Brush With Fame

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Chapter 4

I stand there in the hallway looking like an idiot. I’m in my own little fantasy with Ryan. I slowly scan my room card and open the door. My fantasy bubble bursts when I see the room. I find Craig’s crap scattered all over the place. What a jerk! I am too irritated and hyper to stay in the room, so I grab a scarf, sunglasses and put my hair up in a messy ponytail. I flee to the ‘Craig-free’ Strip. I’m still worried about media but I’ll be cautious and careful. And there are enough people around that I should be able to get lost in the crowds if I need to.

I go out to the front of the Bellagio and claim a space on the sidewalk so I can watch the fountain show set to go off in a few minutes. So far, I haven’t noticed anyone paying particular attention to me. Hopefully it will stay that way the rest of the night.

Waiting for the show to start, I think of Ryan. I realize that I am still in denial about him liking me and wanting to hang out with me. I am waiting for him to leave and never hear from him again. I am terrified that I will get hurt again. Just hanging out with Ryan, I already like him more than I should and am worried about what happens when we both have to leave.

People are crowding in around me. I get a weird feeling, my sixth sense, like something isn’t right. I try to discretely look around a little but don’t see anything abnormal, just people with cameras and camcorders ready to start shooting when the fountains begin. No one is obviously paying attention to me. I feel uncomfortable, but shake it off since nothing seems amiss. I stay extremely cautious though.

Lights dim around the lake and the fountains start with the music from speakers stationed around the lake. Cameras flash all around me. Loud blasts sound as the fountains shoot high in the air. The fountains continue for the whole length of the song. It ends with all the fountains erupting over and over, shooting so high into the night sky. Applause and awe explode from all the people around the lake.

Still having that eerie feeling, I decide it’s time to move. I leave with the crowd, going the same way as most of the crowd, trying not to stand out. I head north towards some other casinos. I wish I could take pictures of some of the people I see along the strip. I can’t fathom stepping out in public in some of these outfits.

At one casino, I stop to watch a show that is out in front of the hotel/casino. Afterward, I go inside and gamble a little and do a little shopping.

At last, I feel like I have unwound enough to head back to my room. I am almost to Flamingo Road and about to cross over the walkway when I hear my phone ringing. By the time I get to it, I miss the call. It’s Ryan and I’ve missed three calls and a couple texts from him.

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2016, 10;23 PM

Call me when you have a chance.

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2016, 11;51 PM

Where RU? Call me!

I quickly listen to his messages – he’s worried that I haven’t called him back yet. I call right away.

“Oh thank God! Olivia! I was so worried when you didn’t answer and didn’t call me back. I thought about going to look for you but had no clue where you went,” he says with concern.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry! I didn’t hear my phone ring. I wasn’t expecting you to call. You were supposed to be out having a good time with your friends. I just wandered up the Strip. It takes quite some time to walk along there, especially when you stop to watch some shows. I’m almost back to the hotel.”

“I missed you tonight.”

Oh, Lord help me. I am going to get hurt.

“What? You remembered to think about me while you were out? Did you have to set a reminder on your phone?” I tease.

“Ha. Ha.”

“I figured you’d get with your friends and little, old me would be completely forgotten about.”

“Hardly. It was just like I said earlier. I couldn’t stop thinking about you.”

“You’re sweet. I missed you too. Well, there. I’m back in the Bellagio now and am heading to the elevators. Safe and sound.”

“Good. Glad you’re back and safe.”

“I was perfectly fine walking around by myself this evening. It was fun just strolling around. I did a lot of people watching. You should have seen some of the people. I would have loved to take pictures.”

I round the corner to the elevators and abruptly stop. Guess who is standing there?

“Ryan! You didn’t have to come down for me.” I grin at him as I put my phone away. I am secretly pleased that he wants to see me.

“This way I get to see you for at least a little bit before I go to sleep and not see you again until tomorrow afternoon.”

“It’s not that long,” I say, flattered. “Hopefully the interviews will make the time go by fast.”

We ride the elevator up to my floor. I tell him about my night and mention the weird feeling I’d experienced. Ryan is concerned about that and warns me to be extremely careful now that I am in the public’s eye, too.

The elevator opens on my floor. Before I can say goodnight, Ryan tells me he’s walking me to my room. “Any word from Craig?” he asks as we walk down the hallway.

“No. But he was kind enough to leave a huge mess in the room when he got ready this morning, which was another reason I was out walking around. I was so pissed off that I had to calm down. But I haven’t heard from him or seen him since.”

“Good. I’m glad you didn’t have to deal with him tonight.”

“Yeah, me too. By the way, how was your night?”

“It was good being with the guys again. They teased me mercilessly about you.”

What? Why would they tease him about me? I am confused. Ryan must see that I don’t understand because he continues on.

“We, my dear, are the talk across the nation – at least celebrity wise. People are calling everyone who knows me asking about who you are, this one person who seems to have captured Ryan Paxton’s attention.”

I am beyond flustered. “Oh.”

He grins at me, his eyes dancing.

“By the way, tomorrow night I’m taking you out to dinner and dancing, ok?”


“I’d better head up. I have to get up early for the first interview – a local morning show. And I need to be sharp to steer the conversation away from questions about you.”

“They’re going to ask you about me?”

“Yes, Olivia. You are going to be the major topic of all the interviews. But I’m going to have to steer them back to the movie.”

He tugs on my arm to pull me in for a hug. I feel his breath on the top of my head.

“I’ll see you tomorrow” he says into my hair. “Sleep well tonight.”

“Good luck with the interviews.”

He kisses my cheek and lets me go, walks back down the hallway.

Back in my room, I lock the door so Craig won’t be able to get in if he tries. Too wound up to sleep, I flip through the channels on the TV. It is my luck that I find Ryan’s movie, The Beloved One, just starting. I watch the whole movie and fall asleep dreaming about Ryan.

The next day I have to myself. I wake up early so I can watch Ryan on the morning show. They jump on him and hound him about the girl he’s been seen with out here. He does an excellent job avoiding and distracting the host from questions about us and redirecting the interview back to the movie. However, the host keeps going back to me. She’s not about to give up. Luckily, Ryan is skilled. He keeps redirecting the conversation. I am impressed.

After I watch the morning show, I go to the hotel spa and get a massage. The masseuse tells me that I am very tight and need to relax - yeah, right, as if I can. I have a husband who’s cheating on me, on the brink of divorce, plus I’m hanging out with Ryan Paxton and have to try to avoid the paparazzi. No stress at all. An hour later, I feel great and decide to get my hair styled, too. I am a new woman coming out of the spa.

To pass time until Ryan is available, I have a light, late lunch and wander around again. I find and buy another couple cute outfits. Late afternoon, I go back to my room to get ready for my date. Ryan finally calls around 6:30. He apologizes profusely and says he is running late and asks if I would mind pushing back our date until 8:00pm. Like I’m going to tell him no? Obviously, I don’t mind.

Taylor calls when I am just about finished getting dressed. She inquires about what is going on tonight. I tell her I’m going out for dinner and dancing with Ryan. I fill her in about what was going on with Craig and that I am more sure than ever that I’m kicking him out. She is ecstatic.

My phone sounds. I ask Taylor to hang on a second so I can check it.

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2016, 6:46PM
Still running late. Be there as soon as I can.

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2016, 6:47PM
OK. See U soon.

“Ok. Sorry about that.”

“No problem. I was saying that it’s good that you are ready to kick Craig out. Maybe Ryan can take his place.”

There is no way that I am telling her that Ryan suggested the same thing.

“Taylor! I’m a mess right now. I’ve got to get my life straightened out. Besides, why would he want me? Maybe I’m fun to hang around with out here but I’m nobody; he’s this huge celeb.”

“Olivia,” Taylor scolds.

