"Why? Doesn’t she have her own place?" If he gives me some speech about companionship or the house being empty, I am going to lose it. I was already suspicious about what all their relationship entailed and after his marriage fiasco I couldn’t handle anymore bombshells of information being dropped on me at the moment.

"She has a rat infestation in her building and her condo is being restored. It’s just for a few days or so."

Rats? Ew. "Okay."

"What’s wrong? You seem upset."

"She just seemed surprised to see me here, like she didn’t know I was back in the picture."

He shrugs. "You just came back yesterday. I haven’t gotten around to telling her yet."

His response makes sense, I just don’t like the idea that with Colton newly single, Marta’s wasted no time in moving herself in. And judging by the three giant suitcases she brought with her, she’s planning on being here for more than just a couple of days.

Marta chooses that exact moment to enter the kitchen and help herself to a coffee mug from the cupboard. I know it’s irrational, but her familiarity with this man and his home bugs me. "Ready for work, boss? We can ride in together." She treats him to a wide smile.

Colton gives me a peck on the lips and his eyes implore mine to let it go before he turns to face Marta. "Actually, I figured we’d probably be working different hours, so we’d drive in separate."

"No, that’s okay. I don’t mind if you have to work late, I’m game for whatever.  Plus, it’ll be a good time for us to catch up. I can bring you up to speed on the renovations I have planned for the pool house."

"What renovations to the pool house?" I inquire.

"Colton didn’t tell you?"

I shake my head.

"One of the pumps malfunctioned and the pool house flooded. I’ve taken over redecorating it since … never mind." Marta smiles coyly, sharing a secret look with Colt.

"Since what?" I ask.

She shrugs. "Since Stella is the one who decorated it and I didn’t think the purple and gold décor went with Colton’s taste, I figured it was time for a makeover."

Colton slides his warm palm against my limp one, a gesture meant to calm and reassure me. I have no idea why I’m acting so territorial over a man I’m not even sure is mine, but seeing Marta here this morning has all my senses on high alert. If I am going to have an actual relationship with Colton, I need the women of his past to stop showing up here unannounced. I make a mental note to ask Colton for details about his relationship with Marta.

I stand near the front door in my pajamas and watch as Colton and Marta climb into her little red sports car. They pull out of the gated driveway and onto the road and the sound of blaring music lingers until they disappear from sight.

I sigh and shut the door. My new life is going to take some getting used to.

Chapter Seven


As a successful entrepreneur who runs two companies, who regularly deals with top executives and negotiates with fierce competitors, I find it almost laughable how worked-up one small girl, dressed only in my t-shirt can get me. As Marta drives my thoughts drift to Sophie, as they often do.

I type out a text message to her.

I miss you already.

Her reply is almost instant.

Miss you more.

I smile and type out my reply. We’ll have fun tonight.

You promise?

Her response makes me chuckle.

All you can handle, sweetness.

"So, Sophie’s back?" Marta asks, adjusting the volume of the radio down and pulling my attention away from my phone.

I’m detecting a hint of jealously stewing between them – something I need to put a stop to right the fuck now.

"Yes, she’s moved back in – for good, I hope."

Marta lowers her sunglasses and looks over at me. "Wow. That’s a big step."

"Indeed," I confirm. "I’m crazy about her, Marta, and I need to know that you understand that. You and I have a complicated past, but that’s where it needs to stay – in the past."

"I see." I detect a hint of disappointment in her voice.

I can’t say I’m surprised by her reaction, I’ve long suspected she’s wanted more with me.

"I value you as a friend, and an employee, but Sophie’s a game changer for me. In fact, I’m finally dealing with Stella."

"I get it, Colt." Her voice takes on a slightly exasperated tone. "Things were over between us long before Sophie came into the picture. And I’m a big girl. I can deal."

"I know you can. Thank you for that." I’m glad that she seems to understand. The last thing I’d want is for things to get weird between her and Sophie. Or between her and I for that matter.

"Besides, it was only a few times," she remarks.

We both gaze out at the road and I sense that she’s recalling the few times we were intimate with vivid detail.

"It’s in the past," I confirm. I just hope it stays there. Marta doesn’t respond. "It’s all but forgotten, right?"

She lets out a short chuckle. "I wouldn’t go that far, Colton. I don’t think I’ll forget anytime soon that you’re the biggest man I’ve ever been with or how harsh and commanding you can be when you’re aroused."

Our encounters aren’t as memorable in my recollections. I only recall that in the months after Stella left, I was depressed and lonely. Marta was there and willing and I allowed her to take the edge off a few times, but we never had sex. "I’m serious about this, Marta. If you make things difficult for Sophie, or if you dredge up things from the past..."

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