Greta:  No.

Elec:  I’m not messing around this time. Something’s happened.


My stomach suddenly felt unsettled.

Greta:  Everything ok?

Elec:  No one hurt or anything. We need to talk.

Greta:  Ok.

Elec:   Where are you? Will it be faster if I come get you?

Greta:  No, Corey will take me home.

Elec:  Ok. Don’t take too long.

My heart was pounding.

What was this about?

I’d made up a story about severe stomach pains and asked Corey if he wouldn’t mind driving me straight home. He wasn’t too thrilled, but then again, the whole night was shot after what Elec pulled.

I couldn’t get home fast enough.

Corey hadn’t even waited for me to go inside before he drove off. I headed straight up the stairs and knocked on Elec’s door before opening it.

He was sitting on the bed waiting for me with a troubled looked on his face. Actually, I’d never seen him look so upset. He got up from the bed and caught me off guard when he immediately pulled me into a hug. “Thank you for coming back.”

His heart was beating through his chest as he held me firmly. My body yearned for him to hold me even tighter.

“What’s wrong, Elec?”

He released me then led me by the hand over to the bed where we both sat down. “I have to go back to California.”

All of the food I’d just consumed felt like it was coming up on me at once.

“What?” I put my hand on his knee because it felt like I was losing my balance. “Why?”

“My mother is back.”

“I don’t understand. She was supposed to be in England until the summer.”

He looked down at the ground and hesitated before looking up at me with melancholy in his eyes. “What I’m about to tell you can’t leave this room. You can’t tell your mother, and you absolutely cannot tell Randy. Promise me.”

“I promise.”

“My mother wasn’t in England. Shortly before I came here, she checked herself into a hospital for severe depression and substance abuse out in Arizona. It was supposed to be a six-month program, and then she was going to stay with a friend for the remaining time until the end of my school year.”

“Why didn’t she tell Randy the truth?”

“My mother is a very talented painter. I know you know that. Anyway, she was offered an opportunity to teach in London for a year and used that as the excuse she gave Randy even though she turned it down. She’s ashamed to let him know how bad things have gotten. Before she decided to check herself into the program, she’d overdosed on some sleeping pills, and I found her on the ground. I thought she was dead.”

“That was the nightmare you were having.”

“What?”

“The night you were yelling in your sleep, you were saying ‘Mami, wake up.’”

“Yeah. That makes sense. I dream about it a lot, actually. My mother is a weak person. Ever since Randy left her, she’s never been the same. I was afraid I’d lost her. She’s all I have.”

I squeezed his knee. “Do you really think our parents had an affair and that he left your mother for mine?”

“I know he cheated on my mother, because I hacked into his computer. He met your mother online while he was still married to mine. He’d say he was going away on business, but he was really coming to Boston to visit Sarah. I wouldn’t lie to you about that.”

“I believe you.”

“In Sarah’s defense, I’m not sure what story he fed her. He may have tried to play it off like he was separated. You know how you told me your father was your mother’s one true love?”

“Yeah…”

“Well, that’s what Randy was to my mother even though it may not have been reciprocal. He’s a horrible father, but that didn’t seem to matter to her. She’s basically obsessed with him and has always based her self-worth on his actions toward her. She’s obsessed with Sarah now, too. It’s a sickness. There’s so much more to this story, but I’m just telling you what you need to know as it relates to you and me.”

“When you said I was forbidden…is it simply because I’m Sarah’s daughter?”

He smiled and caressed my cheek with the back of his hand. “You look just like her. My mother thinks that her marriage ended because of Sarah. She hates your mother probably more than anyone. Deep down, I know he would have found a way to leave Mami anyway, but she’s in extremely bad shape. She could never handle it if she ever found out there was something going on between me and Sarah’s daughter.”

“Why did she come home early?”

“She thinks she’s doing better. She’s not, Greta. I can hear it in her voice, but they let her check out anyway. The friend who was supposed to watch over her flaked out and isn’t even in town. I’m scared for her to be alone. That’s why I’m leaving tomorrow morning. My flight is already booked. Randy thinks her job fell through and could care less that I’m going back.”

A teardrop fell from my cheek. “I just wasn’t expecting this.” I leaned against his chest as he wrapped his arm around me. We sat in silence until I looked up at him. “I’m not ready for you to leave.”

“Swallowing my pride and coming to live with Randy so my mother could try to get better and not have to worry about me, was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. It was hell at first, but you were a little piece of heaven in the midst of it all. I never thought I’d go from dreading being here to dreading leaving, but that’s how I feel right now. I want to stay but only because of you. I want to be able to protect you and not necessarily in a brotherly way, and that’s f**ked up.”

I grabbed his hand. “I get it.”

He wrapped his fingers inside mine and leaned in, lightly pressing his lips against my forehead. “I feel like you see me in ways that most don’t. Getting you to hate me was impossible because you knew that wasn’t really me. Thank you for being smart enough to see through me.”

I couldn’t help it. I wrapped my arms around him and breathed in the smell of his skin and cologne, wanting to burn it into memory.

He’d be gone tomorrow.

I might never see him again.

His breathing quickened then he let go of me.

I looked around at his bags and realized there was still a lot left to pack. “Do you need me to help you?”

“Please don’t take this the wrong way.”

I chewed my bottom lip. “Okay.”

“What I need is for you to go back to your room. It’s not because I don’t want to spend time with you. It’s because I don’t trust myself.”

“I want to stay here with you.”

“With the way I’m feeling right now, I just can’t be in the same room with you. I was a wreck when you went out on that date with flower boy. And that was before I found out I was leaving. Then, you come in here looking so f**king beautiful in that dress. I only have so much control.”

