Read My Once and Future Love Online

Authors: Carla Krae

Tags: #my once and future love, #contemporary romance, #jacob and beth

My Once and Future Love (51 page)

BOOK: My Once and Future Love
13.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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From the moment Jacob declared his feelings,
there’d been all this pressure. He wanted an answer, our friends
wanted us to hook up, the press wanted my picture…it was all too
fast and out of control. I
hated
being out of control.

Mind made up, I left the stall, glanced at my
reflection in the mirror, and exited the restroom. Celeste stood
right where I expected, holding our purses.

“Ready?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

She led the way, pulling an access badge out
of her bag when we reached the security checkpoint. We were shown
to the dressing rooms by a guard and told to knock and wait. Bob
came out and smiled at her. He kissed her, then nodded to the door
for me.

“He’s in there.”

“So, you’re the one she was with last
night.”

He grinned. “Guilty as charged.” They walked
away.

I rolled my eyes and knocked on the door,
turning the knob. “You decent?”

“That depends on the definition,” Jacob
said.

He came out of the bathroom in low-slung
jeans, a towel draped around his bare shoulders. My mouth went dry.
Holy mother of abs…

“I, um…”

He smirked and grabbed a button-down shirt,
his muscles rippling as he slipped his arms into the sleeves. I
turned my attention to the guitar laying in the open case.

“New?” Great. Reduced to single syllable
words
.

“Just released this year. It was my birthday
present to me.”

“That’s nice.”

Did I miss his birthday this year? I’m sure I
sent a card. It was only a week after mine.

“Yeah. Beth…sit. I’m not going to bite.
Unless you ask me to.”

He took my hand and guided me to the velvet
sofa. I sat, not too close, smoothing my dress over my knees,
adjusting my coat, and did anything but look at him.

“So…” he tried prompting.

“So.”

“You came to New York. First time?”

“Nope. A lot of our business is here.” I’d
been here as his assistant, too, not that he remembered
.
I
pulled my hand out of his grip.

“Did you come just for work, or…?”

“No. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

“What did you have in mind?”

Shrugging one shoulder, I said, “I don’t
know…something easier. This is why I don’t do spontaneity. Celeste
took over in her usual way and it all snowballed out of my
control.”

“It’s only Wednesday, love,” he teased,
probably in an attempt to cheer me up.

I sighed, turning the band decorating my
right ring finger around and around. “I thought I could do the
romantic surprise thing, but I’m not ready, Jacob. I know it
seems…weird, to go at a slow pace after…before, but that’s all I
can do. I can barely wrap my head around it that you… I need to
pretend we’re regular people.” I finally lifted my head. “So, I’m
going to finish my work here and go home, and I’ll see you when you
get back.”

“What if I don’t want you to leave?”

“What are you gonna do, lock me in your hotel
room? That’ll make a good headline for the tabloids.” I got up to
leave, but he was faster to the door.

“Get out of my way.” I glared up at him.

“Make me.”

“This is childish, Jacob. Move.”

“Stop running. You decided to come here,
Beth. I had nothing to do with it.” He squared his feet and crossed
his arms over his chest.

I huffed, spun one-eighty, and plopped down
on the sofa, pouting, frowning at him and impatiently tapping my
foot.

He grinned and leaned against the door. “You
can be
such
a brat.”

“Learned it from you,” I spat.

He didn’t bite on my bait. “Sweetheart, how
hard is it to just spend time with me?”

“You’re not just you--there’s a whole world
of you. And I’m just me.”

“Ah, we’re back to my career again. What
should I do, Beth, quit?”

“Hey, I told you there were plenty other
better suited girls than me. I was fine where I was!”

“Really.”

“Yes, really!”

“Liar.”

I dropped my gaze to the guitar case.
“Asshole.”

“You wore a dress tonight.” He came closer.
“For me.”

“No. Celeste kinda forced me.” Plucking at
the red fabric, I asked, “Does this look like my style?”

“The color is quite fetching.”

“Who says ‘fetching’? Stop trying to change
the subject. I’m mad at you.”

“Are you really?” he asked, amused.

I stomped my foot. “Yes, dammit! You won’t
let me leave.” I pressed my back into the couch when he stopped
right in front of me. “What are you doing?” My heart started
pounding like it always did when he was this close.

