Lick (Stage Dive #1)(17)


by Kylie Scott

“David, where are we?”

He gave me a sidelong look, his hand still massaging my muscles. “Well …”

A sign flew past outside. “We’re going to Monterey?”

“That’s where my place is,” he said. “Stop tensing up.”

“Monterey?”

“Yeah. What’ve you got against Monterey, hmm? Have a bad time at a music festival?”

“No,” I backpedaled, fast, not wanting to appear ungrateful. “It’s just a surprise. I didn’t realize we were, umm … Monterey. Okay.”

David sighed and pulled off the road. Dust flew and stones pinged off the Jeep. (Mal wouldn’t be pleased.) He turned to face me, resting an elbow on the top of the passenger seat, boxing me in.

“Talk to me, friend,” he said.

I opened my mouth and let it all tumble out. “I have a plan. I have some money put away. I was going to go someplace quiet for a couple of weeks until this blew over. You didn’t have to put yourself out like this. I just need to get my stuff from back at the mansion and I can be out of your hair.”

“Alright.” He nodded. “Well, we’re here now and I’d like to go check out my place for a couple of days. So why don’t you come with me? Just as friends. No big deal. It’s Friday now, the lawyers said they’d have the new papers sent to us Monday. We’ll sign them. I’ve got a show Tuesday night back in LA. If you want you can lie low at the house for a few weeks till things calm down. Sound like a plan? We spend the weekend together then go our separate ways. All sorted.”

It did sound like a solid idea. But still, I deliberated for a second. Apparently, it was a second too long.

“You worried about spending the weekend with me or something? Am I that scary?” His gaze held mine, our faces a bare hand’s breadth apart. Dark hair fell around his perfect face. For a moment I almost forgot to breathe. I didn’t move. I couldn’t. Outside a motorcycle roared past then all fell quiet again.

Was he scary? The man had no idea.

“No,” I lied, throwing in some scoff for good measure.

I don’t think he believed me. “Listen, I’m sorry about acting like a creep back in LA.”

“It’s okay, really, David. This situation would do anyone’s head in.”

“Tell me something,” he said in a low voice. “You remembered about getting the tat. Anything else come back to you?”

Reliving my drunken rampage wasn’t somewhere I wanted to go. Not with him. Not with anyone. I was paying the consequences by having my life upended and splashed about on the internet. Ridiculous, given nothing in my past was even mildly sordid. Well, apart from the back seat of Tommy’s parents’ car. “Does this even matter? I mean, isn’t it a bit late to be having this conversation?”

“Guess so.” He shifted back in his seat and put a hand on the wheel. “You need to stretch your legs or anything?”

“A restroom would be great.”

“No worries.”

We pulled back out onto the road and silence ensued for several minutes. He’d turned off the stereo sometime while I slept. The quiet was awkward now and it was all my doing. Guilt sucked first thing in the morning. It probably didn’t improve later in the day, but first up, without even a drop of caffeine to fortify me, it was horrible. He’d been nice to me, trying to talk, and I’d shut him down.

“Most of that night is still a blur,” I said.

He lifted a couple of fingers off the steering wheel in a little wave. Such was the sum total of his response.

I took a deep breath, fortifying myself to go further. “I remember doing shots at midnight. After that, it’s hazy. I remember the sound of the needle at the tattoo parlor, us laughing, but that’s about it. I’ve never blacked out in my life. It’s scary.”

“Yeah,” he said quietly.

“How did we meet?”

He exhaled hard. “Ah, me and a group of people were leaving to go to another club. One of the girls wasn’t looking where she was going, bumped into a cocktail waitress. Apparently the waitress was new or something and she crashed her tray. Luckily, it was only a couple of empty beer bottles.”

“How did I get involved?”

He darted me a glance, taking his eyes off the road for a moment. “Some of them started giving the poor waitress shit, telling her they were going to get her fired. You just swooped in and handed them their asses.”

“I did?”

“Oh, yeah.” He licked his lips, the corner of his mouth curling. “Told them they were evil, pretentious, overpriced ass**les who should watch where they were walking. You helped the girl pick up the beer bottles and then you insulted my friends some more. It was pretty f**king classic, actually. I can’t remember everything you said. You got pretty creative with the insults by the end.”

“Huh. And you liked me for that?”

He shut his mouth and said nothing. A whole wide world of nothing. Nothing could actually cover a lot of ground when you put that much effort into it.

“What happened next?” I asked.

“Security came over to throw you out. Not like they were gonna argue with the rich kids.”

“No. I guess not.”

“You looked panicky so I got you out of there.”

“You left your friends for me?” I watched him in amazement.

He did a one-shoulder shrug. As if it meant nil.

“What then?”

“We took off and had a drink in another bar.”

“I’m surprised you stuck with me.” Stunned was closer.

“Why wouldn’t I?” he asked. “You treated me like a normal person. We just talked about everyday stuff. You weren’t angling to get anything out of me. You didn’t act like I was a different f**king species. When you looked at me it felt …”

“What?”

He cleared his throat. “I dunno. Doesn’t matter.”

“Yes, you do. And it does.”

He groaned.

“Please?”

“Fuck’s sake,” he muttered, shifting around in the driver’s seat all uncomfortable-like. “It felt real, okay? It felt right. I don’t know how else to explain it.”

I sat in stunned silence for a moment. “That’s a good way to explain it.”