Near, but yet, so
The Exhale Series
by Leesha McCoy at Smashwords.
© 2017 Leesha McCoy www.leeshamccoy.com
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
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;
With thanks to,
Heather, Beverley Paul and Jen.
You, the readers xxx
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
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
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
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.
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.'
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
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
“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
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
“Yeah, I know what
you mean,” I answer dreamily, wondering what the guy from across
the street is really like. I hope he’s
“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
thinking about him? Yeah.” She nods. “You’re a beautiful girl,
Miah, you must know that from the amount of guys falling at your
“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,” she sighs.
“Then let’s make
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 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
“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?”
days left,” she smirks.
Yeah, twenty one
days to make a complete idiot of myself.
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.
check it out. How’s everything here?”
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
“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
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
will be here in the morning, do you want to try it out after work
“Oh, hell yeah, I
need some work done on my bikini area if you could help me out with
“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
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
“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.
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.
Karen, I trust you, do what you have to do. Is Shanice still
“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
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!
she laughs. “See you tomorrow.”
I roll my eyes, smiling my goodbye.
DROPPING MY keys and
bag on the kitchen side, I race to my ringing home phone.
“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.
baby girl, we’re coming to London next week. Are you free for a
“Of course Mum,
I’m always free for you two. Why are you coming? Is something
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.
picked you up a couple of bottles. I’ll call when we’re in
London. Love you.”
“Love you too,
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?”
“You want to
touch it, don’t you?”
“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.
I slide slowly
down on to him and let out a moan of my own. He grasps my hips and
pulls me down so I get the whole length of him. I feel a twinge of
pain deep inside that makes my walls quiver. I find a rhythm and rock
back and forth, slowly then quicker until I reach my point of no
I moan as I wake.
I just come in my sleep?
I look beside me at
the clock. It reads three- fifty- five am. I close my eyes and sigh
heavily, Get a grip, Miah, you're becoming obsessed! I shake my head
and angrily bury my head in my pillow. This
has to stop.
Friday morning I
wake to the soothing sound of Soul playing from my alarmed sound
system. I decide right here and now as I stare at the ceiling through
sleepy eyes that I will try talking to my neighbour this weekend. I
need to come up with a reason to approach him though, that’s the
hardest part. I don’t know anything that we might have in common,
I’m not a runner, I’m a dancer. The best thing I can think of is
to make up some story about robberies in the area. Yeah, that’s my
story and I’m sticking to it.
I decide to work
from home today as Karen can’t make our usual Friday meet up at the
coffee shop. She calls to let me know that she’s sacked Carla and
that it went better than she expected. They decided to mutually end
her contract due to Carla having some personal problems she needs to
deal with. Maybe, once all is sorted I might consider letting her
have her job back—if I have a position open for her. She was a good
employee and her clients liked her, she has just become unreliable.
It’s just before
eleven am when my phone rings. It’s a private number. I frown.
this is Nathan Carson,” replies a husky, seductive voice. My breath
catches at the unexpected sound. Who’s
Nathan Carson? “The
owner of Carson’s Gym and Fitness?” he adds, a little exasperated
if I’m not mistaken.
why did I not do my research? “Yes, of course, sorry,” I manage.
His voice is like a caress. “I’m glad you called.”
manager told me that you have a business proposition you’d like to
discuss? Are you free tomorrow afternoon? If not, it will have to
wait a fortnight as I’ll be out of the country.”
please.” Tomorrow, Saturday? Am I free? I glance at my diary,
nothings pencilled in and I want to get this set up as soon as
possible. “What time?”
“If you come to
the Gym we can use one of my conference rooms.”
“Fine,” I answer
assertively, not appreciating being cut off.
“Good. See you
then.” He hangs up.
comes to mind but that’s okay, I presume he’s a busy man. He
should run a sex hotline though with that voice, it reminds me of
that Trey Songz tune, Panty Dropper. Shame he’s probably not
single, with a voice like that he’s probably got groupies following
him around. Either that or he’s definitely not hot, maybe that
would be better. I’ll be able to discuss business easier with
someone who I don’t think is good looking.
To: Karen Mills
business partnership tomorrow!
Hey Hun, got a
meeting with the owner of Carson’s Gym and Fitness tomorrow at
12pm. Will let you know how it goes. Wish me luck – the man’s
voice sounded like hot, steaming sex!
From: Karen Mills
Subject: Good Luck!
You’ll be fine,
babe, I’ll be waiting for your call. Manic here, fully booked.
