Read Breaking Brandon (Fate) Online

Authors: Elizabeth Reyes

Breaking Brandon (Fate) (7 page)

Rodriguez nodded at both him and Miller then turned back to Ms. Brady and said something. In a flash, he disappeared back into the building. Brandon didn’t even realize h
e was still glaring when he glanced back at Ms. Brady, who was still looking at him. Bringing his attention to his driving, he was alarmed at how unbelievably irritated the sight of Rodriguez yapping it up with her made him feel.

Instantly speeding up, he
drove to the back of the building where he parked and he and Miller parted ways. It’d been such a long day. He’d planned on heading straight to his car and going home. Instead, he stalked into the building. With no patience to wait for the elevator and because he felt as if he needed to work off some steam, he hurried up the stairs.

Rodriguez had ignored a direct order. That was the only reason why Brandon felt so fucking annoyed. There was no other reason. Never mind the fact that the only other time Brand
on had seen Ms. Brady all week she’d evoked the very same annoyance he felt now. That was two days ago, and she’d been laughing at something one of her engineer co-workers was saying to her.

Swallowing hard as he reached the top of the stairs, he turned th
e corner into the hallway just in time to catch Rodriguez waiting for the elevator. The second Rodriguez saw him he turned to him, taking a few steps away from the closed elevator doors.

“Sir, I can explain.”

“Yes, you can and you will,” Brandon said, his tone hard and full of authority just as he’d been trained by the very best. “Only not here, not like this.” He got right in Rodriguez’s face. “I want a full report on my desk tomorrow morning, explaining why you ignored a direct order from your superior. I wanna know
exactly
what you were talking to her about when you’ve been instructed to stay away from her entirely. And also want you tell me why the hell I shouldn’t write you up.”

The elevator door opened, and Ms. Brady stepped out, staring at them almost
in question. Brandon looked away, refusing to make eye contact, and Rodriguez did the right thing, not even acknowledging her. They waited silently until she was out of sight. “I don’t normally give second chances, so consider yourself lucky.”

“Sir, yes, sir.”

Brandon took two long steps into the still-open elevator and turned around to face Rodriguez, who wisely didn’t dare step in with him. “First thing in the morning, Rodriguez,” Brandon repeated the order through his teeth.

“Sir, yes, sir,”
Rodriguez said just as Brandon hit the close button, and the elevator doors closed, leaving a very staggered-looking Rodriguez outside.

This was completely unacceptable. Brandon needed to get a grasp on what she was beginning to do to him. The fact that Ro
driguez had ignored a direct order was reason enough to piss Brandon off, but he shouldn’t be getting this worked up over it.

The elevator doors opened, and he stepped out still feeling incredibly agitated as he walked out toward the front door of the buil
ding. Would he really write Rodriguez up if his report wasn’t satisfactory or worse if he stupidly admitted to having been flirting with her? The thought of Rodriguez’s remarks about what he’d do to her in the bathroom slammed into him.

Pushing the front d
oors open with a little more force than necessary, he concluded two things. Not only would Brandon write his ass up but he’d get the perverted asshole transferred to another fucking base.

