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Текст книги "Kian"

Автор книги: Tijan

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Текущая страница: 8 (всего у книги 19 страниц)

He crumbled to the floor after that.

“Yo, earth to Jo. Come in, Jo.”

I shook my head, shoving the memory away. Jake snapped his fingers in front of my face and waved his hand up and down.

“Hello in there.” He gently tapped the side of my head with his knuckles. “Knock, knock.”

I shoved his hand away but grinned slightly. “Who’s there?”

“Uh…” He narrowed his eyes at me in another flirty manner. “Some perv who wants to get in your pants.”

I groaned, getting up to grab a water bottle. “You have a healthy sense of realism, player, and confidence. You know that?”

“Like you said,” A second wink at me, “I’m a realist. I might not be in the front, but I’m right behind whoever the guy is. I’m going to be hot on his heels for as long as you’ll let me.”

“I was just thinking that we were actual friends when we were coming down the hallway.”

“Coming, huh?” A sly smile spread over his face. “I can make you do a different form of coming, if you get my drift?”

“I do, and it’s not going to happen.”

The light banter between us vanished.

Jake leaned forward, his eyebrows bunching together, and an intense expression flitted across his features. “Jokes aside, I think we should make a pact, hold each other accountable about our exes.”

“What do you mean?”

“You said it yourself. We’re both trying to forget someone else. Let’s help each other out.”

I cocked my head to the side. It sounded okay, but I bit down on my lip. Something about it didn’t seem right to me. “I don’t know.”

He winced. “Tara’s like my Achilles’ heel. She’s a smoking habit that won’t go away. I need help to kick my addiction, and it sounds like you need the same thing.”


“Think about it. Just think about it. No lies. No hiding or avoiding. A hundred percent honesty between us. If we feel like talking to the ex, we call each other instead. We help each other to get the other person out of our heads. There’s a big part of me that doesn’t even want to see her or talk to her. I start remembering the years, the sex…you know how it is.”

I didn’t. Bringing my water bottle up, I pressed it against my head. Maybe the condensation would clear my thoughts because he was starting to make sense to me.

“I don’t know, Jake.”

“Okay.” He shoved back his chair and held his hand up. His little finger was extended to me. “Pinkie swear. If we start dealing with our people, we tell the other. That’s the only way this is going to work. You need help, too. You wouldn’t have come to see me today if you didn’t.”

My gaze jumped to his, and I saw the knowing look there.

He lowered his hand. “It didn’t take a genius to know you were running from some dude today. You never drop by. You never even did that when we were actually dating before. And you don’t skip out on Erica. You’re a good friend. You’re loyal. You never lie either, Jo.”

Oh, boy. He was so wrong.

His hand extended to me again, his little pinkie just waiting to be shook. “Come on. What do you say?”

I had no idea what this was going to entail. “This is the worst idea in the world.” I reached up and wrapped my pinkie around his, and we shook.

His smile grew. “Let’s kick these bitches together.”

I scowled.

Jake and I were hanging out until my phone started going off. I had it on the side table beside me since we were in the living room and grabbed for it, not wanting to think about him. I hesitated before picking it up. Was I ready to get a text from him? My stomach double-knotted and then lurched to the bottom of my throat.

Here goes.

I picked it up and looked at the screen.

Wanker’s name was lighting it up.

I frowned and then answered, “Wanker? What’s up?”

A burst of loud music came from his end as he shouted into the phone, “I need backup!”

Ice plunged through my veins. I jerked upright on the couch and pressed the phone tight against my ear. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s Erica.” The loud music faded abruptly, and his voice grew clearer. “She called me hours ago. She was already at Sids, and she’s going crazy. I’ve never seen her this upset.”

“Oh, no.”

His voice gentled. “She’s not even making sense anymore. Something happened at the interview today.”

“This is all my fault.”

“What? She didn’t say anything about you.”

My head went back up. “Say what?”

“She’s upset about Susan.”

