Fighting to be free, p.14
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       Fighting to Be Free, p.14
 

         Part #1 of Fighting to Be Free series by Kirsty Moseley

  uncomfortable because Ellie kept smiling at me, her eyes telling me I was doing fine with her parents.

  Ruth cleared her throat as she set down her knife and fork on her now empty plate. “So, Michael, I was thinking of inviting the Barringtons over for dinner one night this week. What do you think?” Her smile was calculating.

  Ellie gasped, her head snapping around to look at her mother. “What? Why would you do that?”

  “We’re still friends with the Barringtons, Ellison. I can invite them for dinner if I want to,” Ruth replied coldly.

  Ellison. Was that Ellie’s full name? It was pretty, but Ellie suited her better.

  “For goodness’ sake, Mom, can’t you just leave it?” Ellie asked, frowning angrily.

  Okay, what is this about?

  “Ellison, you two need to work it out sooner or later. Susan said that he’s missing you. You two make such an adorable couple, and you need to think of your future,” Ruth stated, her eyes darting to me at that last phrase.

  Wait, “adorable couple” … Is she talking about Miles?

  “Well, Miles isn’t part of my future; he’s part of my past. Invite them to dinner if you want, but leave me out of it. Tell me what day they’re coming and I can guarantee I’ll be busy,” Ellie retorted, glaring at her mother.

  “Ellison, you will attend a family dinner, and you will behave properly,” Ruth said, looking at her daughter warningly.

  “You know, Mom, you can push this and push it as far as you want, but Miles and I aren’t getting back together, no matter what you, or his mom, or even he thinks. It’s over and has been for five weeks. You really need to move on,” Ellie snapped.

  “You should think about it, Ellison. Miles’s family is so proper and well established. Miles is going to college to be a doctor. You’d be set for life,” Ruth said, looking at her pleadingly. “Think of what he can give you. You’ll never want for anything.”

  Ellie closed her eyes. “Mom, you honestly think I want to be with someone because of what they can give me? You got together with Dad because of the money his parents had or because you knew he’d be a successful financial adviser, did you?” Ellie challenged.

  “No, I got together with your father because I loved him, and it just so happened to work out perfectly. Most people aren’t that lucky. For example, what do you do plan on doing, Jamie? I’m assuming you’re in college?” Ruth asked, addressing me directly for the first time since I came in.

  Wow, this woman is nasty.

  I opened my mouth to tell them I was a mechanic, but Ellie cut me off. “It doesn’t matter what he does for a living. Stop being like this! If you’re trying to make him jealous or start an argument over Miles, then it’s not going to work. Life doesn’t revolve around money and possessions, you know.” She stood up and turned to me. “Are you done eating? Because I’m ready to go.”

  I nodded and stood. “Thanks for breakfast. It was nice to meet you,” I said to Michael uncomfortably.

  Michael chucked. “You can come back another time and witness another family feud, okay?” he teased, smiling broadly and holding out a hand to me.

  I shook his hand and laughed. “Yeah, this was fun,” I joked.

  He patted my shoulder, grinning.

  Wordlessly, Ellie grabbed her purse from the counter before signaling to me that she was ready to go. I looked her over; she would be cold without a jacket or something. “You might want a jacket, Ellie. It’s gonna be cold today, apparently,” I said, nodding at the window in evidence of the lack of sunshine.

  “Oh, okay, well I’ll just grab one then.” She turned and stalked off to the stairs, leaving me standing there with her parents. Michael snickered and picked up the empty plates from the table, heading over to the sink.

  Ruth stood. “Come on, Kelsey, let’s go style your hair,” she instructed, heading out of the room without looking at me again. The little girl followed behind her, smiling at me shyly on the way past.

  “Don’t take anything that Ruth says personally. She wanted Ellie to get back with her ex-boyfriend. It won’t happen, though, she likes you too much,” Michael said once we were alone.

  Shit. He thinks Ellie likes me? “Yeah? Did she tell you that?” I asked hopefully as I grabbed another couple of plates and put them on the counter near the sink.

  “No, but she doesn’t have to; I can tell.”

  I smiled proudly, silently praying he was right. Moments later, Ellie wandered into the kitchen with a black jacket on over her sweater and a beautiful smile on her face.

  “I’m ready. Let’s go find you a place,” she said to me before walking over and hugging her dad. “Bye, Daddy.”

  “Bye, pumpkin. Have fun,” he replied, kissing her forehead. He turned to me and smiled. “Take care of my girl, Jamie.”

  “Will do,” I promised, nodding. He’d never need to worry about that while she was with me.

  Ellie rolled her eyes and gripped my shirt, pulling me from the kitchen out to the front door. When we were a safe distance from the house, I slung my arm around her shoulder as we walked to my truck. “Right then, little girl. Now that we’ve both sat through an embarrassing family feud, how about we go get bored looking at apartments? Once we find one, I’ll be able to take advantage of your perfect little ass in a bed more than once a week,” I suggested, winking as I opened the passenger door for her.

