Authors: Zara Cox
Tags: #Erotica, #Literature & Fiction
A strange look crossed over Cara’s face. “Water’s fine then, thanks.” She rubbed her hands over her thighs in a gesture at odds with her normally confident self.
Lexi’s trepidation increased as she went into her small kitchen. Why would Cara think Enzo was here? Had he told his sister about them?
Side stepping the broken porcelain on the floor, she grabbed glasses and two bottles of mineral water from the fridge and returned to the living room.
Cara had taken a seat on the large sofa. Opening her bottle, Lexi poured the drink and placed it in front of her. She didn’t touch her own water, too scared of choking if she tried to take a sip.
They stared at each other, Lexi certain the gaping surprise she saw on Cara’s face was reflected on her own. Cara got her emotions under control first.
“I’m sorry, Lexi,” she repeated. She heaved a deep breath and released it, as if satisfied the words had come out. “For the way I’ve treated you this last year, for being such a bitch to you. But especially for forcing you to make that promise never to see my brother again.”
Cara’s words had held her rigid but the last apology made her skin crawl with shame. “I—I...”
“I know about you and Enzo.”
For the second time in less than a minute, her mouth dropped open. “You do?”
“Yes. I’ve suspected for some time. I asked him about it tonight. He didn’t admit it, but he didn’t deny it either.”
“I’m sorry, Cara. I tried, but I couldn’t walk away from him.”
The younger woman shook her head. “I had no right to ask in the first place.”
“Yes, you did. Look what I did to you.”
Cara’s hand rose halfway to her face, but then dropped back down again. “It was an accident, Lexi. It’s taken me a long time to accept that. But it was a horrible, terrible
. And I’ve been wrong to blame you for it.”
“But if I hadn’t taken that drink—”
“I think I may have been to blame for that too. Maybe if I hadn’t riled you so much...”
“Forget it. It wasn’t that bad.”
“Oh come on, I wasn’t that drunk. I was a bitch because I was jealous and afraid you were taking my brother from me. I knew I upset you. Then I started at you with that truth or dare stuff. I got too personal, and I should’ve stopped when I saw you quietly freaking out.”
“Well, you did stop.”
“Obviously not quickly enough to keep you from swallowing a mouthful of that triple strength cocktail—”
Lexi’s hand flew to her mouth. “Oh my God, did you say
Cara paled. “You didn’t know?”
She shook her head.
Cara closed her eyes. “Oh God. Oh Shit.” When she opened then again, fresh contrition blazed in their brown depths. “We suspected the bartender was watering down our drinks. That’s why I went to the bar myself the last time, so I could watch him. When I complained, he added a couple extra shots for free. I just wanted us to have fun. I guess I did that.”
Lexi rose and went to sit next to her, relief that they were talking at last, and renewed pain at the tragedy they’d endured roiling through her. “No, please don’t blame yourself. No matter what I was feeling, I shouldn’t have drank that night. And when I did, I should’ve made us take a taxi. But I just wanted—” She stopped, unable to continue.
“You wanted to get back to see my brother?”
More pain ripped through her. She nodded, unable to hide the truth. “I was in a hurry. It made me reckless, careless. Maybe if I hadn’t drank, I’d have reacted quicker.” Tears gathered in her eyes. “
I’m so, so sorry, Cara.
Cara put her hand over hers and, when Lexi looked up, she also had tears in her eyes. “So am I,” she whispered. “Enzo told me tonight that I need to move on.”
Shockwaves careened through her again. “He did?”
She nodded. “We had a long talk this evening. He told me that I needed to move on to heal. I knew to do that I needed to ask your forgiveness.”
“Believe me, there’s nothing to forgive. Please. I should be asking for yours.”
“But the way I treated you, the promise I had no right asking you to keep.”
“I didn’t keep it, which shows how hopeless I am.”
A tremulous smile whispered over Cara’s lips. “I’m glad you didn’t. I think in a way, you helped my brother be strong for me.”
Sadness engulfed her. “I seriously doubt that.”
Cara shook her head. “The way you two feel about each other, I’m beginning to think nothing can ever come between you.”
