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Authors: Christa Maurice

Not Second Best (13 page)

BOOK: Not Second Best
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“That’s called stalking,” Lindsey shouted over her shoulder. She didn’t care that several of the geeks had stopped in their tracks to gape at the drama.

“I just want to talk to you. I can explain.”

With that, Lindsey stopped, allowing Kent to catch up to her. “Explain. That’s rich. Did you plan on inventing new words? Because none of the ones I know will work.”

“Lindsey,” Kent said. He grazed her cheek with his knuckles.

“Stop that, you’re ruining my ultra feminist credibility.” Lindsey twisted her face away. She wanted to close her eyes again and let him do anything he wanted, but she’d already been enough of a spectacle today.

“Why? Because it’s making you blush?” Kent’s voice dropped to a sexy purr.

Lindsey’s body strained to fall against his and let him have his way, but she held herself back. “I am not.”

“I beg to differ. I’m an artist. I know color.” He touched her cheek again. “This is pink, headed for red.”

“Beg all you want. Nothing will change my mind.” She set off down the skywalk again. The sun shining through the plastic roof heated the hall past the ability of the air-conditioning system. Puddles formed on the floor below a couple of the units. She stalked past them.

“You always were fast for your size.” Kent shoved his hands into his pockets, his long strides keeping up with her. “Look, I want to explain why I left you.”

“Of course you do.”

“Can you stop being sarcastic for ten seconds? I told you in my note that it wasn’t you, it was me, and that wasn’t entirely true.”

“This is not how groveling usually goes.” Lindsey opened her jacket before the heat in the skywalk made her pass out. Or maybe it was the heat of having Kent so close. Opening her jacket was a big mistake, too much like undressing, but since it was done, she couldn't reverse it.

“Well, I’m trying to be completely honest. It was partly you, because I knew I couldn’t be the man you needed.”

“Wonderful. Were you hoping Superman would split up with Lois Lane and start dating me?” Her body reacted the way it always had when he entered a room. Ever since that very first Con when he’d been a hopeful and she’d been an assistant editor. He’d shown her his portfolio and later that night she’d invited him to her hotel room to show him her etchings. Despite months of Häagan-Dazs therapy and years of bitterness, here she was melting into her shoes for him.

“Come on, Lindsey Lou, give me a break, huh?”

“A break?” Lindsey pushed open the door to the hotel atrium. “I’d love to. The tough part is going to be deciding between your neck and your skull. What are you even thinking showing up here? I’m working.”

“I thought it would be better than showing up at the office.” Kent strode through the door on her heels.

“More witnesses?”

“Fewer projectiles. Look, I know what I did was a world class asshole act, but let me explain.”

Lindsey jabbed the elevator call button, folded her arms and glared at the elevator, clinging to her anger. She heard excited conversation in the lobby below. She tried to listen to that, hoping to block out Kent. She wanted to hate him, and she wanted to lure him to her room and screw him blind in the vain hope of getting him back. Her fans would be so disappointed.

“Before I met you, I’d never met a woman so driven. You had a plan. You were going to write fantasy novels, remember? Comics were a stopover while you worked on your craft and networked. You were better than the next tights-wearing superhero.”

“I am better than the next tights-wearing superhero. I edit my own line, and there are no tights in it.” Lindsey made the mistake of turning to glare at Kent, thinking she was ready. She wasn’t. She doubted she ever would be.

Kent’s quicksilver eyes bore into hers, making her guilty and needy at the same time. “You were going to be the next Marion Zimmer Bradley. The next Ray Bradbury. And you were getting out of New York. We were going to live on a farm with horses and a couple of dogs,” he accused.

“So? All you were supposed to do was draw men flying in tights and stick around.” The elevator doors swished open.

Kent stepped in like he’d been invited. “I know that. Why did you give up?”

“Who says I gave up on anything?”

Someone approached the open elevator doors, but reeled back at the tone of her voice. The doors closed, imprisoning her inside with him. Lindsey turned to the window at the back and stared through it down at the lobby. She hadn’t given up. Other things just took precedence. At first, one of those things had been him. Later, one of those things had been revenge on him.

“You did it to spite me, didn’t you?”

Even as his words made her want to shout denials, his tone made her want to beg him to make love to her. She bit her lip.

“You decided to take over the comics world to spite me. Comics were always my thing, not yours. It’s like The Gift of the Magi.” He tangled his fingers through her wild hair.

Tears gathered in her eyes at the tenderness of his touch. She’d sworn she’d never cry for him again. With the other hand he brushed her cheek.

“You remember the San Diego Con? We went to that party for that rock star’s startup company, and all night everybody kept thinking I was the rock star. Remember how we went back to the hotel and had so much fun that you spent the whole next day sitting down? We had good times.”

Lindsey steeled herself. She couldn’t take this again. Once was too much. “Remember that Friday four years ago when I went to work and came home to find all your stuff gone except for a scrap of sketch paper with a note on it telling me how sorry you were?”

“I still am sorry.”

The doors opened and Lindsey dove through them. She fished her keycard out of her pocket even though her door was halfway down the hall. “I didn’t even know there was anything wrong. You didn’t give me a chance.”

“I know. After I left, I knew what I’d lost. I knew I needed to try and get you back. It just took me a while.”

Lindsey stopped at the door she fervently hoped was hers. Her vision was too blurry to check the number even if she remembered it. She shoved the card into the slot, and the door unlocked. “That explains all the letters and flowers you’ve sent over the years trying to apologize. Or maybe that was one of the other guys who’ve so spectacularly dumped me. Oh wait, there was only the one. You.” She pushed the door open and stepped inside. “Go away, Kent. It’s too late. Way too late.”


BOOK: Not Second Best
3.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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