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Authors: Rebecca Berto

Entwine (8 page)

BOOK: Entwine
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“What you lookin’ at?”

“Thinking, really,” she said. “I worried you were too busy-slash-important-slash-gorgeous-slash-whatever-else-you-can-add for me. But now, it’s only been four and a half hours or so and … ergh, I don’t even know how to describe it.” Sarah grunted. “Like you know me? Or understand me?”

Sarah continued to grumble, trying to describe her thoughts and only succeeding in her cheeks getting redder and hotter, and getting more agitated.

“Like we were meant to meet and we somehow must have met before. Like it was in another life, or something.”

“Yes!” Sarah cried, after he’d barely finished talking. “Wait …” She turned so her knee was bent, foot under her thigh, and her torso facing him. “Have we met?”

“I hope not, or else I’d be concerned. How old are you?”

Sarah’s chest tightened. How was she meant to answer? She decided on the truth. “I turned twenty-two a few weeks ago.”

“Yup, I hope we haven’t met before.”

Sarah’s body was a world of emotions: tight, anxious and now devastated. Her shoulder sagged and she couldn’t help the frown that curled at her lips.

“Because,” Malik said, “the things I would have wanted to do to you back then are the same things I want to do now, and I rather like my freedom outside of jail.”

Dropping her gaze from his face, she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the bulge in his pants again and, more than ever before, she thought she could feel what he was thinking.

AFFECTED

THEN

 

Sarah spent a couple of days in bed after she turned down Nicholas’s proposal, which turned into their subsequent break up. The box of tissues was always within her arm reach. She had a packet of chicken potato chips beside her bed, so she could lean down and grab a handful when needed. She re-watched a whole season of
Everybody Loves Raymond
in those days, and only left her room for food or a loo run.

One of her girlfriends couldn’t understand her heartbreak. “But you didn’t want to marry him,” she replied. “You don’t even love him that much! I don’t mean to sound like a bitch, but I can’t see why you wouldn’t be happy he’s gone.”

“Well,” Sarah said, between sniffles, “that is bitchy. I just broke up with my boyfriend, and you want me to be thrilled?”

“Don’t get all snotty at me. I’m trying to help you move on and be happy again.”

“Thanks, but I might go rest.”

“Okay, take care, Sez. Don’t give him too much thought.”

How can I not?
Sarah wanted to say. Instead, she replied, “Bye.”

Looking back, Sarah saw why it was weird for her to care so much. Others wondered why she hadn’t felt free after losing attachment to a boyfriend she didn’t want. Sarah got that now, too.

People had expectations of couples. Sarah and Nicholas had been the cutesy type; went on picnics, movie dates, coffee dates, shopping dates. Any stereotypical couple thing to do, they’d done it.

On their anniversary, Nicholas bought her roses, chocolates, and her favourite bottle of sweet wine. He was a great boyfriend, and the first guy Sarah who made Sarah feel safe. Nicholas would only get angry for a few beats and then pipe down, letting Sarah win an argument. Sarah felt special with him, but she’d read romance novels and watched a tonne of movies, and seen the way her dad had looked at her mum back when he was faithful, at her aunty and uncle. They all had a look. Like they could close their eyes and lose themselves in each other, like they could finish each other’s sentences, and know what the other would be thinking when faced with a certain situation. She didn’t look that way at Nicholas.

Sarah wanted space. He was amazing, but she had to take him in doses or she’d lose her grip, and just be too caught up.

It did take a weekend of crying, a week at university moping around, and several weeks after that to get used to living without him in her life, but she finally understood it all.

Nicholas wasn’t her forever. He was her right now, and she wanted him around, rather than needed him around. He was everything she’d needed, and nothing that true love should have been. He was overbearing, if she had to sleep over with him two nights in a row. If he got drunk at a party, she felt like she had to walk away to breathe—he was just too clingy. He’d be on her arm, lips or waist, and just never go away.

She needed him, but as a friend, and Sarah knew that, no matter what anyone thought, her heart would always miss the part of her when she was with Nicholas because she’d never been treated so right, or had a boyfriend listen or care as much as he did.

