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The Summer I Destroyed You

arrives May 22


I have a theory: the person you were in high school is the person you are for life.  

That’s why the most popular girl in school still thinks she’s cute decades after anything cute about her has withered up and died, and why Silicon Valley billionaires still feel like geeks, no matter how many models they screw.  

Donovan Arling was never a geek. He’s been a beautiful specimen his entire life and can’t forget it for a minute. Even now, while he fucks me, it’s not my willowy frame beneath him he’s staring at lovingly—it’s his reflection in the mirror he can’t look away from.

Then again, I’m down here thinking about what an asshole he is, so maybe neither of us has our head in the right place.  

“I love your arms,” I murmur, running my hands over his triceps. It’s not a lie—he really does have amazing arms—but mostly I just need him to finish so he gets the hell out of my apartment.

“Yeah?” he grunts, a tiny note of desperation in his voice.

“They’re so defined,” I moan.  “Those triceps.” 

“Oh fuck,” he says, and now his voice is all full-blown panic, a guy who knows the end is nigh whether he wants it to be or not. “Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck.”

He’s busy now, with all the coming and whatnot, so I’m able to roll my eyes at a leisurely pace, knowing even as I do it that I’m being wildly hypocritical. 

How many guys have I slept with solely to reassure myself I’m pretty? Many. But Donovan has always been beautiful, so it’s not like he’s got some kind of vacancy to fill—whereas mine appears bottomless.

If you were ever the fat girl, you are always her inside your own head.

He collapses on top of me. “Fuck, that was hot.” 

“Cool,” I reply. “Now you need to get out of my apartment. I’ve got to pack.” 

He flips onto his back, pushing his hair away from his face with a lazy hand. “Is that any way to treat the guy who made you come four times this morning?”

He didn’t make me come four times. I haven’t even come four times total during all the weeks we’ve slept together. I’ll tell him that, eventually, once he’s really pissed me off. 

“Sorry.  Please get out of my apartment.”

He sits up, irritated now, which is fine with me if it gets him out the door faster.  “Do you always have to be such a bitch?”

 “No, I don’t have to be,” I yawn, rolling on my side to grab my phone. I start to check on my flight, but then Liam Doherty’s name catches my eye.

He’s the point of contact for one of my projects in Elliott Springs. And though I normally avoid friendliness with employees and vendors, it’s hard with him. No matter how awful I am, he winds up making me laugh. There is no amount of bitchiness on my end that dissuades him. 

Me: I’ll be in the theater day after tomorrow. I want the ceiling tiles in by the time I get there.

Liam: That’s a full day’s work and I’m currently at the nursing home with my dying grandma. 

Me: That sounds made-up. 

Liam: I told you about this not five hours ago. It’s like you don’t hear me anymore.

Me: I’m doing my best not to hear you. And unless she’s loaded, making me happy is the wiser financial decision.

And his reply, which I’m only seeing now:

Liam: I guess Nana might have another day, despite what the doctors have told us. I’ll just remind her not to walk toward the light.

It’s dangerous, allowing myself to be amused. I’m sure I’ll successfully put an end to it once I’m there. 

Donovan slams the door as he walks out, and I rise to shower. Ninety minutes later I descend to the lobby, pulling three suitcases and a carry-on. I walk fast past Giorgio, the doorman—I loathe unearned friendliness and idle chitchat, and he has an insufferable fondness for both. There was never a conversation about the weather or my destination that Giorgio couldn’t drag out five minutes beyond its time of death.

“Rushing off somewhere exciting, Miss Hughes?” he asks, grabbing one of the suitcases.

“Elliott Springs, California.” My tight smile is a warning that says don’t ask more questions. It’s a warning he never fucking heeds. 

He holds the door. “Can’t say I’ve heard of it.”

“No one has.” I move briskly toward the waiting Town Car. “That’s why I left.”

“Well, you’ll be missing some nice weather here,” he continues as the driver takes my luggage. “Seventies all week. But it’s always good to get back to your hometown.”

“It is,” I reply with my first real smile of the morning. “Especially when you’re there to destroy it.”

Giorgio’s jaw is still open as I climb into the car.

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