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Authors: Roni Loren

Wanderlust (9 page)

BOOK: Wanderlust
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“We’re good,” he said and smiled at Aubrey.

“No, we’re great. Take me to bed, Lex.”

He laughed. “Come on.”

He grasped her elbow and steered her down the hallway, the thick carpet converting their steps into muffled thumps. As they neared the end of the corridor, he heard a distinct click behind him. He turned.

Jared leaned out of his door. “Lex? Where’ve you been? Pete was looking for you.”

Lex groaned. “I was out. Now I’m going to bed.”

Jared’s gaze slid over to Aubrey, who was standing behind Lex. His lips lifted into a slow, knowing smile. “With our reporter?”

“Dude, seriously, go to bed,” he warned.

Jared’s grin grew wider. He gave a little wave. “Good night, Aubrey.”

She stepped up next to Lex and slid her arm around his waist, nonplussed. “Good night, Jared.”

Jared disappeared and clicked his door shut. But the brief interruption and Aubrey’s reaction had been as effective as a bomb going off in Lex’s lust-fogged mind. He lowered his head and closed his eyes, reality sinking into his bones.

“What’s wrong?” Aubrey asked, concern coloring her voice.

“You’re drunk,” he said, stating what he had tried to convince himself out of in the limo.

“What?”

He turned to her with a sigh and put his hands on her shoulders. “The Aubrey I know would’ve been horrified that another band member saw us going to my room together.”

“Maybe you never saw the real Aubrey.”

He lifted the corner of his mouth. “Or maybe I’m seeing too many martinis. This is more than a buzz, babe.”

Her shoulders sagged beneath his hands. “No, it’s not. I bet I could still say the alphabet backward.
Z, Y, U, V
 . . . wait.
Z, Y . . .”

He wanted to kiss away the line that appeared between her brows as she tried to concentrate. But there would be no more kissing tonight. “Come on, let’s get you into bed. You probably won’t remember any of this in the morning, anyway.”

Her frown deepened. “You’re turning me down?”

He stared at her—flushed and mussed and pantyless—an invitation for no-strings-attached sex wrapped up in a black satin bow. He wanted her. God, he wanted her. Had since the first moment he’d dragged her on stage. And that craving had only gotten worse the more he’d gotten to know her. She was different and interesting and so goddamned sexy. His whole body ached with that need to claim her, begging him to take advantage of the situation.

But girls like her only wanted boys like him when they were too drunk to know better.

He leaned past her and inserted his key card in the door. “Yes, I’m turning you down. For now. But if you still want to jump my bones in the morning, I’m all yours.”

“This is silly. I’m not going to change my mind.”

“Great.” But he knew she would. He had let himself lose control with her while she was wasted. She would wake up one of two ways: completely oblivious to what had happened or painfully aware and hating him for it. He didn’t know which would be worse.

Chapter 9

Aubrey squinted in the piercing light and pulled the covers over her face with a groan. Had a herd of elephants trampled across her head? Or maybe someone had hit her with a bat. She rolled over and tried to open her eyes again. The glow of the morning sun filtered through the white bedspread like knives to her eyeballs. God, why did she feel so bad?

She froze, rewinding her thoughts. Wait. A white bedspread? Her bed didn’t have a down comforter. She threw the blanket off, shielding her eyes with her arm, and peered around the room. Panic seeped in. Nothing was familiar. Where the hell was she he? Her gaze snagged on the reflection in the mirror on the other side of the room.

“Oh, good Lord.” Her hair resembled a Pekinese’s, and she was wearing a Led Zeppelin T-shirt. Not hers. She ran her hands over her face. “Fantastic.”

She eased out of the bed, yanked the curtains closed, and then pressed her back against them. The room spun for a moment. She swallowed hard, trying to fight off the wave of nausea.

