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

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Chapter 67

I come into consciousness shortly after I pass out.

Claude has me on the sidewalk when I finally open my eyes. I hope that when I open my eyes, the last hour or so would be just a dream. But sadly, that isn’t the case.

“Leslie,” Claude tells me. “I need you to breathe.”

This time, I take deeper breaths and keep a rhythm. In and out, in and out. My hands are tightly gripping Claude’s forearms as I sit on the curb; I might fall over without his support.

“I’m sorry. It just…I just—”

“Don’t apologize.” He says to me, his blue eyes wise and trusting. “You need to get out of here; you’ve had enough for today.”

“I can’t just leave! Ingrid is probably still around here! Do you realize what she’s done?”

Claude huffs before pulling out a phone from his pocket, cracked and covered in dirt but still functional.

“This phone look familiar to you?” he says in a patronizing tone. “I tracked her number again when I came here and it led me to some ditch behind Sebastian’s house. It was a setup; she’s gone by now.”

This day just keeps getting better and better.

I curse under my breath and the many times I’ve been fooled. At this rate, I should be catching on to the unsuspecting being the culprit after all.

I have so many questions and concerns, and Claude knows this, too. But he also seems to know exactly how to handle this; it’s scary how sure he is.

“Just go home. Turn off your phone and—”

“People need to know I’ve been set up, Claude! That…that this is all Garrett’s fault, not mine! Ingrid and the journal…”

“I hate to break it to you, but I’m the only who believes you right now, Leslie. I’m the only one who will believe you. Do you want to play the victim card after everything that’s happened so far?”

He’s right. God, he’s right. But if I try to explain what happened to Sebastian, he’ll have to believe me. I mean, sure—the timing is too convenient for my word to sound truthful. But he has to.

I say Sebastian’s name as a viable option, but Claude arches an eyebrow and hints at what we’re both thinking. I hang my head down.

“Come on. I’ll take you home.”

I protest, begging him to let me try and fix everything. But him and I both know that this isn’t fixable. As Claude drives me home in my car, I keep thinking of ways I could possibly mend everything that is going on with the tabloids and Sebastian’s tainted name. Claude reminds me to stop thinking so much; I question if he is even human.

Before Claude leaves me at my apartment, I ask him questions that have been eating away at me.

“Where did Ingrid go?” I ask him. “Do you know?”

He sighs and leans against my couch. “The only way to find out would be to ask Garrett himself.”

We both know that won’t work.

“Am I supposed to just sit here and let Garrett win? I mean, I am the publicist after all; it’s my job to…to fix things like this!”

“Something like this? It isn’t. You just stay put for a couple of hours, alright?”

I know I should trust in Claude’s judgment. He’s a secretive man who knows how to handle things in ways I don’t want to know. He’s still Sebastian’s cousin, though; his loyalties must be to him.

Claude leaves me. I’m surrounded in silence…well, silence and the company of Pedro. I pace my living room over and over again and try to suppress my thoughts, but they only succeed at ruining me. Ingrid; Judas. That’s what she is. But am I any better, being the one who gave the journal to her in the first place?

“How was I supposed to know that she was going to leak it then go M.I.A.?” I confide in Pedro; he stares at me with a tilted head. “I was angry. Sebastian cheated on me with two women…well, it isn’t technically ‘cheating’ since he isn’t my boyfriend but it’s…I just…fuck!”

In anger, stress, and disorientation, I kick one of my dining room chairs; it barely moves.

“I’m supposed to sit here and ignore the world while people think that I leaked his journal?” I say. “I can’t just do nothing; I have to do something!”

There’s nothing I can do except wait. I want to trust Claude and his judgment, but it’s in my nature to be involved. Again, I take a few breaths—I fainted in Claude’s arms almost an hour ago, and I don’t want to pass out again with my dog as my only savior. My phone is off, and I’m itching to turn it on; what if my mom calls? Or Ingrid? Or even Sebastian? God knows my mom is the last person I want to talk to, given she’s working with the enemy, but if Ingrid calls I can at least know that she hasn’t gone M.I.A. Sebastian? I don’t know. If what Sarah said still stands, he doesn’t know what’s going on at all, being isolated in his house with nothing to keep him updated. And that doesn’t settle well with me at all. What will he do when he finds out; it has to happen sooner or later.

The time now is 2:45PM. It seems time has been slipping out of my fingers—one moment, I’m in my pajamas, answering emails about Sebastian’s party and dwelling on the fact of his threesome, and the next moment I’m taking shelter in my house from the media shitstorm that I’m “indirectly” responsible for.

I take a nap to soothe my nerves—something I never do. It’s an uncomfortable sleep, and I wake up around six without feeling much of a change in my mood. Out of habit, I reach for my phone, but remember Claude’s words on purposefully being disconnected. He said he would call me on my house phone with any updates, but so far I haven’t gotten any calls or voicemails.

I shower longer than I need to, washing my hair and letting it down to air dry when I get out. I would never do such a thing; it brings back bad memories, leaving my hair down. But I’ve felt more confident seeing my hair at my sides lately.

