Rules of a Rebel and a Shy Girl, Page 13Jessica Sorensen
“Are you cold?” he asks, his breath feathering across my skin.
I manage not to shiver this time, but goose bumps and tingles sprout across my skin. “I’m not cold … I’m just ….” Confused. Lost. Weirded out. Clearing my throat, I loop my arms around his neck and shift the conversation elsewhere. “So, what am I supposed to be hearing? All I hear are crickets.” And my heart beating like a freakin’ lunatic.
His hands find the small of my back, and he urges me closer to him. “The music, silly.”
“You can hear it all the way from the house?”
“No, not that music. Our music.”
“Our music?” Huh?
Instead of answering, he starts to hum. And just like that, it clicks.
Our music. Our song. The first song we ever danced to back in seventh grade. We were at a dance and Beck, being his popular, outgoing self, had a line of girls waiting to dance with him. And I, being the shy, awkward girl I still am, spent most of the night hanging out near the punch bowl, watching my friends have fun until Beck took matters into his own hands.
“All right, no more of this.” He snatched the cup of punch from my hand and tossed it in the trash.
“Hey, I was drinking that,” I stupidly argued. The punch tasted like shit.
“No more standing around and being boring, Wills.” He grabbed my hand and guided me to the center of the dance floor.
“I’m not really a dancer.” I fiddled with my secondhand dress, trying not to freak the hell out as he dragged me into the crowd.
Hardly anyone was paying attention to us, but a few were, and that was enough to make me feel uncomfortable and worried. I had only danced behind closed doors. I’d probably look like a spaz.
“Sure you are.” He placed a hand on my back and guided me toward him until the tips of his boots clipped mine. Then he started moving, keeping up with the fast tempo of the pop song playing. “Everyone’s a dancer, even if they don’t know it.”
“Try telling that to that guy.” I nodded at a guy from our school who was flapping his arms like a crazed-out chicken.
Beck studied chicken-dancing dude with his head cocked to the side. “I think he’s pretty awesome.”
“You would because you could pull off those dance moves,” I said. “But I’d look like a freak if I tried something like that.”
“You never look like a freak,” he insisted, redirecting his attention to me. The music switched to a softer song, and we slowed down to match the beat. “I wish you wouldn’t be so hard on yourself all the time.”
“I’m not hard on myself all the time.” Was I?
“Sorry, but you are, and it makes me sad.” He jutted out his lip. “See? So, so sad.”
I giggled, and he smiled proudly.
“There we go,” he said. “Don’t you feel better now that you’ve smiled?”
I nodded and inched closer to him, letting him lead us through the song. When it ended, I expected him to go back to his line of girls, but he danced us right into the next song. And the next. And the next.
I blink out of memory lane as Beck starts singing the lyrics of the song in a very off-key pitch.
I seal my lips together, suppressing a laugh. “You’re so tone deaf.”
“No way,” he argues then chuckles when his voice cracks on a high note. “Okay, maybe you’re kind of right.”
“Kind of right?” I question, and he playfully pinches my side. I laugh, but the way my stomach somersaults causes me to panic. I play it off, cool, calm, collected. At least, I think I do. “But at least you gave it a good effort like you do with everything.” I yammer nonsense as my eyelids grow heavy. “That’s one of my favorite things about you. You’re not afraid to do anything. And you always do what you want. Sometimes, I wish I could be more like you.” I yawn and, unable to keep my head up, rest my cheek on his shoulder. My eyelids start to lower. I seriously could fall asleep right now.
“I don’t always do what I want,” he whispers, breaking the silence.
The uncertainty in his tone makes me step back to get a better look at him.
“What’s wrong?” I search his face through the darkness. “You sound … I don’t know. Worried?” And vulnerable.
“Nothing’s wrong,” he mutters. “I don’t even know why I said that.”
“Don’t lie to me. I know when something’s bothering you.” I pause to give him a chance to answer then press, “Is your dad being a dick again? Do I need to do some ass kicking?”
