We’re all born with it. Navigating through life as though power, privilege, and money don’t rule the world. I’m guilty of it. I walked around, ignorantly thinking that the PITCREW, the most popular guys in high school, was where you wanted to be or who you wanted to date. They could have any girl they wanted, but they needed a challenge. They needed something to do to make their miserable existence exciting.
That’s where I came in.
How was I to know that the one night I willingly gave away my innocence would set off a chain of events, turning my world upside down?
Now, ten years later, it’s my turn to use sex, money, and lies to take from them all that they took from me . . . and more.
But the road to retribution has its twists and turns and I don’t want to make the innocent mistake of crashing.
“Am I going to get your name tonight, beautiful?”
“Not interested,” I state, trying not to let the seduction in his voice fool me.
“Not interested? I’ve never heard anyone with that name,” he tries to joke, but I don’t laugh.
This is the kind of shit he uses to pick up women?
“What can I getcha?” Damien asks.
I point at my glass, requesting another drink, and motion towards Casen, “On his tab.”
“Budweiser for me.” Casen tells him before returning his full attention back to me. “If I’m going to buy you a drink, then it’s only fair you tell me your name.” His leg brushes against mine, lifting my skirt and exposing more of my thigh. Goosebumps spread across my skin like wild fire and I will them down.
Stay focused, Em.
My fingers come up to play with my necklace, and I relent, “Embyr.” I pick my gaze up and stare directly into his eyes. I drag them down his body, noticing the long-sleeved, black Henley he’s wearing and faded jeans. His shoes are black, as well, and they look like they hold massive feet. I peek at his hands, seeing exactly what Trinity meant. They are huge.
A moment passes before he says, “Don’t you want to know my name?”
I already know your name. Casen Parker. Fire fighter. Lived with your friends, my other high school bullies, Ian and Reece, up until two months ago, when you all ventured off and got your own places. Homecoming King in high school and graduated with honors in fire science.
But, I don’t say all that.
“Okay, then.” I roll my eyes as if the idea is beneath me. “So, what’s your name?”
He stares for a moment before widening his smile. “Casen.”
His cockiness pulls me in and I can’t bring myself to turn away. His heated tone breaks through my barrier and a flood of emotions take over. Even though it’s been ten years, he still looks the same and I feel a spark of not only hatred but attraction. I didn’t expect that and it makes all of the high school memories come screaming back at me. They consume me. My chest tightens while I feel my face burning. I can’t control the tremble of my hands as I pick up my glass trying to keep this panic attack under control.
I haven’t had one of these since high school.
I take deep breaths, gasping for air, hoping I don’t pass out. It’s not working. The memories continue to suffocate me. I feel constricted.
I can’t fucking breathe.
A gentle touch glides over my back and I jump at the contact. “You okay?” Casen asks concern evident in his voice.
Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
I’m finally able to lift my head and slide off of the stool, grasping my purse to my chest. “Yes. I just…” I stumble. “I need a moment.”
I race to the bathroom, knowing full well I am fucking this up. I’ve managed to screw Patrick and Thad over no problem. So what is so different that, just speaking to Casen twice in the past week, has me turned inside out? The bathroom door slams against the tiled wall when I barge in and lock myself inside. My forehead meets the cold metal of the door as I chastise myself.
Get your shit together, Embyr.
You hate him.
He didn’t stop them.
He repulses you.
I repeat this over and over until I believe what I’m saying. It takes a few minutes, but I gather myself and hold my head up high as I stride back to the bar, shoulders straight, like I didn’t just fall apart in front of my prey. When I turn the corner, I see Casen looking down at his phone typing furiously, and I pray I didn’t lose him. I’ll be pissed if I screwed it all up by letting his good looks and charm suck me in at a vulnerable moment.
About Amy Marie
Amy-Marie was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago and now resides in Virginia Beach with her fantastically crazy husband and two kids.
As an avid reader, she never dreamed of writing her own novel until the characters started haunting her at night and in the shower. Wanting to get it down on paper she set off on the journey that is more than she could have ever dreamed.
When not writing she can be found carting her kids around, breaking up their fights, cleaning up messes, teaching Zumba, or reading.
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