Rules of a Rebel and a Shy Girl, Page 11Jessica Sorensen
I stand there, stunned, unsure of what to do.
Unsure. Unsure. Unsure. When did my life become so full of uncertainties?
I need to get back on track, stick to my plan, and fix the problems in my life, starting with Beck’s and my friendship. I need to make sure we’re on the same page—the friend’s page. A page I might not want to be on, but have to be.
Will he even want to be on that page when he finds out the truth about me?
I haven’t seen Willow since I towed her car back to her place, and the space is driving me insane. We’ve both been so busy and haven’t had time to see each other. That’s changing tonight, because she agreed to come to my party, surprisingly with very little persuasion. And, if I play my cards right, I can convince her to crash at my place for the night and get her away from that house for a bit.
I’ve talked to her a few times on the phone, and she mentioned how her mom hasn’t been home in days. I don’t know which is worse: her mom and her sketchy-ass friends being at the apartment or her being at the sketchy-ass apartment alone.
I asked a couple of times if she had made a decision to move out, and she still seems pretty undecided. Tonight, my mission is to change that. I don’t know how yet, but I’ll figure it out.
“Why the hell haven’t you called me back?” my father’s roaring voice shatters through my thoughts of Willow.
I spin around from my dresser as he storms into my bedroom. “Who let you in?”
Fury blazes in his eyes as he stops in front of me. “Let me in? Don’t forget who paid for this house.”
My jaw muscle spasms as I glide the dresser drawer shut. “You paid about ten percent of it, not all of it. And I thought this was supposed to be my graduation present, not some sort of collateral you could hang over my head.”
“It was a present, but my name is still on the deed with yours,” he says with a my-shit-don’t-stink smirk, “which means I can take away some of the house if I want to.”
I mentally roll my eyes at the image of him cutting the house into pieces and dragging some of it away.
“Sorry,” I manage to get out. “I’m just confused why you’re here. I thought you were in Vail with mom.”
“I had to stay behind because of work, something you clearly know nothing about.” He loosens the tie around his neck.
I pick up a leather-banded watch from my dresser and fasten it around my wrist. “So, you just let mom go off by herself again.”
“She didn’t have to go,” he snaps, the vein in his neck bulging. “But she wanted to.”
I don’t blame her. Why would she want to stay behind and exchange mountains, snow, and ski slopes for an empty house and my dad’s grumpy temperament?
I check the time. Shit. The party starts in less than an hour. He needs to leave.
“Are you heading to or from work?”
“I just took a break to get some dinner and thought I’d stop by to check up on you since you never called me back, even after I left you countless messages.” He stares me down accusingly. “I thought maybe it was because you were too busy with school, but I should’ve guessed it was because of a party. It always is.”
At first, I’m confused how he knows about the party. Then I remember the food and alcohol bottles set up in the kitchen.
“This is the first party I’ve had in a month.” I take a clean long-sleeved shirt out of my dresser and tug it over my T-shirt. “And it’s for Thanksgiving.”
“Thanksgiving was yesterday,” he says like that somehow proves a point. “You should be doing something better with your life than throwing pointless parties.”
“I don’t just throw parties.” I try to keep my tone neutral, yet irritation creeps in. “I have a job, go to school, play soccer.” You’d know that if you knew anything about me.
“A job?” He laughs disdainfully. “Loaning out money and trading stuff off isn’t a job unless you’re planning on working at a pawn shop for the rest of your life.”
I don’t know why he can’t be happy with who I am. Sure, I do some stuff he doesn’t agree with, like throw parties, but I get decent grades, haven’t done anything too crazy like end up in jail, and while he doesn’t think much of it, I do own a business. I help people who need cash fast by letting them trade valuable belongings for money, and then I sell their stuff online for a profit. It beats working in a stuffy office with my dad.
“Maybe I do want to work at a pawn shop,” I tell him, though I really don’t. “It’s a decent job with an income.”
