Copyright © 2013 by L.A. Bressett

All rights reserved.

Tick.

Tick.

Tick.

Is it bad that the sound of my watch pressed against my ear captures my attention more so than my own fiancé?

...

Yeah, that's what I thought.

I drag my gaze up from my almost untouched sea bass on some ridiculously expensive piece of china and stare at him while he continues to talk. I wish I could hear the words coming out of his mouth, instead I feel like I've stepped into a Charlie Brown movie. The faint ticking of my new, designer watch helps to drown out some of the whomp whomps coming from his side of the table. I sigh heavily as I flick around some sort of stringy green thing on top of my dinner. I just don't get fancy restaurants and all the weird frilly mess they throw on top of your food.

"Charlotte? Charlotte? Did you hear me?" his melodic voice finally breaks through my wall and my head snaps up.

"Sorry, Hun. What did you say?" I struggle to smile, cringing at the sound of my full name leaving his lips, while tucking a piece of my dark, auburn hair neatly behind my ear.

I watch as he runs a hand through his perfectly styled sandy brown hair, his dark blue eyes doing little to cover the fact that I have frustrated him in some fashion. That's nothing new, although it wasn't his fault. I wasn't sure whose fault it was really. I glance over at my fiancé, taking a moment to admire his strong masculine features. Eyeing his handsome, clean shaven jaw line, impossibly full lips, perfect Greek God bone structure and nose, faintly tanned skin, and his clean cut dress shirt pressed perfectly to align with his perfect features. After five years together, he was still just as perfect as the day we met.

Sickeningly perfect.

The first time I ever laid eyes on Liam Kelley, I was a freshman in college and he was a junior. I should have known then that he was too good for me, he was studying medicine and I was still undecided. That fateful morning I woke up late, and in an attempt to make my Lit class on time, I took off from my dorm, still wearing my ratty pajamas. Being in such a rush as I approached the lecture hall, I failed to realize that the group in front of me let the very large, very heavy door go behind them, and I ran face first into it, falling back onto my ass in front of God and everyone. Just as I began to hyperventilate, the most beautiful man I had ever seen kneeled down beside me and placed his hand on my shoulder.

"Are you alright? That was such a jerk move, not holding the door open for you like that," he says gently, his eyes looking me over in a way no one of the male species ever had before. Mainly because growing up, my freckles, braces, glasses, and fat ass kept them all at bay. However things changed, and by the time I arrived on campus, I wasn't the chubby nerd I used to be, but this was the first boy to ever really see me. My heart skipped a beat as his deep blue eyes met my hazel ones; I blushed furiously from my cheeks to my toes.

"I'm Liam," he said.

"Charlotte," I managed to reply.

He gave me a mischievous grin, "Nice Pj's."

Liam extended his hand to me and it took me a moment to realize he wasn't going to smack my books out of my arms or push my head into a locker. He was offering me help. He had never known the Charlotte Reed that used to skip school to hide out in her room, watch Saved by the Bell reruns, and eat Cheetos until her fingers were permanently orange. Hesitantly, I reached up with a nervous, shaky hand and took his. The moment his fingers wrapped around mine and he lifted me to my feet with a cute grin, I knew I was a goner...

"I was just reminding you that my family is flying in this weekend. I wanted to make sure that you had remembered to request the time off," he says, casually taking a bite of his dinner.

Nodding, I reach out and take a huge sip of wine from my glass, my engagement ring clinking against the cup, catching my eye instantly. I stare at the huge, princess cut rock and the boulder in my stomach seems to grow larger.

"Of course, Liam. I made sure to do that weeks ago. Are we still planning on having the party Saturday night, or did we decide on changing it to Sunday in case they were too tired after their flight," I ask quickly, detouring my attention off of the heavy weight on my hand.

His lips lift just slightly, enough to show off his straight, white teeth. Those were perfect too.

"I'm glad you asked or I would have forgotten to tell you! Sunday night. I already know my mom will be ready to crash by the time they arrive. Flying from D.C. to Denver isn't that big of a deal, but knowing her," he rolls his eyes and lets out a soft chuckle. His face turns serious and he reaches across the table and takes my hand in his.

"I'm sorry your mother wou- couldn't make it. We still have plenty of time before the wedding. I'm sure she will come around."

My heart swells at the sound of his voice and the guilt that washes over me is almost overwhelming. I shouldn't be sitting here like some sort of unloving girlfriend. Uh, fiancé.

I force a stiff, thin lined smile and squeeze his hand back. Liam has given me more love in the last five years together than I could have ever dreamed of. It's not his fault that my mother doesn't want to come to our engagement party. It's not that she doesn't approve of us, she just doesn't say much. She doesn't go out much. I don't hold it against her, not when I know what this weekend is.

