Emerald (Steele Investigations)

 

Emerald

 

 

Kasey
Millstead

 

 

 

 

 

Emerald

All rights reserved.  This eBook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only.  This eBook is copyright material and must be copied,
reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased or publicly performed or used in
any form without prior written permission of the publisher. 

Thank you for respecting the work of this Author.

Emerald is a work of fiction.  All names, characters, places and events
portrayed in this book are either from the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously, with exception to Artists named, and their song lyrics, and
direct quotes from movies whose titles have been named.  Any similarity to real
persons, living or dead, establishments, events or locations is purely
coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

Copyright © 2013, Kasey Millstead

 

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Troy – God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you...  Zach
and Demi:  Your strength amazes me.  Jovi would be so proud of the courage you
have shown over the last twenty months.  I’m so proud of you both.  Cruz: You
are my saving grace.  You saved me in more ways than you will ever know.  I
love you all immeasurably.

To Mel and Wurry, I think “
I II III IV III II
” says it all.
Mwah.

Thanks to my Mum and Dad, the best parents,
ever.

To Meredy & Hayles – thanks for your support, for encouraging me
and for listening.

Lastly, thank you to each and every one of you that reads this book. 
You are making my dreams come true.

 

 

 

 

DEDICATION

 

To Jovi

You
taught me the hard way that life is too short.

Five
and a half years with you wasn’t long enough; but for a parent, forever isn’t
long enough.  I love you with my whole heart.  I miss you even more. xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other titles by Kasey Millstead

 

Steele Investigations

Sapphire

Emerald

 

 

 

Playlist

 

Lady Antebellum

 

American Honey

Can’t Take My Eyes Off You

When You Got A Good Thing

 

Goo Goo Dolls

 

Iris

 

Reef

 

Place Your Hands

 

Meatloaf

 

I Would Do Anything For Love

 

Shania Twain

 

From This Moment On

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

“Jemma, get your butt out here, girlfriend!  I need your
help.  Imma ‘bout to fall on my ass.”  Smiling to myself, I put down my cuppa
and make my way out of the kitchenette in the back, to the front of the store
where I see Tom, my co-worker.  Actually, I can only really see his legs,
considering the rest of him is hidden behind the stack of boxes that are
balancing precariously in his hands.

“Jemmmma,” he calls. 

“Alright, alright.  I’m here,” I say as I reach up and
unload some of the boxes from his stack.

Now that he can see, he makes his way over to the counter
and sets the stock down.

“Phew,” he says, wiping his brow.  “Girl, that was
in
tense. 
I couldn’t see where I was goin’, thought I’d be needin’ to get me one of those
Labrador’s, train me up a Guide Dog.”

“Oh my God, Tom.  You are so melodramatic.  You don’t need
any sort of Guide Dog, what you needed was to make a couple of trips to collect
the boxes.  Not try to get them in, all in one go,” I tell him as I shake my
head.

“Yeah,” he says, puckering his lips, deep in thought, “BUT,
a Labrador
would
be a cute addition to our little Amore de Vie family,
don’t you think?”  He gives me a massive smile and bats his eyelashes.

I slap my hand to my mouth as I try to contain my laughter. 
It doesn’t work, and I laugh loudly, thankful that we don’t open for another
twenty minutes.

He mock scowls at me for a beat before joining me.  Both of
us bent double laughing; we don’t realize that we’re not alone until I hear
someone clearing their throat.  I snap my back straight and spin around to see
who has entered the store, when there is clearly a ‘Closed’ sign on the door,
and wasn’t that door locked?
  I turn and see its Travis, Elliott and Linc. 
My breath catches at the sight of Travis.  He’s unbelievably good looking. 
Smokin’ hot.  I like to look, because I know I can never touch, not saying he’d
want to be touched by me, because I can guarantee if he knew anything about me,
there’s no way he’d want to be touched by me.  Okay, and I’ll admit, sometimes
(okay,
a lot of times
), I like to daydream about him.  About what it
would be like if my life was different, about him wanting me, about me being
able to touch that shit hot body of his, about him holding me close, loving me…

I skim my eyes over Linc and Travis, before they settle on
Elliott.  Elliott is the fiancé of Rae and the older brother of Kami.  Kami and
Rae are my and Tom’s bosses.

 “Jemma, Tom,” Elliott greets us, his lip twitching.

“Hi, guys,” I reply, willing my blush to disappear.

“Hey,” answers Tom, and if I chanced a look at him, which I
don’t, I’m positive he’d look as humiliated as I feel.  He covers it well
though because he asks, “Looking for an outfit for yourselves…or your lady
friends?” He asks, jokingly (I hope).

Linc grins big, Elliott smiles and I’m not sure what Travis
is doing because I’m studiously ignoring him, but I can feel his eyes boring
holes in me.

“Not today, thanks Tom.  We just gotta check some shit out,
puttin’ in a security system.  Shouldn’t take too long and we’ll be outta your
hair.” 

“Okay, cool,” I say.

“Anything you need us to do?” Tom asks

Elliott shakes his head ‘no’, and makes his way to the
back.  I decide to busy myself unpacking the boxes we’d neglected while we had
our laughing fit.

I sense Travis come up behind me before he talks.

“Come to dinner with me tonight?”

