Read Every Breath Online

Authors: Tasha Ivey

Every Breath

BOOK: Every Breath
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Copyright © 2013 by Tasha Ivey

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without direct written permission from the author. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

Cover photography by Tim Carr

Cover design by Tasha Ivey

Interior Design by Angela McLaurin, Fictional Formats

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Murder has now been added to my to-do list for the day.

Okay, not really, but after my best friend oh-so-casually opened her big mouth about the harmless comment I made about a co-worker, I am seeing nothing but red. Blood red.

“Oh, chill out, Makenna,” Callie chides as I jerk her into the empty faculty lounge. “Don’t get your cute little panties all in a bunch. He asked me if you were seeing someone, and he was convinced you wouldn’t go out with him. So, I had no choice but to tell him that you had mentioned you thought he was a nice guy.”

I roll my eyes, trying to look as pissed as I possibly can while Callie’s puppy dog eyes stare up at me. But I can definitely feel my resolve weakening. It is impossible to be mad at Callie because she looks like an elf—a very confident, sexy elf. She is only 5’1” but she carries herself like a
Sports Illustrated
swimsuit model. “Cal, it wouldn’t be so bad if you had told him what I
actually
said about him. I only said that I thought he was nice and cute. You told him that I’ve had the hots for him for months.”

“Okay, so what? When he asked me about you, I told him you were crazy about him. What’s the big deal? At least, now, he’ll have the courage to ask you out finally. Geez, I do you a huge favor, and you freak out and go all diva on me.” Callie’s perfect blonde bob sways while she defends her case.

“Couldn’t you have just told him that I would probably go out with him? You practically told the guy I have a shrine dedicated to him.” I pace across the gaudy puce shag carpet toward the coffeepot. Empty, of course.

There has been other staff here all day long for meetings in preparation of the new school year, but no one has taken the effort to make a new pot after they drained it. The culprit is most likely Mr. Davis, the high school science teacher. Just because he went to Harvard for two years, he walks around with this sense of entitlement. But little does he know, every person in the school district laughs at him behind his back. He always has something huge between his teeth or hanging from his nose, and there’s a daily bet between several of the people in the district on which it will be that day.

Callie joins me at the counter, tossing the old grounds into the trash so she can start a fresh pot. “You’re blowing this way out of proportion. Can’t you see the bigger picture here? The studly coach that every female in this county swoons over is going to ask
you
out.”

I just groan and slump down at the nearest table, letting my suddenly burning cheek rest on the cool formica. Okay, so maybe I am blowing it out of proportion a tad. Maybe I have been secretly considering a date with Drew Pierce ever since I became a teacher at Fairhope Elementary School a year ago. Maybe I shouldn’t
punch
the gift horse in the mouth. Yet.

It’s not that I am ungrateful for what my friend did. Callie just doesn’t know how to filter her thoughts before they all come out of her mouth in a heap of verbal manure. If she thinks it, she vocalizes it, and it doesn’t exactly matter to whom she is saying it . . . or if it is the truth. I sometimes admire that quality about her, but this certainly isn’t one of those times.

The sudden appearance of a steaming black cup of coffee at my nose breaks my trance, and I sit up to reach for the packets of cream and sugar. “Thanks for the peace offering, but you’re not forgiven yet. I know I talk a big game, but I don’t know if I am ready for this—” Callie starts to protest, but I hold up my index finger. “
Don’t
even start. I already know what you’re going to say. My head knows it’s been long enough, but my heart isn’t as easy to convince.”

Callie’s eyes warm, and she reaches out to squeeze my hand gently. Her silence speaks volumes. We don’t talk about that day, but we don’t have to. The vivid frames of memories have flashed through my mind nearly every day for a year and a half.

Absentmindedly rubbing the jagged scar across my thigh just under the edge of my skirt, I force a sad smile. “If he asks, I’ll go out with him.”

“You sure, Mak?”

“Yeah, I think I am,” I reply, attempting to appear resolute.

Callie walks around the table to press a smacking kiss to the top of my head and makes her way to the door, stopping just inside the frame before looking back at me. “Shane would be proud of you, sweetie.”

All I can do is nod in reply before Callie goes down the hall. The mere mention of the name I haven’t heard spoken in so long quickly sends my brain into a fog, and I let my head fall forward onto the table again.

Shane
.

“No, um, it’s Drew.”

A deep voice reverberates around the concrete room, and I jerk up in surprise, not realizing I said his name aloud. The sudden motion causes a domino effect of chaos and an awe-inspiring display of physics.

A not-so-steady table + flailing arms + fresh coffee = lava java pouring down legs.

I’m sure Isaac Newton has that written down somewhere.

“Damn!” I immediately jump up, swiping at my stinging skin.

“I usually make a better first impression than that,” Drew says softly. He kneels on the now-sodden carpet with two hands crammed full of paper towels.

“I’ll clean it up!”

“And I’ll let you,” Drew chuckles at my embarrassed plea and presses the damp towels to the red blotches on my knee and calf when I sit back down. “These are for you, not the floor. A little coffee is
not
going to hurt this lovely little blast from the past.”

With an audible sigh of relief as my burns cool, I forget for a moment that Drew Pierce is, in fact, the one cooling them. But only for a moment.

“Damn!” I gasp and slap both hands over my face.

“Again, usually I make a better impression. You must really like that word.” As if he senses my abrupt discomfort, Drew pulls another chair over, props my foot on it, and lets gravity hold the towels to my leg. He steps back gracefully and waits a moment for some sort of a response from me. I just don’t know what to say to him.