“She didn’t say anything about me?” I needed to make sure. “Like, not a peep about me?”

“She said something about a panic attack, and she felt bad, but that was it. She’s been ranting and raving about Susan. I’ve never seen this side of her. Jo, I’m concerned. She goes from laughing hysterically to almost crying to planning Susan’s murder. I don’t know exactly what Susan did to her, but this isn’t the normal Erica or even the normal pissed-off Erica. Can you come and help?”

I gestured at Jake and then to the door. “Yeah, I’m coming. You’re at Sids?”

“We’re in the back left corner by the big booths. I got her back there since she was yelling. I figured she could go nuts there. It’s more private, you know.” He let out a sigh. “I have to head back. I went into a closet, so I could call you.”

“Okay.” I grabbed my bag and keys.

Jake had already gone out the door and was waiting for me.

“We’re on our way.”

Right before I hung up, Wanker said, “We?”

Hanging up, I shut the door and locked it. I said to Jake, “Susan did something to screw Erica over. We have to go and calm her down.”

“I’ll drop you off. If she sees me, she might get all vengeful. We both know she’s not a big fan of mine.”

I didn’t think Erica cared about Jake much anymore, but I didn’t say anything.

When we got there, the line was around the corner again. I wasn’t a regular. They’d let me in that one time because of Erica. I didn’t think I’d have the same luck.

When Jake was going to drop me off, I asked, “You come here a lot, don’t you?”

“Uh…” His eyebrows bunched together. “A fair amount. Tara and Susan know people who work here.”

“You’re going to have to come with me. I need you to get me in.”

He did, nodding to the bouncers, and we were allowed to walk past them.

He hunched closer to me as we went through the door. “This is not going to help the situation. Erica really won’t want to see me.”

“Come on.” I scanned the nightclub.

It was just like the last time—dark with techno music playing and neon lights flashing everywhere while crowds of people were packed inside.

I spotted the big black booths in the back and grabbed Jake’s hand, tugging him behind me.

He turned his hand upside down to lace our fingers together. He pulled me to a stop and stood close as he peered down at me. “You know she’s not going to approve of me.”

I murmured, “One dilemma at a time.” The first one to deal with, my roommate and when I spotted Erica, her hands were flying in the air as she was talking. She was trying to punch a hole in the table with her finger when we got to the booth and was glaring at Wanker, who sat across from her. “That’s what she thinks, but she’s wrong.” Her lip curved up into a menacing glare. She punched the table again with that one single finger. “She’s wrong, Wanker. Wrong.”

I moved within eyesight of her, but I was still cautious. Was she mad and hiding it?

Her eyes grew bright and then went out of focus. Squinting, she shook her head and tried to focus again on me. As she did, the recognition lit up her face. A smile stretched from ear to ear. “My roommate!” She held her arms out wide but fell backward against her seat and started to pitch to the side.

Wanker shot over the table and grabbed her right arm. I jerked forward and grabbed her left arm. We steadied her, and then I slipped in next to her. Jake sat next to Wanker.

Erica gazed at Jake. Her lips stuck out in a pout. “You.”

Jake sighed. A server went past, and he lifted his hand in the air. “Drink, please.”

“You.” She started to get up, rising to stand where she sat in the booth. Her finger pointed across the table. “It’s your fault.”

Jake lowered his hand and shot me a look. “Told you my presence would be a bad idea.”

I waved that off and pulled Erica’s hand down. “Stop. Whatever’s going on has nothing to do with Jake.”

“Yes, it does!” She closed her eyes, lifted her head, and shouted, “I’m drunk, Jo! I’m drunk. Drunk. And you…you had a panic attack, and I didn’t know.” She patted my arm, still with her eyes closed. “I’m so sorry you had a panic attack. I didn’t know. Did I know?”

I caught her hand and held it. “You didn’t know.”

“Okay.” Her eyes opened, and when she saw Jake, they lit back up. “You!”

Her hand started to go up once again, but I caught it and snapped my fingers in front of her face.

