“No, it wasn’t like that.” It was. “Shit, V, it feels like we aren’t even friends anymore.” I tugged at my hair. “I’m sorry, it was my fault at the canyon. I couldn’t say no to you, and now I want you again. You looked so good and—”
“Just stop. I told you I wouldn’t regret it, and I don’t. It was the best sex I’ve ever had, okay. Is that what you want to hear?”
She continued. “But—but I need to protect myself. You have the power to hurt me, Sebastian. We’re friends and nothing else from now on.”
Fuck. I scrubbed my face. What was I doing? If I couldn’t love her, then at least I could leave her alone.
With my heart hurting, I nodded. “Fine. Are you free tomorrow to go to the studio and work on the set list for the gala? You are still playing with us, right?” I just needed her near me.
She straightened her hair and clothes. “But first, we’re going to walk out of here like we didn’t just nearly have sex on a box of Bud Light.”
“In the end I’m here to tell you that I love comets and fairy dust too much to let life pass me by.”
—from the journal of Violet St. Lyons
THE NEXT WEEK, I spent time in the studio with Sebastian and Spider working on the song I was going to play with them at the gala. He’d chosen his breakout hit “Superman”, only he’d slowed it down so I could open the number before Spider’s guitar riff kicked in. It made me jittery and queasy to sit there and work with two seasoned musicians critiquing me, but it wasn’t enough to send me into a blind panic.
The air was charged between us, though, with stolen glances and brushes of our skin. I did my best to give him plenty of leeway and not be alone with him. Like a rubberband that’s about to snap, the tension threatened to drive me insane.
Just yesterday in the studio, I’d been leaning over the music stand to find my notes and when I raised back up, he’d been hovering over me, the strangest expression on his face.
I’d tugged down my short skirt—thanks to Mila. “Are you trying to look up my skirt?”
“No,” he’d said and straightened back up, hands raised. “I swear there was something in your hair and—”
“Sniffing my hair?”
“Then back up, please.” And I’d shooed him back a few inches.
He’d smirked and grumbled something about picky artists needing their space for their big heads. I’d laughed.
Even though the tension between us was electric, our playing was incredible. His husky singing voice held secrets, and I got lost in the sound we made, my soul clicking with something in his.
Hadn’t it always been that way with us?
My head kept going back to the stolen moment in the walk-in cooler at Rio.
He’d been erratic and crazy and slightly deranged. The truth was I had gotten under his skin and my gut knew it terrified him.
Now here it was Friday already, and I sat next to the pool, working on the guest list for the gala. Mrs. Smythe and I had met or spoken on the phone frequently, nailing down the details. Counting the kids and attendees, over three hundred people would be in attendance at the black tie affair at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. A formal event, each attendee would pay two thousand dollars a plate. Thank goodness, Wilson had been over a couple of times with his list of Hollywood celebrities to invite. Since our lunch at the Rio, he’d helped me quite a bit.
I glanced up when Sebastian walked up to the patio from his property, holding a brown wicker basket with a closed lid. Strange sounds came from it.
“Hey you,” he said, and leaned in to give me a quick peck on my cheek. Nothing serious, and he didn’t linger.
I cocked my head. “Your basket is freaking me out.”
He chuckled. “I don’t buy presents for girls much, so I hope I wasn’t too far off the mark with this, but I’d like you to meet fur ball—which isn’t really her name. You can call her whatever you want,” he said as he pulled out a fluffy, slobbering little puppy.
I blinked at it. I could barely take care of myself. “A puppy?”
He plopped her in my arms. “Duh. She’s for you, goof.”
She whimpered and licked my hand. “But why? What do I do with it? Where does it sleep? Does it eat cheese puffs? Oh God. I’d suck at being a parent.”
He lifted his soft blue eyes to mine. “It’s a stupid gift, isn’t it?”
I shook my head. She was terribly cute with her big brown eyes and long hair. “No, no, no. Why do you say that? Wait, is this some kind of break-up-dog? Because you feel guilty about what happened?”
His jaw tightened. “Stop putting words in my mouth. This is because when I saw this dog, I knew she had to be yours. She’s sweet … like you. She’s musical … I heard her howl at the pet store. She’s got the softest fur … just like you.” He chuckled at my expression.
“Okay, not even touching the fur comment, but why were you even thinking of me?” I pressed.
He looked deflated. Shit, I was ruining this. “Why what?” he said. “Can’t I just do something spontaneous? Why do you have to put a label on it?”
I sighed. “So you think about me? A lot. Like when you just randomly walk in a pet store? And not just when you go to bed and have sex dreams about me?”
“Yeah. I also think about food a lot, too.”