Seducing His Ex - Chapter 1

John Christos watched as everyone in the room focused on the enormous TV screen where CNN anchor Abby Phillip and her political pundit colleagues discussed the most recent debate between his client, mayoral candidate Lennox Carlisle and his opponent.

John glanced at his candidate. Lennox was seated on the sofa with his wife, their hands clasped together. He could read the tension in their bodies, their angst over Lennox’s performance at the debate etched into their stiff posture.

John shifted in his seat, leaning comfortably, relaxed, as if this were just another visit to Lennox’s house. Why? Because he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt Lennox would be the next mayor of New York City for three reasons: first, he was a phenomenal candidate that had done his best to do right by his constituents as a city councilman. Second, his wife, Amara Devereaux-Smith, was a powerhouse who campaigned just as hard as Lennox had. Third, John was his campaign manager, and John never backed losers.

This was why he was so sought after in his field. When candidates came to Landry & Adams PR Firm, if they were looking to win, they asked for John. And since he’d single-handedly brought in one third of the firm’s new business for the last five years, he was sure he was next in line for named partner at the company. This campaign was just icing on his professional cake.

“If Carlisle keeps performing like this, I think it’s pretty obvious who will be the next mayor of New York City.” John smiled at Abby’s astute summary and started counting slowly in his head.

Five, four, three, two, one.

The angst wore off for everyone else in the room and the stark silence was replaced with thunderous roars of celebration and Lennox’s friends and family surrounded him, congratulating him on getting one step closer to his goal.

After several moments, Lennox was finally able to pry himself free and make his way over to John. He stood up with a big smile, extending his hand when Lennox reached him.

Lennox slapped his hand away and pulled John into a bear hug, nearly lifting all six feet of John off the floor.

“Thank you, man,” Lennox half laughed, half cried. “I couldn’t have done this without you. If I win this thing, it’ll be because of you.”

“You’re right.” John smiled wide as he shook Lennox’s hand. “You can’t.” John’s reply wasn’t arrogance, it was fact, and both he and Lennox knew it. “That’s why you pay me the big bucks—to get you the results you want.”

“Money well spent as far as I’m concerned.” Lennox clapped him on the shoulder. “You sure as hell deliver.”

“I always do.” John nodded, then leaned down to pick up his suit jacket neatly hanging from the arm off the armchair he’d been seated in.

“Don’t tell me you’re leaving already.” Disappointment covered Lennox’s smooth features. “Carter brought a bunch of food and libations from The Vault to celebrate. You gotta get a cup and a plate. You deserve it.”

Warmth bloomed in John’s chest at Lennox invitation. But just like every time before, he bowed his head and declined. “Sorry, Lennox, but I have a bunch of work waiting on my desk at the office and I need to clean it up before I can get started on the next leg of your campaign.”

“Do you ever stop working, John?”

John shook his head. “No, I don’t. If I want my name on the door, I gotta put in the work. Like my late father said, ‘It’s the only way to win.’”

He said his goodbyes, making sure to hug Lennox’s very pregnant wife, Amara, before he made his way through the throng of people and out the front door. When he stepped onto the stoop of Lennox’s brownstone, the warm air of early September caressed his skin, and for a brief moment, he thought about a time when he had lover who touched him just as reverently.

John shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. More and more his past kept intruding on his present. It was distracting. And he couldn’t let himself be distracted for anything or anyone right now. Not when he was so close.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath and the image of neatly twisted dark locs, rich brown skin and full lips filled his vision, making him sigh in exasperation. It had been fourteen years and John still couldn’t shake the hold that mental image had over him.

The laughing and cheering from inside the house filtered outside to where John was standing, prompting a bit of sadness. Lennox Carlisle really did have it all: a job he loved, a partner who loved him, a mother and sister who adored him, and a new baby on the way.

John sighed. As fantastic as he was at his job, he couldn’t tie everything up in a neat bow the way Lennox had. Granted, John’s mother and younger brother adored him too. But the professional aspect of his life still hadn't been secured, not in the way he wanted, anyway. There was also the lack of a devoted partner. More and more, that part seemed to stand out to him most.

As he was about to take the first stair down, his phone vibrated. He paused, getting his phone out of his pocket and smiling when his boss’s name flashed across his screen.

Israel Landry was a straight-shooting kind of guy, so it wasn’t a surprise when the man bypassed hello and went straight to the reason he was calling.

“Great job, Christos. You are definitely on my radar in the best way.”

“Thank you, sir. I really appreciate that.”

“Do you plan on swinging by tonight? I know you usually forego the celebrations and finish up paperwork and analysis charts after a big debate. If you’re coming in, please stop by my office. I have something important I want to talk to you about.”

Excitement slid through every sinew in John’s body.

Could this be it? Am I finally getting my name on the door?

He’d worked so hard for this. Promised his late father he’d accomplish this. Could the time finally have come that his and his father’s dreams would be fulfilled?

“John,” Israel continued. “You still there?”

“Yes, sir. I’m here. I’m on my way in now. I’ll stop in your office when I arrive. I should be there in twenty-thirty minutes.”

“See you then.”

The line went dead and a shiver of pride rolled through him. The only thing his father had wanted to see was their last name on the door. His dad hadn’t been able to do that with his lack of education. He worked himself to the bone as a janitor at Landry and Adams. But he’d promised himself that his son would never have to work his body as hard to make it in this world.

John had no issues with his father being a janitor. That man had worked hard to put food in John’s belly, clothes on his back and paid ridiculously high tuitions to send him to private schools all the way up to high school and then college. John was damn proud of him. But the best way he could repay those sacrifices was to do what his father had asked on his deathbed: “Make sure our name is on the door.”

For fourteen years straight, that had been John’s sole focus, and finally, finally, his reward might just be a cab ride away.