Gorgeous Consort (Beautiful Entourage #2)

By: E. L. Todd


Grocery shopping was a pain in the ass. I only had two arms to carry everything so I was limited to the essentials, mainly ingredients for my daily protein shake after a visit to the gym. I had a car, but parking in Manhattan was such a bitch that I’d rather just walk.

I walked down the aisle with a basket in my hand and searched through the shelves. I grabbed a box of Lucky Charms even though it had way too many carbs, got my protein supplement, a few fruits and veggies, and then reached the hygiene aisle. I grabbed the Head and Shoulders shampoo then stopped when I spotted the boxes of condoms hanging on the rack.

My eyes took them in and I just stood there. I didn’t know what all the fuss was about, but they made me feel uneasy. Perhaps it was what they represented: sex. I hadn’t had sex in over a year. I pretended I was a flirty playboy that met up with random girls and had a good time, and it seemed to fool everyone who knew me—or thought they knew me.

In reality, I just wasn’t there yet.

But I didn’t move. Instead, I stood there like a teenager buying their first condoms. The anxiety and guilt held them in place while they stared at the different choices. Lubricated, flavored, magnum…there was a lot of choices.

“Troy?” A beautiful female voice came into my ears and reminded me of a meadow full of wild flowers. Just the sound brought me back to a place I hadn’t been in a really long time. I suddenly felt panicked, like I needed to escape. But like a cornered animal, I couldn’t run.

I turned to Alexia, the woman I gave my heart to so long ago. She hurt me more than I could put into words. Even after all this time, I wasn’t back to normal. Would I always suffer like this? But I had to keep a straight face and pretend she absolutely meant nothing to me, that she didn’t ruin my life—literally. “What’s up, sweetheart?” I asked with a cocky attitude. I grabbed four packs of condoms, over-the-top amount, and threw them into my basket. They covered the rest of my groceries, hiding my milk, bread, and protein mix.

She glanced down into my basket, clearly seeing what I just threw inside, but she didn’t comment on it. Her brown hair looked like it’d been dyed, and now it had a slight red tint to it. It was soft, I could tell just by looking at it. I remembered the way it felt in my hand when I fisted it in bed. Her blue eyes jumped out at me, icy and blue, cold just like her stone heart. “How are you?” She wore a perfect smile, the kind that showed all her perfect teeth from having Invisiline braces as a child, and it irritated me that she was so happy. It pissed me off actually.

“I’m well. Just stocking up for the weekend.” I indicated to the basket and the condoms inside. Take that, cold-hearted witch. “What about you, sweetheart?” There was condescension in my voice. She was nothing like a sweetheart, more like a bitchheart.

“Great,” she said. “Just grabbing a few things.”

Why did she come over to talk to me? It wasn’t like we were friends. I never wanted to be friends. I’d only seen her one other time after we broke up, and she acted the exact same way, like we ended on good terms. Did she have the memory of a raccoon? She was never very bright. “I should get going.” I just wanted to end this conversation. My heart was beating fast and my palms were sweaty. My grip on the handle to the basket was beginning to slip because of all the extra moisture. I hated the fact my body reacted this way. I hated the fact that I knew it would always react this way. I was in a vortex, doomed to live in the past forever. As ashamed as I was to admit it, I glanced down and looked at her ring finger. There wasn’t a ring there, and that gave me relief. But that just made me loathe myself even more. Why couldn’t I just not care? “I have places to be.” I walked around her, keeping my cool and indifference.

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