Insider, page 31part #1 of Exodus End Series
for Exodus End; care to sing me a few lines?” She stared at him hopefully, her heart fluttering in her chest with romantic anticipation. She was dying to hear his singing voice.
“And who told you that? Was it Max? Because he seems to think understating his vocal talent earns him more compliments or something. I can’t sing. Never could. I have the harmonics of a drunken crow.”
He squawked out a few lines of their first-ever hit, “Rebel in You,” and he did indeed sound like a drunken crow. She was pretty sure he was singing horribly on purpose, but that didn’t stop her from cringing and covering her ears with both hands.
“So you see,” Logan said, “we needed Max whether I liked it or not.”
She blinked at him. “You didn’t want Max in the band?”
“I thought we were just fine with three members. I was fortunately outvoted by the other two, and we sought an additional band member.”
“I was devastated at the time, but you’ve heard me sing. Do you think we would have been at all successful with me as a front man?”
She shrugged. There was no way to know for sure.
“There are those occasional instances in your life when you’re glad you’re proven wrong. I was wrong. We needed Max to make us a better band. But never tell him I said that.” He winked at her, and she smiled before glancing down at her notes. It was time for her to get a little silly just for fun.
“Are you ready for more questions?”
He recrossed his legs so his ankle rested on the opposite knee and leaned back against the cushions to get comfortable. “Shoot.”
“What’s your favorite color?”
He lifted an eyebrow at her. “Seriously?”
She nodded, feigning extreme interest in his answer by holding her pen at the ready and staring at him as if on the edge of her seat.
“Pink,” he said.
She dropped her pen. “Pink?”
“It’s the color of your nipples.”
“Are you thinking about my boobs again?”
“I’m always thinking about your boobs.”
She slipped her hand under the sofa and pulled out what she expected to be her dropped pen, but what she'd grabbed was a lot longer, made of some flexible purple material, and slightly enlarged at one end.
“What is this?” She drew it toward her face for closer inspection.
Logan chuckled. “It’s a magic wand. I’m pretty sure it’s been in someone’s ass, so you might not want to put it too close to your nose.”
With a shriek, she tossed it. It skittered across the gleaming white coffee table and landed on the carpet on the opposite side.
“We’ll add toys to your lessons at the hotel,” Logan said, not looking the least bit concerned that she’d touched that thing. “We should be there in a couple hours.”
That bit of knowledge made her squirm with desire and feel a bit queasy with nerves at the same time. She was pretty sure her lessons up to this point had been relatively tame, and she wasn’t sure if she was ready to step it up to the next level. She wiped her hand on her skirt—as if that would sanitize her skin after touching a used ass wand.
“Was that yours?” she asked, eyeing the end of the “magic wand” just visible on the other side of the table.
“I plead the fifth.” He grinned. “But if I’d known it was hiding under there, I’d have given you a demonstration of the magic it works when I had you bent over the sofa arm last night.”
She crinkled her nose in disgust. “Eww. Even though you know where it’s been?”
“I would have cleaned it first.”
That didn’t make her feel any better.
“Promise me that any toys you use on my body are new. There are some things I’m not willing to compromise on and that is one of them.”
He was grinning entirely too wolfishly for her peace of mind.
“I promise to use dozens of brand new toys on your body—singly and in combination.”
“That’s not what I said.”
“I would never have touched you with someone else’s toy, Toni. I just love how cute you look when you get all freaked out.”
“Well, who wouldn’t freak out about something like that? It’s gross.”
“Would you still think it’s gross if I admitted that the ass tormented by that thing was mine?”
Had she been holding her pen, she would have dropped it. “You’re messing with me again.”
He lifted his eyebrows and shook his head. “I wouldn’t mess with you about something as important as explosive orgasms.”
Toni sat up straighter so she could take another look at the toy she’d tossed. “I could use toys on you too?”
“I’d prefer if we made it a requirement.”
