Imagine Me, page 9
“Well, well, well,” Jolene greeted me when I entered our apartment. “Look who finally decided to show up, and wearing the same damn thing as last night.” She turned on the couch to look me over with a proud smile. “I’ll make sure to have my friend set me up with a guy next.”
“What about the guy you’ve been seeing?” I dropped my purse and coat in the entryway and leaned my hip against the arm of the couch.
“Meh. Old news.”
“Well, don’t get your hopes up. Last night’s date was a disgusting pig. And I didn’t even get to finish my dinner before I walked out on him.”
“Ummm . . .Okay.” She looked me over again, probably trying to find hints of why I was still wearing last night’s clothes if not for my date. “So, what’s with the walk of shame?”
“Oh, Jo.” I heaved a deep breath. “Let me shower while you order us Chinese. I’ll tell you all about it after I get some new clothes on.”
“It better be good.” She pointed at me with narrowed eyes as she headed to the kitchen.
I showered quickly, but stopped to look at my reflection in the mirror, smiling at the small bite mark Shane had left on my inner thigh after breakfast, when he’d had me for dessert on the kitchen island. I clenched my core before grabbing lounge pants and a tank top.
When I came out, Jo had an obscene amount of takeout containers spread out and my stomach rumbled. I’d worked up a hell of an appetite last night.
“Mmm.” I moaned my approval and loaded up my plate, ignoring Jo’s pointed stare.
“Okay, you have your Lo Mein and egg roll. Now spill.” She pointed her chopsticks at me with narrowed eyes, and I quickly swallowed my first bite so I could divulge my evening.
“After the date from hell, I was so frustrated and in a ‘fuck it’ kind of mood.”
“I think we both live in a perpetual ‘fuck it’ kind of mood. But continue.”
I nodded at her assessment, but moved on, knowing the next part was going to garner a big reaction.
“I showed up at Shane’s in just my underwear and my coat, and I stripped in front of him, demanding he sleep with me.” It all poured out in a rush, escaping in one breath.
I wasn’t disappointed as her eyes rounded and her jaw dropped. “Oh, fuck yes you did.” Jo held her hand up for a high five and a smile split across her face. I laughed and slapped my hand to hers. “Details. Now.”
I broke down our night, skimming over the sex. Blushing and smiling the whole time. My heart fluttered with each word and I giggled throughout the conversation as if I was the little girl Shane accused me of being.
“You stayed the night?” Jo asked with wide eyes.
“And he cooked you breakfast?”
“So, what? Does this mean you guys are together?”
My shoulders dropped and I paused for a minute, thinking it over. “No. He said it was the only time, even though I think he wants more.” I answered honestly. “He did get upset over a message from Hudson that implied we were together. But I think that had more to do with his pride than feeling possessive of me.”
“What about you? Do you want more?”
A laugh burst out of me. “Of course. God, he makes me feel amazing.” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before letting it out and looking at Jo. “But even if it was the only time, it was worth it. Soooo worth it.”
“As long as you’re okay with it, then I say get you some.” She shimmied and I laughed at her encouragement.
“He’s worried about our age difference. And then there is Jack. I think a lot of things play into whether I can ‘get me some’ after last night. I haven’t given up just yet.”
“Whatever.” She waved her hand holding the chopsticks. “I think it’s hot. He knows a lot more than younger men. So, just enjoy it and see where it goes.”
“Cheers to that.”
We tapped chopsticks and dug into our food.
Sunday brunch was stressful. I tried to hold onto the aloofness I felt with Jo last night, but sitting across the table from Shane, made it hard to focus. Add the fact that Shane barely acknowledged me, hardly even made eye contact. Let’s just say I was frustrated.
“How’s work at the station,” Jack asked Shane when we’d all gathered around the table.
“Good. Busy. Been pulled out on call a lot. I may need to get with you on a certain case.”
“Yeah? Swing by the office any time.” Jack took a drink before cocking an eyebrow at Shane. “You at the station enough to keep an eye on my little sister?”
I ground my jaw as my brother flawlessly cock-blocked me, by reminding Shane of my position in Jack’s life. Little sister. I was beginning to hate those two words.
“I wouldn’t want to have to go to the station and kick any guy’s ass who was hitting on Juliana.”
Jack laughed like he was the next Lewis Black. Shane laughed awkwardly before taking long pulls of his beer. I was about to roll my eyes when I caught Evie’s pointed stare and smirk. I looked away, but couldn’t ignore her knowing look. She was too perceptive for her own good.
She knew. And if she knew, then Lu would know. And if Lu would know then Jack would know. And if Jack would know, Shane would never come within one hundred feet of me. My body wept over the possible loss.
It all gave me such a headache, so when lunch was over and the bar opened for business, I plopped myself on a stool and asked for a double vodka cranberry.
I was only one in before the inevitable happened, and Evie slid up next to me. I refused to look her way. She could stare me down all day, but I was going to stare into my drink like it held the outcomes of my future. Unfortunately, she wasn’t deterred by my silence.
