Chapter 10 - First Kiss
I felt itchy in my own skin.
Like if everywhere I went people were watching me. Judging me. I went from trailer park trash that no one cared about to the girl that the kings of Skyline High rescued and got a beloved teacher sacked. People used to only pay me attention to make fun of my old clothes or make a cruel joke that I basically survived on the free school meals. Now people watched me everywhere I went. They were waiting to see if I would suddenly become someone popular like my brother’s best friend, Ray did, or if I would drift back into my role at the bottom of the food chain. Girls pretended to be friends with me but only to a certain extent, and boys wanted to see why an attractive young teacher like Mr. Parkings would ruin his career just to touch me.
I hated all of the expectations and tension that surrounded me. Like if I was now on some sort of perverted reality T.V. show and was required to act a certain way and dress a certain way and be someone I wasn’t. Well, fuck that. I wasn’t going to fall in line like some sort of puppet. This was my life and my body. Everyone else can just go screw themselves.
Even though they lived in a two-bedroom trailer and shared a room, Jack and Amy had a ton of stuff. Or maybe I just thought so because I had only needed one half-filled duffel and my school bag to carry all of my stuff. Jack couldn’t have been happier to finally be moving on from this mom’s trailer, but Amy didn’t seem very into it.
She had this vacant and sullen look to her eyes that I really didn’t like and I had overheard the tail end of an argument between her and Jack. Amy was concerned that they were abandoning their mom and living a life that wasn’t theirs. Jack just wanted a better life and after a couple of awkward moments, Amy agreed to give the rental house with me a try. It wasn’t like the trailer was going anywhere. If things didn’t work out, all three of us could come back here if we needed.
I tried to talk to Amy while helping her unpack some of her clothes into the smaller of the three rooms, but she was doing her best to close me out and almost every other sentence out of her mouth was a lie. I could take a hint, so I let her unpack in peace after letting her know that I would always be here if she wanted to talk. After we had everything moved in, the twins and Jonas left so that Jack, Amy, and I could have diner in our new place together. I checked out the contents of the fridge and then made us loaded sandwiches because I didn’t know how to cook. Never really had a kitchen or free access to food to learn.
However, Amy only took three bites of her dinner before jumping up and saying something about meeting up with friends before walking out of the house. Jack didn’t say or do anything to stop her, so I figured I didn’t have any right to do so either. I wasn’t her mother.
“Has she talked to you at all?” I questioned as Jack stared at the door that Amy had let slam behind her.
“No,” Jack admitted and his shoulders fell. “At first I didn’t want to push it because I thought she wasn’t ready. But now it feels like she is building walls at lightning speed and whenever I try to bring up a serious conversation she just bails. I thought she would be thrilled to get out of that trailer.”
I got up, hugged his shoulders, and said something reassuring that I really hoped was true. Then I got a large tub of chocolate fudge ice cream out of the freezer and handed a spoon to Jack. Together we sat on the couch and just flipped through the channels seeing what was on T.V. while enjoying the sweet treat.
About two hours later Jack’s phone buzzed and he said that one of his friends from the scrap yard was having car trouble. Jack was an ace in shop and was planning on becoming an auto mechanic so he was everyone’s go-to friend for a quick fix. He double-checked that I was okay with him bailing and then he left to go help his friend out.
Once the screen door slammed shut behind him, I let out a breath and took a moment to just soak in the silence. I used to spend the majority of my time alone, but it seemed like these days I was always surrounded by at least a couple of people. The weird thing was, I wasn’t completely sure I was unhappy about that. It now felt odd to be alone. Like if I was missing out on something.
I flipped through a couple more channels and then let my thoughts drift to the possibility of dropping out of school and what it would mean for me when word of my existence became common knowledge in the supernatural world. The guys said that I would be approached by multiple royal families and would have many different options when it came time to choose, but I still had my doubts. I wasn’t convinced that these people who had been raised with a silver spoon securely within their grasp would ever see me as more than a pitiable orphan who lived with humans. But Mathis was right, I wasn’t going to know one way or another unless I actually gave the possibility of something better a chance and kept an open mind.
I was pulled out of my thoughts by my ringing phone. I looked down at the display screen and was surprised to see that it was Jonas who was calling. I picked up with a tentative “Hello?”
“Hey,” Jonas replied in his low smokey voice. “The guys let me borrow a bike to get back to the city and I thought I would stop by on the off chance that you might want to take a little ride with me before I headed home.” That statement got me curious and I got off the couch and looked out the window to see Jonas was sitting outside on a gleaming motorcycle.
I opened the door, stepped outside, and hung up the phone because I wasn’t going to talk to someone on the phone who was standing right in front of me. “I’ve never been on a motorcycle,” I admitted, but the idea of going for a ride was oddly exciting.
