|

Chapter 1 & 2 of The Wright Secret

The Wright Secret

Preorder now:
✦ Amazon US → https://amzn.to/2uH9xme
✦ Amazon UK → https://amzn.to/2j4GkeO
✦ iBooks → smarturl.it/iBooksTWSecret
✦ B&N → smarturl.it/BNTWSecret
✦ Kobo → smarturl.it/KoboTWSecret
✦ Google Play → smarturl.it/GoogleTWSecret

Chapter 1

Morgan

I was going to do it.

I was going to ask out my brother’s best friend.

Patrick and I had known each other since we were kids. But I was far from the doe-eyed fifteen-year-old who had fallen head over heels for him all those years ago. I was the CEO of Wright Construction. It was a position I had been working toward my entire life. Now that I was here, I wanted the other thing I’d been waiting for.

“Paging Morgan,” David said, waving a hand in my face. “You in there?”

I cleared my head. “Yes, I’m here.”

He cocked a half-smile in my direction, dropped the pen in his hand, and leaned back in the plush leather conference chair. Everyone else had already disappeared for the afternoon. Even my brother and the former CEO, Jensen, had left a half hour ago. Only me, the workaholic, and my new CFO, David Calloway, were still hard at work.

“I think we should call it a day,” David said.

“You go ahead. I’m going to stick around for a couple more hours to look this over.” I gestured at the stack of paperwork in front of me.

“And I thought I worked too much.”

“You do.”

“What does that say about you?”

“I work an obscene amount.”

David laughed. “I’m not used to having a boss who works more than me.”

“Well, get used to it. Expect early mornings and late, late nights.”

“My favorite.” He shoved his laptop into his messenger bag and straightened out his suit.

David had recently moved from Silicon Valley to our humble town in Lubbock, Texas, for the job. He was still adjusting to the flat, dusty, and dry place I called home. I loved the idea of trees and hills and oceans but maybe for vacation. David would come to love Lubbock, too. It just usually took a year.

“Don’t work yourself to death,” he said.

“Can’t make any promises.”

David waved as he breezed out of the conference room. I liked him. He was funny and charming and easy to work with. I couldn’t imagine walking this new road with anyone else.

I was in a transitional period, moving into CEO, while Jensen started his new architecture company. Since I had moved up from CFO, I was working with David to get him acquainted with the company. He had been here a couple of months now, and we were both ready for the training wheels to come off. I knew Jensen was gun shy by nature about these sorts of things, but I was ready. I was so fucking ready. A fact I’d relayed to him more than once this week. I wasn’t going to sit on my hands much longer, and he knew it.

I turned back to the paperwork, trying to return to the right headspace to work again, but it was impossible to focus. My anticipation over what was to come with Patrick kept slipping into my mind.

I was going to ask him out.

I’d put it off long enough. He couldn’t possibly see me as the baby I’d been when I first crushed on him. A four-year age difference had been a lifetime in high school, but it was next to nothing at twenty-seven and thirty-one.

A knock on the door pulled me out of my thoughts. I pushed the papers away from me again with a huff. This was hopeless.

“Come in.”

I whirled my seat around and watched in a daze as my daydreams were conjured from thin air.

“Patrick,” I muttered. My mind went blank for a split second before recovering. I crossed my arms over my chest and eyed him skeptically.

“Hey, Mor.”

I liked the way the nickname only my family used sounded on his tongue and the shape of his perfect lips when he said it. It was way better than the other nickname he liked to use—Mini Wright. I might still be small, but I was a force to be reckoned with. There was nothing mini about my personality.

“To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Came to give you this.” He handed me a piece of paper.

I took it from him but kept my eyes on him for a second longer, admiring his crooked smile and the baby blues that were my undoing.

“What’s this?”

It took me a full minute to process what I saw on the top of the document. Then, my head snapped up at him. I jumped out of my chair.

“You’re quitting?” I gasped.

“Nah. I just handed you my two-week notice for no reason.”

“Don’t be a shit.”

“Me?”