Lexi wanted to tell her the only thing her brother felt for her was molten hot lust and an unquenchable well of desire which he felt obliged to tap into regularly. But even she knew nothing lasted forever. And sizzling hot sex by its very nature, would cool with time after which they would need other tools to make any relationship between them work. Tools they did not possess. Which meant, what was between them was doomed for inevitable failure.
Only she didn’t plan on being around to see it.
She put her feelings aside to hear Cara continue. “I hope I find a love like that someday.”
“I’m sure you will.” She tried to keep the bitterness out of her voice. It was better to let Cara believe Enzo loved her back. She couldn’t deal with the pity, or worse, the assurance Cara might give that Enzo returned her feelings. Lexi knew he didn’t, but the way she felt right now, any hope, even false hope, held a powerful attraction that could prove fatal to her emotions if she let her guard down.
Cara swiped a tear from her eye and pasted on a smile. “I fully intend to work on it.”
Something about the way she said it made Lexi pause. “You’re seeing someone?”
She gave an excited nod. “The doctor who’s going to fix my face. I think he’s got the hots for me.”
“You mean the one in the elevator?”
“Yep. He asked me out, on a platonic basis, of course. We can’t see each other while I’m his patient, but who knows what will happen after my operation. Anyway, I accepted. Fiona thinks he’s hot and I should go for it.”
A mixture of relief, surprise, and jealousy burned within Lexi. “I think you should, too. He seems really nice.”
“You think so?”
Glad they’d moved on from the distressing conversation, she nodded eagerly. “Definitely. I think you two will be great together.”
They sat in awkward silence for a minute, and then Cara jumped up. “I better get back. Enzo thinks I’m in bed. Don’t want him to return to find me gone. He’ll go nutty.”
“He’s protective because he cares about you.”
A sad look crossed her face. “I know. And I have given him reason to think he needs to take care of me. But I’m working on that. Hopefully, he’ll realize he doesn’t have to baby-sit me anymore.” She stood up, snatched up her bag, and headed for the door. “Umm, you haven’t been avoiding him by any chance, have you?”
Lexi’s heart missed a beat. “What makes you say that?”
“I heard him leaving a message for you earlier. He sounded a little crazy desperate.”
Lexi tried to laugh it off, but it sounded false in her own ears. “I’ve just been busy, that’s all.”
Luckily, Cara didn’t pursue the matter. “Okay. Do you want to grab a coffee sometime? Maybe we can go see Fiona together this week?”
“Sure. I’d like that.” She followed her to the door. “Take care of yourself, Cara. And I wish you all the best for the future.”
Cara frowned. “That sounds like you’re saying goodbye or something.”
She cursed silently. “I’m not. I just meant for the surgery. I hope it all goes well.”
“Oh, yes. Thanks, Lexi.” She hovered on the doorstep as if she wanted to say something else. “See you around,” she finally said.
With leaden feet, she went into the living room. Sinking down onto the sofa, she stared into space, silent tears streaming down her cheeks.
At last, she’d cleared the air with Cara. But any relief or joy she’d anticipated remained elusive. Like when Fiona regained consciousness, she realized she’d relied on what the effect her reconciliation with Cara would have on her relationship with Enzo. So he’d told his sister about them. Big deal. What had she expected? That he’d rush to her condo and tell her they could be a proper item now? Declare his open and undying love for her now Cara knew about them and they didn’t have to hide any more?
She choked down another sob before it could emerge. From what Cara said, he’d only done it to help his sister move on with her life. Like always, his precious sister came before everyone else.
With her, it was
all about the sex, nothing else.
She needed to remember that and stop foolishly hoping. Swiping a shaky hand across her eyes, she picked up the glasses and bottles and took them into the kitchen.
A sob escaped her when she saw the shattered glass on the floor.
That was how she felt – broken beyond repair.
Fiona reclined, propped up against pillows, with the late afternoon sun on her closed eyelids. At first, Lexi thought she was asleep, but at the sound of the door shutting, she blinked awake.
A smile lit up her pale face. “Hey, this is a lovely surprise. I didn’t know you’d be stopping by today.” After almost a year of disuse, her voice sounded scratchy. In contrast, her blonde hair looked freshly shampooed and healthy.
Lexi bit her lip and tried to maintain the smile on her face. “I know. But I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d see how you were.”
She berated herself for the half-lie.