“I’m freaking out because of all this media attention. I just don’t see how the two of us could ever work out.” I still have tons of doubts. They haven’t gone away. I’m sure Ryan will try to convince me. “But, speaking of Ryan, I’d better get going and be ready when he comes.”

“Alright. Call me later – tomorrow – whenever. Tell Ryan ‘hi’ for me. And have fun.”

I tuck my phone in the black clutch that matches my dress. I take a quick look in the mirror. The dress is a simple little black dress, off the shoulder just on one side and killer heels. It’s awesome being with someone a few inches taller than me so I feel like I can wear heels. Not too bad; I can hold my own against Hollywood’s heartthrob.

There is a knock on the door and I inhale deeply to steady my nerves. I open the door and there stands Ryan. He freezes and stares when he sees me. He has a single red rose in his hand.

“Olivia! My God! You take my breath away. You look lovely. How did I get so lucky? You’re gorgeous!”

I feel the heat and blood rushing to my cheeks. I’m not used to getting compliments anymore. “It’s not nice to fib.”

His eyes narrow and cloud. “Olivia. You are beautiful. I do not lie.”

Oh, shit. Did I just ruin things with him? He looks angry.

“I’m sorry, Ryan. I didn’t mean that you…I just…my self-esteem is non-existent” I apologize, scared to death.

“No, I’m sorry, Olivia. I know you didn’t mean that I was lying to you. It just makes me so mad that your ass of a husband has been putting you down and ignoring you so much that a simple compliment seems fake.” He pulls me into a hug with one arm.

“I told you I’m a mess.”

Ryan moves me back so he can look into my eyes and his hand moves up to cup my face. “And I told you, I’ll help you get un-messy if you will let me.” He gives me a kiss on my nose and hands me the rose he’s holding. “This is for you.”

“Thank you,” I say, lifting it to smell it, trying yet again to cover up my shock of being kissed by him. I know it is supposed to be friendly and it is just a kiss on my nose, but it’s still a very intimate gesture. Just like last night, it throws me off balance and sends my heartbeat into a spin.

“I’d really like that,” I say. “I mean your help. I’m going to need friends to get me through the next couple of months.”

“I’m here for you. Besides, I know you’ll be fine. You are a lot stronger than you think. You just need to find yourself again.”

I wish I could believe him. I feel like the cowardly lion, so scared of everything I’m going to have to go through. Maybe courage is in me, but I will need to dig deep to find it and bring it out.

“Oh and Olivia? You’d better get used to me saying how beautiful you are.” Ryan raises an eyebrow that dares me to contradict him. “So, Beautiful, are you ready for a night out on the town?”

I feel a little thrill shoot through me. I smile at the nickname; he makes me feel beautiful. “I’m ready.”

We ride the elevator down to the lobby with Jeremy along for security again. As soon as the doors open, reporters come running towards us. Cameras flash, questions start flying.

“Ryan, who is your date?”

“Are you starring in a film together?”

“Are you two dating?”

“Where are you going tonight?”

Jeremy takes the lead and fights through the crowd. I freeze, shocked by the crowd that greets us. Sheer terror runs through me. I don’t know what to do. I feel Ryan tug on my arm. He wraps his arm around me and guides me quickly to the valet area, where his rental car already waits for us. Jeremy helps get us to the car but to my surprise doesn’t get in with us. Ryan and I get in the car and Ryan carefully maneuvers around the crowd.

“Why didn’t Jeremy come with us?” I ask Ryan.

“He knows I want to be alone with you. He’s going to meet us at the restaurant.”

Ryan looks at me, as much as he can while driving safely. I am visibly shaking. Ryan grabs my hands that I have clasped in an effort to try to stop the shaking. He gives me an apologetic smile.

“They are getting worse, aren’t they,” he observes, his forehead creases in concern. “I’m sorry, Olivia. You are ok. I will keep you safe.”

“I can’t believe they’re so obsessed with us.”

“Well, it is my fault. They made me too famous. They want to know who you are and how you captured my attention. You will be famous soon. They probably will find out everything about you,” Ryan says. Then he smiles slyly. “If you have any skeletons in your closet, you’d better bury them deep.”

