Material can be offensive to some.

Spin off to my Lexi series. While reading it isn't really required, it would be best if you did.


Chapter 1

Ari

March 30, 2015

Monday

Caleb Carlisle, thirty years old, Mass Communications major from Yale, founder of Runway Models. What's not to like? A lot actually. I'm a piece of shit who cares about nothing else but himself.

The term girlfriend means nothing to me, I live my life according to my rules and no one else's. I don't stick my nose where it doesn't belong, I handle my business and I get shit done. It's made me a very wealthy man so far, I can't complain. I control the major part of the modeling circuit out her in LA and I have been bathing in women ever since I can remember.

My life runs on autopilot since everything always seems to stay the same. Work, fuck, work, fuck…the cycle is endless. Work is out of the way for today, so now I'm at my regular spot at Club21, sitting in my regular section, covered in the regular mob of models, waiting for my next fuck. Hidden under a mountain of women and I still can't seem to get too excited about anything.

"…and then that's why I came out here to LA. I want to be a serious model." Says the girl with no name.

"Great. Ready to go?" I pushed the models off my lap and stood to my feet.

The girls scoffed, brushing off the bottom of their now dirtied dresses, and the girl I was talking to sat staring up at me in awe.

"M-me?" she squeaked.

"If you want, I'm not forcing you. But, I'm leaving." I smirked.

I turned to head for the door and she was at my heel, skipping to keep up with me. Once I opened the doors to the club we were blinded by the flashes of the fucking paparazzi.

"Caleb! Who is it going to be tonight?

The girl clutched my arm with a smile, whoring herself out to the public.

"Who is she? What's her name?"

I freed my arm from her hands and tipped the valet when he pulled up with my car. She got her own door and slipped into the passenger seat and I got in on the driver's side without a word to the paps.

The girl leaned over to my side of the car as I pulled away from the curb and started attacking my pants. She hastily undid the zipper and button, taking me into her hands and worked her way up my shaft. The feeling of her trailing kisses up my neck was cringe-worthy; I wasn't big on women's efforts to kiss me, it was revolting.

I floored the gas pedal and picked up the speed, the faster I got there the less of this shit I would have to take. Her lips desperately hovered over my face and she was getting dangerously close to my mouth—I was suffocating. On a quick reaction, I reached up, fisting my hand in her hair and shoved her down until I was buried throat deep into her mouth.

She moaned deeply, sending the vibrations straight through me, and I leaned my head back on a soft groan. I loosened my hands from her hair and gripped both hands on the wheel as I weaved through traffic. We were nearing my house when I shot a text to Andrew. I punched in the gate code and drove the path leading up to my house.

She rushed to finish until I successfully unloaded into her mouth. I adjusted myself before opening my door to step out and she did the same before walking around to my side of the car. Once I completely stepped out she jumped into my arms and wrapped her legs around my waist.

Jesus!

I walked into the house with the clingy monkey in my arms and she continued her efforts on attacking my mouth with her fake lips and I felt the familiar feeling of suffocation creeping up on me. Unable to take anymore, I loosened my hold on her, dropping her to her feet and she gasped—almost falling flat on her ass.

"My name is…"

"It doesn't matter." I reached into my pocket for a condom and ripped the foil between my teeth. In one swift movement, I rolled the condom on with one hand and turned her around with the other, bending her over my couch. I never took anyone into my room, it was sacred ground. The last thing I wanted was for my bed to smell like the women who clearly didn't matter.

Once the condom was secure, I took the hem of her dress in both hands, and bunched it over her waist. She tried turning over to look at me, but I acted quicker and shoved into her. I preferred not to look at the women I fucked, it was easier that way. The look in their eyes when they came always made me uncomfortable, and they got way too clingy afterwards.

Her screams of pleasure were like nails on a chalkboard and it was almost bad enough to kill my buzz. I powered forward and fucked her harder into the couch, sending her screaming again and I immediately regretted my decision. Gripping onto her waist and praying to God that I somehow finish in the next few seconds, I continued my harsh drives and felt myself nearing.

"Oh, God! Baby!" she purred.

God, shut up!

I clapped my hand over her mouth and picked up the pace. Her screams were muffled by my hand and I found it an improvement from before. It was what I needed to help me get there faster and I found my half satisfied release.

She stayed in the same position, bent at the waist and panting, using the couch as her support to keep her from falling on her face.