Second conclusion? As much as he was trying to deny it, what this gi
rl was doing to him was getting
way
out of control.

~~~

The next morning, Rodriguez’s report was on Brandon’s desk when he arrived, though Rodriguez himself was not there. Brandon knew Rodriguez would be out doing evaluations of his own all week. He was glad for that. He’d spent too much time thinking about what might be in the report, what he might learn about Ms. Brady, the woman he wanted nothing to do with. Brandon knew he’d be scrutinizing the report a little closer than normal, and it was better if Rodriguez wasn’t there to witness it.

Along with the report was a letter of apology to Brandon for having disrespected him, though Rodriguez made it clear it was not his intention. The report stated that Ms. Brady had made the first contact as they stepped o
utside together. He went on to outline the conversation about the change in the weather and how Rodriguez felt it rude to just ignore her so he carried on with the harmless conversation.

Brandon rolled his eyes. He’d seen the playful smile Rodriguez wore a
s he’d driven close enough to see the exchange between him and Ms. Brady. From what little he already knew about Rodriguez, Ms. Brady had likely made a comment as simple as “It’s chilly tonight,” and he’d run with it.

Skimming through the rest of the repor
t, Brandon stopped only at the parts that caught his eye such as Ms. Brady saying she’d take this weather any day over the weather back east where she’d just moved from.

He’d wondered about that. According to her phone conversation with her daddy, it appea
red she had family out here, so he’d assumed she was on her way home. But Sergeant Carter had also mentioned not having seen her here before, so there was the possibility she was only here temporarily. Now this confirmed she’d be here for good.

Brandon fro
wned immediately at the next part. With his very fair skin and light eyes, if it weren’t for Rodriguez’s last name, you’d never know he was Hispanic. He’d even made mention that the kids in the mostly Hispanic community he grew up in teased him about being the whitest Mexican they knew. Brandon remembered him saying that he liked blowing people away or using it to his advantage when trying to pick up women by speaking to them in his perfect Spanish out of the blue.

Apparently, the idiot didn’t count on Bran
don remembering that insignificant comment he’d made weeks ago, because in his report he included the part about answering one of her questions in Spanish. However, he wasn’t stupid enough to mention whether or not she’d been
blown away.

Last night after c
alming down, Brandon had no doubt he’d overreacted. He was even mad at himself for doing so. This really was getting ridiculous. If he wanted nothing to do with Ms. Brady, then why the hell did he care about seeing her with someone else? After finishing the meticulously written report, Brandon was now glad he had reacted the way he had. If Rodriguez hadn’t blown Ms. Brady away yesterday, Brandon doubted that after his nearly explosive reaction Rodriguez would be looking for another chance to impress her again.

Cursing himself, Brandon set the report down, remembering how he’d actually looked up the name Brady to make sure it in no way had any Hispanic ties. She’d made it clear that she was a Ms., not a Mrs. That meant one thing. Either she was part Hispanic
and her father had Irish roots, which seemed unlikely given her looks, or she’d previously been married to a Brady. If it was the latter, then unlike with Sofie and Eric, Rodriguez or any other Hispanic guy shouldn’t have a cultural advantage over Brandon about getting a girl like Ms. Brady, especially guys like Rodriguez using his Spanish to try and impress her. If she’d married out of her culture before, obviously it didn’t matter to her.

Brandon shot out of his chair, more annoyed with himself than he ha
d been last night. The fact that he was even thinking in these terms was absolutely unacceptable. He dropped the report in the trash and slipped his hat over his head. He had no business putting so much damn thought and even research into this. Damn it. He’d even told the woman he had no desire to get to know her better.

Shaking his head in frustration as he walked out of his office, he forced himself to think of what he should be thinking about: the day ahead of him. It would be a long one for sure. He had
several meetings with a few of his stuffy superiors to discuss the evaluations he’d been overseeing all week. He’d concentrate on that instead.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Eight

Regina

Staring into the darkness outside her office window, Re
gina smiled, thinking about how nice it had been to see her family this past weekend. Saturday she’d gone into the gym then did some grocery shopping before going home and fixing herself some pasta. Eating alone in her quiet condo, she felt herself sinking into that lonely place again. She needed to get used her life as it was now. Here or in New York, this is how it would be forever. He was gone, and until she began to move on—find herself again, be the person she was once—she’d continue sinking. She needed to go back to being that girl who didn’t need someone else to make her happy.

Sunday had been nice. Maybe she didn’t need a man to make her happy, but her family, she definitely needed. Being close to them again felt right. She was glad when her mother t
old her that now that all her children were living close by she’d be having early Sunday dinner for the entire family at her place
every
week. That was even more to look forward to because seeing her siblings and their families had been wonderful.

Albeit h
er parents weren’t
that
close, the just-over-an-hour drive each way to their home had also served a purpose. It’d given her time to think. Her job wasn’t
that
