One year ago this month, Gallery had the pleasure of beginning to work with S.C. Stephen’s Thoughtless series, featuring the much beloved couple Kellan and Kiera. To thank all of her fans for their support, she rewrote a scene from Thoughtless in Kellan’s POV. Presenting it here from her original Fiction Press posting, we give you…
I pushed Kiera away from me and twisted to blend into the bumping and gyrating crowd. My lips burned with the loss of her, my body ached, but over her shoulder I’d noticed Denny returning, and he couldn’t see this. He couldn’t catch us. I wouldn’t let that happen. He deserved better than walking in on us.
I found a nearby spot in the jam-packed crowd where I could watch Kiera without her seeing me. Her cheeks were flushed, her breath fast, her eyes blazing with desire. For me. But was desire enough for her to leave him? For her to choose me? Hands brushed over my back, girls giggled in my ear, asking me to dance, but I ignored them as I watched the confusion blossom over Kiera’s face. She honestly had no idea why I’d shoved her away from me.
She figured it out two seconds later when Denny approached her from behind. She spun to face him and I held my breath. This was it, the moment of truth. She was either going to fess up to him right now and tell him she had feelings for me, or she was going to brush aside what had happened between us. Again. And I would know, without a doubt, that I really didn’t mean as much to her as she meant to me.
I was almost too scared to watch what she would do, but I couldn’t turn away either. Please tell him you want me. Please come find me. Please choose me, Kiera. Please. Mere seconds passed before she acted, but within those seconds, a lifetime of hope blossomed within me.
It evaporated the moment her hands grabbed Denny’s face and brought his lips down to hers. I felt like I’d been socked in the gut with a concrete two by four. Multiple times. I couldn’t breathe right as I watched her attack him. He seemed startled at first by her assault, but he eagerly returned her affections once he recovered. I didn’t blame him. She was kissing him with no reservations, no inhibitions, just pure undiluted desire. It was the same way she’d been kissing me, just a few minutes ago. How could she do that to me? How could she switch gears so fast? Or had she? Was she still kissing me right now, in her head? Had I just turned her on, then handed her to my best friend? Oh…God…
Much to my continued horror, they broke apart for a split-second, but only so she could lean up and whisper something into his ear. Whatever it was, by the look on Denny’s face, it was something he wanted. He wrapped his arm around her waist, flashed his eyes around the club, then started leading her through the crowds. Fuck, were they leaving? Did she ask him to take her home? To…to…
I couldn’t even finish that thought.
As she stepped away from me, I stepped towards her. No. No, this wasn’t what was supposed to happen. We’d had such a profound connection on that dance floor. She was supposed to have an epiphany, realize how much she loved me, leave him…and go home with me. She was supposed to choose me. Why did she never choose me?
They were hurrying out of my sight. Panic made me continue to weave through the crowd, following them. They couldn’t go home together. They couldn’t…not while she was so riled up. Over me. I’d turned her on to the point where she was bursting. She’d nearly stripped me on the dance floor she’d wanted me so much. That had to mean something. But she was still leaving with him. Why the hell was she still leaving with him? I wanted to shout her name, tell her to come back, but I was just too afraid to open my mouth. I might be sick if I did.
“Kellan, there you are!”
Hands clamped around my arm, holding me in place in the sea of reveling dancers. I looked down at Anna beside me. The brunette vixen was giving me an expression I knew very well—Take me somewhere, anywhere, and I’ll do things to you that you didn’t even know were possible. But she wasn’t the one I wanted exploring my body, my soul, and I just didn’t have it in me to return her seductive gaze.
Keeping my face blank, I leaned down to her ear. “I want to leave. You ready?”
Her eyes blazed with interest as she nodded. She probably took my question as an invitation, but it wasn’t. I just couldn’t stay in this thumping, pounding, sweaty mess of people anymore. I needed space, I needed to be alone. I needed to sit somewhere and quietly fall apart.
“Should we tell Denny and Kiera goodbye?” she asked above the music.
I shook my head, to answer her and to clear the horrid visual of Kiera kissing Denny from my mind. “They just left.”
“Without saying goodbye to me? Interesting.” Anna gave me a knowing smirk, like she knew exactly why her sister had taken off without even finding her first. Her smile made me even more nauseous.
Needing out of that damn club, I grabbed her hand and pulled her through the throngs of people. I purposely avoided following the same path Denny and Kiera had used. I just couldn’t take it. When we got outside, I inhaled deep breaths. It didn’t help clear my head much. I still felt really sick, and there was an ache in my chest that wouldn’t go away. I felt like I was slowly losing my mind.
From beside me, Anna giggled. I looked over at her, wondering if she could sense the despair emanating from me. She didn’t seem to. Her emerald eyes were fixated on my chest; my shirt was still almost completely unbuttoned. A chill went through me that had nothing to do with the icy wind on my skin. “You get hot in there?” she husked.
Dropping her hand, I hastily redid the buttons. I didn’t want to be reminded of Kiera’s fingers on my body. Or on Denny’s body, which was probably where her fingers were right now. God, I was going to be sick.
“Something like that,” I told her as I hurried toward my car; Anna had to run to catch up to me. I noticed the absence of Denny’s car, and I had to hold my hand against my stomach so I didn’t lose it all over the concrete.
Anna was panting a little when she stepped up to the passenger’s side of my Chevelle. “Where’d you go anyway? When I got back from the bathrooms, you were just…gone.”
I glanced at her over the top of the car and she shrugged. When she’d left me alone, I’d lost control and stalked Kiera. She’d been alone too, dancing, and I hadn’t been able to resist joining her. The image of rubbing up against her back leapt uninvited into my head, quickly followed by the image of her mouth all over Denny’s. “Needed a drink,” I muttered, opening the car door.
Anna’s brow furrowed as I darted inside the safety of my vehicle. I did not want to think about what happened tonight. I did not want to think about what was happening right now. I did not want to think. Period. Anna got into the car while I started it. I debated what to do, where to go. We definitely couldn’t go home. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to go back home. Anna looked at where Denny’s car had been parked earlier. She opened her mouth like she was going to make a comment. Knowing it would be something suggestive about Kiera and Denny, I beat her to the punch.
“Denny and Kiera need…alone time…so how about I take you to a friend’s house…so they can have some privacy?” I was pretty proud of myself for saying it; my voice had only moderately cracked on Kiera’s name.
Anna was one of those girls who were up for absolutely anything, so she eagerly nodded as she stretched her long legs out in front of her. Devouring me with her eyes, she stated, “Anything you want to do is fine with me.”
I paused with my hands on the wheel and looked over at her. She resembled Kiera so much it was painful. Same thick brown hair, same expressive eyes, same curving smile. But Anna’s looks were an overdone version of her sister’s natural, effortless beauty. Everything about Anna screamed Look at me! Especially right now, when she clearly wanted me to notice her. She was biting on her plump bottom lip, slightly squirming in her seat as she gave me ‘I want you to fuck me’ eyes. I could have her if I wanted. I could probably take her right here in this crowded parking lot. I could lay her down on the bench seat, hike that short dress all the way up her thighs and bury myself between her legs. I could shove the image of Kiera and Denny from my mind by wrapping myself around another woman. It would feel good, really good. Much better than the shitstorm that was swirling in my stomach right now. I could have fun. I could forget. I just didn’t want to. And…I’d promised Kiera I wouldn’t. I wasn’t sure if I still owed Kiera anything or not…but, well, I had promised her, and I was going to keep that promise.
Turning my gaze to the windshield, I muttered, “We’ll go to Matt and Griffin’s house. They won’t mind if we just show up.”
Anna let out an excited giggle as I pulled the car away from the club. “All right. Sounds like fun.”
On the drive over, she scooted all the way over the seat to sit by my side. Her closeness reminded me of Kiera. Everything reminded me of Kiera. Anna put her hand on my thigh as she leaned into me. I minutely leaned away from her, leaning my elbow on the door. It wasn’t a big enough move that she would notice and be offended, but it was far enough from her that I felt like we had a little space between us. Her hand slipped up my thigh, resting just centimeters from my crotch. I adjusted how I was sitting, hoping she’d get the hint and remove her hand. I just wasn’t in the mood. Not for her hand anyway.
My fidgeting didn’t seem to make much of an impression on her. She crossed and uncrossed her legs, her skirt inching up as she did. When I made the mistake of glancing at her lap, I saw the space she’d left between her thighs; it was just enough room for my hand to slide all the way up. She was allowing me access to touch her, if I wanted. All I could think of was Kiera though. Denny was touching her. Right now.
Sickened, I kept my eyes firmly glued on the road. Anna sang along to the song on the radio and idly twirled a lock of hair around her finger. Her voice soothed me some, but her hand on my thigh wasn’t quite done exploring. I felt her pinky run up and down the outside of my zipper. I kept my face as even as possible, not encouraging the movement. I suppose I wasn’t discouraging it either though. Oddly enough, my thoughts were back on Kiera as Anna touched me through the denim. Kiera would never make such a bold move. She’d be blushing like a mad woman at just the thought. I wondered if she was touching Denny right now…
Anna snapped me out of my nightmare by switching from her pinky to her first two fingers. She used a lot more pressure, and a lot longer strokes. I was certain she was just a few minutes away from giving me a hand job if I didn’t do something to stop her. In as nonchalant way as I could, I over exaggerated reaching for the stereo; I successfully knocked her hand off of my lap in the process. “I like this song,” I explained, as I turned the radio up. When I returned my hand, I placed it near my groin. She couldn’t touch me if I was touching me.
