The Seduction of Dylan Acosta, страница 1
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The Seduction of Dylan Acosta
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, distributed, stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, without express permission of the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes.
Copyright © 2012 Nia Forrester All rights reserved. ISBN: 1477526730
For my patient reader
New York parties were always like this. Especially the trendy downtown parties. The night would meander along with pretentious indies or retro music, a little weed and people hooking up on the rooftop until sooner or later some minor celebrity would show up—the friend of a friend who was on Broadway, or in some movie being filmed uptown. And there would be electricity in the air while everyone waited to see who the lucky person would be, who would bag themselves a star for one night.
This time, the news had spread like wildfire among the guests that a famous athlete was there so that by the time someone whispered the name into Dylan’s ear, everyone else was already scoping out the room, hoping to get a glance of the short stop everyone said was going to bring the Mets back to their former glory.
After a few minutes of scanning the room, caught up in the hype like everyone else, Dylan lost interest and climbed out onto the fire-escape to light the joint someone slid into her palm earlier in the evening. It was chilly out, that time in the season when you could just begin to see your breath. Once the window was shut, Dylan could just make out the voices of a couple in one of the apartments below, arguing. She considered for a moment whether she might not be better off inside since listening to a domestic spat was no more her idea of a fun Friday night than this party had been.
The night promised to be a long one because Ava was with her sometimes-boyfriend Jacob and had made Dylan promise not to let her go home with him, no matter what. This usually meant that sometime around one a.m. she would have to intercede when a drunk Ava tried to make the case that she’d only been kidding, and that it was fine to let her leave with Jacob, because he’d promised things would be different this time.
As she looked at the joint in her hand, Dylan considered whether or not to light it. She didn’t feel like getting high. She felt like going home and getting into her pajamas and watching cable with a pint of ice cream. The skinny jeans she’d borrowed from Ava dug into her thighs and the shoes—platform pumps—were beginning to hurt her feet. If she’d followed her instincts, she would have gone straight home after work and done a few more practice LSAT tests. No way was she getting into NYU Law with the scores she was showing now.
She sighed and sent the joint sailing over the balcony and down into the alley below. “Good move,” someone said.
She hadn’t even heard the window reopen and was momentarily startled, believing herself to still
be alone on the fire-escape. He was standing at the window, wearing a white dress shirt and jeans with trendy black loafers and Dylan recognized him right away. Mark Acosta. His face had only been plastered all over the back sports page of the Daily News for the last three weeks or so. “The Rookie” was what they called him, even though he hadn’t officially signed yet.
“Well, who needs it?” she said. “I’m already lightheaded enough standing on this fire-escape.”
He peered over the edge and down to the ground ten stories below, stepping out to join her and shutting the window behind him.
“If you’re scared of heights, this might not be the best place to hang out,” he said.
“I’m even more scared of boring party conversation and bad nineties music,” Dylan said. “So I thought I’d be better off taking my chances out here.”
“I think we might be in the same boat,” he said. “Who dragged you here?”
Dylan’s gaze shifted to the room just behind him. Through the glass pane, she could see about a dozen pairs of eyes watching them, including Ava’s and Jacob’s.
She smiled at him. “My friend, Ava. How about you?”
“My brothers,” he said, nodding in the direction of the apartment.
Dylan was still trying to wrap her mind around the fact that she was standing on a fire-escape in a grubby downtown apartment making innocuous party chatter with Mark Acosta. He was all anyone in New York was talking about these days; the phenom who was being called up from the minors because he had out-performed everyone’s wildest expectations at that level and was clearly meant for greater things. According to the news, he was in talks with the Mets for a contract that was rumored to be in the tens of millions. And here he was, in the flesh.
“I’m Mark,” he said, extending a hand.
“Dylan,” she said.
He had large hands that were calloused, in some places, and remarkably soft in others. His forearms, exposed because he’d partially rolled back his sleeves, were impressive. Dylan tried not to imagine what was beneath the white shirt, although you would have to be dead not to notice how well his chest filled it out.
“I think I might escape before you though,” he said.
“Oh yeah? Why?”
“You’re right, the music is bad. And my brothers like to dance, so I would say I have another twenty minutes or so before they find me and drag me to a nightclub or something.”
“Not your scene,” she asked. “Nightclubs?”
“No, it’s not that. I just have to get up really early most mornings.”
He had an uptown Dominican accent; that interesting mix of the Bronx and Santo Domingo. Dylan was tempted to ask him why he had to get up early, just to see whether he would let slip who he was, and that he was famous. But somehow even in these few brief moments, she got the impression that he wasn’t that kind of guy.
