Chain reaction, p.39
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       Chain Reaction, p.39

         Part #3 of Perfect Chemistry series by Simone Elkeles
 
Page 39

 

  “Last time we were alone together I held back,” I tell him.

  “I know. You didn’t trust me, which was a smart move. You said you didn’t love me. ”

  “I lied. ” I run my fingers lightly over his shaved head and he closes his eyes. “You look so tough. ”

  “I don’t feel so tough. ” He opens his eyes. They sparkle with every flicker of the candlelight hitting them. He’s got beautiful, mesmerizing eyes that pierce my soul. “You shouldn’t love me. I don’t deserve it. ”

  I hold his face in my hands. “Luis, I admire the fact that you know what you want, and go for it even when the odds are stacked against you. You’ve taught me to be proud of my Mexican heritage. I am in awe of how smart you are, and that you push me away to protect me from the Latino Blood. I think it’s adorable when you look up at the sky and instead of admiring it you want to go up there and explore it. I love you because you’re the only person I want to make love to without any conditions and—and I love that you need me. ”

  “I do need you, Nik. But I still don’t deserve you. ”

  Just knowing that he’s here with me is enough. “We deserve each other, Luis … and I need you just as much as you need me. Hold me. ”

  He steps closer, but hesitates. “If I do, mi chava, I can’t promise I’ll be able to let you go. ”

  “Good. ”

  He wraps his arms around me and I wrap mine around him. It’s silent, except for the sound of our breathing and the gentle waves lapping against the shore. We stay standing, embracing each other, for what seems like forever. This is what it’s supposed to be like.

  “Want me to list all the reasons I love you?” he asks me. “I wrote a poem about it for English class … I called you my forever and always. ”

  Hearing his words makes me smile, and I tell him what I’m feeling deep in my gut. “We’re gonna make it. ”

  “The odds are against us, Nik. ”

  “Since when did bad odds ever stop you from your goal?” I ask, then lift his shirt up and kiss his abs. I follow the line of hair from his navel down until I reach the waistband of his jeans.

  “Kiss me,” he says, urging me up so we’re face-to-face.

  We start making out slowly, but as soon as he opens his mouth and his tongue slides against mine, it’s no holds barred. Our bodies melt against each other and I feel his hardness through his jeans. I’m not holding back this time. I couldn’t even if I wanted to … this is too intense.

  “Your skin is so damn soft,” he says as his hands reach under my dress and he pulls down my panties until I step out of them.

  I push him against the wall. “Stay right there. Don’t move,” I order, then unzip his pants and ease down his boxers.

  “Nik …” He groans as I touch him all over until I know he’s about to lose control.

  “Mmm …”

  “I’m gonna …” He can’t get out the rest of his sentence.

  “Make love to me, Luis. ”

  “I want to, baby, but I don’t have a condom. I can’t risk gettin’ you—”

  I put a finger over his beautiful lips. “It’s okay. I’m on the pill now. I’m safe. ”

  “Me too … I mean, you know, I don’t have any STDs,” he says.

  “I’m ready then, and I’m not holding back this time. Do you want this as much I do?”

  “More than you know. ” He kicks off his pants and boxers, then covers the floor with our clothes before he lowers me to the floor. “You really sure you’re ready for this?” he asks, his face full of vulnerability and emotion.

  I nod.

  “I love you, mi chava,” he whispers in my ear as we move together as one. “I’ll always love you, no matter what happens, okay?” He brushes the hair off my face. His intense, soulful eyes pierce mine as we cling desperately to each other. He stills. “If I die tomorrow, move on. Promise me you’ll move on. ”

  Tears sting my eyes. “I won’t let you die, Luis. ”

  “Promise me, Nik. For me. Come on, if you love me …”

  He knows his life is in grave danger. I can feel his tension, his pain … his sorrow.

  I try to hold back tears, but they won’t stop. I grab on to him, clutching him to me … feeling the love flow between us … a forever bond that defies explanation.

  Afterward, we lie together and watch the moonlit waves way into the night. I don’t want to sleep, but I curl into his warmth and my eyelids grow heavy.

  “You can change your destiny, Luis,” I say before I fall asleep. “If anyone can do it, you can. ”

  I don’t wake up until the sun shines through the wooden slats of the roof. Luis is writing something in candle wax on the wall beside me.

  It’s a heart with initials inside: LF + NC.

  “Hey,” I say.

  He looks at me and smiles. “Hey. You sleep okay?”

  “Real good. I like sleeping in your arms. ”

  “Do your parents know you were with me?”

  I shake my head. “No. ”

  He sighs heavily. “They don’t want you with someone like me. They’re right, you know. I’m not innocent, Nikki. And I’m afraid that I’m in too deep to get out. ” He crouches beside me and gently touches my cheek with his fingers. “God, how I wanted last night to go on forever. But it can’t. ”

  “You’re talking like this is the end. ”

  “It might be. It involves a lot of money, and I’m in the middle of it. People have died for less money. ”

  “I’m not letting you die,” I tell him. I’ll find some way to help him.