He knelt on the floor. “I wanna see.” He
gently tugged on my arms. “Please? You came thousands of miles to
wear a lovely dress to my concert. You don’t want to hurt the
feelings of this pretty frock, do you?”

My resolve faltered. Jacob was better at the
puppy eyes and pout than most five-year-olds. Combined with his
velvety smooth, mildly English-accented voice, I was pretty much
doomed. That explained why I allowed him to pull me to my feet to
slide the coat off my shoulders.

Uh-huh.

****

His breath hitched, the sound barely audible.
The draped neckline of the dress dipped just low enough for an
alluring amount of cleavage, cranberry red silk highlighting her
fair complexion perfectly. His hands traced up her arms; he brushed
her hair back to reveal her bare shoulders. Her hair was longer
than he’d seen it in years. Taking a slight step forward, his arms
now had enough reach to trail his hands from her shoulders down her
back.

Her skin was still as soft as he remembered,
and broke out in goose bumps beneath his hands. She trembled. The
dress nearly exposed her entire back—he’d have to thank her friend
for picking it out some day.

****

I refused to look up at him, afraid of what
would happen if our eyes met, and sighed in relief when he let go
of me…until his hand cupped my cheek.

“Look at me, love.”

My eyes flicked up to nose level, then away.
My cheek felt hot against his hand.

“You have no idea how beautiful you are, do
you? You remembered to wear your hair down.”

“I-I didn’t have time to--”

It felt so good when he ran his fingers
through my hair.

“Beth… I’m going to kiss you.”

He leaned in. His lips barely brushed mine; I
pulled back. If I let him kiss me now, I’d never leave. He followed
my retreat and made contact again. I moaned and wrapped my arms
around his neck.

Someone pounded on the door. “Hey, Jake,
they’re going to lock you in, man!”

Bob’s voice.

Spell broken, Jacob stepped away from me,
running a hand through his hair.

“Alright, be out in a minute,” he called.

I put on my coat. He sighed and closed the
guitar case, latching the lid, then put on his jacket and slung his
bag over his shoulder. I held the door open so he could carry out
all his gear, avoiding his eyes again.

“Thanks. This way,” he said.

I nodded.

“Come back to the hotel with me.”

“I…”

“Please. We need to talk, Beth.”

True enough.

****

Outside, there was a lot of commotion. The
roadies were loading the equipment into a truck. The paparazzi
snapped shots of the band getting into their limos. Celeste and Bob
were putting on a show snogging for the cameras.

Jacob veered off to the left around the
truck, taking advantage of the distraction. His driver waited with
a Town Car with the rear door open.

“Where to, sir?”

He nudged Beth in ahead of him. “My hotel,
and make sure we’re not followed.”

“Was this the plan all along?” she asked as
they pulled onto the street. “To kidnap me?”

He rolled his eyes. “Flying by the seat of my
pants, love, like always with you.”

She opened her mouth to speak, when his cell
phone rang.

“Yeah?”

“Get away alright?”

Bob was a good friend. “So far. Thanks. Don’t
get too crazy tonight. We have a show tomorrow.”

“Hey, I’m the level-headed one, remember? So,
any progress?”

His eyes flicked to Beth. “Doubtful.
Tomorrow, mate.”

“Yeah. Good night.”

He put the phone back in his pocket. The
space between where they sat might as well have been a chasm.

“Who was that?” she asked.

“Just Bob.”

“Oh.” She looked out the window. “It’s
starting to rain.”

“It does that.”

They lapsed into silence for the rest of the
drive.

****

Jacob didn’t speak to me, just expected me to
follow through the hotel. Old habit, or deference to his temper, I
did. We hadn’t stayed here before, so I didn’t know the staff, but
they were courteous and professional. Must have been the dress,
because no one opened doors for me when I was a PA.

Once inside his room, he locked the door. I
waited while he set down his belongings and checked his messages.
He finally looked over to me and pointed at a chair.

“Sit.”

I sat.

“You don’t believe my feelings for you. Do
you?”

“Sometimes,” I answered truthfully.

He got a beer from the fridge and sat on the
bed. “Why not? I haven’t lied to you.”

