© 2016 Dilyana Kyoseva All Rights Reserved
Note: This sneak peek is proofread, but no major edits have been done to it.
I can’t believe I fell for this again!
My stilettos clattered over the wet pavement with each step I took.
Let’s go out tonight, she had said. Amy and Brook might be busy, but we can still have fun.
That damn Stacey!
Not five minutes since we walked into the bar and she was already eye flirting with some guy. Ten minutes in and her hand was on his thigh, fifteen and they were making out.
Watching her tongue dance with some college dude was not what I’d call fun.
Girl time my ass.
Stopping, I fished my phone out of my purse and clicked on the text app.
Can u come and get me?
Xander’s reply didn’t surprise me: Where r u
I looked about and my gaze fell on a sign at the near crossroad. I squinted at it and wrote: Temple and Third
I knew he’d be either raising an eyebrow or shaking his head; this was not a place a girl like me should be at, alone and at night. Especially when wearing over six hundred dollars in the form of clothes and jewelry.
When Stacey had said we needed some girl time, I’d thought she’d meant clubbing. Rapture was the usual suspect for a night out. A VIP box, a private dance floor for the club’s most affluential guests and enough connections to be able to afford underage partygoers, as long as they had a decent fake ID… Which was obviously something I could afford.
My phone buzzed again and at first I thought it was a mistake as the text didn’t make sense. Xander’s next message explained his previous one:
Put those coordinates in your GPS and wait for me there
I did as he told me and began walking on the path my phone led me on. The thanks I sent him was followed by ‘Be there in 20‘ and ‘x‘. I quickly put the phone back in my purse and wrapped my red leather jacket tighter around my torso. The light breeze did not bother me as much as the realization that I was alone on a not-so-well-lit street in a not-so-well-reputed neighborhood.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone out of that bar, but I’d gotten so mad at Stacey when she ditched me to spread her legs for a guy she’d probably never see again, that I’d just stormed out. I should be used to her behavior by now, what with her being this way as early as Freshman year. But years later, as a Senior, I still felt repulsion and anger every time she pulled this off.
Not that I hadn’t had a few hook-ups myself… To the displeasure of Xan.
I thought back to the x in his last SMS. If someone else saw the message, he’d tell them it was just his initial, but I knew he’d meant to send me a kiss. He’s been trying to get with me ever since he hit puberty.
Mom would be delighted, of course. A handsome boy from a rich family and the son of one of her friends – what more could she want for me?
Xander was hot, but it’d take a few drinks before the fleeting idea of us becoming a couple would find its way into my tipsy mind. We grew up together; it would be feel strange for us to be anything other than friends.
The barely there drizzle turned into rain. It fell onto my hair and face and I rushed under the shelter of a bus stop. Taking out my phone and checking the GPS, I realized this was exactly where I was supposed to wait. How thoughtful of Xander: finding me somewhere to hide from the elements and a place to sit.
I look at the seats and my nose wrinkled. Out of the seven provided, one had gum on it – chewed, of course – two had dirt at the edges as if someone had wiped their muddy shoes on them and one was covered in a semi-transparent, white, sticky-looking liquid, which was probably the result of someone’s heavy petting session.
I rubbed one of the three sort-of-clean seats with a wet wipe, then dried it with a paper tissue before I dared to place my butt on it, wondering if I should just burn the short skirt I was dressed in once I got home. After all, it had touched the stools in that shady bar too.
I looked at the time on my phone: ten minutes since Xander’s text so it would be about as much before he came to get me.
Rummaging through my purse once more, this time I searched for my round pocket mirror. Once I found it, I checked my reflection on the smooth surface, smiling when I saw that the mascara which had cost me a small fortune was as impeccable as when I’d put it on even with some rain getting on my face. My smile slipped from my lips once I looked upwards, towards my hair.
My damp, matted hair.
I fixed it the best I could with my fingers before I patted my face with another paper tissue to get rid of the moisture and refreshed my lipstick – red; what else? – vaguely aware that someone had sat down close by.
“That color suits you.”
My lips pursed when I heard his inflection. I didn’t need to turn towards him to know he had no interest in my makeup and that his gaze had probably already slid down from my mouth to my legs.
I decided to ignore the guy – young, by the sound of his voice – put the lipstick and mirror back into my purse and unlocked my phone. Five minutes until Xander came.
More or less.
“What’s the matter? You don’t talk to strangers?”
It was a generally pleasant voice, if you ignored the cockiness in it. He sounded confident that he’d get my attention. Maybe he was hot.