Anna didn’t seem to know what to do with my cockblock, so she placed her hands in her lap and started a conversation about how cute Kiera and Denny were together. Ugh, God, I couldn’t even escape them when I tried to. And, even worse, I couldn’t tell her not to talk about it. All I could do was nod and say, “Yeah, they’re perfect for each other,” and wish I could pull my ears off of my head so I didn’t have to hear Anna agree with me.
By the time we arrived at Matt’s, I was done with my evening.
I knocked on the front door after seeing both Matt and Griffin’s cars in the driveway. I didn’t know what they’d been doing tonight, but hopefully they were coherent enough to help me entertain Anna. She shifted her weight and rubbed her arms while she waited. I wasn’t sure if she was actually cold, or if she wanted me to put an arm around her like I had earlier. I wasn’t in the mood to be gentlemanly though, so I simply stared at the door and left her to her own devices.
The door cracked open a heartbeat later and Matt’s face appeared in the opening. He didn’t seem surprised to see me; I often showed up with no warning. He simply said, “Hey,” and opened the door all the way. As Anna and I stepped through, Matt raised his hand in greeting to her. “Hey, Anna.” Matt looked behind us, but not seeing anyone else, he shut the door. Nope. No other Allen sisters were with me tonight. She was with Denny, being screwed out of her mind.
“You have any beer?” I asked him.
He nodded towards the kitchen in answer. I turned to leave, then looked back at Anna. I suppose I should be cordial, since she was sort of my date. “You want one?”
Anna was busy taking in Matt and Griffin’s home, but she paused to look at me when I asked my question. “I’d love one,” she responded, her eyes trailing down my body. I resisted the urge to sigh. I just did not feel like being checked out right now.
Matt extended his hand to the living room for Anna while I headed into the kitchen. While I was walking, I heard Griffin’s voice floating down the hallway. “Who the hell is here? And when the hell are we going to that party at Rain’s? We should’a just headed straight there from Pete’s, like Evan did. But, no, pissy boy needed to come home and change. Pansy. It’s not like I knocked that beer into your lap on purpose!”
I smirked, knowing Griffin wouldn’t leave the house once he realized Anna was here. He probably wouldn’t leave her lap. Opening Matt’s fridge, I found a pack of beer that I liked and grabbed a couple of bottles for Anna and me. I popped open the tops and headed back out to the living room. As predicted, Griffin was all over Anna. Standing well inside her personal space, he was smiling down at her and playing with a strand of her bright red hair.
Not really wanting to interrupt them, I handed Anna her bottle as casually as I could. She still turned and looked at me though. “Thank you, Kellan.”
She winked at me and Griffin frowned. If he didn’t get into her pants tonight, I’d never hear the end of it. And if he did get into her pants tonight, I’d never hear the end of it. I was fucked either way. And I really didn’t give a shit. Wanting alone time with my bottle, I collapsed on the far end of the couch.
Matt looked at me, then at Griffin. “We were just about to head out. You guys want to come?”
I shook my head—I did not want to go hang out with a bunch of random drunk people. I wanted to stay here, sipping on my beer in solitude. Or as close to solitude as I could currently get.
Before I could vocalize my objection, Griffin piped up. “Nah, let’s bag that shit. Here’s cool.” His eyes returned to Anna’s chest. Anna looked over at me, maybe for guidance, since we were kind of together tonight, but I ignored her and stared at the condensation droplets on my sweaty bottle. Was Kiera sweaty right now? Oh God…why did I have to think that?
When Anna spoke, she didn’t seem bothered in the slightest that I was being an uncommunicative date. “Sounds like fun. I’d love to keep dancing though. Can you turn on some music?”
I watched Matt shrug and grab the remote to his sound system. Thumping bass hit me a minute later and I almost put my hands over my ears. God, I never wanted to listen to club music again. All I could think about was Kiera’s hips grinding against mine. I almost asked Matt to change it, but to what? Ballads? No. Hell no. Pop? Rap? Freaking polka? What difference would changing the style make? Ninety percent of songs were about relationships, and I didn’t want to hear any of them. At least the pounding music he’d turned on didn’t have lyrics. I was grateful for that.
Matt turned on the TV to some sports recap, minus the sound, and sat back into his chair. His foot on his knee rocking with the music, he alternated between halfheartedly watching the television and watching Anna and Griffin. Anna laughed and giggled, drinking her beer and bumping her hip into Griffin’s. She looked over at me every few minutes; a couple of times she even extended her hand, like she wanted me to join them. I always dropped my eyes when she did. I couldn’t dance. Not tonight. Not anymore.
When I stood, Anna’s eyes lit up, but when I walked past her to get another beer, her expression hardened. She stopped trying after that, and fully gave herself over to the D-Bag desperately trying to get her attention. When I was halfway through my second beer, they were halfway down each other’s throats. Still laughing and giggling, Anna scratched and clawed at Griffin in a way that only amplified my pain. That had been Kiera earlier, when she’d been ardently attacking me. Undressing me. Wanting me. God, why did she go home with him?
Inevitably, Griffin pulled Anna towards the hallway, towards his bedroom. She went willingly, with a huge smile on her face. Maybe because I’d been ignoring her ever since I arrived here, she didn’t even look my way when she took off to be with another man. Wasn’t that fitting? Everybody else in the world was having sex tonight but me. And Matt. But he didn’t seem as pissed about that as I was.
The minute Griffin and Anna were gone, I motioned to the music. “I think they’re done with that now.”
Matt clicked it off, then turned the volume on the TV up. As best we could, we tried to drown out the sound of light banging and laughter that was coming from Griffin’s room with sports stats and kitschy theme music. I didn’t even like watching sports, but I kept my eyes glued to the screen. I didn’t want Griffin and Anna’s noises to remind me of Kiera and Denny, and how Denny was probably driving into Kiera right now. Jesus. No, no they had to be done by now. God, that thought did not help my stomach at all.
“You okay, Kell?” Matt asked from the chair.
I finished my beer and looked over at him. “Yeah, why?”
He indicated the hallway leading to the bedrooms with a lopsided grin on his face. “You don’t usually let Griffin get the girl.”
Even though Griffin had music playing in his room, Nine Inch Nails’s Closer from what I could tell—classy—I could clearly hear Anna saying, “Oh my fucking God, yes…fuck yes!” I did not want to think about what he was doing to make her say that. But thinking about Griffin getting off was better than thinking about Denny getting off, so I actually smiled at Matt.
“Every dog has his day,” I told him.
Matt snorted, then leaned over and bumped fists with me. As I got up to get another beer, he said, “I’m gonna need a drink for this. Grab me one, will ya?”
I nodded as I headed for the other room. Anna’s groans grew more pronounced the further from the TV I got. “Oh God, Griffin. Fuck…me…yes!”
I quickly grabbed Matt and me some beers. When I got back to the living room, I saw that Matt had changed the TV to an action movie—The Matrix. It was blaring really loudly now, but I could still hear muffled moans and groans from down the hall. I ignored it and focused on the movie, and on my beer. I really didn’t care what the fuck Anna and Griffin did, or the fact that it took them over two hours to do it.
When the movie ended, they were still finishing up. “Holy Jesus, fuck yes, don’t fucking stop, so fucking good, oh my God, God, yes, yes, fuck yes, right there!” The sounds after that were highly complimentary, and then, blessed silence. Thank God.
Matt looked over at me with disgust on his face. “Jesus. Think we ought to get him an ice pack?”
A small laugh escaped me, which was saying something, considering how crappy I felt. Glancing at all of the beer bottles on Matt’s coffee table, I told him, “I don’t think my date is leaving anytime soon, and I don’t think I can drive. Mind if we crash here tonight?”
Yawning, Matt stood and clapped my shoulder. “Of course not, man. Me casa is su casa, you know that.”
I raised my bottle to him. “Thanks.”
He idly scratched his chest as he set down his empty beer. “Now that the jackrabbits are done humping, I’m going to bed. See ya in the morning.”
I nodded and watched him walk away. More giggling started up from Griffin’s room. I groaned as I finished my beer. This was going to be the longest fucking night on earth.
I awoke sometime the next morning with a knot in my back like I’d slept on a rock. Much to my dismay, I woke up to the sound of people screwing. Are you fucking kidding me? Are they still going at it, or did they wake up early to start again? I put the couch pillow over my head. It was way too fucking early for this crap.
From down the hall, I heard Matt yell, “Will you two shut the fuck up!” Guess I wasn’t the only one irritated.
Deciding now was as good a time to get up as any, I slunk off the couch and schlepped to the kitchen to make some coffee. At least that was one thing I could look forward to today. As I poured water into the machine, I wondered if I could go back to my house. I knew I had to, I had to take Anna back there, but the thought of walking through the doors and seeing Denny and Kiera beam at each other as they remembered their epic night of cosmic orgasms was enough to make my stomach clench. I didn’t want to see their dopey, love-filled smiles. Especially knowing that I had primed Kiera for their night. I got her ready. I got her all hot and bothered. I practically gift-wrapped her for him. Fuck, that pissed me off.
