Authors: Emily Snow
I knew it was over between Sienna and me a good 24 hours before shit really hit the fan. Before tonight. Guess you can call it an asshole’s intuition or the fact that Sam, my ex, reared her greedy head way too fucking early. I’ve realized that there would be nothing for me and Sienna when Atlanta ended since the day we got here, and yet knowing how things would go still didn’t stop me from taking her. From making good on the promise I made to her two years ago. I’ve finally claimed her—owned her—and now I’m going to have to let her go.
No, that’s not right. I’m going to have to
her go. There’s no goddamn chance Red will leave me willingly, not even after that crazy bitch Sam just threatened her. There’s only one way I’ll be able to make Sienna leave me, and I already hate myself for it.
I’ll have to tear her down. Make her see me as the shithead she should’ve never fallen in love with.
Leaning my shoulder against the wall outside the bathroom Sienna disappeared inside of a few minutes ago, I wait for her, ignoring the sound of the guitar coming from the birthday party happening down the hallway. There’s a fire in my chest, but I choose to ignore that too. I shouldn’t have come here. I clench my hands into tight fists. I shouldn’t have brought her here. Sam’s been bent on finding out who Sienna is, and if there’s one thing my ex was ever good at, it was figuring shit out.
I shouldn’t have been so selfish.
But I am. Where Sienna’s concerned, I always have been. Always will be.
The bathroom door swings open, banging hard against the nightclub’s wall. As she stumbles out into the hallway, looking dazed—one of the worst types of pain I’ve ever known starts to eat through my stomach. It almost matches what I felt four years ago, but not completely. That pain was for an entirely different reason.
And the reason behind that pain had been my undoing.
Sienna walks in my direction, staring at the carpeted floor and running her hands up and down the sides of her black lace dress. Just a couple hours ago I had that dressed shoved up around her hips as I fucked her. After she’s gone, that memory will stick with me. Maybe, if I focus real goddamn hard on it, it’ll keep the fact that I had to screw her over out of my mind.
When Sienna nearly collides into me, she stiffens. My muscles go taut, and I find myself clenching my hands so I won’t touch her. I’ve touched her enough. When this is all over, and I’ve convinced myself I’ve gotten her out of my system, I won’t forget the way she felt.
I won’t forget the way she made me feel.
Pushing a few pieces of her red hair away from her flushed forehead, she looks up at me with narrowed blue eyes. “I’m ready to go.”
Like her eyes, her voice is so cold that, for a second, I stand still studying her, wondering what the fuck Sam has told her. Fear claws through my ribcage. It’s a bitter reminder of why I’ve avoided falling in love for so long. The thought of Sam ruining me was crippling enough that there was no need to add love into the mix so it could bend me over and fuck me.
Sienna crosses her bare arms tightly over her chest, and her tits come close to spilling out of that dress. The part of me that needs to possess her, to protect her, nearly kicks in, but I inhale deeply through my nostrils and keep myself from telling her to cover up.
“I’m ready to go,” she repeats from between gritted teeth. When her expression doesn’t change, and I know without a doubt Sam hasn’t told her much of anything, I jerk my head in a nod to the entrance of the nightclub.
“Car’s already waiting.”
I don’t stop and tell Cilla goodbye before I leave. She’ll immediately notice that I’m gone, but she’s the last thing on my mind right now because Sienna is still here. And she’s so close to disappearing from my life again.
There’s not a word between Sienna and me as our driver takes us back to the Four Seasons. We’re still quiet as hell even as we enter the lobby and take the elevator up to our suite. But the moment we enter our room, she hurls her purse across the room to where it spills out on the couch. Then she faces me.
I know that if I don’t take this situation into my hands, I’m going to lose it, too.
“Sit down,” I order, trying to keep my throat from tightening. She starts to question me, like she always does, but I jerk my head to the couch again. “Sit down.”
She follows my directions, her movements just as numb as they’d been after Sam confronted her in the club, and my chest seizes up. I don’t want to do this shit. This is the last thing I’ve ever wanted to do, and being in this room with her is just making it worse. I need to end things now so I can get her out of my life before she gets hurt. I owe her that much, even if I’m burned to a crisp in the process.
“I fucked up—“ I begin, but the words fail me. What am I supposed to say?
I fucked up by using you. Fucked up by bringing you here.
I fucked up by falling in love with you.
She starts crying. Quiet, bitter as hell tears, and I know she doesn’t want to hear any of my shit. But I go forward with it anyway.
As we go back and forth for the next few minutes, I keep from looking into her blue eyes—I can take just about anything she says to me, but I can’t take that. I keep myself detached, not showing her an ounce of emotion. And finally, when I know we’re both at the point of breaking, I clear my throat.
“You’ve got to go,” I say. She says something in response, but my ears are ringing so bad I can’t comprehend what the hell that is. “I’m dismissing you,” I continue, my voice sounding bored, cold. She flinches and hugs herself close. “You’ve fulfilled the terms of our contract.”
