Burning Up

By: Marie Coulson & Chelsea Kuhel

Chapter 1



The Big Apple





Walking through the crowds, I gazed out of the vast window at the sparkling lights of New York. “Does he know I’m here?”

Daniel shook his head. “You asked me not to say, so I didn’t. I’m really glad you’re here though. He’s been fucking miserable since we left Long Beach. Besides, with you here, I have someone to talk to and keep me from going crazy. Things are about to get real hectic at the company. You sure you know what you’re in for?”

I gave him a puzzled look and he smiled at me. “Guess not. Well, you’ll learn.”

Daniel wasn’t just Jared’s driver; he was his friend, even if Jared didn’t realize it or choose to admit it. I felt that the two of us had also become friends. After all, he’d had my back so many times I’d lost count. When I’d been arrested, it was Daniel who’d called Jared and, as it turned out, broken several traffic laws to get to him. That awful night at Felix’s apartment would have ended a lot differently had Daniel not called Jared and warned him of our activity. I had a lot to thank him for and keeping him company during our time together, was the least I could do. I figured that it must be lonely work driving Jared around, sitting there, in the front seat, a screen between them. It all seemed awfully secluded, isolated and impersonal. I was not going to be one of those high society girlfriends that I saw in magazines and newspapers. The ones that look as though they have caramel stuck to the end of their noses and pout a lot when people speak to them. I was definitely not buying into the hype of that lifestyle. Daniel was stuck with me now, and I was determined to have some fun.

“Do we have to go straight to the apartment? Will he get suspicious if you’re gone?”

He eyed me skeptically. “I guess not. I told him I had to run errands and he’s been so distant, he just kinda nodded and dismissed me. I could have been naked and dancing, and he wouldn’t have noticed. He’s really not himself right now.”

My heart sank. My intense, hot mess, businessman was in pain, and I was the cause. Bitch.

I was desperate to see him and put him out of his agonizing misery, but I was also determined to get to know Daniel better. I was going to be spending a lot of time with him during the next few months and aside from Jared, he was the only person I knew in New York and I hardly knew him at all.

Reaching the exit, Daniel gestured to the shiny, sleek Mercedes parked curbside. I smiled at the familiarity of it. He opened my door and ushered me inside before running around to pack my case into the trunk. He got into the driver’s seat and glanced back, smiling at me. I leaned forward and rested my hand on his shoulder. “I’m starving. Dinner?”

He gave me a look that told me he was unsure if it was such a good idea. “I don’t know. I mean, aren’t you anxious to see him?”

I shook my head. I wasn’t anxious to see him; I was freaking out from nerves and the more I worried, the harder my stomach churned. “Nope. I’m Hank Marvin and I need something to eat before I throw up from nerves.” He chuckled.

“Hank Marvin?”

I nodded. “Yeah, you know, starving? I heard it on TV once.”

He threw his head back and laughed. “Since you put it that way, I’d be happy to have dinner with you. There’s a burger joint just around the corner, or do you want something a little fancier?”

I shrugged. “I think, a nice juicy burger sounds awesome.”



* * * *



Sitting in the booth, I scanned my surroundings. New York was a far cry from Pasadena or even Long Beach. It was almost eight in the evening, and the streets were still bustling with people.

The burger bar was quiet though. It was one of those nineteen fifties diner types and had a jukebox playing in the corner. The waitress rolled over on her skates and placed the most enormous cheeseburger that I had ever seen in front of me. The smell of greasy food and the delicious vanilla from my creamy, ice-cold milkshake was a welcome scent. Every single bite of my meal was like a taste of heaven. I really was hungry. I hadn’t eaten properly in days and I finally had my appetite back. I was definitely looking forward to my first New York bagel, too. Bagels. Coffee. Ollie.

My heart plummeted into my stomach again and I suddenly lost my appetite. My chest felt tight, and I could feel unshed tears begging to be released.

I could only imagine how broken he was right now. I’d done a horrible thing and I’d done it over a text! It was selfish, cowardly, and I deserved whatever hate or anger he was feeling toward me. He hadn’t replied or called since, and I knew that we were not only done as lovers, but also as friends. He’d never forgive me now, and I didn’t deserve him to.

Daniel frowned at me. “You okay? You seem a little distracted. You’re not having second thoughts are you?”

Snapping out of my mood and forcing thoughts of Ollie out of my mind, I shook my head. “No. I’m just a little tired from the flight.”

He smiled and took another big bite of his burger.

Pushing my plate away, I leaned back and cocked my head to the side. “So, I guess you’ll be keeping me company while Jared works, huh? I hope you don’t mind. I promise not to be high maintenance and to make it as much fun as I can.” He grinned and pushed his plate away, cleaning his hands on a napkin.

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