Don’t worry, I have everything under control. DO NOT EVEN THINK
ABOUT COMING IN.
See you Monday.
I’m itching to go
into work and help her but I need to prove to Karen that I trust her.
Maybe I should set up another salon, I’ve been thinking about it
for a few months now. I think it’s time to check out premises in
Birmingham, I would love to open a salon there.
For the rest of the
day I look online at commercial properties in Birmingham and make
some appointments to view next week. Maybe I'll take Karen with me to
the most promising ones. The hardest part will be getting a dedicated
team together. Finding passionate staff is like finding needles in a
haystack. It takes forever but in the end it’s worth it.
myself mentally for my business meeting tomorrow, I relax with a
glass of wine and put on some music. I dance for a while and let
myself unwind. Music and dancing is so therapeutic to me, no matter
what mood I’m in, music can make it better. I think that's why I
went out partying a lot when I was younger. It wasn't the drink I
partied for, it was the release. Saying that, I haven't been out for
months. I feel a night out in the south of the capital is in order
kicked in as soon as I woke up this morning. I really want to make
this business idea work. If Mr Carson doesn’t want to get on board
it will be a huge disappointment, but I will find somewhere else. I
dress in a pair of black skinny jeans and a white sleeveless silk
peplum blouse that has ruffles down the front. I grab a pair of white
Louis Vuitton sandals and apply some basic make-up. Gloss, blush and
mascara. I brush out my long, brown hair and style it into a ponytail
Unable to stomach my
usual breakfast of granola, I settle for a flat white on the way to
the Gym. I play Fuse and ODG – Azonto on the way, it hypes me up
and settles my nerves. By the time I’ve reached the reception desk
of Carson’s Gym and Fitness, I feel a lot calmer and ready to do
business. Pitching comes easy to me, it always has, maybe it’s the
thrill of reeling people in.
I see the friendly
female assistant standing at reception.“Hello, how may I help you?”
she asks warmly. I envy her beauty, her flawless brown skin and dark
eyes. She looks Asian in origin but her English is perfect.
“Hi, I’m here to
see, Mr Carson? I’m Miah Campbell. We have a meeting at noon.”
“Oh yes, I’ll
just let him know you’re here.” She smiles and gestures for me to
have a seat on the leather sofas.
I check my watch, a
Cartier that my Grandmother bought me before she died six years ago.
It’s beautiful and can be worn as a bracelet as well as a watch.
It’s five to twelve. I rerun my pitch in my head and take a few
deep breaths. I’ve got this, I love pitching.
I check my watch
again and as the dial hits noon,
I hear his voice and the hairs on the back of my neck stand eagerly
before I do.
Getting to my feet,
I hold out my hand and die inside. Nathan Carson is...
I blink at him a few times, willing it not to be him. His hand finds
mine and I feel like he’s burnt me. My insides clench so tightly
that I momentarily lose the ability to breathe. My face must be such
a picture because before I can manage a ‘nice to meet you’ he
asks if I’m okay.
“I’m fine, thank
you,” I manage eventually, my brain recovering just in time. “Mr
Carson, pleased to meet you.” I shake his hand, grabbing on to it
for dear life. Out of all the people in the fucking world, it has to
be him. I exhale sharply, He’s
even more good looking up close and personal. His eyes are such a
deep green, like sparkling emeralds, dark yet bright. His rich tanned
skin is only marred by a tiny scar just over his left eyebrow and a
hint of fresh stubble along his strong, masculine jawline. Now I’m
getting a better look at him, I’m not so sure if he is tanned.
Being mixed race myself, I can spot when someone has something else
in them. His lips are full, soft and inviting, begging to be sucked.
His tongue darts out fleetingly which pulls me from my trance as his
smiling face swiftly changes into something else.
I look down at our
hands and quickly pull away, conscious of how long I’ve been
holding onto it for. I laugh uncomfortably, “Nerves, I always get
nervous before a pitch,” I quickly lie. Actually it’s you,
you’re making me nervous as hell, the guy I’ve admired for
absolutely ages, the guy I’ve stalked from my bedroom window, the
guy I came hard on while riding hard this morning…
Do not go there Miah...
His eyes bore
mysteriously into mine. “Ah,” he nods as if that explains
everything, “should we?” He waves his hand in the direction of I
assume, the conference room.
I follow behind him
like a student on her way to the principals office. I try not to
check out his ass through his crisp, black trousers and quickly look
at the back of his head instead. I smile tightly at the assistant at
the desk as we walk past her, I suspect she’s seen me looking at
Carson’s ass. I notice that I was a little off guessing his height,
he looks nearer to six foot, still tall enough to tower over my five
foot nine inches.
