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My jaw came unhinged. I couldn’t believe what he’d said. My lip quivered, but I refused to lose control. I wouldn’t give him that satisfaction. “Is that what you want, Mr. Lane?” At the sound of my formality, he jerked his head up from his drink. “Stings a little, doesn’t it?” I tried to push Holland out of the way to get out of the booth, but the mammoth of a man wouldn’t budge.
“You two need to calm the fuck down. What happened today?” He posed the question to both of us, but I leaned back, indignant. Gnawing on my bottom lip, I crossed my arms and waited on my boss to answer Holland’s question.
Once Jase was done telling his side of the events, which included Dale being terminated, I sat quietly next to Holland on the opposite side of the booth.
With Holland acting as our mediator, he asked me, “So what about that has you upset with Jase?”
“Nothing.” That was true. None of what happened with Dale had me the least bit bothered. I was disappointed I didn’t get the job, but that wasn’t where my issues lay.
Jase slammed his hands on the table, causing the glasses to shake. “Then why the hell did you leave?”
“Holland, could you ask your friend to stop screaming at me? Not everyone in the bar cares about our day.”
Holland didn’t have a clue how to handle Jase or me. He was lost, and I didn’t care.
“I’m not screaming, but I don’t understand why you left, Gia. You didn’t even wait for me to resolve the situation.” His words came out breathlessly as he tried to lower his voice.
“You’re not listening. This isn’t about Dale,” I hissed the words in his direction.
“Then what the fuck is it about, Gianna?”
Too embarrassed to even say the words out loud, I stared out the window.
“Talk to me, please.”
I just shook my head, unable to compile coherent sentences.
“If it’s not about Dale, then what happened with Allison?”
“Who the hell is Allison?” Holland asked, clearly unable to put any of the pieces together.
“That girl who brought her kid to the water park,” Jase answered without ever turning away from me.
“Okay,” he dragged out the two syllables. “But who is she to Gianna?”
“No one. She’s a non-issue.” Jase answered Holland again, curtly.
“Is that what we are to you? Non-issues?” I was fuming.
Jase threw his hands in the air. “You’re fucking crazy, Gianna. I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Allison is a non-issue. You’re my best friend. So why are you putting the two of you in the same category?”
“Because we’re both your projects, Jase!” The tears erupted at the mention of his name. I couldn’t keep them at bay, and there wasn’t enough liquor in the world to make me feel better right now. I was embarrassed and ashamed.
“Whoa, what? My projects? What the hell did she say to you?”
I shook my head, knowing snot bubbles would be forming soon and the hiccups would ensue. This tirade was about to get ugly, and I didn’t want anyone in this bar to witness it. “It doesn’t matter, Jase.” I tried to scoot out, but Holland wasn’t having it, and Jase gave him a death stare that said if he let me up he was a dead man.
“Please, just let me go home.” My words were shaky, and my hands trembled.
“Fine. You tell me what you’re talking about, and I’ll let you leave.” Jase slammed his hand on the table emphasizing his last word.
He wouldn’t let me go without getting the answer he wanted. “Do you guys have a contract for her, too? Does she fetch a higher nightly rate than I do?”
If I had anything in my glass other than ice, I’d throw it in his face for laughing at me right now. None of this was funny.
Gianna LeBron grew up in poverty. Destined to change her circumstances and her zip code, she rises up from the inner-city streets with an Ivy League education and affluent husband. A few short years later, she’s alone with three children, destitute and desperate.
Finding herself in the same hell she’d fought so hard to escape, and determined to find a solution, she compromises who she is. Selling her soul for the almighty dollar, she does what she has to do in order to provide for her children.
Caught between a secret love and her toddler’s unending need for medical care, Gianna’s forced to decide how far she’ll go to heal her daughter and save the man she loves.
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