The Consequence of Seduction

  So like an idiot, I stood in the hallway and waited in painful silence. I waited for Reid to correct himself. I waited for him to say something romantic. I waited for him to defend our relationship.

  I waited and I waited.

  And he made a joke about owing me breakfast.

  And that was it.

  There was no admission of feelings.

  There was nothing.

  By then, tears were streaming down my face, and I had no choice but to pretend like I was showering when really I was bawling my eyes out and trying to calm myself down.

  He was a lying bastard. A lying, cheating, horrible, bastard son of a bitch! I had a very vivid daydream about stabbing him with my hair pick but knew the plastic wouldn’t do the damage he deserved. Plus, kicking him in the balls seemed like a more painful option.

  But the problem?

  He was my client.

  Still my client.

  I needed him.

  He needed me.

  I gripped the countertop. “You can do this,” I said to my reflection. “You’re a professional. Act like it.”

  That was my pep talk.

  Over the next hour, I chatted with Max and Reid like there was nothing wrong. But when Reid touched me, or put his hand on my thigh, it took every ounce of strength I had not to stab him with my fork.

  Or just burst into tears.

  For one night.

  Twelve hours.

  I hadn’t been invisible anymore.

  And it had been the best twelve hours of my life. The sexiest man I’d ever seen was kissing me, holding me, loving me. And I felt it—what other people probably feel on a daily basis.




  He wanted my eyes open, he wanted me to be present, he said, and I was, I was so present.

  The sick part? I wouldn’t take it back. Even knowing what I knew . . . because even though he was a horrible human being to use me in that way, he still gave me a gift.

  It wasn’t the sex.

  Or even the way he touched me.

  It was the way he looked at me, for just one brief moment in my existence, like maybe I wasn’t the girl the guy passed over, but the one he searched for.

  “Hey, you okay?” Reid nudged me once we found our seats on the plane. I’d just spent the last ten minutes smiling through my teeth while cameras flashed in our direction and the paparazzi asked if the wedding speculation was true.

  “Yeah.” I swallowed the lump in my throat. “Just really tired, long night.” My smile was weak.

  “You can lean on me,” Reid offered as he put an arm around my shoulder.

  “Nah.” I fake yawned. “It’s okay. I’ll probably drool or something equally embarrassing. Why don’t you check your e-mails and make sure everything’s good for postproduction this next week? I think you got all your shots in last week, but hey, you never know.”

  “Work,” Reid said slowly. “You want me to work?”

  “I’m sleeping.” I shrugged. “What else is there to do?”

  His eyes heated.

  I quickly looked down and yawned again. “Well, night.”


  “Dude.” Max turned around in his seat. “Dad’s thrilled his eldest finally grew up. All’s well that ends well. The ruse is up. Thank God. I’m locking Becca in the apartment tonight. P.S. Wear the earplugs I gave you.”

  Becca let out a snort. “Sorry to burst your bubble.”

  “No!” Max shouted. “There will be no bursting of any kind!”

  “But,” Becca laughed, “I promised my mom when we got back I’d spend the night at their house and go over bridal shower ideas. And she hasn’t seen me in a few weeks because of school.”

  Max was silent.

  I heard them kissing, but kept my eyes closed.

  “Fine,” Max grumbled. “But tomorrow night, you’re mine.”


  More kissing.

  It was nauseating.

  Sort of.

  I clenched my eyes shut.

  “Out like a light, huh?” Max commented.

  Reid sighed. “Like I said, it was a long night, no wonder she’s tired.”

  “Yeah, well,” Max sighed, “At least someone had a good night. Oh, also, I looked into that new complex that we acquired in Chelsea. There are a few openings, still want me to move her stuff out?”

  My stomach sank. What the hellfire? When did Reid decide he was going to pack me up and ship me out?

  “Yeah.” Reid nodded. “It’s probably for the best. Her stuff is shit anyways, you know? I can’t imagine her wanting any of it, but just in case.”

