Three, Two, One (321)
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CAUTION: If you thought this book was stop-your-heart-sexy in print, just wait until you hear Sebastian York narrate the sexy scenes between JD, Ark, and Blue.! DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS BOOK IN PUBLIC, IN FRONT OF CHILDREN, OR YOUR HUSBAND (unless you listen together and want to get lucky!)
I walk quietly over to the door and press my ear against it to listen. I can hear the clicking of a computer keyboard, then the rolling wheels of a chair. Finally soft footsteps as he pads towards the doors. I back away, afraid of being caught. But he doesn’t slide them open. Instead, the lights flick off and then his footsteps retreat. I hear the crack of a beer bottle being opened, and then a sigh.
I slide the doors apart, just enough to peek inside.
There’s a large monitor on the desk sitting on front of a wall of windows. And on the screen are the images he took of me this morning. Of JD and me. And of the three of us out on the terrace. They flip by, hundreds of them, at least. Maybe thousands. I look over at the couch where he’s sitting with a beer propped up on his leg, staring at me.
“You can look at them if you come in here to do it.”
I don’t know how he wants me to respond, so I’m unsure if I want to look at them or run back to JD’s room and hide.
“I’m sorry about that,” Ark says, clearing his throat. “It’s just… JD stopped thinking about her, ya know? It took him so fucking long to stop thinking about her. And now here you are with a clue. And…”
I step into the room.
“And he’s gonna go looking for shit again, I just know it.”
I take another step towards him and Ark pats the space on the couch next to him. “I love these pictures. Come look at them with me.”
I take two more steps, and then I’m within arm’s reach and he slips his hand in mine.
My body shivers from his touch, but I let him pull me the rest of the way, and take a seat as he lets go. My butt is barely perched on the cushion, my hands in my lap, my body on high alert in case he wants to hurt me.
But he doesn’t. He surprises me by scooting away, propping his back against the armrest, and stretching out his legs behind me. They are long and in the way, so now I can’t lean back.
He takes a swig from his beer. “I saw you this morning. God, has it only been one day?” I know what he means. It feels like I’ve been in their house forever. “And answers were the last thing on my mind, Blue. I mean, fuck. I’d given up, just like JD. I gave up a while back, actually. Just accepted that this was the way things were. The way my life was gonna go. But fuck.”
I don’t know what any of that means, but I take that it’s not good by the way he finishes the beer and then throws it across the room, where it lands cleanly in an open-top trash can near the desk. “Get me another one, will you?”
I look down at him and squint.
He stares back. His eyes are bleary, and red, and now that I look closely, tired. Not tired like he needs sleep. But tired in a way I can relate to. The kind of tired where your body feels heavy and your mind feels empty. “Never mind,” he says in a soft voice that I’ve never heard before. He says it, but he doesn’t stop staring.
“What?” I ask, getting uncomfortable.
“Why’d you come in here?”
“I was…” I was looking for my money so I could leave. But this guy. These guys… they are pulling me towards them somehow. JD and his charm. Ark and his distance. And despite the fact that they take advantage of girls for a living, they feel very… vulnerable. It feels precarious. Like the whole thing might come crashing down at any moment. Like they are held together by some invisible thread. And not some mental connection or shared experience, either. Although I have no doubt they have all that too.
Held together by a thread that’s invisible because it’s nearly gone.
We are alike, then. Aren’t we?
Three people brought together by the early-morning rain.
Two of us clinging together, trying to stick it out. Ride the wave until it crashes, and then help each other up to start all over again.
One of us already dead. Still walking, but not living. Waiting to be saved. Or maybe wanting to be the one who does the saving.