The Pucking Wrong Number: Chapter 22

LINCOLN

I was in the middle of practice, skating back and forth on the ice with my teammates. The sound of our skates scraping against the ice echoed through the rink as we worked through some drills. We’d been practicing our passes and shots for over an hour and my muscles were starting to burn.

Coach finally whistled that it was time for a break, and I skated towards the bench to get some water. I’d just sat down when my phone buzzed next to me. I usually left it in my locker during practice, but I’d wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything from Monroe.

My insides clenched when I saw that the text was, in fact, not from Monroe. It was from my father, demanding I be at the “fucking house” by five for dinner.

I let out a frustrated sigh and slammed my phone onto the bench, causing it to vibrate and catch the attention of Ari, who’d plopped himself next to me.

“Lincoln?”

I shook my head, but of course, the nosy bastard picked up the phone and read the message himself. His jaw clenched, and he shook his head in disgust. ‘Why do you put up with that?’ he finally asked, looking at me with concern in his eyes.

I sighed, not wanting to talk about it. We’d had this same conversation a million times…and he never understood. But Ari leaned closer, his voice low. ‘Lincoln, when are you going to stop letting him hang—”

I cut him off with a shove, not wanting to hear my brother’s name. ‘Shut up, Ari,’ I growled.

“Fine,” Ari snapped, jumping off the bench and skating out onto the ice.

We continued our practice, but I was sloppy, rage and frustration muddling my movements.

‘Hey, Lincoln, did you forget how to skate?’ shouted Dalton, grinning when a rut in the ice almost took me down.

I rolled my eyes, trying to calm down.

I was about to take a shot when Ari’s body slammed into mine. It was a hard check, and it sent me flying across the ice.

As I got back up, I saw Ari skating towards me, his fists clenched and his face contorted with anger. I knew what was coming next, and I braced myself for impact. We collided, and suddenly we were both throwing punches, trading blows as we circled each other.

I was faintly aware of shouting and lots of whistling, but my adrenaline was pumping too hard to stop as I landed a punch on Ari’s jaw. He stumbled back, but quickly regained his footing and retaliated with a punch of his own. We were both breathing heavily now, our faces red with exertion and anger.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Ari yelled as my shoulder barreled into his stomach, taking us both down.

The coaches were on us a second later, yelling and pulling us apart as we struggled to keep fighting. Disgust with myself was coursing through my veins as I glared at Ari, still itching for a fight. But the coaches were too determined, and soon enough, we were dragged apart, our jerseys ripped and sweat dripping down our faces.

‘Get to the locker room, both of you! You’re done for the day!’ Coach yelled at us, his voice booming across the rink.

I glanced back at Ari, still angry, but the coaches were pushing us towards the door. As we left the ice, I could hear my teammates joking and laughing about the fight.

With a huff, I stomped towards the locker room.

Ari and I entered the locker room, and he immediately exploded. ‘What the fuck was that?’ he growled, his chest heaving with breath and a bruise already forming around his right eye.

The anger was fading quickly, replaced by guilt.

And the day had started out so promising.

I collapsed onto a nearby chair, my head drooping low in shame. A long minute passed before I glanced up, raking a hand through my hair to clear it from my face.

“Fuck. I’m sorry,” I finally sighed.

“Well, I’m not sorry for that hit,” Ari announced stubbornly, a shadow of a smile on his face though.

I shrugged. “It was a pussy hit anyway,” I teased.

Comfortable silence finally settled between us…until Ari cleared his throat.

“Ari,” I growled. “I really don’t want to hear it.” I pulled off my skates and slipped on some running shoes.

He stood and leaned against the wall, a stubborn tilt to his chin.

“What are you going to do if he has something to say about your girl?” he said, his eyebrows lifting in challenge. “Going to just let him walk all over you? Because I’m so sure he’ll be cool with you falling for a girl without seven figures next to her name.”

“You’re a fuckhead,” I snapped, grabbing my bag and stalking out of the locker room without a look back.

The whole drive to my parents, though…I knew Ari was right.


I pulled up to my parents’ mansion, a towering white structure that loomed over the other houses on the street. The imposing gates creaked open, revealing the sprawling estate that I had grown up in. The mansion itself was a grand, three-story building with white columns and a wraparound front porch. It was surrounded by well-manicured lawns and towering oak trees that spanned three acres, giving the impression of a well-established family that had been living there for generations.

Appearances were everything to my parents. The mansion was just a symbol of their wealth and status in society. Every detail of their lives was meticulously planned to maintain their image, from the designer clothes they wore, to the lavish parties they hosted. It was a life built on appearances, and it hid all the darkness that lived between these walls.

