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Authors: Emily Snow

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BOOK: Absorbed
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“Can’t you find out?”

“No,” I say. “Because I shouldn’t be a part of her life.”

The determination leaves my sister’s expression and is replaced by disbelief. “There’s so much that I want to say, but I doubt it’ll make a difference. And I’m sure that even if I did, you’d just throw my own shit back into my face. But I know you don’t want this. I know you must love—”

I cut her off before she goes too far. “You must not know me all that well.” It even sounds half-hearted, and Kylie gives me a grim smile. 

“Fair enough.” I struggle to control my breathing as my sister gathers her belongings, stopping to grab a stack of mail off the desk next to the couch. She says nothing more as she moves about the room, but when she gets to the door she looks over her shoulder. “Don’t think for a second that I buy any of that hard-ass crap. If I told you that I was over McCrae, would you believe me?”

Despite the pain rolling through every part of my body, I allow the corners of my lips to lift into a sorry excuse for a smile. “No, I wouldn’t buy that shit for a second.”

Kylie grips the doorframe. “Then make things right. Screw Sam, screw the past, screw being afraid.”

When she starts to leave, I clear my throat. “Will you take your own advice?” I demand. She freezes, and I stare at her tensed back for a long pause before she glances back over her shoulder.

“Yeah, eventually I will.”

Fair enough I guess.

I don’t know if it’s Kylie’s words or need that drives me out of the house, but I find myself in my car less than ten minutes later. I locate Sienna’s new apartment quickly, but I don’t stop the Audi. I’m not ready for that yet, and to be honest, I don’t think she is either.

I drive right past, even though seeing where she lives just makes me realize how right my sister was. I’ve got to get her back. Realizing what I’ll need to do to even begin to accomplish that hits me square in my jaw. I grab my phone and dial the one number that shows up in my call history more than any other. The call immediately goes to voicemail. Which is typical when dealing with my ex-wife.

“We need to talk,” I growl. “None of your bullshit or crazy games, I just need to talk to you, Sam.” I know that she won’t call me back until tomorrow or maybe even next week, but I’ll be ready for her.

An hour later I step into my empty house, and I force all thoughts of Sam—and the twisted past we share—out of my mind. I go into my music room, and the only thing I can think of is Sienna. Her scent, her taste, the way she fucking felt when I buried myself inside of her.

I pull out my notebook and guitar and begin to tell her everything.

Chapter Two

Lucas Wolfe

Over the next week, between the studio and a bar that I should start calling home, I rewrite the song for Sienna twice. Well, seven fucking times to be exact, and its not anywhere close to being done. How can I sum up all of these crazy ass emotions—make up for all my fuck-ups—in four minutes? At this point, I need to write Red a damn book to get out everything I want to say.

I decide to put the music aside for a couple days and focus on something else, mainly getting in touch with Sam. I need her out of my life to attempt to move forward with any type of normal relationship with anyone. This is the longest my ex has gone without calling me, without wanting
something
. Almost like a calm before the storm.

And then, she finally contacts me.

Her text comes just as I’m leaving the bank late in the afternoon—which is ironically fitting considering the way my relationship with her has turned into a financial nightmare for me over the last few years. I pull off into a shopping center and park at the end of the lot to read her message and respond.

4:43PM
: You need me, baby?

Baby. I snort. Questions like this from Samantha are always loaded—always a test. I need for her to leave me alone. I need for her to stop holding shit I’ll never be able to change or fix over my head. But no, I don’t need her. Maybe I’m wrong for feeling that way now, but after everything that’s happened, I can’t force myself to feel any of the love I once felt towards her.

I feel disappointment, pity and loathing. And yeah, I feel fucking fear. Not love.

I touch the mute button on my navigation screen to silence the Five Finger Death Punch song that’s playing on the radio. I think of what I should say to her, but then I say fuck it and get right to the point.

4:48PM:
Can you talk? We need to talk about this shit between us.

I can nearly hear the laughter in her soft voice when she immediately counters a minute later.

4:49PM:
This shit between us?

Is she fucking with me?

4:49PM:
Don’t play games, Sam. You know exactly what I mean.

