Mangled Hearts Francesca and Cade Online - Felicia Tatum

Chapter One-Francesca

The steaming hot water rolled down my skin, leaving a trail of red lines. I lathered the shampoo through my long, dark blonde hair. Closing my eyes, I let the lavender scent tickle my nose. Inhaling deeply, my lungs filled and my body relaxed. Continuing the gentle massage of my head, I thought about the past few years. The stress was consuming me to the point I missed much needed rest.

I went through the same routine every morning. Nightmares tortured me throughout the night, reminding me of all that could have been. I woke with the memory fresh on my mind. The day that was forever etched in my brain; my best friend coming to break the heart-wrenching news to me, the world shattering before my eyes, and the blur that followed. My day always started with me in a tangle of blankets and covered in sweat. I would lie in my bed attempting to calm my fast beating heart until my breath would finally slow enough for me to get up and shower. At least I had a routine.

I finished rinsing my hair and body, the suds covering me like a white, fluffy blanket. The water mixed in with my lingering tears, clearing my face of the night before.

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I hurried up the stairs of my building, tripping over my own feet and almost falling flat on my face. “Perfect,” I muttered as I gripped the handrail for support. I bent and slipped the too-high heels off. I usually took my shoes off in the office anyway, but they would have to come off little sooner than usual today. I rushed in the door, raising my hand to wave at the office assistant, Zander. He usually wanted me to stop and chat but I was running late. I slept too late, pushed snooze too many times, and spent too long in the shower trying to forget, and tripped over my own feet as I got dressed, so I was in a rush to get to the meeting with my boss.

I flung my briefcase on my desk, sending papers flying. Groaning, I crawled around the floor picking them up. Pain shot through my head as I rammed it into the desk while attempting to stand. I rubbed the spot in a circle, trying to ease the intensity of the throbbing. I searched for the folder with my notes on the Archuleta case. Being unable to find it, I slumped in the chair, closed my eyes, and rubbed my temples. This was the worst Wednesday I’d ever had. Nothing seemed to be going right, and it was only 9 a.m.

Being employed as a Worker’s Compensation lawyer for the last three years had been rough. Directly after graduating college with my B.S. in Business, I ran off to law school. I hoped being around new faces in a different town would help me forget. And I did for a brief period, but it didn’t last. After the graduation ceremony, I got a job with a firm back in my hometown, putting me right back where I started. Now I had a job I didn’t particularly like, mainly because they treated me like an intern. Most entry level lawyers were able to move up to the higher end cases after their second year, but not me. I was still stuck on the simple cases, and that frustrated me to no end. I was ready for the challenges that came with being a lawyer.

Sighing, I opened the top drawer of my rusted desk to see if, by some miracle, the folder was in there. I shuffled the contents, gasping when I realized it was in my briefcase. Muttering obscenities to myself, I pulled the heavy leather case closer to my seat. The lock clicked as I popped it open to reveal the treasure. I laughed at myself as I opened the folder to ensure all needed papers were present. I moved my feet around under my desk, attempting to find my shoes. I got them on just in time to see my boss walk by on his way to our meeting. Jumping up, I slid the chair away from my desk and rounded the edge to get to the door.

“Mr. Phillips,” I called, taking long strides to catch up. It wasn’t difficult because I was fairly tall for a woman. At five feet, eight inches, I generally stood well above other women. And some men. When I was younger I hated my height. It seemed