Chaz gently shook me. “Baby, we have school. You have to get up and get ready.”
“I’m not going.” I murmured, barely comprehensible. I rolled over, and was still completely naked, I realized somewhere in the slightly awake part of my mind.
“Oh is that so?” Chaz questioned.
“Everyone is going to know what happened in Vegas. I don’t want to be the center of gossip.” I explained, my eyes still closed. “You go ahead though, you’ll enjoy the attention.”
“You’re going to school. You need a shower and you need to put on something.”
I just pulled the blanket over my head. “I’m a legal adult and I don’t have to go if I don’t damned well want to.”
Chaz chuckled darkly. “Wanna bet?”
I threw the covers down, sat up and grabbed Chaz’ arm then pulled him onto the bed with me. I pressed my mouth to his, and ran my hands down his legs. “Yeah,” I whispered in a husky morning voice. “I do.”
I glared at Chaz, well at the back of his head because it was all I could see as he carried me fireman style through the school hallways. He’d dragged me out of bed, into the shower, where I had- to my embarrassment- thrown a temper tantrum about it.
Chaz had said I was going if he had to drag me or carry me, and so when I still refused, he struggled my clothes onto me then carried me to kitchen for breakfast, where my mother and father-in-law watched me scowl at him with amusement. I’d walked to the car because I’d been resentful to act like a child in front of them.
Once we got to the school though I’d said I wasn’t going in. For just a minute I thought he’d finally given in when he got out of the car and slammed the door closed. But no, he came to my side of the car and swung the door open and grabbed me.
And here we are. Chaz finally stopped and set me down at his locker. I glared with childish anger and a little pout. “I am so not having sex with you tonight.” I hissed.
Chaz stepped toward me, and backed me against the lockers. “Oh yeah?” he questioned, his masculine body was so damned intimidating. He was wearing a blue jean shirt tucked into a pair of Wrangler blue jeans and his usual black cowboy boots. That insolent smirk was there, as usual, cocky and annoying as hell. When he put an arm on either side of me and leaned close, I lost my breath as I stared into those piercing blue eyes of his. He looked so… highschool, I thought.
Sexy and highschool. Who was I trying to kid? The moment he touched me when we were alone I’d melt and do whatever he wanted. He turned his head slightly so our cowboy hats wouldn’t bump, and kissed me. I shuddered…dammit I quivered under that mouth. Scolding myself as I did. Stupid hormones, I thought.
Chaz pulled back, and he wasn’t smiling anymore. He looked distressed, like he wanted to devour me right there. But he made the smile return, and stood up straight. “You’ll be late to class if you don’t go now.”
Unable to argue after the kiss, I just nodded. I turned in the direction of my locker, and Chaz gave me a sharp slap on the ass. “And I’ll know if you try to leave.” He added.
I gritted my teeth. Stupid husband. Dumb, annoying, bossy, conniving, bloodsucking, sonofabitch husband.
“Go fuck yourself.” I muttered under my breath.
“I have you for that though.” He called after me.
“Bastard.” I hissed.
He just laughed in response. “I’ll see you soon baby. I love you!” he shouted so everyone could hear.
I just walked faster and got to my locker as quickly as possible. Jade was waiting for me there, grinning. “Did you and your hubby get into a little dispute?” she asked, fluttering her long, dark lashes. She moved her brown hair from her face and smiled wider when I just gave her a wary look. “I’ll take that as a yes.”
“If Cynthia thinks she’s going to continue this punishment thing-“
“You bet your ass I am.” Cynthia interrupted. “And you can try to fight me but you won’t win. You will suffer the consequences.”
“What are you my mother?” I snapped at her. “I’m eighteen, I can get a damn tattoo if I want.”
“Maybe I am!” she argued back. “And if I am then I’m damn proud to have you as a daughter. Nevertheless, you’re going shopping with me and if you weren’t such a baby you might actually enjoy it. You’re family to me, Cherie. Just like Jade, Mason and Robert. And you will be treated like family so get over it.”
