“Hey.” Josh said when he sat down next to me in summer school.
I hid my smile behind a lock of hair, trying not to bring attention to myself. “Hey.”
“Have a nice talk with your brother last night?” He poked my side with his elbow.
“Shut up!” I snapped and shoved him back.
Mr. Carly gave us that look as if to say “shut up.” No one else was looking, they were all busy trying to bury themselves in fake homework. Half way through Mr. Carly’s lecture, I felt Josh’s hand slid onto my knee. Blushing, I couldn’t look at him.
When finally did, all I could see was the grin across his face. My stomach churned and filled with butterflies as his hand started creeping up my leg slowly. When he reached the bottom of my tight shorts, I grabbed his hand and pushed it back down, silently giggling. Josh’s hand relaxed a little as he stopped trying to shove his hand up my shorts.
Class ended and Josh walked out tight to my backside. I had my bag slung over one shoulder when I walked out of the door, Josh was quick to pull it back from my shoulder, dragging me back into him.
“Come on, Josh. You said we were going to grab some beer, get our party on!” Kent called.
Josh laughed, I could feel his lips moving by my ear. “I’ll meet you guys at Marc’s house.” I looked around, praying that my brother had held true to his word and that he wasn’t able to pick me up from summer school that day.
I started to walk towards the sidewalk that led home, but Josh gripped my backpack again and pulled me back into him.
“Let me drive you home.” He whispered.
“I’m actually headed off to the library.” I answered. “And you have impatient friends.”
“They can live without me. Why are you going to the library?”
I wanted to tell him that I was going to find newspaper clippings of whatever shooting everyone seemed to know about, well except me, but I feared that he’d flip at me, like my brother had when I asked him about it that morning. Clark had gone off about how stupid it was that I was even asking him about it because it didn’t really matter anyways.
I shrugged. “Quiet place to read, I guess.” I answered.
“Lair.” He smirked. “Come on, tell me why you’re going to the library.” Josh touched my shoulder sweetly and pulled me to a stop before I passed in front of his motorcycle.
“Would it shock you if I told you that my brother tries to keep me in the dark about a lot of things?” I answered and brushed some of my hair out of my face.
Josh gave a dreamy chuckle. “Not at all.” He responded before swinging his leg over the motorcycle. “Come on, at least let me give you a ride to the library.” It was his begging tone, he used to use it in elementary and middle school too when he was trying to convince his teacher that he wasn’t up to anything bad.
“Fine. But that’s all.” I snapped back and slid on behind him as he handed me a helmet. I jammed it onto my bed before slipping my arms around his beautifully lean back that was surely rippling with muscles beneath his tight black shirt. Leaning my head down on his back, I breathed out and allowed myself to get lost in the feeling of flying as he kicked his bike into gear. We were soaring down the streets a few seconds later, but the library was only a few miles away, and my joy ride didn’t last much longer.
He pulled right up to the sidewalk and graciously took the helmet back from me.
“Thank.” I nodded to him.
Josh gave a small chuckle before gripping my hand and pulling him back towards him as he slid off his bike. “I’m still waiting on that kiss, you know?” His hand wrapped across my back as my chest hit his and I was instantly swept up into the fantasy that was Josh Denver.
I put my hands on his chest and pushed him away. “I told you not to hold your breath.” I snapped back and detached his arms from me, though I did miss his embrace once he was a foot away from me. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Uneasily the words just fell off my tongue as I turned and hustled into the library, only taking a second to look back over my shoulder at him.
It was Josh Denver! Why was I turning him away? I didn’t know about the girls in high school now, but back in middle school he had been the most wanted to date guy! If any girl dated him, she was deemed popular, no matter what she looked like or how she acted.
It was safe to say that the popular kids in eighth grade were druggies and troubled pre-teens that were already risking the chance at getting pregnant. I was pretty sure that Josh had not kept his virginity in middle school, but that was part of the illusion of the mysterious boy. Though I hated it, my heart had been willing to go to Josh when I was in seventh grade. That was until I watched him beat up one of the nerds of the school, and then my nose had turned up at him.