I reached up to loosen my tie before yanking it from my collar and undid the buttons on my shirt, peeling it off my back. She turned to look at me and straightened herself up before walking over to where I stood, sliding her hand over my naked chest.

"That was…"

I grabbed her hands and turned her around to face the door.

"Thank you, I had fun." I lied, walking her to the door, and swung it wide open. "Andrew will take you home." I held my hand out, pointing toward Black Range Rover.

"But…"

I slammed the door and bolted the lock.


March 31, 2015

Tuesday

"Hey, Bethany." I winked before stepping out of the elevator and onto our floor.

"Mr. Carlisle." She smiled, rolling her eyes.

She was one of the very few women who could put up with my shameless flirting without blowing it completely out of proportion. She has been an executive assistant to me and Liz for the past two years, and a damn good one at that.

I headed down the hall, toward my office when I heard Liz call me from her door.

"Caleb, dear?"

"Yea?" I turned around to face in her direction.

"Will you come here for a moment?" she waved me over.

"Yea, sure." I walked into her office and leaned against the door frame. "Sup, Durev?" I winked over at Lena.

"UGH!" she rolled her eyes. "Don't do that, it grosses me out, Caleb."

"So, anyways," Liz piped up, drawing my attention back to her. "I called you in here to discuss this Lexi situation."

"What Lexi situation?"

"We need to find a replacement."

I nodded. "So, have HR send a bunch of files up. This town bleeds models, you could find one at the drop of a hat, Liz. Don't worry about it."

"The press is on our ass about a replacement. We need to find one quick, Caleb." Lena snapped.

"And we will." I shifted my gaze back to her and my eyes hardened at the insult. "This is what I do, Lena. You will have your replacement, don't worry."

"That's all I wanted to hear." She turned back around in her chair.

"Is that all?"

"That is all, dear." Liz nodded.


After work I headed back to Club21 and was immediately greeted by a group of the models in my VIP corner.

"Caleb, Oh my God…"

"Caleb, I've been waiting…"

"Caleb, where have you been?"

"Caleb, how was your day?"

I sat down and the waitress brought over my usual drink order when two girls came over to share a seat on my lap. My phone started to ring and I pulled it from my pocket to look down at the screen. Natasha.

I sighed in frustration and accepted the call.

"What?!" I snapped.

"Hey, baby, where are you?"

"What the fuck do you care? I told you to stop calling me."

"I miss you." she purred.

Another girl came up and sat next to me. She was decent in the face, but her body looked way better. She acted boldly, grabbing hold of my face, and kissed me.

"That's great. Goodbye, Natasha." I hung up and made an exception with this girl and let her kiss me. I was too distracted to care anyways.

She pulled back and looked up into my eyes. "Mmm…" she hummed.

"Want to get out of here?" I pushed the models off my lap and stood to my feet.

"Yes, please." She got up after me.

"Where do you live?"

I'd prefer a bed with this one and I wasn't about to put her in mine.

I started making my way to the doors of the club as she began to call her address out to me. She didn't live too far from here. Perfect.


April 1, 2015

Wednesday

The girls were complaining when I stood to leave with one of their friends. I laughed lightly and tapped a finger against my chin, scanning the group of ladies that sat before me.

"Alright ladies, in honor of hump day, I will take one more." I scanned the group again. "You," I pointed at the cute little Asian girl. "Come with me."

She stood and the girls whined in protest again.

"Sorry ladies, next time." I winked before walking toward the doors of the club with the two girls trailing close behind me.

Guys looked on with envy, girls pouted openly. I was living every bachelor's dream…

So, why did I feel so empty inside?


April 2, 2015

Thursday

I washed my hands and went to pull the handle for the door when it burst open. In came Kylie, pushing me into the nearest stall.

"Kylie, what the fuck?"

"I've never done it in public. Be my first?" she looked up at me.

I laughed at the way she worded her sentence, I was far from being her first anything. This girl had to be one of the easiest ones I've slept with, hands down.

"Fine."

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a condom, tearing the foil between my teeth.

A quick fuck later, I walked back out into the club and was greeted back with open arms of many. I drank heavier than I normally did. Tomorrow was Friday, my day should be easy enough.

I was riding out a nice buzz when a girl came to sit on my lap. How do I begin to treat women with respect when they just keep falling from the sky and land into my lap?

"Hi." She smiled down at me.

"Hello." I leaned my head back against the seat with a smile.

