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Smart, Sexy and Secretive(3)

By´╝ÜTammy Falkner



Dad’s eyebrows draw together. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Kindness trumps money, Dad,” I say. I learned that the hard way. And even though I can’t read well, I feel so much smarter than my dad right now. I bump knuckles with Henry, and he smiles at me.

He holds up a finger and goes to a locked box beside his desk. He retrieves a key. “I’ll be sure your luggage is delivered, Miss Madison.”

“Thank you, Henry.” I wink at him again as my family walks to the elevator. He smiles back at me with genuine kindness.

My parents are quiet on the ride up. My dad taps his thumb on the railing, and Mom just stands quietly.

“I don’t know why you felt the need to come here. I can settle myself in.”

“I’m not sending you off to a strange city all by yourself.” He glares. He knows I was all alone in this city last year. “That was your choice,” he says quietly. “Not mine.”

I step up on my tippy toes and kiss his cheek. He looks down his nose at me, which makes me grin. “I’m glad you’re here.” I just hope they don’t stay long. I want to go see Logan. It’s Friday night, and he’s probably at the club working. He’s a bouncer there.

My dad walks around my new apartment, appraising it with a critical eye. It was rented furnished, and it’s actually really cute. It has two bedrooms, and an alarm system that Homeland Security couldn’t beat.

I wanted to be in the dorm, but Dad felt like it was a bad idea. At least I’m close to the school.

My mom winks at me and then turns to Dad. “Darling, I think we should get to the hotel, soon.”

He lifts an eyebrow. “Already?”

“Yes.” She doesn’t say more than that. Just yes.

Dad heaves a sigh. Then he kisses my forehead, wrapping my head up in the crook of his hefty forearm. “We’ll see you first thing tomorrow.”

I nod. “I’ll be here.”

“Are you sure you don’t need anything?” He worries. Excessively.

I need Logan. That’s all I need. I shake my head.

My mom whispers in my ear, “Use protection, dear.”

A grin tugs at my lips. “Yes, Mom.”

The door closes behind them. I need a shower, and I need to find Logan. I need him like I need air.

Logan



A hand lands on my back, its fingers light and teasing as someone draws a figure eight. I look back over my shoulder and flinch inwardly when I see Trish. I take her hand in mine and pluck it from my back, then set it to the side as gently as I can.

“Oh, Logan,” she says, her lips tipped upward with laughter. I’m really glad I can’t hear because if her laugh is anything like her, it’d be as grating as that fake smile. It’s one of those smiles without any real happiness behind it. She puts her hand on my chest, her fingers pressing insistently against me. “How long are you going to pine for that girl? There are so many other fish in the sea.”

I can talk, but sometimes I choose not to, and people accept it from me because I’m deaf. I lost my hearing when I was almost a teenager. I tap the face of my watch and look at her, arching my brow. She’s due back on stage in two minutes.

She heaves a sigh and tromps off in that direction.

If I had been forced to answer her question, I would have said “forever and always.” Emily is supposed to be back in New York any day now, as spring courses are starting at Julliard. I just began my own classes at NYU, and she shouldn’t be far behind. That is, if she’s coming. I haven’t talked to her since the day she left and that was months ago.

I have, however, seen her in the tabloids. She’s been to lunches, clubs, and social events with her ex-boyfriend, Trip Fields. The media outlets never cease talking about the way they fell apart and then came back together. But when I see them in the papers, she doesn’t look happy, not like she was when she lived with my brothers and me. I like to think it’s all a ruse. I hope to hell it’s all a ruse. My gut aches at the thought that it’s not.

Emily sold herself back to her father in exchange for Matt’s life. He’s my brother, and he means the world to me. Matt’s alive because of her sacrifice. I’m glad she did it, but since she’s been gone, it’s like the oxygen is missing from the air I breathe. I miss her like crazy.

I haven’t looked at another girl since she left. Not one. She’s all I think about. When girls like Trish touch me and say let’s go with their eyes, I can’t imagine anything that might make me want to go. Or remember what made me want to go in the past. All I can think about is Emily.

I look toward the door where Ford, one of the other bouncers, is barring the entrance. Bone, our resident thug, is in the doorway and Ford knows that if he comes within five feet of me, I’ll try to kill him with my bare hands. My younger brother, Pete, is going to get himself into trouble hanging out with Bone. I caught them together talking in the street a few days ago, and I don’t like it. Bone is trouble, and I told him last week to stay the fuck away from my family. Pete doesn’t seem to understand what kind of problems Bone attracts.

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