Home » , , , , , , » First Time Falling (A small town romance novella) by Thea Willis

First Time Falling (A small town romance novella) by Thea Willis

I was getting too old for this shit.

Pounding music blasted from a nearby sound system, reverberating around the dozens of bodies that moved in rhythm to it, sweaty skin grinding against skin.

Taking a step away from the crowd, I leaned my back against the peeling paint of an old boathouse. I must have swallowed half a gallon of beer by now, but I could still taste salt from the warm night air lingering on my lips and tongue.
First Time Falling (A small town romance novella)
First Time Falling (A small town romance novella) by Thea Willis
Everybody was either drunk, stoned, or a mixture of both here. And why not? All the best parties happened at Sandy Bay beach. Hell, I should know. It was where I’d spent most of my senior year, getting laid and wasted. Now I was twenty-four and supposedly still living the dream. I took another swig of my beer, feeling it hit the back of my throat, warm and bitter. Who the fuck was I trying to kid? Everybody had their cut off point. Perhaps this was mine. Sure, it was premature, but hey - I could be burnt out from all my years of partying. The movement of my arm must have startled the girl gyrating beside me. She looked up in my direction, a sultry gleam in her hooded dark eyes. The slash of her red lipstick curved into a smile, the smell of booze and pot clinging to her like a cheap perfume. Trying to remember her name was giving me one hell of a headache. Anna…or was it Ally? It definitely started with an A. Moving closer, her slim body leaned towards mine. The two small nubs of her breasts brushed my chest, making it obvious she wasn’t wearing a bra. The old me would have been all over that shit in a heartbeat. One of the girl’s hands slipped under my cotton t-shirt, her nimble fingers curling into the waistband of my jeans. The tip of her thumb flicked my button with skilled expertise. Any other guy would be loving this. For me though, the touch had the opposite effect. I pushed her away before things went any further. “Hey,” she protested, her glossy lips forming a pout. “Sorry, not interested.” “You’re kidding, right? You’re Colt Spencer. I’ve heard all about you and -“ her eyes flicked to the bulge between my legs, “-what you like to get up to.” I knew the stories. They were all true: every god damned one of them. My shoulders sloped up into a carefree shrug. “Yeah? Not anymore.” The girl tried to grab my waistband again. “I know you’re just playing with me.” She wasn’t giving up easily, but then I wasn’t surprised. For a pretty thing like her, rejection must be a bummer. I took another mouthful of beer, trying to give a damn about her feelings and failing. “Nope. Definitely not kidding.” I said flatly. Wounded pride flashed across her face. She flicked a strand of brown hair over her shoulder and wrinkled her upturned nose. “Whatever. Your loss,” she snapped, storming away. My friend, Jasper – the one who’d talked me into this party – side eyed me. “You feeling okay man?” I shrugged again. What could I say? That incident hadn’t been the first tonight. Most of the girl’s bodies that had sidled up to me were ones I knew like the back of my hand. I’d had them before and could have them all again tonight. None of that mattered. There was only one girl I wanted. The sparks from the bonfire moved along with the music, crackling and hissing as they writhed upwards, disappearing into the salty night air. My eyes searched through the smoke and fire. The orange flames illuminated Darcy- not that she was hard to miss. She was the one person I would be able to find, no matter how dark it was. Right now she was dancing with a friend, her long, loose hair shining like liquid moonlight. The tight denim cut offs and vest top she wore showcased every curve of her body. For a second, her whiskey colored eyes met mine. That second was everything. Then she went right back to ignoring me. My teeth clenched. I was a fucking idiot. Why did I want the one girl who hated my guts? She hadn’t uttered a word to me in years. Not since my old man had broken her mom’s heart. If Darcy was anything, it was loyal to a fault. Minutes rolled into one another, all of them spent looking her way. My cock stiffened, straining against my jeans as she swayed that tight ass. Just as I was thinking I could watch her all night, the tempo of the music changed; a new song blasting from the speakers. The crowd parted and Darcy flowed with it, her slim body swallowed up by the throngs of people. ~ When I saw her again, both the party and fire were dwindling. Jasper had left a few hours back, but I’d lingered on. She was sitting on an old tree trunk, head tilted to one side, her friends from earlier all gone. A dark haired guy was beside her, with one of his scrawny arms draped over her shoulder. The metal hoop he wore in his ear winked at me in the dimming firelight. Jealousy seared through my body, sharp and painful. Who was he? I didn’t recognize him. He was probably a kid from the nearby college campus. Sometimes they crashed the parties on Sandy Bay. Taking the last dregs of my drink, I tossed the bottle into a bush. I’d been a fool sticking around. “You think he’ll score?” The voice came from a guy beside me. He wore a college jersey, his dick in one hand as he attempted to piss and make drunken small talk at the same time. “What do you mean?” “Kyle and that blond chick over there – the wasted one. You reckon he can talk her into going home with him?” “That’s up to her, isn’t it?” I didn’t want to have this conversation. Didn’t want to picture Darcy screwing someone else. The guy carried on, oblivious to what a hammering on my heart his words were having. “Look at her man – she’s out of it. Even if he does bone her, she’ll probably not remember tomorrow.” I took a closer look at Darcy. He was right. She could barely sit up straight, never mind keep her eyes open. A few large strides was all it took to get me in front of her. She would probably hate me for this, but I didn’t care. No way was I going to let some punk take advantage of her. “Darcy, c’mon. Come with me.” I pulled her arm, trying to guide her up. “Colt?” Her words were slurred. “Kyle said there’s a party back at his place. You up for it?” “You’re drunk Darcy. Fuck Kyle and his parties.” The dark haired guy glowered at me, but he knew better than to say anything. Pity. I would have enjoyed beating his ass. Darcy stumbled up. I’d never seen her this drunk before. Hell, I’d never seen any chick this drunk before. She managed two teetering steps, both feet at all angles, before she collapsed to the ground. Kyle began to edge away from us both. I could see him already looking out of the corner of his eyes, searching for his next would-be conquest. Call me an asshole, but I couldn’t give a shit. There was only one girl I cared about rescuing tonight. In one swift swoop Darcy was in my arms, her head cradled into one side of my chest, those long smooth legs dangling from the other. My heart sped up. Everything about her was so soft. Her hair, her skin. Her heart. She might give out a tough-girl image, but I knew better. DARCY A cool breeze moved across my face. I groaned, tempted to burrow down under the warm blankets and sleep off my hangover. Something important prickled the back of mind. Something that wouldn’t let me drift back to sleep. There was somewhere I had to be… Work. SHIT. I had to get to work. My eyes blinked open, squinting in the early morning sun as they focused on unfamiliar blue walls. Confusion crashed over me. This wasn’t my house. Wasn’t my bed. Where was I? Fragmented images from the night before began to slot into place. There’d been a party, and drink. Too much drink, if my pounding head was anything to go by. That had been a mistake. A muscular arm slipped around my waist. Fuck. I wasn’t alone. Panic fluttered in my chest. All I could do was send up a silent prayer. Please let him be sleeping. The bed’s rightful owner pulled me closer. My body stiffened on impact. I was so not a cuddler. Spooning wasn’t my thing, period. Especially when I couldn’t