today and I signed you up for this date contest.” Grace voice went high with excitement.

“That jerk!” steamed blew off from Amanda’s ears. “What a rich brat, of all the people in this town, I had to meet him again.”

Amanda had two moods, today must be dialled to bad, which doesn’t happen as often, and days like this Grace would donate her ears if she could.

“Someone is having a bad day,” Grace murmured putting the television on mute. Then noticed a scrap on her elbow. “What happened to you? Did you fall from that metal scrap you call a bicycle?”

Amanda turned to look at the grazed up elbow, she must have injured herself from the accident, and it had happened so fast that she didn’t realized she was hurt. “The brake failed and i hit a car.”

“You did what?!”

She gave a dismissive wave. “Never mind, he deserve it anyway. Because of that jerk i lost my customer. The only one that happens to eat my pastries from that rich neighbourhood. I swear he is bad luck.”

Grace shifted in her seat. “I don’t understand didn’t you just say your brakes failed, why are you blaming someone else?”

“I never told you this but the real reason I drop out of school was because of him, Dominic Carmichael.” Amanda leaned forward and explained everything to her friend. How much Dominic would make fun of her in school and verbally bullied her. School was the only place she had to escape from her father but he successfully made it hell for her.

“He practically made me an outcast in school.”

Grace blinked a couple more times before she spoke. “Dominic as in the heir to Carmichael industries and most wanted bachelor, that Dominic?”

“Yes, as in the jerk that didn’t even have the courtesy to remember me.”

Amanda sworn, if they met again, she would make him regret what he did to her in the past. People like Dominic and her father were the reason she became the woman she was, closed off. Scared to love and trust.

She expelled a short breath, pushed off some loose hair from her face and was determined not let her the rest day be ruined by him. Besides what are the chances that they would ever come to face to face with him again?

“Grace, did you mentioned something about signing me up for date?”

“Did I?” Grace played with her necklace. “No, I said a late contest why would you think I said date?” She glinted at the magazine that sat on the table displaying Dominic’s picture, closed it, and curled it up into a tight tube. Thankfully Amanda was too deep in her own world and hadn’t realise there was a contest on which the winner would go on a date with Dominic Carmichael.

Unfortunately, for her, Grace signed Amanda up on a date with her enemy.

“Oh!” Amanda banged the table.

“Jesus Christ!” Grace jumped.

“Ethan is coming back tomorrow.” Amanda beamed.

“Really? It's been a while since he came back. You must be excited.” Grace noticed the look on her friend face was like that of a child on Christmas morning. Amanda had long since been head over heels for Ethan and it pained grace that her feelings were not reciprocated. How can a man be so oblivious? Or does he really not consider Amanda as a woman?

“I know what you are thinking? Look I'm perfectly happy even if he doesn’t know about my feelings, Ethan has done a lot for me as long as i can stay be his side i will be contented.”

Grace forced a smile. She had nothing against Ethan, he was a very good man but he definitely didn’t seem to be the relationship type. Amanda had lived a hard life and she wanted for her friend is to experience love for the first time.

She looked down to the folded up magazine she had hid. Maybe Dominic Carmichael can do just that since they have met. But Amanda already hates him. Should she then inform her about the contest? No. besides what are the chances that Amanda might win?



Chapter 2 – Tug of war.

The next day, Amanda pushed some of her loose hair behind her ears and pulled down the hem of her shirt. The winds blew freely around her exposed legs and it made her feel strange. This was one of those rare times she wore skirt different from her everyday jean trousers. It was obvious she wanted to feel girly…..or like a woman. She could imagine how much Grace would tease her if she saw her right now, the only reason she would even think dressing up was to impressed one man. Ethan.

Her face broke in excitement when she saw him from afar, walking right up to her. Ethan had a way of walking that made him seem perpetually in a hurry. His steps weren't long but they were rapid.

He was the kind of man that when he smiled and laughed you couldn't help but smile along too, even if it was just on the inside. To be in his company was to feel that you too were someone, that you had been warmed in summer rays regardless of the season.

“Wow, Amanda. You look good. Did you do something different with you hair?”

Her cheeks flushed pink and her finger went to her hair again. She washed it for the first time in the past week and styled in the same pony tail she had done for the past year.

Ethan always complimented her, no matter how shabby, tired, or stressed she looked at that moment, he always had something nice to say. He spent most of his time schooling in a foreign country and had several degrees in many fields but was yet to choose a career. Despite the fact, she hadn’t seen him for about 6 months now, his quest for knowledge was another thing Amanda found attractive.

They strolled along the sidewalk, taking in the scenery. School was out and kids ran willy-nilly down the sidewalk as laughter and car honks rang in the air.

“I can’t remember the last time I did this; you know just walking.”

Ethan took in a long breath.

“Me too.”

All she could remember doing for the past year was working at the diner or helping her grandfather. More reason she enjoyed Ethan’s company, he always took her out of her daily routine.

“How is school?” that was the first thing she’d asked whenever they meet.