Why couldn’t she have truly loved someone as great as Nicholas?

 

• • •

 

NOW

 

Sarah and Malik had just passed the security guards on one of the levels, opening up to slot machines, bars, lounges, and blackjack tables, when Sarah’s mobile rang. She wasn’t the busy type; her friends didn’t call every other hour, so she knew it was important to pick up. Plus, she’d already snuck on Facebook during some breaks at work to message them how her first day was going.

When she looked at the screen, “Mum mob” showed up.

“One sec,” Sarah said to Malik, holding up her finger. Then, turning, her mobile wedged between her ear and shoulder, she said, “Mum?”

“Sarah!” her mum cried. “I know I said I wouldn’t call on your first day because you’re a big girl, but it’s ten-fifty. Are you okay? Is everything fine?”

Sarah sighed. By everything she’d seen and heard from her friends, she knew she had a great Mum. Sarah’s mum had let her out to parties when she was in high school, and let her stay until the end but, by the same token, she wouldn’t buy her a six-pack to get drunk there. Sarah’s friends’ mums were either strict or carefree. Of her high school friends, the ones with strict mums would be too scared to try anything, and those whose mothers were carefree would turn rebellious, free spirits, wild, and, at times, dangerous girls, too. But Sarah’s mum was concerned yet friendly, and they shared most things together.

“Almost eleven pm?” Sarah asked to be sure, and her mum said yes. “It was a hectic first day. Dad was going to drop me off at home, but I caught up with a friend instead.”

She couldn’t help it; Sarah looked up at Malik and he was looking back. Is that what they were? Friends? The thought made her sad, but the look in his eyes, knowing she had said it as a cover up, made her feel all stupid and giddy again, like she were much younger than she was.

“Aw, that’s great but who on earth can stay out this late? Don’t you both have to work to—” Her mum halted mid-word, and continued, “—oh no, don’t tell me they let you go after your very first day?”

“Mum!” Sarah rolled her eyes. Her mother probably knew it. “No, I just wanted to celebrate. I’m going back in the morning. I don’t have a first day at my first real job doing what I love every day, so I figured I could catch up on that sleep thing tomorrow.”

“Right, well be safe, Sez.”

“Thanks, always am. Bye, Mum.”

She hung up, and wondered what Malik would be thinking now. If there was one thing Sarah had made sure not to do all night, it was to give any word, hint or gesture about parting ways and going home, and she’d practically just given him the exact idea she’d been dreading.

“Do you want to go home?” he asked her.

She shook her head just as a woman rushed by. Malik reached for Sarah’s shoulder to pull her to him, narrowly avoiding collision. Under his chin, she gazed up, tried to store this memory away. She knew he’d surely ask for her number, but right now she wanted to remember him. This night.

They walked to a bar. Sarah ordered a strawberry daiquiri for her and a coke and scotch on the rocks for Malik, and took their drinks to the stretch couch he’d saved for them. One knee was bent, his ankle resting on his other thigh, and his huge arm span was spread over the back. When Sarah sat down, she felt his hand come down to her shoulder.

She focused on the drink and talking. If Sarah wanted him to have an impression of her it was a hint of sexy, but mostly she wanted him to remember their connection, and how she could talk her head off all night and he’d still want to talk right back.

They went through their first drink within only a couple of topics, and he urged her to go and get another, since he was driving.

Sarah had lost some reasoning by the end of her second cocktail. She’d barely eaten all day and, with two down, she’d decided she should grab a third. It was only after she’d managed to talk about her old dog, Lucky, her favourite high school teacher and the various colours of roses in the once sentence, all while standing to grab another cocktail, that Malik, leaned over, grabbed her waist and pulled her back down flush against him. She was only confused for a moment before she forgot about that, too, and wrapped her arms around his neck, hooking her wrists behind him. The action reminded her of their first kiss at the movies, and she pressed herself on his lips within a heartbeat, surprising him. His hands cupped her jaw and neck, pulling her back, but once he saw the hunger in her eyes he demanded her back, dropping a hand to the small of her back as he slipped his tongue in her mouth. She wanted that, and anything else he could do to her.

