Authors: Nova Raines
Kaidan clears his throat, and I jump, realizing he’s just sitting there, staring at me with those intense eyes.
“You like the view?” he asks.
“I do. My mom used to take me and my brother to the beach a lot.” I don’t know why I just said that. I never talk about my mother.
“Really? I don’t remember mine… my mom.”
I furrow my brow. “Did she…”
“Die? Yeah. When I was young. Drugs.” He presses his lips together in a thin line.
“Mine too,” I say tightly. My mom was a Hollywood legend in her time—the highest paid young actress—so I’m sure he’s heard the story of her overdose. But I never once remember reading anything about his mother during my
stalking in the past few days. I’m curious about her, but I won’t pry. This is getting awkward, and talking about dead moms isn’t the best first date conversation.
“So,” I say. “I’ve never been here. It’s nice.”
He looks relieved at the change of subject. “Oh? I come here a lot.”
“No. For pleasure.” His eyes darken when he says it, and I flush and look back out at the water.
I’m relieved when the waitress shows up with a tray holding a lowball glass for Kaidan and a tall red drink and water for me. She’s an older lady, middle-aged, a faded beauty who probably came here twenty years ago in search of fame but never left. Every time a new wave of young beautiful hopefuls arrive in LA, they shatter the dreams of the last wave. My mom’s own acting career was slowing down when she took her life. Was her age and fading beauty the reason? God, I’m morbid right now.
The waitress gives me a warm smile that I struggle to return, then looks at Kaidan, her eyebrows high. “You going to introduce me?”
My eyebrows shoot up to match hers. Who would’ve thought he’d be all friendly with the waitstaff? He doesn’t seem the type. Guess he really meant it when he said he comes here often.
“This is Hayley,” he says.
“Well, welcome to Georgie’s! I’m happy to finally meet one of Kaidan’s friends,” she says, winking at him.
I glance at Kaidan, and he shifts uncomfortably in his seat. Does he always come here alone? And if he does, why’d he bring
“Now what can I get for you two?” she asks.
“I’ll take my usual,” Kaidan says brusquely. “And she’ll have the same.”
The waitress leaves, and I take a swig of my fruity drink. It’s strong, so I take another big gulp. Did Kaidan really just order for me like I’m a child?
“What’d you get me?” I try to keep my voice light, but I’m prickly as hell. “Does it come with crayons and a toy?”
Kaidan trains his eyes on me and sips his drink. “Did you
crayons and a toy?”
I bristle. I’m getting really tired of everyone making decisions
me. My whole life’s been a movie that someone else has directed. I’m sick of it.
“I know how to read a menu.”
“You know, most girls aren’t focused on the menu when I take them out.”
Most girls. Like all my doppelgangers. Why’d he have to bring that up? I take another drink, letting the sweet burn of it course down my throat. “Yeah? Well, I’m not most girls.”
He cocks his head to the side, considering me. There’s no trace of anger on his face. He looks more amused than anything. “Yeah, I think I’m starting to realize that.”
“And you? Are you like most guys?” I push my hair out of my eyes and take another drink, challenging him with my gaze.
His amused expression fades. “What do you think?”
“I think I don’t know anything about you.”
“Really? The whole world knows about me.”
“I doubt they know the
you.” Oops. That came out bitchy.
His brows come together, exposing a flash of vulnerability, but it’s gone so fast I’m not sure I saw it.
“What about you?” he asks, dodging my barb. “What does the world know about Hayley Wade?”
“It knows I’m the daughter of Razor Wade.” The darkness I’ve been battling threatens to overtake me, and I glance out at the ocean and take a deep breath of the salt-tinged air.
He waits a beat before answering. “I’m sorry about your dad.”
“I’m not.” I slam my mouth shut, but it’s out before I can stop it.
Kaidan’s eyes widen, but he doesn’t answer.
