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The Interview: Chapter 27


I lift my hand and wave at old Mr. Maqsood as he stands in the doorway of the newsagents. Polly says his eyesight isn’t great, but he never fails to spot the Bugatti. Or frown at me.

“Did you upset that man?” Mimi turns her head to stare at him as we pass him by.

“Yeah, when I was about seven. He caught me trying to steal a Mars Bar from the confectionary counter.”

“Wow. And he still bears a grudge?” She turns to face the front again. “That’s some commitment.” This is probably the most she’s spoken since we left the apartment.

“Spite more like. It’s probably the only thing keeping him alive.”

“So these are the mean streets you grew up on?”

“Something like that.”

She smiles. It’s not one of her regular smiles. More a vague, professional tip of her lips that reveals no hint to what had passed between us just a couple of hours ago. Is she upset? Regretting it? Fuck knows I didn’t spank her as hard as I wanted to. The thought of her being with someone else made me want to paddle her arse hard. Which would make me sadistic as well as an idiot for forgetting how young she is. How inexperienced. In my defense, she’s been so self-assured. So forthright.

I thought I was annoyed on Friday when she told me El was taking her out, but the thought of her dating random men just makes me feel a hundred times worse, makes me feel all twisted up inside.

No matter what she says about her reasons for dating, I know it’s her way of reminding us both of the fleeting nature of our time together. I get that’s the whole point of joining Hinge, and I can tell her heart isn’t in it. She’s not punishing me, and while a part of me wants to punish her, the more human part of me, a more sensible part, knows he should be thanking her for her efforts.

Thanks for taking my cock like a champ, Mimi.

Oh, and thanks for making sure neither of us gets too attached.

But I don’t want to thank her. The jealous part of me, the animal part, wants to lock her away and never let her out of my sight again. And, yeah, I wanted her in my bed last night—of course I did. I guess I was just being a bit of a dick. But I also thought she’d come storming in at some point to call me out. I didn’t think it would make her feel so wrong-footed. She was so spiky over her vulnerability.

I find myself glancing her way. She looks so fucking perfect wearing black pants and a slinky cashmere sweater that keeps sliding off her shoulder. It’s meant to hang that way, but she keeps sliding it back like a flash of shoulder might give me ideas. If only she knew. I don’t need to see her bare skin to get ideas—dressed for the office, in my sweatpants, in a bloody burka and I’ll be thinking where my mouth has been. The places I’ve licked and sucked. The noises she makes when I discover something new that she likes. The experience kept me awake well into the night. Maybe it’s little wonder I continued being an arsehole this morning.

Fucking Hinge. I wonder if I can persuade the board to buy the company just so I can close it down.

“What’s funny?”

I realize she’s looking at me, and the scoff in my chest turns to a sigh. She is so fucking lovely. “I was just thinking my Mars Bar stealing day. I was terrified the old bloke would chop my hand off.”

“Oh wow!”

“Luckily, his wife intervened and said she’d just tell my mum.”

“What did your mom have to say?”

“Put it this way, it might’ve been easier to have my hand chopped off.” I shake my head. “Polly was like a water fountain. She couldn’t believe she’d raised such a deviant.”

“If only she knew, huh?” This time, her smile is more like her own. I tighten my fingers around the steering wheel because I almost reached out for her hand.

She’s not dating anyone. Fuck that idea. But we both entered this with our own agendas, comes my next unwelcome thought.

Mimi wants to experience a side of life that was unavailable to her before. She wants to explore her sexuality. She might want to cuddle, even sleep in my bed, but she’s trying to limit the potential for being hurt. She’s going back to Florida. I have to remember that.

“That’s the park,” I find myself saying, desperate to keep the strained silence at bay.

“Trees. Climbing frame. Swing.” Her cheeky gaze slides my way. “Your story checks out.”

“All right, smart arse. I was just making conversation,” I say, biting back my grin.

“Brin and I used to ride our skateboards at the skate park until Heather wanted to tag along with us.”

“And you didn’t want that?” She turns her body toward me, her left foot hooking behind her right calf.

“It’s not cool to have your little sister tagging along after you.”

