The Healing Touch - Apryl Baker Page 0,1
“I can’t go. That’s all there is to it.”
“Don’t fuck with me, Dimitri Sean Kincaid. Not after all the trouble and begging I did to get you into those venues.”
“I think my mouth is rubbing off on you.” He let out another one of those sexy as sin laughs. “When did you start cussing so much?”
“When my boss started waking me up at four in the morning.”
“I didn’t think.” He cleared his throat. “Sorry.”
“You already said that, and apology accepted, but you’re still not getting out of this signing.”
“Aren’t you my PA?” he asked. “Don’t you have to do what I tell you to?”
“Only when it makes sense and won’t put my ass in the frying pan with people I respect. You’re going, Dimitri, and that’s that.”
“You sound like my mother.”
“You sound like a three-year-old who’s sulking.”
“I’m allowed. I’m an author.”
“I call bullshit.”
“Bullshit this, Rebecca Joyce Rhodes. If you’re going to make me go to this damn thing, then you’re coming with me.”
“Absolutely not.” The words came out in a whoosh of air. He did not just demand she leave the comfort of her apartment to go out, where she had to talk to people. Nope, not going. Not for anything.
“Look, I’ll pay for the plane ticket and your room. Hell, I’ll cover food too. I just need someone…”
“No.” She stopped him before he could get started. “I’m your PA, Dimitri. I do all the book stuff you don’t have time for. I do the Facebook group postings, and I do all your promo designs. I handle email, your fan club, setting things up when you’re out partying your ass off. I work, and I work hard. But I do it from the comfort of my own home. I am not going anywhere.”
“Yes, you are.” His voice took on a stubborn lilt. “If you’re going to make me suffer, then so will you. Either come with me or you’re fired.”
The phone disconnected, and she pulled it back and stared at it, dumbfounded, once again. He did not just threaten to fire her if she didn’t go with him to this signing, did he? And then hang up on her?
Could she go with him? Her breath caught, and she couldn’t breathe thinking about it. She stumbled to the window and threw it open, trying to get air. Thinking of all the crowds at the airport, sitting next to people she didn’t know on the plane, and all the people at the hotel sucked air from her lungs. Then there was the signing. People who would expect her to talk to them. She couldn’t. She just couldn’t.
Black spots started blinking in front of her, and she desperately fought to calm down so she could breathe. Panic struck hard and fast. She couldn’t go.
Even if that meant quitting her job.
She picked up her cell and texted him.
A whole day.
That was how long it had been since he’d heard from her. She hadn’t answered a single email, phone call, text, or Skype notification.
Dimitri shoved the sunglasses up his nose when they slipped down. The GPS kept telling him this was the place, but Becca couldn’t possibly live in this neighborhood. It was a shithole. Gang members stood lounging on the street corner eyeballing his rental car. It was only a Mercedes, but the parts alone were probably worth stripping it down for.
Fuck it. He pulled to a stop outside the building that was supposed to be hers. He knew she lived on the third floor in apartment 321 because he’d mailed enough stuff to her over the last several years to know it by heart. He beeped the alarm and went inside. Taking off his shades, Dimitri looked around at the dingy, stained walls and muddy floors. Did they not employ someone to clean around here?
A quick search confirmed his worst suspicion—no elevator. He straightened his spine and headed for the stairs, dreading each step that would wear him out. He hadn’t brought his cane, and he refused to touch the railing. He could only imagine what might be on it. His white sports coat was the cleanest thing in the whole place.
Dimitri’s legs started to burn right before he hit the second floor. That took less time than he’d hoped for. By the time he dragged himself to the third floor, the burning morphed into all-out pain. If he didn’t need to talk to her so badly, he would have said “fuck it” and left, but he did need her.