Undersold, p.1

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  City's Secrets, Volume 1

  B. B. Hamel

  This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.


  First edition. February 12, 2015.

  Copyright © 2015 B. B. Hamel.

  Also by B. B. Hamel

  City's Secrets


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  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  Undersold (City's Secrets, #1)




























  Thank you

  Preview: Kinged


  A New Adult Romance

  City’s Secrets Vol. 1


  I don’t trust you yet, but I want to.

  I read the message over and over. It was earlier than I liked to be awake, and my eyes felt heavy. The lack of sleep was pretty worth it, though. We had been up late trading texts about all the different places he wanted to make me come, and I was still reeling from his words. I stretched my legs and almost knocked my laptop off the bed. I sat up and sighed. My room was a mess, and my comforter was covered in laundry, but I never had time to clean anymore. Between trying to make it as a computer programmer and working full time at a coffee shop, certain things were falling by the wayside, like basic organization. And, most recently, my love life.

  I propped myself up and typed back. You seemed pretty trusting last night.

  I’d never done the whole online dating thing before, but my best friend Darcy convinced me to give the website Matchstick a try. It had been awhile since I was with anyone, which I embarrassingly admitted to Darcy one night after I had a few too many glasses of wine and chatted with her on the phone. An hour and a bunch of awkward selfies later, eligible bachelors started pinging my cell like crazy. Of everyone I saw, he was the only one that interested me at all.

  His profile picture was hot. I’m not usually so blunt, but it’s true. Light grey eyes, almost the color of flint or steel, and a boyish, chiseled jaw. His lips were full and his dark brown hair was cropped short on the sides and was longer on top. He clearly knew how to take care of himself. He wasn’t shirtless in his profile picture, but the longer I stared at it, the more certain I was that I could see his well defined muscles through his tailored button down shirt.

  But more than his looks, it was his basic information that drew me in. He said he was an entrepreneur in the tech industry, but he didn’t give out any more details, which intrigued me. Still, we had a lot in common other than our jobs, so I sent him a message. And he sent me one back.

  Two days and some hours later, I’m describing how I want to suck him off under his desk in his office.

  What he described back was much, much dirtier. And I liked it, but I couldn’t keep those messages around. I mean, what if someone found them? I’d be mortified.

  My phone buzzed. I want to meet you. That was much better. I didn’t know what he meant by not trusting me earlier. It’s not like I knew all that much about him. Other than certain oral sex techniques, and maybe some other quirks and kinks, we hadn’t gone too much into detail about our personal lives. We stayed on mutual interests, like computers and movies. And the things we wanted to do to each other, of course.

  Still, did I want to meet him? After months of hard work, I was so close to selling my fledgling company. I made a cellphone app in my spare time, and spent every second outside of work writing the code and creating the images. I had a meeting the next morning to hopefully finish the deal, which meant I wouldn’t have to work full time at Swirl Café anymore. But would he distract me from my goal? Maybe I could use a little distraction.

  If I was honest with myself, I was feeling pretty burnt out from all the lack of sleep. I had been working every day at the café, and programming all night at home for months. Just thinking about tomorrow made my palms start to sweat. I had never done something like sell a company before, and I didn’t know what to expect. I felt like I didn’t deserve this incredible good luck; there were thousands of other people making apps, so why me? I felt this lump of self-doubt in my chest whenever I thought about my career and my ambitions. Not to mention my love life, but for some reason I wasn’t having that problem with my handsome stranger.

  I climbed out of bed and checked myself in the mirror. Bedhead like crazy, bags under my eyes, old white tank top, and boy shorts. I pulled on my robe and went into the kitchen. I made coffee and ate a banana for breakfast, like usual, and then I was down on the couch, typing him a message.

  I want to meet you too. I hit send, and my stomach did flips. It’s not like this was the first guy I’d been involved with, but it was definitely the first one I’d never met in person before. I didn’t even know how old he was.

  He answered almost right away. You’ll have to try harder than that. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to get involved, and he was trying to play coy? And what’s that mean, I sent back.

  A few minutes later, my phone buzzed. It was a picture of him, dim lighting, and shirtless. My jaw dropped and I felt a jolt of excitement run through me. He was looking into the camera like I was the only person in the world, although it was hard to make out the details of his face. But I was right about the muscles.

  I ran into the bathroom. I did something about my messy hair, pulled it back into a ponytail, and put on some quick makeup. I tried to hide the bags under my eyes as best I could, but realized that was a losing battle. Once I was done, I leaned forward and let my tank top show off plenty of cleavage. Satisfied, I took a few pictures. Actually, I took about twenty, before finally settling on one that was good enough. Is this what you want? I typed out and sent it.

  I couldn’t believe I just did that. Sexting was one thing, but sending someone a sexy picture of myself was completely new for me. I knew a lot of girls did it, but I had never met a guy that made me want to undress for him this badly until now. Not to mention I didn’t really know who was even on the other end of the connection.

