Home > Desperately Seeking Epic(4)

Desperately Seeking Epic(4)
B.N. Toler

Shoving the papers back in a folder and tossing it aside, I take Neena’s face in my hands and press my lips to her forehead. Exhaling a sigh of relief through my nose because she has no fever, I murmur, “You look tired, baby.”

“I am tired,” she admits.

“Lie down for a bit . . . please. After the guys go for the first jump, I’ll wake you and we’ll go get some lunch.”

“Fine,” she huffs weakly, scratching her scalp, her purple scarf that covers her bald head moving back and forth as she does. She doesn’t want to lie down, but this is our daily routine now, and she knows I’ll nag if she doesn’t. The corner of my office is decked out with a single bed covered in a plush, neon comforter and pillows. The walls surrounding it are covered with posters of Neena’s favorite band; Masters of the V. Unfortunately, my job doesn’t allow me the luxury of taking off to care for my ailing daughter. I have to work—something I feel horrendously guilty about. But Neena insists she’d rather be here at the office with me and Marcus and the guys than sitting at home in her room. Her diagnosis is dismal but I’ve promised myself two things. One: never give up. I will fight to save her until the bitter end. Two: try to make every single day as happy as I possibly can for her, just in case . . . in case we lose. After she lies down and turns on her iPad so she can watch a movie on Netflix, I kiss her once more, grab my travel coffee mug, and turn the office light off, quietly shutting the door. Passing by the storage room where we keep the jumpsuits, I see Marcus buttoning up his custom-made suit. I give him a pointed look and he shrugs, giving me a pointed look back. “Three times per month. That was the deal.”

“You’re going to get us sued one day, ya know?”

“Nah,” he laughs. “It’s all in good fun.”

“Let me at least get their credit cards before you come out.”

He lifts his sparkly blue eyes to meet my gaze, his stare filled with mirth, and winks. He lives for these three days a month when I allow him to be a prankster. The corner of his mouth lifts in a slight smirk. “Of course.”

Heading out front, I flip the OPEN sign and unlock the front door. Sipping my coffee, I check to make sure the waiver forms are on the clipboards and plenty of pens are in the cup in the center of the table. The doorbell jingles and Larry and Bowman walk in, both laughing.

“Morning, boss,” Larry calls.

“Morning, Clara,” Bowman follows.

“Morning, guys. Heads-up, Marcus is in the back prepping, so you better make yourselves scarce or he’ll get pissed.”

“Oh, shit,” Bowman chuckles. “It’s the fifteenth.”

Bowman and Larry are former military, both paratroopers during their time in service. They’re my most reliable and highly trained jumpers. They’re not cheap either, but aside from their experience they’re both extremely attractive and my female clientele flock to them like flies on shit. Larry is your classic Tom Cruise, with dark hair and eyes, and Bowman is a blue-eyed stud with a knee weakening smile. Since word of mouth is my best advertisement, I pay their hefty commission and they flirt their asses off with anything with breasts.

“How many today?” Larry asks as they pass by me.

“Twenty-five.”

“Yes,” Bowman coos. “Perfect day for jumping, too.”

Ten minutes later, our first two jumpers come in; a big guy and a tiny brunette. It’s always a mystery on who Marcus will pick in these situations. I never know because there’s really no rhyme or reason to his choosing.

“Bradley?” I question.

“That’s me,” the big guy responds.

I run through the formal greeting with them and hand them all their waivers to fill out and sign, basically stating they can’t sue us if they get hurt, and their families can’t sue us if anything happens to them. After I offer them coffee, Bradley hands me his credit card to pay for their jumps. As I turn to leave them to their paperwork while I run his card, the door jingles, causing me to turn back.

My heart drops to the floor and I suck in a deep breath as memories from what seem like a lifetime ago crash over me.

I don’t do happily ever after.

He’s here.

Paul has come home.

“I don’t understand,” I repeated for the thousandth time. “He’s leaving me his business?”

Mr. Mateo leaned back as he removed his glasses and tossed them on the desk. “Half his business. The other half he’s leaving to his nephew. Paul, Mr. Falco’s nephew,” he explained, “is interested in buying out your half.”

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