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Rules of a Rebel and a Shy Girl, Page 20

Jessica Sorensen

  “Can I ask you something?” I approach cautiously.

  “Yeah …” She hesitates then nods. “Go ahead. I owe you that much.”

  “You don’t owe me anything. I want to make sure you’re not planning on going back to that place.”

  Humiliation pours from her eyes. “You mean the club?”

  I nod, grazing my finger along the back of her hand again. “After what you told me … with what happened with that guy … and then with your boss wanting you to …” I take a composing breath. “I just want to make sure you don’t plan on going back there.”

  Her fingers tighten around mine. “I was never planning on doing that … I mean, the whole …”—her cheeks turn bright red—“stripping thing. I can barely stand being near the stage, let alone on it.”

  “So, you’re not going back?”

  “No … But I do have to go back to get my final paycheck.” Her shoulders slump. “God, I’m picking up my final paycheck, and I don’t even have a job lined up yet.”

  My lips part. “That’s okay. I can—”

  “No, you can’t,” she says.

  Goddammit, she’s so stubborn.

  “I don’t know why you can’t just accept my help. I mean, I do know why since I understand you. But I really wish you’d just move in with me and let me help you like I want to.”

  She stares down at our interlaced fingers again. After a moment or two, a smile tugs at the corners of her lips. She quickly clears the look away before I can figure out what’s got her smiling.

  “Did you mean it?” she asks quietly.

  I slow down the car to make a turn into my neighborhood. “Mean what?”

  “All that stuff on the list,” she says, giving me a tentative look.

  I carry her gaze. “Of course I meant it. Every damn word.” Her lips start to turn upward again, so I press on, wanting a full smile. “Especially the pillow fighting part. That was actually the most important part of the list, so make sure to remember that when I knock on your door at two o’clock in the morning.”

  Her laughter bursts through, and the wall of tension around us crumbles into dust.

  “All right, I’ll keep it in mind,” she says. “But maybe we should make them ten o’clock pillow fights. I’d really like to start going to bed at a decent hour.”

  I don’t want to smile just yet, but fuck, it takes a lot of willpower to hold it back. “You’re saying you’ll live with me?” I ask as I turn into the driveway of my two-story house.

  Her chest rises and crashes as she breathes profusely. “I will, at least until I can find somewhere else to live. But I’m going to pay you.” When I open my mouth to protest, she adds, “I have to pay you, Beck. It’s just how I am, and I’d feel shitty if I didn’t.”

  “Then I’m going to make the price dirt cheap.”

  “Make it reasonable.”

  I park in front of the garage and silence the engine. “Reasonable with a discount.”


  I place my finger against her lips. “Shush. Just let me do this one thing. It’ll make me happy, and you’ll be less stressed out over your finances.”

  She remains quiet for what feels like forever before reluctantly nodding. “All right, I’ll let you win this one.”

  I feel like I’m finally getting somewhere.

  Then worry flashes across her face. “I think we need to talk about what happened in the bathroom.”

  “You mean when I hugged you?” I play dumb. But it’s either pretend I don’t know what she’s talking about or watch her pull out a piece of paper to add more rules.

  And I don’t want any more rules. I want no rules. Nothing between her and me. Ever.

  “Not the hug … the kiss …” Her eyes descend to my lips and then to her lap. “I can’t do this anymore,” she mutters. “God, how did our friendship get so complicated?”

  “It doesn’t have to be complicated,” I say, knowing I’m treading on thin ice. But I don’t want to fight my feelings anymore. And with how much we’ve been kissing lately, I know she has to feel something more than just friendship. “If you’d just stop fighting what you really want and let yourself have what you want.”

  She tucks a strand of her hair behind her ear and peers up at me. “That’s the problem. My mother wanted something all the time, and she kept looking for it in the bartender or the next-door neighbor. Even my teacher once.”

  “Really? Which one?”

  “Mr. Deliebufey.”

  I don’t know what kind of face I pull, but it causes her to giggle.

  She covers her mouth with her hand. “I really shouldn’t be laughing about that.”

  “No, you definitely should.” I smile, mostly because she’s smiling. “We should’ve laughed about it back in fifth grade when it happened. Why didn’t you ever tell me about it?”

  She lowers her hand from her mouth and gives a half-shrug. “Because I was embarrassed. I mean, he was our teacher, and he wore that gross toupee that looked like a dead cat.”

  “Oh, my God, I forgot about the toupee.” I pull a face. “Okay, I’m not a fan of your mom, but she seriously sold herself short dating him.”

  “That was kind of my point. She always dated these sleazebags because she was desperate and didn’t want to be alone. Then they would break her heart, and she’d fall apart until she met someone new and then try to clean up her act. At least, that’s how she used to be. Then she started dating drug addicts and got high all the time.” She sighs, her shoulders hunching inward. “I don’t want to turn out like her. I really don’t.”

  I gape at her. “Wait, you think you’re going to turn out like your mom?”

  She lifts a shoulder. “Sometimes, I wonder if I will. And then I started working at that place where she worked once … and then the whole thing with you …” She grows quiet, staring out the window.

  “What whole thing with me?” I ask softly, my heart hammering in my chest.