  “Who said I would let you do that anyway?” she challenged, pursing her lips and narrowing her eyes teasingly.

  “You would,” I replied confidently.

  She smiled and looked me over slowly. “Yeah, maybe you’re right. After all, you are incredibly sexy,” she agreed, chewing on her bottom lip.

  A smug smile slipped onto my face. “Yeah, I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist me.” She laughed and I shut her door, walking around to the driver’s side.

  “I’m sorry my mom was saying that in front of you. She really wants me to be with Miles; she’s still going on about it now. She’s all about status and money, she always has been,” Ellie said, looking at me apologetically as we made our way to the real estate office.

  “It’s fine, don’t worry.” I shrugged, trying to appear unconcerned.

  “It’s not fine,” she protested, frowning. “What she said was wrong. I don’t care about money and stuff like that. I think you should be with someone who makes you happy. My mom had no right to look at you like she did.”

  “Ellison, it’s fine,” I teased.

  She glared at me. “Don’t you dare start calling me that, or trust me, you’ll be having a booty call for one.”

  “Okay,” I agreed, laughing. “But that’s a damn sexy name.”

  “Yeah, well, Ellison doesn’t do booty calls, so be careful,” she warned playfully.

  I wanted to ask her if Ellison did boyfriends. What her dad had said about her liking me was spinning around and around my head.

  When we pulled up outside the real estate office I walked to the door, then waited for her to catch up. We walked in together with her hand casually slipped into my back pocket.

  * * *

  Two hours and six apartments later, we finally found one that we both liked and I could afford. It was a small but tidy furnished one-bedroom with a fairly nice bathroom and kitchen, and the area was pretty decent, too. I settled with the agent and followed him back to his office to sign the lease. I could move in on Monday.

  Ellie grinned as we got back into my truck after completing all the paperwork. “That was a nice place,” she enthused. “So do I get an invite?”

  I raised one eyebrow. “Hell, Ellie, you can move your cute little behind in there with me if it means I get to see you naked more often.”

  She snickered as she buckled her seat belt. “Yeah, but then you’d get fed up with me.”

  “Yeah, you’re probably right, you do look like a bit of a mess in the mornings,” I joked.

  “I’ll remember that! Next time my cell beeps with a text begging for my
company, I’ll say no.” She waved her hand, faking offense.

  I pulled the truck over by the side of the deserted street and unbuckled her seat belt. She looked a little confused until I gripped her waist and pulled her onto my lap, claiming her mouth with mine. She kissed me back immediately, her delicious taste exploding onto my tongue, making my arms tighten around her, clamping her to me possessively.

  As the kiss broke, I rested my forehead against hers. “Thank you for coming with me today. I really appreciate your help.”

  She smiled, tracing her hands down my chest, hooking her fingers in my belt loops. “Yeah? How much did you appreciate it?”

  “Oh, I appreciated it a lot. If there’s ever anything I can do to thank you, then you only need to say.” My voice was so husky and thick with lust that it was almost embarrassing.

  She pressed herself to me tighter, her beautiful gray eyes locked on mine. “There is actually something that I want you to do for me,” she whispered before kissing down my neck, sucking on the skin gently.

  Tipping my head back, I closed my eyes, loving the feel of her mouth on me. “And what can I do for you, little girl?”

  “You can say no if you want to …” She trailed off, looking up at me worriedly.

  “I won’t say no,” I promised. Whatever the hell it was that she wanted, I’d do it, even if I had to cut off my arm. The thought of just how far I would go for her scared the life out of me, but I couldn’t help it; I’d fallen for her so hard it was unreal.

  “I have prom coming up at my school,” she said, pressing her forehead to mine. “Take me?”

  “Take you, like … be your date?” I clarified.

  “Yeah. But you don’t have to if you don’t want to.” She bent her head to kiss me again. I moved one of my hands from her ass and cupped it around the back of her head, holding her there as I deepened the kiss.

  Her arms looped around my neck, her fingers running through my hair. I smiled against her lips at the feel of it. My hair was actually starting to get fairly long and messy now; for the first time in almost five years I would have to go for a proper haircut.

  She broke the kiss, her eyes shining. “When you go to prom it’s pretty much a given that you have to have sex at the end of the night, and there’s no one else I’d rather have sex with than you,” she whispered, brushing her nose against mine.

  I swallowed around the lump in my throat. “I’d love to take you to your dance, Ellie, but not just so we can sleep together at the end of the night.”

  “Oh really, you don’t want to get laid?” she teased.

  “Of course I do, but …”

  “But what?”

  I took a deep breath. “Ellie, I’d just love to take you as a date. Like a proper date, as a couple. Like, as your boyfriend.”

  A smile pulled at the corners of her mouth. “Seriously?”

  Yes, seriously! She was the first person I thought of when I had good news, the person I always thought of last thing at night or when I woke up in the morning. I needed her in my life.