remember who I had ended up going home with. Great one, Darcy. Something hard pressed into the base of my back, a tiny squeak escaping my lips before I could stop it. Oh. My. God. Was that morning wood? The guy was huge. Like, monster dick huge. This situation was getting worse. I squirmed underneath his arm, trying to wriggle free. It was no good; he had an iron grip. Who the hell was this – the Hulk? I was trapped. Time for Plan B. My eyes scanned the surroundings, trying to gather clues. Anything would do, just to give me a small hint as to where I’d ended up – and more importantly - who I’d ended up with. Beside the bed there was a table. Okay, that was normal. On it sat a box of brightly colored condoms, extra sensitive lube and some tissues. Eugh. Not so normal. Had I stumbled onto the set of a porn movie? Shit. Had Monster Dick and I made a porn movie? I wracked my brain, trying to dredge up one small memory as to how I’d ended up here. Nope, Nothing. Nadda. Not. A. Thing. Alcohol inflicted amnesia sucked. There was no way I could sneak out without waking him. Not with this guy; not this time. Inhaling a breath, I gathered up what scraps of dignity I had left and counted to three before slowly turning around... No frigging way. This had to be a nightmare. It was worse than sleeping with a stranger. Worse than starring in a porn movie. I’d just slept with my number one enemy: Colt Spencer. He was a guy I’d grown up with. A few years back his dad and my mom had dated. Bottom line was, the fallout had been messy. No, that was a lie: The whole relationship had been messy. Mike Spencer was a drunk, and not a nice one at that. From what I’d saw his son wasn’t much better. He was always partying and using women. My subconscious prodded me. Uh, hypocrite much, Darcy? After all, here I was, lying hungover in my one night stand’s bed. I decided I’d deal with that thought later and instead focused my attention back to Colt. He was staring at me with those giant baby blues, a wicked smile curving up his handsome face. The asshole knew exactly what he had been doing. While I’d been freaking out about being here, he’d been awake the whole time, stopping me from slipping out. I wriggled into an upright position, twisting the material of my shorts and top. Hang on a sec - Why was I still fully clothed? Okay, now that was a first. My throat felt there had been a lump of sandpaper wedged there. “Did we, uh - you know?” Colt’s smile widened, a sweep of his dark lashes brushing tan cheeks. My heart contracted. Oh my. I’d never seen his face this near before. Usually when you saw somebody close up, you could make out their imperfections. Not Colt. He looked even better like this. I could make out every tiny freckle, the flecks of gray in his blue eyes something I hadn't noticed until now. I hit myself a mental slap. Time to pull myself together. Whatever I was feeling, it was just remnants from last night. Left over pheromones lingering in the air. Of course that’s what it was… It had to be. More silence. Well, this was fucking awkward. “Did we?” I said again, my voice rising a notch. Come on Colt, put me out of my misery. “Darcy, I don’t screw chicks that are too drunk to remember. If we had sex, trust me, it would be something you’d want to remember.” I rolled my eyes and bit out a retort. “Awfully full of yourself, aren’t you?” But then I knew Colt Spencer. The second he’d began noticing women, he’d thought he was God’s gift to them. Most of them would agree. After all, it had been around the same time they had begun to notice him. After waking up to that thing pressing into me, I could see - or should I say feel - why. “If we didn’t have sex, do you mind telling me how the hell I ended up in your bed?” I squeezed my eyes closed as I spoke, more memories from last night slotting into place. I’d lost Lorna and Jacqui. Remembered Lorna telling me she wanted to hook up with Sam. And tequila shots, I remembered them, how they’d burnt the back of my throat. There had been a lot of tequila shots. After that my mind was blank. The sound of Colt’s voice made me open my eyes. “What can I say? You followed me back here. Begged me to have sex with you. When I didn’t, you climbed into my bed and fell asleep. Can’t blame you really.” Heat rushed to my cheeks. “You’re lying. I wouldn’t beg you sleep with me. Not even if you paid me a million bucks.” He shrugged, one muscular shoulder lifting from under the blankets. “If that’s what you wanna think, go right ahead.” Shame engulfed me. He was right. My drinking had been getting worse these past few years. After every incident like this, I vowed to stop. It worked for a little while, but then something always seemed to drag me back down, luring me onto a path I knew was destined for no good. Want to know the worst of it? It wasn’t about the sex. I just liked to let guys fuck me. It was good to feel wanted, if only for an hour or so. Some of those guys expected commitment. To me, even that word was a no-no. The very thought of relationships terrified me. They'd made a mess of my mom, and no way was I going to be a fool like her. My eyes shifted to the neon green numbers flashing from a clock next to the bed. All hostility towards Colt was forgotten for a second. “Shit! Please tell me that’s not the right time? I’m going to be late for work.” Throwing the blankets back, I began to scramble from the bed. Colt sat up, his own half of the blankets puddling down around him. He stretched lazily, the muscles in his body rippling as he lifted his arms. The sight of it quickened my pulse, making me pause in my tracks, everything else forgotten. His chest was tatted, a tribal design covering one side, the ink bleeding down in swift artistic swoops onto his shoulder and arm. My mind went blank, only one thought remaining. What would it be like to enjoy that powerful body of his? A naughty part of me wished I had had sex with him. I’d heard the stories. He was an animal in bed: lasted for hours and didn’t stop until you were satisfied. I didn’t think I’d ever been with a guy who cared whether I’d came. How pathetic. The deep rumble of his voice dragged me from my thoughts. “Yeah that’s the right time.” Shoot. That gave me twenty minutes to get ready and go to work. Now was not the right time to commiserate over my rubbish sex life. My mind did a quick calculation. If I ran I could make it. Maybe. “Yeah? Well I’m leaving. Go back to sleep and keep dreaming Colt, ‘cos that’s the only time you’ll hear me asking to have sex with you.” My hand slipped under the bed, bypassing socks and fluff until it latched on the pointed heel of a shoe. I slid it on my foot and hobbled about, looking for its match. If I didn’t find it soon I was going to be late. There was no way I could show up at work minus a shoe. Colt was propped up in bed watching, an amused smile on his face. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of asking. No way. Instead I walked – okay, make that hopped - with as much dignity as I could from room to room. There was no shoe in sight. Time was ticking on. “Have you seen my shoe?” I finally burst out. “Try the couch, Cinderella.” A lone shoe was sitting there, nestled under a pillow. How had I not spotted it before? Sliding it onto my foot, an uncomfortable feeling washed over me. I’d never been in a situation where I had spent the night and not screwed the guy. Should I say goodbye? This would be so much easier if I hadn’t ignored Colt for years. It hadn’t always been like this with us. We’d grown up together; hung out as kids on Sandy Bay beach most summers and watched the tourists that came and went. Colt had even stood up for me in school. When Michael Sommers had out a bug in my lunch it was Colt who chased him all around the playground. Then he had become a womanizing asshole. Grabbing my bag, I headed for the door. Colt’s voice called out after me, teasing. “You’ll call me right?” I rolled my eyes. “Dream on.” I said, flipping him the bird over my shoulder. I ran as well as I could down the metal steps outside his apartment. God knows how I had managed to walk up them drunk. Luckily I didn’t have to go far to my office job. Colt’s apartment was above