Frayed Page 74

She glances up at me. ’’Thank you. I really appreciate it.’’

I lean back against the desk. ’’When are you planning on leaving?’’

’’Later tonight.’’ She grimaces. ’’I\m so sorry. I only just decided to go this morning when I got off the phone with him. I\ll e-mail you all my information. And I\ll be back for Xander and Ivy\s wedding.’’

My eyes flash to hers. ’’They set a date?’’

She nods. ’’New Year\s Eve.’’

’’Oh, that\s quick,’’ is all I can say as my mind wanders back to S\elle.

’’Are you okay?’’

’’Yes, I\m fine. Anything else? I was just headed to the gym.’’

’’No. Thanks again, Ben.’’

I nod. ’’No need to thank me,’’ I say to her as I usher her to the door and head to the locker room. I need to clear my head.

•••

I\m sweating and biting back grunts as I run like hell, trying to escape my own thoughts. The treadmill beeps three point five miles in twenty-four minutes, my fastest time in years.

’’F*k, mate, are you running from the devil?’’ Kale asks from beside me, still hammering out his time.

Lifting my shirt, I pat my face. ’’Some days it feels that way.’’

’’You seem preoccupied this week. You got something going on?’’

I gulp my water and look at him. We\ e buddies but not in the same way I am with Beck. ’’Same shit, different day.’’

’’That girl whose arse you\ve been chasing got you in a snit?’’

’’We aren\ seeing each other anymore.’’

He slowed his pace. ’’It\s about bloody time. Did you find a new piece yet?’’

I shake my head. ’’We aren\ all dirty dogs like you. Some of us do have to work.’’

’’Ah . . . don\ forget who outchased whom when I met you. And I work, just not night and day like you.’’

I blanch at the memory of a time when all I cared about was forgetting. Then I force myself to grin at him. ’’I know you do. Just busting your ass.’’

’’Are you decent?’’ Aerie calls out to us.

’’It\s a gym, sweetie, not the locker room.’’ Kale laughs, stepping off the treadmill.

She comes in and shoots him a look. ’’I\m not your sweetie.’’

He grins at her. ’’But I bet you wish you were.’’

She puts her finger in her mouth, pretending to gag. ’’Not in this lifetime or any other.’’

I make a T with my hands. ’’Kale, cut the shit. You know she has a guy. And, Aerie, he\s just trying to rile you and you let him every time.’’

She glares at him.

’’Did you need something?’’ I ask her.

’’Yes, I wanted to tell you that I just found out that Kaye left her job at the radio station and maybe we should see if she could help us out temporarily.’’

’’Kaye?’’ Kale wiggles his eyebrows.

Aerie rolls her eyes. ’’Kaye Hudson, or Kimberly as I know her, worked for Sound Music magazine when the former owner, Damon Wolf, wanted to expand into entertainment. She left before the first issue was published, though.’’

’’That sucks,’’ Kale remarks.

I shoot him a quizzical look. He never gets emotional about things that don\ impact him.

’’All that work never to see your first issue go to press. That would suck.’’

’’Wow, so you do have a heart,’’ Aerie says.

’’I\m not the f**king Tin Man.’’

’’Language, Kale, language,’’ Aerie says, exasperated.

His lips twitch. ’’I bet you let that guy of yours talk dirty to you.’’

She ignores him. ’’Ben, should I call her?’’

’’She won\ take the job.’’

’’Oh, I think she might. I found out after she left she had been seeing Damon and things ended badly. So with him gone, I don\ see a problem.’’

I take a deep breath, disgusted by that news. Damon is the biggest ass. I wonder if that\s who she was crying over when we hooked up. ’’I thought you said you could handle it.’’

’’I can. I\m just worried about you. . . . What if you need something sooner than I can respond?’’

’’Let\s see how it goes. After the New Year we can reassess and go from there.’’

’’But she might have a job by then,’’ Aerie says.

I rock back on my heels. ’’Aerie, she and I had a thing while I was in New York City, and we also . . . reconnected one night and things ended badly.’’

’’Oh, I didn\ know.’’ Aerie blushes.

’’Is this chick that you f**ked hot?’’ Kale asks.

With a disgusted look on her face, Aerie turns and slams the door. ’’Dahlia, hey, girl. You\ e early,’’ she says just outside the door.

Kale\s gaze darts to me. ’’Dahlia?’’ he mouths. ’’Your Dahlia?’’

I narrow my eyes at him. ’’She\s not my Dahlia,’’ I mutter, not hearing the rest of their conversation.

’’Yeah, he\s in there. I\ll be in my office when you\ e ready,’’ Aerie says.

Dahlia pops her head in. ’’Hey, Ben, I was hoping I could talk to you.’’

’’Sure, now?’’

’’Yes, if you don\ mind.’’

’’Want to grab a cup of coffee?’’

She nods.

Kale clears his throat.

’’Dahlia, this is Kale. Kale, Dahlia. Kale manages Surfer\s End magazine.’’

His eyes sweep her. ’’Nice to meet you.’’ He grins.


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