Authors: Grace Henderson
Published by Grace Henderson
Copyright © 2014 Grace Henderson
No reproduction without permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Life is not the amount of breaths you take, it’s the moments that take your breath away.
Eight months ago
Blake’s girlfriend Cassie is talking to me but I’m not hearing anything that’s coming out of her pretty little mouth. My eyes are fixed on the girl who just entered through the door behind her. It should be illegal to look that damn sexy. Her long blonde hair is pulled to the side revealing her bare neck and shoulder that are just begging to be kissed. Her body is wrapped in a short tight sparkly dress that stops in the middle of her thighs and my eyes sweep down her long tanned legs, and end at her ‘come fuck me’ shoes. I’m instantly hard thinking about her in my bed with just the shoes on.
Cassie follows my gaze, “She is who you slept with that night? The cute blonde?”
My ears register her voice which is an octave too high, but I don’t notice her expression because my eyes are busy watching the beautiful angel from a distance.
“Yep,” I say proudly, knowing Blake is probably thinking the same thing as me: I’m a lucky bastard. Hair whips at my chest as Cassie’s head turns in my direction. She’s sending me one of her death glares that I’m man enough to admit I’m a little bit afraid of now.
“Well, douchebag, that cute blonde is my best friend Laurel so you had better sit the fuck down before I kick your ass from here to the Caribbean!" She spits out her revelation and stalks across the bar to find Laurel.
Blake howls with laughter and slaps my shoulder, “You’re in for it now. She looked like she was going to punch you. I hope she does; you deserve it.”
I know he’s talking like that because I flirt with Cassie. I can’t help it. He’s my best mate, but it’s just in my nature when I see a beautiful woman. And Cassie is gorgeous.
“If I had known she was her best friend I wouldn’t have done it.” Even I don’t believe the words that are tumbling out my mouth. And I know Blake definitely doesn’t. He raises an eyebrow calling bullshit, “You can save the apologies for Cassie, mate. I know you, don’t forget.”
I nod and nurse my beer wondering what’s taking them so long. I glance around the bar trying to distinguish between the faces. Then I catch them out of the corner of my eye and they’re heading in our direction. My heart starts beating a little faster and I wonder if tonight I’ll get a repeat with the blue-eyed angel now standing in front of me. I don’t often do repeats but I could definitely make an exception for her. I watch Cassie warily, searching her face for signs she is going to hit me but she doesn’t waver. In fact, I think she’s smirking at me. What’s changed her mood all of a sudden?
"This is my best friend Laurel. From what I hear, you two need some proper introductions. Laurel, this is James. James, this is Laurel."
I shake my head, is Cassie really going to just pretend it didn’t happen? Maybe that’s her way of dealing with it. I didn’t realise it would have upset her so much. My eyes meet the angel’s eyes and I see them glistening. Her smile is breath-taking, and my mind wanders back to our liaison last week just like it has numerous times in the past few days. I picture her laid out on my bed, writhing and moaning and smile to myself. Taking her hand in mine I bend down to kiss her cheek, making a show of the introduction just like Cassie clearly wants. My hand lingers on hers slightly too long and our fingers brush as I let my hand fall away. There’s a definite spark there.
“I told you Cassie, we’ve already met.”
She looks at Laurel, then back at me, and I can tell there’s something I’m missing. Her voice turns sweet and she cocks her head to the side. "Well if you're going to give a girl the best sex of her life, then I think you should make sure she is sober enough to remember it in the morning, don't you?"
I frown trying to make sense of her words and look between the girls who are desperately trying to hide their laughter. Next to me, Blake’s snorts are about to break free but he’s holding back because I’m not catching on. Then it hits me like a baseball bat to my ego. She doesn’t remember me. She had sex with me and doesn’t remember. My cheeks are flushing bright red. I’m not just embarrassed, I’m humiliated. I mumble something so incoherent I don’t even know what I am trying to say and turn quickly to down my beer. Their laughter makes me cringe inside even more. I’m wound up she doesn’t remember me; I’m fucking pissed I can’t forget about her.
I’m laughing so hard that my whole body is shaking, but the flash of hurt in James’ eyes shoots a pang of guilt through me. I know a thing or two about guys and their egos and Cassie has just shattered his. Sleeping with guys has become a regular thing for me since I’ve been single, but actually having to face the guy again? That’s embarrassing, and something I haven’t had to do before. What do I say? I remember leaving the bar with him, then the next thing I know I’m waking up in his bed. I didn’t speak to him, I just ran the hell out of there while he was still sleeping.
My gaze drifts to Cassie as she curls into Blake’s side. They’re still laughing together. He reaches down and sweeps a lock of hair away from her face, kissing her forehead. He ignores the girl behind the bar who is playing with her hair and trying to get his attention. All he sees is Cassie. I sigh heavily and lean back against a stray stool. I’m so happy for her, but I am slightly envious. My last proper boyfriend didn’t just break my heart, he tore it out and stomped on it, got out the stupid little pocket knife he used for fishing and shred it into a million little pieces. Dramatic, huh? But that’s how it felt at the time, and still does. He left me at the worst time in my life, whilst my dad was sick, and never looked back. After that epic fail of a relationship I took on the philosophy of love them and leave them before they leave me. Usually I am fine with it, but seeing Cassie and Blake together has got me thinking about whether maybe I do want more. I’m just too afraid of losing my heart again.
