“It’s not what it looks like.” Are the first words that come out of mouth.
Of course Beth and Paul aren’t going to believe that. I mean who would—Sebastian Harrison is standing in the closet of my room, holding his shirt and shoe in his hands, and they’re supposed to believe that it’s “not what it looks like?”
“It really isn’t,” Sebastian adds. “I know it’s hard to believe me out of all people but it isn’t what it looks like.”
Sebastian’s words are going in one ear and out the other; Beth and Paul just stand gawking at him like he isn’t real. I want to tell them to stop—even though I know Sebastian’s used to this type of thing—but I’m rendered a bit speechless right now that this is actually happening.
“Y-you’re…you’re Sebastian Harrison,” Beth finally stutters.
Sebastian smiles; Beth almost faints. “The one and only.” He says.
“It was a really long night, and Sebastian was nice enough to keep me company during a dark time. That’s all.”
“Uh-huh,” Paul says through a gaped smirk.
“You know what?” I turn around and give Sebastian a polite smile. “I’ll walk you out.”
“That would be best,” he replies.
“Do you have a ride home?” Beth says, following Sebastian out of the room with his eyes. “I can ride you—I mean, give you a ride. That’s what I meant. But if you’re up for the first option—”
Sebastian roars in laughter while I grab his other shoe and rush him out of my apartment, embarrassed. “I’m fine, babe, my car is out front. Thank you, though.”
“Is that your Aston Martin out front? It’s a beautiful car. So beautiful…”
“Oh my god,” I mumble as Sebastian continues to laugh at the spectacle that is my friends.
“Nice to meet you, Sebastian Harrison. My name is Beth, by the way. Beth Evans. And everything I said about you while you were hiding in my best friend’s closet was true. Just letting you know.”
“Thank you, Beth. Can you please go make yourself a cup of coffee so Sebastian can go home?”
She nods with the widest smile on her face. Paul’s mouth is still open in bewilderment.
On the way down out of my building, I apologize profusely for my friend’s behavior, and for hiding him in a closet. Sebastian just finds it humorous.
“I thought they were pretty funny,” he says when we’re outside. “I didn’t expect them to have a normal reaction to someone hiding in their friend’s closet.”
I shake my head down at the pavement. Sebastian slips on his shoes and finishes buttoning up his shirt while we’re still in front of my complex. He then runs a hand through his messy hair, failing at making it look “presentable” but succeeding at making himself look more alluring. I avert my eyes away from him, flustered.
“Thank you,” I tell him genuinely. “For everything you did for me last night.”
“Don’t mention it. We all need someone to be there for us once in a while.”
He’s right, there. I wonder if this is a ‘thank you’ for what I’ve gone through with him back at the manor; the issues he has with himself and his family. It’s hard for me to accept anything relative to a nice gesture without believing it’s for a different reason other than for my wellbeing. That’s one of the many things I dislike about myself; I can’t accept that someone might actually care.
Sebastian leans against the railing of the stairs leading to the sidewalk. His height looms over me.
“Are you going to be alright? That was quite a night.”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Once I get back to work, I’ll gain a sense of normality that will make me feel better.”
Sebastian chuckles. “You never take a break, do you?”
I shrug. “My duty to others never ends.”
He bites his lip; he’s thinking of saying something. But what?
“Why don’t you come over to my place tomorrow night?” he asks. “For dinner?”
For a moment, I’ll admit I jump back at his invitation.
“Y-you want me? To come over? For dinner?”
He laughs at me with confused eyes. “I’m a little offended. I pretty good in the kitchen when I have my chef’s hat on.”
There are many questions running through my mind. First, Sebastian wants me over at his Beverly Hills mansion for dinner? I understand that we have a close relationship, but I’d never expect him to invite me somewhere so intimate as his house; from what I know, he only invites people over for lavish parties and God knows what else.
And second—Sebastian can cook?
“I-yeah, sure.” I nod so much I fear I might suffer from whiplash. “I would love that. Really. Anything but Italian, though.”
My cheeks hurt from smiling. Jesus, stop it, Leslie!
Sebastian smiles. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
And then he gives me a gentle kiss on my cheek that makes my skin go hot and cold all at the same time.
He walks down the steps onto the sidewalk. “6PM,” he calls out to me in reminder, before walking down the sidewalk to his car; a car a few morning joggers slow their pace to stare at.
