“How long has this been going on?”

“I only know from when he asked me to keep an eye on you. He doesn’t really talk to me about you. He doesn’t say why he’s doing it, so I can only guess. He always asks how you’re doing, if you need anything, and of course, to keep men away from you.” She pulls the tie from her hair, letting it fall in soft waves.

“At first I thought maybe you were connected to someone important and he was keeping an eye out or something. But every now and then, I’d pick up flares of jealousy, and I started to think it was something different altogether. Not to mention I’ve never seen him show interest in a woman before. Not even a drop. Then I saw you together and he was a totally different person.”

I bite my lip, looking down at my lap to keep from asking.

“I’ll tell you, Mal.” I look back up at her, and now every time I see her eyes, I think of him. Who am I kidding? He’s all I seem to think about anyway, even without the reminder.

“Miles is kind of cold except when he’s with you, and the few times I’ve seen him with his mom. He didn’t seem to do anything but work, but now here he is, running all over the goddamn place, giving Captain an aneurysm.” She adds that last part and smiles as if she likes the idea of him driving Captain nuts.

“So do I think he wants you? Yes. In fact, I think he might be a little crazy about it. It’s creepy how he can go from yelling at us to being all sweet and gushy with you at the drop of a hat. So with you, I’m thinking he’s a little crazy, but in other aspects of his life, he seems pretty normal.”

“That’s reassuring,” I say drily.

“I don’t know what to tell you to do with that. I have trust issues and even worse issues when it comes to men. The rich ones are the worst, and it’s been slowly eating away at me that I can’t get a solid read on Miles and what he’s doing with you. I saw him as a rich man using his money to get what he wanted, but I let it go because we were so far away. He wasn’t around, and to be honest, I didn’t think about it much. You and I went to school and we did us. That was, until we landed here. You got the internship. Then he and I started to have this back-and-forth struggle. I wasn’t giving him the information he wanted anymore, and I think I made him miss a step. Like an addict who wasn’t getting his fix anymore, so he showed up that night at the club and tipped his hand a little too soon.”

“I was falling for him,” I admit. “I had sex with him. Unprotected sex.” I drop my head into my hands, still not believing I’d done it. In the moment, I felt so connected to him. I didn’t want anything between us. The way he was worshipping me, I felt like he was going to be my forever. That I’d finally found a little piece of a fairy tale. That I’d been saving myself for him.

Paige grabs my wrists, pulling my hands down so I have to look back up at her. “Do you regret it?”

“No.” I shake my head. “It was wonderful, actually. He was so sweet and it was perfect. Until it wasn’t. He makes me feel so important and special. Like he’d do anything for me. That he can’t breathe without me. It’s intoxicating to think someone feels that way about me, but it’s overwhelming, too. I don’t know what to do. I mean the man has been controlling my freaking life!” I half yell the last part, emotions taking over.

“You don’t have to do anything right now. Not a damn thing. You want to talk to him? Talk to him. If you don’t, then don’t. We’ll go to work and do us.”

“Can ‘doing us’ be eating ice cream?” I ask, hungry for the first time in days.

“You read my mind.” Paige stands, pulling me with her.

“You moving back in?” I ask, following her into the kitchen.

“I didn’t really take much with me, so I’m still kind of here.”

“Good, because I need your shoes.”

Chapter Twenty-One


* * *

I stare at the closed elevator, and an inner battle rages inside me, like it’s been doing all day. I thought the years waiting for her were bad. That was nothing compared to now. Knowing what she feels like under my hands, the way her skin tastes, how her lips part when I’m turning her on.

I thought I’d learned almost everything about her, but really I only knew the outside. Now I’m drowning in the details, trying to soak them all in, and I want more. My obsession has only worsened.

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