Sitting at the table we first made love on the night we met.
And he’s not alone.
I recognise her instantly. Dark hair like glossy black opal, shimmering over impossibly slender shoulders. A face without even a hint of make-up still looking Vogue-cover worthy. Skimpy singlet top barely concealing her tiny breasts. And she’s clearly not wearing a bra—and pulling it off without a hint of cleavage sweat.
It isn’t just Sienna Di Giorgio. It’s all my fears—everything I’ve worried about—staring right back at me.
I don’t know who’s more shocked.
Me. Ethan. Or Sienna.
Memories of Jeremy and Fiona barrel towards me—it is just the same, but so much worse. I am the outsider again. The interloper. The home-wrecker. I look at them together and they make so much sense. They are perfect together. Two gloriously perfect celebrities.
‘Ally—’ He stands so abruptly he knocks over a glass of water. It seems to fall in slow motion, cascading through the air and landing with a thump, spreading liquid over the tabletop.
He’s fully dressed. He looks good. And he looks bad. Like he hasn’t done a heap of sleeping.
Jealousy unfurls inside me. No, it doesn’t unfurl. That sounds too gentle and progressive. It explodes like a nuclear detonation, singeing every single nerve ending in my body.
‘Wait a second.’
He surprises us all with the firmness of his command. I stare at him, and then at her, and finally, after long seconds which feel like minutes, I shake my head as if to wake myself up.
I stare at him. He’s moving around the table, and if I don’t act fast he’s going to come up to me. He’s going to touch me.
I swallow and shake my head again, my eyes locked on his pleadingly. It is a silent plea, but he hears it loud and clear. He stops moving and I place the key card I’m still holding in my fingertips onto the side table.
‘I just wanted to bring this back,’ I say.
I can’t look at him any more. I turn around and walk quickly out through the door, bumping my elbow on the way out so that coffee spills down my front. I swear between my teeth but don’t stop. I pick up speed as I get closer to the lift, dumping the coffee and the bag of food in an aluminium rubbish bin. I press the lift button.
But it doesn’t open straight away, and Ethan is behind me. I feel him before I see his wobbly reflection in the scrubbed metal surface of the lift doors.
‘Don’t touch me,’ I say urgently.
‘Ally, that looked bad. The timing was fucking awful. But it’s not what you think.’
I shut my eyes and drop my head forward, pressing my heated forehead against the lift.
‘What do I think?’ I whisper.
The lift doors whoosh open and I step in gratefully. He follows.
‘Get out,’ I say mutinously, staring straight ahead.
‘No.’ He presses the button for the ground floor.
‘Ethan...’ It’s a whispered plea. ‘Leave me the hell alone.’
‘Why did you come back?’
Tears sting my eyes. The hopes I’d cherished only minutes earlier are lined up in my head, pointing at me and laughing, mocking me. The lift begins to suck us downwards. It can’t move fast enough for me. Soon I’ll be out. Soon I’ll be able to breathe.
He moves quickly, reaching across and slamming his hand onto the emergency stop button, his body caging mine. His hands are on either side of me, trapping me in the frame of his beautiful body.
My eyes jerk to his. ‘Restart the elevator.’
‘Not until you hear me out,’ he says with raw emotion in his words. ‘Sienna arrived thirty minutes before you did. She came to talk. That’s all.’
I shake my head, emotions, feelings, thoughts, doubts and fears bubbling through me. I don’t know what to say, and I certainly don’t know how to say it. But I have to say something. He’s staring at me and the silence pounds between us expectantly, angrily, needily.
‘Does she want to get back with you?’ It’s a whisper.
He doesn’t answer immediately and my heart cracks, my blood freezes. It’s Jeremy all over again. The lying. The uncertainty.
‘That’s not what I want,’ he says.