Burn Me Once - Page 54

They can’t be from Ethan, can they?

The very idea makes adrenalin course in my veins and flavour my mouth. I hope—and I know I shouldn’t—that he has sent them to me. And yet if he has? I’m scared of that possibility too.

‘What are those?’ Suspicion is obvious in my tone, my inner conflict apparent in the question.

‘Flowers. For you.’

‘Who are they from?’

She shoots me a quizzical look. ‘I didn’t open the card. Do you want me to?’

‘No, no, that’s okay. I’ll do it.’

I take the flowers from her with a dismissive smile and place them on the edge of my desk as if they might burn me.

Lesley is hovering inside the door. I understand her curiosity. Occasionally I get gifts from clients—bottles of whisky or champagne, the odd paperweight.

Never flowers.

And these are my favourite flowers.

My heart accelerates as I finger the card. Surely they’re not from him? Then again, how can they not be?

‘Are they from him?’ Lesley prompts breathily and I realise she’s seen it.

She’s read the papers. She knows about me and Ethan.

‘Thank you,’ I say dismissively, sitting down without opening the card.

And, though she’s probably still dying to know if they’re from him or not, she steps out of my office and closes the door behind her.

I cannot rip the envelope open fast enough. I tear the triangular back and lift the card out, my eyes running over the neat florist’s typeface.

Your immortal moral soul is not in danger.

I groan, dropping my head forward. My soul might not be but I think I am.

All my good intentions, all my boundaries, are crumbling.

He’s leaving soon.

Less than a week.

I need to be strong and then I need to move on.

That’s all.

But... Ethan Ash is in my blood, my bones. I see him when I blink and I inhale him with every breath I take. He has become a part of me—and not just of me, but of all that surrounds me.

I reach for my phone on autopilot.

How did you know tulips are my favourite?

I can practically feel him grinning through the phone.

Lucky guess. What time am I seeing you tonight?

I smile as I shake my head. I should say no, but the reminder that he is leaving soon fills me with something like panic.

I finish around six.

His response is swift.

Great. Let’s do dinner. I’ll pick you up.

My heart races. Dinner? And he’ll pick me up? From work?

He texts back before I can respond, before I can demur. After all, dinner is not in our rules. And now, more than ever, I think we need to stick to them.

Don’t worry. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just more foreplay...

I put my phone into my top desk drawer as though it’s a lit stick of dynamite, slamming it emphatically shut. I should be glad.

It doesn’t mean anything.

Those words are important. Those words show that he and I are still focused on keeping our boundaries in place. It shows that we can engage in ‘high-risk’ activities like dinner and flirting and flower-sending-and-receiving and not run the risk of forgetting.

Because it doesn’t mean anything. None of this means anything. It’s just fun.

Panic is what I feel instead of gladness.

I do my best to concentrate on work, but every time I pause my mind wanders to Ethan. To his body. His kisses. To the way he held me all night. To the way he made love to me, hard against the sofa, taking me from behind and playing me more expertly than he does his Fender.

To the way he listened to my heaviest confession and held me tight. Better—to the way he saw past the facts and understood. He absolved me of all guilt with one simple smile.

It wasn’t my fault.

I couldn’t have known.

I reach for my phone almost guiltily and load up Twitter.

He’s still trending. My cheeks flush as I click guiltily into the hashtag. The concert videos are still going strong, being re-Tweeted and liked ad nauseam. But there are new photographs as well. Photographs of us.

I stare at them and read a few comments, smiling—until I find the comments that are calling me a whore and other less nice things. Someone called @DreamingOfAsh really has got a thing against me.

I push out of the thread. It’s a timely reminder of why I would never choose to be involved with a man like Ethan. The paparazzi. The fans. The pressure. The constant fear that he’d actually go for one of those groupies after a concert one night.

Source: www.NovelCorner.com