“Just what every little sister wants to hear.” She laughs at my expression. “You must’ve been kinder to other people’s little sisters because you were nothing but nice to me.”

“I’m still nothing but nice to you,” I say in a low purr. “Very nice. In fact, I seem to remember you paying me a lot of compliments this morning.” I realize, maybe for the first time, that reference to our joined pasts no longer raises the specter of Connor. Guilt, I guess.

“You weren’t very nice to my ass.”

“And you loved it.”

“You can’t say things like that,” she says, succumbing to a beautiful blush.

“I want to feast on your arse. Can I say that?”


“The way it moves when I smack it—”

“Oh nice!” she splutters. “Tell me I have a fat ass, why don’t you?”

In response, I slide down the window and much to her mortification, belt out a few discordant lines of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ‘Baby got Back.’”

“You are something else.” She gives a disparaging shake of her head.

“And you have an arse that’s a dream.”

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” she asks a few minutes later, her tone now unsure. “Sunday lunch with your family. I feel like I might be intruding.” Her answer is a variation on a theme. I could type up her list of attempts to get out of coming today and have enough words for a dissertation. Or I could paint the excuses to canvas and make a show out of them. Bottom line? She’s tried really hard to get out of this.

“It’s not intruding when you’re invited.”

“Come on, this is awkward. You know it is. You only have to glance my way, and I blush today!”

This time, I give in to the urge to grin. “I know. I love it.”

“Your brothers are going to love it too,” she mutters.


Her lips twist. “Really? That’s what you picked up on?”

“Can’t help you bring out the caveman in me,” I mutter. I stretch back in my seat. For the first time since I bought this car, it feels uncomfortable. Too close. Too confined.

“Just don’t go trying to drag me around by my ponytail,” she says, touching the top of it.”

“Don’t worry. I’ve left my club back at the cave.” I don’t need it. Threats are usually enough to deal with my brothers.

“I can’t believe we’re actually doing this.” She folds her arms, turning her attention back to the windshield.

“You saw Polly’s text. She doesn’t take no very well.”

“I know, but after what you said about her desperation to become a grandma, do you really want me there?”

“She’s not going to hold you down while I impregnate you on the dining table. She’s not that unsubtle.”

“Neither of us want your brothers to know about us, though.”

Weird. I find I’m not opposed to them getting the hint somehow. I don’t think she’d appreciate my attempts because I wouldn’t be too delicate about it.

“Maybe I should just text and say I can’t make it, last minute. You could drop me at a bus stop, and I’ll—”

“No chance. Besides, it’s no good texting back with an excuse. Polly’s notoriously bad for paying attention to her phone.” On purpose, mostly. “She will have already started cooking.”

“With three grown men at the table, I’m sure her efforts wouldn’t go to waste.”

“Five. Archer, Heather’s husband, will be there. Not that it matters because you couldn’t possibly put me in the situation of turning up empty-handed.”

“I’m not a bottle of wine. Oh gosh.” Her expression is suddenly stricken. “Wine. Or flowers? Whit, you have to pull over somewhere so I can get some chocolates or something.”

“There’s really no need. It’s just Sunday lunch. She does it at least once a month.”

“I’m not going to your mother’s house empty-handed!”

Fine,” I mutter. “There’s a florist back the way we came. I’ll just…” I flick the indicator and pull over.

“Thank you.”

I realize she’s twisting her hands, so I press mine over them. “Are you really that uncomfortable?”

“I feel like it’s a test I’m going to fail. You said your mom has… ideas.”

“Of me settling down, you mean?”

“Yes. It’s freaking me out. What if she picks up on something? Aren’t you worried Heather or El might say something to her?”

“Like what?” I give her hands a reassuring squeeze. Is the prospect of being tied to me so awful? “That I took you home because my idiot brother took a fancy to the waitress?”

“Server,” she corrects. “And Heather knows it didn’t go down like that.”

“Heather is a vault.” I move my hand back to the steering wheel. I don’t know who she thinks she’s kidding. How can she want to date other men when she was in such a strop this morning because she didn’t sleep in my bed? “Just don’t think you can get out of lunch. Polly will send out the flying monkeys to find you.”