"My name is blah blah." Was what I heard.

"Nice to meet you." I didn't bother asking her to repeat it.

"Word around the club is you're an agent?" she asked.

"Used to be."

I told Liz I would step back from work as an agent for a while to concentrate on publicity work surrounding the company. Lexi dropping out as the face of our brand had a lot of attention surrounding us and they needed my help.

"Well, I'm a model." She stated with a hint of hope.

"Shocking." I deadpanned.

She started going on about her life story and how she ended up here and I heard zero words to that story.

"Great. Want to get out of here?" I picked up my cup and downed the last of it before standing.

She moved in sync with me unlike the other girls did, and avoided the fall on her ass.

"Sure!" she chirped.

"Wonderful, let's go." I walked toward the doors.


"Where are we going, mommy?"

"You're going to stay with Aunt Tammy for a while." She shoved my clothes into an overnight bag.

"But, why? I want to stay here with you."

"Well, you can't! I don't want you here anymore, you're the reason he left!" she hissed, eyeing me in disgust. "You have ruined my life!"

I have no idea what these words mean, but she spoke them with such hate. What did I do? How have I ruined her life?

She gripped down hard around my arm and jerked me out the front door, dragging me along with her to the car.

I could hear mommy arguing with Aunt Tammy about me staying here. I don't want to stay here…I want to go home.

"Please, Tammy. I can't look at him anymore!" my mother came storming out of the bedroom and took one last look at me. She had the same look she had before in her eyes.

"You are his mother, Kara! How could you?!"

"He's no son of mine." She turned around and swung the front door open before stepping out.

"Mommy!" I ran after her.

"Caleb, sweetheart, come back!" Aunt Tammy held onto me, hugging me from behind.

"I want to go with Mommy!" I cried as I watched her car grow smaller and smaller.

"I know, honey. She will be back." She ran her hands through my hair, offering comfort. I turned around and buried my face into her shoulder, crying and praying she would come back.

She never did.


April 3, 2015

Friday

My eyes snapped open to the sound of the phone ringing and the harsh light burned my eyes.

Ah, FUCK!

I quickly shut them again and reached up, blindly searching for the phone on the bedside table.

"Hello?" I answered, my voice came out muffled by the pillow.

"Caleb, we're meeting with Lexi's replacement today. I need you to get down here now." Liz said from the other line.

"What? I never OK'd anything." I shot up into a sitting position and fell back against the pillows, immediately regretting my decision in doing so.

"Which is why we need you to get down here now. So you can OK it." She explained impatiently.

"I'll be right there." I hung up the phone and shot up to my feet, lightly smacking my face awake.

I walked out of the shower, wrapping the towel around my waist and headed to the closet to pick out a fresh suit.

I got fully dressed in my all black Armani, leaving it open at the collar and headed out of the room, toward the kitchen. My thermos filled with coffee was waiting for me and I grabbed it, gratefully raising it in the air to greet Lindsey.

"Thank you, Lindsey." I nodded, heading for the front door.

"Caleb, dear, will you be home for dinner?"

"Don't worry about me, Lindsey, I will figure something out. I'm not sure about my plans just yet." I answered without looking back.

I never knew what my plans were ahead of time. They always changed depending on the women I met that day. I walked out and quickly got into my white BMW 750Li, peeling out of the driveway and onto the street.

The doors opened to the 20th floor of the Runway building and I stepped out of the elevator and greeted Bethany with a wink. "Morning, where's Liz?"

"She's in conference room 1 waiting for you, Mr. Carlisle." She informed with a soft smile.

"Perfect, thank you, Bethany." I walked around the desk and headed toward conference room 1, entering with a light knock on the door.

"Caleb, darling!" Liz beamed up at me from her seat.

"Morning, Liz." I leaned over, greeting her with a kiss on the cheek. "Durev." I nodded with a smile. I unbuttoned my jacket and took a seat in between the two ladies. "Who are we looking at?" I looked at the profiles sprawled out across the table. "Anyone we know? How much experience? What agency?" I flipped through the files.

"We looked at a handful of different girls, but we are just in love with this girl." Lena tossed a profile my way. "Check her out, she is twenty-two years old, finished her term with Marvel Models, and is now looking for new representation. She would be perfect for your agency! You like money, she's going to make you rich." Lena deadpanned.

I looked down at the photo stapled on top.

That can't be right.

"Who is this? What's her name?" I asked.