I said, “Right here. Over here. I’m here.”

“You’re here. Oh, Jo! You’re here. Are you feeling better? I was worried, but I couldn’t leave, and you had a panic attack. Where did you go? I sent Dickhead to look for you.”

“Uh…” I remembered Bob had been in the lounge. “Oh, yes. We must’ve missed each other. I went home, or I was going home. I started to feel better, and then I went to Jake’s house. I thought he could…” What was I going to say here?

Jake lifted an eyebrow, a slight grin peeking at the corner of his mouth.

I rolled my eyes at him and said to my roommate, “I thought he might have special medicine for my anxiety.”

Jake lifted a hand in frustration and muttered, “Oh my God.”

Erica’s eyes got big again. “He does. He has drugs. I knew it!” She pointed at him again. “You’re the type to have those steroids and shit. Wait, does Susan know? I could use that against her. Does she take steroids, too?”

Jake’s hands spread out, palms upward. “I don’t have steroids. No one has steroids. Jo wanted booze. I had booze, but we left and went to your place instead.”

Erica sucked in her breath. “You brought steroids to our place?”

I started laughing. I couldn’t help it.

Jake shot me a look. “Thanks. This is probably the only thing she’s going to remember from this night.”

“You…” Erica rose from her seat. “You gave steroids to my roommate. Is she on steroids, too?”

“Oh, for God’s sake,” Wanker burst out, standing. He grabbed Erica’s hands and pushed her back down, and then he shot a look at Jake and me. His eyes were beady under his glasses. “You two are not helping. You were supposed to come and help her.”

Jake frowned. “She’s drunk. What else do you want us to do?”

“Five minutes before you arrived, she was planning murder. Said it’d be a double exposé since they just interviewed that killer guy.”

Jake’s frown deepened. “That killer guy? What killer guy?”

Erica grumbled, sliding down in the seat so that her feet were almost in Wanker’s lap, “That hot killer guy. You know who I’m talking about. I am sober enough to admit that I’m drunk enough not to remember his name. That guy.”

“Oh.” Jake nodded. “That guy. I remember.” His tone was sarcastic. His hand lifted in the air, and his fingers spread out. “It all makes perfect sense now.”

Erica glowered at him as she hunched down, and stuck her bottom lip out. “I don’t appreciate your tone. I don’t know what it is right now, but I don’t appreciate it.”

I wanted to hit my forehead. This was my roommate. This was Wanker, who was fine. And this was—I gazed at Jake—my friend and accountability partner. This was my team, whom I’d chosen to hide away with in my new life, and they were arguing over…I had no idea what they were arguing over. For some reason, I was fed up, and my patience was gone.

I started to stand up. I wanted to deliver some lecture, and again, I had no clue what I was going to deliver, but Wanker beat me to it.

He jerked forward in his seat and spread his hands in the air. His movement was dramatic, as was the look of disgust on his face. He looked from Jake to Erica and back again. “You two, shut the fuck up.”

Erica’s bottom lip popped back out in a pout.

Jake rolled his eyes.

“I mean it. The two of you are being horrible to each other. And why?” He indicated me, too.

Jake expelled a breath of air and leaned back.

Erica narrowed her eyes. She mumbled, “Wanker, whasss your poind?”

“Great. The slurring is upon us,” Jake grumbled.

Wanker started to turn on him.

I beat him this time. I hissed at Jake, “Stop it. Susan screwed her over, and she’s only mad at you because you screwed me over, remember?”

That shut him up.

Erica thrust a fist in the air. “Yeah!”

Wanker told her, “Drop that hand right now.”

She did. Her hand landed with a thud on the table, and she seemed mesmerized by Wanker’s take-charge attitude. I had to admit, I was impressed, too.

He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table, and he shoved his glasses up with one savage movement. He pointed at the table. “Now,”—he hit the table with his finger, like Erica had done when we approached—“I have no idea what happened. She still hasn’t explained it to me, but I vote we go home, and we all partake in a rather passionate round of Go Fish.”

