Beautiful disaster, p.15
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       Beautiful Disaster, p.15

         Part #1 of Beautiful series by Jamie McGuire
slower 1  faster

  I parted my lips, letting Travis’s tongue find its way to mine. “I want you,” I said.

  Suddenly, the kiss slowed, and he tried to pull away. Determined to finish what I had started, my mouth worked against his more anxiously. In reaction, Travis backed away until he was on his knees. I rose with him, keeping our mouths melded together.

  He gripped each of my shoulders to hold me at bay. “Wait a sec,” he whispered with an amused smile, breathing hard. “You don’t have to do this, Pidge. This isn’t what tonight is about.”

  He was holding back, but I could see it in his eyes that his self-control wouldn’t last long.

  I leaned in again, and this time his arms gave way just enough for me to brush my lips against his. I looked up at him from under my brows, resolute. It took me a moment to say the words, but I would say them. “Don’t make me beg,” I whispered against his mouth.

  With those four words, his reservations vanished. He kissed me, hard and eager. My fingers ran down the length of his back and settled on the elastic of his boxers, nervously running along the gather of the fabric. His lips grew impatient then, and I fell against the mattress when he crashed into me. His tongue found its way to mine once again, and when I gained the courage to slide my hand between his skin and the boxers, he groaned.

  Travis yanked the T-shirt over my head, and then his hand impatiently traveled down my side, gripping my panties and slipping them down my legs with one hand. His mouth returned to mine once more as his hand slid up the inside of my thigh, and I let out a long, faltering breath when his fingers wandered where no man had touched me before. My knees arched and twitched with each movement of his hand, and when I dug my fingers into his flesh, he positioned himself above me.

  “Pigeon,” he said, panting, “it doesn’t have to be tonight. I’ll wait until you’re ready.”

  I reached for the top drawer of his nightstand, pulling it open. Feeling the plastic between my fingers, I touched the corner to my mouth, tearing the package open with my teeth. His free hand left my back, and then he pulled his boxers down, kicking them off as if he couldn’t stand them between us.

  The package crackled in his fingertips, and after a few moments, I felt him between my thighs. I closed my eyes.

  “Look at me, Pigeon.”

  I peered up at him, and his eyes were intent and soft at the same time. He tilted his head, leaning down to kiss me tenderly, and then his body tensed, pushing himself inside of me in a small, slow movement. When he pulled back, I bit my lip with the discomfort; when he rocked into me again, I clenched my eyes shut with the pain. My thighs tightened around his hips, and he kissed me again.

  “Look at me,” he whispered.

  When I opened my eyes, he pressed inside me again, and I cried out with the wonderful burning it caused. Once I relaxed, the motion of his body against mine was more rhythmic. The nervousness I had felt in the beginning had disappeared, and Travis grabbed at my flesh as if he couldn’t get enough. I pulled him into me, and he moaned when the way it felt became too much.

  “I’ve wanted you for so long, Abby. You’re all I want,” he breathed against my mouth.

  He grabbed my thigh with one hand and propped himself up with his elbow, just inches above me. A thin sheet of sweat began to bead on our skin, and I arched my back as his lips traced my jaw and then followed a single line down my neck.

  “Travis,” I sighed.

  When I said his name, he pressed his cheek against mine, and his movements became more rigid. The noises from his throat grew louder, and he finally pressed inside me one last time, groaning and quivering above me.

  After a few moments, he relaxed and let his breathing slow.

  “That was some first kiss,” I said with a tired, content expression.

  He scanned my face and smiled. “Your last first kiss.”

  I was too shocked to reply.

  He collapsed beside me on his stomach, stretching one arm across my middle, and resting his forehead against my cheek. I ran my fingers along the bare skin of his back until I heard his breathing even out.

  I lay awake for hours, listening to Travis’s deep breaths and the wind weaving through the trees outside. America and Shepley came in the front door quietly, and I heard them tiptoe down the hall, murmuring to each other.

