Four Letter Word (Dirty Deeds #1)

by J. Daniels

Chapter One


I had been sitting in the same spot for an hour.

Well, at least it felt like an hour. I honestly had no idea what time it was. I couldn’t look at the clock to verify how long I’d been immobile. I couldn’t look at anything besides the hand resting in my lap.

No, not resting. It shook violently, no matter how hard I pressed it flat against my jean-covered thigh.

My skin all over was clammy and frigid at the same time. Sweat tickled my palms, pooled at the base of my neck and in the hollow dip of my throat. It was quite possible I was running a fever.

I should feel sick. This was sickening.

The house felt eerily quiet, desolate, though I knew Marcus was in the other room. I hadn’t heard the evidence of his departure—the front door closing or the low rumble of his truck starting up.

He hadn’t left. And why would he? Why would he be the one leaving in this scenario?

You should be leaving, Sydney. Get up. Run. Grab your stuff and get the hell out of here.

I exhaled a trembling breath. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t stop shaking. I could barely remember how important oxygen intake was in the matter of staying alive. Long seconds stretched out before I would inhale in a panic, allow my lungs to taste the air in the room I shouldn’t still be sitting in, then expel that breath all too quickly.

I needed to go. I needed to react somehow, because I hadn’t thus far.

I felt numb. And this … this felt like a dream.

A paralyzing dream.

The kind you didn’t wake up from.

My phone rang from my bag on the floor somewhere, but it sounded miles away. I couldn’t lift my head to the noise. I couldn’t even remember where I had tossed it after I endured the one-sided conversation with Marcus.

Endured. Not participated in.

Him, doing all the talking, all the explaining, and none of it sounding the least bit apologetic, his voice cold and distant, detached, final … having made the decision, his decision, while I stood there frozen.


Marcus turned on his heel and swiftly left the room. I collapsed into a pile of heavy limbs on the floor, where I’d remained, and where I had every intention of remaining.

That was my reaction. It was the only reaction I was capable of.

Until the phone rang …again.

Something felt off. It was a miracle I felt it, whatever it was, considering my deadened state.

Like a whispered warning against my ear.

My spine stiffened in an instant. I turned my head in the direction of my muffled ringtone, scanning with what felt like new eyes.

Fresh and alert.

I was up to count six of Taylor Swift singing about being young and reckless. I knew who was calling, and I contemplated ignoring my best friend again, slouching over and righting myself to my previous position, until I realized …



My already tight chest grew tighter.

Tori never called me that many times in a row. If I didn’t answer her, I was usually in the middle of a shift at work, and she’d leave her standard “call me when you get a sec” message.

She never rang me up like this. Urgently.

Was something wrong?

I found my bag halfway under the bed and tugged it out by one of the straps. Palming my phone, I answered the call just before the last words of the verse sounded.

“H-hey, what’s up?” I asked, voice strained and anxious, stumbling brokenly through my greeting.

My head hit the side of the mattress as I resumed my location on the floor with my knees pulled in close against my chest.

“Syd.” Tori’s voice cracked with a whimper. “Hon …hey, hey, are you busy right now? Do you have a minute to talk? I need to talk.”

I blinked rapidly at her distressful tone.

I suddenly couldn’t remember the last hour, or however long I had been in this room. I couldn’t remember the bomb Marcus dropped in my lap before he dismissed me with a curt nod and went about his business doing God knows what.

My hands no longer shook. My breathing was even. Focused.

I had never heard my best friend cry. Never. Not once in the twelve years we’d known each other. And we’d been through some shit, let me tell you.

But she was crying now.

I was right. Something was off.

Worry consumed me. My blood ran warmer as I began to pace along the length of the bed, pressing the phone to my ear as I quickly collected myself.

“I have as much time as you need, sweetie. What’s going on? Why are you upset?”

“Wes,” she hiccupped.


Tori’s boyfriend of six months and serious enough he was obviously worth shedding tears over.

I hadn’t had a chance to meet the guy yet, due to my busy work schedule and the three-hour drive time between Tori and myself. But I felt like I knew him. Ninety percent of Tori’s and my conversations revolved around what amazingly sweet thing Wes did for her that week.

He seemed perfect.

My attention snapped back to the phone at my ear when I heard a crash, the sound of glass breaking, followed immediately by my best friend’s livid but still distraught high-pitched voice.

“Married. He’s fucking married, Syd! Can you believe that? That son of a bitch has a wife!”

I stopped pacing and stared openmouthed at the wall.


Oh, God …

Tori took in a shuddering breath and I started pacing again, needing to either move or hit someone. And I wasn’t jumping at the chance to confront Marcus just yet, so option two was out.

Tori’s voice shrank to a more vulnerable decibel when she finally continued.

“God, Sydney, how stupid am I? How did I not see this? His weeknight rule with being too busy to see me Monday through Friday, always sending my calls to voice mail only to return them minutes later, which I’m imagining now was enough time for him to make up some bullshit story to appease his wife so he could sneak out and call me back. Asshole. God …that stupid fucking asshole. How? How did that not set off alarms in my head? Was it that obvious? Was I that blind, Syd?”

I didn’t know if it was from my frantic pacing, or from Tori’s confession sinking in, but suddenly I needed to steady myself with a hand on the wall.

The room began to spin.

I blinked everything into focus before finding my own voice, which I kept quiet.

“Oh, my God, Tori. My God. How did you find out? What happened?”