Hard to Love Page 14

He hung his head, apparently at a loss for words.

“Don’t call me.” I stomped out of his room, grabbing my purse and keys on the way, and tore out of his house to my waiting car as quickly as I could. I said a silent prayer of thanks for the pickup on my X5, the law be damned. I’d like to see anyone try to pull me over. I’d castrate a police officer before I let anyone stand in the way of me crawling into my bed. Through tear-filled eyes, I dialed MacKenzie.

“’Ello?” she groaned sleepily.

“Kenzie, I need you. Now.” I sniffed, wiping my cheeks with the back of my hand. “And bring Jell-O shots.”

She hesitated, bed springs creaking in the background. “It’s seven in the morning.”

“I know. But it’s an emergency.” I wiped the tears freely streaming down my cheeks and sucked in a deep breath. “I slept with Cade last night. And things went to shit this morning.”

“Oh, crap. Okay, hang in there, I’m on my way.” I heard rustling in the background as MacKenzie sprang into action, just like I knew she would.

“Bring vodka, too.”

“On it.”

Chapter 17


I moved through my morning in a haze, still stunned over the turn of events. How did Alexa not understand that what had happened with us was real, and that this was just my job? She obviously didn’t trust me like I would need her to if we were going to make anything of us.

Alexa hadn’t even given me a chance to explain, she’d just jumped to conclusions and stormed out on me. I hadn’t bothered to stop her. The disgust and judgment written all over her face told me what I’d known deep down all along—I would never be good enough for her. She would never be able to comprehend that sometimes there were things in life that you didn’t want to do, but had to do to take care of your family. And Lily was my family. I’d do anything for her. Life wasn’t all fucking sunshine and rainbows. Real life was hard. I was doing what needed to be done. Period. She said she understood my responsibilities regarding caring for Lily, but when it came down to it, she bailed. End of story.

After getting Lily off to school, I took a lengthy shower, shaved my chest and groin, and then got dressed and made sure to stretch. I recalled from my previous shoot that three hours of sex will make you sore in the oddest places.

When I arrived at the set, the model I was going to be working with was already there, getting her hair and makeup done. She certainly didn’t fit the porn-star image. Her looks were the epitome of the sweet girl next door. She had wavy, shoulder-length brown hair, big brown eyes and was more cute than sexy.

I went up to introduce myself. “Hey, I’m Cade, er, I mean Sebastian.”

She smiled warmly. “Hi. I’m Jill, but you can call me Britney.”

“Got it. Nice to meet you.” I returned her smile. At least she seemed like she’d be easy to work with, which was nice. I didn’t need any more drama today. She turned back to the makeup artist to finish up, and I went to find Rick.

Today’s shoot was relatively straightforward. We’d start in the opulent master bathroom, where I’d find Britney taking a bubble bath, and after spending a few minutes kissing and helping to wash her, I’d lift her from the tub and carry her into the bedroom where we’d finish out the scene.

Once I knew the setup, I got rubbed down with bronzer, and then waited for my cue from Rick. Once Britney was relaxing in the Jacuzzi tub, I sauntered in, barefoot, dressed in just a pair of jeans. We shared a few tender kisses, and I rubbed her shoulders and neck, before moving on to her breasts. Then they captured a shot of me helping her from the tub before calling cut.

We picked things up again once we were on the bed, and I was soon buried deep inside Britney. But once inside her, I couldn’t escape my thoughts about the previous night with Alexa. She was so soft, so trusting that I wouldn’t hurt her. Being with Britney was the complete opposite. She thrust her hips to match my strides and begged me to fuck her faster. A deep, nagging feeling boiled up, urging me on and I relented, driving into her hard and fast, chasing relief from the fire raging inside me.

Realizing I didn’t have to be careful with Britney, I didn’t hold back. I plowed into her until she stopped asking for it harder and started a litany of tiny whimpers. The sound of Britney’s whimpers reminded me of Alexa. And holding the image of Alexa’s face in my mind, I finished. But even with my release, relief didn’t come.


Ian arrived just as the game as about to start.

