Part Two of our story is written by Tamara Mataya, a prolific NA writer. Look for her books soon! If you haven't read Part One, please read it first. Don't forget to stick around to the end for a chance to win awesome prizes.
He still had the body, displayed by the fact that he hadn’t found a shirt to put on with the jeans he wore. “I’ve got it, thanks.” I roughly unlocked the door to prove my point, which he ignored as he leaned against it, blocking my exit.
“You sure you don’t need help?”
I wanted to lick from there to there in the ridges between his abs, but I kept the ogling to my peripherals. Former crush or not, his blatant eye-fucking was a tad presumptuous. Still, I arched my back. “Thanks for the offer, but you’re sort of impeding my dramatic exit. So. If you wouldn’t mind?” I made a shooing motion at his hip.
He stared harder at my face. “How do I know you?”
How to answer this gem? Coolly, flirtily, aloofly? Truthfully? The bare appraisal as he looked me up and down decided it. I mirrored his casual posture and licked my lips. “What makes you think you know me?”
He leaned closer. “Hard to forget a mouth like that.”
Maybe the day wasn’t a total loss after all.
His eyes lit up and he straightened. “Natalie Baker! Right?”
Surprise that he knew my name flashed through me, but I covered it with a slow smile. “That’s right.” Should I admit that I knew him too?
He lightly slapped the hood. “You kneed Coach Jensen in the balls and told him and the rest of the supervision staff to go fuck themselves!”
Ah. Fuck. When Ben said he remembered my mouth, he meant the string of profanities I’d been littering the street with on the way to my car. Not my luscious lips. Sophomore year, the coach had seen me sneaking a puff from my senior friend’s cigarette at break. I would have meekly gone with him to the principal’s office if he hadn’t gotten handsy with my arm. Things degenerated from there. Ultimately, the coach had gone on leave for about a month.
Buzz had been garnered, but I hadn’t known it had reached Ben’s link in the social food chain. Feeling less sexy, I straightened and tried not to blush. “That was years ago. I’m surprised you remember.”
“He was puking on the sidewalk while you were getting dragged to the office. I’ve never heard anyone swear that creatively – before or since. It was epic. Guy was a total creeper and a nightmare in training, completely brutal to us. He’d overwork us before meets, blew out a couple guys’ legs, ruined their chances at being seen by scouts. The whole swim team got a bit of a break because of you. Your knee was celebrated. I’m Ben by the way. Ben Simons.” He offered his hand. I took it. He didn’t let go. And I’m back in the game! “What brings you to my neighborhood?”
I bit back a smile. “My car.” Derek who? “I didn’t know you lived here, Ben.”
He grinned and released my hand. “I’m back from school, visiting the parents.”
“Ah. You and the abs, hanging on the porch?”
“You and the knee out for a stroll, taking out creepers?”
“The knee’s retired.” Was he this laid-back and easy to talk to all along? I never dared to approach him in school. Maybe he was.
“Are you going to school anywhere?”
My most hated question, because I feel like a loser for not getting the grades to get a scholarship and not having the means to do it on my own. Or the interest, but no one wants to hear that. “Nope. Working here and there.”
“Nice. So you still live in town then?”
He shrugged one shoulder. “I don’t know. It’s a pretty cool place.”
I’ll file that under the ‘agree to disagree’ column. “Sure. If you’re really into decoupage and alcoholism.”
He laughed. “Speaking of the latter, what are your plans for tonight?”
“Not sure yet.” I tossed my hair, hoping I looked more vampy than spastic. “Why?”
“I’m having a little party. Nothing major, but it could pick up if you’re there.” His voice dropped as he stepped back on the sidewalk, no longer blocking my door. “You should come.” Mmm. If you keep talking to me with that tone, I just might.
Time to play it cool. “Oh, I don’t know. How low key are we talking? I might have to give it a pass if it’s just four of your friends and you playing RockBand all night.”
He stepped toward me. “No gaming systems at all. Cross my heart.” He drew a cross on his chest, and I had trouble tearing my eyes away. Do want.
I feigned suspicion. “Not even any LARPing?”
“I hate games.”
“Me too.” I dropped my gaze to his feet and let it crawl up his body. By the time I reached his eyes, a smile had formed on my face. I reached into my purse and handed him my phone. “Give me your number.” He punched it in and handed it back. “Should I bring anything?”
He winked. “Ten o’clock. Bring that knee of yours. Some guys from the swim team will be there and would love to meet the girl attached to it.”
“I’ve got a keg coming, and there will be plenty of liquor and snacks.”
“I’d hate to show up empty handed.” The better to grab you with. I pulled the key from the door and got in my car.
As my car roared to life on the first try for once, he knocked on the window. I rolled it down.
“There’s an amazing pool. Bring a bathing suit. It might get wet.”
“Oh, I don’t know, Ben. It would have to be a pretty exciting party for that.”
Smiling at his laughter, I pulled away from the curb.
Tamara Mataya is currently a librarian; she lurked there for so
long recommending books to patrons and shushing people, that she
suspects they only hired her so it would be less creepy. Now she’s armed
with a name tag, and a thin veneer of credibility. She’s also a
musician with synaesthesia – which isn't an issue until someone plays a
wrong note, which makes her want to squirm inside out. It makes for a
good live show.
She is represented by Marisa Cleveland of The Seymour Agency.
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