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Beautifully Damaged(8)

By:L.A. Fiore

A few days later I decided to blow off running since I felt like an idiot telling a man like Trace that I'd welcome his company on my runs -- as if he'd want to spend time with me. I blushed every time I replayed that conversation in my head and it was for this reason that I avoided interacting with men since I sucked at it.

I walked into the kitchen to brew some coffee and realized I was out of beans -- not cool. I changed into some sweats and headed out to Starbucks.

I was just down the street from coffee-heaven when I felt that odd shiver down my spine and knew that Trace was near. I looked across the street and saw him which had me feeling a ridiculous amount of joy because I thought that he was coming to see me. This delusion lasted for only a moment because a stunning woman stepped up next to him and linked her fingers with his.

My interest in him was silly because that man together with me would be as comical a notion as Brad Pitt and the little old lady from the "Where's the beef" commercial. Still, a girl could dream and did I ever about Trace. To be able to touch every inch of that body, to feel as those beautiful arms wrapped around me, to pull me close, the touch of his lips against my skin and to be the one to make him lose control as he moved so deeply inside of me, over and over, again...

Someone knocked into me, disrupting my very erotic daydream, which was a good thing since I was dangerously close to pulling a Meg Ryan. I didn't realize that I was staring at Trace during my entire fantasy so I quickly moved it along on legs that had grown surprisingly weak.

Since I wasn't going to get the man, I decided to settle for the most decadent chocolate coffee concoction Starbucks could think up. In addition to my drink and coffee beans, I tacked on four of their cake-pops to my order and, yes, I knew the whole purpose of those devilish delights was to enjoy the sin in moderation, but to hell with that.

I was just leaving the place, coffee in one hand, pop in the other, when the door opened and in walked Trace with his beauty. Ah hell, and here I just shoved the entire birthday cake-pop into my mouth. I tried to hide in the shadows, motionless, hoping that Trace was like a t-rex and that his vision was based on movement, but when his voice spoke my name, my shoulders slumped as I turned, looking very much like a cow grazing in a pasture. He was in his favorite outfit of faded jeans and a tee but, honestly, when you looked that good in something, hell yeah, wear it all the time. My eyes traveled up his arm, because that tattoo called to me and what that meant, I didn't know, but when my eyes finally found his I was surprised to see tenderness looking back at me.

"How are you, Ember?"

I put up my finger, giving myself a moment to finish my cake-pop, and noticed that though Trace was looking at me kindly, his date, not so much.

"Hi, Trace."

There was something intimate about the way his lips curved up as he held my gaze. Clearly, his friend noticed it too when she wrapped herself around him and pressed her very feminine body up against him."

"Come on, baby, let's go."

Trace's arm moved and, being so fixated on that fabulous appendage, I couldn't stop from watching as he wrapped it around her thin waist before his hand came to rest on her ass. It wasn't until he squeezed her and she moaned deep in her throat that I managed to pull my envious gaze from that back to his eyes only to find that he was still watching me. It was painful looking at the man you wanted more than a cake-pop and knowing you'd never have him because to do so would mean becoming one of many other notches on his bedpost. He must have seen something in my expression because his changed, ever so slightly, but standing near him was becoming too difficult so I smiled as I started around him.

"It was nice to see you again, Trace."

I walked out of Starbucks battling disappointment and stuffed another cake-pop into my mouth. I didn't feel like going home so I found a bench and sat down. There was a part of me -- a rather large part -- that sat there waiting to see Trace. It was stupid and very juvenile; I know, but I was crushing on the man. Yes, I was being immature and later I would have a stern talk with myself about acting my age.

Sooner than I would have thought he and the beauty queen appeared on the curb outside of Starbucks. I watched as Trace hailed a cab and felt my stomach drop just imagining where they were off to. A yellow cab pulled up to the curb and Trace opened the door for the woman but instead of following after her, he closed the door behind her. He didn't even wait for the cab to pull from the curb as he started down the street. Before I could argue with myself one way or the other, I was up and walking down the street after him. It could be argued that I was technically stalking him but I was just too damn curious about him. Based on his performance in Starbucks, I thought that he and beauty were getting ready to go horizontal for a while so the fact that he put her in a cab only moments after I left -- I couldn't deny it; I was intrigued.