After a painful few
minutes beside him in the elevator up to the fifth floor, we enter a
fairly small conference room that has a square, oak table in the
centre that could seat roughly twenty people. It has a telephone
fixed at one end and there is a hot drinks machine, filing cabinet
and small table along one wall. The décor is plain white only broken
by two large windows showing a modest view of central London.
Nathan offers, turning to look at me as he closes the door.
I answer hastily, suddenly having dry mouth. His voice is
enrapturing. Husky but smooth and I eye him cautiously.
His eyes meet
mine.“How do you take it?”
I hold in a groan.
For a split second I wonder what he’d say if I said ‘right here
on the table’, but I settle for ‘white, one sugar’ instead.
He smiles and I
watch as his eyes dart to my body before walking across the room and
turning his attention to the coffee machine. I blush under his gaze
before following him, wondering what he thinks of me. I bet he thinks
I’m a bloody beginner at this now. I curse my earlier confession
about my nerves, it doesn’t really set a good first impression.
look familiar.” I’m not sure if it’s a question or a statement.
“Have we met before?”
I don’t believe we have,” I answer quickly. Denial,
He frowns before pushing another button on the drinks machine. I’m
not telling him, no way in hell. I guess he has seen me on the
street, that or maybe there’s someone walking around London who
looks like me.
I stand watching him
awkwardly, playing with my folder as he finishes making coffee for
the both of us. I notice he doesn’t wear a ring, but then I’ve
never seen him with the same woman twice so I don’t know why I
expected to see one. I watch his biceps moving beneath his cream
shirt and his brows furrow as if he’s thinking deeply of something.
I steady my breathing and try to think about the reason I came here,
instead of playing out sex scenes with Nathan Carson in my head.
tell me what you have in mind,” he says out of nowhere and I jump
from the abrupt end to the silence in the room. He hands me my coffee
and takes a sip of his own.
do you mean?” I ask quickly, praying that I haven’t voiced my
thoughts out loud.
Saturday, I’m sure you have better things you’d like to be doing
today. This doesn’t have to be formal, just tell me about your
he testing me? Or is he trying to help me relax? Do I look that
uncomfortable? Maybe he really does think I’m an amateur business
woman. I follow him to the square oak table and sit down a few seats
along from him. He sits with his ankle resting on his knee and puts
one elbow on the table, sitting alongside the table rather than under
it. He takes another sip of his coffee and then raises an eyebrow at
I’m making him wait.
I mentally shout at myself to get a bloody grip. Just think that he’s
ugly, you don’t know him. Think of the plus side – you don’t
have to give Karen a raise now. I smile at that thought and Nathan
Carson smiles back at me.
of course. Well, I own Peaches
Salon and Beauticians, it’s a beauticians, obviously.” I frown.
“I have a lot of high end clients that always ask me to recommend a
Gym. I wanted somewhere to recommend to them, so over the past week
I’ve visited the top five around central and was very impressed
with what I see here, what I saw
here,” I quickly correct myself. Shit.
he asks softly, making the question sound like it has more than one
swallow hard, damn,
his voice is
like chocolate, melty and creamy. Is melty even a word? Oh for God
sake, Miah, answer the bloody man! “Yes, your staff are well
presented, polite. The equipment here is top of the range, and it has
a welcoming vibe. I tried out the swimming pool, sauna and steam
rooms for myself and I was very happy.”
day did you visit?” he questions, studying me intently.
Thursday,” I answer, bewildered. Why does that matter?
I’m glad you like what you see.” He lifts the side of his lip in
do, I did.” I shake my head and bite my lip nervously, unsettled by
the way I appear to be coming across. I quickly continue to tell him
my idea. “I felt it was important to trial the Fitness Centres so
that I could genuinely recommend somewhere to my clients. Somewhere
that I would be more than happy to work out and that was good enough.
I’d like to see if we could come up with a system where I would
recommend my clients to your gym and in return you would pay us a one
off fee once their membership package has been set up.”
thoughtfully, looking into his coffee.
not after a large percentage,” I add quickly, feeling more
confident. He looks up from his coffee as I continue. “More like a
thank you payment in return for Peaches
sending business your way. My clients are very wealthy, Mister
Carson, your membership prices are well within their means. I’m
sure they, themselves, will even recommend your gym to their friends.
