Page 41 of The Keeper

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Cal’s mouth drops open at the forwardness of my statement. I raise an eyebrow flirtatiously, but he composes himself quickly. “Well, I already fucked the drummer. And I still like the band.”

This makes me laugh out loud, hard, and I look up and find Calum smiling at me, sea-blue eyes and everything. Like, really smiling for the first time ever that I’ve seen.

“Damn, you’re handsome when you smile.” I lean in without even a thought and lay a kiss on him.

He hesitates, and I panic, thinking maybe PDA isn’t his thing, but then he puts his hand at my waist and pulls me firmly against him. He slides his tongue into my mouth for a hot kiss that has people in line telling us to “get a room.”

We break apart, Cal blushing and me trying to catch my breath enough to order our beers before we head down onto the floor for the show.

The Lumineers are a lighter fare than I usually play or listen to, but I do love them. They open with “Ophelia,” which we both sing at the top of our lungs. We pretty much sing every song after, and I find myself lost in the good vibes of the crowd. It’s an easy, light atmosphere, and I’m having a great time.

As we leave the venue at the end of the show, I don’t miss that Cal is holding my hand. I love the way we fit together, and I’m about to say it as we step out into the evening air. Cal beats me to a comment, though.

“Thanks, Billie,” he says with a squeeze of my hand. “You’re my only friend in Vegas, and you’re making the transition bearable for me.”

“Oh,” I say, pulling my hand away.Friend. He said friend.

“What? Did I say something stupid again?”

“No, it’s just…you said friend. You called me yourfriend.”

“Well, what was I supposed to call you?”

“I don’t…I guess I don’t know.” I laugh lightly. “Sorry. It’s just that—”

“That friends don’t do what we did, Billie? What I’d like to do again?” His blue stare, so intense and sexy, has me remembering our night together (not for the first time) because I’ve logged some serious minutes remembering our night together. While doing the quarterly reports for CSLV, for example. Or when working out the kinks on a song at band practice. But I digress. Back to Cal’s pseudo-questions I have no answer for.

Cal seems to accept my silence, and I decide I like the way he says my name. Very much.

Also, that fizzy crackle of energy between us is back, big-time.

That crackle of energy that never really left, I mean. The sexual tension’s been bouncing all night, making heat bloom between my legs. I run my fingertips over my forehead and blow out a long breath. Sexual frustration is a crazy thing.

“Where are you staying?” Cal asks.

“With my parents. In my childhood bedroom, which is a riot. But any minute away is a minute well spent. So, thank you. I’ve had fun tonight.”

“I’d invite you to stay with me, but we leave early in the morning for Oakland. I’d hate to kick you out.”

“Yeah, I need my beauty sleep,” I tell him, shrugging off the sense of rejection I’m feeling. “And so do you. You have to play hockey tomorrow. So, I’m gonna go home and you’ll go to your hotel, and we’ll avoid this getting any more awkward than it already is.”

“Is it awkward?” Cal looks genuinely perplexed. “I thought I was doing better than usual.”

“You’re perfect. It’s me. I’m being awkward. I’ll call you Saturday morning and we’ll figure out the party plans, okay? We need to get our story straight. My mom can spot a lie a million miles away.”

“And you said you’re a bad actress.” He gives me another shot of dimple that should be illegal.

“No, I said I hated acting, not that I was a bad actress. It’s you I worry about.”

“You should. I am not a good actor.”

“That’s truly shocking, Cal.”

He narrows his eyes and leans in, kissing me on the cheek, the hint of beard stubble pressing into my skin in a way that makes me want to shiver. “Take this next cab, Billie. I’ll talk to you Saturday.”

I blow a kiss as I hop into the back of the cab, giving the driver my family’s Malibu address.

He stands on the sidewalk as my cab pulls away, watching with all the intensity I’ve grown to recognize as classic Calum Lefleur.

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