Read Private Passions Online

Authors: Jami Alden

Tags: #bella andre, #sylvia day, #romance erotic, #romance contemporary, #maya banks, #sexy romance

Private Passions (14 page)

BOOK: Private Passions
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Deck recoiled in shock. "Wait a minute,
you're pissed at
me?"

Jane took a step back. Her face was
bloodless, her skin stretched tight across her tense features.

"You have to see how bad this looks for her,"
Hal snapped. Hailey stood behind him, wearing a smirk that made his
hand itch to slap it off her face.

The roaring was back in his head, a red haze
filming his sight. "How it looks for you?" he wheeled on Jane. "My
family's name is being dragged through the mud, and you're worried
about how this looks for
you?
"

"I—I'm sorry. I know it must have been a
traumatic time, but you have to understand—" Jane reached out to
touch his arm. He shook her off, barely able to stand to look at
her, much less touch her.

He felt like his chest was cracking wide open
at the sheer magnitude of her self-centeredness, her obsession with
her image. She'd just learned he'd suffered a horrific tragedy in
his childhood, and all she could think about was how that might
reflect poorly on
her.

"No, you don't understand, because it's not
in this fucking article!" He grabbed the iPad and flung it across
the room like a frisbee, ignoring Hal's gasp as it crashed and
skidded on the tile floor. "They didn't run the mug shot of my mom
that night sporting two black eyes and a busted lip!"

"I'm sorry," Jane said again. Deck could see
the realization, the shame, starting to shadow her face, but it was
too late.

"You know what else they didn't show? The
pictures they took of me later, with the giant purple bruises
running up and down my back from where that lowlife piece of shit
was beating me with a fire poker! Apparently I tried to get in
between them when he was beating on her and that's when he went
after me.
That's
why she grabbed the shotgun and pumped two
rounds into his chest. Because she knew if she didn't stop him he
was going to beat me to death."

 

###

 

Jane's stomach pitched and she felt like she
was going to be sick. Not just at the horrific images conjured by
Deck's words, but at the tidal wave of shame rushing up and
threatening to drown her.

When Hal had brought the story to her
attention, Jane's first thought hadn't been about Deck, how
horrible it must have been for him to go through that.

Her first thought hadn't been for the man she
loved.

It had been for herself.

So she couldn't blame Deck for looking at her
like she was something he'd scraped off the bottom of his shoe.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," she said, over and
over on an endless loop. "I'll talk to the press—we'll make sure
they get the real story out there."

She took a step towards him and reached out
once again, stopping short when he shook his head, a look of
resigned sadness, and worse, utter disappointment come down over
his face. "I really thought we could have something. I really
thought you could get over this bullshit about what people think
about you. But the truth is that you'll never care about anyone as
much as your precious fucking image."

Jane felt like ice was coating her veins as
her mouth opened and closed a few times. But in the end there were
no words to defend herself.

And while at that moment she would have
gladly suffered a lifetime of bad press for just one more chance
with him, she didn't try to stop him when he turned and left
without another word.

A few minutes later she heard heavy footsteps
on the stairs and the front door open and close

She sank slowly onto one of the barstools
that lined the island. She was vaguely aware of Hal and Hailey
surrounding her, their voices an incomprehensible jumble that
couldn't break through the bitter truth pounding inside her brain,
hammering at her skull from the inside until she wanted to curl up
against the pain.

She'd lost him. Because she was too
self-centered, too self conscious, too caught up in this showbiz
bullshit that tried to convince her that she had to live or die by
what the press was saying about her.

What do you want?
Deck had asked her.
Just few days ago, but it felt like another lifetime. She'd spouted
off a list of things then told him all the reasons the powers that
be could keep her from achieving them.

But the truth was, she was a coward. Afraid
to try and fail, knowing her failures would be shoved into the
spotlight for everyone to revel and laugh. She was so afraid of
what everyone would say about her, she let that stop her from going
after what she really wanted.