She turned her head to catch his gaze, not sure if he was trying to throw her off guard again. He was so good at duping her that she was starting to suspect him of it at all times.
“It sounds like playing with toys should be an imperative part of my lessons,” she said.
“Can we get back to my questions now?”
“Hey, you’re the one throwing magic wands around.”
“What’s your favorite food?”
He shook his head at her in disbelief. “Are these really the questions you want to ask?”
“The other band members answered them without belittling their importance.”
“Tacos.” He scratched his ear. “Fish tacos. Preferably clean shaven.”
“What would it take to convince you to shave your muff?” he asked.
She glanced down at her lap. “A huge diamond,” she teased.
She’d already been convinced to shave her muff; she didn’t need a diamond. “Are fish tacos really your favorite food?”
“Your fish taco is my favor—”
“Logan, is it really so hard for you to take my job seriously?”
“It is when you use words like hard.”
She glared at him, and he sighed.
“I don’t know what it is about you that keeps me in a constant state of arousal,” he said. “Maybe after I fuck you twenty or thirty times over the next couple of days, I’ll be able to remember what my favorite food is.”
Twenty or thirty times? Was he insane?
He snapped his fingers unexpectedly. “Macaroni and cheese.”
She’d had a hard enough time figuring out the fish taco reference—what could he possibly mean by macaroni and cheese? She was still puzzling over it when he tilted his head at her.
“You don’t like macaroni and cheese?”
“I’m pretty sure the macaroni must be referring to your cock, but what’s the cheese?”
Logan laughed so hard, she thought they might need to commandeer an ambulance. She hated that she was so naïve about all these sexual things. She was going to have to start studying the online Urban Dictionary like it was her Bible just so she could keep up with this guy.
“Macaroni and cheese really is my favorite food. It has nothing to do with my cock and whatever your cheese is.”
He could have continued to tease her, but he touched her arm instead. “What’s your favorite food?”
“Strawberry shortcake.” She didn’t even need to think about it.
“I should have known it would be something sweet.”
Was he flattering her? Or was he being serious?
“How old were you when you lost your virginity?” she asked.
“You’re putting that in your book?”
Her stomach dropped when she thought about him experiencing his first sexual encounter at the same age she’d been when her father died and she’d basically become a housewife to her mother and a mom to her sister.
He patted her arm when she smiled him in relief.
“I’m lying,” he said. “It was the best thing that had ever happened to me at the time. For a teenage boy, every waking and sleeping moment is spent thinking about sex.” He rubbed his lips together and scowled at her. “Oh. That’s why this feels familiar.”
“Why what feels familiar?”
“Being with you. It’s like I’m a horny, lovesick teenager all over again. The only difference is now I know what to do with you.”
Of course she fixated on his using the word lovesick. Of course. She immediately chastised herself for being so fricking desperate for any mention of love when she knew damned well that he was referring to sex and only sex.
“That makes one of us,” she said.
He frowned. “I don’t make you feel like a horny, lovesick teenager?”
Yeah, he did. “I mean I don’t know what to do with you.”
“You’re doing far better than you realize, babe. If you just want to lay there while I rut all over you, I’d be perfectly okay with that, you know?”
“Wouldn’t that be boring?”
He laughed. “After a few years.”
Now that she had him off guard—maybe—she could ask him a more important question. “So why do you hate your brother?”
“I don’t really hate him. I just don’t see him as part of my life anymore.”
“Did he commit a horrible crime or something?” Toni’s reporter senses were tingling. There was an important story here, she just knew it.
“He’s not in jail, if that’s what you’re asking.” Logan shrugged. “I’ve lost track of him, to be honest. We haven’t spoken in over a year.”
“What did he do?” Toni leaned close and squeezed his knee. “I’m dying to know.”
“Nothing. During my parents’ divorce they split everything fifty-fifty. Including their children. I lived with my father, and my brother with my mother. We were supposed to continue with weekly visitations, but my mom got remarried and moved to another state.”