  Rage pumped through every blood vessel in my body. It was like he was a completely different person.

  “All right.” Max sighed. “Maybe you should tell her?”

  “Nah, it will be a surprise.”

  A surprise? Was he high!

  The rest of the plane ride, I stewed like a woman scorned. He’d slept with me, made some sort of archaic wager with his brother over being able to stay in a relationship—and let’s be honest, a week is so not a relationship—and now he was kicking me out, and what? He’s just going to say, “Surprise!” when the guest room is packed up and my pillows are already in my new apartment?

  He’s probably going to want me to thank him.

  Like hell.

  I kept choking on the lump in my throat as stupid tears stung the back of my eyes. I would not cry.

  Not in front of him.

  He didn’t deserve the tears.

  Or the ego kick he’d get at seeing how hung up I really was on him. Good thing I wasn’t in love with him.

  Good thing.

  My heart pounded painfully against my chest.

  Yup. Good thing I wasn’t in love.



  As luck would have it, the minute we landed, my agent called and said I was needed on set for one last scene. The kissing scene, the same one I’d been having trouble with that I nailed last time.

  The director wanted one more take, this time with it raining.

  Of course.

  Nothing more romantic than a kiss in the rain, or so I’ve been told.

  “Hey.” I checked my watch, then nudged Jordan. “I need to run to set really quick and shoot a scene. I’m not sure how long it will take, but—”

  “No worries.” Jordan flashed a completely fake smile; her eyes didn’t crinkle at the sides and her left eye started that weird twitch thing again. “I have some work to catch up on too.”

  “Great.” I leaned in and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “I’ll see you later, all right?” I turned to leave, then stopped and ran back. “Help yourself to some wine while you work. Also, Max is going to need your key.”

  “My key?” she repeated, her face paling.

  “It’s a surprise. Promise you’ll love it.”

  “I’m sure I will,” she said weakly.

  “Hey.” I gripped her shoulders. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

  “Yeah.” Her eyes filled with tears. “I’m just stressed.” She wiped at her eyes. “And you know . . . allergies.”

  “In the airport?”

  “Yup, it was a thing.” She nodded and wiped at her nose. “It was on the news, mold in JFK. I’m allergic to mold so . . .”

  “Right.” Something told me to stay. But being a man, I ignored that something, because what reason would she have to be upset? We’d just spent an amazing weekend together. And when I got home that night, I was going to ask her to move in.

  Because the very idea that she would potentially find an apartment and leave me?

  Made me want to throw up.

  I wanted her.




  I cried the entire way to Reid’s apartment. My stuff was still nicely placed in his guest room.

  But I knew it wouldn’t last.
  I poured myself a healthy glass of wine.

  Chugged it.

  Poured another.

  Patted Otis on the head.

  Then walked over to Max’s apartment, key in hand. I knocked twice before he answered.

  “Hey.” Max leaned against the door frame. “What can I do you for?”

  I dangled the key in front of his face.

  He frowned but didn’t take it.

  I grabbed his hand and slammed the key into his palm and tried walking away, but he snatched my wrist and pulled me back. “Have you been crying?”


  “Drinking?” He sniffed the air around me. “That merlot’s been on his shelf for five years. Pretty sure it costs around five grand.”

  I shrugged, not really caring.

  “Whole bottle?” Max sighed.

  I shrugged again.

  He patted my head, then jerked me into his apartment and slammed the door behind him. “Well, I don’t want to say I told you so, but yeah . . . I told you so.”

  “I know.” I stared at my feet. “But you had a part in this, don’t deny it!”

  Max huffed. “Of course I had a part in it! A part in bringing you two kids together! You should thank me!”

  “Thank you?” I screeched, my eyes greedily searching for an object to chuck at his head. “You made a bet! Over our relationship!”

  Max frowned.

