By: Sara Wolf

Her foot inches up my leg, presses against my inner thigh, and rests on my crotch. Between the dress pants and her rubbing, I’m involuntarily hard in seconds. Even if I hate her, we were together for a while. She knows exactly which buttons to push to turn me on, and it sickens me. My reactions to her come-ons sicken me. I try to control it – push out the image of her face leering across the table. Any other man would die to be in this position; she’s had the male attention of the entire restaurant the moment we walked in. But I know who she really is. I know the heartless child under her perfect façade of tanned, rich-girl brand names. She doesn’t want a relationship, or a boyfriend. She wants a toy. And I’m just the toy she’s figured out how to play with for a long time without breaking it.

I’ll never break. Not as long as I’m protecting someone.

Kiera’s foot moves faster, in circles, and I clutch my fork with white knuckles and clench my thighs together to stop her movements.

“Cut it out.”

She smiles. “I want to see you lose it, Lee. Right here, right now. And if you ask me to stop again, I know a girl who could use a mystery stalker harassing her. I have so many willing criminals my father got out of jail, which one would be best for her, do you think? There’s a very sweet suspected rapist who got out recently. Ex-military. I think he’d be wonderful.”

I slam my fist on the table. It makes the people around us look. Kiera only smiles wider. Everything in me burns to lurch across the table and shake her. She wouldn’t dare. But the glint in her eyes says she would. She would definitely dare to do that to Rose if it made me squirm, if it punished me. And it would punish me like no hellfire ever could. Slowly, guiltily, I unclench my thighs.

“That’s a good boy.”

I want to sneer at her, to keep my face blank and rob her of the pleasure of seeing me ashamed. I focus on the space over her shoulder, to where people go in and out of the restaurant. Focus. Don’t let her win. Don’t show any emotion.

In the restaurant doorway, I see something that punches the air out of me.

Dirty blonde hair. A slender, tall frame, a gentle face with long-lashed eyes and a happy smile on her face. She’s smiling. Suddenly everything in me warms, the bitter ice of Kiera’s ministrations fading. Her smile melts my façade so easily, but panic quickly rises in my chest.

Rose is here.

It’s simultaneously the thing I dreaded and the thing I burned for.

She’s here, in the same room as me. It’s been months. The sweater she’s wearing hugs her chest and her jeans cling to every curve, every curve I memorized, every curve I try to remember in my dreams, every curve I try to replace Kiera’s with when she’s under me, writhing.

I keep a straight face as Kiera’s rubbing grows faster. But my eyes are locked on Rose. Rose’s hair. Rose’s eyes. The way she smiles as she looks up at the chandelier, enchanted.


I pretend it’s Rose, and give in to the pleasure.




The clinking of the restaurant’s silverware and glasses grows louder as I round the corner. The smell of lamb and vegetable stew tantalizes my nose. The low, constant murmur of French is becoming a soothing sort of lullaby, and makes walking around really nice. No one stares, or even glances my way twice. I might as well not exist, and that’s exactly what I need right now – peace and quiet and not-existing.

My nap was refreshing, and cleared nearly all the dark clouds of sadness out of my head. My stomach growls and my nose leads me to the restaurant, Jacques. It’s all fancy tables and tiny candles flickering on top of flawless white tablecloths. The people dining look more like movie stars than casual tourists – all dolled up. A chandelier hangs from the ceiling, dripping with crystal teardrops that reflect the bright golden light. I feel a smile crack my face. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

The hostess at the podium gives a small ‘ahem’, and I quickly realize I must look like an idiot, gaping up at the ceiling. I close my mouth and flush a bright red.

“Um. Hi. B-Bonjour.”

“Good evening, miss,” The host’s English is perfect, with a rich French accent. “How may I help you?”

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