I’m sure you know yourself how much business word of mouth can
looks at me blankly for a moment. I hold my breath. “I like the
idea—” I sense a but
will also give a discounted rate to your employees if they use my
salon. We cater for both men and women.”
treatments can you offer for men?” he asks, intrigued.
eyebrow shaping, manicures, pedicures, botox, peels, facials, massa-”
areas do you offer waxing?”
I smile at his
interest. “Anywhere. You’d be surprised at what some men want
waxing.” I grin at him for some reason and he grins back and then
laughs. His eyes light up and his stunning looks render me
speechless. My stomach flutters. Damn. His eyes narrow slightly and I
look away, pretending to look through my folder at something. My
heart rate quickens, he’s so gorgeous it’s unnerving.
like that idea, too.”
My eyes lock back
with his and I smile, relieved. He studies me a while and presses his
lips together. He doesn’t talk much. I wish I could read minds.
say I give you ten percent of their membership fee. What discount are
you offering my employees?” he finally asks.
hadn’t really thought about that. “I will give your staff the
same,” I offer. I’ll be recommending a substantial amount of
customers to this gym. There aren’t that many members of staff
here, if anything he’s being more than generous in his
pay for my employee’s cosmetic treatments. It’s one of the
incentives I offer with the job. How about I set up an account with
you and you can take the ten percent off before you bill me at the
end of each month?”
Well that explains
why the assistants look so good, they don’t have to pay for their
personal upkeep – nice idea. A monthly bill could work, less
confusion and work for Karen. “That will work.”
I’ll send someone over to have a look around your salon and as long
as they’re happy we can hash out a contract. I’m out of the
country for two weeks from next Wednesday, perhaps we can get it
sorted when I’m back in London?” He stands up and holds out his
hand. Quickly standing, I lean forward and shake it firmly. There’s
that feeling again, burning
but this time I notice that his hand is smooth in places but rough in
I smile widely, relieved and ecstatic that I’ve nearly
closed this deal but inside I’m disappointed because I have to wait
two weeks to see him again.
problem, I look forward to doing business with you, Mr Carson.”
look forward to it, too.”
I’M BUZZING after
my meeting with Nathan, Nathan,
I like that name.
I sit in my car and
call Karen. “Hey chick, you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m good,
“Well, you aren't
getting a pay rise.” I grin.
“You spoke to
him?!” I can tell she can’t believe it.
“I didn’t have a
bloody choice, he’s the owner of Carson's Gym!”
“Oh my God, he
“Trust me, he is.
I almost had a heart attack when I saw him. Looks even better up
“I wish I could
have seen your face! What’s he like, then?” she asks eagerly.
I sigh at the memory
of him and relax back into the leather seat of my car. “Well, apart
from being incredibly sexy, he’s… nice.”
I hadn’t really thought about what kind of person he was, but now
thinking about it, he seems like a nice person. Not
just a pretty face. “He
likes my idea, said he wants to send someone over to check out the
place and as long as they like it we’ll sort out a contract when he
gets back to London in a couple of weeks.”
“Oh, that sounds
good. What did you agree?”
“Ten percent, each
what I thought. He offered ten so I just offered the same for his
staff. We’ll be recommending more people so it will work out better
for us. He’s going to set up an account with us, too because he
gives his staff free treatments as part of their contract. Anyway, I
don’t want to take up your time, we’ll talk about it Monday. Mum
and Dad are coming to visit so I won’t be in the salon very much
“Yeah, cool, no
worries. I’m gutted about the pay rise,” Karen jokes.
have to wait until next year like everyone else,” I tell her.
I think about Nathan
on the drive home. First time talking to him actually went better
than expected, I just need to make sure he doesn’t clock that I
live opposite him. Although we haven’t technically met before, I
never offered the information of me living on his street when he
mentioned that I looked familiar. I guess it doesn’t matter now
anyway, we’re hopefully going into a business arrangement together
so I can’t try and have a personal relationship with him. Damn
shame, the man is gorgeous and I can’t help but be disappointed
that nothing will happen between us. That doesn’t mean that I can’t
look forward to spending some time with him though. Roll on two
Monday has rolled
around quickly, and my Mum has text to let me know they have arrived
safely. I check into the salon quickly on the way to have breakfast
with them at our favourite breakfast place, Plum + Spilt Milk in
Kings Cross. It’s manic at Peaches as usual on a Monday morning and
I don’t get a chance to chat with Karen. I offer to cancel
breakfast with my parents but Karen refuses and literally kicks me
Parking the car and
putting up my umbrella, I walk the five minute journey to the
restaurant in the pouring rain. My Mum is waiting outside and I run
the last few yards to reach her.