“So you never saw them after that?” Toni asked, sweeping a curl from his forehead so she could peer into his troubled gaze.
“I wouldn’t say never. I did stay with them for a couple of weeks each summer, and I celebrated the occasional holiday with them, but it was obvious I’d been replaced.”
“My mom’s new husband had a son from his previous marriage. And while Daniel and I—Daniel’s my brother—never got along and were always arguing and getting into scrapes, his new brother, Ray, quickly became his best friend. They did everything together. They never argued. Never fought. They just lived together as brothers. His stepbrother obviously meant more to him than his real brother did. I never felt like part of their little family when I visited. Not even with my mom. When she picked up and moved on from my dad, she moved on from me too.”
Toni’s lower lip trembled, and she sucked it into her mouth.
“Don’t cry,” Logan demanded.
She shook her head, knowing that if she spoke, she’d be bawling like a baby. Since she was too emotional to offer words of comfort, she hugged him fiercely. At first he merely tolerated her embrace, but after a moment his arms went around her and he hugged her back. She melted against him, breathing in his scent, absorbing his warmth, cherishing his strength and the glimpse of his weakness.
“At least you still had your dad,” she whispered.
“Yeah,” he said flatly. “Good ol’ Dad.”
Toni pulled away slightly so she could see Logan’s expression. He smiled wryly.
“He didn’t beat me or anything,” he said, “so don’t look so tragic. He made sure I was clothed and fed, that someone got me to ball practice and trumpet lessons, but he wasn’t what one would call affectionate.”
“And he never remarried?”
He shook his head. “Nope. He had a revolving door to his bedroom when he was married to my mother, and it got even more use after they split. I didn’t realize what was going on until I was older.”
Toni cringed. She had no idea what he was suggesting. “What do you mean his bedroom door revolved?”
He laughed and patted her head. “Because there were so many different women going through it.”
“Oh. So the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.”
Logan gaped at her as if she’d slapped him.
“I’m not like him,” he said, scooting back on the sectional so they were no longer touching.
She lifted an eyebrow at him. He didn’t really expect her to believe that, did he?
He rubbed his jaw in one hand and squeezed his face—an attempt to keep himself from spouting more lies? His troubled blue eyes refused to meet her imploring gaze.
“It’s different with me,” he said finally.
“I don’t have an impressionable child who has to witness it. I have never betrayed someone who loved me the way he betrayed my mother.”
Since Logan had previously boasted about his own so-called revolving bedroom door, she hadn’t realized her claim would upset him. But he still wouldn’t meet her eyes. She fought her urge to comfort him as they sat in awkward silence, her watching him closely. Him staring at the wall, trying to burn a hole through it.
“How do you do that?” he asked, his gaze flicking to hers at long last.
She shook her head in confusion. “Do what?”
“Get a guy to spill his guts one minute and then reevaluate his entire outlook the next.”
She shrugged. “Gifted, I guess.”
“I guess.” He shifted closer again so that their knees touched, and he gave her leg a playful nudge.
She was starting to think their little spats strengthened their growing relationship rather than hurt it. She’d never seen her parents argue. They must have had an occasional disagreement, but had shielded her from that reality. She wondered if only witnessing the happy times between her parents and none of the strife had somehow skewed her perception of a good relationship. Logan’s ideas about romantic relationships had obviously been swayed by his father’s philandering ways. She supposed they’d have to figure out the balance required for a healthy relationship on their own.
“So you played trumpet?” she asked.
He laughed and nodded. “I heard that it strengthens your lips and makes you an excellent kisser.”
“Does it work?” She straightened, trying to look her most hopeful.
“You should know. You’ve tasted my strong lips more than once.” He puckered his lips and made obnoxious kissing sounds. When he began to flick his tongue in and out of his mouth, she couldn’t help but laugh.
“I don’t have much to compare to,” she admitted. “Timothy in
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