And now she'd lost the thing —the person—she
wanted more than anything she'd wanted in her entire life. Because
instead of telling Hal and the press to go suck it and shouting
from the rooftops that she loved Deck, she'd gotten caught in the
worry of how to sell it, how to spin it. Until she'd lost sight of
what was most important.

And lost Deck, this time for good.

 

###

 

With the press milling around him like flies
buzzing around a manure pile, Deck didn't waste any time getting
the hell out of Dodge. That afternoon after he'd left Jane's
feeling like he'd taken a bazooka to his chest, Deck packed a bag,
climbed in his jeep, and headed east.

A quick phone call to Malcolm had gotten him
released from any gigs for the foreseeable future.

"Door's open whenever you want to come back,"
Malcolm had said.

"That's cool of you to say, but I understand
if you need to cut me loose. It can't be good for business."

"To the contrary, man, my phone has been
ringing nonstop for the past two days. Of course some of it's
assholes trying to get some dirt on you, but I'm getting a lot of
requests for our services—and you in particular. Earlier today I
had Katy Perry's people calling, willing to pay triple your usual
rate to head up security for her upcoming tour."

Deck shook his head. "I will never understand
this fucking place." Before he hung up, he asked Malcolm to have
someone look into a few things on his—and Jane's—behalf. He didn't
owe her anymore favors, but something in him couldn't rest until he
figured out who was really behind the leaks.

As the miles blew by, he barely registered as
the scenery changed from urban sprawl to stark desert, the snarl of
traffic dissipating until he felt like he was the only car on the
road. Somewhere outside of Mojave, after his phone rang for the
fiftieth time, he threw it out the window. He didn't want to talk
to a goddamn soul. Not reporters, not friends, and especially not
Jane, whose name had popped up on his caller ID over a dozen times
since he'd left her house.

He drove through the night as the desert gave
way to plains. By the time the noonday sun was beating down on the
asphalt, he was in the mountains, the air crisp and pine-scented as
it whipped in through the windows.

Though he tried to shove Jane out of his
thoughts, it was impossible not to think about her. The week and a
half they'd spent together in at the Shack played back in
excruciating detail. From that first kiss to her whispered "I love
you," like a highly emotional, erotic, movie featuring him as the
star.

Unfortunately his movie didn't end in a
happily every after as they faded into the perfect Caribbean
sunset. Instead it ended in heartbreak as brutal reality hit him in
the face and he realized he never should have expected anything
real from someone who made her fortune from pretending to be people
she wasn't.

To his never-ending regret, it wasn't just
him that was suffering. The ugliness had stained his family
too.

As he pulled up in front of the house he grew
up in he wondered if he was doing more harm than good by coming
here. His appearance would no doubt stir up even more interest. But
hiding out until it all died down didn't sit well with him,
especially when it was his fault his family had been dragged into
it in the first place.

If nothing else, maybe the parasitic
photographers would turn their attention on him and take the heat
off his folks.

He parked his jeep across the street and went
around the back to get his bag, unnoticed for the moment as the
reporters littering his parents' driveway were distracted by
something at the front of the house. Mouth pulled tight, he set off
across the street at a jog, his stomach clenching at the thought of
them swarming around one of his parents.

When he got across the street he saw that it
was indeed his mother who'd captured their attention, she wasn't
fighting the reporters off to make her way to the mailbox or
yelling at them to get off her lawn.

No, his mother, he realized, his mouth
pulling into a reluctant smile, was smiling widely at the crowd as
she offered up a plate piled high with chocolate chip cookies. Of
course she was. His dad had told him that though the onslaught of
attention had caught her off guard, she was taking it all in
stride. Deck had refused to believe it, convinced she was telling
his dad to say that so he wouldn't worry.

He should have known better. His mom was
tough, tougher than most women he knew, and it was going to take
more than some magazine dredging up her past to get her down.