The red numbers on the clock stared back at her, revealing that it was a few minutes past seven. She ran her hands through her knotted hair. How long had she been sleeping? More important, what had she been doing before she fell asleep? The bed was in shambles, her cocktail dress lay in a heap on a nearby chair, and she was wearing men’s boxer shorts with no panties underneath. Those clues when added to her wicked headache didn’t paint a flattering picture.

She took a deep breath, made a quick trip to the bathroom, and then padded to the closed bedroom door, bracing herself. Moving as slowly as possible, she turned the lever handle until the lock released with a muted
thunk
. Through the door, there was an adjoining living room decorated in soft creams and chocolate browns. Lex lay sprawled on the main couch, his face relaxed in slumber. He had unbuttoned his shirt and slipped off his shoes, but was otherwise dressed. Relief and disappointment hit Aubrey at the same time.

Hotel stationery littered the coffee table, and a guitar was perched against the arm of the couch near Lex’s feet. She tiptoed closer and picked up one of the sheets of paper. Short lines of poetry—no, song lyrics—covered the front and back. She squinted trying to decipher his jagged handwriting.
Take me. Use me. Drain me dry. I can numb your pain. Don’t hide behind your lie.

She sank into the love seat as the memories of the previous night crashed into her. Her asking Lex to help her forget, climbing on top of him and begging him to take her, his hands caressing her. Him with his fingers buried deep inside her as he gave her an orgasm strong enough to make her scream.

“Fucking hell,” she breathed, pressing the heels of her hands to her eyes. She had thrown herself at him in the most embarrassing way possible—drunk and desperate. How goddamned humiliating.

Lex stirred and stretched his limbs like a cat, yawning. Aubrey dropped the sheet of stationary onto the table. He rolled onto his side, his eyes widening at the sight of her.

“Oh, hey,” he said in a graveled, sleep-heavy voice—a sound that had her skin tingling, remembering his touch, the way his mouth had felt on hers. He propped himself up on his elbow. “How long have you been up?”

His tousled hair and lazy grin were almost too much for her frazzled hormones. How unfair that he looked so damn sexy fresh from sleep when she looked like a she’d been thrown into a blender and poured out. She forced a weak smile. “Not long, I didn’t mean to wake you. Sorry.”

He shrugged a shoulder. “No worries. I’ve had years of practice surviving on little sleep. How are you feeling?”

She groaned. “Like someone aimed a nail gun at my head and pulled the trigger a couple hundred times.”

His chest bounced in a soft chuckle. “That good, huh?”

“I guess I really went for it last night,” she said, heat rising to her cheeks. “I mean, with the alcohol.”

“You could say that,” he said in a measured tone.

She looked down at her outfit, twisting the hem of his shirt in her fingers. “Um, so what exactly happened?”

A resigned look passed over his face. “You don’t remember?”

She dropped her gaze and pulled a throw pillow onto her lap. Pretending not to remember what had happened was a chickenshit route to take, but she didn’t know how to broach the topic
. Hey, remember how you got me off last night and I tried to screw you in the limo? That was something, huh?

Last night she’d acted like some confident vixen. Some alternate universe version of herself. Now she felt like an imposter—embarrassment rolling around in her stomach and the nerve she’d mustered up last night gone. “Not much after Bradley talked to us at the bar.”

“That smarmy dickhead.” He shifted into a sitting position. “He’s lucky I only had one beer in me. Otherwise I may not have been so nice.”

“No use stirring up stuff with him. He’s not worth the effort.”

Lex propped his feet on the coffee table, shoving aside papers, and rubbed the back of his head. “We fooled around but didn’t have sex, if that’s what you’re asking. I realized how drunk you were when we got here, so I put you to bed.”

“Oh,” she said, nodding, but keeping her eyes focused on the pillow. “Thank you for that. For not, you know, letting it go too far.”

He made a dismissive grunt. “Of course. That’s not something you need to thank me for. I wouldn’t be that big of an asshole.”

