All I Want

Page 29


A soft tsk sound comes through the phone before her suddenly irritated voice. “You can be so conceited, you know that? I didn’t mean I wanted to hang out naked.”
“Really?” I ask, unconvinced.
“Yes, really.”
“So the whole I’m-not-wearing-panties comment, what the fuck was that?”
She pauses briefly before responding. “Well, I mean, if we ended up naked, I’d be okay with that.”
“Just lock up when you leave. All right?” I’m done with this conversation, and this chick. Thank fuck that detective position will require me to move. I can’t deal with this shit much longer.
“God, whatever. Thanks a lot.”
I hang up and slip the phone into my pocket before grabbing the door and taking it up to the register.
Tessa’s car is gone when I get back to her apartment. This scenario is actually better than the one I was hoping for. Now I don’t even need to worry about waking her up while I do this, and not having her naked down the hallway should help me focus and get this done before too long. I’ll just need to meet up with her later to give her the new key, or I can leave it with that prick I talked to this morning.
That seems like the best idea. After what I allowed to happen yesterday, and the way I felt last night as I lay next to her, I need distance.
Lots of fucking distance.
I stretch my arms above my head as my eyes adjust to the light streaming in through my window. I’m on Luke’s side of the bed. No… not Luke’s side. Jesus. The other side of the bed that he just so happened to occupy last night. A thought filters through my mind that has me sucking in a sharp breath.
Oh, God. Did I cling to him like I used to do? Seeking his warmth and the feel of his skin against mine was something I craved, even in sleep. I’d always end up scooting closer, never realizing I did it until I’d wake up with my body practically embedded in his. Wanting that connection to him at all times, even when I didn’t do it consciously. But did I do it last night? Naked?
I cover my face with my hands and groan into them as I roll over onto my side.
You did, Tessa. You know you did.
But if I did, what did he do? Did he cuddle me back? Did he even look at me anymore after he abruptly ended our conversation? Luke was never one for PDA, but in bed, he indulged in tiny acts of affection. Even though he was probably only doing it to get comfortable, while I claimed as much of him as I could. Thinking it meant anything more to him was dangerous, comparable to handing over your heart and trusting him with it. The problem was, I’d wanted it to be true. I’d wake up with his arm draped over me, and his head buried in my hair, and I’d think… this is it. This is what it’s like to have all of him.

I don’t know if I got that side of him last night. The fact that I’m alone in bed could mean he didn’t even stay with me. And although I’m glad he isn’t how I’m used to seeing him in the mornings when he would sleep over, because that shit would seriously mess with my head, I need to talk to him. I don’t care how much he’s gonna hate it, we’re talking about last night. All of it.
I park in front of the garage and take the steps up to the landing, knocking on the door as my mind takes me back to the last time I was at this house. How nervous I was coming over here, thinking I was pregnant and not knowing what his reaction would be to that. In typical Luke fashion, my attempts to have an actual serious conversation were distracted with sex until I finally threw the question out between us that changed everything.
It’s crazy how you can love a person and hate them at the same time. It shouldn’t be possible, but I think the more you love someone, the easier they are to hate. I’m sure a lot of people can flip that switch and go from one extreme to the other, letting themselves forget every perfect moment as if it never happened, and look at the one person they held above everyone else as if they have no right to be on that pedestal. But apparently, I’m not one of those people. I left this house last summer hating the man I loved more than anything. Two emotions that have the capability to destroy me, and for the past year, I’ve let myself feel both.
The door opens and I tilt my head up expectantly, only to lower it a few inches as a slender blonde fills the doorway. She looks comfortable. Too comfortable, like she’s just rolled out of Luke’s bed and didn’t care what little clothing she grabbed before coming to greet me.
What the fuck? Does Luke have a chick living with him? My stomach rolls and drops out beneath me as I process why she would be answering his door.
A perfectly manicured hand goes to her hip where her fingers begin to strum the material of her camisole. She gives my outfit a scrutinizing once-over, pops the piece of hot-pink gum in her mouth, and gives me the look.
You know, the look girls give other girls when they’re staking a claim on a guy. That unspoken threat of “I will seriously punch you in your ovaries if you so much as look at my boyfriend again.” Yeah, that look, and it’s all the confirmation I need as the reasoning behind her presence becomes clear.
That fucking asshole has a girlfriend.
“Who are you?” I ask, concealing all the guilt and hurt I don’t want to acknowledge and only letting myself react to the overwhelming jealousy that’s coursing through my system. It’s a natural reaction I can’t ignore, one that has me sounding entitled to the information she’s about to give me as I mimic her position with a hand on my hip, but doing it in a classy way. I, unlike her, am at least wearing a bra.
Her plum-colored lips curl up sadistically. “Jolene. Who are you?”
Her eyes widen with interest. “Really?” She looks me over once more, this time with more curiosity. “So you’re the big regret, huh?”
My hand slips from my side as I stare, stunned and wounded from the sucker-punch she just delivered, because that’s exactly what it feels like. An unexpected blow from a chick who seems to know exactly who I am.
I struggle to keep my breathing steady, to seem unaffected by this, but I fear I’m failing as the air leaves my lungs in a shuddering rush. This shouldn’t upset me. I shouldn’t care what he labels me, but this, what I’m feeling right now, this is different, and I can’t act like I didn’t just hear those words slip past her fake-as-shit lips. I’m used to feeling certain emotions involving Luke, no matter how hard I’ve tried to push them away, but right now, my chest is pulsing with a new pain, something unlike anything I’ve ever felt, and I know it’s because the man that never once shared any of his feelings with me has apparently confided in this woman. She’s staring at me like she knows everything; all the secrets he kept from me, the parts of him I wanted that I thought were off-limits to everyone. Believing that made it easier, acceptable, at the time. But maybe it was just me, standing alone on the other side of the wall he put up.
I was the only one he wanted to keep out.
“Shocked he told me that?” She pops her gum again, looking almost proud of herself for knowing that information. “You know how guys like to open up after sex. Put ’em between your legs and they’ll tell you practically anything. And he had a lot to say about you.”
I could sulk right now, focus solely on the throbbing discomfort that’s causing my heartbeat to slow as if it’s struggling as much as I am. But the entitled look on this chick’s face, the way she’s practically begging me to cut her down to size—that I’m more than happy to put all my energy into. I’ve yet to meet a bitch that can outwit me, and I seriously doubt this gum-smacking bimbo is about to take that title.