This is a work of fiction intended for adults only, as it contains explicit scenes not appropriate for minors. By continuing to read, you are acknowledging you are of legal age to do so. All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2012 by AJ Rose

Chapter 9 

 “So you have your choice. Suspenseful movie or blood-and-guts game?” Veronica held up the bag in her hand, crossing the threshold into Ty’s house as he stood back to admit her. He leaned down to peck a kiss on her cheek, which she tilted her face to receive, smiling slightly.

“I’m kind of blood-and-guts’d out lately. What’s the movie?” Ty flipped on the TV and flopped on the couch, wielding a couple remotes expertly to set up DVD play. Veronica fed the disc into the player and then went into the kitchen to unload a few more things, bringing back a couple beers and a few munchies. She sat comfortably beside him on the couch and laughed when they both kicked their feet up on the coffee table at the same time. 

“It’s called Chloe. I heard it was pretty deep, unexpected, and full of flesh. Right up my alley.” She took a swig of her beer as he eyed her, surprised.

“You don’t strike me as the type to go for flesh. I figured you for some psychological thriller with fifteen suspects and a twisted mindfuck at the end.” He noted the blush that crept up her neck, and he good-naturedly punched her shoulder, causing her to slop her beer onto the leg of her shorts.

“Thanks, Stull. Nothing like a little Eau du Sam Adams to go with my perfume.” She shook her head in mock disapproval, swiping at the dribbles before wiping her palm across his jeans-clad thigh, drying her hand off. 

“So, Miss Connoisseur of the Erotica, should we set the whole scene?” He flipped off the lamp beside the couch, leaving only the light from the hallway infiltrating the room, giving just the right amount of soft glow. He grinned at her discomfort. 

“Listen, jackass, it’s not like that.” Veronica was clearly embarrassed, and she reached for the bag with the game. “If you’re going to make fun of me, we can just shoot zombies. The clerk at the video store told me this was a good movie, and I didn’t even think about it being nudist. I heard dark and twisty and that was enough.”

“Excuses, excuses,” he grinned, not letting her off the hook. Her embarrassment was endearing and he wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to give her shit for it.

She started to rise from the couch, video game in hand to switch it, and Ty grabbed her by the belt loop on the back of her shorts and yanked, linking his hands back in his lap once she was reseated. “Oh, come on, I’m just messing with you. Boy, Vee, you can dish out the teasing, but you can’t take it.” 

Looking slightly up at him, she smiled. “Actually, I can. It’s just that I’m usually the one teasing you. It’s good to see you crack a smile and tease me back for a change.” She said it softly, looking down at the game in her hands. “I hope this means you’re not as depressed as you were when I met you. I mean, I can tell because you don’t try to throw me out when I show up anymore, but still. Sometimes I think you just tolerate me because I’m persistent.”

The serious turn of the conversation forced his own cheeks to flush, and he mirrored her by looking down at his hands. “No, that’s not why I don’t mind you being around. Well, it was at first, but you’re fun. You’re not the kind of person to get swept away with a bunch of bullshit. Things are drama free with you, and if I need anything right now, it’s no drama. So yeah, I’ve been getting through every day a little easier. I’ve gone days in a row without thinking about him, and when I do, it doesn’t hurt as much. I’m betting it will always hurt some, though.” Somewhat an exaggeration, since the longest he’d gone without Grady crossing his mind was a full 48 hours. Still, that was two days in a row, and he wanted her to think he was doing better.

Silent for a few moments, she picked at her nail polish. “You ever think about calling him?” He’d finally told her about Grady and exactly what happened between them. One night she’d called and said she was taking him to dinner and showed up with a cooler full of nothing but ice, a bucket, and a gardening claw for each of them. She drove him to the beach for crab and muscles. The drive had been a long one, exacerbated by traffic, and he began to reminisce. He told her that once, he and Grady tried to do that very thing when they first started dating. They’d ended up a filthy, dirty mess, and they’d found nothing. On the way home, both of them cranky and starving, they’d ended up at an In N Out drive through and reciting lines from Star Trek, The Original Series in Scottish accents. By the end of the drive, they’d been hysterical with laughter, up until the point where they’d tumbled into their first shower together. Ty hadn’t told Veronica that part though. She solemnly promised him that she knew where to find the food. No In N Out for them that night. She’d kept her promise.

“Sometimes, I do think about calling him. But I know hearing his voice will tear me up. It’s bad enough knowing there’s a chance I’ll face him in the future, if those sequel talks pan out and the director cuts me some slack and still gives me a shot.” It was his one hope to get a semblance of his career back, but it was bittersweet, knowing he’d be working alongside the pain of Grady and everything he meant to Ty. “But I thought Grady trusted me enough to believe the shit happening was just rumors, that it wouldn’t have affected his opinion of me. It hurts to be wrong, and I don’t know who I’m more pissed off at, him or myself.”

Veronica laid a dry, reassuring hand on Ty’s forearm. “In time, you’ll know what the right thing to think is, gain more perspective. Sounds to me like you already have some. Ready to watch now?” He nodded, and she moved her hand to take the remote, starting the movie.

