I keep my lips clamped shut and won’t even look in Max’s direction. It’s easier that way. No more words are spoken as he stops the vehicle and puts it into park, an employee opening my door at the same time Max gets out and says he wants the Jeep parked in valet.

My earlier high is totally gone. The euphoric, almost sleepy state the delicious orgasms put me into is long forgotten. Those little revelations we shared? Null and void. I’m mad. Irritated. I don’t need this kind of shit. Some complicated guy entangled in too many complicated relationships. Whatever just happened had to deal with his work?

Yeah, right.

Without even acknowledging him, I start toward the entrance of the hotel, my back stiff, my head held high. I refuse to look back. I don’t want to see Max, don’t know what I would say to him even if he stopped me to talk.

“Lily.” He calls out my name and I hesitate, wanting to turn to him. Wanting to run into his arms and let him whisper lies in my ear.

It’ll be all right. That call was nothing. She’s nothing.

You’re everything.

I’m so stupid to be imagining this. Like this is some fairy tale and I just found my magical, perfect prince, when really, he’s just another toad. I’m being ridiculous, but I can’t help it. I like this asshole.

Probably too much.

Slowly, I turn to find him standing directly behind me, looking torn. “I gotta go make a phone call. Take care of a few work things.”

I nod stiffly, lifting my chin, firming my lips. Emotions threaten, foreign ones I don’t recognize that I am desperate to shove away. My lips tremble, my eyes sting, and I blink hard. I’m being rejected. Certainly not for the first time, though I usually like to beat them to the punch.

Definitely won’t be the last time I’m rejected, either. I’ve dealt with it all my life.

Thanks, Daddy.

“Maybe I’ll … see you later?” He says it almost hopefully, and the tone of his voice lights a flicker of hope within me as well. But then I squash it down and tell all that useless hope to go to hell.

“Maybe.” I shrug, taking a few backward steps. I need to get away from him fast. Standing too close allows me to smell him, really see him. His hair is mussed from the wind and I remember how soft it is. How the short strands curl around my fingers. And the dark stubble that lines his cheeks and jaw, how rough it is, like sandpaper. How I like to feel it brush against my skin. His hands are big and they know just how to move over my body, touching me in all the right places. Places I didn’t know even existed. His mouth, those soft, warm lips, that hot, insistent tongue … “Or maybe not.”

Max frowns and I feel an odd sense of pleasure seeing it. I want him to hurt as much as I’m hurting. Or get angry. It’s easier when we’re angry. Then the hurt is hidden and all I can focus on is how mad I am. “Don’t be like this, Lily,” he says, his voice low but firm.

I stop in my tracks, irritation coursing through my veins and making me want to yell. To rage and hit and scream. “Be like what, exactly? Suspicious? Uncertain? Irritated that you claim whoever that was calling you is involved with your work, yet you won’t tell me what you do?”

He takes a step closer, his hand automatically going for my arm, but I jerk away from his touch before he can reach me. “There’s nothing going on. What I do for a living is … confidential. I just can’t talk about it.”

“Oh, right. You can’t tell me what you do, but you can go ahead and fuck me by a waterfall in broad daylight where anyone can see us. That’s just great.” The sarcasm is thick and I want to smack him. Just pop him on the side of the head and tell him to go fuck himself.

“Keep your voice down,” he mutters, glancing around as if he’s afraid someone might hear us, but I’m too far gone for that. I couldn’t care less. And this time when he makes a grab for my arm, he’s successful, pulling me toward him despite my obvious reluctance. “Why are you so angry?”

“Why can’t you be honest?” I throw back in his face, immediately feeling guilty. I’m one to talk. I’ve been lying to him the entire time we’ve been on this stupid island. He doesn’t know who I really am or why I’m here.

His gaze darkens as he studies me and I swear, it feels like he can see right through me. See the lies and the façade that I throw up so no one can discover the real me. I have that wall up all the time but right now, in this very moment? It’s twice as thick and pretty much impenetrable.

“I don’t think you’d want to hear what I’d have to say if I was going to be honest with you,” he says, his voice a honeyed, Southern drawl, oozing over me and making me warm despite the ugliness of his words. “I think you much prefer those pretty little lies we all tell, now don’t you?”

My heart sinks at his knowing gaze. “I don’t like liars,” I whisper.

“I don’t either. Not usually,” he returns, letting go of me, pushing me away the slightest bit as if he can’t get away from me fast enough. I don’t like what he said, the implications behind his words.

I don’t either. Not usually.

Is he referring to me? Does he know somehow that I’m lying about … everything? Though I was honest with him. I wanted to open up. He’s the one who was so resistant.

“So is this it?”

I blink at him, confused. “Is what it?”

“This? Us? You’re pissed and you don’t believe me, so it’s over? You’re done with me?”

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