Authors: Locklyn Marx
He pulled back and looked at her. She could see the want in his dark eyes, and she could tell he was enjoying how much she wanted him.
“Hi,” he said softly, and rubbed his finger over her cheek.
“Hi,” she said, struggling to keep her voice even, to not let him see the affect he was having on her.
He just stayed there, looking into her eyes for a few more seconds, like he was deciding what to do with her next. She shivered again.
“Cold?” he asked, and ran his hands up her bare shoulders.
She shook her head, not trusting herself to speak.
“Me neither,” he said. He leaned back down toward her, and she tilted her chin up, praying he would kiss her like he was kissing her before. But just as his lips grazed hers, there was a knock on the door.
“Room service,” Chad said. He kissed her again, softly on the lips, then took a step back. “I’ll be right back.”
Kenley bit back the groan that was in her throat, and tried to calm her beating heart. She couldn’t believe how easily Chad just moved away from her, walking confidently toward the door like he could take her or leave her.
“Hey, man,” she heard him tell the bellboy. “No need to bring the cart in, I got it.”
She watched as he pushed the food into the room. Her heart was still beating, and she took a couple of more deep breaths.
“So,” Chad said, stopping a few feet in front of her. “You hungry?”
She swallowed. She
hungry. But not for what he was talking about. Chad picked up the dome from one of the room service plates and popped a fry into his mouth.
“I’m sorry,” Kenley said, standing up. “I’m sorry, I just… I have to go.” She readjusted her clothes. Her heart was starting to return to its normal rate now and she was starting to feel a little panicked. What had she just been about to do?
“What?” Chad looked confused. “But we –”
“I’m sorry,” she said again, and rushed out of the room.
Chad watched Kenley leave the room, every inch of him telling him to go after her. She seemed nervous or worried, like she was afraid something had been about to happen between them.
Which was understandable. Something
been about to happen between them.
That kiss! It had taken every ounce of his self-control to pull away from her. He still wasn’t sure how he’d done it. He’d never wanted someone so badly in his life.
Just let her go,
he told himself. If she wanted to be here, she would have stayed.
And if she didn’t, then he didn’t want to be responsible for making her do something she was going to regret. She seemed like a nice girl, a nice person, despite the fact that she was obviously messing with him about the whole Expera thing. He didn’t want to be responsible for causing her any kind of heartache, for sleeping with her just to prove to himself that he could, to mess with her just because she was messing with him. But still.
He looked at the hamburgers and fries on the tray in front of him, and realized he didn’t want to eat without Kenley. And before he could stop himself, he was out of the room, and rushing down the hall, determined to get her and bring her back.
She hadn’t gotten far – in fact, she wasn’t even at the elevator yet.
“Kenley!” he called, and she turned around. Her blonde hair was messed up from the kissing, and her cheeks were flushed. God, she was beautiful. He wanted to take her in his arms, to scoop her up and pull her close. They could lie in bed all night, they didn’t even have to do anything -- he would just hold her if that’s what she wanted. He crossed the hall in a few long strides. “Hey,” he said when he got to her. “You okay?”
“I’m fine.” But she looked down at the carpet.
“Okay.” Now what? He didn’t know what to do. Usually women weren’t running away from him. And if they were, it was part of some game they were playing.
“Um, do you want to come back in?” he tried. “I mean, we got that food and everything.” He gave her a warm smile.
“I don’t think that would be the best idea,” she said. She looked up at him and pushed her hair back from her face.
He waited for her to elaborate, but she didn’t say anything else, just stood there, staring at him with those big blue eyes. The urge to reach over and pull her close flowed through him again, but he held himself in check, because he knew right now touching her wouldn’t get him what he wanted. And what he wanted was to be back in bed with her.
He tried to clear his thoughts, to figure out what else to say, what he could do to get her to come back to the room. Finally, he decided it would be better to just go for the truth. Tell her that he knew she worked for Expera, and that he wasn’t expecting anything, that they could just talk, eat, hang out. It would take every fiber of strength not to try to get her clothes off, but he’d do it if it meant spending more time with her.
CLICK! CLICK! CLICK CLICK!
Before he could figure out exactly what to say, a clicking sound echoed through the hall. It was a sound he knew well, because for the past five years, he’d been trying to dodge it. A camera. A flash. A paparazzi.
He whirled around, looking for the offender, wondering how they’d gotten up to the penthouse when you needed a room key to use the elevators. It was probably some beefy looking guy from TMZ, or maybe a skinny, young twenty-something trying to break in to the business by getting a picture of the Brooklyn Heat’s first baseman.