  We had packed my things earlier in the day, and I flinched at how uncomfortable the morning would be. I had thought once Travis slept with me his curiosity would be satiated, but instead he was talking about forever. My eyes snapped shut with the thought of his expression when he learned that what had happened between us wasn’t a beginning, it was closure. I couldn’t go down that road, and he would hate me when I told him.

  I maneuvered out from under his arm and got dressed, carrying my shoes with me down the hall to Shepley’s room. America sat on the bed, and Shepley was pulling off his shirt in front of the closet.

  “Everything okay, Abby?” Shepley asked.

  “Mare?” I said, signaling for her to join me in the hall.

  She nodded, watching me with cautious eyes. “What’s going on?”

  “I need you to take me to Morgan now. I can’t wait ’til tomorrow.”

  One side of her mouth turned up with a knowing smile. “You never could handle goodbyes.”

  Shepley and America helped me with my bags, and I stared out the window of America’s car on my journey back to Morgan Hall. When we set down the last of the bags in my room, America grabbed me.

  “It’s going to be so different in the apartment, now.”

  “Thanks for bringing me home. The sun will be up in a few hours. You better go,” I said, squeezing once before letting go.

  America didn’t look back when she left my room, and I chewed my lip nervously, knowing how angry she would be when she realized what I’d done.

  My shirt crackled as I pulled it over my head; the static in the air had intensified with the coming winter. Feeling a bit lost, I curled into a ball underneath my thick comforter and inhaled through my nose; Travis’s scent still lingered on my skin.

  The bed felt cold and foreign, a sharp contrast to the warmth of Travis’s mattress. I had spent thirty days in a cramped apartment with Eastern’s most infamous tramp, and after all the bickering and late-night houseguests, it was the only place I wanted to be.

  · · ·

  The phone calls began at eight in the morning, and then every five minutes for an hour.

  “Abby!” Kara groaned. “Answer your stupid phone!”

  I reached over and turned it off. It wasn’t until I heard the banging on the door that I realized I wouldn’t be allowed to spend the day holed up in my room as planned.

  Kara yanked on the knob. “What?”

  America pushed past her, and stood beside my bed. “What in the hell is going on?” she yelled. Her eyes were red and puffy, and she was still in her pajamas.

  I sat up. “What, Mare?”

  “Travis is a fucking wreck! He won’t talk to us, he’s trashed the apartment, threw the stereo across the room … Shep can’t talk any sense into him!”

  I rubbed my eyes with the heels of my hand and blinked. “I don’t know.”

  “Bullshit! You’re going to tell me what in the hell is going on, and you’re going to tell me now!”

  Kara grabbed her shower bag and fled. She slammed the door behind her, and I frowned, afraid she would tell the resident advisor, or worse, the Dean of Students.

  “Keep it down, America, Jesus,” I whispered.

  She clenched her teeth. “What did you do?”

  I assumed he would be upset with me; I didn’t know he’d fly into a rage. “I … don’t know,” I swallowed.

  “He took a swing at Shep when he found out we helped you leave. Abby! Please tell me!” she pleaded, her eyes glossing over. “It’s scaring me!”

  The fear in her eyes forced only the partial truth. “I just couldn’t say goodbye. You know it’s hard for me.”

  “It’s something
else, Abby. He’s gone fucking nuts! I heard him call your name, and then he stomped all over the apartment looking for you. He barged into Shep’s room, demanding to know where you were. Then he tried to call you. Over and over and over,” she sighed. “His face was … Jesus, Abby. I’ve never seen him like that.

  “He ripped his sheets off the bed, and threw them away, threw his pillows away, shattered his mirror with his fist, kicked his door … broke it from the hinges! It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!”

  I closed my eyes, forcing the tears that pooled in my eyes down my cheeks.

  America thrust her cell phone at me. “You have to call him. You have to at least tell him you’re okay.”

  “Okay, I’ll call him.”

  She shoved her phone at me again. “No, you’re calling him now.”

