Twisted Love (Twisted 1) - Page 65

“I got in.” I bit my lower lip, my chest wild with the drumbeat of excitement and nerves. “New York. I got in.”

“I knew you would.” Simple and matter of fact, like he’d never doubted me, but Alex’s eyes shone with pride. “Congratulations, Sunshine.”

He leaned across the table and pressed a kiss to my lips. I was so giddy I couldn’t stop grinning, and my earlier irritation melted away. So what if he’d been a little late? I got in!

I’d nearly dropped my phone when I received the email this morning. I’d had to reread it several times before the words sunk in.

I, Ava Chen, was going to be a World Youth Photography fellow. I would spend a year in New York, studying with the world’s best photographers. My only regret was not being able to study under Diane Lange, who taught the London cohort, because while I’d made progress with my aquaphobia, I wasn’t ready to fly over an ocean yet.

But that was okay. I’d meet her one day. In the meantime, I’d work on honing my craft and holy crap, I was going to be a WYP fellow! One of the most prestigious honors in the industry.

My heart soared before reality dragged me down.

“I’ll be in New York,” I said after Alex and I broke apart. “You’ll be in D.C.”

“No, I won’t.” His eyes gleamed at my questioning look. “Archer Group has an office in Manhattan.”

My hopeful heart flapped its wings again. “But you’ve built your base here. Your house, your friends…”

“It’s not my house; it’s Josh’s. I’m safekeeping it for him. And most of the people I know here are acquaintances, not friends.” Alex lifted his shoulder in an elegant shrug. “It’s a simple equation, Sunshine. If you’re in New York, I’m in New York.”

The last vestiges of my hesitation floated away. I grinned, so happy I could dance right here in the middle of a crowded restaurant. “You know how—”

Something buzzed. Alex stiffened, and my eyes dropped to his coat pocket, which buzzed again.

My grin faded. “You said your phone died.”

Just like that, the tension returned, simmering in the air until it became a full-on boil.

The night was an emotional rollercoaster, and I couldn’t keep up.

“I charged it in the car.” Alex sipped his wine, his shoulders tense.

“But you didn’t reply to any of my messages or calls.” I tucked my hands beneath my thighs, suddenly cold even though the heat was on. “Why were you really late, Alex?”

“I told you, I had urgent business to take care of.”

“That’s not good enough.”

“I don’t know what you want me to tell you.”

“The truth!” I lowered my voice when the diners at the next table shot me an alarmed look. “That’s all I want. Please. My fath—Michael lied to me my entire life, and I don’t want you to start.”

A shadow passed over Alex’s face before it disappeared. “I won’t lie unless the truth hurts you.”

My teeth clenched. “Alex—”

“Plausible deniability exists for a reason, Sunshine.” He cut into his pasta with more force than necessary.

“What did you do?” I whispered.

Alex tightened his grip on his fork. “I’m not always a good person. I don’t always do the right thing. You know that, even if you seem determined to see the good in me. I won’t—” He released a pent-up breath, looking frustrated. “Just drop it, Ava. For your own sake.”

“Sure. I’ll drop it.” I tossed my napkin on the table, my own frustration boiling over. “I’m also leaving. I’ve lost my appetite.”

“Sunshine—” He reached for me, but I shrugged him off and ran out before he could stop me.

My chest felt tight as I speed-walked home. What should’ve been one of the best nights of my life had turned into one of the worst.

Tags: Ana huang Twisted Romance
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