Pulse (Collide, #2)(9)

“God, Trevor, I’m not trying to protect him. I’m trying to protect Gavin. He’s been gutted by all this. If he finds out, there’s no way he wouldn’t go after Dillon. God forbid he really hurts him and winds up in jail. Jesus, Dillon could hurt him. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. I’ve already caused Gavin enough bullshit.” Looking at the table, Emily swiped away tears gathering in her eyes. “Please,” she whispered, “just don’t say anything.”

Trevor ran a hand through his hair and down the back of his neck. “Look, I won’t bring it up, but Gavin knows Dillon. He knows he wouldn’t let you walk away easily. But I have to be honest, Em, if he asks if anything happened, I’m not gonna lie.”

Emily pressed her fingers to her temples. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t ask you to lie for me.”

Releasing a weighty breath, Trevor blinked a few times and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “Don’t apologize. The whole thing’s f*cked up. Just promise me you’ll tell him if you two work things out.”

“Yeah. Sure,” Emily scoffed. “He hasn’t even returned my calls.” Returning her gaze to the couple seated across the restaurant, she tried to ignore the heaviness in the pit of her stomach. “He’s finished with me.”

“I think his head’s a little f*cked up right now, but Gavin’s in love with you. I’m pretty sure when he comes back and gets one look at you, he won’t be able to resist.” Trevor rose and placed his hand on her shoulder. “Let’s just hope he doesn’t stay away for the next six months.”

Feeling as though Trevor ripped the only remaining piece of her heart from her chest, Emily tried to breathe. She stood and stared into his eyes, her voice trembling. “Do you honestly think he would stay away that long?”

“Em, I didn’t mean it like that.”

“No, you did. What would make you say that?”

Trevor chewed at the side of his lip and briefly looked away. He shrugged. “Gavin can implode when he wants to. I don’t know how long he’ll be gone.”

As thick disorientation melted across her mind, Emily brought her hand to her mouth. “Oh my God. I can’t… He can’t.” She started making her way toward the bar, her feet moving quicker than her body could comprehend. She reached underneath the counter for her purse, coat, and scarf, her heart rate taking off.

“Look, I shouldn’t have said that.” Trevor approached the bar, his expression full of regret. “He can come back tomorrow—”

“Or in six months,” she breathed, walking past him.

As she reached for the door, her chest squeezed, tightening with panic. A shiver moved through her when she stepped out of the restaurant. With her mind speeding a mile a minute, Emily tossed on her jacket and scurried, almost running, through swarms of bodies clogging the sidewalk. Car horns, conversations, and sirens danced around her, but she couldn’t hear any of it. She felt deaf to it all.

The only sound she heard was Gavin’s voice whispering in her ear, Gavin’s laugh humming through the air, and Gavin’s heart lulling her to sleep. A rush of tears fell at the thought of him being gone that long. Nine days nearly sank her. She knew six months would kill her.

As the front of the Chrysler building came into her view, uncertainty about what she was about to do rippled across Emily’s skin. But no matter how uncertain she was, she wasn’t about to let it stop her. Before she knew it, she found herself entering the lobby. As soon as she did, she felt the air whoosh from her lungs.

Her eyes locked onto the back of a gentleman leaned up against the information desk. Her vision blurred with black hair and a muscular physique matching Gavin’s. She came to a complete standstill as she watched him leisurely tuck his hand into the pocket of his pants and run the other through his hair the same way Gavin did. Trying to suck in nonexistent air, Emily slowly moved in his direction. Consciousness void of what her body was doing, she lifted a trembling hand and tapped his shoulder. Senses craving Gavin, Emily attempted to pull in the scent of his cologne before he turned around. When he did, she was met by unfamiliar eyes, an unfamiliar face, and an unfamiliar smile. Her racing heart plummeted to her feet.

“Can I help you?” the man asked.

Unable to move, speak, or think, Emily stared at the stranger. Hit by a sudden wave of nausea, she felt dizzy as she opened her mouth in an effort to say something. Nothing came out.

“Miss, are you okay?” With trepidation, the man placed his hands on Emily’s arms. “You look like you’re going to pass out.”

Emily cleared her throat, shook her head, and backed away. “I’m… I’m so sorry. I thought…” She couldn’t finish her sentence. Blinking once, Emily turned and squeezed into the crowded elevator, her compulsion to press on nearly irresistible.

A woman in a red twill business suit craned her head around. “Which floor do you need?” she asked tersely.

Emily tried to regain some sense of reality, establish a hint of mental balance as she looked at the woman. But it wouldn’t come. “I’m not sure.”

At this, the woman laughed and shrugged.

An older gentleman with a pleasant smile spoke up. “What’s the name of the company you’re looking for?”

“Blake Industries,” Emily answered, lifting her hand to her forehead.

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