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Near, but yet, so far.

The Exhale Series (Part 1)

Leesha McCoy



Published by Leesha McCoy at Smashwords.

Copyright © 2017 Leesha McCoy www.leeshamccoy.com

All rights reserved.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, incidents and places are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to any persons, alive or dead and references to places and buildings are used fictitiously.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, E-mail the publisher at the following; LeeshaMcCoyAuthor@gmail.com

First edition



With thanks to,

Leanne, Lynda, Heather, Beverley Paul and Jen.



Dedicated to…

You, the readers xxx

One

I WAKE sweaty and frustrated. Panting hard, I reach under my pillow for my vibrator and make quick work of making myself come.

“Fuck!” I cry as I explode around my toy, jerking against my bed. I need cock in my life but this will just have to do. The last guy I was with was a… I swallow hard, it’s not worth thinking about. I will have to settle for rubber or plastic or whatever this thing is made of, for now.

I sigh heavily and clench my eyes shut; these dreams about my neighbour are becoming more and more intense. I just can't get him out of my damned mind. Shaking my head, I quickly snap out of another day dream before getting out of bed. Pulling on a robe, I make my way to the en-suite. I need to get my ass moving or I’ll be late for my meeting with Karen.

Long story short, I’ve liked a certain guy for a while now. I don’t know his name, and I don’t know what he does for a living. What I do know though, is that whenever I see him I can’t help but think about all the unspeakable things I could to do to him, with him. I think about what his type is, praying it's someone like me. Short, thick, long brown, wavy hair and an olive complexion. I expect I’d know what his type was if I could just find the bloody courage to approach him.

I’ve lived on his street in the West End for two years now, but we’ve never once spoken to each other. I don’t think he’s even noticed me. We live in a street full of old, three-storey town houses. I know he leaves his house usually around seven in the morning, always dressed in a black suit. His short hair immaculately styled with gel or whatever product he uses, and his shoes glimmer from the price tag. He’s got money, everyone who lives around here has. He drives an Audi R8, sometimes a Jag and occasionally I see a Limousine picking him up. I rarely see him with a woman but when I do, they are just as gorgeous as he is.

Lucky them.

I’d say he’s about five eleven, a medium build and fit like an athlete; his body is built like a God. He runs in the evenings, late, around ten o’clock. He doesn’t get home until about eight most nights. I know what you’re thinking; that I’m a stalker but it’s not like that, I swear. He’s just so stunningly good-looking; gorgeous and his tanned skin makes you want to bite him just to find out what he tastes like. Or maybe that’s just me.


I love living in the West End. My Mum and Dad are both solicitors, though they don’t really practice any more. They ran a very successful Law firm in central London and then opened branches in all the other major cities for years until they decided to move to the Caribbean three years ago. They helped me set up a beauty salon before they left and bought me this house. I still had to work hard for it mind. I went to college, got a job, studied business at university and then decided I wanted to have my own business. I don’t like people telling me what to do. I’m extremely independent and consider myself allergic to people in authority.

I love my salon. I treat my staff well and in return they work hard for me. I worked at six different jobs during my school years and if there’s one thing I learned, it was that if you treat your staff well, you’ll get ten times more out of them. My parents knew that too, and they always used to tell me, 'Don’t be a bitch just because you come from money. No one likes a snob.'

Now I’m twenty-seven and running my own business, I understand. Just because I have money, doesn’t make me better than anyone, and it sure as hell doesn’t mean I can treat people however I want. I know a lot of people who think they can and I feel sorry for them. Why are people so mean to each other? In what ‘guide to life’ is that written in? Not mine, that’s for damned sure.


I sigh with impatience whist standing in the queue in my local coffee shop. The fresh scent of coffee fills my senses as I watch the steam from the equipment behind the counter fill the air. I rushed to get here and in return skipped my morning coffee. Anyone who knows me knows how important morning coffee is to me. I idly wonder if the heated dreams about my neighbour are the reason for my tiredness lately. Last nights dream was particularly hot.

Shaking my explicit thoughts away, I turn to face Karen, my salon manager to tell her about my new business idea. Talking about my business always gets my full attention and I’m grateful because I need to get that man out of my head. “So I think we should consider setting up a partnership with a fitness centre. Our customers are always asking what the best gym is, and while we can do all treatments, it would be good to be able to tell them where to go for the best workout facilities.”

“I agree, babe, it could work well for both parties,” she replies enthusiastically.

Karen’s been with me since I set the business up four years ago and not only is she my employee, she’s my best friend.

“That’s what I’m thinking. If we can set up a system that alerts the gym that we’ve recommended them, they can give us a percentage of the membership fees.”

“Exactly.”

“Finally,” I mumble as I reach the counter. “Two skinny Latte’s, please.”

