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Rules of a Rebel and a Shy Girl, Page 12

Jessica Sorensen

  More time passes, and more people cram into the living room to grind up against each other. At some point, Luna, Grey, and Ari wander off. I barely notice, lost in dancing, relaxing, and forgetting.

  As the music switches to an upbeat, energized song, Beck circles his fingers around my wrists then moves my arms above my head, making me do this dorky clapping thing. I snort like a pig, and he chuckles before placing a kiss on my temple.

  My legs quiver, and I nearly buckle to the ground, but he catches me in his arms and holds me closer. I smile, feeling so content. After the shitty night I had at work, I didn’t think a good mood was going to be attainable. But Beck always seems to know how to turn me from overworked, exhausted Willow into a silly, giggling girl.

  “See? Fun, right?” he asks, still holding my hands above my head.

  I shiver as if I’m cold, although my skin is damp with sweat, and his fingers tense around my wrists.

  “You okay?” he asks, sounding in pain.

  I manage a head bob, but my body betrays me with another shiver.

  Jesus, get a grip on yourself. He’s just whispering in your ear. There’s nothing sexual about it. I nearly laugh at my thought. Yeah, like I could even recognize a sexual moment if it came up and grinded against my ass.

  Just like Beck is.

  “What’s so funny?” Beck asks as another giggle escapes my lips.

  “Nothing.” I shut my eyes as the music and heat absorb into me. “You were right … This is pretty fun. I feel so relaxed I could probably fall asleep.”

  “Well, don’t do that. I want to spend more time with you. I feel like I haven’t seen you in weeks.”

  “You just saw me a couple of days ago. I wish we could hang out more, but with work and school and my mom …” I trail off, my mood starting to dive at the mention of my mom.

  “Have you heard anything from her?” he asks tensely.

  I shake my head. “No. The last I heard, she went to Vegas to elope.”

  “You really think she’d do that?”

  “Yeah. And I’m nervous, when she comes back from Vegas, she’ll try to let her new boyfriend move in … if he sticks around for that long.”

  His chest puffs with a deep breath. “I want you to stay the night with me and take a break from that house.”

  I don’t know what to say. I’ve stayed the night before, and right now, I really, really want to. What happens if I try to do naughty things to him while I’m sleeping again? Or worse, when I’m awake?

  He remains quiet through the entire chorus. “Have you thought any more about moving in with Wynter?”

  “I’ve thought about it a little,” I admit. “I really want to talk to Wynter before I make any decisions. I’m sure she won’t care if I move in … but I need to find out how much rent is and if I can afford it.” And I need to find a new job and find out how much my paycheck is going to be.

  “You could always just move in with me.” He delicately kisses the side of my neck, causing my eyes to roll into the back of my head and my back to arch. He lets out the faintest groan. “Let me take care of you.”

  I open my mouth to protest, to remind him we’re too close to breaking the rule, but I end up yawning.

  Wait. What were we talking about?

  “I’m tired. I think I’m ready to crash.”

  “Stay awake a little longer.” He brushes his lips against the side of my neck again, right along my soaring pulse. “I want to spend some time with you and talk for a little bit.”

  Normally, I’d argue, but he sounds so desperate. “I’ll try to stay awake and hang out for a bit. I might need some coffee, though.”

  He lowers my hands to my sides, returning his palms to my waist. “What about if we take a break and go outside? Get some fresh air? Look up at the stars? I think there’s supposed to be an eclipse tonight.”

  I nod through another yawn. Fresh air. Outside. Away from people. Sounds great. “Let’s do it.”

  The throng of people dwindles as Beck threads his fingers through mine and abandons his party with me in tow. I’m eager to get outside, but when we reach the large, recently remodeled kitchen, a couple of guys and a girl stop to chat with Beck, yammering about school, what’s going on at the local clubs, and giving updates on the latest gossip going around the east side of Ridgefield, aka the posh, fancy-schmancy side of town. Beck keeps giving me sidelong looks and eye rolls, and I have to bite down on my lip to stop from giggling.