Jonas stepped off of the bike and moved to lean against it, giving me an excellent view of his lean body. Maybe it was the idea of hanging onto Jonas that I found so exciting. “I have been riding since I was twelve years old. It is a great way to get away from people without seeming too antisocial, and Edison likes to use me as a messenger of sorts so I spend a lot of time on a bike. I checked and there are an extra helmet and leather safety jacket. Come on, I swear you are in good hands.”
Honestly, I didn’t need that much convincing and when I nodded my head in agreement, Jonas lifted the seat and started pulling items from the compartment within. I pulled on the leather jacket that he handed me and found that it was absolutely huge on me. I figured that it must belong to one of the twins and worked on rolling up the sleeves enough so that my hands were free of the material. When Jonas turned and saw, he chuckled before placing the extra helmet on the handlebars and started helping me with the sleeves. Then he also helped me secure the helmet strap and pulled out his phone to document just how ridiculous I looked. I glared at him in good fun and marveled at how normal all of this felt.
Was this how normal teenage girls felt when they spent time with hot guys?
After a quick run-through of basic safety and riding tips, Jonas remounted the large piece of machinery, started it with a roar, and held out a hand to help me on. The extra seat was smaller than I had originally thought and I found myself pressed up against Jonas’ back. When I tried to push back so that I didn’t crowd him, Jonas reached back and pulled my wrists until they were securely wrapped around his middle. The clan bond burned against my front that was plastered to his back and I took a deep breath to settle my sudden bout of nerves. Jonas smelled of smokey wood and fresh earth with a trace of sweat mixed in. The attractive smell did nothing to settle my nerves that were quickly turning into full-blown butterflies.
Then we were driving and I felt like I was one with the road and the wind. I leaned when Jonas leaned and before too long we cleared the residential neighborhoods and started going faster and faster. I was so enraptured with the feel of the vibrations of the motorcycle, the cool fresh wind, and Jonas’ shifting body so close to mine that I really wasn’t paying any attention to where we were going.
Eventually, the smell of the sea got stronger and we turned onto a windy stretch of road that had significantly fewer cars. I turned my head and saw that we were riding on a highway that edged a set of cliffs that dropped directly into the Pacific Ocean. The sight literally took my breath away and I squeezed Jonas’ waist in a death grip. But Jonas hadn’t been kidding about his experience as a driver and he confidently led us through the seemingly endless curves and breathtaking views.
Just as I was starting to feel my butt going numb, Jonas slowed down and pulled over at a small parking lot. He shut off the engine and pulled off his helmet before reaching out a hand and helping me to awkwardly get off the bike. I unbuckled my strap, took off my helmet, and looked around to find that we were parked a little above a small beach that was completely packed with elephant seals. Once I saw them, I also recognized their unique grunting call filling the night air. I smiled at the incredible sight of so many animals grouping together this close to a large city.
“Most of those are all females,” Jonas said, coming up behind me to look at the seals. “There will only be one alpha male for about fifty females that cluster in groups called harems. I like them because I feel like they are the opposite of us, who have an overabundance of males.”
“Yes, but the rare female in our society doesn’t try to breed with an entire harem,” I said in a teasing tone, but Jonas only continued to look at the seals and hum a nonchalant sound that I only heard because we were standing so close together. For a second, I pictured Regina surrounded by half-naked men all gathered on a beach and when another royal princess dared step too close she emitted a ridiculous territorial warning call to claim her harem as the seals did. I chuckled under my breath and felt myself relax until I was partially leaning on Jonas behind me.
The moon was full and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so I could make out the movements of a small group of baby seals playing below and pointed to draw Jonas’ attention to it. He leaned in closer and bent his head to see until we were practically cheek to cheek and my heart started beating at about a thousand beats per minute. I really wasn’t used to getting this close to people. Not to mention that I was very attracted to Jonas, and had no idea how to act in this sort of situation. The last time this happened, I had almost kissed Blake, caused a huge fight, and ended up feeling embarrassed and hurt.
“I feel weird asking this because usually I just know, but how are you feeling with everything that is happening with your family?” Jonas asked and I was glad to have something to focus on instead of how incredible his body felt pressed up against mine.
“Honestly, most of the time I am feeling so many things, and everything keeps happening so fast, that I haven’t really had time to process and understand how I feel about them,” I responded and Jonas turned so that he was now leaning against the railing, looking at my face.
“That makes sense and happens to most people. It is one reason why I tend to keep my distance from most Valkyries. When they are feeling a hailstorm of emotion I can’t help but get pulled in and get swept away in their crazy tide of confusing feelings. I can never just feel my own emotions because I am always processing everyone else’s.”
