The Pucking Wrong Number: Chapter 38

LINCOLN

I walked into the lobby of Daniels International, whistling the newest Sound of Us single as I strode past the front desk. The attendant’s eyes widened as she looked up from her computer screen and saw me. She quickly regained her composure and put on a polite smile, but it was clear she wasn’t sure what to do.

I could see her eyes darting nervously around the room, searching for someone to help her. I decided to put her out of her misery.

‘Is my father in?’ I asked, knowing she knew exactly who I was.

She hesitated for a moment, then nodded, ‘Yes, he’s in his office, sir.’

I gave her a small nod of acknowledgement and turned towards the elevator. As I pressed the button, I could feel her eyes following me.

I stepped into the elevator as soon as the doors opened and hit the button for the top floor. As the elevator ascended, I grinned. Today had been a long time coming, and I was ready.

I checked the penthouse cameras on the way up, making sure that Monroe was still watching a movie. There was a wide smile on her face as she lounged on the couch in one of my T-shirts, watching Wedding Crashers. I took a screenshot so I could make it my new background on my phone.

She was so fucking gorgeous.

When the doors finally opened on the top floor, I strode confidently out of the elevator and towards my father’s office. As I approached the door, I could hear voices coming from inside. Without bothering to knock, I pushed the door open and strode into the room.

‘Lincoln, what the hell are you doing here? I’m in the middle of a meeting,’ he snapped.

“Hey, Bart,” I shot out to my father’s mousy looking Chief Technology Officer, Bartholomew Taylors. There was sweat beaded on his forehead and his cheeks were red. Obviously, he’d been getting his ass reamed in here. “You can leave now.”

“Lincoln, what the f—”

‘I have something you’re really going to want to see,’ I replied calmly, knowing that it would only rile him up more. ‘You could say it’s life changing.’

My father rolled his eyes and muttered something under his breath, but gestured for Bart to leave the room.

Bart practically ran out, and I wrinkled my nose in disgust at his cowardice.

As soon as the door swung closed, it was on.

“You want to tell me what the fuck you thought was so important that you barged into my meeting?”

“I wanted to tell you a story,” I said lightly and he growled, his gaze narrowing as he studied my face, finally getting the picture. This wasn’t business as usual. He glanced at his watch. “Well—get on with it. You have five minutes.”

‘Thanks for the generosity,” I drawled, drawing another snarl from my father.

I settled down casually onto his couch, crossing my legs as if I really was about to watch a movie or do something else not related to destroying someone.

“As you know, Tyler and I were very close,” I began.

“To his detriment,” my father inserted.

I ignored him. For once, his snide remarks didn’t hold any heat.

“Tyler wanted to make sure that I would always be taken care of, in light of our…difficult relationship ,’ I said, a hint of smugness in my voice. ‘He had a will in place at the time of his death that gave me all of his shares in the company if he passed.”

My father’s eyes briefly widened in shock, but he quickly shuttered his emotions so that only his usual blank malfeasance was present.

My father scoffed. ‘Alright? Are you here to brag about owning 30% of the shares for the company? That’s not going to get you anywhere.’

I nodded. “You’re right. 30% wouldn’t get me very far. But all the shares I’ve purchased since, with all the money I’ve earned from my “little hobby”, will get me far.”

I picked up my phone and sent him the document my accountant had pulled together.

“You can check your email,” I smiled.

I sat calmly as his phone dinged with the notification he’d gotten my message. I watched as his face contorted with confusion, then realization, then sheer panic.

‘What is this?’ my father demanded, waving his phone wildly in the air. It was the most undone I’d ever seen him. ‘What have you done?’

I pretended to peruse the email on my phone, a small smirk playing at the corner of my lips. Finally, after enough of a dramatic pause, I looked up at him. ‘As you can see, I now own 51% of the company…enough to get me wherever I want.”

My father’s face flushed crimson, the veins on his forehead bulging as he glared at me with fiery eyes. His fists clenched at his sides, and I could see the muscles in his jaw tensing as he struggled to maintain control. ‘You are out of your fucking mind!’ he spat, standing up and pacing back and forth behind his desk. ‘You have no idea what you’re doing. You’re going to ruin everything!’

I leaned back against the cushion, folding my arms across my chest. ‘Oh, I am going to ruin everything,’ I said, my voice calm and measured. ‘I’m going to sell off this company piece by piece until there’s nothing left. I’m going to ruin what you’ve spent your entire life building.”

“You’re out of your mind if you think I would allow this to happen!”

I had imagined how good all of this would feel, but honestly…this moment might be right up there with winning the Cup. The shock on his face was just…delicious.

I pulled out my phone and tapped a few buttons. ‘You haven’t exactly been discreet with all your shit, Father. A long time ago, I started collecting videos…just for a rainy day.”

“What are you talking about?” he growled, but his face had paled to that of a corpse.

He knew exactly what I was talking about.

I pressed a button on my phone and sent him one of the videos I had. He pressed play, and after watching it for a few seconds…he collapsed in his chair, the very image of defeat.