What the neighbors would think if they knew my mother was fucking the gardener and her tennis instructor… And that my father had probably been snorting cocaine with five hookers in his office last night.

And then, of course, there was Tyler. The ghost of him was everywhere.

I fucking hated this place.

The perfectly manicured lawn stretched out before me, the bright green grass almost glowing in the sunlight. As I climbed the steps to the grand entrance, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of dread settling in my stomach. I knew what was coming.

The door was answered by Ms. Talbot, the house manager, a stiff woman who always seemed to be holding a clipboard. She was dressed in her usual black skirt suit, her hair pulled back in a severe bun. ‘Good evening, Mr. Daniels,’ she greeted me with a nod.

‘Ms. Talbot,’ I replied, forcing a polite smile.

She’d been the house manager for at least the last ten years. And I’d never seen her smile.

As she led me into the mansion, like I hadn’t grown up here, I took in the opulence surrounding me. The marble floors shone beneath my feet, and crystal chandeliers hung from the high ceilings. Everything was immaculate, without a single photograph or other personal touch, as if no one actually lived here. Everything was updated every couple of years to reflect the latest styles and trends.

The dining room was just as grand, with a long table set for ten and more crystal chandeliers hanging overhead. My mother and father were already seated at the table, dressed in their finest attire. They barely acknowledged my presence as I took my seat.

And sitting to the right of my father…Kara Fucking Lindstrom.

Holy fuck.

I took in her too-tight dress, showcasing a set of fake tits that definitely weren’t appropriate for this kind of dinner table. She was the typical too blonde, too-skinny socialite with fake lips and a sullen expression, like she’d smelled some shit.

Nothing like my dream girl.

But now, here I was, sitting at the dinner table with Kara, who my father had conveniently seated next to me.

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” I muttered, earning a stern glare from my father who was daring me to fuck up the night.

“Kara,” I said, ignoring her offered cheek as I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, absolutely seething. I definitely wouldn’t be touching her or giving her any hope that anything was going to happen from tonight’s meal. Maybe I should whip out my dick right now and show her Monroe’s name?

Although, knowing Kara, that would probably turn her on–the feeling that she was hurting someone else.

“Lincoln,” my mother greeted stiffly. Her eyes were slightly glazed, and I wondered what prescription pain killer she’d chosen for today.

“Mother,” I replied with a head nod.

“Is there a reason you couldn’t shower before dinner, dear?” she continued, her nose turning up at my basketball shorts and hoodie.

I was out of the locker room and in the parking lot before I remembered showering would have been a good idea before dinner.

And then I’d said “fuck it,” and come in my workout clothes anyway, not wanting to face Ari again.

Unfortunately, Kara didn’t seem to mind the fact that I was sweaty and no doubt smelled.

My mother and father were both dressed to impress, my father in a tailored black suit with a crisp white shirt and a dark navy tie. His hair was neatly combed back. My mother wore an elegant crimson gown that hugged her figure in all the right places. Her blonde hair was coiled up in an intricate updo, with a few loose tendrils framing her face.

The contrast between their getups and mine was hilarious.

“Knew you’d just be happy to see me,” I replied in a mocking voice, causing Kara to shift in her seat uncomfortably.

Before my mother could say anything else, the staff filed into the dining room, balancing silver trays with various gourmet dishes. The aroma of the food filled the air, tempting my stomach to growl. But I knew I wouldn’t enjoy any of it. All I could think about was last night with Monroe, eating takeout while she sat in my lap.

The thought of it made my mouth water far more than the extravagant spread in front of me.

I pulled my phone from my pocket and hid it under the table as I checked the tracking app to make sure that Monroe was on her way to class. She’d texted me earlier to say thanks for lunch and tell me she had a catering gig after she was done.

I didn’t know how I was going to survive.

Miss you.

When she didn’t reply after a few seconds, I reluctantly slipped the phone back into my pocket and returned my attention to dinner.

“So, Kara, I meant to tell you that you looked absolutely gorgeous the other night at Whitney’s gala. Did you have a good time?” My mother’s southern accent was out in full force as she cut her salmon into small pieces, the salmon she wouldn’t actually eat.

“It was such a darling event, and for such a good cause. But Lincoln, I didn’t see you there. You usually never miss it,” Kara cooed, literally dragging a finger across her cleavage while she talked to try and catch my eye.