“It is alright.” Amanda mouthed the words almost before he answered.

That was his usual response, no matter how bad things are for him, he wouldn’t disclose but give you the shortest answer possible. “It’s fine.” She once thought he never went through rough times but soon she realised that was how he was, his mind was always steel closed and his lips never reveal more than what he intended. That was simply Ethan nature.

“So I was with Dominic and he told me someone knocked into his car. The weird thing is that the person he describe look exactly like you. Anything you want to tell me?”

Her face turned sour at the sudden mention of Dominic. She knew Dominic and Ethan have been friends probably since before they could speak, she would never understand how someone has despicable as Dominic could be friends with someone sweet and kind as Ethan. They never talked about Dominic and if it weren’t for the accident, they won’t be talking about him.

“Well it sort of happened. But don’t worry about anything, I will handle it.” She assured him.

***

Dominic Carmichael sat behind the desk of his office, his gaze fixed on the computer screen, and he tapped the game pad with his fingers. The double French door flung open and a slim blond man pranced in.

It was no other than Justin, the last of the gang. Dominic, Ethan, and Justin were inseparable. They were friends almost throughout their life but spent the last 6 months in different countries. Now Ethan has returned and Justin have finally moved back to the city, they could spend time together.

“Got your message, shouldn’t we get going?” Justin sank himself into the white leather chair with one of his leg placed over the corner of the glass table that stood in the middle of the room.

His eyes danced around the room, it had been a while since he was here. The stacks of books on the tall shelves behind Dominic and the family pictures on each corner of the wall would make anyone think that Dominic was close to his family.

Justin returned his gaze to Dominic. “Don’t tell me you have been playing games all day. It’s not healthy man.”

“Damn it! I died again.” Dominic tossed his game pad onto the mahogany desk.

Justin asked, “Where is Ethan?”

In that moment, his phone beeped. Dominic picked it up from the table and viewed the screen. “It’s a text from Ethan, he can’t make it,” he huffed.

He is finally back from Europe and can’t get all the boys together so they can hang out like they used to. Moments like this, they would go to the shooting range or play basketball, he missed that. He missed his friends.

“Yeah, I think I saw him with a girl walking around the city.”

“A girl?” Dominic brows drew closer.

“Honestly I thought my eyes were deceiving me. Remember that picture you showed me of the girl that wrecked your car, it was her. I have to say she looked pretty in real life.”

“That can’t be. Ethan with a girl like that….are you sure?”

Justin sat up. “Brother, I can forget my own father face but I can't forget a girl face.”

“Ethan never mentioned he knew her.” Dominic fell back on the chair.

His mind trailed back to when he mentioned his little car accident to his friends, Ethan was particularly more interested in the girl like he knew her. Why would Ethan know someone like her? But more importantly why would he be with her rather than his friends?

“Well, I guess we are not going to the basketball court.” Justin stood up and strengthen out his clothes. “Want to come with me to the club?”

Dominic drummed his fingers on the table. “I don’t trust that girl one bit.”

“So it's that a no? I can also invite some girls over if you don’t want to go to the club and this way we can bring the club to us.” Justin smirked.

“She could be gold-digger? What if the accident wasn’t real? Maybe she intentionally ran into my car.” After a brief silence Dominic added, “Ethan may be smart but he doesn’t know how girls can be.”

Justin arched an eyebrow. “And you do?”

“You are the player here, you got any ideas?” he looked up to meet Justin’s eyes.

“We could still go to the nightclub. With the girls around you won’t notice Ethan absence. Trust me, that’s how I live without you guys.”

Nothing could annoy Dominic more than Justin playfulness especially during serious conversation. “Ethan. I meant any ideas about Ethan.”

Justin dropped his head and let out a loud sigh. He knew once Dominic sank his teeth into something, he wouldn’t let's go, much like a dog playing tug of war. “Why don’t you prove she is a gold digger that is if you believe so?”

Dominic nodded his head and a playful smirk broke into his face. He knew no matter how much that girl may be close to Ethan, he could bet everything he owned that she don’t know his friend true identity. All he have to do is give Amanda a better offer, himself.

Dominic found himself in front the dinner Amanda worked, he peeped through the glass window, it was lunch time, and yet it was deserted, if you don’t count the two older men at the corner watching the television that hung right above them. He strode into the diner and sighted Amanda behind the counter and with a whistle, he drew her attention and slide himself into a brown vinyl booth.

Amanda reluctantly joined him at the booth and pulled out her notepad. “Welcome to food cottage, how can I be of service to you?” She said with a forced grin and when he finally averted his gaze, her smile fell lifeless, allowing her face to return to its usual cold glare she had every time she saw him.

“This place is a dump.” He sneered.

“This is my territory I won’t allow you to badmouth it so say what you came here for and go.” She retorted.

He took out a paper from his chest pocket, dropped it on the table, and tied his arms across his chest.

She picked it up and gasped. “This is the bill for your car? Why are there so many zeros?”

Dominic threw his head back, laughed, looked up to her, and then spoke in all seriousness. “My car was made by the finest company in Japan.”