Still, even seeing his mom's cheery demeanor
didn't do much to ease his guilt. She shouldn't have to deal with
any of this, no matter how good a sport she was about it.

One portly reporter scooped up a half dozen
cookies in his meaty paw. He heard his mother admonish, "You don't
want to eat too many. Based on what you all are saying about me,
how do you know I didn't lace them with arsenic?"

A few let out uncomfortable chuckles while
others look shamefaced. Deck ran a frustrated hand through his hair
as he imagined tomorrow's headlines. "Mom, you know that's not
going to help anything," he said as he pushed through the
crowd.

With a gasp of delight, his mother shoved the
platter at the closest person and flung herself at him. He caught
her in a huge bear hug. As he felt her smooth cheek against his and
smelled her familiar laundry detergent and hairspray scent, he
closed his eyes and momentarily forgot about all of the chaos
surrounding him.

For a second he was just a small town kid
from a normal family with a normal life that didn't include sex
with movie stars and the frenzy of media attention that came with
it.

"Honey, it's so good to so see you," his mom
said as the din of the reporters gradually came back into
focus.

"It's good to see you too, Mom."

He elbowed his way past the reporters,
ignoring their shouted questions until one stopped him dead.
"What's your take on reports that Jane's on suicide watch?"

His response spewed from his lips before he
could stop himself. "Jane cares too much about what people think of
her to kill herself over a nobody like me."

"That's a terrible thing to say," his mom
admonished as he shut the door tightly behind him.

Deck set his bag on the floor of the
entryway, bracing himself for a lecture about how, although he
might not be a famous movie star, he was hardly a "nobody."

Once again his mother veered left when he
expected her to go right. "You shouldn't be so cruel about someone
who's clearly in so much pain."

"What are you talking about?" he stepped
through the tiny entryway into the main room of the house, a combo
kitchen and sitting room that could have easily fit in Jane's
walk-in closet. The house was empty. At three-thirty on a Thursday,
his dad was no doubt still at the shop.

"Jane. You shouldn't make cracks like that
when she's obviously having such a hard time."

"Did something happen?" Even as he told
himself the press was no doubt exaggerating, his stomach clenched
at the thought she might seriously hurt herself.

His mother shook her head as she moved
efficiently around her small kitchen. "No, nothing specific anyway,
but it's obvious from all the news that whatever happened between
the two of you has her torn up pretty badly."

"I'm sure she's just playing it up for
sympathy. She'll get over it." He didn't want to think about Jane
being torn up. Not when he himself was walking around feeling like
he'd been smashed to bits and put back together all wrong.

He grabbed his bag and took it back to the
room he used to share with his brothers. His parents had turned it
into an office. Deck grimaced as he spied the couch that lined one
wall, which hid a fold out couch that was inches too short for his
tall frame and had a bar running across the middle that dug into
him no matter what position he slept in.

Hell of a long way from thousand thread count
sheets and specialty made mattresses.

But a hell of a lot more in keeping with who
he was and where he belonged, he thought bitterly.

As he walked back down the short hall he
could smell the scent of cooking onions and browning meat emanating
from the kitchen. Judging from the array of spices lining the
narrow counter it looked like they were having chili tonight.

Usually the mere thought of Mom's homemade
chili had his mouth watering and his stomach rumbling, but right
now he couldn't imagine fitting any food around the bowling ball
sized lump in his stomach.

"Honey, can you grab me the beans from the
pantry? I forgot to get them out."

Deck retrieved the cans and detoured to the
fridge to grab himself a beer.

"How about you?" his mom said as he settled
into a chair at the kitchen table and took a long swallow.

His mom had always had a way of starting a
conversation as though she'd been having it in her head awhile
before she brought you in, and it sometimes took people a few
moments to catch up to her.

Right now Deck was pretty sure where she was
coming from. "How about me what?" he replied playing dumb.

BOOK: Private Passions
7.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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