  The longer we stand there, the more soberness creeps up on me and the more I’m reminded of who I am and where I come from.

  “I heard you were thinking about trading in your car for a Bentley,” a dude with curly blond hair and a thick neck tells Beck.

  “I don’t know about that.” Beck takes a sip from his drink. “Bentley’s aren’t really my style. I like things a lot less flashy.”

  Thick neck’s brows pucker, and the blonde standing beside him wearing too much eyeshadow and too little of a dress rolls her eyes.

  “Oh, Beckett, you’re so living in denial.” She bites her lips, twisting a strand of hair around her finger. “You’re a rich, spoiled brat just like the rest of us, who loves expensive, flashy things. You might as well just own it.”

  I crinkle my nose at the use of his full name. Beck hates when people refer to him as Beckett because that’s what his dad calls him. These people aren’t in our group of friends. They’re his friends, and it’s strange to be standing here, watching the exchange. I mean, I knew Beck had other friends outside of our group, but I didn’t imagine them as rich snobs.

  “I’m not living in denial,” Beck insists. “I was just pointing out that I don’t need pricey, flashy things. That’s all. So chill out.”

  “You mean, like your car. Or your house.” Blondie gives an insinuating look around the spacious kitchen and the high arched ceilings. “Even the girls you date are high-end.” Her gaze skates to me. “Well, usually.”

  “And on that note.” I turn to the back door and walk out, letting their voices fade away as I down another gulp of my Jack and coke.

  I should’ve known better and walked away from the beginning. I know how rich people can get. The club I work at is filled with rich men who like flashy things and like to brag about being wealthy and make others feel bad that they’re not. The fact that I work there, what I do … what Van wants me to do … just might justify the girl’s look.

  I think about where I was tonight, what I was wearing, what I was doing. How, when I look in the mirror, I see my mom staring back at me.

  Blondie’s right. I’m definitely not high-end.

  I’m at the bottom. The very, very bottom.

  Chapter Thirteen


  I don’t know how long I stand outside, waiting for Beck. It could be seconds, minutes, hours—I’m too drunk to have a grasp on time. I know enough time passes that I finish my drink and return to drunken and comfortably numb land.

  A light breeze blows strands of my long brown hair into my face as I stumble up to the railing on the back porch and stare out at the field just beyond Beck’s backyard. I’m not sure what to do, if I should go back inside or wander to my car and pass out for a few hours until I sober up. I could go find a room to pass out in, but I doubt finding an empty one is possible, considering how many people are here.

  Maybe I should just lie down on the porch and go to sleep. That kind of sounds nice …

  The back door creaks open.

  “Hey, sorry about Titzi,” Beck says. It’s unnerving what a calming effect his voice has on me. “She can be a bitch sometimes. Don’t worry; I reminded her of that.”

  “Her name is Titzi?” I glance at him as he walks up beside me.

  He bites down on his bottom lip, fighting back a smile. “What’s wrong with Titzi?”

  “I don’t know. It just sounds an awful lot like ditzy.” I rest my arms on the railing. “And tits.” It feels like I should be embarrassed for saying that, but I can’t
summon up the will to care enough.

  Thanks, Mr. Jack Daniels, for saving me from embarrassment.

  Beck busts up with laughter. “Oh, my God, did my sweet, little Willow just say tits?” He turns around, putting his elbows on the railing, and squints at me. “How much have you had to drink?”

  “Not too much,” I lie. “And I’ve said tits before.”

  He stifles a laugh. “No, you haven’t. You never say dirty words unless you’re talking about your anatomy class or something, and that’s scientific.”

  “I say fuck, which isn’t scientific,” I point out, offended. Why does everyone think I’m such a prude? Why do I suddenly care? Because you’re druuuuunk. “And dick.”

  “That’s not the same.”

  “How do you figure?”

  “Because of how you use those words.”

  Puzzlement tap dances against my intoxicated brain. “I don’t really get what you’re saying. I’m not as innocent as you’re trying to make me sound.” Not even close.

