Until Fountain Bridge
Why the hell were you talking to him like you know him?”
Oh dear God, Joss knew him? For a moment I felt absolute panic take over me at the thought of history repeating itself for my brother. But I remembered this was Joss, and despite her flaws, she would never be disloyal. I only had to watch the shock fall across her features at the discovery of who Gavin was to realize that whatever this was, it was a big misunderstanding.
Well, at least on Joss’s part. I sneered at Gavin.
“He’s a trainer at my gym,” Joss explained. “He helped me once.” She looked up at Braden and as she promised him she had no idea who Gavin was she let her feelings for my brother all hang out. I knew she probably didn’t realize it, would even be mortified if she thought for one second she was making herself transparent. However, I was glad to see it and wished Braden wasn’t so riled up because he didn’t even notice it.
“Looks like you moved on to better things, Bray.” Gavin peered at Joss in a way that made my skin scrawl and I saw Adam’s shoulders tense in front of me. “Here’s hoping history repeats itself because I’ve wanted between her legs for fucking weeks. How about it, Joss? You fancy shagging a real man?”
I’d never witnessed my brother hit someone but he was on Gavin before anyone could stop him. Adam tried his best, but I knew there was a part of him that didn’t want to pull Braden off the sleazy little traitor. But he did, only just managing to keep a grip on Braden when Gavin said something so crude I almost threw a punch.
By the time security came to drag Gavin out, I thought Adam was going to let Braden go just so his own arms were free to start swinging. And poor Joss. I watched with concern as Braden, bristling with adrenaline and anger the likes I’d never seen in him before, hauled her out of the main club and up the stairs into his private office.
I didn’t even want to know what was about to happen in there.
Instead I stood there, still shaking from the whole thing, as the excited customers and guests returned to enjoying their night. Adam and I were just standing on the dance floor staring at one another. I reckoned we were both trying to work out where we were at, and what the hell had just happened.
The girl from the bar strolled over to him in a tight jersey dress that showcased a bombshell figure. She was shorter than I was but like Joss she had more hips and ass. I suddenly felt dowdy in my shapeless, shimmery shift dress. Stopping beside Adam, the girl placed a proprietary hand on his arm. “Let me buy you a drink after that.”
Adam glanced up from her to look to me and desperate not to bleed as openly as I had earlier, I closed my features down and told him flatly, “Go. I’m leaving anyway.”
I brushed past him before he could reply, pushing through the crowds, and carefully making my way downstairs to the street level. A hand suddenly curled around my bicep as I was about to step outside and I looked up in surprise to see Adam was there with his jacket on.
“I’m making sure you get home okay.”
“You don’t need to.”
He didn’t reply and he didn’t let me go. I was too tired to struggle so I let him manhandle me into a taxi and I sat in absolute silence with him as the cab drove us to Dublin Street.
He paid for the taxi and followed me out and up the front stoop. He waited patiently as I got out my keys and let us in to the dark flat. I took a few steps into the hall, flicked the light switch and turned around, kicking off my heels. “You can go now.”
Instead Adam slammed the front door shut behind him and stared at me sullenly.
I sighed softly, tired of fighting. Mum had always joked I wasn’t a fighter, I was a lover.
She’d even bought me a T-shirt that said it. “You can leave now, Adam. Thank you for seeing me home.”
“What do you want from me?” he suddenly asked, his voice husky with anger.
I backed up at his tone, hitting the wall, watching warily as he stalked me. My chin tilted, my lips parting in surprise as he placed his hands above my head on the wall and caged me against it. He lowered his head, his nose sliding along mine until his mouth rested just above my lips. I swallowed, finally finding my voice. “What do you want from me?”
His answer was to crush my lips beneath his.
Like the last time he’d kissed me like this, the world just disappeared, taking reality and all the important stuff with it. I wrapped my arms around his neck, my fingers curling into his hair, my breasts pressed hard against his chest as we devoured one another.
After a while Adam eased our carnal kiss, releasing my swollen mouth to press soft kisses along my jaw and down my neck as his hand slid up the inside of my thigh. I sank against the wall with a sigh, my eyes closed as he kissed my lips again, his tongue teasing mine. His fingers slipped under the fabric of the lacy lingerie I was wearing under my sweet dress and I groaned into his mouth at the pressure of his fingers pushing inside of me.