Mark Acosta came closer, leaning next to her after peering over the edge once again as though checking to see just how high up they were. He smelled like citrus and ginger. She imagined for just a moment what it might be like to press her face into his chest and inhale.
“My brother’s girlfriend is about to have a baby,” he continued. “Their first. So this is his last chance to wild out.”
“So you’re taking one for the team,” Dylan shrugged.
Taking one for the team?
“Does he know what he’s having?” Dylan asked, trying to hastily cover up the sports reference.
“A boy. He’s really excited. I think he’s planning on getting really drunk tonight.”
“Honestly, I’m kind of excited too,” he admitted. “Can’t wait to meet our new little man.”
Our new little man. At that, Dylan looked at him full-on for the first time.
About six-foot-one or so, he was well-built but not beefy, and handsome, in that almost-but-notquite-pretty-boy way. He had a deep, dark caramel complexion and eyes that seemed as black as coal framed by long lash
“You like babies then, huh?”
“Other people’s,” he clarified. “But also, my baby brother is having a baby. Makes me feel a little . . . nostalgic, y’know?”
Dylan smiled. “How old is he? Your brother?”
“He’s hardly a baby anymore. He’s twenty-one. I was six when he was born so I remember when he my mother came home with him from the hospital. With them, actually. He has a twin. My two baby brothers, I should have said.”
How cute was he, calling his twenty-something year old brothers ‘babies’?
“I don’t have any siblings, so I don’t have those kinds of memories,” Dylan said shrugging.
“No siblings?” Mark Acosta shook his head. “I can remember a time when that would have sounded like heaven to me.”
“Why, how many do you have exactly?’ she laughed.
“I have my two brothers, Matt and Peter—they’re inside—and my sister, Miri.”
“Mark, Matthew and Peter,” Dylan said.
He laughed. “You picked up on that, huh? Devout Catholics, my family.”
“But Miri?” Dylan asked.
“Short for Miriam.”
“Listen, I’m going to grab a beer,” he said. “You want me to bring you something?” “A beer as well would be great. Thanks,” Dylan said.
“Back in a sec.”
He lifted the window open once more and hopped back inside. The sound of TLC earnestly complaining about “scrubs” drifted out, and behind them came Ava. She was already somewhat beyond tipsy, and had a time of it, getting her long legs through the window. Ava was five-nine and thin as a rail with a heart-shaped face and fair, creamy complexion. She kept her hair short and spiky, which accentuated her long neck and waifish frame.
“Was that you-know-who?” she asked, her eyes wide. “Is he into you?”
“We’re just bonding over our mutual dislike of parties like this one.”
“Well, that’s good, right? So long as you bond over something.”
“Ava, it’s just a little friendly conversation. I’m still ready to leave whenever you are.”
“Well, I was going to talk to you about that. Jake and I . . .”
“Please don’t do this to me tonight,” Dylan groaned. “I hate having to figure out whether it’s you or the rum and cokes talking. Do you want to go home with Jacob or not?”
“I kind of do,” Ava said grimacing. And before Dylan could protest held up a hand. “Now I’m not saying I’m taking him back or anything. Just that I want to spend the night with him.”
“Ava,” Dylan said. “Whenever you want to get off the merry-go-round, you just let me know.”
“Don’t be so judgmental, Dylan. Not everyone can lock it up like you. I actually want to have sex every once in awhile.”
Of course that would be the moment that Mark Acosta returned. He was carrying two bottles of beer and had a jacket draped over his arm. He looked from Dylan to Ava and then at the small space of the fire-escape.
“Here’s your beer,” he said, handing a bottle to Dylan.
Then he nodded at Ava who smiled.
“I’m going back in,” she said to Dylan. “And I am leaving with Jake. I’ll call you in the morning. If you want to take a cab, I’ll pay you back for it.”
Dylan rolled her eyes and let her go. Mark Acosta stepped back outside and set his beer at his feet, putting the jacket about her shoulders.
“Thank you,” said, surprised.
“Out here with no sleeves, I thought you might be a little cold,” he said. He picked up his beer and took a swig. “So that was the friend you came with?”
“Yup. That was Ava.”
“So she’s ditching you?” he asked.
“Pretty much. For a boyfriend who is so not worth it. That’s the story of our friendship in a nutshell.”
“So why do you put up with it?”
Dylan shrugged, feeling disloyal for her flip comment. “It’s not really like that,” she admitted. “We put up with each other. I put her through my share of crazy stuff as well. We’ve been friends since we were eleven years old, so . . .”
“Great to have friends for that long, huh?”
“Yeah. She’s as close to a sibling as I’ve got. So not putting up with each other doesn’t even feel like an option anymore.”
Mark nodded. “I know what you mean. I come from that type of neighborhood. I think everyone there I’ve known my entire life.”
