Sweet Sinful Nights(4)

By: Lauren Blakely



He nuzzled her neck, kissing her furiously, looking for the reaction this always elicited—the almost instantaneous melting into his arms, the way she molded to him, responding to kisses that turned a moment from bad to good. She shuddered and gasped, and those twin signs drove him on, reminding him that he and Shannon were unbreakable, that no matter what they did or said, no matter how hot-headed she thought he was, no matter how secretive he accused her of being, at the end of it, they were a chemical reaction that couldn’t be denied.

She kissed him ferociously, threading her hands in his hair and pulling his top lip through her teeth. He groaned, loving her roughness. Loving how she gave as good as she got. She bit down hard, and the temperature inside him shot sky-high. He backed her up to the wall, ready to strip her clothes and have her.

Then, he felt her hands on his chest, and, harder than she ever had before, she pushed him off, so hard he stumbled and nearly lost his balance.

“What was that for?” he asked, shock echoing in his bones.

“There isn’t any fucking and fighting today, Brent Nichols.”

“Why?”

“Because you think everything can be solved with your dick. You think it’s okay to just make choices for us. It’s not. All you had to do was ask me first and I’d have said yes. But you didn’t even think about talking to me. You think you can just tell me how it’s going to be.”

His chest burned with frustration. He could not lose her. Would not. Hell, he was ready to toss her on his shoulder and carry her across the country if he had to.

“I’m not telling you how it’s supposed to be. I’m telling you that I need you with me. I have to have you by my side.”

“Which means you’re not really giving me a choice, are you?”

“What choice do you want me to give you? I took the job, and I need you with me.”

“You already made it clear that your career is more important than mine. And you know what? I’d have gone with you. I’d have called up Lars and turned down the chance to work on West Side Story. But you taking this job on the other side of the country, when we’d made plans to look for work in New York, shows me that I will never be number one to you.”

She swiveled around, grabbed her purse from the living room table, and marched to the door. He swore a cloud of angry smoke swelled behind her.

“Where are you going?” he asked, following her.

“I’m going out,” she said, biting out the words.

“You’re telling me you won’t even consider going to L.A. with me?”

“Are you telling me you won’t even consider going to New York with me?” she asked, countering him.

He said nothing. He let his mind cycle through his options. They were being squeezed thinner by the second. This job was the biggest opportunity he’d ever have. It could make or break his career. He had to take it, and he had to keep her. He imagined himself at the tables, laying down his bets, taking a risk. He was going all in, and he was doing it with a big bluff.

“If you don’t go with me, there’s no point staying together,” he said, making his Hail Mary pass. He had to do something. He couldn’t lose her. He had to let her know his way was the only way for them. “You’ve got to go to L.A. or we might as well be over.”

Her nostrils flared. Her eyes widened. And her fingers started working. She reached for her left hand, twisting the silver ring.

“That’s how it’s going to be? This is what we’ve come to? You make threats to keep me?” she said, and she didn’t shout, she didn’t raise her voice. She whispered her vitriolic words and they sliced him.

“Shannon,” he began, trying desperately to backpedal. “It wasn’t a threat.”

She held up her hand, her eyes like ice and her lips a firing squad. Then she tugged on the diamond ring. His stomach dropped. He might have been bluffing. But she was not.

“You made this choice. You,” she said, her eyes narrowed and full of fire, her fingers shaking. “Here’s your hard-earned diamond. I want my band back. Send it to my grandmother’s house.”

“Please. I didn’t mean it,” he said, trying to claw his way out of the hole he’d dug.

She pressed her finger against his lips. “There’s nothing you can say to me now. You already said it all with your ultimatum. So, allow me to have the last word.” She peeled open his fingers one by one, and dropped the ring into his palm. “I might be the one leaving right now. But you are the one walking away from us. You just made the biggest mistake of your life.”

A black cloud engulfed him. He had no clue how the day had gone to shit so quickly. He reached for her shoulder, trying to figure out how the hell to take his foot out of his mouth. “Shannon—”

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