The Bad Things

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Chapter 6. Distracting

“I think you should talk to him,” Chelsea said. Chelsea stared down at my foot as she carefully painted my toenails.

“What?” I scoffed. “Chelsea, you were against me seeing Hayden as much as Mom was.”

Chelsea sighed and looked up at me. “Okay, look, I could be making a stupid mistake by even telling you this, but. . .” she trailed off.

“But?” I pressed.

“You clearly see something good in him. I’m not exactly sure what,” Chelsea muttered.

What Chelsea said came out insulting, and it made me want to push her off my bed, but I refrained. “Get to the point,” I said.

“I think Hayden pushed you away because of some things that happened,” Chelsea said. She bit down on her lip as if she were debating to tell me the rest.

“Spill it already.”

Chelsea groaned. Whatever she knew, she really didn’t want to tell me because she didn’t approve of Hayden and me. “Okay, so apparently Hayden took two weeks off of work at the coffee shop to fix his car.”

“So?” I arched a brow. I didn’t understand where this was going at all.

“Um, someone spray-painted killer on the side of his car, smashed in all of his windows, and sliced all four of his tires,” Chelsea explained. “Hayden gets harassed really bad. Maybe he just doesn’t want you to see it or get involved in it.”

“Oh my god,” I breathed. Everything suddenly made sense—before nothing made sense. What reason would Hayden have to play with me like that? It wasn’t like him at all. Suddenly, I knew what I had to do. “Stay with Stormy for me?”

“Sure,” Chelsea said and smiled. “Shouldn’t you wait for those to dry, though?” She looked pointedly at my toes.

I grabbed flip-flops but didn’t put them on. I dashed out of the house. In my hurry, I didn’t change out of my pajamas which were shorts and a tank top.

I climbed into my car and threw the flip-flops into the passenger seat. I would put them on after my toes dried. I sped off to Hayden’s place. The streets were lit dimly by lamps and lights from houses. It was the time of night that most adults were still awake, but most kids were asleep.

It didn’t take long for me to get to Hayden’s. My toenails were probably dry, but I didn’t care enough to put my shoes on.

I knocked several times, harder than necessary.

The door opened up, and it wasn’t who I expected—a tall thin girl with blonde hair and blue eyes stood before me.

Maybe I have the wrong apartment—I checked the number on the door. Nope, it’s definitely right.

“Hey, um, you must be here for Hayden?” the girl asked, confused by my shock and silence.

I closed my mouth and cleared my throat. “It’s okay. I didn’t realize he had company,” I said softly, not wanting Hayden to hear me. “I’ll catch him later.” I turned and started down the hallway. Tears built in my eyes. Damn, he moves on fast. How could I let myself think that he actually cared about me? A woman with a kid isn’t usually what young guys go for. It felt like I was a balloon, and someone popped me—completely deflated.

A door closed with a loud thud behind me, but I kept walking and ignored it. Just before I could start down the stairs, a hand caught my arm.

Hayden spun me around.

I gasped and stumbled into his chest.

He wrapped his arm around my waist to steady me and looked down at me. He had bags under his eyes as if he hadn’t slept in weeks.

Blondie must be keeping him up all night—I thought maliciously. It doesn’t matter. It’s not like he’s cheating. He doesn’t belong to you—I chanted to keep away all irrational thoughts and behavior. It wasn’t easy. This was harder to accept than the couple of times I caught Jason cheating on me.

“What are you doing here?” Hayden murmured.

“I—” I stopped and swallowed back the lump in my throat. “It doesn’t matter,” I mumbled. I turned away from him.

He grabbed me and spun me into him again. “What the hell is wrong?”

“No, nothing,” I said and shook my head. I knitted my eyebrows together. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. “I shouldn’t have come. I didn’t know you had company.”

“Gabe and his girlfriend were just about to leave,” Hayden argued. “Come back to the apartment, and we can talk. You didn’t come here for no reason.”

