Home > Nothing Personal (Karina Halle)(10)

Nothing Personal (Karina Halle)(10)
Author: Karina Halle

I close my eyes and breathe in sharply through my nose. I’m the problem now, not him. I need to get this runaway libido under control.

I briefly consider calling up Roger, or maybe another ex that hasn’t been tainted via Vegas hooker, when there’s a knock at my door.

“Come in,” I say.

It opens. It’s Mahina, her impossibly long dark hair swinging in her face. Ugh, I would kill to have my hair that shiny. “Aloha kakahiaka,” she greets me cheerfully. “How was your weekend?”

“Great,” I tell her. It wasn’t great. It was boring. “How was yours?”

“Same old. I was surfing at Sunset Beach, I should have stopped by your house and said hello. So, uh, Mr. Rocha would like to schedule a meeting with you.”

I give her a tired look. “When?”

“Now, I believe.”

“Where?”

“Right here is fine,” he says, suddenly appearing behind Mahina. “Thank you Mahina, I’ll take it from here.”

She gives him a sheepish smile that borders on high school crush and then scampers away to her desk down the hall.

“I guess we both share the same assistant now,” Kessler says, leaning against the door. It bothers me that he doesn’t look sweaty at all, as if being a sweat monster was his one weakness. Oh who am I kidding, seeing that sweat drip off of him only brought memories of our slick bodies tangled beneath the sheets.

“She’s my assistant,” I manage to say.

“Actually, according to Desiree, she was also Mike’s assistant. Oh wait, no.” He taps his fingers against his manly chin in false contemplation. “Desiree said that you were essentially Mike’s assistant. But I told her you were more qualified than that.”

I swallow down my pride in a bitter pill. “Thank you.”

“So anyway, I need to talk to you.”

“Is this about our weekly meeting?”

“Weekly meeting? No.” He steps in and shuts the door behind him and then strolls over to the chair across from my desk and takes a seat. “I need to talk to you about something urgent.”

I frown, my heart picking up the beat. “What?”

He gives me a shy grin, the type of grin that makes the dimples pop on his scruffy cheeks. He doesn’t have a Hawaiian tan yet, but once he does, he’s going to get pretty dark thanks to that Portuguese blood of his and those teal eyes are going to pop even more. Maybe that’s half the reason why my body turns to goo around him, his eyes are my favorite color in the whole world.

“I need to ask you a favor.”

I stare at him. Worried. I hate favors. “What favor?”

He chews on his lip for a moment. “We have a leprechaun problem.”

I blink. “…Leprechaun?”

“Cockroaches,” he elaborates.

There’s that word cock again.

“Is that what you call cockroaches in the Yukon?” Fucking Canadians.

“No, it’s what Hunter calls them,” he says. “Point is, we have a cockroach problem. The whole house has been invaded.”

I shudder, scrunching up my face. “Ew.”

“Yeah, that’s putting it mildly. Hunter’s been afraid of leprechauns since we got here and I only realized on Friday when he put a fucking dead roach in my hand just what his version of leprechauns were. Let me tell you, it was scarier than the Leprechaun movie.”

“That wasn’t scary,” I tell him.

“That’s because you don’t find any movies scary,” he says.

I shrug. “I don’t know, the real-life horror show of a cockroach infestation sounds much worse.”

“It is. I thought maybe it was just the bathroom so me and Loan got to setting traps—”

“Who is Loan?” That weird jealousy spear is poking me again.

“The nanny,” he says. “She’s Vietnamese. Quiet, except at odd times. She’s a good egg though, Mike set it up.”

“The same Mike that gave you this job and then put you in his cockroach-infested house?”

“That’s the same one. I don’t know how he’s been living there but…” he trails off and now it’s time for him to shudder. “Anyway, either Mike is a giant slob or he’s been blinded because of that porn star, but either way, the house is infested from top to bottom. The traps don’t work and we can’t do much more because of Hunter. I think he’s picking up some sort of asthmatic response to them too.”

“Shit.”

“Speaking of shit, have you seen cockroach shit? Looks like coffee grounds. That’s what I fucking thought it was, like Loan was just messy with the Starbucks blend in the morning but oh no no no.”

“So…”

“So I spent the weekend trying to figure out what to do. When I realized it was a losing battle, I called the exterminators. They came by yesterday and took a look around. The main guy was a real Clint Eastwood when it came to cockroaches. He said it would take three nights, maybe more. Fumigation started today.”

