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You Were Mine, Page 2

Abbi Glines

  “Ignore her,” he whispered as I walked by.

  It was like we had a secret. I shivered.

  He closed the door on London, who was talking nonstop, and let out a sigh of relief. “Damn, she’s exhausting.”

  He didn’t seem like a man upset over a breakup. That was good. I couldn’t think of anything to say to him that didn’t sound stupid. I wished I had some witty insight to make him want to be around me.

  “Ever ride a bike?” he asked, stopping in front of a motorcycle. I knew he drove a Harley. Everyone knew it. But I hadn’t thought about getting to ride on it with him. This night was just getting better.

  “Uh, no,” I replied, trying to keep the absolute giddiness from showing on my face.

  “I’ll be your first. Sweet,” he said, then winked at me.

  My heart stopped. Tripp had winked at me. I’d been so worried about tonight. I hadn’t been sure about Jonathon, but I’d wanted to see how the other half partied. I’d heard all about it, but I’d never been. Never had I imagined that I’d hold hands with Tripp, that he would wink at me, that I’d get to ride on the back of his bike. This night was going to be the most epic of my life. I was sure of it. “OK,” I managed to say without stumbling over the word.

  He grinned, and it was perfect. I loved his smile. He handed me a helmet. “Put this on,” he instructed.

  I’d never worn a motorcycle helmet, so I held it and studied it a moment. I didn’t want to do it wrong. I was pretty sure I’d need to tighten the strap that went under my chin.

  Tripp’s hand reached out as he took the helmet away from me. I glanced up, afraid I’d taken too long and he’d changed his mind. “Sorry. That was rude. I should’ve done it for you. You’ve never ridden before,” he said simply, then put it on my head and adjusted the straps.

  He was so close I could smell him. He had some wonderful scent that I assumed was cologne, which mixed with the sea breeze. I inhaled deeply as he fixed the helmet.

  “There you go. We got that gorgeous head all safe and sound now,” he said as he stepped back from me and threw a leg over the bike. “Grab my shoulders and climb on back. Hold on to me as tight as you need.”

  He had just called my head gorgeous. I couldn’t think about anything else at the moment. I was too focused on that. Was I asleep? Was this another one of my dreams? If so, it was a really good one. Except we weren’t kissing yet. I liked the dreams when we were kissing the best.

  I walked over and placed my hands on his shoulders as he instructed, then slung my leg over the seat and sat down behind him. He said to hold on tight, but did he mean to his shoulders? I had seen people on motorcycles enough to know the riders on the back typically wrapped their arms around the drivers, but I didn’t know if Tripp wanted me to do that. Before I could think about it any more, he reached back and pulled my arms around his middle.

  “Tight, sweetheart. Hold on tight,” he repeated, and I did.

  Pressing my chest against Tripp’s back was amazing. With every breath I took, all I could smell was him. I felt the hard warmth of his back against my chest, and everything tingled. I was thankful it was dark and he couldn’t see exactly how much my body was enjoying this.

  The Harley came to life underneath us, and we were off. The hold I had on Tripp instantly tightened as he sped toward the main road. My heart was beating so fast I was sure he could feel it. This was exciting. I never did dangerous things. I was responsible. I had to be. My dad wasn’t around much, and when he was, he didn’t want me there. I was a constant reminder of my mother, who had left him with a kid and run off with another man. He hated her for abandoning him. Not us. Just him. He was selfish, but then, so was my mother. So I did everything I could to prove to him that I wasn’t like her.

  Aunt Darla would be so disappointed in me right now, but I couldn’t help it. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Girls like me didn’t get to ride on the back of Tripp’s bike. He was untouchable. And tonight he’d seen me. He’d saved me. Again.

  I was sure there would never be a man who compared to Tripp. He was the epitome of perfection. And I was just another girl from the trailer park. Someone he wouldn’t have noticed if it hadn’t been for Aunt Darla. He liked her. He was doing this for her.