But all he saw was that dumb kid from downstairs – the bartender. Which explained how he’d gotten up here – it probably wasn’t too hard for an employee to swipe a room key from somewhere. What a little fucker. If he’d wanted a picture, all he’d had to do was ask when Chad had been sitting at the bar.
“Hey,” Chad said, deciding to try to be friendly. You catch more bees with honey and all that bullshit. He moved toward the guy. “You want a picture with me, boss?”
“I’m not your boss,” the kid said, rolling his eyes. Then he tilted his head to the side, considering. “Although maybe I’m about to be.” He laughed uproariously then snapped another picture.
“What’s going on?” Kenley asked. She put her hand up to shield her eyes from the flash. This seemed to egg the bartender on, and he started snapping faster. He had one of those cameras that the real paparazzi had. Probably borrowed it from someone.
What a fucking tool.
“What’s your name?” Chad asked, struggling to keep his tone light.
“Louis,” the kid said. Which was completely stupid of him. He shouldn’t have offered his name up. Chad decided after all this was over, he was going to get him fired.
“Do you want an autograph, Louis?” Chad asked. “A picture with me for your facebook?” He gave the smile he used on people when he wanted something. It had about a ninety-nine percent success rate, and only failed when its intended victim was batshit crazy.
“Nope,” Louis said. He snapped another picture, then looked in the viewfinder, checking out his handiwork. “The Brooklyn Heat sucks ass.”
“Well, I wouldn’t say
Chad said, his instinct being to defend his team no matter what the situation. “I mean, yeah, we’ve had our struggles, but it’s a building year.
Did you see that we just got Lawson from the Devil Rays?”
“Lawson sucks ass, too,” Louis reported. He was still looking at the pictures he’d taken on his camera. He shook his head sadly, then looked up at Kenley. “You’re not very photogenic,” he said.
“What’s going on?” Kenley asked again, taking a step forward. She reached out and grabbed the camera out of Louis’s hand.
He looked shocked, and then he grabbed it back. “That’s mine.”
“You took my picture,” she said, “without my permission.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “So give it me the camera or else I’m going to have to call my lawyer, you little shit.”
Chad was impressed. Obviously she’d never dealt with crazed fans or paparazzi before, because everyone knew that the first rule was not to engage them. But still. Just a minute before she’d seemed shy and nervous, like she needed him to protect her, and now here she was, willing to go head to head with this guy.
“Taking a picture of a public figure isn’t against the law,” Louis said.
“I’m not a public figure,” Kenley said, “and I’m calling the police.” She reached into her bag and pulled out her cell phone.
“No,” Louis said,
not a public figure. But
Chad sighed, seeing where this was going. There was a time to play nice and a time to say fuck it. “Give it to me,” he said, and held his hand out for the camera. He made his voice sound menacing.
“No.” Louis shook his head and held the camera out of Chad’s reach. Chad just started, stunned. This was like something that would happen in seventh grade. And unfortunately, now he was going to have to kick this kid’s ass. Chad narrowed his eyes and started to reach for the camera, but before he could get it, Louis took off running down the hall. Chad raced after him, but even though he was faster, the kid had a head start, and the elevator doors closed before Chad could get there.
Shit. He thought about waiting for the next elevator, or maybe even rushing down the stairs and settling this in the lobby. But there would be people down there, an audience. And even if he
somehow get the camera back, someone else would take a picture of the altercation, or call in a tip to Page Six or something, which would defeat the whole purpose. Damn it.
“I’m so sorry,” he said, turning back to Kenley.
She was standing there, looking confused. “What did he mean?” she asked.
“About what?” He walked back down the hall toward her, still thinking about Louis. The manager – no, the
-- of the hotel was definitely going to be getting a call about this. And Chad was never staying here again.
“About you being a public figure,” Kenley said. “Are you really some kind of famous financial guy or something?”
Jesus, this chick had balls. Keeping up the charade even when the whole thing had been blown wide open. “Well, if we go back to my room, we can talk about it while we have our room service.” Now that he’d had a few minutes to calm down, to get his mind off how her skin felt, how her mouth had tasted when he was kissing her, he was able to be a little more charming.
“No.” She shook her head, and crossed her arms over her chest. Her blue eyes blazed. “Tell me now.”
He frowned. Either she was an amazing actress, or she really didn’t know. “You didn’t….Don’t you work for Expera?”
“Expera?” She shook her head. “No.” A look of horror passed over her face.
“Wait, is that… are they some kind of escort service?”
“No,” he said. A feeling of dread was starting to blossom in his stomach.