My eyes widened, and my lips parted. Wow, I really am stupid—I thought. Insecurity wasn’t ever something that I felt before, not even when Jason cheated on me. So, why did I feel it when it came to Hayden? Because he’s gorgeous and can probably have whatever girl he wants.

“What?” he asked, confused. He tilted his head.

I closed my mouth and fixed my expression. I shook my head. There was no way I was going to admit my insecurities to this crazy, mysterious, sexy boy.

Hayden pursed his lips, and his expression became thoughtful. He looked back at the apartment.

The door opened. The girl that answered the door and her boyfriend came out.

The girl smiled politely at me as she walked past.

“See you later, Hayden,” Gabe said.

“Later,” Hayden said. Hayden’s eyes met mine and danced in amusement. “You thought she was here with me?”

The air escaped my lungs. I balled up my fist and punched him in the chest. My hit did nothing, of course.

He rolled his eyes and chuckled.

“I’m leaving,” I muttered. My cheeks flushed in embarrassment. I turned away from him. I didn’t want him to know the influence he had over me.

Hayden grabbed my arm and pulled me in the other direction.

“Hayden,” I sneered.

He pulled me into his apartment and shut the door. He turned to face me. “You’re the craziest girl I’ve ever met. Assuming that any girl apart from you would be crazy or brave enough to even look at me, let alone date me, what the hell makes you think that I would be ready to move on that fast? I just got rid of you, didn’t I? Well,” he paused and snickered. “Not exactly because here you come again.”

I rolled my eyes but didn’t speak.

“Tell me why you came here,” he demanded

“T-to ask you something,” I stammered.

“Well, you came all this way, and you’ve never let me stop you from asking questions in the past,” he said and smirked. He turned away and walked over to the kitchen island. He lit a cigarette and turned back to me.

“Did you avoid me because of what happened to your car?”

Hayden nibbled lightly on the cigarette between his lips. “How did you find out about my car?” Smoke rolled out of his mouth, and he sat down on a chair beside the kitchen island.

I closed the distance between us and stood between his legs. “I will tell you that I didn’t find out the way I should have,” I said coldly. “Why did you do that? Why would you push me away over what happened to your car?”

Hayden let out a humorless chuckle. “You really don’t get it, do you? I didn’t let you go over the fucking car,” he snapped. He stood up and put his cigarette out. He turned and walked toward the hallway.

“Then tell me why!” I shouted.

He spun around to face me. “How do you not know? The car is only a simple little thing of what could happen to someone like me. I’m tired,” he muttered. “I’m tired of being the bad guy all the time, but that’s what I am. I’m no good for you. Wrap your fucking head around that.”

In my entire life, I had never seen someone look so defeated, not even me. “Hayden,” I started.

“Listen to me,” he said sternly. His eyes turned cold and harsh in an instant. “You and Stormy are better off as far away from me as you can get. Things don’t get better for someone like me, and I refuse to drag you and your daughter down with me. If that medicine ever stopped working, which they said it could, I could hurt you and her without meaning to. The part of me that you see is the sane part.”

“Hayden, that is bullshit. I don’t believe you would hurt us. It doesn’t have to be like that—”

“It is like that, Abby!” he shouted. “Do you think that’s the first time something like this has happened since I got out? I deal with things like this all the time. That day you spilled that coffee on me; I thought you did it on purpose until you started apologizing. Not to mention the shock on your face. You don’t know what it’s like, and I don’t want you to ever have to find out. If people find out we’re seeing each other, they’re going to give you problems too.”

I bowed my head. “It doesn’t matter,” I murmured.

“What did you say?” Hayden moved toward me.

I gathered all my strength as I stared into his eyes. I moved closer to him until our chests were nearly touching. “It doesn’t matter. You have to give me a better reason than that to stay away from you. I can take care of myself. People don’t scare me. I know what I want.”

Hayden gritted his teeth. “You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.”

