Never Tied Down (The Never Duet #2) (7 page)

BOOK: Never Tied Down (The Never Duet #2)
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   If Kalli truly was the costume designer for a show shooting here, I’d have my opportunity to confront her. It just wouldn’t be today.

   I stood up straighter, squared my shoulders, and turned to return to set.  The entire time I was walking through the soundstage I was telling myself I’d have my chance, that I’d get the opportunity to speak with her, I just had to keep my cool until then.

   When I walked up to the set, with its lights blazing and people standing around waiting for me to get my head on straight, my director turned to me and asked, “You ready to work?”

   “I’m ready, boss.  Sorry for the delay.  It won’t happen again.”

   He looked at me for a few seconds, seeming to decide if he believed me or not.  But finally, he nodded and said, “Glad to hear it.”  Then he yelled to everyone else on set, “Places.  Let’s roll, people.”

   And I was back in business.

 

   It was dark when I left the studio that night.  Scenes ran long, although thankfully I wasn’t the only one holding up production, and the weight of the director’s disdain landed on someone else not long after I’d tried to shrug it off.  It had been a long day, full of mistakes and mishaps, having to reshoot scenes for idiotic reasons, and trying not to let aggravation seep into my performance.  Sometimes I found myself thinking about how modeling was so much easier than acting.  Modeling, although it came with its difficulties as well, sometimes was just as easy as standing in a certain pose and staring at the camera.  Acting, especially on film, was a whole different animal and it came with an impressive list of difficulties, hurdles, and a steep learning curve. 

   I pulled my coat closed around me again, the chill in the air quite a bit more biting now that the sun had set.  I thought that the next day I should wear a cap, or a scarf.  I knew it wouldn’t get too cold in LA—snow wasn’t even on my radar—but the early mornings and late evenings warranted warmer clothing.

   I made it to my truck, climbed in, and started the engine, blasting the heater.  The windows fogged a little, showing the age of my truck, so I sat and leaned my head against the back of the cab.

   Kalli was here.  In LA.  Working on the same studio lot as me.

   Most of me wanted to be really happy about the news I’d learned, but the majority found a way to be crushed instead.  My mind thought back to the coffee shop that afternoon, remembered what I’d seen of her, just the golden trail of her long blonde hair falling down her back against the denim jacket she was wearing.  I’d seen, poking out from under the table, a little brown high-heeled boot on her foot, and that image alone sparked hundreds I had stored inside my brain.  Memories I’d only allowed myself to ponder in deep moments of complete masochism. 

   I remembered her blue eyes staring down at me, her hair making a veil around us as she hovered, both of us naked, me inside of her, watching as she moved.  The pink of her lips matching the exact shade of her cheeks, her creamy skin with a hint of the flush caused by her arousal.

   My eyes drifted closed as I remembered the way she felt wrapped around me, how her heat enveloped me, spurred me on, and made me lose control on more than one occasion.  Sex with Kalli was addictive and she was so receptive to being taken, it was difficult to be around her and not simply want to take.

   My dick grew hard as I sat in the parking lot of my job, and the realization that I was hitting a new low washed over me.  I wanted her so badly, but it seemed I was the last thing she was interested in.  My hands gripped the steering wheel and I watched my knuckles turn white.  How stupid could I have been?  She’d pushed me away months ago and I was still hanging on to hope that her rejection was only temporary. 
Fuck me
.  I swiped my hands down my face roughly, threw the truck in reverse, and hauled ass out of that parking lot.  I aimed my truck at the bar down the street from my apartment, planning to walk home when I was good and drunk.

 

 

Chapter Six

Be Invisible

Kalli

   I’d developed a routine since arriving in LA.  I went to work and stayed on set when possible, ignoring my desire to explore the studio lot.  I was afraid if I wandered, I’d wander right into Riot.  Therefore, in an effort to avoid such an instance, I stayed on set or at the Coffee Bean right next to my soundstage.

   I knew it was ridiculous.  I knew eventually I’d run into him and things would be awkward.  But I was willing to postpone the painful experience as long as possible.  So I kept to my private studio, the set, and the Coffee Bean.  When the day was finished I hauled it back to the studio apartment I’d rented.

