“I can’t be called the sleepyhead if I’m the one who catches you sleeping.”

“I’ve been waiting an hour for you to wake up, lazy bones.”

“And what kept you in bed instead of getting up to have your morning coffee?”

“You.”

I’m inside her twice before we leave the vineyard, once in the bed and again in the shower. As I drive her to the apartment, I chastise myself for not being more adventurous and having her throughout the house since all of the staff was gone. It would’ve been the perfect time. It will be difficult to pull that off once they are back.

I pull up in front of the apartment but keep the Sunset’s engine running. I have to get on the road if I’m going to be on time. Mum hates it when anyone is late, and I’m already going to have hell to pay for not bringing my “girlfriend” with me.

I get out of the car and walk her to the apartment entrance. I reach for her hands and give them a gentle squeeze. “I’ll call you later tonight. When you hear Bret sing, you’ll know it’s me.”


“That reminds me. You need a personalized ringtone—so you know it’s me.”

I can’t believe she doesn’t know she has one. “You have one. You just don’t know what it is.”

She reaches for her phone to call me, but I stop her. “Oh, no you don’t.”

“But I want to know what mine is.”

“Later.” I frame her face with my hands and kiss her hard so she’ll be “love drunk” with me on her mind while I’m away.

“Drive carefully.”

“I will.”

Just like the first time he interrupted us, Ben Donavon appears out of thin air. He clears his throat, interrupting our parting kiss.

He smiles as a look exchanges between us, one that says, “Hey. I’m gonna have this girl.”

I give him a smug smile in return that responds, “Hey, guess what. I’ve already had this girl. And she is incredible.”

The little bastard picks up Paige’s duffle and stands waiting with it thrown over his shoulder. He knows he’s interrupting our last moments together. And he’s loving it.

Fuck it. If he thinks he’s just ruined this for me, he’s wrong. I’m going to kiss the hell out of her regardless. “Excuse us. We were in the middle of something.”

I grasp her face and brush my lips across hers, but then I coax her mouth open and she allows me to kiss her like I did when we were alone, as if she has forgotten Ben is there with us.

I trail my mouth over to her ear and my eyes meet Ben’s as I whisper, “Remember. I won’t share you.”

She whispers back, “How could I forget?”

We say a final goodbye and Ben is waiting to take her from me. When she enters the apartment, he turns back to give me a shit-eating grin as he places his hand on her lower back.

Dammit! Not her lower back. That’s my spot to touch.

My only choice is to watch. I feel helpless, like a shepherd seeing his favorite lamb disappear into the forest with a dangerous wolf. She thinks he’s harmless, but he’s not. I know better.

It’s juvenile, but I text her before I drive away in an effort to steal her attention away from him.

*Miss me while I’m gone*

A heartbeat later, I hear the sound of her return text.

*Can’t miss U till UR gone ;)*

I pull away from the curb and wait until I’m out of sight to hit send on the next message.

*Gone. Now U can miss me.*

*I will but no TWD!*

She’s concerned for my safety. This makes me smile.

*K*

I use the drive to think about a lot of things, but my thoughts mostly revolve around the beautiful new brunette in my life who doesn’t seem to care about the things I can do for her. Knowing how little she cares about the money I could spend, makes me want to buy her the world.

My mom greets me at the door, which she never does, and peeks toward my car. She’s searching for my “girlfriend.”

She sees I’m alone and is pissed off. “You didn’t bring her?”

Why does she do this to herself? “No, Mum. I told you I wasn’t.”

“I hoped you’d change your mind. I want to meet the woman who has caught my son’s eye. Is that too much to ask?”

“No, Mum, it’s not.” I shouldn’t, but I give her false hope because it would be the right thing to say if Paige were my real girlfriend. “Maybe I’ll bring her next time.”

Her eyes sparkle with my proposal. “We have your birthday dinner next month. You can bring her then.”

“I’ll discuss it with her and we’ll see,” I lie.

She’s satisfied with that answer and finally lets me in the house.

We’re sitting at the dining room table when she brings it up again. “I want to hear about your girlfriend.”

Everyone around the table stares while they wait on me to answer. I see I’m going to be forced into lying. I’ll try to be as vague as possible. “She’s American.”

I see my mum’s face fall. “She doesn’t live in Australia?”

“No. She’s here on an extended visit with a friend.”

“So she won’t be returning to the States soon?”

“Not for a while.”

That makes my mum smile again. “That’s good. What does she do?”

“She’s a musician—a very good one. That’s how we met … I heard her sing at a club in Wagga Wagga.”

I avoid telling them Paige’s name, but the illusion feels real for a moment, and I like it. I take pleasure in the happiness I see on their faces, but then the guilt sets in. Everything I tell them about her is the truth wrapped in a blanket of lies.

17

Laurelyn Prescott

Addison is out with Zac, and I’m uncomfortable because I see a change in Ben as soon as we get inside the apartment. He’s next to me every time I turn around, brushing against me any chance he gets, sitting next to me on the couch. He’s pursuing me in a much more aggressive manner, and I don’t like it.

I lie and say I need to go to the store for tampons to get away from him. He insists on driving me, but I decline by telling him the walk will help with cramps. How asinine. I’m a terrible liar, but I think the talk of tampons and menstrual cramps keeps him from insisting.

I’m walking around in the drugstore a few blocks from the apartment when Bret begins to sing in my purse. I’m standing in front of a mirror in the makeup aisle when I look up and see the goofy grin on my face as I answer. I didn’t even realize I was smiling. “Hello, caveman.”

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