Juggling two jobs and mounting bills, Audrey Hoffinger decides that she doesn’t have time for a boyfriend, but contemplates a friends with benefits situation. After placing a personal ad, she meets Mike Kowalski, a local cop,former Marine. He infuriates her from the first time they meet. He’s pushy, overprotective, and has absolutely no concept of personal space or privacy. He drives her crazy! But as he makes her blood boil, he also makes her hazy with desire. Audrey can sense that there’s more to Mike than meets the eye. Curiosity and desire draw Audrey to him like a moth to a flame. Resisting him becomes harder by the day. But maybe, just maybe, Michael is exactly what she needs.
Walking into her apartment, she immediately took Baron out, and then headed for her filing cabinet. Audrey collected her bills that were due that week. Since July Fourth had been a bust at the diner, she didn’t have enough money to pay her bills in full. Audrey called to make partial payments over the phone. Some payment was better than nothing.
Audrey sat on the couch, petting Baron while she listened to her account balance.
“You have a two hundred dollar credit to this account. No payment is due.”
Audrey sat up straight on her couch. “What!”
She pressed the button to speak to a customer representative. Surely, this must be a mistake.
Audrey sat there puzzled while petting Baron and listening to the waiting music that the company played. Finally, a woman answered.
“Hi, yes, there must be a problem with my account. There’s no way that there could be a credit to the account,” Audrey explained.
“No, there’s no error,” the woman informed her. “The account was paid by ebanking two days ago by a Michael Kowalski.”
“Thank you,” she seethed into the phone.
Audrey called all of the companies, and everyone had a credit, even bills she had paid already that month. He had paid every single bill.
When she hung up on the last customer service representative after affirming Mike had paid them, she threw her cell across the room in frustration.
By the time the men arrived at the diner, Audrey was ready for war. Michael tried to kiss her hello, but she refused.
“Get over here for a kiss,” he demanded.
She shook her head in defiance. “I was trying to pay my bills today. Curiously, I found out that they were already paid. Actually, every one of my bills had a credit to the account. You wouldn’t know anything about that now, would you?”
Michael’s lips pressed tightly together.
She slammed her hands down on the table. “I cannot believe you!”
Audrey was fuming, seeing red.
“What’s the problem? You didn’t have enough money this week to cover the bills. I stole you from work to spend time with us. I needed you yesterday, and you came without complaint. So, I helped you out with a problem of yours. That’s what friends do, they help each other. Don’t they?”
“How did you know that I didn’t have enough money to cover my bills?” she asked.
His lips pressed firmly together again.
“You went into my bank account…again? How did you even get my bills to know what needed to be paid?”
“Your lock is one of the easiest that I’ve ever picked. You need better security. You don’t even have a dead bolt!”
“The only one I needed better security from is you!” She slapped her hands back down on the counter.
“Lower your voice,” he growled.
“Or what?” she countered.
He leaned across the table towards her. “Or I’ll throw you over my shoulder, carry you out, and fuck the fight right out of you. You’ll be a mewling kitten in my arms without any memory of why you were angry in the first place.”
The threat in his eyes felt very real to her. She gasped at his words, unsure if she wanted to slap him…or rip his clothes off.
Audrey decided to err on the side of caution and take a step back. Just when she thought she had the upper hand, somehow he always turned the tables on her, leaving her hazy and gasping for air.
No! He would not win this fight.
She started gloating from her impending victory as her eyes narrowed. “So, that was your big move, huh? After telling me you wanted me, you thought you could pay off my bills and I’d jump into your bed a minute later. I already told you, Mike, I can’t be bought.” She sighed loudly. “I’m a little disappointed. I expected a little more originality from you.”
His eyes looked wild. Audrey stood frozen in place, because she honestly didn’t know what he was about to do. The thought thrilled her and terrified her in equal measure. Her heat pounded like a gazelle caught in a lion’s gaze, knowing that in moments her life would be over. But, she couldn’t look away from the beautiful predator.
“Don’t you ever compare me to men who are only interested in you for sex again! That’s your first and final warning.”
Audrey had gained back some of her confidence.
“Why not?” she sneered.
“Because I’m in love with you. That’s the difference between me and those other jackasses. They don’t give a damn about you whereas I’d do anything for you.”
“Don’t say that!” She shouted, pointing her finger at him. “Don’t you throw those words around to win a fight!”
“I know exactly what those words mean.” The tone of his voice left no room for argument. “You want an apology for what I did? Then you better apologize to me.”
“Excuse me? Why would I need to apologize to you?”
“You’re angry because you don’t want to admit that you needed me. But, you should apologize because you made me need you, and you have no plans on fixing that. It’s cruel to make a man need you without ever being there for him in all the ways that he needs you to be.”
She stood there wide eyed, staring at him. He had done it; he had somehow turned this all back around on her. Michael had broken into her home, took her bills, paid them without her consent, and then didn’t tell her about it. But, somehow she was in the wrong. Part of her hated him in that moment; the other part deeply admired him. Audrey had a razor sharp tongue. It was necessary to always keep people away. But, Michael gave as good as he got.
“You want an apology from me?” she spat. “Don’t hold your breath.”
As soon as she stalked off, she noticed all of the other police officers sitting there with a front row seat to their fight. She also saw all of the other customers sitting in the packed diner, some glancing at her curiously. Damn him. He was always sucking her into his atmosphere with those blazing eyes, making her forget about the rest of the world.
She had to work on that…immediately.
I live in NJ with my husband, daughter, dog, and beta fish. I love going out with my daughter on the weekends, drink a pot of coffee a day, and hate wearing make-up. I love finding new book boyfriends, and I love writing down the stories that pop into my head. But, most of all…I love hearing from you!
Other Work by S.L. Siwik