Breaking HimR. K. Lilley
It was the kind of relationship where I invested more than I had to spare.
I gave it everything.
And so when it failed, I lost myself.
It changed me. He changed me.
I went down with the ship.
My soul, burnt embers in the aftermath.
The fire of him ravaged it all.
He burned me.
Scarlett had always dreamed big. She was headed straight for Hollywood. Destined for silver screen greatness.
But in her wildest dreams she never imagined she’d be broke and single at twenty-eight, doling drinks at thirty-five thousand feet.
She was a glorified waitress in the skies.
It had been years since she’d seen him.
But one day, there he sat, gazing intently at her, ready to set everything ablaze once more.
Dante wanted her. Again.
Sure, she’d play along…but this time, it was his turn.
She was breaking him.
After all, love is war.
Copyright © 2015 R.K. Lilley
All rights reserved.
All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of events to real life, or of characters to actual persons, is purely coincidental. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction.
This book is dedicated to two of my favorite ladies in the world.
Vilma, I feel lucky every day to have you as a friend. You are one of the kindest and most caring people I have ever met. You make me feel less alone in the world, and shamelessly enable my shopping addiction. I crazy stupid love you.
Anna Todd, you are a rock star and a class act. You inspire me and get me writing like no one else. You are my muse and rest assured that I am, and will continue to be, your biggest cheerleader. I love you to pieces.
"I was born for the storm, and a calm does not suit me."
He was here. He was actually fucking here.
On this plane. My plane. In my cabin.
How dare he?
This was not allowed, and he fucking knew it.
I slapped my rolled up flight paperwork against my palm agitatedly, over and over, like I had a twitch and I couldn’t stop.
“Oh my God,” Leona muttered, peeking out of the curtain. “What’s he doing here?”
Humiliating me was the answer to that, but I didn’t say it aloud.
That bastard. I was grinding my teeth. Audibly.
Leona straightened, her kind gaze going sharp as she studied me closely. “I’ll take the cabin this time. You can stay in the galley. You don’t even need to see him.”
Leona worked the number two flight attendant position in our crew, and she knew me well enough to know about him.
She was the good girl to my bad, the sweet to my sour, the nice to my vicious, the peacemaker to my ballbuster.
She was all the things I’d never be, and I loved her for it. Adored the ground she walked on.
And she knew about me and Dante. About our history. She knew almost everything, though she was one of the only ones besides me that did.
I shook my head sharply, not letting myself even consider it. He knew I was here, of course he did. For whatever twisted reason, he was on this plane, had bought a ticket just to see me.
And I would not give him the satisfaction of knowing how hard it was for me to face him.
Pride had always been my greatest weapon when it came to Dante.
Sometimes my only weapon, so it was honed to killing sharpness.
“I can handle him,” I told her. And it was the truth. It would hurt like hell, but it was a pain I was familiar with.
She bit her lip and nodded. She was the sweetest thing. So sweet, I wished I could be more like her. I couldn’t. I’d tried once or twice, but the results had been laughable.
Leona had been raised by doting parents that loved her, in a world where being kind was a virtue.
I had not. I had been shaped by petty meanness in a world that had tried from the start to throw me away, and where being hard was the only way to survive.
“Is he alone?” I asked.
“I think so. So far.”
The so far wasn’t without reason. The last time he’d sought me out, he hadn’t been alone, the bastard.
In all fairness, I probably shouldn’t have taken it so personal. He was rarely alone.
I slipped into the bathroom with my makeup kit and did a quick touchup.
I’d been wearing a nude lip-gloss for work as I usually did, but I dug out my favorite red lipstick for this little reunion.
It was aptly named: Blood.
No other color was appropriate when dealing with my ex. I put it on because I was planning to draw some.
It occurred to me then that I was relishing and dreading this confrontation in near equal measures.
You see, it wasn’t the first time. It happened every so often. Dante sought me out, confronted me, we each got in our blows and limped away.
I usually spat the last word at his retreating back.
A part of me lived for it.
My shredded heart had been wrapped up in spite for a very long time, wrapped so long and so tight that it was suffocating, and it was almost a relief sometimes to let it vent.
But how much of your life can you devote to spite?
I’d spent a lot of time thinking about this.
The answer, in my case, was sad: Too much.
