Lick, p.2
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       Lick, p.2
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         Part #1 of Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott
Page 2

  Author: Kylie Scott

  My parents would kill me if they ever found out. I had plans, priorities. I was studying to be an architect like my father. Marriage to anyone at this stage didn’t fit into those plans. In another ten, fifteen years maybe. But marriage at twenty-one? Hell no. I hadn’t even been on a second date in years and now I had a ring on my finger. No way did that make sense. I was doomed. This crazy wedding caper wasn’t something I could hide from.

  Or could I?

  Unless my parents could not find out. Ever. Over the years I had made something of a habit of not involving them in things that might be seen as unsavory, unnecessary, or just plain stupid. This marriage quite possibly fell under all three categories.

  Actually, maybe no one need know. If I didn’t tell, how would they find out? They wouldn’t. The answer was awe-inspiring in its simplicity.

  “Yes!” I hissed and punched the air, clipping the shower head with the side of my fist. Water sprayed everywhere including straight in my eyes, blinding me. Never mind, I had the answer.

  Denial. I’d take the secret to my grave. No one would ever know of my extreme drunken idiocy.

  I smiled with relief, my panic attack receding enough so that I could breathe. Oh, thank goodness. Everything would be okay. I had a new plan to get me back on track with the old one. Brilliant. I’d brave up, go and face him, and set things straight. Twenty-one-year-olds with grand life plans didn’t marry complete strangers in Vegas, no matter how beautiful those strangers happened to be. It would be fine. He’d understand. In all likelihood, he sat out there right now, working out the most efficient method to dump and run.

  The diamond still glittered on my hand. I couldn’t bring myself to take it off just yet. It was like Christmas on my finger, so big, bright, and shiny. Though, upon reflection, my temporary husband didn’t exactly appear to be rich. His jacket and jeans were both well worn. The man was a mystery.

  Wait. What if he was into something illegal? Maybe I’d married a criminal. Panic rushed back in with a vengeance. My stomach churned and my head throbbed. I knew nothing about the person waiting in the next room. Absolutely not a damn thing. I’d shoved him out the bathroom door without even getting his name.

  A knock on the door sent my shoulders sky high.

  “Evelyn?” he called out, proving he at least knew my name.

  “Just a second. ”

  I turned off the taps and stepped out, wrapping a towel around myself. The width of it was barely sufficient to cover my curves, but my dress had puke on it. Putting it back on was out of the question.

  “Hi,” I said, opening the bathroom door a hand’s length. He stood almost half a head taller than me and I wasn’t short by any means. Dressed in only a towel, I found him rather intimidating. However much he’d had to drink the previous night he still looked gorgeous as opposed to my pale, pasty and sopping wet. The aspirin hadn’t done nearly as much as it should have.

  Of course, I’d thrown it up.

  “Hey. ” He didn’t meet my eyes. “Look, I’m going to get this taken care of, okay?”

  “Taken care of?”

  “Yeah,” he said, still avoiding all eye contact. Apparently the hideous green motel carpeting was beyond enticing. “My lawyers will deal with all this. ”

  “You have lawyers?” Criminals had lawyers. Shit. I had to get myself divorced from this guy now.

  “Yeah, I have lawyers. You don’t need to worry about anything. They’ll send you the paperwork or whatever. However this works. ” He gave me an irritated glance, lips a tight line, and pulled on his leather jacket over his bare chest. His T-shirt still hung drying over the edge of the tub. Sometime during the night I must have puked on it too. How gruesome. If I were him, I’d divorce me and never look back.

  “This was a mistake,” he said, echoing my thoughts.

  “Oh. ”

  “What?” His gaze jumped to my face. “You disagree?”

  “No,” I said quickly.

  “Didn’t think so. Pity it made sense last night, yeah?” He shoved a hand through his hair and made for the door. “Take care. ”

  “Wait!” The stupid, amazing ring wouldn’t come off my finger. I tugged and turned it, trying to wrestle it into submission. Finally it budged, grazing my knuckle raw in the process. Blood welled to the surface. One more stain in this whole sordid affair. “Here. ”

  “For fuck’s sake. ” He scowled at the rock sparkling in the palm of my hand as if it had personally offended him. “Keep it. ”

  “I can’t. It must have cost a fortune. ”

  He shrugged.

  “Please. ” I held it out, hand jiggling, impatient to be rid of the evidence of my drunken stupidity. “It belongs to you. You have to take it. ”

  “No. I don’t. ”

  “But—”

  Without another word the man stormed out, slamming the door shut behind him. The thin walls vibrated with the force of it.

  Whoa. My hand fell back to my side. He sure had a temper. Not that I hadn’t given him provocation, but still. I wish I remembered what had gone on between us. Any inkling would be good.