As I entered the library, silence overcame me and for once, I could just breath. It wasn’t hard to find the newspaper section, though it wasn’t easy to find the current ones. The library had set out all the newspapers from the twentieth century, like back when women were fighting for their rights and stuff, like students were smart enough to remember the years of any of it.
Sighing, I piece through the newspapers till I found the ones from last summer. I figured that I’d start there.
“You’re going to want to check around September.” A voice told me.
I looked up, Marc stood barley a few feet from me.
“For what?” I replied, trying to act like I was just browsing.
“Come on Shea, you might have you brother fooled that you’re pretty innocent. Hell, you might even have Josh fooled, but I’m pretty sure we both know what I’m talking about.” He gave a small laugh, one that was more attractive than Josh’s, if that was even possible.
As he shifted from foot to foot, his brown hair slowly fell from side to side, moving like the branches of an oak tree. I nodded and shifted through the newspaper articles until I came to one from mid-September. The seventh to be exact. Flipping it over in my hands, I shed the dust from it and unfolded the front page.
There, in big letters was the heading that my brother obviously didn’t want me knowing about.
Horrific Gang Violence Leaves Four Dead.
“Your brother is wrong, whatever he’s been telling you.” Marc sighed and then started to leave. I gripped his arm, he hesitantly allowed me to pull him back into my view.
“Are you going to tell me what happened?” I asked with a softness in my voice that I hoped would make him pity me.
“Ask Josh. He knows more about it than I do.” Marc shrugged. “And anyways, I should get going. Josh and the guys will be wondering where I was.”
“Thanks.” I sighed as he passed by me, his axe colon drifting through my senses.
“No problem, Shea.” And with that, he was gone. I tucked the newspaper under my arm before heading over to one of the comfy chairs so I could read. The front page didn’t give much information, but then again, neither did the second page where it continued.
Summary of the worthless information, there had been a shooting at a local hang out, and that was about it. The reporter never stated who had fired the shots or who was dead, the title told the most information through the whole article. I sighed and put my head in my hands before grabbing my bag, throwing the newspaper back on the shelf, and heading out the door.
It was starting to get windy out, not the normal summer day. Groaning, I pulled a sweatshirt out of my back, tugged it over my shivering body, pulled the hood up, and let my teeth chatter as I continued to my house. The four mile walk didn’t seem like much at the time, but my body was ready to collapse when I got home. I wished that Owen would’ve been home and able to distract me from everything that was going on in my head, but my luck had run out a long time ago.
Clark got home after dinner time, only to run off again later, and Dad called me at ten to ask if I could come pick him up at the bar. Friendly, I reminded him that I didn’t have a license or a car. In response, he called me a gathering of names before slamming the phone shut.
I climbed into bed late that night after getting a goodnight text from Josh, the boy that still seemed too good to be true. I knew he wasn’t going to give up until I kissed him, but I could prolong it as long as I could, just to please Clark. Who knew what he was going to do once he found out that I had started spending a little time with him. He’d go mad, no doubt. Take away my cell phone, my ability to go out of the house, my freedom, and any contact with the outside world. Clenching my fists together as I tried to fall asleep, I imagined what my life would be like if I had a proper father, if Clark didn’t try to make up for the sorry excuse I had for a father.
Sounded better to me.
Josh invited me over to his house the next day, he seemed eager to learn more but I was just wishing that he didn’t keep pushing his luck with the kiss. At first he didn’t.
“The lab today?” He asked as he passed by his friends in the living room and pushed me towards his room.
“That’s the Josh we know!” One of the guy called out.
“Fuck off.” He answered as his body hit my back. I tried to walk faster, but every step I took was half of Josh’s stride, so he kept up with me easily. After almost getting trampled in the hallway, I threw my bag down on his bed, which had not been made that morning, and sat at the foot of it.
Josh watched me for a second before flopping down next to me. He grabbed his pillow from the head of the bed, placed it lazily behind his head, and sunk down so his face was by my hip. In my head, I groaned as I felt his eyes wander to my butt.
“Did you get it?” I asked her and flashed the lab in front of his face.
“Get what?” He asked, obviously just flashing out of his daze.
“The lab!” I snapped back quickly, flashing it in front of his face at least two more times before he laughed and snatched it out of my hands.