They found a photo booth, and Sarah insisted they take some shots. He rolled his eyes, and said, “What are we? Sixteen?”

“Close enough,” she replied and tugged him inside, then yanked the curtain closed, shielding them in their own tight space.

They took a series of shots. The first one they weren’t ready for, the second they were puckering up, and the third their lips were locked, Sarah giggling into his mouth because she couldn’t stop herself. For the fourth, he’d rested his forehead against hers, his hands touching the base of her neck.

She pulled the prints out the second the machine spat them from the slot and frowned, as she handed them to him. “They’ll get creased in my bag. There is so much in there, and I don’t want these ruined. Even my purse is an old, tattered mess.”

He tucked them away in his wallet. “Okay, come on. It’s almost midnight. Let’s go see the flames light up.”

Sarah kept shaking her head every time Malik tried to convince her it was midnight, but once the towers started lighting up, her mouth gaped and she said, “They’re so big and hot, and it must be midnight!”

Sarah loved every second of standing there, watching the flames light up in sequences. She watched each tower catch afire, the ember casting high in the sky before it quickly disappeared. She waited until the show came back around to the tower near them.

It was her favourite bit. With Malik behind her, his arms wrapped around her waist, and his chin rested on the top of her head, it made her feel warm and cosy. She loved the physical heat and warmth Malik created in her when, on the outside, she was cold from the night.

It was only when the flame disappeared that she felt his erection poking between her bum cheeks. She stilled, and knew he knew that she’d realised. Fearing he’d move in case it wasn’t appropriate, she shuffled slightly back into him and pressed herself harder against him. Even though there was music and chatter and bustle around them, she heard his groan, felt the rumble from his chest against her back, and revelled at how the feeling travelled through her.

Sarah dipped her head back, allowing access and he came down, kissing lightly up her ear and breathing down her neck, making the need to reach orgasm at his hands merely a torturous wish out here in public.

“You’ve missed it two times now,” he whispered in her ear.

He could have been whispering instructions to start a lawn mower for all she cared. The tone to his voice was one that she had already linked to a sexual charge between her legs and, with his erection pressed against her ass, she was more than willing to find a place to let him in. She wanted it so badly now.

“Missed what?” she said.

“Your phone. It’s gone off twice now.”

Sarah jumped back, searching through her bag. Head still down, she replied, “Oh, I didn’t even hear it. I was distracted.”

She texted her mum that she was just on her way home now, and begrudgingly looked up at Malik.

“Ready to go?”

No, she wanted to say. But that would make no sense, so she said, “Let’s go.”

Sarah had never wanted time to slow as much as she did when they were walking back to his car. She just wanted to pull them both back and say, “Stuff work! We’ll just stay at Crown all night.”

They got to his car, and eaten up by anxiety, she decided she’d at least get him to open up about himself again. She needed details. For the first time that night, she wondered if maybe he’d let her go without asking for her number.

“So, you never told me your age.”

“Are you looking for an excuse to run?”

“No!” Sarah laughed. “You’re underestimating how attracted to you I am.”

Yes, she said that.

“Most people are surprised when they hear it,” was his reply.

“Great, will you allow me that honour?”

He shook his head, but she could see he was laughing at her interest. He started the car, and reversed out, turning the wheel with one hand and the other half hanging out of the window. He turned back to her with a serious face on. “Thirty-four.”

“Ah, okay.”

She didn’t want to say anything else. Should she be turned off? She already knew he was all man, no boy. Someone blind would know that, just by being in his presence. She had to give herself a minute to calm down. For some reason, the thought turned her on. She wanted a man who knew what he was doing. Malik, with all the years of acquired experience to become who he was now, made her yearn for him. Just thinking about it conjured images in her mind.

“Too old, huh?”

“Nope, I’m just thinking.”

“About …”

“How I should think that maybe you’re too old for me.”

Stopped at a line at the exit to the car park, Malik turned to her. His eyes were lit up with desire. Since she couldn’t jump on top of him right then, she held out her hand and he took it—and the whole way home she was too scared to say anything else.

BOOK: Entwine
10.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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