Frayed Page 41

I plop my stuff on my desk and Romeo does the same. Tate\s still in his office with his door closed I can only imagine what storm is brewing. I look up at Romeo and extend my hand. ’’I\ll be in touch as soon as I hear back from the bands.’’

He eyes dance with amusement as he leans in a little too close and then shakes my hand. ’’Sounds like a plan.’’

I look over my shoulder in time to catch my brother\s assessing eyes. He gets up and strides in our direction.

’’Hey, I was hoping you have time for lunch.’’ River grins at me.

’’Sure. I\d love to.’’ I smile back at him.

’’We were just saying good-bye.’’ Romeo turns on his heels, but he stops. ’’Son of a bitch. You\ e River Wilde, aren\ you?’’

River nods.

’’We spend all morning looking for bands and you neglected to tell me who your brother is?’’ Romeo says to me.

River\s look turns questioning. ’’What am I missing?’’

’’Bell has been trying to find a band for my wedding on really short notice and I never put two and two together.’’

’’Romeo, my brother isn\ in a band anymore,’’ I hiss in his direction.

’’Such a small world. I went to high school with your wife,’’ Romeo says to River, ignoring me.

Oh my God, he\s going to tell River about Ben. My body tightens and suddenly the room seems to be shrinking.

River grabs my hand. ’’Hey, Bell, are you okay?’’

I blink up. ’’Yeah, yeah, I\m fine.’’

’’You look really pale.’’

’’Honestly, I haven\ eaten yet today.’’

River shakes his head at me. ’’Come on, let\s get you fed.’’

He extends his hand to Romeo. ’’Nice to meet you, man. Good luck with your wedding.’’

Romeo nods and River puts his arm around me, knuckling my side. ’’You need to take better care of yourself.’’ And when we get outside he turns to me and asks, ’’Who was that ass**le?’’

’’He\s a client and the governor\s son.’’

’’Well, I didn\ like the way he was looking at you.’’

I sigh, just thankful Romeo didn\ let Ben\s name roll off his tongue.

I\m distracted all through lunch with my brother and when I finally get back to my desk, I plop down exhausted. As I browse through my e-mails, my mind wanders to Ben and the reality of the situation. He will never be welcome in my family there\s too much baggage there, not just Dahlia but with me. So what the hell am I doing with him? Why can\ I just break it off? It\s time to find a way to let him go.

CHAPTER 13

Kinks Shirt

Ben

Life has a way of sneaking up on you. I\ve been content focusing on my career ever since I started Plan B. It keeps me busy and keeps my mind on what\s important and off the things that aren\ . But this week I\ve had a hard time concentrating. My mind keeps wandering to her. I know we can\ keep going on like this. We can\ keep walking the line between friends and more, because if we do the both of us will explode.

Walking to her apartment building, I spot her immediately. She looks like a burst of sunshine on a cloudy day. She\s sitting at one of the tables in her courtyard waiting for me, and when she stands to open the gate I quickly reach around and open it first just to be closer to her faster.

She rolls her eyes at me and says, ’’Such a rebel.’’

I shrug. ’’Takes one to know one.’’

She laughs. ’’Touché.’’

’’You look f**king fantastic,’’ I say, purposefully dragging my eyes up and down her body.

Her smile grows even wider and the air suddenly becomes denser.

I draw her in and embrace her. She lets me, even allowing my lips to linger in the crook of her neck. I can hear her breathe me in and I have to stop myself from grinning like a f**king idiot.

I slide my palms down to her ass, touching every curve I can along the way. With a slow hiss of breath I say, ’’Hi there.’’

’’Hi,’’ she says with that innocent voice that always seems to come out of nowhere and jump-start my already aching need to take her. Which is what I want to do right now, right here.

’’Pizza?’’ she says, pulling away just as my fingers start to circle around to her hips.

F*k! I need to play it cool. Don\ chase her away now. Rechanneling my thoughts, I rub my stomach. ’’Sure, sounds good. I\m pretty hungry.’’

’’I know a great place and we can even walk.’’ Her voice tapers off and she seems distracted.

’’Everything okay?’’

’’Just a crazy day. Glad it\s over.’’

I straighten and look in her eyes. ’’Want to talk about it?’’

She stiffens. ’’No. Not now.’’

I nod and grab her hand to lead her out of the courtyard. We eat and end up meandering down Sunset for a bit afterward. Just as the sky turns dark we head back to her place with coffees to sit in the courtyard.

’’So, what happened at work today?’’ I ask.

’’Oh, really it\s nothing. Tate has me doing two really big weddings next month and the clients are very needy,’’ she says, sipping her decaffeinated coffee with so much milk and sugar I doubt it even tastes like coffee.

’’I thought you were going to quit soon.’’

’’I was planning on it at the end of the year but haven\ really gotten my own business off the ground. And these weddings are huge. I\ll have the potential to make so many contacts through them I really want to impress them.’’


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