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Rules of a Rebel and a Shy Girl, Page 15

Jessica Sorensen

  Rule #1: No wandering off into fields together to go stargazing.

  Rule #2: Absolutely no lip-to-lip contact.

  Rule #3: No falling in love.

  Once I finish, I set the list and pen down. Then I drive toward Beck’s, crossing my fingers he’ll be my best friend instead of the guy I made out with last night.

  Chapter Sixteen


  I rub my hand across my throbbing forehead as I open my eyes to the blinding sunlight spilling into my bedroom. My phone is buzzing on my nightstand, and I literally have no idea what the hell happened for the last ten hours, how I got into bed, or what I did before I got there. Definitely not a first for me. I hate the gaping-hole-in-my-mind feeling.

  Rolling over, I fumble around until I find my phone then swipe my finger across the screen.

  Ari: Hey, man, what’s up with the weird text you sent me last night? I couldn’t make sense of it.

  I scroll back to what I sent and shake my head. I seriously have issues with drunk texting.

  Me: Sorry, man. I was drunk texting again.

  Ari: You really need to stop doing that. One day, you’re going to text the wrong thing to the wrong person.

  Me: Maybe. Haven’t done it yet, though.

  Ari: Just want to give you a head’s up that you texted Luna last night, too. And Wynter. I’m not sure what you said, but they seemed pretty amused by the whole ordeal.

  Me: I’m sure they were … Where are you? I think I might come chill for a while. It might be the last chance before I’m no longer a free man.

  Ari: Why? You getting married or something. Lol!

  Me: Yeah. Didn’t your sister tell you?

  Ari: I might’ve fallen for that if my sister didn’t hate your guts. Seriously, why is this your last chance to hang?

  Me: Because, come Monday, I’m officially working for my father.

  Ari: What the fuck? I thought you weren’t going to let him push you into doing that.

  Me: Yeah, well, I wasn’t until he threatened to sell my house.

  Ari: I thought you bought that.

  Me: He paid for a small part as my graduation present. I’m realizing how stupid of a move it was to let him.

  Ari: Shit. That sucks. What’re you going to do?

  Me: Work for him until I can figure something out.

  Ari: Sorry, man. I’m at Luna’s right now if you want to come over. Grey’s here, too, and Wynter should be here later. Willow was here earlier, but she took off before I got here. I think she has to work, so I doubt she’ll make it back. Then again, are you two even talking?

  Willow … Willow … Willow?

  Memories rush back to me, and I bolt upright in my bed.

  Kissing her until my lips ached. Touching her all over. The little moans escaping her mouth. Wanting her so much I could barely breathe.

  And then I sent a text message.

  Me: Gotta go. I’ll try to come over later.

  Ari: Okay. Sounds good.

  I close up the message and switch to the text I sent Wynter last night, knowing that one will be easier to handle.

  Me: Heeeeyyyy didmnaltihtbjwihe!

  I scratch my head. “What the hell was I even trying to type?”

  Next, I open the message I sent Luna, avoiding the thing I don’t want to handle. The text I sent her is equally as confusing and funny as Wynter’s, but my humor flat lines as I read what I sent Willow.

  My eyes skim over the freakin’ long-ass text, or should I say, my soul.

  “Goddammit.” Blood roars in my eardrums. If the kiss didn’t ruin our friendship, this message sure as hell did.

  Dropping my phone onto the bed, I lower my head and massage my temples. “I really fucked up this time.”

  The truth is that beneath the worry lies a bit of relief that I finally got the truth out. I just wish I didn’t know Willow so well. But I do. And she might not ever speak to me again after this.

  No, you can fix this. Just think of a way. Call and tell her you were wasted. Assure her it’ll never happen again.


  I’m opening the dial pad, debating whether to call her, when my doorbell rings.

  Throwing the blankets off me, I don’t bother putting a shirt on as I drag my hungover ass down the stairs and throw open the front door. Then I blink. And blink. And blink again.