Adam pulled back, his breathing as shallow as mine as he toyed with me. I closed my eyes again, the pleasure tightening. I gripped his arm as he pushed me toward it. “Adam,” I pleaded.
“Look at me,” his words rumbled over my mouth and I immediately opened my eyes to find his blazing into mine. “I want to watch you come.”
I felt my cheeks flush even harder at the demand but I held his gaze as his fingers worked me, my hips undulating against his hand, my gaze turning drowsy. Adam’s breathing grew harsher and harsher as he watched me, and when he pressed down on my clit with his thumb and I broke apart, clinging to him through my orgasm, he swore loudly and rested his head in the crook of my neck.
My legs were trembling as I came down from my high, reality settling in. Confusion overwhelmed me and I felt tears prick my eyes. Adam’s warm breath caressed my skin as he lifted his head to whisper in my ear, “I almost came just watching you.”
I shivered, tingling all over again.
“You make me so goddamn hard,” he confessed and he gently lifted my hand to press it to his erection straining against his trousers. Triumph melted the confusion away for a second, a powerful feeling of victory taking over me as I caressed him and felt his groans of pleasure against my ear. At least he wanted me. At least he was in torment over that.
“You don’t stop, baby,” he peeled my hand away with a regretful sigh, “I’m going to blow.”
When he lifted his head our eyes met and he saw the tears shining in mine and pushed away from me with another curse. Running his hand through his hair, Adam sighed heavily, “I shouldn’t have done that. Els, I’m sorry.” His face crumpled and I saw the self-flagellation in his expression.
“Why?” I asked softly, needing to know once and for all what was happening to us. “Why shouldn’t you have done it? Why can’t we be together?”
Those gorgeous dark eyes of his lifted to mine in surprise, as if he couldn’t believe I didn’t understand. “Because of Braden, Els. He’s my best friend. He’s family. I can’t take the risk that he won’t forgive me for…” he gestured helplessly to me.
The warmth from the aftermath of the orgasm he’d given me was destroyed by the chill his words created in me. I stood up from the wall and tried to control that burning lump in my throat. “But I’m willing to. I’m willing to because I’m in love with you. You know I’m in love with you.”
The lack of surprise on his face was confirmation.
I shook my head, laughing bitterly as I wiped at tears that had begun to fall. “All these years, even now, you’ve told me all you ever wanted to do was protect me from getting hurt.
And yet you say things and do things to confuse me, to make me think you might feel the same way that I feel about you, and then in the next second you’re cold and you flaunt other women in front of me.” The tears fell fast now and I could see Adam’s own eyes starting to shimmer with pain. I didn’t care. I had to get this over with. “The only person who’s ever really hurt me is you. And I keep letting you.”
“Ellie,” he sounded in pain as he took a step toward me. He stopped though, the pain transferring to his eyes when I moved away from him. “I do love you,” he admitted and instead of feeling joy at those words, the last piece of me holding onto hope crumbled.
I shook my head. “But not enough.”
“You know that’s not true. Els, you of all people have to understand. If you and me start something and it all goes south, I lose Braden too. I’ll lose the two people in the world who mean anything to me.”
I wanted to understand him. I tried to understand the reasons behind people’s actions because I wanted to believe the best in everyone. But all I knew was that I loved him enough to risk it all—to risk our history— for something more, and the fact that he wasn’t willing told me he couldn’t possibly feel the way I felt about him. I didn’t want to be in a relationship with someone I loved more than he’d ever love me.
“Go home, Adam,” I replied softly. “We’re done.”
His eyes widened in shock. “Ellie—”
“I’ll pretend for Braden. When we’re all together, I’ll pretend for Braden that nothing has changed between you and me.” I held his gaze, attempting to be strong as I ended us. “But whatever this is, it’s over. Everything. Don’t call me, don’t visit… just don’t. I don’t want you near me when you don’t have to be. It hurts too much, and if you care about me even just a little bit, you’ll stay away from me.”
I didn’t let him reply. I couldn’t. I turned and strode down the hall and into my room, closing the door behind me and leaning against it while I tried to catch my breath.
There was silence in the hallway for what seemed like forever, and then finally I heard the front door open and close quietly.
The burn in my throat burst out into sobs, and I slid down the door panting for breath through the pain…
“Most miserable bloody weeks of my life after that.” Adam turned the pages, scanning my sparse entries after that night.