Scorched (Frigid 2) - Page 11

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A Target pharmacy had exploded inside.

Allergy pills. Imodium. Tums. Cold meds. Red plastic bottles were sprinkled among them. I reached for the closest one, Sonata. The little blue and green pills of sleepy happiness rattled as I picked up the bottle. They really didn’t help me stay asleep longer, but less than thirty minutes or so after taking one, I was out cold or completely loopy. Wasn’t like that for everyone—my doc told me once that every person responded differently to sleeping aids, but for me, after taking the dose I was more than ready to end the day and rush toward tomorrow.

Always rushing toward tomorrow.

I smiled wryly as I twisted the lid off and shook a pill out. Tossing it into my mouth, I washed it down with what I realized, after I swallowed, was a Pepsi Max. A startled laugh escaped me. Sleeping pills and caffeine? I was a walking oxymoron.

It had been my junior year in college when I’d developed a mean case of insomnia. All that studying and those weird hours had formed a routine of only sleeping a few hours—usually around four in the morning—and I hadn’t been able to break it. I’d never meant to continue using them. God knows I knew these pills kicked off a whole different kind of habit, but now I had a hell of a time sleeping without them. Which was really lame when I thought about it, being that I was twenty-two and already popping sleeping pills at nine-thirty at night when I’d slept half the day away as it was.

Syd didn’t like that I took them. She wanted me to try something more natural. She also didn’t like the other pills sitting in my cabinet. And she really didn’t like that I… whatever. Being that Syd was well on her way to becoming a psychologist, she had a lot of opinions about a lot of things.

I’d just screwed the cap back on the bottle when there was a knock on the door, startling me.

“What the hell?” I left the bottle on the counter, next to the Pepsi, and walked into the living room. I wasn’t expecting anyone, so I had no idea who it could be since Syd would’ve texted or called before showing up.

What if it was a mass murderer? Or—or a neighbor who needed sugar, a sexy neighbor who was in the midst of baking cookies and needed a key ingredient?

Please be a hot dude who needed sugar.

Hurrying across the room, I placed my hands on the door and stretched up, peering through the peephole. “Holy shit.”

I had to be hallucinating, which seemed possible since those pills sometimes made me see some weird crap. And what I was seeing was bizarre. I recognized the light brown buzz cut, the chiseled cut of a jaw in profile.

Tanner was here.

Of course, he knew where I lived, but he’d never, in the history of ever, shown up unannounced for any reason. My heart dropped as I rocked back. Concern blossomed in the pit of my stomach. Had something happened? Oh my God, as a firefighter, would he know if something had happened to Kyler or Syd or even my family? Was that why he was here? Reaching down, I unlocked the door and threw it open.

“Tanner…” Everything and anything I was about to say died on my lips.

He’d turned to me, and his brilliant azure gaze collided with mine for the briefest of seconds before dropping in a slow perusal that glided from my eyes down to the tips of my blue-polished toes. But that gaze…it lingered in some areas more than others, halted in a way that made his stare feel like an actual caress. The air hitched in my throat. I felt sort of dizzy.

Then I realized what I was wearing.

Since I hadn’t planned on company, I wasn’t dressed for it—wearing cotton shorts that really weren’t much bigger than boy shorts and a cami that did nothing to hide anything.

Oh my God.

I was almost naked. Practically. Like, the entire length of my legs were visible and if he’d thought I was a proud owner of a thigh gap, he so knew differently now. There was no doubt in my mind that he knew how chilly I kept my apartment because of how thin my tank was, and I was not lacking in that department.

The longer he stared, the more conflicted I became about the whole thing. I wanted to dash back to my bedroom and layer up with clothing, but I also wanted him to look his fill.

But I didn’t have a body like Sydney or Mandie or Brooke. Or Clara Hansen, my freshman year roommate. I wasn’t tiny like any of them. I wasn’t straight up and straight down. My waist wasn’t miniscule and my stomach sure as hell wasn’t flat. It kind of did this weird concave thing, and right then, that damn pooch under my navel was probably visible through this freaking shirt. My hips weren’t slim. They were full, as was my ass. In other words, I would never strut around wearing this in front of a guy. Instead, I would strut with clothing strategically designed to hide all the flaws.

I’d sure as hell never caught Tanner’s attention in the past, never in a good way at least, so this…this was different.

Warmth invaded my cheeks, warring with the unsettling heat that had lit up my veins. I cleared my throat. “Is…is everything okay? Nothing happened, right?”

He blinked, dragging his gaze back to mine. “Yeah. Why would you think something had happened?”

I glanced around the otherwise empty apartment. “Um, maybe because you don’t usually just show up at my place?”

“Good point.” He raised a hand, dragging it over his hair. Clasping the back of his neck, he angled his head to the side. “Can I come in for a moment? I’m not going to take up a lot of your time. I’m heading in for a swing shift tonight.”

“Sure.” Confused and a bit curious, I stepped aside, but then my stomach dropped a little bit more. Was he here because of last night? Oh no. Had I done something so stupid that it warranted an unexpected face-to-face visit?


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Frigid Romance
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