Boss-whims


The following are three deleted scenes from Boss. You can switch between them by clicking on the tabs. Beware, these may contain spoilers for those who have not read the novel or any of The Trinity Books.  

Carissa, Gia & Mel

Whims

 

The chill of spring, the bright sun that didn’t quite warm, the cold metal park bench, and the ever-accompanying memory of Braeden’s vacant eyes all overwhelmed Carissa. A month in New York and she was changing everything about herself, losing the girl she’d always been.

At least they were no longer inside the Bronx building so old and dilapidated it wasn’t suitable for rats to live in. The place where her new identity, Isabel Parker, was born barely an hour before. At her rebirth, she was lethargic and desolate, a shadow, definitely not the girl voted as best smile in her yearbook.

“You just couldn’t be Carissa anymore,” Gia said

Carissa stared at the New York State driver’s license and couldn’t help the pangs of guilt or the pain in her chest. How many times had she wished to be someone else? A different person, some other woman’s child, a woman named Elvira in a nightclub. “It’s just … I’m turning my back on everything, on everyone. My mom and dad. Braeden.”

“They’re all dead, Carissa,” Mel said, standing directly across from her, adding, “You’re still alive and staying that way.”

Mel’s words carried a sharpness that punctured Carissa’s already beaten down heart. In contrast to her words, her friend’s eyes were warm, helping numb the wound.

“I need to get used to it.” She forced the words past her lips.

“It’s not easy. But you’re not alone. The Powerpuff Girls are together again. It’s like that episode where Blossom and Buttercup reminded Bubbles how awesome she was,” Mel said, bumping Carissa’s arm with her elbow. “I called my sister and told her you need cheering up. She’s making her new boyfriend drive her back from Connecticut.”

Loving and sweet, Mel’s little sister Nelly was a ray of sunshine to those she loved and the devil’s junior minion to whoever crossed her. “I can’t believe our baby is taking trips with boyfriends now.” She laughed for the first time that day.

“It just goes to show you what terrible parental figures the three of us are.” Mel’s voice dripped with vinegar, at odds with the teasing gleam in her eyes. “She’s bossy and treats men like absolute shit.”

“How does it still surprise you the apple fell a few feet and not two blocks away from the tree, Mel? Nelly has always been your mini-me, except now she is way taller than you,” Gia said.

“Really, Gia? Must you rub it in every single time how short I am? You’re not exactly Carissa’s height,” Mel shot back.

Carissa knew better than to laugh at Mel’s indignation. Height, or her lack of it, was a big thing for Mel. “So, what’s the plan with work?”

“I showed Quentin, our boss, a photo of you and he almost wet himself. He is going to hire you to work at Whims, no questions asked. You’re working behind the scenes with Gia and I and, like us, are off limits to the customers, but he’s excited about having you there.”

Whims was the exclusive New York club where Mel and Gia worked. It served the city’s elites, catering to their particular desires. The girls worked backstage in procurement, running the operations.

“The little cretin knows you’ll help bring more clients in. He was practically foaming at the mouth over the fact we’ll have a blond on staff.” Mel paused and looked at the floor for a bit. “Though I wish it didn’t have to be like this, but I’m really happy you’re here with us.”

“Me too,” Carissa said. “Thank you for keeping it together for me. I don’t know what I would do without you.” Her gaze drifted again to the new driver’s license. Time to embrace the new identity. It was only the beginning of her plan to lure out and kill Calum.

“He’s back, again.”

Carissa tore her gaze from her laptop and settled them on Gia. Propped against the office doorframe, her friend resembled a beautiful apparition with her nutmeg skin and her china doll features. Her face set in that pretty, Gia smile. Mischievous and bright, it was like exposure to a happy virus— you had no choice but to be infected.

“Who’s back?” Carissa crossed mental fingers and prayed it wasn’t who she thought.

“Lucian Turner. You know, ‘Mister I don’t get the hint she doesn’t like me’?” Gia sing- sang with glittering eyes. She sauntered into the room and closed Carissa’s laptop. “Come on, come on. We shan’t keep charming waiting.”

