Lick, p.36
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       Lick, p.36

         Part #1 of Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott
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Page 36

  Author: Kylie Scott

  “Not tonight. ”

  “No. Not tonight. Tomorrow then?”

  I opened my mouth but nothing came out. I had no idea what I wanted to say. My fingernails dug into my sides through my dress. What I wanted these days was a mystery even to me. To stop hurting would be nice. To remove all memory of him from my head and heart. To get my breathing back under control.

  “Tomorrow,” he repeated.

  “I don’t know. ” Now I felt tired, facing him. I could have slept for a year. My shoulders slumped and my brain stalled.

  He just stared at me, eyes intense. “Okay. ”

  Where that left us, I had no idea. But I nodded as if something had been decided.

  “Good,” he said, taking a deep breath.

  My muscles still trembled. Semen slid down the inside of my leg. Shit. We’d had the talk, but things had been different back then.

  “David, you practiced safe sex, right, the last month?”

  “You have nothing to worry about. ”

  “Good. ”

  He took a step toward me. “As far as I’m concerned we’re still married. So no, Evelyn, I haven’t been fucking around on you. ”

  I had nothing. My knees wavered. Probably due to the recent action they’d seen. Relief over him not taking to the groupies with a vengeance after our split couldn’t be part of it, surely. I didn’t even want to think about Martha, that tentacle-wielding sea monster from the deep.

  Sex was so messy. Love was far and away worse.

  One of us had to go. He made no move so I left, hightailing it back toward the club to find Amanda and Jo. I needed new panties and a heart transplant. I needed to go home. He followed me, opening the door. The heavy bass of the music boomed out into the night.

  I rushed into the ladies’ room and locked myself into a stall to clean up. When I came out to wash my hands, looking in the mirror was hard. The harsh fluorescent lighting did me no favors. My long blonde hair hung around my face a knotted mess care of David’s hands. My eyes were wide and wounded. I looked terrified, but of what I didn’t want to say. Also, there was the mother of all hickeys forming on my neck. Hell.

  A couple of girls came in, giggling and casting longing looks back over their shoulders. Before the door swung shut, I caught a glance of David leaning against the wall opposite, waiting, staring at his boots. The girls’ excited chatter was jarringly loud. But they made no mention of his name. David’s disguise was holding up. Arms wrapped around myself, I went out to meet him.

  “Ready to go?” he asked, pushing off from the wall.

  “Yeah. ”

  We made our way back through the club, dodging dancers and drunkards, searching for Amanda and Jo. They were on the edge of the dance floor, talking. Amanda had her cranky face on.

  She took me in and a brow arched. “Are you fucking kidding me?”

  “Thanks for asking me out, guys. But I’m going to head home,” I said, ignoring the pointed look.

  “With him?” She jerked her chin at David, who lurked at my shoulder.

  Jo stepped forward, wrapping me up in her arms. “Ignore her. You do what’s right for you. ”

  “Thanks. ”

  Amanda rolled her eyes and followed suit, pulling me in for a hug. “He hurt you so bad. ”

  “I know. ” My eyes welled with tears. Highly unhelpful. “Thanks for asking me out. ”

  I’d bet all the money I had Amanda was roasting David over my shoulder with her eyes. I almost felt bad for him. Almost.

  We left the club as one of his songs came over the speakers. There were numerous cries of “Divers!” Jimmy’s voice purred out the lyrics, “Damn I hate these last days of love, cherry lips and long goodbyes …”

  David ducked his head and we rushed out. Outside in the open air, the song was no more than the far-away thumping of bass and drums. I kept sneaking sidelong glances, checking he was really there and not some figment of my imagination. So many times I’d dreamed he’d come to me. And every time I’d woken up alone, my face wet with tears. Now he was here and I couldn’t risk it. If he broke me again, I wasn’t convinced I’d manage to get back up a second time. My heart might not make it. So I did my best to keep my mouth and my mind shut.

  It was still relatively early and there weren’t many people milling about outside. I held out my hand to the passing traffic and a cab cruised to a stop soon after. David held the door open for me. I climbed in without a word.

  “I’m seeing you home. ” He slid in after me and I scurried across the seat in surprise.

  “You don’t need—”

  “I do. Okay. I do need to do that much, so just …”

  “Alright. ”

  “Where to?” The cab driver asked, giving us an uninterested look in the rearview mirror. Another feuding couple in his back seat. I’m sure he saw at least a dozen a night.