“Not gonna lie, Shane was not the Popsicle I expected you to suck on.”
Her drink arrived and while she sipped, I begrudgingly looked over at her. With the glass still to her lips, she winked at me. Taunting me.
“How?” I needed to know what she saw that gave me away, so I didn’t do it again. “How do you know?”
She shrugged. “I’m more observant than you think. As much as you stared at Shane and as much as he refused to look at you, I could put two and two together.”
“Does anyone else know?”
“Nah. The boys are oblivious. Luella may have picked up on it, but she’s no snitch.”
My shoulders slouched and I sipped from the tiny straw until all the red was gone from my glass. Jameson was down on the other side of the bar, laughing with an employee. Jack and Lu had gone home, and so had Shane.
I looked over at Evie again. Fuck it. Taking a chance on having another confidant, I spilled the beans.
“I slept with Shane in Jamaica.”
She let out a mock gasp and brought her hand to her chest. “What? Really? I’m flabbergasted.”
“You guys were all over each other, and his early departure and your moping afterward was a dead giveaway. But once again, I’m more observant than you’d think.”
Digging both hands into my hair, I told her everything. About my hopes and how he’d squashed them. About the frustration of shitty dates and how I’d channeled that into seducing Shane and about how I’d succeeded. Then I spilled the issues: Jack and my age.
“Jack is not your keeper. And you’re young. Just because you fuck someone, doesn’t mean you are going to marry him. So, enjoy him and let him teach you the tricks of the trade.”
“He said that night was a one-time deal. I didn’t push it at the time, because it’s Shane and I didn’t expect more. But I’m not going to lie and say I don’t think about it all the time. And after the way he acted at brunch today, I’m surprised if he even wants to talk to me again.”
“That’s because Jack was there. Be bold, Juliana. Be brave. Go talk to him and see what he wants. Better yet, show him what he wants.”
I wanted to. I wanted to bad. Ordering a w
The last possibility was the scariest, but had the best rewards. I chugged my water before dropping a twenty on the bar and left to go show Shane what he wanted.
By the time I arrived, my nerves were trying to kick in. I gave myself a pep-talk and shook out my arms and walked up to his door, knocking with authority.
As soon as he opened the door, his eyes flashed with heat followed quickly by regret. I ignored the regret.
“Juliana, I don’t think we should do this.”
“Why?” Such a simple question I wanted him to answer. Maybe if he said it out loud he would realize how wrong he was.
I pushed past him into his apartment and he closed the door while I waited for him to explain.
“I’m older than you.”
“And yet, you’re the one letting someone tell you what you can’t do.”
My comment hit its mark and his jaw clenched. I gestured for him to continue his reasons as I made myself comfortable, lounging back on his couch.
“My job isn’t conducive to having relationships. I’m busy. It’s dangerous. I’m unreliable. It pisses women off, and I can’t commit to anything.”
“Am I asking you to?” I smirked at his hands clenching and unclenching by his side, knowing how hard he had to fight to hold himself back.
“Jack is my best friend—my brother. He’d kill me if he knew what I’ve done to you.”
I held his stare, pulling a Sharon Stone, crossing and uncrossing my legs. I wore pants, but the way his eyes dropped, I knew I’d drawn his attention where I wanted it.
“What I still want to do to you.” His response rumbled across the room and vibrated across my skin.
Licking my lips, knowing I was about to get my way, I asked, “And what do you still want to do to me?”
He hesitated but finally opened his mouth to respond, and my phone beeped with an incoming text. I wanted to ignore it, but then it beeped again.
He cocked an eyebrow, waiting for me to grab my phone, but I sat there, holding his challenging gaze, delivering one of my own. But when my phone began ringing, I heaved a sigh and grabbed it from my purse.
I saw Jolene’s name on the screen just before the ringing stopped. I hadn’t got to it on time. Not that it mattered because a moment later, it began ringing again.
“Hey,” I answered, glaring at Shane.
“I’m an idiot and locked myself out. Is there any way you could come let me in? Pleeeeease.”
“How did you lock yourself out?”
“There was this guy in the hall who distracted me.”
I rolled my eyes but chuckled at how she probably got distracted. Leaning down, I grabbed my purse and then stood. “I’m on my way.”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
I dropped my phone back in my bag and met Shane’s relieved eyes. We didn’t say anything, just stared at each other in the middle of the apartment waiting the other one out. For what, I didn’t know. However, he won the staring contest, using his detective skills to mask his emotions.
I couldn’t help but chuckle at how stubborn he was and shook my head before making my way to the door. As I walked past, I made sure to brush his arm and take note of his still clenching fists. Mr. Detective couldn’t mask all his feelings.
Once I reached the door, I paused with my hand on the knob before looking back over my shoulder. “He doesn’t have to know what happens between us.”
One word. Growled out from a man who sounded close to breaking, but too stubborn to give in. I wanted to push, but I needed to get to Jolene.
