Chapter One Hundred and Seventeen

After We Fell


one hundred and seventeen




Can’t sleep?” Christian turns on the overhead light and joins me in the kitchen.

    “Tessa needed some water,” I tell him. I push the refrigerator door closed, but he stops it with his hand.

    “Kim, too. The price of drinking too much champagne,” he says from behind me.

    Tessa’s endless giggles and insatiable appetite for pleasure have worn me out. I’m convinced she’ll be vomiting soon if she doesn’t drink some water. Visions of her tonight, lying back on the bed, her legs spread for me as I brought her to orgasm using both my fingers and my tongue, flash through my mind. She was amazing, as she always was when she rode my cock until I emptied myself into a condom.

    “Yeah, Tessa’s a mess.” I bite back a smile while remembering her tumble off the bed.

    “So . . . England next weekend, then?” He changes the subject.

    “Nah, I’m not going.”

    “This is your mum’s wedding we’re talking about.”

    “And? It’s not her first, probably won’t be the last,” I say.

    To say I’m completely shocked when his hand reaches out and knocks the bottled water from my hand would be an understatement.

    “What the fuck?” I exclaim and bend down to grab the bottle.

    When I stand back up, Vance’s eyes are focused on me, and the look in them is intense. “You have no right to speak of your mum that way.”

    “What does it matter to you? I don’t want to go, and I’m not going to.”

    “Give me a reason, a real one,” he challenges me.

    What the fuck is his problem? “I don’t need to give anyone a reason. I just don’t want to go to a stupid wedding. I’ve already been dragged to one this season, and that was enough for me.”

    “Fine. I’ve already sent in for Tessa’s passport, so I assume you’ll be fine without her while she enjoys visiting England for the first time as Kim’s companion?”

    I drop the bottle to the floor. It can stay there this time.

    “You what?” I stare at him. He’s fucking with me—he has to be.

    He leans against the island and crosses his arms. “I sent in her application and paid for it the moment I found out about the wedding. She’ll have to go downtown to finalize it and get her picture taken, but I’ve done the rest.”

    I’m fuming. I can feel myself heating up. “Why would you even do that? That’s not even legal.” Like I give a fuck if it’s legal . . .

    “Because I knew you’d be a stubborn asshole about the entire thing, and I also knew that she was the only shot I had to get you to go. This is important to your mum, and she’s been worried that you won’t go.”

    “She’s right to be worried. You two think you can use Tessa to bully me into going to fucking England? Fuck both you and my mum.” I open his refrigerator to grab another bottle of water just to be a dick, but he kicks it closed with his foot.

    “Look, I know you’ve had a shit life, okay? So did I, so I get it. But you won’t be talking to me the way you talk to your parents.”

    “Then stop trying to meddle in my goddamned life the way they do.”

    “I’m not meddling. You know damn well that Tessa would love to go to that wedding, and you also know that you’ll feel like an asshole if you deprive her of the opportunity for your own selfish reasons. You may as well get over being mad at me and thank me for making your week much easier.”

    I stare at him for a few moments to take in what he is saying. He’s half right: I’ve already started to feel bad for not wanting to go to the wedding. The only reason being that I know how much Tessa would love to go. She’s already pouted about it enough tonight, and it’s been wearing on my mind.

    “I’ll take your silence as a thank-you.” Vance smirks, and I roll my eyes.

    “I don’t want this to become a thing.”

    “What? The wedding?”

    “Yeah. How can I take her to another wedding and watch her eyes get all doelike and watery only to have to remind her that she won’t ever have that?”

    Christian’s fingers tap against his chin. “Ahh, I see.” His smile grows. “That’s what this is about, then? You don’t want her getting any ideas?”

    “No. She already has the ideas. The woman’s mind is full of ideas—that’s the problem.”

    “Why would it be a problem? You don’t want her to make an honest man out of you?” Though he’s taunting me, I’m glad to see that he isn’t holding a grudge against me for my rude remarks only minutes ago. This is why I sort of like Vance: he’s not as touchy as my father.

    “Because it’s not going to happen, and she’s one of those crazy women who bring the shit up like a month after dating. She literally broke up with me because I said I wouldn’t marry her. She’s batshit crazy sometimes.”

    Vance chuckles and takes a sip of the water meant for his Kimberly. Tessa is waiting on me to bring her water, too; I need to tie this conversation up. It’s already been too long, too personal, for my liking.

    “Consider yourself lucky that she wants that with you. You aren’t exactly the easiest guy to be around. And if anyone knows that, it’s her.”

    I begin to ask him what the fuck he even knows about my relationship, but then I quickly remember that he’s engaged to the biggest mouth in Seattle. Scratch that, the entire state of Washington . . . perhaps even the entire United States of—

    “Am I right?” He interrupts my thoughts about his obnoxious woman.

    “Yes, but still. It’s ridiculous to think about marriage at all, especially when she’s not even twenty.”

    “This is coming from the man who doesn’t want her more than three feet away from him at any given time?”

    “Asshole,” I gripe.