bad, really. She just had to give herself time to adjust, and she’d already decided she wouldn’t give the sergeant another thought. The only energy she’d put into anything where he was concerned was to avoid him completely. She had enough things to deal with and an entire new lifestyle to adjust to. She didn’t need to be thinking about a man who, from what she’d seen Friday, was likely married or in a relationship anyway. Being around her family reminded her why she’d made this move in the first place. Knowing she was close enough that she could be with them often now made it all worth it. She wouldn’t let a less glamorous job than her job in New York or some jerk working in the same building make her forget that.

For the past few days, she’d effectively managed to be upbeat about her job and hadn’t once run into
him
. That is until yesterday, but fortunately it’d been brief, and both times he’d been just as cold and indifferent as ever. Screw him. She was done trying to figure out what his problem was. She’d seen the way he glared at the other sergeant she’d been speaking to. Unlike Sergeant Billings, Sergeant Rodriguez had been friendly and engaging. Yet Sergeant Billings had seen fit to look at him in that same rigid way she thought he’d reserved just for her. The simple answer could very well be he was just an asshole.

Done thinking about it, she
brought her mind back to the more pleasant things about that week. Regina had finally come up with what her boss had been counting on when she pitched her the idea of taking this job—a way to get this lagging project moving along.

Standing from her chair,
she smiled, feeling very pleased with herself. Today had gone better than she’d imagined. The impromptu meeting she had with the staff to run her idea by them had gone well also. Taking a deep breath, she grabbed her things and headed out.

All week she’d
been taking the stairs instead of the elevator, except for yesterday when she’d seen him rush up the stairs. It’d been the only time she’d seen him do that. Usually, he took the elevator, so she’d stick to the stairs under normal circumstances. Taking the stairs added steps to her step count for the day, and she didn’t have to worry about any uncomfortable elevator rides. Win—win. Tonight, however, because she got caught up putting her new idea into effect and had to make a few calls to some key people who could get it moving along, she’d been here much later than usual.

Since the building was just about empty, she figured her chances of getting caught up in the elevator with
him
were slim to none, so she made her way to the elevator. Unbelievably, halfway there, she heard slow ominous footsteps coming from behind her—the direction of his office—but she dare not look. It could be someone else. What were the odds that of all the other people on this floor it would be him?

Charlie Brown.

Panicking as the footsteps got closer, she thought of the stairs just around the elevator. She could keep walking and take them instead. She still had a chance. As she reached the elevator, she hesitated for a moment but then kept going. She’d rather walk down than risk ruining her otherwise pleasant day by engaging in another irritating encounter with that man. She stopped just on top of the stairs but out of view now of whoever had been behind her. Deciding she should wait and not go down just yet to avoid running into him downstairs, she did. But the footsteps hadn’t stopped. What if like yesterday, he’d decided to take the stairs as well and came around the corner only to find her standing there like an idiot?

Going back and forth because the footsteps were still coming, she s
hook her fist, frustrated by her inability to make such a simple decision.
Head down or not? Geez!

Maybe he just hadn’t reached the elevator yet. Even if he did take the elevator, she still had a chance to make a mad dash down the stairs and beat him becau
se he still had to wait for the elevator.

Regina took off in a hurry but immediately realized she’d be much faster if she took her shoes off. A few steps down, she took one shoe off then went for the other and lost her footing. Her heart jumped to her thro
at when she tried to recover and couldn’t. Before she knew what was happening, she heard herself yelp from the pain of her ankle bending under her. Everything after that happened so fast there was nothing she could do to stop it. Her arms flayed out wildly, unable to grasp onto anything as her entire body went down. The things in her purse flew everywhere as it fell out in front of her, and she hit every step, unable to slow the fall until she finally hit the wall where the stairwell turned with a loud and painful thud.

Dazed for a few seconds, it took her a moment to grasp what had just happened. She shook her head and immediately regretted it because it made her head throb. She was so dazed she didn’t even realize the loud clanking was someone running down
the stairs toward her.

Looking up, she was face to face with Sergeant Billings, who immediately crouched down, the usual hardened expression now very concerned.

“Don’t move,” he said as she tried to sit up. “Lie down instead,” he instructed her, and she did as he told her. “You might have a neck or spinal injury. You’ll make it worse if you move.”

Very slowly and gently, Regina moved her neck from side to side to assess whether her neck was really injured or not. She tried in vain to ignore the screaming v
oice in her head.

Of course, instead of avoiding him, you rolled down the stairs, bringing the most mortifying kind of attention to yourself. You didn’t just trip or fall—you rolled!

“My neck feels fine,” she said, wanting nothing more than to gather her things and get as far away from there as possible.

Over the initial shock and ignoring the pain now, Regina felt so incredibly embarrassed she couldn’t even look at him as she tried sitting again.

“Look in my eyes,” he said, and unwillingly she did. Was it possible they’d gotten even bluer?