“I’m not sorry because he sent me away so he didn’t have to raise me.” I say, digging the hole deeper. It’s the first time I’ve told the truth in a long time, and just saying it makes my chest lighten. “My dad only cared about his career, his drugs, and his women. Yet he controlled every aspect of my life—from my boarding school roommates to the college I
to attend. When I disobeyed him or pissed him off, he found ways to punish me… all without ever talking to me. His assistants used to call me with my punishment of the week. I never asked for this… this
. And now I…”
I stop there, nearly spilling the truth about the will. I can’t tell him about Serena’s diamond, because if he knows that, he might figure out why I was upstairs in his mansion during the party.
The waitress shows up with our food, and I rub my forehead, suddenly embarrassed about my outburst. I sound like a pathetic, emotional train wreck.
The food turns out to be a gourmet fish sandwich with skinny seasoned fries. I take a quick bite, trying to ignore Kaidan’s silence as the waitress walks away. It’s freaking delicious, a thousand miles away from a fast food kid’s meal. Kaidan has good taste.
I swallow the bite of sandwich down and finally meet his eyes. He’s staring at me intently, and he hasn’t touched his food.
“This is really good,” I say, trying to sound happy.
There’s something in his eyes, something in the way he’s looking at me. He reaches a hand across the table and grabs mine.
My whole arm tingles from the touch, and my breath quickens as all the feelings from before return.
“Not a lot of people know what it’s like to grow up with this,” he says carefully, his voice low.
I don’t have to ask what he means. The fame. The paps. The bullshit. I just nod.
“But you know,” he says. “And I know. I get it. Believe me… I get it.”
I study his face, and it’s so open, so genuine, that I know he
get it. For the first time, I wonder if I totally misunderstood him. What would it be like—being the son of a famous record label CEO—being in the position to inherit an empire like that?
“I heard… I heard your dad announced he was giving you the record label at the party?”
I didn’t hear it; I read it on
. Apparently his father announced it while I was busy trying to steal a diamond.
“Yeah. He did,” Kaidan says, clipping the words short. He draws his hand away.
My fingers reflexively extend, craving his touch, and my stomach turns. I want that moment back. Did I say the wrong thing again? I should never have mentioned his dad. Why haven’t I learned yet?
He takes a bite of his sandwich and chews it slowly, taking his time. I dig into my food, too.
Long minutes stretch by, and I watch the ocean while I eat, my heart sinking lower and lower, until it falls out my feet and crashes onto the sand below. There are these fleeting moments with Kaidan, where I feel completely at ease and calm… but I have no idea know how to capture them and keep them. Or maybe it’s all in my head. And there’s nothing there. But then why did he ask me to lunch?
The rest of the deck has filled up during the lunch hour, and a few people are gawking at us, including a table full of middle-aged women who share enough silicone and Botox between them to start their own clinic. Kaidan’s too involved with his sandwich to notice, so I give everyone staring a big, wicked grin. The women titter and go back to stirring their martinis.
Kaidan settles up the check, and I grab my purse and follow him back down through the restaurant to the parking lot.
By the time we get into the car, whatever feelings I had for Kaidan are gone… or successfully repressed. I feel completely numb. I saw him one more time, it didn’t work out, and now it’s out of my system.
Kaidan gets into the driver’s seat and shifts the car into gear. “Is your car parked where it was last time?”
“Yeah. Level four.”
My ghettoized car. I don’t want him seeing it.
I take a deep breath and stare out the window as he drives me back. I’m not imagining the awkwardness this time. It’s palpable.
When we reach the parking garage, I hold a hand up. “You can just drop me here. I didn’t see any paps this far down.”
He pulls over to the side of the road, and I reach out to open the door. “Thanks for lunch.”
Kaidan clears his throat. “Wait. I’m sorry I shut down back there.” His jaw is tense, like it’s costing him a lot to apologize, and my resolve to put him behind me cracks. I want to know him, to understand what he’s all about. I want more of those
“Don’t worry about it,” I say.
“Seems like I’m saying sorry to you a lot today.”
I hesitate, unsure how to reply. “At least you care.” My voice comes out small, and I wish I’d said something else.
“What you talked about back there,” he says, “about never asking for this life?”
I let go of the door handle and lean toward him a little, resting against the console between us. “What about it?”
