Here is Chapter 35 of my free Wednesday Briefs story, Noah’s New Plan.
Be sure to check out all of the free fiction at WedBriefsFic.com. Lots of my fellow bloggers are posting this week!
Noah sat in his car staring out the window. He was dreading going inside. Pulling out his cell phone, he checked the time. He’d told Eli to stay home and that he’d be there within the hour.
That meant going inside and taking care of this.
But the last thing he wanted to do was deal with Derek and his bullshit. The condo was under contract now, and this would be the last time Noah had to mess with Derek.
Noah checked his email, answering a quick question from Nicholas about his work schedule. He opened Instagram and couldn’t help but smile at the latest picture of “Theo and Beau.” So dang cute! He pressed the home button, and just he was about to tap the Facebook icon, a text from Eli popped up on his screen.
Let me know when you are on your way
Noah smiled. He knew Eli trusted him to take care of the Derek situation by himself, but that didn’t mean he liked it.
With a sigh, Noah pocketed his phone and got out of the car.
When he got to the door, he almost opened it out of habit. Catching himself, he rang the doorbell instead. There was a muffled “come in,” so Noah opened the door and walked inside.
It was dark inside the house, except for light spilling from one of the bedrooms. Noah made his way to the room Derek used as his office.
The older man sat against his desk, sipping from a silver flask. He was dressed in one of his custom tailored suits, though he looked tired, and Noah thought his hair was grayer than it used to be.
Derek tipped the flask toward Noah. “Drink?”
Noah used his finger to pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, then slid his hands into his jacket pockets. “No, thanks.”
"We should close in about a month, according to the realtor."
"A lot of memories in this place. It’s hard to see it go."
Derek took a swig of whatever was in his flask. “‘Okay, yeah.’ Is that all you have to say?”
"What do you want me to say, Derek? Yes, I have a lot of memories of this place. Mostly good. But that’s in the past now. I’ve moved on and I’m starting new."
"With that over-grown hairy gorilla,” Derek spat. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
"With Eli. You should think about doing the same.”
"I called it off with Reagan."
"Oh. That’s too bad. You two seemed perfect for each other."
"I don’t need the sarcasm. It’s really not cute."
Noah resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Like he cared what Derek thought. Those days were long over. “Is there something you needed from me?”
"I packed up a few boxes of personal things. One of them is stuff I thought you might want."
Derek screwed the cap onto the flask and placed it inside his suit coat’s breast pocket. Pushing off the desk, he bent over and picked up his briefcase. He removed a stack of papers and a pen.
"I need you to sign this."
"What is it?" Noah asked. He walked up to the desk and skimmed the document. "What’s this about?"
"I’m giving you a percentage of the sale."
Noah pushed the papers aside. Anger grew in his chest, heating his face. If Derek thought he could buy him, then he was sorely mistaken. And the last thing he needed was to have something for Derek to loom over his head. “I don’t need it. I don’t want it.”
"Don’t be a martyr, Noah."
"I don’t know how many times I have to tell you this, but I don’t need you, Derek. And I don’t need your money. I can take care of myself."
"You know I can take care of you better than that other man can. It’s what you need."
Derek reached out to stroke Noah’s face, but Noah smacked his hand away.
"That’s where you’re wrong. I’m my own person with Eli. He doesn’t control me or take care of me. He supports me. He loves me for the man I am."
Derek swallowed visibly and dropped his eyes. “This wasn’t the way I thought things would turn out, you know.”
Noah figured that was as close to an apology he was going to get from Derek Pepper. And maybe the man finally realized he’d lost Noah for good.
Noah turned to leave, but stopped in the doorway to give Derek one last look. “Goodbye, Derek.”
This time Noah didn’t look back.