Forever with You (Page 15)

Forever with You (Fixed #3)(15)
Author: Laurelin Paige

I shivered. While I adored the sentiment—craved it, in fact—it also made my panic buttons go off. Those were the kinds of words that could make me think things I shouldn’t think. That I was more important than I was. That we were closer than we were. They were trigger words for me, and though I’d been healthy with Hudson, it had only come from diligence on my part.

But how I wanted to wrap myself in his declaration…

I swallowed. “I don’t know how to respond to that.”

Hudson nuzzled his nose against my earlobe. “You aren’t ready for that, I know. But I needed to tell you. As for your response, how about you say you’ll run our club?”

“I’ll run your club.”

“Ah—”

I knew my mistake immediately. Funny, how strongly I wanted to correct myself. I turned to meet his eyes. “I’ll run our club.”

“Now kiss me because you’ve made me a very happy man.”

He didn’t have to ask me twice. He didn’t even really have to ask me once, because his lips were covering mine as I opened my mouth to agree. His tongue slid in immediately, and he kissed me thoroughly until the car came to a stop in front of The Bowery.

Reluctantly, I released myself from his embrace. “Thank you, Hudson.” For the chance to run the club, for helping me be successful at it, for loving me in the best way you know how, for finding me in the first place.

He swept my hair away from my shoulder. “No. Thank you.”

***

I spent the rest of the day at the club. After I’d realized I wouldn’t be in Japan, I’d arranged to meet with Aaron Trent to discuss an advertising plan. Our meeting was at one-thirty that afternoon and preparations took all morning. Throwing myself into work was energizing. I loved marketing and scheming. For the first time since I’d learned David was leaving, I felt really good about The Sky Launch’s future and my part in it.

Because of all my prep, and because Aaron Trent had the best ad team in town, our session went well, and we finished up earlier than I’d expected. It was just after three when our meeting concluded. Suddenly exhausted, I curled up on the couch in David’s office to chill out.

“Great meeting,” David said, as he entered the office. “I’m bummed I won’t get to see the fruit of all your work today.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll keep you updated.” I stretched my arms in front of me. With the things Hudson had me doing the night before, it was no wonder I felt tired and sore. The memory brought a smile to my lips.

“What’s up with you today?”

I looked up to see David perched on the far arm of the couch, his eyes pinned on me. “What do you mean?”

His brow creased. “I don’t know if I can explain it. You’re different today. More on fire, if that’s possible.”

I thought for a moment. I’d always been passionate about my job, but that morning’s decision had instilled me with renewed vigor. “Well, I did tell Hudson this morning that I’d take your place when you leave.”

He beamed. “Finally! Now I can actually feel good about leaving.”

“Whatever. You’ve been excited about Adora since Hudson gave you the job.”

“Mostly because I’d thought Pierce was going to fire me. The promotion instead was a nice surprise.”

My smile faded. I’d convinced myself that David was eager to leave The Sky Launch. It made it easier to accept that he’d been pushed out because of my jealous boyfriend. Though I’d rather continue the illusion, the truth was more important.

I shifted my body to face David. “So you only agreed to take Adora because you thought you’d be fired from here if you didn’t?”

“Come on, Laynie. Let’s be honest. Pierce wasn’t going to let me stay here.”

David’s words may have been true, but I hadn’t gotten a chance to fight as hard as I would have liked to for him to stay. If he didn’t want to leave, if he really wanted to stay on at The Sky Launch, I’d go back to Hudson and duke it out. “But if he did—if that wasn’t the issue—would you have still said yes? Or would you have stayed here?”

David took a deep breath. “I’m not really sure, to be honest. Adora is the pinnacle of nightclubs. I’d never have an opportunity like that on my own. And I think I’ll do a good job there. There’s a whole team of managers I’ll be joining. I’ll have flexibility and support that I’ve never had before. It’s sort of my dream job.”

I relaxed some.

He moved from the arm to the cushion. “But it’s hard to leave the things you love. The move means leaving my home and my friends. This place.” He met my eyes. “You.”

“David…” I knew he had feelings for me, but now he was alluding to love. Dammit, that was closer than Hudson could get to saying I love you. I didn’t want to hear it.

He ignored my warning. “Don’t laugh, but I used to have this fantasy that we’d eventually run this place together.”

I couldn’t help but smile at that. “I used to have that same fantasy.” I’d pictured that we’d get married and be this really cool duo who ran the hottest club in town. That dream vanished when I met Hudson.

“Really?”

“Yes, really.” Immediately I regretted the confession. David’s expression said it meant more than I wanted it to mean.

I swung my legs around so I was no longer facing him. “I mean, seriously. This place needs two managers. It was silly that you did it alone for so long.”

“I wasn’t really alone. The staff is full of great assistant managers.”

I smirked. “That’s not the same. Full-time commitment is what you need. I asked Hudson to find a partner for me today.” I looked down at my lap. “I don’t want to do it alone.”

David scooted closer. He lifted my chin with his finger. “Say the word and I’ll stay.”

“I can’t ask you to do that, David.” My voice was practically a whisper.

“You could.”

“No, I couldn’t. And you know why.”

He dropped his hand to his lap. “I do. But in answer to your earlier question—if it weren’t for Pierce, I’d never leave. You can pretend to interpret that any way you need to, but you know what I’m really saying.”

“I…I’m…um.” I bit my lip. David had been such a great friend when I’d had very few. And for a while, he’d been more. I was heartbroken that he was leaving. But I in no way returned the feelings he seemed to be declaring.