Making the coffee extra strong, since I was feeling beyond sluggish, I decided to not go back into my house today. I’d do a drive-by. From down the hall, Anna agreed with my decision. She was shouting, “Yes, yes, yes!” with absolute abandon. Good. My mind was made up then. I wasn’t going home today.
By the time Griffin and Anna were done “getting to know each other,” it was close to lunchtime. Griffin’s room stank like sex when they walked out of it. Both of them were disheveled, blurry-eyed, and walking a little funny. I wasn’t surprised. Marathon sex will do that to you.
Not really wanting to leave, I waited for Anna at the front door. She was still dressed in her club clothes, and Griffin had his hand up her short dress as he hugged her goodbye. When she pulled back, he cupped her face and kissed her, hard. “I wish you were in town another night,” he told her. That shocked me. Griffin wasn’t one to do repeat performances. Not that I was one to talk. I didn’t very often either. Guess all of the “Fuck me harder” screams had made an impression on him.
Breathless, Anna murmured, “I know, me too. I’d love to fucking do that again.”
Griffin tilted his head towards his bedroom. “So let’s go do it again.”
Biting her lip, Anna sighed and shook her head. “Can’t. I have a flight today, and I really should spend some time with my sister while I’m here.” Smiling, she added, “But I’ll send you pictures for your spank bank when I get home.”
Griffin groaned and dove in for her mouth again. “I’m going to be spanking for the next three days straight thinking about you.”
I rolled my eyes. I hated to break up this love fest, but I really didn’t want to hear about Griffin jacking off anymore. “Ready, Anna?”
Reluctance clear on her features, she looked back at me with a sigh. That was a far cry from yesterday, when she was practically licking me with her eyes. “Yeah, I guess so.”
Finally able to get some sleep, Matt was snoring as we left the house. Griffin was scratching his junk, or prepping himself for a marathon solo session. Okay, now I did want to get out of here. Griffin met eyes with me after Anna walked through the door and mouthed, “Unfucking believable.” Then he flashed his fingers twice, counting to ten. Yeah, thanks, genius. I already figured it out that she was pretty spectacular from the massive amount of expletives coming from your room.
I sniffed as I followed behind Anna to my car. Where the hell was I going to go? What the hell was I going to do? And how long could I avoid my home? Unfortunately, not nearly long enough. But I could at least avoid it today. I could at least avoid the afterglow. Kiera’s, that was. Anna’s was impossible to ignore. She was fanning herself when I climbed into the car. Even though I was not having a good morning, I smiled at her. “Have fun last night?”
Rubbing her legs together, she let out a long groan. “Oh my fucking God, Kellan. I have not come that hard, that many times…ever.” Eyes blazing with residual desire, she said, “Griffin’s dick is pierced. You ever had sex with someone with a piercing?”
I couldn’t help but smirk. She was so different than Kiera in so many ways. “Not with a guy, no, but, uh…yeah, I’ve done piercings.”
She raised a knowing eyebrow at me. “Then you know exactly how I feel right now.”
I shook my head at her as I started the car. No, I was pretty sure I didn’t know exactly how she felt right now…the subject in question was Griffin after all…but I could imagine she felt pretty great. Me, on the other hand, I felt like shit. And I felt like even deeper shit the closer we got to my house. When we got to my street, I seriously thought I might roll down the window, lean over, and vomit. I couldn’t stand being here, especially with the sounds of Anna’s epic fuck fest last night echoing through my head. Had Kiera and Denny filled my home with similar sounds? Maybe one of my helpful neighbors would comment about how “happy” my house had sounded. God, I couldn’t even handle that thought, let alone that actual conversation.
When we got to my driveway, I didn’t pull in. Instead, I pulled up to the curb. Staring at Denny’s car in the drive, I told Anna, “I have to meet a friend. I forgot I told him I’d swing by.”
Anna frowned as she rolled her head my direction. “Oh, okay. Well, have fun.” Sitting up, she winked at me. “But not as much fun as I’d have.”
Leaning over the steering wheel, I gave her a genuine smile. “I doubt I could, Anna. Have a safe flight back home.”
Her pout returned as she flung her arms around my neck. “I’m going to miss it here. But I’ll be back, I’m sure.” After she pulled away, she poked her finger into my chest and said with a stern expression, “You be good to my sister, okay?”
My smile froze as ice shot through my veins. What did she mean by that? Did she suspect something? Fuck, what do I say to her? Playing it cool, even though my heart was cracking wide open and spilling all over my leather seats, I coyly told her, “I’m good to everybody.”
She smacked my thigh. “Yeah, that’s what I hear. Bye, Kellan.”
“Goodbye, Anna,” I said, as she gave me a light kiss on the cheek. Behind her, the house my parents had left me loomed in my vision. Even though it seemed bright and cheery, it wasn’t. It was deceitfully cold, bitter, heartbreaking. No love lived there. Not for me.
I waited two seconds for Anna to get out of the car, then I punched it and stormed off down the tight street. I couldn’t handle looking at my house anymore.
I drove to Evan’s. I didn’t even think about it. I just hopped on the freeway and that’s where I ended up. When I pulled up to his loft above the auto body shop, his car was in his parking space. I briefly considered turning around, finding a liquor shop that was still open, and buying a fifth of Jack, but I was already here…might as well go inside. The auto body shop beneath his loft was closed, since it was Sunday. Unfortunately, that meant the liquor shops were closed too. Once I’d realized where I was going, I’d briefly considered turning around and picking up a fifth of Jack before I’d remembered that I couldn’t. And besides, I was sure Evan would have something to drink. God, all of this heartache crap was quickly turning me into an alcoholic.
I rapped on Evan’s door as I looked across the dreary landscape. The clouds hanging low in the sky were thick and unwelcoming. They promised a deluge in the near future. Their ominous presence matched my mood. One thing about Seattle, it was the perfect place to be if you were in a bad mood.
Evan cracked open his door a few moments later. Like Matt, he merely opened the door wider for me. “Hey, man. What ‘cha up to?”
I shrugged as I walked through his door. “Nothing much. Want to go over melodies for that new bit we’re working on?”
Evan instantly perked up. “I was just talking to Rain about that last night. I think I came up with something that really works with the lyrics you gave me. Here, have a listen.”
It was well past ten o’clock before I knew it. That was one of the great things about hanging out at Evan’s—time flew by as we got ourselves wrapped up in the music that grounded our lives, gave us each meaning. Purpose. And Evan was right, the new beat he’d dreamt up matched my moody lyrics perfectly. He certainly had a gift for harmonic arrangements. He didn’t get enough credit for everything he did for the band. One of the unfortunate side effects of being the lead singer—everyone tended to focus on me and ignore the others. But they were just as important as me. More so. Sometimes I wished I could turn my spotlight more on them, but I knew I had a role to play. And I played it well.
When things were winding down for the night, I remembered the horror that awaited me back home. Denny and Kiera. Mr. and Mrs. Perfect Fucking Relationship. I still wasn’t ready to face them, to face what I couldn’t ever have. Evan and I had been sipping on rum and Cokes all evening. Hating myself for being a coward, but needing an excuse to stay at Evan’s, I purposely knocked my glass to the floor. I forced a laugh from my body. “Sorry, man, guess I had more than I thought.”
Evan grabbed my glass, while I wiped up the liquid with a nearby towel. “Don’t worry about it. You wanna crash here?” he asked, concern in his eyes.
I leaned my head back on the couch. I was seriously losing it. I’d been wearing this outfit for twenty-four hours, I still had the damn club spikes in my hair, and I was pretty sure I was starting to smell…but I just couldn’t go home yet. “Yeah, I suppose I should. Thanks.”
Evan clapped my shoulder. “Not a problem. I’ll grab you a blanket.”
An hour later, I was lying on Evan’s couch, staring at his ceiling, listening to him snore nearby, wondering if I was ever going to have the guts to go back home. When did my life turn into an endless cycle of running and hiding? God, I was pathetic. What the fuck did Kiera ever see in me? Obviously, nothing lasting.
I fell asleep with the memory of her breath washing over my skin.
When I woke up in the morning, I’d had enough of couch surfing. I needed an actual bed. And a shower. And clean clothes. After a couple of cups of coffee, I parted ways with Evan and wearily headed back home. I felt like I hadn’t slept at all the last two nights. I was pretty sure I could have added up the total hours I’d slept decently on one hand. My nerves spiked as I approached my house. I didn’t want Kiera to be there. And I did want her to be there. She had school today though, so she should be gone. I hoped. Sort of.
The driveway was empty when I got there, but that was to be expected. Denny was at work. I approached the home with tentative steps. I really hated how Kiera could make me reluctant to enter my own house. She had kept me away on more occasions than I cared to admit. I needed to stop letting her run my life. But I might as well ask to stop breathing. She was the lead ball in this Newton’s Cradle—the cause. I was the effect. I had no choice but to react to her.
My hand was shaking as I reached for the knob. I immediately pulled it back and clenched it into a fist to get the blood properly circulating. This was nothing. No big deal. If she was here…so what? We’d ignore each other, ignore all the hurt, pain, and heat between us until it blew up in our faces again. God, we needed to break this cycle. Even I knew that.
