A Place Without You (Page 32)

“Not at the moment. I can’t get a handle on these dating websites. I think they’re for your generation, not mine.”

I nod, before taking a huge bite of my taco. Bodhi’s still staring at me. I feel it. I’ve lost my appetite, but I need something to focus on, so I shovel in food, fiddle with my napkin, and gulp down the rest of my margarita and my ice water.

“And these women do not put accurate profile pictures on the sites nor do they post accurate facts about themselves. Last month I went on a date with a woman who said she enjoys all things outdoors, hiking, biking … Then she practically dies on me during dinner because she forgot her inhaler, and the walk from the car to the restaurant exhausted her.”

I nod, tackling my next taco like a savage ripping apart its prey.


I nod.


I snap my head up out of my hunched, cavewoman position. “What?” I mumble over an entire taco shoved into my mouth.

“Have you heard a word I’ve said?”

I nod a few times then shake my head. “Sorry.” I chew slower and wipe my mouth with my shredded napkin.

Dad glances over his shoulder again. I don’t. I can’t.

“Who is he?”

He’s life.

My dad is no idiot. He made reading the enemy a profession.

“If I tell you, can you refrain from injuring him?”

He takes a pull of his beer, eyeing me with suspicion. “Probably not.”

“Then he’s nobody.”

I return to my last taco.

“So you know I’m going to do some serious bodily harm to him. Give your old man a break and at least give me motive for when they arrest me.”

He took my virginity, my heart, and my whole fucking world. Then he gave it back. But I didn’t want it back.

“I think you should let Juni fix you up with someone. She told me she’s offered to do that for you.”

“Changing the subject will not change the outcome for that young man behind me, but in response to your ridiculous suggestion, the answer is no. I’m not having the mother of my child set me up on a date. It’s …” He shakes his head, wearing a sour look on his face.

“Yeah, I can see how dating one of Juni’s supermodel friends could be a little torturous.”

“We’re done talking about this.” He dives into his food, and we let the rest of our dinner disappear in silence.

After the check is paid, he slides back in his chair. “Just one more order of business …”

“No!” I reach over the table and grab his arm.

“Who is he, Henna?”

Finally, I risk one more glance up, but Bodhi and his pretty friend are gone. I exhale.

“Doesn’t matter. He’s gone. I’ll order a ride. Let’s go.”

The driver is three minutes away. As we emerge from the restaurant, I almost run into the blonde standing next to Bodhi a few feet from the curb.


And there it is, the pain I couldn’t completely feel before. But when Bodhi looks over at me as Dad and I wait next to them, everything hurts the way it did when I got on that plane to leave him over two years ago, the way it did when he called me to let me go.

“Hi,” he says politely because he’s older and more mature than me.

I can’t find a single word, not even a noise that could resemble one because I’m ready to fall apart after working so hard to piece myself back together. With one word, he’s threatened all of that.

The blonde gives me a tiny, confused smile as her eyes flit between me and Bodhi.

“Hi.” My dad offers his hand to Bodhi.

What the fuck?

“Mr. Malone, right? You were Henna’s guidance counselor, right? She’s told me so much about you.”

Okay, now my dad’s just being an asshole. I love him, but he’s still an asshole. He knew exactly who Mr. Nobody was when he saw him in the restaurant. He just thought it would be fun to toy with me.

Not fun.

Not cool.

Total asshole—that I, of course, love.

Bodhi shakes my dad’s hand, again being a grownup while I flounder wordlessly. “Bodhi. And yes, you are correct.”

“Mitch, I’m her dad.”

“Our car!” Yay, look at me, finding two solid words.

Dad gets in the front, and I hop in the back, but Bodhi grabs my door before I can shut it. I look up at him.

He doesn’t grin. Doesn’t show any emotion in his expression. “Ride share.”

I glance at my phone. Really? Is my stupid app on a default ride share setting or am I just that clueless when tapping the options? It’s history repeating itself in the worst possible way.