his garage on Main Street. I’d never be able to look at him again, not after this morning. Never be able to get my car fixed at his garage. That meant I’d have to drive to the next town. Shoot. How was I going to manage that if my car was broken? The thoughts ran through my head as my feet beat against the pavement. Running in heels was a killer. Taking them off mid-run, I looped them between my fingers. The hot tarmac burned the soles of my feet, but I had to bear with it. I couldn’t be late. Not again. Mrs. Crawford would fire my ass so fast, and I’d only had this job a month. I couldn’t afford to lose it. Not when I was saving for my own place. Or at least, trying to. I was twenty-four and needed out from under my mom’s roof for once and for all. Meeting a different ‘guy friend’ of hers every week over breakfast was not fun. Breakfast. Now why had I to go and think of that? My stomach grumbled, the smell of fresh bread calling out to me from Momma Jean’s bakery. My feet hit the ground faster than I thought possible, passing the candy striped awning and neat planters at an incredible speed, just so I wasn’t tempted to nip in and grab one of her famous melt-in-your mouth, flaky pastries. My legs were quivering by the time I got to the brass sign swinging in the breeze. The spiral font announced I had arrived at ‘Crawford & Langley’, our town’s local law firm. I burst in the door breathlessly, sweat clinging to every part of me. My feet only got a couple of inches through the door when Mrs. Crawford pounced. “You’re late.” I stammered for an excuse. “I know, and I’m sorry, I - ” She wrinkled her nose, eyeballing the shoes in my hand. “No excuses Darcy. You positively stink of alcohol. I warned you the last time.” “Please Mrs. Crawford, I can explain.” I said, praying she didn’t ask me to explain. What was there to say? That my best friend Lorna had twisted my arm and forced me to go to a party with her, resulting in too many shots? Yeah, that wasn’t going to do it. She shook her head resolutely, her thin framed glasses quivering on her nose. “No. I’m not listening. Typists like you are a dime a dozen. I’m going to have to let you go. I knew I was taking a chance bringing you on. Maybe you will take your next job a little more seriously.” A bitter laugh escaped my throat. She had to be kidding. What next job? Sandy Oaks was a small town. Most of the businesses here had already hired – and fired – me. If I lost this job, I was royally screwed. “Listen, I hold my hands up. I know I messed up. I’ll do anything – anything at all – if you let me keep my job. Unpaid overtime, scrubbing the toilets. You name it, I’m your girl.” Mrs. Crawford’s penciled in eyebrows knitted together. She was considering my offer. A flutter of hope soared in my chest, but the shake of her head and set of her thin mouth sent it crashing down. “No Darcy. I’m sorry. You just aren’t right for Crawford & Langley.” She ushered me out the door, closing it behind me with a clang. A sober me might have had a chance of talking her into letting me keep the job, but I still felt half-drunk from last night, the alcohol polluting my bloodstream. “Yeah, screw you too.” I said to the closed bit of wood. It gave me zero satisfaction – but then, I was talking to as door. What did I expect? I should have said it to the old bats face. Crap. I had needed that job so bad. And now what? My car was back home and my phone’s battery dead. I didn’t even have enough change for the bus. There was only one thing I could do. I was going to have to swallow my pride and ask Colt for help. Although it was early morning, the sky was already cloudless and blue, warm sunlight spilling onto my face. If you wanted picture perfect, Sandy Oaks was your place. Each shop had a colorful and welcoming display, either in the window or outside. Even the cars were parked in neat orderly rows. To a tourist, the town seemed story-book perfect. Us locals knew better. Yeah, it was like a story-book, but not the quaint one outsiders imagined. Think more raunchy bonkbuster and you’d be on the right lines. This was a small town, and everybody’s business was ripe for the taking. There wasn’t much else to amuse us. Take Jean Vanderville for example. She owned Momma Jean’s bakery and made the best pies and buns for miles around. Didn’t stop her husband from knocking up Miss Mildrew, my old kindergarten teacher. Sandy Oaks thrived on scandal. Which was why the trip back to Colt’s apartment felt like the walk of shame in reverse. Now I wasn’t hurrying, I knew people would be talking. They’d be watching where I went, still dressed in last night’s clothes. Not that I cared. My reputation preceded me here and always would. ~ My fingers shoved Colt’s doorbell. Once, twice, then a couple more times for good measure. All my hopes were pinned on him being awake. By the time the door opened, the fingers on both my hands felt stiff. The words on the tip of my tongue dissolved like communion paper when I saw him. Colt was naked apart from a towel wrapped around his lower body. Rivets of water glistened as they ran down his muscular chest, showcasing a tattoo on his lower abdomen that was partially hidden by the towel. I gulped. If the power of positive thinking was true, that towel would be on the ground right now. Perhaps he was right and I had begged him for sex last night. “So, Cinderella returns.” A smile hovered on his face. “You really are an all or nothing chick Darcy, huh? You go years without talking to me and now I get the pleasure of your company twice in a day.” “Look I want to be here just as much as you want me here, but I need to borrow your phone charger and call a lift.” His eyebrows lifted. “Please,” the words grated on the edge of my teeth. Colt opened the door wider. “Come in.” He was so tall I only had to duck my head to pass under his arm. I caught a whiff of his woody aftershave as I did. It sent tingles to parts of my body I didn’t realize could tingle. Lifting a charger from the worktop, he tossed it to me. The noise of my cell pinging to life was one of the best sounds I’d heard all morning. Opening the phone book, I studied the list. My mom was at work. Lorna’s phone was off. Shit. I kept scrolling through the different names… I could dial Cooper – we’d had fun hooking up last week…. And he had a motorcycle. Colt was watching me, his blue eyes intense. I scowled back at him. Wasn’t he going to put some clothes on? “Why aren’t you at work?” “I decided on a change of career.” I said, still scrolling through my phone and trying my best not to focus on the naked chest in front of me. My willpower impressed me. There were so many numbers here – great for parties, but nobody I could rely on. “Which is?” “I haven’t decided yet.” “Old Mrs. C sack your ass, huh?” See, this was why living in a small town sucked. Tears stung the back of my eyes. I tried to swallow them down, but my mind wouldn’t listen. I bit the inside of my cheeks. Oh no. I was not going to cry. Definitely not. Not in front of Colt. The tears wouldn’t stop coming though, and I did it. I cried. It was the first time I had ever cried in front of a guy. Burying my wet face in my hands, I hoped to stifle the sobs that came from nowhere. Colt was beside me in seconds. The arm he slid around my shoulders was all it took for me to exchange my hands for his neck. I inhaled his scent, savoring how good he smelled up close. “Hey don’t cry.” That only made the sobs worse. “What were you doing ‘roundthere anyway? Typing? ‘Cos I’m looking for a receptionist for downstairs. I’m willing to give you a go.” “You’re just saying that,” I sniffled. “I don’t want a pity job.” “I’m not. The ad was all ready to go out in next week’s paper. I’ll just ring and cancel it. Say the position has been filled.” “Why would you do that? I’ve been a bitch to you.” “Call it a fresh start. For both of us.” COLT You know the way some people can get lost in a book for hours? Car engines were my book. Life could be going to hell, but if I was focusing on an engine, things never felt as bad. Fixing up cars was one thing I was in control of. It was one of the only things I was good at. That's why this garage was my sanctuary. The