Title: Striving for Acceptance
Series: Striving #3
Author: B.L. Mooney
Release Date: December 26, 2014
Third in the Striving Series, but can be read alone.
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“Could you hand me another clay pot, please?” I was crouched down, getting the displays ready for opening day. Never mind it was still three weeks away. I needed to keep busy.
The pot appeared before me and I grabbed it. “Thanks.”
I turned my head to the male voice and was inches from a bulge I’d gotten used to having in my face. I hadn’t seen what the bulge was made of yet, but he sure liked thrusting it in my face every chance he could.
I snipped the shears I had in my hand. “You’re very brave to come that close.” He backed up. “That’s what I thought.”
I stood and looked at him. His curly blond hair needed a cut, as usual, and the smirk on his face needed to be smacked off. I tilted my head to the side and wondered what he would look like without the scruff he tried to pass off as a beard. Why should I care what he would look like? I shook my head.
“What do you need, Mick? I’m busy.”
“I just thought I’d see if you needed help.”
“As I’ve told you the other fifty times you’ve come over, no. I’ve got everything under control.”
He rocked back on his heels and looked around. “It does look good.”
My sister, Rachael, came from the back and smiled. We were complete opposites. She had long, wavy blonde hair while my hair was black and cut short. You might have been able to tell we were from the same gene pool if I showed my body off the way she did, but I liked to keep things a little more under wraps compared to her curve-hugging style. Besides, I’d always been the more casual type and she was all about the latest styles. It looked good on her, but I’ve got better things to worry about than clothes.
The other thing which set us apart was the fact she was friendly. I wasn’t. “Hey, Mick, what brings you over?”
“Just being neighborly.”
I rolled my eyes and turned to work on another display. “We’ve got it. Thanks for stopping by.”
Rachael waited until he left. “You’re not very nice to him.”
“He isn’t someone I want to be nice to.”
“I think you could be very nice to each other.” She smiled. “I’ve tried to get Carl to grow some scruff like that. It’s sexy. The least you could do is play nice with him and tell me if it—”
“Look, he’s the lease-holder. I don’t need to be caught up in that. Plus, he’s a little rude, always pushing his cock in my face.”
Her hands fell to her sides. “Excuse me?”
“Yes, it’s always there.”
She smiled. “Maybe you’re just always looking.”
“Don’t you have to pick up Amy?”
“Shit.” She looked at her watch. “I really do, but this conversation isn’t over.”
I mumbled, “It is for me.”
I had just finished wiping down the counter even though I’d already cleaned it a dozen times. I wasn’t ready to go home. I wanted to make sure it was perfect for opening day.
There was a small tap on the door. “Let me in already!” Mick yelled.
I rolled my eyes and walked over to the door. “It’s unlocked. Just open—” I opened it to see him balancing two plates and two glasses of wine. He walked past without an invitation. “What are you doing?”
“Come over and help me.”
Curiosity got the better of me. I walked over and watched as he turned his ass to me. “Take out the tablecloth, will you? It’s a little big, but if you keep it folded in half, it should fit the counter.”
I took the tablecloth from his back pocket and laid it out as he said to. “What are you doing?”
“Dinner.” He set the plates and glasses down. “You never leave for dinner or have anything ordered in.” He looked me over. “You’re too thin.”
I placed my hands on my hips. “Excuse me?”
“You need to keep your strength up if you’re going to run a company by yourself. You need to take care of yourself or you have no business taking care of anything else.”
He handed me a napkin with a fork and knife and pointed to the plate. I watched him grab a couple of stools for us. “Eat.” He sat on his stool and dug in. “Are you going to tell me you don’t like steak?”
I shook my head. I sat down and looked at the steak, baked potato, and green beans. “I’m just trying to figure out what your motive is.”
I looked up. “You want me to pay you for this.”
“No, I want you to pay for your lease, and you can’t do that if you run yourself down.” He took another bite and pointed at my plate. “Eat.”
I could live with that answer. It was honest and impersonal, so I liked it. I started eating. “This is really good.”
“How did you keep it warm?”
“I don’t live far.”
We sat in silence and finished our meal. It wasn’t uncomfortable. The sounds of the utensils against the plates filled the air and before I knew it, I had cleaned the plate.