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Catching Avery


Copyright 2018 Monica Clayton

Published by M.E. Clayton at Smashwords


All Rights Reserved


Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


This book is a work of fiction. The entire content is a product of the author’s imagination and all names, places, businesses and incidences are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead), places or occurrences, is entirely coincidental


Formatting: Smashwords

Cover: Adobe Stock


Warning: This book contains sexual situations and other adult themes. Recommended for 18 years of age and over.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter_1

Chapter_2

Chapter_3

Chapter_4

Chapter_5

Chapter_6

Chapter_6

Chapter_7

Chapter_8

Chapter_9

Chapter_10

Chapter_11

Chapter_12

Chapter_13

Chapter_14

Chapter_15

Chapter_16

Chapter_17

Chapter_18

Chapter_19

Chapter_20

Chapter_21

Chapter_22

Chapter_23

Chapter_24

Epilogue

Playlist

About_The_Author

Other Books

Contact Me


Acknowledgements

First and foremost I have to thank my family for their support! Nothing I accomplish is a success without their love.

Secondly, I have to thank Kamala for not laughing at me when I told her I wanted to write a book. Also for being my guinea pig and for loving the kooky group of characters that took residence in my head as much as I do!

And seeing as this is my first attempt at writing, I want to thank everyone who took a chance on me when they bought this book! Please note that this is a completely independent project and any typos, errors or silliness falls solely on my shoulders.

Dedication

This is for my husband. You are everything good about Nicholas, Chase and Julian, all rolled into one. You will never know how perfect you are in my eyes. I love you more than you could ever fathom in this life…and the next.

Prologue

The Seven Deadlies.

There's Sloth, Gluttony, Envy, Lust, Greed, Wrath and Pride.

So which is the worst?

First, there's Sloth. Being lazy and unproductive can be just as addicting as drugs or gambling. Your mind and body get used to doing nothing, to being nothing. Sloth can make you neglect responsibilities and make you lose value in yourself and others. Laziness can keep you poor, unfit and a burden on society.

Second, there's Gluttony. Over indulgence. There's a guilty feeling that comes with gluttony. We feel it when we overeat, when we over spend, etc. I think it's safe to say, we've all experienced gluttony at least once in our lives. Gluttony likes to sneak up on you. There's nothing wrong with having just one more slice of pizza...until you find yourself fifty pounds overweight one day, of course. What's the harm in having ten different purses, when you can only carry one at a time? Gluttony will have you overweight and in debt before you even know what’s hit you. The sneaky little bastard!

Then, there's Envy. Envy can keep you from making any real personal connections in life. I mean, how can you really call yourself a friend if you secretly hate whenever one of your friends find good fortune? Envy can make you detest everything you own and have worked hard for. Your car, your house, your clothes are all perfectly fine...until your neighbor gets a fancier car, bigger house and designer clothes. Envy can eat you up alive. Envy can turn your soul dark. That's no bueno...no bueno at all.

Now, let's talk about Lust.

Lust.

Lust is a motherfucker of a sin. Nations topple because of lust. Families are destroyed because of lust. People become diseased because of lust. Lust clouds the best of judgments. But to be fair, can you name one thing...just one thing...that feels better than sex? The feel of a man's hands on your body, the goose bumps you get when his lips touch your skin, the heat you feel when you know he's turned on by you, the power you feel because you know there is nothing he won't do to satisfy you, that first thrust inside you and let's not leave out the aria of the entire sexual opera...when he makes you cum. What feels better than that?

Next, there's Greed. Greed can make you shady and underhanded. It can make you so hungry for more, that you go into debt because your neighbors just bought a Lexus, but you're driving a Toyota. Greed tricks you into believing your life is always missing something. It makes you become an episode on Investigation Discovery because you poisoned your husband for his life insurance. Greed has you always feeling empty, and for some, there's almost nothing you won't do to fill that void. When you're greedy, contentment is a false achievement. You will never be satisfied. Never.

Onto Wrath. Wrath is the equivalent to temporary insanity. You can literally lose your mind when you are in a state of wrath. Wrath will have you destroying property and it can make you verbally and physically abusive. Wrath will have you looking at a life prison sentence because you've gone and murdered someone in the heat of the moment. Wrath will make you unreasonable. Wrath can make you feared by those you love and who love you. Wrath can consume your soul. It's mind numbing to all things good and peaceful. Wrath is a true monster with no rationale. Wrath can destroy everything good in your life.

Finally, we have Pride. Pride, pride, pride, pride, pride....it sure is a nasty little guy. Pride can cause an insurmountable amount of pain. It keeps you from saying sorry, when you really should. It is the largest killer of relationships around. It makes life harder because you refuse to ask for help and it kills love because you cannot bring yourself to forgive. A lot of people can forgive mistakes, but when all you can think about is how that mistake made you look stupid? Lying, infidelity, neglect, all that can be worked through...humiliation, not so much. Pride can make you walk away from the best thing that ever happened to you. It can also make you lonelier than you have ever been.

So, let me introduce myself....

My name is Avery Christine Ellis and this is a little story about how my night out with the girls was interrupted by these seven sonsofbitches and turned my existence into a Lifetime made for T.V. movie event.

Chapter 1

Sloth: Because when it's Friday and you work for a complete asshat, all you want to do is go home and do nothing!


Avery~

I love my job.

Really, I do.

My boss? Not so much.

My job would be perfect, if not for him.

