(P.S. Also, see the book trailers right after )
UNTIL WE BURN
By Courtney Cole
Shooting for the promos with Amy is uncomfortable, to say the least. She shoots daggers at me from across the room with her eyes and when we have to kiss for a picture, she bites my lip.
But I don’t react. I won’t give her the satisfaction.
Instead, when she is sitting in a lounger by the wall, I engage in phone sex with an old friend, Kira, from back home. Amy glares at me for a moment, then stalks away to her trailer. I grin into the phone.
“Yes, I’ll be home soon, Kira. No, I can’t fly you here. I won’t be here long enough. I’m coming to Chicago soon. Maybe I’ll even be home next weekend.”
Kira laughs her familiar laugh. I’ve known her for so long, she’s known me since we were kids. In fact, she was Emma’s best friend. She knows what Emma did to me. And she’s been here to comfort me for years.
“I heard Sin almost got hauled off to jail last night,” she mentions. “Fiona called me this morning complaining about it.”
I grin, trying to picture how worked up my little sister Fiona probably was. Since she’d taken the job as Sin’s manager, he’s definitely put her through her paces.
“Yeah. He’s got to get better about guessing girls’ ages. Or he has to start taking an interest. So far, he doesn’t give a flying fuck.”
Kira laughs. “Well, I’m glad he didn’t get into trouble. It’s a good thing the laws there are so much more relaxed about that stuff.”
“Yeah,” I agree. “It’s the only thing that kept him out of jail. Has it hit the news there yet?”
“It’s on some gossip sites,” Kira answers. “But I wouldn’t worry about it too much. It’ll blow over.”
“I agree,” I tell her. “Sin’s having a party next weekend at his house. Are you coming?”
“I am if you are,” she purrs. “I’ve missed you.”
I grin. “I’ll be there.”
We hang up and I head outside, through the halls that lead to the doors. The sunlight pours in through the glass, and I can see the crowds of women flocking outdoors, just waiting to get a glimpse of Amy or me.
The second I emerge, the women begin screaming and pressing toward me. Security moves me fluidly through the crush of women and within a minute, I’m deposited into a waiting car.
As the darkness envelopes me, I close my eyes. As we drive away, I can still hear the women calling out my name. Asking for pictures, asking for autographs, asking for kisses and hugs.
They don’t know me.
They don’t know what I’ve done, or what I’m capable of.
They don’t know any of it.
I close my eyes.
“You’ve got to be home on Monday,” Tally tells me firmly. “Shooting begins. I don’t give a rat’s ass what happened with Amy. You’ll be on set and you’ll be cordial to her. So have fun with your brother, clear your head and get ready to work.”
I sigh into the phone. “You worry too much,” I tell him. “I’ll be fine. Amy won’t be a problem. Shooting will go off without a hitch.”
“It better,” he growls, then hangs up. I roll my eyes and toss my phone down. Tally tries to sound like an ass, but his bark is worse than his bite. At least, it is with my brothers and me.
I finish packing and then head to Providence to have lunch before I board my plane for home. I make my way inconspicuously through the restaurant and find my favorite table.
I by-pass the hostess, but she sees me as she shows someone else their table.
She pauses at mine.
“Have you spoken with Tally about me yet?” she asks, her hand on my shoulder.
I shake my head. “Not yet. I’m sorry. I haven’t had a chance. But I will soon. And I’ll give him your number.”
And maybe I will. Tally can do what he wants with it. Melanie nods in satisfaction.
“Thank you. And if you need anything else from me, let me know.” Her tone is suggestive. I smile.
“Thanks. I will. Is Alex here today?”
Melanie nods as she starts to walk away. “Yeah. She’ll be with you shortly.”
As I wait, I decide to hit the men’s room. As I pass down the long hall that leads to it, an office door is slightly ajar. I glance inside as I pass and am startled to see Alex sitting on the desk, her legs wrapped tightly around the manager’s waist.
I freeze in place, staring.
Alex has her arms wrapped around his neck and her tongue buried in his throat. My heart feels heavy as I remember what she’d said to me before.
Sorry, dude. You’re hot and all, but I’m one of the few out there who believes that marriage is sacred.
Not that sacred, apparently.
She must feel someone staring, because she opens her eyes and sees me. She yanks away from the manager, her eyes wide. I don’t wait. I go to the restroom, wash my hands and then head back to my table.
Alex is there within seconds.
“Dominic, it wasn’t what you saw.”
“Really?” I raise an eyebrow. “I’m pretty sure it was exactly what it looked like.”
She starts to protest, to offer lame explanations about how she needs the money here and the manager was going to cut her hours, but I hold up a hand.
“It’s not my business,” I tell her coldly. “And actually, I’ve lost my appetite today.”
Without another word, I get up and leave, ignoring her protests from behind me.
As I drive away, I have to examine why I’m so annoyed. Because honestly, I’m pissed. And it shouldn’t be my business.
What it boils down to, though, is that I thought Alex was a decent person. One of the only decent people I’ve met in LA. And the fact that she’s like everyone else is depressing.
Everyone wants to use everybody else. They want something, they need something. They are willing to do anything to get what they want. They’ll break marriage vows, cross lines of decency, stretch bounds of propriety.
Where does it end? And is there anyone out in the world who is a decent person? A person who is good on the inside?
I’m beginning to think that there’s not. In fact, I’m convinced of it.
I sigh as I drive to the airport and board my plane.
Soon, I’ll be home, just for the weekend. I can relax, soak in the wild atmosphere of Sin’s party and disappear into the shadows.
I can forget that people are greedy, black-hearted users.
I can forget it all.
As the plane takes off, I close my eyes. The weariness of the world has gotten to me. The ugly side of life, the guilt that I carry.
Sometimes, it’s all just too much to bear so I cope in the only way I know how.
It’s the only thing I can do.
“Mr. Kinkaide, is there anything else I can do for you?” I open my eyes at the polite voice and find a voluptuous blonde flight attendant bent in front of me, her chest straining at the buttons of her uniform.
I meet her gaze and smile my most charming grin, the one I’m known for.
“Well, there is one thing.”
I trail my fingers along the inside of her thigh and she smiles.