Great, gory chunks of it. Major, necessary pieces.
And all because of him. Dante the Bastard.
I loosened my tie and undid the top three buttons of my blouse, turning my uniform from professional to more than a touch sexy.
I had outrageous curves. A tiny waist, voluptuous hips, a great ass, mile-high legs, and full breasts.
I had the exact body type that drew him like a kamikaze to suicide, so of course I’d use it against him.
He’d never been able to resist this body, not once in his entire life.
br /> I pushed up my breasts, pinching my nipples until they popped perkily through the layers of my blouse and vest.
Go get him, tiger.
I smiled a bloodthirsty smile at my own reflection and headed back out to the galley.
The curtain was still up, but Leona was out in the cabin. Serving the first pre-board round of champagne, I assumed.
I grabbed my manual and made a quick announcement over the intercom, lowering my voice just so, turning it into a near seductive purr.
I did this for one reason. I knew it would get to him.
I wanted to score a hit before I ever even had to look at him.
He’d had the nerve to come into my territory.
I’d make him pay.
I always traveled with two pairs of shoes. One on my feet and one in my carryon. Work heels and killer heels. Work heels were for work, i.e. all of the grunt work on the airplane and keeping my balance at 35,000 feet. The killer heels were for the glamorous walk through the airport with my crew of gorgeous girls.
Well, okay, it wasn’t glamorous. Nothing about being a flight attendant was. But we made it look glamorous, which was close enough, as far as I was concerned.
I yanked my bag out of its spot in a cubby that ran just behind my jump seat and pulled out my killer heels.
Don’t get me wrong. My work heels are not hideous. I wouldn’t be caught dead in hideous shoes. They were black, patent leather, three-inch wedges with a cute little bow on the toe.
But this was not the time for cute.
I switched out my shoes in record time, stepping into five-inch red platform stilettos with a peep toe.
My uniform was simple and sleek. A black pencil skirt, white dress shirt, black vest and tie. I’d had every piece custom tailored to fit to perfection, accentuating my figure to its best advantage.
Add to that a sexy pair of red stilettos, and I knew I looked like a million bucks.
I stashed my bag right as Leona returned to the galley.
“I handed out menus, but the champagne could use topping off,” she informed me, dashing back into her galley to prep for takeoff.
That was fine. I was ready.
I grabbed the opened bottle of champagne and strutted out into the cabin.
Under my breath I was humming Seven Nation Army.
My battle anthem.
Because this was war.
I faltered slightly when I spotted him, but recovered between one step and the next. His face was downcast, eyes pointed away from me, thank God, so at least he hadn’t seen it.
His looks had always devastated me.
I was a shallow thing, with a weakness for the superficial. Even now, with all we’d put each other through, his beautiful face moved me.
He was just how I remembered. Every gut-punching, heart-wrenching inch of him.
He’d always struck me as a handsome villain. He had wicked good looks, with golden hair, ocean eyes, and a perpetual, darkly shadowed jaw. His coloring was interesting, eye-catching, with his brows a few shades darker than his hair. His features were even and sharp, with slanted eyes and a lush mouth. You couldn’t look at him without words like sinister or dastardly coming to mind.
Or maybe that was just me.
He was extremely tall, enough so that it was apparent when he was sitting down. If he stood, even in my killer heels he’d tower over me.
He was broad shouldered, muscular, but he was lean enough to pull off looking elegant in the ungodly expensive suits he wore on a regular basis.
Physically, he was just my type. I was a sucker for a sinister looking man.
Another thing that was all his fault.
“Dante,” I crooned with a smile when I reached him. “To what do I owe the honor of your disagreeable, unwelcome presence?”
He’d been looking down at his phone when I’d approached, and he sucked in a deep breath at the sound of my voice.
He held it there for a long moment before letting it out and waited another beat still before letting his ocean blue eyes travel up to meet mine.
Ah, sweet torture.
This was the part I dreaded the most.
When our eyes clashed, and everything, every horrible, wonderful, painful, ugly, beautiful, torturous, ruinous, gory bit of us came back to me.
It was bad enough when I didn’t have to look at him.
But when I did—exquisite torment, with a touch of pleasure so concentrated, so brutally pure it had ruined my life.
Broken my heart.
Eviscerated my soul. I’d scraped what was left of that pathetic soul out myself, sawed it into little pieces and left it somewhere far behind.