She doesn’t answer right away. Probably coming up with ways to take advantage of the situation, ways to squeeze more cash out of me before she commits to having an adult conversation. But when she does eventually respond, she manages to surprise me.

She’s already in California. In Santa Monica, to be exact. She wants to meet me in an hour, but I’m having a hard time trying to figure out why the hell she’s here of all places. 

I’m almost expecting her to send one more message. A request for me to bring my checkbook or something equally as fucked up, but she doesn’t. That just makes me wonder what the hell she’s got planned.

I make it to the Pier with a half an hour to spare and go ahead in to the amusement park we’ve agreed to meet at. Sam’s rarely ever on time, but she’s already waiting for me near the entrance, pacing in front of the food court and taking long drags on a cigarette.

She notices me almost immediately, despite my black beanie and sunglasses. Her slate gray eyes drag over me, a mixture of appreciation, lust, and disgust filling them.

“You still look like you,” she comments, the moment I’m within hearing distance. She dips her head to the tattoos on my wrist, which are somewhat visible even though I’m wearing long sleeves. “You’re not fooling anyone, Lucas-Fucking-Wolfe. You never have.” Then she shrugs her thin shoulders. “Well, your disguises haven’t fooled anyone. You’ve managed to convince everyone that you’re such a—”

“Keep that shit down,” I warn. She starts to respond, but I pluck the cigarette from her mouth, drop it on the ground and crush it beneath the sole of my shoe. ”And don’t do that in here. There’s kids around..”

She stands on her toes—it doesn’t help her much in the height department compared to me—and presses her thin body close to mine. She’s so fucking skinny.  She’s lost even more weight since I last saw her and that was only a couple of weeks ago.

“Afraid I’ll get kicked out?”

I cock an eyebrow. “No, thinking some soccer mom will beat the shit out of you for blowing smoke in her kid’s face.”

She lowers herself until she’s standing flat on her feet and then leans back, glaring up at me with eyes that look too big for her face. When we were still married—hell, even in the years after when we fucked each other because it seemed impossible to let go—she was healthy, beautiful. Not strung out on everything she could buy with my money. 

“And here I was thinking you didn’t care if I walked off the top of a building, Lucas,” she says, and I cock my head to the side and force the corners of my lips up. She returns the expression.

“Why are you here, Sam?”

She ignores my question and instead, loops her arm through mine. I want to shake her off, but for the sake of not making a scene and not hurting her, I let her hold on. “Walk with me, baby,” she says.  I don’t miss the desperation in her voice. I’ve heard it so many times over the past few years that I can pick it out in a crowded room.

But fuck, it’s something I never want to hear.

We walk for a long time, all the way back to the Ferris wheel, before either of us say anything. At last, I untangle myself away from her grip and touch either side of her shoulders gently. “I’m not going to spend the rest of my life doing this with you.”

She looks confused for about ten seconds and then she sneers. “Really, Lucas?”

“I’ve never been more fucking serious in my life.”

Sliding past me, she steps behind a few kids in line to ride the Ferris wheel. I stare at the back of her head, at the smooth, short black hair that was colored red only a couple weeks ago. I watch the way her shoulders tremble slightly beneath her thin gray t-shirt. The way she hugs herself tightly to hold herself together. Stuffing my hands into the pockets of my jeans, I join her.

She doesn’t meet my gaze when she says, “You’re the one who fucked things up.”

“Yeah,” I say, and a pang of fear punches me in the chest. “I did.”

“You’re the one who—.” She releases her grip on herself to drag her hands through her hair. “What exactly do you want from me?”

“For you to leave me alone. I’ve paid you—fuck me, I’ve paid you. It’s time we end this. If I want to be with someone else, I should be able to—”

Her lips part open, but she quickly replaces her surprise with a harsh look, making her look at least ten years older than she is. “Of course this is about the bitch I met at Cilla’s party.” Her voice deepens with anger when she references Sienna . . . and Cilla. “Cilla was looking like her usual drunk slut self. Makes me wonder about this new company you’re keeping.”

I didn’t keep Sienna. And that’s the problem. “It’s not about anyone. It’s about me refusing to give you shit anymore.”

