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Bad Boy Brother
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She needs my protection.
I always protect a bro.
Jenny’s the sweetest little thing I’ve ever seen.
But what about the bro code?
She’s so innocent, and I’m so dirty.
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Jenny Dale walked into the office of her Editor in Chief with a mixture of apprehension and curiosity. She tried to steady her trembling knees as she pushed the door open and inched her way into the large, sterile room, presenting herself to Mr. Rowland.
“Come on in, Jenny. I have a new job for you.”
He motioned toward the chair in front of him indicating for her to have a seat, so she complied.
“A new job, sir?”
Mr. Rowland nodded, sending crumbs from the sandwich he’d been eating sprinkling down onto the desk and floor beneath him.
“Yes, it seems Mitchell is leaving town to take care of her sick mother, and I need someone to fill in while she’s out the next few months. That’s if she comes back at all,” he added under his breath.
“Sir, you’re asking me to be the editor of the fall line-up?” she asked, sure she must be mistaken.
“That’s what I said, isn’t it?”
He dusted the crumbs from his shirt.
“I don’t know what to say. I…”
Jenny was at a loss for words as the excitement began a slow build from her gut up to her eyeballs.
“Say you’ll do it so I can get back to work,” he said, but his eyes trailed down to what was left of his sandwich.
“Yes! Thank you, sir,” she said, springing up from her chair and breezing out the door before he could change his mind.
She could not believe her luck. It looked like everything was finally falling into place. The time spent diligently working alongside numerous photographers, editors, and consultants was finally paying off after seven, long years at Joy Magazine.
She had seen movies and television shows, but nothing had prepared her for just how busy life in New York City would be. No longer under the eyes of the opinionated citizens of her small, hometown of Ombrea, she was one of thousands crowding the streets, a stranger among many in a big city. For the first time in forever, Jenny Dale was beginning to feel like she was in the right place, at the right time.
She had only two short months to plan and prepare the upcoming magazine spread. She would have to choose models, follow trends, select styles, determine what colors to use and the like. As daunting as the workload was, Jenny couldn’t wait to get started on the new project. In her mind, she had been preparing for this for years.
She decided a celebratory coffee was in order. Her mother had always said no work meant no play, but Jenny felt she deserved a little play after all the work she’d put in over the past seven years.
She waited in line at Starbucks, so engrossed in her own success that she almost didn’t hear the musical notes of her ringtone from inside her handbag. Expecting a crisis at the office, something that came with the territory when working in the fashion industry, she quickly retrieved her cell phone, catching the call right before it slipped to voicemail.
“Miss Jenny Dale?”
The caller sounded brusque. It wasn’t a voice she recognized.
“Yes, speaking,” Jenny replied.
“This is Chief Joseph Cartright from the Ombrea Police Department. I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, ma’am, but your brother, Joey Dale, has been arrested. He was taken into custody this morning.”
It was a very familiar word when it came to her younger brother. It was exactly the reason she had chosen to avoid contact with him over the past seven years. He was much more trouble than he was worth, and Jenny had long ago decided not to get any more involved with his life than she had to.
“That’s really not a surprise to me, sir. What did he get himself involved in this time?”
“He is charged with first-degree murder,” Chief Cartwright answered calmly.
Jenny couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Ever since their parents had died, during her junior year of high school, Joey had been in and out of trouble for things like petty crime or vandalism, but he had never been arrested for anything even remotely violent, and the last arrest had been before he’d turned 18, as far as she knew. She had always been grateful that despite his numerous shortcomings, he had never done anyone physical harm.
For Joey to be accused of first-degree murder seemed almost unbelievable, and for the most part, she had believed everything she heard about her brother.
She swallowed hard and began again.
“Who did he…” she said, unable to find the words.
“Chloe Dale. His soon-to-be ex-wife,” the man answered.
Jenny felt the world circling around her. She had to grip the phone tighter against her ear as her hands began to tremble, to make sure she didn’t drop it and miss anything. Her chest constricted with grief, and tears threatened to spill from her eyes as she tried to hold it together.