  “That’s not what I’m trying to say.” He chews on his bottom lip, and all of my attention focuses on his mouth. “When you use words like prick and fuck and dick, it’s because you’re pissed off, right?”

  I nod, ripping my gaze off his mouth. “That’s normal. A lot of people do that.”

  “Yeah, but other people also use the words in different ways besides to express anger.” The porch light casts a glow across his face, highlighting the amused sparkle in his eyes. “Like, for example, saying, ‘Hey, let’s go fuck all night long in my room. We’ll have hot, sweaty sex as I put my dick in your—’ ”

  “Oh, my God, I get your point!” I throw my hand over his mouth, my cheeks erupting with heat.

  His breath dusts across my palm as he chuckles, and I narrow my eyes despite my stomach somersaulting.

  “Maybe I should be asking you how much you’ve had to drink tonight.”

  “Maybe a few too many,” he admits, his lips tickling my palm. “All I was trying to say is that there’s a difference between using dirty words to curse and using dirty words to turn someone on.”

  “You didn’t turn me on.” I squirm at the way my stomach coils.

  He cocks a brow. “You sure about that?”

  “Y-yes.” I remove my hand from his mouth. “You probably should stop talking.”

  He arches a brow. “Why?”

  “Because you’re saying stuff … and I …” I shift my weight. “You’re just saying this stuff because we’re drunk.”

  “How do you know I’m drunk? Maybe I’m just finally saying what I’ve always wanted to say to you.” When I gape at him, he sighs. “I may have drunk a little too much.”

  I hold up four fingers, I think. “Quick, how many fingers am I holding up?”

  He squints one eye, leaning in. “Seven, ten, twenty-nine.” His forehead bumps into mine, and we both giggle as he stumbles back. “Relax, princess, I’m not that drunk. I just like watching you blush. It’s adorable.” He skims his knuckles across my cheekbone, causing me to blush and shiver. Then he sinks his teeth into his bottom lip, totally aware of how he’s affecting me.

  “I shouldn’t have worn a dress,” I announce, wrapping my arms around myself, trying to downplay the shiver.

  “I was a little surprised you did. I think I’ve only seen you wear a dress, like, maybe three times.”

  “I only did it because you told me I had to.”

  “I’m glad you did … Although, I was kind of hoping you’d wear those shorts you had on the other night.” His gaze drops to my legs. “God, your legs are so fucking hot.”

  Tingles tickle my skin, and I shiver uncontrollably. The last time I acted this way, we ended up kissing.

  I nervously glance at the back door, feeling like I should bolt to my car. Through the door’s window, I see Titzi laughing at something with thick neck dude. I recall what she said about me and frown.

  “I don’t know why you say those things to me,” I mutter. “I know I’m not your type.”

  “Hey.” He turns me by the shoulders, forcing me to face him. “You are ten times prettier than Titzi. You’re ten times prettier than every single girl in my house. In Ridgefield. In America. In the world. All of the universe and beyond.”

  Prettier wasn’t really what I was getting at, but I crack a tiny smile. “You took it one step too far with the ‘and beyond.’ Up until then, you had me.”

  He frowns, looking kind of sad and very unlike Beck. Usually, he’s all about the smiles unless his dad’s being a dick.

  “Are you okay? You seem sad suddenly.”

  “I’m fine. It’s just that …” He unexpectedly laces his fingers through mine and yanks me down the porch and across the backyard. “Come on. I promised you a fun night, and I’m ruining it by being mopey.”

  I want to ask him why he suddenly went from rainbows and sunshine to depressing rain cloud, but I get distracted as he lets go of my hand and hops over the fence.

  “Where are we going again?” I ask as I hoist myself over the fence and land in the field beside him.

  He glances up at the glittering stars and the moon. Then he snags my hand and takes off across the field. “I’m not sure yet. Somewhere quiet … where we can talk and watch the eclipse without any interruptions.”

  I peek back at his two-story house. The lights are like fireflies sparkling in the darkness, and the music is nothing more than a murmur. Peace. I feel so at peace right now, something I never expected to happen tonight. Maybe ever.

