Read Some Sort of Happy (Skylar and Sebastian): A Happy Crazy Love Novel Online

Authors: Melanie Harlow

Tags: #Romance, #new adult, #Adult, #Contemporary Romance

Some Sort of Happy (Skylar and Sebastian): A Happy Crazy Love Novel (6 page)

“I felt like shit. I was furious. I wanted to punch someone. Myself, I guess.”

“What did you do?”

“I went to the gym.”
And then I went home and jerked off while thinking about her just like I used to when I was seventeen. I’ll probably do it again tonight because two is a better number than one.

“Did that help?”

I almost smiled. “Yeah. Sort of.”

Ken rubbed his beard and thought for a moment. “Do you think, if you saw her again, you might try speaking to her?”

I linked my fingers in my lap and stared at them, trying to imagine shaking her hand without fear. “I don’t know. Part of me wants to. Another part says why invite trouble? I’m doing OK these days, you know? At least, I was. Working on the cabin, handling a couple cases for my dad’s firm, writing every day, staying active… Until I saw her this afternoon, I felt stronger than I have in a long time. I think that’s why I’m so fucking angry about the relapse.”

“One setback doesn’t mean relapse. And it doesn’t undo all the progress you’ve made, Sebastian. It could just be a bad day.” Ken uncrossed his legs and leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “I’m not going to force you to do it, but we both know that avoidance is never a successful strategy when it comes to obsessive thoughts. It always backfires, which leads to more anxiety and distress. If you really want to move forward, you should talk to her. Is this someone you think might be just a friend…or something more?”

“Just a friend,” I said quickly. “I’m done with relationships.”

“Give yourself time. You’re only twenty-eight, Sebastian. One bad breakup doesn’t mean you won’t find happiness with someone else eventually.”

Happiness. What the fuck was that, anyway? “It wasn’t just a bad breakup—I’ve fucked up every chance at a relationship I’ve ever had. This was just the first time I actually wrecked someone’s life too.”

“You didn’t wreck her life.”

“She said I did.” Agitated, I ran a hand over my hair. “Diana had a wedding dress, Ken. Invitations had been ordered. Deposits paid. Honeymoon cruise booked—not her dream honeymoon, of course, which was my fault because I refuse to get on a plane, but a honeymoon nonetheless. I’m never doing all that shit again, because it will all have to be undone when I panic and relapse and she realizes she can’t be married to a fuck-up like me who has—wait, let me see if I can get this right—no fucking clue what it means to love someone because I can’t get out of my head long enough to put someone else’s needs first unless I’m fucking her.” I spat Diana’s words at Ken as if he’d spoken them.

“Sebastian, stop.” Ken sighed and straightened up. “We’re not talking about proposing to this woman. Or sleeping with her. We’re talking about a conversation. And if the obsessive thought returns, don’t try to banish it and don’t run away. You’ve got tools to work with. Try magnifying, or the watching/waiting we’ve talked about. Do the writing exercise where you imagine the worst. That’s worked for you in the past.”

I was quiet for a moment. Flexed my fingers a few times. “I’ll think about it.”

After the session was over, I left Ken’s office building and walked down the street to Coffee Darling. When I first started going there last year, I had to bring my own cup from home because I was so worried about contamination. But exposure therapy had helped me work through it, and now I felt a lot more comfortable walking into a bar or restaurant and using whatever was given to me. Did I love it? No, and a little doubt always lingered about how clean the utensils were, not to mention the kitchen, but usually I managed to cope without embarrassing myself or anyone with me.

The long, narrow shop was empty, and the owner, Natalie, was wiping down the counter, but she looked up and smiled at me when I came in. “Hey, stranger. Haven’t seen you in a while. How’s it going?”

“Good, thanks.” I liked Natalie, partly because she talked so much I never felt like I had to say anything, and also because she understood when I shamefacedly explained why I brought my own coffee cup to her shop. She never launched into any defensive explanation about how clean her place was—and it was clean, I never even hesitated before using the bathroom, and public restrooms were a huge trigger for me—she just poured coffee and chatted away. When I was finished, she’d always rinse and dry the cup for me, too. Best of all, she seemed to know when I didn’t want to be bothered, and she’d leave me alone with my caffeine and my notebook.

“Come on in. The kitchen’s closed, but since you’re just a coffee drinker, have a seat and I’ll pour you a cup.”

“Are you sure? If you’re closed, I can—”

“No, no, come sit down. You can keep me company while I go through the closing routine.”

Removing my sunglasses, I set them and my keys on the counter and sat down. After Natalie poured me some coffee and disappeared into the kitchen, I opened up my journal, frowning at the damp pages, and turned to what Ken called my Exposure Hierarchy. The idea was to list things that make me anxious and then rate them with subjective units of distress, or SUDS, based on how uncomfortable or scared they made me. Then I had to tackle them, and I wasn’t allowed to count while I did them, or numb myself, or repeat any mantras.

I thumbed through the list, page after page of things I’d forced myself to do over the last year. Some were related to my fears about germs and contamination, some were related to my ordering and number compulsions, and some were related to frightening “what if” thoughts that tortured me for no good reason, like thinking I’d go batfuck crazy and stab someone if I held a kitchen knife in my hands.

