Page 54 of The F List

“God, you guys are weird,” Eileen said, stepping on the trash pedal and dropping the peels into the can.

“What kind of negotiating?” I challenged, letting my gaze flick to the closest camera guy in a subtle reminder that we were being watched.

“I think you know what I want.” He hoisted himself up, so that he was sitting on the counter.

I stayed where I was. “A cure for chlamydia?” I asked dryly.

He smirked at me. “Guess again.”

“Hmmm.” I took a few steps toward him, letting my hand trail along the counter and suggestively over the butcher’s block of knives. I pulled the biggest half out and glanced from it to him. “Circumcision?”

He winced. “No need for that.”

Eileen popped a wedge of orange into her mouth, then spoke around it. “I think he wants your body.”

I blushed despite my steadfast vow not to. “He doesn’t want my body.”

“Oh, I definitely want your body.” His gaze traveled down said body, which was currently on display in plaid pajama pants and a Britney Spears t-shirt that was a few sizes too big.

I glared at him. “Give me my spoon.”

“I will give you your spoon,” he announced grandly and damn him if we weren’t all, including the brand new producer who still had iron pleats in his khakis, paying attention. “If…” he paused. “If… you kiss me.”

One of us gasped, and it was either Eileen or me. I couldn’t tell, but I sincerely hoped it was her, because I was struggling madly to deliver detached nonchalance. “I’d rather not,” I mused, and it was almost perfectly delivered, as long as you missed the tremor in my voice. I stepped back, edging toward the hall, and if I turned quickly enough, I could sprint out of here without being caught.

Then again… I stopped myself. I was a grown woman and needed, at some point in time, to stop punching people or high-tailing it when a situation grew out of my control. This… this was in my control. I didn’t have to kiss Cash. I didn’t need that spoon. I could toss my half-eaten bowl of cereal in the trash and avoid public use of his lips altogether.

Eileen propped her chin in her hand and watched with unabashed interest. Cash moved closer, and I looked up at him and forced a smile. “What are you doing?” I gritted out quietly between my clenched teeth.

He studied me, and a war waged through our eye contact. Leaning forward, he put his hands on the counter behind me and spoke into my ear. “I don’t care if the cameras know that I want you.”

Warmth spread through my body, and I struggled to keep the optimistic part of my brain tampered down. He didn’t mean that he wanted me. He meant that he wanted my body, or the challenge, or to keep the spoon. This was a battle, just like our others. A game. Just because we’d had a cease-fire of sorts, just because we’d been drunk and half-naked and had kissed… it didn’t mean that Cash Mitchell wanted me. Guys like Cash didn’t want girls like me. They wanted girls who spent two hours on their makeup every day and who used emojis in their texts and who did sexual stuff that I wasn’t even aware of.

“Can you repeat what you just said to her, but louder?” The camera guy spoke up. “We didn’t catch that.”

Cash ignored him, his hands still on the counter, his body close enough for me to smell the body wash he used in his shower. I tried not to look at his tan chest, decided not to stare at the tattooed line of script that ran along the inside of his right bicep.

“You don’t want me,” I said quietly.

“Yes, I do.”

I shook my head and looked away. He straightened up and grabbed my hand. “Come on.” He headed for the hall, his grip on my hand taking me with him.

I struggled to keep up, as did the camera guy. “Where are you going?”

“Not I. We.” He opened the door to the garage and held it open, ushering me through. I stepped into the air-conditioned space and watched as one of the six bay doors rumbled into action, slowly opening to reveal the morning glare. I held up a hand to block the stream of harsh sunlight and watched as he opened the passenger door to a Jeep-style SUV. “After you.”

“Where are we going?” I repeated.

“I ruined your breakfast. I’m getting you more.” He nodded toward the vehicle. “Come on. Hurry before this guy tries to crawl in the back.”

I took his hand and hoisted myself up and into the front seat, getting my seat belt and then holding on as he shifted into gear and careened out of the spot, aiming for the front gates as members of the crew ran for the production vehicles. I spotted Dana mid-step out of the production trailer, a donut in hand, staring at us.

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