I rolled my eyes at him and glanced back down at the paperwork. I straightened my shoulders and tried to relax. God, Patrick was the only person who could get me to lose my composure. But Patrick quitting Wright Construction could be a blessing in disguise. Not that I was going to let him know I thought so.

“Outside offer?” I guessed.

He shrugged. “Yeah.”

“And you’re not even going to let me counter?” I asked with an arched eyebrow. I tossed the paperwork back at him. “How much?”

He caught it and then set it on top of the paperwork I’d been ignoring. Then, he placed his hand on my shoulder and looked down into my dark brown eyes. It was that look. That one I couldn’t shake. I swore he saw me in those moments. When it was just me and him and not my family or friends. Definitely not his best friend, my brother Austin. But then the moment broke, like it always did, and I was just his best friend’s little sister again.

“I brought this to you before I told everyone else, Mor, because I know you don’t like to let people go.”

My mouth popped open, and I quickly recovered. “Well, I’ve let enough people go in my life.”

Both of my parents had died before my sixteenth birthday. Two out of three of my brothers had moved out of state at one point. I didn’t like change. Not like that.

“I know.” He ruffled my hair.

I ducked out from under his touch.

“You’ve always been like that. Loyal. I like it.”

I swallowed. “Well, I’m a Wright through and through.”

“Most of the time, I feel that way, too. But Tech made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, and it’s not about the money.”

I exhaled in relief. Okay, so he wasn’t leaving, leaving. Just working at Texas Tech, which was near the Wright building.

“And I can’t change your mind?”

“You know I’d do anything for you,” he said with that same grin.

My heart skipped a beat. “Anything, huh?”

“Oh God, what have I promised?” He laughed. “Come on, Mor. Let’s get out of here. I’ll drop the paperwork off at Julia’s office on the way out.”

Julia was the head of HR and also Austin’s girlfriend. I adored her and everything she had done to help my brother.

“I can’t,” I said reluctantly. I glanced at the hours of work I still had ahead of me.

“You work too much.”

“You’re not the first person to say that today.”

“Oh?” he asked.

“David says it all the time actually.”

“David,” Patrick said, his voice flat.

“Yeah. He’s a great guy. I’m glad we hired him,” I rambled on. “But I’m behind because of all the training. So, I can’t really leave.”

Patrick’s eyes slid to the paperwork. “It’s Friday. This will all be here on Monday morning.”

“Monday,” I scoffed. “I’ll be working from home all weekend.”

“You give me a headache.”

I laughed. “No, I don’t. I’m awesome, obviously.”

“Obviously.”

I took a deep breath and debated on what I should do. I knew this was my chance. We were alone. We were bantering. All I had to do was open my mouth and ask him to go out with me.

What’s the worst that could happen?

He could say no.

Yeah, that was the worst, most humiliating thing I could imagine.

I hated to think that things would get awkward between us because I loved what we had. But, at the same time, could I continue pretending like I didn’t have feelings for him? I’d been doing it long enough. And I was pretty sure he was the only one who didn’t see it.

I opened my mouth to finally do it. I looked up into his bright blue eyes and conjured all the confidence I had in my work. He looked at me, as if waiting for me to complete the thought written on my face.

But nothing came out.

I glanced away from him, and my cheeks heated.

Fuck, I’d choked.

What the hell? Why couldn’t I go after him?

“You forgot, didn’t you?” Patrick asked.

“Forgot?” I asked in confusion.

“Steph’s party tonight.”

My eyes cut to my computer. “Fuck.”

“I thought so.”

“I didn’t exactly forget. I just had my dates mixed up.” I tried to cover. I cringed. “Don’t tell Steph.”

Patrick laughed and nudged me. “My sister comes in from San Francisco for her birthday, and you forgot? No way you’re ever living this down.”

“Ugh! She’ll skin me alive if she finds out,” I said with a laugh.

“That sounds like Steph. Why don’t you come over early with me and get some food?”

I inhaled sharply at the casualness of the conversation.

