Fighting to be free, p.4
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       Fighting to Be Free, p.4

         Part #1 of Fighting to Be Free series by Kirsty Moseley
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  I GLANCED AT myself in the mirror, squinting through the haze of alcohol that clouded my brain. The girl that squinted back at me looked a mess, even to my own eyes. Bending down, I wet my hands with cold water and then touched my cooled fingers to my cheeks, trying to calm myself a little. My head felt fuzzy and my stomach still quivered, even though I’d just emptied it into the toilet behind me.

  When my heart had slowed down to a normal pace again, I looked back into the mirror at myself, rubbing a finger under each of my gray eyes to wipe away the mascara smudges. My usually pale skin looked even paler in the seedy light of the club bathrooms. The only decent thing that I could see about myself was my hair. Somehow, even though I’d stood in the chilly wind for almost an hour to get into the club and then proceeded to whip it around while dancing for the last few hours, it still held a lot of the loose curls that I’d teased in with the curling iron earlier in the night.

  I hiccupped and quickly held my breath, wondering if I was going to vomit again. I couldn’t hold my liquor at all, and even though I wasn’t old enough to be in the club anyway, I’d been dragged out tonight by Stacey and a couple of other friends who thought tonight was a great time to test out the fake IDs we’d recently purchased. According to them, the timing was perfect because, apparently, I needed a girls’ night out to help me get over my broken heart. Well, they all thought I was brokenhearted—my friends were actually more upset about my breakup than I was.

  I tried not to let my thoughts drift to Miles, but I just couldn’t help it. As I looked at the short, slinky black dress that Stacey had insisted I borrow from her and wear tonight, I silently wondered what he would say about it if he could see me now. No doubt he’d have a few choice words for me. In fact, he would have insisted I change and said I looked like a slut.

  Things hadn’t started out like that between us, though. At the beginning of our two-and-a-half-year relationship he’d been sweet and would go out of his way to make me laugh. Unfortunately, things had changed after a while; he’d become more concerned about status and image and less like the sweet boy I’d fallen for. By the end, I was pretty sure I was nothing more than a trophy girlfriend to him, something to hang on his arm and make him look good. I was everything society—and his parents—thought he should have to complete him. On the outside our relationship was perfection, love’s young dream. Inside, not so much.

  In all honesty, Miles could be a real jerk when no one else was around. After a year of dating he’d turned from cute, thoughtful, slightly lanky kid to overbearing, possessive captain of the football team and every girl’s desired man. I didn’t think he knew he was being controlling or possessive of me; when he’d belittled me, I didn’t think he did it with vicious intent, it was just the way he was. He wanted to be respected, he wanted people to look up to him, and that meant everything had to be his version of perfect.

  Reputation was everything to Miles—but I’d finally grown tired of it yesterday. So when he’d accused me of flirting with one of his teammates at last night’s postgame party, shouting at me in front of several of the attendees, ruining his own perfectly carved façade, I’d seized the opportunity and broken it off with him in front of them, knowing the story would spread around the school like wildfire and I wouldn’t be pressured into taking him back.

  It was a relief; it had been exhausting walking on eggshells all the time, trying to be the perfect girl he wanted and not upset him. I actually couldn’t be happier about the breakup. Since I was fifteen I’d been one half of “Miles and Ellie, super couple,” and I couldn’t wait to find out what it was like just being Ellie.

  I smiled to myself just as the bathroom door opened behind me, the drone of music growing louder for a couple of seconds before it swung closed again. I looked over my shoulder in the mirror and smiled as Stacey frowned over at me. “Ellie Pearce! I’ve been looking everywhere for you,” she slurred accusingly.

  I giggled and rolled my eyes, turning to face her but still keeping my grip on the sink in case my stomach took another nose dive. “Oh, really? I wasn’t in that guy’s mouth?”

  She chuckled sheepishly. “Surprisingly not, but I had a good look.” She winked at me. I shook my head at her fondly. Stacey liked to hook up a lot when she was single. I, on the other hand, had only ever been with Miles and had never even kissed anyone else.

  “I just threw up.” I admitted, swallowing a couple of times at the memory.

  “Ew! Here, have a mint.” She giggled, passing me a tin; I gratefully took one, trying to get the horrible taste out of my mouth. “Come on, come and dance. Maybe you should hook up with someone tonight to take your mind off Miles. It’ll help you get over him,” she said sympathetically.