I snuck a discreet glance and he smirked when he noticed.
Cocky was definitely a hit on my part. Good-looking too, if you judged by the face under the hood. I couldn’t say about hot; not by such a quick glimpse and not with those baggy worn-out jeans and old sweatshirt he was wearing. He had broad strong, shoulders though, that much I could tell.
I kept my face tilted to my phone, but my eyes turned to him, sitting with his legs spread and his body angled to the side so he could look at me. His lips were still formed in a grin and he gave me a wink.
I averted my gaze again.
“Red?” Surprised, I swirled towards him.
“Well, you are not telling me your name. And you are almost all red. Red hair, red jacket, red shoes… Red lipstick… Red,” he concluded.
“How very observant,” I sneered and pretended to be playing with my phone while I awaited his next words.
“Just tell me your name and I’ll stop calling you Red. Maybe,” he added, teasing.
I gave him no reply.
“Come on, don’t make me steal your purse to look at your ID.”
I turned towards him once again.
“This is not funny.”
“Who says I’m joking?” He shrugged, no signs of a smile.
“Jerk,” I muttered, tapping my foot on the pavement and looking up and down the street.
Xander should be here by now.
“Fine. We are sticking with Red.” He must’ve moved as his seat screeched. “So tell me, Red, what…”
“Did it cross your mind that maybe I don’t want to talk to you?”
“Girls usually like talking to me. For a few minutes anyway, before we move on to more pleasant but strenuous activities.”
“Mhm, you are a real charmer. Especially with that flawless face.” I turned towards him and placed my index finger on the left of my jaw, on the same place he was sporting a bruise.
“Working accident.” He shrugged again, a ghost of a smirk reappearing on his face as if he was amused by some private joke.
I gave him the once-over; what the Hell could he be working as?
He was maybe a year or two older than me…
I shook my head; why was I thinking about that?
That bruise was obviously from a punch.
Or maybe that was his line of work – something related to violence. If he lived in this neighborhood, then it wouldn’t be surprising. He was probably one of those wannabe gangsters who wore their jeans low and pretended to be a big shot, waving guns around, swearing…
He hasn’t sworn even once though. As for a gun… It was a possibility. Who knew what was hidden beneath those baggy clothes.
I cleared my throat and scooped a little further from the boy with the intense light eyes.
“Does this scare you?” He pointed at the bruise and I straightened up. I even managed a snort.
“Why would it?”
“I’m told it makes me look tougher.”
“Let me guess.” I crossed one leg over the other. “By those girls you brag you charmed?”
“Girls love me.” He flashed me a grin. “I’m like junk food. You know I’m bad for you, but you just can’t get enough of me.”
I covered my mouth with my hand to stifle a laugh.
“Now this is better.” He leaned a tad closer to me.
“What? Laughing at you?” I tried to ask with a straight face.
“You weren’t laughing at me, you were laughing at my joke.” He kept the grin, but the playful flicker was gone from his eyes. “Although it’s true. I’ll be bad for you, Red, and you won’t be able to get enough.”
The lights of a familiar, expansive car lit the street and I got up, pulling my skirt down.
“How can you possibly be bad for me when I want nothing to do with you?” I threw him one last look – perhaps longer than I should have – before reaching to open the door of the shiny black car which was now parked in front of me.
“Oh, I do love a challenge, Red.” I heard from behind me as I climbed into the passenger seat and hurried to close the door.
“Who is that?” Xander did his best to keep his tone neutral, but he couldn’t fool me. Not with the way his knuckles had turned white as he clutched the steering wheel.
“Nobody.” I buckled myself in, purposefully avoiding to look at the boy at the bus stop. My childhood friend took a moment before he started the engine and drove off.
“Hope I didn’t ruin your plans for tonight.” I smiled at him.
“Should’ve thought of that before you texted.” The murmur came from behind me and I clutched my jaw. I wasn’t surprised that Xander had brought Austin along – they’d been best friends since they were in diapers – but the two of us had never cared much for each other. Our mutual dislike had turned into hatred when Xander started showing a more… intense interest in me. In Austin’s eyes, I was not good enough even for a one-night stand, let alone be his dear friend’s girlfriend.
“Austin.” Xander’s voice was a stern warning and I grinned.
The only time Xander treated his best friend as anything less than a beloved brother was when the latter spoke against me. Even the slightest sign of disrespect to me on Austin’s part, put a frown on Xander’s face. Austin hated that, which, of course, made me love it.