As we sat eating pancakes at IHOP down the road from campus, I couldn’t stop staring over at Damon. He had changed so much since we started this mess between us. The shy guy who hid behind his hat and hoodie was gone, and in his place was this sexy guy who held his shoulders back and glared at anyone who dared to look in his direction. I liked it.
“So, what do you want to do today?” I asked as I sat back in the booth and pushed my empty plate away.
He cocked an eyebrow at me. “Well, I have some things to do and figured you did too. If Tommy really is out, you should probably go speak with an officer about protection and what your next steps should be.”
I nibbled on my bottom lip and nodded. “Yeah, you’re probably right.” But I wanted him by my side and didn’t know how to tell him that.
Then his gaze softened as he watched me. “You okay to do this alone? Or, I can get someone to help.”
I wanted you to help, but I kept that to myself. “Nah, I’m a big girl.” I sipped on my water as I held his gaze. “What do you have to do today?”
His gaze held mine as a flash of annoyance swam through his eyes. “Stuff.”
I snorted. “Stuff. Okay, yeah, that answers my question.”
Groaning, he sat forward and rested his elbows on the table. “I care about you, Taylor, but this,” he paused to point between us, “isn’t anything more than a deep friendship. I meant what I said the other night.”
“So, fucking me in the club and saying that I’m yours was all bullshit?”
His jaw tightened. “That was a heat of the moment comment. I,” he stopped and shook his head.
Why is it so difficult for him to admit his true feelings for me?! Did he honestly not want me like that? I refused to believe it.
“Does any of this have to do with your sister’s accident?” I blurted out before I could stop myself.
The look of pure anger flashed over his features as he glared at me again. “Don’t you dare bring that up, Taylor. You know nothing about that night and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t ever fucking talk about that again.”
Okay, so I clearly hit a sore spot for him, but how was I to know? He doesn’t tell me anything!
“Damon,” I sighed as I reached over and touched his hand, “you can talk to me, ya know. It can’t be easy holding all of that in and…”
“Taylor,” he growled, “I said we aren’t going to talk about that.”
I swallowed and leaned back in my spot. He pulled his wallet out and tossed some bills on the table before he stood up.
“I’ll see you later.” Then he turned and left the restaurant as I stared straight ahead and tried not to cry.
All I wanted was for Damon to see what we could have together if he would just accept his feelings for me. It was so hot and cold with that guy and I didn’t know how to break down his walls. I’ve never wanted someone as badly as I wanted him.
I finished my water and slid out of the booth. Damon was right, I needed to go figure out how to handle Tommy. A simple restraining order wasn’t going to be good enough and I knew a piece of paper wouldn’t stop him anyway.
But as I left the restaurant and headed back toward campus, the familiar rumbling of Tommy’s truck made my blood run cold. I tried to walk faster but got cut off when he blocked my way. Tommy and the guys jumped out of the truck and circled me.
“I spent the night in jail because of you, Taylor,” Tommy stated as Ryan grabbed my arms from behind and held me there. Mitch leaned up against the side of the truck and chewed on his jerky as he grinned at me.
“You spent the night in jail because you deserved it,” I hissed back.
Tommy laughed and threw his head back. “You always liked it rough, T.” He walked up and ran his finger over my bare neck.
I tried to move away from him but Ryan was much stronger and held me still.
“I spoke to my father this morning and the deal is still on.” He stared down into my eyes as I tried to look away from him. He grabbed my chin and forced me to look back up at him. “You and I both know that we’re meant to be together, Taylor. It’s been planned since we were kids. Why don’t you come back to me and I’ll forget any of this ever happened.”
I spit in his face. “Fuck you, Tommy. I will never come back to you.”
He wiped his face off and grinned. That grin scared the hell out of me but I held my head high. I didn’t want him to know that he intimidated me.
“I’m sorry to hear you say that. It was nice knowing you, Taylor. I hope you enjoyed your time here on campus because it’s about to come to an end.” He walked back to his truck and waved for the guys to follow.
Ryan released me and my knees shook. I tried to stay as steady as I could as Tommy drove away. My heart thundered and I was seconds away from breaking down in sobs. I thought I was so strong but my strength was quickly crumbling.
I pulled my phone out of my back pocket and dialed Damon as I wrapped an arm around my chest. My bottom lip began to tremble when I realized he wasn’t going to pick up.
“Hey, you’ve reached Damon, you know what to do.”
When the beep echoed in my ear, I took a deep breath and tried to leave a message that wouldn’t scare him.
“Damon, it’s me,” I whispered, “I… I…” I pulled the phone away and hung up. I didn’t want to play the victim any longer. It was clear that Damon was having mixed feelings toward me and I didn’t want him to baby me any longer. I wanted him to come to me on his own.