Rules of a Rebel and a Shy Girl, Page 21Jessica Sorensen
“We will,” he says. “Tomorrow.”
There he goes with the “we” again.
I like the sound of it.
Probably too much.
Maybe it’s not so bad as long as there’s still a me and him between the we.
I take a deep breath and then another. “What do we do now?”
“Now, we get some sleep,” he says, pulling me closer.
I’m a little terrified to close my eyes, knowing tomorrow I’ll have to face everything: moving, getting a new job, figuring out a new plan. But as I lay in his arms with him stroking his fingers up and down my back, calmness overcomes me enough that my eyes shut.
I fall asleep faster than I have in years.
I wake up the next morning with Willow’s head resting on my chest, my knee tucked between her legs, and my phone ringing insanely. I make no move to answer it, not wanting to ruin this peaceful moment that managed to carry all the way from last night.
When the damn thing refuses to shut the fuck up, I give up and collect it off my nightstand. When Dad flashes across the screen, I grimace.
“Who is it?” Willow asks, looking up at me.
“My dad.” I reject the call, toss the phone down, and pull her close until her body is flush with mine.
“What do you think he wants?” she asks through a yawn.
For me to come to the office. I hesitate to tell her, knowing she’ll worry, and that’s the last thing she needs right now.
Sensing my tension, she lifts her head and blinks down at me, her hair tickling my face. “What did he do?”
I slip my hands around her waist, urging her to lie back down. “Nothing he hasn’t done before.”
“Beck …” she warns. “I know when you’re lying.”
“Oh, you do, do you? Then tell me if I’m lying right now,” I say, letting my fingers sneak under the shirt she’s wearing. “I want to put my fingers inside you again and watch you moan.”
Her cheeks flush, but her gaze never wavers from mine. “Don’t try to distract me. Tell me what he did.”
I trace my fingers back and forth across her waist, paying extra attention to that diamond in her belly button. “You really want me to tell you instead of doing this?”
Her lips part, but no words leave her mouth as I trail my fingers down between her legs. Right as I’m about to slip them inside her, she captures my hand.
“We can do that later,” she says breathlessly. “Right now, I want to know what your dad’s done to you. I can tell he’s done something.”
“Oh, fine.” I sulk, hoping that will win her over, but apparently, my baby blue-eyed charm doesn’t work on her. All she does is give me a tolerant look. “He blackmailed me into working at his firm.”
She pushes back to look down at me. “Blackmailed?”
I sigh and give her a recap of what happened. I also tell her about the files I found on his computer. When she asks if she can see the files, I hand over my phone.
She slips out of the covers, giving me a great view of her long legs as she stretches out and rests against the headboard. She starts searching through files, growing more intrigued with each one.
“I’m pretty sure he’s committing some tax fraud,” she remarks, examining the screen closely. “At least, he did this year.”
“Really?” I ask. “I wasn’t positive.”
“Well, I took a few accounting classes so I could help the owner of that grocery store I worked at during senior year, and I learned enough to know that not all of these numbers are matching up on some of the documents. Plus, I’m pretty sure some of these accounts don’t exist unless your dad owns a dance club in Hawaii, which I’m fairly sure he doesn’t.”
“He doesn’t,” I say, stretching out beside her.
“That’s what I thought.” She looks up at me and hands me my phone. “What are you going to do about it?”
“I don’t know yet.” I scratch my chest.
I left my shirt off last night but put on a pair of drawstring pajama bottoms. Usually, I sleep naked. But I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable her first night here. I’ll save the nakedness for later when she wants to strip down with me. Well, as long as she doesn’t freak out again and put an end to us, something I’m still a little concerned about.
“What do you think I should do? Honestly, I want to blackmail him back, but I’d like the opinion of a more levelheaded thinker.”
“You think I’m a levelheaded thinker?” she questions, hugging her knees to her chest.
I tug on a strand of her hair. “You talked me out of thinking we were living in a canvas, didn’t you?”
“I almost forgot about that … Still, I’m not sure if I should tell you what to do with this one.” She rests her chin on her knees. “If you want my opinion, though, I’ll give it to you.”
I nod, moving in front of her. “I want your opinion more than anyone else’s.”
Another smile. Another prize I feel like I’ve won.
She stretches out her legs, putting one on each side of me before scooting closer to me. “Well, I think I can probably give you the same speech you’ve been giving me for the last few months, only insert mom with dad. So here goes.” She clears her throat. “You need to get away from your dad. He’s never been good to you, and him trying to control what you do isn’t right.”
“Yeah, but what if he’s right? What if I need direction in my life?”
“You bought your first house when you were eighteen. I’m pretty sure you’re on the right path.”
I waver. “Or I’m just another spoiled rich kid.”
“Trust me; you are in no way, shape, or form like Titzi.” She slides closer until her ass is between my legs and her hands are on my shoulders. “That girl is stupid. Your father is stupid. Anyone who has ever doubted you is just plain stupid.”
And there it is, the reason I fell in love with her.
