The following is part 11 an extended sneak peek of:
The Keatyn Chronicles: Book 4
by Jillian Dodd
How do you say fuck off in French?
Dawson comes to dinner with me, even though he has to be in the locker room shortly to get ready for the football game tonight. Fortunately, they have all the prospective students sitting together, so we can eat alone.
“Wow, Keatie,” Dawson says, looking at the now Greek cafe. “This looks great.”
“Yeah, the art students worked really hard today. I think it turned out pretty cool. I hope the rest of the weekend goes well.”
“It will. You helped plan it,” he says, leaning in to give me a sweet kiss.
As we get in line, Dallas walks up to me and holds his closed fist out in front of me. Like he wants me to open my hand so he can put something in it, or he wants me to guess what’s in it.
He bugs his eyes out at me, so I hold my palm up to his hand.
“I’m pretty sure these are yours,” he grins and drops an orange lace thong into my hand.
“Where’d you find these?”
“Ha! I knew they were yours! You wore them when we were in the limo. I recognized the little daisy charm on back. You don’t see that very often.”
“Yeah, where did you find those?” Dawson asks with a big grin. I can tell he is trying to think of where we might have lost them. Most likely the lacrosse field.
“At the cave,” Dallas replies.
My eyes get big. “Oh,” I say, looking totally guilty. “Uh, thanks.” I quickly shove them into my bag. Then I turn my attention toward food. Dawson loves food. “Wow, dinner smells great. You sure you aren’t going to have something?”
“No,” he says flatly, while I grab a tray and pile it up with food.
I figure maybe if I get enough food, Dawson won’t ask me how my panties got left at the cave.
And that appears like it won’t be a problem, because Dawson has gotten very quiet. He hasn’t said a word.
I start munching on a gyro. Try to feed him some hummus.
Finally he says, “You gonna even attempt to explain why your panties were at the cave? We never done it there.”
“We’ve always been honest with each other, right?”
“Okay, I’m going to tell you exactly what happened. And it’s one hundred percent the truth.”
He nods at me to go on.
“Last night after the JV game, I met Aiden at the cave.”
His eyes get big, and his anger swells.
“Let me finish before you get all pissed, okay? He wanted to show me that thing he did with his hands before he kicked the field goal last night. It had been raining, and I sat on a stump and my underwear and my sweats got all soaked. Aiden had on gym shorts under his sweats, so he took them off and let me wear them.”
“How does a thong get wet when you sit down?”
“I don’t know, but it’s thicker in the back. I sorta leaned onto the stump, and I don’t know, but it was wet. I was embarrassed. Aiden turned around and didn’t even try to look when I changed. Then it started pouring, and we wrapped it all up in the sleeping bag he brought to sit on and ran back to the dorms soaking wet. It must have fallen out.”
He shakes his head like he doesn’t believe me.
“That sounds like bullshit. Let me guess, you just kissed?”
“Yes, we did. Oh, not like that. Like we actually just kissed. And not for very long because it started pouring.”
“Uh huh, sure. I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. How do you say fuck off in French?”
Aiden who apparently has been standing behind us says, “Casse-toi. But she’s telling you the truth.”
“Yeah well, cassy-twa to both of you,” he says. He gets up, slams his chair into the table, and stomps out of the cafe.
Aiden says, “Hell, if I woulda known that would work, I would’ve stolen some of your panties and hung them in my football locker.”
“It’s really not funny,” I tell him.
“I’ll sit and eat dinner with you.”
“No, we’re hanging out tomorrow.”
Aiden looks like I just threw his puppy under a bus and sulks off.
I sit at a little romantic table all alone, picking at my food, but wishing I could tap my sparkly dance shoes together three times and go home.
Riley wanders over with Ariela on his arm. He looks really happy, for a guy whose neck is varying shades of bruise. He looks like he was in a freaking car wreck.
I get big tears in my eyes. Try to keep them from falling.
“I gotta go,” I tell him and march quickly outside.
Tears are blurring my vision. I need to sit down and gather myself, so I go to the nearest spot.
As fate would have it, it’s the bench where Dawson first really kissed me.
I put my head down into my hands and cry.
I don’t know what I’m going to do.
I feel the weight of the bench shift slightly, as if someone sat down. I don’t even have to open my eyes to know it’s Dawson. I can smell him.
He puts his arm around me, pulls me into his chest, and whispers, “I’m sorry. I believe you. This is all my fault. If I would have told Whitney no, we wouldn’t even be in this mess, would we? You wouldn’t be dating Aiden. We’d still be going out, right?”
