Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

Bad Boy Rebels [1-3] (Kissing Benton Meeting the Bad Boy Rebels Going Undercover), Page 2

Jessica Sorensen

  I later learned he lived by himself and not with his parents, which maybe explained why he seemed older. From what I’ve heard, he’s never told anyone what happened to his parents, but I’ve always wondered if maybe he lost them like I did mine. But he never opens up to anyone, so no one knows much about him. Well, maybe the Bad Boy Rebels do, but it’s not like I have the guts to talk to them.

  Yeah, I know, it’s kind of a silly nickname for a group of six hot guys and honestly, no one really uses the name anymore. But the name does fit them, since they get into trouble all the time. They’re also popular, but never get close to anyone outside of their circle, being friendly and throw parties, but never fully letting outsiders in. A lot of people worship them and a lot of girls drool over them. I’ve been one of those girls, but that doesn’t mean I’d ever consider dating any of them—they’re way too bad boy for me.

  A nail-biting amount of time passes where Benton says nothing. I try not to squirm underneath his menacing gaze, but restlessness rises inside me and makes it tricky to stand still.

  Finally Taylor says, “So, are you going to let us in or what?”

  He cocks a brow at her. “I don’t remember you being on the invite list.”

  Taylor puts her hands on her hips. “Don’t be a dick, Benton. You know you invited me.”

  His lips quirk in mild amusement. “Fine, maybe I did. It’s hard to say for sure, though. All you cheerleaders look the same.”

  Taylor glares at him. “You’re such an asshole.”

  He shrugs, the movement slow and lazy, like he doesn’t have a care in the world. “And yet you still came to my party. Guess you must like assholes.”

  Taylor throws a feisty smirk at him. “Nope. Only the free drinks the asshole gives away at his parties.”

  His lips pull into a smirk, but then his gaze glides to me and his amusement dissipates. “Okay, I know I definitely didn’t invite you.”

  “Leave her alone,” Taylor warns. “Zhara’s never been to a party before. And she doesn’t need you making her more nervous.”

  I gape at Taylor. Did she seriously just say that? And to Benton of all people? I know a lot of people know I’m not a partier, but that doesn’t mean she needs to declare that this is my first attempt at going to a party.

  “Why are you looking at me like that?” Taylor asks me, her face contorted in puzzlement. “Everyone knows you don’t party. It’s not a big deal. No one cares.” She offers me a smile. “And besides, tonight you’re changing that.”

  Benton stares at me with a mixture of irritation and curiosity. “Not if I don’t let her in.”

  Taylor blasts him with a death glare. “Would you knock that crap off and just let us in?” She steps forward like she’s going to push her way in. “I’m ready for a drink.”

  Benton slams a hand down on each side of the doorframe, blocking her path.

  Taylor nearly rolls her ankle as she grinds to a stop to avoid running into him. “God dammit, Benton.” She stomps her foot. “Why are you being such an asshole?”

  “I’m always an asshole,” he says without missing a beat. “And you can come in, but your little friend can’t.” His gaze briefly flicks to me. “I don’t let narcs into my parties.”

  My first instinct is to feel hurt, but I find myself more angry than wounded. I know I’m not cool and fun or anything, but I’m not a narc. And he doesn’t know me well enough to call me one.

  My anger fumes, but I struggle to battle it down and be sweet, nice, calm, and composed Zhara. “I’m not a narc.”

  He scans me from head to toe then gives me a look like he thinks I’m this stupid, naïve girl that doesn’t understand life.

  Irritation burns in my chest. Yeah, I don’t do the party scene, but that doesn’t make me naïve and stupid. I’ve probably been through more than most people my age. I’ve lost my parents, watched my older sister, Annabella, get arrested and nearly ruin her life, and I’ve spent most of the last couple of years helping Loki—my older brother who’s been my guardian since my parents died—take care of our brother and sisters—Nik, Jessamine, and Alexis.

  “I’m not a narc,” I repeat, the pressure on my chest building and building.

  A smug smirk tugs at the corners of his mouth. “You sure as hell look like one.”

  The fact that he thinks he has me all figured out just by looking at me makes the pressure in my chest expand. Add that to the stress of being out of my comfort zone and I find myself taking that breath I always try to fight back.