  I took her phone in my hand and fingered the buttons, trying to imagine what I could possibly say to him. She snatched it out of my hand, dialed, and then handed it to me. I held the phone to my ear and took a deep breath.

  “Mare?” Travis answered, his voice thick with worry.

  “It’s me.”

  The line was quiet for several moments before he finally spoke. “What the fuck happened to you last night? I wake up this morning, and you’re gone and you … you just leave and don’t say goodbye? Why?”

  “I’m sorry. I—”

  “You’re sorry? I’ve been going crazy! You don’t answer your phone, you sneak out and, wh—why? I thought we finally had everything figured out!”

  “I just needed some time to think.”

  “About what?” he paused. “Did I … did I hurt you?”

  “No! It’s nothing like that! I’m really, really sorry. I’m sure America told you. I don’t do goodbyes.”

  “I need to see you,” he said, his voice desperate.

  I sighed. “I have a lot to do today, Trav. I have to unpack and I have piles of laundry.”

  “You regret it,” he said, his voice breaking.

  “It’s not … that’s not what it is. We’re friends. That’s not going to change.”

  “Friends? Then what the fuck was last night?” he said, anger bleeding through his voice.

  I closed my eyes tight. “I know what you want. I just can’t … do that right now.”

  “So you just need some time?” he asked in a calmer voice. “You could have told me that. You didn’t have to run out on me.”

  “It just seemed like the easiest way.”

  “Easier for who?”

  “I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about what it would be like in the morning, loading Mare’s car and … I couldn’t do it, Trav,” I said.

  “It’s bad enough that you aren’t going to be here anymore. You can’t just drop out of my life.”

  I forced a smile. “I’ll see you tomorrow. I don’t want anything to be weird, okay? I just need to sort some stuff out. That’s all.”

  “Okay,” he said. “I can do that.”

  I hung up the phone, and America glared at me. “You slept with him? You bitch! You weren’t even going to tell me?”

  I rolled my eyes and fell against the pillow. “This isn’t about you, Mare. This has just become one convoluted clusterfuck.”

  “What’s so difficult about it? You two should be deliriously happy, not breaking doors and hiding in your room!”

  “I can’t be with him,” I whispered, keeping my eyes on the ceiling.

  Her hand covered mine, and she spoke softly. “Travis needs work. Trust me, I understand any and all reservations you have about him, but look how much he’s already changed for you. Think about the last two weeks, Abby. He’s not Mick.”

  “I’m Mick! I get involved with Travis and everything we’ve worked for … poof!” I snapped my fingers. “Just like that!”

  “Travis wouldn’t let that happen.”

  “It’s not up to him, now is it?”

  “You’re going to break his heart, Abby. You’re going to break his heart! The one girl he trusts enough to fall for, and you’re going to nail him to the wall!”

  I turned away from her, unable to see the expression that went with the pleading tone in her voice. “I need the happy ending. That’s why we came here.”

  “You don’t have to do this. It could work.”

  “Until my luck runs out.”

  America threw up her hands, letting them fall into her lap. “Jesus, Abby, not this shit again. We talked about this.”

  My phone rang, and I looked at the display. “It’s Parker.”

  She shook her head. “We’re still talking.”

  “Hello?” I answered, avoiding America’s glare.

  “Abs! Day one of freedom! How does it feel?” he said.

  “It feels … free,” I said, unable to muster up any enthusiasm.

  “Dinner tomorrow night? I’ve missed you.”

  “Yeah,” I wiped my nose with my sleeve. “Tomorrow’s great.”

  After I hung up the phone, America frowned. “He’s going to ask me when I get back,” she said. “He’s going to want to know what we talked about. What am I supposed to tell him?”

  “Tell him that I’ll keep my promise. By this time tomorrow, he won’t miss me.”

  Chapter Ten

  POKER FACE

  Two tables over, one table back. America and Shepley were barely visible from my seat, and I hunched over, watching Travis stare at the empty chair I usually occupied before sitting at the end of the lunch table. I felt ridiculous for hiding, but I wasn’t prepared to sit across from him for an entire hour. When I finished my meal, I took a deep breath and walked outside to where Travis was finishing his cigarette.

