Page 47

She felt his hand slip around her elbow and pull her in. He shut the door behind her, bolted it, and then gestured for her to precede him the rest of the way into the room.

The only light came from the muted TV. The blue glow cast over the room, illuminating the bed, which was mussed up. The pillows had been shoved up against the headboard like maybe he’d been sitting up.

Also unable to sleep.

She headed straight over there and sat on a corner of the mattress. “Scotch or …” She eyed the two bottles in her hand. “Scotch?”

Not answering, he sat at her side and met her gaze.

“Don’t judge me,” she said.

He reached for one of the bottles, opened it, and handed it back to her. Then he took the other, opened that one as well, and clicked it to hers in a toast. “Never,” he said.

“Never’s a pretty strong word.”

“Never,” he said again.

Okay. She could deal with that. They clicked bottles again and tossed back. The storm continued to rage outside, making her heart pound. To distract herself, she spoke the first thing on her mind. “So,” she said.


“You ever going to answer the question I won?”

And just like that his face closed up. “Not going there.”

“Not going there?” she repeated.

“That’s what I said.”

She stared at him, more than a little stunned. “Seriously? My life’s an open book to you. You brought me here to be an open book for you.”

“Doesn’t mean mine’s open to you.”

This was such an unexpected hit that she had to work at sucking in enough air for her lungs. Not that it beat back the pain. Shaking her head, she stood and headed to the door.


Nope. They were done here. She shut the door behind her—not quite a slam, in deference to the others on the floor, but definitely a statement.

Out in the hall she took one step before she realized she’d left her wallet—with her hotel keycard—back in his room with her liquor.


The only thing worse than being a drama queen was being a stupid drama queen. Note to self: Think through your next temper tantrum.

With great reluctance she turned back. She lifted her hand to bang on AJ’s door just as he opened it. She nearly knocked right on his nose.

He held out her wallet, but not the scotch. Whatever. She snatched her wallet without making eye contact and bolted for the elevator.

A huge gust of wind must have hit the building because the lights in the hallway flickered. She turned from the elevator and hit the stairwell instead, unwilling to be stuck in the elevator if the power went out.

Plus, she really needed to be on the move.

The stairs were hell on her tenuous balance and bare feet but somehow she got to her floor and into her room, where she lurched/limped into the bathroom.

She turned on the hot water, stripped naked, and stepped into the shower. Her first order of business was to stand in there until the hot water ran out or until her life improved, whichever came second.

As the water rained down on her she sighed in humiliation, hating that AJ knew so much about her, knew everything about her, including her fears.


Especially because apparently she wasn’t good enough or important enough to get to know his fears in return.

It was like being naked in public.

Worse. Because it was AJ, and because somehow over the past two days she’d sensed a change in their relationship. She’d actually thought …


She’d thought maybe she was falling for him. And that he was falling back.

So stupid—and clearly it couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only was he not falling at all, he’d just pushed her away.

He might as well have sent her packing to Switzerland.

She sank to the floor of the shower and brought her legs into her chest and dropped her head to her knees. Oh how she hated when she did stupid stuff that left her feeling open and exposed and vulnerable. She was usually much more careful. But somehow between opening up to Summer and spending the night next to AJ, she’d let down her defenses.

At least in here she couldn’t hear the storm. She didn’t have to slide into that big bed all alone and hide under the covers like a scared little kid. All she had to do was stay in here until morning—

She shrieked when the curtain was suddenly yanked aside.

AJ reached in and turned off the water and hauled her out of the shower.

“Hey!” She squirmed and kicked and shoved but it was all ineffective against a grimly determined AJ.

Wrapping her in a towel with clinical efficiency, he backed her to the wall. “Stop,” he said when she tried to knee him in the family jewels. “Jesus, just stop a second.”

When she didn’t, he leaned into her.

“What the—”

Ignoring her, he gripped her hands and slid a powerful thigh between hers, pinning her in place so that she could do little more than suck in air.

“You’re going to have to kill me,” she snarled at him. “Because if you let me go, I’m going to kick your ass.”

His eyes sparked an equal temper but his voice was quiet, calm, and controlled. “I’m trying to apologize.”

“Yeah, well, you have a hell of a way of doing it. Read the handbook,” she snapped. “You forgot the flowers and ass-kissing.”

His jaw was tight, the muscles bunching. “If I let go, will you listen?” he asked.