  That’s exactly what I want, he wrote back. I couldn’t believe he was being so forward, but it was exciting. We didn’t even know each other. Then again, after the things we had described, I guessed it wasn’t that weird. We knew certain things about each other, like how I wanted him to fuck me with my hands pulled behind my back, and how he wanted me to suck him off.

  My phone buzzed again. When can I meet you?

  I had no idea. I checked the clock and my heart almost stopped. I had work in a half hour, which was the bare minimum I needed to get ready and get there on time. What I thought was too early in the morning, turned out to be way too late. That’s what I got for sexting all night with a hot stranger. Phone forgotten, I rushed to get ready, and went out into the city.


  The day shift passed like it usually did: slow and boring. I kept thinking about the hot stranger that wanted to meet me. His name was Rex Blue, and if he was even half as good looking in person as he was in his pictures, he was still by far the most attractive man I had ever met. His name was a little odd, but I didn’t mind it. I was meeting a man t
hrough the internet, after all, so there was bound to be something a little weird about him. I guessed I was a little weird myself for even considering this, but every new message he sent made me want to meet him more.

  “Amy?” My manager’s voice cut into my daydreaming. It was getting near closing time, and the café was starting to empty.

  “Hey, sorry Jim. What’s up?”

  “Just wanted to make sure you still were taking tomorrow off.”

  “Yep, all day. Why?”

  He shook his head. “Nothing, don’t worry. App time, huh?”

  Jim Sleeter was a few years older than I was, and he was one of the few nice guys that worked at Swirl Café. It was mostly a hipster place, and the other employees cultivated a distant and too-cool attitude. That was never my thing, and it wasn’t Jim’s, either. Him and I got along pretty well. I told him about my after hours app programming, and he told me about his rock band. I heard them play once, and they weren’t that bad. Very late 90s emo, but in an updated, cool way. He was a little goofy and awkward, but it was endearing, and he was probably my only friend in the city.

  We became close because of our unfulfilled dreams. We liked to joke that we were in the losers club together. Jim was cute in a boyish way, with long brown hair and big brown eyes, but I was never attracted to him. Most nights, we closed the café together, and spent a lot of time talking about our past. Jim grew up in rural Pennsylvania, and his parents never approved of music. I told him about the accident when I was young, the accident that changed my life forever. I told him about my father’s encouragement when I wanted to get a degree in computer science, and about his cancer. I was the first person in my family to go to college, and my father’s look when I received my degree from Columbia University was one of the best days of my life. I learned he was sick not long after that.

  I didn’t have much growing up. My dad drove a delivery truck, and my mother died when I was young. My two brothers helped out as much as they could, but we were constantly just getting by. I always had a job too, but my family, especially my brothers, encouraged me to stay in school and to go to college. Still, even as I was graduating from high school with an acceptance to Columbia, I felt like an imposter. That never got any better when I was actually living in New York.

  Instead of staying in the big apple after graduating from college, like all of my friends did, I moved back down to Philadelphia to be closer to my father. He lived in a suburb outside of the city, in the same house that I grew up in. There weren’t many big tech companies in Philadelphia, and I didn’t want to waste my time grinding out hours of code every day for some random big box store, so I took a job at Swirl Café and wrote my own apps on my own time. It had the benefit of free coffee, and wasn’t too stressful.

  Jim was one of the first people to encourage me. It was him who told me my idea for an app that connected low-income kids that needed help in school with cheap and friendly online tutors was a good one. He was like a big brother to me, who also happened to give me my paycheck. He showed me around Philly when I was still getting used to living in a new city, and he introduced me to his friends when I had none. Maybe in some ways, Jim was the reason Adstringo was going to buy my app for thousands of dollars. It was because of his kindness that I had the courage and stability to spend my off hours working on my dream.

  “Sure is app day. I might be leaving you guys soon,” I said.

  He laughed. “I really hope so. Good luck, Amy. You’re going to do great.” He moved off to the back room, probably to tally the day’s sales.

  I wanted to check my phone, but I left it back at my apartment in my rush to get to work. It had only been about eight hours since Rex had asked when we could meet, but that was the longest we had been out of communication for the last two days. I thought about him sitting at his computer, eyes darting to his phone nervously. I didn’t want him to worry, but it was nice to imagine being wanted. I felt a rush run through my stomach as the anticipation rose throughout the night. When the café was finally closed, I got back home as fast as I could.


