Whatever happened to Abigale Applegate?
She’s been wondering the same thing.
With her Hollywood dreams long gone, Abigale now has a nice, neat, uncomplicated life—until the day her perfect fiancé needs to talk. Dumped, a little more than shattered, and totally confused, Abigale turns to Zach, her best friend since forever, to help her pick up the pieces. He does it with a gift—a copy of Wreck This Journal. She can vent her frustrations, and sketch out a new plan. Zach just hopes he’s part of it. Because he’s been in love with Abigale his entire life.
When the journal falls into Zach’s hands, he discovers Abigale wants a new man. And fast. Nothing more than a hot distraction. Zach has a strategy, too. He’s going to be that man. It’s his last chance. Abigale might be out to shake up her life, but Zach’s out to reinvent it. Now, all he has to do is convince Abigale that life can go as planned.
Wine have been a good idea, Abby thought.
Stretched out on her belly, she closed her eyes and tried to think about but the pain. Digging her nails into her palms, she tried to zone out.
Zach’s hands on her weren’t helping her zone out, she decided. It was one hell of a distraction, but it helping her zone out.
Swallowing the knot in her throat, she croaked out, “I’m as good as I think I can expect to be.”
“And how good is that?”
He laughed a little. “Why don’t you talk to me? We’re halfway done,” he said. “If you talk, you’ll get distracted and it will be done before you know it.”
“Okay.” She scrunched her eyes tightly closed and tried to think of something to say. Her mind was blank. “Shit. I don’t know what to talk about.”
“You always have something to talk about,” he teased, his voice low and easy and she knew even without looking at him that he was smiling.
“Not right now I don’t.” Well, she think of a thing or two. But those things were really things she could say. Were they? No. She’d thought this through. She wasn’t going down that road with Zach.
“Okay. I’ll help. What is this new life plan you’ve got laid out? Besides the tattoo here?”
She bit her lip to keep from blurting that out. That would make him worry. She loved him dearly and she didn’t need him worrying about her right now. “It’s not a life plan exactly. It’s just a plan,” she said slowly. “Some things to keep me distracted until I figure out what I’m going to do with myself. There’s the tattoo thing, which you’re obviously helping with. I’m going to try to stop worrying so much. One of them, though…I plan on calling up Roger and telling him off.”
He grunted. “Good plan.” Something soft brushed against her lower back and she hissed a little.
Damn it, that hurt. It felt like something was slicing right through her skin.
“I don’t get it,” she said softly, some of the confusion and pain breaking free. “I mean… I thought he loved me. How could he love me and walk away like that? Over the life I to have? That’s what it’s all about. I used to be an actress. I’m not anymore—I haven’t been for and I’m happy with that. How can he not see that? If he loved me, wouldn’t he be able to see that I don’t to act anymore?”
Zach didn’t answer.
Turning her head, she peered over her shoulder at him.
He had his head bowed, the gold-streaked strands falling down and hiding his features from her.
He sighed. “Do you really want to hear what I have to say about this right now, sugar?”
“I always want to hear what you have to say.”
“Okay.” He used the cloth again on her back and then bent down, staring at her skin like there was nothing else in the world but her back and the design he was inking onto her flesh. “He never loved you.”
It was a strike, square to her heart.
She closed her eyes.
“If he loved you, he wouldn’t treat you the way he did. When you walked into a room, it would have showed on his face…if he really loved you. Either he’d been so busy staring at you because he just had to see you, or he would have been looking away so nobody see it. Except he was going to marry you–you were his and he had every right to let the world see how he felt.” Zach dabbed at her back again, still focused on the work.
She was almost glad of the pain now, because it was easier to think about how much it than to think about what he had to say.
“But when you walked into a room, that f’ing prick was too busy either messing with his damned gadgets or looking at everybody else to see what thought about you. He was in love with the idea of having Kate the cutie on his arm. But he never loved you.”
He paused what he doing and for a brief second, the world fell away as he looked up and met her eyes. “He never loved you, and the son of a bitch sure as hell didn’t deserve you, sugar.”
