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Fueled (Page 62)

I need a break from all of this frickin’ drama and the inferno of irrationality that’s smothering all of my oxygen. I decide to head outside to get some fresh air and regain my sense of self that these blonde leaches seem to be sucking from me bit by bit.

Colton’s gaze follows bimbo number five’s and meets mine. A smile lights up his face as I approach, but it falls slightly when he sees the look on my face. “You okay?”

“Mmm-hmm,” I murmur, purposely avoiding looking at his companion. “I just need to get some air,” I say and continue right past him without stopping to answer the questioning look on his face.

I hurry out of the ballroom, making it to the exit unscathed. I push open the doors and draw in the fresh, night air. It’s cold but more than welcomed. I need it after the stifling atmosphere inside. I walk hastily toward the gardens I’d noticed on the way in, hoping that they’re empty at this time of night.

Needing solitude.

“Rylee!” Colton calls my name but I keep walking, needing some momentary distance from him. “Rylee!” he repeats, and I can hear the heavy fall of his footsteps on the sidewalk behind me. They echo off of the concrete walls, confirming how I feel—that no matter how far I go, Colton will always be there. In thought. In memory. In everything. He’s ruined me for anyone else. I have no other option but to stop when I come to the end of a path.

“Stop running!” He pants from behind me as he catches up. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

Colton’s technically done nothing wrong tonight, but all of my angst and insecurity brought on by the various women from the night boils inside of me. Even the most confident, self-secure woman would be affected by his many admirers tonight. I know I should be confident in the notion that Colton came here with me—will be leaving with me—but then again, isn’t that what Raquel thought the night of the Merit Rum launch?

I need words from him. I need to hear it. And he hasn’t given me that yet. Actions can be misconstrued. Words cannot…and let’s face it, I’m female. Aren’t we programmed to read into things?

When he reaches out to touch my arm, it all comes to a head. I whirl around. “How many, Ace?” I shout at him, my breath turning white against the cool night air.

“What?” His face is a mixture of confusion and surprise. “How many what?”

“How many of your exes are here tonight?”

“Rylee—”

“Don’t Rylee me,” I yell at him, stepping back so I can have the space I so desperately need to keep my head clear. “If you’re going to bring me here tonight and parade your bevy of blonde beauties in front of me—all the women that you’ve fucked—the least you can do is give me a heads up.” When he starts to interrupt me, I meet his eyes and the look in mine causes the words on his lips to falter. “It’s bad enough that you have Tawny—your permanent go-to-girl—who still wants you and is around constantly. Working for you. Pushing her perfectly manufactured tits in your face. Making sure you know that she’ll be there for you when you tire of the current flavor of the month.” The look of utter shock on his face is priceless. He looks as if I’ve told him the sky is yellow. Has he never noticed this? Her willingness? A part of me sags in respite knowing that he doesn’t see Tawny this way, but what about all of the others from tonight? “And then you bring me here tonight and parade more in front of me? The least you could have done was forewarn me…prepare me for the onslaught of nasty looks and catty barbs. So how many, Ace?” I demand, “or do I even want to know?”

Colton looks at me and shakes his head, the corners of his mouth turning up sheepishly. “C’mon, Ry, it’s not that bad. Tawny’s just an old friend—she works for me for fuck’s sake—and the others…we just run in the same circles. We’re bound to see each other sometimes.” He takes a step toward me, a lascivious smirk spreading across his gorgeous face. “You’re just frustrated because you’re on edge…” he moves closer, his voice suggestively smooth “…and you have needs. You’re sexually frustrated.”

I stare at him, my mouth falling open. Did he really just say that? That’s his fucking response to my reasons for being so upset? To why I’m going off the deep end? I need to come and it will make everything better? After that all of his whores will go back and bury themselves in the holes they’ve been hiding in?

“C’mere, let me take care of that for you.” He reaches out, unbeknownst to him how angry I am at his callous comment and tries to pull me toward him. And as much as I want him to take care of the ache burning deep inside of me, as much as intimacy with him would assuage my doubts for how he feels about me, my anger and dignity override my needs. I shrug my arms from his grasp and take a step back.

Colton’s face blankets with shock, his mouth parting slightly as he stares at me. “You’re telling me no?” he asks incredulously.

I snort out in disgust. “A new concept for you no doubt, but yes.” I sigh. “I’m telling you no.”

He stares at me for a moment, his eyes narrowing and then his face softens into acknowledgment. “You have more restraint than me. I see what you’re trying to do here,” he murmurs, shaking his head, and for some reason I get the sense that he thinks I’m toying with him. That I’m telling him no, just to play hard to get.

“Sex isn’t going to fix things, Colton.” I huff at him, rubbing my hands up and down my arms to ward off the chill.

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