“Yeah!” Erica’s fist went back in the air. She lowered it right away. “No, we can’t. Susan’s here. I’m spying on her.”

That got all our attention.

Jake sat upright.

I froze.

Wanker’s glasses slid down his nose, and he left them there.

“Wait.” Jake leaned across the table. “Susan’s here?”

“Yeah.” Erica pointed to the second level. “She came here with that killer guy and some others.”

“Where?” I was close to hyperventilating. Kian was here?

“In a private box up there. That guy was snuck inside through the back. He’s famous. People would go apeshit if they knew he was here.”

“Are you sure he’s here?” I had to make sure.

“I think so. I mean, he might’ve left already.”

If he did, a thought occurred to me, has he texted me?

I felt the outline of my phone in my bag. I wanted to pull it out and double check. Was Kian here? Or did he leave? I had no clue how I felt about either. I just wanted to know if he’d texted me.

Erica said, “Susan came in with a bunch of head honchos from the paper. They have a private box here. I’ve heard things at the paper, that they use it with their biggest sponsors or whoever. I thought it was just all talk at the office, but when I saw that she’d come here with all the editorial staff, I knew it had to be true.”

“But you didn’t see”—she’d called him killer guy—“killer guy with them?”

“No.” A long, drawn-out breath of air left her. “But I overheard his driver say that their next stop was here. He was talking to one of Kian’s lawyer guys.”

Jake scowled.

I chewed on my lip. My stomach was in knots.

“I know they’re up there.” Erica pointed above us. “Go, and make your presence known. I have no doubt that Susan will welcome you with open arms.”

Me? No. There was no reason. Wait. She was talking to Jake.

Jake fixed her with a dark look. “For the tenth and umpteenth time, I’m not with Susan. I’m not with Tara either.” He pointed to me. “I’m with her now.”

Erica’s head swiveled to me. Her eyebrows lifted.

Wanker’s head dropped to his hand, and he began shaking it back and forth. “Oh God, no.”

Jake continued, with an extra bite to his voice, “Get used to it, Erica. I’m not going anywhere.” He paused. “I’m her accountability partner. You know what that means?”

“You want to get into her pants.” Erica rolled her eyes. “Everyone knows that.”

“Wha—,” Jake’s mouth fell open, then closed. He tugged on his shirt collar, leaning forward over the table. “No. I mean, yes, but we’re holding each other accountable. That means we’re friends, and you can’t do anything about it. From here on out, I’m going to be around a whole lot more.” He looked so proud as he said that, until we heard someone else speak up from beside the table.

“Is that right?” A soft and feminine voice spoke up behind my shoulder.

I closed my eyes. This was the worst timing ever.

Jake tensed and cursed under his breath.

Wanker continued to shake his head.

And Erica sat rigid for one second, and then she launched herself in the air, going over me. “You!” she screeched. “You kicked me off the story!”

Susan stepped backward, and the person who spoke was standing right next to her. It was Tara. Her face was pale, and a flash of pain flared in her eyes.

Tara and Susan weren’t alone. A whole group of friends stood behind them.

Susan was dressed to the nines.

I took in the sleek black dress that looked like it had been created just for her body. A pendant was woven into the material resting between her breasts, and her clutch matched the pendant’s turquoise color perfectly. She was the image of sophistication and wealth. Her blonde hair was swept to the side where a mass of curls rested on her shoulder.

Behind her, Tara must’ve changed from the party at Jake’s till now. She didn’t look as sleek and elegant as Susan, but she was close. She wore a flowing blue shirt that was light enough so that a black camisole could be seen underneath, and her black leather skirt had a slit up to the top of her left thigh. She stood there, looking like she was posing for a modeling shoot, with her leg pushed out so that most of it was visible to us.

I didn’t recognize the others.

Erica was up from the booth, pointing at Susan. “You’re a horrible coworker.”