Carissa had the strong urge to slap Gia’s hands for touching her computer. Instead, she giggled. “You need to stop reading those historical romances, Gia. You sound like a cracked out Julie Andrews. Come on, go back out there and tell him I’m not available. Do it for me. Officer Byrne promised to take us shooting and I want to set it up for this weekend.”

“No, no, no, no, no, I am not going to go crush that man’s ego for you. He’s been dishing money on this place left and right every night for the past month.” Gia took her elbow and pulled her up. “You go let him down easy. Go break his heart into a thousand pieces. Go shatter his illus…”

“Gia, shut up! Good God, what the hell have you been reading lately?” Mel called out from the door. “It’s like taking Dr. Price’s literature class all over again, except worse. Carissa, Lucian’s being a nuisance again. You’re not going to give him a piece, so get him out of my damned way.”

This time, palm to the forehead, Carissa did groan. Lucian had been after her from the moment she began working at Whims, managing the personnel. Mel recruited the talent and Gia ran the locale. They introduced her to Lucian on her first day. He visited daily, brought her flowers, complimented her until her eyes rolled. She told him she wasn’t interested, but it didn’t faze him. Today, Carissa would close the curtains on the courtship attempts.

“Fine, I’ll go upstairs, but I’m coming right back down. Byrne will be here any minute. If he gets here before I get back, tell him we’ll meet him Saturday for our shooting lesson.” James Byrne was an NYPD police officer and one of Whims’ exclusive clients. He adored Mel because she catered to his tastes—strong, buff, and clean-cut young men.

Carissa stalked out of the room and down the hallway. Her friends giggled; she chose to ignore them in favor of practicing “you’re a nice guy, but” speech in her head. She wanted to let the man down, not break him. She almost collided against Quentin, her boss.

He was dressed in a dark gray shirt all but painted over his paunch, and his head was half an inch short of Carissa’s shoulder. Rounded from the armpit to the hips, he managed to make his yellow tie look like a street double line going down a mountain. His face was set in a grim expression, Quentin’s lips curved slightly downward. “Isabel, I’m glad to see you. I need a minute of your time.”

Six months and Carissa still had to nudge herself when someone called her Isabel. “Can you give me a few minutes? Mr. Turner is waiting for me and I need to speak to him.”

Quentin flashed her smile, his gaze locked on her face. “That’s great. I was coming to discuss Lucian, but I’m glad you came to your senses and decided to go talk to him.”

“What do you mean by come to my senses? I am planning to tell Mr. Turner I have no intention of engaging in any sort of personal relationship with him. It’s against the club’s rules. I am solely part of the administrative staff, not the talent.”

Quentin gaped at her for a few seconds then his gaze dropped to the floor. Yeah, something big and fucked up was about to come out of his mouth.  

He licked his lips and straightened his shoulders. “Well, Isabel, yes, you are right, but Lucian is not just any client. He’s elite and exclusive. I also consider him a friend. I expect everyone to treat him well.”

The words came at a fast pace. The sleazeball wouldn’t have the courage to say them otherwise. Carissa didn’t recognize the man in front of her; it was if she hadn’t worked for him for months or sat in his puke-green office for marathon staff meetings.

“Are you asking me to go out with him?” she finally sputtered. “You cannot force me. It’s illegal and I won’t do it.”

Quentin hooked his middle and index fingers inside the knot of his tie. He tugged no doubt trying to find some elusive room. Good luck with that. His face shaded into a shiny pink that made him look like a plastic piggybank.

“Isabel, I’m not asking you to do anything inappropriate. I’m not even asking you to compromise your morals. I’m just telling you to let the guy take you out for a fancy dinner.”

Carissa shook her head.

He released a strangled sigh. “The truth is, I make the rules here and I can’t have my best customer feeling slighted.”

Carissa leaned away from him, set her jaw. She wanted to scream “hell no” and go back into the office, but this job was important to her plans. Where else would they hire her, no questions asked? She needed more time with the clients to build connections and relationships, but there was no way in hell she was going to go out with a man she didn’t like.

Quentin jumped ahead of her. “Before you say anything, understand this. I’m asking, but I don’t have to. I hired you because of Mel. I know you’re one of the best employees I have. But Lucian’s my best customer. We need to find a way to work this out so I don’t have to lose either of you.”