"Arianna Andrews. Beautiful, isn't she?"

So, it is her.

I looked back down at the familiar blue eyes staring back at me from the photo. Her brother and I were best friends back in college, but we fell out of touch when I moved out here to LA. She was his kid sister.

She's modeling now?

Her ash brown hair hung low past her back, her lips—a perfect pouty plump and her body…

"Caleb, are you ok?"

I cleared my throat. "I'm sorry, what?"

"You zoned out, what happened?" Liz asked, her brows furrowing together.

"I went to school with her brother." I said, staring back down at the picture.

"Oh?" Liz raised her eyebrows.

"Good! It's always easier to work with people you know. I mean, your agency will be representing her once she signs, so that's good, right?" Lena looked up with a smile.

Not exactly.

"Sure." I answered, unsure of my own answer. "Yea, get her down here, I want her." I realized how that must have sounded and started to panic. "—for the line—for Lush—for the company." I stammered.

Liz and Lena stared at me, unblinking.

"The fuck, Carlisle? Are you having some sort of seizure? What's your problem?" Lena's brows drew in confusion and she eyed me like I was insane.

"I'm fine, Durev!" I snapped. "When is she due here?"

"Any minute now," Liz looked down at her watch. A knock came from the door and my eyes shot up, widening in alarm. "There she is now!" She smiled before getting up from her chair.

I ran a hand through my hair, smoothing it over and then ran another hand over my tie…

But, I wasn't wearing a tie.

What the fuck is wrong with me?

I tried steadying my nerves and took a deep breath before Liz opened the door to let her in. Lena and I stood to our feet to greet our new client. My heart skipped when I watched her walk in through the door. She was dressed casually in a cropped, white shirt that hung off her shoulders, with a pair of bright turquoise colored pants.

She was beautiful, certainly not a kid anymore. She looked nothing like she did in her pictures.

She looked over at me with a smile, recognizing who I was right away.

"It's very nice to meet you, Mrs. Presley, Ms. Durev. I'm Arianna." She extended her hand to the both of them with a bright smile.

"Please call me Lena."

"And me, Liz." They each corrected her.

She smiled nodding and looked back over to me again.

"Caleb, it's so nice to see you again." She greeted sweetly.

I nodded with a small smile, since it was all I could manage.

"Darling, you look different from your pictures. Blonde suits you!" Liz ran her fingers through Ari's hair.

"Thank you so much!" she laughed softly. "I dyed it a while back since I thought I looked too young with the brown hair." She bit her lip, smiling shyly.

My God…

"Well you look gorgeous!" Lena gushed.

Agreed

"Please, have a seat." Liz directed toward the chair across from me.

I sat back down, watching Ari take her seat.

Little Ari is a model…

Why couldn't I seem to register this? My brows creased together and I stared across the table at her. She looked up to find me intensely staring and frowned. She ran a hand through her hair uncomfortably and shifted her attention back to Liz and Lena.

"Ok, so here's the thing, Arianna. We want to try a test run with you today. If we like what we see, we will offer you a year's contract to start." She nodded, quietly listening to Liz's proposal. "If you work out and you end up liking it here, we will talk about renewing at the end of your contract term. Does that sound ok?" Liz asked.

Ari nodded with an eager smile. "Sounds perfect!"

"Great! Let's get started with your test run!" Lena said rubbing her hands together excitedly.

They all stood to their feet and I quickly followed. We headed back down to the 10th floor to fit her for the lingerie pieces, swimsuit and clothing.

"We're going to do some test shots with you in these too, Arianna." Lena turned to face her, pressing some of the props against her.

"Oh wow, I've seen these in your photos of Lexi Anderson! I always wondered what it would be like to wear one!" She smiled widely looking back at the wings Lena had pressed against her back.

"Let's start with this one, Arianna. I promise we'll come back to the wings." Lena chuckled. She handed her a black lace piece, completed with garter and stockings.

My phone started ringing and I looked down to see it was a business call I had to take. I quietly excused myself and headed into a quieter corner to take the call.

They had already started once I got back; I froze in my tracks when I saw Arianna sprawled out on top of the bed staged in the center of the room, tangled in the white sheets. I swallowed past the dry lump in my throat and Liz made her way over to me.

"She is absolutely stunning! Perfect as Lexi's replacement, don't you think?!" she nudged me.

