Home > Damaged 2 (Damaged #2)(10)

Damaged 2 (Damaged #2)(10)
Author: H.M. Ward

"Tell me." His finger slides away, leaving my mouth open and gasping like there's no air.

"I…" I can't say it.

I want to tell him, but I can't. I close my eyes and look down, but Peter doesn't let me stay that way. His hand slips under my chin, and he tilts my head back. Our eyes meet and the rest of the world melts away.

I want to be brave for once. I want to say it and see what happens. I've treated him so badly and he was so mad at me. Fear keeps shoving the words down my throat, but they rise up again, rebelling like they have a mind of their own. I feel the sentence on my tongue and then on my lips. "It was different before—I could drop the towel—because I was thinking about something, something I shouldn't." My lips part as I stand there trying to find the right words. "I got lost in the moment."

Someone sucked all the air out of the room, because I can't breathe. I feel like a fish on a hook with Peter's hand holding my chin up. He doesn't free me; he doesn't take the words and throw me back. Instead he leans in kissably close, and breathes, "Oh? What were you thinking that would make this feel safe enough to trust me like that?"

There's a knot in my throat that I can't swallow down. He has me reeling, dangling from the end of the pretty pink string, and it's all I can do to not back away. This conversation terrifies me, but it excites me, too. His hand is warm, gentle but firm. It moves from my chin to my cheek. I lean into his touch and close my eyes. "For a moment everything felt right, like things never happened. You seemed to latch on to the girl I was and pull her back. She's not afraid of you, and she's still in here wanting things I don't normally want."

"Tell me what you wanted, Sidney." Peter's eyes search mine, looking, hoping beyond hope.

My jaw hangs open, but no noise comes out. It sounded so different in my head. Saying it out loud solidifies the thought and makes it real. Peter brushes his lips over my cheek and pulls back. His eyes drift to my lips like he's thinking about kissing me again. I want to be brave, so I say it and tell him, "I wanted you."

A shy smile drifts across his lips. "Like wanted me, wanted me?"

A blush paints my face red. I feel the burn creep across my cheeks and can't contain my smile. I try to look away, but he won't let me. Peter's finger is under my chin again, tilting my head back so our gazes meet. "Maybe."

"When you say maybe, it usually means yes."

I grin. "Maybe."


The rest of the night passes slowly. I toss and turn on the mattress, but I can't get my body to settle down. Having Peter at the foot of the bed makes me crazy. I want his arms around me, but I'm afraid I'll go nutso and tell him to get lost if he touches me wrong. I roll onto my back and pull the pillow over my face. The towel is a lump under my back, all bunched up and horribly uncomfortable. I'm smothering myself with the pillow when I feel it being pulled away.

Peter looks down at me with those gorgeous eyes. "Restless night?"

"Maybe." We both laugh softly. Damn it. I had no idea I was doing that. I make a mental note to stop saying maybe when I'm thinking yes.

Peter offers his hand. I take it, and he pulls me from the bed. I try to reach back for the towel, but Peter closes his eyes. "Leave it. I won't look." He holds his arms out, open. "Dance with me."

I tuck a piece of hair behind my ear. "Peter, I—"

"You said maybe. Maybe means yes. But you'll have to lead since I can't open my eyes." Watching Peter, I make my decision. He's bare chested and wearing a pair of gray sweatpants. I can barely see him in the darkness. The streetlight casts a yellow glow through the slit in the curtains. It illuminates his toned body and open arms.

I step into the space and take his hands. I put one on my waist and slip my palm in the other. Our fingers lace together and we start a slow rockstep. My heart is pounding even though we've done this a million times. In the past Peter was my teacher and my boss. Now he's half nak*d with his eyes closed. How'd we get here? I never would have thought this is where we'd end up when I first met him that night at the restaurant.

Just as I calm down, something scrapes the door. It sounds like a nail slowly dragging across the metal. Peter's eyes burst open as I cling to him. I forget about the towel and my ratty pajamas. That sound is just wrong, like a switchblade dragging across metal—or like Dean's knife. I glance up at him just as Peter looks down at me. Neither of us says anything, and then the sound comes again.

Peter releases me, leaving me at the foot of the bed. He presses his finger to his lips and waits for me to nod before moving away to look out the slit in the curtains. Peter stands there for a moment, careful not to touch the fabric. He pads back to me and whispers, "I don't see anything. Maybe they've gone." But just as he says it, the horrible sound comes again. It's louder and longer this time.

My mind is messing with me, throwing me into the past. Glints of silver flash behind my eyes. I press myself to Peter. "That knife, Dean's knife…"

Peter holds me tight. I can tell he doesn't want to let go, but the sound comes again. Maybe he's carving something into the door. Maybe he'll finish and go away. Peter whispers soothing words in my ears but never takes his eyes off the door. I chant go away over and over again in my mind as if it could actually do something.

