Authors: C.J. Fallowfield
“I’m not looking for anything
serious either, especially not right now,” I repeated, in case I hadn’t made it
clear the first time. “And I’m not like the kind of girls you’ve … ‘had,’” I
air quoted, still not able to look up at him. In all honesty, right now I
didn’t care about his reputation, I just wanted him to kiss me, but the thought
of that was terrifying. I inhaled sharply when he tucked two fingers under my
chin and lifted my head up, forcing me to look at him.
“And that’s why I’m asking you on
a date, because you’re
like them, Sky. I promise to be nothing but
respectful. I’d just like to spend some time with you.”
“Can I think about it?” I
whispered, curling my fingers up into the palms of my hands tightly to stop
them from reaching out and touching him. The thought of his lips crushing mine,
of his fingers tangling in my hair as we made out in his Impala, was
intoxicating, but he seemed to be the kind of guy that Pops would warn me to
steer clear of. Rosie already had, and what about that conversation I’d heard
from the girls in the diner? He was like most guys I’d met, just after a good
time. He’d eat me up and swallow me whole, before spitting me out when he was
bored of me. Nate Hudson was the kind of guy who’d break my heart, I was sure
“Sure,” he replied hesitantly. I
wondered if anyone had ever turned him down. Attracted as I was to him, even if
I ever decided to go on a date with him, he was going to have to work for it,
prove to me that I wasn’t just another hook-up to him. “I don’t bite,” he
whispered back, “unless you want me to.” He cracked a smile as he raised his
eyebrows and I giggled.
“I think you’d eat me alive,
Nate. I’d better get back, we’re going out for dinner and I need to get cleaned
“You look perfect to me,” he
purred, brushing the pad of his thumb over my lower lip. It took all of my
energy not to slump against his toned body at such an intimate gesture, and
what the hell was going on with my stomach? It felt so weird, like something
inside was swirling madly, like debris in a tornado. I quickly stepped away and
saw his hand fall to his side.
“Thanks so much for doing my
bike, I really appreciate it.”
“Thanks for buying me lunch.” He
quickly strode past me, giving me the chance to check out his butt. It looked
good enough in his loose work clothes. In baseball pants, I had a feeling I
might just combust. He disappeared and returned a minute later, wheeling my
bike out onto the sidewalk for me, so I joined him in the sun. “Here, I topped
up your water bottle and got you a repair kit, which I put in your basket.
Makes us even for you buying lunch.”
“That’s really sweet,” I
exclaimed. It seemed out of character for a player to show such concern.
“Yeah, whatever,” he shrugged,
seeming embarrassed at the compliment. “I don’t like the idea of you getting
another flat on the way home. You could wait until five when I punch out and I
could drive you?”
“I’ll be fine, especially now, but
“Don’t make me wait too long for
an answer, Sky,” he warned, a serious undercurrent to his voice.
I gave him a reserved smile as I
looked at him from under my lashes, feeling shy all of a sudden. Being asked
out, let alone by a hot guy, wasn’t a familiar concept to me.
What did he
see in me?
I quickly straddled my bike and pushed off, pulling out onto the
street before turning to give him a little wave, only to find he was standing
with his hands in his pockets watching me. I nearly wobbled off the bike, but
righted myself and focused on getting home in one piece. Dissecting my morning
could wait until I was in my room or on the phone with Liam. He was never going
to believe it.
I put my bike up on the custom wall-mounted
rack in one of the garages and headed through the connecting door to the house
via our laundry room.
“Hey, Mom, I’m back,” I called as
I stepped into the kitchen.
“Thank God, I was starting to
worry,” she hollered. “We’re outside on the deck.”
Our new house was pretty
gorgeous, much as I’d refused to admit it for the last few days, not wanting
them to think I was cool with the whole dragging-me-away-from-my-life deal.
From the street it looked like a long single-story house that incorporated a
double garage. But the house was built into a steep incline, so there was actually
another level below, invisible from the front. The main floor, with the
exception of the garages and large laundry room, was completely open plan,
housing the kitchen, dining, and lounge area, with a full glass front
overlooking Lake Mead and letting in lots of natural light. Stairs by the front
door led down to the ground floor, where Mom and Pops’ master bedroom, with a
gorgeous master bathroom, was situated at one end of the house. In the middle were
an office and a guest room, with a bathroom sandwiched between, and at the far
end of the house was my room, which also had a private bathroom. I liked to
play my music kind of loud, so being at the opposite end to my parents was a
bonus. Not to mention the fact that our old house had been smaller and older,
and the soundproofing wasn’t exactly great. Hearing your parents’ sex noises
was something no teen ever wants to endure. I shuddered at the reminder,
grateful I wouldn’t have to sleep with a pillow over my head to muffle the
sound anymore. I grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and twisted it open
before stepping out to join them on the deck.