  “Wait, am I dreaming?” I rub my eyes with the heels of my hands. “Or am I still drunk?”

  She stares at my bare chest with her lips smashed together, clutching a piece of paper. She has on the dress she was wearing last night, her hair is down and tangled, and her eyes are bloodshot, either because she’s hungover or has been crying. The thought that those pretty eyes were recently shedding tears makes me want to hug her, but I’m not sure the gesture would be welcomed at the moment.

  “Hey,” I say, instead. Then I shake my head at myself. Nice one, dumbass. “Do you want to come in?”

  She tears her eyes off my chest and eyeballs the threshold as if it’s the devil about to grab her and drag her into the fiery pits of hell. “I don’t know. Is it safe?”

  Her question throws me off.

  She doesn’t feel safe with me?

  “Of course it’s safe. I’d never hurt you, Wills.”

  “I know that.” She frowns at the ground, scuffing the tip of her boot against the concrete. “I’m just wondering if it’s a good idea for us to be in the same room together.”

  Okay, fuck this. I’m not letting us go where she wants us to go.

  Fixing my finger under her chin, I angle her head up. “Let’s not do this, princess. We kissed.” And then some. “So what? We don’t need to act awkward because of it.”

  “So, you agree with me?” she asks with hope in her eyes. “That what happened was a mistake?”

  I want to tell her yes, give her what she wants, alleviate her stress. But the lie won’t leave my lips.

  “No, that’s not what I was saying,” I tell her, fighting the compulsion to stare at her lips. If I do, I’ll lean in. And if I lean in, I’ll want more. I’ll want all of her. “I was just saying that we don’t need to let things get awkward.”

  “But I feel awkward,” she whispers, her eyes wide, her chest heaving with shallow breaths.

  “Well, let me fix that.” By kissing you until you can no longer think straight. By making you moan again. Over and over …

  She nibbles on her bottom lip, and my gaze centers on her lips. I start to lean in, consumed with the need to kiss her, expecting her to move back. Instead, she remains motionless, staring at my mouth.

  I move closer, testing her. We’re so close. Wanting, wanting, wanting …

  Our lips crash together. I don’t even know who eliminates the inch of space between us. I don’t even give a shit. All that matters is that she’s kissing me back with so much passion I swear to God our lips are going to bruise.

  My body floods with need. I need her closer. My hand skims down her body to her waist, my fingers pressing into her thighs as I lift her up. She gasps then hitches her legs around me, throwing me off balance a bit, and I stumble to the side. Her back hits the doorjamb, but she only deepens the kiss and bites down on my bottom lip.

  I groan, my body pulsating with desire as I rock my hips against her. Her legs tighten around my hips as a gasp escapes her mouth. I grind against her again, and her fingernails stab into my shoulder blades as she clutches me, her dress bunching up to her waist, completely opened to me.

  Slipping my palms up her smooth skin, I turn to get us into the house and away from any gawking. When I get there, I fully plan on peeling that dress off her.

  But as quickly as the kiss started, she’s jumping out of my arms and shoving the piece of paper at me.

  “R-read this.” Her voice trembles, and her legs shake as she tries to get her balance.

  I can’t even breathe, let alone process what she’s trying to say. “What?”

  She sucks in an uneven breath and then st
eps toward me with her hand out. “I need y-you to read this.”

  I glance at the paper then at her. “How did we go from us kissing to me needing to read a piece of paper?” A piece of paper that I’m pretty sure has another goddamn rule on it.

  “Please, just read it,” she begs, her fingers trembling.

  Frustrated, I take the paper from her, purposefully grazing my fingers against hers. When she shivers, I have to fight back a grin. Then any amount of optimism gets squashed as I read the list scribbled on the piece of paper aloud.

  “Rule number one: no wandering off into fields together to go stargazing.”

  “Because it’s what started this whole thing to begin with,” she explains, smoothing her hands over her hair, frazzled.

  Yeah, like that’s going to solve anything.