“Ha. Ha. You think you’re so funny….” I happen to glance out the window. I wince and groan. “Shit!”

“What!? What’s wrong?”

“Well, I don’t have any skeletons, just a dumbass of a husband who wants his fifteen minutes of fame,” I tell him. I pull one of my hands free and point to the sidewalk where Craig is talking with a reporter. There right next to him is one of Craig’s coworkers. I assume that she is the girl he’s screwing around on me with.

“That is Craig.”

I sigh.

“Well, they’ll definitely know who I am now.”

“Bloody hell,” Ryan mumbles. “God, he is a dumbass. Who the hell is that hanging on him?”

“Her name is Annabelle. She works with Craig,” I say quietly. “That must be who he’s been seeing. I wonder if somehow she’s the reason he wanted to come out here.”

“I’m sorry, Olivia. God, I can’t believe he’d planned this trip, knowing that she would be out here too and you’d probably find out. What happened to being discreet? And not airing your business. Screw being discreet. What happened to a monogamous marriage? Isn’t he concerned at all about hurting you?”

“Obviously no, he’s not. That’s Craig for you. He wants the lime light – good or bad. I’ve learned the hard way that Craig only thinks about Craig. He’s been hurting me for the past two years and he doesn’t care. As long as everything worked out for Craig, he would do anything, especially if there’s money involved.”

I stare out the window. He is trying hurt me again, but this time it is not all hurt. Part of it is irritation, too, which is good. His idiotic behavior has taken my mind off the paparazzi.

I take a deep breath and continue. “At least I know, for sure, now. I can move on, with my friends’ support.”

“You can count on me,” Ryan says, squeezing my hand. He looks at me apologetically. “You should know though, that the media will say that you are cheating on your husband with me.”

Yes, Craig will try to make sure they assume I am the one who is cheating. Great, my reputation will be ruined before anyone even knows me. Well, Ryan tells me that I have to ignore what is reported about me. Guess it’s time to start practicing letting go of those concerns.

“Yes, I suppose they will. Since the bimbo is hanging on Craig, hopefully they’ll figure out that he’s been with someone else, too.”

Hopefully these reporters don’t like Craig and really look into him.

“But you know what? I’m not going to let it bother me. We know the truth and that’s all that matters.” I turn to smile at him; he’s watching me.

“Olivia, I see that this is hurting you. We can go back to the hotel and just hang out if you want.”

Going back and hiding out sounds good, but I’m not going to let Craig or the paparazzi ruin an evening with Ryan, an evening that I’ve been looking forward to all day.

“You’re sweet. But no. You promised me dinner and dancing. I need to go out and have fun. Make me forget about Craig.” I squeeze his hand that is still on mine. “You know, he loves to talk. My only hope is that he’ll say something that makes him sound like an idiot.”

Ryan laughs, then he sighs loudly. “Well, it looks like I’m caught in another love triangle.”

I laugh. “Got to keep up your reputation.”

I need to let the whole Craig thing go. He is moving out when we get back home. No, correction. I am going to kick him out when I get home. There is nothing I can do here but enjoy the time I have with Ryan.

“Let’s go enjoy the evening,” I say. “Maybe we can get more rumors to surface.”

“I like starting rumors,” he smiles. He brings my hand up to his lips and kisses it. “You are amazing. See, Olivia? You are stronger than you think.”

“Sure, I’m ok right now. But wait until later, when I’m by myself and all I can do is think about this. There will be crying and feeling sorry for myself.”

“That’s all part of the healing process, love. But there is a way to fix that. You can always stay with me all night. I’ll keep your mind off Craig. You just let me know,” Ryan says, winking at me.

I laugh again. “Don’t temp me.”

Whew, it is getting really hot in this car.

“Who says I’m not serious?” Ryan smirks.

“Oh, I know.”

