Home > Damaged 2 (Damaged #2)(11)

Damaged 2 (Damaged #2)(11)
Author: H.M. Ward

"You just described half the guys in Jersey. Damn, Peter, I have better taste than that."

"Really?" I nod. He glances at the car and then taps the bill with his fingers. "You sure about that? I mean, you have a pet vulture."

"He's a turkey. He's just misunderstood, that's all."

"He's going to eat your face off in the middle of the night, and the $250 bucks is a cleaning fee because this hotel is supposed to be pet-free."

I pout without thinking about it. "He's not a pet. He's an accident victim. Something ruined his wings."

"I'll take care of this and then we can go." Peter starts to walk off toward the front of the motel. He stops when I call after him.

"You're right, maybe. I would like you in a pirate shirt."

Peter turns around with a wry grin on his lips. "Oooh, talk dirty to me, baby."


Peter presses his hand to his heart and pretends to lose his footing. "Not here in the parking lot. How can I control myself when you have a mouth like that?"

"It's the lips you have to watch out for." I blink after I've said it, not realizing how dirty that sounded.

"Sidney, please! You're going to make me blush." Peter winks at me and jogs the rest of the way to the front.

I climb in the car and look back at the bird. "You're going to be a pain in the ass, aren't you?" The bird has his head turned backward with his beak under a wing. It looks wrong. Heads are supposed to face forward. "You need a name. Let's see…"

Peter returns to the car quickly and slips into the driver's seat. It's really cute with the way he bounces into his chair and beams at me. Dark hair falls forward into his eyes, making them seem bluer than gemstones. I forget what I'm thinking and get lost in the moment.

Peter grins at me. "Ogler."

I smile hard and look away. "You like it."

"I didn't say that I don't. In fact, you can fondle me with your eyes whenever you want."

I snort laugh and settle back into the seat after pulling up my feet and putting them on the dashboard. "Wow, what a pick-up line."

"I don't need a pick-up line. I've already got you, and if memory serves me correctly, you're the one who came onto me." Peter pulls the car out of the parking lot and heads for the interstate.

"Mmm, so you've said. So back in the day, was it a normal thing for you to take home random girls that sat down at your table?"

An embarrassed look flitters across his face and disappears in a blink. "Maybe."

"So the newspapers saying you were a playboy, those reports were…?" I'm fishing, trying to get a feel for his past. I want to know more about him. I pick at a spot on my jeans with my finger and look over at him from the corner of my eye.

"An understatement. I uh…" He lets out a rush of air and glances at me. "What specifically are you asking?" Peter seems nervous and grips the steering wheel harder.

"Rumor has it that you punched or screwed everyone you came across for a while."

"I punched guys and screwed women, not the other way around. Tell me that's not what you're asking—I'm not bi and I don't hit ladies." He glances at me quickly and then returns his gaze to the road.

"Good to know." I become silent, trying to figure out what I think of him and how it fits in to what I already know.

"What about you?"

"What about me?"

"Same questions—do you have any bisexual inclinations or punch random women? I could get on board with both of those, ya know."

The corners of my mouth lift. "You're so stupid."

"You didn't answer, Miss Colleli."

I shrug. "Up until I met you I thought I was broken. The idea of being with anyone like that wasn't appealing."

"And now?"

"Now, I might be tossing the idea around a little bit, maybe." I grit my teeth together and mentally scold myself as my face grows hot. I bend over and press my face into my knees.

"I told you that you like coming onto me. I think we should play it this way." I glance up at him, loving that he didn't comment on my red face. "I won't have sex with you. You're the one who decides that stuff, and I'll follow your lead, okay?" He takes my hand and squeezes it. "Thinking about it isn't bad, you know. It means you're moving on."

My mood deflates like a balloon. I glance out the window after taking my hand back. "No, I'm not. I'm just tired of waiting to get over it."

"Sidney, you're farther down the road than me. I'm going to lose sight of you soon. I think you're right: we don't really forget what happened, but we accept it and learn to live with it. I haven't done that yet, at all, but you have and you are. I wish…" His voice trails off. When I glance at him, I notice how tight his jaw is, like he locked it to keep from speaking.

"Tell me," I say gently and reach for his hand. His palm is hot, but the skin on the back is cold to the touch. I thread his fingers through mine, wishing I could erase his pain.

He smiles sadly. "Sometimes it feels like I'm standing at the brim of a mental cliff. My toes are over the edge, and the slightest wind will knock me off balance. I know I'll fall, but I can't back away. That's my life. That's my brother's life, except he went over the rim. I don't want to end up like that. If I stand there, I know I'll fall, but I can't seem to back away." He inhales slowly and lets out a shaky breath without looking at me.

Trees zoom past the windows as the turkey rustles in the back seat. The animal makes a noise and goes back to sleep. "Yeah, I know what you mean. For the first couple of years, it felt like I fell into a gorge. My stomach was in my throat all the time. I was worried about what would happen to me when I hit the bottom."