“If you can look me in the eyes and honestly tell me that you feel nothing for me, then I’ll leave. Honestly, I thought that’s why you avoided me. That’s how you made it seem, but now that I know the real reason. . .” I trailed off and shook my head.

“God, you are so. . .” he trailed off as he stared into my eyes. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Say it,” I said stubbornly.

“I—” he stopped and groaned in frustration. Hayden buried his face in his hands and rubbed his face fiercely. His hands fell back to his sides. The answer flashed in his eyes before he said it. “I can’t,” he admitted. “But that doesn’t make it right. I don’t deserve anything good. I know that, and so does everyone else. I’ve killed people, not just any people, my family. I don’t want to wind up hurting you. I have issues, especially with controlling my temper, and you have seen that first-hand.”

I stood on my toes, threw my arms around his neck, and smashed my lips to his. I refused to listen to any more of his excuses. My body melted into his. That same fire as all the times before spread through me.

He groaned against my lips. His arms wrapped around my waist, and he carried me to the couch. His tongue slipped into my mouth as he positioned himself between my legs.

***

Sean grunted, and his face reddened. “Damn, Abigail. Did you buy the heaviest furniture you could find or what?”

Hayden laughed.

“Hayden seems to be handling it fine. Do you want me to do it?” I challenged.

My brother rolled his eyes. “You would hurt yourself.” Sean and Hayden carried my couch upstairs to my apartment, which wasn’t far from Hayden’s or Sean’s apartment.

The couch was the last piece of furniture that needed to be moved. Hayden balanced the couch on his knee and held it with one hand as he opened my door.

Mom agreed to keep Stormy while we moved things, and I unpacked things. I only had tonight through tomorrow afternoon to get things done.

“Well, I’d stay and help more, but I promised Chelsea we would go to her parent’s house for dinner. She’ll kill me if I back out again,” he muttered.

“You look enthused,” I said and chuckled.

“Meeting parents makes things seem so official, and I’m not used to it,” Sean said and shrugged.

Hayden bit his lip to keep from laughing.

“Good luck,” I snickered.

“See you,” he said.

“You can bail too if you want. You did enough. Thank you for helping me,” I told Hayden.

“It’s alright,” he said and shrugged. “I’ll help you put things away. I have to go over to my apartment to shower and take my meds, though.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll be back.” Hayden left the apartment.

I plugged in my Bluetooth speaker and hooked my phone up to it. I turned on music and started singing along to it.

A few songs later, I started to dance around the apartment as I put things away. I danced around my room as I put clothes away.

The song ended, and I heard a whistle. I looked toward the bedroom door and saw Hayden. He leaned against my doorway with a smirk. “Don’t stop because of me,” he said.

I chuckled and stuck my tongue out at him.

He walked over to the bed and looked around at the items strewn across it. “Where do you want things?” Hayden held up one of my bras. He eyed the leopard print and pursed his lips. “Do you have underwear that matches this?”

I shoved him and ripped my bra away from him. “Shut up.” I giggled as I stuffed the bra into my dresser.

“Oh, you do.”

I spun around, and he held up a leopard print thong. I snatched it from him too. “I thought you came to help me, not distract me.”

“You’re the one being distracting,” he said and chuckled. “Are you going to model those for me later?”

I put away the underwear and pulled him out of my bedroom. “You can hang up pictures for me.”

Over the next few hours, we stayed busy. With Hayden here it took less time than it would have if I did it on my won.

Hayden and I plopped down on the couch. I cuddled into his side. He stiffened for a second and relaxed. Hayden often tensed up when I got close to him. He wrapped an arm around me and pulled me tighter to him.

“I’m exhausted,” I muttered.

“Maybe I should go,” he said and yawned. “I am too.”

“Will you stay?” I peeked up at him, slightly afraid of his reaction.

He took in a deep breath and looked down at me. “If you want me to.” Uncertainty flashed in his eyes.

I stood up and pulled on his arm. He stood up and let me pull him back to my bedroom. We crawled into my bed. I rested my head on his chest and tangled my legs with his.