“Are you going to repair it in Japan?”

“Sit down, I'm tired of looking up.” He pulled her to sit in front of him and she swiped out her hand from his grip. “Actually I want to ask you something.” He leaned closer to her. “What is your relationship with Ethan?”

She bolted up. “If that’s all, please leave I’m very busy.”

He looked around the dinner again only an old man who sat in middle of the shop reading a newspaper. “With what? This place is practically empty.” he got up to meet her gaze. “Don’t you know who I am?”

She snapped, “Actually. I do.” After a few seconds, Amanda spoke like she would burst if she didn’t. “You are Dominic Carmichael the only heir to the Carmichael industries. You studied abroad for a while but finished the remaining two years here, at Carmichael high school. Right now you are controlling the affairs of your inheritance while attending parties and living in your mansion like a spoiled brat or am I missing something out?”

Dominic froze with surprise then gave a half smile. “Did you Google me? You should know what I’m trying to say.” He inched closer. “You don’t need to waste your time with Ethan I can offer you a lot more than he can give you.”

She moved back with every step he took closer. Her foot got caught on a loose lace of her shoes, she slipped and fell back. Dominic held her wrist and tugged her to himself. Like she had no control, her body slammed into his arms. “Let’s date.” Dominic whispered.

Chapter 3 – New deal

Amanda trudged along the pavement at a sedate pace, her mind focused on the gentle footsteps that seemed to echo throughout the desolate street.

Let's date. Dominic voice whispered in her head. She shivered in disgust and pushed away the thought. Dominic Carmichael would never want to date someone like her, it had to be some sort of game or bet and this time would be different, she wouldn’t be a victim of his games, not again.

In an instant two men in suits appeared from nowhere and grabbed by the wrist. “Come with us, miss.”

She turned to fight but lost her balance and found her feet dragging along the cement. “What? I don’t have money? Where are you taking me? Let me go.”

The men dragged her and pushed her inside the stretched out limousine that parked across the street. Amanda slowly lifted her gaze, which settled on Dominic sitting opposite her. His leg crossed over the other and his face held a fixed expression.

“You. Did you really have to kidnap me like that?”

“It’s refreshing isn’t it?” he grinned.

“What do you want Dominic?” she pulled herself to sit.

“Your answer?”

She scoffed. He couldn’t have been referring to when he asked her out just couple days ago. Ask? The thought of it amused her. More like demanded.

“To what question,” she asked.

“I didn’t know you had short term memory. I remember asking you out.”

Look who is talking about a short term memory, he still hadn’t recall that they went to the same high school and how much horror he made it for her. Amanda leaned back against the long narrow leather seat, her arms folded and her fingers tapped against her skin. She took a long look at him, his face was filled with confidence, whatever game this man was paying he wasn’t accustomed to losing.

She brought herself to the edge of the seat, leaned forward, and decided to play along. It wasn’t difficult, all she had to do was disappeared deep within herself. It was the only way she could cope by becoming someone else. It was a skill she honed over the years of living with an abusive father and being bullied all through high school.

Amanda reached for him and he remained still. Her fingertips stroked along his freshly shaven jaw, over the fullness of his hard mouth. He felt his heart pound with every stroked she made, her hands moved to his collar then wrapped her fingers around his neck tie and pulled him closer. He didn’t try to move away, simply followed her bidding, and kept his gaze locked on hers.

She made her voice as sultry as she could and brought her lips to his ear. “Know this and never forget…You and I....never going to happen.” She shoved him off intending to leave him there, puzzled but he seized her hand.

He was Dominic Carmichael, hair to the Carmichael fortune, he owned almost every building in the city, and some abroad and even have more than 20,000 employee all under him. Yet some simple poor cook treat him with disrespect. “How dare you refuse me?”

“Let go.” She whined and wiggled her wrist out of his hand. “I rather have Afghani warlords bleed me from my liver than go on a date with you.”

He didn’t understand, he never met this girl before but she spoke to him with so much distain. It felt like his brain was short-circuited and needed to be rebooted. It was going differently a while ago, he thought he had her. He can’t just go free like that, he had to make sure she regret her decision.

“The money is now doubled.”

On his signal, the men that had brought her came and pulled her out of the car. Then zoomed off leaving the girl by the side of the road.

Dominic lowered the window of the car and stared out, the car was parked in front of a grey mansion, Justin’s house. He came down from the car, surveyed the large compound, the stark brown colour of the house is tainted by the rows of palm trees and shrubs in the front lawn. The multi-colour flowers greeted him. Justin always did have an eye for colours.

An elderly man emerged from the house and gave a low bow to Dominic.

“Uncle, how are you? It’s been a while.” Dominic grabbed his wrinkled hand and shook it. He wasn’t really his uncle but he don’t know what to call the man he knew all his childhood years and practically raised Justin as if he were his own.

“That’s because you don’t visit, young sir.”

He chuckled. “Hey, don’t turn this around on me. Where is Justin?”