We wait for our drinks and then make our way over to a plum leather sofa at the back of the coffee shop. We meet here every Friday morning before work to discuss the business. We also talk about everything else in-between.

“So do you have any fitness centres in mind?” Karen asks, flicking her long red hair off her shoulder and relaxing into the corner of the sofa, crossing her legs.

“Nah, I’m going to check out the top five in the area next week. I’ll arrange to meet the owner of whichever I like best. I’m not going to recommend something I don’t like myself,” I say, blowing the smoke from my latte and taking a sip.

“Oooh, so you’re going to be a mystery shopper for the week, huh?”

“Uh-huh,” I nod, “I’ll visit them in the mornings, so don’t expect me in until after lunch.”

“No problem. I don’t know why you even bother to come in most days. It’s not like you need to.”

“I know, but you know I like to be involved as much as possible.” I can never understand why people have businesses but aren't involved in them. I like to know everything.

She smiles softly and nods knowingly. Karen is beautiful. Pale flawless skin, big blue eyes and long red hair. She’s tall and slender, looks like a supermodel, always has her hair and nails done and is the perfect representative for ‘Peaches’, my salon. It’s been in the top five rated beauty salons in London for the past two years. She knows I accept nothing but perfection and that's why we get on so well.

“So how did your date go Saturday night?” I ask her a while later, looking around the coffee shop and noticing how busy it's getting.

“Bloody awful. We went to Sushi Palace and he kept spitting out everything he didn’t like, which was basically everything he tried. He was such a baby. I couldn’t get away from him fast enough. He’s called a few times since but I haven’t answered. I’m surprised he expects me to after that.” She cringes and then shudders. “Shame because I really liked him but I need a real man, you-know? What the hell is wrong with men these days?”

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” I answer dreamily, wondering what the guy from across the street is really like. I hope he’s manly.

“Why don’t you just ask him out? I know people who could do some research on him. Even find out his bank balance?”

I chuckle. “Are my thoughts that obvious?”

“When you’re thinking about him? Yeah.” She nods. “You’re a beautiful girl, Miah, you must know that from the amount of guys falling at your feet.”

“I wouldn’t say men are falling at my feet,” I scoff. I’ve only dated a little bit – and the last guy I dated... I’m not sure if there’s something wrong with me or I’m just not looking in the right places. I do get asked out regularly but I can’t be bothered. Give me a bowl of ice cream and a hot, steamy book any night.

“They do, even that guy that came on to you yesterday outside the shop, he was gorgeous,” she gushes sarcastically.

I flinch at the memory of the guy with the unwashed hair and smelly clothes outside peaches yesterday. “Shut up, he was disgusting!” I scorn her, slapping her knee.“And I’ve almost approached my neighbour plenty of times actually but then I see him with a woman—”

“Excuses, excuses,” she sighs.

“It’s not, honestly.”

“Then let’s make a bet.”

Oh no, Karen loves bets… “What kind of bet?” I ask warily.

“By the end of the month you must have at least spoken to him.” She raises her eyebrows and takes a sip of her Latte.

“Uhh, I’m not…”

“I dare you.”

I stare at her blankly for a few moments as her dare fully sinks in. I never say no to a dare but that’s our secret. Now, she’s using it against me.

“It’s for your own good,” she adds, reading my expression well. “Just a hello will do. I don’t want you to find out his life story. Come on, Miah, two years you’ve liked him. Life is too short not to take chances.”

“I take chances all the time,” I say defensively.

“Not with your love life you don’t,” she answers back, just as firmly. “I know that last guy was an ass hole but every guy isn't him.”

“I know that.”

“Well, then. Look, if you don’t do it, then I want a raise.”

“I just gave you one!” I admonish her.

“So talk to him then,” she says as if it's that simple.

I narrow my eyes at her and sigh. “Okay. I’ll talk to him, okay?”

“Good, twenty-one days left,” she smirks.

Yeah, twenty one days to make a complete idiot of myself.


Two

MONDAY MORNING comes around quickly, in fact, since Karen dared me the time seems to be flying by... I down an espresso in one go, grab my keys off the breakfast bar and make my way outside to the car. It’s raining heavily so I run from the front door to my Aston Martin One-77, unlocking it mid-run. I’ve only had her a few months but she’s my baby. She’s a bit noisy, the exhaust roars but no one round here seems to mind. Everyone drives flashy cars on Wyndham Street; this is the west end after all.

I listen to Emeli Sande’s album on the way to the first fitness centre on my list. It’s only a short drive but the traffic at nine in the morning makes the journey take ages.