As they watched the events on the screen unfold, Ty found himself absorbed, and in a moment of self-awareness, realized for the first time in months, finding his focus wasn’t a heavy stone he was rolling uphill. He wasn’t overanalyzing the plot to try to fit the situation to his with Grady, wasn’t sponging up the angst with the characters as if it were his own. It was a good film, he thought, and the building sexual tension was subtle, not ham fisted and shoved in the audience’s faces. 

Unaware of the exact moment when the warmth of Veronica’s skin beside him became obvious, attuned to the sounds of her breathing, or when he started matching his own inhales and exhales with hers, his focus shifted to her above the movie. She wasn’t only the girl who dragged him out of the house when he didn’t want to face the world. She’d kept him company when he was the worst sort of company to keep, had been his cheerleader, albeit a snarky one. She gave him a chance, and had asked for nothing in return but his friendship. A rush of gratitude swelled in his chest and he was grateful she hadn’t let him say no to her, that she hadn’t left him to steep in his own misery.

Ty reached over and put his palm to the back of Veronica’s hand, squeezing her fingers lightly, looking over and smiling slightly. She looked back at him in surprise, but her lips turned up. She flipped her hand over so they were palm to palm, and linked their fingers. He’d meant the gesture to be a silent thank you for her company, but with the continued contact, he didn’t want to let go. He felt a pang of regret and longing for Grady, but ferociously stomped on it. Grady wasn’t there. Grady hadn’t given him a chance to talk, let alone listened to him. Granted, he knew why, those goddamned shocking photos, but he’d done nothing wrong, and yet he was punished for it. No more, he thought. No more waiting for absolution for something I didn’t do. No more waiting for Grady to come to his senses. I want my life back.

Ty tugged at Veronica’s hand, pulled her close, and kissed her decisively. She stiffened in his arms, he hoped in shock, not disgust. He was about to pull away, embarrassed for assuming too much, when she grew pliant and returned the kiss. He liked the smell of her, a hint of something floral but spicy too, like apple pie cooling on a kitchen window above a rose garden. Caressing the skin of her face, her jaw and neck, he marveled at the softness of her, how smooth she felt, her curves against him. His body responded to her as a wave of desire rolling through him that hadn’t graced his nerves in so very long that he barely recognized it.

Veronica, after her initial hesitation, made it clear she was interested with the fervent return of his kisses. Despite that, she paused a couple times, a questioning look on her, until he laughed, winding his hand into her hair. “I’m fine, Vee. Better than fine.” He pulled her back in, intent on showing her just how fine he was.

First times carry with them an extra thrill, and Ty felt it in every pore, the sense of something new, unknown and even dangerous happening. He relished it, embraced it, took his time with it, learning Veronica’s body slowly, what made her sigh and gasp. He reveled in her impatience while he rolled on a condom, the flush that crept up her chest and neck as he entered her. He mapped the pinked skin with his lips and tongue while she sat astride him, and his hands guided her rocking hips. The voice in his head was equal parts in ecstasy at the life zinging through his veins, equal parts demanding to know what he thought he was doing to Grady. He let himself float above the voice, drowning it out with their mingled breathing and soft moans. She was a drug that obliterated everything he suffered the last few months, the feeling as real as the chemical coma he’d sought to drown in after stumbling tear-blinded from Grady’s house that horrible day. 

Veronica’s nails dug into his shoulders and she threw her head back with a cry, convulsing around his shaft, drawing from him a guttural sound that morphed into a moan as he came with her, the explosion of his nerves reverberating through his limbs. Slowly, they came back to themselves, sweat cooling. Ty, for a moment, couldn’t look into her face, and so closed his eyes and let his head fall back on the couch, breathing heavily. 

“You okay there, sailor?” Veronica whispered. 

Grady called me that. His eyes stung and the reality of what just happened slammed him with the force of a speeding cement truck. His brain began a revolt, the voice louder and more insistent. He smashed it down, jerking on his acting cloak, a barely remembered thing, but it felt good, and he chose it over the emotions crashing through him. Waiting a moment for it to settle on his shoulders before opening his eyes to look at her, he smiled. There was no hesitation in his face, none in his voice when he said, “Still just fine, Vee. You?” Oh, he’d been a good actor, once upon a time.

She gave him a shy smile, burying her face in the junction of his shoulder and neck. “I’ve hoped for this for awhile,” she answered softly. 

He reached up to stroke her hair, telling himself that this was just the first time, that with his next anyone-after-Grady it would have been as much a shock to his system. It wasn’t a mistake. I have to move on. As the justification in his mind took shape, he began to get a grip. The wrongness faded, and he put both hands on either side of her face to pull her back enough to look in her eyes. He smiled. “Well, hope no more. And you’re such a liar about why you brought this movie.”

She smiled sweetly, leaning forward to kiss him before he shifted them both so they were spooning on the couch. “Looks like we need to go back a few chapters,” she laughed, reaching for the remote.

Enjoying the story? Leave feedback in the comments! I’d love to hear from you. Really enjoying it? Consider purchasing my other titles, which can be found here.

Disclaimer so I don’t get sued: Any resemblance in this work to people living or dead is entirely coincidental and locations are used fictitiously. Registered trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners.