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Read book one, Because You Don't Know My Name here: https://amzn.to/3P2UsVH
This is an unedited snippet.
My body glaciated. Every limb iced over as my heart plummeted, souring my stomach on its way down to my feet. Millions of questions swirled around my mind. How the hell was he still alive? How were they brothers? What the fuck was going to fly out of his mouth next? The more what-ifs that flashed through my mind, the quicker my heartbeat raced, nearly exploding. My knees bounced uncontrollably underneath the table. I’d never wanted to run so badly in my life. I didn’t know if it was bad luck or karma’s way of catching up to me. Whatever the case, I was chilled to my core. It wasn’t until Don picked up my limp hand and squeezed it that I began to thaw.
“Are you okay?” he whispered, leaning into my ear.
Unable to speak, I nodded while holding back a scream or cry. I wasn’t sure which. I forced a watery smile into place and attempted to keep my voice light. On the inside, every breath Enzo took claimed my sanity.
Before I could complete my sentence, Enzo sauntered toward the table, and my eyes grew feverish and wide before darting elsewhere. He’d always had this gravitational pull to him. Anytime he walked into a room, he sucked up all the air. I was never sure if it was intentional or not. I thought he would’ve taken the chance to blow up my life and my cover, but instead, he did the exact opposite and took his seat. Soon after, three businessmen in suits entered the boardroom.
“Good morning, everyone. I’m glad you all could make it. We’re sorry for the delay. Let’s go ahead and get this paperwork signed and get those checks cut so we can pop this bottle of champagne!” one stated, waving the chilled bottle in the air.
I sat, watching Enzo and his two sisters scribble their names on the dotted lines. I hated sitting across from him and pretending nothing was wrong to keep things from escalating. When it was Don’s turn, he twirled the pen around in his right hand a couple of times before dropping it on the table and pushing the forms away.
“I can’t do it,” he announced.
Everyone sat around him with bated breath before Paris spoke up. “What the fuck do you mean you can’t do it? You can’t just change your mind like that!” she hollered.
“I can, and I did. I’m sorry, but my heart isn’t in it.”
“C’mon, Donny. I didn’t come back here for nothing,” Destiny chimed in.
“None of us did,” Enzo spoke, baritone cutting through the silence.
The sound of his voice was like screeching chalkboards to my ears. I kept my jaw clenched shut, trying my best to hide my panic from everyone in the room as the drama unfolded.
“Well, what happens if he doesn’t sign?” Destiny asked one of the businessmen.
They traded silent glances before turning their attention to her. “We can see there are still some things you all need to work out on your end. The offer will remain on the table for one more week at this asking price.”
“And after the week?” Enzo asked.
“After that, the offer will decrease.”
“To how much?” Destiny inquired.
“We will have to have another land appraisal done and rerun the numbers.”
Paris breathed an audible sigh, making it clear that she was unhappy. “Could it go lower than the original offer of seven-hundred-and-fifty thousand?”
“It’s possible, but again, I wouldn’t be sure until we reran the numbers.”
“We’ll give you all some time. Please feel free to use the room for as long as you need. We’ll be in touch in a week,” another suited man said before exiting the room.
The door closed behind them, and I felt my legs turn to Jell-O. I was trapped in a room alone with my abusive husband and the man I’d gained feelings for, who just so happened to be his brother.
“Are you fucking kidding me, Donovan? You wait until the day of the signing to pull some shit like this?” Paris hissed, shooting up from the table.
“I told you to your face about the big plans I had for this place, Paris. And I understand your situation, and I’m sorry, but I can’t give up on the diner. I won’t.”
“Not yet,” Enzo added.
Don’s brow crinkled before turning his attention to his brother. “You’ve been M.I.A. for how long, and you’re suddenly siding with them?”
“Believe whatever you want, but money talks, and I’m not tryna miss out on a million dollar offer when it’s hot and ready right here waiting for us to fuckin’ grab it,” Enzo replied.
Destiny scoffed. “That part.”
“Really, Destiny?” Don argued.
Her melanated shoulders hopped. “I’m sorry, Donny. I love you. You know I do, but business is business. I think we should sell.”
“I’m staying in town for one week until we can figure this shit out, okay? One, Donovan! One!” Paris growled before storming out of the room.
Destiny soon followed, leaving the three of us alone. Enzo’s devious brown eyes became stationed on mine, and my chest caved in. The cocktail of emotions I felt was no match for my anxiety.
“Where the hell have you been, Zo? I’ve been callin’ you, leaving voicemails and shit. Why didn’t you hit me back?”
“That’s a story for another time. Who’s this? We got another sibling I ain’t know about, or…”
Don shook his head. “Nah. This is my girl, Neema. Neema, this is my brother, Enzo.”
“Half-brother,” Enzo corrected him before reaching across the table and extending his hand to mine. “Nice to meet you.”
Shaken to my core, I responded with hesitation entangled in my expression and tone. “N-nice to meet you t-too.”
His touch lingered against my hand a second longer than I’d liked, sending my brain into another panic. Did he really not know who I was, or was he playing some sick, twisted mind game?
Coming Tuesday, July 25