A Different Blue Page 74

“Darcy, wait! Don't whisk Blue away yet! The fireworks are unbelievable from up here. You missed them on the Fourth of July too! And we haven't crowned the Ha Ha Ha champion!” She descended on us, wrapping her arms around our shoulders.

“I think Justin has that all locked up, Tif.” Wilson's voice sounded strange, and a look passed between brother and sister that made my chest feel tight and my face burn hot.

“I see,” Tiffa said softly. I wished I did. She leaned over and kissed my cheeks and squeezed my hand. “Thank you for coming, Blue. Jack and I consider you part of our family and always will. When you're ready, you should come see Melody. It would be good for all of us, I think.” Her eyes shot to Wilson and back to me. “Happy New Year, luvs.”

We descended to the parking garage in silence, the elevator surprisingly full, considering the fact that it was barely midnight and most parties were in full swing. I pressed back into Wilson as floor after floor added a few more occupants all going down. Wilson kept his hand in mine and watched as the numbers ticked lower and lower. My mood descended just as rapidly as I wondered if the trip home would be filled with apologies for a kiss that had lit me up like the Fourth of July . . . or New Year's Eve, to be more exact. Tiffa was right. The fireworks from her balcony would have been unbelievable. I wished we would have stayed to see them, to share another kiss as crashing colors filled the air before reality swept the magic away.

Vegas was a party town, and the crowds were heavy, making navigating away from Tiffa's building slow as the strip was lined with people swarming from one hotel to the next, soaking up the bright lights, endless food, and glitz of a city that catered to celebrations in the extreme. Luckily, The Sheffield was on the south end of the Vegas strip, making it easier to side step the thickest intersections as we climbed up and onto the beltway that would swing us east toward Boulder City. Wilson had been quiet as he maneuvered his way through the crush of traffic and people, but as the city and her lights fell away behind us, the silence was more than I could stand so I decided to make light of the whole thing.

“You kiss like an old woman, Wilson.”

The car veered wildly, rocking us slightly as Wilson swore and righted the vehicle, his head swiveling between me and the road.

“Bugger!” Wilson sputtered, and then laughed and groaned, running a hand down his face in obvious agitation. “Well, you don't.”

My heart fluttered and my stomach dropped at his words. “So what's the problem?”

“That's the problem.”

“So if you kissed me and it felt like kissing one of The Golden Girls, all would be right in the world? Because that's what it felt like for me, and I feel fine, while you obviously do not.”

“The Golden Girls?” Wilson obviously didn't watch American re-runs.

“Well . . . maybe not one of them. Maybe . . . Prince Charles,” I teased.

“But not Camilla? Please tell me it wasn't like kissing Camilla,” he insisted.

I snickered. Poor Camilla. “Was kissing me like kissing Victoria Beckham?” I poked at him. “Tiffa told me you had a major crush on her when you were seven.”

“Oh, yes. Since I know exactly how it feels to kiss Victoria Beckham.”

“Did you think about Victoria Beckham when you kissed me? That's almost as good.”

“No, Blue. I didn't. Unfortunately, I was very aware of whom I was kissing and why I shouldn't be kissing her.”

My attempts to avoid serious examination of “the kiss” had obviously failed. Wilson kept his eyes forward all the way home, and I stifled the urge to ask him to explain himself, to justify his blunt rejection. If he was struggling with his feelings for me, he would have to figure them out. I refused to feed his regret – or even argue with it. I sat in stony silence for the remainder of the ride. He pulled up in front of the house and put the car into park, turning the key and turning to me at the same time.

“I've crossed so many lines with you so many times. I was your teacher, for God's sake! My sister adopted your child! It's all so convoluted and complicated, and I don't want to make things messier than they already are. The friendship we have, the incredibly intimate moments we've shared, the fact that you are my tenant . . . I can rationalize all of that away. I can justify all of it . . . as long as there is no romance. Tonight, when I kissed you, I crossed the line from friend, teacher, adviser, bloody father figure,” he spat this last line out, clearly disgusted, “to something else entirely, and I owe you an apology. I don't know what I was thinking, letting Alice manipulate me that way.”

“Father figure?! Holy Crap!” Now I was horrified. “That's how you see our relationship? Yuck, Wilson!” I slammed out of the car and stomped up the steps, not waiting for Wilson. I really didn't want to kill him, but at that moment, strangling him would not have been a stretch. I heard him behind me, and I swung on him as we climbed the front stairs.

“For the record, Wilson. You were my teacher. Once! You've become my friend. I am not a child, and I am not your student. I am a grown woman, not even three years younger than you are. You not only kiss like a stuffy old woman, you're acting like one! Kissing you was no big deal! It was not inappropriate, it was a silly party game. Get over yourself!”

I prided myself on my honesty and here I was, lying through my teeth. The truth is, the kiss was a big deal. It was a huge deal. And Wilson definitely didn't kiss like an old woman. But he wasn't getting that truth. Not now. Not after he had ruined everything.

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