Lick, p.8
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       Lick, p.8

         Part #1 of Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott
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Page 8

  Author: Kylie Scott

  “Very well. ” Ted looked down his nose at me and tapped a thick, gold pen on the paperwork in front of me. “As I said, Mr Ferris has been very generous. ”

  “No,” I said, not looking at the papers. “You don’t understand. ”

  Ted cleared his throat and looked down at me over the top of his glasses. “It would be unwise of you to try and press for more given the circumstances, Ms Thomas. A six-hour marriage in Las Vegas entered into while you were both heavily under the influence of alcohol? Textbook grounds for annulment. ”

  Ted’s cronies tittered and I felt my face fire up. My need to accidentally kick the prick under the table grew and grew.

  “My client will not be making another offer. ”

  “I don’t want him to make another offer,” I said, my voice rising.

  “The annulment will go ahead, Ms Thomas,” said Ted. “There is no question of that. There will be no reconciliation. ”

  “No, that’s not what I meant. ”

  Ted sighed. “We need to finalize this today, Ms Thomas. ”

  “I’m not trying to hold anything up, Ted. ”

  The other two lawyers watched me with distaste, backing up Ted with sleazy, knowing smiles. Nothing pissed me off faster than a bunch of people trying to intimidate someone. Bullies had made my life hell back in high school. And really, that’s all these people were.

  Adrian gave me a big-toothed, faux-fatherly grin. “I’m sure Ev can see how kind David’s being. There are not going to be any delays here, are there?”

  These people, they blew my mind. Speaking of which, I had to wonder where my darling husband was. Too busy banging bikini models to turn up to his own divorce, the poor guy. I pushed back my fringe, trying to figure out the right thing to say. Trying to get my anger managed. “Wait—”

  “We all just want what’s best for you given the unfortunate situation,” Adrian continued, obviously lying through his big, bright teeth.

  “Great,” I said, fingers fidgeting beneath the table. “That’s … that’s really great of you. ”

  “Please, Ms Thomas. ” Ted tapped his pen imperiously alongside a figure on the paperwork and I dutifully looked, though I didn’t want to. There were lots of zeroes. I mean, really a lot. It was insane. In two lifetimes I couldn’t earn that kind of money. David must have wanted me gone something fierce. My stomach rumbled nervously but my puking days were over. The whole scene felt horrific, like something out of a bad B-grade movie or soap opera. Girl from the wrong side of the tracks hijacks hot, rich guy and tricks him into marriage. Now all that was left was for him to use his people to chase me off into the sunset.

  Well, he won.

  “This was all just a mistake,” said Adrian. “I’m sure Ev is every bit as keen to put it behind her as David is. And with this generous financial settlement she can move forward to a bright future. ”

  “You’ll also never attempt to make contact with Mr Ferris ever again, in any manner. Any attempt on your part to do so will see you in breach of contract. ” Ted withdrew his pen, sitting back in his seat with a false smile and his hands crossed over his belly. “Is that clear?”

  “No,” I said, scrubbing my face with my hands. They actually thought I’d fall over myself to get at that money. Money I’d done nothing to earn, no matter how tempting accepting it was. Of course, they also thought I’d sell my story to the press and harass David every spare moment I got for the rest of my life. They thought I was cheap, trashy scum. “I think I can honestly say that nothing about this is clear. ”

  “Ev, please. ” Adrian gave me a disappointed look. “Let’s be reasonable. ”

  “I’ll tell you what …” I stood and retrieved the ring from my jeans pocket, throwing it onto the sea of paperwork. “You give this back to David and tell him I don’t want any of it. None of this. ” I gestured at them, the table, the papers, and the entire damn house. The lawyers looked nervously among themselves as if they’d need more paperwork before they could allow me to go waving my arms about in such a disorderly fashion.

  “Ev …”

  “I don’t want to sell his story, or stalk him, or whatever else you have buried in subclause 98. 2. I don’t want his money. ”

  Adrian coughed out a laugh. Fuck him. The phony bastard could think what he liked.

  Ted frowned at my big sparkly ring lying innocently among the mess. “Mr Ferris didn’t mention a ring. ”

  “No? Well. Why don’t you tell Mr Ferris he can shove it wherever he feels it might best fit, Ted. ”

  “Ms Thomas!” Ted stood, his puffy face outraged. “That is unnecessary. ”

  “Going to have to disagree with you there, Ted. ” I bolted out of the dining room of death and made straight for the front door as fast as my feet could carry me. Immediate escape was the only answer. If I could just get the hell away from them long enough to catch my breath I could come up with a new plan to deal with this ridiculous situation. I’d be fine.

