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If It Ain't Broke (Three Rivers Book 4)

If It Ain't Broke (Three Rivers Book 4)

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All Chris Donahue wanted was a place in his child's life. All Pinky Black wanted was his love. Chris Donahue was still obsessed with the married woman he had an affair with and the child they had created together. Though he wanted to, he found that he couldn't move on with his life without his son. Pinky Black knew that Chris' emotions were engaged elsewhere but she wanted him to forget his obsession with Kelly and love her. That shouldn't be so hard? Should it?

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Chapter One

Chris eagerly sorted through the mail that was neatly arranged on the desk in his study. Today was Thursday, the day he got his weekly updates from his investigator in Cayman. His hands hovered over the manila envelope, and then he put it aside for last. He had other mail too. His eye caught a gold envelope with fancy lettering on the front. He picked it up contemplatively and sniffed the air; it smelled delightful, like roses.
He opened it and saw an impressive invitation. “Chris Donahue and Guest: you are cordially invited to the nuptials of Ezekiel Abbas Hoppings and Phoebe Amita Bridge on Sunday, December 8 at the Lion's Gate Estate, Grand Cayman.”
A tremor raced through Chris when he read the words Cayman, and then he spared a thought for Phoebe and Ezekiel—he was happy for them. He had seen his friend and neighbor recently. Ezekiel had looked so different and relaxed and extremely happy.
He ran his fingers through his hair and got up from the chair in which he had been sitting.
It was as if a fat fist was cutting off his air when he thought of Cayman—he wondered if Ezekiel invited the Palmers. Wasn't he friends with Kelly?
It had been nearly three years since he last saw Kelly and he wondered if he would be seeing her face to face at the wedding. And what if they brought his son? Was he supposed to act as if he didn’t care when he saw him?
He had to decline this invitation, just as he had refused the invitation to Erica and Caleb's wedding. That one had been too close to home—who were they expecting him to carry anyway? He hadn't dated anyone since that disastrous few months with that clingy girl, Estella.
His mouth tightened in pain. His life so far had been work, work, and more work. He had more money now than he ever had, but he was left with the cold dregs of unrequited love for a married woman who had his only child and was living happily with her husband in Cayman.
He lifted the brown envelope almost reluctantly, knowing he would be in a bad mood after opening it. He wished his housekeeper wasn't around with her nosy concern. There was something about Pinky Black that made him angry. She was defiant and nosy and didn't know the meaning of subservience, and her bright perkiness annoyed him. He had fired her twice, and every day since rehiring her he had thoughts about firing her again.
Chris looked at the envelope again. He was stalling and for a good reason. He always felt like a dirty voyeur who was punishing himself unnecessarily with the pictures he commissioned the detective to take of his young son and his mother. He had started having them trailed and photographed after finding himself in an extremely dark place on his son's first birthday.
Why should he step back from his child's life? He needed to know how he was getting on—that the knowing was also punishment didn't matter to him.
He opened the envelope, and there they were: a picture of Kelly and Mark walking on the beach. Kelly was in a sky-blue maxi dress, and his son was in swimming trunks with a bucket in hand. The boy had grown taller, taller than he looked in last week's photos. His hair was longer too, almost like a girl's, and curly. Mark's little cherubic cheeks had dimples. Chris felt his and again realized that his son was a miniature copy of himself.
Kelly was looking slimmer and toned. He wondered if she was working out. Chris heaved a sigh, forcefully slammed down the thoughts of her from his mind and put the pictures back into the envelope.
He still held on to the thoughts of Kelly though, as his mind tortured him about the two of them. Usually, he was eager to read the detective's report, but these days it was getting repetitive.
Last week Kelly took him to a kiddies’ attraction, the week before that he had a cold. His heart had throbbed unnervingly until the detective reported that he was well again.
He loved his child and wanted him. Not because of some selfish desire to break up Kelly's family but because the boy was his—his firstborn, and why was he the only one punished for that ill-fated affair?
Chris sighed a big tremulous sigh that did nothing to loosen the tight fist that had taken permanent residence around his heart.
