Chapter 107

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February 2015

The line at the coat check is long but I have no choice but to wait in it. I fiddle with the ticket in my hands, anxious to get out of here and put an end to this awful evening. My body stiffens, going into high alert when I hear Nina's voice behind me in line. I'm not in the mood for a confrontation so I don't dare look back but I can feel her behind me.

"I don't see why we have to stand here!" she whines loudly. "I've already gotten my things."

"Because I need mine." Max's cool voice clips at the back of my neck and the hairs on my skin rise. I can feel the tequila still coursing through my veins and I let out an involuntary shiver.

"Well I'm not waiting," she huffs, in her haughtiest voice.

"Then don't." Max sound like he could care less what Nina does and this obviously bothers her because her tone drastically changes when she speaks again.

"I'll tell you what. I'm going to go say goodbye to my father and then I'll meet you out front. We can go back to your place and have some fun."

I can almost feel myself gag as images of the two of them together take shape in my mind. Shaking my head to clear them, I peak around the man in front of me trying to see what the hold-up is. I don't hear Nina's voice and assume that she's left already, but he's still there behind me. I can feel it, the moment he notices me too. A tremor rises from deep inside my belly and I close my eyes wishing to disappear.

Thankfully I'm up next. I give the girl my ticket and wait impatiently for her to return with my things. It takes longer than I'd like, but she finally comes back with my coat and the small bag I brought from changing at Caroline's house earlier. She looks apologetically at me.

"I'm sorry, but are these your things?" I nod as I reach out and take them from her. Her body relaxes with relief. "They were on the floor without a number. They must've fallen somehow; I really am sorry." I think she's afraid I'm going to yell at her or something; I'm sure some guests would, but I don't really care. I just want to get out of here.

My head start pounding as I slide my coat on. As I slip by Max, I try to pretend to be invisible, but it doesn't work. His hand darts out and he grabs my wrist stopping me in my tracks. My cheeks flush in anger as I glare down at his hand on me.

"Let go," I snarl up at him. He does, instantly, and I continue past him but he steps out of line and follows me through the crowd and over to the stairs. I hesitate when I see Jared's father, Declan, coming up them and turn back towards Max, not knowing what to do at finding myself stuck between the two of them.

"Please leave me alone," I beg, my voice cracking with desperation. He looks down at me, I know he can see the plea written on my face and for a moment there I think he's going to let me go, but he doesn't.

"We need to finish our conversation Ellie."

I shake my head. We don't need to finish our conversation. I need to get home and forget this night ever happened. Devon walks past us and I duck my head. I'm not sure if he saw me but I don't turn around to check.

"Not tonight Max," I mumble distractedly.

"Why not tonight?" he asks, refusing to drop it. Furiously I begin buttoning my coat, skipping one button in the process and having to start all over again. Max smiles down at my mistake; it's irritating.

"I don't have to give you a reason, but if you want one, how about because I've had way too much tequila tonight?" He seems surprised, but then examines me more closely and notices the unsteadiness of my stance. "Or how about the fact that my life is spinning out of control and I don't want to deal with anything more right now? Or how about the fact that I just want to go home and end this horrible evening already? Are those good enough reasons?" I snap, spinning away from him and rushing down the marble staircase. I'm relieved that he doesn't follow me, but smart enough to know that that doesn't mean anything. He'll be back and he'll still be demanding answers from me.

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