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Elias(West Bend Saints #1)(4) by Sabrina Paige

Shit.  I rolled over and ran my hand over my face, then through my hair.  For a second when I pulled my hand back I wondered where the rest of my hair was.  Then I recalled taking the scissors to it last night.
Last night.
I touched my fingers to my lips where he kissed me - the guy from the hallway, the one with the red plastic cup in his hand.  The one who was so hot.
My heart raced just thinking about his lips pressed up against mine, his tongue on mine.  I wanted to feel his hands on my body, touching me.
God, he was sexy.  His hair was blonde, buzzed close to his scalp, giving him a military look, and his face was bronzed from the sun.  He looked like this delicious combination of a Marine and a surfer.  I closed my eyes, picturing him in my head- tall and lean, but his shoulders were broad, and when I pushed on his chest, I could feel his muscles, firm to the touch, under my fingers.
I wanted to slide my fingers up underneath his shirt, unbuckle his pants...
Heat flowed from my core and between my legs, just thinking about him.  I had been with Viper for the past few years- had been faithful to him for the past few years, even when the sex dried up last year, even when it dwindled to absolutely nothing three months ago- but I had never had the kind of automatic physical response to anyone like I had to the guy in the hallway. Even with Viper, my f**king fiancé.
I thought it was me, that I was some kind of freak, that my past had made me forever shut off from that kind of thing, from the kind of passion you see in the movies, that you read about in romance novels.
I don't even know his name.
I slid my hand down my stomach and between my legs, all the while reflecting on that kiss, the one that made my legs weak.  The throbbing between my legs, just thinking about him, threatened to eclipse everything else...especially the worries about what the hell was going to happen next with my life.  I moved my finger over my cl*t slowly, reveling in the heat that rushed through my body.  Sliding one hand up underneath my tank top, I ran my palm over my breast, my thumb lingering on my nipple, which hardened instantly to my touch.
My breath caught in my throat as I touched myself, my movements faster and faster until I was at the brink.  In my mind's eye, I pictured him, kissing down the side of my neck, to my collarbone, then to my br**sts.  I imagined his mouth enveloping me, his tongue flicking over my nipple, sucking me until I was close to orgasm.  I pictured him pushing me up against the wall, thrusting his c**k inside me, his movements as insistent as his tongue was in my mouth.
I was on the edge, and when I crashed over, it was his face I saw.
Not Viper's.
I walked through the hotel foyer, my bag slung over my shoulder, the few things I had with me stuffed inside the makeshift suitcase.  Between the new hair and the sunglasses, I was hoping to avoid being recognized.  I hadn't watched television.  For all I knew, my mother had called the cops, reported me kidnapped or something.
That would be something she'd do.  That would be something my manager would be more than happy to do, cover up the real story, the fact that everything wasn't actually a fairy tale between the poor-little-girl-turned-movie-star and the rocker who had it all.  That was the most important thing.  Protecting my brand, my manager called it.  You must protect your brand.  Always.
Damage control, my manager would be advising right about now.  I could hear her words, without even having to stretch my imagination.  Are there any other girls?  She'd ask.  Of course there were other girls.  There were always other girls.
Never my sister, though.
My manager would sigh.  In that case, Viper will go to rehab for sex addiction.  You'll stand by him, deliver a teary-eyed speech about how much you've been hurt by his misbehavior.  You'll take a primo role - something classy, not trashy, right now, given the circumstances- I'm thinking something about a strong woman persevering despite her no-good man.  Too soon?  It doesn't matter.  You'll do something big, while he's away in rehab.  Something meaningful.  It's Oscar time for you.
The spin.  It was always about the spin.  Sometimes it was exhausting.
Poor little rich girl.
It’s how my mother referred to me now.  I was privileged, I knew it.  But inside, I was still River Gilstead, the girl from the trailer park. I couldn’t quite shake the feeling.
I always felt lost.
I checked out at the front desk, watching the clerk from behind my sunglasses, stealing glances at the other people in the lobby from my peripheral vision.  My heart raced, even though there was nothing wrong.  I just wanted to slip out of here unnoticed.
I had no actual plan, though.
Get in the car and drive.  I could get away, someplace private.  I could keep heading East... a small town or something, rent a condo, figure out what the hell I wanted to do now.
Maybe I'll go overseas.  I could hang out in obscurity, sip a cocktail on the beach somewhere.
Poor little rich girl.
I'll figure it out tonight, I promised myself.  Tonight, I'll get a plan together.
Outside the hotel, I handed the valet my tag.
And then I saw him, coming for me - a man with a camera.  "River!" he yelled.  "River Andrews!"
I held my bag up to cover the side of my face, but he was taking pictures.  He was the only one, but I knew there would be more.  I backed inside the hotel door.  Didn’t this place have security?
People were staring, and I felt a flush of shame.
Everyone knows, I realized.  They have to.  It will be all over the TV.  I swallowed the bile I felt in my throat. 
The photographer followed me inside, persistent, and I shielded my face from him.  Then I heard someone shriek, a female voice.  "That's River Andrews!"
I turned around.  I'll go back the way I came, back toward the elevators, I told myself, get one of the front desk staff to do something.
But instead I ran into him.
My palms hit his chest, and I felt him grasp my elbows.  I knew the photographer was taking pictures of us, something that would wind up plastered all over the papers, something that women could point to and say, See?  She was whoring around on Viper after all.  That stuck-up bitch deserved everything she got.
I knew all of this, in the back of my mind.  But right there, in the moment, with his hands on me, everything stopped.  All of the other things going on faded, instantaneously, into the background, this blur of white noise.  He looked at me, this wrinkle between his eyebrows.  I couldn't tell if it was a sign that he was worried or annoyed.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
I shook my head.  "No," I mumbled.  "I need to get out of here.  The camera...I just...can't."
He didn’t say anything.  He let go of me, stepped forward, and yanked the camera out of the photographer's hand.
"You're going to regret that!" the photographer yelled.  "I'll f**king sue your ass for assaulting me!  That's a thousand dollar camera!"
The photographer lunged toward us.  Before I could blink, he- my savior- punched the photographer in the face.  I just stood there staring, paralyzed.  I had to force my mouth closed.
His friends moved between us and the photographer, and I felt his hand on my arm, and heard him speak.  "My car should be out front," he said.
I didn’t know exactly why I did it, but I walked with him out the door of the hotel.  I could feel eyes on us as we left, and I saw someone with a cell phone, recording, a pretty brazen move, considering this guy just punched someone in the face for taking photos of me.  The valet wasn’t back with my car, and I felt my rescuer's hand on the middle of my back, guiding me forward.       He pointed.  "Right here," he said, opening the door and shielding me from the stares of onlookers as I slipped inside his car.
I shouldn't do this, I thought.  It's stupid.  I don't even know his name.  It's amazingly, mind-numbingly idiotic.  He could be anything, this man.  A f**king stalker.  A serial killer.
And yet, as I sat back against the passenger seat, a feeling of calmness washed over me.