“They’re not some kind of escort service. They’re a shoe company.”
She gave him a blank look. “You want to invest in shoes?”
“No, I don’t want to invest in shoes! You really don’t know what I’m talking about?”
She shook her head again.
“But you had a folder!” he said. “At the bar, you had an Expera folder.”
“That folder was just sitting there.” She shrugged. “The bartender found it and gave it to me.”
He closed his eyes. This was unbelievable. The whole time, she really hadn’t known who he was. And more importantly, she didn’t even work for Expera. What a colossal fucking mess.
“You better tell me what the hell is going on,” she said. Whatever had passed between them in his room, the softness she had, was gone. And now she was just angry.
So angry that Chad knew he had to be honest with her. He sighed. “I’m a baseball player,” he said. “I play for the Brooklyn Heat. I have a meeting here, tomorrow, with the executives at Expera about a possible endorsement deal.”
Her mouth dropped. “And you thought I worked there?”
“Yes,” he said, “but that wasn’t the reason I was trying to – “
“Get out of my way.”
“Kenley,” he said. “Please, don’t – “
But she pushed past him, storming angrily down the hall toward the elevators. He followed her. “Listen,” he said, “I thought you knew who I was! I thought it was just a game we were playing.”
“A game?” she repeated, and pushed the button for the elevator. “You sleep with me, and then what? I get a chance to have sex with a big football star? Fun fucking game!”
“Baseball. The Brooklyn Heat is a baseball team.” Even as he was saying the words, he knew how completely ridiculous they sounded. Kenley stepped into the elevator. “Please, just come back to my room, let me explain.” He didn’t know what to say. He was completely out of his element, trying to convince a girl to stay. He had plenty of practice getting them to leave – but staying, that was something else altogether.
“You’re an asshole,” she said.
And then the elevators doors closed.
Kenley couldn’t believe this! Trying to sleep with her because he thought she worked at some stupid shoe company? What kind of a screwed up person
something like that? It was totally incorrigible. She pulled out her cell phone and wondered who she should call to tell about this. It was the kind of story that had to be shared, and immediately, before she forgot all the appalling details.
She scrolled through her contacts until she landed on her sister Melissa’s number.
Melissa would understand. Melissa would be completely outraged on her behalf.
Melissa thought all men were complete assholes.
“Hello?” Melissa answered, sounding sleepy.
And then Kenley realized it was almost midnight. “Did I wake you?” she asked.
“I think I woke you.”
“Of course you woke me,” Melissa said irritably. “It’s midnight.” “Shouldn’t you be out partying?” Kenley asked. “Or socializing in some way? Isn’t that what well-adjusted young adults with jobs do?” She was at her room now, and she slid her keycard into the door, and waited for the light to turn green. She turned the handle and slid into her room, shutting the door tight and locking it behind her.
“Not on a Tuesday night,” Melissa said and yawned. “Why are you calling me anyway? Shouldn’t you be out finding yourself?”
“Yeah. Isn’t that why you went to Florida to begin with?”
Kenley thought about it. It wasn’t about finding herself, exactly. It was about challenging herself, doing something she’d been afraid to do, shaking things up a little bit. But when she thought about it, it was actually pretty cliché. Going away on vacation after losing her job and getting dumped? All she needed was to get her hair cut and dyed, and she could be a romantic comedy. Not one starring Katherine Heigl, though. Kenley had always found her somewhat annoying.
“I didn’t come here to find myself,” Kenley said. She flopped down on the bed and started up at the ceiling. “I came here because I needed a vacation.”
“Whatever,” Melissa said. “You could have at least invited me.”
“I did invite you,” Kenley reminded her. “Remember? But some of us still have jobs. Some of us did the whole traveling around the world thing in their early twenties when it was acceptable.”
“Whatever,” Melissa said.. “So what’s up? Have you done anything exciting yet?”
Kenley hesitated. “Um…that’s kind of why I’m calling.”
She heard the rustle of the blankets, and pictured Melissa turning over in her bed, settling in for a nice long talk. “Shut up! Who is he? Did you sleep with him? Did he kick you out of his room?”
“Kick me out of his room?”
“Yeah. You know, since it’s only midnight. Like he didn’t want you to spend the night?”
“No!” Kenley said, appalled. Although she wasn’t sure why. Probably if she
slept with Chad, he
have kicked her out of his room. He was just the type to do that, the gross, don’t-worry-I’ll–call-you-a-cab type. Not that he would have had to call her a cab -- she was staying in the same hotel as he was. But the
of it was the same.