Look The Part(10)

By: Jewel E. Ann

“Then she’d pull him in for a kiss. I’d wrinkle my nose in disgust, but I never turned away. Then he’d say, ‘What part is that, my dear?’

“She replied, ‘My man, of course.’”

“I remind you of your father?”

“Just the perfectly-tailored suit.” She laughs while putting her guitar in its case. “My father is an unassuming man. Kind. Generous to a fault. He never looked at anyone the way you look at me.”

I slip my hands in my pockets and sigh. Why am I still standing here? “How do I look at you?”

Bent over the case on the floor, she cocks her head toward me, squinting one eye. “Like I’m the bane of your existence.”

Fair assessment.

“I’ve given you a grace period because I’m not ready to deal with Harrison’s reaction to you leaving. But you will have to leave this building. Not because you’re the bane of my existence. This is just business. Nothing personal.”

She straightens her back, blowing out a slow breath before that bright, she-fucking-looks-like-a-teenager smile graces her face. “I find that people who say something is business, not personal, usually lack personality. We are people, not machines. Everything we do is personal to someone.”

She needs thicker skin. I give her a tight smile. “Good evening, Ms. Rodgers.” I turn toward the door.

“Good evening, Flint.”

“You can call me Mr. Hopkins.” I push the button to the elevator.

“Mmm, my landlord likes to role play. Me too.”

I stiffen—everywhere—turning my gaze back over my shoulder. Ellen peeks her head around the corner and winks.

I resist the urge to tug at my tie and scratch my neck. She’s flirting with me. Messing with me. Fucking with my head.


Harrison pops in his earbuds the moment I get in the car and ignores me the whole way home. We walk in the back door, and I flip one of the earbuds out of his ear.

“What?” He frowns, pausing whatever is playing from his phone.

I set my briefcase on the counter and grab an iced coffee from the fridge. “Why do you let her call you Harry?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’ve called you Harry over the years and you’ve had a conniption fit. Teachers and kids in school call you Harry and you lose it over a name that is in fact your nickname. But some stranger loans you a guitar and plays a few tunes with you and you submit to a name you’ve disliked for years? Help me understand this.”

“I don’t know.”

“You’re too smart to let ‘I don’t know’ be your default for everything you’re asked.”

He shrugs, shaking his head to brush the hair from his eyes. “When she says it, it sounds cool. Not like when everyone else says it.”


“Nice try. You don’t say it right.”

I chuckle. “It’s not how she says it. She’s an attractive woman and that’s why you’re okay with her calling you Harry.”

“You’re such an idiot.” He rolls his eyes. “Don’t say attractive.”

I twist the cap back onto the glass bottle of coffee. “And what do young, totally cool kids like yourself say?”

Another eye roll. My son is a bobble-head with googly eyes.

“Hot. She’s hot, Dad. Not that you would notice.” He slips his earbuds back into his ears.

I yank them back out, and he grumbles.

“Why wouldn’t I notice a hot woman?”

“Because you don’t have sex with them.”

Just when I think he can’t say anything that can surprise me … he surprises me. “You think the only way to acknowledge a ‘hot’ woman is to have sex with her? I fear you haven’t listened to the conversations we’ve had about sex.”

“Simon’s dad has women over for sex. It’s the only time he lets Simon watch TV for more than two hours at a time.”

“More than two hours, huh?” Simon’s dad is a lucky fucker.

“Gina is Simon’s favorite. After he hears her upstairs thanking baby Jesus over and over, she comes down to the kitchen and bakes several dozen chocolate chip cookies. Last time I was there, she promised to make them dairy and gluten-free in the future so I can have some too.”

Twelve is the new twenty. I didn’t have these conversations with my parents when I was twelve. We discussed football and whose turn it was to mow the lawn. I think there may have been a few conversations about drugs and getting in cars with strangers, but that was it.

“I think you should take a break from hanging out at Simon’s house.”

“Whatever,” says the kid who doesn’t have any true close friends.