His face reddens. “You need to stop messing around and focus on your career.”
“My career?” I ask flatly. “Or the one you have planned for me?”
“Law is a good career to get into. You’re lucky to have the opportunity to work with me.” He inches toward me, a move he used to do when I was younger to intimidate me. Now, I’m five inches taller than him, so the effect is lost. “Do you know how many interns apply to work at my firm … for free?”
“You should probably hire them, then, and save yourself the money of having to pay me.”
If I thought his face couldn’t get any redder, I was wrong.
“Watch how you speak to me. You may be living on your own now, but don’t forget my name is on the deed, too,” he warns. “And if I want to, I can sell this house.”
I pierce my fingernail into my palms. “I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works since both of our names are on the deed.”
“Take me to court and find out.” An eerie grin rises on his face. He knows he has me right where he wants me. “Now, I’d like you to stop by my office on Monday so we can talk about the hours you’ll put in and what your plans are for getting into law school.”
I open my mouth to tell him to go to hell, but his threat echoes in my head. My dad is one of the highest paid lawyers in the country for a reason. If he took me to court, he’d win in a heartbeat, like he wins all of his cases.
He grins smugly. “I’ll see you on Monday. Have fun at your party. It’ll be your last,” he calls over his shoulder before leaving.
I don’t move until I hear the front door shut. Then I unglue my feet from the floor and head downstairs to get a much-needed drink.
I’m throwing back a shot of Bacardi when the doorbell rings. Wiping my lips with the back of my hand, I walk to the foyer and throw open the front door.
And just like that, I feel twenty times better.
Grey and Luna are standing on my front porch, holding hands. That’s not what stills the restlessness piercing inside me, though.
Will is right behind them, wearing a leather jacket, clunky red boots, and a tight black dress that shows off her sexy as hell body. Her brown hair cascades over her shoulders, she doesn’t have a drop of makeup on, and she’s chewing on her glossy lip as her gaze wanders all over me.
God, she looks fucking beautiful. I just want to take her up to my room and keep her there forever … The things I’d do to her … over and over and over again …
“We brought a present,” Grey says, and for a dumbass second, I think he means Willow. Then I manage to pull my head out my lustful thoughts and realize he’s holding a bottle of whiskey.
“Thanks, man.” I take the bottle, step back, and motion for them to come inside.
As Luna passes, she shoots me a worried glance before Grey snatches her hand and hauls her toward the kitchen.
What the heck was that about?
Shoving the concern from my head, I turn to Willow, my lips tugging into a grin. “Hey, princess. Long time no see.”
She smiles effortlessly, throwing me off guard. “I know. We need to stop doing that.”
“Doing what?” I ask, confused by her happiness. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m glad she looks happy instead of stressed, but I wonder why.
Perhaps she decided to move out.
That thought makes my smile return.
“You seem to be in
a good mood,” I say as she stumbles past me and into the foyer.
“I’m really not.” She wrestles off her jacket and chucks it toward the coat hanger but misses by about ten feet. “Or I wasn’t until about an hour ago.”
“What happened an hour ago?” As soon as the words leave my mouth, the light from the chandelier above casts across her face, highlighting her glazed over eyes. “You’re drunk.”
She holds her finger and thumb an inch apart. “Maybe a little bit.”
Willow isn’t much of a drinker and definitely not a pre-gamer, so why did she start tonight?
“Is everything okay?” I tilt my head closer to her and lower my voice. “You usually don’t drink.”
“I know. But I was having a rough night and was about to have a panic attack, so when Grey brought out this bottle of whiskey, I …” She lifts her shoulders then lets them fall in a lazy shrug. “I guess I’m a drinker. But I’m not that surprised. I mean, I already do a ton of bad stuff, anyway, just like my mom, so what’s one more thing?”
“First off, you’re nothing like your mom,” I say, wishing she’d stop saying stuff like that. “And second, why were you having a panic attack?”
