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The Dirty Series 2(8)

By:Amelia Wilde



My heart races a little whenever I think about it, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t convince myself to break things off with Christian and wait until it’s at a better time in my career. Every time I picture telling him that we have to wait, that we need to keep things strictly professional, my soul revolts. A day without touching him, kissing him, talking to him is a wasted day.

I can’t do it.

I sigh a little. Since we came back from the Hamptons, I haven’t been to Christian’s penthouse yet. He’s been showing up at Carolyn’s in the evenings, sometimes before she goes to bed, and the three of us have a glass of wine and chat. My roommate doesn’t seem to have a single qualm about me being with Christian, although this morning, when we were both getting ready to go to work—me at HRM, her at the new boutique—she asked me if I had plans with him after this event.

“I don’t know. We might come back here. He might be busy. Why?”

“Just—be careful, Quinn. He seems different.”

“Different how?”

Carolyn shrugged. “Just—not like himself.”

At first I felt a flash of anger directed toward my roommate, but the concern in her eyes was genuine. She’s known Christian a lot longer than I have.

“Is it something specific?”

Carolyn shook her head. “If I think of what it is, I’ll let you know.” Then she brightened up. “It could just be that he’s in love with you, and it’s making him grow up.”

“I hope that’s it and it’s nothing serious!” I said, grabbing my purse from the hook in the entryway. “You had me a little worried there. If you think of what it is, though, let me know, okay?”

“I will. Have a good day, Q.”

Christian finishes shaking hands with a school board member and crosses back across the room to me, a hint of lust hiding behind his polite smile.

“We should get out of here,” he says to me quietly. We’re both standing up straight, not too close to one another, playing the part of coworkers, colleagues, definitely not a couple.

“Don’t even. This is a really excellent opportunity. Tons of positive press for Pierce Industries.” Jesus, it takes work to stay professional when he wants to escape.

“I think we both know that positive press is nothing compared to pressing—”

Just then, a booming voice interrupts Christian’s naughty comment.

“Pierce!”

We both turn to face a tall man in a dark suit that’s tailored perfectly to his towering frame. His freckled face is set off by reddish hair, and he’s beaming as he comes in at high speed.

“Matthews!” Christian cries, the very picture of his loud, party-boy self. The two men shake hands, then pound on each other’s shoulders.

“How have you been, man?”

Christian holds the guy at arm’s length and looks him up and down. “Great, Matthews. Great. Where the hell have you been all this time?”

“L.A.,” Matthews says, his deep voice rumbling above the chatter of the crowd. “I’m only in town for a month or so—overseeing some new ventures, if you know what I mean.”

Christian obviously does know what he means, because he gives Matthews a sage nod.

“Elijah Pierce. What a damn crazy coincidence to run into you here.” My heart stops, but this Matthews guy barrels on. “I’d have thought you’d be some high-class professor by now, or maybe own your own building on campus.” Then he pauses and glances around. “Is Chris here anywhere? You guys still go everywhere together, or did he move on?”

Christian’s face is white as a ghost, his smile frozen. The corner of his lip jerks and the smile drops away.

Matthews sees it.

“Shit, man. What’d I say?”

Christian sucks in a breath, tries to force another smile onto his face, and almost succeeds. “I hate to have to tell you this, but Eli—he died about ten years ago.”

“Oh, fuck,” Matthews says, then cups his hands over his mouth. “I’m so sorry. You guys look—you guys looked so damn identical.” His face flames red. “I had no idea. That must have happened after—”

Christian holds both hands up, waving Matthews’ embarrassment away. “Way after you left Dalton.”

Matthews is still shaking his head, a hand over his head. “That’s terrible. I don’t know what to say, Chris.”

Christian reaches out and pats his buddy’s shoulder in a show of empathy, a genuine smile now back on his face. “No way for you to know, buddy. Listen—give me your number, and we’ll meet up again before you leave for L.A. I want to hear all about whatever it is you’re wasting your time on over there.”

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