He scanned my coffee table and gestured to the six-pack of beer and takeout pizza box with a frown. “Hey man, where are the wings?”

I shook my head. “Not in the mood.” It would remind me too much of Alexa. Damn, watching her sweet mouth tear the meat off the bone and her pink tongue darting out to catch a drip of barbeque sauce…no, there would be no wings tonight.

He sank to the couch, grabbing a beer.

“Have you been working much?” We both knew he wasn’t asking about construction. We typically kept a don’t ask, don’t tell policy when it came to me dabbling in porn, but I’d let it slip that Alexa had left me over it, and that was why I’d been so miserable.

“Nope. I paid off the bills I needed to, and now I’m keeping myself out of all that shit.”

He nodded, sipping his beer. “And Alexa?”

I pulled my mouth into a tight line and shook my head.

“Still? Damn you’re stubborn.”

I drained my bottle and reached for a fresh beer, keeping my eyes glued to the play. “How am I stubborn?”

“Because you’re telling me you’re not doing porn anymore…and the reason Alexa left you was because you were doing porn…”

“Yeah, I guess so,” I growled, picking at the label on my bottle.

“And do you not see how stupid that logic is?” Ian shook his head. “Go after her, bro. Quit being a fucking pussy.”

“Drop it, man. It would never work between us anyways.” Would it?

Chapter 18


MacKenzie and I were sitting in my living room with two wine glasses on the coffee table and a bottle of Merlot between us. It had been a long week. I woke each morning with thoughts of Cade and Lily swirling in my head and went to bed each night with tears in my eyes. I missed them both fiercely, though I’d never admit that to Cade. What he’d done was unforgiveable. He’d strung me along, pretending to be this amazing guy—he met my parents for heaven’s sake—but worst of all, he’d captured my heart. It was exactly what MacKenzie had warned me about. Thank God there was no I told you so. She just listened when I needed to vent, and kept quiet when I didn’t want to talk, and she’d come over every night this past week to distract me.

After a few glasses of wine MacKenzie had begun trying to pump me for information about how Cade was in bed.

I wasn’t giving anything away.

She took another sip of her wine, cocking a hand on her hip. “Hell, I could be seven months pregnant with another man’s baby and I’d still want a piece of him.”

“Not helping.” I frowned at her.

She held up her hands. “Sorry, but that’s the truth. Listen, sweetie, you had your fun. Maybe just chalk it up to getting some experience under your belt, and let the rest go.”

What she didn’t understand was that it wasn’t that easy. It wasn’t just Cade that had stolen my heart, it was sweet Lily too. They were a package deal in my mind.

I heard a knock at the door, and then the key turning. It had to be Tyson letting himself in.

MacKenzie perked up at the sound. “You better have pizza!” she called.

We both giggled. We’d called him thirty minutes ago begging him to bring us a pizza. Extra cheese, extra pepperoni.

Tyson entered the living room, a pizza box balanced on his hand. “My ladies.” He placed it on the coffee table between us.

“Ty, you are the best,” I said, reaching toward him for a one-armed hug.

“No problem. I’ll go get some plates and napkins.” He headed into the kitchen while MacKenzie and I opened the lid and inhaled the amazing aroma emanating from the box. I was glad to see there wasn’t any lingering awkwardness between Ty and I. I knew he was still pissed over my little fling with Cade, but for now, he was being civil about it.

“Get yourself a glass,” I called in to Ty.

“And bring another bottle of wine!” MacKenzie added.

Without waiting for the plates, MacKenzie and I each grabbed a slice.

After finishing off the large pizza and three bottles of wine we decided to call it a night. I walked them to the door and grabbed for my wallet to pay Ty back for the pizza. I handed Ty a few bills before hugging them both goodnight.

When I returned my wallet to my purse, my hand bumped something cool and firm. What the—?

I pulled the black bottle from my purse and I held it up to inspect. “The Guardian?” I read the side. “What the hell is this?”

It appeared to be pepper spray. Where in the world…? Oh my gosh. Cade. He’d stuffed something into my purse that night, saying he’d gotten me a gift. I’d forgotten all about it.