I was one of many administrative assistants who worked for SMA Global, Inc. SMA was one of the top ten investment firms in the world. The firm was founded by Nicholas Savage, Julian Moretti and Chase Alexander, about ten years ago. The company’s reputation as a money maker spread quickly and within six years, SMA cemented itself as a financial power house.

The story goes that they were childhood friends-like kindergarten childhood friends-from Oakland, California. They grew up in one of the roughest neighborhoods around and at the ripe old ages of 16, they made a pact to become better than how they were being raised. Nicholas was the investment genius, Julian the financial guru and Chase was the client magnet.

All three were very much a mystery as far as their personal lives were concerned, though. If you were to look up any of their interviews or public speeches, you wouldn’t be able to find any mention of their families or details about their younger years. Once, during an early interview with Chase, he was asked why none of them ever spoke about anything before the birth of SMA Global, Inc. His simple response was, ‘The only time anyone cares about anything that has to do with us, is when we’re making them money. We couldn't make anyone money before SMA, so why talk about it?’

That shut the reporter up.

It was rumored that Nicholas once told a reported to, ‘Take that sheet of questions you have in your hand, roll it up and shove it up your ass...sideways.’ Now, supposedly, they will not agree to any interviews unless it is contractually stipulated that no personal questions are asked and Julian rarely conducts any interviews at all. Makes you wonder what the hell their childhoods were like. At least, it makes me wonder.

And then there's also the fact that all three of them are gorgeous as sin. I. Mean. Gorgeous. It was truly unfair for people to be that beautiful. I mean, have you ever seen someone so stunning that you were struck dumb by their beauty? How in the hell are us average humans supposed to behave when we come across these earth bound gods? I’m usually a bumbling idiot when in the presence of such greatness. I mean, what do you expect, really? I was taught that staring was rude, but come on…cut a girl a little slack here. If it wasn’t for the laws of society, I’d be all over those beautiful strangers. I swear society’s rules exist just to keep us from making new friends.

But even in the company of The Beautiful People, those three men would still stand out. They were all well over six feet, with Julian being just an inch or so taller. Nicholas had dark brown hair, the shade of melted chocolate, with eyes the same exact shade, while Julian had inky black hair, with hazel eyes and Chase had brown mocha coffee colored hair, with bright blue eyes. And while I’ve never seen any of them in anything other than a suit, they sure filled the hell out of those suits.

The three of them often decorated the covers of financial and business magazines, and I’d be lying if I said I was never tempted to wallpaper my bedroom with those covers, because individually they came off as intimidating and powerful, but when they were all together….it was like mortals gazing upon the Gods of Olympus. They were hot as hell!

However, it's not any of them three that makes me want to slit my wrists by noon. I'm not that high up on the food chain to work directly for any of them. They are my boss' boss' bosses. And my boss is a one of a kind douche canoe.

One. Of. A. Kind.

William Spillner was his given name, but you can call him The Billster. Yes....The Billster. Of course, unless Mr. Savage, Mr. Moretti or Mr. Alexander are around, then he's William or Mr. Spillner. He has short man syndrome to the point where-I may not have a PH.D.-but even I knew when a person was in dire need of professional couch time. He's that bully who thinks his position as boss makes him more attractive than he really is. Of course it would help if he was any kind of attractive to begin with, but he's not…at least, not to me. I prefer my men to not be short, slimy and lazy.

That's just me though.

He's 5'6" on a good day and has the beginnings of a pot belly, with no wife’s home cooking to blame it on. He's 42 and already going bald, which wouldn't be bad, if he just let himself go bald. But he's holding on to his remaining hair with a vengeance. It looks like someone tried to attach a layer of blonde weave to the middle of his bald head. It looked ridiculous.

I'm not sure how he got his job with SMA, but he must be smart as hell behind the scenes, because I'm not seeing anything else remotely appealing about the fool. I have been working for Mr. Douche Canoe for a little over three years and why am I still here you ask? Because the pay, even at my level, is enough to live comfortably on, the benefits are great, I work Monday through Friday, 7am to 3:30pm and the company has such a strong, positive reputation, that I feel proud telling people I work for SMA Global, Inc. The work is challenging and I believe I am good at it. Or at least, no one has ever told me otherwise.

Now, D.C.'s (Douche Canoe) boss is Ian James, and while I don't come across him often, his reputation is that of a fair and hardworking division manager. He's reportedly quiet and level headed. While, luckily, it hasn't happened yet, if D.C. ever crossed the line, I feel confident that I'd be able to go to Mr. James and report him. Why some of these other women working under D.C. haven't...I have no idea.

So, here it is, 3pm on Friday and D.C. has been on my helmet all week that all I want to do is go home, eat dinner, take a bubble bath, be in a pair of pajama pants by 7pm and then finish reading Eleventh Grave In Moonlight. Hopefully I can fall asleep with the book still in my hand (yes, I still buy hardcopies) and not wake up until 10am on Saturday. I want to be lazy. Laaazzzyyyy!

"Hey, Hooker." I looked up to see one of my best friends, peeking her head over my cubicle partition, easing all thoughts of The Billster from my mind.

"What up, Hoe?" I automatically replied and Quinn rewarded me with a big, cheesy grin.

Quinn Erikson became my lifeline when I started working for SMA. On day one, she took me under her wing and showed me all those little things that no one thinks to tell you. She showed me all the tricks to the copy machines, how to hide my lunch so no one steals my good snacks, how to screen unwanted calls, how to work the fancy, degree needing coffee machine...you know, the important stuff.