What you’re seeing is what was left.
“Hello, Scarlett,” he returned, in that beautiful voice of his that I utterly detested. It was the deepest timbre and compelling to an unusual degree.
Compelling to the point of controlling.
When it warmed, I warmed with it. When it cooled, I went cold.
His voice was a dirty trick.
An unfair weapon.
I wanted to wrap my hands around his throat just to disarm it.
Well, if I were honest, I wanted to choke him for numerous reasons. Several came to mind, not the least of which that the thought of it turned me on.
“How flattering that you’d deign to fly commercial just to ruin my day.” My tone dripped with venom.
“How flattering that you’d put on your favorite red lipstick just for me,” he returned with his own bloodthirsty smile.
Point to The Bastard. He must have gotten a glimpse of me before I’d applied it to notice the difference.
His eyes shot down to my feet and a ghost of a smile lingered on his lips. “And the shoes. I’m more than flattered. Your efforts never go unappreciated, angel.”
If I was fair, it was two.
Because angel. The Bastard.
I barely held my ‘eat shit and die’ smile.
He didn’t call me that because I was angelic.
Obviously. He was being ironic.
He thought I was the devil, and as far as he was concerned, I sure as hell was.
But that wasn’t why it burned. It burned because it was a very old nickname, from back in the day when we were just dumb kids in love and he’d actually meant it.
Once upon a time, I’d been his angel. The reminder was yet another reason I’d have loved to wring his neck.
“More champagne?” I asked him, holding up the bottle, wondering if the other passengers would notice if I quietly poured it over his head.
He looked away, and I saw his lip curl up in disdain.
That made me grind my teeth.
It was shitty champagne, cheaper than he was used to, and he couldn’t hide his distaste.
God, he was a snob. It was one of the things I hated most about him. At the top of a very long list.
“Oh. The brand too low class for you? You poor baby. You should put it up on your blog: spoiledrottentrustfundbrats.com.
Here was the part where he was supposed to make a biting crack about me being from a trailer park, or pointed out how far I’d fallen that I was slinging drinks on an airplane, or asked archly about how my failed acting career was going.
That’s how this little play worked.
Only he didn’t.
He just raised suddenly tired, sad eyes back to me and said, “We need to talk, Scarlett.”
That set me off. Here he was, wasting my time, and he wasn’t even giving me the reaction I wanted.
“Oh yeah sure,” I said flippantly, fake-distracted eyes traveling away from him to skim leisurely around the rest of the cabin, letting him know that he was barely worth my attention. “Go ahead. Talk.” I snapped my fingers. “Be quick about it. There’s still time for you to get your privileged ass off my plane before we close the doors.” My voice was dismissive and bored.
“Not here,” he ground out. I could tell by his tense tone that I’d gotten to him.
Score—another hit for me and my fake nonchalance.
I knew how to push every single button he had.
I’d keep pushing them until my fingers fell off or he left.
I saw one of my other crewmates, Demi, giving me a strange look from the coach cabin.
Dammit, I’d forgotten for a second that I was working. I had at least a hundred things to do in the next five minutes. I didn’t have time to indulge in this hatefest just then.
“Excuse me,” I told Dante coldly, not even looking at him again, and strode away.
“Why slap them on the wrist with feather when you can belt them over the head with a sledgehammer.”
I approached him again as I was taking dinner orders. I’d skipped him on my first sweep, only getting to his seat when everyone else was taken care of.
With every other passenger, I’d politely inquired what they’d like from the menu.
Dante, as always, got special treatment from me.
“We’re out of everything but chicken,” I told him flatly. “Take it or leave it, princess.”
Dammit, I’d overdone it. That actually made him smile.
“I’ll take it,” he said, sounding amused.
I hated it when he sounded amused. It made me want to smile, and also perversely, to smash a blunt, heavy object over his head.
“It’s good to see you, Scarlett.” The fucker actually managed to sound like he meant it. “You look as amazing as you always do. How’ve you been?”
Shut up, I wanted to say. Just stop talking.
Just leave me alone.
But I’d never say any of that. It would be too much like letting him win.
And if he won, I lost.
I’d lost enough.
“Peachy,” I said through my teeth.
“I saw that commercial you did. The one for the body lotion. You were really good.”