Never Have I Ever

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Chapter 24

I smoothed down my hair as I waited at the bar for James. It was finally Richard's birthday, and everything was set up for the party.

The rooftop restaurant now resembled a chic club. There was a large dancefloor and a stage where a band was warming up.

I pulled my phone out of my bag and checked the time. James had been gone for fifteen minutes, and I was already missing him. It was pathetic.

There had been some sort of issue with the cake and he had gone to sort it out. He'd left me with a large glass of wine, and a kiss that had made my insides melt.

"It's Sophie, isn't it?"

I turned around and came face-to-face with Bella. Well, almost. She towered over me in six-inch heels. Her red dress was skin tight, showing off her perfect figure.

She looked incredible.

"It is." I replied, feeling uneasy.

Her smile didn't reach her eyes as she checked me out.

"You aren't his usual type. Although he's always full of surprises." she stated, her voice cool.

"Where's your husband?" I fired back, sipping my wine.

Bella gave me a knowing look.

"Has he told you then? I bet you don't know the full story."

My grip tightened on the stem of my wineglass.

"Maybe you need to concentrate on your marriage, instead of what James is doing. I trust him, and we're together now. It's nothing to do with you."

Bella let out a mocking laugh.

"Be wiser, Sophie. He's selfish and only out for himself. He ruined my life, I-"

"What's going on?"

James was by my side in an instant, his arm wrapping around my waist.

"I was getting to know your new girlfriend. She doesn't seem to know you very well, though." Bella quipped, sipping her champagne.

Her eyes never left his, and I could feel the tension between them.

"Bella, I'm not playing these games with you. Chris is on his way up, and he won't like you being over here. Spend some time with your husband."

Bella's eyes narrowed.

"This isn't over, James. I meant what I said. Sophie deserves to know the truth about you."

She winked and walked away, swaying her hips with each step. I turned to face James, taking in his anxious face.

"What is she talking about?"

He ran his fingers through his hair and closed his eyes.

"She's using something that happened in our past against me. If I don't stop seeing you, then she'll tell you everything, and you'll want nothing to do with me."

My chest tightened.

"James, just tell me. I'd rather hear it from you. Whatever it is."

His handsome face was full of conflict, and I could tell this was the last conversation he wanted to be having.

"Tonight is Richard's birthday, and I don't want any stress. Afterwards, we'll talk."

I swallowed, my throat dry. Whatever it was, he thought it would send me running.

"I know you're a good person. Don't worry, we've all done things we aren't proud of."

I squeezed his hand and his eyes met mine.

"I don't know that I deserve your compassion."

His voice broke, and I pressed my head into his chest, squeezing him tightly.

"You deserve more than I can ever give you."

He sighed and his hand ran down my exposed back, caressing my bare skin.

"Hey, I hope you guys are ready to party! I don't want to watch you cuddling all night." Graham interrupted, knocking into James's shoulder.

I heard him curse under his breath as he reluctantly released me. Johnny was stood beside Graham, his face strained. It was the first time I'd seen him since he had returned. He gave me a small nod, but completely ignored James.

"I'm going to the bathroom." He muttered, looking at Graham.

"Ok mate, see you soon."

Johnny walked off and Graham and James shared a look of concern.

"Ok, what's going on with him?" I said, folding my arms across my chest.

Graham sighed.

"He's not happy with James for getting with you. He feels like you changed your mind about him once James showed an interest."

I felt sick. The last thing I wanted was them falling out over me.

"It's fine, Sophie. He will calm down about it." James said, although he didn't sound too confident.

"Johnny will come round. He's just a sensitive young chap." Graham said, draining his beer.

"I never liked him that way, though! This is all Georgia's fault."

James squeezed my waist and kissed the top of my head.

"Relax, it will all sort itself out. Johnny and I have been friends for a long time. We'll be fine."

Graham put his empty bottle down on the bar.

"I'll talk to him."

James nodded his thanks and Graham wandered off.

I couldn't help but feel guilty. Most of the drama he was going through was because of me.

"Let me deal with it. I don't want you worrying." James sighed, leaning back against the bar and pulling me between his legs.

I played with the collar of his white shirt. He'd left the top few buttons undone, and it looked sexy. Just the glimpse of his tanned chest was enough to make my heart race.

"I feel bad that you're getting all this shit because of being with me. I'm not worth it. I'll be leaving in ten days."

"Sophie, look at me." he whispered.

I looked up, and his eyes were full of tenderness.

"You are worth whatever shit I get thrown at me. I want to prove to you I'm serious about us. Nothing is going to change that, ok?"

Tears stung my eyes. I opened my mouth to talk, but James put his fingers over it.

"I know you are going to tell me for the hundredth time that once you leave here, it's over. But we both know I won't listen. I'm not giving up hope you'll-"

"James, did you get the cake sorted? Richard's here now."

James swore under his breath at Georgia's interruption. He released me from his arms and frowned at her.

"I'm having an important conversation with, Sophie." He said, looking at her pointedly.

She rolled her eyes.

"This is more of a priority. No offence, Soph."

I nodded. I felt like I was in some kind of dream. James had completely caught me off guard with his words, and my head was spinning.

"The cake is fine!" James replied, glaring at her.

"Ok, ok. Thank you. Are you sure you don't want me to check your speech out?"

James gave me a look of frustration. Georgia didn't care she was interrupting our conversation. In her opinion, the party was the most important thing happening right now.

"You can't read it because I didn't write anything down. It's all in my head."

Georgia frowned and gave me an annoyed look. We'd made up last night, but I could see she was getting pissed off with James.

The last thing I wanted was to find myself in the middle of an argument between them both. Neither of them would back down to keep the peace.

Richard chose that moment to come over, and they both fell silent.

"Hey guys, everyone ok?" He said, beaming at us.

"Richard! Happy Birthday!" I exclaimed, grateful for his timing.

I saw him eye up Georgia and James, who were both glaring at each other.

"Is everything ok?" He asked, putting his arm around his fiancée.

"Of course it is! Do you like the decorations?" Georgia smiled, putting her hand on his chest.

"It's beautiful, Georgie. I can't wait till we announce our engagement. I've got your ring here." He said, patting his trouser pocket.

"I'm just going to go to the bathroom." I said, needing a moment to myself.

I turned away, but James grabbed my hand.

"Sophie-"

"I'm fine." I lied, interrupting him. "We can finish talking later."

I gave him a quick kiss before hurrying away.

As I passed the bar, I saw Bella. Our eyes locked and a chill ran down my spine. Something told me she wouldn't give up James without a fight...
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