I have Sebastian to thank for that. I’ll admit it, even though I don’t want to.

My home phone hasn’t rung yet, making me anxious. As I walk out into the living room, tying my robe tighter around my waist, my phone coincidentally starts ringing.

I’ve never picked up a phone so fast.

“Hello?” I answer.

“It’s Claude.” He says. “You holdin’ up well?”

“I think I know better than to lie to you by now.”

Claude chuckles. “That’s a good observation.”

I hate myself for asking, but I need to know.

“How’s Sebastian?”

“He’s sleeping,” Claude tells me. “Sarah had his housekeeper check up on him for her.”

“Well, what’s Sarah doing?” I ask him.

“At her office, trying to sort out the mess as best as she can.”

I hate Claude’s bluntness, but it’s well needed at this point.

“I don’t feel right being incognito like th—”

“It’s best, Leslie. Remember: you fainted today. I don’t think taking anything else on your plate will be good for you.”

“I know, but I don’t feel right sitting by while Ingrid is probably on some train to wherever the hell she ran off to, and while Garrett is happily watching this bullshit he stirred in motion unfold.”

“You’ve waged your war against Garrett—more than anyone else has on their own,” he says. “It isn’t a good idea to press him further when he’s already shown you exactly what he can do.”

The tone of Claude’s voice suddenly turns dark and quiet. The line is silent, and I look around my apartment and hate how alone I feel; there is literally no one I can have here that will understand. The only person that understands is Claude, given he knows about my mom, Felicity and Claire, as well as the journal; he listened in a way that sounded as if he understood. Maybe it’s because he’s older than most of us, and is a little more mature in situations that test one’s patience.

Claude ends the conversation by telling me that he’ll check on me in exactly an hour. The specific time stamp stems my curiosity, but I know by now not to question Claude’s motives and activities.

When I hang up, I make myself a sandwich that turns into two. I almost feel guilty for binging—keyword almost. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way.

The sun is almost completely down. Usually at this time of day I would turn on my TV and watch E! News or Extra to keep up to date with whatever is happening in the media, but knowing that the main topic of discussion is Sebastian’s childhood, I don’t dare turn on my TV.

I wonder if Fiona and Sebastian’s siblings know what happened? I wonder if Loretta knows what happened? God, she’s going to hate me when she finds out. I want to call her; I miss her voice and the comfort it brought during my times of trial. I stare at my home phone as it gawks at me, taunting me and daring me to call Loretta even though Claude advised me to stay under the radar.

I decide to call her anyway.

I have it in my home phone system, her number, so I don’t need to rake my brain for it. As the line rings, my buzzard rings at the same time.

Pedro starts barking.

I hang up the phone and press the talk button.

“Hello?”

“Leslie,” he says; I don’t know how to react to his voice. “It’s...it’s Sebastian.”


As Sebastian makes his way up to my apartment, I pace around and bite my nails until they’re raw and red.

My pride didn’t want to let him in. When I heard his voice, I remembered Claire on top of him and him licking coke off of her boobs and wanted to hang up. But given the circumstances, I buzzed him in.

Knocking startles me. Pedro starts barking, but this time I don’t even tell him to shut up.

When I open the door, he stands in front of me just as I imagined—tall, collected and staring at me with those green eyes that I can’t get enough of. Only thing is, Sebastian has a bouquet of flowers in his hand; white tulips. I’m speechless.

“Hey,” he says lowly, adjusting his hood. “I…I didn’t know what flowers you liked so I just got the best looking ones.”

I hate this. I hate him; why does he do this to me, making me so fucking conflicted?

I step aside and let him in. He closes the door behind him as I go to the kitchen to get a vase for the flowers. My hands are shaking so much that you can hear the cabinet suffer from it.

Sebastian slips off his sweater and places it on the couch. He has on a white t-shirt and black jeans; he looks so damn good that it’s making me angry.

I fill the vase with water and bring it to the dining room table. Sebastian sets the flowers in; they fan out once they’re in the container. God, they’re beautiful.

We stand in awkward silence. Just days ago, this man was the first man to make me orgasm. Now, we’re at an impasse. I tighten my robe around my body, but it can’t get any damn tighter.

“I would have called,” he says to me. “But Sarah took—”

“I know,” I cross my arms over my chest. “She told me.”

“It’s a little weird,” he manages a laugh, “being so disconnected. Fucking sucks, you know? I’ve been on this detox shit since this morning, drinking smoothies that are disgusting and sitting in my sauna. I feel a little better, I guess, but I haven’t been in contact with anyone. Again, I would have called, but Sarah took this ‘isolation’ thing really seriously.”

I avoid his eyes, but come to the realization that Sebastian still doesn’t know anything about the leak.

“Why are you here?” I ask him.

Placing his hands in his jeans, he stares down at his shoes. “I wanted to say sorry,” he rubs his eyes, “For last night.”

I roll my eyes; my pride won’t let me forgive him, despite the shit I’ve done to him, too.

“That was really fucked up, what you did,” I tell him. “If you would have let me explain at the conference, we could have avoided all of this.”