As soon as I walk in I hate it. I drag my way around the dull and dreary gym, and by the time I’ve left, I know there's no way I’ll be recommending it. The customer service for one isn’t up to my standards, and the atmosphere just isn’t as welcoming as I would like for my customers. Call me picky but I haven’t made my business as successful as it is by not striving for perfection at every step.


“So how did the first mystery shop go?” Karen asks as I walk into her office situated at the back of the salon.

“No way.” I grimace, shaking my head and joining her at her desk.

“That bad, huh?”

“It was dull and uncoordinated and it didn’t feel right. The assistants weren’t up to scratch either. Rude.”

“Oh, I can’t say I’ve ever been to that one. Why don’t you try the one on Oxford Street tomorrow? I’ve heard great things about that one,” she encourages me enthusiastically.

“Okay, I’ll check it out. How’s everything here?”

“Fine, Carla called in sick but the temp I got in has been fantastic. The customers seem to like her and she pulls her weight. I had a chat with her this morning and told her what I expect from her. She was really excited to be temping here, said she’s applied for a job every time we’ve posted an opening but we’ve never got back to her.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, her name’s Shanice, she qualified five years ago. She looks after herself and she’s genuinely friendly. She’s good at her job, too, Miah, I mean really good,” she says as if surprised.

“Well if she’s that good we can give her a trial for a few weeks. Carla’s absences are becoming more and more frequent, it’ll be good for her to know that she will be replaced if she keeps it up.”

“Good idea,” she agrees, “I’ll talk to Shanice at the end of her shift.”

“Okay, great. Keep me updated. On another note, the new Soprano Laser will be here in the morning, do you want to try it out after work tomorrow?”

“Oh, hell yeah, I need some work done on my bikini area if you could help me out with that?”

“Yeah, fine, just make sure you remember to shave this time. I’m not doing that again,” I scorn her and we both laugh.

“I will, promise.”


The Laser came and Karen loved it when I tested it on her, hardly hurt apparently so I let her do my entire bikini area, and I had to agree with her – it was brilliant, and well worth the money. The hair takes on average ten days to fall out so there are no results now but the pain level compared to my existing machine is exceptional. I hope the hair loss results are as good. Laser hair removal is one of the treatments that I indulge in myself every so often. I like to stick to the more permanent hair treatments.


The next two fitness centres I check out are, okay. The one Karen suggested is definitely winning so far. Although I still don’t feel that it’s right for us. I’m hoping to find a gem in the last two I visit.

As soon as I walk into Carson’s Gym & Fitness on Thursday morning, I love it. I’m welcomed by a perfectly groomed female assistant who doesn't have one strand of her straight, blonde, glossy hair out of place. As I work my way around the centre I notice that all of the assistants are as equally perfect in their appearances. The high standards of their employer certainly has to be admired. It makes such a good impression. I briefly wonder if they already have some sort of set up with another beautician. I very much hope not.

Maybe I could sweeten the deal by offering the staff here discounts on treatments if they use Peaches instead? I don’t know how much the staff here get paid but it probably won’t be enough to afford to use my salon without a discount. It may work in my favour because the word-of-mouth potential from here could be huge.

With a collection of ideas circling in my mind, I inspect the rest of the premises. The décor throughout is fresh, clean and contemporary, but without being clinical. That’s another tick in the box. I feel comfortable here. It has all the latest gym equipment, top of the range, and it shows in the membership prices. They start from fifty pounds a month increasing to ninety-five, depending on the package you choose. In my opinion it’s worth it, especially for the area we’re in. My clients are all very wealthy so that won’t be a problem from my end.

After indulging in a swim, sauna and steam session, I decide to hunt down the owner or manager. I find the assistant manager who informs me that the owner only comes in one day a week and it’s not today. Typical. I leave my business card and a brief explanation of what I want to discuss with him and by the assistant manager’s reaction, I can tell she likes the idea. I just hope the owner does, too because I’m not even going to look at the last gym I had on my list, I want this one. Feeling a surge of disappointment at not pitching my idea today, I leave the gym and head for Peaches.

“It’s just what we want,” I gush to Karen, relaxing at her desk, “all the things I was looking for, friendly staff that are well groomed, all the latest high-tech equipment and it’s tastefully decorated. I couldn’t find one thing that I didn’t like. I just hope to God the owner wants to get on board.”

“I’m sure they will, if not then you’ll just have to use your talent of persuasion.”

“Yeah, well, I left my card with the assistant manager and she seemed to like the idea so let’s just hope that the owner contacts me soon. I really want to make this work.”

Karen nods her agreement and focuses her attention back on the screen of her laptop.

“What's up?” I ask, sensing some thing’s off.

“Carla called in sick again this morning, I think we need to let her go. She’s well aware of the terms of her contract, she has an obligation to her clients that she isn’t fulfilling.

