“You know they’ve miked all of our cars.”
“I know. They’ve also got trackers on them.” He took a left out of the gate and gunned the engine. I held on to a handle in the upper doorframe and tried to understand what was happening here. “Which is why we aren’t going to say anything.” He reached over and opened the glove box and pulled out a small black box. “Here. Toss this out the window.”
I took the box from him and turned it over in my hands. I hadn’t seen a tracker before, but it was surprisingly small and light, like a garage door opener. “Was it in the glove box the entire time?”
“Under my seat.” He slowed to a stop and nodded to a trash can on the corner. I tossed the tracker and felt a burst of pride when I made it in.
He held out his fist and I bumped mine against his. I fist-bumped Cash Mitchell. My inner teenager squealed with joy. I pulled back my fist and forced my face into a mask of composure and reminded myself that I had better things to do with my time than to drive around with Cash Mitchell in Los Angeles traffic in silence. In eight minutes, I was supposed to be having a call with Michelle to discuss VidCon. After that, I needed to take stills for Instagram, then had plans to film a TikTok with Eileen before meeting with Dana. I also had a branding presentation to review and a post-lunch conference call with my Twitter rep.
I’d gladly skip all of it. I watched him out of the corner of my eye and kept my mouth shut, even when he put on a horrible country station and started nodding his head to the beat. When he began to sing, I broke my self-imposed vow of silence. “Please don’t.”
“Aw, come on. This is Sturgill Simpson.” He grinned at me, one hand resting on the wheel, the other on the shift knob, and he was almost believable as a country boy. I resisted the urge to take a picture because a shirtless Cash with the grin and the look he was giving me… the thing would go viral. Especially on my feed, with my followers. And, oh shit. I patted down my pockets, then glanced into the floorboard.
“I don’t have my phone.” I groaned. “I left it in the kitchen.” Four minutes until my call with Michelle. She’d rail me for missing it. I glanced in the side mirror and wondered if anyone was following us.
“Don’t worry, we’re almost there.”
“The coffee better be good,” I remarked tartly, watching as we turned down a quiet side street.
“It’s good.” He spun the wheel to the left and navigated a tight turn. “Not as good as my singing but good.”
I swallowed a sarcastic remark because we were at a new set of gates, and I knew this house. I’d driven past here a dozen times, tucked in the safety of my car, staring out the window in hopes of seeing him.
He hit a button on his visor, and the gates parted, the engraved wood face tucking into a sleek white wall that encompassed the entire lot. Putting a finger to his mouth in a stay silent gesture, he pulled down the drive toward his home.
I didn’t really have a plan. I woke up that morning and wanted more of her. Saw her in the kitchen and wanted to kiss her good morning. Got irritated when she blew me off. Felt like smashing a camera. Got out of there instead. Liked the look of her sitting in my front seat, that smile on her face. Didn’t want to go somewhere where the paparazzi would find us, or people would want selfies with us, or where we’d be stuck in one more conversation where we couldn’t really say what needed to be said.
Also, she wasn’t wearing shoes—a fact that didn’t seem to concern her when paired against the more panic-inducing realization that her phone was also missing.
So, needing a barefoot-friendly spot with excellent breakfast and privacy, I brought her here. I parked the Defender on the far side of the drive, closed the front gate, and pointed her toward the front door. I armed the alarm and let out the dogs and found her in front of my coffee pot, a filter in hand, looking like she belonged there and shit. How was this Emma Blanton? How was she peeking shyly up at me and undoing the top of my bag of coffee grounds and asking if I had any almond creamer?
My bedroom was less than fifty feet away. Down that hall and through the open door was my bed. The maids came the day after I left for the mansion, so the sheets were clean, the down comforter plumped, and I could have her naked and underneath five-thousand-thread-count sheets before that coffee finished brewing.