Drawn to You: Volume 2

By: Vanessa Booke

“Fuck you!”

I hear Nick before I see him. The anger in his voice sends a streak of anxiety through my chest, pushing me toward the crowd of paparazzi. Oh, God. He must be the reason why they’re lurking around the outside of the bar. The crowd slightly parts just enough for me to catch sight of Nicholas taking a swing at the paparazzo in front of him. I cringe as the man stumbles back against the crowd. Incoming hotel guests stop to observe as profanity spews from his mouth. His face turns bright red as he confronts Nick. I can’t hear what he’s saying, but his mocking tone only makes my brother more hostile.

“Nicholas!” I yell, hoping to stop him from doing something incredibly stupid. A familiar figure pops into view as Nicholas steps forward to swing once again. I recognize Tristan within an earshot of hearing his voice. Before I have a chance to intervene, Tristan wraps his arms around Nicholas, immobilizing him as he pulls him away from the paparazzi. The cameras in front of us don’t pause for even a moment as they flutter to capture the whole scene.

Shock overwhelms me at the sight of Tristan standing only a few feet away from me. He’s so close I could almost touch him. It’s almost too surreal to believe. What the hell is he doing here? I step back tempted to get lost in the crowd before he sees me, but it’s too late. His eyes connect with mine the moment I start to step away.

“C’mon, Nick, let’s get you home,” Tristan says, wrapping his arm around my brother’s shoulder.

As much as I want to hate Tristan, watching him protect Nicholas kindles a familiar feeling inside of me. My body betrays me. He doesn’t call out to me, but I know he recognizes me from the disbelief that registers on his face. A streak of anger and desire filters through me as his gaze holds me. Tristan looks good. Too good. His designer suit melts against his body revealing muscular thighs and broad shoulders and an incredibly sexy Adam’s apple. I watch it bob as Tristan swallows his words. A part of me is disappointed to see Tristan’s hair cut short. I can’t help but miss the length it used to be.

“I’ve missed you, asshole,” my brother murmurs, pulling his attention back.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t saved every news article I could find on the success of Tristan’s paintings. It seemed like overnight he became a well-known sensation.

“Who are you?” A paparazzo asks stepping forward and snapping a picture of Tristan.

Before anyone has a chance to answer, a voice calls out from the crowd.

“That’s Tristan Knight.”

An excited murmur of voices surrounds us as the flashes continue. I’m not surprised New York loves Tristan. Who wouldn’t love a story about a boy who grows up in the streets and then becomes a locally prized artist? Everyone loves a Cinderella story. So why can’t I shake this bitter feeling? It seems the world has seen more of Tristan than I have, and they all seem to think he’s this perfect being. But I know better. He’s the same person who broke my heart into tiny little pieces and scattered them on his way out the door. Fuck him. Why the hell is he here?

Tristan steps forward blocking the view of the flashing paparazzo. The rawness of his voice sends a strange flutter through my chest.

“I’m a family friend and that’s all you need to know.”

Why is Tristan trying to be so sweet? Why is he acting like he didn’t eject himself from our lives?

“Where have you been?” Nicholas asks, turning to Tristan. “Why didn’t you come see us this past Easter?”

My brother’s gaze searches Tristan’s face for an answer. It’s a question I’ve longed to ask for the past four years, except Tristan never really stopped talking to Nicholas. He just stopped seeing me. A flash of anger sparks from Nicholas’s eyes, but more than that, there’s hurt. An emotion matching the intensity of mine.

“I was planning to. I just needed to get some things in order…” Tristan’s gaze shifts to mine before returning to the walkway in front of him. “Let’s go inside before the paparazzo does something else to piss you off.”

The paparazzi follow us to the front of the hotel, but they’re quickly contained as several of the hotel employees block them from entering the hotel. Sadly, it doesn’t stop them from swarming the outside of the lobby doors as they click away on their cameras. I can’t help but feel like a caged animal on display at the zoo as they stalk the outside of the hotel.

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