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Driven (Page 82)

I’m flustered. I’m in way over my head and way out of my element here. I understand that with his usual arrangements, they both use each other. I get that. He gets a companion and she gets the media buzz that might further her career. What I think hurts the most is that I have no intention of using him. I’m not a model or struggling actress. I worry that he dangled the rhetorical carrot in my face with the money for Corporate Cares. That way he can justify in his mind using me if he thinks I am using him.

I can feel the tears burn in the back of my throat. I’m so mad right now and oddly it’s not at Colton. I’m mad at myself for believing—despite my false bravado that I didn’t want anything to progress with Colton—deep down, I still had a touch of hope. Now with his revelations, I know way more than I want to and enough to know that what he’s offering is not enough for me.

“But why, Colton? Why is this all that you’ll allow yourself when you deserve so much more?” The look in his eyes tells me that the honesty behind my words affects him.

He puts his head in his hands, his shoulders moving as he sighs. He looks back up at me a myriad of emotions in his face. “I hate the drama of it, Rylee. The points system of who is contributing how much, the jealousy over my lifestyle and the media surrounding it, the expectation of the next step to take. So many things,” he pauses, eyeing me, his tone indifferent. “Relationships are just way too much shit to handle in my crazy life.”

I stare into the depths of his eyes and can see right through the bullshit lies he’s just tried to feed me. There is something more here. Why is he afraid to get too close to somebody? What happened to him to get him to this point? “That’s a bullshit answer and you know it.” He flinches at my response. “I expected more from you.”

“Rylee, I’m not one of your troubled kids that needs fixing. I’ve been fucked up for way too long to be fixed now, so don’t get that look in your eye that you know different. Some of the best shrinks in L.A. couldn’t do it, so I doubt you’d be able to.”

His words sting. The hurt from them sits heavy on my chest as he just sits there staring at me. I can see him emotionally pulling away. The cold, detached look on his face tells me he is shutting down. Shutting me out. It pisses me off further seeing as all this crazy information was just thrown at me. He can shut down and I’m fighting for him. But for what? To be his sometimes girl when he’s horny? This is so fucked up!

I rise from the couch pacing the living room as I think, and try to process where my head is. The more I think, the angrier I get. “Tell me something, Colton?” I whirl back around on him, unable to let go our conversation about the sordid details of his affairs. I’m a mix of random emotions, I want to go, to have him leave me alone, and yet I can’t stop staring at the train wreck that is in front of me. Can’t stop the part of me that wants to help him. “Is this what I am to you? Is this the type of agreement that you were hoping for between you and me?” I ask him, my voice wavering.

“Rylee, that’s not what I—” he shakes his head, running both hands over his face, his emotional struggle being played out before my eyes. “At first, yes,” he recants, “but after this past week—after tonight—I’m just not sure anymore.”

“What? Now I’m not good enough for you?” What the hell am I doing? One minute I’m mad that he thinks of me as an arrangement and the next I’m pissed that now he doesn’t. Get your head straight, Rylee!

“Christ, Rylee!” he hisses as he stands abruptly, shoving a hand through his hair and stalking toward me. He reaches out to touch me, but thinks better of it when I shrug my shoulder back from his touch. “I don’t know what I want.” The muscle in his jaw twitches, and I can see the strain in his neck. He clenches and unclenches his fists, closing his eyes and sighing deeply before opening them up to meet my eyes again. I catch a fleeting glimpse of fear and then resolve before he reins it in. “But whatever this is, I know I want it with you, Rylee.”

I have to control the rush of feelings that flood through me at his words. He wants it with me. What with me, though? He is so close that I want to reach out and touch him. Calm that glimpse of fear that I see in his eyes. But I know if I touch him, skin to skin, I will acquiesce to his ridiculous demands. And I know deep down, as much as I want him, I don’t think I can be what he wants me to be. I can’t play the role that he needs me to play in order to keep that haunted part of him locked away. I am so torn that the feud between my head and my heart, with his beautiful face before me holding such vulnerability, is making me physically ill.

“My way? My arrangement as you call it…” he shakes his head, “is all I know how to do, Rylee. Is all I know how to be.” He reaches out to grab my hand, and I have to steel myself to not react to his mere touch. “It’s all I can give you right now.” The solemnity in his voice touches me deep down and twists in my heart.

I turn from him and walk the length of the room, grabbing his beer without thinking and taking a long swallow of it. I hate the flavor of beer but I don’t even taste it. I’m tired. I’m hurt. And I can’t fight the tears that threaten to flood anymore. My eyes pool and a single tear falls over and runs down my cheek in silence. My back is to him for I’m afraid to see the look on his face when I speak my next statement. “I don’t know if I can do this, Colton.” I shake my head, sighing deeply.

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