It’s not as if I know a plethora of people who drive Navigators, so call me presumptuous, but I’m pretty positive who it is—waiting patiently—for what?
And how could he have been sure I’d even look outside?
He couldn’t have been. Which means, he’s camped out for his own reasons, absent of expectation.
I grab my phone, not yet ready to face him. The one I slapped.
Me: Why are you still sitting out there?
Jefferson: Where else would I be sitting?
Me: Um... at home? Your parents? Cuba? Anywhere but in front of my apartment.
Jefferson: Now you’re just talking crazy. I’m in a car, not a boat. How the hell would I get to Cuba?
Me: Swim. And you know the point I was making.
Jefferson: Not really. We have plans tonight, remember? I’m getting kinda hungry too, so if you could speed up your aftermath, that’d be great. I’ve got the key to go look at the apartment and we’ll go grab something to eat after.
Me: Stop doing that. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. We no longer have plans, JT! We’re fighting!
Jefferson: I said something stupid, you slapped me across the face. I learned not to say shit like that again and you got me for it. Does that not conclude the fight? And don’t call me JT.
Me: I’m sorry I slapped you. It was completely uncalled for and very out of character for me. It won’t ever happen again. But that doesn’t mean we’re done fighting. I’m very unhappy about what you said and we need to discuss it, after I’ve had some time to think. And aren’t you mad I slapped you? BTW- your name is JT, why is that a problem?
I know the answer; I just want to hear him say it. Who’s playing games now? This girl, that’s who. Long overdue.
Jefferson: We’re done texting. Either get your pretty self out here or I’m coming to you. How sturdy do you think your front door is? The answer? Not near sturdy enough. Motherfucker’s getting kicked the fuck in if I’m not laying eyes on you in the next five minutes.
B&E threats probably shouldn’t induce full-body, not the scared kind, shivers. Too late. I felt that sexy ass warning everywhere.
And, I do have to take my trash out anyway...might as well save my door and hear what he has to say. Since, again, I was already going outside. Totally of my own accord.
I’ve taken approximately four steps out of my apartment, carrying one bag of trash and dragging the other behind me, when he’s suddenly right in front of me.
“Give me those,” he grates, ripping both bags out of my hands. “Where’s it go?”
“In the dumpster.” I point across the parking lot and he looks, then jerks his head back to me, his eyes bulging with an angry brittleness.
“Please tell me,” he finds an impossibly lower octave, as tense as his jawline, “that you usually do this in the daytime, and this is a random, fluke occurrence.”
“Sometimes,” I hitch a shoulder. “But if not, I do always look outside for any lurkers first.”
“Jesus,” he groans, dropping his head and slowly shaking it back and forth. “Bellamy,” he glances back up, scowling, “lurking literally means hiding! Waiting, hidden, to strike. So, when you look outside, you’re not gonna see them, if they’re fucking doing it right!”
I’m betting the vein in his forehead pops before the one in his neck…we shall see.
“Well, what do you expect me to do?” I scowl right back, propping my hands on my hips. So they aren’t tempted to get slap-happy.
“Take your trash out during the day! Every time!” Yep…forehead vein’s about to blow.
I make an exaggerated scoffing noise. “Good thinkin’, genius. Why didn’t that occur to me? Hmm,” I tap my temple and pretend to ponder. “Oh, I remember now! Because during school, I already have to haul butt, lugging my backpack and breakfast, to the bus stop at the ass crack of dawn! And this morning, the start of my shift versus the bus schedule had me scrambling earlier than ass crack, so I wasn’t thinking about the freakin’ trash. Unfortunately, I have no say in the timing of public transportation. My bad.”
“Fuck me, relationships are high maintenance as hell. I’m losing track of all the issues we have just from tonight. Hold on, lemme go dump your trash and we’ll start crossing things off the list. Don’t move.”
Before I can blink, let alone move, he’s headed back from the dumpster, closing the space between us with quick, deliberate steps. I put both hands up in front of me and start backing away. I’m not ready for him to touch me yet, for reasons other than the one I blurt out. “Come on, you can wash your hands in my apartment. Thank you for doing that for me.”
I'm not "damaged." No horrible childhood or demons in my past I'm trying to outrun. In fact, my family is ideal — funny, supportive and filled with couples that all follow "our" golden rule:
Find her. Protect her. Love only her, with everything you are, every day, for the rest of your life.
So why is it the mere thought of a monogamous relationship, more than one night with the same woman, sends me bolting in the other direction?
Because I hadn't met Bellamy Morgan yet.
When I do cross paths with her, everything starts to slowly make sense. Why men change overnight — suddenly blind to all women but her, happy to hold her purse and watch corny movies.
Just one problem — she's my little sister's best friend.
Embody is a spin-off, STANDALONE novel from the bestselling Evolve Series.
S.E. resides in Arkansas with her husband of 20 years and 3 daughters of the home. When not writing or reading, she can be found "enthusiastically cheering on" one of her girls' softball games.
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