Home > Damaged 2 (Damaged #2)(4)

Damaged 2 (Damaged #2)(4)
Author: H.M. Ward

"Okay, okay. I won't leave, jeez." A wicked smile spreads across her face. "You know what they say about Pete Ferro; so is it true?"

I pull off the interstate and slow the car. There's a rest stop with picnic tables and a little brick building with restrooms. "Is what true?"

She giggles and leans in closer to me. Her hand keeps flying to her mouth, like she's embarrassed. "His dick—is it as big as they say?"

"Millie!" I stop in a parking spot and throw the car into park.

"It's not like you haven't heard it before. Pete Ferro, super lover to the supermodels, and their moms, and their friends, and their kitchen staff, and—"

"Yeah, I get it. He's a male slut."

"He's a strapping male slut who's done every woman from coast to coast." Millie's grinning like a love-struck teenager. She glances back at Peter.

"Shut up," I say and kick open the car door.

Millie jumps out after me. She places her hands on the roof. "Oooh! Testy! Are you protecting his virtue?"

I open my mouth, but Peter cuts me off.

"I have no virtue." Peter's window is down. He hears Millie as he pulls in the parking space next to us. He cuts the engine and gets out. Millie's face turns beet red. "She told you who I am?" Millie nods but doesn't look at him.

Peter walks around the car and comes straight at me. He stops short, like he just remembered what happened when I left. "Are you hurt?"

I shake my head. My heart is pounding. I lose all my bluster, which drives me nuts. In my head I'm roaring like a lion, but I sound like a mouse when I actually speak. "What are you doing here? Did you follow me?"

Peter smashes his lips together and then smiles at me, like he's really mad. "Yes, I did. I didn't think you'd leave without me. I didn't think you'd walk away in the middle of a fight."

"The fight was over. You said if I left not to come back, so I didn't."

Peter lets out a rush of air. His anger fades and he looks at me with so much remorse in his eyes that I want to melt into his arms. Peter considers me for a moment and then says to Millie, "You can't skip out on finals. Get back to the university before someone fails you."

"But there was an emergency and—"

"This doesn't count. You can't be nice to get out of finals. Every single professor will fail you." Peter tosses his car keys at her. Millie catches them. "Drive my car back. I'll stay with Sidney."

"No, you're not. Millie is coming with me, not you." I fold my arms over my chest. My head sways from side to side when I say the last two words. I may have lived in Texas for a few years, but I'm still a Jersey girl through and through.

Peter smirks at me, then says to Millie, "Toss me the bag on the front seat." Millie does it. I give her an evil stare. My eyeballs are bugging out of my head as I shrug with my palms up. It's a what the f**k pose and I mean every inch of it.

Millie beams at me. "I think this'll be good for you. You need to go, and it seems like you two have some issues to work out." I want to kill her, but I'm too shocked by her betrayal to speak. I just stand there with my mouth hanging open.

"And you," she says to Peter and walks up to him, poking him in the chest, "if you hurt her—if you lay a finger on her—I will get my daddy's gun and shoot you. It's a promise, not a threat." Millie is so small and pretty that it looks like he's being threatened by a china doll.

Peter grins at her. "Good. I wouldn't want it any other way."

"Damn straight." Millie looks over at me again. I'm so mad at her that I can't speak. My arms are folded tightly against my chest. She knows how betrayed I feel.

"Sometimes you need friends, Sidney. You can't do everything by yourself. Let someone help you, okay?" I don't say anything to her. Millie smiles awkwardly and slips into Peter's car, and drives away, leaving me behind.

Peter is standing next to me. He works his jaw before saying, "We need to talk."

"There's nothing to talk about."


I'm sitting in the passenger seat, staring out the window at the night sky. I feel like an emotional train wreck. It's strange, but I thought I already grieved and mourned my mother. As I sit, memories that were lost to time pop up randomly in my mind. The hand of death is the only thing capable of freeing them. I see myself on a swing and know that I can't be more than three years old. My mother pushes me, and I try to look back at her, making my hair tangle in the chains. I can feel the sharp tug on my scalp like it's still happening. I remember the tears that covered my face and how afraid I was. My mother untangled me and held me. It's not a recollection that I would normally remember, but it surfaces now. My mother loved me then. I wonder what she'll say when I walk in the door now.

A chill races down my spine, making me shiver. It's late, well past dinner time. I rub the goose bumps away with my hands while trying to avoid Peter's gaze. We haven't spoken since the rest stop. I feel so betrayed by him. It's like someone turned me inside out. I hate that I feel his eyes on me. It makes me want to open up and spill my guts. I want my Peter back, but he's gone. That Peter was never real anyway.

After a few more exits pass, Peter pulls off the road. We're in a little town in Tennessee. It's so hilly here, the opposite of where we were in Texas where everything is as flat as a frying pan. I shift in my seat and look over at him. Peter has that same look he's had all day. I can't tell if he's angry or annoyed.

I don't care.

Yeah, keep telling yourself that.

Peter pulls into a dark parking lot and drives to the front of an old hotel located at the back. One yellow light floods the front door.