“Again? Look, Karen, I trust you, do what you have to do. Is Shanice still impressing you?”

“Very much so. She starts her two week trial period on Monday.”

“Okay, good. Do you want me to fire Carla?”

“No, I’m fine doing it. No point you having a salon manager if you still have to get your hands dirty, hey?”

“True. Let me know how it goes. I’m going home to a tub of ice cream and my new book.” I pick up my bag and check my appearance in the mirror. My natural, full lips look on the dry side so I touch up my lip gloss and reapply some eye shadow to my big, brown eyes.

“You got any news on your neighbour yet?” Karen asks, looking up from her laptop. “You don’t have that long left. I’m looking forward to my pay rise.” She claps her hands.

“You ain't getting another bloody pay rise. I’m on it, okay?” I shoot her a dirty look. Cheeky cow!

“Okay, boss,” she laughs. “See you tomorrow.”

“Later, Karen.” I roll my eyes, smiling my goodbye.


Three

DROPPING MY keys and bag on the kitchen side, I race to my ringing home phone.

“Hello?” I answer breathlessly.

“Miah, sweetheart?”

“Hey, Mum, How are you and Dad?” I ask, relived that I haven't missed their call. I pull out a stool from the marble and glass island and sit down.

My Mother, Susan and my Dad, Oliver, are the rocks in my life. I don’t know what I’d do without them. They’ve supported me through everything and although they were both wildly driven they never once put their businesses or successes before me. Every school play and every dance competition I competed in as a child, they were there. Hardly any of my friends parents gave their time to them like my parents did. Sure, they had money and never wanted for anything but as a kid you want your parents time more than anything else and they gave me that at whatever cost. They love each other deeply and I thank God that they are still together and most of all, happy.

“We’re good, baby girl, we’re coming to London next week. Are you free for a visit?”

“Of course Mum, I’m always free for you two. Why are you coming? Is something wrong?”

“No, nothing’s wrong. We have a charity dinner to attend and your Father is meeting some associates. Your Father would like you to attend the dinner with us and I thought we could have a girly day?” I can hear the hope in her voice. My Mother loves to socialise, she always has. I remember as a little girl being dressed up to attend functions and then being taken home early while her and my Father would party until the early hours, coming in and checking on me when they returned home. I still enjoy those social events with them, but now I get to decide what time I go home. Charity dinners are fun, lots of hot men in suits to look at and I also like to give money to charity. I’m blessed that I’m successful, I never forget that.

“No problem, Mum. Tell Dad I’d love to go.”

“Oh, lovely, I’ll tell him. He will be pleased, you know how much he misses you, baby girl. Are you okay? Do you need anything?”

“No, Mum, I’m good. Make sure you bring me some Wray and Nephew though, please.” My favourite Rum.

“I’ve already picked you up a couple of bottles. I’ll call when we’re in London. Love you.”

“Love you too, Mum.”

I check my mobile and after replying to a few work emails I settle down in my bedroom with a bowl of ice cream and my Kindle. My bedroom is my favourite room in the house. It’s decorated in creams and beige. My bed is a queen sized sleigh bed that has a TV fitted into the foot of it that slides up when you push a button on the remote. The wall opposite the bed has fitted mirrored floor to ceiling wardrobes against it and there is a single oak bedside table next to my side of the bed. My lights are clap controlled and there is under floor heating under the oak flooring throughout.

My house has five bedrooms, all en suite which are divided over the top two floors with my bedroom being on the second floor. I have a housekeeper that comes in three days a week to help me do the cleaning, washing and a few other things. I like to keep independent but my house is too big for me to maintain myself, especially while running my business.

After finishing my ice cream, it isn’t long before I hear the familiar sound of a R8’ pulling up outside. I creep out of bed and discreetly move to the window, Mister Suit is walking up to his house. My heart races. I don’t know how I’m going to manage to talk to that man. The thought of saying hello to him gives me heart palpitations. I don't know what it is about him that makes me so nervous. I don’t have long left though and there is no way I’m paying Karen even more money. Not that she isn’t worth it.


I kiss his neck and he tastes like sweet honey. Slowly, I flick my tongue down his hard chest and abs, heading for his boxers. He arches his back and lets out a soft moan. The sound makes my insides clench tightly. I'm so wet already and he hasn't even touched me yet. I grab the waistband of his black boxers and he raises his hips to let me pull them down. I gasp when he springs free.

Do you like what you see?”

Yes,” I whisper.

You want to touch it, don’t you?”

Yes.”

He takes my hand and guides it to his stiff length. I curl my fingers around him firmly and watch his facial expressions change. He closes his eyes and parts his lips, groaning every so often when I hit a spot he likes. I lean down and taste him. Oh, he tastes good. As I work him, his moans become louder until he asks me to ride him.


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