I watched everything come into focus and . . . Holy Fuck! A naked couple was on the screen. He was going down on her and she was grinding against his face and moaning. The muscular back. His dark hair. There was something so familiar about it.
And then all at once I recognized him. Ben.
And the girl he was with was startlingly familiar, too.
Oh God. London.
He inserted two fingers inside her and she promptly came, calling out his name. He slid up her body and positioned himself at her entrance before pushing forward.
This wasn’t happening. This wasn’t real. No.
“It can’t be,” I whispered. He wouldn’t. Would he? I leapt from my seat and began pacing the living room.
Ellie watched me with a worried stare.
Holy God. I felt like all the oxygen had been vacuumed from the room and my lungs were crying out for air. I curled my arms around my chest and sucked in a deep breath. Tears escaped from my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. No. God, no. This couldn’t be recent. Could it?
“Emmy,” Ellie caught me just as my legs gave out and guided me to the floor. I collapsed into a boneless heap, legs splayed and arms clutching to myself as I slowly began to rock back and forth.
“No, no, nooo . . .” I muttered quietly, snapping my eyes shut. “Turn it off.”
Ellie obeyed, leaving my side only briefly to click the pause button on her laptop.
It didn’t matter, though. The images were burned into my retinas. There’d be no unseeing the way Ben’s hips rocked into her, the way his fingers laced with hers above her head, a move he’d used on me, too. There’d be no unhearing the low growl in his throat when he entered her. Tears freely streamed down my cheeks and a silent sob broke from my chest.
Ellie sunk to the floor next to me and wrapped an arm around my shoulders. “I’m sorry. I just thought you needed to know.”
“How did you find it?” I asked, through hiccupping tears.
“It’s the top news story on every celebrity gossip site today.”
I clutched my heart, gasping for air, and prayed it didn’t give out on me completely. All the things we’d been through . . . every hurdle . . . now none of it mattered. Ben had betrayed me.
I realized Ellie was still talking about the video and I wiped away streams of tears and tried to focus on what she was saying.
“I don’t know how it got leaked, or when it’s from, but they’re saying the girl in the video is his ex . . .”
“London. I know her,” I croaked. “She was in Fiji with us . . .”An unwelcome thought slipped into my brain. Had he cheated on me when we were in Fiji?
“Yeah. London Burke. A model, apparently . . .” Ellie gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze. “Hey, you okay?” Her sympathetic look was too much. I saw in her eyes how foolish I’d been to trust Ben all these times. To give him all these second chances.
“No.” Of course I wasn’t okay. I doubted I’d ever be okay again. Ben had ruined me. Ruined me for all other men. For future trusting relationships. And my heart still yearned for him, stupidly enough.
“Vodka? Chocolate? A blowtorch to fry his balls? What do you need?”
“Nothing. I just don’t want to be alone right now.”
“You got it, babe.”
I crawled from the living room floor and onto my bed, sinking into the soft mattress. Somehow I was exhausted. Emotionally and mentally drained.
She pulled the blankets up around me and turned off the lights before crawling in beside me. Just having her weight on the mattress next to me was enough to make me not feel so alone.
“Maybe it wasn’t even him, sweetie. I mean, it looked like him, but you never know. . . .” Ellie said, softly rubbing my back.
“It was him.” I knew it with absolute certainty. I recognized everything about the possessive way he f**ked, the way his body moved, his measured strokes, the strong muscles in his back. There was no trying to pretend it wasn’t him. “She called out his name, Ellie. It was him.”
God, the whole world had seen my boyfriend naked and in all his glory. Or was he my ex-boyfriend now? That realization stung more than anything. But what else was I supposed to think? He’d filmed a video with London, and even if it was in the past, he should have told me. Warned me. Prepared me. Not let me stumble across it on the Internet like everyone else.
His profession already ensured I had to share him with the world. Anyone could Google him and see him in his underwear, or in any number of provocative poses, but this was way too much to handle. I wasn’t cut out for this life. I didn’t want a boyfriend who was a celebrity, a media target, or one with so many salacious secrets. It wasn’t healthy.
The niggling feeling in my gut was back in full force. This relationship wasn’t going to work. As much as I’d try to force it, to prove to myself that Ben fit into my life, this was the universe’s way of showing me it wouldn’t ever work. I needed to cut my losses now. But first, I wanted to lose myself in grief. Slamming my eyes closed to force away the images of him with another woman, I curled into a ball and quietly sobbed. I sobbed for what I’d seen, and I sobbed for my poor smashed-up heart. It’d never recover. I knew I’d always live with Ben in there and the realization terrified me.
“What do you think of this one?” I asked Bray, holding up an elaborately cut five-carat-diamond ring.
He shifted his weight, looking completely out of place at Tiffany in his worn jeans and scuffed-up Chucks. But I needed him here. I needed his opinion. “Ah . . . honestly? That’s too much. Emmy’s a simple girl, right?”
“Yeah.” He was right. This was too much. I wanted the best for her. But she’d want something a little more understated. I wanted something significant on her finger. Something that said, She’s f**king taken, but I needed to respect who she was. I continued scanning the rows of rings.
“What about this?” I held up a much simpler two-carat solitaire for him to inspect.
“Yeah. Actually, that’s perfect.”
Exactly what I was thinking. This would suit Emmy to a T. It was simple, classic, timeless. It’d look beautiful on her finger. “I’ll take it,” I told the salesclerk.
I dropped the ring into his waiting palm, feeling proud, excited, and optimistic. The thought of kneeling on one knee and sliding this ring onto Emmy’s finger while gazing into her pretty blue eyes made me feel like a damn emotional fool. This is what people wrote love songs about. Entire novels. Shit. I needed to pull it together. I was getting f**king misty-eyed inside of Tiffany. What a f**king tool.