Fallen Too Far (Chapter Ten)

Darla had not been happy about my move to the dining room. She wanted me on the course. She also wanted me overseeing Bethy. According to Bethy she wasn't seeing Jace anymore. She'd met him for coffee because he'd called her twenty times that afternoon. She told him if she was going to be his dirty little secret then it was over. He'd begged and pleaded but refused to acknowledge her to his circle of friends so she dumped him. I was so proud.

Tomorrow was my day off and Bethy had already come looking for me to make sure we were still on for the honky-tonk. Of course we were. I needed a man, any man to get my thoughts off Rush.

I followed around Jimmy around all day. He trained me. He was attractive, tall, charismatic and very gay. The members of the club didn't know this though. He flirted with the women shamelessly. They ate it up. He would look back at me and wink when one would whisper naughty things in his ear. The guy was a playboy and a good one at that.

Once his shift was over we headed back to the staff breakroom and hung up the long black aprons we had to wear over our uniform. "You're going to be brilliant, Blaire. The men love you and the women are impressed by you. No offense sugar, but girls with hair as platinum blond as yours normally can't walk a straight line without giggling."

I smiled at him. "Is that so? I take offense to that comment."

Jimmy rolled his eyes and reached out to pat my head. "No, you don't. You know you're one badass blond bombshell."

"Already making a move on the new server, Jim?" Woods' familiar voice asked. Jimmy gave him a cocky grin.

"You know better than that. I got a specific taste," he let his voice drop to a sexy whisper as he trailed his eyes down Woods' body.

I glanced back at Woods who was scowling uncomfortably and I couldn't help but laugh. Jimmy joined me. "Love making the straight boys squirm," he whispered in my ear, then slapped my butt and walked out the door.

Woods rolled his eyes and walked further into the room once Jimmy was gone. Apparently, he was aware of Jimmy's sexual preference. 

"Did you enjoy your day?" he asked politely.

I had enjoyed my day. Immensely. It was a much easier job than sweating it out in the heat dealing with leering old men all day.  "Yes. It was great. Thank you for making it possible for me to work in here."

Woods nodded. "You're welcome. Now, how about we go celebrate your promotion with the best Mexican food on the coast?"

He was asking me out again. I should go. He would be a distraction. He wasn't exactly the working class type I was looking for but who said I was going to marry him and have his babies?

An image of Rush flashed in my mind and the tortured expression he'd had last night. I couldn't bring myself to date someone he knew. If he really meant what he said then I needed to keep his world at arm's length. I didn't belong in that world.

"Can I take a rain check? I didn't sleep well last night and I'm exhausted."

Woods' face fell some but I knew he would have no problem finding someone to take my place.

"There is a party tonight at Rush's, but I guess you knew that," Woods said, watching me closely for my reaction. I didn't know about the party but then Rush never warned me about them.

"I can sleep through it. I've gotten used to them." That was a lie. I wouldn't go to sleep until the last person stomped up the stairs.

"What if I come? Could you spend a little time with me before you go to bed?"

Woods was determined. I would give him that. I started to tell him no when it dawned on me that Rush would be screwing some girl tonight. He'd take her up to his bed and make her feel things he would never allow me to feel. I did need a distraction. He'd probably already have her in his lap by the time I got home.

"You and Rush don't seem very close. Maybe we could hang out a bit outside down by the beach? I don't know if it's a good idea for you to be in the house where he can see you."

Woods nodded. "Okay. I'm good with that. But I have one question, Blaire," he said watching me closely. I waited. "Why is that? Until the other night at his house, Rush and I have been friends. We've grown up together. The same circles. Never had an ounce of trouble. What set him off? Is there something going on between the two of you?"

How did I answer that? No because he won't allow it and it is safer for my heart if we keep it only friends?

"We're friends. He's protective."

Woods nodded slowly but I could tell he didn't believe me.

"I don't mind the competition. I just like to know what I'm up against."

He wasn't up against anything because all he and I would ever be was friends. I wasn't looking for a guy in his crowd. "I'm not and will never be part of your crowd. I don't intend to seriously date anyone that is a part of your elite circle."

I didn't wait for him to argue. Instead, I walked around him and out the door. I needed to get home before the party got too wild. I did not want to see Rush wrapped up with some girl.

It wasn't a wild ragger. It was just about twenty people. I walked past several of them on my way to the pantry. A couple of them were in the kitchen fixing drinks and I smiled at them before stepping into the pantry and then my backroom.

If his friends hadn't known I slept under the stairs they did now. I changed out of my uniform and pulled out an ice blue sundress to slip on. My feet hurt from being on them all day so I was going barefoot. I shoved my suitcase back under the stairs and stepped into the pantry to come face to face with Rush. He was leaning against the door leading into the kitchen with his arms crossed over his chest and a frown on his face.