I roll my tongue in my mouth. “Fine. I get what you’re saying, but I just have one more question.”
“Can I keep you, like, forever?”
Her eyes widen. “Beck …”
“What?” I give her my best innocent look. “It’s a reasonable question, especially when you’re so damn valuable. Why would I ever want to give you up?”
She rolls her eyes. “Now you’re just being cheesy.”
“Admit it. You like my cheesiness.”
“Maybe just a little.”
We’re both smiling like idiots, but I put a stop to the goofiness as I go in for a kiss, dragging her into my lap.
By the time our lips part again, my dad has tried to call me seventeen times.
“Do you want to do the honors?” I ask Willow with my phone in my hand. “Or should I?”
“I think this is something you should do. It’ll be therapeutic after all those years he’s beaten you down.”
I feel restless as I stare at my dad’s name in my contact list.
“You’ll be okay,” she insists, kneeling on the bed in front of me. “Just call him up and tell him you have some of his files that you’d really like him to see. And do it in your best mobster voice.”
Nodding, I press my finger to his name then put the phone to my ear. He answers after two rings and immediately starts screaming that I’m supposed to be at the office. When he finally takes a breath, I tell him what I need to, and for the first time in my life, he listens.
In the middle of the conversation, Willow gets up off the bed and heads across my room toward the door. Worry builds in my chest that she’ll walk out and never come back or that she’ll come back with a list. And these last five years of getting us to this point will be destroyed. When she reaches the doorway, though, she turns around and smiles.
“I’ll be right back. I’m just going to go make breakfast while you finish breaking up with your father.” She giggles, amused with herself.
he pressure in my chest cracks as I realize that she might be okay.
I might be okay.
We might be okay.
I’m so glad Beck decided to get out of working with his father. Sure, blackmailing him might not be the best way, but honestly, I think it’s the only way other than Beck selling his house.
As Beck talks to his dad on the phone and explains to him what he found, I wander out to the kitchen to make some breakfast. I feel so well-rested I don’t even know what to do with myself other than smile, smile, smile and do jazz hands apparently. Honestly, I kind of feel as happy as a cartoon character as I dance my way across the spacious kitchen.
But in the middle of my best robot move, I screech to a halt, my jaw smacking to my knees.
“What the heck is this?” I mutter, plucking up a piece of paper held to the fridge by a magnet.
Task #1: Get Willow out of that house.
Task #2: Prove to her that I’m not going to destroy her.
Task #3: Tell her I love her.
The letters are written in Beck’s handwriting below the list of rules I gave him; only, my list has been scribbled out.
Tell her I love her.
Tell her I love her?
“Beck loves me?” I whisper, nearly dropping the list.
My heart rate accelerates. My palms begin to dampen. My brain is wired, soaring a million miles a minute. I’d think I was having a panic attack, except for two things: One, those goddamn flutters go elatedly crazy. And two, I don’t want to run to the front door. I want to go back to the bedroom. So, that’s what I do with the list clutched in my hand.
Beck is off the phone when I walk in, looking both terrified and relieved.
“Well, the good news is that he’s going to sign my house over to me,” he says, tossing his phone onto the bed.
I step toward him. “And the bad news?”
He rests his elbows on his knees and massages his temples with his fingertips. “I’m probably not going to be allowed to family dinners anymore.”
“Aw, Beck, I’m so sorry.” Another step toward him and my fingers tighten around the list. “Are you going to be okay?”
“I’ll be fine. Family dinners suck, anyway.” He waves me off, but I can see a tiny bit of hurt in his eyes.
“What can I do to make you feel better?” I ask, stopping in front of him.
He leans back on his arms as he angles his head up. “Well, if you’re offering …” His lips curve into a naughty grin.
I tap my finger against my lips. “You want me to tickle your feet again?”
He gives me a tolerant look. “That’s not quite what I was thinking you could tickle. Maybe go up a little higher.”
“What? To your ankle?”
Shaking his head, he snags hold of my hips, lifts me up, and drops me down on the bed.
I let out a laugh as I bounce against the bed and then squeal as he rolls on top of me and tickles my side.
“Just for that, I’m going to make you pee your pants,” he teases, sketching his fingers up and down my sides.
“Please, don’t!” I squeal, wrestling to get out from underneath him.
Laughing, he straddles me, snatches hold of my wrists, and pins my arms above my head. “You are so going down … Wait, what’s in your hand?” His gaze shifts to me, and his Adam’s apple bobs up and down as he gulps. “Where did you find that?”
“On your fridge,” I whisper, struggling to get oxygen into my lungs. Breathe. Just breathe. “Is it true …? Task number three?”
His throat muscles move as he swallows hard. “It is, but I don’t want you to panic. That’s just where I am, but I won’t say it aloud. I know that you’re not there yet, so we can wait for now. I don’t want to overwhelm you or make you feel uncomfortable while you’re living with me. You’ve already spent way too much of your life being uncomfortable in your own house. I don’t want to ever make you feel that way.”