Of course, Stephanie and I had been friends since we were toddlers. We’d cheered together in high school back when I had real friends. She’d gone off to Berkeley for music while I’d stayed in town and gotten my business degree at Texas Tech. We still saw each other whenever she was in town and chatted and liked each other’s statuses. So, it was perfectly normal that Patrick had invited me to hang out before Steph’s party, but somehow, my mind strayed right to being with Patrick and how I’d totally choked.

“Oh…I couldn’t impose.”

“You’d hardly be imposing,” he said. “And, really…when was the last time you ate?”

“I ate…today,” I muttered defensively.

“What? Kale and Skittles?”

“Don’t act like you know me!”

Because, yes…that was what I’d had. A kale smoothie of some variety and a bag of Skittles to get me through the following couple of hours. Food was kind of lost on me when I got into a project.

“Psh. I do know you.” Patrick reached for my arm to guide me out of the conference room. “That’s why I am making you leave work. You’re a human, not a robot. Someone needs to remind you of that.”

“I know I’m not a robot,” I said with an exaggerated eye roll. I gestured to the conference table and shuffled all the paperwork together. I stuffed it into a folder and carried it with me out of the conference room.

“I haven’t seen proof of that. We’ll feed you and see how it goes from there.”

“What if robots could eat regular food?” I countered. “I could be a very advanced robot.”

“Of course you would be an advanced robot,” he drawled. “What other kind of robot would we hire as our CEO?”

I guffawed. “Nothing less than the best for Wright Construction.”

“Basically.” From the conference room, Patrick veered me toward my office down the hall. “Now, let’s head to my parents’ house. They’ll feed you. If you’re lucky, I might even whip up those mashed potatoes I know you love.”

“All right.” A pang hit my chest at the thought that he remembered I loved his mashed potatoes. I was such an idiot.

I snatched my purse out of my office, stuffed the leather folder into my purse, and then followed him toward the elevator.

Patrick got off on Julia’s floor and placed his two-week notice on her desk. Then, we took the elevator down to the bottom floor. My black Mercedes was parked in its designated spot. I could see Patrick’s Lexus SUV three rows behind mine.

“I’ll follow you,” I told him.

“Let’s take mine. There’s not much parking, you know.”

“True.”

I hopped into the passenger side of his SUV and took a quick glance over at him. It seemed my luck had held out for the day. I hadn’t worked up to the nerve to ask Patrick out, but we were still together. Not that it was a date or anything.

My eyes shifted back up to his, and I licked my lips. His eyes flickered to my lips for a split second before facing forward. It was so fast that I swore I had imagined it. Patrick had never looked at me like that before. My hope for our future was just that—hope.

But, tonight, I was determined for him to see me.

Not just his best friend’s little sister.

 

Chapter 2

Patrick

“I still can’t believe you forgot. Don’t you have a secretary?” I teased.

“I have an assistant. Not a secretary,” Morgan snapped.

“My bad.”

“You know who would be the perfect assistant though?”

I arched an eyebrow. “By your tone of voice, I’m not going to like it.”

“A straight white male.”

“You’d do it, too.”

“I mean, what could be better than to have a man at my beck and call? Bet no one would call him a fucking secretary.”

“They would if you told them to,” I suggested.

She laughed. Her eyes crinkling and her teeth showing. That was her best laugh. It meant she really meant it. “Thanks for feeding into my wild plans.”

“Anytime.”

“So, this new job. Are you sure Tech really needs you?”

“Well, I’ve already accepted.”

Morgan looped a strand of her dark hair behind her ear. “I don’t know. I still think I could make you a better offer.”

My eyes darted from the steering wheel to her face. The way she’d said better offer was super suggestive, but, damn, by the look on her face, she had no clue. Morgan did that all the time. She had no idea that half of the things that came out of her mouth had double meanings.

“And what’s that?”

“I need a new secretary.”

She held on to a straight face for a full three seconds before bursting out laughing. I followed along with her and shook my head.

“Good try.”

“I think you’d be perfect for the job.”

“Just for that, I’m going to tell Steph.”

Morgan rolled her eyes and turned up the radio as we drove the rest of the way to my parents’ house.

