But it doesn’t. I can’t sleep. I’ve been up most of the night, occupied by Max’s insistent hands and mouth and body, and I should be exhausted. My body is sated and tired. My brain, though, is wide awake and full of disturbing thoughts.
Like how lonely I am. Despite spending hours with a man who knew just how to touch my body to make me respond in the most outrageous way, I feel alone. Hollow.
I didn’t want Max to leave, which is dumb. I couldn’t express that to him. He’d think I’m a psycho with a dependency problem. I barely know him. I shouldn’t have these sorts of expectations because they’re unrealistic. How I view the world is totally unrealistic. Skewed. I am the quintessential poor little rich girl and I’ve worn the role for so long, I almost prefer it to anything else. I’m in my comfort zone, wallowing in my lonely existence.
Gazing up at the wall, I will myself to fall asleep, regretting I didn’t bring my sleeping pills with me. I didn’t want to depend on them and look where it got me. Wide awake when I should feel sated and sleepy and content. I got what I wanted.
Supposedly. But they always leave. Men. Not that I really want them to stay, because I have no idea what it’s like to have a real relationship with a man. A one-night stand? Oh yes. I’ve got those down pat. A few nights of constant fucking with one guy? I can do that, too. But nothing lasting, ever.
Everyone leaves me eventually. It’s been a pattern throughout my entire life. My mother killed herself because we weren’t enough for her. We didn’t make her happy. Daddy would rather work than deal with his daughters, leaving us to be raised by nannies. Grandma preferred Violet because she was a good girl or Rose because she was the pretty little sweet baby.
And then there was me. There is me. No one likes me. Not really. My family tolerates me because they have to. And I took advantage of that. Expected them to always stand by me, to look the other way when I made yet another mistake. They were all good, so I was allowed to be bad, right? One black sheep in the family is allowed.
That’s me. I could always count on them, if not for their support, at least for them to still talk to me despite everything I’ve done.
But I don’t know how they’d respond to me now. If they knew I’d hacked into Pilar’s computer at work and found all of the dirty email between her and fucking Zachary Lawrence. My sister’s ex-boyfriend, the biggest creep on the planet. Violet finally kicked the cheating scumbag to the curb and Daddy sent him to travel around Fleur stores in Europe, training them on the latest projects.
Getting him out of Violet’s—and supposedly Pilar’s—hair.
But they still talk. Or at least, they did. I thought the email evidence was bad enough, but then I found something worse. Something so bad, it scared me. Sent me straight into a panic and made me run. Not before I drank a giant glass of wine for courage and then sent Pilar an email from her business account to her personal Gmail, letting her know I was on to her.
I know what you’ve been up to …
We talked that one time on the phone when she threatened me, but she’d only referenced the emails with Zachary the asshole. She never mentioned the other stuff.
And neither did I.
I want to call my father. I want to tell my sisters. But how? Will they believe me and want to help me? Or would they think I’m full of it again? Causing trouble again. I don’t even realize the tears are slipping down my face until I taste them when I lick my lips. A sob escapes me and I grab a pillow, pressing it down hard over my face as I scream into it. My voice is muffled, reflecting exactly how I feel.
Muffled. The real me unseen. Unheard.
Throwing the pillow to the floor with a huff, I climb out of bed and stalk to the bathroom, goose bumps covering my chilled naked skin because of the incessant air conditioning blowing through the rooms. I turn on the shower, twisting the knob to almost scalding hot before I hop in and let the water run over me, washing away my sins, my thoughts, my emotions.
Until I am completely numb.
I FEEL AS GIDDY AS A SCHOOLGIRL—a saying I’ve heard before and always thought sounded stupid. But I’d never been that girl while in school, excited over boys who might like me. I went after what I wanted, no hesitation. I was brash. A brat. A complete rebel who couldn’t bother to give a shit most of the time since the boys all flocked to me.
In my own head, I sound like a shit and that’s because I was. Nothing was a challenge. I think that’s why I took to hacking so quickly. It challenged me, forced me to think in a different way, filled me with the overwhelming need to figure something out. Who knew that it would be intricate code and not fashion or cosmetics? That hacking into someone else’s computer, system, whatever, was also breaking the law gave me an additional thrill. I’ve always been looking for a thrill.
Right now, though, for once in my life, I’m giddy. Over a guy. My insides are fizzing with excitement as I enter the open-air lobby of the hotel. A warm tropical breeze flows over me, lifting my hair, and I glance over my shoulder, taking in the view of the ocean, the swaying palm trees, hearing the music playing over the speaker—all of it combined makes me feel like a real tourist.
Not some crazy woman on the run.
“Do you need some help, miss?”
I stop short at the man who appears in front of me, clad in khaki-colored linen pants and a subtle Hawaiian print shirt, the standard uniform of the hotel resort employees. He’s young and handsome, with short, dark hair and flashing brown eyes, a pleasant smile on his face.