  Her shoulders rise and fall as she breathes in and out. Then she turns her head toward me. Her eyes are glossed over with tears, radiating her fear. “You’ve always taken care of me, and I’ve always loved it more than I wanted to admit. I remember that time when I was fourteen and you came and picked me up from my house. When you put your arm around me, I’d never felt safer in my entire life. And when you made that promise to me … I wanted it so much. But wanting something like that from someone else … getting so consumed by someone … It’s what destroys my mom time and time again. She’s never been able to handle being on her own unless she’s high or drunk … I want to be able to say that I’d be okay if you left me, but even just thinking about you leaving me makes my heart ache.” She’s breathing fiercely at the end, as if her words have shocked her to death.

  My reaction mirrors hers. Never have I imagined she feels the same way about me as I do her. I have no fucking clue how to handle her fear. And it’s all because she thinks I’ll break her heart, and she’ll go off the deep end like her mom.

  “You want to know the first time I realized I liked you more than as a friend?” I ask and then hold my breath, worried she’ll say no.

  She wavers for what seems like the end of all time before giving an unsteady nod.

  “It was back when I came home from that trip from Paris—when I gave you the snow globe.” I feel like I’m about to cut my heart out, hold it out to her, and hope she’ll take it, which kind of seems really disgusting when I think about it. “You looked so different, and I remember noticing. I thought I was just being weird after not seeing you for three months and just really missed you. But then Levi, this guy I hung out with sometimes, came up and asked me if you had a boyfriend, and I got really jealous and told him you did.”

  “You did?” she asks, surprised.

  I nod. “I totally did. Then I felt bad because you trusted me so much, and I never wanted to break that trust. So I told you at lunch. Then Wynter started teasing you about having a crush on someone el
se, and I thought—well, hoped—it was me. When I found out it wasn’t, my heart got a little crushed.”

  She elevates her brows. “Your heart got crushed when you were fourteen?”

  I nod, reaching out and cupping her cheek. “It did. And when I was fifteen. And sixteen. And seventeen. And eighteen. And a week ago. A day ago. Every time I’m reminded that I can’t be with you the way I want to. Never have I felt my heart break so much as when I saw you break apart over guilt you should never feel. It kills me to see you in so much pain. And I’d never, ever do anything to cause you that kind of pain, whether you think so or not.” I smooth my finger along her cheekbone. “And whether you believe me or not, I know you’ll never turn into your mom. You’ve had your heart crushed by her and your dad, and still, you took care of your mom every damn time she fell apart.

  “You’re so fucking strong, Wills. Everyone around you knows it. Your mom fucking knows it, although she’ll never admit it. And I know you are more than everyone because, whether you think I do or not, I know you better than anyone.”

  “I know you do.” Tears flood her eyes. “You’ve always been there for me. Even when I tried to push you away, you always came back.”

  We stare at each other, our hearts erratically pounding, and then we’re both leaning in. I don’t even know who moves first. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is our lips meet in the middle, and she doesn’t pull back.

  Her fingers tangle through my hair as she draws me closer. We kiss fiercely, grabbing onto each other, gasping for air yet refusing to break the connection to breathe.

  I don’t know how long we stay in the car kissing, but when the sun begins to set, we break apart and head into the house. The second we step over the threshold, our lips collide again.

  Grabbing her thighs, I scoop her up in my arms, and she hitches her legs around my waist. I groan, remembering the last time she did this: how I rocked against her, how she moaned.

  I want more this time.

  As much as she’ll give me.

  Carrying her blindly through the house, I stumble down the hallway and into my bedroom. When she pulls back to see where we are, I think she might panic. Instead, she seals her lips to mine and bites down on my lip. My body shudders, and I damn near collapse to the floor but manage to stumble over to the bed.

  Setting her down on the mattress, I cover her body with mine and kiss her slowly, deliberately, letting her know I’ll take my time.

  “We don’t have to do anything right now,” I whisper raggedly against her lips.

  “What if I want to?” she gripes, and then her eyes widen.

  I almost laugh. Willow has never been good at talking about anything sexual. Listening to her talk about her past, I can understand why. God knows what she saw living in that house with her mom and countless boyfriends. She probably felt uncomfortable all the damn time.

  I prop up on my elbows to look down at her. “I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable when you’re with me.”

  She rests her palm on my chest, and my heart slams against her hand. “I don’t really think I ever have.” Then she cups her hand behind my head and brings me in for another kiss while arching against me.

  I groan, lowering my hips against hers, eliciting a gasp from her lips. Over and over again, we move together, never breaking the kiss. Her hand wanders up and down my chest just like it did that night in her bed. When her fingers find the hem of my shirt, I push back to peel it off and toss it on the floor. Then I lower my mouth to hers again. The taste of her is driving me mad, and when she traces her fingers up and down my chest, I damn near lose all my self-control. Suddenly, the slow kiss turns reckless, our tongues tangling, our bodies moving.

  “Is this okay?” I ask as I grasp the bottom of her shirt.

