Rules of a Rebel and a Shy Girl, Page 7Jessica Sorensen
The tapping happens repeatedly, and then my phone hums with an incoming message.
Beck: Would you please just come to your window? I can see through the curtains, so I know you’re awake.
My gaze darts to the window as I climb out of bed.
Padding across my room, I pull back the curtains, seeing Beck smiling at me, his posture stiff.
“What are you doing out there?” I ask as I slide open the window.
“Making you a real, live princess,” he jokes, tossing a glance over his shoulder at the parking lot.
“How does this make me a real, live princess?”
“Because I’m your Prince Charming, here to rescue you.” He motions for me to move. “Now move back so I can climb in.”
I want to argue, but loud music and yelling makes me easily step back.
Lowering his head, he ducks inside then straightens, brushing some dirt off his sleeve.
“This is very chivalrous of you,” I tease, nervous.
While Beck does make me feel safe, he hasn’t been in my bedroom in ages, a room that’s probably about as big as his closet and smells like stale cigarettes. The whole apartment does.
“I’m just glad you weren’t on the second floor.” He scans the bare walls and my unmade bed. When his eyes land on my snow globe collection, he smiles. “Mine’s in the front.”
For some dumb reason, my cheeks heat like he just discovered a dirty little secret or something.
“It’s my favorite one,” I say to cover up my mortification.
His smile grows as he lightly taps my nose. “Good. I’m glad.”
I return his smile, feeling a little lost. “I don’t mean for this to sound rude, but why are you here?”
His smile disappears. “Because I couldn’t bring myself to drive away and leave you alone in this shit.”
“It’s fine,” I lie. “It’s not anything I haven’t dealt with before.”
“That doesn’t make it right.” He wanders around my room, looking at my locked bedroom door and then at my bed again. “I have some work stuff to do really early, but I want to stick around for a few hours if that’s okay with you. At least until the party dies down.”
“I’m not sure if it will die down. It might. But sometimes, my mom can keep it up for days.”
“Well, I’ll stay as long as I can.”
I fiddle with the hem of my short pajama bottoms, glad the lamp offers limited lighting. “You really don’t have to do that.”
“I know I don’t have to, but I want to.” He plops down on my bed and leans over to untie his boots.
“What are you doing?” I squeak like an idiot.
He peers up at me with amusement dancing in his eyes. “Taking off my shoes.”
I remain near the open window, terrified of getting any closer to him as memories of the last time we were alone in a bedroom storm through my mind. “But why?”
“I figured I’d lie down with you until you fall asleep.” Once he gets his shoes off, he sits up and reaches for the hem of his long-sleeved shirt.
My breath lodges in my throat as I watch him pull it over his head. Then I try not to frown disappointedly at the T-shirt he has on underneath.
When he notices me staring, he presses his lips together as he drops the shirt onto the floor. I worry he can read my dirty thoughts all over my face, so I hastily look away from his chest.
“This is okay, right?” he asks. “I don’t want to make you nervous. That’s kind of the opposite of my intentions.”
“You’re fine.” Deciding to stop being a coward, I force my feet forward and make my way to the bed. “It’s just weird having you in my room.”
“Why?” He slides over, so I can sit down beside him. “You’ve been in mine a thousand times. You’ve even slept there.”
“I know.” I tuck my hands underneath my legs. “But I like going to your place. This isn’t the kind of place anyone likes to go. Well, except for my mom’s trashy friends.”
He unbuckles his belt. “I don’t mind being here. Sure, I’d way rather us be at my place or somewhere else that’s safe, but I like being around you. You should know that by now.” He slips his belt off and drops it to the floor.
So much clothing coming off. When will he stop?
I dropkick that thought from my brain and scoot back onto the bed toward the headboard.
“You really think you can sleep through all the yelling and music?”
“I’m not going to sleep.” He stands up and pulls off his T-shirt, tossing it to the floor. “I’m just going to lie down next to you until you fall asleep.”