“He is in the studio.” The elderly man led him into the through the large, red, double French doors.

“Don’t worry, I can take it from here.” Dominic permitted the man to leave then moved further into the house, his footsteps echoed across the room.

He caught sight of the different paintings that hung on each wall, his fingers graze the grand piano along his way to the sitting room. In the corner was a wooden door where a brown dog laid.

“Hey, you are still alive?” he scratched the dog behind its ears. The dog looked up at Dominic, licked his muzzle with one fast sweep of his tongue, and laid down back. He stretched his leg over the dog and entered into the room to find Justin sitting behind a canvas, painting.

“What brings the one and only Dominic Carmichael to my house?”

“What do you mean? Haven’t you been getting my messages?” he questioned and took notice of Justin’s painting.

“Sorry, but I got an art gallery to run.” Justin put down the paint brush. “Haven’t had time lately.”

“What are you working on?” he took a closer look at the canvas. It showed different shade of dark colour on each side of the canvas. Dominic wasn’t one for art like his friend. Right now, it seemed that Justin painted shadows.

Or demons. His demons?

Justin’s painting was famous for always showing despair, guilt, and sadness. Which shared no resemblance to the man that painted them. Probably because he was an expert in masking them.

Justin picked a rag and wipe off his hand. “It's not about what the painting is but what it makes it you feel.”

Dominic gave a dismissive wave. “I didn’t come to talk about that now.”

“Okay, what is it? Talk to daddy.” He slipped on a white tee shirt and they walked out of the studio to the bar adjacent to the sitting room.

“Your advice did not work. Can you believe that girl said no to me?” Dominic pulled a stool and leaned against the counter.

Justin took out a bottle of wine and two glasses from a glass cupboard and pushed a glass to his friend. “It was not an advice but a test. If she rejected you, meaning she passed and maybe she like Ethan for real.”

“What, that it? It is over? It can’t be over. That girl insulted me, like I wronged her or something.” His gaze dropped to the cold, hard marble floors, each tile chosen with a specific taste in mind. He couldn’t help but picture Amanda brown eyes, it was tinted with so much distain which confused him, considering he never knew her before the fender bender.

“Relax some girls like to play hard to get and you can’t be able to seduce every girl.” He took a sip from his wine and shook the glass around his fingers.

“I never have to seduce anyone, girls hear my name and go crazy. Do you know many people sign up for that win a date charity contest? It’s crazy, no one has ever rejected me like that.” Dominic paused then asked “or have you?”

“Sure... lots of times.” Justin said in between his drink.

“Name one.” Dominic blurted out.

Justin almost choked on his wine. He tilted his head and tapped his finger on his glass. “I’m sorry bro, I got nothing.” He chuckled.

Dominic knew very well Justin Casanova skills was legendary. There was no creature in a skirt he couldn’t get his way with, he once flirted with his teacher just so she change his grade.

“Should I ask her out? Give her a dose of Justin.”

“No. I’m not giving up on her, especially now I’m sure there is something weird about her.”

“Well, why don’t we make this more interesting?” Justin crossed his hands in front of him. “I bet you wouldn’t able to have sex with her.”

Dominic laughed. “Are you kidding me?”

“It’s no joke. With your temper when things don’t go your way and she not caring about your wealth, it would be great if you can even get a kiss from her.”

“You may be the Casanova in this room but I got a few things up my sleeves.” Dominic acknowledged.

“So it’s a bet.”

***

One fine morning, Amanda strolled along the walk way, kicking a pebble on the pavement. Her rent would be due soon, she loved working at the dinner but it didn’t pay much, her debts was almost drowning her and each dollar bill was a like a magic wand to cast away her problems. One of them had a name. Dominic. She had to get another job if she were to pay him back as soon as possible and finally getting rid of him.

Like her prayers were answered, her sights fell on a job vacancy sign on the window of a large department store and she rushed inside. The store was very busy, filled with people buying and trying out clothes at every corner. The roof was high and banner advertising latest offers were hanged up.

She walked up to a woman behind the counter.

“Welcome to C.M department stores, where you can get the latest clothes, jewellery for your wife, husband, and children.” The woman declared in a stiff expression clearly rehearsed.

“I saw your job hiring sign, I want to apply,” She gushed.

“You can't apply here. I'm sorry.” Another woman answered from behind Amanda.

Amanda twisted her heels to woman and lowered her gaze down to a badge that clearly says assistant manager. “What do you mean? I just saw the sign.”

The woman scanned Amanda up and down. “We can't accept you. I'm sorry.”

“Why are you looking at me like that, Is it because of my outfit?” she asked obviously knowing the real answer.

“You don’t have what it takes.” The assistant manager stated.

Her shoulders slumped as she headed for the exit but caught a glimpse of Dominic. He marched through the aisle of the store followed by 5 of his entourage. Can't she go anywhere without running into him? Her eyes darted around the store in search for a place to hide.