“Wow,” I murmured, inadvertently
letting slip just how amazing the view out over Lake Mead was. I saw Pops’ lips
curl up into the hint of a smile to know that I was coming around.
“Good day?” he asked as he put
down his book.
“Awesome,” I confirmed, plonking
myself down on one of the comfy garden chairs. “The ride wasn’t too far, though
the heat’s a killer.”
“You’ve been gone a long time,
Sky.” Mom caught my eye and I grimaced when I saw the residual worry still
etched on her attractive face. I wondered if I’d look as good as she did when I
was her age. We could almost pass for sisters.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to
freak you out by being gone so long. I got a flat and went to have something to
eat while it was being repaired, and got chatting to some folks.”
“You should have called me.” Pops’
voice was soft, but offered a hint of his displeasure. He’d always been super
protective of me. Not only was I a girl, I was their only child.
“I’m eighteen, Pops, I’m more
than capable of sorting out a flat tire without bothering you. I took it to an
auto repair shop and the guy sent me over to a great diner while he carried out
the work. Then he introduced me to his brother and cousin, both my age, who are
also doing the same college course as me. They’re going to show me around town
“That’s wonderful that you’ve
made some friends already,” Mom interjected, with a warm smile on her face. “I
know how much you’re missing Liam, and that this move hasn’t been easy on you.”
“They never are,” I sighed, “but
I get that you have to go where it’s best for Pops, and I appreciate everything
you do for me, even if I bitch about it every time we move.”
“Well, I’m hoping this might be
our last move, Sky. Even us old folks get tired of moving and leaving our
friends behind,” Pops added sadly. “Why don’t you go and get cleaned up, we’re
heading out in an hour.”
“Ok.” I got up, hesitated, then
bent over and kissed Pops on the cheek. It was time I stopped complaining and
adjusted to my new life. I’d been selfish, only thinking about how hard it was
for me to move each time. I’d never even thought about them leaving their
friends behind, because they always had each other to depend on. But I guess I
did too. “I still love you, you know that, right?”
“I do,” he nodded, his brown eyes
filling with emotion at my rarely spoken words. “And for the record, I was
fully expecting way more ‘bitching’ than you’ve given us this time. You’re a
good girl, Sky, and your mom and I couldn’t be more proud of how you’ve turned
out, or that you haven’t let your grades suffer, despite what we’ve put you
“Pops, don’t make my cry,” I sniffed,
always touched at his pride in me, and Mom laughed behind me.
“Sky Torres, you’re the toughest girl
I’ve ever known. Somehow, despite my best efforts, I’ve raised one hell of a
tomboy. I think the last time I saw you cry was when you were six.”
“Really?” I looked at her in
amazement as my brow furrowed. No, I guess she was right. I whined a little,
then pouted, and finally sulked in the confines of my room, but crying wasn’t
really my thing. Neither was dragging out my mood, it didn’t help anyone.
“Don’t you remember? You were in
the swing on the front stoop of our house in South Carolina and dropped Mr.
Snuggles, your favorite teddy bear. That thing went with you everywhere, you
wouldn’t eat or sleep without him, or even go to school without him in your
backpack. Marley Beckfoot’s Rottweiler, from next door, jumped straight on him
and ripped him limb from limb. There was white fluff and brown fur everywhere
and you were inconsolable. Marley’s son, Jacob, called you a big baby for still
having a bear, and for crying, so you smacked him in the face and made him cry
“Smacking him I can imagine,” I
laughed. “He constantly bullied me.”
“He wanted you to be his
girlfriend, that’s why,” chuckled Pops, as I took a refreshing swig of my cold
water. “Young boys always pick on girls that they like.”
“Yes, they do, don’t they,” Mom
agreed, flashing him an adoring smile. My parents were the personification of young
love. They’d grown up next door to one another, started dating when they were
ten, and had been together ever since. Thirty years, and they’d never strayed.
I hoped one day I’d find someone to be just as happy with.
“That’s something else I have to
be thankful for, your lack of interest in dating. God knows I was dreading you
coming home and telling me you were seeing a guy. You’ve spared me many
“Hmmm, don’t get used to it,
darling. This indifference to the opposite sex isn’t going to last forever.”
“Mom,” I laughed, reaching up to
tuck a stray bit of hair behind my ear and biting my lower lip as I remembered
the wonderful sight of Nate half-naked, and the way my stomach had fluttered
when he touched me. I whipped my eyes over to hers when she gasped and put a
hand to her chest.
“You blushed, Sky Torres! I’ve
never seen you blush. Is there something you’re not telling us?”
