Captured Page 1

Author: Ella Goode

Series: Castile Family #1

Genres: Romance



“This place is a shithole.” David kicks the radiator. A pipe falls off and clangs to the floor. Sheepishly, he picks it up and lays it on top of the rusted piece of crap. “See?”

“Maybe you should be more careful.” I walk over and pick up the pipe and jot a note down on the back of the envelope I’m using to keep track of all the repairs.

David peers over my shoulder. “For Abel? Abel Underwood? You’re not seriously considering asking him to come fix this joint? Or wait…” My agent cocks his head. “Are you doing due diligence for a new purchase? Are they going to acquire this building? Let me in on the deal. I’ve got some money stashed away.”

I look around at the cracked drywall and the peeling paint. In about thirty minutes, a train will speed by, shaking the foundation and making it impossible to hear anything but the roar of the engine. “They aren’t buying it.” It should be obvious.

“But…” David trails off. “Why are you here? This is worse than some third world places you’ve been in. I thought you wanted to get some R&R while putting together your photo essay.”

“I am and I will.” The photo essay is done. I finished it up last week, but I want to review it before sending it in for publication. There’s something that doesn’t look right, but I can’t put a finger on it. I’ve put it aside for now and will re-evaluate the project in a couple of weeks with a fresh pair of eyes. For now, though, I have other things to keep me occupied. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a familiar brown head under my window walking toward the lobby. I grab David by the shoulder and push him toward the door. “Speaking of rest and relaxation, I’m going to need you to leave so I can get started on that.”

At the doorway, I let him go. As I’m shutting the door in his face, I hear him yell, “Don’t forget your deadline!”

I throw the deadbolt closed and hurry over to the table where my camera is sitting. The twenty thousand dollar piece of equipment is like my third eye. I can’t see clearly without it. I hold it up to the window and start snapping. Her head is down, and in the next frame I see it’s because she’s staring at her phone screen. There’s a message there that I can’t make out. She stops and types in a reply. Whatever she gets in return irritates her. Her shoulders tense and rise toward her ears. She exhales heavily, her ribs expanding and contracting under a thin shirt with strawberries dotted all over. I like it, but then I’ve liked everything she’s worn. She has a pretty girl style, almost a throwback to when my grandma was young and televisions were still black and white. I manage to get a few more shots before she disappears out of view. I set the camera down, grab the pot from the counter, and head for her apartment, which is conveniently across the hall. The timing is perfect. As she rounds the corner, I have my fist on her knocker.

“Can I help you?” she says in her honeyed accent. I don’t know where it’s from. I’ve traveled all over the world and heard dozens of languages spoken, but I can’t place hers. It’s a mix of Southern and Eastern, I guess—a drawl with round vowels. I can’t wait until I hear my name fall from her lips, preferably when she’s naked and under me.

I hold up my empty pot. “I’m trying to make some mac and cheese and forgot I ran out of milk. You don’t have any, do you?”

A smile replaces her wary expression. “Oh, are you my new neighbor? I heard someone moved in this weekend.” She holds out her hand. “I’m Dove.”

“I’m Jay Anderson. Nice to meet you. Yeah, I just moved in.”

She wrinkles her nose. “If you have some problems, don’t wait for the landlord. Unfortunately, no one in management really cares about us, but we’ve got some handy people around.” She pulls her keys out of her purse and fits one into the lock. “Come on in. I’ve got whole milk. Is that okay?”

“That’s great. I can do some basic carpentry stuff, but the plumbing and electrical is out of my comfort zone.” I look around her place. It’s a lot nicer than mine. It might be because she’s got rugs and curtains and the most I have so far is my mattress and a card table.

“I’m not good at any of that either.” She sets her purse down and disappears into the small galley kitchen off the hall. I wander into the living area. She’s got a lot of pictures on the table, but the only man in them seems to be a much older one, presumably her grandfather. There are a few romance books scattered around. I try to remember a few titles to look them up on the Internet when I get back to my apartment.

The door to her bedroom is slightly ajar. I crane my neck to see if I can catch a glimpse of the interior.

“Here you are,” she announces, holding out a glass of milk. She smiles brightly. “I added a little extra because you can’t eat mac and cheese without a glass of milk, right?”

If I didn’t love her before, I do now. I wrap my fingers around the glass and trap her hand. “Have you had lunch yet? I can’t offer you much, but I’ve heard this is the cheesiest mac and cheese around.”

She chuckles. “I did have lunch with my sister, but thanks for offering.”

It was a long shot. After all, who eats mac and cheese except kids under the age of ten and bachelors who can’t cook? “Then let me take you out to dinner. I’ll offer you some real food and not school cafeteria stuff. You can give me the insider scoop on this dump—damn place.”

Dove looks down at our hands that are still joined around the glass and pulls gently but firmly away. “I have a lot of stuff to do, but I do appreciate the offer. Maybe some other time.”

It’s a rejection, and if I were a lesser man, maybe that would sting, but since I know Dove is destined to be mine, I view it as a minor bump in the road. “I’ll see you later, then.” It’s a promise.









I stand over my kitchen sink eating my breakfast muffin. I know this will be the only food I have until I get back home tonight. I’m supposed to have a lunch break, but in the two months I’ve worked for Miller, Thomas, Dunn & Graham that has never happened. I’m sure today will be no different.

I was only supposed to cover the mailroom, but I am always getting pulled into other tasks. I never thought I’d say this, but I miss working at the diner. But the diner couldn’t give me medical benefits or any of the other small perks that I felt I might need.

My phone vibrates on the counter as I shove the rest of the muffin into my mouth. My half-sister’s name pops up on the screen.

Avery: Did you see the hottie next door again?

I knew I shouldn't have mentioned him to her. She is never going to let this go. Yet I had to tell someone about him.

Me: Nope.

I text back, trying to keep it short so she doesn't keep going. When it comes to my dating life, Avery can be like a dog with a bone. She drives me nuts, but I love her to pieces. She’s the only real family I have left. Not counting the father that we share. I use the word father loosely.

Her relationship with our father is night and day compared to mine. For one, he actually claims her as his child. I’m just the bastard child he had when he cheated on Avery’s mom. So he likes to pretend that I don’t exist, and that it never happened. I’m used to it at this point.

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