"Rush? What's wrong?" I asked when he didn't say anything.

"Woods is here," he replied.

"Last time I checked he was a friend of yours."

Rush shook his head and his eyes quickly scanned my body. "No. He isn't here for me. He came for someone else."

I crossed my arms under my breasts and took the same defensive pose. "Maybe he is. Do you have a problem with your friends being interested in me?"

"He isn't good enough. He's a sorry ass fucker. He shouldn't get to touch you," Rush said in a hard angry tone.

Maybe he was those things. I doubted it but maybe he was. It didn't matter. I wasn't going to let Woods touch me. His nearness didn't make my stomach do flips and the ache between my legs start up.

"I'm not interested in Woods that way. He is my boss and possibly a friend. That's all."

Rush ran his hand over his head and the silver flat ring on his thumb caught my eye. I hadn't seen him wear it before. Who had given it to him?

"I can't sleep while people are going up and down the stairs. It keeps me up. Instead of sitting in my room alone wondering who you're upstairs screwing tonight, I thought I'd talk to Woods out on the beach. Have a conversation with someone. I need friends."

Rush flinched like I'd hit him. "I don't want you outside with Woods talking."

This was ridiculous. "Well, maybe I don't want you screwing some girl but you will."

Rush pushed off from the door and came toward me backing me into my small room until we were both inside. One more inch and I would be falling back onto my bed. "I don't want to fuck anyone tonight," he paused then smirked, "that isn't exactly true. Let me clarify, I don't want to fuck anyone outside of this room. Stay here and talk to me. I'll talk. I said we could be friends. You don't need Woods as a friend."

I put both my hands on his chest to push him back but I couldn't make myself do it once I had my hands on him. "You never talk to me. I ask the wrong question and you stalk away."

Rush shook his head. "Not now. We're friends. I'll talk and I won't leave. Just please, stay in here with me."

I looked around the small rectangle that barely had room for my bed. "There isn't a lot of room in here," I said, glancing back at him and forcing my hands to stay flat on his chest and not fist his snug fitting shirt into my hands and pull him closer.

"We can sit on the bed. We won't touch. Just talk. Like friends," he assured me.

I let out a sigh and nodded. I wasn't going to be able to turn him down. Besides, there was so much I wanted to know about him.

I sank down onto the bed against the headboard and leaned back. I crossed my legs underneath me.

"Then we'll talk." I said with a smile.

Rush sat down onto the bed and leaned back against the wall. A deep chuckle came from his chest and I watched as a real smile broke out on his face. "I can't believe I just begged a female to sit and talk to me."

In all honesty, I couldn't either.

"What are we going to talk about?" I asked, wanting him to start this. I didn't want him to feel as if this was the Spanish Inquisition. I had so many questions whirling around in my head that I knew I could overwhelm him with my curiosity.

"How about how the hell you're still a virgin at nineteen?" he said, turning his silver pools toward me.

I'd never told him I was a virgin. He had called me innocent the other night. Was it that obvious? "Who said I'm a virgin?" I asked in the most annoyed tone I could muster.

Rush smirked, "I know a virgin when I kiss one."

I didn't even want to argue about this. It would only make the fact I was a virgin all the more obvious.

"I was in love. His name is Cain. He was my first boyfriend, my first kiss, my first make-out session, however tame it may have been. He said he loved me and claimed I was the only one for him. Then my mom got sick. I no longer had time to go on dates and spend time with Cain on the weekends. He needed out. He needed freedom to get that kind of relationship from someone else. So, I let him go. After Cain I didn't have time to date anyone else."

Rush frowned. "He didn't stick by you when your mom was sick?"

I didn't like this conversation. If someone else pointed out what I already knew it would be hard not to have angry feelings about Cain. I'd forgiven him a long time ago. I'd accepted it. I didn't need bitterness toward him to creep in now. What good would that do?

"We were young. He didn't love me. He just thought he did. Simple as that."

Rush sighed, "You're still young."

I wasn't sure I liked the tone in his voice when he said that. "I'm nineteen, Rush. I've taken care of my mother for three years and buried her without any help from my father. Trust me, I feel forty most days."

Rush reached his hand across the bed and covered mine with his. "You shouldn't have had to do that alone."

No, I shouldn't but I didn't have any other options. I loved my mom. She deserved so much more than she got. The only thing that eased the ache was reminding myself that Mom and Valerie were together now. They had each other. I didn't want to talk about my story anymore. I wanted to know something about Rush.