She was also a knockout and she didn’t rub it in your face. She was 5'5", with a natural head of straight, shoulder length light brown hair that she dyed whichever color or colors she was feeling at the time. Currently, she was rocking her natural light brown with, what she called Dodger Blue peek-a-boo highlights underneath. She had big, doe-like brown eyes with perfectly arched eyebrows, a cute button nose with beautiful lips that are almost always smiling and porcelain skin that was lightly sprinkled with freckles. She was a dedicated kickboxing fan and it showed, as her body was slender and toned.

She was funny, wild, compassionate, and didn’t take life too seriously. She was just all around perfect. I totally planned to spend the rest of my life with her, if I ever got past my prime and never found a husband. We'll grow old together and share our golden years with each other and our cats…lots and lots of cats. My life's plan B rocked!

"You're going to have to stand your book and bathtub up tonight. We're going to go out tonight, Ace,” she announced, effectively putting my plans to be lazy on hold.

I didn’t look up from my computer. I wasn’t going to let her use her weaponized doe eyes on me. "Uh, no,” I retorted. “I know you can't understand, what with your judgmental ways and all, but my ménage relationship with my books and bathtub is what real love is meant to be. I will not let you come between us.” I kept typing away on my computer. “You don't have to approve, but I won't let you drive a wedge between us, either."

I could feel her rolling her eyes. "I wouldn't dream of it. However,” she posed, “if they cannot survive one night without you...how strong is your relationship really?"

My eyes shot up and I gasped, "How dare you ma'am?!"

"I dare, because we haven't gone out in months and I need to get laid, Ace,” she said, as she explained her daring ways. “And when I say laid, I mean by a real live male person and not a book boyfriend while my hand is down my panties."

"Total visual I could have done without, thank you." I shook my head to try to rid myself of her rather graphic image.

"The point issss, that while I respect how faithful you are to your books and bathtub, I’m pulling the friend card and we are going out tonight,” she insisted.

She was standing against my cubicle wall with her arms folded over the top looking absolutely forlorn. While Quinn didn't have them often, she didn't have anything against one night stands. Her stance was that, as long as no one was married and the sex was safe and consensual, then there was no harm in ‘de-stressing’. "What's in it for me?"

Her big, chocolate eyes rounded as she answered, "How about your best friend's sexual happiness, you hoe-bag?"

She had a point. I did care about my friends' happiness. "Did you call Izzy already?"

"Pfft...of course.” She flapped a hand at me. “If I couldn't guilt trip you into going, I needed her to help me peer pressure you," Quinn reasoned.

Isabella, or Izzy…or Iz, was our other friend that made up our quirky little trio. She adopted us two years ago when Quinn and I ran into her on the busy sidewalk of Santa Teresa Boulevard. Like, seriously ran into her. She was rushing to work, with her hands full with a four cup coffee carrier, when not any one of us was paying attention to where we were going and...crash...all three of us ended up sprawled out on our asses covered in frappomochadecafawhatever. Izzy looked so horrified and then shocked when Quinn and I started laughing our asses off. Between our bouts of laughter, we had managed to ask Iz if she was ok. She was so thankful that we turned out to be unbalanced crazies instead of uptight bitches, that she proclaimed we were going to be her new best friends. However, I didn’t think she was prepared for how crazy we actually were. Well, Quinn, at any rate.

We've been great friends ever since.

"Okay, so where are we going?" I absolutely did not want to go club hopping. I wasn't mentally prepared for that lively a night.

Quinn smiled, and let me tell you, Quinn's smile...her genuine smile...could end wars. While her face was perfection, her smile was breathtaking. "Okay, so there's this new lounge called Xavier's and it's supposed to be a class act. We can go, have a couple of drinks and if I don't see anything I like, we can try Calico's. If that's a bust, I promise we'll head home."

"Oh, alright," I conceded. Truth be told, it had been a long time since we'd all gotten together and actually went out. We weren't even thirty yet and already we were heading into a bingo living life.

Quinn started clapping her hands. "Yay! We'll meet at Izzy's around six. That's early enough to get a few drinks in us and still make it around to Calico's, if Xavier's blows."

"Fine." I waved her away. "Now, get going so I can close up this sweat shop that is my cubicle and we can get this night started."

After Quinn sauntered off, I started to close down my computer and put my stuff away for the day. I was a public transportation type of girl. Whether it be cabs, Ubers, trains, buses, whatever, I preferred it over driving. I owned a car, but only used it in the event of an emergency or traveling outside of San Jose, so it stayed parked in the parking spot assigned to my apartment in the building I lived in. I lived ten blocks away from SMA Global, Inc.'s home office on Hostetter. I often walked, and on the rare occasions when I worked late, SMA had a car service for such occurrences. There was a strict policy that no employees were to struggle for a ride home if they were required to work into the night.

I thought that was awesome.

A half hour walk later, I was heading up the steps to my apartment building. I lived in a well enough neighborhood, but the building I lived in still had a security gate where you needed to be buzzed in if you weren't a tenant or had the code to get in. I didn't really consider it a safety feature when any of the tenants could give out the code to whomever they chose. Case in point, Q and Iz both had the code. But before you judge me on my lack of respect for safety, know that Quinn and Isabella have never murdered anyone. The only thing they have ever killed was great music when we were drunk enough to karaoke...talk about something being slaughtered. Of course, I've only known Q for three years and Izzy for two...so who knows what they did before then, but the past is the past, I say.

Besides, if I ever needed to bury a body, it'd be comforting to know that one of them, if not both, had experience with this sort of thing.


Nicholas~

I had already put in over fifty hours at the office this week, so the last thing I wanted to do was go drinking at some annoying hipster watering hole. Sure, Chase assured me that this new place was hipster-free, but it wouldn't be the first time Chase has misled me so that he could get some pussy.

