Chapter 20

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“What do you mean by that? You want to get murdered in your sleep by me telling them that I just had sex a few nights ago?”

He saw her lower her eyes in embarrassment. “No, I just wanted to know why…okay, forget it…” she went to a chair just a few paces away and sat up.

“You should be careful around those women. They’re like tigers,” he whispered, sitting on the floor beside her chair.

“Still can’t believe Pauline…” she sighed.

“She’s a manipulative bitch, sorry for the word,” he grinned. “You deserve better than to be friends with any of them. They have a goal in mind and they are desperate to get it.”

She looked down at him with a faint smile. “Thanks,” she said in a whisper.

“I don’t suppose you want to talk about my growing feelings?” he asked reluctantly. He saw the look on her eyes and he said, “Okay, I don’t think so,” and he heard her chuckle. About a full minute passed with just silence and when he finally spoke once again, his voice was somber. “I can’t send Pauline home.”

He looked at her and when she didn’t say anything, he cringed.

“The producers want to keep her until the top four,” he explained. “People kind of liked her after our date.”

She snorted. “They liked her after she told you she hates me?”

“Yeah, sort of,” he frowned. “They found her honest and true.”

“Yeah, right,” she said dryly.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“It’s fine. You don’t control everything. It’s not like I was really expecting you to send her home.”

“I was planning to,” he interjected strongly. “I don’t want people reading you all wrong, Jules.”

 *****

Julianne felt her heart swell gratefully. She didn’t doubt his words—apart, of course, from the I LOVE YOU thing. She smiled and looked ahead through the window. “Thanks.”

He checked his watch and said, “We only have one more minute left.”

“And?”

“I think we should spend it wisely,” he grinned at her wickedly before he stood up and took her hand to guide her to her feet. She didn’t complain when he pressed her closer against his chest and kissed her ever so gently. She had done more than that with him so why push away? She was supposed to get whatever she could, right?

“Okay, I think it’s enough,” he rasped out a moment later. “How do I look?” he asked her.

Confused, she frowned up at him, “What do you mean?”

“Do I look like we just kissed? You know those ladies out there. They will know.”

She smiled and looked at him through her glasses. Reaching up, she righted his hair that somehow got tousled by her fingers and wiped away a smudge of lipstick from his lips. “You’re good to go,” she finally uttered.

He grinned down at her and brushed her hair with his fingers. “You’re good to go, too.”

“Okay, time’s up!” Pauline’s voice said from behind the door.

“I hate that voice,” he groaned and Julianne chuckled.

“Get used to it. You’ll be around her until the top four.”

“If I can still look at her, that is,” he complained, leading her toward the door.

It opened before he even reached out for the knob. Pauline’s beaming face popped in and said, “Come on, you two!”

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