Home > Damaged (Damaged #1)(5)

Damaged (Damaged #1)(5)
Author: H.M. Ward

Peter sits on the end of the couch, ignoring the phone, and rubs his face in his hands. Breathing hard, he says, “I’m sorry, Sidney, but I can’t do this.”

Something inside me shatters when he says it. I don’t understand what’s happening. Instead of explaining, Peter stands and turns away from me. I can’t see his face. His bare back faces me with every muscle tense. Peter puts his hands on top of his head and sighs loudly, looking up at the ceiling before turning back to me. My heart stops when he looks at me. If I thought he was hot before, he is so much hotter now. Every curve of his chest is chiseled like a piece of art. But those eyes, those haunted blue eyes, make me transfixed. I stare at him, not knowing what he’s thinking or why.

The phone stops ringing. The silence is thick. It floods the apartment in a wave. I can’t breathe. Peter picks up his shirt and slips it back on. As he does that, I fix my bra strap and my dress, concealing myself.

I feel so hot, and so nervous. I want to know why he pushed me away. I’ve never had a guy do this before. I feel foolish to have done so much with him and then have him react like this. I wonder if I did something wrong. I glance at his back. He’s standing across from me, out of arm’s reach. “I’m sorry, Peter. I didn’t think things would go that way. I really came up here to talk to you.”

I mean every word I say. I had no intention of sleeping with him, but once his lips were on me, I wanted to feel something for a while, something besides the normal unending pain and remorse that flows through my veins. It would have been a moment to lose myself and forget everything, a chance to move on.

I’m greedy. I took too much. I should have said no. I should have responded like a normal girl and been shy about it. The thing is, I’m not normal. Too many things have happened. Knots twist me up inside. I can’t look at him.

Peter’s eyes search my face. I feel his gaze on me but I don’t look up. Shoving his hands into his pockets, Peter’s gaze falls to the floor. “I know. Coffee...” It seems as though he’s going to say more, but he doesn’t. Peter glances up at me from under his brow for a second.

My stomach sinks into my shoes. Panic, guilt, and fury are mixing together, making me feel sick. Peter doesn’t look up. He doesn’t say anything else.

The silence between us is clanging furiously. I have to leave. Every part of me wants to run. Humiliation doesn’t look good on me. I try to smile, but it feels wrong. My jaw is stiff.

I can’t think of anything else to tell him—anything to make it better—so I grab my purse and say, “Thanks for the sandwich.” The last word comes out dripping with innuendo that I didn’t mean. My voice caught in my throat at the wrong time. Horrified, I look up at him.

A bashful look slips across Peter’s face. Oh my god. I didn’t see it before, but he’s shy. There’s a trace of a wary boy left in this man. I think I may die. He’s perfect. He’s perfect and he’s pushing me away.

Peter regains his confident composure and locks the shy part away. He leans in and kisses my cheek. “Thanks for everything.”

We say a few other things, but the feeling to hold onto him doesn’t subside. It’s hard to leave. I feel as though I hurt him somehow, but I can’t stay. Not after this. It’s not the kind of thing I can recover from. And if I see him again, we won’t be friends. There won’t be a second chance after this. He’s seen too much of me, and his tossing my ass out isn’t something I want to repeat. I follow Peter to the door. He doesn’t say anything else. I turn toward him, look up at his face with my lips parted. My question is all over my face even though I don’t ask.

Peter’s gaze cuts to the side. Fine. He won’t even look at me. Whatever. I resist the urge to chew him out and stomp down the stairs like a mad elephant. Peter walks out and stands on the landing until I’m safe inside my car. I drive away without looking back.


When I get back to the dorm room, I’m in a foul mood. I met the perfect man and screwed it up. I don’t even know what I did! Was it raking my nails on his arm? Did I remind him of his dead cat or something? I walk down the hallway. The doors are all open. I live in an all-girls dorm. Some are in their PJs while others are still wearing their clothes from the day.

I pass a few doors and wave to the girls inside. Someone whistles at me as I walk by. “Hot mama!” a blonde girl shouts. I don’t know her very well. We wave coming and going to class every day and that’s about it. I look at her and she waggles her eyebrows at me, assuming that I got some.

Yeah, I got nothing.

I round the corner and see my door open at the end of the hall. Dread fills my throat with worry. I don’t want to discuss Peter with Millie. Plus, she’s going to be pissed that I ditched her at dinner. That was a crappy thing to do, but Dusty—oh my God. Could she possibly pick someone more inappropriate? The only thing worse would have been a grizzly old biker with a toe fetish. Damn.

I stare at the door and feel the decision wash through me. What happened with Peter is best forgotten. I don’t want to talk about it. Getting rejected is bad enough, but the fact that I just met him and let him do so much, and then got rejected—well, that’s worse. It’s like rejection a la mode. As if regular blow offs weren’t cool enough. I shake out my worries and try to put on my game face. Nothing’s wrong.