  I had spent most of the night trying to form a plan to get us to where we were before. If I treated our encounter the way he regarded sex in general, I would have a better chance. The plan risked losing him altogether, but I hoped his enormous male ego would force him to play it off the same way.

  “Hey,” I said.

  He grimaced. “Hey. I thought you’d be at lunch.”

  “I had to run in and out; I have to study,” I shrugged, doing my best impression of casual.

  “Need some help?”

  “It’s Calculus. I think I’ve got it handled.”

  “I can just hang out for moral support.” He smiled, digging his hand into his pocket. The solid muscles in his arm tensed with the movement, and the thought of them flexing as he thrust himself inside me replayed with vivid detail in my head.

  “Er … what?” I asked, disoriented from the sudden erotic thought that had flashed in my mind.

  “Are we supposed to pretend the other night never happened?”

  “No, why?” I feigned confusion and he sighed, frustrated with my behavior.

  “I don’t know … because I took your virginity?” He leaned toward me, saying the words in a hushed voice.

  I rolled my eyes. “I’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve deflowered a virgin, Trav.”

  Just as I had feared, my casual demeanor made him angry. “As a matter of fact, it was.”

  “C’mon … I said I didn’t want any weirdness between us.”

  Travis took one last drag of his cigarette and flicked it to the ground. “Well, if I’ve learned anything in the last few days, it’s that you don’t always get what you want.”

  “Hey, Abs,” Parker said, kissing my cheek.

  Travis gave Parker a murderous expression.

  “I’ll pick you up around six?” Parker said.

  I nodded. “Six.”

  “See you in a bit,” he said, continuing to class. I watched him walk away, afraid to endure the consequences of the last ten seconds.

  “You’re going out with him tonight?” Travis seethed. His jaw was clenched, and I could see it working under his skin.

  “I told you he was going to ask me out after I got back to Morgan. He called me yesterday.”

  “Things have changed a little bit since that conversation,
don’t you think?”

  “Why?”

  He walked away from me, and I swallowed, trying to keep the tears at bay. Travis stopped and came back, leaning into my face. “That’s why you said I wouldn’t miss you after today! You knew I’d find out about you and Parker, and you thought I’d just … what? Get over you? Do you not trust me, or am I just not good enough? Tell me, damn it! Tell me what the fuck I did to you to make you do this!”

  I stood my ground, staring straight into his eyes. “You didn’t do anything to me. Since when is sex so life or death to you?”

  “Since it was with you!”

  I glanced around, seeing that we were making a scene. People were walking by slowly, staring and whispering to each other. I felt my ears burn, and it spread across my face, making my eyes water.

  He closed his eyes, trying to compose himself before he spoke again. “Is that it? You don’t think it meant anything to me?”

  “You are Travis Maddox.”

  He shook his head, disgusted. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were shoving my past in my face.”

  “I don’t think four weeks ago constitutes the past.” His face contorted and I laughed. “I’m kidding! Travis, it’s fine. I’m fine, you’re fine. There’s no need to make a big deal of it.”

  All emotion disappeared from his face and he took a deep breath through his nose. “I know what you’re trying to do.” His eyes unfocused for a moment, lost in thought. “I’ll just have to prove it to you, then.” His eyes narrowed as he looked into my eyes, determined as he was before one of his fights. “If you think I’m just going to go back to fucking around, you’re wrong. I don’t want anyone else. You wanna be friends? Fine, we’re friends. But you and I both know that what happened wasn’t just sex.”

  He stormed past me and I closed my eyes, exhaling the breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. Travis glanced back at me and then continued to his next class. An escaping tear fell down my cheek and I quickly wiped it away. The curious stares of my classmates targeted my back as I plodded to class.

  Parker was on the second row, and I slid into the desk next to him.

  A grin stretched across his face. “I’m looking forward to tonight.”

 
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