  A brand new black Jeep pulled up as I tore down the front steps.

  The window lowered to show my guide from last night, Mal, sitting in the driver’s seat. He smirked from behind black sunglasses. “Hey there, child bride. ”

  I flipped him the finger and jogged down the long, winding driveway toward the front gates. Toward liberty and freedom and my old life, or whatever remained of it. If only I’d never gone to Vegas. If only I’d tried harder to convince Lauren that a party at home would be fine, none of this would have happened. God, I was such an idiot. Why had I drunk so much?

  “Ev. Hold up. ” Mal pulled up alongside me in his Jeep. “What’s wrong? Where’re you going?”

  I didn’t answer. I was done with all of them. That and I had the worst feeling I was about to cry, damn it. My eyes felt hot, horrible.

  “Stop. ” He pulled the brake and climbed out of the Jeep, running after me. “Hey, I’m sorry. ”

  I said nothing. I had nothing to say to any of them.

  His hand wrapped around my arm gently, but I didn’t care. I swung at him. I’d never hit anyone in my life. Apparently, I wasn’t about to start now. He dodged my flying fist with ease.

  “Whoa! Okay. ” Mal danced back a step, giving me a wary look over the top of his shades. “You’re mad. I get it. ”

  Hands on hips, he looked back toward the house. Ted and Adrian stood on the front steps, staring after us. Even from this distance the dynamic duo did not appear happy. Evil bastards.

  Mal hissed out a breath. “You’re fucking joking. He sicced that ball-sucker Ted onto you?”

  I nodded, blinking, trying to get myself under control.

  “Did you have anyone with you?” he asked.

  “No. ”

  He cocked his head. “Are you going to cry?”

  “No!”

  “Fuck. Come on. ” He held out his hand to me and I stared at in disbelief. “Ev, think. There’re photographers and shit waiting out front. Even if you get past them, where are you going to go?”

  He was right. I had to go back, get my bag. So stupid of me not to have thought of it. Just as soon as I had myself under control I’d go in and retrieve it, then get the hell out of here. I fanned my face with my hands, took a big breath. All good.

  Meanwhile, his hand hovered, waiting. There were a couple of small blisters on it, situated in the join between thumb and finger. Curious.

  “Are you the drummer?” I asked with a sniff.

  For some reason he cracked up laughing, almost doubling over, clutching at his belly. Maybe he was on drugs or something. Or maybe he was just one more lunatic in this gigantic asylum. Batman would have had a hard time keeping this place in check.

  “What is your problem?” I asked, taking a step away from him. Just in case.

  His snazzy sunglasses fell off, clattering on the asphalt. He swiped them up and shoved them back on his face. “Nothing. N
othing at all. Let’s get out of here. I’ve got a house at the beach. We’ll hide out there. Come on, it’ll be fun. ”

  I hesitated, giving the jerks on the front steps a lethal look. “Why would you help me?”

  “Because you’re worth helping. ”

  “Oh, really? Why would you think that?”

  “You wouldn’t like my answer. ”

  “I haven’t liked a single answer I’ve had all morning, why stop now?”

  He smiled. “Fair enough. I’m David’s oldest friend. We’ve gotten drunk and out of control more times than I can remember. He’s had girls angling to snare him for years, even before we had money. He never was the slightest bit interested in marriage. It was never even on his radar before. So the fact that he married you, well, that suggests to me you’re worth helping. Come on, Ev. Stop worrying. ”

  Easy for him to say, his life hadn’t been skewered by a rock star.

  “I need to get my stuff. ”

  “And get cornered by them? Worry about it later. ” He held his hand out, fingers beckoning for mine. “Let’s get out of here. ”

  I put my hand in his and we went.

  CHAPTER SIX

  “So, hang on, this song isn’t about his dog dying or something?”

  “You’re not funny,” I laughed.

  “I so am. ” Mal sniggered at the opposite end of the couch as Tim McGraw let rip about his kind of rain on the flat screen TV taking up the opposite wall. “Why do they all wear such big hats, do you think? I have a theory. ”

  “Shush. ”

  The way these people lived blew my tiny little mind. Mal, short for Malcolm, lived in a place at the beach that was mostly a three-story architectural feat of steel and glass. It was amazing. Not ridiculously huge like the place in the hills, but awe-inspiring just the same. My Dad would have been in raptures over the minimalism of it, the cleanliness of the lines or some such. I just appreciated having a friend in my time of need.
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