Frayed Page 37

I shake my head. ’’I never chase anything but a wave. You know that.’’

He looks at me with sincerity in his eyes. ’’Sometimes you have to chase what you really want because everything in life worth having won\ fall into your lap.’’

’’You\ e awful philosophical for this early in the day.’’

’’I always think clearer before five.’’ He laughs.

The ding of the door alerts us to a customer.

’’Hey, I gotta run but I\ll be by soon.’’

He moves forward to hug me. ’’It was good to see you, Benny.’’

I hug him back. ’’You too, Noel. Tell Faith hello for me.’’

He nods. ’’Will do. She\ll be sorry she missed you.’’

His attention is diverted to the dude checking out the boards overhead and I slip out, deciding to take it easy and walk the rest of the way home rather than run. My phone vibrates and I stop, pulling it from my sock. In my rush this morning to escape the silence, I left the house with no earphones and no armband. It\s a message from S\elle. I have to squint to read it since I forgot my sunglasses as well.

Is everything okay?

Three little words and my heart falls in my chest. Am I wrong about the se*ual pull I thought we both recognized? Am I just her friend and along for a ride going nowhere? I drop in the sand and scroll through our messages over the last few weeks. I stop on one from when I asked her to go to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery Screening with me. She had said yes. She always says yes. She was a little startled at the thought at first, but once I assured her it would be a blast, her anxiety eased. I told her I\d pick her up and as I read her response now, I can\ help laughing.

I\m more than capable of driving in the dark and I didn\ invite you over to get me anyway.

That night I met her in the front of the cemetery. She was late and I paced the sidewalk. When she finally arrived, she seemed exasperated.

’’What\s wrong?’’ I asked, scrutinizing her demeanor.

She frowned. ’’I\m so sorry I\m late. Tate needed to review next month\s wedding schedule and had a bit of a meltdown over everything still left to do.’’

’’Wyatt is an ass**le.’’

She stared at me with something in her eyes I couldn\ quite figure out. ’’He can be.’’

’’You should quit,’’ I grunted.

She ignored me, but she always does when I tell her what she already knows. The guy is a kon*** there are no two ways about it.

’’A picnic?’’ she asked, changing the subject with her green eyes alight.

I had a bag of sandwiches and two slices of pie from Four &Twenty Blackbirds in one hand and a blanket in the other. Her brow quirked as she assessed my wares, and her mood went from dark to jubilant just like that.

’’Yeah, I can put a pretty cool party together too.’’

’’I bet you can,’’ she said, grabbing the blanket, and I sensed a hint of another meaning in her response.

’’Just call me Martha f**king Stewart,’’ I snorted.

We both burst out laughing.

’’C\mon. I want to get a good spot.’’

S\elle followed me past the line of people that wrapped around the block and into the iconic cemetery. Thank f**k I had bought tickets online. I\d never been there but always wanted to go and didn\ want to miss my opportunity in case of a sellout. I glanced around and gave a low whistle. ’’Cool place.’’

She clutched the blanket and moved closer to me. The air seemed filled with intrigue. The cemetery shared a wall with Paramount Studios. Music was being played by a DJ and a projector from somewhere in the distance cast music videos upon it. We passed the tombs of Hollywood legends Peter Lorre, Victor Fleming, and Norma Talmadge as S\elle stared in awe.

’’Want to go in?’’ I asked, leaning down and whispering in her ear.

Her eyes closed and I knew she was trying to compose herself. ’’Nope.’’

I grinned at her. ’’Nope? Not sure, why not, or maybe later?’’ I said, bumping her shoulder.

’’Nope,’’ she said again. ’’Too creepy for me.’’ And I covered my mouth to stifle a laugh.

’’Don\ laugh,’’ she huffed.

I placed my hand on her back. ’’I\m not. I think it\s cute. You know I\ll keep you safe.’’

She picked up the pace. ’’Where do you want to sit?’’

’’That way,’’ I said, pointing to the sign with an arrow that read FAIRBANKS LAWN.

’’Didn\ Douglas Fairbanks play Zorro?’’

I flung her a look, amazed she knew that. ’’Yeah, he did and Robin Hood too. Have you seen them?’’

’’Both versions.’’

’’Ah . . . we both loved marked men.’’

She nodded. ’’I didn\ see, what was playing tonight?’’

’’Dial M for Murder.’’ I smirked.

’’Alfred Hitchcock?’’ Her eyes glittered.

’’That\s why I picked it.’’

She tipped her head up toward the stars. ’’Beautiful night.’’

’’It is,’’ I agreed, and stopped at the perfect location. It wasn\ in the middle of the thousands of people already sitting in rows, but rather it was off to the side with the cemetery just behind us. Setting my bag down, I laid out the blanket so we could both sit.

We ate and watched the movie. She moved close to me when she was scared and I tried hard to keep my hands off her. Just before the final credits rolled, I stretched my arms over my head and brought one down behind her back. It was a classic guy move, one I had never attempted on a girl before. I practically rolled my eyes at my own ridiculousness, but she didn\ say anything, so I left it there.


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