  “What about Ari, Luna, and Grey?” I return my attention to Beck. “Maybe we should text them to see if they want to come out here. Ari’s really into astronomy. He’ll probably want to see it.”

  “Ari already knows about the eclipse,” he replies, looking up at the sky. “He’s the one who told me about it.”

  “Okay.” I peer up at the sky, smiling as the stars dance in circles. Then I look at Beck and remember what happened the last time we wandered off alone at a party. “Still, maybe we should text him to see if he wants to come out here. The view is amazing. He’d love it.”

  “It looks the same anywhere else.” He glances over his shoulder at me. “I want to hang out with just you for a little while, okay?”

  Nerves bubble inside me as I think about the last time Beck and I wandered off like this. His lips touched mine, a butterfly kiss that made me completely, blissfully happy and entirely terrified. The day after was when I decided to limit our time together, to stop relying on him so much, to not set myself up for heartbreak.

  Yet here we are again. Alone. Together.

  It always comes back to him. Why is that?

  Despite my apprehension, I allow him to guide me across the grassy field, our final destination unknown. Knowing Beck, we could end up anywhere. Vegas. Mexico. Locked in a closed theater for an entire night, which yes, actually happened once and was as fun as it sounds.

  “Where’s your head at, Wills?” Beck asks, tightening his hold on my hand.

  “I was just thinking about stuff.” You. Us.

  “What kind of stuff?” He hikes deeper into the field, and I follow him without a second thought. “You’re not worrying about money and school and shit, are you? I told you that you weren’t allowed to do that tonight.” He turns, walking backward, and gestures at the sky. “This is a worry-free night. No stress allowed. In fact, you’re only allowed to appreciate everything that is peaceful and beautiful.”

  “I’m trying to, but it’s hard not to worry sometimes.” About you. Us.

  He tsks at me, swaying from side to side.

  I try not to laugh. He’s so drunk.

  Seconds later, I stumble over a rock and nearly fall on my face.

  Okay, maybe I’m so drunk.

  He giggles at my clumsiness, and a very unattractive snort erupts from my lips, which only causes him to giggle like a hyena.

  “See? Fun, right?” he asks after his laughter dies down.

  I nod, g
rasping his hand. “Yep. But probably only because you’re here.”

  He smiles, stopping in the field. The movement is so unexpected I crash into him, which leads to another fit of giggles from both of us.

  After we stop acting like ditzy girls, the air quiets, and stillness settles over us.

  Beck angles his head up to gaze at the stars, pulling me closer to his side and draping his arm across my shoulders. “How can you worry about anything when you have a view like this?” He kisses the side of my head for the second time tonight and calmness blankets over me, yet my heart contracts with a terrified sputter. “It’s like someone painted this just for us. Wouldn’t that be so cool? If someone actually painted the entire sky … What if that’s why the sky exists? What if someone just decided to paint it one day, and we’re just living in a canvas?”

  I snort a laugh. “Dude, are you high? You sound so high right now.”

  He draws me even closer until the sides of our bodies collide. “Nah. I’m just buzzed. And really, really happy.”

  The happiness in his voice brings a smile to my face. “Well, I don’t want to ruin your dream of living in a canvas, but there’s a ton of proof that completely discounts your theory.”

  He dips his mouth toward my ear. “Oh, come on; where’s your dreamer side?”

  I shiver from the feeling of his breath and mentally curse myself. What’s the deal tonight? I’ve done that, like, five gazillion times!

  “I don’t think I have a dreamer side,” I admit. “I’ve always been more of a realistic kind of girl.”

  “No way. You have a dreamer inside you. I know you do.”

  “Nah, I don’t really think I do—”

  He turns, bringing me with him, and wraps his arms around my waist. “Yes, you do. And I’m going to prove it to you.” Then he begins to sway us around, dancing to music only he can hear.

  I have no clue what he’s doing, but I dance with him, anyway, because I’m relaxed and calm and desperate to latch on to the feelings.

  “Can you hear it?” he whispers in my ear.

  Another shiver. Another confusing skip of my heart. “I don’t know …”