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Things We Left Behind: Chapter 25

I Will Not Apply a Chemical Peel to My Dick


It was an exceptionally gray Monday. The invigorating February air was razor sharp as it hit my lungs. I felt awake, alive, ready to greet the day and destroy my enemies.

“Good morning, sir,” my driver greeted me.

“Morning, Hank,” I said, sliding into the back seat of the SUV. “How was your weekend?”

He blinked. “Um, fine, sir. Is everything all right?”

“Everything is excellent.”

“That’s…good.” He closed the door with a look of concern.

I pulled out my phone and typed a text to Sloane.

Me: Good morning.

I frowned at the words. They seemed flat and inconsequential considering the sexual acrobatics we’d performed all weekend long.

Me: Good morning, beautiful.

No. Definitely not. That one made me sound like a lovesick Morgan brother. I immediately deleted the text. What was the appropriate Monday morning greeting for the librarian who had fucked me into oblivion repeatedly?

Me: My cock is chafed.

Sloane: Good morning to you too. I think you sprained my vagina with too many orgasms.

Me: Is there some kind of balm or laser resurfacing treatment for this kind of situation?

Sloane: Repeat after me. “I will not apply a chemical peel to my dick.”

Me: I had two charley horses in my calves last night.

Sloane: Poor baby. Drink some pickle juice and then tell me how I’m supposed to not think about our rabid fucking every time I sit down today.

Me: If I have to be haunted by our poor choices so do you.

Sloane: Good thing we wised up and won’t be making the same mistake again. Our sex parts need time to heal.

Me: Glad we got it out of our systems. I haven’t even thought about you naked at all in the last four seconds.

Sloane: Hold please. I need to get through a staff meeting today without thinking about your “staff.”

She would think about me all day long, I decided with manly satisfaction as I pocketed my phone. Good. Not that I’d give her a second thought, of course.

“What happened?” Petula demanded the second I stepped off the elevator.

“With what?”

“You look cheerful. Did you unseat another senator?”

“I had a nice weekend,” I said with as much dignity as I could muster.

Petula rattled off the morning’s appointments while shooting me suspicious looks.

“What’s with the face?” Lina asked, stepping out of the kitchen. I realized that for once, I wasn’t the first person in the office. In fact, half of the staff was already here, gearing up for the day. I must have slept later than I thought thanks to She Who Shall Not Be Thought Of.

“Thank you, Petula. I’ll take it from here,” I said, dismissing her.

“If he starts to look feverish, I want to know,” Petula told Lina. “I have a medical team on standby.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my face,” I assured my newest employee.

“The mouth part is fighting its natural frown. You’re almost smiling,” she observed.

Nolan appeared behind her holding a cup of coffee and a stack of files. “Whoa. Someone got laid,” he announced, taking one look at my face.

“Don’t make me send you through HR’s six-­week sexual harassment training,” I warned, telegraphing a message of dire consequences if he dared mention Sloane’s name in front of Lina.

“He didn’t even threaten to fire you,” Lina stage-­whispered. “It’s official. Lucian Rollins has been abducted by aliens.”

“Aliens that had a lot of sex with him. Initiate Protocol D, people,” Nolan announced. Employees nearby grinned at him.

“You’re both fired,” I decided.

“You might want to hold off on that until I update you on that issue we discussed Saturday night,” Nolan said, nodding in the direction of his office.

“This concerns you too,” I told Lina.

Together the three of us trooped into Nolan’s office. He closed the door and dumped the files on his desk. Lina took a seat and crossed one long leg over the other. I remained standing.

“I pulled Travers off the Rugulio background check and sent him sniffing around Felix Metzer’s family this weekend.”

“And?” I prompted.

“He was able to confirm that Tate Dilton was the one who showed up at the Metzer family barbecue. Three family members IDed him after Travers showed them a couple of photos of our mustachioed, deceased douchebag.”

Lina was on her feet. “Tate Dilton. The son of a bitch who tried to murder my fiancé?”

