Brooke was half way into drop-and-roll when Sung yanked her hair, pulling her back inside his BMW. “Please, hear my reasons.”
“I don’t need reasons, Sung. I’ll do as you say.”
“Then I’m saying, please listen.” The rule against hints prevented discussion. For, of course, Fletcher knew the rules. Matthew knew the rules.
“You realize, Sung, Matthew will see right away that you’ve told me—no acknowledgement.”
“Brooke, with permission, that’s the future. This week concentrate on now.”
A year’s separation would feed their passion.
“You don’t know that.”
“I do. It’s inevitable.”
He then elaborated on his gratitude. By performing Taekwondo for his cousin Rhee— without questions—Brooke had invited Rhee into the secular world. And shown him that even the most beautiful girl would not alter him without permission. “So—no further need to demonstrate, Brooke.” And while reciprocation was impossible, any time she visited the holistic clinic—no cost.
At the crossroad, Brooke said, “Thank you,” her hand on the slowly moving car’s door handle. “May I go?”
“Soon, yes. The upcoming publicity may upset you.” Matthew would be prolific on Twitter and Youtube; everywhere he went—photographs and celebrity dialogue. Unfortunately, Sung’s indiscretion had leaked Sasha’s death to the media. He would apologize to the children but asked the family to remain aware.
“Fine,” Brooke said. “Will you allow Matthew any access to his children?”
“Always, but you must not be there.”
Oddly then, he muttered: ...“ego”… “entrapment”…“Kyle…” Whereupon Brooke opened the door and successfully dropped and rolled, ruining her teal dress.
Brooke also got—and not everyone did—ecstatic tears. Making love, beautiful vistas, music, even colors—could arouse tearful awe.
But typically her tears sprang from sorrow. They differed from other people’s only in quantity. Telling her to stop crying redoubled the flood.
Except when Pop beat her—then Brooke never cried. Physical pain didn’t faze her. So go ahead—pound her head on bricks; slam her into I-beams; punch her; kick her—Brooke could take it.
Usually when Pop let up for a second, she said, “Go ahead and kill me. Finish me off, Pop. Let’s see who’s in trouble then!”
Later, he’d say, “Brooke, you ask for it.”
And for as long as she could remember, people said, “That Brooke Logan’s just looking for trouble.”
At Echo Lake, she arched backwards and absorbed the freezing black night of no moon, no stars. Once upon a time, Matthew had loved her so much he didn’t care about being a movie star! He only cared about her. And even though she regretted saying that he must play James Bond; walking away was spitting at fate, they wouldn’t have been happy in Scotland, legal or not.
To Matthew’s mind, Brooke was a born playwright and director. She laughed when he said this but he was serious. She needed to use her talents—and push them. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be complete. This made her laugh more, but he said, “I mean it.”
Speeding downhill, she allowed herself—one last time—to shut her eyes. Near the crossroad, she flew high and far, landing on icy grass, and heard him running. He hurled the bike away. Before he did anything else, she sprang to her knees. “Matthew!” She whipped off her helmet and arched her neck, which felt wonderful. “I love you, Matthew!”
“Brooke, I could have killed you! A microscopic difference and I would have killed you.”
“But you didn’t, Matthew! You didn’t kill me!”
In the Mercedes, doors open, he listened to her chest and took her pulse. Sitting on the bench in his gym, he trembled and gasped. Brooke wrapped her arms around him while he stroked her head, his eyes brimming. “So close. Jesus Christ, so, so close.”
“It’s okay,” she whispered and led him upstairs. First, she turned on all the lights. Then she stripped naked and walked in a little circle while he watched from the threshold. Immediately, his breath changed. She jumped on his bed, twisting at the waist, her hands reaching high. The rushing current between them took over.
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