Filthy Beautiful Forever(4)

By: Kendall Ryan

“Sure,” she says, her voice flat.

I make her the raspberry vodka-soda mixture she likes and hand her the glass. Tatianna sits down across the room and crosses her legs, her posture straight as a rod and her eyes glaring blankly ahead. She's still pissed about earlier.

I fill Mia in on the past fifteen years—that my brothers and I all live in the Los Angeles area now and that I run a successful investment firm downtown. My mouth is saying the words, but my brain is still trying to wrap around the fact that she showed up here after all these years.

Both women watch me and listen, Mia interjecting with questions every now and then, laughing happily when I tell her both of my younger brothers are settled down—Pace with a young son and Colton just got married last month.

Mia doesn't offer many details about her life, or what has prompted her to come here, but I'm guessing Tatianna's presence has thrown her off. There is still a lot I want to know.

“So, I'm sorry,” Tatianna interrupts, “who did you say you were?”

“Mia was my best friend growing up,” I answer for her, not liking Tatianna's tone.

“Yes. We were pretty much inseparable until we were fifteen.”

“What happened when you were fifteen?” Tatianna asks, not knowing the minefield she's walking into.

My eyes lock on Mia's and her cheeks heat. I can tell she's remembering our first and only sexual encounter. I still worry that I'd been too rough with her. The way her small body trembled in my arms after, the blood I saw between her legs. I feel sick just thinking about it. If I had the chance to redo things today, I’d fuck her so well, she’d never want to leave. Christ, did my brain take a sick day too? I need to lock it up. Mia is not here to fuck. I repeat the mantra in my head.

“My family moved,” Mia answers, blinking and looking away from me. “And you are?” Mia asks, and takes a sip of her drink.

Tatianna frowns at me, obviously not happy that I hadn't offered up this information. “I'm his girlfriend.”

Chapter Two


“I’m his girlfriend,” Tatianna says. She’s answering my question, but her glare is directed at Collins.

I’m mid sip, and her admission makes me suck in a breath—or drink rather—down the wrong way, sending me into a coughing fit.

“Excuse me,” I stammer between coughs. “I’m sorry. Of course you are.” I manage to get my breathing back under control, but I can tell my face is flushed. Embarrassed isn’t a strong enough word for how I feel. He has a girlfriend!? I want to die.

I think back to when he gave me the tour of his home. The place is amazing and beautifully decorated, but there were no photos of him with a woman, no flowers or feminine touches anywhere. There wasn’t even a cozy nook where a girl might curl up and read a book or fashion magazine. And when Tatianna showed up, sure they were familiar with each other, but not in any way that even hinted at romance. Their eyes didn’t linger on one another’s, and from how far apart they sat, I just assumed she was an employee. Heck, the house is big enough that he must have several employees living here.

Also, I’d been so lost, deep in conversation with Collins, that I’d hardly noticed how beautiful she was. Now that I really look at her for the first time, it is obvious this is the type of woman he would date. She's tall, slender and gorgeous. In fact, she looks familiar. I realize that she's Tatianna Markov, the woman whose photo was on the cover of every Vogue magazine I saw at the airport kiosk.

My stomach sinks as I look at both of them—a tricky feat since they are on opposite ends of the room. But while my gaze floats between them I see some familiar mannerisms. Both have matching perfect posture. Just looking at them makes me sit up straighter. Their faces are harsh and cool with neutral expressions that give nothing away. That’s a new look for Collins. He never used to look so cold. I think back to our younger years. He was always guy-serious, but it was easy to put a smile on his face, one of my favorite things to do. The look on his face now is stern and immobile. I’m glad it isn’t directed at me, but it's sad to see him this way at all.

Tatianna tosses her hair back and turns to me. “So, what brings you to Los Angeles?”

My eyes dart to Collins, but he manages to hold his stoic look, unfazed by her question. In a panic, I try to take a sip of my drink but it’s empty.

Collins gets up. “I’ll get you another one.” He steps over to the bar and sets up three more glasses, making another round for each of us.

I take a deep breath, anything to stall. I don’t like lying, but there is no way I’m going to tell this woman I came here in the hopes of marrying her boyfriend. It was so stupid of me to come. I wish I’d taken time to think about what I was doing instead of just rushing online to find the cheapest ticket. It hadn't even occurred to me that he might not be single. Although I’ve always been a bit out of control whenever Collins was involved. Why should now be any different?

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