Her heart slammed against her ribs as his blue gaze held hers.
And then, as it felt like all the oxygen in the room had dwindled away, he turned his attention back to the task at hand.
It felt like he was flaying the flesh from her bones. And she decided that was just fine, because now she needed distraction.
Was he right, she wondered? Had Roger ever loved her at all?
And more importantly…had she loved ?
“Okay, here are the important things,” Zach said as he studied the design. It was cute, sexy as hell and if he found out another guy was the one who got to press his lips to that dragonfly as where it curved low over the flare of her left hip, he thought he just might go insane. “I’ll send you home with some instructions on how to care for it, but you need to make sure you keep it clean. No scrubbing at it or anything–you need to be gentle when you wash it, but keep it clean. I’ve got some ointment I’ll send home with you and I’ll go into detail about using that, too.”
She was still staring at it over her shoulder in the mirror. Worrying her lower lip with her teeth and eying the dragonfly like she expected it to take flight or something.
“I need to get the bandage on,” he said softly.
She continued to stand there and he reached up, pressed his hand between her shoulder blades. “Lean forward a little.”
Hunger screamed, jerking on the leash inside him as he eased the waistband of her skirt just a little lower so he could get the bandage in place. Bent over the table like that, he could so easily imagine pulling the hem of the skirt up. Slipping his hand between her thighs. Would she sigh? Moan?
No. This was Abby and she’d freak the hell out and then she’d run away and he’d lose her–
A soft, shaky sigh caught his attention as he smoothed the bandage down. Keeping his head bowed, he checked the mirror from under his lashes and his knees almost buckled.
Abby was staring at their reflection and her face was flushed.
What. The. Hell.
Abruptly, he stepped back and moved away. If he didn’t move away , he was going to grab her and do things he never should do to his best friend. The woman he loved. That was the problem. He’d loved her for too long and he was misreading the signals and–
“Do you really think all that’s true? About Roger?”
Hearing that shithead’s name on her lips snapped his temper. He turned around and glared at her. “If I didn’t think that was the case, Abs, I wouldn’t have said it. He’s an egotistical, arrogant piece of work and he never loved you. You deserved a hell of a lot better and I knew it all along. But he was what you wanted so who in the hell was I to say any different?”
“You’re my best friend,” she said quietly.
“Shit.” He went to pass a hand over his face and stopped. He still had his gloves on. Stripping them off, he tossed them into the red trash can near the door and headed over start cleaning up. “Yes. I am. You asked me what I thought and I told you. But I can’t tell you what is in that fucker’s head. You can always ask him when you call him to tell him off, although I doubt he’ll tell you the truth. He doesn’t even the truth anyway.”
“Have you ever been in love?”
In the middle of gathering up his supplies, he paused. Zach closed his eyes and started to mouth every single foul, nasty curse he could think of. He had four brothers. He could think of a of cuss words. Half way through one that involved anatomical improbabilities and a goat, a hand touched his shoulder.
Damn it, he couldn’t do this. Moving away, he started grabbing shit at random. Dumping trash, slamming the tools here, there. Being careless with them, but he couldn’t look at her yet. If he did, she might see–
He went to dump the trash and turned around.
Abby was right there, dark brown eyes locked on his face, her shirt still knotted just under her breasts, leaving her belly bare.
“What is this?” she teased. “You make me play twenty questions all the time.”
Edging around her, he focused on cleaning up. “I’m thirty-two years old, Abby. Yeah. I’ve been in love,” he said, keeping his voice flat and his eyes on the task at hand. “It didn’t work out.”
“She never seemed to notice that I was staring at her when she walked into the room.”
A little about Shiloh:
Shiloh Walker has been writing since she was a kid. She fell in love with vampires with the book Bunnicula and has worked her way up to the more…ah…serious works of fiction. She loves reading and writing just about every kind of romance. Once upon a time she worked as a nurse, but now she writes full time and lives with her family in the Midwest. She writes romantic suspense and paranormal romance, and urban fantasy under the name.