“So I guess I escaped before you after all,” Dylan said. “Now that Ava’s leaving, there’s really no reason I have to stay.” The last thing she wanted was to get into a prolonged conversation about her upbringing.
Mark looked at her. “Maybe there’s no reason you have to stay, but maybe there’s a reason you want to stay.”
Dylan returned his smile and tried to decide whether she was reading him wrong or whether he was saying he didn’t want her to leave.
“Okay,” she said briskly. “I can’t do this any longer.”
Mark looked at her curiously. “Do what?”
“Pretend I don’t know who you are,” she said.
For a moment, he looked disappointed, and Dylan realized that what he’d probably been enjoying about her company was just that—she didn’t seem to know who he was and didn’t care.
“It just seems dishonest to act like I don’t,” she hastened to add.
But still he said nothing. Instead he put his beer bottle to his lips and tipped it back, taking a long swallow.
“Look, it doesn’t make any difference,” Dylan plodded on. “I just . . .”
“No, that’s fine,” he said, sounding like it wasn’t fine at all. “I should get used to it, I guess.”
“Get used to what? Being recognized? Yes, I would say you should definitely get used to it.”
“Not that,” he said. “I mean, having people look at me and not knowing what they see. Me, or ‘The Rookie’ or whatever the hell they’re calling me this week.”
“I see you,” Dylan said quietly.
He looked at her. “Oh yeah?” he asked, his voice equally subdued. “What do you see?”
“I see a guy who doesn’t like loud house parties but who came out anyway, to be with his baby brothers to celebrate the birth of his nephew,” she said.
The barest hint of a smile teased the corner of his lips.
“I actually do like loud house parties,” he said, and Dylan could tell from his voice that she had succeeded in assuaging his fears somewhat. “Everything’s just been . . . different lately.”
“I can imagine,” she said. “Okay, well no I can’t. But we won’t talk about that anymore if you don’t want to. I just thought I should come clean and not pretend I thought you were just some guy who wandered out here.”
“I didn’t wander,” Mark said. “I kind of followed you.”
Dylan stared at him.
“The look on your face when you climbed out here was like a perfect expression of how I was feeling. I thought we might be . . . kindred.”
How often did guys say stuff like that to you at a party? Or use words like ‘kindred’. Maybe never? If it was a line, he sure sounded sincere saying it, and the way he was looking at her? Either she was deluding herself or there was a cloud of sexual tension between them so thick her vision was almost obscured by the haze.
“Turns out you were right,” she said, trying to lighten the mood. “Seeing as how we both hate the music.”
Mark’s hand, which was next to hers on the railing, slid a little closer and their fingertips barely made contact. He didn’t even seem aware that it had happened, but for Dylan, it was as though he’d burned her with a match. Her fingertips became hyper-sensitive, as though straining to feel even more of his
“But now that your friend is gone, you’ll probably leave me here to the mercy of, what did you call it, bad nineties music? Bad nineties music and a roomful of people staring at me like I’m a lab specimen.”
“I can hang out for a little,” Dylan said. She raised her bottle. “At least ‘til I finish my beer.”
He nodded and leaned over the railing again, looking out into the night. “Drink slow.”
“So do you know these folks?” he asked. “The ones having the party.
“Nope. Ava’s friends of friends or co-workers. Something like that.”
“Same here. I don’t know them either,” he said smiling. “You think they actually know anyone who’s in their apartment right now drinking all their beer?”
Mark smiled, just a slight parting of his lips and the barest glimpse of perfect white teeth. That natural charisma was probably part of what had the press acting like locusts.
The New York sports rags were overdue a new crop of attractive star athletes to torment with endless speculation about their personal and professional lives. And this guy’s face would definitely sell a lot of papers. It wasn’t often you saw this mixture of ruggedly handsome and adorable in the same package, but Mark Acosta had it in spades. Realizing that she was in danger of actually staring, Dylan turned to join him in looking over the railing at nothing at all.
The couple a few floors down who had been arguing earlier seemed to have reached a ceasefire and the night was punctuated only by the occasional sound of car horns and Friday night revelers. Dylan tried to remember the last time she had actually enjoyed a party, or met someone worth talking to at one. At least a year. Mark Acosta was a find. She turned to look at him again.
“So tell me all about this enormous family of yours,” she said.
By the time Dylan’s beer was done, they both seemed to have silently conspired to pretend not to notice and just kept talking. Mark liked talking about his family, and Dylan liked listening. But more than that, she liked the look in his eyes as he described how smart his sister was, or how funny his Dad was, how bossy his mother. He told stories about them with such a lack of self-consciousness that it was clear they were his entire life. Baseball never once came up.