Since there are people in front of us and behind, Sam isn’t stupid enough to announce my secrets to the world—not when she believes that as long as she has it, she has me. When she finally decides to answer me, she leans in close and the scent of alcohol and cigarette smoke fills my nose. 

“If you want her that much, tell her the truth. Tell her what happened. I’m sure Sienna is just dying to know everything about Lucas-Fucking-Wolfe. I’m sure she’ll understand why you fucked up.”

“Not happening,” I say through clenched teeth.

“Scared you might lose control of her?”

And then something hits me. Like a fucking sack of bricks to the face. Sam wants me to lose control. Maybe even more than she wants my money. And now, somehow, she knows Sienna’s name. “Is that why you’re here? To see Sienna?”

Sam keeps her gray eyes straight ahead on the amusement park ride in front of us. Her lips barely move when she says, “Yes.”

Chapter Three

Lucas Wolfe

Fury races through every vein in my body as I stare down at Sam. A tiny smile tilts the corners of her lips up, but I don't know whether she's mocking me or about to burst in tears in hopes that I’ll pity her. With Sam, either is possible, and right now, either will just piss me off even more. "Why?" I demand. "Why the fuck would you want or need to go to her?"

It’s a dumb question, and I know she thinks so too because she blinks a few times. Visiting Sienna would give her more control. Give her something to use against me. It’s that simple.

Sam crosses her thin arms over her chest again and rocks back on her heels. She shakes her head in disbelief. "God, Lucas. Do you really think I'd--" she begins in a harsh whisper, but the kid behind us in line interrupts.

"Jesus, are you going to ride?" he demands. Sam’s back straightens and she turns slowly, staring the kid down with a dark look that doesn’t seem to affect him. He’s, at the most, ten or eleven, and I start to pull her off before she can cuss him out and get herself arrested. She dodges my hand, stepping aside.

She sweeps her thin arm out in the direction of the amusement park attendant, and my gaze zeroes in on the bruises in the crooks of her elbow. Fucking track marks. 

"Go for it, you little shit," she growls. 

Once the kid has slipped between us, Sam refocuses her attention back to me, granting me a withering look. I break eye contact first by walking away. I'm done with her games, and that's all this is. More of Sam's bullshit. And like always, she’s not done yet. She catches up to me quickly, out of breath with strands of her hair blowing into her gray eyes.

"Don't you want to know if I'm planning on seeing her or not?" she demands, and I release a low laugh that sounds more like a growl.

"You're not.” And I feel like an ass for letting what she said a few minutes ago affect me. “You wanted to meet me to play games. Fuck you."

She stops and grabs my wrist, digging her long, fake fingernails into the star tattoos there. It doesn’t hurt—not the way she wants it to. "You love her." It's not a question, but a statement, and it automatically sends a warning siren blaring through my skull.

"About as much as I love you,” I tell her, enunciating each word to drive the point home. “And you’re quick to tell me how little that was.”

She does a shitty job hiding the way she flinches. I watch her carefully—the way she brings her hand up to cover her mouth as if she's stifling a giggle, the way her chest rises and falls heavily—and I know I’ve given her the right answer. The type of answer that hurts. The type of answer that will keep her from Sienna.

"You make me sick," she finally says, and I cock my head to one side.

"You forgot to tell me you love me first. Isn't that how it usually goes? You tell me you still want me and then tell me to go eat a dick."

Grabbing the front of my shirt, she brings herself to her toes and gets her face as close to mine as she can. "I could ruin you."

I pull her off me, untangling her fingers from my shirt. I force a smile that nearly breaks my goddamn face. The last thing I need is to find my picture on the front of some tabloid for getting into it with her in public. "You already have.”

“Already what?” she demands.

“Ruined me.” I touch the inside of her elbow, and she winces. “And yourself.”

When I turn to leave her standing in front of a family bathroom, she lets out a strangled noise from the back of her throat. "You're going?"

I turn around to face her, but continue to walk backwards towards the exit. Away from this woman who’s made the last few years of my life a bigger nightmare than I'd already made for myself. "There's not shit else to say to you."

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