“That’s the one,” Nolan said.

“Apparently he was connected to the man Anthony Hugo commissioned to create the list of law enforcement and informants,” I explained.

“Did he put Nash’s name on that list?” Lina demanded. Her fury was a controlled, icy blast.

“It looks that way,” Nolan said.

“But why the hell would he put Nash’s name on the list and then be the one to try to take him out?” she asked. “Why not just pull the trigger and forget the list?”

Nolan glanced at me. “The best we can figure it, Dilton was a dumbass.”

“Well, that tracks,” Lina said.

“He wanted Nash out of the picture but not enough to pull the trigger himself, until Duncan offered him cash. He could have been playing both sides, doing a little work for Anthony over here and a little something for Duncan over there. There’s no loyalty in dipshit criminals,” Nolan explained.

“It looks like that ties everything up in a nice neat bow,” I said. “Dilton put Nash’s name on the list. Dilton pulled the trigger twice. And Dilton ended up dead.”

Lina’s eyes narrowed. “I wish that asshole wasn’t dead so I could knee him in the balls and wax his mustache.”

“You, me, and the boss man,” Nolan agreed.

“I’m telling Nash,” Lina announced. “NDA or not, he deserves to know.”

“I assumed you would.” It worked in my favor, since then she’d have to listen to him bitch about civilians sticking their noses into law enforcement investigations instead of me.

She sighed. “Thanks for reading me in.”

“Welcome to the team,” Nolan said.

“Speaking of work,” Lina said. “Morganstern Credit Corporation was just informed they’re about to be hit with a lawsuit for skeezy debt collection practices. The attorney sends her thanks, by the way. She thinks this might turn into a class action suit.”

“Good,” I said, checking my phone for messages.

“You know, it sure is a small world,” she mused. “Sloane went out with a guy from Morganstern who tried to scam her by faking his own death.”

“Huh. No kidding,” Nolan said, looking pointedly at me.

“Are we done here?” I asked.

“I’ve got a grumpy chief of police to call,” Lina said. She was already pulling her phone out of her blazer pocket before she hit the hall.

“So not to be that guy, but now that we know who put Nash’s name on that list, are we still planning on giving the FBI a hand with their case against Hugo?” Nolan asked.

I shoved my hands in my pockets. “It wasn’t Duncan who had men tail Holly. Anthony made it personal.”

“I’ll move ‘destroy the fucker’ to the top of our to-­do list,” Nolan said amicably.

“What are you doing for your wife for Valentine’s Day?” I asked suddenly.

Nolan’s face lit up. “Callie’s been working long hours lately, so I got a pair of massage therapists coming to the house for a couples massage in front of the fireplace. Then I’m gonna order her favorite pizza, and we’re going to camp out on the couch watching rom-­coms and drinking old-­fashioneds until the frisky part of the festivities begins.”

“Men shouldn’t use words like frisky.”

“So what about you? Big plans for the big V?”

“Why do I bother talking to you?”

Nolan grinned. “Because you secretly love me and think I’m delightful. So you and Sloane?”

I hated how much I’d wanted someone to say her name in front of me. “What about Sloane?”

“You walked in looking like your horse took the Triple Crown. Now you’re standing in my office willingly making small talk. Somebody got under that prickly exterior. My money’s on Blondie.”

“As always, I regret our conversation,” I said, heading for the door.

“Fine. But if you need relationship advice, you know where to find me,” he called after me.

I presented him with my middle finger on my way out.

Nash: Lina is reporting that the head of the evil empire is walking around the office looking like he just got laid.

Knox: Hope this one didn’t steal your watch and your robe.

Lucian: Running an evil empire takes significant focus. I don’t have time for your girlish gossip. Especially now that I have to fire Lina.

Knox: He definitely got laid.

Nash: Let me know if you need to file a robbery report.

Knox: Wait a second. Weren’t you in Knockemout this weekend? Neecey said you called in a pizza order Sunday.

