Capture, p.27
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       Capture, p.27

         Part #1 of Seaside Pictures series by Rachel Van Dyken
 
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

  Dani

  The minute the limo pulled up to Jaymeson's beach house, I jumped out. Lincoln tried to follow me, so I broke out into a run.

  He grabbed part of my shirt right before my fingers reached the door. "Dani, don't, not like this."

  I sighed and turned. "Look, I'm still your assistant. But you don't need me on set today. I've already texted Pris and let her know what you needed in your trailer for snacks, your laundry's been delivered, and your truck is already waiting for you at the location. I'll pick up where I left off tomorrow, but for right now, can I please just have the day off to think? Or are you going to make me go to work with you? Especially after that picture's been blasted all over the Internet."

  Linc's face fell. "Fine." He released my shirt. "But, for the record you don't have to call ahead and do all of that."

  "It's my job," I said in a hollow voice. "Unless you're firing me?"

  "No." His answer was quick. Even wearing that stupid whale shirt, he still looked gorgeous. His grey eyes always had the appearance that they'd been outlined in kohl. It was easy to get lost in them, easy to forget.

  Until now.

  Now, staring at him reminded me that we'd had something, a moment, something different, something inexplicable. And he'd just let it pass by without talking to me about it. I was so tired of being treated like a child, yet at the same time, I knew sometimes my reactions were my own fault.

  But these last few days, he'd treated me like an equal.

  Until at the worst possible moment, when I was at my most vulnerable, he turned into just another one of the protective guys I was somehow surrounded with.

  I wanted adventure in the great wide somewhere. I wanted something. He'd made me want to feel alive, and then he had stomped out the match after lighting it.

  I hated him for it.

  As much as I hated myself for it being a guy who had pulled me from some of the darkness.

  "Linc," I whispered, "you're going to be late."

  Before I could protest, he pulled me in for a hug and kissed my head. "For what it's worth… I'm sorry."

  He had no idea he was making it worse. I didn't want comfort! I didn't even want pretty words! I wanted him to kiss me! I wanted him to pick me up and slam me against the door, kiss me senseless, drive me insane. I wanted the scary. I finally wanted the scary again. Because I trusted him.

  And he'd given me safe.

  "Bye, Linc." I waited for him to walk away.

  And then, like a teenager, because I could, I slammed the stupid door so hard I was pretty sure there would be a crack in the wood later.

  "Whoa, there." Zane perked up from his spot on the couch. "I take it the honeymoon is over?"

  I glared at his dark hair, easy smile, and stupid tattoos. Why was I surrounded by ridiculously good-looking men? ALL THE TIME. He hopped off the couch, making his way toward me. Shirtless.

  "For the love!" I shouted. "People wear shirts!"

  "Whoa." Zane held up his hands. "Are you mad because my shirt's off?"

  "Yes!" I slammed my keys onto the table. "Real people wear clothes! Not everyone's paid to take their clothes off."

  "I think you have me confused with a stripper." He frowned. "I mean, it's happened at least a handful of times, but never in my own home."

  "This isn't your home."

  "Is now." He grinned.

  "I'll be in my room." I tried to brush past him, but he caught me by the arm and spun me around; his grip was strong. Then again, he was clearly the love child of Zeus.

  "Nope." His clear, golden brown eyes saw right through me. Saw too many things. "Maybe we should talk about the fact that you're using words."

  "I'm not five."

  "Nope. You're seventeen." He said seventeen in a low authoritative voice that had me slightly relaxing in his arms. "Trust me, I know all about your age. So does Linc."

  At the sound of his name.

  I burst into tears.

  Against Zane Andrews of all people.

  My tears were staining his pretty gold skin, but I didn't care. He let me cry and cry and cry.

  "Want me to kill him?" he whispered into my hair. "I'm half Italian. I know people, though they live in Chicago and despise my side of the family. I think it's because we're half Irish. But still, I'd like to think Nixon owes me a favor. After all, I did save his ass that one time in the sandbox, when the other little kid tried to take his Tonka."

  "So he owes you a favor…" I sniffed. "… because you saved his Tonka."

  "Never underestimate a toddler's relationship with his truck, Dani. Stealing a Tonka is grounds for war."

  "O-okay." I let out one last sniffle and shook my head. "And are you telling me you're related to the mafia?"

  "Shhh, rats die. I like living. And you'll kill my squeaky-clean image."

  I rolled my eyes. "Squeaky-clean to you. Sodom and Gomorrah to others."

  "Up top." He held up his hand for a high five. "Look at you, able to make jokes and using your words. Shouldn't we be celebrating your using full sentences, and it's not just a Linc fluke? And please don't cry because I said his name again."

  "I'm seventeen. May as well tattoo it on his forehead," I whispered in a hostile tone.

  "He doesn't seem to be the type to forget," Zane said helpfully.

  "Oh, he didn't."

  Zane nodded.

  "Or at least he had a momentary lapse in judgment when I had my shirt off…"

  Zane winced.

  "… in his bed."

  His nose scrunched up.

  "And rejected me."

  Zane let out a low whistle then chuckled. "When Linc messes up, he does it well, doesn't he? Damn. Tell me he at least explained why he rejected you?"

  I pulled away from Zane and leaned across the counter. "Yup."

  Zane's eyebrows shot up as if waiting for an explanation.

  Scowling, I wiped at my wet cheeks and huffed out all the reasons that Linc had listed. When I finished, Zane gave me a blank stare.

  "What?"

  "It's weird. Part of you, really mature." He crossed his arms over his bare chest. "But the other part of you, the teen-girl part, is really, really stupid and immature. You do realize he was protecting you, right?"

