Read Native Tongue Online

Authors: Shannon Greenland

Tags: #Suspense

Native Tongue (4 page)

 
 
A month ago I would’ve gagged at the thought. But now it merely hit me as interesting. Beaker and me sisters. Hmmm. Not that David and I were getting married or anything. I’m jumping ahead.
Way
ahead. We needed to get through our first date.
 
 
Parrot reclined on my bed propped up with my pillows. “You look beautiful, GiGi.”
 
 
My nervous jitters relaxed with his heartfelt compliment. “Thanks, Parrot.”
 
 
Parrot always said the sweetest, most meaningful things. Whatever girl snagged him would be very, very lucky.
 
 
Wirenut winked as he popped a potato chip in his mouth. “Whadaya say you ditch David? You and I’ll hit the town. I’ll show you how to hot-wire a car.”
 
 
Lying beside him, Cat elbowed Wirenut in the ribs. “You better be glad I love you. Besides, you know I can hot-wire better than you.”
 
 
He grinned and planted a hard kiss on her lips. With their olive skin and black hair, they looked like those couples who always dressed alike. They totally belonged together.
 
 
She climbed over him and crossed the carpet to me. “Looks like you followed the list. Now what were you going to ask me about lip gloss?”
 
 
I glanced over her shoulder to our packed bedroom. Everyone’s eyes were silently glued to me. I leaned in and whispered, “Won’t the gloss gross David out when we kiss?”
 
 
I felt silly asking Cat the question, but it wasn’t like I’d kissed a whole heck of a lot of guys. I didn’t have any experience to draw on. Every other time David and I had kissed I hadn’t been wearing anything on my lips.
 
 
Her amber eyes twinkled, and she smiled. “David’s really not going to care.”
 
 
Bruiser loudly cleared her throat. “It’s rude to whisper.”
 
 
Cat squeezed my arm. “Relax. Have fun. And by all means do
not
think about anything back here at the ranch.”
 
 
“Thanks for all your help getting ready.” I hugged her. “There’s no telling what I’d look like right now without your list.”
 
 
It reminded me of my first mission. The modeling instructor had written me list after list so I’d know what to wear every day. So I’d know what made a good outfit. Pathetic, but completely true. I had no sense of style.
 
 
Someone knocked on the bedroom door.
David.
My stomach dippity-dipped.
 
 
Bruiser boinged onto her bed and flipped off the other side. “Why, whoever could that be?” She swung the door open and checked her watch. “You’re one minute late.”
 
 
David laughed, playfully pushed her out of the way, and came the rest of the way in. He stopped suddenly, his eyes touching each person in the room. “Didn’t realize this was a family affair.”
 
 
“Yep, family affair.” Wirenut swung his legs over the bed and got up. “If GiGi had parents, they’d be here to greet you and give you the third degree.”
 
 
Bruiser went to stand beside Wirenut and put her hands on her hips. “Tonight we’re your third degree.”
 
 
David looked across the room at me. I shrugged. I mean really, what was I supposed to do? Shove past them? Plus, it gave me a moment to slurp up his yumminess.
 
 
Disheveled dark hair. Stubble on his face. Perfect, not-too-tight, not-too-loose jeans. Black shoes. Black shirt. I
loved
when he wore black.
 
 
Other than our shirts, we matched perfectly.
 
 
Wirenut ran his fingers down his trim goatee. “What are your plans for this evening, young man?”
 
 
David held a smile back. “Food and the Boardwalk.”
 
 
Bruiser flipped a red braid over her shoulder. “We don’t approve of underage drinking.”
 
 
“Yes, ma’am.”
 
 
Wirenut took a chip from his bag and ate it. “Do you smoke?”
 
 
“No, sir.”
 
 
“Her curfew is midnight. One minute past and . . .” Bruiser held her T-shirt out. It read YOU MESS WITH MY FAMILY AND YOU MESS WITH ME.
 
 
Bruiser and her silly shirts. And the fact that Bruiser was acting the role of my mother was hilarious—especially since she was the youngest one of us all.
 
 
David nodded. “Oh, yes ma’am.”
 
 
Wirenut tossed yet another chip in his mouth. “What kind of vehicle do you drive?”
 
 
“I’ve got a truck tonight.”
 
 
“A truck?” Bruiser wagged her finger. “I don’t want any of that business of her sitting in the middle getting cozy with you.”
 
 
Bruiser!
 
 
She wagged her finger again. “I want both of you in a seat belt.”
 
 
“Yes, ma’am.”
 
 
Another chip for Wirenut. “What about your future, son? You going to be able to support our little girl someday?”
 
 
Wirenut! Sheesh.
 
 
Bruiser patted Wirenut’s shoulder. “Now, honey, it’s their first date. Let’s see where things go.”
 
 
“Yes, yes, quite right.” Wirenut glanced down at Bruiser. “Anything else, Momma?”
 