I pulled onto the street for my parents’ house. They’d been living in the same house for as long as I could remember. Even longer than that. It was home even though it wasn’t anything as extravagant as the Wrights’. I’d grown up securely in the upper-middle class, but my parents prioritized vacations and activities over fancy houses or cars. Family was always more important than things. It was probably why I owned a home that was almost paid off and an SUV I’d had since I graduated college.

“Tell me about the new job. What are you doing?” Morgan asked.

“A lot of the same that I’ve been doing at Wright—managing big contacts.” I grinned wolfishly at her. “Speaking of…have you made your donation to Texas Tech this fiscal year? I can just see it now—Morgan Wright Library, the Wright wing of the Rawls College of Business, Wright something wing of another building. That would look very impressive.”

“Oh, boy,” she grumbled. “This is going to cost me a pretty penny, isn’t it?”

“Probably.”

I parked in the driveway and was glad that we had gotten here early. The street was going to be jam-packed here soon. We hopped out of my SUV, and Morgan came around to my side.

“So, that’s what you want to do? Schmooze people for donations?”

“I’m pretty good at schmoozing.”

“You’ve never schmoozed me,” she accused. She batted her pretty little eyelashes up at me.

“Is anyone able to schmooze Morgan Wright?”

She giggled. “Depends on who it is.”

I liked her giggle, too. It was even rarer than her real laugh. I’d gotten both in one night. I guessed she really needed to get out of that office. I wondered when the last time she had gone out was or if she socialized outside of work at all. She’d even stayed in on Halloween to work. I knew because I’d invited her to the party my friend was throwing. Admittedly, none of us had really been in the partying mood around Halloween after Austin returned from rehab. I’d only gone because I’d promised the girl I was seeing that I’d make an appearance. I’d broken up with her that night. Another one bit the dust.

“And, anyway, it’s more than that. Donations isn’t the only thing we do. It’s how we stay in contact with businesses and alumni. We also negotiate contracts and make sure the university continues running.”

“Sounds like a big job.”

“A little bigger than being your secretary.”

She rolled her eyes. “If you say so.”

I knocked twice before walking into the house with Morgan on my heels. “Knock, knock,” I called out. “I’m home!”

“Well, look who decided to show his face,” Stephanie said.

“Hey, sis,” I said, dragging her in for a hug.

She squeezed me extra tight and then punched me in my kidney as she screamed, “Ha! Gotcha!”

I coughed at the sudden jab and then darted for her. I grabbed her around the middle and picked her up off her feet before dropping her onto the carpet. She gasped as she hit the ground and tried to kick me.

“Wow, things really haven’t changed,” Morgan said behind me.

“Mor!” Steph cried from the floor. “Let me handle my dipshit brother, and then I’ll come snuggle you.”

A tall man with ginger-red hair walked into the living room at that moment and stared down at the display with wide eyes. Morgan stepped over me and Stephanie.

“Hi, I’m Morgan Wright,” she said, extending her hand.

“Thomas Cooper. I’m Steph’s boyfriend.”

“He’s in real estate,” Steph volunteered from the floor.

“Nice to meet you.”

“How do you know Steph?” he asked.

“We grew up together. Toddlers to high school.”

“She’s the bitch who took the valedictorian spot from me!” Steph told him.

I guffawed and pushed Steph back down to the floor.

“Guilty,” Morgan said without a trace of guilt.

I got up off the floor and brushed off my suit pants. I shook Thomas’s hand. “Good to see you again, man.”

“You, too, Patrick.”

Steph jumped up and adjusted the long front-angled blonde bob she was sporting. “Pleasantries over. Let’s drink.”

“Party hasn’t even started,” I said. I’d been much more conscious of how much I drank and for what reasons ever since my best friend had gone to rehab.

“I’m the party,” Steph said, as if it were obvious.

Morgan and I shared a look. I could see the same thoughts flitting through her mind. We were eerily in sync today.

Thomas followed Steph into the kitchen, and Morgan nodded her head, as if to ask if we should follow.

“Feels kind of weird, doesn’t it?” I asked.