  David rattled off my address without blinking. The taxi pulled out into the flow of traffic. He could have gotten my address from Sam, and as for the rest …

  “Lauren,” I sighed, sinking back against the seat. “Of course, that’s how you knew where to find me. ”

  He winced. “I talked to Lauren earlier. Listen, don’t be mad at her. She took a lot of convincing. ”

  “Right. ”

  “I’m serious. She ripped me a new one for messing things up with you, yelled at me for half an hour. Please don’t be mad at her. ”

  I gritted my teeth and stared out the window. Until his fingers slid over mine. I snatched back my hand.

  “You’ll let me inside you but you won’t let me hold your hand?” he whispered, his face sad in the dim glow of the passing cars and streetlights.

  It was on the tip of my mouth to say that it had been an accident. That what had happened between us was wrong. But I couldn’t do it. I knew how much it would hurt him. We stared at each other as my mouth hung open, my brain useless.

  “I missed you so fucking much,” he said. “You have no idea. ”

  “Stop. ”

  His lips shut but he didn’t look away. I sat there caught by his gaze. He looked so different with his long hair gone, with the short beard. Familiar but unknown. It wasn’t a long trip home though it seemed to take forever. The cab stopped outside the old block of flats and the driver gave us an impatient look over his shoulder.

  I pushed open the car door, ready to be gone but hesitating just the same. My foot hovered in thin air above the curb. “I honestly didn’t think I’d ever see you again. ”

  “Hey,” he said, his arm stretching out across the back of the seat. His fingers reached toward me but fell short of making contact. “You’re going to see me again. Tomorrow. ”

  I didn’t know what to say.

  “Tomorrow,” he repeated, voice determined.

  “I don’t know if it’ll make any difference. ”

  He lifted his chin, inhaling sharply. “I know I fucked us up, but I’m going to fix it. Just don’t make up your mind yet, alright? Give me that much. ”

  I gave him a brief nod and hurried inside on unsteady legs. Once I’d locked myself inside, the cab pulled away, its tail lights fading to black through the frosted glass of the downstairs door.

  What the hell was I supposed to do now?


  I was running late for work. Rushing about like a mad thing trying to get ready. I ran into the bathroom, jumped in the shower. Gave my face a good scrub to get rid of the remnants of last night’s make-up. Gruesome, crusty stuff. It would serve me right if I got the pimple from hell. Last night had all been some bizarre dream. But this was real life. Work and school and friends. My plans for the future. Those were the things that were important. And if I just kept telling myself that, everything would be fine and dandy someday.

  Ruby didn’t much mind what we wore at work beyond the official café T-shirt. Her roots
were strongly alternative. She’d planned to be a poet but wound up inheriting her aunt’s coffee shop in the Pearl district. Urban development had upped property prices and Ruby became quite the well-to-do businesswoman. Now she wrote her poetry on the walls in the café. I don’t think you could find a better boss. But late was still late. Not good.

  I’d stayed up worrying about what had happened with David in that alleyway. Reliving the moment where he told me he considered us still married. Sleep would have been far more beneficial. Pity my brain wouldn’t switch off.

  I pulled on a black pencil skirt, the official café T-shirt and a pair of flats. Done. Nothing was going to help the bruises beneath my eyes. People had pretty much gotten used to them on me lately. It took about half a stick of concealer to cover the bruise on my neck.

  I roared out of the bathroom in a cloud of steam, just in time to see Lauren waltz out of the kitchen, broad smile on her face. “You’re late for work. ”

  “That I am. ”

  I looped my handbag over my shoulder, grabbed my keys off the table and got going. There wasn’t time for this. Not now. Quite possibly not ever. I couldn’t imagine her ever having a good enough reason for siding with David. Over the last month she’d spent many nights by my side, letting me talk myself hoarse about him when I needed to. Because eventually, it all had to come out. Daily I told her that I didn’t deserve her, and she’d smack a kiss on my cheek. Why betray me now? I thumped down the stairs with extra oomph.

  “Ev, wait. ” Lauren ran after me as I stormed down the front steps.

  I turned on her, house keys held before me like a weapon. “You told him where I was. ”

  “What was I supposed to do?”

  “Oh, I don’t know. Not tell him? You knew I didn’t want to see him. ” I looked her over, noticing all sorts of things I didn’t want to. “Full hair and make-up at this hour? Really, Lauren? Were you expecting him to be here, perhaps?”

  Her chin dipped as she had the good grace to look embarrassed at last. “I’m sorry. You’re right, I got carried away. But he’s here to make amends. I thought you might at least want to hear what he has to say. ”
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