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed getting laid just as well as the next guy, it just wasn't as much of a priority to me as it was to Chase. If a woman came on to me and I was in need, then I went with it. But no-strings-attached women were hard to find, and I just flat out worked too many hours to be a decent boyfriend to anyone. So I didn’t bother putting in the effort.

The door to my office opened without a knock, so it could only be one of two people, Chase or Julian. Julian strolled into my office like someone who knew he could. "I think I'm going to stick with club soda this evening."

I looked up from the Wall Street financial reports I was reviewing and chuckled at one of my best friends. "Why?"

"I swear, Sav, if I overhear one more inappropriate comment out of that twit Spillner, there's going to be a court date in my future." Julian plopped down on the leather couch that occupied the left side of my office.

"Jesus. What did that fool say now?" William Spillner was a division manager in SMA's accounting department. On paper he was everything we looked for in a manager and his interview with our former H.R. Manager had went extremely well by his accounts. William’s been with the company a little over six years, but it hasn't been until recently, that we've been hearing whispers of inappropriate behavior.

The first time we heard something, we immediately had our current H.R. Manager, Cynthia Emerson, do an investigation on him. After a month, she came back and said she couldn't report anything definitive about his conduct. Most of the women who worked with him confirmed no wrong doing. The only two who did comment, played it off and claimed no offense in the least.

We had also contacted his immediate boss, Ian James, and shared our concerns with him. He assured us that, moving forward, he would pay special attention to anything that struck him as odd. And because Ian was a standup guy, we knew he wouldn't hesitate to do the right thing.

The corporate world was a vicious one, and as ruthless as we have been and could be, there was one thing Chase, Julian and I didn't bend on, and that was how we treated our female employees. Every woman alive was either a wife, daughter, mother or sister to someone, and while I didn't have a sister and my mother could burn in hell, I knew what I would do if anyone ever mistreated my wife or daughter...if I ever got myself a wife so that she could give me a daughter, that is.

I was just outside the executive break room on the 4th floor and I overheard someone say, and I quote, ‘How are we expected to work around here when there’s so much prime pussy walking up and down these halls?’. It sounded just like Spillner, but when I walked in, all conversation stopped.” Julian laid himself out on the couch, until he was sprawled across it, which wasn’t an easy feat as big as he was.

I swiveled my chair to face the couch. Leaning back, I asked, “Did you address the remark?”

Julian sighed. “Of course, I did.” He threw his arm over his eyes as if he were about to take a nap. “As a matter of fact, I may be called into HR next week.”

It wouldn’t be the first time. Chase and I were still working with Julian on his people skills. He hadn’t mastered how to choose his words wisely. A lot of people thought he was the moody, quiet type when in actuality, Julian just felt it was easier to not say anything rather than deal with the hassle of offending people. Julian didn’t suffer fools gladly.

“What did you say to earn you a trip to the principal’s office this time?”

“I may have said something to the effect of missing the memo where we’re allowed to bring our pets to work, because, surely, that’s the pussy they were referring to and that if it wasn’t, it had better be moving forward,” he answered.

I really couldn’t fault Julian. I’m not sure I would have handled it any better and I know for sure Chase wouldn’t have. “How did they respond?”

He lifted his arm a bit and picked his head up to look at me. “How do you think?” He dropped his head and arm back down. “Ha-ha, oh Mr. Moretti, just joking, blah, blah, blah, whatever. The thing is, I know it was Spillner’s voice, but they all played it off.” Another sigh. “I just hope we can get this fucker before he costs us a lawsuit or I go to jail for fucking him up.”

Me too.

“Maybe you need more than club soda tonight, actual alcohol might mellow you out,” I suggested.

“Maybe. Or maybe Chase is right and we’re overdue. God knows a good fuck would definitely calm me the hell down.”

I tried to think back on the last time I had sex, and admittedly, it’s been a few weeks. “Maybe, but don’t ever let Chase know that.”

Julian finally sat up with a laugh. “I’m sure the fuck not telling him he’s right when it comes to anything relating to women,” he agreed.

“No shit. There’d be no living with him after that.”

Getting up off the couch, Julian headed for the door to leave. He looked back with one hand on the door knob. “Okay, so see you at Xavier’s at seven?”

“Yea, I’ll be there.”

“And you’re right. I don’t think club soda’s going to cut it.” Julian shut the door behind him.

I tried to get back to the financial reports I had been working on before Julian’s little interruption, but my mind kept wandering back to what tonight could possibly bring. I couldn’t argue that all three of us had been putting in more hours than usual and were in dire need of a break, but it was hard to balance life and work when other competitors were always nipping at your heels. Someone was always out to get you….always.

Julian, Chase and I grew up in Oakland, California, or more specifically, around the Deep East on High Street. Every day was a struggle and it didn’t help that we were the epitome of children growing up in the ghetto. The entire neighborhood damn near was. Believe it or not though, growing up in a poor neighborhood educated you in ways you wouldn’t realize until you were older. You learn what it is to truly be loyal. You learn what it is to truly feel fear. You learn what it is to truly understand sacrifice. You learn what it is to truly be honest. You learn what it is to truly experience gratefulness. And, my personal favorite, you learn how it is to know who is fake and who is genuinely real.