Umm, what? 
Travis has
never
asked me to
dinner.  Hell, I don’t think Travis has ever uttered more than ‘hello’ and
‘later’ to me.  To say I’m shocked to shit would be an understatement. 
If
only I lived in my daydreams.  I will put this moment in my memory bank so I can
look back on it when the shit times come.  They always come.

“Uh,” my voice comes out croaky, I drop my eyes to the
counter and I can feel my heart thudding hard in my chest, “Travis, that’s a
really nice offer, but I don’t think it’s a good idea, thanks anyway, though,” 
I reply as politely as I can, and try to stop my hands from trembling so he
doesn’t notice.  He doesn’t move away, like I expected him to.  Instead, he
stands firm and I can feel his eyes burning into me.  I keep my eyes downcast
and pretend to busy myself with the load of clothes and shoes that were
delivered this morning.

 “How long we gonna play this game?” He asks, his voice
hard.

My head shoots up and I look at him confused, “Game?  Are
you serious?  I’m not playing games, Travis.  I
don’t
play games.”  Now
my voice is trembling along with my hands.  I don’t want him to think that I’m
playing games, because I’m not.  I’m so far from game-playing, I’m in the next
galaxy, where games don’t exist, men don’t exist ... nothing exists except work
and home.  That’s what I do.  I go to work and I go home.  Rather than make an
ass of myself by telling him this, I shakily walk as fast as I can through the
shop, past the kitchenette and into the bathroom at the very back.  I lock the
door, put the toilet lid down and sit on it.  For the next five minutes I
convince myself to pull it together, go back out there, do my job and then I
can go home.  I suck in a deep breath and let it out.  Then I suck in another
one and let it out, slower this time.  Then I walk back out, past the
kitchenette and into the front, back to the boxes.  Travis is no longer there,
but Tom is.  He gives me a questioning look.  I give him a bright smile.  He
knows it’s fake, but doesn’t push the issue.  We efficiently unpack and sort
the merchandise, working perfectly in sync, as we always do, and then open the
doors for another day of sales and service at Amore de Vie Boutique.  It’s by
far the best job I have ever had.  I love it here.  I love the people I work
with.  I love the work.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

“Have a great day,” I smile at the customer as she gathers
her bags of items she just purchased. 

“Thank you, I will,” she smiles back as she briskly walks out
the door, clearly on a ‘mission’- a shopping mission.

It never ceases to amaze me.  You see, for as long as I can
remember, I’ve loved clothes and shoes.  Loved them, as in
lived for them.
 
They gave me an out when I thought I didn’t have one.  They gave me focus when
I was sure I had none.  They saved me from Hell.  However, I’ve never been much
of a “shopper”.  I don’t much like to browse racks of clothing, or try on stuff
just for the fun of it.  Rae and Kami have twice yearly Mega Shopping Sprees, and
smaller shopping sprees throughout the year – I’m not that kind.  I know what I
like, so when I walk into a shop, I grab what I’m after, making sure to get the
right size, then I’m out of there.  I never make impulsive purchases…
ever

I always get what I go in for and nothing else.  This probably has a lot to do
with how I grew up, which was shitty, and also the fact that even though I make
a good amount of money and always have, I never have any left over.  I don’t
even have a good stash for emergencies.  My emergency fund actually sits at
forty seven dollars.  Not a whole lot I can do with it in a pickle, but that’s
life.

“You gonna tell me what that was about earlier?”

I’m startled from my thoughts when Tom wraps an arm around
my shoulder and asks his question.

“Oh, umm, not sure what you’re talking about,”  I say as
nonchalantly as I can, shrugging my shoulders for added effect.

“Girlie, don’t play me.  You know exactly what I’m talking
about.  You and the Macho-Man.  What happened?”

Shit. Of course I couldn’t weasel my way out of it.

I sigh and then decide to just tell him, because he’s only
going to get it out of me sooner or later, and later would significantly
prolong the torture, so I go with sooner.  Sooner I tell him, sooner he shuts
up about it!

“Travis asked me out on a date.  I said no. The End,” I tell
him matter-of-factly, totally ignoring the gasp that comes from his gapping
mouth when I say the second bit.

“You said no?” He asks disbelievingly, on a breath.

“Uh, yeah,” I say, like a child would say ‘Duh’.

Ahh, saved by the customer, I think as a middle aged lady
walks in.


This is not finished!”
Tom hisses at me, eyes
narrowed and finger pointed.

Shit.

I narrow my eyes at him, then turn my head with attitude and
stomp off towards the customer.  Before I reach her, I snap out of the stomp
and plaster a smile on my face.

“Hi, welcome to Amore de Vie Boutique.  Can I help you with
anything today?”

“Oh, yes thank you.  I’d like to buy something for my
daughter but I’m not sure what she’d like.  Can you recommend anything, she’s
about your age?” she asks hopefully.

“Okay, is she a shoes or clothes girl, or both?”

“Shoes, she has a boatload of them.  I’m not sure she needs
anymore pairs.”

“Okay, come this way and I’ll show you some new items we
just got in this morning,” I say through a laugh, and lead her towards our rack
of new items.

After much deliberation on her part, I finally convince her
to purchase a gift card.  She seems delighted with this idea, and leaves
happy.  That makes me happy.

No sooner has she walked out the door, Tom is riding my ass
for more information Travis related.

“Why would you say no to him?  Seriously girlie, he’s
fuckin’ hot, he’s a good guy, he’s nice and did I mention he’s fuckin’ hot.”

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