“I think I got it.” He answered before I started quizzing him on it and the only thing his mouth could do was hang open in the breeze.
“Didn’t think so.” I smirked.
He rolled his eyes, “fine, lecture me about it!” He snapped back.
I couldn’t help but laugh as I started talking to him about it, walking him through the lab, and ignoring all of his flirtatious gestures. Finally I snapped, “do you actually want to learn this stuff?” My voice had been much louder than it had been in the last month, my eyes serious.
Looking a little hurt, Josh pulled himself up to a sitting position and leaned forward towards me. All the jeering looks and messing around disappeared for a minute. His mouth was close to my ear, his eyes staring down at mine. “As long as I get to be around you, I’m up for anything.” He answered before taking the piece of paper out of my hands.
Then he started talking me back through it, going over every point I had brought up, just to show me that he had been listening the whole time, taking in everything I had to say about it.
Numbly, I nodded when he looked up for reassurance. A smile spread across my face as he finished.
“You’re a pretty good tutor, Shea.” He whispered before flipping open his folder and taking out a few more pieces of paper. “But I’m still having issues with this.” Josh looked up me before I quickly looked down at the papers, gathering them in my hands and reading thorough them.
Shockingly, he had almost everything right. I pointed out a few of his mistakes, watched him fix them, and then sat back, trying to think of something else for us to go over. Josh seemed to have the same thought, though I knew he was just itching to say there was nothing else to do.
When the realization hit me, I knew what I had to ask him. Scared of what he would do, I pushed my hair in front of my face and cleared me throat.
“Something up?” Josh asked as he was pushing papers rudely back into his folder.
“Gonna tell me?” He chuckled. “Or are you just going to sit there like I’m a freaking rapist.” Suddenly he stopped dead in his tracks. “I didn’t mean it like that, Shea.”
“Josh, it’s fine. I know you didn’t.” I answered softly. “But Clark won’t tell me about the shooting last year. Will you?”
His expression froze as he rubbed the back of his head with a cupped hand. “Sure.” It came out as nothing more than a whisper, but I knew he was dreading telling me. “On one condition.” His eyes lit up.
“I’m scared to ask.” I groaned as I noticed the light hearted look rising on his face. Josh reached up and gripped a small string of my hair, lightly pulling it down so my head was before his.
“Kiss me.” He whispered.
“Serious?” I asked when I looked back up at him.
“If you want to.” Josh shrugged but pushed his forehead against mine. “I like you, Shea, I don’t care what your brother says. If you want me, I’m all yours.” He whispered softly and tenderly. I couldn’t help but smile and nod before I pressed my lips to his.
Fireworks, gosh I wish there could’ve been actual fireworks, but it was close.
It was so much different that being with Warner, even before he had kidnapped me and raped me. There wasn’t a feeling of awkwardness barely lingering in the air, or a voice in my head telling me that it wouldn’t last longer than it had before. No, with Josh it was a feeling of just wanting to be in his arms forever. I didn’t want to pull away from him as his arms wrapped around my back, pulling me up against him.
He bent his head to deepen the kiss, his lips perfectly caressing mine, before he slowly pulled away.
“I take that as a yes?” He chuckled.
I nodded with a giggle before he kissed me again, this time more slowly and passionately. Both of his arms wrapped around my lower back, pulling me into his body as I wrapped my arms around his shoulders, pulling his mouth closer to mine. His tongue traced the bottom of my lip, begging for an entrance.
As he kissed me again, I slightly opened my mouth and allowed his tongue to dance around with mine. Suddenly someone opened the door and I pulled out of his embrace.
“Woops, my bad dude.” Elroy snickered before he slammed the door shut behind him. Giggling to myself, I looked down at my lap and tried to erase the memory of being embarrassed, but Josh didn’t even seem to mind at all.
“It’s cool.” He smirked before Elroy left the room quickly, slamming the door behind him. Through the door, I could faintly hear him talking to the other guys. “Hey! Guys! Guess what Josh is doing!” I put my head in my hands with a smirk and started laughing even more.