Susan rolled her eyes, looking with disdain at her. “Your job was to ask him background questions. That was it, and before you get all bent out of shape, I was promoted. The senior writer wasn’t objective, so then it became my project. My. Project. You were brought on because his team requested you.” She pressed her lips together. “And we both know you went behind my back for that to get done.”


Erica drew to her fullest height. “I had nothing to do with that. I never emailed them or called or whatever you’re accusing me of. I swear. They requested me because they must’ve done their homework and figured out how much of a vapid bitch you were.”

Erica was requested?

“Hey.” Jake stood. “Whoa.”

Susan shot him daggers instead. “We don’t need your interference, Jake. Thank you. You’ve done enough damage for the day.”

She glanced over her shoulder to Tara, who had moved back a step. Tara’s head lowered.

Susan added, “You didn’t have to invite her over, you know.” With the scathing tone, it was obvious whom she meant by ‘her.’ Me. But my head was whirling to pay attention.

Kian’s team requested my roommate for the story?

No. That couldn’t be. That doesn’t make sense.

Jake glanced at me. “I didn’t, but that doesn’t mean she’s not welcome. Jo can come over whenever she wants to see me.” He said to Tara, “We’re not together anymore. I don’t owe you anything.”

“Except for some decency,” Susan shot at him. “And I wasn’t talking about Jo. You invited Tara to your party, and then you left with her after she ditched on helping Erica with the interview, with whatever she did to help. I have no clue what that was or even why she was there.”

“Don’t attack my roommate and she was there because I needed help.” If looks could kill, Susan would be bleeding all over the floor. Erica added, “She had a panic attack.”

“She went to Jake’s party. She ditched you.”


I was becoming aware of the looks coming my way. This was going to get twisted, but I was reeling. Kian had actually requested Erica. But what did that mean? I had talked to him. He said he didn’t know her.

“When?” My voice stood out from the others.

They were hot and angry but not me. I was strangely…calm.

“I did the math. The time frame from when you disappeared from the interview and showed up at Jake’s wasn’t even an hour overlap. You were dressed like that at the hotel, so I’m assuming you went straight to Jake’s.” Susan sneered, raking me up and down.

“No, no.” I needed to deal with that, too, but I couldn’t focus. I had to know. “When did they request Erica to be on the story?”

Say within the last week. Please say within the last week.

Susan snorted, rolling her eyes. “Who cares? She was requested. Yes.” She sent that last word to my roommate. “You were. I never promised you’d be on camera. You were assigned to ask him background questions, and you did.”

“From behind the camera,” Erica argued.

Susan pretended a yawn and shrugged. “My promise was fulfilled. I never said you’d be on camera. You just assumed.”

“And you didn’t correct me.”

“I didn’t have to. No one thought you’d be on camera. Why would you have been? I mean, look at you.”

I tensed. The argument was getting dirty. I felt the insult coming for Erica. Everyone did, too. They all seemed to freeze as Susan gestured up and down Erica’s form.

“You have to look good on camera. The camera has to love you. I’m not saying this to be mean, but the camera doesn’t love you.”

“Hey.” Jake stepped forward, frowning. “That was uncalled for, Susan.” He looked at Tara. “You’re going to let her outright insult someone? I didn’t think you were like that.”

Tara lifted a dainty shoulder before folding her arms over her chest. “Like you said, we’re not together. I don’t owe you anything, and I really don’t owe your new girlfriend’s roommate anything either.”

Girlfriend? We’re accountability partners.

Erica seemed paralyzed. She couldn’t look away from Susan, who was still glaring down at her. I waited, expecting some cutting remark from my roommate, but it didn’t come. I moved closer to peer at her. She was fighting back tears. A wave of fury rolled through me, and I lifted my head, ready to blast into Susan. Fuck whatever else was going on. She couldn’t talk to someone like that.

Wanker took off his glasses, drawing everyone’s attention. He was the tallest, and he straightened to his fullest height of six-three. He cleared his throat as he put his glasses back on and slid them up to the top of his nose with his middle finger. He held it there before extending his middle finger toward Susan.

