Never Tied Down (The Never Duet #2)(8)

By: Anie Michaels

I brought my mouth closer to her ear so she could hear me when I asked, “What the hell, Lexi?” As I said the words, I felt her hand come up to cradle my cheek and she giggled. I pulled away, confused by what she could be laughing about. Then it dawned on me. She was putting on a show.

She was using me.

She didn’t just want to go to this event with me, she wanted to be seen with me, to make people believe we were together. I pulled away, prepared to drop her hand and find my way back through the camera heads, but before I could say anything, she pressed her lips against mine.

It had been so long since I felt a woman’s mouth on mine that for just one moment, I let her linger, caught up in remembering someone else. Letting my heart pretend, for the tiniest moment, that Kalli was here with me instead of Lexi. But then my brain remembered who she was, realized where we were, what was happening, and I pulled away, furious. I put my hand on the back of her neck, trying to keep her close enough to hear me.

“What are you doing?”

She put on her fake smile and replied without moving her lips much, “Just play along, Riot. It’ll all be okay.”

I searched her eyes, then let her go, stepping back. She laced her fingers through mine again and turned back to the cameras.

“Lexi! How long have you been together?”

“Riot! Has this been going on ever since you shot her music video?”

“Lexi! Is he the one?”

“When are you going to put a ring on it, Riot?”

Lexi giggled but didn’t answer any questions and I stood there, thoroughly pissed off and pretty sure my mood was evident on my face. I didn’t care if I ruined their precious photos, I wasn’t happy so I wasn’t going to smile.

Finally, Lexi led me into the building and once we were out of sight of the photographers, she dropped my hand.

“What the fuck was that?” I growled, feeling my face turn red with the rage building from my gut.

“Calm down, Riot. It’s no big deal. They’ll print some stories about us being together, our names will be hot for a few weeks, and then it’ll all die down.” She looked past me and waved at someone, obviously not caring how I felt about the matter.

“You could have warned me about what you were going to do. I definitely wouldn’t have come if I thought you were going to kiss me in front of all those reporters.”

She smiled at me, a genuine smile that showed me she didn’t mean me any harm, and said, “Why did you think I invited you, silly? This is what the business is all about.”

“What about George? Won’t he be upset?”

For the first time that evening I saw an emotion other than happiness cross her face. She looked hurt and sad, and I immediately felt like shit for bringing him up.

“He doesn’t care what I do,” she whispered, looking down at her hands, which she was wringing between us.

“Lexi, I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“It’s okay. It’s not a big deal. Listen, I’m sorry if I offended you. I guess I assumed you would know what tonight was about and how it would play out. It never occurred to me you wouldn’t be ok with it. You’re still new to the business, I guess. So, I apologize.” She paused, looking me in the eyes again, only this time the happiness was gone altogether. “But you need to understand I did you a favor back there. You might not think so right now, but you’ll see.”

She turned and walked away from me, leaving me speechless. She was right, I was new to the game, but I wasn’t dumb. It wasn’t that I couldn’t understand why she did what she did, I just didn’t like the way it made me feel. Used, and a little fake. I never wanted to be anything but myself. I was an honest person. And this was far from honest.

I exhaled loudly, realizing there was absolutely nothing I could do about it at that moment. The damage was done. In fact, there were most likely already posts on social media speculating about our relationship status. I wanted to leave, to bail on this whole evening, but I didn’t know how to get out of the building without walking right back down the red carpet, and I didn’t have a way home anyway. So I decided to ride the evening out. I took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and went to find Lexi in the sea of celebrities and hangers-on.

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