Perfect Chaos - Jodi Ellen Malpas

I ROLL OVER IN BED and collide with something that isn’t soft and definitely isn’t a pillow. Yet I don’t open my eyes to find out what’s now pushed into my chest. My mind’s too busy trying to break down the wall of sleep to locate the memories I need to tell me who’s in my bed with me. Whoever it is, they’re now feeling up my thigh to . . .

“Whoa.” I laugh, reaching down and seizing a hand, just as it makes it to my morning glory. My eyes pop open as I push her feeling hand away, finding a pair of lusty blues gazing sleepily at me, her nose nearly touching mine. “Easy, tiger,” I whisper, rolling swiftly over to get up.

“Where are you going?” she calls as I pace to my bathroom. “It’s only six o’clock.”

“I have a date with a swimming pool.” I look into the mirror and squint at my reflection, not appreciating what I see, turning my head left, and then right to assess the damage. I look as dehydrated as I feel, my olive skin pasty, my baby blues bloodshot. Grand. Just . . . grand. Dinner with Mum today was a bad plan. I look like shit. It’s not a look that suits me.

Grabbing my toothbrush, I load it with paste, hearing the soft chuckle of a woman coming from my bedroom.

“I’ve never been dumped for a swimming pool before,” she says, making me smile as I scrub my teeth.

I spit and rinse. “You have to be in a relationship to be dumped.” I look past my reflection as she appears in the doorway, naked except for a suggestive smile. I brace my hands on the edge of the sink and hold her eyes.

“Of course,” she says, leaning on the doorframe by her shoulder. “And since Ty Christianson doesn’t do relationships, there’s no chance of any dumping happening, is there?”

“You got it, baby.” I wink cheekily and reach over to flip on the shower. “You know how I operate surprisingly well considering we met less than twelve hours ago.”

“I think all women make sure they know how Ty Christianson operates. It keeps them safe.”

“Most women are sensible, then.” I sweep an arm out toward the shower entrance. “Care to join me?” Since she seems to know the score, another round can’t hurt.

“I thought you had a date with the swimming pool?” She cocks a sarcastic eyebrow at me.

“I’ve changed my mind.” I gesture toward the shower again and raise my eyebrows in prompt. “And just so you know, most women don’t pass up the opportunity of round two with Ty Christianson.”

“Oh, I know.” She laughs and starts a slow pace toward the shower. “Aren’t I the lucky one?”

As soon as she’s within reach, I grab her and walk her into the cubicle. “Tell me,” I whisper, leaning down and nibbling at her shoulder.

She hums, her skin heating under my touch. “What?” She’s barely able to force the word past her instantly ignited desire.

I thrust her up against the wall and seize her wrists, pushing them high over her head into the tiles. I get my mouth close to hers. “What’s your name?”

Her eyes narrow a smidgen, but she still smiles. “Imogen.”

“Cute.” I sweep in, claiming her lips like I own them.

Because she so fucking wants me to. And for now, I do too.

A Windsor knot is the only way to wear a tie. I perfect the length of material, nodding my approval as I step back from the mirror, fastening the buttons of my waistcoat. I look sharp. Ready to take on the world. I check my shoes. Okay, not quite ready yet.

Wandering into my kitchen, I find the shoe polish and give my brogues a good buff. “Now you’re ready, Ty,” I say, grabbing my briefcase off the table and throwing some cash on the counter for my cleaner. Stopping at the mirror by my front door, I take myself in, sweeping a hand delicately through my perfectly mussed mousey waves. That swim sure did the trick. I look like me again. I nod my approval and let myself out of my apartment.

The elevator is another opportunity to make sure I look pristine, and so is the mirror in the foyer as I walk through.

“Morning, Mr. Christianson,” Herbie calls as I pass his desk, tipping his hat in his usual old-fashioned way.

“Morning, Herb.” I slip my shades on as I break out into the sunshine and take a moment to breathe