She grabbed my face, kissed me on the mouth then left in a huff, mumbling about stubborn children.
“This is just getting weird.” I said and jerked my locker open.
“It got weird two days ago when you married a vampire and beat the chug record.” Jade corrected. “She loves you, Cherie. It’s not so bad. She doesn’t really want to punish you so much as she wants you around. She wants to know you’re safe and that you’re okay. You’ve been through a lot these past few days and she’s worried about you. We all are. Just give her this okay? It makes her feel like she’s helping and she needs that.
She’s starting to blame herself about not figuring out what your parents were doing earlier. She thinks she should have done more and been a better friend.”
“That’s stupid, she shouldn’t put that on her shoulders. It’s not her responsibility.” I sighed, leaning my head against the cold metal.
“You’re family, family looks out for each other. She believes it is. And you can’t do much to change Cynthia’s mind.”
“There’s only one man on this earth who can change that woman’s mind, and she currently hates him.”
Jade snorted. “I think she’s over Samuel. I caught her making out with Philip, the exchange student from Spain. She was blushing and embarrassed as hell. But she’s got quite the crush on him.”
“Philip,” I murmured. “I don’t think I like Philip.”
“Oh he’s great in bed.” Jade said casually.
I gave her a surprised look. “Oh really?”
“Yeah, he’s bi like me. Cynthia was even talking about the three of us having some fun together one of these nights. She’s kind of getting into this exploration stage.”
“Oh.” I murmured.
Jade burst into laughter. “Sheesh! I’m just kidding, Cherie. It’s a joke, ha, ha. I’m still a virgin for crying out loud.”
She said the last part loudly enough to get a few interested looks from some of the guys standing close by. I threw each of them a look. “That wasn’t a challenge you perverts.” I told them then took Jade’s arm and pulled her down the hall. “Watch what you say around here. You’re just asking to get played.”
“Hey, does it bother you that your husband has slept with most of the girls in this school? Can vampires get STDs? You might need to be concerned about that.”
“First, I don’t think they do. Second, I try not to think about all the girls Chaz has been with. Third, I’m not going to discuss my sex life with anyone but the person I’m having it with.”
“But I wanted to talk positions.” Jade replied. “Which ones have you tried?”
I couldn’t stop the blush from coming. “Are you just trying to make a joke again?”
“Stop doing that, it’s not funny. At all.”
Jade just rolled her eyes. “Such a buzz kill.” She murmured as she pulled me into our first class of the day.
I poked my head out the door, checking the halls. All clear, I thought, just after the first bell had rang. I started to quickly walk toward the school exits, and once I reached the far door, Chaz appeared just outside it, and was grinning at me.
He opened the door and stepped inside. “Nice try Sweetheart.” He complimented then kissed my forehead.
I was going to retort, but instead my entire body went into shock as my eyes set on two faces. I guess I sort of expected it to happen, but not this soon . Chaz didn’t seem to notice that I’d suddenly frozen because he’d started up a conversation with a friend. They walked closer, and I couldn’t even speak.
I’d been so sure somehow that I’d never see them again. The memories, of just last week, though it seemed longer, of my last beating. I nearly felt the fists against me, already. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t do anything. They walked closer and I wanted to run, but I just couldn’t move because I was so scared.
They looked angry, they were so mad. They wanted to hurt me, I could see it in their eyes. They were going to make me go home with them and they were going to beat me. How could I have been so easily fooled into believing that everything was going to be alright?
“Hey, what’s with the grip?” Chaz asked me.
I realized that I’d latched a hand onto his arm, and was holding it so tightly my hand had turned white. They pushed the doors open, and stepped inside. “Cherie,” my father’s gruff voice spoke. Even after all the drugs he did, he was still so much bigger than me. His eyes were red, as if he’d just smoke a joint, one of the many drugs he liked to abuse.
