High Voltage
    “Why’d she quit?” I ask.
    “They didn’t tell me.” The new woman glances back
at Hayes’s door as if to answer me. “I’m only here until they find someone
    “Margie!” Hayes bellows from the next room.
    The woman flinches at the sound of his voice and
continues to shake while walking to the door. He yells something about a
missing stapler. After Margie mumbles about looking for it, she returns to the
front desk.
    “I don’t know where the stapler is,” she tells me.
    “Neither do I.”
    Margie sighs unsteadily. Dino slides closer to me
while keeping his gaze on the secretary.
    “You look like you need a hug. I can’t give you
one, though. These arms only hug my mom and woman. Sorry, Margie.”
    I give him a quick glance. “You’re so whipped that
I almost feel guilty.”
    Hayes yells from his office and tells us to stop
distracting Margie and get into his office. Dino heads for the door, but I
glance around the messy front area. Spotting the stapler, I take it with me
into the office and set it on the angry man’s desk.
    “Did you scare off Donna?” I ask, sitting in a
    “That fucking woman wasn’t ever going to work out.
She watched too much fucking Oprah, who convinced her that fucking feelings
matter in the real fucking world.”
    “I forgot how much you like that word.”
    Hayes gives me a dark frown, but I think he finds
me amusing. Dino seems to think something similar since his foot makes contact
with the desk. The men’s gazes lock.
    “Eyes over here, Jolly Green Giant.”
    Hayes looks ready to tear off Dino’s perfect head.
I only smile because there’s something irresistible about my lover when he
turns possessive. I’ve never had a man claim me so strongly. The closest was Troy, who once punched a guy for being disrespectful to me. He hadn’t minded when the guy
flirted with me for an hour, though. Troy just never fully shifted from friend
to lover. Dino doesn’t have that problem.
    “You wanted to see us,” I remind Hayes.
    “Don’t look at him,” Dino says to me.
    “I’m looking just over his head. Now can we get to
the reason we’re here?”
    Hayes leans back in his chair, and I again wait for
it to buckle under his size. The chair must pump iron because it survives.
    “I was wondering if you two had fun at the Shithole Trailer Park this morning.”
    “Oh, yeah, thanks for asking.”
    “Well, you got Black riled up. He visited the park
himself and arrested the women you let go.”
    “For what?” I balk.
    “For whatever he wants because he’s an asshole with
a badge.”
    “That’s bullshit.”
    Dino nods while patting my hand. His attempt at
soothing me only makes me angrier.
    “Don’t do that.”
    “I can’t help it. You bring out the teddy bear in
    Hayes lights a cigar and clears his throat. “You
two need to keep your romance bullshit to your own time. I have no fucking interest
in watching it play out.”
    “Sorry, Dad,” I mutter. “So, was there a reason we
had to drive over here? I hope you didn’t just want to yell at someone besides
your poor assistant.”
    “Look, when your boss lost his balls and let Black
take over, he created a fucking vacuum. Now everyone is calling my hotline with
problems that aren’t fucking mine. I don’t care what happens in Common Bend. I’m only helping you two shitheads because I don’t want the trouble spilling over
White Horse. Except it’s already spilling the fuck over.”
    Crossing my arms, I shrug. “I feel like you’re
breaking your ‘no feelings’ rule by sharing how you’re sad and frustrated. Now,
I’m not Oprah, but I think you need to suck it up until we’re done working.”
    Hayes gives me a darker glare while I roll my eyes
dismissively. Dino, though, takes these reactions to be potential flirting.
    “We’re leaving,” Italian Sausage says, standing up
and reaching for me.
    “I want to know what you two fuckwads will

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