We Were Once - Page 74

I’ve never driven a Mercedes, so the desire to drive a high-end car is tempting. “What about the party?” Her eyes are glassy, making me glad she gave me the key.

“Just a quick ride,” she says, grabbing my hands and pulling me toward the front door. “We’ll be back, Ruby,” she says over my shoulder.

Ruby leans against the bar when I look back. She says, “Have fun. I’m going to see if this cutie is single.”

Chloe’s already dragging me toward the front door. “Come on.”

“I’m right here with you, babe.” Though I’m starting to wonder if this is a bad idea. “How about we go see the car and then go upstairs?”

“What’s up there that we can’t do in the car?” Oh, she’s good. Quicker than most, considering the amount of alcohol in her system. Pushing herself against me, she says, “We can christen the car.” I think she believes she’s whispering, but by the horrified expression of an older lady nearby, she’s not. And it’s fucking delightful.

“We can do that too,” I start, entirely amused by her passion for this excursion. “But maybe we should do it tomorrow when you’ll remember.”

Still trying to detour her, I bring her closer to the bottom of the stairs.

“I’ll remember. I can still feel the stretch of my body from earlier.” She nibbles on my chin, her hands roaming my ass. “You’re so big, Joshua. I feel empty without you.”

Ruby comes behind her. “Okay. Time to move the sex show to another room. You’re scaring the guests.”

I take a more direct approach and take Chloe’s hand. “Come on. Let’s go upstairs.”

Her eyes pivot to the stairs before she looks back at the party. “Take me for a ride, Joshua. We’ll be back before anyone notices.” My willpower escapes me, weakness for her overtaking my better sense. She knows her methods are working because she works me even harder. “The sun set, but the moon is still rising. It’s gorgeous from the cliffs. If we hurry, we can catch it before it settles above for the night.”

“Watching the moon rise will make you happy?”

The times she talked about mangata and finding comfort in staring out her window . . . I thought it was normal stuff, chick stuff. I’m starting to realize the moon might have been her friend, the one that kept her loneliness at bay. And that breaks my fucking heart.

Her body’s loose, rebellion glistening in her eyes. “It will make me so happy. Please.”

So I can’t say no. Kissing her hand, I hold it tight in mine as we head for the door. “Let’s go chase the moon.”

“Onward ho we go. Chasing the moon.”

Ruby remains in the doorway after we exit. Cupping her hand to the side of her mouth, she calls, “Be safe.”

Chloe’s hair whips around as she turns back with sass in her step. “Never,” she teases.

Laughter trails from the house. “Have fun, you crazy kids.”

Twirling away from me, Chloe raises her arm into the air, and then she spins back in. “We will.”

A red bow as big as the hood makes finding her present easy among other cars.

Convertible top.

Sleek silver that shines.

Light tan interior.

Leather seats.

Custom chrome wheels.

I run my finger along the door before opening it for her. “Nice car.”

Ripping the bow from the hood, she tosses it onto the lawn. “It’s beautiful, but unnecessary.” She slips inside the car, then runs her hands along the dashboard. “What will I do with it in New York City?”

“Good point.” I get behind the wheel and start the car, the engine purring to life. “Damn, that’s a sexy sound.”

“It is. Let’s enjoy it before I return it tomorrow.”

Stunned, I do a double take. “Why would you return it?”

“This car is his way of suggesting I go to school where he wants me to, which is not Columbia.” Cruising the long driveway toward the gate, I wouldn’t put it past him to try to manipulate her. She’s not the naïve little girl he believes her to be. She sees his flaws and loves him despite them. That’s what he should appreciate.

I don’t understand how forcing his will on her won’t push her away. Fuck, it’s not like I don’t want to keep her to myself, but thoughts of her choosing to be with me over forcing the issue is much more tantalizing.

She adds, “He thinks he can buy me things and change my mind.”

“My mom has always said—don’t trust people who can buy their way out of anything.”

“I adore your mom.”

“She adores you.”

The chill of the early evening has me braking before we leave the property. I reach to raise the roof, but her hand lands on my forearm. “I want it down.”

“It’s cold, Chloe. You’re in next to nothing.”

Resting her head back on the seat, she eyes me never looking happier. “It feels good to feel so much.”

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