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Pizza My Heart(8)

By:Glenna Sinclair



"Oh, June, you're such a teaser," she said. "Go on, then. I'm sure Devon has places he needs to be."

"I do, in fact, several," he confirmed. "Thank you again for your  hospitality." I noticed for the first time the pair of teacups and the  plate of cookies between them. God-how long had he been here? All  evening?

"Be right back, Nana," I said again as a reminder to him. He followed me  to the front door and I practically pushed him through it.

"Hey, careful," he said as he stumbled out onto the front stoop.

"You be careful," I shot back lamely. "What the hell do you think you're  doing here, anyway? This is my house. How did you even get the  address?"

"It wasn't hard," he said. "I called the pizza place. Got some more  details about you. Made some other calls until I found the place."

I squeezed my eyes shut, hard, and rubbed my forehead. "That still doesn't explain why you're even here."

"Look, I'm just trying to do some damage control," Devon said, his  million-watt smile fading from his face. It was almost a relief, as if I  were going to go blind if I kept staring at it for too long.

"What kind of damage control?" I asked, frowning at him. "And why did  you have to drag Nana into this? When she figures out what kind of  person you really are, you're just going to disappoint her. Couldn't you  do without that on your conscience-disappointing a little old lady?"

"She was nothing but pleased in there," he said. "The only person who would disappoint her would be you."

What ripe new bullshit was this? "Watch your goddamn mouth," I warned  him. "You don't know anything about Nana, and you know even less about  me."

"Delete the photo, June."

"The photo I just took of you and Nana? Hell, no. She'd kill me."

"You know that's not the photo I'm talking about." He scowled, and I  instantly realized just the photo he was interested in and laughed.

"Oh, no," I said. "That photo isn't going anywhere. It's too good to  delete. I'm probably going to make it my wallpaper on my phone. It makes  me laugh every single time I see it."

"If that photo gets out, it would be a PR disaster," he groaned.

"What kind of PR disaster?" I asked, cocking my head at him. "The kind  of disaster where your fans see how you really are? That you trash hotel  rooms? That you can't clean up after yourself? Would it be the  bottle-of-vodka-you-can-see-in-the-background type of disaster? Drinking  alone, in the middle of the day? Bingeing on pizza? Is that a disaster?  That's not so bad. Or would it be the fact that you tried to force  yourself on me? That's a pretty big disaster, I'd think."         

     



 

Devon surprised me by laughing. "Okay, I might've let you have that one  until that last part. I definitely didn't try to force myself on you.  You entered the hotel room of your own volition. And you seemed really  into it."

I didn't like being called out like that. Of course I'd been into it-at  first. Devon Ray was an attractive, rich, and very famous man. I had  been alone with him in a hotel room, and I had been ready for something  to happen … until I hadn't been. Until I'd stopped being starstruck and  faced the music-that Devon was just a horny lush.

"You're pretty on the outside, Devon, but I got a taste of what was  inside," I told him, lifting my chin defiantly, skirting around his  accusation. "I stand by what I said to you, and I'll repeat it, because  you were so drunk, I don't think you probably remember."

"I remember everything," he snapped.

"Then remember this. Just because you're rich and handsome and famous  doesn't mean that you're entitled to everything you think you want. I'm a  human being, and I have every right to say no to you. I don't give a  shit who you are. And you can't come stalking me to my house, endearing  yourself to my grandmother."

"I wanted to pay you for the pizza," he said, his shoulders hunched  forward protectively, almost sheepishly. "I realized that, after  everything, I forgot to pay you, and that's inexcusable to me. I know  you work hard."

"You don't know anything about me."

"Let me pay for the pizza," he insisted, reaching in his wallet. "I'm sure you probably got in trouble because of it."

"I didn't get in trouble," I said. "Keep your money. I don't want it."

"You'll take it."

"The hell I will."

"Just let me do this," Devon said, thrusting too many bills at me.  "Yesterday was shit, okay? I get it. It was a shit show. I'm trying to  make it up to you right now."

"All you're doing is trying to toss money at a problem," I told him. "I don't want your money."

"But you're a problem?" He peered at me.

"If you keep harassing me, yes. I am a problem. A very big problem."

"You want me to leave, don't you?" he asked. "To get off your property and never come back? Is that pretty close to the truth?"

"Pretty close." I wanted him to go do a few other things, too, but I was  pretty sure he could use his imagination for those without me having to  spell them out.

"You'd never see me again if you showed me the photo you took of me and  deleted it in front of me," he said. "I'd leave immediately, and I'd  never come back."

"What are you going to do if I don't?" I asked dubiously. "Move in? Become best friends with Nana?"

"I … I don't know. I just really want that photo gone. That photo is of me  in a really bad place, and I don't want anyone seeing it."

I actually pitied him for a moment before I remembered that he figured  out where I lived and befriended my grandmother just to try to  manipulate me into doing something.

"You're just going to have to trust me that I won't show it to anyone else," I said.

"How can I trust you? How do I know you're not going to sell it?"

I was a lot of things-self-righteous, fiercely protective, a little bit  subversive, maybe, but never cruel. Never vindictive. I knew then,  looking at how pathetically desperate Devon was, that no matter what I  said or he did, I'd never sell that photo. I'd never even post it  myself. No matter what he'd done, no matter how he'd acted toward me, I  couldn't do something like that to him. It would harm his image, and his  image was his life.

I gave a long sigh. "Look. I would never do that, okay? If you knew anything about me, you'd know that I'd never do that."

"That's the problem," he said. "I don't know anything about you. In the  kind of business I'm in. You don't know who you can trust."         

     



 

"It's Hollywood, Devon. Not the mob."

"You'd be surprised," he said wryly. "But I guess I don't have anything I  can do except trust you. Even though I don't know you."

"You know my address," I pointed out.

"Yeah, there's that." He jammed his hands in his pockets and made a move  to walk away. Just as I'd suspected. He hadn't needed my help getting  back to his car. He wasn't turned around in the slightest. He'd asked me  to come out here for the sole purpose of trying to get me to delete the  photo. It was that important to him.

"Devon."

"Yeah?" He looked over his shoulder at me.

I held out my phone, which showed the crappy picture I'd taken of him in the hotel room.

"I see it," he said tiredly.

"Now you don't." I deleted it, just as he'd come to try and convince me  to do. It was too much power to hold over a person, no matter how much I  might dislike said person.

I don't know what I expected. Gratitude, maybe. Or reassurance that he'd leave Nana and me alone.

What I didn't except was for him to take a couple of quick steps over to me and envelop me in a bear hug.

"You don't understand how worried I was about that stupid photo," he said, squeezing me too tightly.

"I understand," I managed to gasp out, patting him awkwardly on the back  in what I hoped was Morse code for "let go immediately."

He seemed to get the message, releasing me. "That was the only copy,  wasn't it?" he demanded suddenly. "Did you save one? Send it to anyone  else?"

I could appreciate that the existence of the photo made him nervous, but I'd just deleted it in his presence.

"That was it!" I exclaimed. "Jeez! You need to work on your trust issues!"

"And now you sound like my therapist," he said, frowning. "Are you sure you haven't worked in Hollywood before?"

"Enough," I said, pushing him away from me. "Get out of here. You  promised you'd leave us alone if I just deleted the damn photo, and I  did. You're unbearable."

His wounded look would've made me feel bad, but I was able to remember  just in time that he was an actor. He could throw any look he wanted my  way to try and manipulate me.

When he rounded the block, walking away, I hoped it was the last time I  would ever see him. But it didn't help that I could still feel his arms  around me.

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