Annoyed, I grabbed the doorknob. It was locked. I almost sighed in relief. She wasn’t home. Digging in my pocket, I pulled out my keys and unlocked the door. A familiar smell hit me the moment I opened it. I paused as I absorbed the fragrance. I wasn’t sure exactly when it had happened, but at some point during her stay, her scent had permeated everything in my home. Or maybe that was all in my head. Who the fuck knew?
Shutting the door, I darted upstairs for the quickest shower known to man. I wanted out of this house. I purposely avoided looking at Denny and Kiera’s room. I didn’t think I’d be able to look at it again. What she’d done to him in there, while she pretended he was me, was going to dig and fester inside my brain like an incurable disease. Fuck, I didn’t want to be here. Heading to my room, I stripped bare and shuffled to the bathroom.
The hot water brought me a modicum of peace, but it wasn’t enough. Somewhere, deeply buried in my heart, I knew that the only thing that would bring me back to happiness was Kiera. I had to talk to her. I had to try to set things right. Get us back to the murky waters of friendship that we’d been wading in. But how did I do that? Especially when just the thought of seeing her made my stomach hurt.
I thought I’d feel more at ease once I was clean and redressed, but I really didn’t. Everything was just slightly off-kilter. Kiera wanted me, I know she did, but she went home with him. I didn’t understand why. I mean, I knew she didn’t want to hurt him, I didn’t either, but why was she so quick to hurt me? What the hell was I to her? Passion? Lust? Sex? Maybe what we had wasn’t as deep as I thought. And should I be surprised by that revelation? Hadn’t she told me as much? I’m attracted to you, but I feel nothing for you, Kellan.
Wondering if I was ever going to shake this fucked up mood I was in, I grabbed my guitar and headed back to Evan’s for rehearsal. I was going to be really early, but I didn’t care. I’d rather sit on his couch than mine.
Practice was so predictably normal that it brought me a small amount of numbness from the pain. Matt and Griffin argued over riffs, Evan wanted to try a key change. All in all, it was a fairly typical night. The only difference about it was when all of them universally wanted to go to Pete’s afterwards, and I inwardly cringed. Pete’s. My heaven and hell. I wanted to say no, wanted to bow out, but a large part of me wanted to go, and that part eventually won out. I wanted to see her. As painful as it was going to be, I’d missed her smile, her blush, and I knew I couldn’t go another night without seeing it. Without seeing her.
My heart was heavy on the ride over. I cranked the music up, trying to distract myself, but it wasn’t helping. Fuck. I had no idea how she’d react to seeing me after all this time, after how we’d parted ways. Would she be mad at me for crossing the line and kissing her at the club? Would she be mad at me for pushing her away? Would she be mad at me for staying away from the house? Or would she be fine. Happy. In love with her boyfriend.
God, I think I’d rather have her mad at me than have her be apathetic. At least anger would imply that she cared on some level.
I parked the car in my traditional spot and turned off the engine. Then I stared at the bar in the rearview mirror and waited. I wasn’t sure what I was waiting for, I just knew I couldn’t go in there yet. I wasn’t ready. The night at the club flashed through my mind—her fast breath on my skin, her eager mouth, searching tongue, her hands fisting in my hair. So much passion had been between us, we’d nearly ignited on the dance floor. That couldn’t have all been fake.
A bang on my window knocked my memories from my head. Griffin was standing at my door. Matt and Evan were a few feet behind him, waiting for me. Not eager to be here, I was the last one to arrive. Smirking, Griffin gestured at the mirror I’d been staring into. “You look great, princess. Get the fuck out of the car.”
Rolling my eyes, I cracked open my door. I could do this. I had to do this. I needed to see her, I needed to talk to her. It was the only way I could make any sense about what the hell had happened that night. After I shut my door, I slugged Griffin in the arm for his comment. He scowled and backed away from me. “Ease up, pissypants. It’s not my fault you didn’t get laid the other night.”
Grinning, he splayed open his fingers as he walked backwards to the double doors looming in the distance. He’d been smiling in that self-satisfied way ever since Anna had left. It was getting annoying. “Five, dude.”
Forcing my gaze away from the doors I did not want to go through, I met Griffin’s eager eyes. “What?”
“Fucking five, that’s how many times she made me come. And that doesn’t include the two times I jizzed the next morning.” He stumbled over a rock in the lot and nearly fell on his ass, but he saved himself at the last minute.
Grimacing, I walked around the klutz. I was getting really sick and tired of hearing about Griffin’s many orgasms. “Awesome,” I muttered. I’d already had a color commentary during the act, I didn’t need a play-by-play of it afterwards. I was ready for him to move on to someone else. Someone who didn’t remind me quite so much of Kiera.
Still wanting to brag, Griffin fell into step behind me. “Fuck, it was unbelievable. The things that girl can do. It’s too bad for you that she chose me, man. Not that I blame her, but you seriously missed out.”
Evan was walking beside me, Matt was walking a step behind Griffin. He snorted at Griffin’s comment. “Are you serious? She totally wanted Kellan, but he turned her down. You were runner-up, dude.”
I looked back just in time to see Griffin’s dumbstruck expression. “You smoking crack there, ‘cuz? She was all over me, hot to trot. She even told me that she’d been wet for me since the first time we met.”
A knowing smile on his lips, Matt flicked a glance at me. “When you first met? You mean, when she was practically giving Kellan a lap dance, and she barely acknowledged your existence? That first time?”
Griffin barged past me, knocking into my shoulder in his frustration. “You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.”
Matt was laughing as he hurried to catch up to him. “Wait, Griff! Tell me again how much she wanted you! Was that before or after she was practically palming Kellan’s junk at the table?”
I shook my head at the pair of them as Evan laughed. Griffin walked through the front door first and the noise of the bar filtered out to me in the lot. I stumbled a step, then bent down and pretended like I was tying the shoelaces on my boot. Yeah, that was what I’d been reduced to: lame-ass stalling techniques. I couldn’t help it though, because, I swore I’d heard her voice in the cacophony of sound, and I just needed a minute to process it. The door opened again as Matt stepped through, and I listened with everything inside of me while I outwardly acted like I couldn’t have cared less. Was that her voice I heard? Fuck. Was I ready to see her?
Evan paused, like he was going to wait for me. “You okay?” he asked. His concerned brown eyes glanced between me and the doors I was having trouble entering.
I mentally double-checked my features, but I wasn’t making any strange, pain-filled expressions as I pretended to tie my shoe. All of my turmoil was internal. “Yeah,” I replied, standing. “Why wouldn’t I be?” As far as Evan knew, this was just another night at Pete’s. Nothing to write home about.
Evan studied my face. “I don’t know. You just seem…off. Have been all day.” He crooked a grin. “Maybe you’re still hung-over from last night? You did get pretty shitfaced.”
Even though ice filled my veins, I made myself smile. “Yeah, maybe that’s it. I do feel a little worn.” Emotionally worn. Physically I felt fine. Of course, I wasn’t really that drunk last night. Barely buzzing. I just hadn’t wanted to go home. Still didn’t. “Thanks again for letting me crash.”
He shrugged, but his expression was brimming with unasked questions. “Anytime, man.”
Determined to prove that everything was fine, that this was absolutely no big deal, and I could be in a room with her without it tearing me in two, I opened the door and walked into the bar before Evan. I tried not to look, but my eyes automatically scoped her out. She was back in the band’s section, but her eyes were glued to the door, like she was waiting for me to walk through them. God damn, she was beautiful. Her Pete’s shirt hugged her in ways that showed off every lean asset I loved, and her jeans sat low on her hips, teasing me with just an inch of skin. Her hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail that just about undid me every time I saw it. It reminded me of sex—wild, unrestrained, passionate sex. It made me want to yank the band out, grab a fistful, and pull her into me.
But no, that wasn’t what we were. She was Denny’s. She’d made that clear the other night. Our friendship would never cross that line again.
My stomach throbbed, but I forced the feeling down. It was just the way it was, no need to get an ulcer about it. My heart was pounding as we stared at each other. I couldn’t read her emotions. Knowing she couldn’t read mine either, I gave her a small nod and a smile. See, Kiera, I can play nice, even if you did rip my heart out. We can still have a friendship, although, just being friends with you kills me a little.
I thought Kiera would smile in return, maybe looked relieved that I wasn’t angry or hurt, but instead, she frowned at me and stormed away. What the hell? Was she mad at me? Why? I know I’d crossed the line, but it’s not like she hadn’t eagerly met me on the other side of it. I may have started it, but she’d revved it up and kept it going. After all, wasn’t she the one that undressed me?
Irritation bloomed in me the longer I watched Kiera working. She completely ignored me. And not in an aloof way like she just didn’t care. No, every look she wasn’t giving me was very deliberate. She wanted me to know she was fuming. I just had no idea why she was so angry. She wouldn’t even approach our table, which was probably a good thing, since Griffin was regaling some random guy next to us with sex stories about Anna. God, he was going to repeat that night to people for the next six months, I just knew it. Anna was now his number one “You’re not gonna believe this” story.
