The Carlyles | Chapter 26 of 49

Author: Cecily von Ziegesar | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 3916 Views | Add a Review

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Tainted Love

Home from a ten-mile run after practice, Owen peeled off his sweat-sticky Nantucket Pirates shirt and flung it over the new leather club chair that had appeared in the entranceway. He noticed a new low-slung white linen couch and chairs where the flea-ridden orange couch used to be. It was empty, save for a weird, metallic-looking pillow. Back in Nantucket, even though they’d lived on an acre of land, every night they’d always gathered in the comfortable sunken living room to eat chocolate kisses and share gossip-worthy nuggets of one another’s days.

There are plenty of other girls who’d be happy to share kisses with him!

As Owen made his way to his bedroom, the doorbell rang. “I’ve got it!” he yelled, in case anyone was home. Back in Nantucket, people who came to the door often ended up living with them. One couple, Leon and Gary, had stopped by to ask for directions and had ended up moving in for six months, until they’d decided to move to Amsterdam to cultivate a tulip farm. They still sent four pairs of wooden clogs every Christmas.

“Okay, honey,” Edie yelled back, and Owen could hear the faint sounds of Buddhist chanting from behind the closed doors of her studio.

Owen made his way to the foyer, not bothering to put on a shirt. It was probably just Rhys, there to drop off another Speedo or whatever.

He flung open the door and sucked in his breath. The ethereal, blue-eyed goddess of his semi-pornographic dreams was standing directly in front of him. Kat.

Doesn’t he mean Kelsey?

They stared at each other for a long, silent moment.

“Hey,” she finally said, breaking the silence. “I heard you were living here. My mother was friends with Eleanor Waldorf. You know—the family who used to live here? We’re neighbors! I’m just up on Seventy-seventh!” Her voice sounded overly cheerful, and Owen could tell she was nervous. Her silvery-blue eyes scanned his torso and she smiled, a little shyly. Owen picked up his shirt and put it on. It was still wet and clung to his body.

All the better to see your six-pack, my dear.

“What are you doing here?” he blurted out. It was so bizarre to see her framed in the doorway of his new home, after so many weeks of fantasizing about it. But she wasn’t just Kat anymore, she was Kelsey, and he didn’t even know who that was. “Funny running into you yesterday, Kelsey. He had meant to sound sarcastic, but it came out sounding genuinely happy and polite.

Too much time spent around Mr. Manners.

“I guess I should introduce myself. I’m Kelsey Addison Talmadge. I never told you my name was Kat, remember?” A slight smile curled her lips, then disappeared as a serious look came over her face. Her skin was gorgeously tan against the deep green V-neck tank top. A hint of her perky B cups winked up at him. God, she was hot.

“I’m sorry. I needed to see you.” Kelsey played with a large silver ring on her finger. “I couldn’t stop thinking about that night on the beach. But then I felt so guilty, because I’d never cheated before—and never thought I would.” Her blue eyes flashed earnestly. “I just really felt something when I met you, but the timing was all wrong and I was scared and we lived in different places. . . . That was why I didn’t tell you my name; I just gave you my bracelet. I guess I hoped you would somehow find me,” she finished with a shrug. Her eyes were pleading. “I’m sorry I lied. I’m not a bad person, really.”

She looked so beautiful and sweet and sincere, and before he knew what he was doing, Owen pulled her into a tight embrace. He could feel her heart flutter against his chest. He put his hand on her cheek and breathed in her apple-scented shampoo.

“I’m glad you found me,” Owen said, simply, not quite sure what to do next. Right now, hugging her was even better than all of the dirty dreams he’d been having.

Oh, really?

Owen’s iPhone started to vibrate in his pocket. He pulled it out and looked at the display. Just as quickly as his heart had soared, it sank.

“It’s a text from Rhys,” he said, looking into Kat’s blue eyes.

“You’re friends with him?” she asked in confusion.

Owen shrugged. He read the text and wordlessly handed the phone to Kat. WANT TO JUMP OFF A FUCKING BRIDGE. WILL SETTLE FOR COCKTAILS. YOU HOME? I’M NEARBY.

A look of concern flashed across Kat’s face. “I guess I shouldn’t be here,” she murmured.

Owen nodded in agreement, even though he wanted nothing more than for her to stay.

“Kat—I mean, Kelsey . . .” Owen corrected.

“I like being Kat with you,” she whispered. “We can be whoever we want with each other.”

Owen nodded. What she was saying didn’t even make that much sense, but it did seem romantic.

The downstairs buzzer rang. Kat and Owen froze and stared at each other.

Owen’s mind raced. “Wait in here,” he said hurriedly, pulling Kat toward Avery’s immaculately decorated room, a tasteful blend of beige and white and peony pink that Avery had ordered from some designer as soon as they moved in. He pushed Kat inside.

The buzzer rang again and he leaned in closer. Finally, they kissed. He’d meant it to be a peck, but by the time their lips met, it was urgent and passionate, and he wished he could just close the door and lay her down on the bed and . . .

Right, because that would be the perfect way to christen his sister’s new six-hundred-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheet set from Bergdorf’s.

His phone vibrated with another text.


“I have to go. Wait here until you hear us leave.” Owen felt giddy with excitement and guilt.

“What are we going to do?” Kat asked, sounding like the damsel in distress Owen would do anything to rescue.

“We’ll figure it out,” he said determinedly. He kissed her one more time, and closed the door to Avery’s room, his heart pounding.

“Hey, man.” Owen opened the front door and grinned at Rhys way too eagerly. Rhys’s eyes were red-rimmed and his skin was gray. He looked like he hadn’t slept in weeks, even though it had only been a day since Kelsey broke up with him.

“Cocktail hour?” Owen cajoled.

Rhys cocked his head at his blond, tan friend, who was smiling and trying so hard to make him feel better. As if a bad draft beer would make him feel any better. He felt like dying. “I was standing outside her apartment for an hour. I saw her go out and walk uptown, but then I lost her, so I decided to come over here. I know I sound like a stalker,” Rhys continued.

Owen winced. Kat was probably listening in the very next room. And Rhys did sound pretty stalkerish.

“I don’t know where she could have gone.”

“You’re obsessing,” Owen said, not unkindly. He leaned against the tall mahogany doorframe. “She was probably just going to a friend’s house or something.”

That’s one way of putting it.

“I just want to know who’s she’s with.” Rhys shook his head. “She said she’d met someone else. Who could it be?”

“Dude, I don’t know,” Owen said helplessly. He shrugged, and the sweat-sticky T-shirt suddenly felt extremely uncomfortable against his skin. “Let’s go out. Everything always makes more sense over a few beers.”

Cocktail therapy, anyone?


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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