Knowing the difference between fake and real people was what was at the heart of SMA’s success. Growing up in a poor, violent neighborhood, you had to learn how to judge people and situations. More often than not, your life could depend on that one skill alone. We were all pretty good with assessing people, but Chase was the better of us three, hands downs. We held on tight to SMA because we owed our lives to it. It was born in the minds of invincible sixteen year olds and it held our hands through the roughest of times. SMA Global was our saving grace and we poured our souls into it every day to make sure it won’t ever fail. Once SMA had become sustainable, we moved forward and never looked back. The only two reasons we ever went back to Oakland…business and to attend Raider home games. Chase moved his mother and brother out of Oakland within the first year of SMA’s success and they had been the only people worth keeping ties with.

I was an only child and thank fuck for that. My mother was a stereotypical crack whore. She wasn’t a complete degenerate though. She managed to keep herself from being homeless and she did hold down a job. However, she wasn’t shy about her drug use, and she sure as fuck wasn’t shy about having male company all the time. When I was finally old enough to realize what my mother was and what she did, it destroyed everything young inside of me. Little boys’ moms were supposed to be beautiful and loving, sacrificing and loyal. Hell, before I knew her to be the monster that she was, I didn’t care that my father had split…she had been enough. But that had all came crashing down the day I walked in to our house after school to a full blown drug fueled orgy. I remember running out the front door, throwing up in the yard and then running all the way to Chase’s house.

I didn’t go home for three days and my mother hadn’t even noticed. I was ten years old and from that day forward, I spent as much time as I could at Chase’s. And I thanked God every time I was able to spend time there.

My mother and I became more like roommates after that. I left her alone, and unless she was on one, she left me alone. She truly had no conscience when it came to her son and she had no concern for how her lifestyle was shaping me. If anyone asked me today, I couldn’t tell them if she was alive or dead, and I didn’t care either way as long as she left me the fuck alone.

Chase and Julian hadn’t fare much better. I would guess that Chase had it the best out of all of us. His mom, Teresa, was a sweet soul, unfortunately for Chase, she was also weak. His father cheated on her and beat her on a regular basis. Chase even had a half-sister somewhere, though he never cultivated a relationship with her.

Growing up, Chase had tried to get his mom to leave his dad all the time, but she would never go for it. The only thing Chase was ever able to do for her back then was, when he got old enough, he was finally able to put himself between his mother and father and he stopped beating her. At least, until Chase had moved out at eighteen, then the job of protecting her was left to his sixteen year old brother, Kane, who did a good a job as Chase had. When Chase moved his mother and Kane to San Jose, he had left his father behind, and last we heard, he was still stuck in the Deep East.

Julian had it far worse than the both of us. While my mother’s specialty was neglect and Chase’s father’s was abuse, Julian’s mother’s was neglect, abuse, mental torture and a whole basket full of other shit. Not only did she get off on beating and berating him, she’d allow her boyfriend of the week to beat on him, as well. She was a hateful woman who needed someone to blame for all her lousy life choices and that someone was Julian. Like me, Julian had always been grateful that he was an only child. He had always feared that had Sandy ever given him a little brother or sister, he’d have gone to prison protecting them. Where I may be hot tempered, Julian was violent when provoked, and yes, there is a difference.

Now, Julian is a big motherfucker and he came into his size at fourteen. About a week after his birthday, one of his mom’s boyfriends tried beating Julian because he drank the last of the milk and it didn’t go well…well, for the boyfriend, that is. It took his mom jumping on his back and trying to gouge his eyes out to get Julian to stop pounding on the scumbag. But no one fucked with him again after that, however, the damage to his soul had already been cemented. And while the physical abuse may have ended, the verbal abuse and neglect had still run strong in his household.

We knew our futures were bleak and we knew we couldn’t keep going the way we were going. So at the wise old ages of sixteen, we each got part time mini-mart jobs and put all our extra time into actually using school for what it’s intended and learned all we could about economics, finance and the stock market. We were able to save all the money from our jobs- because we lied and said we were working for school credit and not actual money-and the day Chase turned eighteen, we pooled together every dime we had ever made and invested it under Chase’s name. We made twenty thousand dollars off that first initial investment and the rest was history.

And ten years later, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for those guys. Including going to a hipster watering hole so that Chase can get laid.

Chapter 2

Sloth: Because if I'm not on a mission to get laid (like some people I know), why aren't sweats and a t-shirt acceptable attire?


Avery~

After I got home, I made a quick dinner of Hamburger Helper Lasagna, because until a family comes into the picture, boxed dinners worked just fine for my life. Once I cleaned up dinner, I didn't have time for that bubble bath I was wanting, so I had to cheat on my tub with my shower.

Goddamn Quinn.

Now, I usually wasn't big on caring what people thought. And while I wasn't the stunner Quinn was or matched the beauty that Izzy had, I wasn't hopeless. I had black hair down to my waist that had a natural curl. I loved that about my hair because, if I was in a hurry, my hair curling itself helped give me the look that I actually took some time with my appearance. And the natural curl helped with the messy bun look. I loved the messy bun look. I wasn't tall at all. In fact, I was shorter than Q at my 5'3", but that's what heels were for. There wasn't anything fabulous about my figure. I was so adequately proportioned that nothing about my body stood out. I had decent sized boobs and hips, and as long as I could be identified as a female, I was happy. The only odd thing about me was my eyes and they sort of gave me a minor complex. They were this weird sort of silver.

Yep. Silver.

Not a normal grey like most human beings, but a metallic looking silver. People always asked me if they were contacts and when I would say they weren't, they always looked at me like I was an alien life form...or a liar. I started letting people just believe they were contacts. It made me feel less self-conscious. They sat below dark brows, that by the grace of God, didn't need plucking, and the rest of my face was pretty unremarkable. Normal slender nose, pink cheeks, full lips and a slight tan complexion made up what is Avery Christine Ellis. Thankfully, I wasn’t one of those women who worried about every little imperfection; I wasn’t beautiful, but I wasn’t ugly either.

