Another deal.

“I am looking out for you.”

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I licked my lips, “I know.” I knew he thought he was, but it felt more like being controlled and I didn’t want any of that.

“I miss you, princess.”

I nodded, even though he couldn’t see me, “I know. I miss you too, beast.”

He laughed but it was bitter and sad, “I want to take it back. I want it to be like it was.”

I sighed, “I know, me too.” Guess I wasn’t the only one noticing the awkwardness.

I heard a bunch of people in the background yelling at him. He closed a door and whispered, “Do you think it feels like we can’t go back, because we’re supposed to go forward? Not like move on, but be with each other?”

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I wanted to shout yes, but I held my breath until I could keep it calm; it was my heart on the line not his. “No. I think if we ever went forward, it would be under a different situation. Right now, I’m pretty sure my GPA is taking a hard hit and you have to focus on the band. They need you and you need them.”

He sighed, “I know. It’s not good for business to have a mopey lead singer. I know how this works.”

“Is Gerry hounding you?”

He was silent for a minute, “Did you talk about me to Gerry? About how I would let the band down?”

I didn’t want to say no, because that wasn’t entirely true and I would never lie. “I’ve never told anyone you would let the band down. I don’t believe that’s a possibility. You’re a hard worker and a star. I believe in you.”

“You do?” he sounded surprised.

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Tears filled my eyes and I didn’t even know why, “Yeah. Of course, I do.”

“I gotta go.”

I was about to say bye when I heard the phone beep, like I’d lost the call. I stared at the blank phone and then went to bed. Sleep was better than constantly thinking about him. But my sleep betrayed me. I dreamt about him.

I was mid-dream when something cold was touching me, waking me up. I spun, almost leaping out of bed for my mace, but I realized it was Lochlan. His cologne and smell was in the air around me.

“What are you doing? Are you really here?”

He gave me a kiss on the cheek, “If this isn’t okay, I’ll go sleep with Danny in my bed.”

I pointed at the door, “It’s not okay.”

He brushed his lips against mine, every so slightly, touching his tongue to my top lip, “You’ll get over it.”

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I laughed, “Why are you home?” he always ignored the parts he didn’t want to hear.

He rolled me on my side, facing away from him and spooned me. “I told you, I would see you tonight.”

He kissed my neck and pulled me into him so hard, I was sure we would become one person.

“What’s changed?” I asked into the silent dark.

“I can’t live without you. I won’t. I’m yours, body and soul, and I’m done pretending we can be friends.”

I blink a tear down my cheek, “Fair enough.”

He took a deep breath of air from my neck, “Last night I had this dream. I was on stage, and I had a horrid feeling that you weren’t watching me sing. I woke up and the hotel room smelled… like sterile or something.” He took another long sniff of my hair, “I realized that it doesn’t feel like I’m inhaling all the way, unless you’re part of the air I’m breathing.”

I turned to face him, pressing my tear-stained face against his. My tears mixed with our kiss but I didn’t ever care. “I just want you,” I whispered.

He dragged my shorts down and then his. I pulled my tank top off. My warmth and his cold mixed, like my tears and our kiss. We slid against each other, caressing, but I was impatient. I climbed under him, forcing him between my legs. He kissed my throat as he pushed himself into me.

“You’re already wet.”

I nodded, “I was dreaming about you, when you woke me up.” He pushed into me hard, forcing a gasp from my lips. He filled me up, his light, his craziness, his body, everything. Even his demons made me feel whole, like they needed me. I wrapped my legs around his waist and let him make me feel complete. The touching and thrusting was slow and methodical. Every movement served a purpose.

“I love you, princess, with my whole heart,” he murmured into my ear as he bit my lobe.

I gripped his shoulders, pulling him onto me… into me farther, “Bite it harder.”

He moaned into my nape, “Why?” his words were breathy as his body thrust in and out of me.

I clung to him, “I want to make sure I’m awake, I think I’m dreaming still.” He had not just said that he loved me. I ignored the words and let everything be the dream I’d been having.

I felt him shake his head, “If it’s a dream, I don’t want to wake up either.” I agreed silently. I wanted the us that was okay in the apartment. I wanted the fantasy. The reality was, I would screw it up again.