  Meanwhile my left butt cheek felt sore. I winced, carefully rubbing the area. My dignity wasn’t the only casualty, it seemed. I must have scratched my behind at some stage, bumped into some furniture or taken a dive in my fancy new heels. The pricey ones Lauren had insisted went with the dress, the ones whose current whereabouts were a mystery. I hoped I hadn’t lost them. Given my recent nuptials, nothing would surprise me.

  I wandered back into the bathroom with a vague memory of a buzzing noise and laughter ringing in my ear, of him whispering to me. It made no sense.

  I turned and raised the edge of my towel, going up on tippy-toe to inspect my ample ass in the mirror. Black ink and hot pink skin.

  All the air left my body in a rush.

  There was a word on my left butt cheek, a name.

  David

  I spun and dry-heaved into the sink.

  CHAPTER TWO

  Lauren sat beside me on the plane, fiddling with my iPhone. “I don’t understand how your taste in music can be so bad. We’ve been friends for years. Have I taught you nothing?”

  “To not drink tequila. ”

  She rolled her eyes.

  Above our heads the seatbelt sign flashed on. A polite voice advised us to return our seats to the upright position as we’d be landing in a few minutes. I swallowed the dregs of my shitty plane coffee with a wince. Fact was, no amount of caffeine could help me today. Quality didn’t even come into it.

  “I am deadly serious,” I said. “I’m also never setting foot in Nevada ever again so long as I live. ”

  “Now there’s an overreaction. ”

  “Not even a little, lady. ”

  Lauren had stumbled back to the motel a bare two hours before our flight was due to leave. I’d spent the time re-packing my small bag over and over in an attempt to get my life back into some semblance of order. It was good to see Lauren smiling, though getting to the airport in time had been a race. Apparently she and the cute waiter she’d met would be keeping in touch. Lauren had always been great with guys, while I was more closely related to your standard garden-variety wallflower. My plan to get laid in Vegas had been a deliberate attempt to get out of that rut. So much for that idea.

  Lauren was studying economics and she was gorgeous, inside and out. I was more kind of unwieldy. It was why I made a habit of walking everywhere I could in Portland and trying not to sample the contents of the cake display case at the café where I worked. It kept me manageable, waist-wise. Though my Mom still saw fit to give me lectures on the subject because God forbid I dare put sugar in my coffee. My thighs would no doubt explode or something.

  Lauren had three older brothers and knew what to say to guys. Nothing intimidated her. The girl oozed charm. I had one older brother but we no longer inte
racted outside of major family holidays. Not since he moved out of home four years back leaving only a note. Nathan had a temper and a gift for getting into trouble. He’d been the bad boy in high school, always getting into fights and skipping classes. Though blaming my lack of success with guys on my non-existent relationship with my brother was wrong. I could own my deficiencies with the opposite sex. Mostly.

  “Listen to this. ” Lauren plugged my earphones into her phone and the whine of electric guitars exploded inside my skull. The pain was exquisite. My headache roared back to sudden, horrific life. Nothing remained of my brain but bloody red mush. Of this I was certain.

  I ripped out the earphones. “Don’t. Please. ”

  “But that’s Stage Dive. ”

  “And they’re lovely. But, you know, another time maybe. ”

  “I worry about you sometimes. I just want you to know that. ”

  “There is nothing wrong with country music played softly. ”

  Lauren snorted and fluffed up her short dark hair. “There is nothing right with country music played at any volume. So what did you get up to last night? Apart from spending quality time heaving?”

  “Actually, that about sums it up. ” The less said the better. How could I ever explain? Still, guilt slid through me and I squirmed in my seat. The tattoo throbbed in protest.

  I hadn’t told Lauren about my grand having-good-sex plan for the night. She’d have wanted to help. Honestly, sex didn’t strike me as the sort of thing you should have help with. Apart from what was required from the sexual partner in question, of course. Lauren’s assistance would have involved foisting me on every hottie in the room with promises of my immediate leg-open availability.

  I loved Lauren and her loyalty was above question, but she didn’t have a subtle bone in her body. She’d punched a girl in the nose in fifth grade for teasing me about my weight and we’d been friends ever since. With Lauren, you always knew exactly where you stood. Something I appreciated the bulk of the time, just not when discretion was called for.

  Happily, my sore stomach survived the bumpy landing. Soon as those wheels hit the tarmac I let out a sigh of relief. I was back in my hometown. Beautiful Oregon, lovely Portland, never again would I stray. With mountains in the distance and trees in the city, she was a singular delight. To limit myself to the one city for life might indeed be going overboard. But it was great to be home. I had an all-important internship starting next week that my father had pulled strings to get for me. There were also next semester’s classes to start planning for.
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