Once my hair and makeup were completed, I went to my closet to find the perfect outfit. I didn’t overdo it with the makeup since I was there for moral one-night-stand support only and wasn’t actually looking to get some vagina love. Some eyeliner, mascara and lip gloss were enough to do the job. I didn't realize how sad the state of my social life had become until I saw that all my going out clothes were hidden behind the stay at home t-shirts, lounge dresses and work outfits. But in all honesty, why couldn’t I wear sweats and a t-shirt if I wasn’t looking to get laid?

After twenty minutes of sifting through my closet, I finally settled on a nice pair of black, hip hugger jeans and a button up charcoal grey short sleeve blouse. I finished off the look with a pair of four inch black heeled ankle cut boots. Casual enough for an after work lounge, but stylish enough for Calico's, if need be.

I left my hair down and let it do its thing. I threw a clip in my purse in case I decided to get drunk later. Being the evil genius that I was, I always carried a clip in my purse in case I found myself hugging the toilet when I got home. Being single, I lost out on those special moments when the man you love has to hold your hair back while you puke out tequila shots.

I decided to take a cab to Izzy’s, and while I knew public transportation could add up, it was just so much easier than driving. Jesus, I think I really needed to re-evaluate my level of slothiness. I was starting to wonder if I was reaching intervention status.

While Quinn and I both lived fairly close to SMA Global, Izzy lived about a fifteen minute cab ride away on Junipero. I texted both ladies that I was on my way, so using her genius math skills, Q opened up the door right as I was lifting my arm to knock. Full disclosure, it could also have been my hollering ‘I’m here bitches’ as I was walking up to the door that clued her in to my arrival.

You guys just about ready,” I asked, walking in heading towards the kitchen.

“Yeah, Iz is throwing crap in her purse then we can be on our way.”

I followed Quinn towards the kitchen bar and saw that there was already a bottle of wine open. “Getting a head start?”

Don’t judge.” Q sat down next to me and took another drink from her wine glass that has been sitting on the bar. “Don’t forget, while you were hidden away safely in your cubicle all week, I actually had to sit in Douche Canoe’s office for three different conference calls this week and he sat next to me for one of them.”

Okay, you got me there. Drink away. As a matter of fact, let me get you another glass. That’s a double fisting kind of week,” I sympathized.

“Who’s being double fisted?” Izzy asked coming out of her bedroom, looking directly at Quinn.

Isabella lived in a two bedroom condo, which was very sleek, but cozy, so while she was in her bedroom it wasn’t difficult to overhear us from the kitchen. It consisted of one bedroom with an adjoining bathroom. The kitchen and living room were separated by the kitchen bar where we were currently sitting at. She had a small extra bedroom that she turned into an office space, and while the condo didn’t have many rooms, the rooms it did have were spacious. The décor was very classy and reflected Izzy’s tasteful nature. Her bedroom, however, was where you could see the real Iz. It was the only room that didn’t have matching furniture and was cozy chaos.

“What the hell? Why are you looking at me when you ask a question like that?” Q countered, clearly offended, but not really.

Izzy rolled her eyes. “Oh, puhleeease…because I know for a fact Ace isn’t getting fisted, doubly or otherwise.”

I jumped up off the barstool as I objected, “Hey? How do you know I’m not getting fisted?”

Izzy raised one perfectly arched brow. “Because in the two years that I have known you, every sex story you’ve ever shared has been rated PG-13, that’s how,” she retorted.

Really, PG-13?’ I asked incredulously. “I’ll have you know, while there have only been two or three, nudity has been involved in all of my sexual encounters, so that calls for at least an R rating.” PG-13 my ass.

It’s 2018, Ace, you can damn near find nudity on Sesame Street. You’re sex life is so rated PG-13,” Quinn quipped as Isabella nodded her agreement while she started putting away the wine.

“Okay, Q, finish drinking that glass up so we can go.” Izzy finished off her glass, prompting Quinn to do the same.

I side eyed the whores when I said, “Fine, but I’ll have you judgmental barracudas know that I can get kinky. I just haven’t met a man who brings it out in me yet.” Little did they know, I longed to get kinked on, and just like most women who have ever read a romance novel, I wanted that sexually perfect guy to do it. But not all guys were cut out to be sexual superheroes. There was an art to being forceful and talking dirty in bed. If the guy was playing a part, it could end in a fit of giggles and an orgasmless disaster. Trust me, I unfortunately knew from experience.

Of course, Ace, we know you’re a sexual dynamo. I’m completely jealous.” Izzy deadpanned as she delivered that little gem of sarcasm. She did even bother looking at me as she looked around her condo making sure everything was good to go before we left.

“Fuck the both of you.”

Q started laughing. “Okay, okay. Let’s make a deal then…”

I’m all ears,” Iz said, already agreeing.

“Sweet Jesus,” I groaned.

I propose that whoever gets lucky tonight has to take the guy home, or wherever, and live out one or all of her sexual fantasies.” Quinn smiled, all proud of her insane idea. Take note folks, this is the sort of thing that happens when you hang out with insane people; they offer up insane ideas.

Izzy was quick with her response, “I’m down, but I’ll need to bring a bigger purse for all my props.”

Seriously, Iz? You’re supposed to be the sweet, quiet one, and Quinn, no.” Someone needed to stop this crazy train.

