Bear with Me

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8. Let's start over

SCARLETT

My phone buzzed, causing my heart to somersault for the millionth time. I knew that I was the one that ran out on Callum, but every time someone tried to reach me, I wondered if it was him getting in touch. After all, not many people had my current number, seeing as I was trying to keep a low profile. But all of my messages and calls recently were from Riley, and the latest text was no exception.

It had been three days since I last saw Callum and I was feeling anxious, like some hidden voice inside my head knew to expect his call. I couldn’t really explain the fascination and attraction I had for that man, both of which had somehow flared up since our random evening together.

The tiny phone buzzed again. I scrolled through Riley’s messages, hoping that they were going to distract me. Sadly, it didn’t work. As a matter of fact, it had the opposite effect- I found myself thinking about Callum yet again. My head jiggled in the desperate hope of shaking him out of my thoughts. Who was I kidding- it didn’t work before and it was not going to work now either.

I contemplated a number of times during the past days whether to tell Riley about my bizarre evening with her friend and about the damn tattoo, finally deciding against it- she seemed to have enough on her plate and she still hadn’t told me about her mystery man. But she was radiating happiness, so I did not want to bother her.

The doorbell rang and I rushed over to the main entrance to grab the food I had ordered. When I opened the door, it was not the delivery man I saw, even if my surprise visitor was holding my food.

“Hungry, Flame?” A little cocky smirk appeared on his face as he lowered the bag so that it was right in front of his crotch. Prick!

Yet, to my surprise, I found myself running my tongue over my lower lip before my teeth sunk into it as I tried to suppress an involuntary sigh of appreciation.

What the hell is wrong with me?

It was like my body had a mind of its own and that mind wanted Callum Andrews. Right here, right now.

“Oh, it’s you.” I shrugged, trying to sound as uninterested as possible, even though I could hear my heartbeat quicken with every step closer to this gorgeous man. Every fibre of my body was pulsating, like they were calling out to him, inviting him to touch me, to trace my skin with his fingertips or, even better, with his lips.

He laughed heartily, which stirred something in me- almost like I wanted to...punch him.

“If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that you are unhappy to see me, Flame.” His eyes searched for mine but I was not going to give him the satisfaction of establishing eye contact.

Nope. No way.

Instead, I rolled my eyes as far back as I could.

“What makes you think it’s not the case?”

“Well, for starters,” he moved closer to me, his face just mere inches away from mine, “your whole body seems to hum the nearer I get.”

Ugh. Why couldn’t he be one of those unobservant men who did not even notice when a woman got a new haircut?

“Wow, that’s one way to flatter yourself but I am just cold,” I lied through my teeth, hoping I sounded convincing enough to him.

When his cocky grin grew even wider, I knew that I was in trouble. “Is that so?”

The warmth of his breath caressed my neck like a feather in a way that made my skin erupt in thousand tiny goosebumps, just as my legs clenched together.

“So you want to tell me that you feel nothing the closer I am?” I knew from his overconfident smile that he was only just getting started. “That you don’t feel a pull towards me?” The moment he gently placed his fingertips on my arm, electricity spread through me like wildfire. “That your skin doesn’t ache for my touch?”

Fuck, was he reading my mind? How did he know? Or was this his usual way with women?

I pushed his hand off me and took a step towards him myself, fighting his advances with my counteroffensive. My confidence, even if just pretence, took him off guard and forced him to move backwards. I felt like a predator going after what I was owed.

But beneath my ballsy approach hid a very different truth. Despite wanting to deny his claims, my skin did ache for his touch. It craved it like one craved a gentle breeze in sweltering heat- especially the spot with my tattoo- and I hated it. How could I have been so stupid to get one?

When I finally stopped in my tracks, my fingers slid over my sleeve. Anger began to bubble underneath my calm exterior. I reached the top of my shoulder and pulled the fabric covering it, lowering it enough to expose my inked skin.

“This is what is making my skin ache, you arsehole. Why the hell did you have to pull a prank like that?” My face burnt red as my lips let a slew of angry words escape my mouth. A tremble of frustration could be heard in my voice. I was certainly pissed off, so not like I had to hide it.

To my surprise, Callum reached forward and ran the fleshy underside of his fingers over the words etched there, tracing them, memorizing them. The incredulous look on his face surprised me. He was so taken aback when he laid eyes on the tattoo and that definitely sent my mind wondering how he was the culprit responsible for it.

But what had me gasping was the effect of his fingertips on my marked flesh. The aching that I had felt moments earlier was mysteriously soothed by his touch, giving way to a different feeling. Something so carnal and animalistic that it scared me. It almost felt like I had a wild beast raging inside, one that could only Callum’s presence and his touch could subdue.

