I had zoned out when he said, “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Like what?”


“Like you’re trying to remember what I looked like the other night…like you’d rather have me for dinner.” He snickered. “And why are you winking at me?”

Shit. My eye twitched whenever I was nervous and made it look like I was winking.

“It’s just a twitch. Get over yourself.”

His expression turned angry. “Really? Should I? My looks are all I have going for me, right? So, I should capitalize on that.”

What was he talking about? I stood there speechless.

He continued, “What’s the matter…too hot in here for you? Then, he said in a mocking tone, “So…fucking…hot.” He flashed a wicked smile.

Shit.

Those were the exact words I had used to describe him on the phone to Victoria earlier.

He had been eavesdropping on my conversation!

My eye twitched.

He continued, “You’re winking at me again. Am I making you nervous? Look at your face! Red’s a good color on you.”

I immediately left to go back downstairs.

He yelled after me. “We’ll match, seeing as though I’m the DEVIL!”

***

Elec picked at his meal without saying a word as I fixated on his lip ring. Randy was glancing over at him with a look of disdain. My mother refilled her wine glass more than once. Yup, our very own version of the Brady Bunch.

I pretended to be enjoying the Tetrazzini while ruminating over the fact that he’d overheard me talking about him that way and therefore, now knew I was attracted to him.

Mom was the first to speak. “Elec, what do you think of Boston so far?”

“Seeing as though I’ve ventured nowhere but this house, it sucks ass.”

Randy slammed his fork down. “Can you show some respect to your stepmother for five seconds?”

“That depends. Can she stop boozing it up for the same amount of time? I knew you married a cheater, Daddy, but a lush, too?”

“You worthless piece of shit,” Randy spewed.

Whoa.

Once again, Randy had floored me with his choice of words toward his son. Elec was surely being an ass**le, but it still shocked me to hear that kind of language coming out of my stepfather’s mouth.

Elec’s chair skidded back as he threw his napkin on the table and got up. “I’m done.” He looked over at me. “The Titty Zinni or whatever the f**k it’s called was wonderful, sis.” The word “sis” had rolled off his tongue with sarcasm.

After he left the table, the silence was deafening. My mother put her hand on Randy’s, and I was left pondering what could have happened between Elec and his father to cause such a rift.

I impulsively got up and walked upstairs. My heart was pounding as I knocked on Elec’s door. He didn’t answer, so I slowly turned the knob and found him sitting at the edge of his bed smoking a clove cigarette. He had headphones on and hadn’t seen me enter. I stood just past the doorway and observed him. He was bouncing his legs nervously, looking frustrated and defeated. Eventually, he put the cigarette out only to immediately reach into his drawer and grab another one.

“Elec,” I shouted.

He jumped and removed his headphones. “The f**k? You scared the shit out of me.”

“Sorry.”

He lit the cigarette and gestured toward the door. “Leave.”

“No.”

He rolled his eyes and shook his head slowly, returning the headphones to his ears and taking a long drag.

I sat down next to him. “Those are gonna kill you.”

Smoke billowed from his mouth as he said, “Perfect.”

“You don’t mean that.”

“Please leave me alone.”

“Okay, fine.”

I left the room and went back downstairs. Seeing him looking so down when he didn’t know I was watching him made me more determined than ever to break through to him somehow. I needed to know if this was just a façade or if he were truly a genuine ass**le. The meaner he was to me, the more I wanted to make him like me. It was a challenge.

I returned to the kitchen and asked Randy for Elec’s cell phone number before programming it into my phone. I then typed out a text.

You don’t want to talk, so I’ll text.

Elec:  How did you get my number?

Greta:  Your father.

Elec:  Fuck him.

I decided to change the subject off of Randy.

Greta:  Did you enjoy the meal?

Elec:  Scramble the letters of meal. You get LAME. Your meal=lame.

Greta:  Why are you so mean?

Elec:  Why are you so lame?

What a jackass. This was going nowhere. I threw the phone on the counter and marched up the stairs. Now, he’d put me in the mood to do something that would piss him off.

He was still sitting on the bed smoking when I opened the door after neglecting to knock. I headed straight for the drawer, grabbed his box of cigarettes and ran out.

I was laughing all the way back to my room. That is, until my door burst open. I quickly stuffed the cigarettes into my shirt. Elec looked ready to murder me, although admittedly, the glare in his glowing eyes was pretty sexy.

“Give them to me,” he said through gritted teeth.

“I’m not giving them back to you.”

“Yes the f**k you are, or I’m reaching into your shirt and getting them. You choose.”

“Seriously, why do you smoke? It’s so bad for you.”

“You can’t just steal my shit. But then again, like mother, like daughter.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Go ask your mother,” he muttered under his breath. He held out his muscular, tattooed arm. “Give me my cigarettes.”

“Not until you explain why you just said that. She didn’t steal Randy. Your parents were divorced before my mom even met your dad.”

“That’s what Randy wants you to believe. She was probably f**king around on your father too, right? Poor gullible bastard.”

“Don’t call my father a bastard.”

“Well, where was he when Sarah was f**king my father behind my mother’s back?”

My blood was starting boil. He was going to be sorry for asking. “Six feet under. My father died when I was ten.”

He was silent then rubbed his temples in frustration. His tone eased for the first time since I’d met him. “Fuck. I didn’t know that, okay?”

“There’s a lot you’re probably assuming. If you’d just talk to me…”

Elec almost looked like he was going to apologize. Almost. Then, he shook his head and turned right back into evil Mr. Hyde. “I’ll be f**king damned if I have to talk to you. Give me my cigarettes, or I’m ripping them out of your shirt.”