Holy flutterville all freakin’ mighty.
I try not to gawk. I really do. Yet my gaze strays a few times to his lean chest and solid abs.
Finally, I manage to fix my attention elsewhere as I pull back the covers and climb under them.
“That doesn’t sound like much fun for you.”
His eyes sparkle with amusement as he lies down beside me and pulls the blanket over us. “You have no idea how wrong you are.”
I want to ask him what he means, but the fierceness in his expression keeps my lips zipped.
I roll onto my side, and he does the same, so we’re facing each other. We aren’t quite touching, but close enough that his body heat and scent engulf me.
Music and shouting fill up the quietness between us, along with my shallow breathing.
“Are you nervous?” he asks unexpectedly. “I can lie on the floor.”
I want to nod, but I shake my head. There’s no way I’m making him lie on the floor.
“You’re fine. It’s just the noise. You’d think, after almost a decade and a half of listening to this crap, it’d get easier, but it never does.”
He contemplates something then slowly scoots toward me and lowers his forehead against mine, resting his hand on my hip. “Close your eyes. I’ll make sure you stay safe.”
I suck in a trembling breath but don’t move back, obeying him and shutting my eyes. My heartbeat soars to hummingbird speed, my adrenaline spiraling. I’m so wired I don’t know how I’ll ever fall asleep. Yet, moments later, my heart quiets, and I sink into wonderful dreams filled with stuff I’d never dare do in reality.
I set an alarm in case I doze off before I lie back down on Willow’s bed. Her lips are parted, and her eyelashes flutter every once in a while, as if she’s about to wake up. I’m wondering what she’s dreaming about, if her dreams are good or bad, when her leg suddenly hitches over my hip, and her palm rests against my bare chest.
I freeze as her fingers drift down, and my stomach muscles constrict. When her hand reaches the bottom of my waist, my heart jackhammers.
I bite down on my lip to restrain a moan, envisioning her hands traveling lower, touching me the way I’ve dreamt about since that goddamn fucking first kiss. I wonder if she’d let me touch her, too. Then I remember she’s asleep and isn’t aware of what she’s doing.
Even though it about kills me, I move my hand to stop her, and her fingers abruptly stiffen.
“Beck,” she whispers, her eyelids lifting.
Our gazes collide, and then her gaze darts down. I expect her to yank back, but instead, she stares at her fingers splayed across my abdomen, her chest heaving with each gasping breath.
The breathy noises send desire pulsating throughout my body. I don’t know what overcomes me, whether all this pent-up sexual tension makes me lose my damn mind, but I delve my fingers into her hip and grind against her.
She groans, tipping her head back as her eyes squeeze shut.
I damn near fucking explode.
I’m about to repeat the movement when she jerks back as if I bit her, which I kind of want to.
“I’m s-so sorry,” she sputters, her eyes huge. “I don’t know why I did that … I was just having this dream … and then I …” She trails off, and I know without seeing her face t
hat her cheeks are flushed.
I don’t want her to be sorry. At all. I want her to put her leg back over my hip so we can continue. But she looks so horrified. I’m afraid this moment will end up being another list fiasco if I don’t smooth over the situation.
“You’re fine.” My voice comes out more strained than I want. If I had my way, her clothes would be off by now, and my tongue would be inside her mouth and my fingers sliding up her thighs. “Let’s just forget it happened. I’m sure you were probably half-asleep, anyway.”
She unsteadily swallows, holding her hands against her, as if fearing she might touch me again. “You should be mad at me for … for violating you in my sleep like that. And for almost breaking our rule.”
I mentally roll my eyes. She can violate me anytime she wants. Telling her that is a whole other story.
“We’re good. And you didn’t break the rule. Our lips didn’t touch once. Now go back to sleep so you can rest those pretty eyes.”
She worriedly nods. “Thank you. And again, I’m so sorry.”
