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Up in Flames(Rosemary Beach #14)(18) by Abbi Glines

I mean, hell, it wasn’t like I was James Bond. Although that would be completely badass, but that was beside the point. They’d put me in a situation that was unfair. Most men with a heart would fail at this. Killing the bad guy I could do. Hurting a woman, on the other hand, wasn’t my thing.

“Go back to Rosemary Beach, and give her space. I’ll continue what I’ve started here. Then I’ll send her running back home, ready for someone to mend her broken heart or ego. You need to be fucking ready this time,” Cope said close to my ear, before he straightened and walked away.

Could he really hurt her? Did she like him that much? Damn. If so, I really needed to up my game.

Nan

That had been hard. Seeing Major’s sad expression had made my stomach cramp up. Looking directly at him had not been easy, and I’d limited it as much as possible. No matter how many times he’d hurt me or blown me off, I did like him as a person. I did have fun moments with him, and there were those times when he had made me feel special. Like I was the only girl who mattered.

Then, of course, the next day, he’d run off and see some other girl and do the same thing with her. I was naive even to think that what I had just said to him mattered that much. He would be fine. There were women everywhere waiting to soothe his ego. Because that’s all this was. He wasn’t used to rejection. With a face like his, I doubted he’d dealt with it often. If ever.

Still, I wanted to go back and hug him. Because he really looked like he needed a hug. Shaking my head at my own idiocy, I headed back to my elevator. Gannon still hadn’t tried to reach me, and my emotions were a little raw after that encounter with Major. If he hadn’t basically begged me for another chance, I would have been fine.

Jesus, though, that begging was intense. I deserved a freaking award for being strong about it. What kind of girl didn’t want a guy like Major pleading for a second chance? Pretty sure there wasn’t a single one alive on this planet or the others.

My phone vibrated, and I saw Gannon’s name on the screen, followed by, Good afternoon. Lunch?

My stomach was full from lunch with Major, but I wasn’t about to turn down a chance to be with Gannon. I’d eat light.

Yes, I’d love to do lunch.

I waited outside the elevator as it opened and closed. I didn’t move.

Meet you in an hour at the elevator?

Thank goodness. I needed an hour to make myself more attractive and let my lunch with Major settle some. Perfect.

I bit my lip as a giddy grin spread across my face. When the elevator opened again, I hurried inside. I had an hour to look amazing.

Three outfit changes and two different hairstyles later, I was ready to meet Gannon downstairs. All the guilt over Major was gone, for the most part, and I was excited about another day with Gannon. I still wasn’t hungry, but I’d work around that.

When the elevator door opened, my eyes went directly to him. He was hard to miss. The sleeves of the white Oxford shirt he was wearing were rolled up to his elbows, and his biceps looked like they were about to explode from the seams. The white against his tanned skin was striking. Combine that with the messy man bun and beard he had going on, and damn, he was hot.

My heart sped up. I hoped all my hard work at making myself look irresistible would pay off. I watched his face as he watched me. I loved the way his gaze traveled over my body. It made me feel like I was the only girl in the world.

“Sleep well?” he asked when I reached him.

“Yes, thank you,” I replied, remembering that he had tucked me in last night.

“Good.” He held out his elbow for me to take. “Let’s go eat.”

“Same place?” I asked, curious.

He shook his head. “I don’t want to bore you. I made other arrangements.”

As if he could bore me. The man was fascinating, and he smelled so very good. I wanted to lean in and take a deep breath.

“On the Strip?” I asked.

He led me out of the casino before replying with a brief glance. “That would be boring, wouldn’t it?”

I wanted to tell him that nothing was ever boring with him. I never knew what to expect with him, and that feeling had quickly become a craving that I had developed a real taste for. The excitement of the unknown. I didn’t tell him that, though. It would make me vulnerable. “I guess so,” I said, hoping my curiosity wasn’t completely obvious from my tone.

A low chuckle from his chest made me believe I hadn’t hidden my thoughts at all. That, or he was just incredibly observant. I could tell by the way he spoke and the way he held himself that he was intelligent. More so than any other man I had met. That in and of itself intrigued me. A man with his dangerous appeal who loved reading classics instead of watching TV? Damn.

“I have a private meal waiting at the top of Caesars Palace. The view is spectacular, and we’ll have some privacy. It’s not the penthouse, but it’s the best I could do.”

Wow. Not what I’d been expecting. I knew I wanted privacy. Lots of it. But so did he, apparently. This was what I wanted. Major had kept me at arm’s length for too long. It was OK for me to move on to better things.

I wasn’t going to think about Major again.

Major

The waves crashed against the shore as I sat slumped forward with my elbows on my knees. A long-necked bottle dangled from my right hand, a cigarette from my left. I wasn’t a smoker. Never had been. But right fucking now, I needed it. I was lost and confused and so damn depressed I didn’t know what to do with myself.