The Publicist's Plight (Book I in The Harrison Inc. Series)

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Chapter 52

For the record: I hate running. Especially from people who are faster than me. But I guess throwing my shoes at Sebastian’s face gave me a bit of a head start.

But not for long.

The minute I run through the kitchen and through the back door, I hear him sprinting through the kitchen behind me. I’m screaming now like this is a horror movie, because this is.

When have I ever asked to be involved in this?

Guest house. Run to the guest house. That was the initial plan, and I follow through with it until I see a tall, bearded man blocking my way.

“That’s her, Claude!” Sebastian informs him.

Asshole.

I sprint as fast as I can in the opposite direction, though their strides are nearing at an alarming rate. I spot one of the cooks bringing a half-empty platter of chicken up the hill. I grab it, throw it behind me and keep running. It hit the ground, but luckily Claude slips on it and falls on the grass. Laughs erupt from the Vauns down by the lake; I’m glad this is funny to them, but to me, this is anything but humorous.

“Sebastian!” I scream out of breath. “I demand you stop this!”

I’m now hiding behind a table, hunched over, waiting for him to dodge left or right so I can move the opposite direction. He’s on the opposite end of the table, drenched in sweat, staring at me like a predator challenging his prey. The smile on his face is sinister; he’s enjoying this very much.

“Just surrender, Leslie,” he pants. “You can’t run forever.”

He lunges right, I run left. The Vaun family moves out of the way, laughing at Sebastian chasing me as I scream like I’m about to be murdered. The elderly women and men sitting at their luxurious table laugh while smoking cigars or eating desserts. I’ve never been so embarrassed; this is the last way I wanted to be introduced to the family.

Suddenly, I feel my body fling forward as I trip on my own feet, but before I can make direct contact with the ground, Sebastian’s arms snake underneath my waist, lift me up and haul me over his shoulder. It’s like an intense moment of whiplash before the entire world is upside down, and all I see is the moist earth by the lake.

And Sebastian’s butt.

“Sebastian!” I yell, but he pretends like his pretty ears can’t hear me. There’s a small dock that he’s nearing while gradually laughing at my enraged complaining. And to make matters worse, he moves his arm from the small of my back to right on my ass and pats it a few times.

“Hey!” I shout at him. “That is private property, Mister!”

I have to think of something to free myself from him, because I refuse to fall victim to the others who have been thrown into the lake. So, I start hitting his back, throwing a tantrum like an upset child and even making my body go stiff to increase the load, but it does little to help the situation. The water is getting closer, and out of panic, I head to the last resort and do something I didn’t expect myself to do.

I grab his briefs and pull as hard as I can.

Which results in both of us falling into the lake.


“C’mon, it was funny!”

Sebastian’s voice is the last thing I want to hear in my ear as I stomp my way to the main house, soaking wet, irritable, and victim of water in my ears.

Loretta offered to get us towels since all of the ones by the lake were being used, and I offered to follow; anything to get away from Sebastian, because if I were to be even a foot near him, I would want to claw his eyes out.

“I’ll go get you guys the towels,” she tells us when we’re inside the house. Sebastian is behind me, laughing still, following me into the empty kitchen.

“Do you want me to apologize?” he asks in a condescending tone.

“Yes,” I tell him, ignoring the water running down my legs. “Yes, I do.”

“Alright.” He leans against the island and looks up at the ceiling. “I’m sorry.”

“I would appreciate some sincerity in your tone and attitude.”

His eyes reach mine, paired with a slight smirk.

“I’m sorry.”

I smile. “Better.”

He continues to laugh, despite him having fallen into the lake himself. I’ll admit, it is funny when I think of it now, but I don’t want to give him the satisfaction.

“You know you want to laugh.”

I fight a smile. “No, I don’t.”

Sebastian rolls his eyes. “God, you’re still so uptight.”

“Yeah, because throwing me into a lake doesn’t give me the right to be uptight.”

He chokes on his words; no comeback is smart enough to counter my response. I laugh at him, nearing the counter to wring out my sleeves in the sink.

“You know,” I start. “You’re lucky I didn’t put on mascara today because oh, you would have been so dead.”

“Leslie—”

“And you’re also lucky my blouse isn’t white or sheer,” I add. “That would have been conclusively unforgivable.”

“Leslie, your—”

“I know, I’m overreacting. Everyone seemed to think it was funny. It’s still embarrassing, though. It might not be much to you since you’re half a Vaun yourself, but to me it’s absolutely mortifying.”

“Leslie, your hair.”

I wonder what he’s talking about until I realize that there isn’t the usual strain on my head that I’m used to; my hair is loose, free from the tight confines of my hair tie and falling into damp curls to my shoulders.

“Oh,” I mumble, touching my hair until my hair tie is in my hand. It broke, but I don’t know when. “That’s weird. My hair ties never break.”

