Getting back to the party I see Milo chilling with Josh. He looks at him differently than he does anyone else, different even than the way he looks at Jayce. I think he appreciates that Josh doesn’t treat him like a kid, he’s growing up and we all need to start realising that.
Hope is sitting playing with Tara, they’ve made a make-shift tic-tac-toe board using twigs and rocks, I wonder if Tara realises she’s about to get hustled by that genius?
I wolf down three burgers before I hear my phone ringing, the name ‘green eyes’ appearing on the screen making me smile.
“Hey, you on your way?”
Connors voice is like caramel, smooth and sweet. I just want to pour it all over my body and have him lick it off. Jesus Christ Brianna, get a fucking hold on yourself.
“Actually I’m here but I think I’m at the wrong place, the sat-nav has brought me to some huge mansion place.”
I laugh. “Stay there, I’ll come find you.”
Walking through the house I open the front door to see Connor sitting shell shocked in his car on the drive. He runs his eyes over me before getting out and I do the same, he’s still in his same clothes but his shirt is undone a few more buttons and he looks a lot more relaxed. “I thought you said it was in your friends house, not a hotel! Didn’t you say you grew up in the bad part of town?”
Connor comes to the door before stopping, making sure to glance inside. “I did, this is my friend’s parents place, also my sisters brothers place. Its kind of complicated. You want to come in? Hope is playing and there’s enough food to feed an army.”
He looks hesitant but his eye catches something behind me and I turn to see my favourite preggo coming to the door. “Brie did you order a fucking stripper that looks like Jayce or something?”
Does he really look like Jayce? Oh shit I want to die. I think I’m crushing on a guy that kind of looks like the geek version of Jayce fucking Thompson, my life is officially over.
Connor smirks at me, clearly sensing my annoyance here. “No Al, this is... Connor. Shit, I mean Professor Joseph.” Fuck, what am I supposed to call him outside of school now?
Al’s eyes widen as she runs them over Connor approvingly. “Ah, Professor Joseph... I’m Aleah... So, you been to any good parks lately?”
I swear when that baby is out of her I’m going to fucking kill her.
She’s loving this, I never introduce her to guys for this very reason. Connor looks like he wants the ground to swallow him up and I can’t take the tension anymore. “Fuck, okay Connor this Al and she’s my best friend so she knows everything that’s ever happened in my life including but not limited to that thing you do with your tongue. If you want to even the score then you should know she’s knocked up by the guy that should’ve been her stepbrother and she likes on top, rough and with Jayce’s hands around her throat. We good?”
Connor struggles to pick his jaw up off the floor as me and Al burst out laughing. “Come on, Hope’s playing out back.”
He follows us through the house, the look of bewilderment on his face virtually identical to Hope’s one from earlier today. As we step into the kitchen I see Jayce’s arms are already around Al, his hands on her stomach as he kisses the side of her neck.
Spotting us they stop but his hands don’t move from her body, he lifts his head and spots Connor, pulling Aleah closer into his body.
“Relax Romeo, this one’s with me.” I don’t miss the turn up in Connors lips.
“With you, huh?” He whispers into my ear, his breath sending a trail of cold-bumps straight from my lobe down my neck.
Better stop this guy getting the wrong idea. “Down boy, just didn’t want Jayce jumping you. He almost killed a gynaecologist already this week.”
Swinging open the back doors I see Tara tap Hope on the shoulder, distracting her from what I’m sure I’d her twentieth win and signing to her that her Dad is here.
Hope springs up from the floor and comes running over, jumping straight up into Connors arms. She buries her head into his neck as he holds her tight against his chest... I’m not jealous. Really. I’m not thinking about pulling her away from his neck by her pretty pigtails and licking him up it instead... who said that?
“Dad this place is so cool, can I stay here forever? Tara said she’ll take me in the pool if you say it’s okay? May said I can borrow her old stuff that is too small.” Her hands are moving so fast, I’m glad she’s talking too or I’d be missing everything through her excitement.
Connor looks down at her. “I think you’ve already taken up enough of these kind peoples time, I should probably get you back little miss.”
Her little face drops as she glances back at Tara, who’s walking over with Cole to greet Connor. “It’s no trouble, this little cutie of yours has been a dream. Please stay, there’s plenty of food and it’s actually nice to see Brianna bring someone over here... I don’t think that’s ever happened before.” Jesus Christ, will everyone stop acting like I’m bringing home my fiancé for fucking thanksgiving dinner! He’s just a dude.
Connor relents to Tara’s iron will, letting Hope go play. I sit him down between me and Elizabeth but immediately regret that decision as soon as she starts getting her flirt on, that woman is an animal. I can see now where Chad got it from.
I’m surprised how quickly he fits in with everybody, like he’s known them all for years. Of course Jayce wasn’t massively impressed with having someone the same height as him around, think it knocked that high and mighty confidence of his to have Connor here but as soon as they started talking they got on like a house on fire. Connor already knew who Jayce was obviously, this town and its bloody love of basketball – I’ll never understand it.
Josh is quiet, too quiet even for him as I settle back down with another burger. “You good babe?”
He nods. “Worried about Steve, he just text to say he’s gonna be in training all weekend ready for tomorrow night so he’s gonna drop some keys off now so I can still crash at his. You’re still coming to the fight right? I can’t do that shit by myself.”