“He did stop by tonight, but that’s not what’s bothering me right now.” He tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. “I appreciate the offer to kick his ass, though. That might be funny to watch. And I’m pretty sure you’d win.” He laughs, but it sounds wrong. Forced.
I frown. “Then what’s wrong? I can tell something’s bothering you.”
“I’m okay. I promise. I’m just …” He studies me again. Then he moves back and sinks to the ground without letting go of my hand. “Sit down with me, and let’s stargaze.”
I open my mouth to press, but another yawn leaves my lips. Between the shots I took earlier and the late hours I’ve been up studying and working, I’m crashing hard.
Beck gently tugs on my hand. “Sit down, sleepy head, before you collapse.”
I glance down at the dress I’m wearing. “This is Wynter’s dress. I’m not sure if I should get it dirty. You know how she can get about clothes.”
“Who gives a shit if it gets ruined? Besides, she’s always mad at something. Come sit down with me and watch the stars. Live in the moment instead of in the future. And fuck Wynter and her stupid tantrums.”
Oh, Beck, if only life were that easy. Maybe if my future was set, I could stop stressing out so much. But I have no idea where I’ll be in three years, where I hope to be, which are two entirely different things.
Hope is so uncertain. My future is so uncertain. The only thing that isn’t uncertain is Beck’s and my friendship. Well, it used to be. Lately, there’s been a shift, a confusing, dangerous, against my rule shift.
I probably should leave. I can feel that shift hovering in the air right now. In fact, I know I should walk away. But I find myself dropping down onto the ground in front of him.
He immediately circles his arms around my waist and lures me back against him. Then he slips a leg on each side of me, surrounding me.
Ignoring the thundering of my heart, I rest back against his chest. “Can I ask you a question?”
He strokes his fingers up and down my side. “You can always ask me anything.”
“You and Wynter … You guys haven’t ever …?” I pause, thinking about what Ari said to me about their arguing being sexual tension. Then I think about what Titzi said, about Beck liking high-end girls, something Wynter definitely is. “Have you guys ever hooked up?”
What is wrong with me? Why the hell did I ask that?
“What? God, no,” he says, sounding appalled. “Why the hell would you even ask that?”
“I don’t know.” I shrug. Apparently, I’m drunk, and that makes me act like a jealous idiot. “I was just curious, I guess. I’m not the only one who thinks that. Ari thinks you guys fight all the time because you secretly like each other. And you did have a crush on her once. You even kissed her.”
His arms tense. “That stupid kiss was just a silly, middle school thing. And yeah, I may have had a crush on her in elementary school, but that was a long-ass time ago and lasted about two fucking seconds. I don’t look at her that way anymore. And I would never, ever hook up with her. She’s not even my type.”
His words cause a small smile to grace my lips. I don’t even know why other than I’m an idiot, which I think I already mentioned.
“You’re such a liar,” I tell him. “Wynter’s gorgeous. She loves to have fun and is totally a people person. That’s exactly your type. She’s basically the female version of you.”
Silence encases us. I feel so stupid for having this conversation.
I sound jealous.
“Gorgeous, huh?” he remarks with amusement. “Personally, I’ve always thought of myself as dashingly handsome, but I’ll take gorgeous, I guess.”
Perplexed, I replay what I said. Gorgeous? I called him gorgeous? Why would I do that? I mean, yeah, he is gorgeous with his blond hair that always sticks up perfectly chaotic. Plus, he has perfectly shaped lips, his lean body is ridiculously sexy, and his eyes … Don’t even get me started on those. They might be the most perfect eyes I’ve ever …
Wait. Where was I going with this?
“Dashingly handsome?” I attempt to joke, my voice sounding squeaky. “What are you? Prince Charming or something?”
“I could be. I’m definitely gorgeous enough to be,” he says cockily. “Besides, since you’re my princess, it would make sense.”