I cleared my throat before attempting to say anything, "Yes." I answered. "What does Lena think?" I asked trying to remain nonchalant, but I couldn't seem to be able to take my eyes off of Ari.

"She's in love, absolutely over the moon in love." Liz beamed. "So what do you think? Is she worth signing?" she looked up at me.

"Most definitely," I answered without thinking. "She will do well here." I filled in, still attempting to remain aloof.

"Uh huh," Liz narrowed her eyes at me, walking away without another word. "Not this one, Caleb." She said turning back around to eye me down.

What is that supposed to mean?

"Ok, let's move on to the wings!" Stefan, the photographer, shouted over the music.

Lena's assistant came running over with the wings and Ari stood from the bed, smiling and jumping in excitement.

"Oh my Gosh, I'm so excited!" Ari giggled, clapping her hands together.

I smiled watching her face the entire time they were strapping the wings onto her back, she looked like a little girl on Christmas morning.

So cute.

"Beautiful, Arianna!" Stefan shouted from behind the camera.

She was really in her element; she moved with grace, her expressions—captivating, each shot captured—flawless. Her eyes were hauntingly beautiful, burning straight through the lens; Stefan, was completely under her spell.

Much like I am now.

"I've seen enough, have you?" I turned to Lena and Liz. They both nodded and I signaled the assistants to cut the music. "Stefan, thank you. That's enough." I turned to face Ari and opened my mouth to speak to her for the first time today. "Arianna, you're in. Get dressed and meet us in the same conference room as before. We will have your contract ready."

I turned, exhaling deeply, and headed for the elevators.

I don't know what the hell that was, but that can't happen again.

I rapidly flipped through the contract, reading front to back—back to front, making sure all the details were correct and that I hadn't left anything out. My jaw tensed together, clenching tightly shut while I flipped and flipped again, trying to find a flaw.

I couldn't get the image of her out of my mind and it was starting to annoy; the way her pale blue eyes would glow, how her plump pink mouth would part seductively in each shot and how her body would sway to the sound of the music…

"Caleb! Hello?" Liz waved her hand in front of my face.

I shook my head and looked up. "Yes?"

"Arianna is here, is the contract ready?" Liz asked with a curious expression written on her face.

"Yes, it's ready." I set it down in front of her.

Liz slid a contract toward Ari and asked her to look it over to make sure everything looked alright. Ari nodded with a smile and did as she was told, flipping through the pages and signed along the line on the last page.

"Alright, Arianna, since you are now a free agent, Caleb Carlisle's agency will be representing you from now on. Caleb will make sure to connect you with the right agent to—"

"I will do it." I interjected.

They all turned to look at me and I picked up her profile, pretending to look busy.

"I thought you were taking a step back from representing and concentrating on publicity?" Liz whispered.

"I will do it." I repeated. "I will be representing her. She's my friend's kid sister, I need to make sure she gets taken care of." I explained without looking up. "If that's ok with little Ari?" I looked up with a half-smile.

She looked up at me, her eyes wide with surprise, and let out a little laugh. "Nobody's called me that in years."

"So, it's settled then?"

She shrugged. "I don't mind."

Good.

"Arianna, things are going to get really busy really fast for you, I hope you're ready." Liz winked.

Ari let out a steady sigh, her eyes filled with wonder. "I can't wait! I'm so honored for the opportunity, thank you all so much!" she gushed.

"Don't thank us yet, you'll be losing a lot of sleep during this first month. We are going to have to book you in for countless interviews and public appearances to announce your new standing at Lush as our fresh new face."I said leaning back in my chair. "Not to mention the attention you are in for. The paparazzi are going to be in your way every second of the day, you're going to need to be careful. They're going to know what you are doing and who you are doing. Whatever you want to keep out of the press, I suggest you keep private." I brought my hand up under my chin, waiting for her reaction.

"Caleb, let's not scare the poor girl." Liz scolded.

"I'm just letting her know what she's in for, she deserves to know." I replied.

"Thank you, Caleb. I understand, but I'm a pretty private person." She smiled across the table. "As for the paparazzi, I'm no stranger to the public. This isn't the first modeling gig I have booked. I know it's about to get much worse and I'm prepared to handle it as it comes, I have nothing to hide from them."

"Wonderful! You have a strong head on your shoulders, Arianna. You're my kind of girl!" Lena winked.