"What are we doing?" I don't want to stop here. The place looks like it's owned by Norman Bates.

"We need to stop for the night, and this is the only place showing any vacancy." He notices the expression on my face and adds, "Don't worry. It'll be fine. I've stayed here before." Peter cuts the engine and steps out of the car. Then he walks around, opens my door, and extends his hand, waiting for me to get out.

I really don't want to get out, but I do it anyway without taking his hand. Peter shakes his head slightly and then stretches as he turns away from me. His shirt lifts, and I can see his beautiful body, as well as the spot where it's marred by that horrible scar. The blemish makes me wonder. Peter can fight, but he didn't last night. I wonder if he fought back the night the knife was shoved in his side. It feels like there's more story there, something deeper that he didn't tell me.

Peter shoves his hands in the pockets of his jeans and looks back at me. Curiosity spreads across his face when he sees me gawking at him, but he doesn't comment on it. "Come on. Let's get a room and grab dinner. We haven't eaten all day and if I have to eat another cereal bar I'll—"

"You ate all the cereal bars four hours ago." It's the first thing I've said to him since we left. The teasing comment is light. For a second I regret it, but then I push past it. I have to decide what to do with him. I look at Peter from under the curtain of hair that's been hiding my face all day. Fuck it. The silent treatment isn't worth the effort. I reach into my pocket and twist my hair up into a ponytail. Stray curls are probably sticking out like Satan's horns, but I don't care.

Peter walks ahead and grabs the door. He holds it for me, and I step inside. The place seriously gives me the creeps. Peter walks past me to the front desk and rings the bell. An elderly woman, bent with age, hobbles out of the back room. She adjusts her glasses and smiles warmly at Peter like she knows him.

"Peter Ferro. I didn't think I'd see you in here again." Her wrinkled lips smile warmly at him before she glances back at me. "This fine man stayed here before. A Ferro chose to stay at my motel and not that other place down the road." She's beaming with pride as she tells me this.

Peter turns up the charm and cranks his smile to full wattage. He takes her hands and says, "Because this place is the best. I couldn't drive through here and not stop." I swear to God, the old lady blushes. Peter pats her hand before letting go. "How have you been?"

She smiles shyly and shoos at him. "You don't have time to listen to an old woman prattle. I bet you're famished. Here's your pass to get dinner in the restaurant. Each room comes with a hot meal. And here is the room key." The old woman turns slowly and takes a key off the board behind her. She explains as she's handing it to him. "It's the only room I have left. I'm sorry about that."

I don't follow, but Peter seems to. "It'll be perfect. Thank you so much." He hands her a credit card and she swipes it.

"Checkout time is nine, and since this room is the honeymoon suite, it comes with breakfast in bed. What time would you like that delivered?"

I nearly choke. "What? We can't stay in the honeymoon suite." I'm next to Peter at the counter now, ready to jump over the edge to look for an alternate option. "You must have another room."

"I'm sorry, dear, but we don't. There's a convention that has us all booked up. The room is very lovely."

"But it's a…" Sex room! It's for happy couples, married couples. It's not for us! I don't say any of it. The words bounce around in my head like bowling balls crushing every other thought. Instinct is telling me to keep space between Peter and me, but I can't, and this makes it worse.

Peter is grinning at me. "It's a…what, Sidney?" He's leaning on the counter wearing that tight T-shirt with a lazy, sexy smirk. I hate him.


"No, you definitely thought it was something. Go ahead and tell us." He's teasing me.

My face heats up as a blush travels from cheek to cheek. Screw it. I say the first thing that comes into my head. "It's just that I'm sure it's a beautiful room and I don't want it to get messed up like last time. Peter has issues controlling himself. He makes love like a rabid monkey, and things tend to break. I don't want to ruin your best room. That's all."

Peter's mischievous grin widens, like the statement is true. I meant to embarrass him, but it obviously didn't work.

The old woman pats my hand, pulling my gaze away from Peter. She says, "I know, dear," and looks up at Peter and winks. The girlish look on her face implies that she intimately knows what I mean.

I blink twice, certain that I heard her wrong. It makes Peter laugh. He grabs the key from the woman and says, "Thank you, Betsy. I promise that I won't break anything while I make wild monkey love to my friend."

Peter pulls me through the door. When we step outside, the night air is thick and warm. It smells like honeysuckle and jasmine.

My mouth is hanging open. "Did you—"

Peter doesn't stop walking. He heads to the car and pulls out our bags. "Did I what, Colleli?"

"Did you sleep with her?"

"I've slept with a lot of people." Peter carries our bags to the room and slides the key into the hole. It's a real brass key with a big plastic tag hanging off the end.

"What the hell kind of answer is that?"

"It's the only answer you're getting, since you believe what you've read in the tabloids instead of what I've told you." Peter steps into the dark room, turns, and stops abruptly. I smack into his chest just as he drops the bags. His face is so close to mine that I can feel his breath when he speaks. "I f**ked half the East Coast, remember? The women around these parts are very satisfied. I can add you to the list later if you like."

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