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Authors: Rebecca Croteau

Clearer in the Night

BOOK: Clearer in the Night
10.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Rebecca Croteau

Los angeles, California

Clearer in the Night

Rebecca Croteau

This edition published by:

Penner Publishing

P.O. Box 57914

Los Angeles, California

Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Croteau

eISBN 978-1-940811-20-8


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher below.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.

Cover Designer: Christa Holland/Paper & Sage Designs

Ordering Information:

Quantity sales. Special discounts are available on quantity purchases by corporations, associations, and others. For details, contact the us at

[email protected].

Clearer in the Night/Rebecca Croteau – 1st ed.

To my husband and my children. Without you, I never would have made it this far. Thanks for putting up with all the mac & cheese.


This is what it’s like to be the odd girl out: you stand in a crowd, and everyone’s looking through you, past you, around you. Every smile you think is for you? It’s not. They don’t know you, they don’t know your story, but they can smell the curse on you, like a rotten perfume, and they know better than to brush up against you. Can’t risk it rubbing off on them.

Of course, in a town like Meredith Falls, a small town that thought it was big, it could be that everyone here knew. That what they were laughing and whispering about was that girl, that Cait girl, didn’t you hear? Her father and sister were killed when she was nine years old, and now her mother’s a drunk and she’s a disaster. Don’t go close, you’ll get her on your shoes.

But someone always came close. There was always someone willing to give it a shot, go for a spin, dare the roller coaster. Take a quick bump and grind in the darkest corners of a club, or an alley, or someone’s darkened bedroom, and then run back to their friends, laughing about how they made it with the town whore. Nah, that wasn’t fair. A whore charged. I was just fumbling after something that I wasn’t ever going to find, and reaching for something that approximated release in clumsy hands and whispered lies.

All night long, Shannon had watched me from the sidelines. She’d stolen that worried look from her mother, and then perfected it. Why she’d started worrying now was a mystery to me. My dancing wasn’t new. I’d been clubbing since we were teenagers. When she’d volunteered at the hospital as a candy striper, I’d spent my allowance on a fake ID. When she’d cheered for our town’s incredibly lousy football team, I’d been getting laid under the bleachers. She’d always laughed at my adventures, and been there to pick up the pieces with me when things went wrong. But tonight, something had been worrying her. I couldn’t think of anything I’d done differently. I hadn’t given any warning signs. I’d been careful, so that I wouldn’t scare her. But still, she’d narrowed her eyes when I’d said, brightly, that I was going dancing. And then she’d popped off the couch, all smiles, and even though she’d just put on her pajama pants, she said, “I’ll come with you.” Even though she had a ton of work to do, even though her dissertation outline was due in a month, she wouldn’t be swayed. She even said she was going to drive, which was ridiculous, because there was no way I was going to drink. I might love dancing and screwing around, but I wasn’t my mother. Shannon had gotten dressed and put on makeup in record time, and all night long, she’d been sitting at the bar, drinking cranberry soda and watching me, giving me no chance to slip away.

But now she was dancing with a pretty girl and laughing. I wondered what the girl was saying to her. Was Shan hearing how beautiful she was? Was the girl saying that she’d never met anyone like her? Telling her sparkling lies so that they could sneak away together? Shan could always see through that crap. With boys, with girls, she never fell for the games. She did a better job of keeping her heart safe. Better than I ever did, if I was telling the whole truth.

It would be easy to just slip out the back. She’d never be the wiser. But she’d also feel like shit when she found out later. And I didn’t want my best friend hurt. Not any more than she had to be.

I closed my eyes and felt for the beat of the music, the fast, hard techno thrum that made my heart race and my hands wave and my body heat up. I danced. I danced and jumped and slammed to the beat. I let it take me. I let it own me, and I disappeared into it. I gave myself up to it, and I prayed that I would vanish into the music, the rhythm, the strength of it in my hips and my heart and whatever was left of my soul. I reached inside, to the most primal place I could find, and I pulled myself inside out. I was an empty shell of a girl, just motion, just electrons sliding from place to place.