Silence ticks by, filled with our heavy breathing.
“Princess, please, say something,” he pleads, still holding my wrists.
“You make me feel safe,” I sputter, unsure what else to say other than the truth. “All the time. You’re the only one who ever has.”
“Good.” He relaxes, skimming a finger along the inside of my wrist right along my thrashing pulse. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted. To make sure you feel—are safe. Ever since the first time I had you come home with me and spend the night.”
“Well, you completely and one hundred percent succeeded.” I aim for a light tone yet sound uncontrollably breathless.
“Now that I got you out of that house, I did.” Then he leans in to kiss me.
“Beck,” I whisper right before his lips touch mine.
He pauses, his eyelids lifting open. “Yeah?”
“C-can I hear you say it?” I whisper. “I’ve never heard anyone say it to me without a manipulative meaning behind it.”
He nods, swallowing hard. “Willow, I love you.”
He says it so easily, without any effort, without wanting anything in return.
I’ve often wondered what it would be like to hear the word love and not cringe. When I was younger, it used to happen, but only because I was so naive. Maybe I’m being naive still, but I really don’t think so. And I don’t cringe. I don’t run. I don’t think of lists and jobs and classes. I think of Beck and everything he’s done for me: when he saved me from sleeping in the car, when he comforted me during the rougher days, when he didn’t judge me for the bad choices I made, when he made me laugh, even when he made me almost pee my pants.
Then I hold my breath and let every single damn syllable sink into my heart.
“I love you, too,” I whisper. “I think I have for a while.”
His eyes widen, but that look only lasts for a heartbeat. Then his lips are on mine. His hands soon find my body, slipping underneath my shirt. His fingers brush my nipples, and my back bows up, my knees pressing against his hips. He repeats the movement again, whispering that he can stop if I need him to. I don’t want him to stop, though.
And that’s exactly what I tell him.
He peels off my shirt, and I tug down his pajama bottoms and boxers. Then he lays me back down on the bed and slips his fingers inside me as his tongue parts my lips. He feels me until I can’t breathe. Kisses me until I can’t think straight. Loves me until everything seems right and nothing seems wrong.
I never want him to let me go.
His thoughts seem to match mine as he only moves away to put on a condom. Then he places his body over mine, kissing me slowly, as if memorizing every single brush of our lips.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” he asks, looking into my eyes.
I nod with a hint of nerves surfacing. But I shove the feeling down and wrap my legs around his waist, really wanting to do this.
“I love you,” I say.
“I love you, too,” he promises.
Then he kisses me as he slips inside, and I hold on to him, never wanting to let go.
It might not be perfection, but I think it’s definitely close.
The next few days move by slowly, but in the best way possible. Beck and I spend a lot of time messing around, laughing, and burning dinner because I apparently suck at cooking food that doesn’t come processed and in a box. Beck finds my sucky cooking skills pretty funny, even when I set off all the smoke alarms in the house, and his laughter makes not panicking a bit easier.
To alleviate even more of my stress, I decided to accept a job at the library and a tutoring job at the college. Beck tries to talk me out of taking two, but I want to be able to afford everything on my own, even a discounted, reasonable rent price. I also decide to have Van mail me my final paycheck instead of picking it up, never wanting to go back to that place again.
Van doesn’t seem very happy
about me quitting, but I am. And I really start feeling like myself again: the planner, the good choice maker, the girl who loves spending time with her best friend—well, I guess my boyfriend now, which is new to me and completely unplanned. That’s okay. I’m starting to realize that unplanned things sometimes turn out to be wonderful.
Everything seems to be going great until I finally have to accept that I can no longer keep washing my outfit and re-wearing it. I have to return to the apartment to get my stuff and my car. So, on a very early Friday morning, Beck and I climb into his car and drive back to a place I hope to never see again.
Just being there puts me in a foul mood, and I wonder if that’s how I’ve been for years: a walking foul mood. I decide to ask Beck this since he seems to know me pretty well.
“You’re not a walking foul mood.” He rolls his eyes as he grabs the blankets off my bed and stuffs them into a box. “You’re not even in a foul mood right now. You’re just sad because this place reminds you of too many bad times.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right.” I open the top dresser drawer to clean out my clothes, finding the snow globe Beck gave me. I smile as I pick it up.
“What are you looking at?” Beck asks, stepping up beside me. He has on jeans that are covered with dust from moving furniture, a long-sleeved grey shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and strands of his hair are askew. He looks so sexy. I can’t figure out how the hell I managed to keep my hands off him for so long.
Talk about too much self-control.
“The snow globe you gave me.” I hold it up and give it a little shake.
He smiles at the fake snow flurrying in the water. “You know, I was really nervous when I picked that out.”
“Really?” I ask, and he nods. “Why?”
He shrugs. “I think because it was just because it was the first present I ever gave you.”
My fingers fold around the snow globe. “It wasn’t the first present you gave me.”
His forehead creases. “Really? What else did I give you?”