Page 20 of Naughty Girl

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She steps forward, hands dropped to her sides. Color is drained from her face, and I just want to put my arms around and hug her. “I’m sorry,” she says in a small voice, but doesn’t waver her gaze from his. Even right now, with the surprise and embarrassment, she’s brave.

Alex snorts, then shakes his head, and dashes out of the office.

“I’ll talk to him,” I tell Riley, then follow my son.

“Alex!” I call him, raising my voice, using the tone of voice I use when he screws up big time. Ironic, since I was the one who screwed up. I was caught at work, fucking his ex-girlfriend.

“Don’t talk to me,” he says, gesturing with his hand, and keeps walking on the hallway toward the elevators.

I stride in his direction, shaking my head. I see a few people looking at us, discreetly of course, but it’s hard not to when the energy oozing from his body is resentful and negative.

The elevator doors open with a ping, and a few people exit, and he rushes in. I follow him just in time, shoving my foot to keep it from closing. Thankfully, he’s the only one inside. I fix my collar and join him. I don’t care where we’re going at this point, but he’ll listen to me whether he wants to or not.

“Alex, I’m sorry about this entire situation. I was going to talk to you about Riley and me, and I didn’t mean for you to find out that way,” I say honestly. A part of me softens. Despite Alex having made his many mistakes in the company and also with Riley, he doesn’t deserve this.

“Riley and you? Did she cheat on me while we were together?” His eyes widen, and he slams his fist on the pad, accidentally selecting god knows how many floors. “She had to. We broke up not that long ago.”

“She never cheated on you,” I say quickly. “Sadly, I can’t say the same about you.” I add, and regret fills my chest a second later. Shit, this isn’t the time for this type of shame. But the idea that he’d think the worst of Riley just doesn’t sit right with me.

He slams his fist on the elevator wall. “You have some nerve, giving me a life lesson right now.”

I sigh, and will myself to relax. “This is just common sense, son. You screwed up with her. She’s moved on.”

He shakes his head, and the look he gives me is full of resentment. “How about me?”

“What about you?”

“Aren’t you going to ask howIfeel?” he asks, raising his voice.

I jam both hands in my pockets, wishing I could breathe easier. The claustrophobic element of the elevator doesn’t help, added to my guilt and frustration. “It’s safe to say you hate me right now. I don’t blame you. But you’re not innocent in this whole thing. If there is one part that doesn’t deserve the blame, it’s Riley.” After all, even though she had a revenge plan initially… I’m older. I should have known better. Besides, I believe her when she said she quit her idea of revenge before she slept with me.

The elevator opens on the 8thfloor and a couple people come in.

I scoot closer to Alex, talking in his ear. I know I should stop talking, but there’s this restlessness inside of me, latent and pulsating like an open wound.

Alex speaks closely to me. “She never wanted to have sex with me, and you come along, and—”

I lean in, hoping the look I give him is enough warning. “You better be very careful about what you’re about to say about her.”

“Or what?” He rolls his eyes, and takes one step back. “You’ll take away my electronics or put me on timeout? I’m not ten, Dad.”

The two employees look at each other and then whip out their phones, and if they’re hearing anything else, they’re doing a good job pretending they’re not. The elevator stops on another floor, but no one comes in or out.

“Where do we go from here? How can I work with you and her, knowing—”

“Alex, this is new to all of us. We’ll figure it out,” I say, and fight the need to pat his back or squeeze his shoulder. I don’t want him to jerk away and cause a scene, or to feel like I’m minimizing his pain. Though a big part of me believes most of it is hurt male ego. I don’t think he cared for Riley in an immense way. If he had, he wouldn’t have cheated on her.

“I don’t want to. Not when my own father is taking my girlfriend’s side over me. After stealing her.”

“That’s not how it went down.”And it’s ex-girlfriend,I add inwardly.

He stares at me square in the eye. “She used you. She exchanged the rich son for the rich dad. The boss.”

The elevator opens on another floor and the employees rush out. The doors close again.

I shake my head, the emotions about to drain every ounce of energy of me. “She’s not like that, and if you dated her for all those months, you should know.”If you paid attention, I add to myself. Alex isn’t a bad guy, just a tad self-absorbed. And right now, he’s hurt.

The elevator opens again. Another floor.

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