  “I wish it was that simple. ” He squeezes his eyes shut. “I’ve got to go. I can’t stall any longer. ”

  I put on all my clothes and stand up. “I’m going with you, then. We’re in this together. ”

  He smiles. “I won’t let you. You know that. I’m not puttin’ you in danger. I can’t call the cops, I can’t tell my brothers … I’m on my own here. ”

  Tears stream down my face as I reach up and kiss his cheeks, his eyelids, his warm lips. “I have complete faith in you and I love you no matter what. Remember that, okay?”

  He nods. “You make me believe in the impossible. ”

  We hold each other for a long time, until he tells me he’s got to go. As I watch him drive away, I know what I need to do. He might not think I can help him, but I need to try. I drive over to Marco’s house, hoping it’s early enough that he’s home.

  He answers the door, surprised to see me. “What do you want?”

  “I need you to help Luis. ”

  “Chuy ordered everyone away from the warehouse when he meets with Luis. That usually means he wants no witnesses. I can’t do anythin’ to change it. ”

  I grab his shirt when he starts to close the door on me. “You can’t just sit back and let Luis get hurt. ”

  He shrugs out of my hold. “It’s not in my hands, Nik. ”

  “So you’re not going to help him?”

  “I value my life, Nik. If I go against Chuy, I’m dead. I’m playin’ both sides, waitin’ for someone to go down. If the F5 are standin’ at the end, I’m with them. If Chuy is on top, I’m with the LB. ”

  I slap him. “You’re nothing but a coward. How can you stand by, knowing that your friend’s life is in danger?”

  “It’s simple. I’m lookin’ out for number one, baby. Me. ”

  49

  Luis

  Granny hadn’t wandered off last night. I was late meeting Nikki because I was over at Derek’s house. After he’d given me the letter from Nikki, I asked him if I could use the Internet at his house. It was a good thing my brothers didn’t question me.

  Within forty-five minutes, I’d had the answer I was looking for. The numbers I’d written on my hand and memorized were the bank routing and account number. The bank where Hector stashed the money is in the Grand Cayman Islands. The second I typed the password CODEOFSILENCE and the amount was displaye
d on the screen, I almost fell off my chair.

  Six million, three hundred thousand. Dollars.

  I had to refresh the screen a bunch of times to make sure it was right. And then looked at the name on the account just to make sure I read it right. Luis Salvatore Martinez Fuentes.

  Whether I give Chuy the money or refuse to, my life is in danger.

  After I left Derek’s house, I went to Nikki. I had no intention of making love to her last night. I went to her hoping to convince her that I’d given her up for good. I wanted to be an ass, to make it easier for her to move on and forget about me. I was going to tell her I was into Mariana, but the lie couldn’t come out of my mouth.

  Because I love the girl.

  This morning I was tempted to ask her to run away with me and never look back. But I can’t. I had to leave Nikki. Her mom thinks I’m not good enough. I don’t want to prove her right.

  I head for the LB warehouse, ready to face Chuy. I may not be the guy Nikki deserves, but I’m sure as hell not the guy Chuy wants me to be … I’m not Hector, and never will be.

  I’m Luis Fuentes. Nikki had complete faith in me that I could fix this. I’m still skeptical, but I figure my odds are best if I take a chance on trusting the one person who might be the enemy. I pull out my cell and dial the number to Officer Reyes.

  “This is Reyes,” he answers.

  I take a deep breath. “It’s Luis Fuentes. I know you want to bust Chuy Soto, and I can help you. Before I do, I need to know if you want to ruin him because you’re a cop, or because you’re Fremont 5. ”

  “What the hell are you talking about?” he asks. The tension in his voice carries through the line.

  “Reyes, I know mi’amá trusts you. But I saw your F5 tattoos, and I have to know if you’re playin’ us. Are you just a cop as a cover, so you can provide inside info to your crew?”

  “Luis, I’m not hiding anything from anyone. I used to be an F5 back in high school. I was in so fucking deep. ” He pauses, his voice flooding with anger. “Until my best friend got killed by a crackhead in a dirty alley in the city in a drug deal that went bad. His life was worth so much more than the payday the gang scored. That day I promised myself I’d find a way out … and when I did, I became a cop so I could stop other kids from making the same mistakes me and my friends did. I’ve tried to bring down Soto, but he knows how to cover his tracks. Come to the station and you can tell me what you know. ”

  I can’t be sure he’s telling me the truth, but my gut tells me to trust the guy. His story hits close to home. “I can’t come to the station, ’cause something’s goin’ down right now,” I tell him. “Just tape the conversation I’m about to have and you’ll get all the dirt to put him away for a long time. ”

  “Don’t do anything stupid,” Reyes starts to say, but I turn off the sound and stick the phone in my back pocket.

 
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