After twenty minutes of absolutely no service, Evan finally managed to flag Kiera down. She looked over at our table, blatantly ignoring me sitting at it, then rolled her eyes and headed up to the bar to get our drinks. She wouldn’t even fucking take our order? Why the hell was she so fucking mad at me? A little mad, sure, completely understandable, but this seemed over the top, even for her.
A few minutes later, she stormed to our table. Without a word, she slammed down a bottle of beer in front of each of us; a bit of foam frothed from the top of mine thanks to the force of the impact. I was a little surprised the bottle hadn’t broken. Still silent, she then twisted on her heel and strode away from the table as quickly as she possibly could.
Matt looked at Evan after she left. “What’s her problem today?” Both men then turned to look at me, like I was suddenly the keeper of Kiera’s mood swings.
I shrugged and grabbed my beer. “Don’t ask me. I’m not her boyfriend.” I didn’t mean to say it harshly, but it came out a little rough. While Evan frowned at me, I took a swig of my beer. Grimacing, I pulled it away from my lips and looked at the bottle. Diet beer? Really? I fumed in silence for a few seconds while the other guys drank their perfectly normal, calorie-laden alcohol. What. The. Hell.
A few minutes later, I noticed Kiera disappearing down the back hallway. Not able to stand her silent treatment for another second, I stood up with a screech and followed her. I was going to get my answers, and I was going to get them now. I caught up with her as she was coming out of the bathroom. By the look of shock and irritation on her face when she spotted me, she seemed like she wanted to dart inside the back room and hide. Fat chance that I’d let that happen though. Wherever she went right now, I was just going to follow her. I wasn’t leaving until she talked to me.
Maybe seeing that hiding was futile, she exhaled a frustrated sigh and tried to stalk past me. I grabbed her elbow. “Kiera…” Her hazel eyes burned with fire when she looked up at me. The heat in her glare stole my breath for a second. She jerked her arm away while her eyes continued drilling holes into my head. “We should talk…”
“Nothing to talk about, Kellan!” she bit out.
Wondering what the hell I had done to make her so mad at me, wondering why she hated me so much and loved him so much, and wondering why just the sound of her voice made my knees weak, I quietly told her, “I disagree.”
Leaning into me, she sneered, “Well…you can apparently do whatever you want!”
Her snotty attitude mixed with my pain and frustration. Even I could hear the sharpness in my voice as I responded to her. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means we have nothing to talk about,” she snipped, bumping into my shoulder as she brushed past me.
I let her go, more confused than ever. What the hell was that about? I didn’t feel any better about the situation. Or any clearer. And just when I thought we couldn’t get any more confusing.
By the end of the night, Kiera was still doing her damndest to ignore me. Equally amused and irritated by her avoidance, I didn’t try approaching her again. Maybe she just needed another day to cool off. I’d try again in the morning, over coffee. A pang went through me. Our morning coffee. I’d really missed that ritual. Hurt overshadowed the wistfulness. Was that all I was to her? A pretty face to look at while she sipped her morning joe? Was that why it was so easy for her to choose Denny?
People started filtering out as the bar started shutting down. Eventually, there were just a couple of regulars left, Kiera, Griffin, Evan, and me, and Evan was heading out the door with Cindy, the cute blonde that had been hitting on him all night. I leaned against a table with my arms folded across my chest, watching Kiera as she realized that she didn’t have a ride home. Guess in her pissy mood, she’d forgotten to line one up. I would take her, of course, if she wanted me to. We were still friends after all. And it’s not like it was out of my way.
Kiera sighed as she noticed the rain splattering on the sidewalk through the closing front door. She didn’t like being in the rain, so I knew she wouldn’t want to walk home. I wasn’t sure what she was going to do about her predicament. She glanced my way, but didn’t make a move towards me. No, instead, she shocked the living hell out of me by approaching my bassist. I couldn’t stop the grin that spread over my face. Really? You’d rather ride home with Griffin than me?
This should be interesting.
Kiera went for the casual approach. “Hi, Griffin.”
It immediately put Griffin on guard. Their relationship wasn’t exactly cordial. “Yeah? What do you want?” He smiled in a way that clearly said he was positive Kiera was about to ask if she could go down on him.
Kiera grimaced, but managed to remain polite. “I was hoping maybe you could give me a ride home?”
I barely contained my snigger. Oh God. You couldn’t ask Griffin something like that and not expect him to take it in the dirtiest way possible. Griffin’s brain had a permanent residence in the gutter. “Well, Kiera…I never thought you’d ask,” he cooed as he undressed her with his eyes. “I’d love to give you a ride…all the way home.”
And there it was. Typical Griffin answer. Kiera smiled with tight lips. “I literally meant a car ride to my house, Griffin.”
Fuck, my stomach was going to cramp from holding in the laughter. Why did she have to be so damn adorable?
Griffin didn’t find her nearly as amusing. “No sex?” he asked, disappointed.
Kiera shook her head so hard, I thought she might give herself whiplash. “No.” I could almost hear her brain adding the words ewwwwwww! It brightened my spirits some. Here, at least, was one man I would never have to worry about.
Offended, Griffin sniffed. “Well then…no. Get your no-sex ride with Kyle.”
I couldn’t stop the laugh then. Yeah…no sex. Kiera glanced my way again, then looked around the bar like she was searching for an escape. I approached her while she debated what to do. My heart started beating harder with every step. Even when I was hurt by her, she affected me.
“Would you like me to give you a ride?” I asked. I meant more with that simple question than she really understood. Choose me, Kiera. It’s not too late. It will never be too late.
She viciously shook her head, crossed her arms over her chest, and fled out the front doors. I guess I had my answer. She left in such a hurry, she forgot her jacket and her bag. Was I so awful to her that she had to run from me? I debated hurrying after her like some lovesick idiot, but what good would that do but get me soaking wet too. I couldn’t let her walk all the way home though; it wasn’t safe. And it was raining. She hated rain. I didn’t want her to suffer through it because of me. Damn it. I was going to have to collect her, and she probably wasn’t going to like that.
Sighing, I headed to the back room to get her stuff. Might as well get this over with.
By the time I was in my car and heading after Kiera, the rain was really starting to come down. I frowned as I searched the streets for her. She couldn’t walk home in this. She’d catch her death. Hopefully she hadn’t made it too far. God, I hoped she was all right.
Luckily, I spotted her right away; she was only about a block away from the bar. She looked like she was freezing as she clutched her arms to her chest, and she was already soaked. Was she really going to walk all the way home in this? Now she was just being ridiculous. She could ignore me in the car; at least she’d be dry. Why the hell was she so mad at me?
Pulling over to the curb, I kept pace with her on the sidewalk. Disbelieving her stubbornness, I leaned over and rolled down the window. “Get in the car, Kiera.”
She impaled me with her eyes. “No, Kellan.”
Gritting my jaw, I looked up. Lord, grant me patience to deal with this clearly unhinged woman. Looking back at her, I, as calmly as I could, said, “It’s pouring. Get in the car.”
God. She was going to be difficult about this then. Well, I could be just as difficult if necessary. There was no way in hell I was leaving her out here all alone. “I’m just going to follow you like this all the way home.” Go ahead, Kiera, call my bluff. Cause I’m not bluffing.
She seemed to realize that. With a huff, she stopped. “Go home, Kellan. I’ll be fine.”
I stopped the car and leaned on the steering wheel. Was she seriously going to be so pig-headed that she would risk her life to avoid me? This wasn’t exactly the best part of town. “You’re not walking all the way home by yourself. It’s not safe.”
Rolling her eyes, she started walking again. “I’ll be fine,” she repeated.
I watched her slim, shaking body walking away from me. Irritation clouded my concern. Fuck this shit. I’d drag her ass into the car if she wouldn’t go willingly. Grunting, I stepped on the gas and tore away from her. “Fucking, stubborn-ass woman,” I muttered as I jerked the car hard around a corner. Murmuring similar obscenities, I parked along the curb, shut off the car, rolled up the window, and got out.
Kiera gaped at me as I stormed towards her. Was she really surprised that I wasn’t going to let her either die of pneumonia, or be assaulted by some lowlife? What kind of unfeeling asshole did she think I was?
Even though I had my jacket on, I was drenched by the time I made it to where she was standing and staring at me. My anger rose with every step I took. Being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn was just stupid. It’s not like I was going to do anything to her if she got in the car. She’d made her choice quite clear at the club. She’d gone home with him. She wanted him. I got it. She’s in love with Denny. I already knew that anyway.
“Get in the damn car, Kiera,” I growled.
She yelled, “No!” then she actually shoved me away from her.
Fine. If she wanted to be difficult and immature, then I would do exactly what I’d planned on doing anyway. I’d drag her freaking, screaming ass to the car. Grabbing her elbow, I yanked her towards the Chevelle. Of course, she fought me. “No, Kellan…stop it!”
She tried to pull away from me, but I wasn’t about to let her go. I clamped on tight and pulled her to the passenger’s side. I could tell that she was furious that I was manhandling her, but I was getting a little ticked off too. Enough was enough. When I reached down and opened the car door, she managed to yank her arm away from me. Instead of being reasonable and getting into the warm, dry car, she started walking away from me. Jesus Christ, woman! Not letting her escape me, I looped my arm around her waist and held her to my chest. She kicked and squirmed as I lifted her off the ground, but she couldn’t get away from me. Her lean, wet body rubbing against mine did things to me, took me to a place that I did not want to go tonight. Why couldn’t I turn off what I felt for her? It would make my life so much easier.
