Hi friends! So I know it isn’t Tuesday, but whatever! It’s the same deal. 😀 And – we have a new release TT Feature today! Played just came out on the 25th! Beverley Kendall was kind enough to share an exclusive with ALBTALBS, so I hope you enjoy it! Congratulations on your newest release, Beverley! And y’all – read the whole post for a freebie at the end! 😉
And it was.
Until our casual hookups stopped feeling casual.
Having sex with him stopped being just about sex.
And the thought of calling a halt to it left me feeling empty and cold.
But Josh doesn’t “do” relationships, so I called it quits before I started to fall. Luckily, I was able to move on from the experience completely unscathed, my heart fully intact.
Or so I thought.
Until I saw him again.
His arm was wrapped around her. And unlike me, she isn’t a hookup or a “booty” call.
No, she’s the girlfriend he told me he didn’t want. And she’s getting from him everything he’d said he couldn’t give any girl.
So it turns out that Josh isn’t averse to being in a relationship after all. He simply hadn’t wanted to be in a relationship with me.
I’m in the zone, my muscles looser, my breathing even and my emotions calmer when the chirping of my cell phone sounds. It’s on the dresser where I left it, too far and inconvenient to warrant me getting up to answer it. I let the call go to voicemail.
Not even ten seconds after it stops ringing, it starts again.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” I mutter crossly. It can’t be Paige. She said she’d talk to me tomorrow. She’s probably already in bed with her fiancé doing what two people crazy in love with each other do. But I’m not jealous. And it can’t be my parents because they’d have called the house phone. My phone—which I pay for myself—doesn’t have international calling and they know that.
As I’m sifting through who it could be, the phone begins chirping for the third time.
Good lord. “Persistent much?” That’s when I cave and haul my thoroughly comfortable ass out of my warm bath. Dripping wet, I snag one of the oversized towels from the nearby shelf, swiftly wrap it around myself, and dash into the room to answer the call.
“Hello,” I snap. Yes, I’m annoyed and I don’t care who knows it.
“Did I catch you at a bad time?”
My heart lurches at the sound of that voice, familiar and resented all at once. I instinctively clutch the ends of the towel tighter, making sure it’s secured in place. “Josh.” It’s a statement not a question.
“Nothing’s wrong. What do you want?” I ask flatly while ignoring the crazy butterfly action going on in my stomach.
“You want me to call back? It sounds like I caught you at a bad time.”
“What you caught me doing was taking a bath so I’d appreciate it if you’d hurry and tell me what you want. I’m getting cold.”
What follows is a long pause. Then he asks in a rough voice, “Are you telling me you’re naked right now?”
I almost smile at that, but things stopped being funny half an hour ago. “Get your mind out of the gutter.” He has no right to talk to me like that. He has a girlfriend. She’s pretty, blonde and petite. She now has a claim on him I never did or ever will. And I’m pissed at how much it hurts. “I’m wearing a towel.”
After another pause, Josh clears his throat but says nothing. At least nothing intelligible.
“For the last time, Josh. What. Do. You. Want?” Goosebumps have formed on my arms and a trail of water is winding its way down my back.
“Call me after you’re done showering.”
I let out a huff of impatience. “I’m done. Now what?” That said, I head back into the bathroom to drain the tub.
“Then call me after you get some clothes on.”
“It’s not as if you can see me.”
At more silence, my impatience grows. “Come on, Josh, spit it out. You haven’t contacted me in over a year so this must be important,” I say as I reenter my bedroom.
You free tonight?
I’ll pick you up in an hour.
No, I’ll meet you at your place.
I’ll be waiting.
That had usually been the length and vein of our phone conversations.
“Chloe plans to call you.”
Ah, now his call makes sense. He’s trying to head things off at the pass.
I plop myself on the edge of my bed and stare down at my bright red toenails and water-wrinkled toes.
“What about?” He doesn’t need to know that Paige has already given me a heads-up.
“First of all, she likes you.”
He sounds annoyed by that, which is almost enough to put a smile on my face.
“At least she has good taste in some things,” I reply smartly.
“Only some things? You sure about that? Because I remember you having a taste for a lot of what I had to offer,” he shoots back but immediately follows it up with a curse and, “Forget I said that.”
“What? Forgot about your girlfriend already?” I can’t help the sarcastic dig.
“She doesn’t know about us.”
“Oh I got that alright.”
“And for some reason she’s gotten it into her head that you and her brother will hit it off. I tried to talk her out of it, but she’s—” He growls low in his throat. “She’s insistent.”
I laugh as if I’m hearing it for the first time.
“You think this is funny?” he asks, clearly not pleased.
Now I’m genuinely amused. “Don’t you?” Surely, there must be some semblance of a sense of humor rattling around in there. Even if it’s a morbid one.
“Whatever,” he snaps. “Just make sure that when she calls, you tell her thanks but no thanks.”
My back snaps straight. “I’m sorry, but when did I start taking orders from you?” He seems to have forgotten who he’s dealing with. I take orders from no man. Not anymore.
“Ah c’mon, Erin, you know it would be nuts.”
Of course it’s nuts but not for the reasons he’s thinking.
“What’s the problem, Josh? Afraid she’ll find out about us?” I goad. “What if I promise not to say a word of it to her brother?” I have zero intentions of going out with him but Josh doesn’t need to know that.
“You were the one who didn’t want anyone to know.” His tone is accusatory, his voice tight.
Irritated, I stand and remove the hairband from my hair, its heavy weight falling onto my shoulders and down my back. “It’s not the same and you know it. She’s your girlfriend and you’re keeping something from her I’m sure she would want to know. I know I would.”
“I’m supposed to tell her about every girl I’ve ever slept with?”
My breath catches and fingers contract around the towel as an ache radiates from my chest. For a second it hurts to breathe.
See, that’s who you are to him, just some girl he fucked.
The water has dried on my skin and goosebumps no longer cover my arms, but a new chill has set in. I steady my breath before calmly saying, “No not every girl, just maybe the one she wants to set up with her brother. But don’t worry, Josh, I have no intention of going out with anyone remotely connected to you, so you don’t have to be such a jerk about it. But hey, you do you. You always do.”
And because there’s nothing left for either of us to say, I hang up.