In a swift motion, she disappeared to the children section and ducked her head behind a cloth rack. She waited for him to move along and he did. In an attempt to stand, her shirt got caught by the clothes rack, the more she pulled, the more it got ripped. With all the energy she had, she yanked herself free.

The rack fell and erupted in a loud crash onto her.

The noise caught everyone attention, including Dominic. He strode over to the commotion and was followed by the manager and his secretary.

“What is going on here?” he demanded.

The assistant manager came up to him. “I’m so sorry sir, but it’s this girl fault.” She gave way for Amanda.

“You.”

Sporting a counterfeit smile, Amanda hoped the awkwardness that bathed the moment would be transient. She wanted the earth to open up and swallow her whole but there was no rescue from this embarrassment. “I didn’t do it on purpose, I swear.”

“You can all go back to your work now and get someone to clean this mess.” Dominic dismissed the crowd.

She coughed, pushed her hair back behind her ear even though it was already there. “I was just browsing through—

“You are not only clumsy but also stupid.” Dominic’s temper flared up. “Just how much do you like destroying my stuff? First, my car, now my store and seriously how do you think you can get a job dressed like that? Everybody knows you dressed how you want to be addressed.”

Her eyes widened, her hand still held onto her shoulder covering the rip of her shirt. Maybe the Dominic she knew is not too far away. Her throat was dry and the only word she could utter. “What?”

“Come with me.” He swiped her hand off her shoulder and yanked her away from the scene. Not like she had a choice, her feet immediately followed him.

He stopped, let go of her hand, turned around to finally notice the rip on her shirt. It exposed her pale shoulder which was under a black bra strap. She followed his gaze down to her chest to the ample of her cleavage then back up. The second she realised this, she held her rip shirt back in place.

For a few moment, silence hung in the air like thick cloud which john, his secretary particularly awkward and attempted to break it with a nervous cough.

“You don’t even have anything.” Dominic muttered as if disappointed.

They had stopped by in the female section of the store and Dominic pulled out a bunch of clothes after giving each a quick scan, he dumped them on Amanda.

“What are you doing?” her knees bent with weight of the clothes she carried, they almost blocked the piercing glare she had on.

He walked ahead and emptied another rack, dumping the clothes on her again. “When you dress with a little class and elegance people will treat you differently.” He took out a yellow flair dress. “Try this.” He held it to her.

“No, I’m not going to.”

He sighed. “Do you want to show the whole world that you can’t afford good clothes? Your jeans are all worn out and your blouse torn.” He pushed the dress to her again. “Now stop being stubborn and try the dress on.”

Rush of anger and confusion crawled over her skin until the sensation reached her cheeks. She curled and uncurled her fingers underneath the heaps of clothes he dumped on her. It was the only outward reaction she’d allow herself and sought to calm the turmoil with her mind.

“You talk like being poor is a disease.”

“Are you going to give a talk about how there is honour in being poor and all that crap.” his hands hung on his waist. “God, I hate people like you,” He muttered.

She couldn’t understand this man, was he trying to be nice to her at the same time insult her. This must be another one of his sick joke, it got to be. She wasn’t the fragile girl back in high school who was pushed around by everyone.

“This must be hard for you to understand but I don’t need your charity.” She dumped the clothes on the floor and darted straight for the door.

That afternoon, Amanda went home, change into another shirt, and met up with Ethan at the café, where Grace worked. She took a sip from her coffee and immediately felt the warmth swim through her.

“So have you paid Dominic yet?”

The sound of Ethan voice took her attention from her coffee, she knew if she said no, Ethan would offer to pay it in an instant and she didn’t want that. He have done enough for her already.

“I have some money saved up I will use that.” that was now her only option, the money she saved was meant to open her dream restaurant but seems that dream would have to wait.

“Good.”

They went on to talk about other things, her new recipes, or stories from his school and life abroad. After spending the day with Ethan, everything seemed brighter, unlike some people who made her mood turn sour. She picked up her phone and dialled Dominic number.

“So you can’t just keep away can you? I knew you will come around sooner or later.” Dominic spoke from the other end.

She rolled her eyes. “I got your money so I will stop by your house tomorrow.” She hung up before he could say another word.

Taking few steps closer to her house she took notice of a black van parked in front of her house, she picked up her pace and met two buff men with her grandfather.

“Grandpapa.” her eyes fell to the old weary man being tossed to the ground.

One of the men held her back. “Hold on little lady.”

“Hey let go of me.” Her legs kicked into thin air.

“Leave my granddaughter,” the old man said.

“Shut up.” Another yelled. “This old gizzard owes us some money and now we are going to show him what happens if he doesn’t pay.”

“Wait...I will pay.” Amanda shot out of her lungs and got their attention. “I have your money.”

She freed herself from the man tight grip and rushed into the house. She tossed her jar of money to the ground which they took and zoomed off in their car in an instant.

The old man got himself up with a tight grip on his stick. “You shouldn’t have done that? That was your saving that you were planning to use to open your restaurant.”

Or to pay Dominic. It didn’t matter now. It was meant to save them, whether it saved her grandfather from loan sharks or saved her from Dominic Carmichael. She didn’t regret it one bit.

