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Authors: KE Payne

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BOOK: The Road to Her
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“Not really,” she mumbled.

“Has something happened?” I asked, sipping at my water. “Have you had bad news or something?”

“No,” she said quietly. “Nothing like that.” She perched precariously on the edge of my sofa, and in her drunken mess she looked like she was about to slide off into a heap on the floor. I put down my glass and went to her, gently extricating her glass from her grip.

“Just been thinking, thassall.” She tried to focus on me through bleary eyes.

“Yuh-huh,” I said, moving away slightly from her. “That’s never a good idea—too much thinking, especially after a skinful!”

“All I want is someone nice,” she mumbled. “Someone who’ll take care of me.” She blinked tears away. “I never meant to go out with Robbie or sleep with Stig, Holly,” she said suddenly. “That was never the plan. I just wanted to forget about things.”

“Okay,” I said slowly, wondering just why she’d think to mention either of them right now.

“And I never meant to push you away like I have been doing,” she said. “I’m just so scared.”

“Of what?” I asked.

“Why did you kiss me like that on the shoot?” she asked. “And before that? In your dressing room?”

My heartbeat quickened. “You know why,” I said. “We’ve been over this enough times.”

“I need to hear you tell me,” Elise said.

“Don’t do this,” I said. “You’re drunk. You’re only being like this because you’re drunk. It’s a mistake, Elise.”

“I’m drunk, yes,” she said. “But sober enough to know what I want, and I know that I want you.”

“You don’t.” I shook my head, ignoring the pounding of my heart. “You’ve made that perfectly clear.”

“I’ve never said that I don’t want you, Hol,” Elise said. “Just that I can’t be with you.”

“Your work,” I said bitterly. “I know, I know. Your work is more important to you than giving in to what your heart’s telling you.”

“I know what my heart’s telling me now, though.” She gazed at me for the longest time before reaching her hand out and touching my face, tracing her fingers up and down my cheek, sending a shudder through me. No one had touched me like that since Grace. I’d forgotten how nice it was. “And I know what I want now,” she said.

“Don’t do this,” I said half-heartedly, closing my eyes. When I opened them she was still looking at me, her face a mixture of wanting and confusion.

“Do you really mean that?” she asked. She put her other hand on my other cheek and leant her face closer to me, so that her lips were now inches from mine, her warm breath fluttering against my skin.

“No,” I said weakly.

“Do you want me to stop?” Elise bent her head and kissed my neck.

“No.” My voice was barely audible.

“Good,” she whispered back as she pressed her lips to mine and began slowly kissing me, sighing in the back of her throat as I kissed her back. I was unable—and unwilling—to hold back anymore, loving the feeling of her gentle lips on mine, and the taste of her.

Finally, we pulled apart. Elise looked at me and bent her head, touching her forehead against mine.

“Oh, Holly, Holly, Holly,” she sighed, breathing out slowly. “Holly Eight-Year.”

She kissed me again, her soft lips warm and sweet on mine. As I kissed her back, her hand that had been stroking my face moved down to my leg, running over it, caressing the outside of my thigh, sending shockwaves through me. I was dizzy with longing for Elise, and the more she kissed me, the more my head spun, making me feel as if I was floating up to the ceiling.

“I don’t understand,” I finally said when she pulled away.

She leant her head against the back of the sofa and studied me carefully. “Don’t understand what?” she asked slowly, her eyes fixed firmly on my lips rather than my eyes. Before she could even give me a chance to answer, she leant over again and started kissing my neck, nuzzling into me, tracing her lips and tongue against my skin, pulling my PJ top away from my shoulder, kissing down over it to my collarbone.

“Anything. Everything.” I gasped as her hand crept up under my PJ top. I grabbed her hand to stop her and pulled away. “What’s changed?”

“All my life,” she began, biting at her lip, “I’ve been worried what other people think.”

“But—” I began.

“Shh!” Elise hushed me. “Worried about my public image, concerned about how people see me, scared that it’ll affect my career.” She looked evenly at me. “It’s held me back all my life, stopped me from being who I really am.”

“Stopped you?” I reached out and moved her hair from her eyes.

“Sometimes it’s stopped me from being with the person I really want to be with,” Elise said. “But it’s never stopped Casey, has it?”