stacks of tires and raised trucks had been my playground as a kid. Once I smelled the smoky fumes of an exhaust, I knew I was home. All my problems were drowned out by the idle chat on the radio, the clank of my wrench as metal hit metal. The tool was in my hand now, twisting from left to right as I thought about the job I’d offered to Darcy. I still couldn’t believe she had accepted it, not even a day later. Now it was just a waiting game. She was due any second now. I didn’t think I’d looked at a clock more in my life. “Hey.” The sound of her voice shifted my attention from the car I was working on. Turning around to greet her, I almost swallowed my tongue instead. Her long legs were showcased in black stockings, a matching tight skirt hitting her knees. The white shirt she wore was modest, buttons running from her navel all the way up to her neck, but I could still make out the outline of her lacy bra. She leaned forward to fix her shoe, her breasts straining against the thin fabric. How the fuck was I going to concentrate with her around? I hadn’t thought this job offer through. Half the cars in town would be driving down Main Street with their wheels rolling off. “I really appreciate this job.” My fingers found the latch of the Ford’s hood, closing it down. Sweat and dirt clung to me, the black oil catching under my nails and staining even the smallest crevices on my hands. I wiped my palms on my overalls. The blue fabric was already covered in grease anyway. “D-don’t mention it,” I said. Correction – I stuttered. I fucking stuttered. What the hell was happening? This wasn’t me, getting tongue tied around a girl. But then this wasn’t just a girl, it was Darcy. Darcy followed my footsteps toward the office. Since my sister Louise had left for college, I had struggled to take care of the paperwork that came with the business. Reading wasn’t my strong point. But it was only after Darcy left yesterday that I had I realized what a state the tiny room had gotten into. A wall partitioned it from the rest of the shop floor, its long rectangular window over-looking the workshop. One of us would always be able to watch the other. Now why did that thought make me so hot? I’d made an attempt at clearing the room last night. All the litter was gone, the paperwork neatly piled on one side of the desk. Darcy spun on her heel. “I have this all to myself?” I nodded. She took a step to the wall and lifted my ‘Sexy Car Babes’ calendar. Her nose wrinkled. “You seriously expect me to use this?” “It stays.” She continued to flick through the pages of topless women sprawled over cars. “No way are her boobs real.” My hands lifted the calendar from hers, replacing it on the wall. She changed the subject. “I saw your brother on TV last night.” I tried to keep my voice nonchalant. “You did?” I loved my brother Jamie to pieces, but sometimes it was hard to escape the fact that while I was stuck in this town, struggling to keep the family business afloat, his life was going somewhere. But I wasn’t going to be bitter. Not about Jamie. My kid brother had it made. I was proud of him and of what he had achieved. He had worked damn hard for it. “There was some football special on the local news,” she explained. “I must have missed it.” The sound of heavy footsteps stopped us both mid conversation, the scent of alcohol invading the room. Here was one obstacle I hadn’t taken into consideration. “Colt, where the hell are ya?” My dad’s voice called out, sounding pissed as usual. I could see him now, through the window. Darcy’s body stiffened. It was subtle, but I noticed it. She focused on straightening the calendar, keeping her back to the doorway that my dad now filled, his tall frame blocking out the light. It didn’t take a genius to see he was drunk. He was always fucking drunk. I already knew why he was here. Sure, I might have helped save this place after my uncle had died, but legally it was still my dad’s. “The hell she doing in my garage?” He said, the venom in his voice directed towards Darcy. “She works here,” I snapped. “Humph.” His beady eyes ran over Darcy’s body longer than I liked. “She anything like her mom we all know how she passed that interview.” My feet were already moving towards him, but Darcy was quicker than me. She spun on her heel, her face a furious red. “Don’t you dare talk about my mom! Her name’s too good to even touch your lips.” My dad gave a bitter laugh. “Sweetheart, more than my name has touched her lips.” “What the hell do you want?” The words escaped through gritted teeth, but my dad ignored me, continuing to focus his attention on Darcy. “Has Colt been filling your head with stories, telling you this place is his? He‘ll never own it. This business is meant for my real son. The only true Spencer boy. Once he quits messing around playing ball and starts doing a real job.” The words should have stung, but they didn’t. Not anymore. I was glad I wasn’t related to this mess. Hadn’t I known since I was knee high I was different from my brother and sister? Known that the man who had been left to raise us after our mom walked out wasn’t my real dad. How could I not? He’d hated me from the moment he’d saw me. “Does a real job - You’re fucking with me, right? Jamie has more talent in his left finger than you’ll ever have.” The man in front of me snorted. In his mind he was right. He was always right. Unlocking the desk, I pulled out a tin cash box and counted out a bunch of twenties from it. “Here. That’ll keep you in beer tokens for a while.” My dad fisted the money, greedily shoving it into his pocket. “Now look, I have a lot of work on, so unless you wanna help…” “Yeah I get the hint.” His breath was stale. Bloodshot gray eyes skimmed the surroundings. “Never thought I’d see the day there wasn’t a Spencer running this place.” I bit my tongue. Had to. But, boy, was it hard. The man was always primed for a fight. Today I wasn’t going to give him one. Darcy stared at me in disbelief, waiting until my dad had left before she spoke. “You pay him?” “I rent this place from him.” She shook her blond head slowly. “Wow.” A different voice called out from the garage, this one shrill and high-pitched. “Mr. Spencer? I’m here to pick up my car.” It must be Mrs. Royston. Usually I hated dealing with her - she would talk for hours about the four pet cats she owned, when really I didn’t give a shit. Right now though, I was glad for an excuse to escape Darcy’s dark eyes and the way the stared at me for the longest time, like they were seeing a side of me they never knew existed. DARCY As a kid, my favorite game had been dress up. That hadn’t changed. To me, each item of clothing was like a new layer of skin. I could be anybody I wanted. Nobody wanted to see the real Darcy; the one who hid underneath all those layers. She was boring. People wanted the bubbly, fun girl. I’d picked my outfit for the new job in Colt’s garage carefully. I wanted this job to work. Wanted to look professional yet sexy. For years I had been mad at Colt, but his job offer had me seeing him in a different light. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t planning on jumping his bones anytime soon – but it would be nice to feel his eyes on me in an appreciating way. The end result had been Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary meets Demi Moore in Striptease. I straightened a few of the pictures on the wall. Colt had only returned once, briefly after his customer left, to give me instructions for the rest of the day. Seeing his dad had unnerved me. If anything, he was an even bigger asshole than I remembered. The couple of months he’d dated my mom had been hell. They’d fought every night about his drinking - long screaming rows that lasted from dawn to dusk. The making up had been even worse. I knew I had made a mistake in tarring Colt with the same brush as his dad. Even if his past wasn’t shiny, he had a good heart. And after what I witnessed with his father? Colt had every right to make mistakes. It wasn’t like he had much support or guidance growing up. Memories of us playing together as children trickled into my mind. Colt had never been a cruel person. Not like his dad. My anger towards him had been misguided. But how did I say sorry? Just as I was thinking about him, Colt popped his blond head in the door. “Darcy, before you leave, could you-” His eyes shifted to the calendar on the wall, the remaining words swallowed up by silence. He stepped into the room, closing the door behind him. “What. Is. That?” Each word was pronounced slowly, his eyes never leaving the model or the pair of glasses and frizzy hairstyle I’d given her with a Sharpie. I shrugged off his obvious irritation. “What? I gave her a makeover. Wait ‘til you see Miss January.” Shaking his head, he came towards the desk and grabbed a piece of paper. “I’d rather not, thanks.” He was leaning over me now, writing something. It was hard to believe that just yesterday his half naked body had been pressed against mine. Taking a breath, his woody scent invaded my senses, a reminder of the hard muscle his blue overalls covered. I focused on his hand instead, on the fingernails that were black with hard work and grease. Whatever he was writing on the paper was almost illegible. But then, reading over the files earlier, I’d discovered something. Colt Spencer was dyslexic. His handwriting was little more than a scrawl, with lots of letters written back to front. I chewed my pen lid. I wanted to say something smart or funny to him. Wanted him to like me, but my mind was blank. This never usually happened with guys. A thought popped into my head and I dropped the pen onto the desk. “Do you remember when we were kids, you put gum in my hair? I had to get my cousin Callie to cut it out. My mom would have went crazy if she’d seen that.” He set the paperwork back onto the table. “Yeah, you were a freckly, snot nosed terror.” His blue eyes ran over me, a playful smirk lingering at his lips. “Still are.” I stuck my tongue out at him instinctively. “Yeah? Well you’re still an ass.” I shot back. We continued to stare at each other. I didn’t miss the way Colt’s eyes travelled from my eyes to my mouth and back again. It sent heat curling through the pits of my stomach, rising up through my throat and coloring my face. Just looking at him made my panties wet. His eyes traveled over my face. “You wanna go to dinner tonight?” “You aren’t serious? I didn’t think taking girls to dinner was your thing.” Those same eyes twinkled. “Maybe I’m willing to make an exception.” Adrenaline thrummed through my veins, making me feel more alive than I’d felt in forever. I was enjoying this exchange with him. Leaning slightly forward, I tilted my head. “Yeah? Well maybe going to dinner with guys isn’t my thing.” “Not even one you spent the night with, huh?” I slung my bag over my shoulder and smiled. “Definitely not those guys.” I glanced up at the clock, willing the hand to move a little faster. Every fiber of my body was screaming at me to give in and go to damn dinner with him. Before I could allow myself to be sucked into an inevitable mess, the big hand hit the number twelve. I was saved. I managed to force both my feet towards the door. “Bye Colt. I’ll see you tomorrow.” The words were thrown over my shoulder. I didn’t even look back at him, in-case my willpower dissolved. All I could think of when I saw him next to that desk was what it would feel like to allow him to fuck me on it. ~ The house was empty when I got home, although the smell my mom’s vanilla perfume still lingered in the hallway, telling me I must have just missed her. An assortment of different outfits were strewn over a chair, a mixture of short dresses and skirts. A piece of paper was all that sat on the table. I picked up the hastily scrawled note. Dinner’s in the fridge. I opened the refrigerator and was greeted by a lonely looking plate of cold meat and salad. My stomach grumbled. Maybe I should have accepted Colt’s offer of dinner. Closing the door, I lifted the pile of clothes and dumped them on top of the bed in my mom’s room. Sometimes it felt like I was the parent. When was she going to grow up? It seemed that she was out every night, leaving me to do all the chores. The sooner I had my own place, the better. To do that though I had to hold a job down for more than a couple of weeks. The rest of the day stretched ahead of me. There was a load of things I could do: clean the house, top up my tan…They all paled in comparison to what - or who - I really wanted. Slipping into a bikini, I slathered on a few dollops of suncream onto my hands and layered my body with it. Heat soaked into my skin, but I couldn’t relax. I was restless. Too restless. Every time I closed my eyes I saw Colt. Screw it. Picking up my phone, I fiddled with the buttons. He answered on the second ring. “Does that offer for dinner still stand?” There was silence on the end of the line. When he did speak, he sounded taken aback. “Yeah, always Darcy.” “And after?” “Whatever you want…” He gave a deep laugh, sounding more like the confident, cocky Colt I knew. “I’m happy to let you test-ride my bed again.” The corners of my mouth lifted. I licked my lips nervously, glad he couldn’t see the heat in my face. “Okay, let’s get one thing straight. I don’t do relationships. Sex is fine - on the condition my job stays secure, even if things go sour.” There was silence from Colt. And then, “I’ll pick you up in twenty minutes.” “Deal.” I hung up. Shoot. Twenty minutes to get ready. How was I going to manage that? I showered quickly and tossed on a cute lace camisole and jeans. Just as I was finishing untangling my hair with a brush, Colt’s horn beeped outside. I hopped into the car, feeling his eyes travel over me slowly. It was though he was mentally undressing me. “Hey,” I said, feeling shy all of a sudden. He cranked the ignition. “Hey yourself.” He turned the car left. “You hungry?” “Starving,” I replied. He flashed a crooked grin my way. “So am I. Two secs - I just have to stop by Grams first and drop in her meds. She’s expecting me” “No problem.” The lie slipped between my teeth. I couldn’t tell him that the street we were heading towards was the one street in this town I tried to avoid. My uncle lived on this street. I hated seeing him; hated knowing it was because of his quick fists and temper my cousin Callie and aunt Dina had ran away. Colt eased the car into his grandma’s driveway and jumped out. I slid down in my seat, trying to look anywhere but the house across the road. A few minutes passed. Gradually, my eyes travelled towards Callie’s old house. The blinds were wide open and I didn’t want to look, but I just couldn’t help myself. I could just make out the outline of my uncle. He didn’t leave the house much and it had been years since I’d last bumped into him in the street. Word was he was an alcoholic now. Colt slid back into the drivers seat. “Ready?” I returned his smile with one of my own. “Sure am.” “You any ideas where you want to go?” I bit down on my lip. “What about Pablo’s?” I said, naming a fancy sea-food restaurant near Sandy Bay that I had been dying to try. “Sure. That sounds good.” COLT My heart had sunk when Darcy mentioned Pablo’s. Ever since I’d gotten a bad bout of food poisoning from uncooked shrimp when I was a teenager, I’d hated sea food. About to suggest somewhere else, I slid another glance at her face. Her eyes were shining eagerly, the apples of her cheeks flushed pink. Fuck it. If seafood was what Darcy wanted, seafood was what she would have. I’d order bread-sticks if I thought she was happy. Hell, I was still reeling from the fact she’d even agreed to dinner with me. I knew I was punching well above my weight with her. My car rolled into the parking lot. Holy shit, this place was fancy. Strings of fairy lights ran around the rustic wooden panels of the building, bathing the place in a soft golden glow. Couples sat at tables on the sandy beach, the white canopy's above them sheltering them with privacy. A hostess sashayed towards us. She was dressed in a green shirt the color of the company’s logo, the white shorts she had on showcasing her long legs. “Hey guys, welcome to Pablo’s.” She looked up from the menus she was carrying, the smile on her carefully made up face dropping into a scowl. Crap. I recognized her. A couple of months ago I’d taken her on a date. We’d