I looked up into his face that was mostly hidden in deep shadows and knew that this was a major truth that he kept at the core of his being. The closer he got to his own kind, the more of himself he lost in the process. I didn’t offer apologies or platitudes because this wasn’t something that I caused or had any right to have an option on. Instead, I offered up a truth that I held close in return.
“For as long as I have been able to access it, the void has been my safe place. My shelter that held no matter how big the storm. And in the years since my father died, I slowly spent more and more time hidden away within the security that it offered. These last couple of weeks have shown me just how much I missed while I hid, and I want nothing more than to be brave enough to really live my life away from that safety net.”
Jonas leaned in until our faces were only inches apart and breathed, “Then let go and live a little with me.”
I searched his eyes and then dropped my gaze to his lips that were slightly parted as he took short shallow breaths. He wanted this as much as I did, but he was leaving me in control. If I wanted to feel his lips on mine, I was going to have to have the courage to lean in those last two inches.
Time to start living!
My heart was in my throat as I slowly leaned forward while closing my eyes until I felt my mouth gently press into his warm lips. The second our lips met, the clan bond erupted between us so much stronger than I ever felt before, causing me to gasp. Jonas took advantage and stepped into me and deepened our kiss from a simple touching of lips to a full-on lip-lock. He let out a low groan that shot straight through my body causing my stomach to do a low, hard, flip. It felt like my entire body was on fire, caused by the spark of emotion emanating from touching and kissing Jonas.
Jonas moved his hand to the back of my head and fisted my hair as he swiped the seam of my lips with his tongue. I balanced myself by gripping his hip with one hand, mirrored his hair fisting gesture with my other, and opened to let him in. Jonas used his tongue to claim my mouth and my entire body exploded with feeling once again. This time ten times more intense than the first kiss.
I pulled away briefly to catch my breath before pushing back up against him and tentatively meeting his tongue with mine. More electricity poured through each place that he was touching me and I felt this irresistible urge to press myself even closer to him. He broke our kiss to lean further down to start kissing and sucking down the side of my neck causing me to gasp and lean up on my toes until I had both arms around his neck and our bodies were rubbing against each other.
Jonas’ hands dropped to encircle my waist where he maintained a strong grip and pulled me into him in a pulsating motion. I pushed my hips forward and felt the long, hard length of his excitement against the fly of my jeans. Jonas moaned again and returned to my mouth. Together we ravished each other’s mouths while trying to generate enough friction to satisfy our other growing needs. However, the second that his hands ventured under the waistband of my jeans, an alarm went off in my head that we were moving way too fast and I pulled away. Jonas didn’t resist and moved his hands to the railing behind him as we both stood, heaving for breath, staring at each other.
“Is it always like that?” I finally managed to say, not worried in the slightest that he might judge me for not knowing what a kiss was supposed to feel like.
“Not even close,” he responded and the lack of buzz told me that he wasn’t just trying to boost my ego. I raised my hand to my mouth and gently started tracing my still tingling lips. Holy bananas. I now completely understood why so many teenagers were completely obsessed with sex. And I had only ventured as far as first base.
As the intoxicating feelings Jonas had caused slowly started to ebb, my rational brain started to kick back in reminding me that I had just told Blake that I wasn’t interested in a purely physical relationship. I barely even knew Jonas.
“What’s your middle name?” I blurted out and Jonas cocked an eyebrow at me before replying.
“How old are you?” I asked again before he could get another word in edgewise.
“What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?”
“Espresso,” Jonas said and then reached out once again to grip my hips and gently pulled me slightly towards him. “What’s with the twenty questions?”
“I’m not interested in only having a casual relationship based solely on sex,” I blurted out before I could properly filter myself. “I know that you grew up with Regina and she said that females are encouraged to ‘spread the love’, but I am not ready for that. Honestly, I don’t know if I will ever be ready for that. So if that is what you want, then I am going to have to disappoint you.” By this point, I was completely humiliated and couldn’t make myself meet his eyes.
But Jonas wasn’t going to let me get away with that. He tucked a finger under my chin and pulled my face up until I was looking into his eyes. “Ray, I am not interested in a sexual relationship either. I wasn’t planning on jumping you like that, I just got carried away in the moment with you,” Jonas said in a soft but sure voice and through my Gift, I knew that he was telling the truth. “I will answer any questions that you have because I enjoy spending time with you and want to get to know you better too.”
I smiled up at him and he leaned in and kissed my forehead before declaring that it was late and he needed to get me back. We climbed back on the bike and I let the warm bubble of excitement and happiness fill me up as we rode in the clean ocean air. When we reached the rent house, the loud noise of the motorcycle muffler must have alerted Jack, because he came out onto the porch to see if everything was okay. I waved at Jack after taking off my helmet and Jonas got off the bike to secure it back under his seat. Then he cupped my cheek and leaned in to give me a good night kiss that had the slightest hint of our earlier heat but he pulled back before it bloomed into anything past PG13.