"Do you have a job?" I asked.

Rush chuckled and squeezed my hand but didn't let go. "Do you believe everyone must have a job once out of college?"

I shrugged. I had always thought people worked at something. He had to have some purpose. Even if he didn't need the money.

"When I graduated college I had enough money in the bank to live the rest of my life without a job, thanks to my dad." He looked over at me with those sexy eyes hooded by thick black lashes. "After a few weeks of doing nothing but partying I realized I needed a life. So I began playing around with the stock market. Turns out, I'm pretty damn good at it. Numbers were always my thing. I also donate financial support for Habitat for Humanity. A couple months out of the year I'm more hands-on and I go work on site. Summers I take off from everything that I can and come here and relax."

I hadn't been expecting that.

"The surprise on your face is a little insulting," Rush said with a teasing lilt to his voice.

"I just didn't expect that answer," I replied honestly.

Rush shrugged and moved his hand back to his side of the bed. I wanted to reach over and grab it and hold onto it but I didn't. He was done touching me.

"How old are you?" I asked

Rush grinned, "Too old to be in this room with you and way too damn old for the thoughts I have of you."

He was in his early twenties. He had to be. He didn't look any older. "I will remind you that I am nineteen. I'll be twenty in six months. I'm not a baby."

"No sweet Blaire, you are definitely not a baby. I'm twenty-four and jaded. My life hasn't been normal and because of it I have some serious screwed up shit. I've told you there are things you don't know. Allowing myself to touch you would be wrong."

He was only five years older than me. That wasn't so bad. He gave money to Habitat for Humanity and even did onsite labor? How bad could he be? He had a heart. He had let me live here when he had wanted nothing more than to send me packing.

"I think you underestimate yourself. What I see in you is special."

Rush pressed his lips together tightly then shook his head. "You don't see the real me. You don't know what all I've done."

"Maybe," I replied, leaning forward. "But what little I have seen isn't all bad. I am beginning to think there might just be another layer to you."

Rush lifted his eyes to meet mine. I wanted to curl up in his lap and just stare at those eyes for hours. He opened his mouth to say something then closed it… but not before I saw the silver in his mouth.

I pulled my knees under me and moved closer to him. "What is in your mouth?" I asked, studying his lips and waiting on him to open up again.

Rush opened his mouth and slowly stuck out his tongue. It was pierced with a silver barbell.

"Does it hurt?" I asked, studying his tongue closely. I'd never seen anyone with a pierced tongue before.

He pulled his tongue back in his mouth and grinned. "No."

I remembered the tattoos on his back from the night he'd been having sex with the girl. "What are the tattoos on your back?"

"An eagle on my lower back with his wings spread and the emblem for Slacker Demon. When I was seventeen my dad took me to a concert in L.A. and afterwards he took me to get my first tat. He wanted his band branded on my body. Every member of Slacker Demon has one in the exact same place. Right behind their left shoulder. Dad was high as a kite that night but it was still a really good memory. I didn't get a chance to spend a lot of time with him growing up.  But every time I saw him he either added another tat or piercing to my body."

He had more piercings? I studied his face and then let my eyes fall to his chest. A low chuckle startled me and I realized I'd been caught looking.

"No piercings there, sweet Blaire. The others are in my ears. I put a halt to the piercings and tats when I turned nineteen."

His dad was covered in tats and piercings just like the rest of Slacker Demon. Was it something that Rush hadn't wanted to do? Had his dad forced him?

"What did I say to make you frown?" he asked, slipping a finger under my chin and tilting my head up so that I was looking at him.

I didn't want to answer this truthfully. I was enjoying our time together. I knew if I delved too deep too soon he'd take off running. "When you kissed me last night I didn't feel the silver barbell thingy."

Rush's eyelids lowered and he leaned forward. "Because I wasn't wearing it."

He was now.

"When you, uh, kiss someone with it in can they feel it?"

Rush sucked in a sharp breath and his mouth came even closer to mine. "Blaire, tell me to leave. Please."

If he was about to kiss me then I wasn't telling him anything of the like. I wanted him here. I also wanted to kiss him with that thing in his mouth.

"You would have felt it. Everywhere I want to kiss you, you would feel it. And you would enjoy it," he whispered in my ear before pressing a kiss to my shoulder and taking a deep breath. Was he smelling me?

"Are you… are you going to kiss me again?" I asked breathlessly as he pressed his nose to my neck and inhaled.

"I want to. I want to so fucking bad but I'm trying to be good," he murmured against my skin.

"Could you not be good for just one kiss? Please?" I asked, scooting closer to him. I would be in his lap soon.