She lifts a shoulder, the look on her face heart-wrenching. “Lots of stuff … I can’t tell you about this stuff, or else you’ll be disappointed in me.”
“Princess”—I sweep her hair out of her eyes—“I could never be disappointed in you. No one could.”
“You say that now, but only because you don’t know everything.”
“Then tell me everything.”
She clumsily shakes her head, jutting her lip out. “I can’t.”
I leave my hand resting on her cheek. “But I thought we told each other everything.”
“Not everything.” She leans into my touch, her eyelashes fluttering.
Good God, kill me now and I’d die a happy man.
“And I know it’s that way for you, too,” she whispers. “I know you talk to Grey about stuff you don’t tell me.”
My attention darts toward the kitchen, and I scowl at Grey. “What did you tell her?” I mouth, sure I already know.
While Grey and I aren’t close, about a month ago, we got high together, and I decide to solve my Willow problems by chatting his ear off.
Grey pauses, mid-pour. “I’m sorry. I was drunk.” Then he grabs Luna’s hand and bails out the back door, spilling his drink along the way.
Huffing out a breath, I return my attention to Willow. “What did he tell you?”
She squints one eye, thinking. “I don’t really remember … something about breaking your heart, maybe?” The confusion in her eyes gives me hope that she won’t remember any of this in the morning.
I’m starting to relax when she abruptly throws her arms around me and presses her chest against mine.
“Can we do something tonight?” she asks, peering up at me through her eyelashes.
“We can do anything you want.” Especially when you’re looking at me like that. “Just name it, and it’s yours.”
She smiles contently. “I want to relax and have fun with you.”
“Well, you’re in luck because relaxation and fun just happen to be my specialty.”
Smiling, she kisses my cheek. “Thank you, Beck. You’re the best. And if you need anything at all, I’m here for you, too.”
I shut my eyes and take a calm-the-fuck-down breath. The last time she was so affectionate toward me, I tried to kiss her. I can’t do that again. I can’t lose control. I need to stay sober and keep my hands to myself until I can get to the bottom of what’s bothering her.
Well, that’s what I try to convince myself.
As she laces our fingers and pulls me toward the kitchen to get a drink, I easily follow, wondering if maybe I lost control a long time ago.
I used to believe I was allergic to parties. Every time I went to one, my body physically reacted. My muscles tightened, stomach churned, and my blood pressure went up, like a gazillion notches.
Okay, maybe I didn’t really believe I was allergic. Rowdy crowds, loud noises, and drunken stupidity just make me edgy. Tonight, though, I’ve turned into a hypocrite. Tonight, I’m at Beck’s party, and I’ve had enough to drink that the loud music isn’t horrible, the drunken stupidity is more funny than annoying, and the crowd … Well, all the people crammed into the spacious living room are still kind of overwhelming yet not enough to make me want to leave.
I blame my relaxed state of mind on the whiskey I drank before I left Luna’s place. I hadn’t planned on drinking, but as the weight of life began to splinter my chest apart, I decided I needed to calm down. So, I took a few drinks, or three or four or ten, and then I headed off to my favorite place in the world—Beck’s.
Beck has stuck to my side the entire night, adding to my relaxed state of euphoria.
Beck and whiskey equal forgetting all of my shitty choices.
Beck and Beck equal happy drunk Willow.
Beck. And Beck. And Beck. He’s a stream through my mind, my favorite song stuck on repeat.
Shit, I’m so drunk.
Every so often, worry creeps up in my drunken stupidity, warning me I’m playing with fire and am about to get burned. Right now, that probably sounds more appealing than it should.
“Relax, Princess,” Beck breathes into my ear as the bass of the song throbs through my chest. He moves up behind me, aligning his chest with my back, folding his fingertips into my hips. “Dancing’s supposed to be fun.” He grins at me from over my shoulder, his hips pressed against my ass.
