“Ahhhhhhhh!” Lily’s excited squeal sounds more like a frightened scream.
The bedroom door flies open in response, unsurprisingly. Both Loren and Ryke rush in while the patio door slides for Connor’s quick entrance, his phone still in his hand.
“What the f**k happened?” Ryke asks first, looking between the three of us girls who have gone utterly quiet. Daisy acts like she’s enthralled with a marshmallow in her hot chocolate.
Lo’s cheekbones sharpen the longer he stares at Lily in concern, trying to figure out what’s going on like his brother.
The silence must eat at Lily because she grabs the throw blanket, pulls it over head, and hides.
I’m about to explain, but Brett tries to maneuver his camera through the door frame to capture a view of the bedroom—an area off-limits from filming. His intrusion annoys Ryke enough to slam the door on his face.
I hear the oomph! and the cameraman stumble in the hallway. I’d be more upset if it was Savannah or Ben. Otherwise, I don’t care so much by Ryke’s bout of aggression.
When I look at Connor, he raises his brows, and a smile plays at his lips. He knows I told my sisters.
Loren sidles to the bed and prods Lily’s blanket-covered body. Even shrouded, I can tell she looks ready to melt into my mattress.
“What’s going on, Lil?” Lo asks. He rubs her back.
She shakes her head and then shifts her body so she faces me. I think. Her nose sort of sticks out. I’m not sure how that helps since I can’t see her beneath the plaid flannel.
“I’m sorry, Rose,” she says. “I was just happy for you.” It’s like some blanket monster apologizing to me.
“It’s fine, Lily,” I tell her. “I don’t really care.” They were bound to find out one way or another. I’m sure Connor would have told them eventually. This current situation may be a little odd, but welcome to my life.
“You girls need to work on your f**king happy noises,” Ryke says angrily. “They shouldn’t sound like someone is being assaulted.”
Loren pulls off Lily’s blanket, and her hair sticks up from the static. “What are you happy about?”
She goes silent and a little pale. For Christ’s sake.
“I had sex,” I blurt out for the second time.
All eyes immediately fixate on Connor, who has been very quiet. His phone is gone and his hands are in his pockets. “Yes, it was with me,” he answers the non-existent question. But it relieves some of the awkward tension in the room.
“Really?” I feign confusion. “You were there?”
“Je te rappellerai plus tard.” I’ll remind you later. Words sound so much sexier in French.
“And that’s my cue to f**king leave.” Ryke disappears through the door, careful not to let any cameras in.
“Congrats, sis,” Daisy says with a huge smile. She gives me a hug and follows Ryke’s footsteps.
That leaves Connor and me with Lily and Loren.
I wait for Loren to hit me with some insult. He’ll probably talk about “becoming a woman” now as if hav**g s*x makes me older and wiser. It doesn’t. It just makes me a little more experienced. So what?
He rubs the back of his neck before he says, “I’m happy for you two.”
I wear my shock, and Lo rolls his eyes. “What? I can’t be nice for once?”
“It’s weird,” I admit.
He nods to Connor. “You sticking around then?” He still thinks Connor might ditch me now that he’s had sex with me?
“Yeah, Lo,” Connor says, his eyes tightening with a flicker of hurt. I’m surprised he allows Lo to see it. “I’m sticking around.”
Lo nods again as he tries to absorb this as truth. “Congrats, man, for a second I was worried Scott was going to beat you to it.” He flashes a dry smile.
“The only thing he’s beaten me at so far is—”
“Rose,” Scott says, slipping into the room with his cellphone in hand. He holds the device out to me, but I don’t make a motion to crawl from my lady-like spot on this bed.
I have just announced my deflowering, and of course he’d find this as an appropriate time to interrupt. He clearly wants to cut Connor down from his highest achievement, and mine too.
But then he says, “Your mom is on the phone. She wants to talk about the seating arrangements for the wedding.”
Connor steps between the bed and Scott before the producer reaches me. My boyfriend’s eyes heat with malice that I haven’t seen before. He snatches the phone out of Scott’s hand.
Before he presses the receiver to his ear, Scott adds, “Be sure to tell Samantha thanks for the hour-long chat. I loved hearing about her day. It was…informative.”
He’s f**king with him.
My mother is pliable, easily manipulated by sweet-talking men with money. Hell, she likes Loren Hale, who is only nice when he wants to be. I didn’t think any parent would shove him on their daughter, but she’s been praying for a marriage between Lily and Lo even before they were together.
I am starting to wonder how much the reality show has warped her mind. If the rest of the public hates Connor with me—which they do since he’s been snippy on screen and edited as a pretentious ass—then her friends won’t support my relationship. They’ll vote for Scott, and my mother usually goes with the majority.
“Samantha…” Connor says as he puts the phone to his ear, eyes never leaving Scott as he does so. “She’s unavailable…yes…of course…” He drops his gaze and glances at Loren, silently asking him to stay in my room. He nods, and then Connor seeks privacy on the patio again to talk with my mother. The sliding door shuts, and I consider moving my pained muscles to join him.
“Get out,” Loren immediately says to Scott.
The producer raises his hands in defense, but his smarmy gaze zones in on me, descending to my br**sts, the tops visible in my low-cut nightgown. “You’ve definitely left the nunnery, Rose Calloway.” He lets out an amused laugh. “I’ll see you all later.” He pauses in thought “And you know, you and your sisters should all put on that…gold top that Daisy wore at Valentino’s. Great ratings with that episode.” He whistles. “You should see how many people reblogged that picture. Side-boob sells.”