Nash: Don’t tell me you finally gave in to Mrs. Tweedy’s advances.

Lucian: What Mrs. Tweedy and I do or don’t do is none of your business.

Nash: I’m begging you. Please don’t drive some poor, unsuspecting Knockemout woman crazy enough to start stalking you. I don’t have the manpower to deal with it.

Sloane: I’ve had three patrons tell me I’m glowing. I had to start telling people I found a new foundation so they wouldn’t know it was orgasmic. How’s your day? Destroy the economies of any small countries yet?

Me: Petula has a medical team on standby because I smiled. Lina wants to know why I’m not frowning enough. And Nolan thinks that I secretly love him. I hate everything.

Sloane: On the bright side, your penis will have time to heal since you won’t be shoving it inside me any time soon.

Me: Just to clarify for the official documents my lawyer is drawing up, we’re no longer having sex, correct?

Sloane: I believe that is what was discussed somewhere between orgasms and your snoring when we took a nap on my couch.

Me: That was a coma, not a nap. So we’re done then. Never to be mentioned again. You’re off to focus on finding Mr. Perfect to build your gigantic, unruly family and I’m free to continue my capitalistic pillaging.

Sloane: Yep. Have fun pillaging!

Me: Have fun finding a husband who isn’t incredibly disappointing in bed.

Sloane: It’s going to take hours upon hours of exhaustive, naked research on my part.

Me: Are you sure your endurance is up for the task? Perhaps you should consider a training program to improve your cardiovascular baseline.

Sloane: Are you offering to sex coach me?

Me: Are you considering the offer?

Sloane: What about the official documents your lawyer is drawing up? I’d hate for you to waste all that money by having sex with me again.

Me: I can have the contract postdated. What are you doing Friday?

Sloane: Friday as in Valentine’s Day?

Me: Friday as in Friday.

Sloane: I’m hosting an erotic author for a sexy, adults-­only event at the library.

Me: And after?

Sloane: I guess after I’ll be training on your very large penis.

Me: For science.

Emry: Sacha said yes to the symphony.

Me: Congratulations. You’re one step closer to ending your bachelorhood.

Emry: I don’t know how to date in this day and age. Do I bring her flowers or wine? Is a corsage acceptable? If she texts me should I respond with an emoji or a gif? How much body hair is acceptable on a man these days?

The image consultants on the screen on the wall above the conference table were annoying me with their inability to agree on how best to begin championing Sheila Chandra to the national media. I was about to tell them so when Petula signaled me from the door.

I gestured for Nolan to take over.

“Look, folks. We’re not trying to turn her into a completely different person and alienate her from the following she’s already built,” he began more politely than I would have.

“Grace from security needs a face-­to-­face,” Petula explained when I joined her in the hallway.

That was never a good thing. Except for the time Grace told me she was pregnant with twins. One look at my head of security’s face when I entered my office, and I knew this had nothing to do with maternity leave.

Grace wore a black suit, tactical boots, and a frown on her lovely face. Her black hair was tamed into its usual sleek bun that had been part of her uniform before I’d poached her from the Secret Service. “We’ve got a problem,” she announced without preamble.

Petula shut the door and left us alone.

“What is it?”

“We found a tracking device on your vehicle during our weekly sweep.”

“Which one?” I asked, aware that such a “rich guy” question would have Sloane rolling her eyes.

“The Escalade. I had the team sweep your personal vehicles as well, but they were all clear.”

Relief coursed through me. I’d driven the Range Rover to Knockemout. I could have led Hugo straight to Sloane.

“Did you remove it?” I asked tersely.

Grace’s lips curved. “Not yet. I figured you might want to take the opportunity to fuck with Hugo and his men, sir. My team is going over all the employee vehicles in the garage as we speak. Once we’re satisfied, we’ll do a bug sweep of your home and offices.”

“Good. Increase security here at the office while I figure out how to use this against Hugo.”


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