Paper Princess Page 40


The cheers of the crowd below us are growing stronger, but for me, the only thing that exists is Reed Royal. I stare at him.

He stares back.

I stick my finger in my mouth and then slowly draw it out. He doesn’t look away.

I drag the finger down my neck, down the valley between my breasts, down to my stomach. The noise is getting louder and louder. My hand is getting lower.

Reed’s eyes are glued to me. His mouth moves. Ella…Ella…

“Ella.”

Valerie grabs my waist and leans her head on my shoulder. “Song’s over. Ready?”

I look back toward the bar, but Reed’s gone. I shake my head. Had I imagined that whole thing? Was he ever even there?

“Yeah,” I mumble. “I’m ready.”

My whole body is throbbing. I’m not so inexperienced that I don’t know what the ache between my legs means. It’s just that…I don’t know that touching myself is going to give me the relief I need.

“Nice, girls. Real nice,” the bouncer yells at us when we exit. “Cage is yours anytime tonight.”

“Thanks, Jorge!” Val says.

He hands her two bottles of water. “Any time, babe. Any time.”

“He wants you,” I tell her when we move away.

“Yeah, but I don’t want anyone but Tam.” She guzzles the water and rolls the cold bottle against her forehead. ““But I’m feeling it right now. Know what I mean?”

To my miserable dismay, I do.

“Anyway, I gotta pee. You want to come?”

I shake my head. “I’ll wait here.”

While she disappears into the mob, I finish my bottle of water and then glance around the club. It’s a lot more crowded now, and I notice quite a few interested looks aimed in my direction.

I make eye contact with a cute guy with a punk haircut. He’s wearing jeans, a tight fitting T-shirt, and Converse tennis shoes. A strobe light highlights the piercing over his eyebrow and in his upper lip.

He looks…comfortable. Like I know him. Like we’re cut from the same cloth. I give him a tentative smile, which he returns. I watch as he murmurs something to one of his friends and then starts across the floor toward me. I straighten—

“Hey, little sis. Let’s dance.” Easton pops up out of nowhere, his big body towering over me.

The boy headed my way stops. Crap. “I’m taking a breather.” Should I wave to him to let him know it’s okay? That Easton won’t bite?

Easton tracks my gaze and glares at pierced guy until the pierced guy raises his hands in surrender and returns to his table. “So where were we?” Easton asks innocently. “Oh yeah, we’re dancing.”

I sigh and give in. Easton just made it clear he’ll chase off any other guy tonight. He grabs me by my waist and virtually carries me to the dance floor.

“You look hot tonight. If you weren’t my sister, I’d be all over you.”

“You were already all over me.” I cock a brow at his blank look. “Last night?”

He grins. “Oh right. That. C’mon, let’s dance.”

A few guys slap him on the back as we sway past and shout something like “you the man.” I ignore it because if Easton’s here, then it must be Reed I saw before. Reed who I danced for. Reed who devoured me with his eyes and made me feel so hot my body still feels like it’s on fire.

“I’m pretty sure you’d be all over anyone in the state you’re in,” I remark.

Easton’s hands run up my sides, skimming over my dress and settling on the bare skin exposed by the cut outs. “I’ve got a few standards. Not many but a few.”

“Glad I make the cut,” I say dryly.

He tugs me closer but surprisingly his hands don’t wander. I twine my arms around his neck and wonder what game we’re playing now.

“You put on a good show. I would’ve liked to have seen you strip.”

“You go first and maybe, if you’re good enough, I’ll return the favor.”

His eyes fill with glee. He loves the idea of a spectacle. “Little sis, I can’t show you my goods. I’m so fine, just the sight of me would ruin you for all other men.”

I laugh against my will. “You’re too much, Easton.”

“I am.” He nods solemnly. “It’s why I sleep around. Because no one girl can handle all of me.”

This declaration makes me roll my eyes. “If telling yourself that story makes you feel better, then have at it.”

“Oh I do, don’t worry.” He dips his head near mine and the wave of alcohol nearly knocks me off my feet.

“Jeez, you smell like a brewery.” I shove him a little to put some distance between us.

He smiles, but it isn’t pretty. “I’m an alcoholic, don’t you know? I’ve got addiction problems. I inherited those from my mommy just like your mom passed sluttiness down to you. Aren’t those grand gifts?”

If it wasn’t for the hurt in his eyes, I would’ve told him that I’d rather dress like a slut than drown in a bottle, but his pain is one I recognize, so instead of making some flippant comment in response, I drag his head to my shoulder.

“Oh Easton, I miss my mom, too,” I whisper into his sweat-dampened hair.

He shudders and clutches me tighter. His face turns into my neck and he presses his lips against a vein. It’s not really erotic. It’s more…he’s seeking comfort from someone who isn’t judging him.

Over his hunched frame, I spot a pair of blazing eyes.

Reed.

And I’m so tired of it. Easton may want to use me but I’m not against using him either.

We both want something…comfort, affection, a way to strike out at the world. I tug Easton’s head up.

“What is it?” he murmurs.

“Kiss me like you mean it,” I tell him.

His eyes darken and his tongue pokes out to run across his lower lip and it’s sexy as hell.

My gaze flicks over to Reed, who hasn’t stopped glowering. “Kiss me,” I repeat.

He lowers his head and whispers, “It doesn’t matter that you’re pretending I’m Reed. I’m pretending you’re someone else, too.”

His words become lost when his mouth hits mine. His lips are so warm. And his body, strong and firm, so much like his brother’s, presses against mine. I give myself over to it. We kiss and kiss and sway to the music until someone breaks us up and we’re dragged off the dance floor.

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