She closes her eyes but doesn’t fall asleep right away, her body tense. After about fifteen minutes, her soft breathing fills the silence.
Me, I remain wired, hard as a fucking rock. I seriously want to reach down and touch myself so I can calm the fuck down. Doing that with her sleeping beside me doesn’t feel right, though, so I force my hands to stay put.
About a half an hour later, I finally cool down. Another hour ticks by, and the house grows quiet. I wonder if the fading noises mean people are leaving. I hope so since I have to leave soon, and the idea of leaving Willow with anyone in the house makes me feel sick.
God, I never want to leave her.
I have to meet with a guy for work at six o’clock, so when my alarm goes off at five o’clock, I untangle my legs and arms from Willow’s and drag my ass out of bed. I put my shoes, shirt, and belt back on, making sure to move quietly so I won’t wake her. By the time I’m dressed and ready to go, she’s still sound asleep with her hand under her cheek. She looks so peaceful, so beautiful. I can’t help myself.
I lean over the bed and place a tender kiss on her cheek, convincing myself the move is okay because, technically, it’s not lip-to-lip contact.
Her eyelashes flutter from the contact.
“Beck,” she murmurs.
I take a deep breath, loving the sound of my name leaving her sleepy lips.
“Go back to sleep, princess,” I whisper in her ear. “I have to go, but I’ll be back later to tow your car.”
I’m not even sure if she’s awake enough to understand me, but she bobs her head up and down.
Before I leave, I check to make sure her door is locked. Then I slide open the window and slip out.
The chilly morning air encases me as I inch the window closed. I hesitate for another second or two, wanting to return to her room, but I can’t blow off work.
Sighing, I turn around and hike across the gravel parking lot to my car while checking my messages. My dad has called five times and left a voicemail. I don’t have to listen to it to know why he’s calling. It’s the same reason he’s been calling me for the last month: he wants me to come work for him. Well, wanting might not be a strong enough word. More like demanding.
I stuff my phone into my pocket without listening to the message, noting the Mercedes is parked beside my BMW. When I near my car, I curiously glance at the man sitting in the driver’s seat, texting on his phone.
As if noting my stare, he glances up and his eyes widen.
“What the hell?” I mutter. “Why the hell are you looking at me like that?”
He has his window rolled down, so I know he heard me. He doesn’t answer, though, simply starting up his engine and driving off like a bat out of hell.
Scratching my head, I climb into my car and let the engine idle for a few minutes to defrost the windows. I stay in the parking lot for longer than necessary, watching the entrance to the parking lot, making sure the Mercedes doesn’t come back.
Maybe I’m overreacting, but the guy looked at me like he knew me, or maybe he knew I was friends with Willow. And in a place like this, people knowing you isn’t a good thing.
Sunlight shines across my face as I open my eyes and roll over, stretching my arms above my head. My bed is empty, causing a cold emptiness to seep into my bones. But I feel refreshed, probably more than I have in a long time.
Then it all comes rushing back to me: my hands on Beck’s chest, my leg over his hip, the way he grinded against me. For a split, mind-losing second, I wanted him to do it again until I remembered the rule and why it exists.
Technically, I didn’t have a hip-to-hip contact rule. Still, that didn’t mean I felt any better about what occurred between us. That’s what I tell myself. Sometimes, I wonder if I lie to myself as much as I do to everyone else.
Thankfully, Beck shrugged off the incident. I feel so bad. After handing him a rule that we could never kiss, I violated him. Talk about mixed signals.
He probably thinks I’m crazy. Honestly, maybe I am. I don’t even know why I did it. Okay, that’s a lie. I did it because I couldn’t get the sight of his chest out of my mind.
When I closed my eyes, I fell into a dream of Beck and me kissing, my hands all over his bare chest, and my hips grinding against his. So, apparently, my body decided to act out the dream in real life.
Stupid, traitorous body.
God, I suck.