My body tenses instantly at the thoughts crossing through my mind, and I stand up abruptly, knocking my legs loudly into the table causing all of the pretty china to clink and clank.

"Can we get out of here? I'm kind of ready to go home," I say, aiming for coy but my voice obviously unsteady.

Arching a brow up at me, he frowns.

"Everything ok?"

I force yet another smile, knowing that there's only one thing that is going to end this conversation, "Of course, Sweetie. I'm just ready to get you home."

A grin appears and I know he's ready to leave too.

"Check, please."

The ride home goes as it usually does. We walk hand in hand, he stops, opens the door for me and then we ride back to our apartment listening to some classical music.

I sigh. I feel like I'm back at the dinner table again.

Tick.

Tick.

Tick.

I don't want to feel this way. We weren't always like this. The first two years were full of nothing but flirting, kissing, dirty texting, and everything in between. Everything between us now, well it just feels robotic. Even the proposal seemed methodic, expected. Liam was sweet, loving, but the passion and love that I knew should have been there, I just didn't see it. I love this man with all of my heart, I know I do. So why is it that I feel as though we both have strings attached to us, playing us into rolls that don't feel natural? I lean my head against the cool glass of the car and mentally smack myself.

"You have a sexy fiancé who loves you, provides for you, and you sit here acting as though it's not enough. No one else ever gave you the time of day until he came along. You should be grateful that you found a man like Liam. You could have been living out your days with thirty cats and stale Cheetos to love you instead of an incredible man like him," I chastise myself, over and over again.

We arrive home and he, as usual, opens the door for me and soon we are inside and in our room. He starts to undress himself, not paying a single bit of attention to me as I slowly peel away my clothes, hoping, praying that the spark that used to be there will fire up and he will pounce on me.

He doesn't.

I stand there in nothing but my black lace panties and high heels and wait for him to see me, to really see me. I watch as he folds his slacks and places them in his hamper and then finally he turns to me. Sinking my teeth into my bottom lip, I look up at him through my long lashes as he slowly walks over to me.

"He's going to kiss your cheek, then your neck. He will tell you that you're beautiful before pulling you to the bed and start kissing you. You'll make love and then he will be fast asleep before you even realize that you were a part of it," a small, unwanted voice calls out to me from the dark corners of my mind. I shake it off as I feel his lips against my cheek.

Then Liam begins to kiss my neck as he whispers about how beautiful I look tonight.

The next thing I know, I'm looking up into Liam's eyes as he pants, his hands grasping the sheets beside my head. He presses his damp forehead against mine and kisses me quickly before pulling out of me and rolling over.

"I love you, Charlotte," he says raggedly, pulling the blanket up over his body. I clutch the sheet and cover myself with it as I roll over to face the opposite way.

"Love you too," I whisper.

~*~*~*~*o~*~*~*~*~

"Put that thing away! It's girl's night remember?" Sarah Matthews says, snatching my cell out of my hands and throwing it into her purse.

I wrinkle my brow at her, "Oh come on! I was only texting Liam to remind him that I was out with you tonight and that I'd be crashing at your place."

She flashes me a bright smile and flips her caramel colored hair over her shoulder. I met her my sophomore year of college and we'd been friends ever since. All it took was a mutual hate for girls that used the word 'like' after every other word and bam. Insta-best friends for life.

"That is the perk of living so close to the night life you know. All the bars and clubs at my fingertips...and I don't have to pay for a cab." She raises her hand and calls over a waiter, ordering another round of drinks.

I stare around the bar and sigh. Another repeat, just like last night. Liam always takes me to the same boring places, just like Sarah and I always go here for drinks.

"What's bugging you, woman? You're acting awfully gloomy lately. Especially for a lady carrying around an ice rink on her finger."

I look up into her pretty blue eyes and shrug.

"I don't know Sarah. Aren't you bored with this place? Why do we always come here?"

My friend gives me a confused look as the waiter sets our drinks down.

"Because it's girl's night and this is where we always go. I'm never bored when I'm with you, so where we are doesn't really matter. Why, did you want to go somewhere else?"

Looking down at my rum and coke, the hum of the droll chit chat around us is starting to suffocate me. I look up at her and nod.

"Yeah, do you mind? I just really need a change of scenery," I say, hoping she doesn't press me for anything more.

She raises her glass and smirks, "Alrighty then, a toast! To finishing up this perfectly good liquor before we head out on our little adventure."

For the first time in ages, I genuinely smile as I lift my glass to hers.

