Fueled (Page 12)
“Nonsense, Rylee. My apologies.” Andy glances over at Colton again and gives him an indiscernible look. “I’ve been on location for work in Indonesia for the past two months. I got back late last night and wanted to see my boy here.” He pats Colton on the back heartily, and his obvious love for his son makes me like him that much more. And even sweeter than Andy’s adoration of his son is Colton’s reciprocation. Colton’s face lights up with complete reverence as he watches his father. “Anyway, I’m sorry I barged in. Colton never has…” he clears his throat “…Colton is usually out on the deck alone, recovering from whatever the chaos the night before has brought upon him.” He laughs.
“You two obviously haven’t seen each other in a while, so don’t let me get in your way. I’m going to go grab my purse and I’ll be on my way.” I smile politely and then frown when I realize that I don’t have my car to drive.
Colton smirks at me, realizing my oversight. “Dad, I’ve got to drive Rylee home. Do you want to hang here or I can stop by the house later?”
“Take your time. I’ve got some stuff to do. Stop by later if you get the chance, son.” Andy turns toward me, an inviting smile warm on his lips. “It was very nice meeting you, Rylee. I hope to see you again.”
The drive home from Malibu is beautiful as is expected, but the cloud cover starts to move in and smother the coastline the closer we get to Santa Monica. We talk about this and that, nothing serious, but at the same time I sense that Colton is distancing himself a bit from me. It’s nothing he says per se, but it’s more what’s not said.
He’s not rude, just quiet, but it’s noticeable. Those little touches are absent. The knowing looks and soft smiles gone. The playful banter silenced.
I assume that he’s taking the drive to think about his dream, so I leave him to his thoughts and stare out the window watching the coastline fly by. The radio’s on low and the song, Just Give Me a Reason by Pink plays softly in the background as we exit the highway and head toward my house. I sing softly, the words making me think about this morning, and as I hit the chorus, I notice Colton glance over at me in my periphery. I know when he hears the lyrics because he shakes his head and the slightest of smiles graces his lips; his silent acknowledgement of my knack for finding the perfect song to express my feelings.
We remain in a contemplative silence for a bit longer until Colton finally speaks. “So um, I’ve got a crazy busy schedule the next two weeks.” He glances over at me momentarily, and I nod at him before he looks back at the stoplight in front of us. “I’ve got a commercial to shoot for the Merit endorsement, an interview with Playboy, um…Late Night with Kimmel, and a whole lot of other shit,” he says as the light turns green. “And that doesn’t include all of the dog-and-pony shows coming up for the sponsorship with you guys.”
I take no offense to the comment because I’m not too thrilled with the dog-and pony- show junket either. “Well that’s good, right? Publicity is always good.”
“Yeah.” I can tell he’s irritated at the thought as he slips his sunglasses on. “Tawn’s doing a great job garnering press this year. It’s good and all…and I’m grateful that there’s the attention, but the more shit there is, the less time I have on the track. And that’s where I need to concentrate my time with the season right around the fucking corner.”
“Understandably,” I tell him, unsure what else to say as we pull onto my street, unable to help the smug smile that tugs at the corners of my mouth. It’s been a profound twenty-four hours with Colton. He’s let me into his personal world some, and that counts for something. Our sexual chemistry remains off the charts, and I think it actually intensified after our night together. I told him about Max, and he listened with compassion and without passing judgment.
Then we had this morning. An hour filled with poisonous words and overwhelming emotions.
And not once did he mention his idiotic arrangement to me. How he’ll only accept less when I’ll only accept more; we find ourselves at a proverbial impasse despite his actions expressing the exact opposite.
Maybe my smile reflects my optimism over the possibilities between us. That Colton’s unspoken words speak just as much to me as his spoken ones do.
I sigh as we pull into the driveway, and Colton opens the door for me. He offers me a tight smile before placing his hand on the small of my back and directing us up my front walkway. I struggle to figure out what his silence is saying, to not read into it too much.
“Thank you for a great night,” I tell him as I turn to face him on the front porch, a shy smile on my lips, “and…” I let the word drift off as I figure out how to address today.
“A fucked up morning?” he finishes for me, regret heavy in his voice and shame swimming in his eyes.
“Yes, that too,” I admit softly as Colton turns his attention to the absent fiddling with the ring of keys in his hand. “But we got through it…”
His gaze fixates on his keys, his eyes never lifting to meet mine when he speaks. “Look, I’m sorry.” He sighs, shoving a hand through his hair. “I just don’t know how to—”
“Colton, it’s okay,” I tell him, lifting my hand to squeeze his bicep—some form of touch to let him know I’ve said my piece about this morning and my lack of tolerance of it happening again.
“No, it’s not okay.” He finally lifts his head up, and I can see the conflicting emotions in his eyes, can feel the indecision of his thoughts. “You don’t deserve to have to deal with this…with all my shit,” he murmurs quietly, almost as if he’s trying to convince himself of his own words. And I realize that his internal struggle has to do with so much more than just this morning.