“This,” he said, moving it closer to her face, “is how I feel about you right now.”

Her mouth opened. No sound came out. She closed it back up, blinking a few times.

A small grin grew on Erica’s face.

I grinned, too.

Wanker added, still holding that middle finger to her face, “You can have a work disagreement. That is fine, but you hit below the belt with your last insult. And, my dear,” He took his glasses off again and looked her up and down before putting them back on, “don’t fool yourself. You might look pleasant on camera, but you’re not in the same league as others here.”

Erica nudged me with her elbow. “He means you and Tara.”

I didn’t care who he meant.

“Looks don’t matter,” I said to Susan, “Maybe you’ll go to the top, but you’ll do it by being a horrible, ruthless person. Erica’s a better person than you any day of the week.”

“Don’t insult my friend.” Tara sidled up to Susan’s side.

“She shouldn’t have insulted mine,” I sent back.

“Hey, uh…whoa.” Jake moved between us again. His arms lifted like he was going to break up a fight.

Erica rolled her eyes and knocked down one of his arms. “Chill, lover boy. They’re not going to come to blows. We’re not that low.”

Jake met my gaze. We were both remembering another time when I launched myself at an old lady.

I cleared my throat. “I think we should all go our separate ways—”

Erica interrupted, “Is he still here?”

I went still again. Erica wasn’t talking about Jake or Wanker.

Susan shook her head. “He left through the back.”

“Oh.” Erica glanced down to the floor.

“Well.” Susan seared all of us one last time with her gaze. “I think this is a good time for us to go our respective ways. You’re right. Insults are below us, all of us. Erica, we can discuss your complaint further at work tomorrow afternoon. We’re all celebrating tonight, and we all have reason to. Your name will still be attached to the story, even though you weren’t on camera.”

Erica’s throat was moving up and down, and she bit down on her lip. She was holding a comment back. Susan waited, but Erica kept it in, and then they moved past us, one by one. As Tara passed Jake, she looked right at him, but he turned away. He didn’t meet her eyes. She switched her gaze to mine next, and I felt a warning passing from her to me. I didn’t know what kind of warning it was, and I didn’t care. I didn’t owe Tara anything.

When they were gone, no one said a word.

Thirty seconds passed until Erica slouched back down in the booth, and Jake looked at me. I avoided his gaze, focusing on my roommate for that moment.

Wanker broke the silence. He cursed under his breath. “Well, you heard the blasted woman. Let’s all get drunk. Champagne or straight to the wine bottles?”

Erica looked up. A small smile teased the corner of her mouth.

Jake laughed, leaning over to clap Wanker on the shoulder. “You put Susan in her place.”

“I did, didn’t I?” Wanker’s shoulders stretched out. He nodded to himself. “I’d like a merlot myself.”

“Not many cross her and get away unscathed.” Jake lifted his arm for a waitress. “Your next three drinks are on me. I’ve wanted to put Susan in her place for years now.”

“She does think she’s all holier-than-thou, doesn’t she?” Erica murmured. “I hate her. I hate her so much, and I hate that she’s right. She never promised that I’d be on camera. I just assumed. I can’t even fight that.”

“That’s a big deal, right? For you to be on camera for this interview?” Jake asked.

Erica nodded. “A huge deal. This guy is national news, and he’s only agreed to three interviews. We were one of them. She’s going to shop that interview around, and this could make her career.” She seemed to shrink as she added, “It could’ve made my career, too, but not now. My name will be on the credits, but that’s it.”

“I’m sorry. That seriously sucks, Erica.” Wanker and I nodded, agreeing with Jake.

I sighed. “I’m ready to get drunk now.”

Erica’s head bobbed up and down. “Bring on the shots. My feistiness is gone. I want to wallow. Wallow with me, friends.”

I slid out from the booth. “Save me some of those shots. I have to go to the restroom first.”

“You pee, you lose.” Erica grinned at me. “Tell your bladder to man up. It’s first come, first served with this company tonight.”