She argues. She fights for me. A fucked-up man who doesn’t deserve even a fraction of who she is. In the end, though, I win. I win when I tell her that I’ll still give her back her grandmother’s house, which was her reason for agreeing to work for me to begin with. I win when I refuse to answer any of her questions, when I let her know I don’t owe her anything else. And I win when I leave.
I walk around Atlanta and try to make sense of things, finally ending up at the grimy old apartment building I once lived in when I was still married to Samantha, before Your Toxic Sequel hit it big. And I’m not so fucking stupid that I don’t know exactly how much I’ve just lost.
My life is like a goddamn blur over the next week.
I don’t do much—hell, I spend the majority of my time alone at my house once I go back to Los Angeles—but every move that I do make is haunted by her. By Sienna.
I bet you think I sound like a pussy for saying that, but I don’t give a shit.
She should be here with me.
So since she isn’t, I do my best to pour myself into my work, to drown out the memory of her with music and whiskey.
This is how my kid sister, Kylie, finds me one evening.
“Ugh, it smells like pot and booze in here,” she complains the moment she slips into my downstairs music room. “You, dear brother, are the epitome of EMO right now. I just thought you ought to know that.”
I’m a little surprised by her arrival—she usually lets me know ahead of time if she plans on stopping by so she won’t barge in on something she’ll immediately regret seeing—but I ignore her, scribbling down a line of shitty lyrics that barely make sense.
My sister catches my attention again by plopping down on the leather couch directly across from where I’m sitting and exhaling heavily. “Have you talked to her?”
Ever since I took Kylie to the DMV to get her replacement license earlier this week she’s been on my ass about contacting Sienna. And for the hundredth time since my sister started hounding me, I hear myself ask, “Why? What good will it do if I get in touch with her?”
Sighing, Kylie slouches over, resting her forearms on her thighs. “It’s never too late to make things right.”
More than anyone, my sister should realize that fixing fuck-ups is never that simple. I flick my hazel eyes up from my notebook and take in the sight of her pale skin. There are dark circles beneath her brown eyes from lack of sleeping. She looks like she’ll break at any moment.
Yeah, Kylie should know better.
And I’ve been brought into the center of
mess. I’ve had to deal with Wyatt McCrae’s frantic calls about her since she came back from New Orleans last week—he’s messed things up with her again and wants to fix it, she refuses to deal with his shit. I won’t say anything about that today. Not while she’s still so visibly hurt by whatever happened between them.
“I take it you haven’t,” Kylie says at last once she realizes that she’s not going to get any type of response from me. She scratches her mess of blue and black hair, shaking her head. “You disappoint me, Lucas.”
Her words feel like claws down the side of my face, and I give her a look that would make anyone else lose their nerve. Kylie doesn’t so much as move a muscle. “Have you contacted—” I begin, but once I see how her face falls, how her chest suddenly hitches, I catch myself. I’m a fucking monster for wanting to take my frustrations out on her simply because I’m hurting.
I’m a fucking monster, period.
“Have you talked to Sienna?” I ask instead.
My sister relaxes, leans back and hugs her arms over her chest. The motion shifts her t-shirt, and I’m shocked that there’s no fresh ink on the left side of her chest, which is already covered in tiny blackbirds.
Getting a new bird immediately after a parting with Wyatt has always been Kylie’s forte.
She must realize where my thoughts have shifted to because she flushes and adjusts her shirt, covering the majority of the tattoos. “No, I haven’t talked to her. Not because I don’t want to, but because she’s disconnected her number. And that’s why I’m here.”
My eyebrow jerks up in surprise. “Even Lucas-Fucking-Wolfe can’t make AT&T change someone’s number back, Ky. And my connections probably aren’t good enough to get her new number. Her friends and family fucking despise me.”
“I need her address.”
“Don’t you think you might piss her off by showing up at her house?” I’ve unraveled her so much that, at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if she called the cops on my sister.
Kylie jumps to her feet, clenching her hands by her side. “Don’t you give a shit about what happens to her?” She takes a shuddering breath. “Or, let me guess, she means about as much as one of your groupies to you, huh? Guess Sam did the right thing by scaring her off.”
I feel like she’s just punched the air right out of my lungs.
If I didn’t care about what happened to Sienna, she would be here with me right now, and there’d be no reason for Kylie to stop by and play my goddamn therapist. I wouldn’t care that my time with Sienna could be cut short at any moment. I wouldn’t care about what Sam would do to her, to me. I wouldn’t give a fuck about anything but making myself happy for however long that feeling would last.
No, I care too much.
I flip my notebook closed and shove it aside because it’s impossible for me to write anything today.
Kylie sits back down, gritting her teeth and shaking her head. “You’re lying.”
I press my lips together and meet my sister’s gaze full on. Our eyes challenge each other for several seconds before I finally shake my head. “I know where she used to live, but now I’ve got no clue.”