“I’m busy right now,” he bites out when the woman finally stops her tirade. “I’ll call you when I get back to the hotel.” She starts to speak and he’s the one who cuts her off this time, saying, “Yes. I will.” He yanks the phone away from his ear as if it’s about to bite him and he hits the red “end call” button, then throws the phone back into the console’s cup holder.
Nothing is said for long, tension-filled minutes and I hesitate, unsure of how I should approach this. Afraid because I don’t want to approach this. Any other time, any other guy, I’d be all over his shit. Ready for the fight. Accusing him of cheating, of leading me on, of tricking me, of acting shady, because hell yes, right now Max is acting 100 percent shady and I don’t like it. My invisible bullshit antennae are pricked, standing on end, because I have a nose for this sort of behavior. Though this time around, Max and whoever he was speaking to were acting pretty obvious.
And maybe I’m aware of this kind of behavior because I’m always up to no good myself. A long time ago I realized I was drawn to bullshitters who are just like me. They can’t tell the truth, don’t want to be in a committed relationship, none of that. They just want to party and have fun all the time and … that describes me perfectly. At least, it describes my past behavior and patterns perfectly.
I thought this guy was different. I believed I got through to him a little bit. And I thought maybe I could be different, too.
Maybe I can’t.
Finally I can stand the tense silence no longer. “Everything okay?” I ask.
He says nothing for a moment, and I can almost see the cogs turning in his brain as he tries to come up with an explanation for what just happened. “Yeah,” he answers. “Everything’s fine.”
That’s it. That’s all he says. I stare at him, willing him to look my way, but he won’t.
Guilty. He has guilt written all over him. In bold, bright red slashes, all over his skin, his face, in his eyes, in the way he fucking sits. Damn it. I thought I could avoid this. I’m on vacation. Sort of. This should be a casual thing. An island fling. So why am I wound up so tight?
Why do I care? Why do I want … more?
“Who was that?” My voice rises, is a little sharp. I sound angry. And I really don’t give a crap how I sound.
“No one important.” He, on the other hand, sounds disgusted. At me? Or at himself?
Fuck his dismissive answer. “She sounded pretty important to me. As in, she’s really pissed off at you. What did you do?”
He flicks on the blinker and hits the brake, slowing the Jeep so he can turn onto the road that leads to the resort. “Trust me, Lily. You don’t want to know.”
“I’m sure I don’t,” I retort, my entire body going stiff when he finally looks my way. I see something in his eyes, something I don’t like.
Wariness. Uncertainty. And that ever-present, shitty guilt.
“If you’ve got a girlfriend or you’re married or whatever …” I pause, inhaling sharply, shocked at how much more those words, and the possible reality they suggest, hurt than I care to acknowledge. “Now is the time to admit it,” I finish, crossing my arms in front of my chest, my heart thumping so hard I swear he’ll be able to see it beat beneath my thin tank top.
Again he says nothing and I want to hit him. Yell and scream and carry on like the woman did on the phone. But I do none of that. Instead, all I feel is … hurt. Disgust.
Shame. That maybe I’m the piece on the side, the secret affair.
“I don’t have a girlfriend,” he says wearily, but he still won’t look at me. His hands grip the steering wheel so hard his knuckles are white. “And I’m not married either, Lily. I swear. It’s just … it’s complicated.”
“Complicated,” I repeat, hating that word with everything I have. Life is complicated. Everything is fucking complicated. That’s just the way it is. So when people use it as an excuse, a reason for why things are shitty or why they can’t explain their actions, I don’t find it complicated.
I find that single word one giant, stupid excuse. The same excuse I gave Rose when I first got to Maui.
Ugh. That word sucks.
“Yeah.” He blows out a harsh breath and turns onto the hotel resort’s drive. “It’s work shit, nothing major.”
Nothing major. He’s almost … flippant. Acting as if I’m making a big deal out of nothing. And maybe I am, though that doesn’t make me feel any better. He’s behaving like a total dick and I’m acting the jealous shrew and what the hell am I doing, reacting this way? I’m a big girl. I knew what I was getting involved with. I have my own secrets.
I guess I just didn’t expect him to have so many, too. “What do you do, anyway?” I ask, wanting to know. Needing to know.
No answer. Asshole.
He slows the Jeep as we approach the front of the hotel, maneuvering carefully so he doesn’t hit one of the many eager hotel employees that hover in the drive, ever ready to assist us and meet our every need. Their over-the-top help annoys me, especially right now. I want to be left alone. I don’t need some pretty boy smiling at me as he opens my car door. I don’t want someone greeting me with a cheerful aloha and asking how my afternoon was. What would they do if I answered them honestly?
Well, it definitely started out amazing. Went on a scary ride through a Hawaiian jungle and laughed and screamed and got turned on by how confidently Max drove. Got in a little argument with him before he fucked me by a waterfall and gave me two orgasms. It was so good, I saw stars, damn it, and it’s the middle of the day. Oh, and then asshole over here got that call from work—wink, wink, nudge, nudge—and it ruined everything.