“That’s right,” I sputter out, and then start bawling again. I’m bawling about all of it. Brooklyn. Him. Aiden. Him. Vincent. I just want to go home. I’m done here. I failed.
I hate me.
Dawson rubs my back gently. “No relationship is perfect, Keatie. What matters is if you still want to be together when things get really hard.”
I half laugh, half cry, “That’s the problem, Dawson. I like it when you get really hard.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
I look up at him. His gorgeous, sweet brown eyes. His beautiful hair. I don’t want to be done with him. But I feel like I should be. But it’s killing me. Because I don’t want to be done with him. I don’t want to give up.
“Oh, wow. Um, here.” He pulls his polo up off his stomach and uses it to wipe my face. “Lets go, get you cleaned up, then we’re gonna figure this all out, okay?”
I nod okay.
We go to my room so I can get cleaned up. “Tonight is pretty much over for me, and it’s not even six.” I sigh. “I’m not going to the game.”
“No. You’re not skipping. You’ll get in trouble with the dance team. Just put some makeup back on. It will be fine.”
“I don’t want to go to the movie after the game.”
“You have to go. You’re my date.”
I throw my arms around him and start crying again.
“You can’t go to the game bawling.” He looks perplexed. I’m sure growing up with three brothers, he’s not used to this.
“Okay, let’s talk first, figure this out, get all the crying out.”
“You’re supposed to be in the locker room in ten minutes.”
“This is more important, and I can be a little late. So, you want honesty, right?”
I bite my lip and nod my head.
“This is honesty. I love sex with you. It makes me feel amazing. I’ve told you that. I feel like I’m in love with you. I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t feel it. And obviously, I didn’t tell you just to get you into bed. On the other hand, do I think you are my one true love?” He stops, rubs his hands together, and shakes his head. “I honestly don’t know. You helped me. Healed me, really. I feel grateful. Do you remember that first night at the cave?”
“Yeah, you told me your goal was to ask Whitney to Homecoming.”
“And you told me that Aiden spoke to you soul. Or kissed your soul.”
I nod my head, remembering.
“Keatie, I don’t know if we’re soul mates. I don’t even know how you know that. Do you?”
“I don't think I believe in soul mates or true love anymore.”
He pulls me gently onto his lap and snuggles me into his chest.
“Yeah, you do believe in it. I know you. Under all that sexy is a true romantic.”
“I mean, I want that. Doesn’t everyone want that? The idea of that special someone made just for them.”
“I think everyone hopes for it. But then we get our hearts broken and it makes us cynical. After what happened with Whitney, I felt pretty cynical.”
“Did you think she was the one? Like, did you want to marry her?”
“We used to talk about it sometimes. She always described our future life, but I could never picture it. I thought it was just because I’m a guy, but now I don’t think so. I think it just wasn’t right. So what should we do?”
“What do you want to do?”
He shakes his head. “Honestly, I can't wait to graduate and go to college.”
“That makes me sad.”
“I don’t know if we’re soul mates, Keatie, but we’re gonna be friends for a very long time. I wasn’t lying when I said you’ve become my best friend. I’ll give up the sex if I have to, but I don’t want to give up the friendship.”
“Do you want to give up the sex?”
“Hell no. Do you?”
“Well, it complicates things, but no, I really don’t want to. You make me feel good. I think you know how attracted I am to you. But, lately, I do feel a little guilty about it. Should we feel guilty about it?”
“As long as we’re both single, no, we shouldn’t feel guilty.”
“I don’t want to let you go.”
“I’m not going anywhere, and there’s no one here I want to date. So, we’ll see how it goes, and I’ll try my best not to be a jealous idiot. It helps knowing you’re not sleeping with him.”
“I told him I wouldn’t sleep with him for a very long time.”
“I’m a life lesson, huh?”
I laugh in a sad way. “Sorta. But I love life lessons. And I know I’m on the Social Committee, have a prospective student to attend to, and all that. But I don’t want to go to the movie. I know we were supposed to have a date. Will you be mad if we don’t go?”
“Hell, no. I didn’t really want to go anyway.” He gives me a sweet kiss on the cheek and glances at the clock. “Shit. I gotta get going.”
“Okay,” I say as he walks out the door.
You got lucky.
I march down to the field house, my emotions everywhere.
I’m kind of upset to find out that Dawson didn’t really want to go tonight. But, at the same time, I’m glad that he was going for me.
I’m sad. Sad that the boy who says he loves me and wants to woo me can’t wait to leave me for college.
First Brooklyn leaves me.
Now, Dawson can’t wait to leave.
Which makes me really, really want to leave.
To run away.
To forget this place. Forget these people.