“The flying monkeys? Like the Wicked Witch of the West? That’s an awful thing to call someone as lovely as your mom!”

“She’s certainly got some kind of witchy magic, but it’s me you should have pity for.”

“Because she wants—horror upon horrors—for you to be happy?”

“You won’t be singing that tune when she pulls out the baby photographs.”

“Oh, I will,” she scoffs. “I’d love to see some of baby Whit’s cutey patootie.”

“Why, when you have access to his grown-up… one of those?” Whatever a patootie is, chances are, I’ve still got one. “As for Polly being a witch, who do you think that makes captain of her flying monkeys?”

Hooking one hand into my armpit, I begin a terrible impersonation of an ape. Totally worth it to see her smile again.

“You’re crazy!”

I’m crazy something all right.

“Remember, don’t sit next to me,” Mimi says as I push open the garden gate. “And don’t sit across from me, either.”

I half lift my arm and sniff my armpit. “Why? Do I smell?”

She stills me with a soft hand to my forearm. “Please be serious.”

She turns toward the red-painted front door when I slip my fingers into hers with a reassuring squeeze… and a dirty whisper in her ear. “Think they’ll be able to smell you on me?”

Her tentative smile is snuffed from her expression like a candle blown out.

“Mimi, come on.” I glance at the large bay window of my parents’ terrace house. “It’s just my lot in there.” I note the twitch of the curtain and think better of pointing it out. It might be weird, but I find I don’t give a fuck if we’re being watched. Maybe I should just kiss her and be done with all speculation. I stifle a sigh at the idiotic thought. She’s really not down for that.

“Exactly. Your family. Your mom was so lovely when I called her when I was looking for work. And Heather was so cool on Friday. They can’t find out, Whit. I don’t want them to think badly of me.”

I tilt my head to the side, almost floored by the needy words that shoot from my mouth. “Am I important to you, too.”

“You will always be important to me,” she says soberly as her hand falls away. “More than you’ll ever know.” She slides the soft sweater over her bared shoulder which is probably a good move because I want to kiss her there. Let’s face it, I want to kiss her everywhere. “I don’t want them to pick up on any vibe between us. It wouldn’t do for them to get ahead of themselves.”

Mimi is more astute than I’ve given her credit for. I’m beginning to think it’s me—that I am a great big fucking idiot. Why would I have a lump in my throat the size of a golf ball? How did this get so complicated over the space of a weekend?

She accused me of possessing sexual voodoo, but maybe it’s more a case of her magical pussy? I’m a fucking idiot because Mimi is way more than that.

“Look, don’t worry.” I ease out a careful breath. “I can behave myself.”

She slides me a look that’s hard to decipher. “Ah hell, the flowers!” She pivots, then pivots back. “Open the car, would you, please?”

I pull out my keys, but before I can offer to get them, she’s already off down the garden path. I slide them back into my pocket at the same time as the front door creaks open.

“That all looked very cozy.”

I turn to the sound of El’s voice and find him leaning against the doorjamb, arms folded, like a cheap soap opera villain.

“I didn’t know you like to watch.” He frowns at my words. “I saw the curtains twitching.”

His expression twists before his mild answer carries across the space between us. “What am I supposed to be watching?”

I glance at the flower bed. Purple crocuses and daffodils, ornamental grasses waking from a long winter slumber. I inhale a deep breath and paste on my do I give a fuck face“You’ve been panting after Mimi since she got here,” I say, very obviously misunderstanding his meaning.

“Hey, Mimi.”

“Oh, hey, El.” Mimi’s happy expression peeks above an explosion of flowers. “Good to see you.”

No, it’s a fucking ball ache.

“You, too. Where’d you go Friday night?”

“Are we allowed in, or what?” I mutter pugnaciously, remembering about a second too late that I’m not supposed to reach for Mimi’s hand. She shoves the bouquet at me as though that’s what I’m after. I almost take them, too. “You give them to Polly.”

“But you paid for them.”

“I’ll dock the money out of your pay,” I grumble, turning away.

Of course, El clocks the entire exchange. Tough shit he doesn’t look too happy about it.


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