Burn Me Once - Page 56

‘No.’ I grin, but something like pain clutches inside me. ‘It’s fun. A whole lotta fun.’

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’

I lean closer, so that my face is all she can see. ‘It means that Ally and I are having a whole lotta fun. And that’s it.’

Tears sparkle in Sienna’s eyes and my reaction is instantaneous. Guilt.

What am I doing? I’m not this guy. I’m not going to flaunt it over my ex that I’m fucking someone beautiful and hot and sexy and distracting. What Sienna did is beyond forgiving, but that doesn’t give me a free pass to be an A-grade dick.

Besides, whatever satisfaction I thought I’d get from rubbing my sex-life in Sienna’s face is non-existent. What I’m doing is about Ally and me and the way she makes me feel. Sienna is incidental.

‘You’re engaged,’ I say slowly. ‘None of this matters.’

‘I just...’ She wipes away the tears and her lower lip pouts. ‘I miss you.’

Fuck.

The words hit me square in the chest—like little missiles that pull me apart from the inside out.

‘You miss me?’ I repeat, pulling away from my phone and reaching for a fresh shirt.

It is everything I needed to hear a month ago, and yet now those three little words fill me with a chasm of unease. I pull the shirt over my head and come back to the camera. Then I change my mind and pour a measure of Scotch. It’s two in the afternoon, but I don’t give a shit. In that moment I need something to straighten my head—or to un-straighten it. I need something to calm me down.

‘You don’t get to call me out of nowhere and say you miss me.’

‘Don’t be angry with me.’

‘Angry with you?’ Incredulity makes my voice sound amused when I’m anything but. ‘Are you kidding me?’

‘I was under so much pressure at the end, you know. The tour and the album... I think I might have...’ She shakes her head and leans closer.

I don’t know if she deliberately pans the camera down but I can see she’s only wearing a bra and lace panties. I look away, the feeling guilt and betrayal of Ally making my breath short.

‘I took it out on you. I was such a bitch.’

Yeah. She was. She was a nightmare. But that doesn’t change the fact we were together for six years, that I shared twelve years of my life with her—six of them as her lover.

‘We’d been growing apart for a long time,’ I say, trying to take my share of the blame. ‘We spent so much time apart. The end was inevitable.’

‘Was it?’

It’s a sad question. One full of heartache and hurt.

‘You ended this. You ended us.’ I throw the whisky back and place the glass down a little more heavily than I should. ‘And you got engaged to Tom.’

‘That was a mistake,’ she says, and then she sobs.

And those six years spent caring about Sienna, wanting her to be happy, damned well loving her, make me forget the hurt she’s inflicted.

‘Can we go back in time and fix it, Ash?’

* * *

I feel a tiny bit like royalty as I step out of my office onto the busy twilight streets of Manhattan and see a sleek black car waiting for me. Grayson is beside it, dressed in a suit. I flick a smile at him but then I look lower instantly, towards the heavily tinted window of the car, behind which I know Ethan will be sitting.

Just like last time.

My pulse is thready and I feel sensual tension running through me like a powerful car idling at the lights. One hint of green and I will pounce.

I walk slowly, glad I made the effort to slip home at lunch and change into something fresh. I’ve gone with a black jersey dress that falls to my ankles, with sleeves which bell to my wrists. The neckline is demure, but it hugs me like a second skin.

I love this dress.

Small fact: I destroyed every piece of clothing I owned after Jeremy. Everything. Anything he had seen me in, and obviously anything he’d given me or touched me in—which was pretty much everything. I could no longer bear to associate who I was with who I’d been, and every time I put an outfit on I heard his voice. I felt his hands.

It was, perhaps, the first stage of my eight-month-exorcism—the first step in preparation for this. The final erasing of the man I once loved.

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