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Authors: Delaney Diamond

Tags: #seattle, #billionaire, #friends to lovers, #family series

Just Friends (9 page)

BOOK: Just Friends
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Then she did the unthinkable. She pointed the
gun at her son. He’d closed his eyes, ready to die. Without his
father, he no longer had a reason to live. But nothing
happened.

Then he opened his eyes. His mother’s eyes
filled with tears, and whatever demons she’d fought for years
finally won. She put the gun in her mouth, pulled the trigger, and
blew the back of her head off.

Trenton couldn’t remember much else after
that. He vaguely remembered crying out—his own voice
unrecognizable. He ignored his mother’s inert form and flung
himself across his father’s motionless body. The life-sustaining
liquid gushing from his chest covered Trenton’s arms and saturated
his clothes. He’d never forget that day for as long as he
lived.

“Come on, shake it off,” Trenton said to
himself.

He stepped out of the shower and took a big
blue towel off the towel warmer, dried off, and wrapped the towel
around his waist. He swallowed two ibuprofen and looked down at his
phone. A text from Alannah showed on the screen. He hadn’t even
heard the message notification, he’d been so distracted by the
memories.

At dinner with Connor. Will call you
tomorrow.

Trenton stared at the message. No matter
what, they always called each other back. He braced his hand on the
counter. The headache that beat against his skull exploded and
helplessness overwhelmed him.

“Shake it off,” he repeated.

He rushed into the bedroom and snatched up
his second cell phone, the one he used for the women he dated and
other people who weren’t family or part of his close circle. He
scrolled through the names, selected Beth, and hit Call.

A breathless female voice answered on the
first ring. “Trenton?” He could see her now, with a long, silky
weave and perfectly made-up face.

“Hey, baby, how are you?” He rubbed his
forehead, hoping the pain medicine kicked in soon.

“Fine. I didn’t think you’d call.”

He forced himself to chuckle. “Why not?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t heard from you since
the last time we hooked up.” She sounded uncertain. “But I’m glad
you called,” she added in a rush.

“I’ve been busy, but I’m free tonight. How
about you?”

“I am. Definitely free.”

“Good. Put on your sexiest outfit. I’m coming
to get you.”

“Where are we going?” she asked, excitement
adding even more breathlessness to her voice.

Trenton thought for a moment. He should get
away for the weekend and do some partying. “Vegas.”

“Oh my gosh, Trenton. Really?” she
squealed.

“Really.”

“For the night?”

“For the weekend.”

“So you already have the tickets?” She
sounded skeptical, as if she didn’t believe the trip would actually
happen.

“We’re not flying commercial. We’ll use one
of my family’s smaller planes for the trip down.”

“Oh my gosh!” she breathed.

He laughed. Her excitement was
contagious.

“What should I pack?”

“Don’t worry about all that. Just be sexy
when I pick you up. We’ll buy everything else you need for the
weekend when we get there.”

“Ooh, baby, I can’t wait to see you. I’m
going to do something very, very special for you.”

He could only imagine. Beth was a very
talented young woman.

“I’ll be there in an hour. Make sure you’re
ready, or I’m leaving without you.”

“I’ll be ready in thirty minutes!” she
promised.

They disconnected the call and Trenton went
to the huge, custom-designed walk-in closet. He hit a button on the
wall and his wardrobe scrolled by on a metal loop. When he saw the
pieces he wanted to wear, he released the button and removed the
shirt and slacks.

He sprayed on cologne and dressed in a
forest-green shirt that he knew brought out the green in his eyes,
and dark slacks. Checking out his reflection in the mirror, he had
to admit he looked damn good. Tonight, this weekend, he would enjoy
himself and get rid of the negative thoughts.

He smiled at his reflection, rolled his
shoulders, popped his neck, and headed out the door.

 

Chapter Ten

Alannah was staring through a
microscope at tissue samples when the loudspeaker in the lab
crackled.

“Alannah Bailey, you have a visitor.”

She lifted her head, frowning. She wasn’t
expecting anyone. A few coworkers glanced in her direction.
Checking the wall clock, she saw that it was almost lunchtime, a
good time to take a break anyway.

She removed her gloves and tossed them in the
appropriate receptacle and exited the lab. In the hall, she ran
into Connor.