I walk back inside, only to find Beth eavesdropping by the entrance.
“Beth!” I shout when I almost slam her with the door. “You scared the shit out of me!”
“I’m sorry. But I wasn’t gonna miss seeing my husband drive away for the last time. I seriously must be dreaming; you should be proud of me, I mean I didn’t freak out as much as I wanted to when that closet door opened.”
I roll my eyes at her teen-girl-hormonally-crazed antics. She’s perfect enough to score any guy she wants yet swoons as if he’s the only one.
Maybe I should tell Sebastian to give one of his guys in his entourage a call.
I walk to the elevator, and Beth follows asking a myriad of questions. I’m still pressed at the last 12 hours and everything that has happened. But going to dinner tomorrow at Sebastian’s house? And paired with Sebastian’s ‘distinct’ goodbye? That’s enough to put a light in my spirits.
As I press for my floor, I feel Beth staring at me.
“Leslie, why are you all flustered?” she asks me.
I swallow hard. “It’s hot outside. You know I get all red when it’s hot.”
“Right,” she mutters. “Sure you do.”
Yoga Sunday was a complete hysterical “mess” for lack of a better word.
I made the mistake of telling Beth and Paul that Sebastian invited me over for dinner, and they lost it; everyone began staring at us between their legs during Downward Dog pose.
“Seriously, Leslie. How can you not see it? Spending the night with you? Inviting you over for dinner?”
I stare at Beth with a blank expression as she waits for me to catch on.
“He likes you, dumbass,” Paul says over our conversational silence.
“No he doesn’t. He was just being nice. That’s all.”
“You are so in denial,” Beth says. “A guy likes you and you can’t even accept it.”
“I’ve had my fair share of broken hearts, I’m in no mood to try it again.”
“So you’re saying that you like him, to?”
Alright, class, let’s go into child’s pose for ten breaths.
We got down into the pose, but despite child’s pose being meant for seclusion, Beth and Paul carry on the conversation.
“You’ve got to look super hot tomorrow,” Beth whispers, my vision surrounded in silence. “I know this cute bouti
“It isn’t a big deal,” I told them as I came up into Mountain. “Just a publicist and her client eating dinner together.”
“Yeah, well by the end of tomorrow night he’ll be having you for dessert.”
Once Paul began making moaning sounds, Beth screamed loud enough for the entire class to be brought to a halt. I’ve never been so embarrassed in this class; I don’t know if I should show my face there again after that.
Now, I’m in the grocery store doing some much needed shopping for my own kitchen. I pass the alcohol aisle in the store, eyeing the various wines, and ponder on bringing one for tomorrow. I decide against it; I’m sure whatever he has to drink is more than what I can afford, even for my comfortable salary.
I send a text to Darcy, thanking her for dropping off my car at my apartment as
I scan the aisles, adding milk, cereal, and cracker snacks into my cart. As I come close to the next aisle, my phone rings in my hand. But the caller ID makes me stop in my tracks.
“Hello?” I answer.
“Hey, Leslie,” Ingrid says. “How are you?”
I thought I was done with Ingrid after she gave me the journal; the journal that I keep with me at all times. But if she’s calling me, then it must have something to do with Sebastian or Garrett. Come to think of it, it’s hard to trust anyone affiliated with Garrett; the mysterious text message and triggering party guests have made me weary about testing him.
“I’m well. How are you?”
“I’m alright. Listen, I know I’m in no position to be calling you, but I was wondering if we could talk? In person? Over coffee, maybe? It’s...it’s really important.”
I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all. But my damned inquisitive nature keeps me from seeing the red flag.
“Um...sure. How about Tuesday morning?”
“Yes, Tuesday sounds great. And would you mind not telling Sebastian about this, either?”
Something is up. If I had half a brain, I would hang up now and delete her number. But obviously this has to do with Sebastian, so of course I’m eager to know why. I just have to be on my guard.
“Okay. I...I won’t tell him.”
We say our goodbyes before hanging up. I walk the aisles as if that brief phone call never happened, but it did. And it makes me feel odd, going to Sebastian’s house tomorrow night then leaving to go have a secret meeting with his ex-lover the next morning. My blood boils at the thought of her and him together. He’s the one who caused her harm, I know. But from what I remember, she’s still in love with him. And Garrett employed her to try and persuade me to back off from him and his family in the first place. So who knows what to expect?
These days, I can’t even prepare myself anymore.