As he held her from moving by her arm, she stopped. For the first time since he’d arrived, she got an up close less dazed look at him. Unlike all the other times when she’d seen him in his utility uniform, he now wore a s
ervice uniform with lots of medals, which only gave him an even more commanding appearance. Whatever cologne he wore smelled so good she had to fight the urge to close her eyes and just inhale deeply. She gazed into those very serious blue eyes.

“Can you t
ell me what your name is?” he asked.

Instantly, she was yanked out of the wistful state she hadn’t even noticed she’d gone into. Her insides warmed with mortification or anger; she couldn’t decide. But she was consumed by both emotions. Was he really going
to act as if he didn’t remember her?

She jerked her arm away from him. “You know who I am!”

Surprised by the tiny gleam in his eyes, she was caught in them once again, but she still glared.

“Yes,” he nodded, and to her utter shock, he smiled softly. “I kn
ow who you are, Ms. Brady. I was just trying to assess how hard you hit your head.”

“Oh,” she said, and as if she couldn’t feel anymore embarrassed than she already did, she now felt like a complete jackass. “Yes, I know my name. It’s Regina.” Even through
her embarrassment, she was surprised by what a smile from him did to her. “I really don’t think I broke anything,” she explained as she once again tried to sit up, and he allowed it this time. “Nothing hurts that bad.”

He stood up and offered both hands t
o her. “Stand up really slowly. You might be dizzy.”

She reached up and took both his hands. The second she put weight on her right foot, the pain shot through her ankle, and she nearly went down again, but he caught her.

“Careful,” he said as she fell into his hard chest.

The feel of his arms around her and that amazing scent of him as she leaned into him might’ve been more enjoyable if the sharp pain in her ankle hadn’t spoiled the moment. She groaned instead. Suddenly the realization that she’d have to w
alk up or down a set of stairs in that excruciating pain came to her.

“Don’t stand on it,” he warned, pulling her arm around his neck and looking down. “It might be broken.”

Holding on to him, she wobbled on her good foot. “I can hold on to the rail and hop down on one foot.”

More surprising than seeing him smile earlier, she jerked her head up when she heard him chuckle softly. “That’s not happening.”

He already had one hand around her. He leaned down, and she felt his arm under her knees. In the next instant, she was cradled in his arms.

“Put your arms around my neck,” he instructed her.

Before she could even begin to argue, he started down the stairs, and she wrapped her arms around him, holding on tightly.

~*~

Brandon

So her hair smelle
d better than he remembered, and she felt even better than he hated to admit he’d been imagining she would in his arms. She was injured, and even if the thought of holding her had crossed his mind before,
that
was the only reason he was doing this now. Just thinking about these things was reckless. He was beginning to think he saw something in the way she looked at him too—something curious—something he had no business even noticing and definitely no intention of looking into any further.

Brandon set her down on the sofa in the lobby at the entrance of the building. “I’ll go get your things,” he said as soon as she un-wrapped her arms from around his neck.

Gulping hard, he walked away before he could get caught up in the eyes he
needed
to stop thinking about, even when they weren’t in front of him.

As he reached the stairs where she’d fallen, he picked up her purse and began putting the spilled contents into it. After picking up several makeup items, he noticed he
r open wallet at the bottom of the staircase. He didn’t mean to be nosey, but it was open to a photo of her and two other women standing around an older guy. The other women looked about her age. Going by the resemblances they all shared, he presumed these were her sisters, and the way they all touched the man’s shoulders so endearingly, he assumed this was
Daddy
. If it was, this blew his theory about her dad possibly being Irish—a Brady. The man in the photo looked every bit as Hispanic as she did.

Why was
he even going there?

Holding the photo still in front of him, he couldn’t stop looking at it. He focused on something else now. They all looked so happy. He stared at that smile and her sparkling eyes. It was almost maddening. All these years, he’d manage
d to remain immune to and kept that part of him—the part that might actually feel emotions—completely sedated. He couldn’t allow a sweet smile and a pair of dark captivating eyes to wake that part of him. He’d so effortlessly managed to snuff it to its death, or so he thought, for so long he didn’t think he’d ever have to worry about it.

Clenching his jaw, he lifted the photo only to see another one of Ms. Brady behind it. Once again, Brandon felt drawn to her eyes. In the second photo, she was alone, her f
ace very fresh as if she’d just gotten out of the shower. Even with no makeup, she was stunning. It was such a simple photo of her, sitting cross-legged in the middle of a bed, wearing an oversized white T-shirt, but unlike the other smiling photo, in this one she wasn’t smiling at all. She was staring at the camera with her head tilted, looking almost angry.

Brandon smiled, remembering the fuming yet adorable glare he’d been indulged with when he’d asked her for her name earlier. He still didn’t understand
why seeing that glint of fire in her eyes, especially when directed at him, amused him so. Even this less-enchanting portrait did just that: enchant him in a way that scared him. He shouldn’t be feeling anything for her. He didn’t know her, and he didn’t want to get to know her—he shouldn’t.

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