"Now, if you don't have any more questions, we're done for the day. We will notify you with details of interviews and events. But, for now, you should go out and celebrate." Liz smiled warmly. "Welcome to Runway, Arianna." She stood, walking over to Ari and enveloped her in a tight hug.

Ari thanked the girls again and walked out the door.

"Excuse me, ladies." I got up, buttoning my jacket, and followed Ari out the door. "Ari, wait!" I called out.

She turned back around to face me. "What's wrong? Did I forget to sign something?"

I shook my head. "No, just wanted to catch up. Can you do coffee?"

Her brows creased together in confusion and let out a small laugh, shaking her head. "No. I'm sorry, I can't." she leaned over pressing the elevator call button.

I saw Bethany shifting uncomfortably at her desk, pretending not to be eavesdropping in on my conversation with Ari.

"Why not?" I stood up straighter, shoving my hands into my pockets.

"I've heard about you, Caleb Carlisle." She crossed her arms over her chest, leaning back against the wall.

"Heard what?" my expression soured.

The elevator opened and she stepped inside, leaning forward to push the button for the lobby. "Things…" she shrugged. "Bye, Caleb." She waved with a smirk.

The doors started closing and I held my arm out, stopping the door. "What things?" I stepped into the elevator, staring down into her pale blue eyes.

She blinked up at me a few times and backed up against the wall. "I'm a model, Caleb. And you are quite the serial model dater around this town. What the hell do you think I heard?"

I was rendered speechless, I had no idea what to say to that. There wasn't denying what she said, it was all true. I did date my fair share of models. But, I didn't care too much for the judgment, especially from Aryn's baby sister. I'm appalled.

"One cup of coffee is all I asked for, Ari. You're Aryn's kid sister. What the hell do you think I want from you?" I tilted my head to the side.

She looked away, blushing deeply with embarrassment of her assumptions of my intentions.

"I'm not a kid anymore, Caleb." The elevator doors swung open and she stepped out.

"No you are not…" I followed close behind.

"So don't treat me like one." She snapped, turning to face me.

"Then don't act like one." I retorted. "Have a cup of coffee with me, I'm not asking." I said in a clipped tone.

Her eyes widened and she shook her head in disbelief.

"Of course, Mr. Carlisle," She replied mockingly. "Please, lead the way." she held her arm out in front of her.

I walked out to the parking garage and headed toward my car, unlocking it.

"Tell me where we're going and I will meet you there. I have a car." she said from behind me.

"I didn't ask." I walked over to the passenger side and opened the door. "Please, get in."

"Wait, are you asking?" the sarcasm in her voice was far from subtle.

"Sure, Ari. Get in." I repeated, not so nicely.

She got in and I closed the door behind her before walking over to my side of the car. I got in, slamming my door shut.

"Why are you so mad?" she asked in bewilderment.

"I'm offended." I said, pulling out of the parking garage.

"What the hell for?" she straightened up in her seat to look at me. "You get treated the way you act, Caleb! That's just how the world works!"

"And how the hell would you know how I act, Ari?" I shot back.

"Never mind." She leaned back into her seat again.

I'm not used to all the judgment, I'm not used to women declining my requests for one cup of fucking coffee and I'm not used to being treated like this. It's highly annoying!

I picked up the speed, whizzing past all the cars beside us. We didn't say anything more to each other the whole ride there.

I pulled into the nearest parking spot and got out to open her door. Her phone started to ring and she looked down at her phone. Smiling a genuine, warm smile, she answered it.

"Hey, sweetheart! What's up?" she answered cheerfully.

I stopped and my body tensed. She threw her head back laughing and walked a few feet away to talk privately with whoever it was on the other line. I stood with my hands in my pockets, waiting patiently for her to finish.

"…Ok, I'll see you soon. Yes, honey, I hear you. Ok…" she giggled. "Listen, I gotta go." she whispered into the phone before hanging up. "Sorry." She smiled lightly, stuffing her phone back into her purse.

"Who was that?"

"Let's get that coffee and catch up. I have somewhere I need to be." She ignored my question.

We quickly placed our orders and I had the hostess sit us somewhere near the back so we wouldn't be disturbed. Once we were settled I began with my questions.

"What is your problem with me, Ari? Let's lay it out on the table, you were fine in the meeting today." I laid my hands out in front of me on the table, clasping them together and leaned forward.

"I have no problem with you, and our professional relationship is not in jeopardy. No worries." She leaned back in her chair, drumming her fingertips against the table. She appeared to be bored.

