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Step right up and meet Jay Fields: Illusionist. Mentalist. Trickster.
I think in triangles. You think in straight lines.
I show you a table and make you believe it’s a chair.
Smoke and mirrors, sleight of hand, misdirection. I trick and deceive.
But most of all, I put on a good show.
The world thinks I killed a man, but I didn’t. Bear with me. It’s all a part of the plan.
Revenge is what I want. I want it for me and I want it for her.
I want it for all six of us.
She doesn’t remember me, but she’s the reason for everything. She’ll be my prize at the end of all this – if I can hold onto my willpower, that is. Maybe I’ll slip up a little, have a taste, just a small one.
So go ahead and pick a card. Come inside and see the show. Look at my hands, look so closely that you can’t see what’s happening while you’re so focused on looking. I’ll be destroying your world from right here in the spotlight.
You’ll never see me coming until it’s too late.
I’ve only got one heart, and after I’ve pulled off my grand deception I’ll hand it right to her.
So, sit back, relax, and let my girl tell you our story. You’re in for one hell of a ride.
Making my way down the narrow staircase that leads out of the building and onto the street, I bump into a tall man with golden-brown hair. I wouldn’t normally notice a man’s hair so specifically, but this guy has some serious style going on. It’s cut tight at the sides and left long on the top, kind of like a sexy villain in a movie set in the 1920s. I stare up at him, wide-eyed. He’s wearing a very nice navy suit with a leather satchel bag slung over his shoulder. Even though it was the first thing I noticed, his hair pales in comparison to the wonder that is his face. I don’t think I’ve ever been up close to such a handsome example of the male species in my life.
Why can’t men like this write to me online? I ponder dejectedly.
Because men like this don’t even know the meaning of the term “socially awkward,” my brain answers.
My five-foot-something stares up at his six-foot-whatever, and I think to myself, what’s a prize like you doing in a dive like this? Actually, now that I’m looking at him, he does seem vaguely familiar, but I can’t put my finger on where I’ve seen him before.
Probably on the pages of a fashion magazine, if his looks are anything to go by.
If it hasn’t already been deduced from the fact that I can’t even find a date using the romantic connection slut that is the Internet, then I’ll spell it out. I’m useless with men, and I’m talking all men. Even the nice approachable fellows. And I’m not looking at a nice approachable fellow right now. I’m looking at a “chew you up and spit you out” tiger.
Since the entrance to the building is so narrow, we have to skirt around each other. I give him a hesitant smile and a shrug. His eyes sparkle with some kind of hidden knowledge as he lets me pass, like beautiful people know the meaning of the universe and are amused by us ordinary folks who have to bumble along in the dark.
I’m just about to step out the door when the tiger starts to speak. “I’m looking for Brandon Solicitors. Do you know if I have the right place?”
I step back inside.
He sounds like Mark Wahlberg when he’s letting his Southie roots all hang out. His deep American accent makes me want to close my eyes and savour the sound. But I don’t do that – because I’m not a complete psycho.
“Yeah, this is the place. I work here, actually. I’m the secretary slash receptionist slash general dogsbody. It’s my dad’s firm,” I reply. Too much information, Matilda. Too. Much. Information.
The tiger smiles, making him better-looking, if that’s even possible. And thankfully, he doesn’t comment on my fluster. “I have an appointment with Hugh Brandon at nine. I’m Jay,” he says, and takes a step closer to hold his hand out to me. My back hits the wall, his tall frame dwarfing mine. I don’t think he realises just how narrow this space is, and now I can smell his cologne. Wow, it’s not often that I get close enough to a man to smell him. And Jay Fields smells indecently good.
“Ah, right. Jay Fields. Yeah, I have you pencilled in. You can go on upstairs, and Dad will take care of you,” I reply, shaking his hand and letting go quickly so that he doesn’t notice my sweatacular palms. “I’ve got an errand to run.”
He stares at me for a long moment, like his eyes are trying to take in my every feature, but that can’t be right. When he finally responds, it’s a simple, “I won’t keep you, then, Matilda.”
God. Why does the way he says “keep you” in that deep voice have to make my heart flutter? It’s been literally thirty seconds, and I’m already well on my way to developing a crush. He makes some keen eye contact with me, then turns and continues up the stairs to the office. I’m already on the street when I realise I hadn’t offered my name, and yet he knew it.