“Sure,” I say while putting my hand over the phone and mouthing to the guys that it’s Doug and I’ll be a minute.
West grins and yells out, “Tell him I’m ready to get hooked up with some shares like yours.”
Doug has the magic touch when it comes to shares, and West has just dumped his guy due to lack of performance. I nod and leave the room to find a quiet spot.
“Got some bad news for you, man,” Doug starts the conversation with an opener no one ever wants to hear. Particularly not when it concerns money.
“How much is this gonna hurt?”
“There’s no easy way to say it . . . your portfolio has taken a hit today at a loss of around thirty percent.”
My gut drops and I sink into a chair. Hunching over, I place my elbows on my legs and rest my head in my hands. He’s knocked the wind out of me and I take a moment to get my breathing back under control.
“Jett? You there?” Doug’s voice is full of concern. I can only imagine how much he hates making these kinds of calls.
“Yeah.” My thoughts are all over the place and I can’t form any other words while I battle through trying to rebalance myself.
“The market took a dive today so you need to have a think about what you want to do with your shares and I’m concerned this is just the beginning. Check your emails – I’ve just sent through some info for you to read through. Let me know as soon as possible which shares you want to hold onto, okay?”
Jesus, as if I don’t have enough other shit to deal with, but that’s life for you – one day you’re sitting pretty, and the next it all goes to hell. “I’ll let you know,” I agree and hang up.
I sit and process everything he’s said and after reading through his email, I’m even more fucking confused so I text him and organise to meet and discuss this tonight. That fucking share portfolio is all I have and most of my cash is tied up in it. I need to sort this out fast because there’s no way I’m losing the money I’ve worked damn hard for over the past ten years.
I knock on Presley’s door and wait for her to answer it. Fuck, it’s been a long day, and all I want is to hold her in my arms and forget everything that’s happened. I spent three hours with Doug tonight, going over my share portfolio, and I’m wiped.
She takes about five minutes to answer the door and when she does, she stands in front of me in her Keith Urban t-shirt with an annoyed glare on her face. “It’s late, Jett.” Even her words are laced with annoyance.
“Sorry, sweetheart, but I needed to see you.” I step into her house and pull her into my arms.
When her arms don’t come around me but rather hang limply at her side, I let her go and frown. “Are you that pissed that I came over late?”
“No, I’m pissed because you said you’d be here sometime just after six and I waited for you, but you didn’t show up, and then you sent me a text at seven thirty to say you weren’t coming.” Ice clings to her words and I can see her getting more worked up as she goes. “A fucking text! A fucking hour and a half late.”
Fuck, I’m an asshole, and she has every right to be mad at me.
I’m so far out of my comfort zone here; relationships and me do not go hand in hand.
I open my mouth to respond but she’s already turned and walked away from me so I close the front door and follow her into the kitchen.
And then I see it.
She cooked me dinner and it’s still sitting on the kitchen counter ready to be eaten.
“You didn’t eat?” I ask and the question sounds pathetic even to my ears.
Her eyes bulge. “No! I didn’t eat.” She reaches for an empty bottle of wine and holds it up. “I drank instead.” The sound of the bottle hitting the counter echoes around the kitchen, making me wish like hell I could go back a few hours and have a do-over.
“Presley, you’ve gotta know how sorry I am, baby. I had some bad news and I completely lost track of everything while trying to deal with it.”
She softens a little at my explanation and says, “Go on.”
I take this as an invitation to move closer to her and she doesn’t halt me in my progress but rather continues to watch me intently, keen for me to elaborate. My need to touch her is so out of control that I can’t stop myself. I reach out and try to take hold of her waist but I misjudge it and take hold of her shirt instead. She doesn’t stop me so I keep hold while I talk. “I found out today that my share portfolio took a hit and I lost about thirty percent of its value so I’ve just spent the last three hours going over it with my financial guy. I’m sorry I let you down, but I was so thrown by the whole thing that I wasn’t thinking straight.”
“Shit, I’m sorry, Jett.” Her hand covers mine that is holding her shirt and her touch instantly calms me a little. The only other person in this world who is able to calm me like that is Claudia.
“Pretty much all my money is tied up in those shares so it freaked me the fuck out for a moment there,” I admit, laying my insecurity out for her like I wouldn’t for anyone else. I need her to understand why I blew her off, though, and if this is the only way to do it, then so be it.
“Did you guys come up with a plan?” she asks as she takes a step in my direction.
My natural instinct in this moment is to pull her close now that she’s signalled her retreat from being pissed at me, but I play it cool and let her come to me. Easier said than fucking done because although she took a step, she didn’t take another, and I just want her to take those next two steps and wrap her arms right around me. Fuck, I want my lips on hers, and my hands on her ass, but I rein in my desire and focus on allowing her to take control of this.