But as I look out over the campus, I realize that I don’t want to leave this place. Or these people. I don’t want to run away from my problems. I want to stay here and figure them out.
And, maybe, hopefully, figure out myself in the process.
I whip open the door to the field house to find Cooper Steele standing in the entry.
“We need to talk,” he says as he pulls me in his office and shuts his door. He drops down into the chair behind his desk, rubs the stubble on his head, and says, “This place is crazy. I’m supposed to be guarding you. How am I supposed to watch out for you when I’m constantly busy? And how did I suddenly get in charge of an event I didn’t even plan?”
I can’t help but smirk. “Whitney and Peyton are on the Social Committee that planned this weekend. You need to be careful. They both want you.”
“I know they want me. They’ve already got me doing all this stuff.”
“Uh, no. That’s just to get close to you. I mean they want you. Sexually.”
“Sexually? They’re in high school?”
“Yeah, but they’re both legal and in some sort of competition to see who can sleep with you first.”
“This is my job. I’m not going to screw it up by sleeping with some high school girl. They’re both in my Health class too. It’s weird talking about health and human body issues to girls that just a few years ago I would have been the guy trying to get in their pants. Now I’m supposed to teach abstinence.”
I laugh. “That’s pretty funny. And I’m sorry if you’re overwhelmed with hot girls trying to hit on you, but have you had a chance to learn the school? It’s weaknesses in security? Anything productive?”
“Not yet. But I’ve already discovered the most important weakness.”
“Really, what’s that?”
“Me? What do you mean?”
“I can’t be with you all the time. Garrett wanted me here so that you’d have someone close. Says I’m the calvary, whatever that means. But you have to be able to get to me. If Vincent shows up, you have to be ready. He won’t come after me. He’ll come after you.”
“But I’ve always gotten away.”
He looks at me very seriously. “I don’t want to take away your confidence, but I’ve studied your file and listened to your side of the story. You got lucky. Plain and simple. You got especially lucky in Miami. You’ve been in situations where you’ve been able to run. What will you do if you can’t run?”
My hands start to shake and I feel like I’m going to cry. What is he talking about? That’s what Garrett told me to do. To run.
“Um, I’m not sure, but I’m going to be late for dance. If we’re not in the locker room on time, we get in trouble.”
“You’re avoiding the question. Go to dance. Think about it. We’ll discuss your answer tomorrow.”
As I fly out of his office, I literally collide into Whitney. “Watch where you’re going,” she says snottily, as she picks herself up off the ground.
“I’m sorry. I have to get to dance.”
“Why were you in Mr. Steele’s office?”
“Uh, he just asked me some questions about tomorrow’s competition.”
She raises one eyebrow at me. “For future reference, that’s my job.”
I’m almost late for dance, but I need a minute to breathe.
I walk outside for a few moments of peace, just as the entire football team barrels out of the locker room and down to the field.
I put my head down, push my back up against the building, and try to blend into the brick wall. Fortunately, no one notices me.
Except for Aiden.
He turns around, holds my eyes with that tractor beam of his, but continues down to the field with team.
Once they’re out of sight, I allow myself to close my eyes.
I run through the scenarios. Let my mind go to all those scary what-if places.
What would I do if I couldn’t run? If I couldn’t get away?
I’d have to go with him. Figure out how to get away later. Trick him.
But the truth is, I’m not as smart as him. Or as sick. Whatever.
I’ll be okay. I’ll figure it out. I have a lot I want to do with my life.
Maybe that’s part of loving myself. Knowing what I want to do with my life. Having the courage to go for it no matter what. To have that courage even when someone crazy like Vincent is after me.
I feel a forehead lean against mine. “Dawson was late getting in the locker room. You’re upset. What happened?” Aiden asks.
I reach out suddenly, wrap my arms around him, bury my head in his shoulder, and hug him. He doesn’t hesitate for even a second. He immediately hugs me tightly back. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
“You’re going to get in trouble too.”
“I told Coach I forgot my lucky charm. Had to go back and get it.”
“You have a lucky charm?”
“Yeah. You. Tell me.”
“I’m not going to the movie tonight. I know I should cuz of SC and all, but I’m not. Turns out Dawson didn’t want to go anyway.”
“You’ve been crying.”
I nod my head.
“Go with your friends.”
“What do you mean?”
“Tonight. Go to the movie with your girlfriends. You’ll have fun. And don’t you have two prospective students spending the night in your room?”
“Show them how much you love Eastbrooke.”
I smile at him.
Because he’s one of the biggest reasons I didn’t just decide to run away.
He gives me a sweet kiss on the cheek and says, “Everything will be okay. I promise.”
And for some reason, I believe him.
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