He’ll be back again soon and then what?
Will he call me?
What will I say?
Would I see him again?
I stare out of the window.
Worse. What if he doesn’t? What if I find out through Twitter that he’s here and he hasn’t thought to get in touch?
And that second option is far more likely, isn’t it?
It doesn’t matter. Because this is what I want.
This is all we are.
And so long as I remember that I’ll be fine. He can call. Or he can not call. It changes nothing about what we are. Nothing.
* * *
Hours later, back in his hotel suite, I look at him and feel myself smile. Without my consent. He’s reading.
Yes. Ethan panty-melting-superstar Ash reads—and not just anything. It’s Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo.
He presses a finger into the page and looks up at me, his own smile crooked in response. ‘It’s one of my favourites.’
‘Sure. Why not?’
‘I just... I don’t know.’
‘Oh, I see.’ He grins, putting the book down and moving closer. ‘You’re surprised I can actually read, right?’
‘No!’ I deny, my cheeks burning. ‘It’s just not very...rock and roll.’
‘So what do you think I do with my spare time? Snort cocaine and trash hotel rooms?’
I wrinkle my nose. If anything, he’s a complete neat freak. Oh, he’s sexily dishevelled in his personal appearance, but he makes his own bed each morning and tidies up after himself.
‘I don’t really like the whole housekeeping thing,’ he said, when I asked him about it.
‘Yeah. Sleep with supermodels—that kind of thing.’
He laughs. ‘How boring the reality must seem.’
I grin. ‘You’re not boring, Mr Ash.’
‘I’m glad to hear it, Miss Douglas.’
He moves closer and so do I, drawn as ever by that inevitable pull. He smells insanely good. It is dark outside now, and his hotel room is warm. I know I will need to leave soon, get home and get ready for work the next day, but I am reluctant to bring our weekend to an end.
I should be worried by that, but I cling to our agreement and trust in my own strength. He’ll go, and I’ll be fine.
I ignore the strange presentiment of emptiness that fills me.
‘I have a question for you.’
I lift myself up and straddle him, smiling at his immediate look of desire. At the way I feel him harden beneath me.
‘I’m yours. Ask me anything.’
My laugh is soft and husky. ‘Anything? Hmm... Maybe I don’t want to waste that on this question.’
‘You can ask me anything. Again and again.’
His generosity, sweetness and openness are beautiful.
But didn’t I feel that about Jeremy?
‘You’re amazing. I can’t believe I got so lucky as to have you in my life. Ally, marry me. Please. I want to spend every morning waking up beside you...’
An acidic taste permeates my mouth. I focus on Ethan beneath me. Ethan who’s holding my hands. Ethan who’s pulling me into his world with no expectations or strings.
‘Where does Grayson go when you’re up here?’
‘Grayson?’ He pulls a face. ‘I don’t know if I want to think about him right now.’
I grin. ‘Sorry. I was just wondering if he’s, like, sitting outside the door, waiting for you to call.’
‘He has a room on the same floor,’ Ethan says after a small beat of time.
‘And how does it work? If you go out you text him and he has to stop whatever he’s doing...?’
‘I try to give him notice if I’m changing the schedule.’
‘And he’s your bodyguard?’
‘Yeah. Technically he’s my driver, but he’s ex-military, ex-cop, a martial arts expert. You wouldn’t want to be on his bad side.’
‘Wow. I had no idea.’
‘Plus, I trust him completely. He’s been with me for over seven years.’
‘He doesn’t have family?’
Ethan shakes his head slowly. ‘He was married once.’
‘It didn’t work out?’
Ethan looks over my shoulder. And despite the fact that he said I could ask him anything I sense that he’s feeling awkward about betraying his friend’s trust.