“Mum,” I gush,
hugging her hard. “I’ve missed you.”
I’ve missed you, too. I’m so glad you could meet us.” I release
my grip on her and hold her hands. My Mother looks casual but
gorgeous dressed in blue jeans and a white jacket. Her long brown
hair hangs loosely over her shoulders and, I notice that her dark
blue eyes are shimmering from her held-back tears. I squeeze her hand
“Of course, Mum.
come on, let’s go in.”
Plum + Spilt Milk is
a beautiful and elegant restaurant. I’ve come here many times to
work or just sit and have dinner, alone. The ceiling is full of
upside down glasses hanging as chandeliers and the walls are adorned
with old paintings and vintage mirrors. Its colour scheme is dark
blue with wooden and cream furniture but it’s the amazing scent of
the food that strikes you as you walk in and this morning is no
We find my Dad at
the far corner of the restaurant already sitting at a table, scanning
the menu. He always orders the same thing, I don’t know why he even
bothers looking. He looks up and gives me the biggest smile when he
sees me and it makes my heart melt.
“Ah, my beautiful,
May,” he says, wrapping me in a bear hug.
“Hello, Dad, I was
just telling Mum how much I’ve missed you.”
“We long to see
you. Please come see us soon.”
“I will Dad,
Once sat, we order
our food. My Dad and I have the full English and my Mum has the
Granola. As we wait for our food my parents tell me about life in the
Caribbean and I notice my Mother is picking up a slight Jamaican
accent as well as a very healthy tan. My Father is actually from
Jamaica but came to the United Kingdom when he was twelve with my
Grandmother. My Mother is from England and had never once left the
country, until she met my Dad.
I smile as I see how
my parents are just as affectionate with each other as ever. They
link their fingers at the table and my Father occasionally kisses my
Mother’s hand. They really do have something special and inside I
feel a pang of envy. In this moment I realise I’m jealous of them.
My Mum deserves to
be happy, she had three miscarriages before falling pregnant with me.
They tried for years until they found out my Mother had
endometriosis. My Dad stuck by her through it all even though she
urged him to find someone less complicated. Dad wasn’t having any
of it. Finally, once they had me, Mum decided to have a hysterectomy
because the endometriosis was just too bad. I would have loved to
have a brother or sister but I can’t say I missed out on anything
because I didn’t have a sibling.
I’m thinking of setting up another Salon.”
“Okay, so how is
good. Karen is doing a brilliant job of running the place, I’m not
really needed there any more. I go in most days but I need a new baby
now. I’ve been thinking of branching out for a few months and
Birmingham seems the perfect location.”
“That’s a whole
heap of work again, May, 'memba 'ow much stress Peaches give you when
you did a set it up?”
“Yes, Dad, I know
but it was—“
it, yes mi know if you did let me finish.” He smiles, giving me a
us know if you need anything. We still have contacts here and in
Birmingham that you can use, who are you taking with you?” Mum
I was wondering how long you were staying for?” I ask, hopeful.
They both came with me when I was looking at properties for Peaches
and they took care of all the legalities which saved me a fortune.
you know we will go with you. We can change flights, when you want to
seen a few premises online, I just have to call to confirm the
viewing times. We can go see them whenever you’re free.”
soon as possible then. I will make a couple of calls.” My Father
shakes his head and smiles. He knows me too well. I’m impatient; I
like to do things as soon as I can.
hear my phone ringing in my clutch, just as the food arrives. I take
it out and look at the screen. Private
Miss Campbell, it’s Nathan.”
Oh, he's on a first
name basis now? My heartbeat instantly quickens from hearing his
husky voice. “Hi, Nathan. What can I do for you?” I answer. Damn,
If only he knew I’d pretty much do anything he wanted.
had someone check out your place this morning. Very nice, apparently.
I’m having a contract drawn up, I can email it to you and then we
can meet Wednesday before I leave, to sign.”
you’d rather have your people sort out the contract?” he adds
no, that’s fine. Wednesday is good.” My parents look
questioningly at me from across the table. ‘Work’,
Should we say nine thirty am at Lantana,
you know it?”
I know it.” I answer, slightly hesitant. Lantana
does the most amazing chilli cornbread.
you Wednesday then, Miah. In the meantime, let me know if there’s
anything on the contract you’re not happy with.”
will.” I give him my email address and then he’s gone. Inside I’m
excited and nervous. I’m going to get to see him again before he
leaves. The man makes me hot and the way he says my name is like sex.
that wasn’t Karen,” Mum says, eyebrows raised. Her question pulls
me from my daydream. “I don’t think I've ever seen you like this,
baby girl,” she adds.
a new business partner I’m working with. It’s nothing major, I
just wanted a gym to recommend my clients to as they keep asking.”