And when I don’t speak, he turns to leave.

“Did you need something, Drew?”

His broad shoulders shake with laughter. “I was really hoping you wouldn’t let me walk all the way out because I don’t really think I would’ve left. That would’ve been a little awkward.”

“Sorry, I’m not very good at . . . this.” I stand. Two blobs of wet paper slide off of my leg and slap onto the top of my foot.

“Not very good at
what
exactly? Drinking coffee? Talking to the opposite sex? Realizing when a man is trying desperately to look calm and collected while attempting to ask a beautiful woman out for dinner tonight?”

Well, isn’t he charming? I raise a brow at him and smirk. “All of the above, apparently. And I think you just did.”

“Smooth, wasn’t it?” Drew’s mouth pulls into an easy smile. A heart-stopping smile. “But I know Callie told you I was going to. I heard her when she practically attacked you in the parking lot.”

Hearing her name, Callie’s head pops around the door at Drew’s back, giving me a thumbs-up and putting a sneaky little finger to her full lips. Drew follows my gaze to the door just as Callie stealthily slips out of his view. Without a word, he walks over to the door, closes it softly, and turns to face me again. Behind him, a scowling Callie peers through the blinds just before he reaches behind him to close them, giving me a knowing wink.

“Tenacious, isn’t she?” Drew shakes his head, filling two mugs with coffee and sitting them on the table next to mine. He bends to retrieve the soggy masses from my foot and tosses them way across the room into the metal trashcan, sinking them both with the ease of a NBA all-star. He pulls out a chair and bows with flourish, sweeping his hand from me to the chair. “For you, Miss Madison. This table doesn’t wobble.”

“Thanks, Mr. Pierce,” I sigh, sinking into the chair.

Drew sits and slides the coffee toward me. “Welcome. How about we start over now that we have fresh coffee, a steady table, and one less onlooker?”

“Yes, please.”

“Okay, good.” He chuckles and looks up from his mug. “Is this weird to you? I mean, I don’t want to come across as a stalker or anything, but I couldn’t help asking Callie about you.”

“Honestly, it is a
little
strange to me, but not because of you. I just hope Cal’s tendency to embellish didn’t make me sound insane.” I smile nervously and sip my coffee, quickly realizing I forgot to put sugar and creamer in it.

Noticing my bitter face, Drew snags it from me and adds two packets of sugar and half the package of creamer—just how I like it—and gives it a quick stir before placing it back in my hands. “So, you have the hots for me, huh?”

My eyes feel like they’re going to pop out of my head. “Umm, I really . . .”

Drew laughs softly. “Relax, Makenna, I’m only kidding. Coffee better?”

Thankful that he is changing the subject, I take a sip and nod. “Much. How did you know how I like my coffee?”

“I, uh, I’m just observant,” he stammers and blushes. “So, uh, you said you weren’t good at this—whatever ‘this’ is—but I think you’re doing just fine.”

“More than anything, I meant that I’m not good at the whole opposite sex thing. I haven’t dated much lately.”

He looks at me as if I’m suddenly sprouting an extra nose. “You’re kidding, right? How long has it been since you went out on a date? A couple months, maybe?”

“Almost a couple of
years
.”

He looks at me again in utter disbelief, and I realize we’re heading into treacherous territory. Right out of the gate, the very first real conversation I have had with another guy is almost immediately turning to Shane. It’s not that some people around here don’t already know about what happened, but I can’t talk about that day yet. I don’t even talk about what happened with Callie or my parents. How will Drew take finding out that I am damaged goods? I am broken. Broken and shattered into so many pieces, I don’t know if there is anyone who could ever put my heart completely back together.

“Shane.” I force out in an almost gasp. “I didn’t realize I had said his name out loud when you first came into the room.”

“Were you expecting him?” Drew looks confused.

“No.”

“An ex-boyfriend?”

I nod a little too quickly and my gaze darts down to my fidgeting hands. “You could put it that way.”

Drew reaches both hands across the table to steady mine. “Let’s talk about this another time, okay? Or not at all, unless you want to. But now that I have you talking, you think you could answer my question from earlier?”

“What question was that?” I shake myself mentally from my sinking thoughts.

He narrows his gaze and suppresses a grin. “The one where I was asking a beautiful woman to go out to dinner with me tonight. But you knew exactly what I was talking about, didn’t you?”

A musical laugh escapes me, catching me by surprise. “Smooth, wasn’t it?”

He loses the fight with his grin and allows it to spread over his cheeks, crinkle his nose, and squint his eyes. “Very. How about I pick you up around seven at your place?”

I screw up my face and pretend to ponder for a moment. What is this I’m doing? Flirting? Really? “Okay. Sounds great.”

He stands and pulls a card from his wallet. “‘Great’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. Here’s my number, in case you need it. I’ve got to run because the team should be getting to the high school any minute. We’re having our first official meeting of the season. I’ll call you around six or so to get directions to your house, okay?”

“Don’t you need my number, too?” I stand to take the card, allowing my fingers to brush his.

He flashes his thousand-watt smile yet again. “Callie texted it to me yesterday.” He walks to the door and opens it to leave. “I’ll call you later.”

“Hey, Drew?”

His head cranes around in my direction. “Yeah?”

“I think your first impressions are pretty
damn
good.”

BOOK: Every Breath
12.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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