"Sweet Blaire, so incredibly sweet," he said as his lips touched the curve of my neck and shoulder. If he kept this up I would start begging.

His tongue came out and took a quick swipe at the tender skin on my neck then he trailed kisses along my jawline until his mouth hovered over mine. I started to plead again but he pressed one soft kiss to my lips and it stopped me. Then he pulled back but only an inch. His warm breath still bathed my lips.

"Blaire, I'm not a romantic guy. I don't kiss and cuddle. It's all about the sex for me. You deserve someone who kisses and cuddles. Not me. I just fuck, baby. You aren't meant for someone like me. I've never denied myself something I want. But you're too sweet. This time I have to tell myself no."

As his words sunk in I whimpered from the erotic sound of those naughty words rolling off his tongue. It wasn't until he stood up and grabbed the doorknob that I realized he was going to walk away from me. Again. Leaving me like this.

"I can't talk anymore. Not tonight. Not alone in here with you." The sadness in his tone made my heart hurt a little. Then he was gone and closing the door behind him.

I leaned back against the headboard and groaned in frustration. Why had I let him in here? This hot and cold game he was playing was out of my league. I wondered where he would go now. There were plenty of females out there he would kiss. Ones he had no problem kissing if they begged.

The stomping of people going up stairs rattled above my head. I wasn't getting any sleep for a while.  I didn't want to stay in here and Woods was expecting me. There was no reason to stand him up. I wasn't in the mood to talk to him but I could at least tell him that I wasn't up for a beach chat.

I walked into the kitchen. Grant's back was to me and he had some girl pressed up against the counter. Her hands were tangled in his wild brown curls. They seemed very preoccupied. I quietly exited out the backdoor hoping I didn't walk up on any other makeout sessions.

"I didn't think you were going to show," Woods' voice came from the darkness.

I turned to see him leaning against the railing watching me. I felt guilty for not coming out here first and letting him know I wasn't going to meet him. I couldn't manage to make wise decisions where Rush was involved.

"I'm sorry. I got sidetracked." I didn't want to explain.

"I saw Rush exit the little cubby hole he has you in back there," he replied.

I bit my lip and nodded. I was busted. Might as well fess up.

"He didn't stay long. Was it a friendly visit or was he kicking you out?"

It was… it was a nice visit. We did talk. Up until I asked him to kiss me again it had been fun. I'd enjoyed his company.  "Just a friendly chat," I explained.

Woods let out a hard laugh and shook his head. "Why don't I believe that?"

Because he was smart. I shrugged.

"We still on for our walk down to the beach?"

I shook my head. "No. I'm tired. I came out here to get a breath of fresh air and hopefully find you to explain."

Woods gave me a disappointed smile and pushed away from the railing. "Well, all right then. I'm not gonna beg."

"I wouldn't expect you to," I replied.

He walked back toward the doors and I waited until he was back inside before breathing a sigh of relief. That hadn't been so bad. Maybe now he would back off some. Until I figured out what to do with this attraction I had for Rush I didn't need anyone else confusing me more.

I gave it a few minutes then turned and followed him inside. Grant was no longer at the bar with the girl. They'd gone for a more secluded spot apparently. I started toward the pantry door when Rush walked into the kitchen followed by a giggling brunette. She was hanging on his arm and acting like she couldn't walk steadily. Either it was from alcohol or the six-inch heels she was bobbling on.

"But you said," she slurred and kissed the arm that she was clinging to. Yep she was drunk.

Rush's eyes met mine. He'd be kissing her tonight. She wouldn't even have to beg. She'd also taste like beer. Was that a turn on for him?

"I'll take off my panties down here if you will," she said, not even taking note that they weren't alone.

"Babs, I've already told you no. I'm not interested," he replied without looking away from me. He was turning her down. And he wanted me to know.

"It'll be naughty," she said loudly then burst into another fit of laughter.

"No, it will be annoying. You're drunk and your cackling is giving me a headache," he replied. His eyes still hadn't left mine.

I dropped my eyes from his and started for the door to the pantry when Babs finally noticed me. "Hey, that girl is going to steal your food," she whispered loudly.

My face flushed. Dangit. Why did that embarrass me? I was being stupid. She was drunk off her ass. Who cared what she thought?

"She lives here; she can have whatever she wants," Rush replied.

My head snapped back up and his eyes hadn't left me.

"She lives here?" the girl asked.

Rush didn't say anything else. I frowned at him and decided the one witness we had wouldn't remember this in the morning. "Don't let him lie to you. I'm the unwelcomed guest living under his stairs. I've wanted a few things and he keeps telling me no."

I didn't wait for his response. I opened the door and stepped inside. Score one for me.