  "Do I look like I need protecting or something? I mean, what is it about me that screams damsel in distress?"

  "Not sure, show me your guns." Zane pointed to my arms.

  I flexed, trying hard not to smile.

  "Hmm, and did you ever take karate? Self-defense? Or any of those weird dance classes at the YMCA that put crazy kickboxing moves to the beats of one of my songs?"

  "'Hip Hop'?"

  "Not that one."

  "'Body Combat'?"

  He snapped his fingers. "That one. That's it."

  "No." I frowned. "Maybe it's because I've had a rough few years, but that doesn't mean I'm helpless! I can make big decisions."

  "Will you marry me?"

  "What?" I let out a frantic yell.

  Zane shrugged. "You said you were capable of making big decisions. It was a test."

  I rolled my eyes.

  "You failed."

  "Zane, look, I appreciate the help, but I don't really know you that well, and so far all you've done is tell me that Linc's stupid, and I'm immature for not understanding his reasoning."

  Zane wandered over to the couch and patted the spot beside him.

  Slowly, I walked over to the plush leather and took a seat next to him, while he propped his feet on the matching ottoman as if he lived there.

  "You can try to figure it out until your brain hurts. How about you just come to the same conclusion I did the minute you walked in the door?"

  "What?" I leaned further into the leather, wishing I could just disappear from his pensive gaze.

  "You like him. He likes you. You're both a bit emotional right now. Give it time. If it's supposed to work, it will work. Now." He grabbed the remote and flipped on the Discovery Channel.
"We're going to watch people build houses in Alaska, and you're going to stop thinking all about Linc. Believe me, what you need is a distraction."

  "I can't." I started to get up. "I need to look at the filming schedule tomorrow and plan my assistant duties around when Linc's going to be—"

  "Five a.m. he reports to set. Filming until around noon. He gets a ten-minute break for lunch. Then he'll have to go back, most likely to re-film the kissing scene. Rumor has it he knocked Pris's teeth last time."

  I held in my amusement, just barely.

  "And…" Zane's eyes narrowed. "… oh right, and tonight he has some sort of weird meeting."

  Panicking, I ran into my room, grabbed my schedule, and read through it. "It doesn't say anything about the publicist on my schedule for him."

  Zane didn't take his gaze off the TV. "Right, that little morsel of information was given to me by Jaymeson. Apparently Linc's publicist has been trying to get ahold of him most of the morning, ever since your picture leaked."

  "Crap." I felt a headache coming on. "Do you think he's in trouble?"

  Zane turned the volume down and gave me a duh look. "Honey, he was seen not only kissing you, but going into, and I quote, 'a love hut' with you. Both of which would be totally fine if you weren't A… underage, B… the director's little sister, and C… up until now? Mute."

  I felt my knees weaken. "This is all my fault. He was scared of whales and—"

  "Interesting." Zane turned slowly to face me, an easy smile lighting up his dark features. "I like hanging out with you. It's like getting insider information."

  "We aren't hanging out."

  "My shirt's off, my feet are up, I'm contemplating making popcorn, and you have the day off. We're hanging out."

  "Because you make popcorn?" It was hard to keep up with him. The guy talking to me and the one I'd seen on TV were two very different people. His hypnotic eyes met mine in a teasing gesture.

  "Dani, I may not know you very well, but I know women. I grew up with two sisters. If you don't hang out with me, you'll end up in your room sulking. And honestly, that makes me sad. You just started talking again. If anything, you should be celebrating the very fact that life doesn't suck as much as it used to. Now, are you going to make the popcorn, or do you want me to?"

  "Do we even have popcorn?" I muttered, walking into the kitchen in search of something to throw into the microwave.

  A hard, muscled body came up behind me just as I was reaching the second shelf of the pantry. Zane's hand brushed mine then jerked the popcorn down. I expected him to back up. But he didn't move.

  "One more thing," he said in a hoarse voice.

  Chills erupted around me. I might have liked Lincoln, but I wasn't immune to Zane's charm. Was any female with working hormones? "What?"

  "Turn around," he instructed.

  I did, keeping my eyes averted down.

  He even had pretty feet. They were tan just like the rest of him, white flip flops only added to the golden skin that was already making me jealous that I hadn't lain out much all summer.

  "I'm not going to hit on you," he said softly. "I know what my reputation says, but I'm more of the best-friend type."

  I jerked my head up as my cheeks heated. "I swear my brain wasn't even going there. I mean, you're Zane Andrews."

  "Right." His eyes narrowed. "I'm a freaking saint. Isn't that what they say?"

  "I wouldn't know what they say." I swallowed the dryness in my throat. "And thanks for, uh… explaining." I tried to sidestep him.

  "Hold on there, high school." Zane grabbed my arm and tugged me back to my original position, inches from his face. "It's not because you aren't really pretty or because you're unobtainable." His face changed from seductive to innocent. "Can you keep a secret?"

  Curious, I nodded and waited in anticipation as he leaned forward, and whispered the absolute last thing I would have ever guessed in my ear.

  "No." I shook my head. "No."

  He grinned.

  "Impossible." I crossed my arms. "You're lying to make me feel better."

  "So you see…" He stepped back. "… timing really is everything. I'm telling you from experience. Sometimes a guy says no even when his body screams yes. Sometimes a guy says no for the simple principle that the girl he wants to say yes to is worth a hell of a lot more than a few cheap minutes that he isn't sure she wants in the first place."

  Stunned, I watched him waltz out of the pantry and start ripping the popcorn package open. My mouth was still hanging open from shock.

  Who would have ever thought it?

  Mr. Zane Anderson.

  Saint.

  Was a virgin.

 
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