Sober, I might panic the hell out with the intimate move. Drunk …? Well, it feels kind of good.
Okay, really, really good.
“I am having fun,” I announce, which is the partial truth. I’m not having a shitty time or anything. It’s just, every time too many people get all up in my business, I have flashbacks of being at work or at the apartment during one of my mom’s parties.
“No, you’re not. You’re all worked up.” He molds his palms around my hips, and I slump against his chest, my head bobbing back. “Stop worrying so much about whatever everyone else is doing and dance with me.” He draws me even closer, if that’s possible, and slips his arm around my waist, splaying his fingers across my abdomen.
Soberness attempts to press through my numbed mind, and my voice of reason attempts to make a grand appearance. We’re too close. Way, way, I-can-feel everything close. Beck is touching me. Beck is grinding against my ass. Beck is enjoying this dancing thing a little too much. I’m enjoying this dirty dancing a little too much. Remember what happened the last time we both enjoyed dancing too much.
I should probably stop this, right? Suddenly, my voice of reason sounds drunk, too.
I sneak a glance at Ari, Luna, and Grey to see what they think of this dirty dancing going on between Beck and me.
Ari is too distracted, busting out disco moves, and Luna is too busy gazing lustfully into her boyfriend’s eyes. If Wynter were here, she’d totally notice the one-step-away-from-a-porn-show dancing going on. Wynter misses nothing.
Even though only Beck and I seem to be aware of how much we’re touching each other, I still feel as if I’m secretly doing something naughty. If I were sober, I’d bail out now. But I’m not sober. I’m drunk and dizzy and confused about what I want and what I don’t want. Who I am and who I’m not. Where I belong and where I don’t.
Up until a couple of months ago, I was a plan-everything, play-by-the-book kind of girl, even if my decisions weren’t always the best. So, this reckless, dancing with confusion thing is foreign, wild, crazy, out-of-control territory.
What the hell do I want? To stop dancing with Beck? For him to stop touching me?
I shake my head a few times to clear the fogginess in my mind. All that does is make the room spin.
“Stop overthinking,” Beck playfully scolds, softly pinching my hip. When I freeze, he si
ghs. “You said you wanted to have fun tonight, remember?”
I bob my head up and down.
“Well, in order to have fun, you have to relax. Trust me, I know. I’m all about the fun.” He massages my hips with his fingertips. “You’re too tense. You need to loosen up. And not just tonight, but every damn day. I think I’m going to make that my goal … to make you loosen up every single day.”
I giggle because he’s drunk and babbling, and it’s hilarious.
“Yeah.” He puts his lips to my ear, grazing his teeth along my earlobe. “You must be really drunk since you’re not arguing with me.”
I shiver in the best way ever. “I probably should … You’re too good to me.”
“No way. I’m not good enough. I’ll never be until I find a way for you to live a stress-free life.”
“I don’t know if that’s possible … I’m always tense. Life is tense. If life weren’t tense, then maybe I could chillax. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that,” I murmur, reaching back to run my fingers through his hair. I don’t even know why I do it other than I’ve lost complete control of my obsessive need to harness my feelings.
My hand and fingers develop a mind of their own, needing to feel how soft his hair is, something I’ve thought about a time or two over the years if I’m being totally honest with myself.
“I’ve been like this since the day you met me, so you shouldn’t be so surprised.”
He chuckles softly in my ear. “That’s not true at all.”
“Shh …” he whispers hotly against my ear. “Less arguing, more sexy dancing.”
I giggle again for probably the umpteenth time. Then we start to move to the beat, a soft, sultry tempo. Slowly, I unwind, matching his rhythm effortlessly. As the song quickens, we grind faster, our bodies in sync. His hands explore up and down my sides, around the curve of my hips, along my arm, over my breasts. Goose bumps sprout across my flesh with each brush of his fingers.
I try to fight back another shiver unsuccessfully. Honestly, I don’t care.