After a sip of coffee, I pulled my pencil from my jacket pocket and turned to the end of the list. Taking a deep breath, I added another item.

Talk to Skylar Nixon.

I stared at the words and tried to think about rating the task—how anxious did the thought of talking to her make me? But before I could decide on a number, I got the uneasy feeling that someone was watching me. I looked over my left shoulder, and there she was. Standing just inside the door, so pretty she took my breath away, and staring right at me.

 

Our eyes met, and a shiver moved through my body.

Holy shit. It’s him again.

And he’s really hot.

After leaving the pageant offices in a huff, I’d marched down the street to Coffee Darling, Natalie’s adorable little bakery and coffee shop. When she opened it two years ago, it was only coffee and the muffins or donuts she made herself at the asscrack of dawn, but she’d since hired another pastry chef and also offered light salads and sandwiches at lunchtime too.

It closed after the last of the lunch crowd left, usually by three each day, so I’d been surprised to see someone still seated at the counter when I walked in.

He looked over his shoulder at me, and now that he’d taken off his sunglasses, I could better appreciate his good looks—the light green eyes, the angled cheekbones, the full mouth. When he frowned, I felt the embarrassment of face planting in the sand all over again, which was dwarfed only by the shame I’d experienced when he’d said
I know who you
are that way and I realized he’d seen me on Save a Horse.

And he probably read the paper this morning. He hates you, just like everyone else in this town.

Fine, I could handle it.

I scowled right back.

Just then Natalie came through the door from the kitchen and grabbed the coffeepot behind the counter. “How about a warmup?” she asked him.

He kept staring at me without answering her question, and the tension was too much for me to bear. “For fuck’s sake, just say it!” I exploded. “Yes, I’m who you think I am. Yes, I’m that bitch on TV. Yes, I said shitty things about nice people, so just stop staring at me and tell me flat out that I deserve all the crap that’s happening to me today, including falling on my face!”

“Skylar!” Natalie glanced frantically back and forth from me to the guy. “I’m sorry, Sebastian. This is my sister, Skylar, and apparently she’s having a
very bad day
,” she said with a murderous look at me. “Otherwise I cannot imagine why she would come in here and scream obscenities at my customer.”

I looked at the guy again, but he was no longer focused on me. He was frantically closing his notebook and tucking it out of sight in his jacket.

Instantly I felt guilty. “Hey, don’t go. I’m sorry about that.”

“It’s all right,” he said quietly. “I’m done anyway.” He pulled out his wallet and threw a few bills on the counter.

“No, please stay. You just got here.” Natalie filled his cup with coffee and set down the pot. “And put your money away. Coffee’s on me.”

“Keep it as a tip then. See you around.” He picked up his keys from the counter, put his sunglasses back on, and moved toward the door.

I raced ahead of him, unable to bear the thought he would leave still thinking I was a horrible person, even though I felt like one. “Hey, don’t leave on my account. I really am sorry.” Leaning back against the glass door, I smiled. “Can I try again?”

Slowly, he lifted his head and met my eyes. Stared directly into them, so hard my breath caught in my chest, and I felt desire stir low in my belly. With the short hair and the aviator glasses, he looked like a fighter pilot or something. Even the stubborn set of his jaw turned me on. Rawr.

“I’m Skylar,” I said, extending my hand. Then I wrinkled my nose. “But I guess you already know that from the Save a Horse, right?”

His brow furrowed. “Save a what?”

“Save a Horse. The reality show.” The fact that his expression remained perplexed gave me hope. “You mean you haven’t seen it?”

“No. I don’t watch much TV.” He paused. “You don’t remember me.”

“I don’t think we’ve met.” I tilted my head coquettishly. “I’d remember you. Definitely.”

Although, wait a second—there
was
something familiar there. Had we met? Why couldn’t I place him? Was he an actor I’d been introduced to in New York? And why wouldn’t he shake my hand, which was still extended between us?

It took him forever, but finally he reached for it.

“And you are?” I prompted. Man, this guy was gorgeous but a bit lacking in social niceties.

“Sebastian Pryce.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said, enjoying the cozy fit of my hand inside his. “Are you—”

And then it hit me.

I did know him.

At least, I’d known a Sebastian Pryce. We’d gone to school together for years. But this couldn’t be that Sebastian…could it? I looked down at our hands. The Sebastian I’d known wouldn’t have shaken hands because he was always so paranoid about germs. Kids used to tease him by touching his shoulders and saying,
Better go wash your hands, Sebastian. I gave you cooties.
And even though it was ridiculous and we all knew there was no such thing as cooties, he always asked to go wash his hands after that. Once, in fifth grade, our teacher had said no because we were getting ready to take a test, and he’d completely flipped out and started tapping on his head and counting out loud. It was awful.

He let go of my hand and I continued to stare at him. Now I saw it, but talk about duckling to swan. I swallowed. “Wow. Sebastian. You look…different.”

“You look exactly the same.”

Was that a compliment? Hard to tell from the way he said it. “Thanks,” I said uncertainly.

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