    “It’s true.”

    “Doesn’t mean you’re not an asshole.”

    “Perhaps. I do find it amusing, though, that you don’t intend on marrying her but you can’t seem to control your temper or anxiety when it comes to losing her.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?” I don’t think I want to know the answer to this question, but it’s too late now.

    Vance’s eyes meet mine. “Your anxiety . . . it’s at its highest when you’re worried about her leaving you or when another man pays any attention to her.”

    “Who says I have anxie—”

    But the stubborn goat ignores me and continues on. “You know what helps a hell of a lot when it comes to both of those things?”

    “What’s that?”

    “A ring.” He holds up his hand and touches the bare finger where a wedding band will soon rest.

    “Oh my fuck—she’s gotten to you, too! What did she do, pay you off?” I laugh at the idea. It’s not exactly too far-fetched, considering Tessa’s obsession with marriage and her charm.

    “No, you twat!” He throws the cap of the water bottle at me. “It’s the truth. Imagine being able to say she’s yours and have it be true. Now it’s only words, an empty boast to other men who will want her—and trust me, they will—but when Tessa’s your wife, it’s real. That’s when it’s fucking real, and it couldn’t be more satisfying, especially for overly paranoid men like you and me.”

    My mouth is dry by the end of his speech, and I want to hightail it out of this excessively bright kitchen. “That’s a load of shit.” The words rush from my mouth.

    He walks over and opens a cabinet while talking. “Have you ever watched that show Sex and the


    “Sex in the City, Sex and the don’t remember.”

    “No, no, and no,” I respond.

    “Kim watches it all the time; she has every season on DVD.” Christian tears open a box of cookies.

    It’s two in the morning. Tessa is waiting for me, and here I am talking about some shit show. “Okay?”

    “There’s this episode where the women are talking about how you only get two great loves in your life—”

    “Okay . . . okay. This is getting too fucking weird,” I say, turning to go. “Tessa is waiting for me.”

    “I know . . . I know . . . let me finish really quick. I’ll sum it up for you in the most masculine way possible.”

    I turn back to find him looking at me expectantly, so I nod hesitantly.

    “So they were saying that you only get two great loves in your entire life. My point is . . . well, I have sort of lost my point, but I know that Tessa’s your great love.”

    I’m lost. “You said we get two?”

    “Well, for you, the other is your own self.” He snorts. “I thought that was obvious.”

    I raise a brow. “And yours were who? Bigmouth and Smith’s mum?”

    “Watch it . . .” he warns.

    “Sorry, Kimberly and Rose.” I roll my eyes again. “They were yours? You better hope those broads on that show were wrong.”

    “Uhh, yes. Those two were m-mine,” he stutters. An emotion flashes across his face, but it disappears before I can really nail down what it was.

    Tipping the water bottle to him, I say, “Well, now that you’ve made no point whatsoever, I’m going to bed.”

    “Yeah . . .” he says, slightly flustered. “I don’t even know what I’m going on about. I drank too much tonight.”

    “Yeah . . . okay.” I leave him alone in the kitchen. I don’t know what the hell that was all about, but it was odd seeing the one and only Christian Vance at a loss for words.

    By the time I get back to the room, Tessa is asleep on her side. Her hands are resting under her cheek, and her knees are tucked up against her body.

    I flick the light off and set her water bottle on the nightstand before climbing into bed behind her. Her naked body is warm to my touch, and I can’t help but shiver as the tracing of my fingertips causes small goose bumps to rise on her skin. They comfort me, reminding me that my touch, even in her sleep, awakens something in her.

    “Hey,” she whispers sleepily.

    I jump slightly at her voice and nuzzle my head in her neck, pulling her closer to me. “We’re going to England next weekend,” I tell her.

    She quickly turns her head to look behind her. The room is pretty dark, but there’s enough moonlight for me to see the shock on her face. “What?”

    “England. Next weekend. You and me.”


    “No. You’re going. And I know you want to go, so don’t try to argue about it.”

    “You don’t have—”

    “Theresa. Let it go.” I press my hand over her mouth, and she uses her teeth to softly nip at the skin of my palm. “Are you going to be a good girl and keep quiet if I move my hand?” I tease her, thinking back to her earlier accusation that I was parenting her.

    She nods her head, and I let her go. She lifts herself up onto her elbow and turns to face me. I can’t possibly hold a conversation with her when she’s naked and feisty.

    “But I don’t have a passport!” she cries out, and I hide my smile. I knew she wasn’t done.

    “It’s already in the works. We’ll figure the rest out tomorrow.”


    “Theresa . . .”

    “Two times in one minute? Uh-oh.” She grins.

    “You’re never drinking champagne again.” I push her messy hair away from her eyes and trace the shape of her bottom lip with my thumb.

    “You certainly weren’t complaining earlier when I was—”

    I silence her drunken mouth by pressing my lips against hers. I love her so much, so fucking much that it frightens me to think about losing her.

    Do I really want to mix her—my potential future, the only shot I have at a decent one—with my wicked past?