Sorry, sweetheart. Monroe’s tits were a trillion times better. I tried not to envision sucking on Monroe’s rosy nipples, biting down gently and getting that soft moan from her lips—Fuck. Down boy.

I did not want to give Kara the wrong impression.

“Lincoln was at one of his little games,” my father snidely responded on my behalf.

“Dad, I’m surprised you would even know that. I didn’t think you followed my schedule,” I mocked, causing a red flush of anger to creep up his neck at my disrespectful tone.

“Of course we do, Son,” my mother chortled, taking a big swig of her wine.

That’s it, go comatose for me, Mother.

The three of them chatted back and forth, occasionally dragging me into the conversation to get my opinion on some inane social event, or the new sports car their neighbor had just bought—the only part of the conversation that was actually interesting.

My father didn’t bring up anything business related, even though Kara’s presence here was solely related to the deal he was trying to work out with her dad—he thought all women were fools, so he wouldn’t bother bringing up anything of substance in front of them.

Dinner dragged on, because five courses were necessary for the average family dinner.

Kara’s hand went to my arm, massaging it while I tried to eat my cheesecake. She leaned towards me, her breasts pushing against my skin.

I froze, feeling my father’s approving gaze crawling across us.

I turned and leaned in so that my lips were brushing her ear. Her chest was already heaving, like I was touching her clit instead of talking.

“If you touch me again, I will stab you with this fork,” I murmured. She froze, shock and confusion in her eyes as she stared at me fearfully. It was clear she hadn’t been expecting that.

‘Excuse me?’ she whispered, her voice wavering slightly.

‘You heard me,’ I replied with a cold smile, and then I brought a bite of cheesecake up to my mouth—just for kicks and giggles.

Kara’s mouth hung open, and for a moment, she could only stare at me, as if trying to comprehend what had happened. Then she stood up abruptly and grabbed her purse.

‘I…I’m sorry,’ she stammered, backing away from the table. ‘I have to go.’

With that, she turned and practically ran out of the room, leaving me alone with my seething parents, in a room that seemed to have dropped twenty degrees.

“What the fuck did you do!” my father roared, leaping up and slamming his hands on the table so the glass plates and cups all rattled.

My mother grabbed her wine glass and stalked out of the room without a word, as the staff scattered into the kitchen.

I took another bite of my cheesecake as if I was completely unbothered by the whole thing.

“Come with me, Lincoln,” my father growled in a voice that brokered no argument.

I found myself standing and following him to his office, a spacious room located on the second floor of the estate. It was elegantly decorated, with dark wood paneling lining the walls and plush carpeting covering the floor. A large oak desk, an ornate leather chair, and a set of matching bookcases that were stuffed with leather-bound books and family heirlooms filled the space.

A large crystal chandelier hung from the center of the ceiling, casting a warm glow over everything in the room. My father’s desk was cluttered with papers, files, and various office supplies, and there was a computer monitor on the desk with several screens open, displaying stock charts and financial data.

I stared out the large window behind the desk, studying the view of the expansive grounds. From there, I could see the lush gardens and sparkling pool below. Memories of swimming with Tyler dashed before my eyes…I had to look away.

The walls were adorned with several paintings and photographs, including a portrait of my father shaking hands with the current president, and a framed copy of the cover of Forbes magazine featuring him as the most successful businessman of the year.

Taking his time, Anstad poured himself a drink, not bothering to offer me one. When he felt the tension was sufficiently built, he placed his empty glass on the desk and turned his attention back to me. ‘Let’s talk about Kara,’ he said, his voice once again taking on a menacing tone.

“It’s not happening,’ I said with a yawn, knowing full well it would fall on deaf ears.

‘I don’t care if you don’t want to fuck her,’ my father spat back. ‘I need you to keep her happy. Do you understand me? If this deal falls through because you can’t be bothered to play nice with this girl, I’m going to—.’

“What are you going to do? Kill me?” I chuckled, watching as his face turned a mottled red color.

My father sat in his office chair and typed something on his computer.

A second later…Monroe’s picture was plastered on the screen.

My heart nearly stopped.

‘Ahh, yes. Is this the girl that has you acting out?’ Anstad asked, his eyes glittering. ‘Did you think I wouldn’t find out? When I have this fucking much on the line?”

I stood there frozen, suddenly unable to move or speak. I’d always known he was ruthless, but fuck, I guess I thought there were some lines he wouldn’t cross.

Apparently, I was a fucking fool.

“You will stay in line, or there will be consequences.’ His fingers typed something else on the screen, and a second later, a video of Monroe walking across campus, her head tucked down, filled the screen.