  As much as I needed to remind myself of this, I didn’t want to right now. I just wanted to memorize how good his body felt against mine. The taut muscles in his stomach flexed as he turned onto the street that would lead us toward the club and around the wealthier part of town. I lived the other way. In all the excitement of being driven by Tripp, I forgot to tell him where I lived. My trailer wasn’t in Rosemary Beach. There weren’t trailers in Rosemary Beach. The average house there cost at least five million dollars. My trailer was thirty minutes north of town.

  I could have him take me to the club. Aunt Darla would still be working. She lived closer, because Mr. Kerrington supplied her with an apartment on the property. She would be upset with me when I explained what happened, but I couldn’t ask Tripp to take me all the way home. It was too far.

  “Just take me to Aunt Darla’s office,” I told him, leaning close enough to his ear so he could hear me over the wind.

  He turned his head slightly to the right, closer to me. “I know where her apartment is. I thought that was where you lived.”

  I wish. Life would be so much easier if I did. Aunt Darla was the one person I knew loved me unconditionally.

  “No, but that’s OK. I live too far out. I’ll just go to her tonight.”

  Tripp didn’t respond at first, and then he slowed down and pulled into a service station. When he came to a stop, I had a moment of panic, because I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with my legs. I didn’t want to make his bike fall over. That would be horrible.

  Tripp placed both legs on the ground. The sight of him under the lights from the store sign, his wonderful body straddling his Harley, was just another image I would commit to my memory.

  Then he turned to look back at me. “Is Darla going to be upset with you about this?”

  I could lie to him, but something about those eyes of his made you want to tell him everything. So I shrugged, keeping my mouth shut.

  A smirk appeared on his perfectly shaped lips, and my complete focus went to his mouth. The bottom lip was slightly more plump than the top, but it was so slight a difference that most people wouldn’t notice. I was just obsessed with him, and I noticed everything. In some of my daydreams, I had sucked on that bottom lip. It was very suckable.

  “Bethy?” His voice broke into my fantasies, and I jerked my gaze back up to meet his. He wasn’t smirking anymore. He looked amused.

  “Hm?” I replied like an idiot. He’d just caught me staring at his mouth.

  “I asked you if you’d rather I take you home. I don’t mind the longer drive. You’ve had a rough night. I don’t want you having to face an angry Darla.”

  She would be angry. I wasn’t sure what she was going to be more angry about: me going to Rush Finlay’s house party with Jonathon or me riding on the back of Tripp’s motorcycle. I had a feeling she was going to be equally mad about both.

  “I live thirty minutes away,” I explained, dropping my gaze to the oil-stained pavement instead of looking into his eyes. I didn’t trust myself not to get lost in another daydream.

  “With your parents?” he asked.

  “My dad.”

  He let out a low whistle. “Dad or Darla? Which one is gonna be more pissed?”

  I let out a sigh. Dad wouldn’t be home tonight. He stayed out most Friday and Saturday nights, since he didn’t have to work the next day. “Darla. Dad won’t be home tonight.”

  Tripp didn’t respond to that right away, so I studied the ground while I waited for him to make up his mind. Going back to my trailer was the best option for me, but I would feel so bad about Tripp having to spend the gas and time doing that. “You often stay home at night alone?” he asked. The concern in his voice surprised me. I glanced up
to look at him, and sure enough, he was frowning.

  “Just on weekends,” I replied, and his frown deepened.

  “That isn’t safe.” He let out a sigh and shook his head. “I’m gonna take you to Darla. I feel better about that. You shouldn’t be staying home alone on weekends.”

  I was almost seventeen! Why was he acting like I was ten? Did I look like a kid? “I turn seventeen in September. I’m not a child. I’ve been staying home alone on weekends most of my life.” I was a little annoyed with him now. I didn’t want Tripp to see me as a kid. I would be a junior this year at school.

  A grin tugged at his lips, but he was holding it back. I could see him struggle with it. If he weren’t so dang beautiful, I’d climb off his bike and hitchhike home. I’d done that before, too.

  “Never said you were a child, Bethy. That wasn’t what I was thinking when I said it wasn’t safe.”