  “I don’t want to ruin what we’ve got going on, and I know that I’m not good enough for you—you deserve so much better than me—but I just can’t stop myself from wanting you.”

  She smiled, her cheeks turning the cute shade of pink that I adored and her eyes shining with happiness. “That was so damn sweet.”

  “Yeah? I thought it sucked big time,” I admitted.

  She shook her head, pressing herself to me tighter. “It didn’t suck,” she protested, “but maybe you could just go with, ‘Hey, want to be exclusive with me?’ or something along those lines.”

  My eyes widened in shock as I realized she was about to say yes. My insides were doing a little happy dance. I wanted to shout a celebration, rip my shirt off and run around swinging it above my head, singing the national anthem.

  I grinned, fighting to contain my excitement. “Ellie?”

  “Yes, Jamie?” she replied, pulling back from me, pretending she didn’t know what I was going to ask.

  “Want to be exclusive with me?” I asked hopefully.

  She grinned. “Hell yeah I do,” she replied quickly, crashing her lips into mine.

  CHAPTER 13

  ELLIE

  EXCLUSIVE, EXCLUSIVE, EXCLUSIVE. The word kept buzzing around in my brain, causing me to fidget excitedly in my seat. Biting my lip to try to quell my ridiculously happy grin, I glanced over at Jamie as he drove us back to my house.

  My boyfriend. My heart thumped erratically at the title.

  My gaze raked over him, taking in every delicious inch as another wave of happiness hit me, making me sag in my seat with contentment.

  When we started out, I’d meant what I’d said about it being a casual hookup and nothing more. Jamie was just supposed to have been my brush with the wild side, something I never thought I would have the courage to do; he was meant to be a one-night stand. I really hadn’t been looking for a relationship, not after Miles. I’d just wanted to be my own person without being restricted or having to ask anyone’s permission.

  But the thing I hadn’t realized was that I could have that with Jamie—in fact, I did have that with Jamie. He allowed me to be my own person, allowed me to make my own decisions, and was there to support me and back me up. He never restricted me in any way.

  I’d never had that before; Miles had been my only real boyfriend, and I guess I’d sort of based my ideas of what a relationship was on what we’d had and how he’d behaved toward me.

  But with Jamie it was so different, so much more. There was trust, support, and mutual respect that I’d never been afforded by Miles. Jamie just seemed to like spending time with me and like me for me, and he didn’t treat me like some sort of trophy on his arm. I loved that.

  Although I’d tried to keep it casual, my feelings for him had been building over the last couple of weeks, piling up, swelling and morphing into something I didn’t have control over. Without my permission, the boy had wormed his way into my heart and carved out a little place for himself there.

  Thank God I left my phone at his place and Stacey was such an interfering little witch! I grinned. I must remember to thank her again for that.

  Probably sensing me watching him, Jamie half turned his head in my direction, his eyes flicking to me for a second before turning back to the road. As his hand reached across the seats and rested lazily on my knee, he smiled that dimpled smile that I loved. His warmth radiated through my whole body, heating me in more ways than one as my mind turned to other places I’d like him to put his hands.

  “You okay?” he asked, squeezing my knee gently.

  “I’m great.” I nodded, placing my hand over his and sighing contentedly as his smile grew more pronounced.

  When we pulled up outside my house, Jamie cut the engine and looked over at my parents’ car, which was still parked in the drive. “Looks like your parents didn’t go to your nana’s today,” he observed.

  I nodded, reaching for the door handle. “Want to come in for a drink or something?” I asked. He’d seemed a little hesitant to meet them this morning, but now that he’d gotten the intros out of the way and charmed my dad, the way he seemed to be able to charm everyone, it would be easier the second time around.

  One of Jamie’s eyebrows rose. “I’m not sure your mom would want me to.”

  I shrugged one shoulder nonchalantly. “She’ll just have to get over it then, won’t she?” I replied.

  My mom would need to get used to Jamie now that we were dating. Her superiority complex was way out of control. The only way she would stop looking down her nose at Jamie was if I showed her I wasn’t going to back down. I could be just as stubborn as her when I wanted to be. Eventually he would charm her too; I was confident in his skills.

  He sighed but nodded and climbed out of his truck, stopping at the curb and waiting for me to reach his side. As we walked up the path, his hand slid into mine, our fingers interlacing as I pushed open the door and led
him inside.

  My parents were sitting on the couch, my dad watching some documentary about sea turtles that he’d recorded the other day while my mom read one of her crime novels. “Hey,” I said, tugging Jamie into the living room and stepping over my sister, who was lying on the floor, her drawing materials and scraps of paper spread out all over the place.

  My parents both looked up, and Dad smiled. “Hey, guys. Didn’t hear you come in,” he replied.

  My mom didn’t smile. Her gaze was firmly on our entwined hands, her jaw tightening as her lips pressed into a thin line. She didn’t like this new development.

  “Afternoon.” Jamie gave a curt nod as his hand tightened on mine, as if asking me not to go anywhere. I wasn’t surprised,
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