Frayed Page 63

The parking garage is empty, but the streets are full. I make a quick stop in Fiction Vixen for a purchase and then head to my destination. I\m one of the first patrons to arrive at the restaurant, so getting the same table as our first date is easy enough. I set my package on it and order two sparkling waters, with lemon. The thought of her squeezing the juice over her arms last night makes me laugh to myself. Moments later the door opens and there stands the hottest little number her red hair tumbles in waves around her shoulders, her short green dress is anything but modest, her gold necklaces drape her neck, and she looks se*ier than hell. F*k me. I have no doubt now she\s trying to kill by asking me to meet her in public yet again.

Trying to vanish my shit-eating grin, I rise from the table and stride over to greet her, but some older guy has his hands around her before I even make it over to the door. With the giant\s arms still enveloping her tiny body, I clear my throat. She breaks free of his hold and with a glint in her eyes she looks at me.

’’Ben, this is Pebbles. Well, really his name is Rocko and he owns the place,’’ she says with an upward tilt of her lips.

I begrudgingly extend my arm. ’’Nice to meet you.’’

He nods. ’’Same here. Heard a lot about you.’’

’’Really, don\ believe it all.’’ I grin.

’’It\s all good, man,’’ he says as if I need the assurance.

Dropping my eyes to S\elle, I bend my elbow toward her. ’’Shall we?’’

She gives a little wave to Pebbles or Rocko or whatever he goes by and then wraps her arm through mine with the most effervescent smile.

’’Who is he?’’

’’A friend,’’ she answers.

’’You know I\m jealous as f**k, don\ you?’’ I growl in her ear.

She tilts her head and lifts her hand to my face. Cupping my jaw, she whispers, ’’You have no reason to be.’’

Heat surges between us before I even pull her chair out and I wonder why she insisted on meeting at a restaurant. As she sits, I lean forward and brush my mouth over hers. A slight tremble rocks her shoulders. ’’S\elle, what are we doing here? I thought the next time I saw you you\d be in that bikini sprawled out on your bed.’’

She tosses her head from side to side as if trying to break free of the vision I just created. ’’I need to tell you something and wasn\ sure how or where to do it. This place just seemed right.’’

She sets her napkin on her lap and immediately starts nervously clicking her fingernails against the tabletop.

I take a seat and grab her hand. ’’Okay. We\ e here now, so tell me, let\s eat, and then I want to take you home and f**k you.’’

She swallows and I notice her hands trembling.

’’Maybe that was a bit crass. Let me try again. Okay. We\ e here now, so tell me.’’

She grabs for the water in front of her and drinks it down, all of it. Her eyes lift to mine. ’’I\m not sure how to tell you this.’’

I can feel confusion wrinkling my brow.

Her gaze falls. ’’But I know I have to. I have a confession to make. Something from a long time ago. And I\m not sure how you\ e going to react.’’

My fingers creep up her arm to her chin.

She leans into my touch and her face looks almost pained.

’’I already know what you\ e going to tell me.’’ I try not to laugh as I reach for the wrapped brown package I set on the table.

She stares at it.

’’Since you lent me some of your books, I thought it was only fair I return the favor. Although I\m not sure reading Fifty Shades of Grey is my thing,’’ I chuckle.

Her eyes widen like saucers as I hand her the package. She takes it with trembling fingers.

’’It\s safe, I promise. You can open it. I\m cool with your half-truth.’’

The waitress approaches our table and refills both our sparkling waters. ’’Are you ready to order?’’

’’Two peppered beef skewers with rice,’’ I tell her, and turn my attention back to S\elle. ’’So, go ahead, open it.’’

Tearing open the wrap, she stares at the first book, Everything You Ever Need to Know About the French Riviera. Her eyes dart to mine.

’’I know you never went there.’’

She sits motionless.

’’That first night we were together, when you told me all about what it was like on the French Riviera, I knew you\d never been there as soon as you said you went.’’

She scrunches her eyebrows and purses her lips.

’’It was written all over your face.’’

Tears fill her eyes as she sets the stack on the table. ’’You\ e right, I never went to the Riviera.’’

Feeling like a real ass**le, I pull her to me. ’’Come here. I\m only playing with you. And I got you some other books as well.’’

She sits on my lap and buries her head in my neck, not even looking at the other titles. Her lemon scent assaults me and her mess of wild hair brushes across my skin. I breathe her in. ’’Don\ cry about it. It\s nothing to cry over. I think it\s funny.’’

She buries her head farther in my neck. ’’I\m not crying about that. But I can\ believe you knew the whole time. You should have said something and not let me go on and on.’’

’’But that wouldn\ have been nearly as much fun.’’

She gives a faint smile and wipes her tears, but then she stands up and goes back to sit in her chair. She takes another gulp of her water and then looks at me.

I soften my voice. ’’Please tell me.’’

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