Peter's hands firmly hold me against his chest. We watch the door, waiting for it to fly open, but silence fills our ears. Swallowing hard, I look up at him, ready to speak when something bangs into the door and at the same time the knob rattles like someone is trying to open it. Frantically, I look around the room for something to defend us with, but I don't have anything. My pulse is roaring in my ears, so when Peter lets go of me and strides toward the door, I freak out.

Peter is livid with testosterone flowing off of him in crushing waves. The scar on his side flashes pure white as he crosses the strip of light on the floor. It flashes over his body like a grocery store scanner. Before I can say anything, Peter hurls the door open. It smacks into the wall so hard that the knob smashes a gaping hole.

Peter steps outside. "Come out, you motherfucker, and settle this now!" His fists tense at his sides as he walks farther into the parking lot, barefoot. The lights in the room next to us flip on. I see the golden glow on the ground outside their window, spilling into the parking lot.

I want Peter to come back. I can't lose him. I can't. I race after him when something darts out from behind a bush next to the door. It rams straight into me, running over my bare feet with claws.

I scream and fall back, trying to get away from it before I realize what's happening. Peter rushes toward me and stops. A huge smile breaks across his face, and the worry evaporates. I'm still scooting back like I'm being attacked when I finally stop and look at the thing sitting on my legs. My turkey vulture looks back like I'm crazy before walking over me. It scrapes its beak on the metal door, making a hideous noise, and then slips into the room.

Heart pounding, I look back at Peter, "What the fuck?"

Peter has his arms folded across his broad chest. "Well, it appears that the big bird of prey doesn't want to sleep in the parking lot."

I'm staring, still not believing it. Why? "Why does this shit happen to me?" I jab my thumb at the people watching us in the next room. "It doesn't happen to them."

Peter nods and waves at them with a smile he tries to cover with his hand. The people disappear back into their room. "Well, for starters, they didn't take a lame bird off the highway and let it wear a bra all day. If you ran it over like a normal person, we wouldn't be having this conversation." Peter is so close to laughing that he can't keep a straight face. "By the way, next time I'm saving you from a giant chicken, stay inside."

Peter drapes his arm over my shoulder and walks me back inside, closing the door behind us. "You were going to fight whatever was out there, weren't you?" He nods. "What makes a man turn pacifist and then back again?"

"A knife in the side changes a guy." Peter looks around for the turkey. It's under the sink, preening. "Uh, Sidney. I'm not sleeping on the floor with that thing in the room. I'm not even sure if I can sleep with that thing in the room."

"Then throw him outside."

Peter looks back at the animal and then at me. He laughs and shakes his head. "No thanks. Besides, he'll just do it again."

"A cat probably tried to eat him."

Peter lets out a loud laugh. "He probably ate the cat and the dog that was chasing it. Now, he's ready for bed. If you look really close at his beak," Peter is pointing so I lean forward to see what he sees, "you can see the white tip of a cat's tail."

I slap his shoulder and laugh. "You're an idiot."

"You're going to invite me to bed."

My face goes blank. "Excuse me?"

"I'm not spooning with a vulture. God knows what he'd do with my little bits."

A smile creeps across my face. "They're little? That's not the kind of thing a girl likes to hear."

Peter sits down next to me. "You realize the reply to that comment is that you should come and see for yourself, right? Do you really want me to say that?"

I try not to smile. I try to look serious but the corners of my mouth twitch. "Maybe."

Peter laughs and reaches for me. His fingers tickle my sides lightly and I fall back onto the bed with Peter leaning over me. "Can I sleep with you, Miss Colleli?"

"That's rather forward, Dr. Granz."

"I'll keep my hands to myself. I promise."

"You'll keep everything to yourself." He looks at me, confused. I explain, "When I was younger and I first heard about sex I thought it sounded disgusting. I couldn't imagine why anyone would ever do something like that, ever. But babies are really cute and come from somewhere, so it must happen on its own."

"On its own?" Peter gives me a confused look.

"Yeah, like it"—I gesture toward his package—"sneaks over in the middle of the night while they're both sleeping and does the deed on its own."

Peter lets out a loud laugh and hugs me hard. "I'll keep it in my pants, Colleli."


In the morning as Peter loads up the car, I flip open the room bill. I blink at it a few times as the bird waltzes out of the closet or wherever he slept and jumps into the car. I think he adopted me, but I'm not really sure.

I fold the top of the page back and look at Peter. "There's a $250 charge on here for something. Did you order a bunch of p*rn after I fell asleep?"

"No, and for that price I could get a hooker. Let me see that." Peter slams the trunk closed and holds out his hand.

Placing the paper in his grip. "Yeah, a hooker with a peg-leg, maybe."

He doesn't look over at me. "You'd be the one to get a pirate hooker, not me. The eye patch turns you on."

My jaw drops open and I gape at him. "How could you say that?"

"Because it's true. Admit it, you like the idea of a guy wearing a pirate shirt with burly forearms with the smell of the sea on his skin." I don't say anything. Peter looks up at me and drops the paper to his side.

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