My body buzzed when he said it. What was wrong with me? A part of me wanted to see what that would be like, his rough hands pulling at the material on my shirt, ripping it off. I shook my head to rid the thought and backed away as he slowly approached. He was just inches from me now. The heat radiated from his body as he moved up against me, squishing the cigarette box into my chest. My ni**les instantly turned to steel. I had never felt so out of control of my own body and was silently begging it to stop reacting so intensely toward him. Let’s face it. My body was an imbecile with poor judgment. How could it want something so badly that hated it right back?

His breath smelled like clove. “That was the last package of that brand. They’re imported from Indonesia. I don’t even know where to buy them here yet. If you think I’m difficult to deal with now, you’re not gonna want to see what I’m like with no cigarettes tonight.”

“They’re so bad for you.”

“Ask me if I give a shit,” he said uncomfortably close to my mouth.

“Elec…”

He backed up a few inches. “Look…smoking is the only thing that has brought me any peace since walking into this hell hole. Now, I’m asking nicely. Please.”

His eyes softened, and with each second that passed, my resolve weakened. “Okay.” His gaze followed my hand as I reached into my bra for the cigarettes. I handed them to him and instantly felt the cold air replace the heat of his body as he walked away.

If I thought giving him back the cigarettes would initiate a truce, I was wrong.

He turned around one last time to face me, and his eyes were no longer soft. They were piercing. “You’re gonna pay for that.”

CHAPTER 3

The start of school went exactly the way I expected. Elec ignored me anytime we were in the same class or in the cafeteria. Girls flocked around him everywhere he went, and he instantly became popular while barely having to say a word. Probably the least surprising development was Victoria’s covetous reaction to him.

“What do you think my chances are?”

“Of what?”

“Of bagging Elec.”

“Don’t get me involved in that venture, please.”

“Why not? I realize you don’t get along with him, but you’re my only in.”

“He hates my guts. How am I going to be able to help you with this?”

“You could invite me over, set it up so we’re all in the same room and then leave us alone.”

“I don’t know. You don’t understand how he is.”

“I mean, I know you don’t get along with him, but does it really bother you if I try to make a move? It might actually help your relationship with him if I ended up dating him.”

“I don’t think Elec is the dating type.”

“No…he’s the f**king type, and that’s okay with me, too. I’ll take that.”

My heart was beating faster, and I hated myself for it. Every time Victoria would bring this up, it made me insanely jealous. It was like a secret struggle I was constantly battling. I could never admit this to anyone. Which part bothered me most was unclear. Was it the thought of my friend screwing Elec, getting to touch him and living out my darkest fantasy? That bothered me, sure, but I think what upset me the most was the thought of Elec connecting on a deeper level with someone else while he continued to apparently despise me.

I hated that I cared.

I lifted my backpack out of my locker. “You’re crazy. Can we please change the subject?”

“Okay. I heard Bentley wants to ask you out.”

I slammed the locker hard upon that news. “From whom?”

“He talked to my brother about it. He wants to ask you to the movies.”

Bentley was one of the popular preppie guys. I couldn’t figure out why he would be interested in me since he usually dated girls from his own crowd. I didn’t really belong to their group or any group for that matter. There were the people like Bentley from the rich side of town in one clique. Then, there were the artsy and theatrical ones. Then, you had the international exchange students. Then, there were those who were just popular because they were good-looking, intriguing or acted out (Elec). Victoria and I were sort of in a class of our own. We got along with everyone, got good grades and stayed out of trouble. Unlike my best friend, though, I was a virgin.

I’d only had one boyfriend, Gerald, who ended up breaking up with me because I wouldn’t let him get past touching my boobs. Word got out that I was a virgin and certain people around school would joke about it behind my back. While I still saw Gerald in the halls from time to time, I tried to avoid him.

Victoria snapped her gum. “So, anyway, if he asks you out, we should totally invite Elec. He could go with me, and you could go with Bentley. We could go see that new scary movie.”

“No, thanks. Living with Elec is all the scary I need.”

***

My words would come back to haunt me the next morning. I was getting dressed for school, and when I opened my underwear drawer, it was empty.

I threw on some yoga pants commando-style and marched into Elec’s room as he was putting on a shirt.

“What the hell did you do with my underwear?”

“It doesn’t feel good when someone takes your shit, does it?”

“I took one box of cigarettes for less than five minutes and gave it right back, by the way. You took every single piece of underwear I own! There’s a little bit of a difference there.”

I couldn’t believe I assumed he wasn’t going to get back at me for that one. Lately, he had been ignoring me especially well, and I just assumed all was forgotten.

I started searching his drawers. My hand quickly retracted after touching a strip of condoms.

“You can look in here all day until the sun goes down. They’re not in here. Don’t waste your time.”

“You’d better not have thrown them out!”

“Those were some hot pieces. I couldn’t do that.”

“That’s because they cost a fortune.”

Good underwear was probably the only thing I splurged on. Each and every pair came from a pricey online lingerie boutique.

As I knelt down to look under his bed, he laughed. “You have a wedgie, by the way.”

I leapt up and clenched my teeth. “That’s what happens when you don’t have any f**king underwear!”

I wanted to pick it so badly, but that would have made this worse. I stood up to face him.

Elec gave me a once-over. “You’ll get them back when I’m ready to give them to you. Now, if you’ll excuse me…” He brushed past me and ran down the stairs.

I didn’t even bother to stop him because he wasn’t going to budge. I went to Target on the way to school and bought cheapie panties until I could figure out how to get mine back.

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