“So cheesy.” I make a gagging sound, and he chuckles. “And I didn’t mean it like that. Well, I did, but I didn’t. I was just trying to say that you’re gorgeous like Wynter.” I grow flustered and confused. Dizzy. Lost. Drunk. Exhausted. “You know what? Never mind. I’m just going to stop talking because I can’t even keep track of what I’m saying.”
He drags his thumb down my side. “Relax. I’m just messing with you. You’re so damn cute when you’re flustered.”
I roll my eyes, more at myself. “No, I’m not. I’m dorky. And I’m only flustered because I’m drunk.”
“I completely disagree.” His fingers delve into my hips, and then he draws me back, pulling me onto his lap and resting his chin on my shoulder. “I like this … you and me under the stars. The flirting. The conversation. It’s been a while since I’ve been this relaxed. I’ve missed you.”
I gulp. He thinks we’re flirting?
I replay through my foggy memories of tonight and eventually figure out why: the dancing, the touching, the dirty comments, the cute and gorgeous comments, the jealousy in my tone when I asked him about Wynter.
Yep, we’ve been flirting all night.
Every goddamn time we drink, this shit happens.
I’m never drinking again.
I’m never flirting again.
Ha, you’re such an idiot!
My thoughts laugh at me.
“You’re getting tense again.” He slides his hand up my arm to massage my shoulder. “Relax. The eclipse is about to start, and then we can go back inside and eat some cake.”
“You know the way to my heart.” I smile, worry tiptoeing inside me.
Flirt. I flirted with Beck. It’s going to be senior year all over again.
Maybe it’s for the best. You wanted to stop relying on him so much. Maybe this will force you to.
That thought makes me sick.
Tearing my attention from my stupid, idiotic thoughts, I focus on the moon. We stay that way for minutes, maybe hours, staring up at the stars, watching the sparkle, waiting for something magical to happen in the sky.
“You’re wrong,” he whispers out of nowhere, causing me to jump.
“About what?” I ask, sounding a little breathless.
“About Wynter being my type.”
“You’re still thinking about that?”
“Of course. I want—no, need—to make sure you know I don’t like her. Not like that, anyway.” He sweeps my hair to the side then leans over my shoulder to catch my gaze. “Wynter and I … We may act similarly sometimes, and a lot of people may think she’s gorgeous or whatever, but I’m definitely not into her. In fact, I like someone else. I have for a while.”
Beck’s always been such a flirt, which has led to him getting into some dramatic and awkward situations. Usually, he’s charming enough to smooth the situation over pretty well. On the other hand, he has asked me a few times to talk to a girl who’s developed a crush on him and won’t back off.
I used to be okay with that, yet toward the end of our senior year, I started avoiding getting involved in his love life. Partly because I was busy working to get into a good college and partly because … Well, I didn’t like hearing about him and other girls.
I still don’t if I’m being really honest with myself. And right now, I feel like Miss Honesty. However, I play the part of a good best friend, owing him that much.
“So, who is it this time?”
“Wow, Wills. I’m hurt.” Oddly enough, he does sound hurt. “You act like my crushes are fleeting and insignificant.”
“They’re not insignificant, but they’re definitely fleeting,” I say apologetically.
“That’s not true.” He combs his fingers through my hair then places a kiss on my bare shoulder. “I’ve liked the same girl for a couple of years. I just haven’t said anything because we’re really close, and I know she’ll freak out because she has this no-dating rule with every guy and has a no-kissing rule with me.”
My heart beats wildly in my chest as I think back to what Grey said earlier. A slow, painful realization punches me.
Beck likes me? Like that?
No. I have to be wrong. Have to be.
Please, please say that I am.
Deep down, I think I might have known for a while. I’ve just been too afraid to admit it.
“Aren’t you going to ask me who I’m talking about?” he whispers with unfamiliar nervousness in his tone.
Beck is nervous.
This is so bad.
I swallow, willing the word “no” to leave my lips. No sound comes out.
“If you don’t ask, I won’t say it.” His tone carries an underlying meaning.
He’s giving me a choice: keep my lips sealed and let our friendship be or ask and then … Well, I don’t know what will happen.