spent a crazy night together and then I had proceeded to ignore her calls. No wonder she looked pissed. The girl slammed the menus down so hard on the table it shook. “Someone’s not getting a tip,” muttered Darcy under her breath. If the situation wasn’t so fucked up I would have laughed. I’d dreamed of this moment for so long, no way did I want a casual hook up to ruin it. “You ready to order your drinks?” The girl said briskly, her pad fisted in one palm. Darcy’s eyes skimmed menu. “Sure. I’ll take a strawberry daiquiri.” The waitress scribbled down her order. “And what about you Colt?” She snapped the words like my name was poison on her tongue. “Uh - a coke for me, thanks.” Darcy watched the girl saunter off. “You know her?” “Something like that. If it makes you uncomfortable we can go somewhere else.” She laughed. “Are you kidding? If we are going to get down to the nitty gritty, I probably have more notches on my belt than you do.” It was refreshing to hear a girl talk as honestly as she did, although I hated the thought of her being with all those guys. I wanted to be the only one now. “What made you agree to dinner?” I asked. The question had been playing on my mind ever since her phone call earlier. “Truthfully? The main reason was your loyalty. I saw how you defended your brother to your dad. I liked that.” She fiddled with the salt shaker. “I could relate.” There was a strange warmness in my chest. I was used to girls complimenting me on my looks and skills in the bedroom. Never once had anybody ever praised something I’d done like that. I buried my face in the menu, not wanting her to see how a few words had unnerved me. The fancy scroll writing was difficult to read. It looked like I really was ordering the bread-sticks then. The hostess came back. She slammed a glass onto the table, so hard some of the coke spilled onto my trouser leg. Darcy closed her eyes and inhaled before standing up. “Screw this place Colt. Let’s go somewhere else.” Grabbing her bag, she brushed past the girl and hit her hard enough with her shoulder that the other drink spilled down her uniform, staining her white shorts a deep red. Not looking back, I threw a handful of notes onto the table to pay for the drinks and I followed Darcy onto the beach. Had this night been ruined before it has even begun? I closed my eyes, wondering should we head back to the car, when I felt a small hand slip into mine. “You want to go for a walk?” Darcy asked. I smiled, savoring the smell of the sea and the sounds of the waves nearby. Perhaps this night hadn’t been ruined. It was hard to believe this was the same coastline the party had been at a few nights back. Never in a million years when I had watched Darcy dance on the beach a few days ago did I think I would be walking along it now with her, hand in hand. “Where now?” I asked. Darcy pointed up ahead in the distance, towards a burger van. “You fancy hotdogs?” ~ The night was over before I wanted it to end. I pulled my car into the driveway of Darcy’s house, my cheeks sore from laughing so much. She screwed up her face at the sight of her mom’s car there. “I would invite you in, but it looks like my mom’s back.” The small kiss I placed on the tip of her nose felt so natural, I could imagine myself doing it forever. “That’s okay. You wouldn’t want to be late for work tomorrow,” I joked. She groaned. “Don’t remind me - my boss can be such a dick.” “Your boss might ask you to stay behind tomorrow for that remark.” Her eyes twinkled. There was a trace of laughter in her voice. “Yeah? Maybe I’d like that.” I tipped her face with one hand, so that the moonlight bathed it in a silvery glow. Fuck. I felt like a damned teenager on prom night. Gulping down the nerves that made my throat dry, I leaned in for a kiss. Darcy met my lips willingly. Her tongue sent shivers of desire jolting through me, sending my cock instantly hard. My hands tangled themselves in her hair, pulling her closer. I could kiss her like this all night. The outdoor light that flickered on sent me back to earth with a thud. “Darcy that you?” Lou-Ann’s voice rang out over the lawn. “Shit, my mom,” Darcy groaned. She grabbed her bag, her hungry eyes never leaving my face. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” I could only nod. Never had I needed - or wanted - a girl as badly as I needed Darcy. DARCY The next day I couldn’t stop staring at him. Couldn’t stop wondering what he would be like inside me. Every time he moved, no matter how small the gesture was, it sent my heart aflutter. I’d had a taste of him last night and it made my body crave him more. The day was relentless. Customer after customer came into the workshop, needing this and that done. Lunch was a hurried sandwich over the desk. Finally though, the clock hit five and it was time to pull the shutters down. Without the sun and outside noises, the place was eerily dark and quiet. My hand reached up and cupped Colt’s cheek. Did he want me to stay? We hadn’t talked about last night. My heart was hammering against my ribs, but I knew words weren’t enough to express how I was feeling. I pressed my mouth to his, the whole time terrified he’d pull away. Maybe he regretted last night. He didn’t. His tongue caressed my lips, softly, gently. The feel of his mouth on mine made me hungry; I wanted more. I parted my lips and his tongue slipped in, exploring the contours of my mouth. I could taste the coffee I’d made him, could smell the sweat and grease of his clothes. Kissing Colt was like an explosion in my mouth. It set every nerve on edge. My palm slipped down to between his overalls, where I could feel his cock straining against the material. He pushed me backwards, until the back of my legs hit a car. Two large hands wrapped around my waist, leaving black marks on my top. I didn’t care. In one swift swoop he had lifted me onto the hood, until we were eye to eye. His breath was on my face, hot and unsteady. Enjoying the power I had over his body, I unzipped his overalls slowly, feeling that huge cock of his jump in response. I wrapped my palm around it, amazed at how big it was. A low, guttural moan escaped Colt’s throat. He tipped his head back, pushing his muscular body against mine. The inside of my panties were soaking. All I could think of was feeling him between my thighs. This was so risky. Although the shutters were down, we hadn’t even locked the door. Anybody could walk in at any minute. The thought of being caught made me even more wet. Burying his face into my neck, the feather soft trail of kisses Colt left there made my toes curl in pleasure. His lips moved down, pressing against the gentle piece of skin at my collarbone. My breathing grew erratic. I wasn’t sure how much of this I could take. One of his hand slid into the top of my shirt, cupping my breast. His fingers moved expertly over my nipple, squeezing the nub and teasing it between his fingers. It stiffened with his touch, driving me crazy. I was on fire here. “You’re so perfect Darcy,” he whispered. The other hand moved under my skirt, skimming my hips and thighs before stopping on the most sensitive spot between my legs. His thumb glided over the thin cotton, massaging my clit in slow circular motions. I jerked in response to the shockwaves it sent through my body. Colt’s fingers moved up, until they were caught between the waistband of my panties. That’s where he stopped, like he was silently asking for permission. My breath hitched. This tiny strip of fabric was the one last boundary between us. I lifted my hips in reply. Colt inched the small bit of material down my legs. Impatient, I kicked them to the floor of the workshop and used my stocking clad legs to draw him closer, feeling my skirt creep up my thighs. The musky smell of my excitement filled the room, mingling with the scent of gasoline and oil. Colt’s breathing was heavy now. He stared at my cunt like a hungry man about to enjoy a feast. One of his large fingers dipped into my pussy. I whimpered. Another finger slipped in, both of them curling inside me. I was panting now, the momentum building up in my body. I was about to explode. All I could hear was our heavy breathing, the noise of his