Chapter Ten

Unspectacularly wrong

I woke to the smell of bacon. I smiled and climbed out of bed. His sweats and tee shirt were on the floor. I pulled them on and stumbled out of the room. My stomach was still in knots. I didn’t know what it meant, what we were. It felt too big to try to sort out. He’d said he loved me. I didn’t want to think about that. I liked that he’d flown home to see me. That was all I was going to focus on, that and the bacon.

But it was Danny frying the bacon when I got to the kitchen. He gave me a grin, “Someone went a little nutty with the cleaning this morning.”

I glanced at Lochlan cleaning the paint off the floor. He looked pissed. I rushed over, “I said no, it stays.”

He laughed bitterly, ignoring me, “Princess, remind me never to piss you off again. Seriously, this is some crazy, repressed anger. If you got it out more like I do, with daily flip outs, you wouldn’t go so crazy.”

I gave him a look and turned back to the kitchen, “Fine, clean it up, ass. Your daily flip outs aren’t any better, trust me.” I sat at the barstool and picked a piece of bacon off the plate, where it was sitting on paper towel.

He chuckled behind me, “At least when you do lose it, it’s a respectable effort.”

I snorted and chewed my bacon.

Danny gave me a look, “Dad called.”

I frowned, “Okay.”

“He wants us both home for Thanksgiving or they’re coming here, together.”

I shuddered, “Yikes.” Our parents together were a nightmare of epic proportions. I sighed and drummed my greasy fingers on the counter, “So home for Thanksgiving and Christmas?” I wasn’t sure I could do it. I hated flying, and I didn’t like it when they did the holidays as a family. It was awful. Two flights in two months would definitely be overdoing it for me.

He cocked an eyebrow, “You bringing him to meet the folks?” He grinned like he knew it would be a disaster.

I glanced back at Lochlan picking the duct tape off the couch, and smiled when he cussed and picked at tape bits. His eyes darted to mine. I shook my head, “I don’t think so.” Lochlan pointed at me, “Me and you aren’t done with the conversation that needs to happen about all this shit.”

I sneered and looked back at Danny, “He’s crazy. Bringing him home is going to be a disaster. No.”

Danny shrugged, “Too bad, I already asked him.”

I closed my eyes, as if holding them shut would hold back my annoyance, “You did what?”

He laughed, speaking loudly and winking at Lochlan, “Yup. He’s already booked the flights. He’s going to New York for the Tuesday and Wednesday before, and then meeting us in Grand Forks on Wednesday night. He booked our flights too.”

I swallowed hard, glancing back at Lochlan, “You sure you want to come for Thanksgiving? You have so much going on that week.”

He frowned, “You don’t want me to?”

I shrugged, “It’s kind of a big deal, meeting someone’s family. Thanksgiving is a gong show at our house. I just think that me and you need to go slower than that.” Like never leave the apartment.

He looked hurt, “How is it you can say shit like that and I’m the asshole in this relationship?”

I didn’t even like hearing him say relationship. It felt too big, too soon. I sighed and looked back at Danny with the death stare. He pointed at me, “Keep your shirt on, Er. He has a point. He’s sweet to you and you’re always an asshole to him.”

“Thank you, Danny,” he shouted from the paint stain.

I got up from the bar and walked back to my bedroom. We had gone from separate sides to snuggling and sex, and now he was coming for Thanksgiving. I wanted that, this. I wanted it right?

The door opened and he leaned against the frame of the door, “If you don’t want me to come, I won’t.”

I thought for a second, “I don’t want you to come. I want to see where we’re at, before we add other people.”

He shrugged, “I’m coming.”

I rubbed my face, laughing, “Why are you so difficult?”

He knelt at the edge of the bed, “You want me. You want to be with me, but it’s like you only want it here, in the apartment. Why?”

I held my hands over my face, “I’m scared of you out there.” I pulled my hands away and looked at him, “I’m scared to watch you be that guy. I don’t want to share him with the world. I just want him to be mine.” His face was stoic so I continued, “I know it’s a selfish shit thing to say, but when I was a little girl and I was daydreaming about the life I would have, this wasn’t it. Some girls dream about famous guys and fancy things. I dreamt about my own condo in Manhattan, fancy shoes and things I bought myself, a successful career as a lawyer at a firm in New York, and a BMW. I always wanted a BMW.”

His look darkened, “I’ll buy you a fucking BMW tomorrow. But you can’t choose how things are going to work out. You have to roll with the punches and try to take life in stride.”

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