  She bobs her head up and down, and all of my reservations crumble as I yank her shirt off. Her bra soon follows, and I push back and look down at her. Her brown hair is a halo around her head, her big eyes have never looked more beautiful, and her chest rises and crashes with every breath. When my eyes descend to the shiny diamond above her belly button, I bite back a moan.

  Holy shit.

  I skim my fingers across it, and my cock gets hard as hell as she shivers.

  “When did you get this?” I ask, tracing a path down her stomach.

  “About a year ago … Wynter talked me into it.” She bites down on her bottom lip, grasping the blankets as I reach the waistband of her jeans. “Oh, my God, Beck, that feels so good.”

  I just about lose it right there. “Fuck, you’re so beautiful.” I slip my fingers down the front of her jeans and press my lips to hers.


  That’s what this moment is.

  Maybe, if we never come up for air again, we can stay this way forever.

  Chapter Twenty-Two


  I can’t believe this is happening. Okay, maybe I can. Deep down, I think I might have known all along that a piece of paper couldn’t stop where Beck and I were heading. I was just procrastinating the inevitable. I could’ve fought this longer … Maybe. But when he said all those things—those wonderful things that made my heart pound in my chest and made that crack in my heart heal a little—I didn’t want to fight it anymore. I wanted to have him. I needed to have him. The need scared me because wanting and needing are two different things. Wanting, you can live without. Needing is like air. You can’t live without it.

  I don’t want to live a life without Beck.

  I want him.

  I want to feel safe.




  That thought races through my mind over and over again as he kisses me passionately with our chests pressed together. His fingers are inside me, pushing me to that starry place again. I’ve lost all control, and I don’t know what to do about that except enjoy this moment. When it’s over, then I’ll focus on the next. And so on and so on. Sure, the uncertainty of my life scares the shit out of me, but knowing I’m not alone makes it a bit easier. I don’t just have Beck. I have my friends.

  I’m not alone.

  People care for me.

  And I care about them.

  I care about Beck.

  I care about him so much.

  More. Than. Anything.

  My pulse speeds up at the thought, but I fight back the panic and focus on those stars again. Those wonderful, blissful, goddamn amazing stars.

  His fingers start to slow as I return to reality, his lips leisurely moving against mine as if we have all the time in the world. When his lips finally break away, he touches his forehead to mine with his eyes shut.

  “Are you okay?” he whispers.

  I trace a path up and down his spine. “I’m perfect.”

  His lips twitch into a smile. “It’s nice you finally realize that.”

  Shaking my head, I lightly pinch his side. He doesn’t even flinch. I do the movement again, doing a little tickling, and he remains unfazed.

  “Try all you want,” he says with a cocky grin, “but you won’t get me.”

  “Wanna bet?” I ask with my brow arched.

  He sits back with his hands out to his sides. “Go ahead and try.”

  “Fine. I will.” Grinning, I sit up, push him down to the mattress, and straddle his waist. Then I tickle him everywhere. Well, almost everywhere.

  He stares up at me with his hands tucked under his head and a lazy grin on his face. “You missed one spot.”

  He doesn’t think I’ll do it. I don’t really want to do it … well, sort of. Okay, I kind of do. I’m just feeling a little shy about it.

  I sit back, staring down at him. “You don’t think I’ll do it?”

  He chuckles, grinning smugly. “No, I don’t, but the determined look in your eyes is really fucking adorable.”

  I think about all those times he tickled me, especially the time he made me almost pee my pants, and suddenly, I really want to prove him wrong. I don’t know what
pushes me to go through with it, whether all the kissing has made me lose my sanity, or maybe Beck just makes me feel comfortable enough to do it. Somehow, though, I find enough courage to slip my hands down his pants.

  “Fuuuccck.” He lets out a groan, his back arching up as my fingers touch him.

  Definitely not a ticklish reaction, but I repeat the movement, anyway. He moans again then reaches up and draws my lips to his. I keep touching him as his tongue delves between my lips and explores my mouth until he moans out my name, until he loses complete control, his eyes shut, his hands gripping my hips.

  “That’s not very fair,” I say, removing my hand from his jeans. “I think you enjoyed that way too much when I wanted to get you back for all those times you tickled me.”

  He chuckles, sounding exhausted but content. “You want me to show you the secret spot?”

  “I tried everywhere.” I pout.

  “Not everywhere.”

  When my brows lower in confusion, he sits up, slides me off his lap, then leans over to unlace his boot. After he gets it off, he removes his sock, grabs my hand, and sketches my fingers up and down the bottom of his foot. Then he lets out the girliest giggle I’ve ever heard. I trace my fingers up the arch of his foot again and again until he begs for mercy.

  After we’re done messing around, he changes into his pajamas while I put on one of his shirts. Then we lie down in his bed together with his arms around me, our legs tangled.




  I keep reminding myself of this as my thoughts try to drift to my future. To my past. To the now. All of which Beck knows about.

  He knows me and didn’t run. He saw the ugly and still wants it.

  I thought I lost him, and while it hurt, I still picked myself up.

  Everything will be okay.

  Once step at a time. Don’t panic.

  “Just breathe, princess,” he whispers, his lips brushing the top of my head. “Everything’s going to be fine.”

  “I feel like I need to get up and do something,” I admit. “Fix the problems.”