How lucky am I to have met Ryan? We pull up to the valet of another hotel. Jeremy is there to greet us and rush us inside to the hotel’s four-star steakhouse, getting stares and squeals along the way. At the restaurant, we are promptly led to a private table. Ryan orders wine for both of us and then we are left alone to look over the menu.

I look around the beautiful room. The bottom half of the walls are paneled in dark mahogany; the top is wallpapered with what looks like an imprinted design in cream.

“Wow! This place is …exquisite.”

“Yes, it is. Although, I’ve never been here before. It came highly recommended. We’ll see if the food is as good as the décor. Do you know what you want?”

I tell him yes and we order once the waiter comes back. Then Ryan again asks if I had heard from Craig earlier today. But thank goodness, I have not. It’s nice to realize that I do not care if I hear from him. Ryan tells me that he can see how much this whole thing with Craig hurts me and explains why he thinks this.

“I think you believe in getting and staying married. It wasn’t even in your realm of thinking that divorce was a possibility. Because your marriage didn’t turn out the way you expected, you are questioning a lot of things you believe.”

I stare at him while he explains his thoughts.

“How?” I demand. “How do you know me so well? It’s like you’ve known me for years instead of a couple days.”

“It is strange, isn’t it? I feel the same way.” Ryan brings my hand up to his lips and kisses it then lays our joined hands on the table. I look at our hands and how perfect they fit together. It is turning out that Ryan and I are fitting perfectly together, too. And it’s scaring the hell out of me.

Our dinner of filet mignon and parmesan creamed spinach arrives; we share a chocolate soufflé for dessert. Everything is delicious, just like Ryan was told. I’m still so nervous around Ryan that I don’t eat much. I inform him that I would like to walk around for a while to burn off some of the calories. Jeremy walks with us. We just walk around the casino for a little bit, duck into a couple shops. We head back to the valet for the car. Ryan tells Jeremy to meet us at a club.

Ryan drives us to the other end of the strip, again going to the valet. Once inside the hotel, we head for a popular nightclub - so popular there is a line to get in. Of course, being Ryan Paxton, we get in right away. Jeremy looks visibly uncomfortable. Wonder what’s troubling him. I find out that Ryan called ahead and talked with the manager to arrange for our night out. Thank goodness Jeremy and one of the clubs’ bouncers is there to help block the mass of girls, and a few guys, from trying to get to Ryan. I’m still in shock to see what Ryan has to put up with any time he’s in public. I wonder if I can deal with that if I get involved with him. What am I thinking? Of course, I can; he’s worth it.

It turns out that going dancing with Ryan is a blast. I love to dance but hadn’t gone much in the past couple years because Craig never wanted to. Ryan dances with me the whole night, especially to the few slow songs the DJ throws in.

There are even a couple of guys who try to ask me to dance, but the look Ryan gives them makes them back off, which makes me laugh and feel good. Girls ask Ryan to dance but he tells them that he is with only one girl tonight and that’s who he will dance with.

Finally, we both have enough of the crowds and stroll hand-in-hand back to the valet to get the car. Ryan thanks the bouncer and I think gives him a tip. He tells Jeremy we’ll see him back at the Bellagio. Ryan helps me into the car. He goes around to get into the driver’s side. He pulls away from the valet and I see Jeremy turn to get into his car. Instead of pulling out to the street, Ryan drives up the parking ramp. We go to the top of the parking garage, where there are hardly any cars and pulls across a couple stalls. He puts the car in park and just sits there in silence for a few seconds. We can see part of the strip, all the lights.

“Is something wrong?” I finally ask.

He stares straight ahead but shakes his head.

“No, nothing’s wrong.” He pauses then turns toward me. “Olivia, I had a really good time tonight.”

I put my hand on top of his hand that is still resting on the gear shift. “I did too, Ryan. I had so much fun dancing with you. I’d like to do that more often. I love to dance. And to think that all those girls are jealous of me,” I tease.

He smiles a little at my comment, but Ryan continues to sit there looking at me. I search his eyes trying to figure out what is going on in his head. Have I made him mad? I don’t have a clue. I can’t think of anything.