"You think you hit the bottom?" I nod. "What was there?"

I think about it for a second and smile at him. "You were there. That night in the restaurant, that was the bottom of my pit. That ended the free fall, and everything shifted." Peter nods, but doesn't say anything. "You can't control everything; take it from someone who knows. Let go a little bit and see where you end up. It might not be so bad."

Peter squeezes my hand and lifts it to his lips. "I don't deserve you."

"I didn't think happiness was in the cards for me, but then I met you. You deserve a reprieve from anything you've done that's chewing you up inside. Stop thinking so much and see where life takes you. Who knows, you might end up in a car with a crazy girl and a cross-dressing vulture." Peter smiles warmly. I scoot into the middle seat and lean my head against his shoulder.


When we hit Pennsylvania Peter stops for gas. I run into the ladies' room while he fills up, and on the way out, I run into my twin—like literally run into him. Sam steps in front of me and I smack into his lean body. I look up, ready to apologize, but then see who it is.

"So you came." Sam's hair is hidden under a ball cap. He's wearing an old track T-shirt from high school with a pair of jeans. It's the same look he had before I left home. Sam's shoulders slump forward slightly from fatigue. He glances toward the refrigerator case at the back of the store where Dean is standing with his back toward me.

I keep moving toward the door. I'm not having another altercation at a mini-mart. "Of course I came." I make it to the front of the store and push outside. The door trips a bell that makes my blood run cold. I feel Dean's eyes on me. They drift over my back like a cold claw, but I don't stop. Get in the car. Get in the car. Get in the car.

"The guy's with you?" Sam looks around for Peter and sees him standing by my car, refueling it.

"Obviously. I'll see you at home."

Sam nods. His gaze narrows when he looks at Peter. "I don't like him, Sid. He seems a little off, like he might snap and go postal or something."

"Then don't piss him off." I finish speaking as I reach the car. Peter looks up, and anger flashes in his eyes when he sees Sam. "Come on, let's get out of here." I slip into my seat quickly and pull the seat belt across my lap. I don't need to say anything to Peter. He takes my cue and leaves, but not before staring both men down. I wonder if Peter is unstable, but brush away the thought. We're all unstable to some extent. Having someone watching my back isn't a bad thing.

After we're on the road, Peter asks, "Did he touch you?"

"No, not really. I walked into Sam. Dean didn't say anything. He just watched me like a creeper." Chills run over my skin. I smooth them out with my hand, but it takes a while for them to go away. I glance back at the turkey and wonder if he's dead. "He doesn't move much, does he?"

Peter glances up into the mirror. "Only at night when I'm about to have sex with you. It's like we have a chaperone." Peter seems tense, like he has liquid anxiety flowing through his veins instead of blood. "We're going to have dinner with my brother tonight, if that's all right. I need his help with something."

I nod, not really understanding why he's nervous. I keep looking behind us, wondering how far away Dean and Sam are. "Which brother is this?"

"Sean, the eldest. My younger brother is a free spirit, but Sean is more down-to-earth. He's dealt with shit, which is why I want to talk to him." Peter looks fine, but his voice is a little too tight, and his hands are at ten and two on the steering wheel. He only does that when he's pissed or worried.

"What do you want to talk to him about?"

"You and me. I don't want to share your pain with anyone, and maybe I won't have to, but Sean is kind of unpredictable. I need to know if I can mention what happened with you and your family—and Dean."

"You trust him, even after he killed his wife?"

"Yeah, but I have to say that I don't know what happened that night. No one does. Sean never spoke about it, but I don't think he killed her. He was so excited about the baby. It just doesn't make any sense." He's quiet for a moment, thinking.

I wonder what would drive someone to kill. I hate Dean, but I don't want to kill him, not when I'm rational or awake anyway. But if Dean got hit by a truck, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. I wonder if that's the same thing and suppose on some level it is.

I glance at Peter. "Say whatever you want. I just don't want the whole story plastered all over the Internet in the morning. And I don't want to hear it when you tell him, either. Tell me to go to the bar or something." My stomach flip-flops inside of me. I hate the idea, but if Peter feels like he needs his brother, I think it'll be good for him.

Being cut off from my family freed me in some ways, but I regret it. I didn't want things to end that way, but I had no idea how to fix it. This is a chance for Peter to mend fences with his brother. I want to encourage it even though the name Sean Ferro sends ice down my spine.


We get to New York pretty late. Peter calls his brother when we get to the hotel. We shower and dress quickly. As I'm applying eyeliner, I see Peter walk by behind me. He has a towel around his waist and his hair is damp and tousled. From where I stand, he can't see me unless he looks up in the mirror. The wall outside the bathroom extends into the room, giving the illusion of privacy. I freeze and wonder if he saw me change before. I can't remember where he was standing, but I don't think it was over here.

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