Cadence looked so sad all of a sudden. I knew I’d hit on a painful subject. I suspected as much when I forced her into the conversation. I’m not sure what came over me, but when her face paled, and tears began to flood her eyes, I had to kiss her. Leaning closer, I lifted her chin with my finger. When she didn’t pull away, my spirit was bolstered. As I drew near, I pressed my forehead to hers while digging deep for the courage I needed. “May I?” I asked quietly as I stared into her eyes.
She closed them and tears dripped down her cheeks. She nodded slightly. When I didn’t move, she whispered, “Yes.”
I knew it wasn’t me. I figured there was some memory eating at her. Even though I wanted to hear all about her past, all about what had shaped her into the person I couldn’t stop thinking about, I didn’t want to pry. Oh, but I would. “Help me understand, Cadie,” I murmured against her cheek as I brushed my lips over her smooth skin.
She inhaled sharply. “What’s to understand?” Her voice had taken on a faraway quality and I guessed she was already lost in another memory.
I kissed a trail to her ear. “You,” I whispered. “I want to understand you.”
Live on 1/29. Preorder for only 99 Pennies on Amazon:
I’ll be the first to admit I completely failed at Teaser Tuesday. Forgive me?
Here’s another taste from Stay…
I rolled into the room at a breakneck pace, and managed to come to a stop some inches before I would’ve crashed into the desk where I’d left my purse. My hands shook slightly as I opened it and hauled out my Kate Spade planner. The damn thing had cost me almost a week of rent, but as much as I used it, I considered it a bargain. When paired with my phone, I was completely unstoppable.
Only right now, I didn’t want to go. I was afraid of returning to my apartment, which was already a constant reminder of my shortcomings and failures…all 249 square feet of it. Sure, when I had a job, I could think of it as a rest stop on my road to greatness. When I was terrifyingly unemployed, it was my tomb. Seriously, I once discovered that sarcophagus sites at the local cemetery were larger. Jordan was quick to point that out a little over a month ago when he’d appeared suddenly at my door to pick me up when the bus I usually rode broke down and I was going to be late.
“Good God. You live here?” He stepped inside the door and looked about while behaving as if he were afraid poverty was contagious. “What is this…like two hundred square feet?”
“Two hundred and forty-nine,” I corrected while rubbing my forehead.
“Wow. We just stuck my mother in a mausoleum. It was three hundred and seventy-eight square feet.” Then as we stood waiting on the elevator, he leaned low and murmured, “So, when you die, you might get a bigger place. Something to look forward to.” And he clapped me on the back while laughing.
“Man, I hate that guy,” I muttered under my breath as I collapsed on the chair. Hot tears stung my eyes, but I refused to cry.
“Thanks?” Xander had quietly moved to my side.
I rubbed my eyes before fixing them on him. “I thought you were taking a shower.” I sighed.
“Because you told me to?” He laughed. “I do what I want.”
“Cool, Cartman.” I looked away. “And for the record, I wasn’t talking about you.”
“Whew.” He blew out a breath and leaned against the desk before he stiffened. “I mean, whatever. Love me, hate me, makes no difference to me.”
I snickered. “You may want to work on the tough guy act.”
“Hey, Cades, it’s no act. I’m tough.” He removed his shirt to display an abundance of tattoos across his back and biceps. Xander nodded my way like this was proof.
“That’s pain tolerance, which has little to do with being tough, genius.” I crossed my arms over my chest.
“Let’s agree to disagree. So, who do you hate?” His head tilted and I found myself distracted by the delicious looking spot at the base of his neck.
“Jordan.” I huffed.
“Oh, your boyfriend.” Xander stood and stretched. I could feel him pulling away.
Making a face, I shook my head fervently. “Ew. No.”
He casually sat on the edge of the desk. “No? Then…what?”
“My boss.” I sighed. “Actually, Jordan is my ex-boss.”
“Everyone hates their boss.” His chest puffed out. “This is why I work for myself.”
“Not all of us have that luxury, Xander.” I huffed. “Some of us struggle to survive in LA and would do whatever it takes to make that happen.”
His brows rose.
“Not me, mind you. If I was that girl, Jordan would still be my boss. And I would’ve let him paw all over me. And I wouldn’t have ended up on the side of the road.” I babbled in frustration now. “And I wouldn’t be in a missile silo with a sprained ankle…”
“And you never would’ve met me.” Xander blew out a breath.
I ran a hand through my short dark hair then licked my lips before responding, adding an extra second of thought before I spoke. Naturally, it didn’t help. My feelings spilled out. “Why wouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t I? Your fucking greed cost me my dream.” I crossed my hands over my chest and turned away, stalking toward my front door and away from her.
Soon, the sharp tap of her stilettos sounded on the pavement behind me. I stiffened, but when I continued to ignore her, I hoped she’d take the hint and leave. “What can I do, Xander? How can I fix this?”
I whipped around and threw my hands in the air. “You can’t!” My heart raced and blood rushed to my face as the humiliation of the experience washed over me. My eyes closed, I spoke in a low voice, “Just go.”
“I don’t want to go. We need to talk about this.” Lexi tossed her long blonde hair over her shoulder and stared at me with those pleading blue eyes of hers. She knew what she was doing. Normally, I’d melt. I’d take her into my arms, and soon we’d be in my bed, making up. She stared up at me through her lush dark lashes. “Please,” she whispered in her sultriest voice.
This time, I stiffened, feeling more than a little manipulated. “No. My career is over. My life is over.”
Lexi huffed. “The two are mutually exclusive. You can have a life and build a new career. We can do this together. So…being a solo artist didn’t work out.” Her nostrils flared as she spoke. “There are tons of bands out there who need a lead singer, a guitar player, someone with your stage presence. They need Xander Cross.”