  All it took was that one sexy look and hearing his warm, deep voice to have me at his mercy again, enchanted. I’d go wherever he wanted me to.

  “OK,” I replied.

  He laughed this time, then turned around to start the motorcycle again. “Hold on tight,” he reminded me.

  Once my arms were wrapped around him, we shot back onto the dark road that led to the club. Tonight I’d be facing Aunt Darla’s anger. But it was so worth it.


  Present day

  I sat on my Harley and waited for Bethy to walk out of the clubhouse. Woods had been texting me Bethy’s work schedule every two weeks, and I made sure she made it home from work safely every night. It wasn’t stalking her, exactly. It was just the only way I could remain sane.

  Watching over her was all I had. If I got too close, she flipped. The last time I’d tried to talk to her, she’d started screaming. I hadn’t been able to calm her down. I was watching her lose herself slowly. And it was tearing me up.

  So I followed her to work every day, and I followed her home every night. Once she was safely in her apartment, I often sat parked across the road and watched her window until it went dark. She never looked at me, even though I wasn’t hiding the fact that I was following her. There was no use in hiding it from her.

  The last words she’d actually spoken to me—not screamed at me, because there’d been a lot of that—had been eighteen months ago on the beach when we’d lost Jace. My cousin, my best friend, and the love of Bethy’s life. He’d drowned saving her life when she’d wandered into the ocean drunk and got caught in a riptide. Losing him had taken a part of my soul. He’d been the little brother I never had. He’d been the good Newark heir. He’d been everything I should have been but wasn’t.

  And we had loved the same girl. Although he never knew it.

  Watching her pull away from life more and more each day was so damn hard. Jace wouldn’t have wanted this. He would have hated it. He loved her more than he loved himself. Seeing her like this would have broken his heart.

  Bethy swung her long dark hair over her shoulder as she stepped out of the clubhouse. The shorts she wore had once been tight and cupped her perfect round bottom. But just like she’d lost the will to live, she’d also lost weight. Too much.

  The need to hold her and help her heal was so fucking strong. But she didn’t want me. I hadn’t realized how badly she hated me until I’d returned to Rosemary Beach a little more than two years ago. I’d run like hell eight years ago from a life threatening to suffocate me. My father had wanted something for me that I didn’t want, and I hadn’t been able to see my way out.

  I’d been eighteen years old and scared, because in three short months, one sixteen-year-old girl had become my sole concern in life. Bethy had stolen my heart the summer I met her at Rush’s party. When I’d been ready to throw away the life I’d been planning for the past year in order to be with her, my father had reminded me of just how much control he had over me.

  I wouldn’t have been able to keep Bethy if I’d stayed. That wasn’t the life he’d let me have. So I’d run, hoping that when I came back in two years, when she was old enough, I could take her with me. But first, I’d needed to escape.

  I watched as Bethy opened the door to her old beat-up Ford Taurus and climbed inside. The stiff way she held herself and the way she kept her focus turned away from me told me she knew I was here. She expected me to be here.

  Once she would have broken into the biggest, most beautiful smile in the world and run into my arms. But that was the past. I had broken that. I had broken her, and I hadn’t even known.

  I started my bike and rumbled out onto the road, giving Bethy enough space as I followed her home. She rarely went anywhere else now. Some days she’d go to Grant and Harlow’s to visit with them and their baby girl. Other days she would go to Blaire and Rush’s. But other than those rare times, she just went home.

  Her home was another thing that was eating me alive. I hated it. I hated leaving her at night to sleep in an apartment fifteen miles outside of town with questionable neighbors. She’d had a nice condo on the club’s property, completely paid for, but after Jace’s death, she moved out. Blaire said she needed to get away from the memories, that the beach was too painful for her.

  But God, I hated it. Bethy deserved more than this life. The young girl with those big, soft brown eyes, so trusting and innocent, haunted me. Because of me, that girl was gone. I’d destroyed that trust and innocence.

  Bethy’s car turned into the service station just inside the town limits. She didn’t need to get gasoline. I knew that because I knew the days she needed to fill up. She’d done so two days ago. She still had several more days before she needed more. I parked across the road and watched her.

