Inferno - Chelle Bliss by Chelle Bliss



“What a douchebag,” Gigi mumbles under her breath as she walks up behind me at the countertop.

“Who?” I ask casually, but I don’t give her response my full attention as I check my schedule for tomorrow.

My cousins, especially the females, think most people are douchebags. They have a high bar when it comes to behavior. I’m sure they’ve called me a douchebag more than once in my life, and honestly, I probably deserved it too.

She stabs at the keyboard with her thin fingers, clearly annoyed. “My client.”

“What’d he do?”

Her fingers move faster as she shifts her weight to the other foot. “He talks to his girlfriend like she’s a piece of trash.”

I turn my head toward her, surprised she’s over here taking her frustration out on the keyboard and not his face. “And you didn’t put him in his place or throw his ass out?”

Gigi sighs. “I try to hold my anger in check when it comes to customers. And he was fine until close to the end, or else I would’ve tossed him earlier. He’s getting blacklisted, though. I’m not dealing with him ever again.”

“Want me to cash him out?” I ask her, knowing most men, at least sane ones, won’t hassle me. Anyone who picks on a woman is weak, but they’re usually not dumb enough to start shit with me.

She shakes her head and finally gives the keyboard a break, turning her attention toward me. “I’ll deal with him and drop the news about not coming back.”

“I’ll stay here, then. I’m not leaving you with him.”

Gigi touches my arm and gives it a light, reassuring squeeze. “I can handle him.”

I shake my head, refusing to leave her alone to deal with an asshole. “I got your back.”

“What the fuck, Opal. You had one goddamn job,” a man says loudly as he stomps into the front of the shop. “Only you could fuck it up.”

A woman—Opal, I presume—has her head down, staring at her feet as she hurries up behind him. Her long brown hair hides her face. “I’m sorry… I didn’t…”

“Save it.” He lifts a hand, silencing her. “Useless bitch,” he mutters.

My shoulders rise, and all the hairs on my body stand on end. My blood’s pumping faster, and my heart has picked up with every clomp of his boots against the tile floor.

There are very few things that bother me in the world, and one of them is when men talk to women like they’re trash. Men like him are the worst of the worst. No doubt he’s not giving her the full wrath of his bullshit in front of us. This is probably his better behavior, which pisses me off more.

Gigi’s eyes meet mine, and I know her skin’s crawling without her having to say a word.

No one—and I mean no one—in our family talks to women like this. If we even get close, we better run because someone’s going to beat our ass, and it’s probably going to be a woman dishing out the punishment.

“I don’t even know why I keep you around,” the man seethes, not letting up or showing any grace.

“But I—” Opal starts to say, finally lifting her face up to his.

I suck in a breath, feeling like I’ve been punched in the gut at the sheer sight of her.

She’s stunning.

Her eyes are the most haunting shade of blue against her tanned skin.

“Save it,” he snaps.

Opal jerks, and I see a slight tremble in her body as she stands next to him. “Don’t—”

He gives a look I can only describe as murderous. “Don’t what?”

I’ve never given that look to anyone, not even an enemy.

Gigi stares at me, tipping her head in an I told you so motion. And I don’t think the guy’s a douchebag; I think he’s an abusive asshole who doesn’t deserve a creature as beautiful as Opal.

“Don’t be mean to me, Jeff,” she says in a timid voice that doesn’t convey an ounce of authority.

Jeff “the douchebag” isn’t fazed by her request. “Zip it. We’ll deal with this at home.”

That’s my cue.

I’m not going to let her wait for her punishment when they’re in private. I have only so much patience for bullshit, and he passed that moment two minutes ago. No one lays their hands on a woman, and no one talks to one like they’re absolute trash. Not if I have anything to do with it.

But I’m at work.

A business my family owns.

I have to be careful, not laying my hands on him, even though I want to beat him to a bloody pulp until he’s the one begging. Doing that will only open us up to lawsuits and shit we don’t need to be dealing with for years to come.

I round the counter before Jeff has another chance to talk to Opal. “I think you should go,” I tell him, stepping right into his personal space and towering over him.

He glares at me before his eyes dip down to my arms.

Yeah, sucker.

I’m built and bigger than you are.

I’ll have no problem beating you without even breaking a sweat.

“Excuse me?”

“You can go now,” I repeat, because he’s clearly not getting my meaning. “Leave.”

He reaches into his back pocket to fish out his wallet, but I lift my hand. “I mean right this fucking second.”