Unlike most people, pot didn’t make my father relaxed and dumb, it made him mean, made him suspicious. He was six foot eleven, brawny, and he had once been an attractive man. One he had gold hair and a nice smile, I’d seen the pictures of him as a younger man. Now his hair was dark and greasy. His smile was yellow and was always malicious. His skin was pale, and thin, and tinted with an unhealthy yellow.
And Mom… she was an angry drunk, and I was the child who stole her youth from her. She was overweight by thirty or so pounds, her hair was a short black and she had missing blotches of hair. I could smell the vodka on her breath from where I stood, mixed with an awful odor of never brushing her teeth.
Neither of my parents took care of themselves, and I’d always tried to take care of myself the best I could, kept myself clean in whatever way necessary.
“Come here.” He demanded.
I remembered I was much too afraid to defy him. I stepped toward him automatically, my entire body shaking. “You’re coming home with us.” Mom hissed.
Home, that was what they called it. An apartment with dirty water coming from the faucets, a mess everywhere you stepped. How was it my life with the vampires and werewolves was so much brighter than my dark life at home?
“Who the hell are you?” Chaz demanded to know.
I’d nearly forgotten he was there, and I was so numb that I hadn’t even noticed the hand he’d put on my shoulder. Chaz glared, his dark eyes vicious and burning into them. He already had a good idea of who they were it seemed.
My father’s big hand reached out and grabbed my arm, and jerked me with him as he intentionally ignored Chaz and pulled me out of the school. Chaz didn’t try to stop him, simply followed us out of the school. I didn’t understand for a moment, my head was buzzing too much for it to work properly.
Chaz had a dark patience on his face though as he followed. It hit me quickly when I realized what the gleam in his eyes was. It was…deadly. He was waiting for the right moment to kill them, I realized. Vampires will kill anyone who threatens their mate. It was perfectly common knowledge. I felt no sorrow for them, none at all. I’d imagined them dead many times.
I’d thought of doing it myself, and knew I’d never have enough courage to do it. It only bothered me because I didn’t want their blood on Chaz’s hands. I shook my head at him, and his eyes met mine, then looked away as if he was thinking. He sighed. He wrapped his hand around my father’s wrist squeezed it until I could hear bone crush and my father yelled out in pain.
Chaz used his free hand to knock the huge man out in one punch so he collapsed onto concrete. My mother was frozen in shock and in fear, then screamed as Chaz stepped towards her. He pointed a finger at her. “Next time I see you I won’t be so nice.”
Chaz turned to me and put a hand to my back and led me to his car. “We’re going to go home. Your real home.” He murmured.
I felt kind of stupid, realizing how easily I had forgotten how strong vampires were. He’d crushed bone like it was nothing more than a Ritz cracker. It was completely astonishing how much control he had with me. He could so easily kill me if he wanted to, no problem.
He opened the door for me, kissed my cheek before I slid in and he shut the door.
My heart thumped against my chest as a thought occurred. Was Chaz in love with me? Sure we were married and we had great sex and chemistry, but I could see clearly that he was behaving like a vampire protecting it’s mate. Mate. That word meant a lot in a vampire’s world.
Chaz slid into the driver’s seat and turned on the radio, to distract me I knew. “Are you hungry?” he asked. “We could get something to eat.”
“No, I’m not hungry.” I murmured.
He backed the car out of the parking space. “We could go do something, if you don’t want to go home right now.” He offered.
“I think we should just go home.” I said softly.
It was silent in the car for a moment as Jason Aldean sang “Hicktown”.
Chaz turned the radio down after another silent moment. “Are you alright?” he asked.
I looked at him, sucked in a deep breath. “What was that back there, Chaz? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t give a damn what happens to my parents, but you were a bit.. animal like. I know we’re married and we’re sleeping together, but I didn’t know…” I couldn’t quite finish.
Chaz tapped his fingers against the steering wheel. “Yeah, I’m in love with you, Cherie.”