  I lived alone in a small one-bedroom apartment in a rough neighborhood near the Delaware River. I parked my bike on the sidewalk, chained it to a stoplight, and ran up my stoop and into my apartment. The place was messy, but not dirty; I had clothes hung up all over, last night’s dishes still in the sink, books stacked along the back wall in lieu of a bookshelf, and magazines laying around. My desk was covered in papers and many handwritten notes about my app, but it was the most organized part of my space. It’s the spot I spent most of my time, working as hard as I could. It’s tough being a single girl living alone in a city, especially in a sketchy neighborhood like mine, but I threw myself into work to compensate for whatever loneliness I felt.

  Once inside, I ran into my bedroom and grabbed my phone. I unlocked the screen and read one message: Did I scare you away already?

  That was it, a single message from him. I was both disappointed and elated. Part of me had wanted multiple texts, maybe even a few calls. Maybe a few more pictures while he was at it. I know, it’s crazy, and we don’t even know each other, but the idea that this attractive man is out there in my city thinking about me, maybe looking at the picture I sent him and touching himself, made me more excited than I’d been in awhile.

  Plus, he was smart. We spent most of our time describing what we wanted to do to each other, but we did talk about our other things. He had a lot to say about computers and app development, and his knowledge blew me away. It was the main thing that convinced me he was a legitimate tech entrepreneur, and not just some creep lying about what he did for a living to score chicks. However, I had never heard of him before, and I spent a lot of time reading about local Philadelphia companies. A quick search online for his name brought up nothing. Maybe he was another anonymous person like me, trying to make it big. But then again, the confidence with which he talked about the industry made me think he was way beyond my skill level already.

  The other part of me was happy he was confident enough not to blow my phone up. He knew what he wanted, and he asked for it directly, but didn’t go overboard and get all needy on me. I found that kind of confidence incredibly attractive.

  I changed out of my work clothes and pulled on a pair of black yoga pants and an old high school soccer t-shirt. I still had a lot to do that night to prepare for my meeting in the morning, and I couldn’t get too sucked into messaging with him again. Still, I really wanted to let him know that I hadn’t forgotten him. Far from it, I’d been thinking about his picture all afternoon, imagining running my fingers down his chest while pressing my lips against his, feeling the heat of his body pressed back against me, his strong hands grabbing my hips. His hard, sculpted muscles. I felt myself getting aroused, and had to stop imagining what I wanted to do to him or else waste an hour getting his body out of my mind.

  Lying in my bed, I typed a message back to him. Not yet, had to go to work. Forgot my phone at home. I hit send.

  There was nothing better than the anticipation. Wondering what he’d say back, when he’d say it back, and where it all was going made me feel better than I’d felt in a long time. Living in Philadelphia was good, and I was able to see Dad as much as possible, but it was also very lonely. I couldn’t let myself get too distracted, so I rolled out of bed, went to my desk, and opened my laptop. I read over the notes and emails again, trying to prepare for whatever was coming tomorrow.

  This meeting could change my life, I knew. Living and going to school in New York wasn’t cheap, and I had piles of student loans I still needed to pay off. I felt like I was drowning in interest payments every time I thought about it. Whatever the final number on the sale was going to be, I’d use it all to pay off my loans, and have whatever was leftover to help care for my dad. Best-case scenario, they’d hire me on to keep working on the app, which would mean salary plus benefits. More than that, it would mean stability. But whenever I thought about the sale, self-doubt would t
ake over my chest, and I’d have to breathe deep to get passed it. I tried to block it from my mind, and pretended like my preparation was some kind of game, but I couldn’t help but panic a little bit.

  After a half hour, my phone buzzed. It was he. I know it’s strange to say, but I missed your texts today. Let’s try to meet tomorrow.

  It wasn’t strange at all. The strange thing was that I felt exactly the same way, like the lack of the phone’s buzz was a hole in my hourly existence.

  I typed back. OK, let’s meet tomorrow.

  I couldn’t believe I agreed to meet him, but it was too late now.

  Good, I’m looking forward to it. I keep staring at that picture you sent me, he wrote back.

  Oh yeah? And why is that?

  Because I love your body. And I want to feel your breath against my neck.

  That made me grin like an idiot. Don’t get your hopes up too much. We haven’t even met in person yet.

  I already have plenty of things up right now. Because of you.

  I smiled again. When we weren’t being serious with our sexting, we both thought it was funny to make cheesy sex puns. He was definitely much cheesier than me.

  Go take a shower then, you poor guy. I’ll see you soon.

  Tomorrow was going to be a huge day.


  The lobby was full of people in expensive suits. I had never seen such a lavish place like this, with marble floors and huge flat screen TVs showing stock market analysis. The front desk girl told me I’d have to wait, which was what I expected. I sat down in a thick leather chair and watched the people go by, each new face looking happier and calmer than the next. Adstringo was known as one of the best places to work in the city, if not the whole country, and I could see why. There was free food, oranges and apples and bananas, plus free coffee and energy bars, and that was just for the visitors. Inside, I had heard there was a full free catered kitchen, plus gyms, rooms for power naps, and more.

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