Home > Trashed (Stripped #2)(5)

Trashed (Stripped #2)(5)
Author: Jasinda Wilder

“Take a picture, dude. It’ll last longer.” She’s got a wry smile on her lips, somewhere between amused, baffled, and flattered.

I hold up my phone and swipe up on the lock screen, opening the camera app, and snap a picture of her. She’s got one hand tucked into the back pocket of her jeans, the other hanging casually at her side. Her hair is loose, a mass of black framing her face, a few strands fluttering in a breeze. She’s got that wry smile, and a sharp, piercing gaze.

As soon as I snap the photo she lunges for me, grabbing at my phone. “I didn’t mean actually take a picture, you dumbass! I wasn’t ready!”

She reaches for my phone, which I hold out of reach. Most girls, if I hold something above my head, it may as well be on Mars. This girl, this nameless beauty, she’s so tall that she’s able to hop and get my hand in both of hers, and holy shit is she strong. She’s pried my phone out of my hands before I know what’s going on.

“Hey!” I snatch it back before she can delete the picture. “It was a good photo, no reason to freak. You wanna see it?” She lunges for me again, and I dart out of reach, laughing as I bring up the picture and hold the phone so she can see it. “Look.”

She frowns. “It’s horrible! The angle is all wrong. You can’t take a picture of a girl with the camera pointing up like that. Don’t you know anything?”

“So quit trying to steal my phone and I’ll retake it,” I say.

Surprisingly, she complies. She puts her weight on one leg, the other knee bent, her torso twisted and her hands buried in her hair, her head tilted back slightly. It’s the perfect pose for her, accentuating her hair and her height. I snap several, put a filter on it, and then show it to her.

“Is that better?” I ask.

She shrugs. “Sure. It’s okay.”

“Okay?” I shake my head. “You’re nuts. It’s an awesome picture. You’re insanely photogenic. I know some photographers who would love to get you in front of their cameras.”

She tosses her hair and rolls her eyes. “Yeah…okay, sure,” she says, sarcasm thick in her tone. “Tell me another one.”

I shove my phone in my pocket and move so I’m in front of her and walking backward, then stop so she bumps into me. “You really don’t know how gorgeous you are, do you?”

She shoves me away hard enough that I trip and have to catch my footing. “I’ve already agreed to have dinner with you, so you can lay off the flattery, all right?”

I don’t think she realizes who she’s pushing around. I move fast, darting toward her and putting my shoulder in her stomach, lifting her off the ground and running three long steps, and then I set her down and press her back to the wall of a building. She doesn’t even have time to protest or wiggle, and I have her up against the wall. I grab her hands, both of them, and press her knuckles to the siding, my fingers tangling with hers. I pin her hips in place with mine, and I’m drowning in the clean scent of her skin and hair, in the crush of her tits against my chest, her breath coming in short, sharp gasps of surprise.

“It’s not nice to push,” I murmur, my face inches from hers. Her eyes are wide and I can feel her trembling. “Listen to me. You think I’m going to waste my time on flattery? I don’t fucking think so.”

“I just—”

I don’t let her finish whatever bullshit she was going to say. “Now. Before either of us takes another step, I need one thing from you.”

She’s shaking all over, her eyes wide as saucers, brown and deep and dark and rife with thoughts and emotions I can’t decipher. “What’s that?” she asks, her voice shaky and small.

“Your name.”

“Des.” Her voice is a whisper. “My name is Des.”

“Des what?”

“Ross. Des Ross.”

“Des.” I draw the syllable out, accentuating the ‘z’ sound at the end, tasting her name, rolling it on my tongue. “Is that short for something.”

“Just Des.”

I can’t resist any longer. I just can’t. I release one of her hands and slide my palm past her ear, into the thick mass of black hair. It’s cool and silky and still damp. Her mouth falls open slightly, and I’m a breath away from claiming those red lips of hers, but I don’t, I save that, save the kiss. I look at her, try to read her, but she’s just breathing, her lips parted, her eyes searching mine. She’s not moving into me, not trying to take the kiss I’m holding back, but she’s also not pushing me away or trying to escape. She’s shaking though. The fingers I’ve still got twined in mine are trembling as if she’s barely holding back some powerful emotion. Is it nerves? Desire? Or fear?

The wind has picked up, blowing strong through the alley, carrying a heaviness with it. It’s not a cold wind, not this time of year, but it’s a wet one, a thick, damp wind.

I force myself to let her go, to back away from her, and when there’s space between our bodies, she seems to go limp, deflating, letting out a long, harsh breath. She straightens after a moment, visibly composing herself, and glances at the sky. “It’s going to rain, I think.”

I follow her gaze skyward, and see that low, angry gray clouds have rolled in suddenly, covering the blue sky and the sun. It’s dark now, and cooling off quickly. My skin prickles, and a deafening clap of thunder splits the air, accompanied by a blinding flash of lightning streaking across the sky, stabbing and then gone. There’s a drip, a drop, two and three and four, and then before either of us can even move, the clouds have opened up, releasing rain in torrential buckets.

“Holy shit!” I grab her hand and pull her into a run. “Where the hell did this come from?”

She’s running with me and laughing as the rain pounds on our heads, soaking us to the bone within seconds. I have no idea where I’m going, I’m just running, and she’s following me.

“Where are we going, Adam?”

“I don’t know!”

We’re at an intersection and she jerks me to the left, pulls ahead and leads down a short street that dead-ends at Main Street. She’s opening a door and leading me into an old bar, low ceilings and aged wood floors and thick beams, sports channels on TVs, a dartboard on one wall, a small bar with eight or ten stools. There are two or three rooms to the bar, several tables and booths in each, with the bar itself in the corner as the centerpiece. It’s a warm, dark, and comfortable place, the kind of bar I can imagine the handful of year-round locals drinking at when the tourists have all gone home.

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