   November had brought some unusual rain to LA, so I was run-walking all the way into the coffee shop and didn’t stop at the register to order.  Instead, I headed directly to my table, which was usually empty because people on a studio lot in LA weren’t there to sit and have a relaxing cup of coffee.  People ordered to go and left with as much haste as they came in with. 

   I dropped my bag on the chair and shook out my coat, and only when I lifted my eyes to the tabletop did I see the piece of paper folded up and lying flat atop it.  The paper had my name scrawled across it and I knew it was his handwriting.

   I picked it up, then looked around.  My eyes darted around the coffee shop, wondering if he was inside, or just outside.  If he was watching me at that moment, or was someplace far away.  My hands started to tremble, knowing that if I saw him I just might lose my composure.  I wasn’t ready to face him yet.  Somewhere in the back of my mind it occurred to me that he must have known that, which was why he left me a note but didn’t stick around to watch me read it.

   I sat down, holding the paper in my hands, wondering if I had the will to even open it or not.  I hadn’t opened a single card that came with the flowers.  I knew myself.  I knew that if I opened the note, whatever was written inside would alter me.  Would affect me.  No matter what the note said, it would change me.  I also knew myself well enough to know I wasn’t over him.  Sure, I was better off than I had been weeks ago, but there was a part of me that believed I would never truly be able to move past him.  So his note would either break me by telling me to move on, or force me to take action by telling me he wasn’t over me either.  I wasn’t comfortable with either one of those scenarios. 

   No, I liked the smooth sailing I’d encountered since moving to LA.

   I went to work, I did my job, I went home.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

   Knowing Riot had been here, been right at this table, jostled something inside of me, and I found the courage to open the paper.  My eyes drifted over the paper, catching single, insignificant words, then hopped around some more until I finally closed them, took a breath, and started reading the note from the beginning.

  

 

Kalli,

   I saw you sitting at this table one day, and I’ve seen you almost every day since.  I know why you sit in the back, facing away from the door, not near any windows, and I’ve tried to respect that.  I’ve tried to allow you the invisibility you’re obviously looking for.  So, every day I come to this coffee shop, I take in the sight of you, and then I leave you to the solitary bubble you’ve created.

   I get it.

   I don’t know if you knew I worked here or not, but, in case you didn’t—I work here.  Just on the next lot over, actually.  It didn’t take me long to figure out where you worked after I saw you, so I imagine it couldn’t have been hard for you to find out the same information about me.  That only leads me to believe you knew I worked here but were trying to avoid me.

   Again, I get it.

   But I don’t like it.

   So, I’m giving you fair warning.  When I come in tomorrow, if I see you sitting here, I’m going to approach you.  I’ll sit down and say hi, and you can respond however you’d like, but I hope you’ll talk to me, Kalli.  If nothing else, I miss talking to you.  We used to talk so often.  I’m just asking to have a conversation with you.

   If you don’t want this to happen, I suggest you find somewhere else to be invisible.

   But I’ll find you there, too.

   Love,

  Riot

 

   Shit.

   I put the paper down, closing my eyes and leaning my head back to face the ceiling.  If I was being really honest with myself, I knew this would happen.  I knew coming to LA meant seeing Riot.  I didn’t, however, think that he’d contact me in quite that manner.  It was just like him though, putting my needs first and giving me an out.  Kind of.  He told me I could find another place to go, to not come back to that coffee shop, but that he’d eventually find me and make it happen.

   Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that all along he’d just been biding his time.

   That sent a shiver through me.

   He couldn’t be dissuaded.  He could be put off, but only until he was done waiting.  I knew that. 

   I pulled out my phone, and in just moments I heard Megan’s voice on the other end.

   “Kal, what’s up, lady?”

   “I got a note from Riot.”

   “What?” she asked, sounding genuinely shocked.  “What did it say?”

   “Basically, it says that he knows I’m here, and that he wants to talk to me, but he’ll give me more time if I need it.”

   I expected at least
something
from Megan; she was rarely quiet.  But all I got was thick silence.

