Home > Fall (VIP #3)(6)

Fall (VIP #3)(6)
Author: Kristen Callihan

“He tends to travel frequently. In all likelihood, you’ll never even know he’s there, Ms. Grey,” Scott says smoothly. “It is merely a precaution. You have your clients, I have mine. Mine require a great deal of privacy, that is all.”

I’m beginning to wonder if his clients aren’t international criminals. But someone who names his pets after celebrities and does it with puns can’t be all bad. As for the neighbor—He Who Must Not Be Disturbed—I’ll have to take Mr. Scott’s word.

Besides, I have better things to dwell on, such as penthouse living and a cat named Stevens.

Chapter Three

John

* * *

I made a mistake staying in the city. At the first word of a blizzard coming, I should have hopped on a plane and left town. Gone to my place in London. Or, hell, gone south where it’s warm and sunny. A week or two on some beach, drinking beers and fucking a willing woman would have hit the spot.

But no, I had to trap myself alone with nothing but silence as company. It is not a good thing for me to be alone for an extended period. Some might call it a weakness. For me, it’s simply a facet of my personality; if I’m alone for too long, my thoughts can easily take a dark turn.

“Damn it.” I rub my eyes and pace over to the wall of windows. I can’t see anything other than a white blur and the snow mounding against the bottom pane. A sudden sensation of being completely lost has me resting a hand on the cold glass. Intellectually, I know where I am—New York City, in a thirty million dollar penthouse that I bought with pocket money. King of the world, right?

A king who cannot stand rattling around in silence.

With a grunt, I turn away from the window. I’m hungry and should eat something. Staring in my fridge doesn’t help. All I can think about it the mint chocolate chip that got away. A smile tugs at my mouth.

That sweet, chaste kiss my mint thief planted on me lingers. Libby, Sophie, and Brenna are the only women in my life who don’t treat me like a revered god or some sad case who might blow up at any second. But they’re basically an unruly bunch of sisters who poke and prod and butt into my business. I’d almost forgotten what it feels like to interact with a woman who doesn’t know who I am.

That oddball button of an ice cream thief fought for her ice cream like a warrior. Cute as hell, really. And this is where I am in my life—having more fun arguing with a crazy redhead in a grocery store than going to a club or party filled with famous people.

I laugh a little, trying to picture how it would have gone if I’d asked her to come hang out. Not to fuck, but to have dinner, watch a movie, share that ice cream. Grammar school stuff.

The concept is so far removed from my life, I can’t even fully imagine it. I’d never actually do something like that anyway. Not when the possible result would be tabloid fodder. I am who I am, and my life doesn’t include random friendships with strange women.

Stick with those you know. It’s a lesson learned early on, and painfully.

Slamming the fridge closed, I pull out my phone. There are at least fifty text messages waiting for me.

Hey, babe, you in town. Love 2 c U again!

I keep thinking about our nite. Need you bad.

Jax, you rock my world.

I stop scrolling and hit delete instead, my insides suddenly cold, my skin clammy. I don’t remember a single one of these women, and that seems tragic. I love women, I do. I love their softness, the way they smell, the sound of their laughter, how they feel when I’m sinking into them. I love sex. Fucking is an essential part of my life, a stress relief—a way to forget. And though I’ve slowed down lately, the opportunity for quick sex was always there if I needed it.

Right now, it’s totally gone, stripped away with a few test results. I have never judged others based on their past sexual history. One of my mentors contracted HIV in the late ’80s. He survived, and I find that brave as hell. Then why can’t I stop from feeling as though I’m coated in sticky dirt? I’m ashamed. It’s there, on my skin, this dirty, wrong sensation of failure.

The sense of loss is there as well. But it isn’t as strong. It‘s been getting harder to lose myself with sex lately. My brain keeps pushing its way into the equation.

The last time I was with a girl, I’d barely started when I’d suffered a crisis of conscience. Did she have any hopes? Any dreams? Did she think I’d call her the next day? And when I didn’t, would it hurt? My dick had deflated with the speed of a dart to a balloon. I ended up going down on her just so she wouldn’t ask questions, and I left feeling dirty and cheap and pissed at myself.

God, that had to have been the girl in question. I’d avoided sex and gotten chlamydia instead.

A laugh huffs out of me, but there is no humor in it. I have to tell this woman, and I can’t remember her name. I can’t remember anything about her other than she had hot-pink hair and waxed downtown.

“Shit.”

So, no, I’m not going to go searching for a quick hookup anytime soon. Which leaves me here, alone. And that is never a good thing for me.

Picking up the phone again, I call Killian. It rings and rings, and I have no idea what time it is on Killian’s end. Doesn’t make me hang up, though.

He answers and sounds awake. “’Sup, J?”

“Explain to me again why you and Libby had to move to Sydney for four months, because I’m not buying this whole we want to see the toilet flushing backward excuse.”

Killian laughs. “Libby fell in love with the place when we visited Scottie.”

“Visited being the key word. Hell, Scottie’s back in New York, and now you’re there.”

I’m not trying to feel let down by this. But I am.

“What can I say? Libby and I want to explore the Southern Hemisphere, and I’m trying to not have to take twenty-four-hour flights back and forth to do it. Makes more sense to just hang out here for a while.”

Such is our life—the ability to run away for months and have fun without worries. Kill John just came off a long world tour, and we’re not writing anything new at the moment but “recharging,” as Whip would say. What this means is that the guys are all fucking around and having fun so we don’t kill each other when we finally settle down to do it all over again.

It seems petty to brood. Yet here I am, brooding. “I’m just saying, you finally convince me to move out of my perfectly good apartment—”

“Granny apartment,” he cuts in.

“I inherited it from my Gran.”

Killian snorts. “And you didn’t change a damn thing in that place. I swear, every time I walked in there, I got flashbacks of the watery tea and bland biscuits your gran forced on us when we paid her a visit.”

“You loved those biscuits.”

“Yeah. Good times.” He sighs happily. “Do you like the place?”

I glance around as I walk to the couch. Killian will be horrified when he sees that a lot of my grandmother’s old furniture made its way here. He’s always giving me shit over my decorating style. What can I say? Gran’s stuff was comforting and familiar. “It’s really … light.”

“Light?” He sounds confused.

“Lot of windows. High ceilings.” I miss my old place with its dark walls and smaller windows. It was a nice, soothing cave instead of all this … openness.

“John,” Killian drawls with a long sigh, “light and airy is a good thing.”

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