It’s been two days since Dominic discovered the secret I’ve been hiding from him: that the first night we met, I was hired to get compromising photos of him. Two days since he threw me out of the Rexford hotel and swore he never wanted to see me again. Two days of me wallowing in a heartbroken mess around my apartment until my roommates must be sick of my forlorn crying.
“We’re going to need a Sherpa to come navigate this mountain of Kleenex.”
Emily brushes wads of tissue off my bed before sitting next to me. I wipe my eyes with the back of my hand and take the steaming mug she offers. I think I smile. I don’t know. My face is so tight from dried tears, I feel like I’ve had botched plastic surgery.
“What’s in the mug?” I take a sniff. “Smells good.”
“One of my secret tea blends.”
“Made with unicorn tears and rainbows?”
“Of course. And also honey and green tea to soothe your throat.”
Her soft voice brings fresh tears to my eyes. I don’t deserve her kindness. At least, that’s how the sick, twisted sensation in my gut makes me feel. Because of me, Dominic may lose control of the hotel. I deserve to be miserable.
Plus, I miss him. A hell of a lot.
A plopping noise makes me look down, and sure enough, I’m crying in my tea.
“Hey,” Emily takes the mug and runs a hand down my hair. “I know it hurts, Jules.”
“Understatement.” I lean against her shoulder. “It feels like he ripped out my heart and stomped all over it then left it bleeding in the gutter with all the Rexford’s dirty garbage.”
I see him every time I close my eyes—the blend of shock and anger on Dominic’s face as his ex-wife, Lillian, revealed everything. The way he looked at me when I admitted I helped set him up. How he smirked when I tried to confess my feelings for him.
In that moment, I lost everything. My internship, my career, and the man I love.
It couldn’t get any worse.
“He won’t call me back,” I admit. “I’ve left messages.” It dawns on me that I haven’t checked my phone in a half hour. I scramble to get my cell, but Emily stops me.
“He hasn’t called, Juliet.”
“How do you know?”
She just shakes her head, and I crumble a little more.
“He won’t call, will he?”
She tries to look supportive, but I can tell, she doesn’t believe me. And if my ‘bright side only, glass half full’ friend can’t find it in her heart to lie, there’s really no hope for me. My heart cracks again. Dominic Rexford has washed his hands of me. How can I blame him? I helped his ex-wife strip him of control over his own empire. Thanks to me, he’s lost everything that he held most dear.
I just wish I’d known. The first night we met, it was just a job: my cousin, Callie, was sick, so I filled in for her acting as a honeytrap for her private investigator boss. I was supposed to flirt with the target, let them get photos of him kissing me, and make a quick exit. I didn’t expect Dom to be so sexy, so magnetic – all my rules went out of the window when I followed him upstairs. It was just one night, I told myself. Nobody would ever know.
I didn’t realize that my incredible one night stand with him was going to have consequences like this.
I didn’t expect my love would ruin him.
Pressing the heels of my hands to my eyes, I force down another wave of tears. I’ve never felt this way before, and I don’t know what to do. I need to do something, to fix it any way that I can. But, how?
An apology won’t mean a thing compared to his lost empire. I don’t think Hallmark makes a card for this kind of thing.
I lean over the side of my bed and grapple for the neck of a wine bottle. It’s empty—so is the next one I reach for, and the one after that. I don’t have to check the cookie bags or the pizza box on my floor. I know they’re empty, too.
Emily stands and starts to collect the trash. “You’ve gone on one hell of a broken-heart bender.”
“It’s not over yet.”
She bypasses the mountain of snot rags to grab my garbage can. “Believe it or not, you’ll get through this, Jules. Things like this just make you stronger.”
“How would you know?” It flies out of my mouth before I can take it back. Emily pauses a moment, then keeps cleaning. “I’m sorry,” I say quickly.” She doesn’t talk much about her romantic history, but I do know that some guy did a number on her a few years back, bad enough that she won’t even mention his name.
“It’s OK,” Emily says with a supportive smile. “I know that it gets better. Eventually.”
My bedroom door flies open, and Callie bursts in. “Ugh, you’re still wallowing? Come on, you’ll be a public health hazard if you don’t get out of those sweatpants.”
“So what?” I slump back down. “I don’t have anywhere to be, remember? I got fired.”
Callie rolls her eyes. “Dominic is a purebred asshole, and you don’t need him, Juliet. Fuck him. And not in the fun way.”
She disappears and comes back with not one bottle of cheap wine, but two. “You’re welcome.”
“You’re not helping.” Emily looks slightly disgusted. “She needs to get up and take a shower.”
“But failing that, she needs to get drunk until she’s ready to not be drunk anymore. It’s a rule of break-ups. Didn’t you read the girl code handbook, Em?”
I’m not about to argue with Callie’s wonderful logic. I open a box, pour some into a glass, and take a sip before they stop nitpicking each other and look at me.
“That’a girl.” Callie nods approvingly.
I try to drink more, but it tastes bitter in my mouth. I remember the sweetness of the wine Dominic and I drank while he fed me oysters in Paris. And the wild sex in the alley after that? What I wouldn’t give to turn back the clock and relive it again.
Just to have him next to me, to hear his voice.
I’m a hundred shades of pathetic.
“That sappy look on your face has to stop.” Callie opens a bag of chips and hands them to me. I know it needs to stop. But it’s too soon. Truthfully, I’m still reeling—and starving. A take-out container plops onto my lap. Pad Thai.
“I could seriously kiss you right now,” I say, and crack the top, reveling in the waft of peanut sauce and noodles.