“I know.” I paused. “I hadn’t seen you in
months. We were already in a weird place, then you show up saying
you love me? In present tense? What am I supposed to do with
that?”

“I didn’t want you to go in the first
place.”

“I had to.”

He frowned. “You still haven’t explained
that. How does a broken leg trigger a life change, Beth?”

I shook my head. “It didn’t.” The head injury
did.

“Then what? You’ve been holding something
back this whole time and I still can’t figure out what the hell
went on in your head.”

“It was
personal
.” I reined in my
temper, not wanting another argument.

“Yet, it made you bail on your best
friend.”

“My boss. We hadn’t been best friends in
years, Jacob.”

He shook his head. “You said you wanted to be
my girl. Has that changed?”

“I don’t know…. I don’t want to fight with
you.”

His temper deflated. “Guess we’re at an
impasse, then.”

I sighed. “Guess so.” I slumped in the
chair.

We sat there in silence.

“Wanna watch TV?” he finally suggested.

Worse things to do than that
.
“Okay.”

He moved to sit propped up by the headboard
and patted the bed. I hesitated a moment, then sat beside him like
old times. Like always, it was a king-size bed with the finest
linens, and comfy.

****

Jacob awoke first. He tried to stretch before
his eyes were open, and discovered a weight on his arm. Beth was
sound asleep, her head on his shoulder. The TV was still on,
showing the early morning news. He brushed her hair off her face
and smiled at how peaceful she looked.

Vulnerable.

He rarely saw her vulnerable. Hell, he didn’t
even know how she felt about him. She wanted him, but so did most
women in the world. She
used
to like him, at least. But,
that wasn’t enough anymore, not with how he felt now.

Her eyelids fluttered open. She tilted her
head up and gave him a tentative smile.

“Hi.”

“Good morning.”

She glanced at the TV. “Guess we nodded
off.”

“Mm-hmm. Hungry?”

“Yeah.”

****

I waited for him to go first. My leg was
draped over his, my curves pressed against his side. In his arms
like this, I could pretend the world consisted of just the two of
us, safe and warm.

“Beth…” he whispered, longing in his
voice.

Gazes locked, we migrated closer to each
other until our lips touched. Gently, at first, then with more
passion. He tightened his arms around me. I gasped for air. He
dipped his head to nip and suck on my neck.

“You make the most gorgeous little sounds,”
he said, and kissed me again.

“You keep saying that.”

Our passion escalated until his hand slid
under my dress along my thigh. I pulled away when his hand reached
my scar.

“No. Don’t!”

He removed his hand. “Okay, love, okay… I’m
not going to rush you into anything.” He stroked my hair in a
soothing way. I tried to calm down. “I’m happy havin’ you right
here.”

“Thank you.”

He smiled. “I do have a bit of
self-control.”

I blushed. “I know this dress is a
temptation.”

“You in anything is a temptation, sweetheart.
But, I’d rather be with you some place less…anonymous.”

“Oh. You’ve thought about…?” Were we really
going to talk about sex first thing in the morning?

He grinned, his expression a cross between a
leer and tender affection. “Yeah. Haven’t you?”

I dropped my eyes, my cheeks turning a deeper
crimson. It was the one part of our past I could never forget, but
I’d been avoiding thinking about it for years except in my dreams,
and those haunted me until recently.

****

He chuckled, knowing she wasn’t nearly as
innocent as people thought, and tilted her face up to kiss her
again, only to be interrupted by a knock on the door.

“Mr. Lindsey! The car will be here for you in
an hour. I’ve already ordered your breakfast. Mr. Lindsey!” His PA
rapped on the door again.

“Bloody runt can’t just make a simple wake-up
call,” he grumbled, detaching himself from Beth.

He stomped to the door and threw it open.
“Keep it down! Couldn’t you have tried using the
phone
!”

“I-I…you’re dressed… Uh, I didn’t think you’d
hear--”

“Well,
try it
next time if you want to
keep your job. Clear?”

“Yes, sir! I’ll just…go away, until the car
arrives.” The PA ran away down the hall.

Jacob tried slamming the door--it was the
type on a slow hinge so he couldn’t--then muttered something under
his breath and came back to her.

BOOK: My Once and Future Love
13.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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