 
Bruiser shook her head. “I believe that’s it, Daddy.”
 
 
My “father” motioned me on. “All right, this young man seems suitable.”
 
 
“Oh, thank God. No telling what you would’ve said next,” I said, laughing.
 
 
I snatched my purse from my dresser and strode across the girls’ room to where David stood. His cologne moseyed through my senses.
Gggrrr.
 
 
“Oh, and one last thing,” Bruiser called out. “Don’t forget our mother/daughter discussion on birth control. We don’t want any more little geniuses running around.”
 
 
My face caught on fire. Everyone in the room busted out laughing, like they’d all been waiting for that last comment.
 
 
The twerps.
 
 
David grabbed my hand and tugged me out the door. “Ignore them.”
 
 
“I can’t
believe
she said that.” No, actually, I could. Bruiser was ornery that way.
 
 
“They wouldn’t pick on you if they didn’t love you.”
 
 
True. And I loved them, too.
 
 
David led me down the hall past the other bedrooms, TL’s office, and the hidden elevator that led to the underground rooms.
 
 
My embarrassment faded as I tuned in to the guy beside me. I was going on my first date. And not with some loser either. I had a really hot, funny, sweet, awesome guy.
 
 
We passed the cafeteria and stopped in the archway to the common area. TL reclined in an oversize comfy chair, reading the paper.
 
 
David knocked on the wall. “Wanted to let you know we’re out of here.”
 
 
TL glanced up. “Be back by midnight.”
 
 
David and I nodded.
 
 
“You two look good.” TL went back to his paper. “Be safe.”
 
 
David opened the front door, letting in the slightly muggy night. “I should have told you that first.”
 
 
“What?” I slid my purse up my shoulder.
 
 
“You look good.” David’s eyes slowly roamed down my body and back up. “
Real
nice.”
 
 
I
loved
when he did that eye-roaming thing. It totally turned me on and made me feel sexy.
 
 
“Too good you look.” I shook my head. “I mean, you look good, too.”
 
 
Sigh.
Not so sexy after all.
 
 
He laughed and gave me a swift kiss. “You’re adorable.”
 
 
“I’m glad someone thinks so.”
You’re dorky is more like it.
 
 
TL’s full-size truck sat parked in the circular driveway. David opened the door for me and then went around to the driver’s side.
 
 
He climbed in and stretched his arm along the seat back. “Come ’ere.”
 
 
I unbuckled my seat belt and slid across, more than happy to oblige him. “Bruiser said not to do this.”
 
 
David smiled. “I’ll never tell.” He looked at my lips. “I figured we’d better toast.”
 
 
“Toast?”
 
 
“Here’s to us not getting a call from TL.”
 
 
“I’ll
definitely
toast to that.” My cell had been
way
too active lately.
 
 
David leaned in and kissed me. Long and dreamy. Slow. Taking all the time in the world. He tasted minty. Every time we kissed I swore it was the best one yet. But this one topped the rest.
 
 
He pulled back. “We could sit here the whole night and keep making out.”
 
 
Laughing, I glanced at his shiny mouth, and my amusement died. It looked like he’d been eating greasy fried chicken.
 
 
“My lip gloss,” I realized aloud. Oh no.
 
 
“What?” David wiped his hand over his mouth and then checked out his fingers.
 
 
I grabbed his slimy hand and rubbed it on my jeans. “I’m so sorry.”
I’m an idiot.
 
 
“GiGi,” he chuckled, stilling my hand.
 
 
Wait. If he looked that greasy I had to look the same or worse. I yanked the rearview mirror over and checked out my face. “I’m sorry.” I fumbled with the glove compartment, found a napkin, and scrubbed away the mess. “I
knew
this lip gloss thing was not a good idea,” I mumbled.
 
 
Cramming the napkin in my jacket pocket, I turned to him.
 
 
His eyes crinkled. “You done freaking out?”
 
 
“Did that gross you out?”
 
 
David softly rubbed my earlobe between his thumb and finger. “Nothing about you grosses me out.”
 
 
I leaned into his hand. “Thanks.”
 
 
With another quick kiss, he started the engine. “Seat belt.”
 
 
“Oh.” I scooted to my side and strapped in.
 
 
David pulled away from the ranch house, and I reached inside my purse for the lip gloss. Maybe I should have him turn around so I could run back in and borrow Cat’s stay-on stuff. It certainly made more sense—if you’re going to be kissing a guy, you needed stay-on stuff. Not glossy, glistening stuff.
 
 
Surely other girls didn’t obsess over whether to reapply or not. I glanced down at the tube, and the spiral swirl of the gloss made me think of the eteus code I’d been working on earlier today. It had the same pattern.
 
 
Now if I squared the last number, then multiplied by the root of the one hundred and eighth term, I could quadruple . . . no, that would be countably infini—
 
 
“What are you thinking about?” David drove through the ranch’s gates. On the visor’s remote he typed in his personal code, and the gates closed.

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