He left Carissa standing there, paralyzed, trapped in her skin and glued to the floor.

“Think about it, Isabel. You’re good at what you do here, and I would really hate losing you. One date won’t kill you. I’ll go have a quick talk with Lucian while you make up your mind.”

“Are you fucking kidding me? He said that if you didn’t go out with Lucian, he would fire you?” Mel tuned toward the door. “Let me go fix this. Five words out of my mouth and that dingleberry will beg for forgiveness and give you a raise.”

Tension ripped the walls of Carissa’s stomach like a rabid pit bull. She jumped in front of the door to block Mel’s path. Pissed off as she was, Mel would probably get herself and Gia fired too. Then where would they all be? “No, let’s stop and think about this. We can’t jump to act without discussing it. There has to be a way out of this.”

“Carissa’s right.” Gia, always the optimist, chimed in. “We can’t blast him. Maybe we can reason with him.”

Carissa grasped onto Gia’s calm and positive tone. She breathed, trying to diffuse the volatile mood. “We have to work this out. I can’t lose this job. We keep talking about going to our own club; we need the money and the contacts for that. At the same time, the last thing I need is a date.”

“That’s not true. Everyone needs a date,” Gia said. “Not a forced one, though. But you don’t have to sleep with him, and at worse you get a free dinner.”

Carissa wanted to gag. Instead, she rolled her eyes at Gia, who unknowingly echoed Quentin’s earlier words. “He’s also a criminal. A drug dealer.”

“A distributor, if you want to get technical.”

Mel’s interjection surprised Carissa. From pissed off at Quentin to cold and analytical in record time, Mel was giving her emotional whiplash.

Mel’s shoulders lifted. “Well … we’re throwing pros and cons around. Let me also point out that Lucian can be a big help with our plans for a business and Calum. The guy does have a lot of influence in the island of Manhattan. They call him the king.”

“Some king. He’s trying to strong-arm me via Quentin.” No longer angry, Carissa was interested in the turn of the conversation. Whenever they put their heads together, the three of them were always at their best.

Mel shook her head. “Nope, that’s just Quentin’s ass-licking personality. At worst, Lucian’s been whining about the blue balls you’re giving him, and the fool tried to take matters into his own hand.”

“Why?” Gia parroted the question lingering at the tip of Carissa’s tongue.

Mel shot her friend a fond look. “You’re so cute, Gia. And so annoyingly innocent sometimes. Lucian procures Quentin’s own personal little whim, a special strain he shoots between his toes. It takes him for a bit of space traveling, where he looks like an NFL running back and not a turtle in a suit.”

“How the hell do you know that?” Carissa asked

“When he broke his arm last year, guess who he asked for a little favor?” Mel turned her smug gaze on Carissa. “Why do you think he hired you with no questions or references necessary?”

Carissa could only blink at her friend. Mel was resourceful like no one she ever met. She was also the person people always told their darkest secrets. It was probably because she never judged and if she loved you or called you a friend, she would walk over the flames for you, even if she got burnt.

“So, while I can use this to get you out of this one … “Mel beamed at her.

“It’s better we hold out for something bigger,” Carissa finished the sentence.

Mel pointed a cocked finger at her. “I also don’t think it’s necessary. I bet you Lucian would be royally pissed off if he knew what Quentin just asked.”

“Yeah, he’s always so respectful even when he’s with the talent. The girls love to party with him.” Gia shrugged. “So?”

Carissa pinched the bridge of her nose. “I guess we couldn’t expect everything to fall into our lap. We can’t fight Calum by being Goody-Two-Shoes.”

Mel shook her head. “Nope, we’ll have to get a little dirty.”

“How dirty?” Worry lines marred Gia’s face.

“Only time will tell, but I’m not sleeping with him,” Carissa shot over her shoulder on the way to the door. “Ok, then. I’ll agree to meet with Lucian and speak to him outside of here. I’ll make sure he understands.”

She stopped and faced the girls.

“But I’ll never forget Quentin strong-armed me into this. No matter how it turns out, he owes me now.”

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