fingers as they burrowed in and out of me. The tip of his thumb circled my clit. Waves of desire shot through me. My hips bucked on their own, moving in rhythm with his hand. Colt’s breath tickled my skin. He was as turned on as I was. Getting me off was getting him off. “Oh my God,” I gasped. “Ohhh…” His hand sped up. I cupped the breast he’d been touching minutes before, tweaking the nipple as I felt my body spiral into a state of mind-blowing ecstasy. “I’m coming, Colt…fuck, I’m coming,” I panted. My pussy spasmed against his hand. His fingers stayed in my pussy as I came down from the earth shattering orgasm. “You like that, huh?” Still riding the blissful waves, I could only nod in reply. I wanted to give him something back. Tugging at his overalls and boxers, I freed his cock. It sprung out, the tip of his dick glistening with precum. Bending my head, my mouth hovered over his erection. Colt’s hands fisted my hair. Sliding my lips up and down the edge of his shaft, I swirled my tongue around the head, savoring the salty taste before taking it in my mouth. Colt groaned, tugging my hair. “Holy shit Darcy, that’s good,” he breathed. Encouraged by his reaction I opened my mouth wider and took him deeper, my head bobbing up and down. He thrusted his dick towards me until it hit the back of my throat. It made me gag but I didn’t care. I wanted to feel his cum there. I wanted to swallow it. Colt gave a shuddering sigh. “Fuck fuck, fuck,” he groaned. I sucked harder, thrilled with the reaction my mouth could create. His dick slammed the back of my throat. It felt like he was fucking my mouth, the way he was pounding it in. My eyes watered, even though I didn’t want to stop. Then his cock twitches between my lips and I felt the cum shoot into my mouth, filling it with a bitter taste. I swirled it around for a second before gulping the creamy liquid down. We were both panting when I was done. I rested my head on his knee. Colt stroked my face, his fingers still wet from being inside me. I bit my lip and look up at him. “I want you to fuck me Colt.” His eyes darkened, his cock quivering against my cheek at the sound of those words. “Right now?” I nodded. He cupped the back of head and pulled me towards him. His tongue teased the roof of my mouth. A little shiver ran down my spine, knowing he must be able to taste the cum I’d just had there. His lips left mine reluctantly, our faces hovering inches from one another. “Turn around.” Colt’s voice was a low command sending shivers down my spine. I did as he said, bending over the hood of the car and splaying my legs. The car was cold against my bare skin. My skirt was already riding around my waist, so there was no need to hitch it up. I couldn’t wait to feel him inside me, even as I wondered how it was going to fit. His cock was enormous. Colt’s hands tightened on my waist, his fingers biting into the bare flesh of my hips. He nuzzled my earlobe. “You sure you’re ready for this?” “Yeah,” I breathed. The fact I was soaking wet helped him ease into me. He took it slow, each touch building the anticipation. His dick pushed against my passage carefully. It was a little softer after the explosion in my mouth seconds ago, but once he had burrowed in I could feel him grow rock hard again inside me, stretching the contours of my pussy. “Is this okay?” He breathed the words in my ear, slipping his dick a little further into my tunnel. “Harder.” Another thrust, this time deeper. I moaned in response. My fingers mindlessly clutched the car hood. I needed something- anything - to ground me from the onslaught he was unleashing onto my body. My hands slid down the metal. “Fuckkkk,” I moaned the words, half-conscious I was even speaking. He buried himself up into me, and I felt the walls of my pussy stretch to accommodate the full width of his cock. “I’ve wanted to fuck you for so long,” he whispered. I moaned in response. Each stroke of Colt’s cock was bringing me closer to another orgasm, until I was finally crying for release, every nerve in my body exploding in a downpour of fiery sensations. Kissing my neck, he slid out tenderly. Between my thighs was a sticky mess, the front of my skirt soaking wet. I didn’t care. For the first time in forever, I was happy. DARCY A week had passed since the mind-blowing sex on the car hood. Since then we’d had sex on cars, in cars and on the desk I was sitting at now. Sometimes we even made it to his bedroom. I couldn’t get enough of Colt. The second the garage was empty we were tearing off each other’s clothes; It was like a silent agreement between us. I glanced up from my desk, looking out the window of the office to admire the fine line of his body. As though he could feel my eyes on him, he glanced up, his mouth curving up on one side into a crooked grin. I gripped my pen tighter, feeling the heat coil in my body. I needed to concentrate on finishing up these receipts. Staring down at the lined paper, the words may as well have been a jumble. A feather light kiss brushed the back of my neck. Colt. I hadn’t even heard him come in. Two bits of paper were tossed onto the table. “What’s that?” I asked, picking them up curiously. “Tickets to Jamie’s home game… And we’re going to the after party, if you’re up for it.” You’re kidding me, right? When is it?” “Tonight. I wanted to surprise you.” He checked his watch. “So what do you say we shut up early and get ready?” I stared down at the tickets in my hands. Should I point out to Colt this wasn’t a date? I decided to let it slide. He knew things between us were casual: I’d made it clear when we first started hooking up. Instead I grinned up at him. “I say you’re on.” ~ This was my first time at a proper ball game. Sure I’d been to high school games, but tonight was different. It was the big league: The NFL. The game was being hosted a couple of towns away. Colt had driven us there, darting his car in and out of traffic and never slowing down once to make sure we got there on time. The combination of speed and excitement had me buzzing. Once there, all I could do was soak in the atmosphere of the town. It lingered like static in the warm night air as we drove through the busy roads. Red and white streamers and bunting hung from posts and storefronts. Everywhere I looked the streets were lined with throngs of people dressed in the team colors. Parking up, I followed Colt through the tiered rows towards our seats. One of his large hands was laced in mine, making sure I didn’t get lost in the crowds. This was typical Colt. He was always looking out for me without even having to be asked. Entering the stadium, I took a deep breath. The air smelt of a mixture of fast food, sweat and sticky drinks. Staying close to Colt, I weaved through the people until we got to where we were sitting. Even though I wasn’t a ball game regular, I knew these were good seats. Colt untangled his hand from mine and dropped it onto my thigh as we settled to watch the game. I shuddered. Just the feel of his fingertips on my bare flesh did unsavory things to my body. Focusing my eyes forward, I tried to concentrate on the field. Jamie Spencer, Colt’s brother - and the team’s quarterback - was a machine. I remembered him from high school. He’d been a couple of years below me and Colt. For as long as I knew him, he had only ever had eyes for my cousin Callie. Even when he had been a gangly kid he’d always been at her side. They’d done everything together. Then she had vanished. A pang traveled through my body as I remembered her disappearance and the aftermath, but I gave myself a shake. This was supposed to be a happy time. Nestling into Colt’s arm, I focused back in on the rest of the game. I had to be honest, I didn’t know much about the rules around football, but when the crowd began to whoop and cheer ecstatically, I knew it meant something good. Half the team piled onto Jamie’s back. “What happened?” I asked. Colt tossed his arm around my neck and planted a huge kiss on my lips. His eyes were shining. “Jamie scored, baby. We won!” COLT This wasn’t the first time I’d been to one the team’s after parties, but it was the first time I’d brought a date. Held in a private room of a nightclub on the