Anstad leaned forward. “Just in case you forgot…I own you.”

I felt a cold sweat break out on my forehead as I watched the video of Monroe. I gritted my teeth, a surge of anger and frustration coursing through me as I worked on not lunging at him. Patricide didn’t need to be on the menu tonight.

Anstad raised an eyebrow, a cruel smile tugging at the corners of his lips as he watched me.

He dismissed me with a wave of his hand, his smile only growing wider when I flipped him off. I stumbled out of the room, my mind reeling over what just happened.

I wasn’t sure what to do about Anstad, but I was desperate to protect Monroe at all costs. And that didn’t include letting her go.

Apparently, it was time for the next phase of the plan.

I drove straight to her apartment complex and stormed to her landlord’s door, knowing she would still be in class. I hated this fucking place. The paint on the walls was peeling, revealing layers of grime and dirt underneath. The concrete stairs leading up to the second floor were cracked and uneven, with rusted metal railings that looked like they could fall off at any moment.

I could hear the distant sound of music blaring from one of the units, and the smell of cigarette smoke lingered in the air. Most of the windows were covered in a layer of dust and grime, obscuring the view inside.

Trash littered the ground, with empty beer bottles and fast food wrappers scattered around. The place didn’t have a parking lot, so beat-up cars and trucks, some with missing windows or dented fenders, lined the streets. I compared what I was seeing to what Monroe had done to her little apartment, with the freshly painted walls, and the flowers on the welcome mat outside. She kept it perfectly clean, colorful throw pillows and knick-knacks—or whatever the fuck they were called—brightening the room. Vanilla-scented candles masked the odor of mold that saturated everything else in the building.

She didn’t belong here, and after today, she’d never live here again.

I pounded on the landlord’s door, waiting for him to answer.

Finally, the door creaked open and Monroe’s landlord appeared, leering at me with a nasty grin full of yellow stained teeth. I was pretty sure all of his clothes were filthy at this point, because he had huge armpit stains on the shirt that barely made it over his enormous stomach. He was wearing gray sweatpants, but I was positive they wouldn’t have the same effect on Monroe as mine had. Looking at his hair, I wondered if he slicked down every individual piece, or if it just laid like that. He reeked of stale smoke and sweat, the odor strong enough to bowl me over and make me want to gag.

‘What do you want, fancy pants?’ he sneered.

Fancy pants, that was a new one. Especially considering I was still in gym clothes.

“I want to talk about Monroe,” I snapped, already done with the conversation.

The landlord’s grin turned lecherous. ‘What do you want with my sweet little tenant, huh?’ His voice was thick and oily, like he had swallowed a gallon of grease.

I gritted my teeth and tried to keep the disgust off my face. ‘I need you to evict Monroe out of her apartment,’ I growled. ‘And I need you to do it tonight.’

The landlord raised an eyebrow and chuckled. ‘Now, why would I do that? Monroe’s a good tenant. Always pays her rent on time. And she’s…very accommodating.’

Bile rose in my throat at the landlord’s insinuation. I had no doubt he’d been giving her a hard time. ‘I don’t give a shit about that. I just need her out of here.’

The landlord shrugged and leaned back against the door frame, his massive gut jiggling. ‘Sorry, kid. Can’t help you. I happen to like having her around.’

I clenched my fists and took a step forward, towering over the repulsive man. ‘Listen, you little shit. You’re going to do what I say, or I’ll make sure you’re very sorry. Got it?’

The landlord’s eyes widened in fear, and he stumbled back, tripping over a stack of empty pizza boxes. ‘O-okay, okay. J-just calm down, all right? I’ll do it. Don’t hurt me.’

I smirked and pulled out my checkbook. ‘Good. You don’t deserve it, but I’m going to make it worth your while.’ I scribbled out a number that would make him very happy.

The landlord’s eyes widened in surprise and he licked his lips hungrily. ‘Alright,’ he said, taking the check from my hand. ‘I’ll do it. But it’s gonna cost you extra if you want me to make it quick.’

I gritted my teeth in disgust, hating that murder was a crime. “You want to rethink that?”

He put up his hands. “Okay, okay. It’ll be tonight.”

‘Get it done,’ I growled, turning on my heel and stalking back to my car.

The landlord scurried back into his apartment like the rat he was, slamming the door behind him. I sighed and rolled my shoulders back, feeling like I needed to burn my clothes and take a shower with boiling water to get his stench off me.

I needed to get back to my penthouse, though.

I was about to have a roommate.

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