  I sighed. I’d never told anyone what Miles was actually like, so everyone truly thought we had been the perfect couple. Stacey really did think I was devastated at the breakup. It was easier to let her believe that than explain that Miles wasn’t all everyone thought he was. “Okay, I’ll dance, but I’m not hooking up with anyone.”

  “Whatevs. I’m thirsty, let’s get another drink, then we can go find the others.” Her hand gripped mine as we walked out of the bathroom.

  As soon as the door opened again the volume of the club music made my head throb. The place was dark, hot, and extremely crowded. I couldn’t really see where I was going and everything was just a mass of bodies grinding up against each other. I let Stacey lead me blindly along and prayed that she could remember the layout of the club, because I sure couldn’t. Finally, after two pinches to my behind and one crude, suggestive comment, we made it through the crowd to the bar and I felt as if I could breathe again.

  Stacey grinned wickedly at me before turning to the bar. “Hi, can I get four vodka shots?” she shouted to the bartender, who was totally checking her out. Stacey was what you’d call a stunner. She had long, natural blonde hair, blue eyes, and legs that seemed to go on forever; she modeled part-time and actually made decent money from it.

  “You can get anything you want,” he replied, grinning. She leaned in suggestively and started flirting with him.

  Not particularly wanting to see her get her flirt on, I turned away and looked around the packed club. She’d already dumped me three times tonight to make out with different guys, so I knew how this exchange would probably go down. I didn’t mind, though; she truly was a great friend, and I wouldn’t change her for the world. She was in a relationship that was constantly on and off, so when it was off she let loose and flirted her butt off.

  Feeling a nudge to my arm, I turned and Stacey handed me two shot glasses. Not wanting to hold two drinks, I downed one immediately, wincing as the colorless liquid burned my throat. I shuddered, grimacing at the vile taste.

  “I hope that’s not your sex face,” a voice purred in my ear. Whipping my head around, I locked eyes with a guy who was probably in his late twenties. He was quite good-looking—if you liked the older-guy look.

  “Well, you won’t find out,” I replied, turning to grab Stacey’s hand, meaning to pull her away, but she was too busy flirting with the bartender again.

  “My name’s Sam. Remember it, you’ll be screaming it later.” The guy smirked and winked at me confidently as he put his hand on the small of my back, leaning in. I could smell the alcohol on his breath as it blew across my face.

  Yuck, as if! “I don’t think so.” I shied away from his hand, getting a little personal space back.

  He laughed, his blue eyes twinkling. “What’s your name?” He grinned at me lopsidedly, obviously not knowing how to take a hint.

  “Look, I’m not interested, so just go find another girl to flirt with, okay?” I suggested, frowning. I really didn’t need this right now. All I wanted was a lovely, comfy bed to climb into and maybe the pizza that Stacey had promised would come later in the night.

  Mr. I Don’t Know How to Take a Hint laughed again and stepped closer to me, making me step back so t
hat our bodies didn’t brush together. “Don’t be like that. I could make you feel better,” he flirted, his eyes dropping to my chest. I looked around uncomfortably for some sort of escape plan, but Stacey was still leaning over the bar talking animatedly to the barman.

  Suddenly a heavy arm slipped around my shoulder. “Hey, babe, there you are. Sorry I’m late.” Male, unquestionably a male—with a decidedly sexy voice to boot!

  I looked up, shocked, because I was now pinned against a stranger’s side. As soon as I laid eyes on him my heart took off in double time. The new arrival was the most gorgeous man I’d ever seen in real life. A quick estimate put him at about twenty-one; he had short brown hair shaven into a buzz cut, a chiseled chin, perfect kissable lips, and dark brown eyes that sparkled mysteriously. Where I was pressed against him, I could feel hard, taut muscles. I took all this in quickly and all I could think was: Wow.

  My mouth was dry as I struggled to remember how to string words together in a coherent sentence. “Uh, yeah, no problem, you’re here now,” I mumbled, playing along.

  I couldn’t take my eyes off him as he turned his head to the side, smiling and holding out his right hand to the guy who’d been hitting on me seconds before. “Hey, I’m Jamie. You a friend of my girlfriend’s?” he asked.