She nodded. “Casually drinking feels like it has consequences now. Even more than it did after my dad died.”

Her dad, the infamous Ethan Wright, had died of an alcohol overdose. I’d been in college at the time with Austin, who had dealt with the death by drinking heavily. Morgan had only been sixteen, and I couldn’t imagine how hard it had been for her.

“I know what you mean.” I put my hand on the small of her back and guided her toward the kitchen.

“It’ll probably be okay.”

I nodded. “I think so.”

She took a deep breath and then let it out. A smile returned to her face, and my eyes darted to her lips again.

Why the hell am I noticing her lips today?

Normally, she wore lipstick. That had to be it. Today, she didn’t have any lipstick on, and I could see that they were chapped from her worrying away at them with her teeth.

“Where’s Mom and Dad?” I asked as Thomas passed me a beer.

Morgan took one, too. I loved when girls drank beer. Or hard whiskey.

“Out back, being ridiculously cute,” Steph said with a sigh.

“So, Dad’s grilling, and Mom is trying to tell him how to do it better even though we both know he’s the only one who has ever touched that grill?”

“Pretty much.”

Morgan took a long swig of her beer. All fears of alcoholism running in her family forgotten. I had two healthy, well-balanced, and adjusted parents…and Morgan had zero. She had four amazing siblings, but it wasn’t the same thing.

Steph slung her arm around Morgan and urged her out to the backyard. Thomas watched them with curious eyes.

“Your girlfriend seems really nice,” Thomas said.

I sputtered, spewing beer all over the kitchen. “She’s…she’s not my girlfriend.”

Thomas backed away with a laugh as I grabbed a towel to mop up my mess. “Sorry. I just thought…you know, you showed up together and all.”

I saw the entire encounter through Thomas’s eyes in that moment. Morgan and I showing up together, joking and having a good time. My baby sister’s friend from high school. Our knowing eye contact. My hand on her back. Fuck, we must actually look like a couple.

“She’s, uh, she’s my best friend’s little sister. She’s way too young for me.”

Thomas laughed. “You and I are the same age, man, and I’m dating your sister.”

That realization slapped me in the face. It wasn’t like I hadn’t dated someone younger than Morgan before. We were only four years apart. But, with Mor, it felt like such a bigger age gap.

“Her brothers would kill me for even having that thought.”

Thomas held up his hands. “Well, don’t kill me for having that thought about your sister.”

“Treat her right, and I won’t have to.”

“Done.”

We shook hands like gentlemen and followed the ladies out the back door. My mind was still on the observation Thomas had made about me and Morgan. My eyes found her as soon as we walked into the backyard. She was standing with Steph, laughing uproariously at whatever outrageous story my sister had been regaling her with. Color had come back into her cheeks, and her long brown hair swayed around her face. The slacks and blue silk blouse that had seemed so ordinary when I stumbled into the conference room earlier hugged every feature. Every. Single. Curve.

Her eyes locked on mine for a second, and I realized, in the waning light, they weren’t solely dark brown. They had flecks of gold around the irises. And they were emotive. So was her mouth. And quite literally everything about her.

She tilted her head when I didn’t turn away. What the hell did she think was running through my head? She couldn’t know. She’d think I was a total creep. There was no way that she would be interested in me. Fuck, I cannot believe I’m having these thoughts.

She was so hot. Like stunningly hot. Why had I never noticed before? Had I just tried not to look? Just seen her as young as Steph? I didn’t even know. Because, now that I was seeing her…I couldn’t stop looking.

And I was pretty sure her three older brothers were going to murder me for thinking about their little sister like this.


Want to read more?

Get The Wright Secret when it goes live on January 9th!

Preorder now:
✦ Amazon US → https://amzn.to/2uH9xme
✦ Amazon UK → https://amzn.to/2j4GkeO
✦ iBooks → smarturl.it/iBooksTWSecret
✦ B&N → smarturl.it/BNTWSecret
✦ Kobo → smarturl.it/KoboTWSecret
✦ Google Play → smarturl.it/GoogleTWSecret