Beyond His Control
Copyright © 2017 by Aliyah Burke
Myst, a popular dance club
Kamden Strong sighed, plagued by exhaustion. The club scene wasn’t remotely what she wanted to be doing. I have a perfectly good bath and bed in my hotel suite. Why am I here?
A squeal that had no problem elevating itself over the noise of the crowd—an impressive feat to be sure—grabbed her attention. Kamden turned her head and smiled at her friend Missy. Oh yeah. That’s why I’m here. Missy Travis, best friend extraordinaire. Missy had begged her to go along. Happy that her friend wasn’t heading off on her own, Kamden had agreed to accompany her.
Missy waved at her from where she danced with no less than four guys. Kamden lifted her glass in acknowledgement. She smiled and spoke to people despite the headache sweeping down upon her. Kamden had just politely turned down another offer to dance and used the moment to take a big drink of her cranberry juice. I need something stronger. She’d claimed a stool at the furthest end of the bar, although she longed to crawl off into a dark corner and hide. She felt someone move up behind her and she bit back a groan.
Her smile was more of a grimace. “No, thank you.”
“Well, how about I get you another drink then?”
The pounding in her head amplified.
“I believe the lady said no,” a man with a deep voice interrupted.
All the hair on the back of her neck stood up at the thick, slow syrupy drawn out words. Oh mama! Her weakness. A rich southern drawl, the lazy, unhurried, toe curling…Kamden took another drink and wished she had some ice in the glass. You know what they say about people who chew ice, her brain taunted. She’d heard it all before.
The other man glared at her before walking off. Her savior settled against the bar, not blocking her view of Missy but of the other side. A brief thought this may be a setup crossed her mind.
“Thank you,” she said, her manners dictating her to respond to his action. Kamden looked to her left. The man faced her, his hip resting against the bar rail. Strong hands, trim waist. Swallowing, she focused back on her drink. No matter how grateful she was for the intervention, Kamden still did not intend to be picked up in a bar.
“You know, I remember you being a lot more boisterous.”
She jerked her head toward him. Darkly tanned skin, well built—well built—close cut black hair, clean-shaven, and amazing blue eyes. A strong tingle of familiarity teased the back of her brain, but she couldn’t retrieve it. She knew she should, but the pounding her head was doing prevented even that slight task. She fought off a grimace of pain.
“Wow…I’m hurt. You don’t remember me?”
Kamden shook her head. “I’m sorry, no.” Tall, dark, and handsome tsked and plucked her drink from her hand before helping himself to a giant swig. Hells nawh!
His blue eyes met hers and he laughed a deep and decadent sound. “Calm down, Kami, I’ll buy you a new one.”
Kami. That was a childhood name. Moreover, one only a certain adult man persisted in calling her. Or had the last night she’d seen him. Snatching her glass back, she lifted her brows and said, “Caleb?” Please say no.
He flashed a grin that, despite the pounding in her head, made her panties wet. “In the flesh. Long time no see.”
That was putting it mildly. The last time she’d seen him was the night he’d turned her down for some ass from a fake-tittied redhead. Kamden suddenly had the urge to punch him in the throat.
“Yeah, it has been. How are your parents?” I can be polite.
“Everyone’s fine. And yours?”
“Same.” Kamden caught the bartender’s gaze and signaled for a refill. Can my night get any worse? A killer headache and the one man I asked to fuck me who turned me down. Maybe the roof would like to fall in on me just to round out the night. “Thanks, Matt,” she said after he replaced her drink.
“What have you been up to, Kami?”
Drinking her juice quickly, she nearly flinched from the force of her stabbing anger. I have to get out of here. Digging in her pocket, she found her hotel key and identification, and pushed to her feet.
“Give my best to your parents, Caleb.” Kamden walked away, making a beeline for Missy.
Her friend saw her coming and met her halfway. “Oh, Kam, why didn’t you tell me you were getting one of your headaches? They hadn’t happened for so long, I thought you didn’t get them anymore. Weren’t they brought on by stress of medical school and your residency? I wouldn’t have asked you to come.”
“It’s fine, Missy, but I have to go now.” She knew she only had a few moments before she would be nearly incapacitated from the pain if she didn’t get some pills and some quiet soon. Honestly, she’d not had one in years, but she knew how they could knock her for a loop.
“Of course,” Missy said immediately.
Kamden could feel everyone’s eyes on her. Some days she longed to be invisible and this was one of them. The loud, pounding beat of music followed them out to the front of the club.
“Good evening, Ms. Strong,” the valet said. “Your car will be here in a second.”
She groaned at that voice. There was no point in turning around; he’d be there beside her in a moment. When she saw his tall body in her peripheral view she asked, “What do you want, Caleb?” Beside her, Missy’s ramblings of approval barely registered.
“Wanted to catch up.”
Rubbing her eyes, she sighed in resignation. “Have you had anything to drink?”
Her head continued its assault, making her feel as if it was killing her. “Alcohol. Have you had any?”
“No. Not unless you had some in your drink.”
Her car arrived. She tipped the valet and said, “You drive.”
Caleb got behind the wheel and she took the passenger side with Missy in the back. Kamden knew this would end up in the news, especially with the cameras flashing. He pulled away and said, “Where to?”
Missy gave their hotel’s name to him before she could open her mouth. Closing her eyes, Kamden allowed his mellow southern drawl to lull her into relaxation. Missy kept talking as they headed to their suite. Once inside, Kamden popped two of her headache pills and grabbed her cell phone. She sat down on the ottoman, grateful for the silence.
“Here, sweetie.” Missy held out a Sprite. “Thanks for going with me. I’m going to make myself scarce so you can catch up with Caleb.” She winked. “He’s such a hottie.”
Kamden forced a grin. “’Night, Missy.”
“’Night.” The lights dimmed and she sighed again, grateful to be away from bright lights and loud noises.
Pressing a button, Kamden took a long slow drink, then emptied the glass while waiting for the phone on the other end to be answered.
“Hello?” The question rolled along a deep voice.
“Hi, Daddy.” Her father, country superstar Lane Strong.
“Hey, kiddo. You and Missy having fun?”
“Wonderful. What can I do for you?”
“I wanted to give you a heads-up just in case you read something about me leaving the club with a man and letting him drive my car. Oh, and letting him into the hotel suite.”
“Kamden,” Lane growled in his overprotective father tone.
“Daddy, I’m calling you about this, not hiding it. It doesn’t matter; anyway, it’s just Caleb.”
“That’s the one. You can talk to him if you want, but we ran into each other and are going to catch up.”
“It’s okay, baby. Thank you for telling me. I’d say you could talk to your mom but she’s sleeping.”
“I figured. I’m gonna go now, Daddy. Love you.”
“Love you too, Kamden.”
She hung up and tossed the phone beside her on the white leather. Rubbing her eyes, Kamden looked up and promptly lost her breath. Caleb stood there—arms crossed, a murderous look on his face, and those heart-stopping blue eyes shooting fire.
“What’s your problem?” she asked.