Looking at me, Izzy put her hands on her hips. “I am sweet and quiet, but for the love of God, Avery, I don’t care what any woman says, sometimes you need to be straight up fucked until you can’t move.” I looked over to see Q nodding in agreement. “And any woman who says otherwise or claims she doesn’t have any unfulfilled fantasies is a liar.”

“Except the Amish, I think the Amish are legit in their sexual beliefs,” Q chimed in.

“Even the Amish, Quinn, even the Amish,” Izzy affirmed.

I knew the girls were kidding, but deep down in a way they weren’t. We all had fantasies-whether they were sexual or romantic-and fear was the only reason we rarely voiced them and made them real. Nothing was scarier than laying your soul bare and telling your partner what you wanted sexually or romantically from them. What if they laughed at you? Or worse, thought you were a perverted sicko? Once you say something, you can’t take it back and then every time you went to have sex, that unfulfilled fantasy would be hovering over the both of you. It was just easier to get out your vibrator, close your eyes and keep that shit to yourself.

“You guys are nuts and do I have a choice?” I found myself agreeing. Apparently I was insane right along with the both of them.

Quinn smiled her war-ending smile. “Should we slutty ourselves up some more?” she asked mischievously.

Quinn was wearing her hair up in a casual clipped up look, which looked stylish with her blue peek-a-boos showing and her spiky bangs faced every direction giving her a natural look. She had kept her makeup minimal also. She donned some light eye shadow, eyeliner and mascara, she left her lips bare. She hated reapplying lipstick and she claimed it just made a mess if she got lucky, which it did. Thank God for lip stain lipstick. She was wearing a bright blue, low cut blouse that hung in a cowl neck fashion with a plain black skirt that stopped at the middle of her thighs. The outfit was completed with a pair of five inch black opened toed heels. As always, she looked stunning.

Now, where Quinn was sweetly stunning, Isabella was something else altogether. Izzy was beautiful from the dark brown hair on her head to the toes on her feet. Iz was 5’4” and had a face created by God and a body created by Satan. She had unusual amber colored eyes that sat on a perfectly proportioned face. Her brows were long and plucked to perfection, her slender nose was perfectly centered and her lips were soft and full. She had high cheekbones with a smooth, light complexion. Her dark, brown hair stopped at her shoulder blades and curled into striking ringlets if she didn’t take the time to dry and straighten her hair. Isabella was also a runner. She swears by cardio, giving running credit for her figure and what a figure it was. Izzy was built like a real life Jessica Rabbit.

She was dressed in a white, untucked button up men’s style shirt with a pair of black dress slacks. She had a pair of black four inch heels. She created a smoky eye with brown and black shades, dusted her cheeks with a little blush and topped off her look with a light mocha lipstick shade. She opted for straightening her hair and wore it straight down. It was parted down the middle and fell perfectly out of her face. Her beauty was accentuated by the fact that she was quiet until you got to know her well. She gave off a mysterious, untouchable vibe. She brought out that protective side of you and I felt sorry for the man that would one day land her. He better be super secure and confident because a wimp just wouldn’t do.

“Unless The Hooker and Her Client are in the fantasy lineup for tonight, we look fine,” I reassured them.

Quinn leaned in closer to me. “Awe, come on Ace…you don’t want your first john of the night pulling your hair telling you what a good little whore you are?”

Isabella and I started laughing. “Depends, did he pay for that right? You can’t just call me a whore for free, you know.”

“Okay you sexual degenerates, time to go,” Izzy announced.

Quinn and I placed the barstools back underneath the bar lip and gathered our purses. Once we all made sure our purses contained all our essentials, we headed out.

As we waited on the sidewalk for our cab, I realized how much I was actually looking forward to this night. We hadn’t had a girls’ night out in months, and whether single or in a relationship, all girls needed girl time with their friends. No matter how devoted a mother, wife, sister or daughter you may be, we all needed some time to be ourselves. And I knew, without a doubt, I could always be myself around Isabella and Quinn. And despite the crazy living out sexual fantasy situation I find myself in tonight, I would never judge Izzy or Q either….except when they karaoke’d, we really sucked at karaoke.


Nicholas~

I apparently have become lazier than I had realized, because the Raider pajama pants that I put on when I got out of the shower were so comfortable, I seriously wondered why I couldn’t just wear them to Xavier’s. I mean, hell, it was Chase who was on a mission to get laid, not me. Granted, I’d have to put on a shirt and a pair of shoes, but slippers were shoes right?

My phone rang as I was pulling out a pair of dark blue, faded jeans. Placing it on the dresser, I hit the speaker button. “Savage.”

“Just making sure you’re still meeting us and I don’t have to send Julian over there to drag you out,” Chase’s voice echoed back through the speaker.

“Sending Julian because you know you can’t do the job yourself?” I pulled out the drawer containing my exciting array of socks.

“I just don’t want to chance you getting in a lucky shot and damaging this perfect face of mine, thus ruining tonight’s mission.”

Dude, your mission for tonight, not mine,” I clarified. It was killing me to change from my pajama pants to my jeans. Style versus comfort sucked.

Yeah, right, like you’re not going to bite if some hot, willing woman comes on to you? Sell that shit to someone who hasn’t known you since kindergarten.”

I picked my phone up and took Chase off speaker phone, putting it up to my ear, as I headed towards my closet to pick out an appropriate shirt. “Having some drinks and winding down with you and Julian is a good enough time for me.”

Awe, you’re so sweet. I love you, too, but do me a favor and leave your vagina and copy of your Notebook DVD at home tonight, along with your man purse,” Chase ridiculed.