He was thinking that he would frame some of the pictures to track the development of his child. Then again maybe not, as that would mean every day would be Thursday for him.
He heard a soft knocking on his study door, and he contemplated ignoring it, but knowing Pinky, she would barge right in and bulldoze him with her overwhelming personality after trying the soft approach. He locked the manila envelope, along with its contents, into one of his desk's bottom draws.
“Come in,” he said gruffly, bracing himself for his unconventional housekeeper.
Pinky popped her head around the door. "Hey, boss man. I've got a drama class tonight. Won't be around, ya dig?" She was chewing a piece of gum as if she was murdering it.
Chris sighed. “Pinky, how many times must I ask you not to refer to me as boss man.”
"Four hundred and ninety," was the sarcastic reply. "I started counting it on my phone."
She came into the study fully and Chris inhaled sharply. “What on earth do you have on?”
Pinky looked down at herself. She was in very tight bike shorts and a red halter neck blouse.
“Do I look dangerous?” She purred and swayed her hips while walking up to Chris' desk. "My name is Fatima, the scandalous bar girl in the play."
Chris swallowed, watching her swaying hips head toward him. "Pinky, that outfit is too suggestive." He arranged his pants under the desk and struggled to remember what he was talking about.
"I know." Pinky winked at him with heavily made-up eyelids. "My drama coach said, ‘wear something skimpy and suggestive,' so this is what I'm wearing. Wouldn't wear it on the street though, so please, no lectures. I have a dress that will be worn over it for class."
"And your hair?" Chris looked at her dazedly. Usually, Pinky had her hair cut in a spiky pixie cut which she dyed blonde. This time the tips were red like her blouse.
"Oh this," Pinky laughed, "is temporary...will wash it out tomorrow. I am going to run. Miss Maud said she cooked some gourmet dinner for you, can't remember the name of the dish. I don't want any. I'll pick up something after class."
"Wow, you are actually allowing me to have dinner alone?" Chris asked, surprised. Pinky usually had dinner with him at the dining table and would normally take the opportunity to give him a ball-by-ball account of how her day went.
She had no respect for the employer/employee boundary. Rather than sit around the table—lonely and brooding—he had allowed her to do whatever she wanted. Usually, she ate with him and talked to him about her day and had no qualms ferreting out information about his.
"There is this guy," Pinky said, "the bad guy to my bad girl in drama class that I will persuade to take me to dinner—probably to a patty place. We are all broke students. He can't afford anything fancy."
A shaft of jealousy hit Chris out of nowhere, and he inhaled with the suddenness of it. He was on the verge of forbidding Pinky to go out with the guy. So strong was the emotion gripping him that he forgot that it was Thursday. His mind had not been in Cayman.
He looked at Pinky wearily. "I need you to do something for me when you get back from class."
"What is it?" Pinky asked suspiciously.
"I need a...a...I need you to file some things for me…" Chris struggled with finding something to tell her to do.
"Well," Pinky put her hands on her hips, unconsciously bracing out her chest, a look of fury in her eyes, "I never get to go anywhere or have any fun with you constantly on my case about stuff. ‘Pinky do this for me, Pinky do that for me.'"
"You are my housekeeper," Chris said incredulously, "have you forgotten that?"
Pinky frowned. "Yes, I had."
Then she laughed. "Sorry boss man. I will come home and do your urgent filing."
"Well," Chris leaned back in his chair, "I could collect you from drama class. It would save you the hassle of getting a cab to come back."
Pinky grinned at him cheekily. "Or, I could drive one of the cars in your garage."
Chris frowned. "Not after you dented my Mercedes' fender."
"It was not my fault," Pinky gasped. "The other guy was not looking where he was going."
"I am going to have to find a cheaper car for you to drive around. Until then, I'll collect you from class."
Pinky huffed. "I can't believe that you don't trust me to drive your precious Merc." She stormed out of the study, her pert rear end swaying seductively.
"What time does class end?" Chris called after her retreating back.
"Six o'clock," Pinky said, "and don't park at the front gate like you did last time. Don't want anybody to think that I have a rich boyfriend. You had tongues wagging the last time you parked at the front and leaned on the car waiting for me. The girls started envying me, and the boys stopped flirting with me."
Chris nodded contemplatively and decided to park at the front of her school. He felt inordinately pleased that the boys had stopped flirting with her.