  “And then he got a house! A FREAKING HOUSE!” I grabbed one of his throw pillows and tossed it in his general direction. He ducked. “And when you asked Reid about us he didn’t even say anything!” I chucked another pillow, which this time hit Max square in the face.

  “Whoa, whoa, whoa.” Max shook his head. “What the hell are you talking about?”

  “I’m moving!” I shouted loud enough for Otis to hear back in Reid’s apartment.

  “I know,” Max said slowly. “But I thought it was a surprise!”

  “Ha!” I grabbed another pillow. “You’re evicted!” I laughed bitterly. “Surprise!”

  “Wait, Reid’s evicted?” Max held up his hands in surrender. “That’s impossible, I own the building.”

  “Me!” I dropped the pillow and kicked it with my foot. “I’m evicted, because I’m moving!”

  “Right.” Max said slowly. “In with Reid.”

  “I live with Reid!”

  “That’s what I’m saying.”

  “And now I’m evicted!”

  “Women confuse me.” Max scratched the back of his head. “Seriously, what was God thinking?” He glanced up. “One day we’ll have that talk . . .” He marched over to the kitchen and poured himself a shot, tossed it back, then faced me again. “Why don’t we start at the beginning.”

  “He didn’t claim me,” I mumbled.

  “From the sounds of it, he did more than claim you . . .” Max said under his breath. “But I digress . . .”

  “And don’t play stupid; you guys found me a place.”

  “For your things.”


  “Which upsets you because you don’t want to keep your soiled couch and table from Ikea?” Max went back into the kitchen and grabbed the bottle, then held it out to me like I was going to grab it and slam it over his head.

  I took the peace offering but didn’t drink. “It upsets me because he slept with me and now he’s evicting me, going behind my back and finding me an apartment, and, and, and—” I started pacing. “He saw me, Max! He really saw me! And we had one of those damn elevator kisses, and you were so right. It was amazing, epic, everything I could have ever wanted in a kiss. And now? Now it’s over with and we’re over with and I got too invested. And I’m working with him and now it’s going to be awkward and I hate awkward. I do not do awkward well.”

  Max grinned. “Neither does your hair.”

  I groaned and sat on the couch, setting the bottle of whiskey on the table. “Sorry, and here I am, coming over to your place, doing exactly what you said I’d do, losing my mind.”

  “I said other things too. You seem to recall I prophesied a big misunderstanding?”

  “Stupid, stupid, men.” I ignored him. “I hate men.”

  “Whoa, there.” Max burst out laughing. “Hey, I have an idea. Let’s get back at Reid.”

  “Huh?” I perked up a little.

  “Serves him right for going behind your back, making all those big decisions without you! And he expects, what? You to be waiting for him at the apartment? Pining over him. Wearing sexy lingerie and wishing he was with you? I say, hell, no!”

  “Hell, no!” I stood and thrust my hand into the air, suddenly liking Max a whole lot more. “You’re right!”

  “I’m always right.” Max’s grin grew. “That jackass needs to know what he’s missing! Why don’t you stay in my guest room and give him something to panic about? Mess with his mind a bit before he goes and evicts you. Bastard!”

  “Bastard!” I repeated.

  “Great.” Max rubbed his hands together. “Why don’t you just get ready over there and I’ll help you pack up your stuff? That way it looks like you left him and not the other way around.”

  “That actually makes sense.” I nodded. “Then it’s like I get the final say.”

  “You deserve the final say.” Max nodded emphatically. “You’re a strong, independent woman.”

  “I am!”

  “R-e-s-p-e-c-t, find out what it means to me!” Max started singing and dancing around.

  “What are you doing?”

  “Sorry.” Max stopped dancing. “Got caught up in the moment.”

  “No more dancing. It’s making me dizzy.”

  “So you did drink the whole bottle.”

  I held up my fingers. “All but this much.”

  “So all but a half inch? Why not all of it?”

  “I felt guilty.” My shoulders slumped. I was emotionally exhausted.