“Videos of you bribing officials, soliciting prostitutes, doing drugs…you’ve been very, very naughty. And I have video of it all.’

I’d never seen fear in his eyes, but I saw it now.

And it might have been wrong, but the little boy I’d been, the one he’d terrified and abused…

He felt much better.

‘What do you want?’ my father finally asked, his voice trembling.

‘I want you to move your office to New York and pretend that I don’t exist anymore,’ I said coldly. ‘And if you happen to get a wild hair about doing something to get rid of me, just know that I have things set up so that those videos will be released to various outlets and organizations if anything happens to me or Monroe. I also have a clause set up that all my shares will be sold to Kingston Venture if anything happens.” I dropped my smirk and stared at him, letting the darkness out so he’d know just how serious I was. “Meaning, Father, that if you do anything to me…I’ll destroy everything.’

My father sat there, speechless, and I basked in my victory, a heady thrill running through my veins. I’d been caught up in all my guilt over Tyler, all the bullshit…and Monroe had finally set me free.

‘So, what’s it going to be?’ I asked, smiling broadly.

My father glared at me, but I could see the defeat in his eyes. He picked up his office phone and pressed an extension. “Arrange for everything to be transferred to the New York Office. Immediately. I’ll be flying out tomorrow.”

He didn’t answer the questions being thrown at him. He just hung up, all the fire out of his gaze.

‘I’m your father,’ he finally said, as if that were of any consequence.

I stood up slowly, towering over him. ‘And you forgot that before I was even born. You should have known I was going to make you pay for what you did with Monroe.”

His eyes widened as realization sunk in. He’d had no idea through our entire conversation that this was related to what he’d done with her.

Fucking idiot.

“I better not see you ever again,” I threw over my shoulder as I ambled out of the office, resuming my earlier whistling.

He would think of me for the rest of his life.

But I vowed I’d never think of him again.


Monroe

I was sitting on a bench in the park with Bill, the same bench where he’d watched over me that night long ago, enjoying the sandwiches I’d brought for us. The sun was high in the sky, casting a golden glow over everything in sight. The heat was palpable, but it wasn’t oppressive. It was one of those rare days in Dallas where the air wasn’t thick with 100% humidity. Instead, there was a gentle breeze that carried the scent of blooming flowers and fresh cut grass–the kind of day that begged to be enjoyed outside.

“Hmm, have I told you the one about Yorkshire?” he asked, his voice thick with his characteristic accent. He took a big bite of his sandwich, his eyes far off, already lost in the story.

“I don’t think you have,” I answered fondly. It was nice to spend some time with him. He didn’t feel as comfortable in the ritzy part of town as he had by my old apartment, and he still had refused to take any help from Lincoln or me.

The park was our middle ground at the moment, but I was determined that would change.

‘Ah, okay, let me tell you about the time I was a wee lad and got lost in the moors of Yorkshire. I was only six years old, and I had wandered away from my family during a picnic. I wandered and wandered until I found myself all alone, surrounded by fog and heather as far as the eye could see. I was getting quite frightened, I can tell you…and then I heard a sound. It was like a distant whistle, and I knew I had to follow it. So off I went, trudging through the heather, tripping and stumbling over rocks and brambles. Finally, after what felt like hours, I stumbled upon a—Little duck, are you happy?”

I’d been lost in the story, but I was also used to him changing topics quite suddenly when it suited him. He’d asked me that question before, and in the past…I’d also had to hesitate.

Today, I didn’t need to think at all.

“Yes. Crazy happy, Bill.”

“I love that, my dear,” he said with a smile, placing a hand over his heart.

I was just about to ask him to continue his story, when my phone chimed with a text.

Lincoln: Give me a second chance, babe…and I’ll blow your mind.

I stared at the text for a moment, confused…but intrigued. I tried to think if there was anything special or different about the day…but as far as I knew, there wasn’t. I decided to play along:

Not in a million years could you blow my mind.

Those first texts were engraved in my memory. This would be an easy game.

Lincoln: We both know that’s not true.

Bill made a sound, but before I’d even turned my head to see what had caught his attention, I knew.

It was Lincoln.

I could feel him now, like an electric hum in my veins.

Taking a deep, relieved breath–because no matter who I was with, I always missed him–I turned and saw him standing a few feet away.

For the millionth time, I got starstruck by his beauty. He was the most captivating man I’d ever seen. There was a raw, potent energy about him that wrapped around me every time he was near. Alpha-male perfection I would do anything for.

My heart was skipping a few beats as he walked forward, and I could see he was holding a single black rose. He was dressed far fancier than the park called for, with a fitted black shirt that clung to his chiseled chest, and jeans that had to have been made just for him. His hair was perfectly styled, and the sun-kissed strands shone like gold in the bright Dallas sun. His piercing gaze was unnervingly focused on me, just how I liked it.

Once I’d stepped over the edge and accepted that our obsession for each other was a living, breathing, growing thing…it had been easy to let go and accept everything that came with that. Including the fact that he was always watching me, always seeing every little piece of me, even the things I wanted to hide.

