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Breaking Even

By:C.M. Owens

e's sliding a ring on her finger. He's proposing here? At my work? What... the... hell is going on?

Not that I've been keeping tabs, but I know for a fact they've only been dating for three months. Everyone who knows us always fills me in on his life, even though it should be obvious that I don’t want to hear it.

This is too soon. Has he lost his mind? Or is she just as stupid as I was to think the creep is capable of truly caring about her?

I scan the parking lot for his truck, hoping I'm not parked anywhere close to him. God must be busy, because he doesn't answer my prayer. I’m parked two cars down from him.

I try slumping down in my seat, but it's too late. His eyes lock with mine, and then he tilts his head. At first I think he's going to pass by, pretend as though we're two acquaintances who barely knew each other once upon a time, but then he stops just as he reaches the back of my car, his eyes locked on the rear. Horror spreads over his face, and he drops Barbie's arm to rush over.

“Brin! What the hell happened?” he demands, his eyes pinned toward the back, and I huff loudly when I realize what kept him from just walking on.

He’s what happened. I was too pissed to think straight because of what yesterday was. The ignorant, selfish, stupid asshole. Now I have to face him and only humiliate myself further.

I slowly climb out of the car, wishing I had gone to church more. Maybe then God would have helped me out. Why does it feel like I'm being punished?

***

BRIN

“So he was there getting her ring appraised?” Maggie asks in disbelief, referring to my son of a bitch ex-husband and his shiny new toy that has the Sterling sparkle.

“Yep. And I showed up just as they were leaving. He actually used my name to call in a favor and rush the process along, and they did it for free because he and I are friends. Can you believe the nerve? My life sucks,” I groan, cursing as I drop to my bed.

His fiancée must know what a prick he is if she’s forcing him to get the ring appraised. It wasn’t a flashy diamond, so it can’t possibly be worth more than a thousand dollars. Pointless appraisal if you ask me.

Maggie starts to speak, when we hear a loud, terrifying cracking noise, and I squeal loudly as my bed shifts and breaks. A stupid girly scream passes through my lips as the right side collapses, slanting my bed at a terrible, unforgiving angle that drops my ass in a rolling motion to the hard floor.

I land awkwardly and a grunt is forced out of me. After peeling myself up, I look around, still a little stunned.

“What the hell?” I groan, looking at my large bed in disbelief. My poor, poor bed. The ache from my pummeled rear reminds me the bed wasn’t the only one injured. My poor, poor ass.

Maggie is wide-mouthed as she comes to gape at the crazy damn thing that has just happened. “How did your bed just fall apart?” she asks, and I look at her as if she's joking.

“Sorry,” she mutters, realizing that was a stupid question. But as she examines the bed closer, she gasps. “These legs have been sawed through. And the other two are completely intact. Someone did this on purpose.”

Shocked and completely bewildered, I try to process that. Who would break in and saw my bed down? No. That’s preposterous.

“How could anyone even get in the house? Maybe we've got beetles or something.”

That's when she turns pale and takes a step back. But within seconds, her horror turns to fits of laughter. Um... What's going on?

“Oh damn. It appears you've started a war,” Maggie says, not making a damn bit of sense.

“What?” I ask slowly, suddenly questioning her sanity.

Her laughter tapers off as she slides down the wall until she's sitting and leaning against it, putting her eye-level with me.

“Mr. Sexy came over earlier today because our pipes burst outside. I never saw it. I should have possibly questioned that, but hell, he had tools, and I know nothing about pipes or tools—no pun intended. Anyway, my days are always busy with client calls, and I had to leave him alone numerous times. I heard noises, but I didn't really think much about it. You're so fucked if you've started a war with him.”

Her laughter resumes while my mouth remains unhinged, dumbfounded by this turn of events. That asshole is paying me back? Why? He frigging sawed down my bed?

“I only ran over his car because he had our spot. Again! That was us breaking even. This... this is him getting back up by one shot.”

Maggie tilts her head as an amused smile crosses her lips. “What are you going to do about it?” she dares.

I scowl as I finally climb back up to my feet, and I grab my phone and keys from the nightstand. Is there a hardware store nearby?

“First I'm going to find a saw so I can knock down the other two legs of my bed to make it level, and then I'm going to google revenge.”

Her laughter returns just as I walk out, and I glare at the neighbor's house across the street. When I see his Range Rover behind my sad little car, I stalk through the darkness.

The second I reach the door, the bastard swings it open before I can even knock. “Yes?” he drawls, having the audacity to seem bored.

How dare he answer shirtless and attempt to distract me! Those tattoos aren't intimidating me right now, though. He lives in a subdivision, so he can't be too dangerous. I don't think. Maybe, anyway.

“I need your saw,” I growl.

He tries not to grin, but fails miserably as he reaches beside the door and pulls out a hacksaw, as though he was waiting on this. How did he know I’d come over here when I only decided it seconds ago?

“I'd give you the electric one I used, but you might cut one of your fingers off. Looks like you'll have to do it the hard way,” he gloats.

I narrow my eyes at him while snatching the saw away. “Thank you,” I hiss, and then I turn to walk away.

You really told him off, Brin.

“Oh, and now we're even,” he calls through the darkness, humor and tri

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