There wasn't much in life that succeeded in shaking Joe Devereaux. Physically he was what some would call bombproof – six foot three and muscle-bound from years working for his family’s construction company. He was mentally sharp, quick-witted and frequently exercised great – or at least decent – self-control. Give the man a problem and he could solve it; a dispute, he could settle it; a deadline, he could make it. Joe was just that kind of sim.
There was only one aspect of his life that Joe didn’t feel he had complete control over. And that aspect involved women.
It had been a long, hard day at work for Joe. He'd spent the morning running all over Simberry for three different jobs he was supervising, then he hit the office to take care of employee reviews and to battle budget crunches. After lunch he had stopped by the Paige house to oversee his crew's final touches on the property, then it had been off to meet with a perspective client. In other words, it was just another day, but Joe was particularly beat that night when he got home.
He dropped his jacket, papers and toolbelt at the door and kicked off his shoes, heading for the kitchen and making b-line for a beer in the fridge. Exhausted, he flopped down on his couch in front of the tv, and flicked it on. He stared at the picture for a moment, before lulling his head back, already distracted.
'Ya screwed up good this time, boy,' he thought ruefully to himself. With a sigh he closed his eyes, but - just as it had been for the past month - all he could see was Audrey, the pushy, workaholic designer that had made him crazy for the past few months since he and his company had been contracted by Aero Architectural Designs Inc.
This woman... she'd pushed his buttons and tested his patience, with her constant changing of designs halfway through the building process and her continuous nit-picking. Perfectionist didn't begin to describe the woman. She made him nuts, and they always seemed to get into verbal altercations over one thing or another when they were on the job, about what she had changed or what he and his crew had or hadn't done. She drove him completely, unequivocally crazy....
But that wasn't the Audrey he saw when he closed his eyes. All he could see was her, spread out on her bed before him, her skin bronze in the candle light. He could see her reaching for him, pulling herself into his arms. He could see, oh, he could see….
"Oh, hell," he growled aloud to the empty room, shaking those images out of his head.
It had all started that night at the pub downtown. He had gone for a much needed drink, after a long day at work. He'd come in and there she was, surrounded by a group of her friends across the bar. Simberry was small enough, and it wasn't long before the day's good gossip had reached Joe's ears. She was dragged there by her friends to drink away the memory of walking in on her boyfriend cheating with her boss. He'd hazarded a glance over at her more than a few times that night, and it seemed to him like she’d wanted to be anywhere but in that smoky pub, a feeling that must’ve been tripled when Matt, that scrawny little shit of an assistant – or boyfriend, Joe thought with a snort – came sauntering in with his new girl. Joe had seen the look on Audie’s face. She’d looked like a shot deer, confused and hurt. Joe took a swig of his beer, and shook his head again.
None of that changed the fact that he’d made a mistake. Never in his life had he taken a woman home who was as plastered as Audie had ended up being that night. It didn’t matter why she was drunk, it didn’t matter that she’d initiated the encounter, it didn’t matter that he’d wanted her… all that mattered was that it had happened, and he had been just drunk enough to allow himself to do it.
When he woke up in her house the next morning, she was long gone. He’d dressed and let himself out, and tried to call her later that day (and the next, and the next), but he never got an answer. It was only on the next Monday when he went in to meet with her about the Paige project that he'd found out what had happened. Thanks to the drama with her former boyfriend, and her then-boss, she’d ended up quitting – or getting fired, he wasn’t quite sure which, and had apparently fled the office (and, if he’d listened to the gossip, fled the country).
That was over a sim-month ago, and Joe hadn’t seen or heard from Audrey since. With a frustrated sigh, Joe resolved to push her from his mind – something an angry call from his ex made exponentially easier – and he had completely put her from his mind by the time he was climbing into bed that night. Somewhere between thinking about the timber order he'd would receive the next day, about needing to replace his fleet of trucks, needing to get the bill of the Page house to Aero, and needing to get some semblance of food on the house, he found his mind drifting back to her . He fell asleep, trying not to think of her sharp wit and quick temper, her soft skin and the taste of her lips on his. Needless to say, he failed miserably.