And then two strong, solid hands landed on my hips, pulling me hard into a warm and interested body. My mind slammed back into an awareness of my own body, and I turned to scream over the music—seriously, grabbing someone like that is a great way to get yourself pepper sprayed—but he wrapped an arm around my waist, snugging me up against him, and pressed his lips to my neck. Everything south of my belt turned to jelly, and my rage and loneliness turned to want and need. His hand splayed over the waist of my miniskirt; if it wasn’t so tight, he’d be able to slip his fingers inside without any trouble at all. His other arm wrapped around to press just below the bottom curve of my breast. He leaned over to kiss me, and he trapped my protests inside my throat. He was dark and wonderful, and even as he kissed me, he kept the beat with his hips, moving me in rapid, sensual time with the music. His hands were flame on my icy exterior, and there in the middle of a college bar, with a shitty light show and a worse sound system, he melted me down to my core.

We broke apart for a moment, and I turned to see him. I couldn’t catch my breath. So many people, so close together. He was handsome, with that chiseled look you see in the movies, wild and dark hair that fell around his face, and eyes full of sparkle. I wasn’t sure of the color, but I thought dark, to match his hair. He would do. I could crawl out of my skin and into his, and it would all stop for a little bit.

He smiled before he kissed me again, and I let him draw me in close, still moving to the music. We were so close together that I could see my fine tremors reflected in his eyes. My hands slid up his back, then down again, and underneath his shirt. His fingers ducked below my waistband in back, splaying just over the swelling of my ass, eight points of burning fire, and his thumbs on my hipbones. I pressed my hand gently over his zip-fly and was rewarded by his mouth opening to mine.

We stumbled somewhere. We were on a couch, in a dark corner. It smelled like beer and urine, and I didn’t care. I was on top of him while he pressed his kisses between my breasts, and I threw my head back with the ecstasy of it. He flipped me below him, pressing me into the couch as he ravaged my neck. He never lost the rhythm of the music, even when the song changed. He pressed harder. His hand slid under my skirt as I fumbled for his zipper, and for no real reason, I opened my eyes. I was on a groaning, stenchy couch, arching my hips up for a complete stranger. I was wet for him and didn’t even care that Shannon was watching, or that her mouth was squeezed tight in a line of pitying sadness.

As I glanced up at her, the music suddenly receded, the drums and everything. And I could hear Shannon’s voice, as clear as if she were whispering in my ear.
I can’t believe she’s doing this again.

It didn’t make sense. I was the queen of arguing with people in my head, but that voice—it hadn’t sounded like imaginary Shannon in my brain, it had sounded, well, like my friend. In my head. And so sad, so incredibly sad. It wasn’t something I wanted to hear in her tone, not ever again.

And then, it wasn’t just her voice. It was so many voices. The dude on top of me was thinking about something else—God,
else—even as he cupped my breast and bit at my nipple through my top. My stomach roiled, touching the distracting horror inside his mind, hearing him idly wonder if he was going to bother fucking me or just push my head down until I got the hint—and I thought I was going to be sick. Because there was something else there, something else farther down, behind the idle thoughts about how hot my tits looked. Something locked behind a wall, smooth and featureless.

He pulled back just a little, and looked into my eyes. There was a small hint of a smile there, dancing around his lips. This was real. This was actually real. Something was happening, and he knew what it was. He knew I could hear him, and he was—somehow—putting out the thoughts he wanted me to catch. And everything flipped inside out in my heart. I was pretty damn sure I was going to be sick.

“Back,” I said, shoving at his shoulder. He didn’t move, either because he didn’t hear me, or because he didn’t care. He touched the hot wetness under my skirt, and I saw sparks, but I shoved him again. “Stop!” This time he heard, and he sat back, looking concerned, not angry, and I heard him say, clear as crystal, “Are you for real?” I heard him say it, but his lips didn’t move. It was so loud in the club that I wouldn’t have heard him if he’d shouted it in my ear, but I heard him all the same. I felt the sick saltiness climbing my throat as my stomach clenched, and it was suddenly crucially important that I not puke in front of this guy, this gorgeous guy who had only done what I invited him to do. I shoved myself up, my hand clamped over my mouth, and I pushed through the crowd. There was a huge line for the bathroom, but past that, there was a big red EXIT sign, and I shoved my way through the door, not caring that I was setting off alarms. The door led out into an alleyway. I barely cleared the threshold before I threw up, vomiting so hard that I splattered the wall across from me. The force of it drove me down to my knees, shaking, trying not to land in a puddle of sick.

BOOK: Clearer in the Night
10.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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