“No,” I mumbled, moving my gaze
out across the lake to avoid looking at her.
“Sky,” she prodded, and in my
peripheral vision, I saw her sit a little straighter in her chair.
“Ok, I told you I met three guys
today, two brothers and their cousin, right? Well, the two brothers were
hot.” I tried to shrug it off as nothing, but my parents were like that damn Rottweiler
when they got the scent of anything going on with me.
“How hot are we talking?” Mom coaxed.
“Even better than Dean Winchester,”
I nodded, knowing she’d totally get it.
muttered under her breath, making Pops roll his eyes. We all loved watching
together, and Mom always teased Pops that Dean was on her list.
“How old are they? What do they
do? Are they respectable?”
“Jeez, Pops. Slow down with the
rapid-fire interrogation, will you?” I laughed. “They seem like genuinely nice
guys. Nate’s twenty, studying at UNLV on a baseball scholarship. He works
part-time in a garage and he’s the one who fixed my bike for me. His brother,
Josh, is eighteen like me, as is their cousin, Billy. Both just graduated from
Boulder City High School and they’re the ones going to NSC with me in the fall.”
“Which garage? I’d better go and
thank him for looking out for you.”
“Uh-huh,” I giggled as I headed
back to the sliding glass doors to go inside. “I’m not telling you. I know
you’ll just go and assess him, then warn him off me.”
“If you’re worried about me
warning him off you, odds are he needs a warning,” Pops yelled, as I skipped
down the stairs. God damn it. He was like a bloodhound. He really should have
been in the FBI, because he had an uncanny habit of reading my thoughts. Even
if Nate’s tattoos and piercings were covered, I just had a feeling that Pops
would take one look at him and disapprove immediately.
I closed my bedroom door and
headed through to my bathroom, stripped out of my grubby shorts and shirt, and
hopped into the shower. I dressed in record-breaking time, in a loose, floaty,
white maxi-dress with a shirring top and pretty purple flowers all over it. It
was as girly as I got. I twisted my hair up into a messy bun, which was already
almost dry thanks to this ridiculous heat. I was going to have to go shopping
for some serious conditioner if I wasn’t going to end up with a mane of
frazzled, brittle hair. I brushed on the minimum amount of mascara and a slick
of nude lip-gloss and checked my watch. I had half an hour to spare, time to
call Liam. I lay on my stomach on my bed and FaceTimed him, looking around my
room as I waited for him to answer.
As a former tomboy, or should I
say current lady-in-training, I wasn’t into the usual clutter or girly pink walls.
I’d chosen a pale duck-egg blue paint, with white blinds and, the only feminine
concession, to appease Liam when he helped me style my old bedroom like this, a
pretty duck-egg bedding set, which was covered in pale pink and white birds in
bird cages. He’d also chosen some white distressed French-style, shabby-chic
furniture. It looked good in here, with my big sliding windows overlooking the
lake. I even had my own door to the steep steps that led up the side of the
house, with its own locked and gated access to the driveway. If I was a party
animal, that would have sure come in handy for sneaking in and out without my
“You’d better fill me in and fill
me in fast, Torres,” Liam demanded as his face appeared on the screen.
“Ermmm, hello to you too,” I
laughed. “What happened to gradually easing into a conversation?”
“We don’t need that, we already
know each other inside out, or I thought we did. A few days after leaving me
and you’re hanging out with hot shirtless men? Tell me more.” His hazel eyes
and their lime green flecks were alive with excitement. He ran his fingers
through his light brown hair, a classic sign of his impatience, as he waited
for my response. If he wasn’t gay, he’d have been quite my type. Classically good
looking, tall, and lean. I filled him in as fast as I could, giggling as he
groaned at my explanation of how hot Nate was, then sighing at how gorgeous and
adorable Josh was, and pouting at how hard Billy had made me laugh. “Making you
“And you still do. Plus you look
hot shirtless too. It’s just pointless me having the hots for you when you only
have eyes for guys, Liam,” I reminded him. “So, what about you?”
“What about me?”
“Please don’t tell me you’ve been
holed up in your bedroom since I left?” I shook my head when I saw the grimace
on his face. “Liam! You need to get out, have fun.”
“I have fun in my bedroom.”
“Single-handed fun,” I scoffed.
“I use two hands.”
“Really? How big is it?” I felt
my eyes widen at the thought.
“You have one, you should know.”
He gave me a puzzled look, which I returned.
“I know I’m not exactly a lady,
but unless it escaped your attention in the last few years, I’m a girl. Still.
Always have been, always will be.”
“And? You can’t get enough of it
either. If anyone will need physio on their hands from overuse, it’s you, not
, men do
it way more than women. You’re probably a few times a day, me … once a week