Today’s theme is Dumped! So I thought I’d use an excerpt from LAID BARE when Erin dumps Todd ten years before…
LAID BARE by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2009, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
“I don’t know how to talk to you.” He scrubbed his hands over his face.
“Why do you make simple things so complicated? Maybe you should stop worrying so much and just talk to me. Be yourself. Why don’t you tell me about yourself? We’ve been, um, dating for a few months now, but you don’t talk about yourself much.”
He took a bite of pizza and watched her carefully. “Not much to tell. Seattle born and bred. Being a cop runs in the family. My dad, both brothers and my sister are cops. I’m single because I broke off an engagement about a year and a half ago. I’m dating around right now. It’s hard to find a woman who accepts the whole cop’s wife thing.”
Erin looked at him and thought over what she’d heard.
“Maybe you’re looking in the wrong place.”
“What do you mean?” He shifted uncomfortably. “Look, Erin, I like you and all, but this . . . thing between us is just fun. No offense but we’re not suited at all.”
It shouldn’t have hurt, but it did. He was delusional. “Bullshit.” She finished the first slice and leaned back. “I’m not asking you to marry me or anything. But we connect, Todd Keenan. You spend so much time trying to just be fucking normal, you get tripped up in it. Just be yourself. Yes, you like dirty talk. You’re kinky, big deal. Why do you fight so hard against what you seem to really like? I like it, I’m willing. You come hard. Why do you deny yourself this way?”
“It’s not who I am!” He stood and stormed into the kitchen. She heard the plate clatter and she wiped her mouth.
“Is it so fucking awful? It’s not like you want to wear a chicken suit while you fuck someone wrapped in plastic wrap or something. You don’t, do you?” She laughed but stopped when he growled and stomped back into the living room.
“It’s not who I am, damn you! Look, it’s you and me. I’m not like this with other women. I’m gentle and the sex is nice. I don’t know what comes over me when you’re near. It’s not right. I wasn’t . . . I’m not supposed to like it.”
She shrugged. What else could she do? Beg him to be who he was? When he thought being who he was, who she was, made them some kind of freaks? “The last thing I want to do is force you into talking dirty and begging me to suck your cock with my fingers in your ass, stroking your prostate.”
He winced and petty satisfaction settled in. He liked it. Got off on it. And it was her fault he was so damned repressed he hated himself over it?
She grabbed her bag. “I’ll spare you the it was fun talk and you can spare me the it’s not you, it’s me stuff. Okay?” Hesitating, she sighed and tiptoed up to kiss him quickly. “I hope you find a place in your life when you can let go and be happy. But I’m not a dirty secret. I’m not bad and wrong for being comfortable with myself, and I won’t let you make me feel that way.”
He slammed a hand against the wall next to her and then grabbed her around the waist, pulling her flush against his body.
“Damn it, Erin, I don’t lose control. I’m a controlled man. I make good choices. I don’t fuck women against alley walls. It’s offputting.”
“Really now? So who fucked me in that alley, Todd? Your doppelganger? Who shoved my mouth down on his cock in his truck three nights ago when we got back from the grocery store? You like it rough. You like it dirty. Why are you so ashamed of it? You didn’t hurt me. I was there with you every step of the way.”
“I don’t want to like it, damn it. Can’t you understand that? I don’t choose to like it. I don’t want to be the man who likes to fuck rough! I choose not to be him.” He shoved a hand through his hair.
Pain sliced through her. “I get it. You think being with me is a bad choice.”
“It’s not . . . I didn’t plan for you, Erin. I like you.”
“But you don’t like who you are when you’re with me. You blame this on me and I’m not having it. I won’t be responsible for your life. You’re a big boy.”
“No. Oh fuck, I don’t know. This is very intense. I have an intense job. I’m not sure if I need an intense personal life too.”
“I see.” She looked into his eyes, wishing he’d wake up and see her. See them and what they could have together.
“You keep saying that, Erin. But how can you see? I don’t even see.”
“All I see is a man who can’t face himself. And it makes me sad, because you’re alive when we’re together and you’re not hiding who you are. You’re playing a game with this, a stupid game. Why I don’t know, because I like who you are. I won’t play this game with you. I’m worth more and so are you.” She leaned up, pressed her hand over his heart and kissed his chin. “Good-bye, Todd. I wish you well, I really do. If you change your mind, give me a call. Maybe I’ll be available.”
He watched her walk out the door and told himself it was for the
best, but he knew he was lying to himself. Just like she said he was.
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