Fuck me. Can this day get any worse? I put the pen down and cross my arms over my chest. Nodding at the spare chair at my table, I say, “You wanna settle in for this?”

She picks up her writing pad and pen and moves to my table. “Shoot,” she commands, pen poised.

“What the hell are you writing down?”

Raising her eyes to me, she answers, “I told you, this is research for my assignment.”

She frowns and cocks her head. “What? You think I just ask random guys about their problems out of the goodness of my heart? Fuck no. I’ve got an assignment on men and I have to research how they deal with their shit. I took a gamble that you had shit going on when I asked you, and, low and behold, you do.”

Jesus, I should just get up and walk out right now.

But she’s intrigued me, and sucked me right in.

I lean forward. “I tell you what… we get question for question. I answer yours and you answer mine.”

Surprise colours her face. “This sounds interesting. I’m not really sure what you’d want to know about me, but sure.”

“Vivienne. So, why have you been a dick to your girl?”

“Because she’s on my case to talk about my sister.”

“And why does that cause you to be a dick?”

“Wait.” I hold my hand up. “Don’t I get the next question?”

“Nope. You didn’t answer my question fully, so until we get to the bottom of that question, you don’t get anymore.”

“Fuck,” I mutter, quietly impressed at her balls and not so quietly annoyed at her being like a dog with a bone over this. “I might just leave now, I think.” I’ve got pens and paper back at the studio and it’d be a lot easier to go back there than keep putting up with this just so I can use hers here. I unfold my arms and push my chair back so I can stand.

Her hand lands on my wrist as she tries to halt me. When my eyes meet hers, I see genuine concern there and that is the thing that stops me. “Jett, I bet you’re going through a lot right now and I also bet you’re shutting down and trying to deal with it all by yourself. Most of the men I’ve already interviewed admit they hate to talk about their stuff. But you know the thing I’ve discovered throughout this whole research project? There’s a reason why we shut down. And it’s not just men who do it. I also do it, but only when there’s something holding me back, something that scares the absolute shit out of me and makes me not want to admit stuff.” She pauses for a moment, her hand still on my wrist, and my attention remains completely on her. “What is your greatest fear here? What is keeping you from letting your girlfriend in?”

My heart beats faster in my chest, my head buzzes with confusion, and all I can do is stare at her while her words sink in. Suddenly, it’s stiflingly hot in here and I rub my forehead with the back of my arm. I have to get out of here so I stand. “Sorry, but I’ve gotta go,” I mutter as I grab the paper with my two lines on it. I leave in such a blur that I don’t even know if she says anything as I leave.

What is your greatest fear?

Her words echo in my mind as I stride back to the studio.

I don’t even want to think about my greatest fear, let alone say it out loud.

I double-check my watch to make sure I read it right, and, unfortunately, I did. It’s after seven at night, and I should have been home hours ago. I hadn’t made any promises but I can guess that Presley will be wondering where I am if she’s still at my place.

After my conversation with Vivienne, I spent a lot of the afternoon overthinking and overanalysing every damn thought in my head. I’m about ready to go insane. It completely threw me off track and as a result, I haven’t finished writing one song. Hell, I haven’t even finished half of it.

The taxi ride home takes less than twenty minutes, and as I ride the elevator up to my apartment, I briefly wonder if I want Presley to be there or not. On the one hand, I’m desperate to see her and touch her, but on the other hand, I’m not sure I can last through her questions much longer. I’m concerned I’m going to snap at her and that’s the last thing I want to do.

I unlock my door and step inside to find the apartment alive with light.

Closing the door softly, I hesitantly walk towards the kitchen, but when I get there, she’s nowhere to be seen. I search some more and find her reading on my bed. When she hears me approach, she lays her book on her chest and looks at me.

“Hi.” Her voice is soft, and I’m relieved not to hear any accusation or anger in it.

I give her a smile. “Hi, baby,” I say as I sit on the end of the bed and take my shoes off.

She doesn’t say anything else and I begin to feel sick to my stomach. She’s pissed at me. And rightly so. I was an asshole to her this morning. But fuck, to bring it up so I can apologise means opening a can of worms. And I don’t want to open that can of worms right now.

Instead, I turn to look at her and as my gaze skims her body, the need to be in her consumes me. I move up the bed so I’m over her. My breathing picks up as the anticipation of having her builds in me. Even the fucking t-shirt of mine she’s wearing turns me on. Seeing my woman in my shirt is one of the hottest things ever.