Our room is the social hub of the floor tonight. I walk inside and step over six girls doing crunches on the floor. I look at Millie and give her a what-the-fuck face.

She’s sitting on her chair by our shared desk. It’s built into the wall. From the lack of sweat and general lack of agony, I assume that she’s waiting her turn. There’s no more room on the floor. “We found an old Abs of Steel tape. Megan said she could do the entire workout. We all took bets on who’s going to die first.”

I nod and sit down on my bed, tossing my purse on the nightstand. Millie watches me for a second. I can tell she wants to talk, but she won’t say anything, yet. Good. I kick off my heels and grab my stuff and head to the showers.

Today sucked. I want to wash it all away. The entire day.

As I stand in the shower, I let the hot water blast me, but no matter how long I stand there, I can’t get the memory of Peter’s hands on my body to go away. It’s as if he tattooed his touch on my mind. I don’t know what I did wrong. I don’t know if I would have had sex with Peter tonight—going that far, that fast would have been unusual for me—but I didn’t think things would have ended so abruptly, either.

I try to shake off the hot and bothered feeling that has me coiled so tight, and head back to my room. It’s been about twenty minutes since I left. Six girls are lying on the floor, clutching their stomachs.

“Oh my god! I’m gonna die.” Evie says, from her side. She’s curled into a ball. Her dark hair spills around her head on the floor like a bottle of ink.

“I told ya’ll that it was hard! I told you, but no one ever listens to me!” Millie’s talking with her hands on her hips, giving everyone an I told you so.

“So,” I interrupt, “who won?”

Mille looks at the sorry lot and shakes her head. “Tia lasted the longest. Nine minutes.”

Tia raises her arm in the air and sticks up her thumb.

I laugh, “Awesome, Tia, and congrats to all of you. That workout is insane. You’re all going to be hunched over like 90-year-olds tomorrow.”

Someone starts to laugh, but it’s quickly followed by a moan of remorse.

Millie looks up at me from her bed. She’s sitting with her legs folded, hands in her lap. “So, where’d you disappear to all night? I thought you would’ve wanted in on this?” Millie has a head of soft blonde curls. She pulled them up into a high ponytail when she got home and is wearing a tank and boxers.

I shrug as if it doesn’t matter, but the pressure inside my chest tells me that it does. “Nowhere, really. I’m sorry I bailed on you.”

Millie seems annoyed, but then her shoulders slump and I can tell she’s forgiven me. “I shouldn’t have made you come.”

Tia blurts out, “You took her on another blind date? You must want your ass kicked, Millie.” It’s true. Everyone else knows better than to ask me by this point in the year.

“Jersey Girl won’t kick my butt,” Millie says, and makes a face at Tia. “I’ve got immunity.”

I laugh, “Not after tonight. No more blind dates. Please restrain yourself and don’t set me up with anymore a**holes, okay? I can find them all by myself and when I do, I need you to feed me ice cream until I puke.”

“Ice cream?” Tia says from the floor. I glance down at her in time to see her sit up. Her face contorts in pain. “What are you, twelve? Big girls get hammered after a shitty date.”

I don’t get hammered. Not anymore, but none of them know that. I laugh with them and agree to go to the bar tomorrow night. I have to work the following morning, so I can skip out early—unhammered—and no one will think anything of it.


The next morning I arrive at work early. I’m a teacher’s assistant, a TA. I work in the English department, since that’s my major. The offices are upstairs, away from all the classrooms. Me and a few other student workers are milling about, wondering where the professors are since the offices are glaringly empty. At this time of day, the place is usually bustling with activity, phones ringing and copy machines humming. The profs are usually in a rush to make it to their 8:00am classes, but today isn’t like that.

Today it’s eerily silent.

I walk in and head back to Tadwick’s office. There’s no indication that he’s here; no steaming coffee mug, no glowing computer screen. He must be running late.

I put my purse in his desk drawer so no one swipes it, and look at the pictures on his desk. Tadwick’s not that old for a professor, maybe forty-five, with thick brown hair and dark eyes. There are two little girls in one frame looking at Tadwick like he’s the world’s best dad. They seem happy, which is so different from my home life, I can’t even imagine it.

I walk back out of his office and join the others. Someone calls ‘five minute rule’ and we all laugh. I hop onto an empty student worker desk that’s located outside of Dr. Tadwick’s office. The Graduate Assistant or GA, Marshal, is pacing, wearing a hole in the carpet. Being late is something he can’t fathom. Add that to his slightly OCD personality and he looks like a caged lunatic. We’re all going to be late, because something is obviously going on, so it’s not as if this tardy will be his fault. Classes have already begun. It’s 8:05am. All the TA’s and GA’s are supposed to sign in and then head to class, but no one is in the main office. The sign in sheet isn’t out. Nothing’s out. Everything is still locked up like it’s the middle of the night.

All the teachers are gathered in a conference room at the end of the hall. One of the student’s, Ryan, tried standing outside the door to listen, but eventually he came back saying that he couldn’t hear a thing.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)