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Breaking Even

By:C.M. Owens


I hear him yelling loudly, probably calling me every name in the book, but I don't give a damn.

Take that, asshole.

Serves him right. Now his pretty little black Porsche has been kissed by my white Camry. Well, I suppose it’s more than a mere kiss. His car has officially been fucked by mine.

My car lurches forward when I toss it in drive, slamming on my brakes inches away from Maggie’s BMW, and then I slam it in reverse again, smashing his front end even more. My neck pops this time from the jolt.

His car continues to bellow, agonizing over the damage I've caused, and a wild, hysterical giggle bubbles through my lips.

“You crazy bitch!” he roars, gripping his head in disbelief while standing in the middle of the street with nothing on but his boxers.

All of our neighbors have come out to play spectators for the psychotic scene, but I don't care. I've been run over, tossed aside, and walked on for too long. This morning something has snapped. I'm sick of being a doormat.

“Fucking shit!” Maggie says loudly, laughing wildly from the front porch of our home, wearing her robe and a look of fascinated horror.

I hadn't gotten her keys because I didn't want to wake her up. Sure, it made a lot more sense to simply wreck my car and his.

Now that my adrenaline high is coming down, I suddenly feel a little mortified, but I refuse to show that to him. So, with a daring glint in my eyes, I act unaffected.

I offer him a wave and speed out of the larger gap I've made, heading toward work, while the rest of the neighborhood trips over themselves to go see what craziness just erupted.

***

RYE

“What the hell happened?” Wren asks, walking up with two coffees in his hands.

His eyes are pained as they stare at the crumbled hood of my car. I had to have the damn thing towed here after that lunatic smashed into it. Over a parking spot? Really? So over the top.

“My neighbor went psycho,” I growl, bending down to examine just how bad this really is. Fortunately it seems to be limited to cosmetic damage.

“What the hell did you do to her?” he asks.

Craning my neck, I narrow my eyes at him. “I never said it was a girl.”

He gives me an incredulous look that I happen to find a little offensive.

“If you pissed someone off bad enough to destroy their car against yours, it was a chick. A guy would have just punched you.”

Again, I'm offended. “You really think a guy is stupid enough to try to punch me?” I challenge, making damn sure my muscles are flexed.

Wren rolls his eyes as he walks over and hands me the second cup of coffee. “Down, Cujo,” he jokes, and I glare at him as he circles the car, taking it all in.

“When's the insurance company coming out?”

“They're not coming,” I mutter, cursing my easy-to-piss-off neighbor when my hood refuses to open.

“You didn't call her insurance company?” he asks, sounding confused.

Crazy girl ran off without waiting for the cops. I could be a dick and get her arrested for a hit-and-run, but I won't. Even though she deserves to be scared out of her fucking mind.

But I'll do something to get even. I may not want her in jail, but I sure as hell want revenge.

When I saw my short, somewhat nerdy little neighbor standing at my door in her long skirt, oversized white button-up shirt, and ugly-as-hell shoes, I just assumed she was trying to find an excuse to talk to me. Then she had rolled her shoulders back, stood as tall as she could, and barked at me while her light, brown hair sat in disarray on her head.

Would it kill her to try and look a little appealing?

I might have lost my cool and acted like a dick during the heat of the moment, but she woke me up too early. This isn’t... this is ridiculous. You don’t bash in a guy’s car—his pride and fucking joy—over a parking spot. Especially not before coffee.

“Hello,” Wren prompts. “Insurance company? When are they coming?”

Obviously he's not going to drop this.

“Nah. Insurance companies piss me off. Besides, I just bought a few new tools to play with. Might as well experiment on my own car,” I say mildly, pretending as though it's no big deal while secretly plotting my badass revenge.

Wren looks around my massive garage as all my guys work their asses off. It's a busy week with all the new clients. It'll be a pain in the ass to try and work my own car in.

“When's the magazine coming?” Wren asks.

“They're doing their article in a few months, so it might be a while.”

“Is it on just this one shop, or the entire franchise?”

“This one is the main focus of the article. The franchise will get some attention. They had the columnist come out and take a look at the place. She was impressed,” I say with a suggestive tone, and he rolls his eyes.

“Figures.”

Leaning back and ignoring my poor baby, I stare at him. “Didn’t fuck her, if that’s what you’re insinuating. She’s doing an article, so that would mean drama. But you shouldn’t act so appalled by the thought. In fact, you should be mixing things up by now. You're single. Erica isn't sitting around mourning the loss of your marriage.”

He grimaces, and I frown. Maybe that was too harsh.

“I know,” he says through a slow exhale. Then he sips his coffee while trying not to get lost in thought. “So what'd you do to piss her off?” he asks, looking back up while lazily gesturing to my car.

I guess we're not allowed to talk about the fact he's not doing anything besides sitting around. I don't want to tell him I took her parking spot. He’ll ask why, and then there will be a hellacious amount mockery that follows.

“Nothing, really. She's just bat-shit crazy.” At least that's the truth.

And I'll make sure the punishment is fitting.

***

BRIN

Maggie whistles low, chuckling as she shakes her head in disbelief. I groan as I stare at the rear of my car that I'll have to spend a fortune to get fixed.

Maggie came to meet me at work, curious about what happened to set me off this

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