I sink down onto the edge of the marble tub and push my hands into my hair. Christ, when did my life get so complicated? I have a woman who I've lived with for three years now, who I share my bed with, who fits into my carefully crafted plans. Then I have a woman who knows me, the real me, behind all the CEO corporate bullshit. She has completely upheaved my life in the space of 48 hours. She's warm and giving, and I feel lighter in her presence. She’s fun and easy-going, nothing like Tatianna. Maybe her being here will prove to be a good thing. Get me to lighten up a little.
When I reenter the bedroom, Tatianna is curled onto her side, sound asleep. I pull back the blankets on my side of the bed and crawl in beside her. I should wake her and apologize, but instead, I let her sleep and grab my phone from the bedside table.
Before I even have time to process what I'm doing, I text Mia.
I had fun with you today.
Her reply is almost instant. It makes me wonder if she's lying in bed just down the hall thinking of me, a thought that makes me happy.
I'm contemplating what to write next when another text from her comes through.
Why are you texting me when you're in bed with a supermodel?
Maybe being in bed with a supermodel isn't all it's cracked up to be.
You shouldn’t talk that way about your GIRLFRIEND.
It doesn’t escape my notice that the word girlfriend is in all caps.
I know. I'm sorry, I'm being a dick.
She doesn't reply. I wait several minutes, wondering what's going on inside her head. I wonder if she's thinks I'm a piece of shit for kissing her today when I'm with someone else.
I wonder how long this is going to last—me and Tatianna. I can already feel myself pulling away from her. The only thing that scares me about ending things with Tatianna is the realization that then I'd have to face my future with Mia. Am I ready for that? Do I want a future with Mia?
Finally, I decide to text Mia again.
Do you forgive me?
I do… But Collins, about that marriage promise we made…
My stomach sinks. I tap out a hasty reply.
Let's not talk about that yet.
Sunday’s yacht outing was confusing to say the least.
He named his boat Gremlin. A name he used to call me with so much affection. Then, he kissed me in the water. And he was so eager, so hungry for it. He’d held me so close. And he was so hard. Just remembering the heat and his growl as I pressed my core against him makes me clench my sex. I can’t help but think how good it would feel to have the length of him fill me.
But then he pushed me away. He wants to stay with Tatianna. If I know anything about Collins, it’s that he gets whatever he wants. There is no use trying to sway him. He chose her, and it’s time for me to find peace with that and move on.
The following morning, Tatianna catches her flight and Collins heads into work, leaving me alone in the huge house.
I spend the next couple of days applying for more jobs. Tightening up my resume, making spreadsheets of job openings, and systematically searching out the best opportunities. I know the economy is still weak, but I have unlimited free time to look for a job, and I can’t stand the thought of living off Collins forever. It’s either fly home in defeat, or actually try to make a go of this fresh start I so desperately need.
I’ve applied for ten jobs, and have leads on another ten. I’ve also driven myself nuts hitting the refresh button on my email in the hopes that I will have a job offer, or at least an interview. But that afternoon brings some relief. Collins must feel bad for leaving me alone at his house because he sends his brothers’ significant others, Sophie and Kylie, over to take me out and show me around. Normally I would be weary of being setup on a blind playdate, but I am desperate to get out of the house.
I am more than a little anxious about meeting Sophie and Kylie.
No matter how many times I tell myself I’m moving on and have no chance with Collins, it still feels like I’m about to meet “the family,” and I find myself wanting them to like me in the worst way.
I’ve heard enough about how well off Colton and Pace are, and I’m terrified they’ve hooked up with the stereotypical high-society women—the kind that stare down their nose at you. On the other side, I’m also a little worried that they might be more boring than Tatianna.
My fears about them are dashed immediately. Although Sophie is young, she’s an absolute charm and a half. Kylie is closer to my age, and I envy her for what a strong woman she is and instantly hope we will be good friends.
We go to a bar where, even though I know I can’t afford it, I down my first cocktail in an effort to calm my nerves. I’m about to order a second when I see the prices on their drink menu. I try to hide my shock as I discreetly pull open my wallet and count how much I have left.
“Don’t worry, this afternoon is on Collins,” Kylie says. “We were instructed to not let you pay for anything.” She smiles at me.
“I insist,” I say, because even though it’s more than I can afford, I don’t want to be a burden to Collins.
Sophie laughs and waves me off. “We aren’t really used to all the money they throw around, either. Neither of us came from money. Colton always tells me I don’t need to worry about money; I don’t need to ask before I buy things. But it still feels weird, you know?”
I nod. I don’t know exactly, since I have hardly any money myself, but I get what she means. “The wealth around these guys is insane,” I say. “I always knew Collins was smart, and driven, but it’s still really crazy to see how well they’ve done for themselves.”
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