Then it hits me. He’s going to break up with me. He doesn’t want to see me anymore. Oh, God. What am I going to do? No, no. I’ll be ok. At least he’s doing this now before I really fall for him. Might as well get it over with. I give him a panicked look.

“What’s wrong? I can handle it.”

“Don’t be mad,” he says.

Oh, shit. Here it comes. I’m just about to ask what I am going to be mad about when Ryan reaches out and cradles my face in both of his hands and slowly leans forward as he continues to stare into my eyes. What?! Oh, God. He’s going to kiss me. This is not what I was expecting. I don’t think I’m ready for this.

Ryan captures my lips with his and all thoughts leave my brain. The kiss is soft and warm and wet and oh so good.

Someone moans. I don’t know if it came from me and I don’t care. Then Ryan takes the kiss deeper, wanting more, needing more, taking more. His tongue searches my lips, encouraging me to open up and let him in. Without thinking, my lips part and Ryan explores. My heartbeat pounds in my head, and I can barely remember to breathe.

My brain finally kicks in. I should stop him, but my body refuses to listen to my mind and really I don’t want to stop kissing him. My hand reaches up and grabs the back of his neck trying to bring him closer to me. Part of me never wants him to stop.

I am warring with myself. I should not let him do this. Yes, my marriage is ending but I am not in a good emotional state to become involved with him. I could so easily fall for Ryan and I know I would not survive another broken heart on top of everything else. I just need more time to think. This is happening too fast.

Finally, my mind wins and I push back from Ryan. “Wow!” I say, trying to catch my breath.

“I won’t apologize for that.” He is still holding my face a few inches from his, looking deep into my eyes, looking for my reaction. I observe that his eyes look a little hurt.

“I’m not asking for an apology. And I’m not sorry either. I’m just asking for some time.”

He nods in understanding. “Olivia, I don’t mean to stress you out more than you already are because of Craig. But I can’t go anymore without letting you know my feelings. You have to know that we’re meant to be together, don’t you? We complement each other; we understand each other. Look how close we’ve gotten in just a couple days. I just found you; I don’t want to lose you.”

Still holding my face, he brings his forehead to mine and rests it there. I close my eyes.

Oh my god! I’m freaking out. Here I thought he was going to tell me he didn’t want to see me anymore. My heart is beating in my ears blocking out the music from the radio. My brain tries to grab at anything to be able to process and understand this information. How can he say this to me already? He knows that his feelings will weigh heavily on top of everything else. He thinks we are meant to be together! Does he not understand that if I let him become important, he could destroy me?

“Oh God, Ryan. I don’t know if I can deal with this right now.”

I pause trying to think of what to say and how to say it.

“I know. I’m sorry,” he says.

“I mean there’s tons of fireworks, huge monstrous ones, at least for me. And I think we do have something very special and unique between us,” I continue. “I don’t understand exactly what it is. I haven’t had the time to figure it out, but I think I’d like to find out. However, I need to get my life back on track. I need to get rid of Craig and find myself again.”

“I’m fine with that. I already told you I’ll help. But you’d better get used to me being in your life, because I’m not going anywhere. I’ll wait for you to be ready.”

“Ok,” I whisper. My head is spinning and it is starting to hurt.

At last, Ryan lets go of me and sits back in his seat. We still sit there in silence for a couple minutes; each of us thinking.

“Ryan?” I whisper.


I pause not wanting to say this but hoping he will understand that I need to tell him. “I’m trying to be totally honest with you, so I have to say this to you. It’s one of the reasons I’m terrified of us right now.”

I am having a horrible time trying to saying this. “I could fall in love with you so easily. And even if you didn’t mean it, after everything I’ve already gone through, if you broke my heart, I honestly don’t think I’d be able to survive it.”

I speak so quietly I’m not sure he can hear me. I can’t look at him; I am too scared to see his reaction and I don’t want him to see the tears building in my eyes.

I hear Ryan take a sharp breath.