‘Hi, dream girl,’ he murmured, his voice low and sultry as he handed me the rose. I fingered the petals, admiring them for a moment before I met his gaze, nervous butterflies in my stomach for some reason.

What was going on?

Then, I watched as my world once again reformed and took on a new shape…

And he got down on one knee.

I was shaking, the air seeming to glimmer around me, a hazy wonderland where all your dreams actually came true, appearing right in front of my eyes.

“You’re not supposed to cry yet,” he teased, tracking the tears falling down my cheeks. “I haven’t even gotten to the good part yet.”

“I can’t help it,” I sobbed.

“Monroe…sweetheart,” he began, his voice warm and gravelly. “From the moment I saw you, it was like a bolt of lightning hit me, like all the stars had rearranged themselves and taken every single wish anyone had ever thrown at them…and combined them all to give me my perfect dream. The one girl made just for me.” His breath shuddered and I leaned down to brush a kiss against his lips.

“To me, you’re everything,” he continued, and I laughed, because there was that word again.

“I didn’t know how lost and lonely I was until I met you…and now that I have you…you are my home.”

There was a deep, pulsing ache in my chest, because it hurt how much I loved him. As he continued to talk about fate, of destiny, of the inexplicable pull that had brought us together…I thought about what life would have been like if I hadn’t answered that text that night. If I’d just ignored it, and gone about my day.

It hadn’t even been that long ago, but already it was hard to picture the girl I’d been. Scared and exhausted and alone. The phrase “changed my life” couldn’t even begin to adequately describe what he’d done for me. His presence in my life was my best gift, my brightest star…

“I’m going to spend every day making you the happiest you’ve ever been, baby,” he whispered.

And then, he said those words that changed everything: ‘Marry me.’

I laughed, a sound that bubbled up from deep inside me like champagne. “Are you asking me or telling me I’m going to be your wife?”

His response was immediate, his eyes blazing with a fierce wild-eyed determination, ‘Definitely telling. I think I’ve told you before, dream girl. I’m never going to leave anything to chance when it comes to you.’

My laugh was a half sob as I brought my shaking hands to my mouth…and he pulled out a ring with a diamond that could have been as big as my fist. He gently pulled my left hand away from my mouth and slowly slid the ring on my finger, before bringing it to his lips.

We hovered in that space between magic and starlight for a few mesmerizing minutes…and then I jumped into his arms and peppered his face with a thousand kisses. I was faintly aware of Bill whooping and cheering from nearby.

“What would you have done if I hadn’t said yes?” I finally murmured in between breathless kisses.

Lincoln took my hand and dragged it to his pocket, where I felt the distinctive shape of handcuffs. A shocked laugh escaped me and he smirked, not ashamed at all that he was certifiably insane.

“Okay, crazy,” I murmured, and he just winked, not ashamed at all.

“You ready to marry me tomorrow, Monroe?”

“Tomorrow?” I gasped. “What’s the rush?”

“I’ve been ready for you to be Monroe Destiny Daniels from that very first day. I need to own you. I’m desperate for it.”

I didn’t argue, because…he was right. If you got the chance to experience the kind of love that breaks you and heals you all at once…

The answer should always be yes.


We didn’t get married the next day.

We got married that night.

Lincoln called in a favor and somehow, I found myself standing with him in a simple white dress, in a Dallas courthouse, in front of a judge and his cute wife, vowing my life to Lincoln forever.

Lincoln had made sure the vows didn’t say until death do us part.

And it felt right.

Because we both knew that Lincoln wouldn’t let a little thing like death keep us from each other.

“We’re just starting the good part,” he promised.

And I said, “I know.”

And then he took a selfie of us and sent it to his publicist with strict orders for her to “tell the whole world.”

And that felt perfectly right.


Monroe

Sometimes it felt like too much, this love of ours, like the emotions we had would engulf us and ruin us. This couldn’t last forever, my demons whispered. He’ll leave.

Lincoln seemed to always know when the darkness crept in. He held me close and worshiped my body for hours every time, whispering how much he loved me, that I was his soul. That he’d never let me go.

His obsessiveness was a living, breathing thing that I was addicted to, that I craved with the very marrow in my bones.

Everything about our relationship was unhealthy, the kind of codependence that therapists the world over warned their clients against with every breath in their body.

And I would never let it go.

He gave me everything.

His attention, his love, his body…his very breath. And I gave him everything of me in return.

“You’re mine,” he whispered, his forehead scrunched in concentration as he moved in and out of me.

And I believed him.

If you would have told that ten year old girl, bending over the cold body of a mother that never put her first, that someday she’d become someone’s whole world, she never would have believed it.

But I had no choice but to believe it now, because he breathed it into my very soul.

“I love you,” I murmured as he licked a tear from my cheek, desperate to own every part of me, even my tears.

“Tell me again,” he ordered, his gaze never leaving me. The intensity between us grew every day, like ivy across stone.

I think he would kill us both if I ever tried to leave.

And that thought brought a sadistic, sick comfort to me.

I would gladly take everything this man would ever give me.

And it was all because of a simple text…to the wrong pucking number.

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