Grabbing my cell, I go online and check that stupid fashion-and-beauty blog that seems so fascinated with my life as well as my sisters’. I want to make sure they’re not talking about me. The last mention of Lily Fowler was two days ago, a photo of me with hot-pink lips, heavily mascaraed eyes, and a black lace dress, supposedly representing Fleur at a stupid party for … something. I’d forgotten exactly what. When I’d entered my apartment late that night and found it ransacked, I freaked. Nothing was stolen. No jewelry, no money, and I had both on hand, stashed away in my closet but not under lock and key.
The one thing I had hidden, though, was my laptop, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I found it, stashed among a stack of folded bath towels in my hall closet. Then I threw a bunch of clothes into a small suitcase, booked a flight from my phone on the cab ride to the airport, and got the hell out of there.
My phone vibrates in my hands, startling me, and I check my texts, see that it’s a message from my little sister, Rose.
Call me right now!
Yikes. Can’t do that. I trust no one at this moment. Not even Rose, and I adore her, but what if she can’t keep her mouth shut? She could slip up and tell our father she spoke to me. The wrong person finds out where I am and it’s toast time.
I can’t take any chances.
So I ignore her text, shoving my phone into my beach bag before I sink back into the overstuffed lounger I’m sitting on. I rented a cabana first thing this morning and it’s freaking perfect. I get endless service, someone is always checking on me to make sure I have enough to drink or eat, and the view is spectacular. The sun is blazing, there are white, puffy clouds in the startling blue sky, and a breeze brushes over me every few minutes, cooling my heated skin.
My gaze slides toward my watcher, who’s also a part of the spectacular view. The more I stare, the sexier I find him. His shoulders and chest are so wide. There’s the lightest smattering of dark hair between his pecs and while I usually go for the smooth look, there’s something about the hair on his chest that appeals. Makes him look so manly. And for whatever reason, makes him appear a little dangerous.
Or maybe that’s the air around him. There’s an edge to him that I can’t explain. He looks completely unapproachable, his expression like granite; his position is casual, but I can see all that energy contained within his posture. Like he’s poised and ready to spring into action at any given moment.
I avert my head, my thoughts filled with … him. I’m not usually attracted to dangerous. I like easy. Fun. Good-looking and confident, even a hint of arrogance. The men I’ve been with are similar to me. Or the me I want everyone to see. Looking for a good time, always ready to party, to shop, wanting everyone’s eyes on me.
My phone buzzes again and I check my messages, see that it’s another text from Rose.
You can’t avoid me forever! At least tell me where you are.
I study her message, my fingers poised above the keyboard. I want to tell her but I can’t. No way. She’s bound and determined to get me to respond to her and I’m just as bound and determined to ignore her.
It’s not that I want to. My heart, my entire body, aches to call her, hear her voice, ask if she’s okay. She’s pregnant. My baby sister, the one who I resented when she was born because she took up even more of our mom’s attention, is now going to have a baby herself. With a guy I went to high school with. A guy I might’ve kissed—and doesn’t that make me feel like a complete slut—but if it doesn’t bother Rose then it doesn’t bother me. She’s so blissfully in love with Caden, it’s almost disgusting.
Just about as disgusting as when my sister Violet and her fiancé, Ryder, are together. Those two are just … ugh. I blame it all on him. Ryder exudes confidence. Sex appeal. I can see why my sister was so attracted to him, though it surprises me that the two of them are together. He seems more my speed, but then she spilled a couple of secrets one night after having a few too many glasses of wine. How dominant Ryder is in the bedroom.
Yeah. That sort of thing doesn’t do it for me. I like to be in charge. Everything else in my life has felt so out of control, ever since I was a little kid and I lost my mom. As I grew older, I realized the only thing I can control is myself. My body. My mind. My choices.
So I’m in control, especially sexually. Forget all that growly I will make you mine dom shit. That sort of thing makes me roll my eyes. I mean really, who gets off on that? Maybe I haven’t met the right guy, but come on.
Grabbing my boozy tropical drink, I wrap my lips around the straw and drain it, casting my gaze along the beach, watching the waves splash gently onto the shore. I want to swim. I want to feel the water swirl around my legs as I slowly walk into the ocean. I can leave my stuff here. I know it’s safe. The hotel employees keep a close eye on everything, but what if my watcher is fast? What if he really is part of the paparazzi and he’s just waiting for the chance to go rifling through my bag? Not that there’s much in there beyond my phone …
And my phone is everything to me. It’s password protected but if someone is determined, he could probably figure it out. I can’t risk it. At least my laptop is safe, hidden in the bungalow I’m staying in at the resort, in the deep, dark recesses of my closet, sitting on the top shelf. No one would find it there.
I set my drink on the table next to me and rest my index finger against my lips, tapping them as I contemplate my next move. I don’t feel my watcher’s eyes on me and when I glance in his direction, I see that he’s gone. Even his towel isn’t there any longer, which means he’s moved on.