He grinned broadly at her. “Hi there. I had a
great time this weekend.”

“I did, too,” Alannah said. As always, Connor
had been a perfect gentleman.

After a rooftop dinner at Hard Rock Cafe,
they’d gone down to Pier 57 and taken a ride on the Seattle Great
Wheel and used the time in the long line to chat with another
couple they’d ended up sharing the gondola ride with. Afterward,
the four of them had walked to one of the bars on the waterfront
and had drinks.

“You have lunch plans?” Connor asked.

“No, I don’t.”

“Care to join me? I only have thirty minutes
to spare today, so we’ll have to eat in the dreaded cafeteria.” He
shivered.

Alannah laughed at his theatrics, covering
her mouth with her hand. “That’s fine. I’ll suffer through it.” She
glanced at her watch. “I have a visitor, but I can meet you in
say…five minutes or so?”

“Sounds good. I’ll see you then.”

Smiling to herself, she took the elevator to
the first floor. She stepped out of the cab and pulled up short
when she saw Trenton leaning on the front desk, chatting up the
security guard. Today he wore a black Italian suit, shiny black
shoes, and an aqua and green striped tie over a crisp white shirt.
Of course, the sight of him made her stomach flutter.

Taking a deep breath, she approached.
“Hey.”

“Hi there.” He grinned, looking as if he was
happy to see her.

“What are you doing here?” She stuck her
hands in her lab coat.

“I came to eat lunch with you. I thought we
could have lunch in the cafeteria.”

“You hate eating in the cafeteria.”

“Says who? I’ve never said that.”

“Last time you ate here, your exact words
were, quote, ‘I’m never eating in this nasty-ass cafeteria again,’
end quote.”

He frowned. “You really need to do something
about that sharp memory of yours. It’s way too good.” He smiled
again, in a really good mood. But why wouldn’t he be, after the
weekend he’d had? “I just want to hang out, that’s all.”

“I’m not introducing you to him,” Alannah
said in a low voice, so the guards couldn’t hear her.

“What are you talking about? Who? I came to
have lunch.”

Yeah, right.

Alannah stalked away from the desk to one of
the glass walls in the lobby. Trenton followed, and she swung
around on him. “I know you. You’re not here to have lunch with me.
You’re here to meet him, but you might as well leave, because I’m
not introducing you.”

“Why the hell not?” No more smiling.

“Because I’m not. I already explained all of
this to you.”

“Makes me wonder if there really is a
Connor,” Trenton said, watching her closely.

“Goodness me, I’m
so
sorry that every
time I make a move, my relationship isn’t splashed across the
magazines and blogs like yours. Looks like you had a fabulous time
in Vegas.”

She’d promised herself she wouldn’t bring it
up, but every time she saw him with one of his buxom bimbos, it
bugged her. According to the gossip blogs, he and Beth had made
quite a splash in Sin City, spending the entire weekend in the most
expensive suite at the Wynn hotel. One photo showed Beth standing
over his shoulder at a poker game where Trenton had allegedly lost
five hundred thousand dollars. But their schedule included more
than gambling. They’d partied until almost daylight at one of the
clubs at the hotel, and the next day indulged in hours at the spa,
getting pedicures and his and her massages. The online article
detailed everything they’d done, including the thousands of dollars
spent on meals, drinks, and in the clothing stores along the Wynn
Esplanade.

“Listen—”

“No, you listen. You don’t get to tell me who
and when I can date. You obviously don’t listen to anything I say.
I have no idea what you see in that brainless headcase, but that’s
your choice. I guess you only like women who giggle and stroke your
ego.”

“She’s not as dumb as she looks,” he
muttered, sliding his gaze away from hers. At least he had the
grace to be embarrassed.

“Yeah, right. Do whatever you want, Trent. I
couldn’t care less.” Alannah crossed her arms.

“If that were true, you wouldn’t be so
mad.”

You have no idea why I’m mad.

“I have to go.” She stared across the lobby
at the employees and guests filing in and out of the building, but
refused to look at him. “Was there anything else?”

“Are you going to look at me?” He stepped
close and brought his face to hers, forcing her to look at him.
“She’s nobody.”