He nods, “I know, I know. I…I miss you. A lot. I regret everything I did to you; you didn’t deserve that.”

The guilt is eating away at him like it is to me. He’s pleading at me with his eyes, begging me to forgive him. And I want to, but I can’t; maybe it’s because I can’t forgive myself.

“I-I can’t do this right now.”

I walk over to the sink and press my hands into the wet metal. All I see is the plate I ate two freaking sandwiches on.

After a few moments, a shadow blocks the light of my kitchen. I don’t turn around; I feel him behind me, his breath on my neck. Instinctively, I close my eyes and grit my teeth together.

“Please,” he says, resting his chin on my shoulder. “I’m sorry, Leslie.”

“Sebastian,” I gasp, but I know I’m slowly giving into him and his touch. My palms tighten on the sink when his hands glide up my body over my robe, feeling every possibly inch of me from his angle until his hands land on my breasts and squeeze them in his hands. He pushes himself harder into my ass, and I can feel how hard he is against me. I moan forbiddingly before peeling his hands off of me and turning to face him. I would be a liar if I said I didn’t want his hands on me again, feeling every portion of me underneath my robe; touching me and making me come again like he’s done before.

“You can’t just…come in here and do that.” I take a moment to normalize my breathing. “I can’t…I can’t—”

Sebastian cuts me off with a kiss. It isn’t a gentle kiss like the one’s we’ve mostly shared; it’s rough and hungry, like Sebastian has suffered an insatiable thirst for me. His tongue pushes into my mouth and tangoes with mine as I kiss him back. Our mouths move against each other’s frantically; I dig my nails into his back, his arms, the nape of his neck and through his hair. The throbbing sensation between my legs is growing, even more so the harder Sebastian’s erection rubs against the thin layer of fabric separating my naked thigh from his.

Sebastian’s mouth moves to my neck, sucking and biting hard enough for me to hiss and gasp in pleasure and a bit of pain. My eyes roll back and close to the rhythm of his mouth teasing and torturing my sensitive skin. I bite his ear gently, but it does little to faze him. And as I bite and taste his skin in my mouth, he undoes the tie of my robe and parts the flaps of the flimsy fabric. My naked body is exposed to him, pressing against his clothed body. I press my thighs together to satiate the pulsing sensation of my pussy; one that Sebastian can effortlessly cause on me.

“Open your legs,” he tells me; he sees how hard my thighs are together.

“Or what?” I ask him, but in any other attempt than to tease him.

He stares at me seriously. “I’ll do it for you.”

The pads of his fingers glide down my breasts, down my panting stomach and hips. His touch makes my body progressively weak, and it’s more of a challenge to keep my legs closed than it was before. His eyes stare into mine as I moan up at the ceiling; his hand teases the sensitive skin of my lower hips and my mound. And as my palms tremble against the sink, I think to just comply with his demand to end the sweet suffering, but it’s too late—he forces my legs apart with one hand while holding my head up towards him with his other hand. At this point, I’m barely breathing.

“Have you ever been fingered before, Leslie?” he asks me. I don’t answer; I can’t answer.

“You’re so beautiful,” Sebastian then says, staring deep into my eyes. “Fuck, I can’t get enough of you.”

The world spins in the opposite direction when his index and middle finger start to slowly rub back and forth on the lips of my pussy. I gasp harder than I have previously.

“S-Sebastian,” I stutter out. “Stop. Oh God, stop.”

But I don’t want him to stop. This feeling is new to me, so of course the natural reaction for me to have is to ask him to stop whatever he’s doing. But his fingers move against me in the most intricate of ways; my moans are humiliating but succeed at increasing Sebastian’s enjoyment. Every time I ask him to stop, he only rubs faster and faster. My hands press so hard into the sink I can hear the friction beneath my palms. Currents run up and down my legs over and over again, and my toes curl tightly.

Abruptly, his fingers slide inside of me. I suck in a breath; his fingers don’t move, and I stand still, too.

“I know you’re going to come for me again,” he whispers into my ear before hooking his fingers inside of me. In and out, in and out, my clit throbs from his fingers showing it no mercy. I scream his name; I’ve never felt anything like this before. Continuously, the walls of my pussy convulse around his fingers that slide inside and outside of me with more ease the wetter I become. And as my legs begin to shake; my lungs begin to constrict; the spot between my legs begins to grow in sensation, I know I’m going to come. Fuck, I can’t take it anymore—he’s so close. Just a few more moments, just a few—

“I know,” he says to me.

And then it stops. Right at the very peak of my climax, his fingers stop moving.

“Wh-what?” I pant out.

“I know you leaked my journal,” he responds. Sebastian’s face, once amused at what he was doing to me, suddenly and scarily turns cold, mean, and unforgiving. I see the hurt in his eyes, but they won’t allow me to look away. His fingers retreat from my pussy and bring them up to his mouth, where he licks my juices off generously while his eyes lock directly with mine. I’m stammering like an idiot up at him and what he just said; what he just did to me. The next ten seconds are a blur—he backs away from me, grabs his jacket off from the couch, and leaves my apartment.

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