That girl is single.
The thought materialized like the sharp clang of a bell. Single. It had only taken listening to Mabel’s radio show once for Jake to develop an appreciation for her fast wit, and now he couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that she was single.
But obsessing about that wasn’t what he’d been hired to do. He closed his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose, and sucked in a breath, picturing that empty partner office on the fifty-sixth floor of his building that was waiting for him to fill it. The image helped push thoughts of Mabel’s voice from his mind, and he exhaled slowly, calm back in place.
“Everything okay?” Brandon was looking at him with curiosity.
“Yep.” Of course. He was reliable, work-first Jake Carey. The same as always.
“So who’d you leave behind in Chicago?” Brandon spoke as if Jake’s thoughts were printed above his head. “Wife? Girlfriend? Boyfriend?”
Thumb, meet another tender spot.
“Not even a potted plant,” Jake said flatly. “The job keeps me busy.” Which was true, even if it wasn’t the whole story.
Brandon just sighed. “God, you workaholics wear me out. At least I’ve got an ex pestering me about shared custody of the dog.” He pinned Jake with his sharp blue eyes. “Is it worth it?”
Brandon’s suddenly serious tone was a 180 from his normal flippancy, and Jake didn’t even have to think about the answer. “For a partner’s salary? Of course it’s worth it.”
Worth not pledging a fraternity in college so he could spend all his free time taking course overloads to graduate faster. Worth not investing time in his dating life, searching for relationships with the potential for more. Worth every skipped vacation, every weekend in the office, every family holiday where he’d paid for the meal but hadn’t left in time to eat it while it was hot.
Fuck, it had to be worth it.
“What a drag.” The man across from him shook his head as he tucked his phone into his pocket. “In your next life, I recommend being born rich.”
Jake huffed a laugh. How perfectly ridiculous and perfectly Brandon. “Sure. I’ll get to work on that.”
He might not have been born rich, but he’d busted his ass, and now he had a fat 401(k), a condo with a view of Lake Michigan, and enough in savings to allow him to sleep soundly at night. A partnership at his accounting firm would be the keystone in the life he’d been building from the moment he’d realized as a teenager that he wanted more for his worn-down mom and his hungry, big-eyed sister than constant money worries and a shitty walk-up apartment in one of Chicago’s bleakest neighborhoods. And if that required spending a few months sorting out the books at a downstate Illinois radio station, so be it. Nothing was going to knock him off course.
Jake’s shoulders tightened when the woman with the sharp brain and the supple voice invaded the office. How? How did Mabel summon goose bumps with only a handful of words? He dragged his eyes to the doorway to confirm that the blonde he’d met on Wednesday still vibrated with the same bright energy he’d first glimpsed through the studio window.
Single. The word resurfaced with another clang.
Sara Whitney writes sassy, sexy contemporary romance novels packed with wit, heat, and heart. A 2019 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award finalist, Sara worked as a newspaper reporter and film critic before she earned her Ph.D. and landed in academia. She’s a good pinball player, a so-so karaoke singer, and an expert TV opinion-haver.
In a funny twist of fate, Sara’s married to a divorce attorney, and she likes to think that her happily-ever-afters help keep their household in balance. She and her husband live in the Midwest surrounded by books, cats, and half-empty coffee cups. Keep up with Sara by subscribing to her mailing list here.