I laughed. For whatever reason, Erica wasn’t mad at me. I wasn’t sure what I would say, but I wasn’t going to question it. “I’ll be right back.”

Susan and Tara’s herd went to the right side of the club, so I headed for the left side. I was passing through a hallway to the back restrooms that most people didn’t know about because they were obstructed by the back stairs when I was grabbed from behind and pulled into a dark closet.

I tried to scream, but a hand clamped over my mouth.

A voice whispered against my ear, “It’s me.”

It was Kian.

I stopped breathing for a second as so many sensations washed over me—shock, fear, and excitement. I pushed him back and tried to look up at him, but I couldn’t. It was too dark. His silhouette was the only thing I could make out.

“They said you left.”

“Who did?”

“Susan and her vipers.”

His teeth showed as he grinned. “Vipers? I take it you’re not a fan of Susan…what’s her last name?”

“Hollister, and no, I’m not. She screwed over my friend. Speaking of Erica,”—I poked his chest—“Susan said you requested to work with her. Was that after I talked to you about Erica?”

He caught my hand and held on to it. He murmured, stepping close, “I didn’t know anything about her until you brought up her name, but I did ask Laura about her. She might’ve requested Erica for a reason.”

“Who’s Laura?” That wasn’t jealousy in my voice.

His fingers slid against mine, entwining our hands even more. “She’s my head publicist, and she runs everything from the PR aspect.” He tapped my chin, lifting my head. “I got your note.”

My breath caught and held in my throat. “You did?”

“I did.” There’d been a lighter note in his tone, but his voice dropped low. “Did you mean it? You don’t want to see me anymore?”


He hadn’t asked the right question. He hadn’t asked if I wanted to mean it. I didn’t.

Right there, being in a dark closet with him, holding his hand, the desire to be with him was increasing in me. I didn’t want to mean it, not at all, but I bit back those words. Normal life meant no Kian. I wanted to be normal more than I wanted to be with him.

I murmured, “I’m sorry.”

The finger that tapped my chin rested there before it moved to smooth over my cheek in a soft caress.

A shiver racked through my body, filling every pore and cell with pleasure. I wanted to move into that touch, move into him, but I held back. I had to.

I whispered, “Kian.”

“I shouldn’t be in here with you then.”

I heard the regret from him. I heard the yearning, too. My own lurched to my chest and began to mount.

“Why did you grab me?” I winced at the sound of that. “You know what I mean.”

He chuckled, releasing my hand, only to cup the side of my face. I felt him leaning closer and closer until his breath coated my cheeks, my eyes, my lips. His forehead softly touched mine, and he rested there.

He murmured, “I shouldn’t be touching you like this. It’s dark and private in here, and I can’t help myself.” His thumb touched my lip.

My heart wanted to burst out of me. That touch…I was struggling against licking his thumb. It was right there. I began to pant.

He kept going, “Miss Hollister insisted on bringing me here to their private box for a drink. I didn’t want to, but Laura made me. Said it’d help with getting a positive angle on the story. I stayed for as long as I could handle it, but I’ve been wanting to find you since I saw your note. Are you absolutely sure, Jo?”

With his forehead resting on mine, he guided me backward until I touched the wall. I felt the space between our chests, but as soon as I felt the wall and I couldn’t move back anymore, he began to close the distance. The rub of his jeans grazed against my thighs. I could feel him through my pants. It was just a slight touch. He wasn’t pressing against me, but I wanted him to. I wanted to feel all of him.

“Kian,” I whispered. I was beginning not to think.

His thumb rubbed back and forth over my cheek. “When we were leaving, one of their friends arrived. They said you were here with that guy you’d said wasn’t your boyfriend.”

“Jake? What?”

“I snuck back in. I had to try.”

“But…” My mind was muddled. What was he talking about?

I couldn’t help myself. I touched a hand to his chest. He sucked in his breath, and I felt his heart lurch to my touch.

“If you want me gone, I’ll go.”

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