   “Meg?  You there?”

   “I think you should talk to him.”  Her words were firm, but also hesitant.  She knew her opinion was going to possibly rub me the wrong way.

   I sighed.  “I kind of figured you were going to say that.”

   “Look at it this way, you might never be ready to talk to him.  You might never feel ready.  But he will wait forever.  He will hang on to the hope of you until he breathes his last breath.  And that’s not fair to him.  So, if you’re not planning on talking to him, trying to work things out, at least tell him that much.  Let him off the hook.”

   The thought of Riot waiting for me, silently watching me, standing by until he thought I was ready for him, made something clamp tight around my heart.  The thought of telling him to move on, telling him I’d never be his again, well, day after day that thought caused me pain. 

   “I don’t know if I’m ready to talk to him yet.”

   “Do you think you’ll be ready soon?”

   I shrugged then said, “Maybe.”

   “
Maybe
,” she said with emphasis, “Riot is the one thing you need to move on completely.”

   “I don’t know if you’re right,” I said slowly.  “But I’m also not sure that you’re wrong.”

   “When you see him, you’ll know.”

   “You think?” I was hopeful.  Even though I was unsure about seeing him, after months of being in the proverbial dark it would be nice to feel sure of something.  Of anything.

   “Is what you’re doing now working?  Are you thinking of him any less?  Is avoiding him, even though you’re in the same town, moving you forward?  Listen,” she said, her voice suddenly softer.  “You don’t have to jump back into a relationship with him.  You don’t have to do anything you’re not ready for.  But seeing him, talking to him, perhaps even talking about Marcus, that might help you, sweetie.”

   “Okay,” I said, my voice matching her softness. “You’re probably right.”

   “I usually am,” she replied, her voice conveying the smile I knew was on her face.

   “Your husband’s a saint,” I said, now laughing. “I don’t know how he puts up with you.”

   “He totally is,” she agreed.  Then she sighed.  “Patrick knows what he’s got, and he knows he’s got it good.  And I feel lucky to have him too.  That doesn’t mean I’m wrong any less.”

   “I want what you have.”  My voice was suddenly a whisper.  “I’ve wanted it for so long, Megs.  I’ve just told myself it wasn’t possible, that it would end badly, that I would hold someone else down and then they’d leave, and I’d be even more broken than I was when I started.”

   “Sweetie, I’m almost positive that Riot will give you whatever you want, but not if you keep hiding from him.”  Then, as she had a tendency to do, she lightened the mood.  “I only hide from Patrick when there’s some sort of sexual game going on, and even then I don’t hide well enough for him to not find me.”

   I laughed, even as an errant tear slid down my face.

   “What if I just end up pushing him away again?”

   Megan let out a loud laugh.  “Honey, you let Riot back in, there’s no way he’s going to let you push him away again.  Not out of fear.  Trust me, Kals.  Just talk to him.”

   “Okay,” I said, breathing the word out, hoping to push out some of the fear with it.   “How is life in Portland?” I asked, trying to move the conversation away from me and the myriad of issues she and Ella were constantly helping me cope with.

   “Oh, you know, same old.  It’s really rainy here, but that’s no surprise.  Getting colder.  What are your plans for Thanksgiving?”

   “I don’t have any.  I was just going to stay here, get some Chinese food.”

   “Do you get time off?”

   “Yeah, I’m off Wednesday through Sunday.”

   “You should come to Lincoln City.  Ella and Porter are hosting Thanksgiving at their beach house.”

   The last time I’d been in that house I’d slept with Riot.  I’d fallen in love with him in that house.  It would be torture to be there again if I didn’t figure my life out.

   “Maybe, I’ll see what I can work out.”

   “Okay, well, we all want to see you.”

   I smiled because I knew she was being sincere.  “I know, Megs.  I want to see you guys too.  I’ll try to make it work.”

   “Okay.  I’ve got to get back to the store now, Kal.  Do you think you’re gonna talk to Riot?”

   “Yeah,” I said softly.

   “Good.  Call me if you need me after.”

BOOK: Never Tied Down (The Never Duet #2)
2.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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