  “Just because I don’t dress slutty and go to parties all the time, doesn’t mean I’m a narc,” I snap, my voice wavering. “And you shouldn’t judge people by how they look.”

  “I’m not judging you by how you look.” His casual, unbothered attitude makes me grind my teeth. “Whenever good girls like you come to my parties, they can’t handle their shit and end up going home and crying to their mamas, who end up calling the cops, and then we lose our party place.” He points a finger out at the parking lot. “So, do everyone a favor and go home.”

  I’m shaking so badly I can barely stand up straight. My first attempt at going to a party and I can’t even make it through the front door.

  Epic fail, Zhara. You’ll never be able to change.

  Maybe my mom was right. I’m supposed to be a good girl. I shouldn’t be going to parties. I should be at home, watching television, or doing something less bad.

  Tears burn at my eyes. I try to blink them back, but once I start crying I have a hard time stopping, and both Taylor and Benton notice. I want to turn around, run home, and lock myself in my room. But when Benton gives me this presuming look, like he expected me to cry all along, my humiliation blazes into fury.

  Before I even know what I’m doing, I step forward and get into his face. “Fine, don’t let me in. But just for the record, you never had to worry about me telling my mom or dad. Since they’re dead.”

  And just like that, the sweet, nice, never-says-anything-mean-or-bad Zhara disappears.

  Out the Window

  It feels like minutes go by before anyone says anything.

  “Holy shit, Zhara, I can’t believe you said that,” Taylor whispers, her jaw nearly hanging to the floor.

  I swallow a trembling breath as I stare down at my feet, ashamed. Me either.

  I’m the worst person ever.

  I dare a glance at Benton to see his reaction. He looks a little pale, but I get no satisfaction, instead, a sick, disgusted feeling forming in the pit of my stomach. Holy crap. Who the heck am I right now.? A terrible person. That’s who.

  “Sorry, I didn’t know,” he mutters, stepping back to let us into his living room.

  Going to a party doesn’t seem as appealing anymore, and I almost leave. But Taylor snags hold of my hand and tugs me in with her as she walks inside.

  The second I step over the threshold, the excited energy hits me square in the chest, along with the bass of the music. But the moment is lost as people begin to gawk at me. Most of them don’t hang in the same crowd as I do and whispers float through the air, like gossiping butterflies.

  “Why is she here?”

  “She never goes to parties.”

  “Is she lost?”

  “Maybe she went into the wrong house or something.”

  “She so shouldn’t be here. Benton’s going to flip if he sees her.”

  Knots wind in my stomach as my thoughts wander back to what I said to Benton. What kind of a person just talks about their parents’ deaths like that? Especially when I’m doing something my mom would never want me to do.

  “Are you okay?” Taylor asks, steering me toward the kitchen.

  I nod, lying to her and myself. “Yep, just great.”

  She doesn’t quite believe me, but lets the matter go. “So, what do you think?” She stops in the middle of the crowd and let’s go of my hand. “Is it everything you hoped it’d be and more?”

  “Um…” I glance at the crammed living roo
m, where people are dancing and grinding against each other, at the people taking shots at the bar area in the kitchen, and at the game of, I think it’s called Beer Pong, being played on the table in the small dining room to my right. Strangely, though, I don’t see any of the Bad Boy Rebels anywhere. “Are there always so many people at these things?”

  Amusement dances in her eyes. “If there wasn’t then it wouldn’t be a party.” Her smile abruptly fades as her eyes narrow at something over my shoulder. “What do you want?”

  I turn around to see who she’s talking to, but mid turn, I trip over my feet and stumble into a person behind me, my forehead smacking their chin.

  Great. Strike two for trying to be cool.

  “Sorry.” My cheeks heat as I move back, pressing my hand to my throbbing forehead.

  My mortification only goes up a notch when I realize the person I bumped into is Benton.

  “It’s okay,” he says, wincing as he rubs his chin.

  “Don’t apologize to him, Zhara,” Taylor says, scowling at Benton. “In fact, he should apologize to you.”