“Casey?” I asked, confused.

“I’m playing this girl who’s not afraid of what people think about her,” Elise said. “A girl who knows what she wants and won’t let anyone stop her.” She breathed in deeply, her breath faltering. “I can be that girl on screen, but I can’t be that girl in real life.” Elise looked at me, her face pained. “How fucked up is that?”

“Casey’s just a character, Elise,” I said. “Invented for the amusement of the viewing public.”

“But she has what I want,” Elise said. “I’m jealous of her because she has something I want.”

“Which is?”

“You,” Elise replied simply. “She has the confidence to be who she truly is, and she has the guts to be with who she wants to be with in life.” Elise closed her eyes. “And you have no idea how much I hate that she has you…and I don’t.”

“But…” I chose my words carefully. “Your career? Your image?”

“I’m lonely,” Elise said simply. “I’m lonely without you, but I still ignored my feelings for you because I thought everything would change if I gave in to them.” Her eyes flickered up to meet mine. “But I can’t ignore it anymore.”

“Nothing needs to change,” I said. “No one needs to know a thing.”

Elise stood up, holding a hand out to me. As I stood to join her, she pulled me close to her, kissing me slowly, running her hands up under my PJ top and over my bare back, raking her fingernails softly up and down over my skin. Without a word, she took my hand again and led me to my bedroom.

I dropped her hand and watched as she slowly lay down on my bed and beckoned me over to her, but instead of joining her, I remained rooted to the spot in the doorway, unsure whether I should go to her. It was agony. Elise had finally admitted that she liked me, and yet something was still holding me back. She was drunk. Did she really mean it? If I went to her now, there would be no holding back.

“Are you sure about this?” I asked her. I peered at her closely, watching as her eyes slowly got heavier and heavier, and smiled to myself even though inside I was groaning with frustration. “You’re falling asleep, Elise,” I said.

She held a hand out to me. “No, I’m not.” She propped herself up on one elbow and squeezed her eyes shut, then opened them again. “Too much whisky tonight, thassall.”

Finally I walked over to her. She reached her arms up to me and knitted her hands behind my neck, pulling me down to her. Gently removing her hands from around me, I leant over and moved her hair from her eyes, softly kissing her forehead.

“You’re drunk and tired and confused,” I began.

“And horny,” she said, interrupting me.

“Maybe so. But…I’m not taking advantage of you in this state,” I said firmly.

“Oh, please do.” She groaned, her eyes closing.

“No.” With a sigh, I went to the end of the bed and removed her Converses, listening as her breathing got longer and deeper with each breath.

I looked at her lying on my bed, her blond hair falling softly onto my pillow, her eyes now shut. My heart ached for her. After gazing at her for a few seconds, I slowly and gently pulled the duvet up around her, making her stir.

“Holly?” She looked at me through sleepy eyes.

“Yuh-huh?”

“Sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

What was she sorry for? For kissing me?

“Everything.”

My heart sank. “Okay.”

“For almost everything. But not for kissing you just then,” she murmured. “I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time.”

“Okay.” I tried to sound convinced.

“Holly?”

“Mm-hmm?”

“Don’t go.”

“I’ll just be next door, Elise,” I said gently. “You’ll be okay.”

“Don’t go,” she said again, struggling to prop herself up on her elbow and look up at me, her eyes heavy lidded, her face crumpling. “I don’t want to sleep alone.”

I hesitated, still standing at the end of the bed, then eventually crept into bed beside her, pulling the duvet up over us both. Elise turned onto her side, facing away from me, and reached round and took my arm, bringing it across her body and hugging it to herself. I nestled in behind her, spooning her, and wrapped my arms tight around her.

“Thank you, Hol,” she said sleepily before turning her head away from me and drifting off to sleep.

Chapter Twenty

 

When I woke up the next morning, the memories of what had happened the night before slowly began to seep, like morning mist, through my tired, hungover brain. Elise was still lying next to me, but now she faced me, fast asleep, breathing slowly and deeply.

I lay on my back, staring up at the ceiling, wondering if last night had actually happened, that Elise really had done what she’d done, or whether it had all been that damned clichéd just a dream.