Jonas watched as I walked up the porch and gave Jack a chin lift before taking off in a roar. As the sound faded, Jack let out a low whistle and I felt myself actually blush. “Lucy, you have some ’splaining to do,” Jack called in a sing-song voice and my embarrassment grew.
“Damn,” Jack called. “I have never seen you like this Ray. You are positively glowing. That mean you and he are starting something up?”
“Something like that,” I mumbled and tried to walk past him.
“Hey,” Jack said as he hooked his arm in mine, halting my progress into the house. “Glowing is a good look on you. And man, you really hooked yourself a ten. Ray, that man is so hot I am surprised that he doesn’t spontaneously combust. I’m happy for you.”
I let out a breath and let that happy bubble of excitement overtake me once again and smiled at my best friend. He was right, Jonas was definitely out of my league in the looks department, but I was proud that he could be himself around me and I wouldn’t transfer my emotions to him. He also was down to Earth and didn’t radiate pride and cockiness like the rest of the elite Valkyries. I could see myself really forming a connection with a guy like Jonas.
“Yeah, I kind of like him,” I admitted and Jack shook his head at me.
“Just be careful, okay? I know you can take care of yourself, but if he does anything to hurt you, I’m going to kick his ass,” Jack said in a serious voice and I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep myself from laughing. The thought of Jack besting any Valkyrie, let alone a highly trained one like Jonas was purely ridiculous, but I appreciated the sentiment.
“Yeah, okay,” I acknowledged and then brought up the subject that I really didn’t want to because I was going to have to fabricate some sort of story and I hated lying to Jack. “Listen, Jack, there is something that I have to tell you.”
“Oh shit, you have changed your mind about me and Amy moving in with you,” Jack said in a panic and started to back away from me.
“No! Nothing like that. You and Amy are always welcome wherever I am calling home. You know that,” I said a little hurt that he thought I would renege on him so fast. “I am going to be homeschooled for the rest of the year.”
“What? Why the hell would you do that?” Jack asked, completely surprised by my news.
I let out a sigh and looked out at the neat little neighborhood with perfectly manicured lawns and sidewalks that were brightly lit with street lamps. God this place so far from what I was used to. “Long story short is that apparently I come from some sort of important family and now that they have found me, Mathis and Sean are insisting that there are things that I need to learn so that I can have a future within the family business.”
Jack was quiet for a moment before he looked at the house that Mathis had basically just given to me free and clear. Then he spent a good minute staring at the luxury rental car parked on the curb. “Jesus Ray, is your family part of the mob?” Jack asked in a hushed whisper laced with worry.
I chucked and shook my head, wondering what had made him come to that conclusion. “No, nothing criminal. More like they are members of this elite and secretive organization that has their fingers in a lot of different businesses and politics around the country. And this organization has a whole set of rules and histories that I need to learn. Or at least that is what they told me. It is also entirely possible that this is just another plot to pull me further into their world before I am completely ready.”
“Secretive organization that has their fingers in a lot of different pies? Ray that sounds a whole hell of a lot like the mob,” Jack said and moved until our shoulders were touching. I knew that he wanted more answers, but Jack was human and it was against The Law to tell him anything about the supernatural society. If I told him and anyone ever found out, they would kill him and probably Amy too just to be safe.
“I can’t tell you more,” I told him in a firm voice. When he reached around and squeezed the back of my neck I knew that he remembered our last talk where I told him I would disappear from his life before I explained everything to him. Jack had said that he didn’t need to know. That he would still be here for me no matter what. Looks like I was going to be putting that promise to the test. “So, I won’t be at school tomorrow or the rest of the year. Think you will survive without me?”
“I’m not the same scrawny kid that you pulled bullies off of a year ago. I think I’ll be okay,” Jack said in a teasing tone, but this was something I was actually a little worried about. Jack and Amy were two of three people that my Valkyrie powers had claimed as one of my protected. That meant that I felt responsible for them and had a primal urge to ensure they were safe. I resolved to ask the guys to keep an eye out for them and then gave Jack a side hug before heading in and getting ready for bed.
I pulled out my phone and once again scolded myself for not checking it more often. The Three Musketeers and Sean had all texted me. I looked through them to see that they were mostly just checking in.
I texted each of them back, letting them know that I was good and that I decided to drop out of school. Every single one of them texted back to wish me good night, even though it was well past one a.m. The little buzzing phone filled me with feelings of being loved and cared about.
I was just about to fall asleep when one last buzz came through and I looked to see that Jonas had texted me goodnight too.