  Benton’s cold eyes narrow at her but his irritation softens a smidgeon as he shifts his attention back to me. “I just wanted to see if I can get you a drink.” He pauses, considering something, and a trace of a smile touches his lips. Unlike the one he wore at the front door, this smile looks more friendly than taunting. “To welcome you to your first party.”

  The only alcoholic drink I’ve ever had is the shot Taylor had me drink earlier and I wasn’t too impressed with that one. I open my mouth to decline, but before I can get the words out, Taylor answers.

  “Zhara would love a drink,” she says, in an exaggerated bitchy tone. “And you can get me one too while you’re at it.”

  Benton blasts Taylor a dirty look to which Taylor responds with a sugary sweet smile.

  His jaw ticks and I can tell he wants to say more but holds back. “Whatever. I’ll be back.” Then he stalks off toward the kitchen, pushing people out of his way.

  “You shouldn’t have made him do that,” I tell Taylor, biting at my thumbnail. “He looked mad.”

  She gives me a look then tugs my finger out of my mouth. “That’s just how Benton is. He’s always got his panties in a bunch about something.” She stands on her tiptoes, her gaze skimming the room. “I’ve never seen him offer to make someone a drink before, though. He must feel really bad.”

  “I didn’t mean to make him feel bad,” I say loudly over the music. “I don’t even know why I said what I did. I was just so mad and I…” I trail off as she gapes at me. “What’s wrong?” Feeling insecure, I rub my hand across my cheeks. “Do I have something on my face?”

  She shakes her head. “No… I just don’t think I’ve ever heard you admit you’re mad. I mean, I’ve seen you try to be a bitch, but you suck at it.”

  I rub my hand across my chest, trying to rub away the guilt. “I’m not always nice, Tay. I’ve been really mean to people who didn’t deserve it.”

  She rolls her eyes. “Yeah, right. You’re, like the nicest person. Check our yearbook. It says so.”

  I frown. While Taylor got voted most popular, I was picked as the sweetest person you’ll ever meet. I pretended to be happy about it, but truthfully, I was sad to be forever branded as the nice girl. Decades later when people flip through their yearbooks to reminisce, they’ll still remember me as the girl who smiled all the time and was nice to everyone. They’ll never know how fake I was and how plastic my smile was in the photo above my title. How hard it is to be happy all the time. How much I wanted to allow myself to be sad sometimes.

  “Stop pouting. It’s not a bad thing that everyone thinks you’re nice.” Taylor’s lips pull into an amused smile. “Well, everyone, except for Benton. I’m not sure he still thinks you’re so sweet.” She laughs. “Oh my God, did you see the look on his face when you said that to him? He looked like a scolded dog with his tail between his legs.”

  My chest is heavy as I inhale and exhale. I want to point out again that I didn’t mean to say what I did, that I just… Well, took a breath when I shouldn’t have, and that I’d take it back if I could. But Taylor took about four shots before we left her house to come here and a lightly buzzed Taylor is an inarguable one.

  Her attention drifts from me to the dance floor. The sturdy bass song switches to a slow, sultry beat and everyone goes from grinding against each other, to sexually swaying their bodies to the rhythm. One couple, in particular, is so into it that they look like they’re about to rip each other’s clothes off and go at it right there in front of everyone. Taylor seems unperturbed by the live semi-porn show that’s happening in front of us, but my cheeks flush as I hastily look away.

  “Who are you looking for?” I ask Taylor as she continues to skim the crowd.

  “No one,” she replies. “Just checking out who’s here.”

  “You suck at lying,” I tease her. “Fess up. Who is it?”

  She tears her gaze away from the dance area and looks at me guiltily. “Fine, but don’t be mad, okay.”

  “Why would I be mad?”

  “Because tonight is a huge milestone for you, and I probably should be here with you the entire time.”

  She’s leaving me here? Alone? “You’re leaving me here?”

  She chews on her bottom lip. “I’m not leaving you. I just need to wander off for like a half an hour.”

  Nerves bubble inside me. I don’t think I can handle this alone. But I can’t ruin her night just because I’m scared of being by myself.

  “Wander off where?” I ask, doing my best to conceal my worry.

