But why did he look at me like that? Act like…he still cares or something? No, more like he seemed angry and that sucks. I don’t want to feel his wrath. Yeah, I haven’t handled this situation between us in the best way but I don’t know how else to do this.
Avoiding my problems seemed like a good idea at the time.
Blowing out a frustrated breath, I grab my tray and make my way back to their table. Gabe’s date watches me with assessing eyes as I hand out their drinks, then whip my notepad back out of my apron and ask if they’re ready to order.
They are. Everyone orders first, Gabe waiting to be last and when I hear him finally speak, his deep voice rumbles across my nerve endings, making my legs quake. I try not to look at him but I do. Like I can’t help myself. He’s watching me too, that same intense look he gets right before he pounces. I used to like it when he pounced. It meant he was going to jump me, kiss me senseless, take off my clothes and have his deliciously wicked way with me.
But he doesn’t look like he wants to pounce on me in the good way. More like in the, I’m so pissed at you, I’m going to take you out, extremely bad way.
Not that he wants to hurt me…jeez. My thoughts are a total jumble. I’m not making any sense anymore, if I ever really did.
I smile at all of them when Gabe finishes, gathering their menus and taking them with me as I scurry away. I place their order in the kitchen and then catch my boss’s eye.
“I need some air. Give me a couple of minutes?” I ask.
“Of course,” Barb says, waving me toward the back door that leads outside. She’s so nice. She owns the place and has been running it for years, acting as the official hostess and surveyor of…everything. I don’t know how she does it all. She has to be at least sixty-five. “Take a short break. If any of your tables need anything, I’ll cover for you.”
Relief nearly overwhelms me. “Thank you,” I say wearily as I shed my apron, hang it on the hook by the back door and head outside.
The moment I step out into the warm, breezy night air I let my shoulders sag as I hit the back of the building. I lean against the wall and stare at the ocean, shivering a little when the breeze comes at me more intensely. I hear the waves crash against the surf, see the flicker of a bonfire in the near distance and I wrap my arms around myself, warding off the sudden chill that’s come over me.
It has nothing to do with the weather either. More like it’s all about Gabe and his chilly vibe.
He hates me. And I don’t like that, though I brought it on myself. I just need to deal. He’s moved on, he’s found someone new, so I shouldn’t be all freaked out over the fact that we share a class. What does it even matter? Maybe eventually we could be…friends. That would be, um, nice. Then we could get together on occasion and have coffee. Talk about his new girlfriends all while I fantasize about being with him again. Oh, that would totally suck but I’d get over it.
I freeze. Close my eyes. Lord help me, now I’m fantasizing that he’s actually out here with me, calling my name. Maybe I’ve gone crazy. That could be a valid conclusion. Things have been coming at me from all sides ever since I moved to this stupid town and now I’ve finally lost my mind completely.
“Luce. Look at me.”
I hear the crunch of his shoes on the gravel walkway and I realize that I’m not hallucinating. He’s really here, standing only mere feet away from me and he doesn’t sound mad. He sounds…
Chancing a glance at him, I see that yep, there he is. He doesn’t look mad either. No, more like he appears…devastated. Did I do that to him? Me? Do I really matter that much?
“Luce, please. Talk to me. You owe me an explanation at least, don’t you think?”
I face him head on and he steps closer, the light that’s right next to the back door casting him in an unnatural glow. The black polo shirt he has on—rich boy clothes, of course—fits him perfectly, straining across his chest, the sleeves tight around his biceps. His hair is longer on top, shorn close on the sides and he’s wearing jeans that mold to his legs perfectly.
I’ve touched that body. I’ve had my hands and mouth and tongue over all his warm, firm skin. And he’s done the same thing to me. I shouldn’t think these types of thoughts. I should tell him to go back to his date and forget we ever saw each other.
But I don’t say any of that. Instead, I take a step toward him. Then another. And still another, until I’m standing so close I can feel his body heat radiate toward me. I rest my hands on his chest, lift up on tiptoe and press my mouth to his.
Holy shit, I’m kissing Lucy. Her soft, damp lips move with mine, the familiar taste of her sending a shot of adrenaline through my blood. That she came to me willingly instead of pushing me away is such a tangible relief I feel weak. And she feels so damn good in my arms, her mouth fused with mine, our tongues tangling, I swear my brain short circuits.
Which makes sense because really, I should push her away. Demand an explanation for the shitty way she treated me. In fact, that sounds like a great idea.
But first, kissing.
I slide my arms around her waist and pull her into me. She whimpers against my lips, the sound almost breaking me and I deepen the kiss, if that’s even possible. Taking and taking from her until her chest is heaving with her heavy breaths and her fingers are clutching at the fabric of my T-shirt.
“Stop,” she chokes out as she tries to push me away. “Go back to your date, Gabe.”
Her words crash through my hazy brain, bringing me straight back into reality. I let her go and take a step backwards, trying to calm my breathing, ease my racing heart. I run a hand through my hair as we stare at each other silently and I can’t even begin to sort through the conflicting emotions warring inside of me.
But the biggest question running through my head is why the hell is she working? What’s the deal with that? She’s such a contradiction, a total mystery.
I want to know more. And I want her to trust me enough to open up and share all of those little details that make her who she is.
“What are you doing, Luce?” I ask, my voice raw and raspy. I clear my throat, never let my gaze leave her. I need an answer but of course, she dodges my question.
“You should go back inside,” she says quietly. “People are waiting for you.”
“Fuck that.” She flinches and I soften my tone. “Why’d you run when you saw me in class?”
She shakes her head, tearing her gaze from mine. “I, um, I panicked.”
“But why? You know I’d never hurt you or be mean to you.” I don’t get it. Beyond the sexual stuff, we were friends. At least, I thought we were. I like her. I thought she liked me too.
Lucy throws her hands up in the air, looking frustrated. “Because you cut me off. You stopped texting me and I figured you’d…moved on or whatever. Which clearly you have.” She waves a hand toward the building, her mouth twisted into a grim line.
“You’re not being fair,” I say. “Kelli’s just a friend.”
“With benefits?” Lucy lifts a brow. “You’ve told me more than once that you were a total player in college. Back to your playing ways then?”