“Grandpapa, did you gamble again?” she whined.

“Gamble? Watch your mouth young lady.” He growled. “I needed the money so I borrowed…you shouldn’t have used your saving.” He dragged himself into the house.

***

The next morning...Dominic was in his study, staring out the window at the rain droplets rolling down like tears on the window. He liked it when it rained, the smell of dust in the air and the cool breeze that followed. But somehow today was different he felt like the sand that the cold rain drop pattered on.

He caught reflection of a maid on the window. “What’s it now?”

“Sir, you have a visitor.”

Dominic went out of the study, stood at the top of the stairs, his gaze fixed on Amanda walking into the grand hall. She wore her usual farmer’s shirt, jean, and sneaker, typical tomboy but her feisty attitude was a whole new level for him, He had never met any girl like her. If he did, he would remember.

Amanda craned her head up. “I need to talk to you. It’s about your money.”

He folded his hands. “Good, where is it?”

She was going to hate this, begging him and pleading with him. More so, she was certain he would enjoy every minute of it. She sighed, the exasperation clear in her tone. “I don’t have it.”

He climbed down the stairs. “Yesterday, you called me—

“Yes but the thing is I used it for something else.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“I don’t care if you believe me.” She shifted her weight from one foot to another.

He moved round her like a predator fixated on its prey before devouring it then stopped right in front of her. “There are other ways you can pay me.

Amanda saw the cunning look on his face, he resembled the devil and braced herself for the worst. “How? I'm not going on a date with you.” Her voice so stern and firm.

“You...can...work for me.” he smirked.

Every word pierced her hard. How could she work for the person she despised most in the world? The same person who made her life miserable is now still toying with her just in new and creative ways. “What? No way.” her face froze in shock.

“Amanda knight, I don’t think you have a choice you have to be my slave.



Chapter 4 – The debtor games

Amanda knew it was her hell today the minute she got a message from Dominic, like Grace had mentioned she needed to be strong and firm and as long she kept reminding herself that she wasn’t the same girl he pushed around in high school. She would be fine.

“I can do this, it won’t be easy, but I can do this.” She muttered.

This was her first day of being Dominic slave.

Why did she agree to do this? She could have come up with a better idea, a better plan to pay him his money but now she was caught in his web and have to work for him for a week.

She arrived at the Carmichael mansion, walking up the stairs through the hallway. Was it just her or was the hollow hallway seem to be endless. Classical music danced along the halls and shot shivers down her spine, her feet seemed to be planted at the entrance of his study when she caught sight of Dominic.

He had his foot over his knees, his eyes closed and his fingers danced in the air clearly enjoying the moment. “Ah days like this all I need a hot meal, what do you think?”

“What do you want?”

Finally made eye contact to her. He asserted, “Since this is your forte, surprise me. Prepare me something to eat.”

It been almost 30 minutes since Amanda left for the kitchen, Dominic eyed the grandfather clock and drummed his fingers against the couch. He might not win the bet this way but he couldn’t think of any other way to keep her by his side. He pulled himself up, proceeded to the kitchen, and stood by the door where he found Amanda.

His eyes followed her, moving from side to side dropping all the sliced vegetables into the frying pan, she picked up the skillet tossing the vegetables up and down. She moved across the kitchen with such grace and command at the same time. It was like she knew where everything were and how to handle them.

He had never seen a woman in the kitchen before. His mother…. Mrs Carmichael never cooked and the maids always looked unease when he was around the kitchen and never performed well.

Amanda whirled around to see Dominic by the door and waited for him to speak but when he didn’t. “It’s almost ready,” She said.

It took a minute for Dominic to find his voice like he was taken aback. “Bring it to my study.” He nervously left the kitchen.

Amanda came into the study, with a tray balanced within her grip and set it in front of him. “I hope you like it.” And she meant it.

She was a cook and loved to show off her skill whenever she got the chance. Working at such a small restaurant didn’t offer her chance that because of her strict and yet traditional boss.

“What is this?” he scrunched up his face

“It is a steak with sautéed mushroom and caramelized onions on top.”

“I hate onions,” Dominic blurted.

“You haven’t even tried it.”

He picked up the spoon and took in a small bite. It was crunchy and melted right in his tongues. It was quite a combination he had never experienced.

Her lips curved upwards when he went in for another bite. “You like it right?”

“You call yourself a cook? This is terrible.”

Her brows furrowed. “Are you sure your taste bud are working?”

The ringing of a phone erupted in the air which grabbed all eyes to the desk behind them. Dominic went over to it, picked up the phone and the ringing stopped.

“Quick I need help.” Justin voice echoed from the other end followed by harsh breath. “Code red! Code red!”

Amanda locked her sights on the food. Taste badly? Maybe in her heart she wished for him to choke while eating but how can it taste bad? Especially when she made it. She lowered herself to reach for the spoon but her gaze went up to the sound of keys jingling in Dominic fingers.

