Scorched (Frigid 2) - Page 49

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My brain registered two things at once. He was interested in me, which wasn’t a big duh. I mean, he’d had his hands in my pants more than once, so yeah, I should’ve known that. But he compared me to his dad, a man I’d recently discovered he pretty much loathed, which pretty much canceled out the first part. Hurt invaded every cell and festered under the skin. The back of my throat burned and I wanted to rush away.

But I didn’t. “That kind of makes you twisted.”

Another weak laugh came out of him. “I guess it kind of does.”

My hand shook as I lifted the bottle, but I didn’t take the drink. I just stared down at it, hurt and angry and a thousand other emotions I couldn’t even begin to sort out. “Then maybe you should spend some time reflecting on that instead of on my drinking habits.”

“Did you ever think it’s because I care?” Pushing off the island, he angled his body toward mine. “Has that ever crossed your mind just once?”

“When?” I laughed, and then I did take a drink. “Was it between fucking random chicks? Or when you ignored me as soon as our friends showed up?”

“Ignored you?” His eyes narrowed. “I didn’t want you to be uncomfortable—”

“Why are we even having this conversation?” I interrupted, and anger—that ugly, red-hot feeling—sank its claws in me. “It’s stupid, and I’d appreciate it if you’d mind your own fucking business for once.”

“You think I’m going to mind my own business after what happened between us?”

My laugh came out like a snort. “Why wouldn’t you? Doesn’t seem like what happened between us changed a damn thing. It doesn’t matter anyway.” The words hurt to speak. “It was just a good time. It didn’t mean anything.”

Tanner stared at me as his lips thinned and frustration flashed across his face. “No wonder you’ve been single the entire time I’ve known you,” he said, turning away.

An icy hand trailed down my chest and fisted in my stomach. “What?”

“This.” He faced me again, throwing his hand up in a wide circle. “You’re always fucking drunk, and when you’re not, you’re actually a decent person to be around. But that shit doesn’t last long enough to put up with this mess.”

Chapter 17

Andrea

I couldn’t move as Tanner’s harsh words settled over me, seeping through my skin and digging in deep, below the muscles and bone. I stared at him as this God-awful burn started in the pit of my stomach and crawled up to my chest, getting lodged there.

I wanted to fire back with something clever. I wanted to act like his words didn’t bother me and what he thought didn’t matter. I wanted to tell him that I didn’t care about being a mess and being single, but I couldn’t get my tongue to work. It was glued to the roof of my mouth and his face had started to blur.

A tense moment passed and then Tanner cursed under his breath. He lifted a hand and ran it over his head as he looked away, a muscle flexing along the strong cut of his jaw. “Andrea, I—”

“Don’t,” I cut in, my voice shaking. I wasn’t sure what I was telling him not to do, but the last thing I wanted to hear was an apology. Even though my thoughts were a little fuzzy, I knew you couldn’t own those words and then take them back. But under that hurt, the truth was just as painful, if not more. It wasn’t like I was a victim in all of this. Tanner’s words were harsh, but they were dipped in fact, and even being half-drunk, I could recognize that.

And that’s what made all of this so much harder to swallow.

“You can’t take that back,” I whispered. “You can’t take that back.”

He flinched.

I drew in air, but it seemed to get stuck in my throat. A series of fine shivers rolled down my back. “Fuck you, Tanner.”

Setting the bottle on the counter, I turned and started walking toward the steps. My hands shook.

Tanner wheeled around, blocking my path. His eyes were wide. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said what I said, not like that.”

His words hit and bounced off. “Get out of my way.”

“Andrea—”

“Get out of my way!” I screamed so loudly that a streak of pain shot down my throat. I stumbled back as the tips of my fingers started to tingle. “I get it. Okay? You regret being with me—”

“Wait. What? I never said that, Andrea. I don’t regret a moment of being with you,” he said, shaking his head. “If you don’t believe me, I’ll walk right out there and tell both of them exactly what we did and what it meant to me.”

I laughed, but the sound also got caught around the knot in my throat. For the tiniest moment, it felt like I couldn’t breathe. Even though I knew I could, knew I was breathing right then, my lungs seized up. It was like vise clamps had been secured around my chest and tightened. The tingling spread up my arms as the corners of my vision started to dim. Blood pounded through me as my heart rate kicked into overdrive.

Tanner was talking, but I wasn’t hearing him. There was a roaring in my ears, drowning him out. I tried to side-step him, but stumbled and lost my balance. I bumped into the wall. He reached for me, but I needed to get out of there. I needed to go upstairs. I needed my medication.

The sliding glass door opened, and it sounded like a high-pitched whine to my suddenly sensitive ears. Air wheezed in and out.


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Frigid Romance
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