I am going to kill him. I picture myself crawling on all fours towards his body and springing like a lioness, a wild cat, something feral that will claw the eyeballs right out of his sockets. But then I imagine him smirking at the perfect view of my cl**vage during the assault. So I regretfully stay seated. Like a lady.
“Get. Out. You shitty fuck,” Loren says slowly like Scott’s a moron.
Scott raises his hands in defense, but he still acts like he holds all the cards. Maybe he does. He owns us and the townhouse we live in. And he has footage to tamper with. We’re just marionettes in his play.
The door shuts. But the tension never leaves. I don’t think it ever will.
Not until the cameras finally stop rolling.
[ 33 ]
“She’s twenty-three, in a year-long relationship—”
“Over a year.”
“Over a year, and she’s never had sex. Something is wrong with that girl.”
I watch TMZ from my office desk at Cobalt Inc. before I call it a night and head home. The hallways are desolate, only a janitor left, vacuuming the gray carpet in the break room.
“She definitely has herpes,” a reporter from one of the cubicles says. And the newsroom breaks into laughter. “What else explains it?”
The Alps trip aired last night on GBA. No mention of Rose losing her virginity. But if she saw TMZ slandering her right now, she’d be pissed. They’re shaming every girl her age who wishes to wait.
Rose had no problem with production keeping her virginity a secret. But on the plane ride home, just to test Scott—to see what he would do—she stared right into one of the cameras and professed that she had sex with me. It let Lily off the hook, who had been so unnaturally quiet in fear of spilling the secret to the whole world.
He never showed the footage, probably to keep her “virgin” label on the show intact. And because I’m everyone’s least favorite choice to be with Rose. Her mother so much as said so on the phone. That was one of the hardest conversations I’ve had. I wanted to tell her off, but I bit my tongue and stomached her chiding about not being more caring towards my girlfriend, her daughter.
I mentioned bad editing once and she scoffed and told me to stop using excuses. So I just said, “I’m sorry, Samantha. I’ll be better about it.” And she threatened, “You better. Or I’ll convince Rose to give Scott another chance, which he deserves.”
She truly believes that they dated before. It’s…a new level of insanity for me.
I hate Scott.
But at least he never ruined some of the best sex I’ve ever had. I just want to go home and f**k Rose, forget about all this bullshit and do something that makes both of us feel good. But time isn’t on our side. I fight for more constantly. Wharton is killing me. Cobalt Inc. is manageable. But I’m lucky to make it home by two a.m. each night before she falls asleep.
I stand and gather any papers, stuffing them into a briefcase. Before I leave, I flip through the channels one last time and land on a rerun of Princesses of Philly. I caught a portion of it before, but not this part—where Lo pins Lily on the couch at the cabin. Where he passionately kisses her lips, bringing her into his arms each time he draws her up with a strong inhale.
But his eyes lock on the camera as he does it. As though he’s literally f**king the viewers with his mouth. I rub my lips and try not to laugh. Rose would be infuriated, but Lo has done this so often. I’ve seen a few bumper stickers around Philly that say Fuck me, Loren Hale. Especially after Lily’s latest interview aired. She went into a lengthy explanation about how Loren is the only man able to satisfy all of her sexual needs.
Celebrity Crush even wrote an article, trying to determine the size of his dick. It was horrible journalism, but it’s articles like those that really put into perspective how popular the reality show has become.
And how famous we all suddenly are.
Lily can’t even watch herself make out with Lo during these segments. He covers her eyes. It’s that arousing for her.
I shut off the television, flick off my lights and swallow a couple Adderall. I have a half-completed Wharton project for a management class left to finish. I want to say “hell with it” and have rough sex with my girlfriend instead.
Tying her up and watching her come beats every other task on my to-do list. My body heats just remembering her face the first time I filled her with my cock. Her mouth fell open, and she choked on some of the most gorgeous sounds.
I’ve never felt like she belonged to me more than in that moment. She let me do whatever I wanted to her body, all trust, no barriers or restrictions. I took her as hard as I knew she could withstand, her tightness gripping my c*ck in a vice that I don’t ever want to forget.
Which is why I plan to go home and do it again.
The elevator is in sight, and I’m already picturing what position I’ll put her in. Face down on the mattress. Hands tied behind her back.
I think I’ll spank her.
I stop dead in the hallway. There’s only one person who could ruin these beautiful thoughts. Only one other person who’d be working while the janitor finishes his routine. I turn around to confront my mother who quickly approaches me with determined steps.
“I just put my proposal on your desk,” I tell her. Let me go, I silently plead.
“I got it,” she says breezily. “I scheduled a reservation at L’Bleu on Saturday. Seven o’clock. Bring Rose.” She spins and disappears down the hall, leaving no chance for an excuse.
Something foreign presses against my chest. I think it might be anxiety. I open my phone to call Frederick, but I see a missed text instead.
Come home now, please. We have a Lily and Loren problem. – Rose
I don’t let my imagination try to predict what kind of problem that could be. I just make a quick exit to the elevator and brace myself for what’s to come.
* * *
As soon as I walk through the door, I spot Lily and Lo curled up on the couch, reading a comic silently together. “Problems” with those two usually involve screaming, maybe even crying. It’s odd. But I try not to pass judgment until I know the facts.
Before I can even begin to question them, Rose marches down the stairs and grabs my wrist with a lot of force, fire blazing in her eyes. I should be more concerned about the shit storm she’s going to unleash, but my c*ck has its own agenda, painfully begging for her to redirect that pressure. She tries to lead me to the second level, but I pry her fingers off my wrist.
“I think I know where the bedroom is,” I say.