Josh snickered and pulled me into his arms and onto his lap. “Was it that bad?” He asked me as his fingers soared through my hair.
I shook my head quickly, still blushing and smiling.
I could feel his chest move up and down as he laughed, his arms started to pull me closer into his body as the breath from his lips tickled my ear. “So about your questions?” He asked and pulled my legs around so I could look at him. Breathing out, I scooted off his lap, still a little uncomfortable.
“Oh relax.” He jeered as he repositioned his hands on my waist to pull me back up against him. Still teasingly struggling against him a little bit, I pushed off of his chest with a smile on my face.
“You were going to tell me about the shooting.” I reminded him quickly.
Josh laughed and leaned back, reluctant to do anything. For a moment, he looked like he was going to ignore the deal we had made earlier, he looked like he was going to just ignore me and changed the subject. Then his eyes flashed with remorse, and he pulled out a gun.
“You know, I really hate having to carry this around. I never did before.” He started off. “Not until last September. I mean sure, I’d carry around a knife just in case, but never a gun. It just never really felt right, you know?” He handed the gun to me, allowing me to run it over in my hands.
“So why do you carry it now?” I asked him.
“You really want to know?”
“You’re never going to look at any of us the same after this.” He shrugged.
“Will you please just tell me?” I demanded and pushed farther away from him, allowing myself to sit cross-legged in front of him. Josh sighed and took the gun back, thankfully, before he stuffed it back into the back of his waistband.
“Mid September. A couple buddies and me were just hanging out by the local convenience store. You know, just relaxing and having a drink. Your brother and some of his friends walked out of the store, fists full of cash. The worker came running out, screaming at them to bring the money back. So me and my friends stood up to help.
“As much as you may think it’s odd, we don’t steal form that man. He’s much too kind to us.” Josh explained. “So we tried to stop him, then Clark pulled out a gun and pushed it into my friend’s chest. When I tried to step in, it startled him and he pulled the trigger.”
For a moment, I thought that Josh was about to cry. “Landon died instantly. Then Jock shot one of Clark’s friends. He died almost instantly, too. Thomas was shot, but it was just on his arm. Warner was hanging out with Clark that day. Do you remember Will?”
“Warner shot him.” I shook my head. Josh was lying, there was no way that they wouldn’t have told me if they really would’ve killed anyone.
“Let me guess,” I breathed without taking my eyes off of my hands which were set nicely in my lap, “you didn’t kill anyone?”
“I shot Clark.” He answered and put two fingers under my chin to lift my eyes to his. I shook his hand off and clung to the comforter underneath me so that I wouldn't fall into the black hole that threatened to take my breath away. Again, I continued to shack my head until he reached forward and gripped one of my hands.
“Shea!” He snapped. “I’m not messing with you here. I’m telling you the truth!”
“No!”I almost screamed at him. I thought that he was going to get mad, throw a fit because I was being so loud and probably disturbing his friends. “That can’t be right.” I snapped.
“Hey, Shea. Listen to me for a second.” I gently rubbed my knee, almost in a way that showed how much he wanted me in his arms again. I shook my head. He had to be lying. There was no way that my brother had killed someone! I didn’t even remember him having a gun.
“But,” I stuttered, “he doesn’t have a gun!”
“Not that he’s showed you.” Josh groaned before he slapped his hand over his mouth. “No, Shea, I didn’t mean it like that! Your brother has not done anything since then! I haven’t even seen him out on the streets!” Lightly, he reached forward and rubbed his hand up and down my arm.
“Josh,” I started but couldn’t finish the sentence when I looked up at him. Tears were starting to push into my eyes before he gently wiped the falling tears away. “Not my brother, not Clark.” I whispered, snaking my arms around myself to feel more protected.
Silently, Josh pushed himself up on to his feet and walked out of the room, leaving me in the silence that I needed. He came back about three minutes later, a bottle of water in his hands. When he handed it to me, I partly shrank away and curled more into myself. But when I realized that it was nothing more than just plain water, I gratefully took it from him and pressed it to my lips.
He sat behind me on the bed, his hands running up and down my arms as tenderly as he could. His breath kissed the back of my neck before his arms lightly ran around my waist, shifting me back into his body.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered.