“Stay here till I come back. It will be only for a few minute or couple of hours.” He left and shut the door behind him before she could even protest.

She rushed to the door, yank at the knob but to no anvil Dominic locked her in.

***

Justin held onto his loose trouser and peep out the balcony. The moonlight illuminated the height and the distance he was from the ground. Jumping is not be an option except if he was willing to break his legs, he needed to find his way out and soon.

He had called Ethan and Dominic almost 15 minutes ago and stated his urgency with a colour code. Explaining the situation to his friends would require time which the young playboy could not afford at the moment or any of the previous times he was caught in similar predicament.

Justin rushed over to the door and held it back from opening.

“I will kill you and feed you to the dogs. Open the damn door.” a voice thundered, followed by another heavy bang against the door.

Justin shivered hearing those threat and knew quiet well his luck was running out. The door shuddered with each blow against it and would give way in any moment now.

A few hours ago, he was having a blast and next he was standing outside a balcony half naked in the cold night. Who could have thought the nice girl he picked from the bar would have such a crazy boyfriend, well even if he knew it wouldn’t have change the outcome either way.

The sound of a car honk pulled his attention down to a red jeep coming from a distance. With a loud sigh of relief, he moved forward to the end of the railing and waved his hands in the air to catch the attention of the driver.

The door broke down and revealed a heavy thick man with a handful of curly locks. “You have nowhere to run now. Pretty boy.”

Justin gaze shifted over to the young girl, he had spent the night with. She was begging the buffed man not to hurt him in a foreign language, Spanish if he could still remember the few classes he took as a kid.

“Anyway this was fun but I got to go.”

He climbed onto the railing, jumped off, and grabbed the tree branch that extended towards him. His hand tightly gripped the tree, his loose trouser fell on his ankles and revealed his heart printed boxers.

“Oh. This is a new low even for Justin.” Dominic watched the scene from the car parked below the dangling playboy.

The heavy man broke free from the young girl grip to look down from the balcony right on time to catch a glimpse of Justin getting into a red jeep.

Justin rolled down the window and blow a kiss to the girl before returning back to his saviours. Ethan and Dominic and they zoomed off.

“Are you crazy?! Do you want to get yourself killed?” Ethan glared at Justin from the front seat.

Justin chuckled. “Chill man.”

Dominic peeked at his friend from the rear view mirror. “It’s not funny, Justin. Just look the way you dressed.”

Justin worn his shirt inside out and his trousers still hung loose on his waist. “Well it's not my fault.”

“When will you stop this your crazy life style and just focus on your art.” Ethan commented.

Justin took off the shirt and began to wear it the right way, his fingers going down on each button. “So? How do you expect me to have fun? Sit at home and paint all day. I can’t be a monk like you.”

Dominic burst out in laughter then swallowed the rest when he felt a piercing stare from Ethan and maintained a still statue expression while he drove. There was no other way of describing Ethan, his friend was spot on.

“Monk?” Ethan turned to Justin, “seriously monk?” he could not believe his friends pictured him that way. He saw himself as someone with a desire to learn and appreciate the little things in life.

“When last did you have sex?” Justin interrogated.

“I'm curious, I want to know too.” Dominic added, after taking two short glances to Ethan.

“I don’t have to answer to you two.” Ethan turned to the window.

The car erupted with another laughter, teasing each other the best they could. After a while, the laughter died out and silence faded in.

Dominic asked, “Wait. Was that code red?”

“Yeah. Stuck in a girl house with a crazy ex or boyfriend,” Justin answered.

Ethan interjected, “code red? I thought that was code blue.”

“No. Stuck in his own house with a crazy ex is code blue,” Dominic added.

“Then what code yellow? Or is there even a code yellow?”

Justin had made up these code when he realised the strange encounters he kept having and the boys mixing it up could cost him one day. He answered, “That is being stalked. Seriously dudes keep up.”

“Oh.” Dominic and Ethan exclaimed in unison.

Dominic cast a quick look to Ethan. “Hey remember code purple?”

The boys burst into another laughter, their mind reeled back to when Justin was stuck in foreign jail.

“Justin, what were you thinking then?”

“I don’t know, she said she has an idea for something fun and next thing I know I woke up half naked in the middle of the highway.” Justin shook his head and laid back to his seat, “It was a crazy night but totally worth it.”

Dominic glanced at Justin through the rear-view mirror. “Thanks to Justin and his crazy lifestyle our lives haven't been a bit boring.”

“Isn’t that your secretary, Dominic?” Justin pointed to a car parked by the road.

Dominic swerved to the side of the road and parked the car. “Yes, I called him.” he tossed the keys over to Ethan. “There something I need to get back home to do.”

“Come on since we are all here, I wanted us to get some drink, and you are the one that always want us to do things together.” Justin patted himself searching his pocket. “Once I find my wallet.”

Dominic rushed into his study and immediately his sight fell on Amanda curled up like a cat on the chair. He moved closer and let out a loud cough but she didn’t stir or move a muscle, a failed attempt to get her attention and wake up from her slumber.

