Soulless:MC Biker Romance (Black Thorns, #2)(9)By: Franca Storm
But nothing can soothe me. No one. Only one person ever could. And now he’s gone. He’s left me. Me and….
“Ralph? My baby?” I ask, anxiously, pulling back to look at him.
His eyes are glazed over with tears too as he bites his lip and shakes his head at me. “No, Rox. I’m so sorry.”
My eyes snap open and I shake my head, trying to push away the awful flashes. I blow out a breath and lean against the railing in front of me. I bring my smoke to my lips and take a harsh drag.
Those flashbacks have been assaulting me ever since I saw Neil standing in my driveway that day, just seconds before he’d turned his back and really walked away from me.
I can’t even hate him. I know why he did it. He was just protecting me and, as much as I used to hate any man thinking they needed to protect me, I understood it. And I still do.
But that just makes it worse. At least if you hate your ex, there’s some closure right there. You don’t want them anymore. It makes it easier.
“Shit,” I mutter, running my fingers through my hair.
As I come back to reality, I glance behind me just beyond the patio where I’m standing, through the glass doors of the nightclub inside. It’s crowded. People are milling about, celebrating and chatting away. Thankfully, I’ve completed my schmoozing for tonight; the one thing I hate most about my job. It was a shock when I first started Roxana’s Interiors, finding out that I had to play nice now. Back in Brockford, I never had to. I could just call things as they were. But with my interior design business, I have to hold back a lot. It’s what they call being professional, apparently. It seems more like a cop out to me than anything else. But for the business to be successful, I don’t have much of a choice.
It’s been a difficult adjustment.
I wasn’t raised this way at all.
I was raised by my father to be tough and uncompromising.
The business has done well in the last six months. I’ve developed a good network of contacts and I’ve acquired some very lucrative, rich clients.
But the price? Dumbing down me? It’s starting to wear on me.
I turn back to the patio railing in front of me. As I gaze out into the dark night and the city lights of the restaurants, bars and clubs of the entertainment district all around me, I try to push away that antsy feeling I’ve had ever since I left Brockford. Ever since I lost Neil.
The lack of excitement. The missing rush of that intense heat and passion that being with him always gave me.
If someone had told me a year ago that I’d be here attending the opening of a rich mogul’s nightclub that I designed, I’d have laughed my head off. As equally shocking is what I’m wearing. A floor length strapless silver dress, my hair falling in soft curls about my face. It’s a big change to my usual leather jacket and jeans get up.
I pull the shawl hanging off my shoulders more tightly around me against the cool breeze blowing through the empty patio.
“Roxana,” a voice calls to me.
Urgh. I cringe the moment I recognize it. If I’d known he’d been invited tonight as well, I would have made up an excuse not to come.
His hand brushes my shoulder as he passes by and comes to stand in front of me. He frowns as he sees the smoke in my hand. Argh. Anti-smokers. They need to get a grip. Each to their own and all that.
“Steven,” I grit out.
“You’ve been avoiding me all night, so I haven’t had the chance to congratulate you on your work here. It looks great.”
“High praise coming from you,” I tell him. He’s one of my major competitors. We met through a designer convention. And I made the mistake of hooking up with him after way too much to drink fused with the excitement of starting up the business. And he hasn’t been able to leave me alone since. It’s a shame I can’t employ my usual tactics I would have used back in Brockford when dealing with a hanger-on. I’d be arrested here, though, and I’d ruin my reputation. Yeah, beating him into unconsciousness isn’t really an option.
His eyes sweep over me slowly and he says, huskily, “You look amazing.”
He grins. “I love your confidence. It’s unbelievably sexy.” He steps into me and whispers, “Makes me think about bending you over this railing, hiking up your dress, and taking you right here.”