Unedited. Subject to change. Unfinished. Dunno when, lol. I’m having a good time between the times when i’m definitely not though, so that’s a good sign, right?
I made sure to return my empty champagne flute to a server as I slipped through the crowd, keeping a lookout for anybody I didn’t want to run into – Addison Clarke, specifically.
Circling back the way I’d come in, I pulled my cell phone from the clutch on my wrist, navigating to my rideshare app to arrange my transportation.
I turned a corner as I submitted the ride request, relieved to have an escape plan in motion. I maybe should’ve been paying a little more attention though, because as soon as I looked up… there he was again.
Looking right at me.
Quickly, I adjusted my path to a different direction, hoping for a second easy escape. I ducked down a hallway, toward the front entrance of the massive covered rooftop venue, and put a little pep in my step.
Instantly, my feet stopped moving, without my own desire factoring into the equation. I closed my eyes, taking a fortifying breath before I turned to face him.
So… he did remember me.
My heels seemed rooted to the floor, unwilling to move as Addison sauntered up to me, wearing the same dazzling, panty-wetting grin that had proven so irresistible eight years ago.
It still was, only now it rested on a face that had lost most signs of the boyish handsomeness burned into my memories. Addison was ruggedly sexy now, with the facial hair, and those eyes, and those lips and those shoulders.
Different, yet so, so painfully familiar.
“Damn,” he uttered, giving me an appreciative once-over as he stopped just a foot away from me. “It really is you. I… wasn’t sure I’d ever see you again this close.”
“And yet, here I am,” I replied, with a graceless sort of arm flourish that was completely out of character for me.
He chuckled, then looked me over again, chewing at his bottom lip. “The years have been very good to you, Samara. You’re a… goddamn bombshell.”
“You seem surprised,” I countered, not giving myself a chance to be flattered by his compliment.
Trying not to be flattered, but of course I was.
He raised an eyebrow, his grin turning into a smirk as he looked at me. “Come on, Sam. I’m sure you know not all your peers from the club… went the fine wine route like you obviously have.”
I laughed. “Oh. So… you were expecting what, spoiled milk?”
“Nah, stop playing,” he chuckled. “Let’s just say you’re beautiful, and leave it that. You were always so fucking beautiful.”
Inaudibly, I sucked in a breath.
At the club, I got described with a lot of different words.
Beautiful was by no means an uncommon word, but hearing it from a club patron was somewhat of a rarity – they tended to prefer language that was a little less… endearing?
In any case… Addison was the first man to say it to me at the club.
Or maybe not – maybe he was just that potent that I simply couldn’t remember any occurrence before him. It was the first time he’d requested me for a private dance, the first time he put his hands on me when he wasn’t supposed to, grabbing my hips to hold me in place against the hard bulge in his jeans as he murmured in my ear.
“You’re so fucking beautiful.”
That was probably the moment.
The very first step down the path that led to me being his.
I really needed to get away from him.
“Well, it was good to see you,” I said, as my phone chimed to let me know my ride had pulled up at the front of the building. “That’s my cue,” I said, half-heartedly holding up my clutch, where the phone was.
And yet, I didn’t move.
“Have dinner with me?” he asked, stepping closer.
Any chance I had of not being swept up dissolved as soon I inhaled. Whatever goddamn cologne that was, it was affecting me like catnip – I wanted to climb him, wanted to nuzzle my face in his beard.
“I probably shouldn’t,” I attempted, weakly. “I just moved back, and I-”
“Please, Samara.” He pinned me with that smile of his, saying nothing more – just letting his face and cologne and… fuck, his existence… do all the convincing.
“No,” I said, finding the strength from somewhere to stand firm.
I turned myself away, and left, and got in the car that was waiting.
I escaped him then, and I told myself I was not going back down that path.
And for a while… I didn’t.
For six whole months, I put up that wall, and let myself be annoyed, to keep myself in line.
But then… the steam room happened, and I couldn’t even explain it.
And then the bathroom happened, and I definitely couldn’t explain that shit.
Long after I was back at home from that failed date, after I’d washed Addison’s scent off me, after I’d tossed and turned and failed to sleep…. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
How I’d somehow managed to escape Addison’s gravitational pull all those years ago… only to wind up right back in his orbit.