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Driven (Page 38)

“It’s just—I am just so overwhelmed with everything.” I continue to tell her the story, every sordid detail despite my embarrassment at our first ten minutes of interaction. Her face remains impassive during my replay of events as she digests them.

When I’m finished, she is quiet for a few moments, staring at me with unconditional affection on her face. “Well,” she says rising to get more wine and returning with a glass for me, “there are many things to say, to discuss, but first and foremost,” she grabs my knee, excitement vibrating off of her, “Holy shit, Rylee! Colton? Donavan? Backstage at the theater! Woohoo!” She raises her arms above her head and I mentally cringe, hoping she won’t spill her wine. “I’m so proud you finally got a little crazy. What’s gotten into you?”

I feel the deep crimson flush over my face as I bow my head and start twisting the ring around and around my finger. “I know,” I mumble, “I just don’t get it either.”

“What?” she shouts at me. “What the hell are you talking about?” She shoves my knee vigorously. “I meant wow in admiration, not wow in why would he pick you. Snap out of it, Ry.” She snaps her fingers in front of my face, forcing me to look at her. “He is fucking gorgeous! All rebellious and smoldering bad boy … ”

As if I need to be reminded.

Haddie looks back at me, I can see the giddy part of her now coming to the surface, “Is he as good looking in person as he is on TV?”

I try to find the perfect word but I say the first ones that comes to my mind. “He’s breathtaking,” I say reverently, “and sexy and domineering and frustrating and his eyes are just … and his lips … ugh!” I am caught up in the memory of him, my mind drifting over bits and pieces. When I come back to the here and now, I find Haddie staring at me, a ghost of a smile on her mouth.

“You really like him don’t you?” she says quietly, sensing what I feel but refuse to say.

Tears pool in my eyes at the thought despite the smile plastered on my face. “It doesn’t matter if I do or don’t, he made it clear he only wants me for one thing.” I shrug, taking a long swallow of my wine. “Besides, I can’t do that to M—”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” she yells, waving her arms in the air to stop me, “I’m going to take this discussion and break it up into two different parts—compartmentalize it for you and your anal ways, if you will—because both really need to be addressed.” She scoots closer to me. “Rylee, honey,” gravity in her voice, “who cares what the future holds when it comes to Colton. If he only wants you for your body and some earth-shattering sex, then so be it. Go for it. Just because it’s not what you’re expecting doesn’t mean it’s not everything you might need. And who better to do it with than a fucking Adonis like him?” She swigs another drink, amusement on her face, “Shit, I’d take that for a ride in a heartbeat,” she murmurs, her lips pursing in thought at what it would be like.

I laugh out loud at her, “You would,” I tease, slowly feeling my body unwind from the tension. “That kind of thing is easy for you.”

She shoves at my leg, “Gee, thanks! I’m not a slut!” She contemplates. “Well, unless I want to be,” she laughs.

“No,” I huff, “I mean you are so carefree and sure of yourself. Everything you do you’re sure about. No regrets.” I cock my head to the side, “And you sure are attracted to the bad boys.” I smirk at her.

“Hmm-hmm, I do love them naughty,” she laughs momentarily lost in her thoughts, “but back to you. No need getting me all twisted up over a man that’s into you.”

I roll my eyes at her comment.

“Rylee, the guy can have any woman he wants, and he is busy chasing you around, paying thousands for dates, spending millions to make your dream come true, and taking you on impromptu romantic dates to the beach. At sunset.”

“According to him, he doesn’t do romance.”

She snorts loudly, “Well maybe he needs to redefine what romance is,” she rebukes, “because all of those things spell out a man in pursuit to me.”

I shake my head at her and her Haddie frankness. “He just wants me because I told him no. I’m a challenge to him in an otherwise willing world of women.”

“You were quite the challenge when he had you up against the wall backstage huh?” She quirks her mouth, goading me.

“You know that is so not like me, Haddie! I haven’t been touched since …” the silence settles and I shake my head to clear it of the memories holding me hostage, “besides, I came to my senses. It was just the adrenaline from being trapped—”

“You just keep telling yourself that, sweetie, because I’m not sure if you’re trying to convince me or yourself that it’s just a simple lapse in morality.” She shrugs, not breaking eye contact with me. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s okay to feel again, Rylee. To live again.”

Tears threaten again, and I dash them away with the back of my hands before they can fall. “And even though we aren’t done with item number one on our agenda, let’s visit item number two.” I level my eyes with hers, apprehension filling me. All of the sudden, her expressions changes into understanding as the realization hits her. “You didn’t want to tell me because you didn’t want me to tell you that it’s okay to live again. That it’s okay to move on.” Her questioning voice is soft, soothing.

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