I give them the details of the arrangement and my Father looks
always were a smart girl, May,” he says proudly.
you like him?” Mum asks bluntly. To the point as always.
good looking I can't lie. It’s just business though, Mum. Shame,
you’d like him.”
She smiles, giving nothing away of her thoughts on the matter.
AFTER BREAKFAST with
my parents, my Mother and I arrange to meet at a Spa on the outskirts
of London tomorrow morning so we can have a girly day before the
charity dinner, which I learnt is to raise money for children with
special needs in the UK. I check into the salon on the way home and
Karen grills me on my meeting with Nathan. I give her the details
about a million times before she changes the subject and talks about
It’s just after
two when I reach home and I quickly check my emails to see if
Nathan’s sent anything through yet. Sure enough just as I’m
looking an email from him comes through. Sexy and
To: Miah Campbell
From: Nathan Carson
Please find attached
a draft of the proposed contract. As I have already said, please let
me know if you would like to make any changes before our meeting on
CEO of Carson UK
I open the
attachment and slowly read through the contract. All the figures look
correct. The cost of Carson's employees’ treatments will be billed
to him monthly. I will need to give my clients a code for when they
go and register at the gym, the code will be changed fortnightly.
CG&F staff will have to show my beauticians their work incentive
cards in order to get their treatments. There are a few pages of
small print about the cancelling of the agreement and non-payment
issues that cover the both of us. All in all, the agreement looks
good. I decide to add one thing to the contract though; free
treatments for Mr Carson, I’ll call it a goodwill gesture. I email
him back with the amendment and close my laptop.
Feeling happy, I
dance for an hour before making myself something for dinner. I decide
to make fried chicken and rice.
I’m loading the
dishwasher when my phone rings, I don’t recognise the number.
you trying to say I need some work doing?”
slowly close the dishwasher door. Shit,
Work doing? Oh my God, my offer of free treatments. “No, of course
not, I just thought if you ever wanted anything done, you know, like,
Umm…” Oh, what am I trying to say?
I suppose I might need a wax sometime,” he says seriously.
A wax? I never had
him down for the waxing type. Although he did ask me what area’s I
offer waxing. I don’t know what to say. Maybe he gets his bits
waxed… I exhale sharply and blush hard as the silence stretches
The way he says my
name pulls me back to our conversation. “I just meant it as a
goodwill gesture. You pay for your employees treatments, I just
thought you should get yours for free?” I somehow make my sentence
sound like a question. Have I offended him? I don’t know.
He laughs softly and
something inside me pulls. “What would you recommend?”
Me? “Uh, Anna does
excellent massages.” I sit down in the living room and turn the TV
don’t you do any treatments yourself?” He sounds disappointed. I
close my eyes and breathe deeply. I think about giving him a hot
stone massage followed up by a Miah special. “Well?” he presses.
I snap out of yet another daydream and clear my throat. Get a fucking
grip, girl. Nothing is gonna happen between you now.
I’m fully qualified. However, I think it would be inappropriate for
me to offer you any treatments, personally.”
that so, Miah.”
Why does he keep
saying my name like that? “Yes.”
will have the documents drawn up by Wednesday. See you, then.” And
then he’s gone, again. That man’s like a whirlwind. He comes,
fucks shit up, then disappears. Leaving a wet mess in his wake. Me.
Mum, thank you so much for arranging this, I feel like it’s just
what I need.” We’re at a spa on the outskirts of London. The
charity dinner is tonight and we are being well and truly spoilt
beforehand. We’ve had a swim, been in the Jacuzzi, the sauna, had
facials and now we’re in the middle of a Tantric massage. My Mother
had them come in specially, as a treat. Lucky us.
more than welcome, sweetheart, we just don’t spend as much time
together as I’d like.”
Mum, I understand. You and Dad are happy in the Caribbean and I’m
happy here. Once I find a premises for Peaches two, I’ll come and
stay a few weeks, I promise.”
we’d love that, you know there is so much I want to show you. Last
time you came you barely saw a thing.” She’s right, last time I
barely saw anything because I had to rush back to London for the
business. My last salon manager, Jane, was no Karen. She nearly
ruined my reputation in a week.
isn’t Jane, Mum.”