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Breaking Even

By:C.M. Owens

morning. I've spent the morning in knots, unable to face work after my little breakdown. The museum can wait. I have a big-ass mess to sift through.

My boss will just have to do his own job today, because I'm taking a personal day. I don't care if he's already seen me standing in front of the museum for the past two hours just staring blankly at the mutilated rear end of my car. I'll have to work overtime to pay for my rampage.

“Was it worth it?” Maggie asks, still smiling as a piece of one of my taillights falls to the ground, shattering a little more to punctuate the tragedy it has suffered.

My crumpled Camry's rear still looks better than the front of his destroyed Porsche. I dread going home. Maybe I'll get lucky and he'll stick to his side of the street. I never see him outside of the subdivision. We barely even see each other outside in the yards.

Shit! I can’t believe I stood there and drooled over him this morning—then went crazy and smashed his car. Now that the anger has fled, the humiliation and dread are ruling me.

“I just... snapped. I don't know. Maybe it's because of hormones or whatever. I'm almost twenty-six, so it could be an early midlife crisis or something.”

She snickers while shaking her head. “Girl, I'm twenty-nine, and I've never mowed down a Porsche.”

I decide not to remind her what today is. I've talked about it enough this past year.

“I'll start calling around to get some price quotes on fixing this. I hope he doesn't expect you to fix his Porsche or sue you,” she sighs, slapping me in the face with reality.

Ah, hell. It was a hit-and-run. “Or call the cops,” I add, exasperated as I flop my head into my hands.

Why was I so stupid? I should have just called in and stayed in bed this morning. I've destroyed a car, and now I could quite possibly be going to jail. Great. I don't take good selfies, so I can only imagine how I'll look in a mug shot.

Chapter 2

BRIN

I made it through the night without seeing Mr. Sexy or enduring his wrath. Thank goodness. His Porsche was gone when I got home, per the usual. He usually comes and goes during the late hours, and he almost always wakes me up with his obnoxious returns and departures.

If he came and went last night, he didn't rev his horrible engine like normal. I'm lying in my bed instead of a cot in a jail cell, so he apparently never called the cops. No mug shots just yet. I pray this isn't just the calm before the storm.

Rising slowly, I head to the kitchen, ready to make some coffee. I groan inwardly when I think about all my nosy neighbors. Why did I cause a scene?

Maggie's door is shut tight, her music is still softly playing, and there's no crazy lady crashing into cars this morning to disturb her. I'm sure she pulled another late night.

I tiptoe through the house—my morning routine—and finish getting ready for work. When I walk out, my jaw drops. My car is blocked in—again. It's not the fragile Porsche behind me this time, though.

There's a large, black Range Rover with a black-painted brush-guard that is almost touching my falling-apart bumper.

Un-frigging-believable. That ass did it again! I don't know where he keeps his vehicles, but I know he has several. I've seen him drive this one before.

As I stalk to my car, I glance at his house, willing it to burn to the ground with him in it. My mind doesn't grant me the pyrotechnic show I crave, though.

I gauge the few inches he has left me with, and I scowl. I'll have to get Maggie's keys, move her car, then move mine, then move hers back, then get in mine and leave. All because he's a jerk who can't stay on his side of the street.

A string of profanities leave my mouth too loudly, and Ms. Morgan looks over at me while weeding out her dead flowerbed, offering me a disappointed glare. If she wants to point that glare at someone, it should be the dick across the street—not me.

He's so lucky Maggie is anti-gun. Otherwise... I won't go there. I need to get violence out of my head. I've pissed off my neighbor, who is now trying to piss me off for pissing him off.

Headache.

When I make it back inside the house, I see Maggie was wise enough to leave her keys out. She has better foresight than I do, because I sure as hell never saw this coming. Why provoke the crazy woman who bashed in your Porsche's brains? Does he not realize I've lost my mind? There's no telling what I might do in the heat of the moment.

I rush back out to move Maggie's car, but I'm frozen to the ground when I see a smirking devil propped against his doorjamb. I'll no longer refer to him as Mr. Sexy. From now on, he's Mr. Dead Meat.

He idly sips his coffee, his twisted, wicked grin growing ever so slightly as he watches me, waiting for me to show my ass again. Today he's wearing dark denim jeans and a black T-shirt that says “Nirvana” on the front.

I offer him my best I-want-you-dead glower, and he raises his coffee cup in a toasting motion, proving he's proud of his little payback. I hate him. Mr. Dead Meat can go to hell. I'll not be driving into his car today. Mostly because it wouldn't do a damn bit of good, and because my car might fall apart this time.

After playing musical vehicles, I head off to work, praying I don't file anything wrong. I'm sure my boss is going to make me work over just to make up for yesterday.

Just as I park at the museum, something familiar catches my eyes. Then a sickening feeling consumes me as the scene registers in front of me. My heart stops when I see the only man in the world I wish would disappear off the face of the planet.

It's him. John Abbott. The son of a bitch who made me a divorcee just after I turned twenty-five is here, and he's not here alone. A gooey-eyed blonde is draped on his arm, staring happily up at him as he walks out of the museum—where I work.

What's he doing here?

I watch as he unfolds something, and my heart constricts. It's then I realize h

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