Pulse (Collide, #2)(10)

“I’m familiar with it, and the two very charismatic owners,” the man clipped. He gestured with his head to the less-than-friendly, red twill business suit-wearing woman peering over her shoulder. “That’s the 62nd floor. Be nice and press it for this young lady.”

With every effort she could gather, Emily smiled at the man. He nodded and winked. As the elevator opened and closed on each floor, Emily couldn’t help but sink into the memory of her and Gavin standing in the exact same elevator the first time she met him. Though the small space was still half full with others, in that moment, it was just him and her.

“She’s not my girlfriend if that’s what you’re wondering.”

“And who’s to say I was?”

“And who’s to say you weren’t?”

The memory faded when the gentleman nudged her arm, letting her know they’d reached the 62nd floor. She rejected her sudden impulse to leave the building. Nodding in thanks, Emily brushed past a few people and stepped from the elevator. Once in the reception area, her gaze swept over a sand-blasted glass wall showcasing the name ‘Blake Industries.’ She swallowed and made her way to the receptionist seated behind a tall, crescent-shaped mahogany desk.

The dark-haired woman looked up from a computer screen, her smile warm and welcoming. “Can I help you?”

Emily nodded, somehow managing a smile. “Yes. I need to speak with Colton Blake.”

“I apologize, but Mr. Blake’s in a meeting right now. If you like, you can take a seat and wait for him. He shouldn’t be more than another ten minutes.” She gestured toward a seating area adjacent to a dozen or so cubicles. “Can I have your name, please?”

“Emily Cooper.”

“I’ll let him know you’re waiting, Miss Cooper.” The woman gave her another smile.

“Thank you.” Emily went to turn around, but before she could, her attention shifted to an opening office door. Her nerves skyrocketed when she saw Colton stroll out, his deep, hearty chuckle hanging in the air as he shook hands with a man who’d exited the office with him. Emily felt ill when Colton’s eyes latched on hers.

His jovial demeanor shifted almost immediately, his expression clear of any emotion. Staring at her, his mouth parted slightly as his eyes flitted between her and his business associate. Emily tensed and watched him rake a hand through his hair as he attempted to regain the friendly smile he was wearing just seconds before. Tugging anxiously at the hem of her white, button-down work shirt, Emily waited as he showed the man to the elevators. His gaze fell on hers once more before bidding the client a farewell.

“We’ll catch up next week, Tom,” Colton said, pressing the button for the elevator. “Tell Ellie I said hello and my mother should be calling her soon for brunch.”

“Will do,” the man answered with a clipped nod. He disappeared into the elevator when it opened.

“Mr. Blake,” the secretary chimed, “you have a Miss Cooper here to see you.”

“I see. Thank you, Natalie.” Turning to face Emily, Colton dipped his head in greeting. “Emily.”

“Hello, Colton.”

“What are you doing here?” he asked, his tone noticeably guarded.

Emily shifted nervously, staring into his scrutinizing green eyes. She swallowed. “I have to speak with you.”

“That’s obvious.”

“Then why did you ask?” She tilted her head in question.

Colton lifted a brow, a smirk tipping one corner of his mouth. “Let’s go talk.”

Following him, Emily tried to ward off the anxious nausea simmering in her stomach. Once in his office, Colton closed the door and shrugged out of his suit jacket. Without a word, he gestured to a chair in front of his desk. After shedding her coat and scarf, Emily took a seat as her thoughts contended with a powerful urge to leave. But she wouldn’t. She knew she had to keep the reason she was there in her forethoughts. Casting a furtive glance in Colton’s direction, she watched him hang his jacket in a closet, make his way over to his desk, and lounge into a seat across from her.

Colton cleared his throat, his eyes penetrating. “You hurt him, Emily.”

Longing rolled through Emily’s already aching heart, but somehow, hearing those words from Gavin’s brother intensified it, thickened the feeling beyond any measure. “I know I did. I know that better than anyone. “ Emily struggled to keep her voice from cracking. “But I love him, and I have to make this right. Olivia told me you said he’s not in the country. I need you to tell me where he is, Colton.”

Leaning back, a condescending snort slipped through his nose. “You love him? How come I find that hard to believe?” Emily reared back, shocked, but Colton continued. “And how do you plan on making things right with him? Even if I tell you where he is, who’s to say he’ll take you back? You didn’t see what he looked like when he showed up at my house that night. The look in his eyes. The hurt on his face.” Colton leisurely shrugged, smugness clinging to his voice. “That’s right, how could you? You were too busy enjoying your rehearsal dinner.”

Heavy tension fell over the room, its presence nearly depleting the oxygen in Emily’s lungs. His insinuation slapped her hard across the face. No longer able to control her emotions, she blinked as tears slipped from her eyes. “I paid that night in more ways than one. I tortured myself in more ways than anyone will ever know.”

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