Flight (Page 46)

“I’m so glad you’re safe,” he whispered.

Before I could start crying, I pulled away.

“Okay, so we’re going to get going…” Hailey said trailing off. “Come on, Owen.”

“Oh yeah. Bye,” Owen said.

I turned to shoot Hailey a dirty look but she was already disappearing down the street.

“You want to go inside?” Levi asked awkwardly.

“Sure.”

He held open the door for me and we walked up to the counter. “One large coffee,” I ordered without waiting for Levi.

“Make that two.” Levi handed a card to the barista.

I took my coffee, adding two Splendas and no cream and sat down at a table by the window. Levi was two steps behind me.

My eyes remained focused on the table as I heard the scrape of a chair across from me.

“If it changes anything, I didn’t mean to upset you.”

My head snapped up to attention immediately. “What?”

“I didn’t want to hurt you.” Levi reached his hand across the table to touch mine, but I jerked it away.

“Then what did you want exactly?”

“You.” His eyes bore into mine as he spoke.

“Clever, very clever.”

“It’s the truth. You asked why I did it and that’s the honest answer. I did it because I wanted you.”

“What part of wanting me required you to trick me into entering into some weird relationship?”

“Weird relationship? Is that what you think this is?”

“What am I supposed to think it is?”

“There is nothing weird about it, most girls would be happy to find out they’ve become a princess.”

“I guess I’m not like most girls. And what is with all this princess talk? When were you going to tell me you were the future king or whatever it is they call you exactly?”

“It didn’t seem important before… and I didn’t want to scare you off.”

I laughed dryly. “Well, you did a pretty good job with that.”

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

“No? What was it supposed to be like? Am I supposed to fawn at your feet thanking you for picking me? Dream on.”

“Damn it, don’t be so difficult. You were there that night; we work so well together. It’s amazing. Can’t that be enough?”

“You have that much confidence in your sexual prowess to think that means anything?”

“I am not talking about me, I’m talking about us.”

“There is no us. Whatever chance we had is gone. You tricked me, lied to me, used me and pretty much did anything you possibly could to destroy us.” I twisted my hands in my lap. “You’re the reason I was kidnapped and nearly raped. It’s your fault.” I looked down, unwilling to let him see how much I hurt.

“I am so sorry. Words can’t even describe it. The thought of those brutes touching you…” He gripped the table, his knuckles turning white. “I promise you they will never bother you or anyone else again.” He scooted his chair next to me. “Please, give me a chance to make it up to you.” There was nothing natural about Levi pleading.

I looked up at him with tear-rimmed eyes. “The only thing I want is an explanation. Why me? Why in the world did you pick me? You hardly know me.”

“I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. Usually I get tired of a girl after a few days, but you, I’ll never get tired of you. You challenge me and it only makes me want you more. I know you feel it too. Don’t bother denying it. The physical pull between us is undeniable.”

“That’s what this is all about? You’re physically attracted to me? I still don’t see how that makes me different.”

“Doesn’t the thought of being together excite you at all? You seemed so interested in my world, so caught up in it. Can’t that be enough for now?”

Glancing around, I noticed a few people staring at us so I lowered my voice. “Levi, are you even listening to me? Do you really expect me to forgive you for what you put me through? You make it sound like you stood me up.”

“I’m sorry baby, I’m sorry. You were only kidnapped because you ran off. I didn’t expect you to do that. I already planned to explain more over dinner. Remember, I told you I had something important to tell you.” He leaned over the table.

“Don’t you ever call me baby. Do you hear me? Never!” Hearing it made me think of Riley and his dirty, wandering hands.

“Okay. I won’t. I’m sorry.” He picked up one of my hands, examining the cuts and bruises on my wrist. I pulled it out of his reach. “I’m so sorry.”

I took a deep breath. “Didn’t you think I’d try to take the ring off?”

Levi shrugged. “I never really thought about it.”

“Exactly!” I yelled exasperated. Standing up, I called over my shoulder, “You didn’t think and look where it got us.”

Dropping my half-empty coffee cup in the garbage, I pushed open the door. I didn’t have to turn around to realize Levi was at my heels.

“Wait up!” He grabbed my arm pulling me towards him.

“Let go of me!”

“You don’t understand how important this is. You can’t just walk away from me. You have to be with me now.”

“I don’t have to do anything.”

“Give me a chance to explain more, to show you.”

“I gave you that chance inside.” I gestured to the door we just walked through.

“Let me show you more of my people, introduce you, make you see how important you are.”

“Why would I do that?”

“Because you’re a good person. Because even if you hate me, you don’t hate Hailey and you sure as hell don’t hate the city of New Orleans.”

“Why would being together affect New Orleans?”

“It means everything. Without you, my family’s reign ends and the headquarters likely moves—taking everything with it. Do you really want to see New Orleans robbed of more? Like Katrina wasn’t enough.”

“Shut up!” Well aware of people watching us I continued. “Don’t compare me leaving to a hurricane!”

“There is so much you don’t understand. New Orleans needs us. Please let me show you. If you still don’t want anything to do with us afterwards, we’ll figure something else out, but at least give me one night to prove it to you.”

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