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“What finally happened, with the girl?” I pressed him. We hadn’t covered that last time.

He shrugged. “She’s still not over me. I told you I have a restraining order against her. She sends long handwritten letters to my agency since she doesn’t know my address anymore. And she somehow showed up at a photo shoot of mine a few months ago and I had security remove her.”

Oh my god. That was where I’d met Katrina.

“She’s a stalker, basically.”

“What’s her name?” I asked, my voice shaking.

“Kat.”

Holy mother. “I-I know her. I mean, I-I met her . . .”

His brows pinched together. “Where? How?”

“At that photo shoot. The day I came, I met a girl there—she said she was a fan of your work, but later she admitted that you two dated. She said her name was Katrina.”

“Shit,” he cursed and rose to his feet and began pacing in front of the sofa. “You spoke to her?”

I nodded. “Yes.”

“You didn’t tell her anything about yourself or me—did you?”

I swallowed a hard lump in my throat. “Well, um, sort of, but I had no idea that . . .”

“Fuck!” he swore loudly and pushed his hands into his hair. “Ellie, this is important. Tell me what you told her.”

“We met for a drink. We’ve texted . . . but it was all innocent, I swear.”

“How could you do that, Ellie?”

He continued pacing. “You know how private I am. Didn’t you think that maybe, just maybe, I had good reason for being so guarded?”

I rose to my feet, standing directly in front of him. This wasn’t my fault. And I truly believed I hadn’t done anything wrong. “It’s not like I told her much—I didn’t even know where you lived until today. It was harmless girl talk, commiserating together over broken hearts. Not that I would expect you to understand that—your heart’s never been in this game.”

The pulse in his neck was racing, and his eyes were blazing with anger, but Braydon remained silent.

“You know what. Never mind. It was stupid to think coming here meant something.” I grabbed my purse and stuffed my feet into my shoes. “Good-bye Braydon.” I was out the door and in the elevator without a backward glance.

19

A few days later, I couldn’t ignore Braydon’s constant phone calls and texts any longer. I agreed to meet him for coffee at a central location.

When I arrived, Braydon was already seated at a table by the front window with a mug in front of him and another that was for me, I presumed. Coffee had been too rough on my postflu stomach and I’d been avoiding it for several weeks now.

I approached the table and Braydon rose to his feet. He looked tired. Still handsome as always, but dark circles ringed his eyes and the usual mischief sparkling in them was missing. “Thank you for meeting me.”

I nodded. He wasn’t getting jack squat out of me. I was here. That was all.

“I wanted to apologize, and explain everything to you.”

“I’m listening.”

He nodded, and fiddled with his coffee mug. “First and foremost, I’m sorry how I behaved. I overreacted. You did nothing wrong, and I see that now. I just . . . get a little tense thinking that Katrina is still, after all this time, trying to infiltrate my life, and used you to gain information.”

I listened while he spoke, but something wasn’t sitting right with me. I thought of the girl I’d met and the sadness I’d seen in her eyes. “Did you ever consider that maybe she just needs closure from you?”

He blinked at me several times. “What do you mean?”

God, men . . . they could be so dense. “Like to hear from you why it ended, what went wrong, so she can accept it and move on from that time in her life . . .”

He shook his head. “It’s not that simple.”

“I think it might be.” I was probably taking a gamble, but something told me a little closure coming from Braydon himself could be exactly the thing to solve this. Only I had no idea if he’d be open to that. “Would you be willing to talk with her?”

“Break my restraining order by voluntarily meeting with her?”

I nodded.

“Shit, Ellie. If you think it will work, why the hell not. But you’re going to be there for the conversation. I can’t be alone with her.”

“Of course I am.” Something told me I’d likely be moderating the conversation between them. “Shall I text her? See if she’s free?”

He raised his eyebrows. “Why the hell not?” He smirked.

I dug out my phone and sent the text through. I debated whether or not to tell her she’d be facing Braydon, and in the end, decided to be honest, hoping she’d still agree to come.

Me: Hey, are you free to meet now for coffee? I’m with Braydon. It’s important.

Kat: Okay . . . I’ll come.

“She’s on her way.”

“Lovely,” Braydon murmured.

I could tell he wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of facing his crazy ex-girlfriend right now, but I believed this could solve things once and for all between Braydon and his past. Which was really all I ever wanted.

Soon Kat arrived, and the gleeful expression on her face when she spotted Braydon was slightly disconcerting.

“Hey, Kat,” I greeted her with a one-armed hug and Braydon’s eyes widened. I didn’t think he was expecting that we were quite so close.

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