Nothing had changed. Nothing would ever
change. There were dozens of nobodies in his past, and there would
be dozens in the future. Tears welled in her throat, but she held a
tight rein on her emotions.

“She likes you a lot, but you’re playing
games with her feelings. You don’t know…” She swallowed and took a
shaky breath.

He kept his eyes trained on her. “Fine, I’ll
leave her alone.”

“It’s not her, it’s just…everything.”

She stared down at the speckled tile and bit
the inside of her lower lip. She wanted to tell him that it hurt to
see him having such a good time with another woman. True, she
hadn’t been available, but did he have to flaunt his relationships
like that?

Neither of them spoke for a long time, and
Trenton shoved his hands in his pockets. “You have a good time
Friday night?”

“Yes.” She didn’t look at him. “You have a
good time in Vegas?”

“It was okay. I would have preferred hanging
out with my favorite girl, but she had plans with another man.”

She heard the smile in his voice and lifted
her gaze to his. The words pulled at her heartstrings, but she had
to stand firm. “I can’t be at your beck and call all the time.
Whenever you want to do something, I’m just available.”

“I see.” His eyes grew hard. “Connor takes
precedence now, is that it?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t have to,” he ground out. Rubbing
the back of his neck, Trenton glanced out the window. His eyes came
back to her. “What is it about this guy that makes him so different
from the others?”

“He’s a good guy. A really good guy.” But
that wasn’t what was different.
She
was different, because
she had to break the hold Trenton had on her heart. “He opens doors
and is extremely polite. He has two older brothers, but he’s the
one who moved back home to help take care of his invalid mother. He
hired a nurse for her, but when he leaves work, he goes home and
takes care of her, reads to her, and keeps her company in general.
When he’s not doing that, he does Meals on Wheels, runs marathons
for charity, and works with other non-profit organizations.”

Trenton frowned. “What is he, a saint?”

“Like I said, a good guy. And he noticed
me.”

“You get noticed more than you realize.”
Trenton’s voice sounded terse, irritated.

Alannah snorted. “Right.”

He kept his eyes on her. “So what about this
weekend? You’re coming, right?”

This weekend Trenton performed at The
Underground, a low-key club with a devoted customer base, owned by
one of his frat brothers. Underground hip-hop artists and local
bands received good exposure and found ardent fans there. Normally
she never missed one of Trenton’s performances, but she didn’t know
if she could stomach it this weekend. Not with the pictures of him
and Beth burned into her retina. The women falling all over him at
the club would only sicken her more.

“I don’t think I can make it.”

“Why not?”

“I have plans,” she said, unable to think of
a lie fast enough.

“Break them.”

“I can’t.”

“You seeing Mr. Perfect again?” A muscle in
his jaw tightened.

“Maybe.” They hadn’t made any formal plans,
but she was certain they could find something to get into.

“I’m performing.”

“I can’t, Trent.” Her heart hurt.

“Lana, come on. You never miss our
performances.” His gaze held hers, eyes angry but pleading at the
same time. “You were his last weekend. This weekend you’re
mine.”

The words constricted her heart like tight
bands. If he’d let her, every weekend, every single day, she’d be
his.

Alannah picked at a thumbnail and let out a
breath of resignation, hating herself for being so weak. “Fine,
I’ll come.”

Maybe going out with Trenton wouldn’t be so
bad, and The Underground was a good place for her to see if the new
and improved Alannah could garner more male attention.

Trenton released a relieved breath. “I’ll
pick you up.”

“Sure. The usual time?”

He nodded. “I’ll see you Saturday.”

“Saturday.” Her eyes darted away from his. “I
gotta go.” She rushed away without looking at him again. Couldn’t
risk it.

This weekend you’re mine.

She blinked rapidly before the tears burning
the back of her eyes could fall.

 

Chapter Eleven

“I need a favor.” Trenton
spoke from the doorway of Cyrus’s office. His brother, the chief
executive officer of the family’s beer and restaurant empire, stood
in front of the minibar and gulped water, dark skin covered in a
thin film of sweat. Every day he came in early to work out in the
company gym, and Trenton had stopped in before he became too
entrenched in the workday. “I need you to have your guy look into
someone for me.”

BOOK: Just Friends
11.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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