  From the corner of my eye, I noticed Sam step back and shake his head, but I couldn’t tear my gaze from the beautiful boy who was still pinning me close to his side. “Nah, man, we were just talking. I’d better go find my friends,” he said quickly before skulking off into the crowd.

  Almost instantly the new guy lifted his arm off my shoulder and smiled down at me, exposing a row of perfectly straight white teeth. His smile was incredibly sexy and caused a little dimple to form on his right cheek. I fought hard against my urge to trace that little indent with my finger.

  I smiled back gratefully. “Thanks.”

  “No probs, you looked like you were having trouble getting rid of him,” he said easily. “I’m Jamie.” He bent down slightly to talk to me; that was when I noted how tall he was. He was easily six foot one, much taller than my five foot five. I was wearing three-inch heels, yet he still towered over me. I quite liked the way he made me feel small.

  “Ellie,” I muttered, trying to pry my eyes away from his face.

  “What you drinking there, Ellie?” he asked, nodding at my drink.

  “Um … I think it’s vodka.” I frowned at it distastefully. He grinned that little dimpled smile again and his hand gripped my elbow, tugging me gently toward the bar, where he proceeded to order two more vodka shots. I winced, knowing I needed to drink the one I already had so that I didn’t look rude by refusing his drink. Holding my breath, I chugged down the other one Stacey had purchased before pushing the empty glass onto the bar.

  Jamie turned back and passed me another shot glass of clear liquid. He raised his glass at me in silent cheers before downing the contents. I gulped and then did the same with mine. I genuinely didn’t want to drink any more. Already I felt a bit weightless, which meant I’d drunk more than enough to make my head pound in the morning. I silently prayed I didn’t throw up again tonight.

  Behind Jamie, Stacey was staring at me with wide eyes. She dramatically fanned her face while mouthing the word hot as she nodded at Jamie’s back. I giggled and nodded in agreement.

  Jamie smiled and leaned in closer to me, his hot breath fanning across my face as he spoke. “Wanna dance?”

  I didn’t even need to think about that one. Hell yeah I wanted to dance with him; then I would have the perfect opportunity to touch his body without making myself look like a deranged pervert who felt up hot guys in clubs for a hobby.

  “Sure, why not.” I looked at him through my eyelashes, flirting my ass off.

  He grinned and his hand covered mine. It was warm and fairly rough, like he worked hard for a living. Without saying anything else, he turned and pulled me close to his back as he started to weave through the crowd.

  The dance floor was packed with bodies everywhere making it extremely hot and humid as he stepped up close to me. His smell filled my senses: manly, rugged, and kind of woodsy. My eyes slid over him as we started to dance. He had on low-slung ripped jeans and a checked red button-down shirt that he wore slightly open at the top and bottom, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. I felt someone dancing close to me from behind, but before I could react, Jamie reached out, gripping my hips and pulling me forward into his body. He frowned, his hands still resting on my hips almost possessively. Flicking a quick glance over my shoulder, I saw a guy dancing behind me, his eyes glued to my ass. Inwardly, I cursed the borrowed dress.

  The song changed, and when I realized what it was, I felt a grin slip onto my face as the beat took over, weaving its spell on me. Closing my eyes, I started dancing properly, grinding into Jamie and swaying my hips to the sexy drumbeat of the familiar song. My chest was rubbing against his, making my scalp prickle and butterflies swoop in my stomach. His hands moved from my hips to my back, one of them sneakily trailing down to rest on my behind. I took my chance to press my face into the side of his neck, breathing in his delicious scent. He genuinely smelled good enough to eat.

  I pulled back to peek at him. The flashing green lights of the club danced across his face, making him look inhumanly beautiful as his dark, brooding eyes locked onto mine. I could easily have been dreaming up this moment because this guy just looked too good to be true.

  Slowly, his head moved toward mine, his lips brushing against mine gently, so gently, in fact, that I barely even felt it. He pulled back and looked at me curiously, as if waiting for my permission to continue. Lust was written clearly across his face. My body was burning at the sight of it. My stomach flipped. I’d probably never been this excited by a guy, ever. Miles had never made me feel like this. It was almost as if I wasn’t in control of myself, like some force was guiding me along, making me press closer to him, making me trace my hands up his hard chest to loop around his neck. That force, though, was, of course, just my raging and uncontrollable hormones.