~*~*~*~*~o~*~*~*~

"This was your bestest idea EVER!" Sarah slurs, throwing her arm around my shoulders as she downs the fourth shot she's been bought since we walked into this bar. I laugh and throw back my third. The room is starting to get fuzzy, but it's a good feeling. One I haven't felt in so long. The music in this place is loud, lights pulsing, and bodies dancing. I close my eyes and start to sway to the music.

I needed this. More than I care to admit.

"If that blonde sends me another drink, I am taking him home Char," Sarah tries to whisper in my ear, but instead shouts. I wince and rub my ear as she looks back down the bar and waves. I shake my head, as the bartender approaches us for what seems like the millionth time tonight.

"Hello again, ladies. The gentleman at the end of the bar asked me to make you guys another round," he says, placing two more shots down in front of us of something blue and white.

Sarah smiles wider than a Cheshire cat, fluffing her hair up, she grabs the shot, winks at the guy at the end of the bar and drinks it.

"Alright Hun, if I don't come back, well, you have a key to my place, just let yourself in."

Before I can say a word she's off, like a tiger after her prey. So much for ladies' night. Instead of leaving, I drink my shot and let the alcohol flow through me, boosting up my confidence like only a crap ton of liquor can. Soon after, I find myself on the dance floor, getting my groove on.

My body is so hot and tingly from all the alcohol that I almost don't realize that I have a pair of large hands sliding down my arms until they grazed the sides of my breasts and rest just at the swell of my hips. Maybe if I hadn't been drinking so much, an alarm would have sounded.

"NOT YOUR FIANCE! STEP AWAY FROM THE TOUCHY FEELY MAN!" Instead I find myself grabbing the hands against me and leaning into the person attached to them, hazily enjoying being touched. When a rather large, hard body presses against mine, the realization that it isn't just hands has me turning around rather quickly. The sight before me nearly steals the breath right out of my lungs.

Underneath a head full of long, shoulder length golden brown hair, standing at a good six plus feet tall, was a man to kick all other men in the face. His skin was a golden brown, as if his entire job in the world was to lay on a beach somewhere and soak up the sun. Next to my pale, freckled skin, I felt almost clear. The next thing to capture my attention were his eyes. They weren't brown like brown should be, they were almost as golden as his hair... It was like staring into the sun. There was something so familiar about him, but I was too distracted, especially when his tongue slipped out briefly, running across his full, pink lips. The side of his mouth turned up in a way that made my knees buckle. Ever since I'd laid eyes on Liam, I never really saw any other guy, never had a reason to look. Suddenly, it was as if I'd been blind my whole life and this man was showing me the world. He reached up and ran his hand down the front of his half unbuttoned dress shirt, drawing my eyes to his chest. Not a stitch of hair on him. Have mercy.

"Care to dance?" the timbre of his deep vocals washes over me, causing the heat under my skin to rise even more.

I don't remember saying yes, I just remember being pressed against the hard muscles of his body and rocking back and forth to the beat of the music, my heart racing like it had never done before. His hands roam my body, leaving it a blaze everywhere he touched. I couldn't figure out what had gotten into me.

"Probably the multiple shots you did," I think sarcastically.

His hand trails down my arm until it reaches my hand, and he does the same thing with the other one, raising both up and bringing them around his neck. He pauses, bringing one hand back down. My rock of an engagement ring shining like a beacon between the two of us.

"He's a very lucky guy," the guy leans in and murmurs. I'd be lying if I said the way his hair fell against my skin didn't give me chills, because God help me, it did.

I look up into his rich caramel eyes and shrug. He forehead wrinkles and he smiles.

"What? He's not lucky?"

I laugh, "Probably not so much. I'm not sure we even see one another –even when we're staring right at each other anymore."

It wasn't meant to slip out that way, especially not to a complete stranger, but my filter was definitely on vacation.

I think the guy is going to step away and run for the hills, but instead he nods and brings my hands back up around his neck. His hands fall very close to my backside as he pulls me in close to his body again.

"How anyone could take their eyes off of you is a mystery to me," he says huskily, making sure to catch my eyes when he says it.

He leans his forehead against mine, "Do you know what a woman like you needs?"

I swallow and shake my head. He grins wickedly.

"A woman like you doesn't need giant diamonds," he breathes, "A woman like you needs fire. Passion. Someone to worship your body, to show you pleasure so incredible that you would never want to leave his bed."

I know I'm breathing heavily, but I don't care.

"All this from a dance?" I choke out. He laughs so loud that it rumbles right through me.

"I'm Logan," he says, the roughness of his voice doing things to my southern region that it shouldn't be.

"Charlotte."