“Make you sick, don’t they?” James turns his head and nods over at the happy couple. I join his side at the bar and before I can order a drink he asks the bartender for a glass of white wine for me and beer for him, not even checking back to make sure that’s what I want. Ass. “I’d love a glass of white wine, thanks.” I say with a hint of bite. He turns his head slowly and raises his sexy eyebrow at me. I know that ‘pissed’ doesn’t even cover how much I had to drink that night last week but at least I still have taste when I’m out of it. He’s hunched over against the bar, but I notice every aspect of his body and I feel smugly impressed with myself. His dirty blonde hair is just that; dirty. Long enough to thread your fingers through and tug. Oh God, did I actually do that? Probably. His neck and shoulders are wide, he’s wearing a navy polo shirt and it’s such a good fit I can see every curve of muscle in his back. His waist is lean and I only just about manage to hold myself back from pinching his tight butt. My eyes drag themselves unwillingly to his face which looks like he should be on the cover of a magazine. The eyebrow is still raised, he’s waiting for me to say something else.
What were we talking about? Oh yeah, ass.
“You didn’t even bother asking if that’s what I wanted.” He’s very faintly amused, I can see the corners of his mouth are hovering.
“You women are so complicated. Can’t you just be happy I’m buying you a drink, say thank you and get over it?” He shakes his head and pays the barman for the drinks. I realise now that I just came across as an ungrateful bitch but what is it with alpha males and their need to just take control? I like to be in control.
“I am happy, thank you. But next time you buy a girl a drink, ask her what she wants. Don’t assume.” I take my drink, flash a forced smile and head to an empty table that’s big enough for the four of us. James pauses, with his brow furrowed then pulls himself together and sits down across from me. “I’m sorry if it annoyed you. I didn’t even think about it. You were drinking wine the night we met, before we started on the Jose, so that’s why I just assumed…”
My jaw drops. He actually remembers my drink from that night? And I just insulted him when he was only being sweet.
“Don’t apologise,” I say quickly, “That was such a major overreaction. I’m sorry. My ex-boyfriend used to make decisions for me all the time and I know it seems stupid because it’s only a drink but I like the freedom now of choosing myself.” Wow, spilling my guts to a stranger. That’s…scary as hell.
Shut up, Laurel
. I take the opportunity to gulp down half the glass and see James’ eyes widen but he stays quiet. Good, at least I won’t have to kick his ass…yet. I put the glass back on the table and lean forward on my arms, quickly removing them when I feel the sticky remnants of other people’s spilt drinks.
He sips his beer then leans back in the chair, tilting his head, “Were you together long?” He asks coolly. His voice is uncertain, like maybe he thinks I’m going to cry because I’m not over it or something.
“About two years. But it did not end well at all.” I shut my mouth abruptly before I can leak any other personal information and take another sip of my drink. I’m so done talking about Dickhead Darren. He was my first love at eighteen, and my first heartbreak at twenty. Now, four years later, I still feel the effects of being discarded like I meant nothing to him.
“So, have you got a girlfriend?” I ask curiously.
His gaze searches my eyes then lands briefly on my bare neck and shoulder before he leans forward and smiles his stupidly sexy half grin, “You’re asking me that after last week? You’re opinion of me is lower than I expected.”
he’s going to bring up that night. I wish I could remember it; I’ve tried briefly in the past few minutes as we’ve been talking but it’s just one big blur after we left the bar.
“Hey, I don’t know you. That might be how you roll. Anyway, I don’t judge other people’s lives. I’m far from an angel.” He chokes on the beer he’s just tasted, and gets up to grab a napkin. I’m clearly missing the joke. I didn’t think it was funny. “What are you laughing at?” I ask when he sits back down.
“Oh, nothing. I was just thinking about something else, sorry.” He clears up the spilt drink and tosses the napkin to the side. Then he loses the smile as he looks back up at me. “I don’t cheat. If I’m with a girl, she knows what the deal will be in the morning. Unless she can’t remember, that is.” His voice is honey, honey laced with lemon. He’s still pissed.
“About that…” Of all the moments, Blake and Cassie take that one to come over and join us and our conversation is halted. “Hey guys, what’s going on?” Blake asks, looking between us whilst he takes Cassie’s hand and entwines their fingers. So, this is the infamous Blake Richards, the one all the girls want a night with. And Cassie is going to be the one to tame him. I can see it in his eyes when he looks at her. Well damn, go girl.
The scraping of a chair on the wooden floors pulls my gaze away from their hands and up to James’ face. He’s still not right. “I’m going to get another drink. Anyone want one?” he mumbles. He doesn’t look at me, just at the others. They shake their heads in the negative and he walks away. I don’t realise I’m staring after him until Cassie taps me on the arm.
“Hey, what’s up with him? Did you two have an argument?” I’m still in shock that he’s so temperamental. He’s like a little kid that has just been told off, sulky and moody. “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out. Back in a bit.”
I take a deep breath in and head over to the bar where he’s leaning against a stool waiting to be served. I haven’t planned anything I’m going to say. Am I really going to talk about it with him? I want to know what happened, but I don’t know if I want to hear the details. It’s uncomfortable, even for me. What if it was crap? Although judging by how I felt the next day, it happened more than once so he can’t have found it that bad. I nudge him with my shoulder and rest against the bar. “Sorry.”