“Of course babes, wouldn’t miss it. Why are you worried? He’s good right, I mean he’s never lost before from what I’ve seen online.”
Josh’s head falls back as he lets out a deep breath. “Just worried all this crap with Chrissy is going to have him distracted. He’s already doing his usual method of moving on, I barely slept last night with the way he had some girl screaming. There’s been a different one each night this week, it’s the only reason I haven’t moved in there yet. Need him to get it out of his system first.”
Lucky bitches. Seriously, what does he do that makes them all sound like that? “She came by yesterday, said she just wanted to talk to him but her threw her ass to the curb. I think he’s actually going to stay strong this time, stay away from her... He asked about you too, just wanted to make sure you were okay i think.”
Steve asked about me?.. I can see he’s worried, the stress is written all over his face but Steve is a big boy. He can take care of himself. “Babe he’ll be fine, he’s pretty much the strongest guy I think I’ve met having been through what he has and come out the other side still so together. He won’t let that girl get to him. Plus we’ll be there screaming his name until we’ve got no voices left, yeah? He won’t be able to concentrate on anything else trust me, guys get very focused when I’m screaming their name.”
Josh rolls his eyes before Jayce calls him over to go look at the bug with him for me, it’s like I have a little army of hot guy minions just waiting to do my bidding. “Don’t break my fucking car Jayce!” He shoves his middle finger up at me as they walk away.
I turn my attention back to Connor who has been politely listening to Elizabeth’s ramblings for the last twenty minutes about how her hydrangeas haven’t come into full bloom. I’d better save him.
“You want another drink? Far away in the kitchen where no-one can talk to you about flowers?” He turns, nodding repeatedly whilst thanking me with his eyes.
Elizabeth shouts something about me stealing her eye candy as I shut the doors to the kitchen behind us.
“You’re friends, they’re lovely. Bit confused on the family dynamics here though. So Jayce is your brother?”
I shake my head. “Not exactly, it’s kind of a long story. We’re just one big complicated family but it works, don’t ask me how. I just feel lucky to have them all. Just be grateful my Granny is taking advantage of the alone time with her boyfriend or she’d be here giving you a grilling too.”
Connor almost chokes on his beer. “Your Granny needs alone time with her boyfriend? How old is she?”
A shiver runs through me as I think about what they’re probably up to right now, reminder to self - stay here with May as long as damn possible so I don’t have to relive that brain scarring situation again. “Age is just a number baby.” I wink.
Opening the fridge I pull out a bottle of water, Tara offered to let me stay but I’d better get back tonight so no drinking for me.
As I turn around I see Connor has moved to stand against the counter behind me, his eyes now scanning my face. “What’s that look about?”
He takes another swig of his beer, his eyes still locked to mine. “I’m still just trying to figure you out. You’re a bit of a mystery Brianna Parker. Clearly things haven’t been easy for you but you’re surrounded by so much love, I just can’t figure out why you don’t want that for yourself...”
It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately too. The wall just refuses to come down, I wouldn’t even know where to try start pulling the bricks from.
“Love hurts. It leaves you weak and open for pain, I don’t understand why anyone would want to willingly put themselves through that. It’s just... love is an elaborate form of self-harm as far as I’m concerned.”
His eyes never break from mine, like he’s taking a moment to process what I’ve said. “You talk about it like there are no good parts... love ending is painful but love beginning, love growing... it’s the most true feeling there is.” He steps forward, cupping my cheek with his hand. His touch is soft but his fingertips still lightly pressed to my jaw keeping my attention on him. “You deserve to feel that Brie, you deserve to have someone look at you and touch you like you’re the most precious thing on this earth.”
My breath catches in my throat, I think he’s the first person that’s ever told me I deserve more than what I have. “I’ve had plenty of people touch me like they want me Connor...”
His face comes closer, his gaze intense as his hand moves from my cheek and slides behind my neck to tilt my face up towards him. My back is flush against the fridge as I stare up into his eyes, my heart pounding at the way he’s looking at me right now.
“No you haven’t. Not a single person has ever touched you the way you deserve to be touched, the way only a man completely in love with a woman can touch her. It’s a stronger pull than any good fuck can ever give you...” His eyes fall to my lips. “It would make you feel things you didn’t know were possible.”
It feels like the world around me melts away, the room turning to black as I become lost in his touch. My eyes fall to his lips, pout and soft just parting slightly as he drags in a breath made up mostly of my own.
He could do it, he could be the one to make me feel everything I’ve ever been too frightened to feel... he could be the one to break me... if I let him.
“Connor...” My words losing all meaning as his lips draw near, his body pressing closer to my own.
“Tell me you don’t want me to Brianna, tell me you don’t want to feel my lips on yours right in this moment.” I fucking wish I could, I wish I had the strength to lie to him but I’ve never wanted anything as much as I want to have him kiss me right now.
But I won’t be like Antonio. “Connor... you know we can’t-”
The back door pulls open and Connor springs back to his position against the counter just as a dripping wet Hope comes slipping and sliding along the tiles, the sensation of losing his touch leaving me colder than I wish it did. “Dad! Come watch me jump in! Milo showed me how to make the splash HUGE!”
He smiles at her as she turns to me. “You too Brie! May is really good at it.” Following her over to the pool she’s filled to the brim with excitement but I can’t share in it, all I can feel is how empty my lips are without his touch. When did I turn into this soppy bitch? These guys are fucking with my head.