  “Aw, little slugger.” Max wrapped an arm around me. “Why don’t you go down the hall, first door on your right? Sleep it off. I’ll go pack your shit.”


  “Sure, what are Maxes for?”

  “World domination,” I offered.

  “I knew I liked you the moment I met you, Jordan.”

  “You didn’t call me Jezebel!”

  “Caught that, did ya?” He winked. “Off you go. Oh, and by the way, I’m leaving Otis. Hades doesn’t like dogs.”


  A goat was somehow summoned and began prancing down the hall full speed. A gecko masquerading as a cowboy rode on its back.

  In a saddle.

  “Kids,” Max said in a low voice, “I said bedtime. No more Phineas and Ferb. Hades, I’m disappointed—you know what that does to Little G! He gets nightmares.”

  Hades, the goat, hung his head while the gecko stayed completely still on his back. Was it dead?

  Max rolled his eyes. “Kids, am I right?”

  “Am I high?” I asked in a weak voice while the goat shot a bored look in my direction.

  Max coughed out a laugh. “Please. Hugs, not drugs.”

  I pointed, “But there’s a goat and a gecko.”

  With a shrug, Max made a little sound in the back of his throat, and Hades walked slowly back down the hall with the gecko on top.

  “That may be the strangest thing I’ve ever seen,” I mumbled.

  “Hell, you should have seen them at Halloween. Hades wanted to be a lizard. Little G wanted to be a goat. It was funny as hell—a bit awkward, though, when a lady goat came to the party. Poor Little G was so confused.”

  I frowned.

  “Well.” Max slapped me on the back. “Off to bed. Don’t worry, I’ve got this.”

  Too tired and emotionally drained to argue, I waved good-bye and managed to stumble into the guest bedroom. The last thing I thought of was that I should have locked my door just in case the goat decided to interrupt my sleep.


br />   It was nearing midnight by the time I finally made it back to the apartment. A part of me was hoping Jordan would still be up, but I knew she had to be exhausted—besides, she’d been acting strange the entire day. Sleep was more necessary than a deep talk where I blurted out my feelings and asked her to live with me.

  Two weeks after meeting me.

  It sounded crazy.

  It was crazy.

  I knew it.

  And she’d probably laugh in my face.

  But I wanted her. I wanted her close. I wanted her damn hair. I even wanted her dog. Waking up without her neurotic coffee drinking just seemed like a horrible way to start any day.

  The apartment was dark, which was strange considering Jordan had a ridiculous habit of keeping all the living room lights on even if she was in her bedroom sleeping.

  Her bedroom.

  Soon to be vacant, because I was moving her ass into mine.

  My body trembled at the thought. Was I crazy? To want her to live with me? To want more than just a fling for the cameras?

  Sighing, I set my keys on the counter just as Otis barreled toward me, his little body shaking with excitement.

  “Hey, Otis, where’s your mom?”

  “Not here.” Max’s voice echoed in the large room, bouncing off the ceiling and driving straight into my chest. “She’s gone, Reid.”


  A light flicked on, revealing Max as he sat on one of my couches, smoking a cigar and drinking my finest whiskey, the ass.

  “Not Max,” he said slowly. “I’m the ghost of Christmas present.”

  “Max, listen to me very carefully. Did someone offer you a cookie that tasted funny? Furthermore, did you actually eat it?”

  “Who is this Max you speak of?” He stood. “I am here to tell you your present while also predicting your future.”

  “All right then.” I rolled my eyes. “Of course you can’t do things normally and just send me a damn text.”

  “Ghosts don’t have phones.”

  “I’m sure a real ghost could find one.”

  “Real ghosts have no need for technology!” he hissed.

  “If you’re a real ghost, that means I can punch you in the face and you won’t feel a thing.”

  Max’s expression wavered.

  “Ah, the ghost is getting a bit . . . scared of its own shadow?”

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