Oh god. Please don’t let this go where I think it’s going.

He continues, his brows raised in a pleading way that makes my heart sink. “I looked at hotels but because it’s me, Hunter, and Loan, one room just wouldn’t work, and because it’s the holiday season now, almost everything is booked up except for places on Waikiki charging three grand a night. Then I asked around the office and the only offer I got was from Teef but I don’t feel like living with ten of his cousins. Then everyone mentioned that you had a large house all to yourself…”

Fuck.

I knew this would bite me in the ass one day.

When I first moved to Honolulu, I was in a tiny one-bedroom studio in Pearl City for six months. I was working hard and barely had time for the fact that I was in Hawaii of all places. I finally made my way out to the North Shore, courtesy of Teef who took pity on me and needed to show me what was so great about Oahu.

I fell in love.

It felt so different from Honolulu and the south shore. The north shore was wild and lush and uncontained and free. The beaches were empty, the surf was loud, and the waves were behemoths that made me shake even standing on the shore. It was so green it hurt my eyes and the flowers that sprouted off the power lines were a sign that nature was just a misstep away from taking over civilization.

It spoke to my soul, my spirit. For the first time since coming to Hawaii, I understood what Aloha was.

It was love.

I had to move there immediately.

I found a room in a large plantation house in Hale’iwa that needed fixing up. I started out having three roommates. As time went on, I started working on the house in my spare time. Eventually the owner wanted to sell and I put in the first offer. Because I’d already put so much of my own spirit into the place, he agreed to sell it to me.

It wasn’t cheap but I’d just moved up into my current position and the bank approved me and the rest was history. I had a roommate, Cinthia, to help along with the mortgage until last year, and since then I’ve been alone.

So, Kessler isn’t mistaken in that I do have a large house with lots of room. But it’s the kind of room I was hoping my parents would take me up on.

Not the man sitting across from me.

But I’m also not a heartless wench, even if I feel like I am sometimes. He’s obviously in a tough spot, plus he has his son and nanny to worry about. To be honest, I’m really curious about Hunter. I wonder how much of him looks like Kessler, how much the Russian model. Does he have Kessler’s eyes? His olive skin tone? Has he picked up on the funny way he pronounces things sometimes?

“You want to move in with me?” I ask.

He bites on his lip and I ignore the urge to do the same. “If it’s not too much trouble. Just for three nights. That’s the estimate the roach guy gave me anyway. We can even carpool in the morning. It will be fun.”

I cock my head, brows to the heavens. Fun? Are you serious?

Kessler ignores that look. “So you’re okay with this?”

I sigh and lean back in my chair. “Of course I’m okay with it. As long as you don’t mind living out on the north shore for a few days. Believe me, it’s miles from Honolulu.”

“I haven’t been yet but I’ve heard it’s beautiful.”

The way he says beautiful, the way his eyes hold mine, fire intensifying in them, sends shivers down my spine that I try desperately to hide.

“Okay well…” I say.

“After work today we can move everything over,” he says. “We don’t have much stuff as it is. And don’t worry about Hunter. I mean, he’s a toddler so he’s half-angel, half-fiendish troll, but he’s a pretty good kid if I do say so myself. And Loan just keeps to herself, you won’t even know she’s there.”

I nod, swallowing. “Okay then. Then it’s settled.”

He grins at me. “I won’t forget this,” he says, as if it’s going to buy me some favor in the future.

How about you give me your job in exchange, I think, even though I’m giving him a fake smile.

I keep it plastered on my face until he leaves.

Instead of heading straight home after work like I usually do on a Monday, I drive to Mike’s house where Kessler proceeds to get all his shit out of the house. Because of the evening downpour that rolls around like clockwork this time of year, I sit in my car and watch through the rain-soaked windshield. I could have just told them to meet me at the house but figured an escort was a more personal way of moving.

Besides, it looks horrid. The exterminators have already put up tents around half the house, so when Kessler starts bringing out his luggage, it looks like they’re fleeing a post-apocalyptic scene.

It isn’t until a slender women—who I assume is Loan—holding a child in her arms—who I assume is Hunter—comes out do I see the dilemma. Kessler’s fancy sports car isn’t enough for everyone.

   
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