  I watched her park her car and get out. She gripped the door as she turned and glared in my direction before she slammed the door. At least she looked at me this time. I expected her to go back to ignoring me and go inside, but she didn’t.

  She kept her angry gaze locked on me as she stalked across the parking lot and headed my way. Oh, shit. She was pissed, and there was no one around to calm her the hell down when she went off on me. Maybe this was a good thing. The last time she went off on me, Grant and Woods had held her back and taken her home. Whenever I spoke, she’d just scream louder. Hearing my voice was enough to infuriate her.

  I hadn’t understood the contempt she’d hidden from Jace and only shown me when no one was looking . . . until that day on the beach. The memory of her words sliced through me, and I winced. That was always going to fucking haunt me. I’d never get over it.

  I climbed off my bike and waited for whatever she planned on throwing at me. She was acknowledging my existence. I would take what I could get.

  She stopped in front of me and put her hands on her hips. Even with the weight loss, Bethy still had hips. They were thinner, but they were there. She had fantastic hips. “Stop following me,” she demanded, fury flashing in her eyes. “I don’t need you stalking my ass like a psycho!”

  I had to tread carefully with her. I wanted her to talk to me; I didn’t want to piss her off. “I’m just making sure you’re safe,” I replied in the softest tone I could muster.

  Bethy let out a frustrated growl. “Don’t! I don’t need you making sure I’m safe. It doesn’t matter if I’m safe. I haven’t been your concern in a very long time.” She was trying to control herself. She wanted to hit me. Scream at me. She wanted to blame someone else for Jace’s death, and I was the easiest person to hate.

  “It matters to me that you’re safe,” I said simply.

  She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Her hands were clenched tightly in fists as they rested on her hips. “I don’t like seeing you. I don’t like you watching me. I want to be left alone. I’m going to get a restraining order against you, Tripp, I swear to God,” she threatened.

  We both knew I had done nothing to her and she wouldn’t be able to get a restraining order. But telling her that would only upset her. “I know you hate me. For a long time, I didn’t know w
hy. But I do now. Hell, Bethy, I hate myself,” I admitted. “That doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. I’m worried about you, and if you don’t want me near you, I get it. But I’m going to keep you as safe as I can. I’m sorry if that upsets you.”

  Bethy let out a hysterical laugh that wasn’t a laugh at all. I loved Bethy’s laugh. The one when she was happy. Hearing her laugh and watching her smile had once owned me. I’d do anything for it. Now it was nothing more than a hollow, hard sound that only added to the pain between us.

  “Why did you come back? I was fine. Jace and I were great. I was happy, Tripp. I was so damn happy.” Her voice cracked, and I wanted to reach for her. The hard, angry shell she’d surrounded herself with was cracking. “Seeing you ruined it. Everything! It ruined everything. Then . . . you . . .” she let out a scream and pressed her hands over her eyes. “I tried to make us all work. I tried to like you. I tried to accept that Jace loved you, and I wanted to forget the past. I wanted to forget that summer. I had Jace. Why did you have to remind me? Why did you have to . . .” She swallowed hard. “I was happy. I had thought Jace was my one. Then you came back and screwed it all up. Why?” Her voice was so broken. Tears filled her eyes as she glared at me.

  I had come back with the excuse of checking on my friend Della Sloane. I’d met her in Dallas at a restaurant where she was a waitress and I was a bartender. I had sent her here to get a job at the club and live in my condo after she’d slept with our boss, who she hadn’t known was married at the time. I hadn’t lived in the condo since that summer I met Bethy, when my grandfather gave it to me as a graduation present. I had sent Della to the one place I knew she’d be safe. I had been right. She was now engaged to Woods Kerrington and was blissfully happy.

  At the time, I told myself I’d come home because I’d heard Jace’s voice on the phone and had missed home. I’d known Jace was with Bethy, and as hard as that was to accept, he was the better man. He was good for her.

  Looking back now, I could admit I came home for her. I wanted to see Bethy. I wanted to see if time and distance had truly ended what we once had.