She sure wasn’t a dream. Her hair, always so perfect and never out of place, was now sticking up every which way; I looked at her lovely, full lips, those same lips that had kissed me the night before with such longing, and I wanted to kiss them again now and keep kissing them, over and over. She truly was beautiful, and I honestly don’t think I’d ever wanted someone quite as much as I wanted Elise right at that moment.

I exhaled slowly, studying her one more time as if to check she really was there, then slowly pulled back the duvet and started to get out of bed.

“Holly?” Elise murmured, beginning to stir.

I paused, legs half out of the bed, and turned back to look at her. “Hey.”

Elise’s eyes blinked open slowly, and I watched as she tried to focus and figure out where she was. “Hey,” she said, blinking harder now. She stretched her arms out in front of her and smiled sleepily up at me.

“You okay?” I asked, sitting on the edge of the bed now.

“Mm,” she replied. “I think I was quite drunk last night, wasn’t I?”

Too drunk to remember that we’d kissed?

“A little bit,” I said wistfully. I didn’t know if I should say something else, about what had happened, but because Elise hadn’t said anything, I didn’t feel like I could. Instead I sat in silence, tracing a pattern on the duvet with my index finger while she lay on her back, gazing up at the ceiling, apparently deep in thought.

“En-suite’s just there,” I said, when it was clear Elise wasn’t going to speak. I got up and headed towards the kitchen. “Make yourself at home and all that.”

I made coffee in something of a daze, thinking about everything that Elise had said to me the night before while I listened to her pad about in my bedroom, humming to herself as she did so.

A wave of panic washed over me. What if she’d been so drunk she’d forgotten what had happened? What if she thought she just got drunk and crashed at my place—as friends do? Or maybe she did remember it, but she regretted it. She’d gone to the bathroom, and now she was in there thinking about how to tell me she’d made the biggest mistake of her life, wondering just how on earth she was going to get herself out of this situation.

I turned and looked with uncertainty as Elise came into the kitchen and leant against the unit, arms folded across her chest. I hesitated, then turned back to the coffee cups, still empty.

“You okay?” she asked from behind me.

“Sure.” I didn’t turn to look at her, scared that I wouldn’t like the look on her face because it might tell me everything I was afraid of. Instead, I focused on the cups on the unit in front of me, a thousand voices all shouting together in my head to be heard.

What should I say to her?

Should I say anything at all, or wait for her to speak?

I cleared my throat. “Do you remember any of what happened last night?” I peered over my shoulder at her.

She watched me for a moment before a slow, happy expression crept across her face. “I do,” she said sleepily.

I remained rooted to the spot, still watching her over my shoulder, the coffee cups still empty. “And do you regret it?” I asked hesitantly.

“Do you?” Elise asked slowly.

I shook my head. “But do you?” I asked again.

Elise walked slowly up behind me and circled her arms around my waist, resting her chin on my shoulder.

“What do you think?” she asked, kissing the crook of my neck.

I leant back into her, practically weak with relief, and put my hands over hers. “Well, I’m glad,” I said softly, resting my head against hers. “Last night was awesome.”

“We didn’t, er, did we?” she suddenly said, pulling her head back and peering at me. “Because if we did, then I don’t remember it, and that really wouldn’t be good!”

I laughed and turned round to face her, leaning against the unit and tucking a stray bit of her hair back behind her ear. Despite having just got up, and despite being hungover and still being in last night’s clothes, she still looked—to me anyway—as hot as hell.

“We didn’t, no,” I said. “We just kissed.” I thought for a moment. “Elise…” I began.

“Holly?” Her voice rose with amusement.

“Does this mean…” I bit at my lip, looking down towards the floor then back to her. “Does this mean you want to be with me?”

“I guess it does,” she said. “If you want me, that is?”

Did I want her?!

“You know I want you, Elise,” I said, “but—”

“But what?”

“What about everything we spoke about before?” I said. “About you being scared?”

“I’ve thought about nothing else for days,” Elise said. “I’ve thought about what you said about nothing had to change between us, and maybe you were right all along.” She took my hands. “I thought I’d be okay just being your friend, but I’m not,” she said. “Something keeps pulling me to you, time and time again. I guess there’s only so many times I can ignore my feelings.”

BOOK: The Road to Her
12.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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