I turn around to find Sebastian staring at me, his eyes deep and inquisitive. I blush under his unrelenting stare; this is the first time he’s seen me with my hair down.

Come to think of it, this is the first time anyone has seen me with my hair down in years.

“Don’t look at me like that,” I try to jest. “I know it looks awful.”

Sebastian frowns, pushing himself off the island. “Awful? It looks really nice. Why don’t you wear your hair like that often?”

I shrug, “I don’t know,” I lie, because I know the exact reason why.

Awkward silence. I try to vainly fix the hair tie; tying it together again somehow.

“Maybe I can fix it,” I say aloud. Sebastian’s hand suddenly takes it out of my hand and tosses it on the counter across the kitchen.

“No,” he tells me. “Don’t try to fix it. Don’t try to fix anything.”

Him and I are close now; close enough for me to see the faint, almost undistinguishable freckles he has on the bridge of his nose.

I shake my head down at my bare feet. “Look at you, sounding all poetic and such.”

He smiles cheekily. “I have my moments when I can be pleasantly charming.”

“Yeah, you’ve got that right.”

Sebastian sees the look on my face and knows there’s a double meaning behind that. He narrows his eyes at me, especially when I turn the other way.

“Okay, I’m positive that you’ve encrypted a little something else into that last sentence.”

I shrug, but he doesn’t let it go.

“Is this about when I was drunk a couple of nights ago?”

“Wh-what are you getting at?”

“’You really don’t remember anything?’” he says, mimicking my voice. “C’mon, I’m not dumb. I know I said something or did something that you remember but I don’t. I’ve just been waiting for the right time to ask.”

“Nothing, happened, I was just surprised that you didn’t remember anything.”

I’m usually a pretty decent liar, but this time it isn’t working.

“Did I do something or say something?” he asks me.

Don’t answer, Leslie. Just claim ignorance.

“I said something, didn’t I?”

I walk around the island trying to avoid him, but all he does is follow me. God, where is Loretta with those towels?!

“Look, it doesn’t even matter. You were drunk!”

“If it doesn’t matter, then you can tell me what I said.”

I chuckle, trying to sway the awkwardness away. Whenever I look away from him, he finds a way to lock eyes with me again.

“Please? You’re killing me, here.”

I sigh and contemplate even telling him. It should be innocent enough, right? And plus, I’ll receive that closure I’ve been complaining of not having since he even said it.

“Fine.” I sigh. “Before you fell asleep that night, you said that you loved me. There, that’s the ‘big secret.’ Crazy, right?”

I wait for him to laugh, gasp, raise his eyebrows, do something. But he’s just…deadpan; detached. The smile or amused look on his face that he had before is now gone.

“Oh,” he finally says. “Wow.”

I nod, trying to laugh the uncomfortableness away. “I know, right? Again, you were drunk out of your mind and frankly, people say the most unprecedented things when they’re intoxicated, so it makes sense.”

Sebastian’s reaction is far from anything that I could have expected. He isn’t doing…anything, really. His face just looks like he’s thinking really hard. I thought I would find some closure to this, but if he isn’t reacting definitely about it, then I don’t know what closure I’m getting at.

I start back towards the sink to escape the awkward air, but suddenly Sebastian’s hand grabs a hold of my forearm. I freeze, turn around and face him with a concerned, confused and anxious expression.

“What’s wrong?” I ask him.

Wordlessly, he slowly pulls me closer to him; closer than before, so now our damp bodies are making complete unrestricted contact. I don’t even have time for anything to register in my head before he kisses me.

And it takes me but one second to kiss him back; for my mouth to move against his in the same slow, sensual and grasping motion that his does. There’s no wrong or right in the moral standpoint, but just how right this feels, and how exploratory it all feels; I’ve never been kissed like this before.

Kissing leads to touching--a lot of touching that gives me goosebumps with every hand and arm movement of his on my lower back that eventually brings me closer to him in an embrace that almost lifts me from the ground. One of his hands then runs through my hair; a feeling unknown to me until now.

Everything is happening so fucking fast. And i like it; I love it.

Until it all ends too soon.

Gasping from behind us tears us apart. I never knew I could miss the touch of someone until Sebastian isn’t close to me anymore.

“I-I’m sorry,” Loretta stutters by the front of the kitchen, towels under her right arm. Rachael is next to her, wide eyed and confused. Fuck--I forgot she was still in the house.

There’s a pang of guilt in my chest for many reasons, but the pleasure of what just happened outweighs that.

But it doesn’t outweigh the embarrassment of being caught.

“I shouldn’t have done that,” Sebastian says to me. He can’t even meet my eyes. “Forget I ever did that. I’m sorry, Leslie.”

But I don’t want to forget.

No one has the chance to say anything to him. He leaves the house hurriedly, and the slam of the back door after his presence is gone makes me realize and register that everything that just happened was real. I stare at the door like he’ll come back, but I know that he won’t.

And it makes me sad that it ended too soon.

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