His absolute hatred of lying had started way before I’d met him and had to do with his father. I didn’t know the details, but I figured it involved cheating since he’d moved in with his mom and stepdad while his father was a serial dater.
So, yeah, lying to Reece equaled shitstorm of the century.
Reece stared down at me, waiting for a response, and I didn’t have any. So many times during the last eleven months I wanted to shout the truth in his face. That we hadn’t had sex, but the hurt he created based on the way he’d acted that following morning, then ignoring me for weeks was compounded by the fact he had to get so drunk for him to think he had sex with me. The pain had cut deep.
I was embarrassed—horrified, really—and if Charlie were aware of the situation, he probably would’ve smacked me upside the head. Because I should’ve known better, but I hadn’t and I had paid for that in spades. Days passed while I was under the influence of an ice-cream coma. Weeks when I thought I’d burst into tears whenever I heard his name mentioned. For months, I couldn’t look at Reece without my face turning blood red.
And that hurt had lingered.
Gathering up that pain and humiliation, I held it close as I drew in a deep breath that sharpened my tongue. “Like I said, Reece, there’s really nothing to talk about. I barely even remember that night myself.” Lies! All lies! I forced a shrug. “Nothing to write home about.”
He arched a brow. “I don’t believe you.”
“Do you really think your prowess in bed is so stellar that I’d remember one night with your drunk ass?” I fired back.
“No.” His lips curved in a tight half smile, and I couldn’t believe he was still standing there. “What I’m saying is that you obviously remember a whole lot if you’ve been avoiding me all this time.”
Hell, he had a good point. “Actually, it’s more of an I’d-rather-not-remember kind of thing.” The moment those words came out of my mouth, I wanted to take them back, because they were mean. Even though I avoided him at all costs and could be pretty spiteful toward him, it wasn’t something I enjoyed.
His lips thinned as he tilted his head to the side. The bright fluorescent light glided over the sharp curve of his cheek. A heartbeat passed, and I expected him to fling an insult back in my direction. I would’ve deserved it after that slam, but that wasn’t what I got. “I wish I could say I know it was good for you, and babe, I know I could’ve made it real good for you,” he said, his voice dropping again, and those coils low in my belly spun even tighter.
Memories swamped me, stealing my breath. Even plastered, he’d been well on his way to making it outstanding. Like never gonna forget this night in a good way. My lips parted on a soft inhale as a slow burn invaded my veins. His gaze moved to my mouth, and my chest rose sharply. His stare stayed there long enough that a wild idea exploded in my brain, like the king of all wild ideas, because obviously when I got a wild idea in my head, it ended epically bad. But that knowledge did nothing to stop it from taking hold.
I thought Reece looked like he wanted to kiss me as his hooded gaze zeroed in on my mouth. And when I took my next breath, I wasn’t sure if I’d stop him. What the hell did that say about me exactly? I was a glutton for punishment.
He cleared his throat as he dragged his gaze up to mine. “But knowing how trashed I was, I’m not sure about any of it. I don’t—”
“I need to get back out there.” There was no way I could continue in this conversation. I needed to get out of there before a mixture of desire and a need to make him feel better hijacked my common sense. I started to dip under his arm, but he shifted his body. As tall and built as he was, there was no way I was getting past him.
“For Christ sakes, stop running from me.”
My hands closed at my sides. “I’m not running.”
His eyes met mine, and once again, I was trapped as he carefully placed the tip of his finger against the center of my glasses and pushed them back up my nose. My heart flip-flopped in response to a gesture he used to do all the time.
“I need to get them adjusted,” I would say, and he’d always respond with, “Nah. I like being your official keeper of your glasses.” Goodness, remembering that made my heart ache.
“Did I . . . did I do wrong by you, Roxy?”
I stiffened as if steel had been dropped down my spine. “What?”
Everything about Reece’s posture had changed. He was still close, his hands still on the shelves on either side of me, but the lazy arrogance that seemed to bleed from his every pore was gone. Every part of him was alert and tense. “Did I hurt you somehow?”
My mouth dropped open. Had he hurt me? Yes. He’d bruised my heart, smashed it into pieces, but I didn’t think that’s what he meant. “No. God, no. How could you even think that?”
His eyes closed briefly as he exhaled harshly. “I don’t know what to think.”
Oh God, my entire chest clenched. I needed to tell him the truth, because it didn’t matter how badly my feelings and pride were bruised, I couldn’t let him think something like that about himself. The words formed on the tip of my tongue.
“It should’ve never happened,” he continued. “You and I . . . not in that way.”
The words fizzled up on my tongue, going out like a spark in a downpour. I knew how crazy it was to be upset, because he said it shouldn’t have happened when it had in fact never happened, but it was the point behind it all. A different set of words flooded out of my mouth. “You really do regret it, don’t you?” My voice sounded too hoarse. “I know I can’t be the first chick you got so drunk—”
“That I don’t remember being with?” he cut in. “Yeah, you’re the only girl I’ve done that with.”
I didn’t know if I should be relieved to know that or be really insulted. Shaking my head, I grappled with the mixed bag of emotions. “You . . . you wish that night never happened, right?”
“Yeah, I do.” The blunt honesty was like taking a bullet straight to the chest. “Because I wa—”
The stockroom door suddenly opened. “Man, I have really bad timing when it comes to this shit,” announced Nick. “Sorry to . . . yeah, intrude. I just need to grab some . . . stuff.”
My escape was in the form of dark and broody, and I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I used the distraction to my benefit. Reece had dropped his arms as he faced Nick, who was grabbing the new napkins with Mona’s logo splashed across them. I darted away from Reece and hauled butt through the open door. I didn’t look at Nick and the blood roaring in my ears drowned out anything either of them could’ve said.