  “Rule number two: absolutely no lip-to-lip contact.” I glance up with my brow arched. “We’ve had that one before.”

  “Yeah, I know.” She scratches at the back of her neck. “I think it’s pretty self-explanatory why I kept it.”

  “But is it doable?” I give a pressing glance at her lips, which are still swollen from our kiss, and then at her wrinkled dress and tangled hair. “Because it didn’t work.”

  She smooths her hands over her hair and dress, staring at a rosebush beside the front door. “Yeah, I know. That’s why I added the other rules to help this one work.”

  I bite back the need to point out that she can’t even look me in the eye when she says it and read the last line. “Rule number three: no falling in love.”

  Yeah, it might be a little too late for that. At least for me. I can’t tell her that yet. This list proves that.

  A stupid list that I want to shred to pieces.

  “I just want us to have some boundaries,” she says, finally looking at me. “That way, we can still stay friends without any more incidents.”

  There are a thousand things I want to say to her right now. Usually, I bite my tongue and bury down my feelings, desperate to hold on to her. At the moment, I’m either too hungover to care, or that kiss shattered any ounce of willpower I have left.

  “Incidents?” I cross my arms and lean against the doorjamb. “Is that what you call the hottest kiss of your life? Well, it was for me.”

  “Beck …” She trails off, her massive eyes reflecting her fear. She looked the same way after we kissed during our senior year, and our friendship nearly shattered to unfixable pieces.

  I decide to back off for now. Not because I’m agreeing to her stupid rules, but because I need time to figure out a way to prove to her that we belong together, that a relationship with me won’t destroy her. I’d never destroy her.

  “Fine, I’ll obey the rules.” For now.

  Her muscles unravel as she releases a deafening breath. “Thank you. I so needed to hear that.” She hesitates then carefully wraps her arms around me. “I can never lose you.”

  “You won’t,” I promise her, hugging her closer, my heart pounding. “And you want to know why?”

  She pulls back, nodding.

  “Because I can never lose you, either.”

  She smiles, but nervousness resides in her eyes. “You won’t lose me,” she assures me. “You and I are going to be friends until we’re seventy, remember?”

  “Yeah, I remember.” I think I changed my mind.

  I don’t want to be friends anymore. I want more.

  I want all of her.

  She glances down at her watch. “Shit. I have to be at work soon.” She looks back at me. “We’re good, right? I mean, what happened just barely … We can just forget about—”

  “We’re good,” I say. As for forgetting, that’s never going to happen. I don’t want it to.

  She offers me one final smile before jogging back to her car.

  I watch her drive away then step back into my house and into the kitchen. Evidence of a party lies everywhere, from the empty glass bottles on the marble counter to plastic cups piled in the trash can.

  My thoughts drift back to when I cleaned up Willow’s place after her mom threw the party; only, the apartment was trashed with way more than just alcohol bottles.

  I need to get her out of there somehow, something I’ve known for a while. Yet now I’m holding a stupid list that pretty much forbids me to get closer to her.

  What Willow doesn’t realize, though, is a damn piece of paper and some ink can’t change how I feel.

  Grabbing a magnet and a pen from a drawer, I stick the list on the fridge. Then I draw a line through each one of her rules and replace them with a task.

  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.

  I step back, looking at my plan, unsure if it’s going to work. Still, I have to try. Avoiding how I feel about her isn’t an option anymore.

  Those kisses made sure of that.

  While Rules #1, #2, and #3—aka the new list—are in play…

  Chapter Seventeen


  The next week drifts by slowly. I spend most of my time doing homework, working at the club, and applying for new jobs. I haven’t heard from my mom yet, which makes me worry about her nonstop. Plus, the emptiness of the apartment is wearing on me. Between the loud music playing every night, the constant shouting—someone is always shouting—and the random knocks on the door that I never answer, I feel like I’m going to lose my mind. If she doesn’t return home soon, I might move out. Rent’s due next month; perhaps I won’t pay it. Could I just not pay a bill? Do I even have it in me?

