“This whole thing?” he repeats, mimicking my voice. “You told me you loved me,” he says, then I can detect the trace of hurt in his tone. God.
“I know.” I look away, and blink back the tears pricking behind my eyelids.
I hear him striding closer, even if our gazes don’t meet. I can’t look at him right now, but I feel him staring at me, up and down, trying to find a reasoning behind my words. I cross my arms over my chest, wishing I could protect myself from this moment. But it’s the right thing to do—I acted just like Alex by using his father to get back at him. This can’t go on like this.
“Unless… you were wrong when you said you were falling for me?”
I swallow. God, I’ve always been such a bad liar. “It’s just not the right time. I’m sorry.” I give him a sideways glance, and see him walking away from me, and the disappointment in his eyes is something I won’t get over anytime soon.
“I can’t say I understand, but I’ll respect your decision. Goodbye, Riley.”
“Whoa. That’s a lot,”Lily says, after draining her can of vodka spritz. “Isn’t it going to be awkward going to work tomorrow?”
I shrug. Yes, it will be awkward going to work every damn day unless I start job hunting and quit. But I can’t let this emotional mess dictate my future at the company. The benefits at Stanton Inc. are insane, and I know it’ll be hard to find a place to match the salary for someone my age, especially since I don’t have a college degree.
Besides… even though I can’t have Rhett, seeing him every so often is like sniffing yummy food if I’m on a diet. Tempting, but I remind myself of the consequences. “I don’t see him a lot unless I’m looking for it,” I say. “We work on different floors.”
She whistles. “Still. How about Alex?”
I look up at the ceiling. Being that Alex floats between various departments, avoiding him will be a harder task. Which means I need to clear the air with him, for the future of our working relationship. And besides, I don’t want him to hate me. I should, but I don’t. “I’ll talk to him.”
A flick of admiration crosses Lily’s hazel eyes. “You are gutsy.”
“Well, I don’t want him to hate me, which he probably does by now, but let’s not forget he’s not a saint either.”
Lily picks up the bag of barbeque chips and grabs a few from it. “That’s true. Though maybe he accidentally slept with your roomie. While you carefully planned your stuff.”
I throw a pillow at her, then stretch my legs on the coffee table. “Yes, like he stumbled into her pussy by accident. Several times.”
She laughs. “You know I’m just teasing, girl.”
I shrug. Honestly, I’m not even mad at Ava anymore for sleeping with him. I’ll certainly keep my distance from her, but I wonder if she wasn’t at a bad mental place to settle for sleeping with her roomie’s boyfriend. “I know.”
“You’re doing the right thing, Riley.”
I reach for my vodka spritz and take a sip. “Thanks.”
Lily watches me in silence, and silence is cast over us. Whenever she gets serious, it’s because there’s a mini life lesson in the works. I’m about to tell her to spill it when she clears her throat and says, “But sometimes it’s okay to do something just for you.”
“I did that and look where it landed me.”
A small smile dances on her lips. “You said you’ve fallen in love. I have never. Even if it didn’t work out, that’s something special to have—or to keep.”
Something special…those words stay with me at night. I sleep horrible, tossing and turning, and finally stop looking at the clock at 4 am, but then my alarm clock wakes me up three hours later. I add a generous amount of concealer and slip on regular work clothes. A cute pair of slacks and blouse, professional and it doesn’t look like I’m trying too hard.
If anything, I want to fly under the radar for the next few weeks.
I don’t want anyone to find out about our family love triangle, and when I walk across the lobby and get on the elevator, I greet whoever passes my way with a neutral smile or a soberhi, wondering if that person overheard the conversation between Rhett and Alex. What if whoever was in the elevator spread the news? I shake my head, mentally bitch slapping myself. I can’t worry too much about what every single soul in this building thinks of me.
I join the people in the elevator, and get to my office.
The first few hours go by with enough work to keep me busy. But I keep looking at the clock, searching for the right time to go find Alex in his department and talk to him. I could stalk him after work, but this is easier. He’s hopefully cleared his head, and I doubt he’ll want to cause a scene.
When lunch time comes, and I see coworkers leaving their desks and offices, I take advantage and march to Alex’s office. Uneasiness swirls through me from top to bottom as I see his half-open door, and slide inside before he can notice.