“Sweet dreams,” he murmured.

***

The next morning, I woke up, and Hayden wasn’t in bed. I rolled over and looked at the clock, and then I remembered that he had to work this morning. I climbed out of bed and changed into other clothes. There wasn’t anything left to do here, so I decided to go get Stormy.

I pulled out of the parking lot and headed for my mom’s house. For the first time in a long time, I felt genuinely happy.

I pulled into the driveway behind Mom’s car and let myself into the house. Stormy stood in front of the TV in the living room, dancing around to the cartoon on the TV.

“Stormy,” I called to her.

Stormy spun around with a huge grin. “Mommy!” She ran toward me and jumped into my arms.

“Are you ready to go home?”

“Yes.”

“Hey,” Mom said.

I spun around to face her. “Hey, I got everything set up. Thank you for watching her.”

“No problem. I wasn’t expecting you so early,” Mom said and smiled.

“Hayden stayed to help me last night. I never would have gotten it done without him,” I told her.

Mom grimaced but nodded. “That’s good.” She didn’t look as if she thought it was good at all. Mom hadn’t grown used to my relationship with Hayden yet.

“See you later.” I headed out of the house, carrying Stormy. “Do you want to stop for ice cream?”

“No. I just want to go home,” she said.

I laughed. “Okay.” I wasn’t going to argue with that. I yawned loudly. I didn’t get much sleep the night before. Moving had to be one of the most exhausting things an adult had to do.

We made it home. I made a pot of coffee and put on a movie for Stormy. We wouldn’t have cable until next week. All we had were DVDs, but I had a large collection.

“Where is Hayden?” Stormy asked.

“Working.”

“Is he coming over later?”

“I’m not sure.” I sat down on the couch beside her and put my cup of coffee on the end table.

“He could come to watch movies with us.”

“I’m sure he’ll call or stop by later.”

Stormy hadn’t seen Hayden since we worked things out, which wasn’t long ago. Stormy and I curled up on the couch and watched TV.

“Do you want to go out and do anything?” I asked her when the movie ended.

“No, I want to go play with my toys.”

“Okay, go play.”

Stormy booked it down the hallway.

I chuckled and got up. I started for my bookshelf, but a knock on the door stopped me. I turned in the opposite direction for the door.

Hayden leaned against the frame of the door and smiled. “Hey.”

“Hey.” I opened the door to let him in and closed it behind him. “I thought you were at work.”

“No, I took the day off in advance, in case you needed help with other stuff. I could use the day off anyway. I did this thing though. . .” he trailed off and pursed his lips.

“Uh-oh,” I teased. “What’s that?”

He flashed me the box in his hand.

My eyes widened. “Oh, you bought a cell phone.”

“Yeah, but I’ve never had one. I don’t know how to work them,” he admitted sheepishly. “Mind helping me?”

“No problem.” I took the box from him and went over to the couch. I put the phone together. The battery was half charged. I went through the phone with him.

Hayden stared at the phone in disbelief. “Damn, maybe I don’t want it after all.”

I laughed. “You’ll get used to it.”

His face scrunched up. “I don’t think so,” he disagreed.

I sighed and crawled into his lap. I took the phone from him and laid back against his chest. He didn’t tense up the way he often did. I went through the phone with him again. He took it from me and sent me a short text.

“There you go. See, you’ll figure it out,” I said and smiled encouragingly.

Hayden rolled his eyes.

“Hayden!” Stormy shouted as she ran into the living room.

I moved off of Hayden’s lap, knowing Stormy would claim his attention. Stormy crawled into his lap and wrapped her little arms around his neck.

“I’m going to go take a shower. Do you mind?” I asked Hayden.

“Go ahead.”

Stormy reclaimed his attention. I chuckled at her. If Stormy didn’t like a person, she would be very quiet around them. If she liked the person, she wouldn’t stop talking. I knew she genuinely liked Hayden because she talked about him and talked to him a lot.