"What's with the cold shoulder?"

"I just don't see why you wanted to have coffee. Is there something you need to discuss with me? Business related I mean."

"No."

"Then what is it?" she asked impatiently.

"I haven't seen you in the past, I don't know how many years—I was surprised to see you walk through that door today. Can't I have a cup of coffee with you without all the skepticism?"

"What did you want to talk about?" her tone was a bit softer now.

"How is your brother doing?"

"Why don't you call him?" she answered my question with another question.

"Ari…"

"Caleb." She mocked.

"If you keep kicking down all my questions, what will we talk about?"

"Exactly my point, we have nothing to talk about." She continued to drum her fingers against the table.

"What have you heard?" I finally got to my actual question.

"Why does it bother you so much?"

"Why does it bother you so much?" I mirrored her question.

"Excuse me?"

"Whatever it is you think you know has got you acting this way. So tell me, what is it? And why does it have you all hot and bothered?" I leaned back in my chair.

Her eyes widened and she scoffed with a shake of her head. "I have been at Club21 a couple different times this week with friends. You left with a different girl each of those nights. Two of my friends on Wednesday, you know, when you were honoring hump day." She air quoted the last part. "As you so graciously put it." She spat. "What has me bothered is men like you."

"Like me?"

"Women are just expendable to you all. They have no face, and you don't care for their feelings, just as long as you get your fill."

That felt like a stab in the chest. I knew I was a dick, and I know I'm not the picture of the world's most perfect boyfriend. But, to hear her say that out loud—I couldn't help but feel really ashamed of what I am.

"What's his name?"

"What?!"

I've rendered her speechless for a change.

"The man who has left you this bitter." I leaned forward. "Who was he?"

"No one did this to me, Caleb. I just believe in respect for people's feelings is all." She answered, brushing off my question.

The waitress set our drinks down in front of us and walked away.

"Liar." I shook my head.

"Come again?" she looked up at me in disbelief.

"You're telling me that all of this is because of your respect for people's feelings? I don't buy it." I laughed softly, shaking my head again.

"Yes!" she snapped.

"Prove it to me." she looked beyond confused, her brows knitting together. "Set down the bitter pill for the night and sleep with me, Ari. You don't know anything about me or how I would treat you the following morning. Who knows? Maybe you'll be the one to change me and my filthy ways." I sneered.

She picked up her water and threw it in my face. The waitress gasped when she witnessed what happened and set down the other part of our order. Ari set the empty cup down and grabbed her purse before quickly getting up to leave.

"You are a hideous human being, Caleb Carlisle! And I can't wait for the day when a girl comes along and knocks you flat on your ass!" her voice shook with anger. "I'll find my own way home." She hissed.

I threw some cash down onto the table and went after her. "Ari!" I shouted through the cafe. I was causing a scene, but I didn't care. I walked as fast as I could without running.

She kept walking without looking back and broke out into a run once she got outside.

"Ari!" I called out again.

She ran to the edge of the curb and waved her hand in the air, trying to hail down a cab.

One stopped for her and she reached for the door, but I grabbed her by the hand.

I leaned in and handed some cash to the driver, "For your troubles."

The guy thanked me and drove off.

She yanked her hand free of me, backing away.

"Leave me alone, Caleb." She snapped.

"Ari, I'm sorry. You just pissed me off and I said the first thing that came to mind. I shouldn't have said what I said, I'm sorry."

She waved her hand in the air in attempts to hail another cab, but I reached up to grab her hand again.

"Listen to me, Ari! I'm really sorry." I apologized again. "I stepped over the line. I'm an asshole, forgive me."

She was fuming mad, breathing heavily from the level of her anger.

"You are an asshole! You and I work together, that's it. I don't want to socialize with you outside of Runway. Ever!" she spat out.

That stung.

"I understand. Let me at least take you back to your car, Ari."

She yanked her hands free of me again and walked back towards my car.

We rode back the way we came, in silence. She leaned her head against the door, looking out the window at the blurring figures.

What I would give to know what she was thinking…

I stopped in front of the Runway building and pulled the car into park.

"Ari…"

She reached for the door handle and got out of the car without another word. She pointed her keys toward a white BMW 6 series and got inside, peeling out of the garage.

What the hell is the matter with me?

She's Aryn's kid sister.

She's Aryn's kid sister…

She. Is. Aryn's. Kid. Sister.