Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Minute Fiction: Mr. Perfect

Mr. Perfect
By Ashley Ladd

All rights belong to Ashley Ladd. This story may not be reproduced without the author's written permission.

Dale, the Greed God who owned the shop next door and her fiercest competitor, sauntered into Joellen’s beach T-shirt shop. He flashed his killer smile and showed off his perfect white teeth that glowed very bright against his perfect tan.

God, but the man was too perfect. She did her best not to ogle his perfect pecs, his tight abs, and his long, powerful legs. It wasn’t fair! In a voice that came from a freezer she asked, “May I help you?”

“The name is Dale, remember? And why so formal, Jo?” He leaned across the counter and trailed his finger tip down her arm. “We used to be very close. Remember?”

She remembered but she wished she didn’t so she didn’t bother to hide her scowl. He’d been wooing her after work just so he could screw her business. Now she was in bankruptcy and ready to close the store that had been in her family three generations and he was the last person she wanted to lay eyes on.

“Snake.” She turned her back and tried to keep her tears at bay. By now she thought she’d be drained of all the moisture in her she’d cried so much. Enough was enough! It was time to dry the tears and get on with her life. Another life. “Thanks to you, we’re closing. Are you happy?”

“Snake!? You blame me for your failure?” Dale’s voice held a store-full of disbelief. With a choice epithet he pivoted on his heel. Then he twisted around. “I was coming to see if I could help. To make an offer for your business.”

She’d had enough of the games. She waltzed out from behind the register to face him. Then she balled her fists and planted them on her hips. “Don’t stand there like you don’t understand. Ever since you moved in you’ve undercut me.”

Dale didn’t flinch. His gaze drank her in.

She remembered she was wearing a skimpy bikini and heat flooded her body. Quickly, she moved behind a T-shirt rack. His days of getting to see her body were over.

“It’s just business.”

She bit her lip until she tasted blood. Still, a tear escaped and trickled down her cheek. Angry at herself now, too, she swiped at it. “Yeah. I heard that line in a movie. Can’t you come up with something more original?”
Dale slid his hand over the back of his head. He shifted his feet. Then he hooked his thumbs into the waist band of his swim trunks. “It’s the truth. I’ll make more than a fair offer. I don’t want to hurt you.”

Ah ha! That was it. He’d been eyeing her prime beach front property so he could expand his store. “No thank you. I’m considering another offer.”

“I’ll top it. How much?”

God but he looked cool despite Florida’s sweltering July sun. She admired his cool business head while she also detested it. “You can’t.”

His forehead furrowed. “You signed a contract? My lawyers can take a look at it.”

Her blood brewed. Her temperature shot up and sweat glided between her breasts. She spoiled for a last stand even if it was a suicide mission. She didn’t care, either, that her last remaining employee ogled them from the other side of the room. “No contract. I don’t want to sell to you for any price. You used me to get ahead in business.”

He shook his head. “I didn’t use you. I’d like you to work with me.”

She bristled. Her eyes narrowed. “I wouldn’t work for you if you were the last man on earth.” She had to keep a shred of dignity. No way would she report to him as a lowly store clerk, be the laughing stock of the beach. She’d rather move into the projects across town.

“I said work with me, not for me. There’s a big difference. I want you to be my partner.”

She opened her mouth to blast him but when the words sank in, she closed her lips. Finally, she asked,

“What exactly do you mean?”

He got down on his knee and took her hand. “I mean the ‘til death do we part kind. Marry me, Jo. Merge with me.”

Happiness choked her. The love she’d been locking up inside overwhelmed her. But she wasn’t convinced this wasn’t a cheap and easy way to steal her business. She regarded him with a tilt to her brow. “So you want a bed partner, a cook, housekeeper and you run the business?”

His lips quirked into a smile. “No. I’m not suicidal. I wouldn’t eat your cooking unless it’s the only way to keep you in my life.”


“How dare you insult my cooking! Ooh!” Anger choked her. Without thinking she rolled up a T-shirt and started batting him. “I’ll have you know I’ve taken gourmet cooking classes…”

When she ventured too close, he pulled her down on top of him. He held her wrists firmly so she couldn’t flail him. “You’re not exactly Martha Stewart, either.”

Seething, she said between her teeth, “So you are just marrying me to get the business. No way will I sign it over to you!”

His body heat burned into her. His hard chest beckoned her. But she didn’t want to be seduced by his hot body. Or his smoldering brown eyes. Or his chiseled lips. She tried to get up but he rolled on top of her, molding them to one another.

“I want you to work with me equally in the business. Co-owners. Co-managers. Equal partners. If you want to run this half the same way you always have, go ahead.” He captured her hand and dragged it to his lips. He kissed, then sucked each finger into his mouth.

She was rendered speechless. Her body quivered so hard she feared the store would crumble. When she opened her lips, he pressed a finger to them.

“I’d rather, however, open the wall and work side by side with you. I love being with you. I don’t care if you can cook or keep house.”

“Or run a business?”

He shook his head. “Your store’s a victim of the economic downturn. You are a very capable, talented business manager.”
She softened and squirmed against him, wishing the store was closed and blinds were closed. “Keep flattering me.”

“I’d rather kiss you. Put my ring on your finger. But if you want me to keep on talking, I’ll do anything you say to prove how much I love you.”

On second thought, she put her finger to his lips. “Stop talking.”


Unknown said...

Another great Monday Minute fiction!

Nara Malone said...

Don't you just love a persistent guy? He didn't give up until he won her over :)

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