  “To hang out with Parker for a little while,” she says then quickly adds, “We’ll probably just go into one of the rooms or something. But if you don’t want me to, I won’t.”

  “No, it’s fine.” I do what I do best and plaster on a happy face. “So, Parker, huh? What happened to Brayden?”

  She pulls a repulsed face. “Oh my God, I’m so over Brayden.”

  “Why? What happened?” I ask. Because the last I heard she was, as she put it, “completely-out-of-her-mind, falling in love with him.”

  She twists a strand of her hair around her finger, her gaze bouncing back and forth between me and every person that passes us. “He hooked up with that slut, Mara.”

  “Hey, no slut shaming,” I say instinctively.

  She giggles and rolls her eyes. “Yes, mom.”

  I inch forward as someone bumps into me and glance over my shoulder to see who it is. Two guys who are on the football team are stumbling around with beers in their hands and grins on their faces.

  Glad to see some familiar faces, I open my mouth to say hello when one of them drunkenly stage whispers, “Holy shit, Zhara’s here. What the hell, dude? Am I high or something?” He blinks his bloodshot eyes at me. “Yeah, I’m definitely high.”

  “Does Benton know you’re here?” the other sneers at me. “I bet not. He usually doesn’t let narcs into his parties.”

  Feeling like an idiot, I quickly turn back toward Taylor. But she’s too distracted with finding Parker that she doesn’t notice the drama unfolding behind me.

  “When did Brayden and Mara hook up?” I ask her, trying to distract myself from the guys making fun of me. But each jab they take at me stings like a scalding burn and makes me question who I am even more. I thought I was popular by association, but I’m starting to second guess the people I considered my friends.

  Maybe people are just nice to me because of Taylor. That thought doesn’t sit well at all.

  “I don’t know.” Taylor shrugs. “Like a few weeks ago.”

  A few weeks ago? How did I not know this? “Why didn’t you tell me?”

  Her gaze remained fixed on the dance floor, the bar, at people passing by—everywhere but me. “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s kind of hard to talk to you about guys and stuff.”

  This time I can’t contain my hurt. “Why?”

lt flashes across her face as she glances at me. “It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just that you haven’t… Well, you know, even kissed a guy.” When my expression plummets, she sighs. “I’m not judging you. I think it’s awesome you’re waiting for the right guy. It’s just hard to talk to you about kissing and sex when you haven’t kissed anyone or…” She trails off at the sight of my hurt expression.

  “Had sex,” I finish for her, my hurt showing through my voice. She’s got me all wrong. Sure, I want my first kiss to be with someone I like, but I’m not waiting around for the perfect guy to come along and sweep me off my feet. I just never go out and do anything that puts me in situations where I get a chance to be kissed.

  “Who’s having sex?” Benton’s voice sails over my shoulder.

  I cringe, my cheeks flaming, feeling so embarrassed I want to crawl into a closet and hide.

  But unlike me, Taylor looks as comfortable as can be, plastering on a shiny grin. “I am.” Her gaze travels around the room. “That is, if I can find Parker.”

  “I think he’s out on the deck.” Benton steps up beside us, carrying a plastic cup in each hand. “Here’s your drink.” He hands Taylor the fuller cup.

  She smiles as she takes the cup from him, but then her nose crinkles. “What’s in this?”

  Benton smiles, but it looks taunting. “Whiskey. Vodka, Rum, coke. Honestly, I put a little bit of everything in there.”

  “Ew. That’s so disgusting.” She shoves the drink at him. “I don’t want this.”

  He steps back, shaking his head. “Nope. You asked for a drink. There you go. What you do with it isn’t my problem.”

  She leans down and sniffs the drink. “Oh my god that smells awful!” She gags then peers around helplessly. “What am I supposed to do with this? It’s undrinkable.”

  Benton gives a nonchalant shrug. “Plug your nose and chug it.”

  She grits her teeth. “You did this on purpose because I told you to get me a drink.” When Benton simply shrugs, she goes from angry to livid. “You know what? I’m so over this conversation.” She lifts her chin and gives him a haughty look. “I’m going to find Parker and have him get me a drink.” She starts to walk away but pauses and glances back at me. “Are you going to be okay by yourself for a while?”