“Hello, this is Ashley.”
“Am I supposed to find your antics clever?” A growly yet refined voice barks in my ear. Colton.
“Actually, you’re supposed to say ‘thank you.’ Or are you one of those men who feels emasculated by receiving flowers?”
“No, I’m the kind of man who isn’t swayed by paltry attempts at bribery.”
Why would fate assign me such a monumental jackass as my soulmate? Clearly the universe has a sick sense of humor. “Good thing I’m not trying to bribe you, then,” I say, lying through my teeth.
“Aren’t you, though? Muffins, flowers, what’s next? Maybe a box of chocolates? Half of your peanut butter sandwich? I’m not your grade school crush. I’m a professional, Miss Murphy, and only work with other professionals, which you have demonstrated time and time again, you are not.”
I tap the speaker button on my phone and toss it down on my desk. This man makes me insane. “You are truly the most condescending man I’ve ever met. You don’t know me well enough to have formed these kinds of opinions about me.”
In all honesty, his extreme dislike of me hurts. A lot. Especially with how my heart and soul long for his. He means for his words to dissuade me—to break me—but every single insult and rebuff only makes me want to prove him wrong that much more.
“They say the truth hurts, Miss Murphy. It’s not my fault you’re ill-equipped to handle the pain.”
I clench my fists so tightly my nails dig into my palms, leaving behind little crescent-shaped marks. This man makes me want to commit felonies—you know, like murder. I wonder, since he’s my soulmate, could it be classed as a crime of passion? “I can handle everything you dish out and more.”
Colton makes a noise low in his throat, and I can nearly picture the sneer on his face. “Is that a threat?”
“It’s a promise, Mr. Banks. Do your worst; I’ll not only take it—I’ll return it back tenfold.”
“You don’t have it in you.” He laughs cruelly, the dark tenor of it winding around my heart in inky swirls.
“I’m far stronger than you give credit for.” Not to mention, my plan of attack is to repay his barbs with kindness. Something tells me that will knock him off guard far more than volleying back with harsh words or petty.
“You mistake strength for stupidity.”
“And you underestimate me.” I end the call before he can reply, crumpling down to my desk chair with my heart thundering and my pulse racing.
I’ll show that sexy, arrogant jackass exactly who he’s up against. I may be quirky and kind, but those two qualities are exactly what give me an edge. Colton Banks is used to sharks and snakes, but he’s about to be brought to his knees by a creature far more deadly—a woman scorned.