Sunsets at Seaside(107)

By: Addison Cole

“I know I suck at seduction, but don’t these take-me heels or this stupid dress turn you on? Even a little?”

“Your take-me heels? Boy, you are drunk. You don’t realize what you’re saying. Come on.” He reached for her hand and she shrugged him off again.

“Come on, Amy. Let me help you.” Before I give in to what I really want and lay your vulnerable, gorgeous, sexy body down and devour you.

“So that’s it. I don’t turn you on.” She paced the room on wobbly ankles, looking like she was playing dress up in her mother’s high heels—and it did crazy things to Tony’s body. He followed beside her in case she stumbled, fighting the urge to give in and show her just how much she turned him on.

“Maybe if I had bigger boobs, or if I were better at acting sexy, or if I were smarter, you’d want me.”

It surprised him that she avoided the secret they’d buried so long ago, but then again, after that summer, she’d never said another word about it. And he’d let her get away with that, believing it was the only way she could survive what had happened. Just like him.

“Amy, it’s none of those things.” He did not want to have this conversation with her. He wanted to fold her in his arms and kiss the worry away.

Tears slipped down her cheeks.

Tony could handle a lot of things, but Amy’s tears melted his heart, and that he’d caused them was further proof he wasn’t the right guy for her.

“Then why, Tony? Just tell me once and for all. Why don’t you want me? I need to know so I can decide about taking this job in Australia.”

Tony opened his mouth to answer, but his thoughts were jumbled as he processed what she’d said. “Australia? I thought you said you weren’t taking it.”

She crossed her arms, and he hated knowing it was to protect herself from his rejection. Tony felt like a jerk, but he knew that taking Amy up on her seduction would only dredge up bad memories and lead to hurting her. They’d spent a lifetime denying the past between them existed, even to themselves.

“I said I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.” She dropped her eyes to the floor, and he slid a hand in hers, as he’d done a million times before. It was a natural reaction. Taking care of her. Protecting her. Helping her feel safe. He knew it could send her mixed messages, but he just couldn’t help himself. His hand had already claimed its spot with hers.

“You’d give up everything you’ve built to run Duke’s resort? You’d move to Australia?” He had nothing against Duke Ryder. But the idea that Amy would change her life to help him just pissed Tony off.

She sank down onto the bed and buried her face in her hands.

He wrapped an arm around her shoulder, and when she tried to pull away, he tightened his grip and kissed the top of her head.

“Amy, you’re sexy, smart, and everything a guy could want.”

She cocked her head to the side and narrowed her damp eyes. He felt like the biggest jerk on earth, and at the same time, his own heart was fighting tooth and nail against the space he was trying to maintain between them.

He uttered a curse and scrubbed his hand down his face. “You are all those things, Amy, and so much more, but…”

“But you like me as a friend.”

He’d never seen so much hurt concentrated in one person’s eyes, and even if he had, it wouldn’t have compared to seeing it in Amy’s. He touched his forehead to hers, and he did the only thing he knew how to do without doing irreparable damage to their friendship.

His lie came in a whisper. “No. I love you as a friend.”

He loved Bella, Caden, and the others. What he felt for Amy was so much bigger than friendship, it threatened to stop his heart.

She didn’t say a word, just nodded, and Tony knew in that moment that she wasn’t drunk enough to forget what he’d said by the morning—and he almost wished she were.

(End of Sneak Peek)

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