We dance a little longer, everyone moment passing is another moment that I let myself get too close to him, but everything about him is intoxicating. The scruff on his jaw line, the incredible way he smells like a tropical island, and the way his hands feel against my skin are just adding up to disaster. Even drunk and I feel the guilt.

After spinning around and pressing the curves of my backside to his front, I can feel how turned on Logan is getting. I bite onto my lips so hard that I might draw blood and close my eyes.

I sway my hips, knowing full and well that I shouldn't and the low growl that comes out of Logan's throat goes straight to my core. He grabs me and spins me around and crushes his lips to mine. His tongue is far from gentle as it slips its way into my mouth, caressing mine. My brain screams WRONG! STOP! But my body is so alive for the first time in so long that I'm not sure I can stop. Breaking himself away he looks down at me, his eyes blazing and grabs my hand, yanking me towards the back of the club. He pulls me into a dark hallway and pushes me against the wall, holding my arms above my head he leans in again and kisses me roughly.

I'm going to hell. I am an awful person. He starts to kiss his way down my jaw and I let out a loud moan. I haven't been kissed there in ages. Christ, it feels so good.

"You need a real man, Char," he growls against my nape, grazing his teeth against the sensitive skin. I can imagine this man saying all kinds of dirty, wicked things to me and I can feel the heat between my legs growing, until the weight of the moment slams into me like a freight train. Liam doesn't talk dirty to me.

Liam.

Liam is at home asleep in our bed. Our bed. I shake my head and pull my wrists free of his hands. I can't feel this good about doing something so wrong. I'll burn in hell!

"I'm, God, I'm sorry. I just- I can't," I say, panting as I struggle to straighten out my dark green halter dress. God, I want to though.

Instead of the angry cock tease response I expect to get, he just leans back down, forcing me back against the wall as his face comes within inches of mine.

"I get it. Look, I'm staying at the Easton, room 452 if you change your mind."

I raise an eyebrow at this guy's nerve, but before I can anything else his lips brush against my cheek as he leans in to whisper against my ear.

"When you're ready for a night with a real man, I'll be waiting. I'd never take my eyes off of you, Charlotte."

And with that he pulls back and walks off.

~*~*~*~o~*~*~*~

"Good morning, sunshine," Liam says, opening the curtains of our apartment.

I grumble and pull the pillow over top of my head. Holy Hangover Batman.

"TURN OFF THE SUN," I mumble, half seeing a flash of those caramel eyes again.

Liam chuckles as he sits on the side of the bed and pats my back.

"Long night huh? I was surprised when you crawled into bed last night."

I don't respond I just peek up at his face and wince. He just laughs.

"Advil and water are beside you. I'd love to have let you sleep in, but my family got in early and they got here about 15 minutes ago hoping we could all go out to breakfast."

I sat up so fast that the room starts to spin. Just my luck! Hung over and meeting my in laws for, oh, only the third time. Just lovely.

Liam steadies me as we stand up.

"I set you out some clothes, if you'll just come on out when you're ready, Sweetie." I grimace as he leaves and I blindly search for the medicine. After taking way too long to get myself dressed and semi presentable, I finally walk out into our kitchen.

"Charlotte! It's so good to see you!" Julia Kelley says with a smile as she barrels at me, locking me into a huge hug. I smile and hug her back.

"Good to see you too, Julia." Liam looks so much like his mother. Same eyes and hair color. She steps back and looks at me and then the ring and I swear she starts to tear up.

"Good morning, Charlotte," booms a deep voice from the breakfast bar. I look up to see Liam's father waving at me. He's not much for the social stuff. I smile back.

"Morning, Mr. Kelley." I walk over to Liam and he kisses me on the head. I sigh and rest my head on his shoulder. I was such an idiot last night.

Liam and his mother start talking about restaurants for breakfast and I hear the toilet flush. I look over my shoulder, completely confused.

"Oh that's just my brother, sweetheart," Liam pipes up.

"I didn't think he was going to make it," I say. After five years together, I knew very little about Liam's twin brother except for the fact that he quit college to go travel Europe and had been overseas ever since. I was surprised that he would be here for our engagement party.

I lift up my glass of orange juice and take a sip and as if God himself chose to strike lightning in my apartment, out from my hallway appears Mr. Sunshine himself. Wearing a t-shirt and worn out jeans, looking as if he's just woken up himself, he stops dead in his tracks as soon as our eyes meet.

"Finally! Logan, I'd like you to meet your brother's fiancé. Charlotte, this is Liam's brother, Logan," Julia says proudly.

Without missing a beat, a devilish smile on Logan's face appears and he walks across the room and takes my hand and kisses it.

"The pleasure's all mine."