Found in You: Page 44
And that was a pretty shocking idea in itself.
"I'm not saying it's unwarranted. You deserve to run the club. Truly."
David's sincerity was touching. It also made me all the more pissed at Hudson. Even though David was happy about the promotion, even though it probably was for the best that he moved on elsewhere, away from me-it still wasn't right how the situation had been handled. I'd been lied to and misled.
I had to go confront him. I straightened, tugging my dress into place. "Hey, I just remembered that I need to stop and pick up the new sample menu design."
"I thought Graphic Front was emailing it."
My mind was so unsettled I couldn't get my excuses right. "They are. I mean, they did." I paused, gathering my thoughts. "I want to see it printed. Feel the weight and all that. Anyway, I'm not sure when I'll be back."
David smiled. "I'm really not the one you report to anymore."
I looked away, hiding my wince.
"Hug it out?"
This time I didn't decline. I stepped into his embrace, finding it warmer than I remembered. "Thank you, David. For everything." I buried my head in his shoulder. I wasn't going to cry-I was too mad for that-but I did feel a burst of affection.
I stepped back before he took it the wrong way, before I got swept away with the need to be comforted. "And congratulations. I'm glad things are working out for you."
I texted Jordan to pick me up. Then I grabbed my bag and pulled all my rage and heartache inside myself, holding the emotions in the pit of my stomach. Saving them for Hudson.
When I stepped out of the elevator at Pierce Industries, I didn't even stop to check in with Trish, Hudson's secretary, before I rushed into his office.
"Ms. Withers!" Trish followed after me.
Hudson sat behind his sleek black desk, the phone cradled between his cheek and his shoulder with his fingers perched on his keyboard. He glanced first at me then behind me at Trish. "Hold on a moment, Landon," he said into the receiver.
He pushed the hold button. "It's okay, Patricia."
I didn't wait for the click of the door to shut behind Trish as she left. "Finish your phone call and meet me in the loft." I was heading for the elevator at the back of the office. "And so you know, we're gonna fight."
The private elevator went to Hudson's loft-the bachelor pad where he and I had spent many of our first sexual encounters. I hadn't been back there since he'd invited me to the penthouse, and while I would have expected a rush of nostalgia, I felt nothing but betrayal and rage.
In the loft, I only had time to throw my bag on the couch before the elevator returned with Hudson. He stepped into the loft, located me pacing, and took a seat in an armchair, his attention completely focused on me.
I'd composed a hundred different things to say to him on the way to his office, but now that I was in front of him, my anger had me tongue-tied.
But Hudson was as calm and cool as ever. "He wasn't supposed to tell you until we got back from Japan."
He. Hudson wouldn't even say David's name. At least he wasn't pretending he didn't know what I was pissed about.
It didn't make me any calmer. "Lucky for me, he's a good friend. Also, I never agreed to go to Japan."
"What the f**k, Hudson?" My emotions were boiling inside of me, threatening to explode.
He crossed one leg over the other, resting his ankle on his knee. "I offered David an opportunity, and he took it."
"You agreed we could discuss it further."
"I agreed we could discuss the future management of The Sky Launch further, and we certainly will."
He was so even, so in control-it only fueled my rage. "This was part of that!"
"You should have been more specific." He didn't even blink.
God, I wanted to throw something-anything. Instead I threw my words at him. "You knew what I meant. You knew how I felt and you went ahead and ignored everything I said. I thought you cared about me, but you obviously don't, because that's not how you treat someone that you're in a relationship with."
He put his leg on the floor and leaned forward, finally animated. "Yes, I did know how you felt. And you knew how I felt. You wanted me not to fire him, I wanted him gone. Offering him a job elsewhere-a promotion, mind you at my biggest club in the country-was, I thought, a pretty damn good compromise."
There was logic to his words, and his offer had certainly made David happy. But that didn't change that Hudson had made the offer without my knowledge, behind my back. "Compromises are supposed to involve both parties. You alone can't arbitrarily decide what the compromise is."
"I didn't, really." He leaned back again, resuming his composed exterior. "David did when he accepted the job. I had no idea that he'd agree when I asked him, and if he hadn't, then I would have come back to you to find a suitable solution to our problem."
"You should have talked to me before you even offered the job to him!"
"I took the opportunity when I saw it. You weren't around to confer with."
"Don't even pretend you didn't go to David today with every intention of making him that offer." Hudson's giddy mood that morning, his need to understand my change of heart the night before-he was feeling out the situation. I could see it clearly now. "I can't believe you don't see why this isn't okay!"
I was yelling. I wished I wasn't, wished I could be as controlled as he was. It definitely had a chilling effect. But that wasn't me, I was emotional and riled up and all the turmoil I had inside was spewing all over the loft.
Hudson stood and stepped toward me, one brow raised. "Are you upset because you assume I want you to take David's place?"
It was part of it, yes, but so much more than that. I turned my back to him, not knowing how to answer.
"I do want you to, of course, and I have full confidence that you would do an excellent job. But if you are unwilling, then I hope you will be instrumental in deciding who will take his place instead." His hand settled on the nape of my neck.
I spun toward him, hitting his hand away. "Dammit, Hudson. I don't want anyone to take his place. I want to work with David. David Lindt, that's all."
"You're defending him with the passion of a lover, Alayna. You're making it hard for me to believe there really is nothing between you."
This new insult was the lowest. It stung so badly I went numb, no longer able to feel anything but cold, cold, cold.
"This is so manipulative, Hudson." My voice was strained, but low and quiet. "Everything you've done and said to me today is a total mind game. I thought you were done with that. I don't even know how to react. Which is probably exactly what you were going for, so guess what-mission f**king accomplished."
He advanced toward me. "It is not fair for you to throw my past behaviors in my face every time you disagree with my actions. I am in no way trying to manipulate you to do or feel anything. I'm merely staying committed to my plan-to you, Alayna. Everything I've done has been to protect our relationship and our future. That is all."
"Really? Because right now the future of our relationship feels pretty vulnerable, if you ask me." It was downright cold-as cold as I felt at the moment, but even seeing his face fall as if I'd struck him, I didn't wish I could take it back. I only wished it not to be true.
He reached for me again, but I sidestepped him, putting my hands out in front of me as a barrier. "Don't even come near me. You try to solve all our problems with sex, and this time is not going to be one of them."
He ran his hands through his hair. "I do not try to solve our problems with sex. I simply recognize that when we're fighting, the physical connection puts us back in tune with each other."
"You mean it makes me easier to manage." He opened his mouth-to protest, most likely-but I spoke on before he could say anything. "I can't deal with this right now. I have to go."
I nabbed my bag off the sofa and headed to the main door. He tried to catch me as I walked past him, but I slipped from his grasp.
He didn't try again. "Alayna, do not leave things like this."
"Right now the last thing I want to hear is you telling me what to do."
"Alayna, please-" The ache, the pleading in his voice-it wrecked me.
But I needed time.
I paused, my hand on the doorknob, not looking at him. If I looked at him, I was afraid I'd fall into his arms. I needed to be in a place where I could think clearly. And his arms was not that place. "I'll be at the penthouse later. That's all I can give you. Right now, I need some space."
The ball in his throat was so tight, I heard him swallow. "Fair enough."
Then I was gone.
I knew before the elevator doors closed that I wanted to talk to Celia. I'd been blindsided, Hudson's behavior baffling me so completely, twisting me in knots. I didn't have the experience with him to sort it out.
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