Scooting over to the far side, Bodhi gets in the middle with blondie on the other side. The night couldn’t get any worse.


Dad glances over his shoulder with a single brow raised. I squint at him as I plaster myself against the door. Bodhi’s arm presses into mine as he fastens his seatbelt. My lungs collapse.

“Buckle up.” He gives me a look, not a smile, not really anything other than the way the driver might look at me if he were the one telling me to buckle up.

I fumble with the seatbelt. When did my hands start shaking? Bodhi covers my hand with his. I glance up at him and tears sting my eyes, so I focus on the seatbelt again. He takes it from me and fastens it.

“Thank you,” I whisper.

His touch ripped off the Band-Aid I’ve had over my heart. One touch and I want to cry. I hate time right now. We were stupid, young, and naive to think we were immune to its effects. If only my body were immune to his touch.

“Jax and Harper are in the bar at the hotel. Do you want to hang out with them for a while?” Blondie rests her hand on Bodhi’s leg like she did at the restaurant.

Am I jealous? Absolutely.

Can I justify my feelings? No.

Still, my mind does its own thing.

Bodhi doesn’t drink. Of course he doesn’t want to hang out in a bar.

Oh, and did you know he’s mine? Yeah, I made that claim years ago.

Did you know we have our names carved into a log?

Do you like California spring rolls? I bet you eat raw fish.

Turning away from her hand on his leg, I watch the traffic outside of my window for a few seconds before closing my eyes. I’m not this person. The woman on the other side of Bodhi is probably very kind. And maybe he likes her hand on his leg. I left him. It wasn’t fair to ask him to wait for me.

If only realizing this—the truth—could ease the blow. But it doesn’t.

“Sure,” he answers her.

The truth tightens its hold on my heart.

“So you were Bodhi’s student?” She leans forward to see me.

I pull in as much air as my weak lungs can take, and I turn to face her without looking at Bodhi, who I know is staring at me. “For a few months, then I dropped out.”

“Oh.” She gives Bodhi an awkward look like she said something wrong.

“I had the chance to travel the world. So I did. Mr. Malone…” I grin “…Bodhi, encouraged me to do it.”

It’s half the truth.

My dad glances over his shoulder, shooting Bodhi a scowl. Bodhi adjusts in his seat, likely feeling every ounce of my father’s disapproval.

“Dude…” the blonde nudges Bodhi “…you’re a guidance counselor and you encouraged a student to drop out of high school. That takes some big balls.” She laughs.

Things I learned in my travels: After seeing three other sets of balls, Bodhi’s are large and so is his cock; they’re not all created equally.

He clears his throat. “I’m not certain that’s how it played out.”

I give him a quick glance before looking back out my window. “It was a couple years ago. I don’t recall the specific details.” I shrug.

“So did you travel the world?” she asks.


“That’s awesome. Are you going to finish school?”

I shrug.

“Well, I’d put my plans on hold if I could afford to travel the world. Did you go to Paris and find a handsome French man to steal your heart?”

If she could stop talking, said heart would appreciate it.

I shake my head. “I didn’t go to Paris.”

“Really? That’s the first place I’d go.”

Of course she would. I close my eyes again and give myself a good scolding for being this way, showing my claws.

The driver stops in front of the hotel. And of course, it’s our hotel and Bodhi’s.

Thank you, fate. You suck tonight.

I jump out my side instead of waiting for Bodhi and his friend to get out.

My dad stretches and yawns, waiting for me to come around the car. “Damn … I’m too old for this.”

“You are.” I smirk, pushing his back to nudge him toward the revolving door, leaving Bodhi and his friend behind us.

“Are you Henna?” blond friend calls, saying my name slowly.

Blowing out a quick breath, I turn just after we get inside the hotel lobby—fake smile pinned to my face. “Yes?”

She narrows her eyes. “Are you … I mean you look like …”

Here we go.

“Zachary Phillips’s daughter and …” Her eyes widen with each word.