“One day, Shane,” I promised. Then I opened the door and closed it softly behind me.
One day, I’d wear him down. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but I knew what I wanted and as much as he tried to deny it and hide it, I knew he wanted it, too.
“Happy Birthday!” Everyone raised their glass and shouted in unison, smiling at the grumbly birthday boy.
“I hate celebrating my birthday.” Shane flattened his mouth and stared everyone down before begrudgingly saying thank you, and drinking from his beer with everyone else.
“It’s because you’re getting to be an old man.” Jack joked and slapped Shane’s back in good fun. I couldn’t help but notice the way his eyes flicked to me, before jerking away and taking another long pull from his beer.
It had been two weeks since I'd stopped by his apartment. I hadn’t been back for a few reasons: one, because I’d been busy, and two, as much as I hated to admit it, I was nervous about being turned down again.
Also, I was really enjoying torturing him at the station when we were both there. Wearing lower-cut shirts and being sure to lean forward enough so he could get a glimpse of my lacy bra. If we ever crossed paths, I made sure to brush against him, a hand against his arm or his chest.
It seemed after that first week of torture he’d been called out of the station for work more and more. I liked to imagine it was because he couldn’t control himself with me. I liked to imagine that if he stayed in the same building, he’d drag me into a closet and finally give in to what we both wanted, yanking my pants down, and roughly fucking me in desperation against a wall. But in reality, I knew it was most likely a case.
One night, we ended up walking out together to our cars. I started mine and looked up to pull out to see him watching me. When he noticed me staring, he jerked his door open and left without another glance back. I smiled, imagining what would happen if he stayed. Maybe he’d have stormed over to my car and pulled me into the back seat to taste me, kiss me, take me. He wouldn’t say a word. Just make us both come and leave me an exhausted, satisfied, sweaty mess in the back seat.
We could be so creative in being together without anyone knowing. If only he’d give in already.
Well, Evie and Jolene would know since they already knew. Which meant Luella would eventually know too, but I refused to think about that. Especially with Jo currently giving me a subtle blow job motion as she pointed at Shane, who was talking to my brother. I laughed and itched the side of my head with a middle finger.
We had all gathered at the brand-spanking-new King’s to celebrate Shane’s birthday. The restaurant had opened last week, and Jameson stood proudly behind the bar with Evie doing her best to distract him with her cleavage. The whole gang was there, including Shane’s partner, Reese, and one of my brother’s employees, Clark, who kept showing up at events when he knew Jolene would be there. Interesting. I’d be sure to give her shit about that later.
Clark actually stared at her and turned to find me watching. I gave him a raised eyebrow and pursed lips. I see you, Clark, eyeing my best friend.
With a smirk and a shrug of his shoulders, he stepped close enough to me so that no one could hear.
“Your friend Jolene single?”
“Maybe.” I didn’t look up at him, just took another sip of my drink.
“Juliana. Come on, help a guy out.”
Shane just happened to turn and his eyes darkened when he noticed Clark’s hand on my shoulder. I decided to fuck with him a little.
Eyeing Clark, I arched my back and stuck out my chest. “Why? You gonna be good to her? Or are you just looking for a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am?”
He threw his head back and laughed, drawing my brother’s attention and causing Shane to take a step closer to me.
“Watch it, Clark. That’s my baby sister. You better keep your hands, eyes, and thoughts away from her.”
Clark stepped back with his hands raised.
“You’re such a cock-blocker, Jack.”
Jack glared at me, not at all impressed with my loud insult.
“Hmm.” Bringing my finger to my lips, I looked around the bar at all the men even though I knew who I was going to settle on. I turned my back on Shane before whipping around and meeting his glaring eyes. “Shane.” I loved the way his jaw ticked, holding back his frustration. “Dance with me?”
“Fuck no,” Jack said before Shane could answer. “Juliana, Shane doesn’t want to dance with my little sister.”
His words stung more than I wanted them to and I ground my teeth, letting my brother see my full frustration before turning back to Shane. He was trying to avoid my gaze by looking down to the floor, but kept glancing up at me anyway.
My bravado sunk to the floor along with my stomach. He was going to say no. Everyone stood around watching after Evie talked me up, and the man was going to turn me down. Maybe Jack was right. Maybe Shane didn’t want anything to do with his baby sister. Dropping my head, I swallowed the lump forming in my throat. I needed to gather my emotions and stop the blush burning my cheeks.
Just as I was about to lift my head, a phony smile firmly in place to laugh it off, his deep voice reached across the space between us, saving me.
“Sure, Mini MacCabe. I’ll dance with you.”
“Don’t you dare.” Jack pointed a finger at him. He was friendly, completely unaware that Shane would actually want me, let alone have already had me.
“I’ll treat her nice, Jackie-boy,” Shane said, goading Jack. His hand dropped to the top of my head, like a pat before sliding down between my shoulder blades and stepping up behind me, facing Jack, who looked more annoyed and bored at Shane’s antics than serious.
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