I climbed into the shower and cleaned up. I took my time, knowing that Stormy wanted to catch up with Hayden anyway.

When I finished, I dried off and got dressed. I didn’t intend to go out, so I put on a tank top and cotton shorts. I left my hair down but brushed through it.

The living room and kitchen were open and connected. I went to the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water out. “Hey, are you guys hungry? I can make—”

“Shh,” Hayden hushed me.

I spun around.

Hayden stood up with Stormy cradled against his chest.

“Wow,” I huffed. “You really wore her down.”

Hayden chuckled under his breath. “I’m going to go lay her down.”

“Okay.”

Hayden carried her down the hallway and out of sight. I turned around and started to wash a few dishes that were in the sink.

Hayden came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. He put his lips to my neck. “You smell good,” he murmured. His lips made my skin tingle.

I stopped washing the dishes and stared at them silently.

“Did I do something wrong?” he asked.

I turned to face him and stared at him in disbelief. “What?” I breathed. “No, of course not.”

Hayden shrugged. “I’m not very good at these things. You’ll have to be patient with me. I’m not used to being so close to anyone. Even with you, it still makes me uneasy sometimes.”

I wrapped my arms around his neck and pecked him on the lips. “You didn’t do anything wrong. You do everything right all the time. It’s kind of frustrating.” The fact that I said it aloud made me blush slightly.

“Let’s watch a movie.” He pulled me over to the couch. Hayden put in a comedy. He laid down behind me on the couch and threw a blanket over the top of us.

I looked back at him curiously. “You never told me before. . .”

“What?”

“That night at the coffee shop, you kissed me so suddenly. Why?”

Hayden’s eyes darkened—almost the same look in his eyes as that night. “I fucking hated how that guy was looking at you and talking to you. You drove me crazy that entire night. It wasn’t as if you did it intentionally either. I watched you every time you bent over, played with your hair, and got irritated. You’re cute when you get irritated.”

I snickered, “Whatever.” I rolled my eyes, sure that he was only teasing. I turned my attention back to the TV, but Hayden grabbed my chin and forced me to look at him again.

His eyes pierced mine. “I’m serious about all of it. I love watching you. You entertain me in ways that most people don’t. Everyone always wants the same things. You’re not like most people, and I admire that.”

I turned around and curved my body to fit his. My fingers knotted into his hair, and my lips caught his.

Hayden slipped his hand beneath my shirt and gripped tightly onto my hip. He groaned against my lips. He touched me in ways that I had never been touched. His fingers traced my skin as if to commit it to memory like he never wanted to forget. His tongue moved slowly with mine.

I moaned into his mouth and pressed my body harder to his. His cock hardened beneath his jeans against my leg. I wrapped my legs around his waist and ground my hips against his.

Hayden flipped us and laid between my legs. His hips ground against mine, and he broke the kiss. His lips trailed up my jaw to my neck.

The throbbing ache between my legs got stronger as his hand slipped beneath my shorts. He pressed his finger to my clit and nibbled on my neck just below my jaw.

“Hayden,” I moaned. My back arched slightly.

His hand disappeared suddenly. He hovered over me and swallowed hard. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I shouldn’t have—” he stopped. His eyes grew apologetic.

“Don’t stop,” I pleaded. I grabbed his hand and put it back where it was before he pulled away. “That feels good.”

His chest rose and fell at the same fast pace as mine. He lowered his lips back to mine. He slipped a finger inside of me. This time when I moaned, he didn’t stop. He went faster, impossibly fast.

I wanted him so badly, but I knew it had to be one step at a time with Hayden. I had been with someone before him, but he had never been with anyone before me.

His eyes studied my face as pleasure-filled moans escaped me. His thumb rubbed my clit as he slipped another finger inside of me. “So sexy, bebé,” he murmured. His words sent a shiver down my spine and gave me goosebumps. The way he touched me left my heart beating so fast that it sounded like a hum.

Another moan started to escape me, but he silenced me with his lips.

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