Unexpectedly Yours (Page 26)
Dex looks at me carefully. “So it’s like that, huh?” He breaks into a grin. “About time. What’s her name?”
I tense up at the thought of her. “It’s nothing. It was over before it began.”
“Don’t count yourself out just yet. It takes a special woman to inspire that look in your eyes.” Dex looks amused.
“Totally fucking miserable.”
I snort. “Thanks, buddy.”
“Any time. Well, there’s plenty of booze and food here, so make yourself at home. Now, I need to go find my beautiful fiancée. She’s off in the corner somewhere, cooing over newborn baby photos.”
“Babies?” I raise an eyebrow. “Is there something you want to tell me?”
Dex grins. “Not just yet. Let me get her down the aisle first. Catch up with you later.” Dex slaps me on the back again, and disappears into the crowd.
Dex Callahan, soon to be proud husband and father. Who would have thought it?
I wander the party, greeting old friends and chatting about the band and our plans. It’s great to see familiar faces again, but no matter how hard I try to get into the New Year’s spirit, I can’t shake the hollow feeling in my chest, like I’ve lost something precious I’m never getting back.
I looked for Sophie, back in New York. Hell, every time I came up for air in the recording studio, I tried something new: calling the cab companies that served the hotel that day, checking with staff, even looking into doctors named Matt at a medical conference to see if I could track her down via her ex. But I came up empty every time. Sophie disappeared into thin air that day, and no amount of desperate sleuthing is going to find her now. My last hope is to wait until school starts back up in the new year, and start checking with grad schools out west to see if she’s studying there. It’s a long shot, I know, but it’s all I’ve got.
And I have to hold on to something.
“Hi Austin.” There’s a breathy voice, and when I turn, there’s a stacked little blonde standing too close to me. She presses nearer with a smile. “Happy New Year.”
“Hey, uh…” I try to remember her name. She looks familiar, but I don’t know how.
“Leela,” the girl coos. “We met at the MTV awards last year. I’m a music blogger, I interviewed the band.”
“Oh. Right. Hey.” I look around for an escape, but she’s got me penned in the corner here. “How’s it going?”
Leela giggles. “Great. It’s an amazing party.”
I wonder for a moment if she was really invited. It’s not Dex’s style to bring the media in, but I’m guessing there’s a bunch of fangirls here tonight who gatecrashed for a chance to get up close and personal with one of The Reckless.
“How are you?” Leela inches even closer, pressing her breasts against my arm. “I can’t wait to hear the new record. I just know you’ll be an amazing solo artist.”
I pause. She’s a pretty girl, and Lord knows I could use the distraction. There was a time I’d drink up the adoration, hell, I’d bask in her flattery all night—and the next morning too, if I didn’t ditch her as soon as I woke up. But tonight, her syrupy compliments sound fake and useless, and as pretty as she is, she doesn’t hold a candle to Sophie’s effortless sexiness.
I don’t want a fan. I want a woman who’ll push back: who’ll laugh when I hit on her in a bar, and wonder out loud about my narcissistic personality. A woman who spins around in the snow, and kisses me like it’s the end of the world.
I want Sophie.
“I, uh, need to go see someone.” I extricate myself as gently as possible, side-stepping around her. “Look, there’s Cash,” I nod to our sometimes-drummer. Leela’s eyes light up, and I take the moment to lose her in the crowd.
I head upstairs. The party is thinning out up here, and I take the chance to admire Dex’s handiwork. He designed this whole place himself, open and light, with gorgeous views of the ocean beyond. I wander down the hall to the big balcony I remember, hoping to get some peace. But when I slide the door open and step outside, there’s someone already out there, leaning out into the wind.
Her back is turned, but I get a glimpse of auburn hair tangling in the sea breeze, her sexy curves poured into a dangerous red dress.
My heart stops.
I know her body by heart; I can feel it, just by standing here.
I hear my name from behind me, and every nerve in my body pulses to life. I would know that sexy drawl anywhere.
I spin around, and there he is, standing in the doorway looking so good, I want to hold him tight and never let go. Casual jeans and a black sweater, his chocolatey hair gleaming in the party lights, and a look in his eyes that takes my breath away.
“You…” I stammer, lost for words. My mind races, but I can’t make sense of it. I feel like I’ve conjured him up out of thin air just through wanting him bad enough.
“I… You… What are you doing here?” I finally manage to say.
Austin looks about as shell-shocked as I feel right now. “This is my buddy’s place,” he explains, gesturing vaguely. “Dex. We’re in a band. And you…?”
“I know Tegan.” I’m still staring at him in total disbelief. But more than the shock that’s still racing through me, is the feeling of total and utter relief.