“How can she fall asleep in another person house?” He lowered himself on one knee and examined the sleeping girl.

She held herself tight with her hands wrapped around her, her face was tensed with each muscle tightened and her brow furrowed. Most people would look peaceful when sleeping, one thing was sure, and Amanda was not. Could she be having a nightmare?

Dominic stroked her hair with such gentleness he had never displayed. Soon after the lines and toil had smoothed, virtually disappeared and all the muscles in her face and body were replaced.

Her eyes flickered open, the blurry sight of Dominic staring hard at her became clearer. She jerked. “You are back.”

“To find you snoring and drooling all over my chair.” he dusted the chair. “Do you how much this couch cost?”

She rolled her eyes and took notice of the time, quickly got to her feet and rushed towards the door only to be held back by Dominic.

“And where are you running off to?”

“Home of course. Am I going to sleep here?”

“You didn’t have a problem with that before. Let me drop you off.”

“So I can be in debt to you again? No thanks.” she broke herself free from his grip and headed out the door.

He looked down to the food she prepared earlier still untouched. He took off the cover, open up the food, and took in a mouthful. She was a good cook, no matter how much he denied it, his taste bud couldn’t.

Suddenly he wanted to eat more foods made by her.



Chapter 5 – A moment shared.

Another day was done, stores were closed, and the streets were filled with people going back to home, to where they rest their tired bodies. Amanda was no exception, her tiredness made her limp hang like wet laundry on a cold still day. She felt like every of her muscle was giving into gravity. What she want at that moment was a shower, a nice warm bed and a solid night of dreams.

Her phone buzzed in her bag. She pulled out the phone, flip it open and it was text from the only person she dreaded for, the only person capable of ruining such a nice evening.

Amanda marched into the Carmichael mansion, stood in his living room and her sights took in Dominic, lying down on the couch.

“What do you want Dominic? Been here two times today, i got you coffee and even took your car to the wash. So tell me. What do you want this time?”

“I’m hungry.”

“You are hungry?” she let out an exhausting sigh. This was definitely game to him. Dominic had more than 10 maids in his house but still chose to make her life hard by giving her such task. She dropped her head like a withered flower and sauntered towards the kitchen with Dominic right behind her.

He took a seat by the kitchen counter, stroked his bottom lip as he watched her like missing a detail could mean the end of his life.

She seemed so beautiful, so simple, and so different from everyone, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he when she undid her ponytail, shook out her hair, and tied it back up again. Why no one else's heart went wild when she cast her intense gaze. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, everyone was an indication of her character.

“You know we haven’t really talk…” Dominic prompted to start a conversation. “So how was your day? Were there lots of customers?” he waited for her response and when there was none, he said. “I'm trying to be friendly to you, reaching out but no you…you are so guarded.”

“Why do you tell me to cook when you say I’m terrible?”

He rubbed his chin. “You are a good cook.”

She looked at him from the corner of her eyes but said nothing.

“Tell me why do you like cooking? Have you always want to be a cook, do you want to own a restaurant? Did your mother teach you how to cook?” He dropped into topics he knew she was passionate about but she didn’t comment.

Amanda never met her mother but all she knew about her was that she was a professional chef and that was enough to spark her interest in cooking. She was not close enough to him to share that with him.

She slide the plate across the counter and over to him, picked up her bag to leave. “Enjoy your meal.”

“You can’t leave not until I finish.”

Amanda threw her head back, pulled out a stool and sat in front of Dominic. Her hand popped against her jaw and looked straight at him, he flashed a smile at her, and then she silently looked away.

“When did you and Ethan meet?” he took in the first bite. “Did you know we were friends?”

Amanda lowered her gaze to her fingers that drummed against the table.

He swallowed. “So you knew….I’m not surprised.”

It wasn't the way he said it but the tone he use that led her to ask. “What are you getting at?”

“You obviously wanted to get close to me and used Ethan. You don’t have to keep playing hard to get, it doesn’t suit you.”

She threw her head back and laughed. Dominic looked at her for a few seconds, his spoon stopped in mid-air, that wasn't the response he hoped for.

“You are not only self-centred but delusional too.” She pushed herself up and treaded out of the kitchen. “I’m out of here.”

He ran after Amanda, into the living room, grabbed her by the shoulder, spun her around, and slammed her against the wall. “You don’t have to hide your feelings for me anymore.”

He lowered his gaze in attempt to meet her fluttering eyes. “Are you nervous?” his voice became soft and gentle. Totally unusual of himself.

Amanda could feel his breath on her face and his forehead on hers. Her heart pounded in her chest and she didn’t like it. She didn’t like the feeling, the feeling of being so close to him. She lowered her lashes, too startled by the intensity in his gaze to keep looking at him.

“What? Nervous? Why? No way.”

“Then look at me.” He tipped her jaw up to get the attention that she didn’t want to give.

“I have a perfect answer for you,” she smirked.


Continue reading this ebook at Smashwords.
Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-36 show above.)