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Wrong For You (Before You Series Book 3)

By:Lisa Cardiff

Chapter One

“It’s not you. It’s me.”

“Uh huh. Don’t worry about it,” Violet murmured, barely listening to Eric, her boyfriend of two months. She did that a lot lately. Instead, she concentrated on the shouts gradually increasing in volume in the gym.

“I mean…you’re great and smart. I admire your dedication to the kids. I’m just selfish and I need more than a night here or there.”

“Okay, that sounds good.”

“Violet,” Eric said, his voice louder than before. “Are you even listening to me?”

“Can I call you back? Something just came up.” The shouts had transformed into distinct obscenities, which meant a full on altercation was minutes away.

She heard a long drawn out sigh. “Violet, I can’t do this anymore.”

Her attention snapped back to the phone. “Are you breaking up with me?”

“Yes, that’s what I’ve been talking about for the last ten minutes, but I can never get your attention for more than a few seconds at a time.”

Violet leaned back in her chair and pushed her hair away from her face with one hand. Maybe she should argue or fight for their relationship, but she didn’t need to do thirty seconds of soul-searching to know she wasn’t into Eric, just like she wasn’t into any guy she’d dated for the last few years. “I’m sorry,” she said, because there wasn’t any point in arguing with him. She hadn’t seen Eric in two weeks and she didn’t particularly miss him. Work took every last minute of her day and when she finally got home, she wanted to sleep. Eric never entered her mind unless she accidentally answered his call or she needed a date to a fundraising event.

“I am too. Take care.”

What a disaster.

Dropping her head into her hands, Violet Emerson listened to the yelling down the hall from her office that had reached DefCon One level. Why didn’t she hire a replacement for the last two counselors that quit last month? Oh, right. The Foundation for a Better Future was broke, and not just a little broke. It was limping on its last toenail broke. Barring a very sizable donation, the only way the Foundation would be able to pay rent next month would be if she didn’t pay herself…again, and that meant she’d be eating canned soup and peanut butter sandwiches this month…again.

She wasn’t even sure how her life had turned into such a mess. She just knew things needed to change. As much as she loved helping these kids, she should have agreed to go to law school and joined her parents at their family law firm or she should have become a children’s advocate. While the thought of bartering divorces or navigating the judicial system sounded horrible, at least she’d be eating and maybe she’d even be capable having a normal functioning relationship. Improving these kids’ lives and having the funding to make it happen wasn’t as easy as she’d imagined, especially in this economy. People weren’t quite as generous with their pocketbooks as she would have liked and that meant she had less and less time for herself every day.

When she told her parents she wanted to get her hands dirty and make a real difference in kids’ lives rather than working within the legal system, her mom had actually rolled her eyes. At the time, Violet accused her mom of overreacting, but she was beginning to believe her mom understood something she didn’t. Getting her hands dirty meant a lot of hours, very little pay, and minimal return on her investment. There had to be a better way to make a real difference in these kids’ lives.

Rolling her chair away from her desk, she walked into the makeshift gym. Four rows of red wooden benches lined one wall and two temporary basketball nets hung from black metal poles on each side of the room. In the center of the room, fifteen kids clustered in a tight circle yelling taunts and other words that violated rule number five painted on the wall directly behind them—use courteous language at all times.

“Okay, guys, back up.” She tried to keep her voice calm and encouraging even though she had to yell to be heard over the taunts zipping through the room. Shoving her way to the center of the circle, she found the source of all the commotion.

Dean and Lucian, two of the Foundation’s most promising kids, stood less than three inches from each other, faces red and sweaty.

“Dean, Lucian, what’s going on?”

“Lucian tripped me,” Dean accused, without turning to acknowledge her.

“Fuck you. You’re such a baby.” Lucian shoved Dean in the chest. “Why don’t you go home and cry to your mama? Oh wait. It’s Friday. Your mom is probably walking the streets tonight.”