Home > Man Card (Man Hands #2)(5)

Man Card (Man Hands #2)(5)
Author: Sarina Bowen


Braht: Hey girl! Nice desk accessories! Somebody likes pens a lot. Long, thick pens.

Grrr! Braht is at my desk? Don’t touch my pens. They’re from Japan. I count them every night before I leave. Everyone in the office knows not to touch my shit. One time a trainee used my Korean washi tape to hang up a poster and I made him buy me a new roll. The shipping charges alone cost more than his lunch. That lesson was not soon forgotten.

But they’re smooth and silky just like you, Ash. Nice paper, too. Hey—I have a favor to ask. It’s about tomorrow.

Get. Away. From my desk. I feel violated picturing Braht touching all my things with those long, artistic fingers of his. From five miles away I can feel his boyish grin as he taunts me. His Ralph-Lauren-model face, smirking…

“Are you okay, Ash?” Brynn asks. “You look a little flushed.”

“I’m fine,” I snap. “One sec.” There is a text bubble on the screen, so Braht is typing another stupid message. Whatever favor he asks of me, it’s an automatic no. My finger hovers over the N key in preparation.

Can you show the house tomorrow at two? he asks.

That is a strange request, and it throws me for a half second. But then I’m filled with indignation faster than you can say bitch mode. What if I’m busy at two? I fire back. Does he really expect me to show the house to his clients? Then I have a better idea. If I show the house, it’s my sale.

Wow, territorial much? he asks. Fine, cutie. It’s your client. The couple’s name is Mr. and Mrs. Robert VanHeimlich. Two o’clock sharp. You’re up, sweet cheeks.

I can be up, too. Any time you want.

Fucking Braht and his never-ending nicknames for me. I’m 5’9 and I work hard to be sleek and ice cold. There is no way anyone on this planet looks at me and can think I look like an “Ashley Poo” or “Sweet cheeks” or whatever. I’m Ash Power. I’m always Ash Power. I will always be…

“Why are you giggling?” asks Brynn.

“I’m not sure I’d call that a giggle,” says Sadie, sounding afraid. “It’s really close to an evil laugh.”

Then I realize I am almost maniacally laughing. Again.

And my nipples!

GODDAMMIT!

“I’m fine,” I say, texting one last time. I’ll do it. 2pm. Gotta run now. Then I shut off my phone. “Ack. It’s just Braht giving me a client, which is really fucking strange.”

“Why?” Sadie asks.

“We don’t just give each other clients! That’s not how it is with us.”

Brynn lifts an eyebrow. “How is it, then?”

“We hate each other! We flirt and then destroy each other. And this couple—Mr. and Mrs. VanHeimlich. Do you think they could be part of those VanHeimlichs?” The VanHeimlich family owns the world’s largest bible publishing company, and they own half of Grand Rapids. They’re a force in the community. Nobody really likes them, but their money sure is nice.

Both Brynn and Sadie are blinking at me now. “That’s exactly the sort of people who could afford Tom’s house,” Brynn points out. “This could be great!”

Still, I don’t trust it. “Braht’s no dummy. If this was a great client, he’d never just hand them to me. He said he’s busy at two tomorrow. Too busy to make a sale?”

“You just said something nice about Braht,” Sadie points out.

“No I didn’t!” What a crazy idea.

“You said, and I quote, ‘Braht’s no dummy.’” Sadie smirks.

“Oh, please. Faint praise at best. And I never said he was stupid. I only said he’s an asshole who cares more about his manicure and golf swing than hard work. He’s Mr. Entitled.” I shudder. “Just like a man.”

“Then why do you get all breathless and weird when you talk about him?” Sadie asks, slurping the last of her screaming orgasm. For a moment I’m distracted by a slurping screaming orgasm. Whatever. Focus, Ash!

“I don’t get breathless,” I yelp, sorta breathy. God. It’s obviously time to call it a night. “I’ll see you two later, okay? I’ve got research to do before tomorrow’s showing.”

Over their protests, I give Brynn and Sadie each a peck and scoot out of the bar. I need to go home and do a deep dive into the VanHeimlich family tree, so I know what I’m dealing with. They could be cousins of the CEO. It’s a big Dutch family. This part of Michigan has a huge population of Dutch people. I make a mental note to point out Tom’s tulips.

I’ve got this. I can feel it in my belly. I’m going to sell this house and crush Braht and his glorious pecs with my bare hands.

I mean, crush Braht. Just Braht. Nothing about his pecs or my bare hands on those pecs, or…drifting downward.

My brain hates me. It loves to remember Braht’s smooth skin and taut body and those few minutes in the pantry when he…

Stop it, brain.

I have a house to sell.

 

 

3 Unveiling The Human Form

 

 

Braht


“You ready, Bramly?” I call to my younger brother.

He does not look the least bit ready. He’s hanging out on my couch in his underwear playing Destiny 2.

“Don’t you have your own place for that? And put a towel down!” One shouldn’t sweat on Italian leather.

“Seriously?” he says and gestures to my living room, which is, I admit, not organized and piled high with my stuff. My important stuff.

“It’s Italian,” I whine, because this is enough of an explanation.

He groans, rolls his eyes and says, “Okay, Dad” in that half-kidding-but-not-really way he’s been saying since he was twelve and I, well, actually took over raising him. Long story.

“I’m on a schedule here!” I say. “If we’re going to pull off this epic mission, then we need to get moving as quickly as possible.” To show him how very serious I am I start to unbutton my shirt.

Bramly tosses the controller onto the table and lets out a dramatic sigh. “Hold up! I’m not ready to see my brother naked yet. I have to channel my muse.”

His muse. And people think I’m the ridiculous one.

Bramly slips into his artist’s mojo by donning one of our grandpa’s old shirts from the 60s, but no pants. Maybe that’s why the shirt has so many pockets. He tops this off with a beret, and I’ve never been sure whether he wears that thing ironically or not. Then he grabs his camera and takes a slow, focusing breath. He stops being frat boy Bramly and becomes serious Bramly. It’s actually a cool process that I am completely down with.

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