Rules of a Rebel and a Shy Girl(7)

By: Jessica Sorensen

I flop my head back against the headrest and stare up at a hole in the fabric ceiling. What the heck am I going to tell him? I usually bring an extra change of clothes, but I stayed up for half the night, trying to track my mom down at the local bar, and ended up sleeping in later than I normally do. I was in a rush when I left the house and forgot to grab my normal clothes.

Before I can come up with a solution, my phone rings, and the screen illuminates the dark car.

“Speak of the devil.” Summoning a breath, I answer, “Hey.”

“Hey,” he replies in a light tone. “I heard you got yourself into a bit of trouble.”

“Yeah, my car broke down again, but can I point out that you sound way too happy about the fact?”

“I’m just happy I get to come play knight in shining armor for you again.”

“Haven’t you done that enough? I thought you’d be tired of it by now.”

“Is that why you didn’t text me yourself? Because you thought I was a lazy knight in shining armor?” he jokes, but a drop of hurt resides in his tone.

“No, I thought you were in Vail,” I reply, eyeballing a car driving by.

The truth is that I wasn’t sure if he went to Vail or not. I just didn’t call him because 1). Beck already does too much for me. And while that seemed okay when we were younger, I feel pathetic for still needing his help all the time when I’m now an adult. 2). The whole seeing me in my work outfit thing. And 3). Beck comes from a very wealthy family and sometimes has a hard time understanding financial struggles, like why I don’t just get my piece of shit car fixed. Answering with a “because I can’t afford it” leads to an offer to give me the money, which I’ll never accept, despite his persistence.

There’s also a number four, but I hate thinking about that one, mostly because I hate that the number exists. But it has to. Otherwise, Beck and my friendship would become too complicated. The middle of senior year was a perfect example of this.

We were at a party, and after way too many drinks and way too much time dirty dancing, we ended up in Beck’s bedroom, which wasn’t odd—we did that a lot—but that night felt different. That night, his touches and smiles caused my stomach to flutter.

“You seem nervous,” he said as we sat on his bed, facing each other with our legs crossed. Music vibrated through the floorboards, and soft light filtered across the room.

“I’m always nervous,” I admitted. This was Beck, the only person who truly understood the depth of my anxiety. “You know that.”

“I do know that.” He tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “But that doesn’t mean I want to know why any less, so spill.”

“You’re just making me a little nervous tonight.” I didn’t know what else to tell him other than the truth, even if it had to do with him.

He pressed his hand to his chest in shock. “I am?”

I nodded, staring down at the comforter. “I don’t know why, though.” Or maybe I did, and I just didn’t want to admit it.

He cupped his hand underneath my chin and angled my head up. “I don’t ever want you to be nervous around me. What can I do to make it better?”

I shook my head, and for some wildly weird reason, my gaze roamed to his lips. I’d been doing it all night, wondering what kissing him would be like. I knew he’d kissed a handful of girls and heard rumors that he was a great kisser. I was curious, not just about kissing Beck, but kissing in general. I hadn’t done it. I had rules against it. Rules saved me from turning into my mother. Of course, with alcohol in my system, breaking rules seemed easier.

“I really don’t know,” I whispered, unable to remove my focus from his lips.

Silence took over except for the booming music playing downstairs. I wondered what other people were doing right now, what my friends were up to. Were they having more fun than me? Doubtful since my most fun moments were with Beck. Plus, he made me feel so safe, especially when he hugged me. Sometimes, I wished I could stay in his arms forever. Life would be so much easier that way.

“Wills.” His voice was low and husky.

I tore my eyes away from his mouth and met his gaze. His eyes were blazing with an indecipherable hunger. I couldn’t figure out what was causing the look until he leaned in and grazed his lips against mine.

I squeezed my eyes shut, parted my lips, and for a heart-stopping, soul-burning, mind-blowing moment, life was perfect. Then I snapped out of my stupidity and remembered life wasn’t perfect. I had lived in imperfection since I was six.

Panic rose inside of me, and I ran like a coward.

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