I set her down near the open door, trapping her with my body so she couldn’t get away. “Stop it, Kiera—just get in the goddamn car!”
Her hazel eyes were alive with hatred as she glared at me. Hatred, and something else. Her chest was heaving, her Pete’s shirt clung to her body. The loose tendrils of her ponytail were dripping with heavy drops of rain; some of the lucky strands were glued to her flushed cheeks, her slender neck. My breath sped up as I watched this fiery, erotic beauty in front of me. Her passion brought me to my knees. I wanted her so much. Why couldn’t she just want me back?
Before I could truly comprehend what she was doing, she suddenly grabbed me. Twisting her fingers into my damp hair, she pulled my face down to hers. Her aggressiveness hurt some, but I was too intoxicated by her lips being a whisper apart from mine to care. God, yes…kiss me. Now. Please. I need it. I need you.
As if she could hear my silent plea, she attacked me with her mouth. Oh…God…yes. Just as I started to return her fevered kiss, she pulled away from me. Then, less than a heartbeat later, she slapped me.
My wet cheek stung with the force she’d used, my ear rang. Acting out of pure, reflexive shock, I pushed her into the car as anger burned through my cold body. What the fuck?
For a second, the only sound was our fast breaths and the rain pounding all around us. Kiera stared at me with angry lust in her eyes. She wanted me, I knew she did. I could feel the desire coming off of her in waves. I wanted her too. More than anything I wanted her. I was nearly hard, already. I wanted to lay her down in my seat, strip those wet clothes off of her damp body, and hear her scream my name as I drove into her. And she would. She would scream it over and over again as I kept her on the edge of climaxing. Maybe that’s how I would punish her for hurting me—physically and emotionally—I wouldn’t let her finish this.
My decision made, I grabbed her and slowly forced her into the front seat. She offered no real resistance. She tried to deny it, but she wanted me inside of her. Not giving her a chance to escape me, I climbed in after her. While I closed the door behind us, she started scooting up the bench seat, away from me, like she was actually going to leave. I don’t think so. Twisting back around, I grabbed her legs and pulled her back to me. Needing my body tangled up in hers, I forced her to her back on the seat as I crawled over the top of her. She pushed at my chest like she wanted me off of her, but her fingers had my shirt clutched in them and I knew she was full of shit. She wanted me.
“Get off me,” she snipped, her breath heavy, her eyes begging me to do the opposite.
Angry at her mixed signals, I wondered if her words and actions would ever come together. She wanted me…didn’t she? “No,” I told her.
Her hand reached out and grabbed my neck. She pulled me in while her words pushed me away. “I hate you…”
The look on her face made a throb pulse through my lower body. Fuck, I needed her. I needed to show her what she did to me, show her how much I wanted her. Maybe then she would stop denying this. I was rock hard now as desire, lust, and love waged war within me. I wrapped her legs around me and rubbed myself against her jeans. This is for you. Only you. This is what you do to me. What do I do to you? Show me… Take me… I’m yours, only yours. Why can’t you fucking see that?
Her eyes rolled back into her head as she gasped, panted. She wanted this so much. I knew she did. Bitterness surged through me. I was so tired of this cycle of denial. “That’s not hate you feel…” I sneered as she did her best to give me a cool glare. With a cruel smirk, I added, “And that’s not friendship either.” No, we’d past friendship a long time ago.
“Stop it…” Still fighting this, she wiggled her hips under me. It only made me want her more. Using her body for purchase, so she could feel how intense this would be, I slowly and deliberately rocked against her again. She cried out, arching her back as she looked at the door above her head. No, she needed to watch me. She needed to see what she was doing to me. I grabbed her cheek, forcing her head down, forcing her to look me in the eye. She didn’t like that.
“This was supposed to be innocent, Kellan!”she bit out, furious.
“We were never innocent, Kiera. How naïve are you?” I matched her tone. She couldn’t keep lying to herself.
Tears of frustration in her eyes, she whispered, “God, I hate you…”
God, she was stubborn. Whatever was between us, it wasn’t born from hate. “No, you don’t…”
I rocked against her faster. I bit my lip as a deep moan escaped me. I needed her. God, I needed her. Say yes, Kiera. Let me in. Even as a tear rolled down her cheek, she watched my reaction to her with intent eyes. “Yes I do…I hate you…” She could barely get the words out she was breathing so hard.
I pushed against her again, cringing as the sensation sent shockwaves through my body. Yes. God…yes. “No…you want me…” Her passion ignited a memory in me. The club. Her unrestrained need as we danced. That had been for me. Even she couldn’t deny it. “I saw you. I felt you…at the club, you wanted me.” I brought my mouth right over hers, inhaling her scent, her rapid breaths…sharing my own. It was only the beginning of what I was about to share with her. I could feel how much it excited her as she squirmed beneath me.
“God, Kiera…you were undressing me.” I grinned at the remembered feel of her fingers down my skin. I wanted them on me now. “You wanted me, right there in front of everyone.” Needing to taste her, I dragged my tongue along her jaw to her ear. “God, I wanted you too…” I moaned in her ear.
Her hands flew up to my hair, yanking me away from her. I hissed in a breath as my lower body begged to be set free. I rocked against her again, not sure how much more I could take. Stop fighting. Say yes.
“No, I chose Denny.” Ignoring her, I rubbed against her again. Harder. Faster. God, yes. Again. More. “I went home with him…” Oh God, Kiera, yes, fuck…yes. “Who did you choose?” she asked.
The vileness in her tone silenced my head, completely stilled my hips. A warning flashed in my brain. A warning, and a clue. What the hell did she mean by that? “What ?”
She hit my chest with every ounce of pent-up rage inside of her. “My sister, you asshole! How could you sleep with her? You promised me!”
In a microsecond everything snapped into place for me. That’s why she was pissed? Not because I’d crossed the line again. Not because she’d caved and given in to what she wanted. Not because I’d stayed away for days. No, because she thought I’d slept with Anna? Well, fuck me. She doesn’t get to be angry about that. Not when she left the fucking club with Denny. All bets were off the moment she tore my heart out and ripped it into bloody confetti. If I wanted to fuck Anna all night long, I had every right to.
Truly furious now, I said something rash, and horribly misleading. “You can’t be mad at me for that. You left to go screw him! You left me there…ready, wanting you…with her.” Further digging the knife into her back, I ran my hands in an intimate way up her hips and whispered, “And she was all too willing. It was so easy to take her…to slip inside her.” If she was going to be a bitch, than I would be her bastard.
The fury on her face was instant. And satisfying. I’d hurt her. Good. Now she truly knew how I felt, because she sure as fuck hurt me. She tried to smack me, but I’d anticipated that, and held her down. “You son of a bitch,” she snarled.
She was so mad, I thought the raindrops falling from my hair would sizzle when they touched her skin. It amped me up, excited me. The way her cheeks filled with color, the way her eyes danced—her jealousy was intoxicating. Smiling in a way that I knew would piss her off, I told her, “I know who I screwed, but tell me”—my mind spinning with heat, desire and passion, I lowered my lips to her ear—”who did you fuck that night?” I rocked against her as I said it, reminding her of our heated moment at the club, and emphasizing the fire between us right now. She groaned, sucked in a strained breath.
“Was he better…as me?” I continued. Returning my mouth to above hers, I flicked my tongue over her sweet, rain-dampened lip. “There is no substitute for the real thing. I’ll be even better…”
She didn’t. Instead, she spat, “I hate what you do to me.”
I watched her churning eyes. She was lying. At least in part. But I understood what she meant. I hated what she did to me sometimes too. But more than I hated it, I loved it. And I knew she felt the same. “You love what I do to you.” Remembering being inside of her, making her scream, I ran my tongue up her throat. “You ache for it.” I ache for it. I need you. “It’s me you want, not him.” Choose me. Love me. Show me. Right now.
I pressed my ache against her, needing her more than ever. She threaded her fingers through my hair…then rocked her hips in rhythm with mine. Oh. My. God…yes. I cried out in the same way she did. We needed this. We needed each other. Please, Kiera. Say yes. She moved in time with me. Our breaths picked up, our intensity picked up, the windows steamed up, and the car started gently rocking back and forth with our movements. God, yes, now, more.
Her fingers clawed at my jacket, wanting it off. I helped her remove it. Fuck yes. All of these layers between us need to come off. I want to be naked with you. I want to be bare. Her mouth came up to touch mine but I pulled away. It shot liquid fire down my groin to tease her. Fuck, yes. I wanted to tease her. Then satisfy her. She tried again but with her tongue and I pulled away again. I thought I was going to explode. I couldn’t tease her for long.
Kiera didn’t want to be teased right now. Frustrated, she raked her nails down my back. Fuck, it was the same way she had scratched me in the espresso stand, when she’d been coming. I nearly came as I remembered it. I dropped my head to her shoulder, digging into her with abandon. Yes. God, more, Kiera. Yes. She cried out as we worked against each other, grabbing my back pockets and wrapping her legs around me in a near frenzy.
Clutching me tight as she moved against me, she moaned, “No, I want him.”
