This Man

Page 71


I glance around, seeing everyone looking at our little exchange. I’m definitely not having it now. I shove his outstretched arm away from my face and pick up my wine, raising my glass to him before taking a swig. Actually, I down the lot. I make a point of placing my glass down precisely before I look up at Jesse. He’s proper brooding, his lips pressed into a straight line as he shakes his head at me.

‘No.’ I state firmly, enhancing my point. He’s already trampled on my recovery night. He’s not dictating what I drink too.

‘There goes your action tonight.’ Sam smirks and Kate bursts into fits of laughter.

‘Fuck off, Sam.’ Jesse warns, in a rather deadly tone. He’s not happy, but I’m drunk and rebellious, so I don’t care.

Sam raises his hands, backing off immediately. At the same time, Kate clenches her lips shut to suppress her laughter, giving me the eyes. I shrug. I wonder if she likes demanding, commanding Jesse as much as she likes white knight Jesse.

Drew and Victoria move off to the side, out of every ones ear shot, after a little nod from Drew. Usually confident and a little standoffish, Drew looks a little shy as Victoria chats buoyantly to him. He takes his phone from his pocket, punching in digits as Victoria reels them off, holding it up for her to check when he’s done. That is not the actions of a man not prepared to call. This is interesting.

I’m vaguely aware of conversation going on around me, but my head is suddenly very foggy. That was the last drink you should never have had. And all just to prove a childish point. Jesse’s right, damn him. I will regret it in the morning. The voices begin to muffle and double vision sets in.

Yep, mission accomplished…I’m plastered!

I feel Jesse’s hand at the base of my neck, massaging me over my hair as he chats to Sam. I close my eyes, absorbing his firm touch as he works my muscles. It feels so nice. I might fall asleep if he keeps it up.

When I open my eyes, Jesse is leaning down, looking into my drunken eyes and shaking his head. ‘Come on, lady. I’m taking you home.’

I throw a disorientated arm at him. ‘I’m fine.’ He’s not ruining my recovery night. I hear Kate and Jesse exchange a few words, and then I’m hoist up from the stool to my feet.

‘Can you stand?’ he asks.

‘Of course, I’m not that drunk.’ I am. And it would seem I’m argumentative too.

I’m presented to everyone in turn, all of them planting a kiss on my cheek, while Jesse props me up. How pathetic. Once he’s ensured I’ve said all of my goodbyes, he guides me out of the bar. I’m ashamed to admit it, but if Jesse’s arm wasn’t wrapped around my waist holding me up, I would be flat on my face.

The fresh air hits me, causing me to stagger slightly, but I’m swiftly scooped up from the pavement, feeling the familiar comfort of Jesse’s chest against my cheek as he carries me to his car.

‘You’re not going to throw up on me, are you?’ he asks.

‘No.’ I scoff.

‘Are you sure?’ He laughs, and I feel the vibrations from his chest pass through me.

‘I’m fine.’ I garble against his shirt. He sounds like my Dad. Is he old enough to be my Dad? No, there’s not a father on the planet that dances like Jesse or f**ks like Jesse. Oh, my drunken thoughts are filthy!

‘Okay, a few seconds warning would be nice, though. I’m putting you in my car now.’

‘I’m not going to throw up.’ I insist.

I feel myself being lowered into his car and the sensation of cold leather on the back on my legs as I come to rest in the seat. He leans in over me and fastens my seat belt, his fresh water smell and minty breath invading my nostrils. I recognise it, even in my inebriated state. As he pulls back, hovering in my line of sight, there are two of him. I try to focus, eventually homing in on a huge smile.

‘You’re adorable, even when you’re legless,’ He leans in, giving me a chaste kiss on my lips. ‘You’re coming home with me.’

It would seem that all functions have ceased, except for the drunken, argumentative part of me. ‘I’m not coming to yours.’ I slur.

‘Yes, you are.’ he asserts. I still recognise his stern tone, even in my drunken stupor. Not that I’ll take much notice of it, though. The passenger door shuts firmly and he’s soon behind the wheel.

‘I’m not, you can take me home.’

‘Forget it, Ava. I’m not leaving you in this state on your own. End of.’

‘You’re bossy,’ I complain. ‘I want to go home.’ I actually don’t know what I want to do. Does it matter where I sleep tonight? No, it doesn’t, but my drunken need to remain defiant is hijacking any reasonableness that’s left in my wine drenched brain. I want to go home and that’s it!

He laughs. ‘Get use to it.’

‘No!’ I flop my head back on the head rest and close my eyes. I understood that statement enough to challenge it. I’m surprised I’m still coherent.

‘You’re adorable, but you’re also a pain in the arse when you’re drunk.’ he grumbles.

‘Good.’ I say haughtily.

He starts the car and the vibrations from the engine instantly play havoc with my wine filled stomach. I hear him laugh to himself.

‘Jesse?’

‘Yes, Ava?’

‘How old are you?’ What a ridiculous question. Even if he did relent on this obsession with keeping his age a classified, I wouldn’t remember in the morning.

He sighs. ‘Twenty five,’


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