Never Tied Down (The Never Duet #2)(6)

By: Anie Michaels

“I think you guys might be overestimating my level of fame. It can’t do her any good to be seen with me — she’s crazy famous.”

“Riot, you’re the hot young cop on the highest-rated prime-time drama. You’ve got movie deals in the works, and the two of you have been together on film simulating sex. Her fans know exactly who you are and vice versa.”

I groaned and dropped my head into my hands. I was torn. Lexi had given me a huge opportunity and I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, but at the same time I didn’t want to use her or be used by her. I was still fairly new to the “Hollywood” game. There were always decisions to be made, and I feared making the wrong one. Finally, I looked up at Maryanne with a defeated expression on my face. “When is this movie premiere?”

“It’s tonight. Five o’clock. Dolby Theatre.”

“Tonight? Dolby Theatre? Shit, Maryanne, this is a big movie, isn’t it?”

She shrugged. “You’ll be fine. A limo will pick you up at four and Lexi will be in it waiting for you, so don’t be late.”

“What am I supposed to wear to something like this? I don’t have anything except jeans and t-shirts.”

“Don’t worry,” she said, picking up her bag and standing. “I’ll have an appropriate ensemble sent to your house in time. And Riot?”

“Yeah?” I asked, wondering what the hell else she could want from me.

“Don’t shave.” She smiled, dropped a twenty on the table, and walked away, leaving just seconds before her drink arrived.

I stood in my tiny bathroom, staring at a sight in the mirror I’d never seen before. I was in a fancy gray suit with a white button-up shirt. I’d buttoned the shirt all the way up to the neck, but then I’d felt like I was going to pass out from lack of oxygen, so I unbuttoned a few at the top and decided Lexi would have to deal with my lack of tie because there was no way.

My mind thought back to the first time I’d met Lexi, standing on that sound stage in Portland. Lexi was nice, professional even, but not memorable. She wasn’t who stood out to me during those few days. From the moment she entered the room, Kalli had been the one to draw my attention. She’d been breathtakingly beautiful, but unaware of her beauty. She’d been sassy and shy all at the same time, and I’d been a goner from the very beginning.

Never had I lived through a more mortifying experience than trying to act as if I were into Lexi while Kalli stood by and watched. It was awkward as all hell, but it’d been a job and everyone had been professional about it, even Kalli. Perhaps even especially Kalli.

My eyes closed and I pictured Kalli on her knees in front of me as she took my measurements that day, blushing and trying not to let her attraction show. From that instant I knew eventually she’d be mine, that I’d do anything to be with her, to see her kneeling before me with nothing covering her beautiful body. Even as I’d made the declaration in my mind, nothing could have prepared me for how it would feel to really be with her.

I shook my head, trying to rid my mind of the images torturing me, but they never fully went away. I was never completely without her, or the memory of us together.

When there was a knock at my door, I took a deep breath and made my way to the front of my small apartment. There wasn’t a single time I walked through my living room and I didn’t think about Marcus asleep on my couch. Not one time had I walked through there and not thought of him, missed him, and prayed that he was someplace better.

I opened the door, expecting to see Lexi, but instead I was met by an extremely tall, very large, and robust black man. When he spoke, I nearly startled at how low and deep his voice was, but managed to keep my reaction undetectable.

“Hey, man,” he said, sounding way too much like Barry White. “I’m Tank, one of Ms. Black’s bodyguards. She’s waiting for you downstairs in the limo.”

“Great,” I mumbled, still thrown off by Tank’s sheer size and presence. I left my apartment and headed toward the parking lot, where a black stretch limo was waiting. As I approached, a man jumped out of the front passenger door and reached to open the back door before I could. I slowly climbed inside, a little intimidated, never really having been in a car that nice.

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