Bullshit. I guarantee she had never felt anything like this with him. “No, you want me…” I said into her neck.
“No, he would never touch my sister! You promised, you promised, Kellan!” She stiffened beneath me. The loss of our escalating rhythm nearly drove me mad.
“That’s already done with. I can’t change it.” She tried to push me away, but I grabbed her hands, pinned them beside her head. I ground my hips into hers, and she made a noise that let me know the momentary pause had nearly killed her too. “But this… Stop fighting, Kiera. Just say you want this. Tell me you want me, like I want you.” My mouth returned to above hers. “I already know you do.”
I was done teasing. I was done playing games. I needed her. Right now. We couldn’t stop this. Not anymore. I lowered my lips to hers. She groaned when our mouths met and my stomach clenched in preparation. Yes…God, Kiera, yes.
Our kiss was hungry and passionate, with each side wanting more. I was right, I knew I was right. She wanted this just as badly as I did. I released her hands and she immediately returned them to my hair. Her fingers felt marvelous, running over my scalp. I wanted to feel her long locks, see them spread across my leather seat. I ripped the hair band out and tossed it to the floor. Even wet, her hair felt amazing between my fingers.
Kiera’s dual messages didn’t stop now that our tongues were sliding together. Murmuring that she hated me, she ran her hands down my back and pulled on the pockets of my jeans, asking for more, deeper, harder. I obliged her physical request while I told her that she didn’t hate me.
My hands traveled over every curve I could reach on her—the angle of her jaw, the swell of her breast, the tiny hills of her ribs, the curve of her hip, the roundness of her ass. Her small hands ran under my shirt, feeling my bare skin. Her flesh against flesh touch sent a bolt of electricity straight down my body. It was only mildly hampered by her words.
“This is wrong,” she groaned into the passion-laden air.
A tiny bit of my buzz faded; she was right, of course, this was wrong. It also felt better than anything I’d ever experienced before, and it was too late—I couldn’t stop touching her. My thumb brushed over a rigid nipple straining against her shirt through her thin bra. I wanted it in my mouth so bad. “I know…but, God, you feel so good.”
No, she felt incredible. We melded against each other with no more words, just wild, uncontrollable desire. I could hear Kiera’s breathing fall into a familiar rhythm, the short erotic moans repeating in a pattern that was steadily getting louder, more desperate, more distinct. She was getting close. My own body had reached the tipping point ages ago—it was sheer will power that kept me from an earth-shattering release. But I wouldn’t finish this without her. No, I was going to finish this inside of her. And possibly with her. Yes, I wanted her to come with me. I wanted it more than anything.
I broke apart from our anxious mouths. She leaned up to suck on my lip, and my eyes rolled back. I pulled farther away. Since her clothes were so damp, I would need space to undress her. And I was going to undress her. I needed to see that pale, white flesh quivering under my fingertips. She gasped when she realized what I was doing. Her hungry eyes watched mine, and all I saw was affirmation—yes, do it. Take me. I’m yours.
I glared as I watched her heated eyes drinking me in. I knew she wanted this. The night at the club was the real mistake. I was the one she wanted, she just hadn’t had the guts to leave with me that night. But this moment right now, was right. And while I was going to regret betraying Denny tomorrow, I didn’t fucking care anymore. I was going to have her tonight.
When I had one more button left to go on her jeans, she grabbed my wrists and jerked my hands up and over her head, holding them tight. Our body parts lines up again, and a throb went through me. I was so close to what I needed it was painful. Tease.
“Stop it, Kiera!” I snapped. I was aggravated, turned on, and now, in a little bit of pain; I needed to come, badly. “I need you. Let me do this. I can make you forget him.” Desperate, I added, “I can make you forget you.”
She shivered beneath me; she knew I was right. What we were going to experience right now was going to be more powerful than anything either of us had ever felt before. I knew that for a fact. And I needed it to happen, now, before I spontaneously combusted. I easily pulled a hand free from her grasp, stroking her body on the way back to her jeans. She responded everywhere I touched her. See, Kiera, you know I’m right. “God, I want inside you.”
“Stop it, Kellan!”
Irritated that she was still refusing this, I paused with my lips on her neck. “Why? It’s what you want, what you beg for!” She couldn’t deny that, not after all the times she’d said please. To prove my point, I shoved my hands into her jeans, over her underwear. She was going to say it first. She was going to beg me. Then both of us could stop this frustrating game.
Even though I wasn’t directly touching her, she fell apart underneath me. The erotic cry she let out amplified the pleasure and pain I was feeling. She grabbed my neck and pulled my face to hers. I groaned with need. I couldn’t do this much longer. I needed to be thrusting inside her. I needed release. I needed to hear her scream. I needed to feel her coming. But I needed to hear her say that she wanted me first.
But still she refused. “No…I don’t want you to.” My finger traced the edge of her underwear and her sentence fractured in two. She was still lying. She did want me. She was soaked with her desire for me. One small slip of my finger and I could feel it. A few tugs on her jeans and I could taste it. Oh God, I wanted to taste her…
Banishing that image from my mind, I struggled to stay in control. I needed her to say it. Give me permission, Kiera. But she still fought me; her hand released my neck to feebly attempt to dislodge my probing fingers. I was stronger though, and her heart really wasn’t in it.
“I can feel how much you do want me to, Kiera.” My voice sounded strained to me, but then again, everything about me was straining right now. I couldn’t handle the intensity, the ache, the throbbing. I needed this to end. A tight, pain-filled groan escaped me. “I want you…now. I can’t take any more,” I panted. I felt like I would lose my mind if I didn’t plunge inside her soon. I ripped my other hand free from her grasp, and started tugging on her wet denims. “God, Kiera, I need this.”
I was seconds away from begging her to take me when she blurted out, “Wait! Kellan…stop! I…I need a minute. Please…I just need a minute.”
My hands froze as I stared at her. Did she seriously just say that to me? Our “safe word,” so to speak. As if she was reading my mind, she repeated herself, “I need a minute.”
I couldn’t move while I processed what the fuck had just happened. She panted underneath me while I stared her down. She’d done it to me again. She’d riled me up to the breaking point, then told me no. And, unless I was going to keep going with this and force her to relent to me, to us, I had no choice but to let her go. Shit.
She flinched at my unexpected exclamation. I sat up, raking my hands through my hair while I tried to calm down. It wasn’t working. Every second I glared at her sprawled across my seat made me even more ticked off. What the fuck was she trying to do to me?
“Shit!” I snapped, smacking the door behind me as hard as I could.
She sat up nervously, refastening her jeans. Goddamn, we’d been so close. She’d wanted me, I knew she did. Why was she constantly tormenting me with something I couldn’t have? Because she’s a fucking bitch. A teasing whore…that’s why. “You…are…”
I shut my mouth, before my temper could get the best of me. She wasn’t a bitch. She wasn’t a whore. She was in love with another man, a man I cared about. I couldn’t forget that. But, fucking hell this hurt. The heated air in the car became stagnant, foul with pain, tension, betrayal. I couldn’t breathe. I needed out of this goddamn fucking car.
Opening the car door, I immediately stepped outside. The icy rain was a balm, but it didn’t squelch my anger. I could almost feel the drops sizzling on my infuriated skin. I redirected my ire to my car’s tire. I would need a stronger outlet, or I was going to turn my tongue on her. Bitch.
I kicked the tire as hard as I could. “Fuck!” It relieved some of the pent-up tension, so I did it again. “Shit! Motherfucking piece of fuck shit! God fucking damn it to fucking hell shit!” I knew Kiera was watching my nonsensical ranting, but I was too far gone to care. Fuck my fucking life. Walking away from the car, I clenched my fists and screamed my rage and frustration into the empty street. “FUUUUCK!”
Fuck, I was yelling obscenities on the street corner like some fucking drama queen. I needed to calm the fuck down. I raked my fingers through my hair again, resisting the urge to pull chunks of it out of my scalp. Tilting my head up to the sky, I tried redirecting my focus. Only think about the raindrops. Only listen to the sound of the rain pelting the earth. Only feel the chill. Don’t think about her. Don’t think about her lips. Don’t think about her body. Her smile. Her laugh. Her eyes…the way she looks at you. The way she looks at him. Fuck.
I lowered my hands, but kept my palms up, absorbing every drop. Only think of the rain. There’s just the freezing, ice-cold rain. You. The rain. Nothing else.
My brief moment of chi vanished at hearing her voice. You ripped my heart out twice in the span of fourty-eight hours. The least you could do is give me a fucking moment of silence to get my shit together! I raised my finger to her, hoping she took the hint and left me the fuck alone. She didn’t.
“It’s freezing…please come back to the car.”
You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Five minutes? I only get five fucking minutes without her in my fucking head? Rain. Rain. Just rain. Calm down. Still not able to look at her, still not able to speak, I shook my head. Take the fucking hint, Kiera. I don’t want to be anywhere near you right now, but I still can’t leave you alone out here, so I’m fucking stuck with you in my car, my home, and my fucking heart!
Rain. Just rain…
“I’m sorry, please come back,” she called out from the car.
Oh my fucking God, please let her shut the fuck up before I completely lose my fucking mind. Rain…rain…rain…
I heard her mutter, “Damn it,” then I heard her getting out of the car.