  I did a search for some apartments to rent near the university, but everything within a fifteen-mile radius is currently full or out of my price range. I consider calling Wynter, but she lives in a nicer place than all the other apartments I checked, so I doubt I’ll be able to afford the rent, especially when my job situation is so iffy.

  Money isn’t the only reason behind my moving hesitancy. I’m still struggling with letting go of the fear that my mom may come back and need me, and I’ll be gone. I don’t know how to fix that problem. What choice is right? Is there is a right choice, or is there even a choice?

  Having a choice, though, rapidly dissipates when, early Thursday morning, I’m woken up by a loud voice coming from somewhere close by. Maybe even from inside the apartment.

  Fumbling for my phone, I call the first person that pops into my mind, hoping he’s awake this early.

  “Hey, I was just thinking about you.” The sound of Beck’s voice slightly settles my racing pulse.

  I exhale, releasing a breath I swear I’ve had trapped in my chest for days. I haven’t talked to him since I handed him the list and that wonderfully amazing kiss that can never happen again. I didn’t realize how much I missed hearing him until now.

  “You sound very awake for it being so early,” I say, climbing out of bed.

  “I had some stuff to do,” he replies with a weighted sigh.

  “What stuff?”

  “Just some stuff for my dad.”

  “Really? Since when do you do stuff for your dad?”

  He sighs again. “It’s a long story, one I can’t really get into now.”

  “Okay, but you’ll tell me later, right?” I ask as I tiptoe over to my door to see if I can tell if the voice is coming from inside the house or outside.

  “Sure.” His evasiveness throws me off. “Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk about my favorite person.”

  “Okay. Well, I talked to Wynter the other day, and she said New York was great.” I make a joke when really, I’m freaking out. Not just because I’m talking to Beck after we kissed and fooled around, but because I’m worried someone might be in the house.

  “So not funny,” he scolds playfully. “Seriously, how are you, Wills? I haven’t talked you since … well, you know. And you looked a little freaked out when you left my house.”

  I chew on my thumbnail. “I’m f
ine. I’ve been meaning to call you, but … I just wasn’t sure if you wanted to talk to me.” Or if I could handle it.

  “I always want to talk to you,” he assures me. “I’ve wanted to call you, too, but I’ve been busy figuring out some stuff.”

  “What kind of stuff?”

  “Stuff I’ll tell you about later when I’ve got everything figured out.”

  “Okay.” I want to press, but the voice grows louder. Shit. I lock the door and back up. “Beck, as much as I love talking to you, I actually called for a reason.”

  “What’s wrong?” he asks worriedly.

  “I think someone might be in my house,” I say, stopping when the back of my legs bump against my bed. “I don’t know who it would be. I mean, it could be my mom, but the door was locked, and I’m pretty sure she lost the key a long time ago.”

  “Hang up and call the police,” he orders, his voice laced with fear.

  “It could just be coming from outside. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell. The walls are so thin.”

  “I don’t give a shit if you think it’s from outside,” he growls. “Call the police. Right now. Or I will.”

  “O-okay,” I stammer, more as a reaction to how angry he sounds. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him sound this angry. “I’ll call you back in a second.”

  “Just switch over to a different line,” he tells me firmly. “I don’t want to hang up.”

  “Okay.” I’m moving the phone away to do what he says when my door jostles.

  “Willow, hon, why’s the door locked?” my mom asks, knocking on the door.

  I feel like I should be more relieved to hear her voice, and that probably makes me a terrible person. More than I already am, anyway.

  I put the phone back to my ear. “Everything’s okay. It’s just my mom.”

  “Are you sure?” he asks, not seeming too relieved, either. “If you’re not one hundred percent sure, you still need to call the police.”

  “I’m sure. She just spoke to me through the door.” I walk back across the room and open the door. “I’m sorry I worried you. I’ve just been so jumpy being here by myself.”