Page 48

“Good.”

They started walking again and were silent for a while. During that time, Jameson was able to cover himself back up. Don his armor. He needed to focus. He couldn't worry about anything besides what was in front of him: getting her back. Then he would worry about what all his fucking feelings meant.

It was a little hard to have focus, though, when he was sporting a hard-on 90% of the time.

Maybe I should hire a hooker …

Tate woke up with a start. Someone was touching her. She shoved her hat back off her forehead and looked down. Jameson was sitting on the edge of her lounger, running his fingers down her leg. She wondered how long he had been there.

“What are you doing?” she asked through a yawn.

“Touching you.”

“Obviously. When did you guys get back?” she asked, her leg starting to twitch.

“About an hour ago.”

“An hour!? Why didn't Sanders wake me?” she snapped, sitting upright.

“Because he isn't here. He's in town. It's just me for now,” Jameson told her. He still hadn't looked at her. His voice was calm, soft. Almost zen like, even.

She had never been more nervous around him than she was right at that moment.

What the fuck is he planning!?

“Oh. Well. Are we going to go see him?” Tate asked, licking her lips. Jameson didn't answer, and she pulled her legs away from him, moved to sit cross-legged.

“I hadn't planned on it. It's New Year's Eve,” he told her. She nodded.

“I know. I was going to ask what the plan was, if there was a plan,” she replied.

“There will be fireworks. I thought we could watch them together,” he said.

“No swanky party? No dinner?” she laughed.

“Well, the lobster plan didn't work out so well for me. I don't want to waste anymore of my money,” Jameson explained. Tate snapped her eyes to his, ready to be angry, but she realized he was teasing.

“I told you it wouldn't happen.”

“Yes. But I was very close.”

Grrrrrr, this man.

“Close doesn't count.”

He got up and walked away from her, stood by a railing. They were on the very top deck, the roof of the boat. Standing over the wheel house. She had never been in the room, never seen any crew. She wondered if they would ever take the yacht out, if he would need to hire a crew to do so.

“I thought we'd take the boat out. We can watch the fireworks from the ocean.”

That's right, Satan's psychic. You always forget.

“Sounds nice. I think last night was too much party for me,” Tate laughed. She had woken up determined to put on a bright smile about the whole incident. Old-Tatum would have laughed about the whole thing, so new-Tatum would, too.

“Really? And I thought it stopped just short of being a real party,” Jameson replied, then abruptly walked away, heading down the stairs.

Tate frowned after him. She wasn't sure what kind of game he was playing. He had been moody all morning, and now he was all quiet and introspective seeming; i.e., not normal. She didn't like it, not one bit. She could handle scheming Jameson. Conniving, cruel, sadistic, devilish Jameson. All-of-the-above Jameson. But confused Jameson? Troubled Jameson? Hurt Jameson?

She didn't know that man at all.

Tate didn't see much of him for the rest of the day. If she hadn't known better, she would've thought he was avoiding her. Pretty ironic, considering she had finally come to terms with being in his presence. The crawl-out-of-her-skin feeling wasn't as bad anymore.

Of course, it helped that while the men were gone, she had found a corner market and bought a pack of cigarettes. She had chain smoked until she thought she was going to pass out. She had even had one cigarette while lounging on the top deck. An act of defiance. Still counted, even if the devil wasn't present.

Sanders came for dinner, but he was also oddly tight lipped. They made idle chit chat, but when Tate mentioned him coming on the boat to watch the fireworks, he shook his head. He really did get sea sick, he confessed. And he didn't care about fireworks or New Year's. It was just another day. He was working on a 3D puzzle at the apartment, and wanted to finish it.

When she realized he wouldn't be there as a buffer, Tate's bravado deserted her. The puzzle started to sound like more fun than a ride on a yacht under fireworks. Tate chewed at her fingernails, desperate for a cigarette. But she knew she couldn't, not while Jameson was prowling around the boat. So she borrowed Sanders' phone and hid up on the top deck.

She tried calling her sister first. They hadn't spoken since before Tate had left for Spain. They weren't exactly best friends yet, but they did check in with one another fairly often. But Ellie didn't answer. Tate tried calling Nick. His calm, happy-go-lucky nature usually settled any nerves she had – but he wasn't answering, either. She started to grind her teeth and dialed one more number.

“Why hasn't she called me!?” Ang's voice barked the moment the line connected. Tate smiled.

“It's me,” she laughed. He snorted.

“Oh. Well. Same question,” he said.

“There was an ..., incident. I lost my phone. Happy New Year's,” she said quickly.

“Yeah, yeah, same to you. Have you fucked him yet?” he snapped.

“Jesus, Ang.”

“What? I have a radar for that kind of shit with you. It's coming, I can feel it. Don't do it,” he warned her.

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