I still can’t look at him.

“Olivia,” he says again sternly.

He puts his hand under my chin and makes me look at him. His other hand caresses my cheek, wiping away the few tears that have escaped.

“I promise you I won’t break your heart. I could never hurt you. You have no idea the impact you have made on my life in these few short days I’ve had with you.”

He stares into my eyes for a moment, probably to make sure I fully understand that he is telling me the truth. Then he pulls me as close to him as he can across the gear shift to hug me and kiss the top of my head.

“I’ll take you back to the hotel now,” Ryan says letting me go.

I feel exhausted, physically and emotionally. Ryan asks if I want to come up to his suite for a while, but I tell him that I need to think and get some sleep. He walks me to my room and stays only for a few minutes.

I know it’s silly, but once Ryan is in my room, I start getting nervous. I am afraid to sit down on the bed because if Ryan kisses me again, I’m afraid I won’t stop him. And that isn’t what I need. I need to keep standing. He comes over to me and rubs his hands up and down my arms.

“Are you sure you’ll be ok here by yourself tonight?”

“Yes, I need to be by myself and think through lots of things…and maybe wallow in a little self-pity. I’ll be fine. I am going to lock the door so Craig won’t be able to get in again, not that he’ll come back here anyway tonight. He knows better than to come back here after today. He knows I’m pissed off at him. He doesn’t want to deal with me right now.”

I walk to the window and look out at all the lights on the Strip.

“Good. Will you come up tomorrow and have breakfast with me? Then spend the day with me?” he asks hesitantly. He holds out a room card for me. “So you can get up to my floor,” he explains.

In what world would I not want to spend time with Ryan Paxton. I take the card.

“Of course I will. I want to spend all the time I can with you before I leave and go back to Kansas City.”

“So you’re not mad at me?”

I’m confused.

“Why would I be mad at you?”

“Because by kissing you, I pushed you.”

I turn to look at him. He looks a little ashamed. I smile and walk over to him and trail a finger down the side of his face.

“I never said I didn’t enjoy the kiss, Ryan. In fact, it was pretty awesome, everything I dreamed a kiss with you would be like. I just have so much that’s pushing at me right now. I don’t feel it’s fair to you to get involved right now while everything is so up in the air. If Craig stays true to form, he’ll drag this out for a while.”


“Ryan,” I press two fingers over his mouth, cutting him off. “Please don’t push too hard. I’m having a very hard time telling you that I need us to wait until I get things settled. Because I want very badly to just let go and get involved with you.”

He groans.

“I know. But, I feel like I’m doing the right thing by getting rid of the bad situation first; then I can move forward with you.”

“Olivia!” Ryan whimpers. He captures me in a kiss again. His lips are so wonderful. His tongue run over my lips again and automatically I let him in. I wrap my arms around him and pull him closer. He pushes me back against the wall and runs his hands up my sides. He leans his whole body against me and I can feel his excitement on my abdomen. Holy crap!

I brake the kiss, but don’t let Ryan go. I can feel and hear how hard he is breathing. I hear him take slow, methodical breaths, trying to gain control of himself. We stand holding each other for a while, his hands running up and down my back.

“There are monstrous fireworks for me too,” he whispers into the top of my head. “You make it very hard for me to leave you, Olivia. I just want to take you up to my suite and make love to you.”

This time I groan. “As much as I want you to take me up to your suite, I can’t. I’ve got to do this my way. I need to get rid of the trash first.”

“I know and I do understand. I’ll try to be patient and behave. Not make it harder for you.”

I finally step away from him. “Thank you for understanding.”

“You’re welcome. And I do completely understand. Now, I’d better go,” Ryan says, walking to the door and opening it.

“You’re sure you don’t want me to stay with you?” he asks, grinning at me.

I just laugh and smile.

“All right. I’ll see you in the morning. Say 8am? Or is that too early?”

“Eight is fine,” I assure him.

“Sleep well, my love.” He gives me a quick kiss on the lips and is gone.

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