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“Hey,” he says. The hoarse sound of his voice catches me off guard and a stabbing sensation seizes my chest. I know it’s all in my head, but it’s like rapid, tiny needle pricks all over my skin.
Has it only been a week since I’ve heard his voice? Hearing him now—just that one syllable—is painful relief. No matter what’s going through my head, right now I’ve gotta keep my shit together.
“It’s good to hear your voice, Manny. You’ve been avoiding me.” Wasn’t a question, but a statement—a true statement.
“Yep,” I nonchalantly reply. “If you’re leaving messages and callin’ me ‘Emmanuel,’ then you must really wanna get my attention.”
He lets out a half chuckle. “I’ve been trying to get your attention all week. I’ve missed your company. Care to tell me why you’re shunning me?”
I avoid answering his question and ask one of my own instead. “Were you really gonna make a trip up here?”
Ever since this little thing between us started, I’ve always headed downtown to his place. He’s never come up here. Too many things could go wrong and make a bad situation epically worse. There are mild fuckups and things you can’t come back from. Me taking the trip downtown is a better bet.
“If you didn’t pick up your phone, yes. I’ve been calling and calling and calling. And would have pounded on your door all night. I’d do whatever needed to be done until you talked to me. It’s been a week, Manny. Talk to me. Tell me what’s going on.”
Avoiding his question again, I say, “That ain’t the smartest move, loco. You’re not exactly unrecognizable. The paparazzi would be up here with the quickness. Not to mention the cops. You don’t come up here making a crapload of noise and not expect the cops to get called.”
“Yeah, you’re right. It was a dumb idea, but I wasn’t thinking. You do that to me, you know—cause me to not think straight.”
“I see,” I respond with a low grunt. He always does that shit. Make comments about how I affect him. I quickly wonder if he’d been leavin’ me a trail of bread crumbs all this time. Hope slams against my rib cage. Does he have feelings for me too?
“Can I see you, Manny?” he asks, his voice that syrupy-sweet tone he uses when we’re in bed. The shit that sucker punches me right in the gut. And now I’m hot, but for an altogether different reason.
“What do you need to see me for? Armand not occupying enough of your time?” I was being a dick, but whateva.
“Ah, so now we’re getting somewhere. That’s why you’ve been avoiding me? Because of Armand?”
“What?” I can’t deal right now. Not with the way he says my name. . . .Manipulative bastard.
“Come see me. Let’s talk about it.”
“Nah. No need.” I’m acting like a pissy bitch, but I don’t care. “Got a client in the morning and have to be up early.”
“Fine, you won’t come here, then I’m coming to you.”
“Didn’t we just agree that that is a dumb idea? What the fuck are you doing?”
“You might not want to talk, Manny, but clearly some things need to be addressed. Avoiding the issue won’t make it go away. We need to straighten this out, now.”
“Mierda,” I mumble under my breath.
“I’ll be there in an hour,” he says before hanging up, leaving me no time to talk him out of it.
I almost fling the phone across the room, but if I do, I won’t have shit to use once it’s broken. I bite down on my tongue to tamp back my anger, and I ain’t tasting whiskey no more.
He’s an idiot. An idiot for comin’ into my space. An idiot for putting himself out there like that. So what if I wouldn’t go to him? I had been tryna put some distance between us, but it only seemed to make shit more difficult for me, and there is only one explanation.
Love. I’m in love with a guy, and I’m so fuckin’ angry. Angry because I can’t do anything about it. I tried to fight it, and I mean hard, but the way I reacted to his voice and to him threatening to trek up to my apartment, risking shit just to talk to me, tells me all I need to know.
I am in love with Christopher.
Harper Miller is a thirty-something native New Yorker. She’s traveled the world and lived in a variety of places but always finds her way back to the Big Apple. A lackluster love life leaves time to explore new interests, for Harper it is writing. The Sweetest Taboo: An Unconventional Romance is her debut novel. In her mind, the perfect Alpha male possesses intellect, humor, and a kinky streak that rivals the size of California. When she isn’t writing, Harper utilizes her graduate degree in the field of medical research. She enjoys fitness-related activities, drinking copious amounts of wine and going on bad dates.