“I didn’t ask for it, either. I didn’t ask for my dad to choose me over my brother. I didn’t ask to run a record label.”
My eyes widen, and I reach out without thinking, resting my hand on his leg. “You don’t want it?”
He stiffens and swallows but doesn’t look at me. His hand drops off the stick shift and finds mine. He squeezes it, and my breath catches, butterflies dancing in my stomach. Touching him has flipped a switch. The tension between us isn’t awkward anymore.
He runs his hand lightly up my arm, making goose bumps appear. When he turns to me, his eyes are dark.
“Maybe I’m not sure what I want,” he says, his voice deep, husky.
My heart speeds up, and I swallow. “Who says you have to be sure?”
He lifts his hand to trace a line from my earlobe down to my chin. My eyes half-close, and I lean into his touch. I can’t help it. I want it. I need it.
He cups my jaw in his hand and moves so close his lips are almost touching mine. He’s searching my eyes, like I have the answer to his problems.
My nipples harden against the thin bra I’m wearing, and I’m waiting, waiting to see what he’ll do next.
“I’m sure about this” He presses his lips to mine, softly at first, then with more force, like he’s hungry for me but holding back. I lose myself in him, in the gentle rhythm of his kiss. When he pulls away, I’m warm and tingling all over, my heart racing. I may have felt numb earlier, but now I’ve never been more awake.
That was nothing like the fevered make-out session we had at the mansion. It meant something…
I take a deep breath, trying to get control over my roiling emotions.
He sinks back into his seat, looking straight ahead. A small smile plays across his mouth, and I really want to kiss him again. He reaches out and takes my hand.
“You’re different, Hayley.”
It takes me a second to get my breath back to answer him. “I’ve heard that before. Are we talking good different or bad different?”
“Definitely in a good way.”
I flush with pleasure at his words and lift my free hand to my mouth, still feeling the ghost of his lips lingering on mine.
“You say what you think,” he continues. “You’re real.”
I stiffen, the warmth draining out of me. I’m real? If only he knew I was trying to rob his house when he found me upstairs. What would he do if he ever found out about my
“You act like you’re surprised.” I try to play it off, try to hide my sudden fear.
“If you knew how many girls I…” He trails off and smirks.
“How many you… what?”
“How many girls I had to turn down to find one like you.” He leans toward me and gives me another soft kiss.
I respond with more intensity this time, and the kiss takes on an urgency. His hand moves to my leg and squeezes, and I touch his chest, feeling the curves of his muscles, the beat of his heart beneath his shirt. As his tongue finds mine, warmth blooms inside me, radiating through my core. I feel high as he wraps one hand in my hair and draws me closer, plunging his tongue into my mouth, making the space between my thighs ache with wanting.
I trail my hand down his shirt, letting it come to rest in his lap. He’s hard under his pants, and as I firmly trace the outline of him, he lets out a groan against my mouth.
He releases my hair and pulls away slightly. “Come over here,” he commands, and adjusts his seat.
The lust in his voice sends my pulse soaring, and I throw myself over the console between us and twist so I’m straddling him.
He pulls my head forward, crushing his lips to mine, seeking my tongue with his. I grind against him, and he grunts with pleasure. I’m in a haze as his hands slip under my tunic to wrap around my lower back. He kneads the dimples at the sensitive juncture of my hips and ass, and the sensation sends new waves of heat coursing through me, all of them flowing toward my center. I
him inside me.
He grows harder beneath me as my movements against him quicken, and I let out a sigh as my clit rubs him through our layers of clothing.
His cock is the only thing that can soothe the aching space between my thighs, and I know I’ll fuck him right here, right now, if he wants it. I don’t care who sees—I don’t care about the consequences. I pull back a little, and his eyes open, intense with dark desire, and I know he wants what I want.
I kiss him again, deeper, and fumble with his belt. Flashes go off outside the car window, blinding us.
The paps are here.
I wrench away from Kaidan, lifting a hand to hide my face while I scramble back into my seat. Once there, I hastily retrieve my sunglasses from my purse and put them on. These sharks just ruined a perfect moment, and I hate them for it. I won’t give them a good picture.