Un. Fucking. Believable. She couldn’t even give me this? What a fucking bitch. Opening my eyes, I glared at her as she approached me. I wondered if I looked as ticked as I felt. I must have, because her steps were small, tentative. “Get back in the car, Kiera.” In my attempt to remain civil, I spat each word out between clenched teeth.
She looked nervous as she swallowed, but she shook her head. “Not without you.”
Still so fucking stubborn. All peaceful thoughts of raindrops on sidewalks fizzled from my brain. Rage pounded through every muscle, vibrating them with tension. “Get in the damn car! For once, just listen to me!” I yelled that so loudly, my throat ached. I was going to be raspy for the concert tomorrow night. Great. One more fucking problem she’d caused for me.
My temper sparked hers. Her chin lifted, she snapped back, “No! Talk to me. Don’t hide out here, talk to me!”
Talk to her? What the fuck could she possibly want to talk about? How much she loved Denny, and how little she thought of me? No thanks, I didn’t want to fucking hear that. I took a step towards her; we were both soaked now. “What do you want me to say?”
Her jaw quivered and her voice was thick with anger. “Why won’t you leave me alone? Tell me that! I told you before that it was over, that I wanted Denny. But you still torment me…”
Was she joking? She was the one that teased me on a near-constant basis. Just the way she looked at me would be enough to have most men begging on their knees. And the way she kissed me…was an invitation for sex in most men’s book. In fact, maybe I shouldn’t have listened to her, and just taken her in the car.
“You’re the one who—”
I stopped myself in the nick of time. I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of knowing just what she did to me. How much I wanted her. How much I fucking loved her. How much it fucking hurt that I would never be good enough for her. How much I wished I didn’t give a shit about her. How much it killed me when she brought me to the brink. How much I wished we hadn’t stopped tonight.
“The one who what?” she yelled into the sudden silence.
I looked back at her. Really? She just couldn’t let anything go, could she? I was trying to not go off on her, but I couldn’t hold my tongue another fucking minute. If she wanted the truth, then fine, I would give her the fucking truth, in the simplest, crudest way I could give it to her. Maybe then she’d fucking understand just how not-innocent her innocent flirting was.
I gave her a smile as dark as my shattered heart. “Do you really want to know what I’m thinking right now?” I took a step towards her; she backed away. “I’m thinking…that you…are a fucking tease, and I should have just fucked you anyway!”
Pure venom running through my veins, I took another step, putting me toe-to-toe with her. I could grab her, shove her into the car, and finish this, right now. Knowing I should step away and calm down, but also knowing it was too late, words left my mouth that I instantly regretted. “I should fuck you right now, like the whore you really—”
Her hand connected with my cheek before the words finished leaving my foul mouth. The hit was twice as hard as her earlier smack; I was sure I had red marks. I was really tired of being fucking hit! I shoved her against the car. “You started this. All of this! Where did you think our ‘innocent’ flirting was heading? How long did you think you could lead me on?” I cinched my fingers around her arm; I wasn’t even conscious of what I was saying anymore. “Do I still…torment you? Do you still want me?”
Tears streamed down her cheeks as she answered my question. “No…now I really do hate you!”
I felt like she’d reached inside and hollowed out my soul. Only residual anger kept me standing. “Good! Then get in the fucking car!”
Not knowing what the fuck I was doing, I shoved her into the open car door. When her feet were clear, I slammed the door shut. I wanted to open it again and slam it even harder, but I couldn’t function enough to do that. Oh God. What the fuck did I just do? Why the fuck would I say those things to her? And her face…genuine hatred had been on her face. And now she was crying. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I just fucked everything. It was bad before, but now…I burned a bridge, I knew it. Jesus Christ. I’d just lost her forever.
I paced in front of my car. What do I do now? What the fuck do I do now? How the fuck do I take that back? How do I fix this? Can I fix this?
Not knowing what else to do, I stalked over to my car door. If I’d just gone to my side in the first place, none of this would have happened. If I’d left her alone at the club, none of this would have happened. If I’d left Seattle, none of this would have happened.
Irritated, frustrated, scared, I slammed my car door shut. The silence in the car was oppressive. The very air between us was different. Everything was different now. Because of my big fucking mouth. “Damn it!” I snapped, slamming my hand on the wheel. It was never supposed to be this way. “Damn it, damn it, damn it, Kiera.”
I beat the shit out of my steering wheel, then lowered my head to the tight leather. “Damn it, I never should have stayed here…”
When I lifted my head, I felt empty, alone and freezing cold. I pinched the ridge of my nose to try and relieve the pressure headache building, but nothing was helping. I was fucked. And alone. Completely alone. Again.
Needing warmth, needing escape, I started the car and turned up the heater. I couldn’t leave this godforsaken place until I apologized. I had to at least try to right the wrong. While she cried beside me, I told her, “I’m sorry, Kiera. I shouldn’t have said that to you. None of that should have happened.”
She didn’t say anything, only kept crying. I sighed. This wasn’t what I wanted tonight. This wasn’t why I followed her. I just…wanted to help her. I just wanted to return her stuff and give her a ride home so I’d know she was safe. I just wanted her safe. And happy.
Seeing her shivering, I reached behind me and grabbed her jacket from the backseat. My jacket was back there too, but I didn’t want it. I deserved to be cold.
I quietly handed it to her and she quietly put it on. The lack of words spoke volumes to me. There were no words left to say. We were as done as two people could possibly be. She was as unobtainable to me now as my dead parents, her love, just as unreachable. But this time, I deserved it. I was a bastard, in every sense of the word. She was better off without me.
As I drove her home in silence, despair washed over me. I’d touched love with her, I was sure of it. Maybe temporarily, or maybe just a friendship kind of love. I wasn’t sure. But, whatever it was that she’d been giving to me, it was the best thing I’d ever felt in my entire life. And it was gone now. I’d never know it again. I was going to be alone, never knowing that kind of comfort again. And now that I’d had it, I couldn’t go back to not having it. The ache would kill me now more than ever. How do I live without love now? How do I live without her?
I could feel the breakdown coming as we pulled up to the house—my empty, meaningless house, where nothing of me existed until she put it there. I shut the car off and immediately got out. I didn’t want her to see me fall apart. And I was going to fall apart…it was coming. I was a heartbeat away from sobbing.
Tears were rolling down my cheeks as I unlocked the front door. My voice hitched as I walked into the entryway. I held it in as I sprinted up the stairs. Not yet. Don’t lose it yet. I closed my door behind me and paused with my hand on the wood. I let go of my hold on the wall of crushing grief, and let the sob escape me. Walking backwards, I collapsed onto my bed. Bringing my dirty shoes onto the mattress, I cried into my knees.
Friend. Lover. Companion. Family. Whatever she could have been to me…I’d just lost her for the rest of my life. I had no idea how I would go on from here.
I heard the door open, but I couldn’t stop the tears from coming. She’d obviously already heard them anyway. Kiera sat beside me, but I didn’t move. I couldn’t. All I could do was cry, cry for everything I’d lost, and everything I’d never had. I was alone. Forsaken. Unlovable. I couldn’t even comprehend why she was sitting next to me.
And then, beyond all expectation, hope, or reason, Kiera put her arm around my shoulder. Her simple act of comfort broke me. I couldn’t lose her. Please, God, don’t let me lose her. I need her. I’ll do anything. We’ll end this charade, we’ll go back to being purely just friends. Just don’t take her away from me tonight.
A pain-filled sob escaped me as I wrapped my arms around her and laid my head on her lap. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Please don’t leave me. Please don’t hate me. The final remnants of my emotional sanity vanished as I completely lost control and bawled. It felt like hours. I emotionally released everything built-up inside of me, from the pain of not having Kiera’s love, to the pain of never having my parents’. I cried for hurting Kiera. I cried for betraying Denny. I cried for my non-existent childhood. I even cried for the mountain of meaningless encounters I’d had over my lifetime, because meaningless encounters was probably all I would ever have now.
Kiera didn’t run away from my breakdown. She held me, cradled me, rubbed my back, even pulled a blanket over my shivering body and used her heat to warm me. I’d never felt so much love and comfort from another human being. Ever. Her tenderness eventually eased my sorrow, dried my tears. In a silence that was once again comforting, she held me, gently rocking me like I suppose most mothers would rock their troubled children. I wouldn’t know. My mother never had. Nobody ever had. It soothed me, and I felt sleep rushing in to fill the void left by my explosion of pain.
As I lingered in a state somewhere between awake and asleep, I started to dream. In my dream, Kiera was leaving me. I reached out for her, told her, “No,” but…she still left me. In the end, she still left me.
S.C. Stephens is a bestselling author who enjoys spending every free moment she has creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance.
Her debut novel, Thoughtless, an angst-filled love triangle charged with insurmountable passion and the unforgettable Kellan Kyle, took the literary world by storm. Amazed and surprised by the response to the release of Thoughtless in 2009, more stories were quick to follow. Stephens has been writing nonstop ever since.
In addition to writing, Stephens enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading fabulous novels, loading up her iPod with writer’s block reducing music, heading out to the movies, and spending quality time with her friends and family. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her two equally beautiful children.
Visit her at: http://authorscstephens.com