Sighing, I roll over and focus on if my mom and her friends are gone. The place is silent except for a dog howling from outside. It’d be a peaceful way to wake up if I hadn’t just sleep-fooled around with my best friend. Plus, my bedroom reeks of pot.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
I look at the clock and grimace. Six o’clock in the morning and not everyone has left yet.
“Hey, mini-Paula, why don’t you open the door, get your sweet ass out here, and put on a little show for us,” a guy says from the other side of the door. “Isn’t that what you do? Dance, right?”
I fuse my lips together and close my eyes. Go away. Go away. Go away.
“That uniform you were wearing … That’s what it means … You’re a dancer at Crazy Morelliesin’s. How come I’ve never seen you there before?”
Because I’m not a dancer.
But what you do might not be any better.
“Does your mama know where you work?” he asks. “I bet she does … She used to do work there herself when she was younger.”
I swallow the shameful lump clogging my airway. While I knew my mom had dabbled in stripping for money, I never knew she worked at the same place as me.
I really am like her.
No! I’m not! I haven’t even dated anyone and will never date anyone. Plus, I’m going to college. One day, I will be better than her.
Well, that’s what I tell myself as the guy hammers on my door for the next half-hour.
When he gives up, I try to go back to sleep, but my worried mind keeps me up, and finally, I haul my behind out of bed to check out the damage in the apartment.
Before I head out into the mess, I crack the door open and peer into the hallway to make sure the house is empty. I don’t spot anyone passed out anywhere, so I open the door wider and step out.
My nose promptly crinkles at the stench of weed, booze, and sweat. The mustiness in the air makes me want to run to the bathroom and take a shower. Needing to check on the place first, I put one foot in front of the other as I endeavor into the living room. The sofa is tipped upside down, the coffee table is pressed sideways against the patched wall, and a pile of beer cans is stacked in the middle of the room. My initial instinct is to clean up the mess ASAP, but I need to go peek in on my mom first.
Turning my back on the mess, I walk back to her bedroom and find her bed empty. I check the bathroom, the closets, and then the kitchen. There’s no sign of her anywhere. She must have never come home from the bar.<
I grow worried at the thought of all the places she could be: whoring herself on the corner, shooting up in some sleazy hotel, or lying dead in a ditch somewhere. All except the latter has happened.
I slouch onto the table and lower my head into my hands, debating whether or not I should track her down. Usually, I do, but Beck is supposed to be coming over today to tow my car. Although, after what happened last night, I question if I should let Beck off the hook and call Ari to come help me.
Backtracking to my bedroom, I pick up my phone either to call Beck or Ari—I haven’t decided yet. Then I note the missed call from Wynter. I decide to call her, procrastinating my car ordeal.
“Hey, lazy butt,” Wynter greets me after I yawn a hello.
“That’s a first.” I flop down on my bed and stare at the water stained ceiling. “Usually, you call me a crackhead.”
“Yeah, well, I figured I’d mix it up a bit. Make life a little more interesting,” she teases. “Seriously, though, why do you sound tired? Usually, you’re up at the butt crack of dawn.”
“I had a rough night.”
“Because your car broke down?”
“Yeah. And there was a party going on and some guy woke me up at, like, six o’clock in the morning.” I don’t bother mentioning the party was being thrown by my mom. While Wynter knows I don’t have a fantastic home life, she doesn’t know all the details like Beck does. I also don’t bring up Beck staying in my bed or that I rubbed myself against him for various reasons, one being that Wynter will look way too much into it.
“I don’t know why you still live there,” she says. “It’d be so much easier if you just moved to Fairs Hollow. And it’s not like you love living with your mom.”
“It’s more complicated than just that,” I mutter, massaging my temple to reduce the pressure pushing against my skull.
“Why? I mean, you’re almost nineteen. You shouldn’t have to live with your mom anymore if you don’t want to.”
“Yeah, but she needs help paying rent and stuff.” And making sure she doesn’t die in her sleep.