  When my palm rubbed against his short hair, I moaned breathily at the soft, silky feel of it. I knew right then and there that I could do that all night long and still not get tired of it. He shivered against me. The movement made my breath catch in my throat as I eagerly guided his mouth back down toward mine again.

  As his lips touched mine, I felt something deep in my stomach: a longing, a burning need, and it was spreading to every part of my body as the kiss deepened. His kissing was demanding, masterful, and sexy as hell. If I hadn’t been hot for him before, I undoubtedly was now.

  He pulled out of the kiss too soon. “Wanna go somewhere?” he asked huskily.

  My body stiffened at his question. I’d broken up with my long-term boyfriend only yesterday; I couldn’t go and have a one-night stand with a sexy-ass stranger … could I? Looking at him, I desperately wanted to. This was my chance, the perfect opportunity to do something a little wild for once in my life, to do something just for me instead of what was expected of me. My hormones were urging me forward.

  Should I?

  He seemed to sense my indecision and shook his head, smiling apologetically. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked.” His hand moved off my ass to rest on the small of my back, holding me against him as if he thought I would slap him and run away any second.

  Before I could speak, or even figure out what I wanted to say, he pressed his lips to mine again, tangling one hand into the back of my hair as he pulled me closer to him.

  My body was about ready to spontaneously combust … and my mind was made up. I’d be bold for once, daring, instead of the goody two-shoes I usually was. I broke the kiss and quickly stepped back, taking his hand and heading toward the exit. I almost ached with anticipation of what was to come tonight. After a second he obviously caught on to my intentions. His hand moved in mine, adjusting so that his fingers interlocked with mine more intimately. As I stalked toward the doors that led to the lo
bby beyond, I pulled out my phone from my cleavage and dialed Stacey. I knew she’d answer. It was one of the girls’ rules for when we went out; the phone had to go down the cleavage so that we could feel it vibrate if we needed one another.

  “Hey, girl, where are you?” I heard her shout through the earpiece.

  I smiled, knowing she was going to freak out any second. “I’m leaving, I’ll see you later. Stay with the girls, Stace, and don’t drive for goodness’ sake.”

  She gasped. “You’re leaving? With that sexy-ass boy?”

  “Yeah. I’ll speak to you later.” I disconnected the call, grinning as excitement and lust simmered in my tummy.

  Jamie’s hand tightened around mine as he pulled me to a stop by the coat check, handing over his ticket. Moments later, the lady gave him a black leather jacket. “You have one?” he asked me, pointing to the desk. I shook my head in response. None of us girls had brought coats; one of my friends had had the stupid idea that our fake IDs would be less likely to be questioned if we were showing a little skin … I was about to suffer for that decision. Jamie frowned at that but didn’t say anything as he turned and started leading me toward the exit. When we stepped outside, the cold midnight air whipped around me, making me shiver. Jamie immediately slipped his jacket around my shoulders, engulfing me in his smell again. I smiled gratefully.

  There was a taxi stand at the corner in front of the club so we made our way over to it, standing there and waiting. Thankfully, we were the only ones there, so as soon as a cab pulled up we could jump in and get out of the wind.

  “Can we go to your place?” he asked, pulling me close to him and starting to rub my arms to keep me warm.

  Mine? No way that can happen, my parents would skin both of us alive! I shook my head. “Can’t, I have a little sister,” I said, desperately trying to think of somewhere we could go.

  He looked thoughtful for a few seconds, then he cringed, cocking his head to the side. “We can go to mine, but it’s really not a nice place. I mean, it’s a rooming house, I’ve only been there for a week.” He shrugged, looking embarrassed and uncomfortable.

  “That’s okay, whatever.” In complete honesty, as long as I got to do some of the naughty things that were running through my head, I would probably go anywhere with him. I pulled him to me and kissed him. The kiss was getting hotter and hotter, but, annoyingly, a cab pulled up at that moment, interrupting the intense make-out session. Jamie stepped back, smiling as he opened the car door.

  “Ladies first,” he offered, motioning for me to climb inside. The gentlemanly gesture made my insides melt to a puddle. I slipped into the cab, scooting over to the middle but purposefully not allowing him too much space to sit down so I could still touch him.

  He smiled that dimpled smile as he climbed in and leaned forward, telling the driver his address. When he settled back on the seat next to me I smiled, hoping I would look seductive and tempting. His perfectly straight teeth clamped down on his bottom
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