Prom Queen - Page 13

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“I find it absolutely absurd that people insure things like breasts.”

“Hmmm, when you’re an actor or athlete, your value is wrapped up in parts of the whole. There’s a football player who’s the spokesperson for a high-end hair product company, and his hair is insured for a truly outstanding amount.”

“Is it—”

“I can’t confirm or deny.” She grinned. “Non-disclosure, you know?”

“Of course.” He checked his rearview and changed lanes. Their turn was coming up. “So this actress…”

“Right. So I made the trip up to Vancouver where they’re filming, and while I’m cooling my heels waiting for her to make time in her schedule to sign the papers, I meet Cora. She was handling this same actress’s divorce, and I recognized her.”

“Recognized her?” This story was getting weirder and weirder.

“Yeah, well…” Jessie looked out the window. “Cora used to be Disney famous, and things got kind of ugly a few months after she turned eighteen, but that’s neither here nor there. We ended up waiting together and talking, and from there it’s more or less history. She and Brooklyn have known each other since they were both toddlers, and a couple years later, we ended up living together.”

“How does she need roommates if she’s a divorce lawyer with a client list including actresses?”

“She doesn’t. None of us really do.” Jessie shrugged. “But between the three of us, we can afford a really nice beach place and none of us like to be alone, so it works out great.”

There were layers within layers of what she’d just said. Jake tried to pick it apart, but their destination appeared on the right. “We’re here.”

She peered out the window, eyebrows scrunching. “LeAnne’s Spa and Relaxation Retreat. What’s going on, Jake?”

***

Jessica wasn’t sure if she should be pissed or impressed or… It was too much. Her emotions tangled and swarmed inside her, too twisted to put name to. So she sat there and waited for an explanation.

And waited some more.

“Jake, explain.”

He huffed out a breath, a red flush creeping up his tanned neck. “Don’t get pissed.”

“I’m already halfway there. Just spit it out.”

“Fine.” He turned the engine off and turned to face her fully. “You’re a hot mess.”

“I…What?” She heard her mama’s voice in her head, telling her to close her mouth because she looked like a trout, but she couldn’t manage it. “Jake Davis, that’s downright mean.”

“Damn it, no. I didn’t say that right.” He pinched the bridge of his nose, causing his sunglasses to tilt haphazardly. “Look, you’re tired and stressed out, and I’ll be the first to admit that I added to that stress by showing up as your date. I’m trying to say I’m sorry.” He jerked a thumb at the spa.

She almost asked why he’d decided to accept the date—and then forced her into going along with it—but at the end of the day, it didn’t matter. Jake was her date to the reunion, end of story. “I’m fine.” Liar.

“No, you’re not. You’re so brittle that if you run into Leah, one sharp word will have you falling apart.”

Jessica jerked back. She hadn’t realized that she’d been so transparent. Angry words rose, an accusation that he was the reason she was teetering on the edge, but it wasn’t the full truth.

She didn’t take her impotent anger out on other people anymore.

Almost against her will, the sign for the spa drew her gaze. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d gotten a massage… Wait, yes, she could. Cora had secured a very public, very profitable divorce for one of her A-list clients, and she’d celebrated by dragging Brooklyn and Jessica to one of LA’s premier spas for a day of massages, seaweed wraps, and mud baths. It had been heaven.

Her pride threatened to choke her, but she couldn’t let this stand. “I can’t afford this. Please take me back.”

“Jessie, you’re killing me.” He started to reach for her and then seemed to think better of it. “I screwed up, which means this is on me. If I hadn’t pushed things…” He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. What matters is getting your ass in there and relaxing.”

“Only if you come with me.” The words were out before she could think better of them. What did it matter? They were playing pretend, after all, pursuing the “what if” they’d never be able to have in real life.

What if we were still together?

He hesitated, and then gave a short nod. “Fine.”

“Good.”

“Great.”

She went for the door before they could keep circling. The thick Texan heat instantly had her feeling sticky and gross. Call her crazy, but she’d forgotten about the humidity—or maybe just blocked it out. Jessica gingerly touched her hair. If she wasn’t careful, it would end up as big and fluffy as her mama’s. No teasing necessary.

Jake beat her to the door, but only because his legs were longer. He held it open, and she nearly gasped in relief at the frigid temperature inside the building. Maybe this wasn’t such a terrible idea.

“Wait here.” He stalked to the front desk and spent several minutes talking with the pretty receptionist there. The girl had huge blue eyes, curly blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail and looked thin enough that Jessica could snap her in half over her knee. None of that bothered her. The way she watched Jake—as if she’d like to treat him to a private massage—did.

Jealousy was a green-eyed beast clawing its way up her throat. Before she could think too hard about what she was doing, she walked to the front desk and slid under Jake’s arm like she had a thousand times in the past. The only difference now was that she didn’t have a right to be there.

He gave her a look but didn’t say anything. “We have to fill out a bit of paperwork.”

“Y’all didn’t book a couples’ massage.” The girl glared daggers at Jessica.

“Karen, what are you talking about?” A woman walked out of the door leading deeper into the building. She shot a disapproving look at the receptionist. “Charles and I are sitting on our hands all day.” She turned a big smile on Jake and Jessica. “Please fill out the forms, and then we can get started.”

It took less time than she would have expected to give a short medical history, and then they were being led back to a dimly lit room with two massage beds sitting side by side and soft music playing in the background. After getting assurances that they didn’t have preferences about the gender of their masseuse, the woman?

?Sarah—left, closing the door softly behind her.

It was only then that Jessica realized the problem. “I’m not stripping in front of you.”

Jake shot her a look. “I’ve seen every inch of you.”

“It’s different when we’re having sex.” He had been so distracted by the whole having sex thing, he hadn’t been likely to look at her imperfections. They might have been few when she was a teenager, but they were legion now. Five years ago, she’d given up on perfection. Being skinny and perfectly put together every second of every day hadn’t saved her from being fired. It hadn’t stopped her jerk boyfriend from dumping her at dinner in front of an entire crowd of people. And it hadn’t made a damn bit of difference when she couldn’t make rent and was evicted.

So she stopped it a little bit at a time. Going brunette was the hardest—and biggest step—but after that it was as if she’d flipped a switch in her head. She’d leave the house without makeup, or eat a second slice of pizza.

Despite her mama’s dire warnings, the world didn’t end.

She still worked out, but she did it because it made her happy and decreased her stress, not because she wanted to be a size four. And she ate now—mostly healthy, sure, but she’d stopped denying herself little indulgences. Between those two things and the fact she was staring thirty in the face, her body was a lot softer than it used to be. Her stomach was soft instead of taut, and…

What am I doing?

Sometime in the last five seconds, her internal voice had turned into her mama’s. She pressed her hands to either side of her head. Stop it right this instant. Jessica straightened and dropped her arms. Jake looked like he was going to ask her what the hell was going on, but she didn’t give him the chance.

She yanked her zipper down nearly hard enough to rip the fabric. It wasn’t a smooth move to shimmy out of the dress, but she managed. She didn’t meet his gaze as she dipped her thumbs into her Spanx, silently daring him to say a single freaking word.

And then she was naked and there was nowhere left to look.

Jake stared at her body like he was in a desert and had just set eyes on an oasis. He took a step toward her, but she moved to put the table between them. “Massage.”


Tags: Katee Robert Romance
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