“That’s why I was at the library yesterday.” I whispered back.
“I thought that maybe the newspapers would say something about it. But they were about as good as Clark was.” I gave a small laugh.
“There wasn’t much for the police to go on since they only found the bodies, Clark demanded that we just leave them there. I can tell you now, I felt like shit for leaving my friends behind.” He whispered from behind me. I leaned back into his chest, my doubts soaring away from me.
Was it wrong for me to believe him over my own brother? Why did Clark want me back here then? Was he just trying to think of another reason to make himself look more innocent?
With another tear running down my cheek, I wrapped my arms on top of his and let out another sigh. “I should get home.” I hissed even though I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to face Clark. I didn’t think I could anymore! Not after learning that he had killed someone. But I didn’t know that for sure yet, what if Josh had gotten the details wrong.
I could ask Warner, but that wouldn’t be smart on my part. Who knows what he would do if I ever asked to see him again.
Josh’s arm slid back from my waist and looped over my shoulder, tugging me closer into his chest as if it were the perfect place to hid from the world. I smiled, only thinking about Josh. He kissed the top of my head before lying back, pulling me back with him. Slowly, he let his back smack the covers, his head landing nicely on the pillow, mine landing onto his chest as I partly slid off of his body.
I couldn’t help but look up at his cocky grin when he picked through my hair with his beefy fingers. He traced the outline of my jaw with his finger, memorizing every bend and blemish.
“You’re beautiful.” He said abruptly.
I laughed. “You’re just saying that!”
“Not at all, baby.” My mind flashed back to the first time he’d called me baby that summer. It made me laugh, a little too loudly too because he gave me a questioning look. “What?”
“Remember at the beginning of the summer?” I asked him.
Letting his head drop back farther and his eyes close, the only thing Josh could do was laugh. “Yeah, I remember. I also remembering being beyond drunk, and how you pressed my gun to your chest.” He smirked as his hand reached up and pressed to the stop right above my heart. “Right here, I think.”
“Around there.” I shrugged and couldn’t stop my laughter as it flooded out of me.
An hour later, I sat up and Josh instantly sat up behind me, his legs on either side of me. Pulling my shoulders back into his chest, he moved the hair away from the back of my neck and started lying small kisses along my jawline. Giggling to myself, I turned over my shoulder to look at him, but received his lips against mine instead.
I pulled away a few seconds later. “I should get going.” I told him softly yet reluctantly.
Josh laughed. “It’s only two.”
Then my phone was buzzing like it was having a seizure. I cringed as Clark’s number appeared on the screen. I could tell by the expression on Josh’s face that he was just dying to answer it for me and tell Clark that I was busy making a sandwich or something, but he allowed me to answer it as he pressed his lips to the side of my neck again.
When I let out a small gasp at the spot that he kissed, Josh smirked. It was my sensitive spot, the one right under my chin. He lightly bit the skin, licked his tongue over it and then pulled away, allowing me to answer my phone.
“Hello?” I asked and tried to brush off Josh’s hands.
“Where the hell are you?” He demanded.
I looked to Josh who just threw his hands up in the air.
“Library.” I said quickly.
“Well get home, now!” He snapped and closed the phone before I could even protest. I wanted to call him back and tell him to go screw himself, but that didn’t really seem like the smartest thing to say. So I gathered my things off the bed and started walking towards the door when a hand gripped my jean belt loop and twirled me back around so that my back was up against the wall, my chest up against his.
His lips brushed mine, for barely a second. I blushed before his arms wrapped around my waist, pulling me closer into his hug. My head fit nicely under his chin, allowing him to feel all tall and crap. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He whispered.
“Yeah.” I answered numbly.
“And I would walk you home, but your brother does kind of scare me.”
“You’re scared?” I teased.
“Shut up Shea, and get out of here.” He couldn’t help but crack up at me as I pushed the door open and walked back into the living room where the guys were playing poker.
“Deal me in.” Josh said from behind me.
“Oh, looks like you already got your hand.” Marc winked at us. Again, my cheeks filled with a warming color before I rushed out the door, shooting Josh a death look as I did.
Smiling, I hurried home.