“I don’t care if something happens. I want it to.”

He looked down at the ground and shook his head. “We can’t let it.” Elec was quiet then looked me in the eyes. “The other day, you knew I had a girl over. Nothing happened. She tried, but I couldn’t get it up. It didn’t feel right, and it’s been that way for a long time—ever since that night in your room. You don’t think I’ve fantasized about doing what you asked me to, knowing I’d be the first you would get to experience that with? Do you have any idea what even hearing the words ‘show me how you f**k’ coming out of your sweet little mouth did to me? It ruined me.”

“I’d rather have one night with you than nothing at all.”

“You don’t mean that. If I thought you were the type of girl who did, we wouldn’t be talking right now.” He placed both hands on my shoulders, causing a shiver to run through me. “And for the record, I like that you’re not that type of girl.” He let out a deep breath that I felt on my chest. “Even if you say you could handle it…I’m not sure I could.”

We stayed silent for several seconds with our eyes locked before I got up. “Okay. I’ll leave.” My eyes began to water because this felt like the end.

He could see I was starting to cry. “Please, don’t cry.”

“I’m sorry. I can’t help it. I’m just gonna miss you.”

He hugged me one last time and buried his nose in my hair. He spoke into my ear. “I’m gonna miss you, too.” Our hearts were both beating fast against each other before he stepped back. “My flight doesn’t leave until 10. Maybe we can get breakfast.”

I walked back to my room in disbelief over how fast things could change in life. Little did I know, things with Elec would change again in the blink of an eye or should I say, in the middle of the night.

CHAPTER 10

Crushed couldn’t begin to describe what it felt like having to go back to my room, knowing he wanted me in the same way I wanted him but that we would never stand a chance. It felt empty here already, and he wasn’t even gone yet.

It bothered me that he’d have to return home to that situation with his mother. Not that his interactions with Randy had been anything less than awful, but at least here, I could have been there to support him. He really hadn’t won in the parent department no matter how you cut it.

He’d only just begun to open up to me. I knew that if he stayed, we would have grown closer. I tried to convince myself that this was for the best because he was leaving in the summer anyway. But despite my self-talk, the ache in my chest just wouldn’t go away.

I couldn’t help envying all of those girls at school who’d gotten the chance to experience being with him on a physical level. Even though I connected with him in a different and better way, there was still a deep longing for what I’d missed.

My mother came in briefly to check on me and to ask if I’d heard the news about Elec leaving.

“You two seemed to be getting along better. It’s a shame he wants to go back now that his mother’s home. He could have certainly stayed until the school year ended.”

Since my mother knew nothing about the real reason Pilar was back home, I mainly nodded my head as she spoke. I tried my best to mask the tears that up until then had been falling pretty consistently. She kissed me goodnight, and I stayed clutching the stuffed Snoopy doll that had been my right-hand man since I was three.

That was how my night was supposed to end.

***

It was only a light knock on my bedroom door. Thinking back, a “light” knock hardly seemed appropriate for what happened after I opened it.

His chest was rising and falling with heavy breaths.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

For a few seconds, Elec was staring at me as if he didn’t know how he’d gotten to my door. “No.”

“What’s wrong?”

His eyes had a frantic hunger in them. “Fuck tomorrow.”

Before I could process it, his warm hands cupped my face and brought my mouth to his. A low groan from the back of his throat vibrated down mine, and I caught it with a deep intake of breath. His chest pressed against my br**sts as he pushed me back into the room. The door closed behind him.

What was happening?

His mouth was hot and wet as it devoured mine, his tongue circling the inside almost desperately. This was far more intense than the last two times we’d kissed, and I realized this was what it felt like when Elec didn’t hold back. This was different and a prelude to something more.

He stopped kissing me for a moment, and his hands slid from my face down the length of my neck. He pulled my hair, bending my neck back. He sucked on the base before kissing his way back up and sighing into my mouth.

My tongue brushed back and forth over his lip ring, and he responded by gently biting my bottom lip as he moaned through his teeth.

I wanted more.

I was ready.

There wasn’t a doubt in my mind; I was going to let him go all the way.

When he stopped to look at me, I took the opportunity to ask what I absolutely had to know. “What happened?”

He took my hand and led me to the bed where he sat and lifted my body on top of his so that I was straddling him. The heat of his erection pressed against my throbbing clit. He placed his head in the middle of my chest and spoke into my shirt, causing my br**sts to tingle.

“You wanna know what happened to me?” he whispered in a hoarse voice. “I finally opened that letter you wrote after you read my book. That’s what happened. No one’s ever said those things to me before, Greta. I don’t deserve it.”

I ran my fingers through his hair, which felt like silk. “You do deserve it. I meant every word.”

He looked up into my eyes. “The words in that letter…I’ll carry them with me forever. I could never pay you back for what you just gave me. Then, I thought about how I couldn’t even give you the one thing you asked me for. It made me angrier by the second as I was packing. I decided I’d rather have tonight than nothing at all, too. It’s f**king selfish, but I want your first time. I want to be the first one to show you everything and to be the one you’ll always remember for the rest of your life. But only if you meant it when you said that was what you wanted.”

“I want it more than anything.” I pulled him tighter into my chest.

He resisted, staring up into my eyes again. His expression was serious. “Look at me, Greta. Because I need to make sure you’re really okay with the fact that this would end tomorrow. You would never be able to tell anyone. I’ll give you anything and everything you want tonight as long as you truly understand all of that. You need to promise me that you could handle this.”

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