I set the offending object on my kitchen island and paced the room. Why did he get me that? Why did he try to act like he cared when he so obviously didn’t?

Without waiting for logic to set in, I grabbed my cell phone and dialed his number. It’d been over a week since the incident, but my newfound liquid courage had provided the fuel needed to make the call.

Despite the late hour, he answered on the first ring.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

His low chuckle washed over me, making my insides tremble. “Are you drunk, cupcake?”

Oh, so I was cupcake again? “No!” Yes.

“Then you’re going to have to explain what the hell you’re referring to. I’m at a loss here, doll.”

He needed to cut the sweet nicknames out. Right fucking now. “This spray you snuck in my purse.”

“It’s just mace. I didn’t want to worry about you alone and helpless on your own. Consider it a gift.”

I sucked in a deep breath. “Well for your information, I already have mace. My dad gave me a canister of it a few years ago. It’s somewhere in my kitchen. And I’m not alone. I’ve started seeing Peter again.” Or at least I would, when I returned his phone call.

Cade hesitated a moment, the silence erecting a wall between us. “That was fast. Good for you. But your mace isn’t going to be much of a help stuck inside some drawer and if it’s a few years old, it’s probably expired. Besides, the one I got you is the best one on the market. Keep it in your purse, cupcake.”

I rolled my eyes and jammed the canister back inside my purse. Bringing up Peter’s name didn’t have quite the response I’d hoped for. “I’ve gotta go.” I hit End on my cell, but not before I heard his rich chuckle vibrate through the speaker. Bastard.

I buried my face in my hands, fighting back tears. God, getting over Cade was going to be so much harder than I ever imagined.

The next morning, a pounding headache and the ache of hearing his voice were my only reminders of last night’s activities. I’d been stupid to call him, but it obviously didn’t change anything between us. Then again, what had I expected to happen? For him to beg for me to come back? Not likely. But now that I had opened up contact, I couldn’t get my mind off Cade no matter what I tried. A long jog around my neighborhood with music blasting loud enough to jar all thoughts from my skull followed by a long hot shower, and then treating myself to my favorite sushi place for lunch. None of it worked. When I got home from my lunch date for one, I was even more down than I was before. Maybe there would always be some strange connection to Cade I would always feel because he was the first guy I really cared about, and the guy I gave my virginity to. Maybe I’d just need to get used to living with the ever-present achy feeling in my chest. God, what a depressing thought.

I picked up my phone and called Peter, reluctantly agreeing to another date just to get my mind off Cade, and then flopped back against my couch.

My laptop sitting next to me gave me an idea. A very, very bad idea.

I clicked a link titled Sebastian and Britney. As I waited for the video to load, butterflies took flight inside my stomach.

The girl was pretty. She looked sweet and normal. I watched Cade’s latest video—the one he’d probably made after waking up in bed with me—with tears streaming down my cheeks. What he did wasn’t a simple screw up. It was an unforgiveable mistake that was on the Internet for everyone and their brother to see. And there could be no denying it was him, especially with such a unique tattoo crawling up his shoulder.

I watched in horror as he placed her in the center of the bed and began kissing her. When he moved between her thighs to taste her, my stomach knotted and I forced my eyes closed. I knew it was a bad idea to watch this, to see it with my own eyes, knowing it would likely be burned into my brain forever, but somehow I couldn’t stop. I fast forwarded the video until they were fully intertwined, needing to see if his love-making with her was anything like it was with me.

What I saw made my jaw hit the floor. His strokes into her were hard and fast. He’d been holding part of himself back with me, that much was clear. I couldn’t believe that at one time watching Cade’s video had turned me on—now it just pissed me off. The close-up of him sliding in and out of her almost made me vomit. I slammed my laptop closed and ran from the room. I collapsed in a heap in the center of my bed and sobbed, hugging a pillow to my chest, begging the pain to go away. But all I saw when I closed my eyes was Cade’s lustful expression as he drove into her.


“Oh, hell no. I will cut a bitch.” MacKenzie sauntered across the bar to where a group of girls were climbing onto the barstools we’d been waiting twenty minutes to occupy.

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