After giving in to an hour-long crying jag last night, she’d dragged herself to bed and endured a sleepless night. She’d woken up this morning with a thumping headache and a firm decision. Whether she got the New York assignment or not, she had to leave LA. It was time to move on.
But before she did, she needed to say goodbye to Fiona.
Fiona gestured to her bed with a grimace. “As you can see, I’m still bound to this thing. I’m not even allowed outside to see what the world looks like after a year.” Her gaze flew to Lexi’s. “And don’t you start crying or apologizing again! I’ve had enough of that from you already. I may not remember anything after we left the nightclub that night, but I know you wouldn’t have risked our lives deliberately. Shit, why am I telling you all this again?” Frustration tinged her voice.
Guilt gnawed at Lexi, but she curbed the need to ask her friend’s forgiveness one last time. “Anything I can do to make you feel better?” she asked instead.
“That depends. Do you have any makeup in that bag of yours? I mean proper makeup, not lame-assed lip-gloss. I could do with, like, a serious makeover. There’s a male nurse I’ve got my eye on.”
“Fiona!” Surprised laughter erupted from Lexi.
In the three weeks since waking, Fiona had continued to surprise her. If Lexi had expected the younger woman to be despondent about being in a coma for almost a year, she’d been disappointed. Fiona had reacted as if she’d merely taken a long nap and constantly demanded to go home. Her doctor and parents had their hands full devising ways to keep her in hospital until all the requisite tests were done.
“What? I’ve faced death and survived it, and missed out on a year’s worth of sex. So pardon me if I want to make up for it, pun intended.” She sighed, then sobered. “I just want to live what’s left of my life. And if I can’t go home yet, if I have to stay in this godforsaken place, then I want the eye candy to appreciate me. What’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing, I guess.” Everyone had their own means of dealing with trauma. If this “seize life” attitude was Fiona’s way of coping, who was she to argue? She pulled her bag off her shoulder and opened it. “What look were you thinking of?”
“I suppose sexy slut’s out of the question,” she laughed. “Okay, let’s aim for, I-may-look-fragile-but-I-can-still-give-you-a-chubby!”
Laughing, Lexi perched on the side of the bed. Fifteen minutes later, she stepped back. “What d’you think?”
Fiona took the mirror off the bedside stand and studied herself. “Hmm, not bad. I like that lipstick. Think I can convince Nurse Hottie to jump into bed with me when he brings me dinner tonight?”
“Without a shadow of a doubt.”
Her blue eyes lit up. “Spoken like a true friend.” She put the mirror down. “Now, you wanna tell me why you’re really here?”
Feigning innocence crossed her mind, but she decided against it. Fiona deserved better than that. “I came to say goodbye. I’m leaving LA.”
She nodded, as if she’d somehow suspected it. “Right. Cara succeeded in running you outta town, huh?”
Lexi gasped. “What? No—”
Fiona waved a feeble hand at her. “No need to pretend with me. We both know Cara. As much as I love her, she can be a selfish bitch sometimes. I have a feeling she’s made your life hell these past months. My parents told me you two never visited me together; I’m not even gonna ask what that was all about, although I can guess. Look, I feel sorry for what’s happened to her, to all of us, but that doesn’t give her the right to dictate your life. If you don’t tell her to fuck off, I—”
“You’re wrong. Cara’s not the reason I’m leaving. I—she came to see me and we talked, settled some things. We’re okay now.”
Fiona raised freshly plucked brows. “Then why…? Ah, it’s the
For someone who’d been in a coma for so long, Fiona seemed exceptionally sharp. “Yes,” she responded.
“Leaving town seems so drastic, not to mention melodramatic. Can’t you save yourself a shit-load of shipping money and air-fare and talk to him, like you did Cara?”
“No. I get the feeling talking is the last thing on Enzo’s mind.”
Fiona pursed her lips and flicked an impatient hand through her hair. “Damn! I guess when it comes to thinking with their cocks nothing’s changed in the past year, huh? I couldn’t believe it when Cara told me he called off your engagement. You two were so crazy about each other. But I still think leaving town sends the wrong message. If I were you, I’d stay, find another guy, and rub what you could’ve had in Enzo’s face. That’ll set his thinking straight.”