Pinky looked through her classroom window, and there he was. He was there at six o'clock on the dot and couldn't have been more conspicuous if he tried: his curly hair, that sexy dimple when he smiled, those gorgeous eyes. She drunk him in and sighed.
She had it extremely bad for her boss. She had tried every trick in the book to get him to notice that she was a woman, but they all fell woefully flat. At least she had goaded him into picking her up, she thought triumphantly. She also hadn't missed that spark of jealousy that he had in his eye when she spoke about Brandon.
Poor Brandon. As if she would have gone out with him, especially since his girlfriend, Tracy, was her friend and study partner. But she had been grasping at straws to get Chris Donahue to notice that she existed.
How could one man be so thick?
She growled in frustration.
"Aren't you coming out?" Tracy asked her, and then she glanced through the window. "Your delicious drop-dead handsome boss is outside waiting to pick you up."
Pinky sighed. "My delicious drop-dead-handsome boss is married to a memory. Alas, I'm out in the cold where his affections are concerned."
Tracy looked her over. "I don't buy it. You have a pretty face, a nice shape. You are young and healthy—Is he gay?"
"Nope," Pinky said gathering up her bag. "He's straight. It's just that another woman occupies his mind. See you Monday for Computational Chemistry class. Can't wait until the end of the semester to get this course over and done with. One semester to go and then we are out of here for good. Chemistry degree. Yay!"
Tracy high-fived her, and they trouped out together.


She got into the car with Chris, who had opened the door for her with a smirk on his face. "So, the guy in the glasses, who walks kind of lean, is the bad guy you were going out with?"
Pinky laughed. "Why is this of interest to you, boss?"
"Because I need to know what my housekeeper is up to in her spare time," Chris said seriously.
"Have you ever asked Miss Maud what she's up to in her spare time?" Pinky asked cheekily.
Miss Maud was the overweight cook that Chris inherited from his parents. She lived in a cottage on the property but spent most of her time in the kitchen.
"I know what she's up to." Chris looked over at Pinky and laughed. "She's eating enough for the three of us combined."
Pinky laughed. "She baked a cake yesterday. I got a sliver of a piece."
"I didn't get any," Chris said. "So, you do have fun. Your pretense that I'm a slave driver is ridiculous."
"I am twenty-one," Pinky said, "I live in a big house with you and old Maud and Griffin the cat. I have had no life since I started working for you."
"And I've had no fur-free slippers since you brought that stray-puss into my house," Chris said, ignoring her outburst. "Anyway, how would you like to go to a wedding in Cayman with me, as my date?"
"Oh really?" Pinky's eyes lit up. "You are asking me as your date. Me— Pinky Black as your date. Oh wow!"
"Oh, Pinky," Chris said, "sorry to burst your bubble but the invitation said Chris Donahue plus one, and since I'm not seeing anybody, and you said you were not having any fun, I thought this would be a good opportunity for you to have some fun, in another country."
"I don't care how you want to pretty it up, you are asking me on a date. I am going to dance a little when I get out of the car. Whose wedding is it by the way?"
"Ezekiel Hoppings and Phoebe Bridge. I think you know Phoebe; she dated your brother."
"Of course, I know Phoebe," Pinky said excitedly. "I like her. I knew she wasn't right for my brother, but I'm so happy for her. How cool is that? I'll get to go to her wedding in Cayman. Woohoo! I have got to tell my friends about this."
"Er..." Chris looked at her smiling face; she was almost bouncing off the car seat in glee. "You have my permission to buy yourself a new outfit for the wedding—charge it to the household expenses account."
"Are you kidding me?" Pinky squealed. "I am going to the most expensive store in town."
Chris grinned. "Knock yourself out."
“Thanks, boss man," Pinky said happily. "Does this mean that we are a couple now?"
"Not on your life," Chris said driving slowly up his driveway.
It was only when he was once again sitting in his study, after finding some documents for Pinky to file, that he realized that he had completely forgotten about his Thursday doldrums. He hadn't thought about Kelly or Mark, not once today. Pinky Black was having a very unusual effect on him.