“Laugh all you want asshole, but more than once, you’ve cried on my shoulder,” I reminded my dear friend.

“We were six years old, fuckface.”

That doesn’t change the facts, jackhole.” I finally found a plain black shirt that would work for tonight. “Are you done peer pressuring me? I need to finish getting ready, you know, so that I can meet my friends at this new fucked up place called Xavier’s because my loser friend needs my help to get laid.”

Chase laughed into the phone. “You’re going to be thanking me later when you’re blowing your load into some kinky piece.”

Bye, Chase,” I finished as I hung up on him.

I decided to let my hair self-dry, and even though I had some styling products, I only used them when I had to actually do something with my hair to look presentable for charity events, etc. For the most part I was a low maintenance kind of man. We all were. Growing up like we did, there wasn’t extra money for styling products and whatever. Besides, while I agree men should make the effort to clean up a bit once in a while, I wasn’t a fan of men man-scaping and getting facials and pedicures and shit like that. Men are supposed to be fucking men, not act like we’re goddamn women. Word to the wise ladies, if your man takes longer to get ready than you do, you have a girlfriend, not a boyfriend…just saying.

Once I finished dressing, I went into the kitchen for a quick bite. I didn’t want to start drinking on an empty stomach, and while I can hold my alcohol, I didn’t want to get shit faced drunk. I decided to prepare a couple of simple ham sandwiches. Hopefully Xavier’s had a small appetizer menu if I got hungry later.

My kitchen was state of the art, complete with all stainless steel appliances. I didn’t cook much since I didn’t have anyone to cook for, but whenever Julian, Chase and I hung out at my place Julian put my kitchen to good use. With his mother being the piece of shit she was, Julian learned early on how to cook for himself. And let me tell you, the dude can cook.

I lived in the penthouse suite of an apartment building that was owned by SMA. I was only a few blocks away from our home office and that made life super convenient. However, we each had an adjoining room to our offices where we would sometimes shower and sleep if we were knee deep in a project. The office spare rooms were identical in looking like an open floor loft. It was one room with a small closet, full size bed, a toilet, sink area and a closed in shower. There was barely room enough for a bedside night stand, but since we didn’t use the room often, comfort wasn’t that big of a deal. And to be honest, it was still more spacious than some peoples’ homes.

My penthouse was nothing elaborate. It looked like any hundreds of penthouses you see in Home & Garden magazines. The best thing about the place though, was the view from any window. It looked out over San Jose and was absolutely calming. I paid an interior decorator to make it look how it looked and the only room that had any personal touches to it was my bedroom.

My dressers and night stands were decorated with framed pictures of me, Julian and Chase. Some had Kane, Chase’s younger brother, in them and a couple had Chase’s mom in them. There was a family portrait with all five of us hanging on the wall near my door. I could see it from my bed and I always glanced at it when I left my room. It was one of the reasons I never brought a woman to my house. My house was for family only. While Julian and Chase each had an extra spare bedroom for when any of us had to crash, my house was the only one that actually had a separate room that each belonged to Chase and Julian. I told them each that since this was an SMA building, they had a right to this penthouse just as much as I did.

Chase lived in an upscale condo. There were three condos to a section and Chase had purchased an entire section and remodeled it to one three story condo years ago. He made the bottom floor into a gym, complete with full kitchen for whatever protein smoothie you desired, a bathroom, a steam room and small boxing ring. The second floor made up his home office. He kept the kitchen also and added an entertainment area with a big screen T.V., surround sound, and X-Box, and a cabinet full of games and DVDs. It came with a bathroom and the office portion was almost identical to his office at SMA, except for the personal pictures of his mom and brother he had aligning his bookshelves and desk. He had some of him with Julian and me also. The top floor made up his actual living space and the only way into his house was to walk up the flight of steps to the third floor.

Julian was the only one of us that chose to live in a house based neighborhood. He lived two blocks away from Chase’s mom and even though he claimed he just like the area, I’ve always felt like he chose that particular house to be close to Teresa. We can never repay her for all the things she did for us that she didn’t even realize. Julian’s home was very simple, except for the basement. The house originally didn’t come with a basement, but Julian had them lift the entire house to put one in. It was expensive but worth it for his piece of mind. While the house was an average three bedroom, two baths, kitchen, living room, dining room, two garage set up, his basement was a home gym worthy of professional boxers or MMA fighters. Julian had a lot of violent demons and often worked out his anger or anxiety in his basement. It’s been over six years since he’s gotten into a fight, but you could never be too sure what will set him off, so we were grateful for his basement. Prison was always a very real possibility with Julian.

As I was finishing up my second sandwich, my mind wandered back to William Spillner. He’s been with us six years and did a well enough job, so I was baffled by his recent behavior. At least, I never heard of anything inappropriate or incompetent before recently. It hadn’t been until this last year or so that we started hearing rumors of him speaking freely around the work place. And supposedly, he limited his locker room talk to an audience of men, but it was still not what SMA was trying to represent.

Not to mention, any one of our hundreds of female employees could always come walking around the corner and come upon Spillner flapping his gums. And regardless of both Julian’s and my mothers, we had the upmost respect for women, thanks to Teresa. We worked hard to make sure our female employees were treated fairly and generously. No single mothers who worked for SMA would ever struggle to feed their children.

And, yes, Chase was happily single and indulged in one night stands, but he never mistreated the women he chose to be with. He was always honest about his intentions, and with the exception of a couple psychos who he had the misfortune of coming across, he always parted amicably with the women he spent time with.


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