“I didn’t raise you to act like a complete ass.”
“No,” I say. “You didn’t raise me at all. You send me off to rehab and military school and then Brighton, so you could live out your teenage years all over again, partying with rock stars. Now you’ve met someone who’s powerful and influential, whose arm you can hang on and pretend to be concerned about issues that matter. So you need me back in your life to play the good son role.”
“That’s not true, Caulter,” she says. “I didn’t know what I was doing with you -- I was a kid myself.”
I shrug. “You made your choices,” I say. “Just like I’m making mine, holding out for the trust fund. I’ll play along, but after summer is over, I’m done.”
“Bourbon.” The bartender looks at me, shaking his head. “You’re the Senator’s kid, aren’t you?”
“I’m Ella Sterling’s kid.” This goddamned tuxedo is practically cutting off my air supply, choking my neck. It’s stifling, despite the fact that the evening air is cool. “Is there a problem?”
“Yeah,” he says. “You’re in high school. I can’t serve you.”
“I’m not in high school,” I say. “But fine. Whatever.” Turning around, I lean against the bar, looking out over the crowd gathered in the backyard. The party planners have been at this for two days, and Ella has gone all out for the engagement party. The yard has been transformed into something that looks like white lights and flowers have been vomited everywhere.
But minimalism isn’t Ella’s style, despite her prior weddings. The marriage to the rock star involved a tiger, so at least that one was more entertaining.
This one is just...blah. That is, until I see her. We’ve been in a state of deep freeze since the argument in her room.
She should have at least made an attempt to hide the sketches of me. I was lying in bed, trying to will away my boner that night, when my hand touched the notebook.
Page after fucking page of pictures of me. Me, leaning on the balcony smoking. Me, shirtless, my pants unbuttoned at the top. My face. My chest. My dick. Drawings of me, staring me right in the face.
I mentally chastise myself for ever being stupid enough to screw a virgin. I got caught up in the pursuit, but this goes no further. Owning her pussy is one thing, but she's obviously infatuated with me. I never expected that.
Kate is talking to a guy I recognize from school, a lacrosse player I think she dated before. Those fucking lacrosse players and that Brighton Bingo game piss me off. I clench my hands into fists, considering smashing his face in, when she makes eye contact with me.
She's wearing this white dress, one of the ones Ella's stylist sent. I regret giving her the dresses now that the guy she's next to is leering at her the way he is. The dress is short, barely touching the top of her thigh, and covered in this gold floral pattern that catches the light when she moves. She's wearing white sandals and gold earrings, her hair piled on top of her head, little pieces falling from the up do, across her forehead and down the sides of her face. The whole effect makes her look like a Greek goddess. She has no idea that she catches the eye of everyone around here.
Kate laughs at something he says, and touches his arm, and that’s it. It’s fucking enough. At least if she’s going to flirt with some other guy, I don't have to watch it happen right in front of me.
I storm through the backyard, weaving through the crowd of people. Ella says something to me, but I shrug her off, escaping into the house, through the kitchen.
“Is everything all right out there, Caulter?” Rose asks as I pass.
“I’m just taking a break.” I don’t pause, but she stops me, with one hand on my arm.
“The library is closed off,” she says. “It’ll be quiet, if you want someplace where you won’t be bothered.”
I cover her palm with mine. “Thanks, Rose.”
She smiled and waves me off. “No harm in taking a break,” she says. “You kids don’t need to be on display all the time. You want me to make you a sandwich? All those little appetizers don’t amount to much of anything. You’re probably starving.”
“I’m okay,” I say. I just want to get out of here.
“Scoot, then, before someone finds you,” she says. “I didn’t see anything.”
“You’re an angel.”
Rose chortles. “You’re delusional.”
“So I’ve been told.”