He closed his eyes and summoned a deep breath, holding it in before he looked straight at me with a soft gaze as the air seeped between his lips.

“Fl-” He let out a heavy sigh, interrupting himself. “Scarlett. I think this is just a big misunderstanding. I can promise you that I did not pull any pranks and I am certainly not the guy to get a girl drunk and have her inked in her tipsiness.” I was astonished by the sudden change of mood in the air. My anger fizzled as quickly as it had appeared moments earlier. The sincerity that radiated from him bordered vulnerability and it was something that I rarely saw in the guys I had met- that level of honesty that you could practically taste it in the air. “Here, this might make you feel better.”

Without waiting for my reaction, he lifted the tight fitted t-shirt that clung to his toned body like a second skin, leaving little to the imagination as far as his perfect abs were concerned, and revealed a loopy written line of text in italics on his stomach.

My gasp was rather loud when I read what was written on there.

I scratch and bite.

My exact words to him back at the fish restaurant. Surely, he didn’t get that tattooed after our dinner...right?

I looked closer at the ink- even if I was no expert, I had dated enough biker guys with tats to recognise a fresh one from the rest and this one definitely did not tick the right boxes. Callum’s abs tightened the more I ran my fingers over the tattoo to explore it, to the point that I was nearly tempted to pretend that I was still investigating.

The sound of him clearing his throat brought me back to reality and drew my attention to his face. I looked up and I realised that I was indeed so engulfed in what I was doing that I had not even noticed how close my face was to his body, his groin in particular.

The urge to place my lips on his exposed skin was difficult to reign in but I summoned all the willpower I had to slowly move my gaze along his front until I stood straight in front of him again, my eyes finally at the level of his face.

“Can we start afresh?” he implored, and something tugged at my heart.

I was no stranger to having been fed all sorts of sappy bullshit by guys just to get me in bed, but this felt different. Genuine. Gentle yet demanding. I was so tempted to say Yes, but something also held me back. I couldn’t shake off this feeling that there was something that he was hiding from me and that alone was sufficient to keep my guard up.

He must have sensed my hesitation because it evidently sent him scrambling to pick his next words wisely. “Look, Scar, I really like you. I know this may sound crazy but it’s like I’ve known you for a long time. We just fit....when you don’t try to knock me out with a vase.”

I winced at the memory, not because it was something to be embarrassed about- hell no. I didn’t shy away from a good fight when it was necessary, even if I probably didn’t stand a chance against someone as well-built as Callum. But perhaps I should have approached things in a better way that particular evening. Then again, Riley could have given me the heads up that they were coming.

Callum chuckled, a smile playing at the corner of his lips. “You are cute when you are lost in your thoughts.”

Damn it, I didn’t realise that I was so obvious.

“You scrunch your forehead when you are thinking- that’s your tell.” The huge grin plastered on his face made it hard not to smile in return. “Anyway, my point is, can we try again?”

His question caught me unprepared. “Try what?”

“To get to know each other. Spend some time together.” He raised his eyebrows, offering a questioning gaze but I was more distracted by the way he licked his lip with cautious hope. “From what I hear, Riley is quite busy lately, so I would be happy to keep you company.”

He had a point there. I didn’t need a babysitter or an entertainer- I could easily keep myself busy- but it was certainly more fun not to be alone. And my gut was telling me- no, demanding- to spend more time with the gorgeous male specimen who stood in front of me with my food still his hostage.

“Fine,” I finally answered his plea, yet I was not going to make it easy for him.

A devilish idea sprung into my mind. Something that I meant to do since I got here but Riley was too busy for us to go.

My mouth curled into a mischievous grin- this was going to test if he was really up for the challenge. “But our next outing is my choice and you better be ready to keep up.”

*****************

These two are so entertaining whenever they get together and it’s only going to get more intense. 🤣🤣

How much longer do you think Scar will be able to resist Callum? 🤔

And what does she have planned for them?😵It is going to be interesting on Friday 😁👇

“Don’t tell me you’re scared,” my fiery mate snickered. “Or are you worried that you can’t keep up with me, big boy?”

Her eyes twinkled with daring sparks, clearly feeling confident that she was teaching me a lesson, but she had no idea the fire that she was playing with. I was going to paint that perky butt of hers a beautiful shade of red when we were mated.

Yet, I had to admit that I did get a kick out of her ballsiness- if anything, it made me appreciate her even more.

Don’t forget to click on Like if you enjoy the book so far and to share your thoughts in the comments. 😊

Iveto xx

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