She nodded again. She believed that. Lex could be a jerk, but he wouldn’t take advantage of a woman. He didn’t need to. Women fell at his feet. She certainly had last night. Aubrey Bordelon—desperate, drunk girl.
Yay.
Just what she wanted to be, especially with a guy she was supposed to be working with.

She picked up the paper she’d been holding before, grasping for a change in subject. “So you stayed out here all night? Writing?”

Before she could read over the page, he snapped it from her hand in one swift motion. “That’s not ready for reading yet. I just had some ideas for songs on my mind.”

“Well, that’s good news, right?”

His lips curved. “Yeah, nothing like a raging case of blue balls to inspire creativity. Pretty much every song I penned in high school had the same fuel for inspiration.”

She cringed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to send you mixed signals.”

He lifted a hand as if to wave away her apology. “Seriously, don’t. We’re cool. I’m just messing with you. Last night was—”

But she couldn’t be cool and she couldn’t let him finish that statement. She needed to undo this, to make this right. This was a disaster. “Last night was a mistake.”

Lex’s lips clamped shut.

“I just . . . I don’t know . . . my head was a mess. I needed to get away from that party, and you were . . . there.” She cringed internally at the words, but she needed to make things clear with him, put those lines back in the sand. “That was inexcusable to use you that way. I don’t know what I was thinking. I should’ve let Grayson take me home or gotten a cab.”

“Grayson?”
His jaw flexed and his eyes darkened. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

“I’m sorry.” She shook her head. “But seriously, thanks for making sure I didn’t end up passed out in an alley somewhere. This whole thing was beyond unprofessional. I’m glad you were—”

“Just conveniently there. Yeah, I got it.” He dropped his feet to the floor and stood.

The temperature in the room dropped ten degrees with his icy tone. “Lex”

He buttoned his shirt, not looking at her. “Look, I need to be somewhere. You can let yourself out whenever. We’re done here.”

She got up from the chair, unsure how to fix this. Everything she said seemed to make it worse. “You don’t need to leave. It’s your room. I can go.”

He smirked and looked down at her disheveled state. “No. Better for me to do the walk of shame since I’m the only one here not feeling any. You get cleaned up. Then, you can officially pretend this never happened. All will be perfect in your world again.”

Frustrated tears sprung to her eyes. “You don’t get it, Lex. This isn’t me.”

He moved closer, towering over her, and shook his head. “No, babe.
You
don’t get it. Your version of
you
isn’t you. It’s what all those people in your life expect you to be.” He bent next to her ear. “But that doesn’t make it true. It just makes you obedient. Stop living someone else’s life. It won’t bring her back.”

Her breath hitched, but he didn’t give her a chance to respond. He stepped around her, grabbed his wallet from the table by the door, and walked out.

She stared at the door, an uncomfortable tightness squeezing her chest, and then rushed to the bathroom, losing the fight with her nausea.

Afterward, she sat against the edge of the bathtub, trying to get her emotions reined in so she could figure out what to do next. She couldn’t deal with Lex’s words right now. She couldn’t deal with last night. She just needed to get out of here and get to work. None of her options seemed overly appealing.

Call Gray to bring her some clothes? Yeah, he’d love that.

Doing the walk of shame barefoot in a wrinkled cocktail dress through the bustling lobby and hailing a cab? She groaned.

She pushed herself to a stand and headed to the sink to wash her face. An ivory gift bag with the hotel’s insignia sat beside the miniature shampoos. She peeked inside and saw a leaf of stationery on top with Lex’s messy handwriting.

Thought you may need a few things. –L

He must’ve put the bag in there while she’d been sleeping. She dumped the bag onto the counter, and its contents scattered. A travel toothbrush wrapped in cellophane, a packet of aspirin, gold flip-flops, and a casual blue wrap dress with a tag from the hotel gift shop. The only thing missing was a pair of panties, which Aubrey suspected Lex had left out on purpose. She ran her thumb across his note, not knowing what to think. Was this an act of consideration or the act of a guy who was a professional at the morning after?

Probably both. But what did it matter?

Ugh.
God, she’d screwed up. She’d dropped her guard and let things get out of control. And then she’d made him feel like she’d used him because he happened to be there—when the truth was, she’d been drinking, but she’d never wanted anything more in her life than that man, in that moment.

But she couldn’t tell him that part. She couldn’t let this go any further.

Your version of you isn’t you.

Maybe not. But it was all she had keeping her together.

It’d gotten her this far, and she couldn’t risk throwing that all away for a guy who’d be gone in a matter of days. Lex had the privilege of being reckless. She didn’t. She’d used up that free pass a long time ago.

***

Aubrey collapsed into her desk chair after a shower at the hotel and a quick cab ride home to grab some essentials. She’d made it to work only twenty minutes late, which she considered a win. She hadn’t dared to turn on her cell phone before now, but she couldn’t avoid it any longer. Seven missed calls and four messages since ten o’clock last night. Her mother and father had both left separate messages of concern tinged with thinly veiled disappointment about her rushing out of the benefit. The other two messages and missed calls were from Grayson. Was she okay? Why wasn’t she home when he drove by after the event? Should he send out a search party?

She grimaced and gulped down the remnants of her second cup of coffee. She couldn’t deal with Gray right now. What could she tell him?
I spent the night in Lex’s hotel room like some two-bit groupie. But no, we didn’t sleep together. Really. No, we only shared one of the hottest moments of my life in his limo and then I begged him to take me to bed.

She texted Gray to let him know she was fine and would call him later. Time to think and find some quiet—that’s what she needed. She lowered her head into her hands and rubbed her temples.

Her office phone buzzed loudly in her ear.

Brittany, the receptionist, yelled through the speaker. “Aubrey, the Wanderlust guys are here for the photo shoot. Jordana said I should let you know since you’re in charge of their story.”

Her stomach flipped over. “What photo shoot?”

Brittany sighed like Aubrey had asked her to describe the origins of the universe. “You know. The one for the article. It’s been scheduled for weeks.”

She groaned. Brittany hadn’t bothered to update Aubrey’s calendar with Nick’s appointments. “Go ahead and send them to the hair and makeup people. I’ll come by in a little while.”

Brittany popped her gum. “Fine, whatever.”

Fabulous
. So much for a few hours’ peace before traversing Mt. Awkward with Lex Logan. Why couldn’t she have scratched her itch with a random one-night stand? No, she had to throw herself at the one guy she couldn’t escape. Aubrey lowered her head and banged it on the desk a few times.

After a quick pep talk, another cup of coffee, and more aspirin, Aubrey squared her shoulders, took a deep breath, and opened the door to the magazine’s makeshift dressing room—a dull gray conference room with lighted mirrors along one wall. Lex sat in the makeup chair with his back to her. She glanced at his reflection in the mirror, but he had his eyes closed so that Travis could apply makeup. Jared and Gunner were huddled at the conference table looking at an open spiral notebook.

Jared glanced up. “Hey there, Aubrey.”

Aubrey remembered seeing him the night before on her way into Lex’s room. Hopefully Jared hadn’t mentioned it to the other guys. Maybe she could maintain some shred of dignity with at least two of them.

“Hey, guys,” she said, attempting to sound relaxed and casual. “How’s it going?”

Jared stretched his arms above his head. “Fine, except that it’s ten in the morning and I’m awake.”

She laughed. “Sorry, Nick always schedules these things early.”

A chair squeaked as Lex whirled around. She lifted her head and met his stare. He wore the same Led Zeppelin T-shirt that she had been wearing earlier.

The sight knocked her in the gut. He would’ve had to go back to the room and make a point to put it on. Why? To mock her? Make her look at a reminder all day? Prove a point?

BOOK: Wanderlust
6.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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