Asking Beck is going against my plan. If I ask, I’ll ruin the beautifulness we have together. I don’t want that. I want to stay right here in his arms as friends and hold on to the calmness he’s always given me.
I find my lips parting, anyway. Later, I blame my reaction on the alcohol, stress, and sleep deprivation.
Later, not right now.
Right now, I can only think about one thing.
“Who is it?” I blurt out.
His chest crashes against my back as he frees a trapped breath. “Oh, my God, I can’t believe you asked … I didn’t think you would.”
Cupping my cheek, he tilts my head to look me in the eyes. His fingers are quivering as badly as my heart.
One, two, three seconds tick by, and then he grazes his lips against mine.
Oh. My. God. I can barely breathe as his lips brush mine once, twice, three times. My eyelids slip shut, and the air gets ripped from my lungs.
Beck is kissing me. My best friend in the universe is kissing me. Like, really freaking kissing me. Holy freakin’ what-the-shit? I need to stop this. Now!
But when he gently nibbles on my bottom lip, every single one of my worries goes good-bye, see you later, I’m-taking-a-visit-to-the-stars.
I latch on to the bottom of his shirt, desperate to hold something, steady myself, grasp onto rationality. I can’t seem to think about anything other than his comforting palm on my cheek, his warm body against mine, the softness of his lips. And when he angles my head back and slips his tongue inside my mouth, kissing me with so much intensity, I swear my heart explodes out of my chest.
This wasn’t part of my plan. This kiss is so unplanned. This kiss isn’t supposed to be happening …
Stop this, Willow. Stop it now before things get out of hand.
He groans against my lips, deepening the kiss, pulling me closer, and making me feel so safe.
No … I think I’m wrong … This kiss might be …
Our tongues tangle together, and I almost fall blindly into the kiss. But the voice of reason whispers to me, begs me to stop this. I should … before things get too out of hand. My body has other ideas, and instead of breaking the kiss, my hands slide up Beck’s chest as I rotate around to straddle his lap.
He groans, his fingers
leaving my cheeks to tangle through my hair while his other hand wanders to the small of my back. He urges my body closer, pressing my chest against his.
Another throaty, begging groan. I don’t even know which one of us does it, but something about the sound sends us into a frenzy.
The slow kiss turns reckless, as if he has absolutely no control over what he’s doing and doesn’t give a shit. Apparently, I don’t either because I kiss him back, grasping on to him and grinding my hips against his over and over again like I did that night in my bed. Only, I’m wide awake now and completely aware of his hardness pressed against me as he pulls me closer, closer, closer, moving with me, groaning, gasping, wanting, needing. This is only the second time I’ve ever kissed a guy, but seriously, it could be my last because I don’t think anything could be better.
Nothing could ever be any more perfect than this …
As I kiss him back eagerly, I let him slip his hands underneath my dress. His fingers tremble as he cups my ass and rocks his hips against mine. Tingles erupt everywhere, and I bite down on his lip hard.
A throaty groan leaves his lips then he slides his tongue deeper into my mouth. Our tongues tangle. My fingernails dig into his shoulder blades. I feel out of control, tumbling into the unknown. Nothing else matters. Nothing else exists except Beck and me and the way our lips move together, the way he holds me like he’s afraid I’m going to fall. It sure as hell feels like I’m falling into a place I’ve never been before where nothing makes sense … where I’m lost … where I’m veering off my path … where I have no idea what I want or who I am anymore. And at the moment, I don’t care.
Perfect. This moment is perfect. Beck is perfect.
“God, I’ve wanted this for so long,” he whispers against my lips, diving in for another kiss as he rocks his hips against mine again.
I clutch on to him, my knees pressing into his sides as I let out a gasp. He does the movement again and again until my thoughts become foggier. I feel like I’m drifting away to the stars, and for a second, I wish I never had to leave.
Then Beck whispers, “You’re so amazing and beautiful. Fucking perfect.”
And just like that, reality washes over me like ice cold water.