outskirts of the town, this place was one of the hottest spots to be at - especially when the Cheetahs, the team my brother played for - were in town. Champagne flowed here like water, the strobe lights pulsating as they illuminated the dance floor. The scantily dressed groupies hung about here for Jamie, but the girls that couldn’t have him were more than happy to settle for his lookalike older brother. And in the past, I’d been more than happy to oblige. Not anymore. Those girls, with their caked on faces and teetering heels, hadn’t an inch on Darcy. Her fingers dug a little deeper into my arm. It was the only sign of her insecurity in a room full of strangers. To anyone else, one glance at her radiating smile and self-assured walk would make you believe she belonged here. I just wished she would see the Darcy I saw when she looked at herself. Running a finger over her knuckles, I bent forward so she could hear me. “You look amazing.” A song I recognized began to play from the DJ’s soundbooth, the loud thumping music blasting over peoples yelling. Darcy probably didn’t realize it, but it was the same song I had watched her move to on the beach weeks ago. “You wanna dance?” I asked. She loped her arms around my neck and stood on her tiptoes to kiss my chin. “When have I not wanted to dance?” Our bodies moved in time to the music, the friction of our layers of clothes rubbing together driving me insane. The chemistry I had with Darcy was through the roof. No other girl had ever made me feel the way she did. The feeling of contention that settled in my stomach every time I was with her was a hard one to get used to. She was mine. I knew it was early days, but that thought gave me hope for a future that before now, I’d seen nothing for. The song was almost over, the tempo of the music slowing down and beginning to fade into another record. Darcy curved her body into mine and leaned her head into my shoulder. “I’m having a nice time,” she murmured. One of my hands hovered at her hip. Tracing a pattern there with feather-soft strokes, I enjoyed how her body shivered under my touch. “So am I.” Leaning in for a kiss, I was interrupted by Darcy’s eyes peeking over my shoulder. “Hey, is that Jamie?” she said. I turned around to where she was looking. Sure enough the dance floor had parted, party-goers splitting to allow my brother to stride over. He looked like the cat that had got the cream. Two blondes dangled from each one of his arms, glowing like the trophies they were - for the night at least. Some instinct made me pull Darcy closer to me, even though I knew Jamie would never hit on her. We’d always had each other’s backs. Darcy looked the blondes up and down, her lip curling in undisguised dislike. I supposed she was feeling loyal to her cousin, Callie, the girl who had upped and left Jamie without a word. “Hey Jamie,” she muttered. Jamie frowned. I’d told him I was bringing a date, but hadn’t mentioned who. Now I wondered if that was wise. “So you two are dating?” he said. The next second happened in slow motion. Darcy began to speak. “No, it’s not like that -,” just as I said, “yeah.” Our eyes met and for the first time, there was no heat there. Sidestepping dancing couples, I pulled Darcy to the side, towards a quieter alcove in the room. My heart was beating frantically in my chest, louder than any music here. I could feel the blood rush to my ears. “What do you mean we’re not dating?” Her face looked pained. “I told you already Colt - that night I agreed to dinner, remember? This is a bit of fun. Nothing more. Sure, I like you - but I don’t do relationships.” “I thought we had something different.” I knew how pitiful those words sounded. Blinking and looking away, Darcy focused her gaze downwards. The fact she had nothing to say summed everything up for me. I meant nothing to her. “C’mon we’re going,” I said through clenched teeth. Darcy pulled on the arm of my shirt. “Wait Colt, I -” I shrugged her off. “Save it.” The worst part was that I knew she was right. I had just assumed Darcy and I were in a relationship because that was what I wanted. I couldn’t force her into anything - but this thing we had – this ‘friends with benefits’ - I wasn’t sure if it could continue. Not when it hurt so much. The drive back to her place was two hours of silence. The longer it dragged between us, the more the words got stuck in my throat when I tried to speak. Maybe I had been rash to leave the club like that, but this was the first time I’d actually felt my heart hurt. Now I knew what all those soppy love songs were about. When we got to Darcy’s house, she jumped out of the car and slammed the door without even looking my way. As for me - well, I wanted to slide down in my seat like a wimp and cry. I didn’t do that though. Instead I picked myself up, went back to my apartment and finished off a bottle of vodka, feeling my heart break with every sip. DARCY I had made a mistake. A huge mistake. But then, I was notorious for them. I lay on the couch, binging on Netflix and ice cream, wallowing in the cushions and my own self-pity as I wondered why was I on such a mission to screw up my own life. The phone was beside me, but I couldn’t even bring myself to call Colt and tell him I wasn’t coming to work today. After last night, I was sure he never wanted to hear from me again. The pain in his eyes was something I’d remember for a long time. I’d never had anybody look at me that way. My mom’s high heels clacked across the tiled floor. She bent forward and pulled open the curtains. The rays of sunlight streaming in made me wince. “You sure I can’t get you anything before I go?” she asked. I shook my head. Even that was an effort. No guy had ever made me feel like this. Colt had cracked some part of me I’d kept long walled up. The question was, had he fixed me or broken me a little bit more? “You need to stop moping and get up Darcy.” I slurped another mouthful of ice cream. “You wouldn’t understand.” The frozen dessert had started to melt on my spoon, bits of chocolate dropping down onto my pajamas top. I didn’t care. Nothing seemed to invoke any feeling. A rap at the door dragged my eyes from the television. Grabbing her purse, my mom pulled it open. I almost choked on my spoon when Colt walked in. His blue eyes hovered over me, taking in every inch of my one person pity party. I don’t think neither of us saw my mom leave. The door that slammed closed behind her was the only indication we were alone. We both stared at each other, the air thick with tension. Why did life have to be so hard? I wanted to be with Colt, but I was so scared of turning out like my mom and her failed string of relationships. Colt took a few steps into the room. The seat groaned from where he sat down beside me, his leg brushing against mine. My heart began to flutter in anticipation. Lifting the spoon from my hand, he licked where my mouth had been seconds before. The hairs on my neck lifted, my core tightening. Heat rose in my stomach. “Shouldn’t you be at work?” I said. Colt stared at me with those intense blue eyes of his. “You think I could set foot in that garage now that you’re not there? I knew what he meant. Every memory I had of being in there with him was a happy one. He dropped the spoon into my ice cream bucket. “Darcy whatever you want between us - anything you’re willing to offer, I’m happy with that. I just want you.” I cut him off and sat up suddenly, reaching out so my hand touched his arm. “Colt, I want you. I want to be in a relationship with you. I’m an idiot and a screw up and I’m scared.” I’ve never had a relationship before, but you’re the person that makes me want to learn.” His eyes widened. My words were taking me by surprise, but I realized what I was saying was true. “You mean that?” he asked. “’Cos I’m willing to take things slow…” I shook my head. “Slow isn’t for us. Crazy and intense – that’s us. That’s what we need.” His mouth landed on mine, claiming me in the way I needed. I never wanted it to stop. I’d felt the loss of him once and I’d do everything I could to make sure we never broke up again. Colt Spencer was mine, forever and always.

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