Exclusive Excerpt from Catch Me
by Beth Bolden
“I got fresh supplies,” Ryan said, pulling out a bottle of Grey Goose from the paper bag he was holding.
“Should have gotten tequila,” Wyatt said, forcing his voice to stay even and normal. “I’m making barbecued shrimp. Great with a margarita.”
“I probably have some somewhere,” Ryan said. “But Tabby was determined to drink all my vodka.”
“I was trying to make you feel better,” Tabitha said with dignity. “And I’ve been telling you for years not to call me that.”
“Someday,” Ryan said, slinging an arm around his friend, “you’re going to realize that every time you say that, it makes me more determined than ever to call you that.” His affectionate gaze was completely platonic, but Wyatt couldn’t help it; he burned with jealousy anyway.
Even if they couldn’t be a thing—fake or real or anything else in between—he still wanted to be Ryan’s friend. Not just his employee. And Wyatt was terrified that turning down his proposal had left him his job, but had demolished everything else
He couldn’t imagine how much it would burn when Ryan moved on and found someone new to pretend to date, and fuck for real.
No matter how much he needed this job or how much he didn’t want to leave, Wyatt wasn’t sure he could stick around and watch that.
“You are an asshole,” Tabitha said. “Even though you went and bought me more vodka.”
“Yeah, I’m still trying to figure out how you coming over and drinking all my booze was supposed to make me feel better.” Ryan was smiling, but Wyatt thought he could see the bad mood lurking behind his dark eyes. Present, but concealed. Just like his own.
It shouldn’t have made Wyatt feel any better, but it did, a little. If Ryan felt bad, at least that meant he’d cared. He’d really wanted it to be Wyatt, and Wyatt still felt incredulous that Ryan had cared so much. It shouldn’t have mattered. Wyatt should have been pissed as hell that he’d concealed his motives, but there had been genuine understanding in his eyes when Wyatt had told him why he couldn’t accept.
“It’s a secret talent of mine,” Tabitha said. She turned to Wyatt. “Don’t you feel better, too?”
“I’m fine,” Wyatt said stiffly, even though they all knew it was a lie. Nobody knew it more than Ryan.
“Then it’s time for me to get out of your hair,” Tabitha said, gracefully sliding off the barstool. Even though Wyatt was beginning to suspect she’d drank quite a bit of Ryan’s vodka.
“Wyatt’s making dinner, you can’t leave yet,” Ryan said. They all knew what he really meant was, you can’t leave me alone with Wyatt.
Tabitha reached over and patted him on the cheek. “I’m sure I’ll be back.”
Wyatt threw a towel over his shoulder. “I’m holding you to that.”
She batted her eyes exaggeratedly and it didn’t even make her look ridiculous, only more beautiful. “It isn’t every day that I get to enjoy the efforts of a Michelin-starred chef,” she said.
He wasn’t really Michelin-starred. That had been his boss, Bastian Aquino, but he didn’t correct her, only smiled.
“I’ll call you an Uber,” Ryan said, “you are so damn drunk.”
“Don’t worry, I already texted Calvin, he’ll be here in a minute.”
Ryan rolled his eyes. “Next time I’m not calling you.”
Tabitha’s expression was dead serious. “Of course you will. That’s why we’re friends.” She tugged Ryan into a quick, tight hug.
Wyatt turned back to his corn in the sink. He didn’t want to cry again, but he felt close and he didn’t even know why.