Chapter Five

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Sunset Boulevard was alive with the usual late night sounds of car horns blaring and people hollering out open car windows. Emily sat back against the seat of the cab, the noise and action around her barely registering while she thought about the last couple of hours.

It was likely she wouldn't see Jesse again until his next trip out to the west coast. Given how distracted he'd seemed in her company, even after he'd insisted that she come out tonight, she wasn't sure his absence from her life would be a loss.

Hearing her phone ring distracted her from her thoughts, and she fumbled inside of her purse until her fingers wrapped around the phone's leather case. The name on the screen told her the caller was Jesse.

She paused, thinking about ignoring his call. Her evening had just concluded with what so far looked to be a promising ending, after all. Still, she was curious about what Jesse had to say to her now that he hadn't said in the last forty-eight hours. Her curiosity won out.

"Hello?" She grabbed onto the handle of the door with her free hand as her cab driver took a sharp left onto La Cienega Boulevard.

"Hey, Em. Where are you?" Jesse's voice was close to a yell. Emily winced.

"In a cab," she replied, her tone flat. She continued to grip the door handle, even though the car had finished turning and was now coasting down the street.

"I didn't get a chance to talk to you much tonight," he began, then stopped. She waited in silence for him to continue. "I just think some things didn't come out right at dinner on Wednesday night."

You've got that right, she thought. "Okay?" she answered.

Jesse waited for her to continue, until he realized that the single word was all she was going to give him.

"Are you going home?" he asked.

"Yep."

"Can I come over?"

She didn't answer him. It was after midnight and her body was craving sleep. And, if she was honest with herself, she wasn't sure she wanted to see him anytime soon.

"You can say no if you want to." Jesse's words tumbled out quickly. "It's okay."

There was silence on Emily's end of the line while she struggled with what to say.

"Em?"

She let out the breath she didn't know she'd been holding. "Come over," she finally said. "We can talk."

"Let me grab a cab. I'll be there in a few minutes, okay?" He sounded relieved.

She tapped the screen to end the call and let her head rest against the back of the seat. The cab turned onto her street a few minutes later, slowing to a stop in front of her building. After paying the driver, she waited outside her building for Jesse.

She could see Wilshire Boulevard from where she stood, along with the cars that whizzed past on either side of the busy street. A yellow cab approached the intersection and stopped for the red light. When the light changed, it turned onto her street and stopped at the curb beside her.

She watched Jesse pay the driver, then reach for the door handle. A grin lit up his face as he stepped out of the cab. She didn't return the smile.

He closed the cab door and walked over to where she stood, leaving only inches between them. He tilted his head down to look at her, trying to hold her gaze with his.

"I saw the most beautiful girl tonight," he said, touching her arm. "She was there, right in front of me, and then she disappeared."

"Save it," she growled, jerking her arm away from his hand. "I'm not in the mood."

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