Home > A Place Without You(4)

A Place Without You(4)
Author: Jewel E. Ann

She types a message into her phone and gets a response within a few seconds. “I know someone, who knows someone, who knows …” She slips her phone into her bag and looks up. “Well, you get the point, right?”

I look at my watch again.

“Bodhi, Bodhi, Bodhi … my really far into the future husband and baby daddy … stop looking at your watch.” Grabbing my wrist, she takes off my watch and tosses it into her bag too.

I lift an eyebrow. “You’re trouble.” Do I want trouble tonight? Do I want to go down this rabbit hole? Giving her the once-over while she does the same to me, the answer is clear.

Interlacing our fingers, she pulls me toward the van. “Oh, you have no idea.”

I drive us to our destination, fighting my natural inclination to worry about everything and feel guilty for this huge smile on my face. She rolls down the window and turns up the radio. She doesn’t ask me where I live or what I do. She doesn’t ask me if I have ten siblings. We simply live in the moment.

“Uh … Henna, there’s a security gate. Are you sure we’re at—”

“Push the button and say Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream.”

“What?” I stop at the gate, giving her an incredulous look.

Unfastening her seatbelt, she crawls over me and rolls down my window.


“Shh …” She pushes the button and glances back at me. “You’re not staring at my ass are you?”

“You kinda have it in my line of vision.” And yeah, I’m staring at your ass, your legs, and every other part of your body that my hands are itching to touch in ways that would probably piss off your sushi-sick dad.

She grins, and my dick hardens. “Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream.”

The two wrought iron gates open.

“See?” She plops back into her seat. “Step on it, dude. California rolls are waiting for us.”

I shake my head and step on the gas.

“Oh…” she twists her lips “…the party is still going on. I wouldn’t let the valet park our baby. Go right and we’ll find a good, safe spot for her.”

“Our baby?” I turn right. “And every car here costs at least sixty-grand. I’m pretty sure we could have trusted our baby with the valet.”

“No way. Right here.” She points to a spot with lots of room on both sides then rolls up her window.


We get out.


“This looks like a really fancy party, a really expensive house, and a really exclusive invitation list.”

She takes my hand. “Probably.”

I chuckle. “My shirt is on backward and there’s ketchup on it. I’m not sure this is a good idea.”

She stops, tapping her finger on her chin. “You’re right.” She sighs. “I can’t take you anywhere. I’ll get on your back to cover the stain.”


She hops onto my back. I like her on my back. I’m certain I just like her body touching mine in as many places as possible. I grab her sexy legs.

“Problem solved.”

I walk us toward the front door. “So you’re just going to stay on my back for the whole night?”

Teasing her nose along the shell of my ear, she squeezes me with both her arms and legs. “Is that a problem?”

I swallow hard. “Not at all.” She’s going to ruin me in less than twenty-four hours.

“Henna!” A brunette, maybe in her forties, greets Henna as I carry her into the house.

“Hey. Lauren, Bodhi—Bodhi, Lauren.”

I let go of her right leg long enough to shake Lauren’s hand. She gives Henna a sly grin and wide eyes. “I feel like I should get a picture of this and send it to your mom.”

I stiffen. That sounds like a terrible idea.

“Yes!” Henna rests her cheek on my shoulder as Lauren fishes her phone out of her bra and takes a picture.

“Beautiful.” She grins. “California veggie rolls are in the kitchen. Have fun.”

“Thank you.” Henna points toward the kitchen.

“Is this Lauren’s house?”

“Yes,” she says in my ear over the loud music. “And Rex’s.”

“You know some rich people.”

“Sort of.”

“So you’re rich?”

“Nope. I don’t even have a job at the moment. I just know people. I told you … I know someone, who knows someone, who—”

“Yeah, yeah, knows someone.”

“Exactly. Right there.” She points to the platter of California veggie rolls and three different dipping sauces.

“Where are the plates?” I ask.

“Whoa! Plates? We’re not sharing. Just grab the whole platter.”

I look left then right, waiting for someone to see us stealing the platter.

“Left. Up the back stairway. If I’m too heavy to carry up the stairs, you can put me down.”

I don’t respond. Instead, I easily carry her up the stairs.

“The last room on the right.”

“This is where you’re staying?” I ease her to the ground, and she takes the plate of California rolls from me.

“Yes. My dad had a room at a hotel close to the venue, but when he got sick, he cancelled it, um … assuming I’d go back home to my mom. But I wanted to stay and everything was booked, so … I know someone who—”

“Knows someone, who knows someone.” I roll my eyes as she opens the doors to a private balcony overlooking the Colorado desert. “Five-star accommodations,” I say more to myself than to her. This is a different life than I’ve ever known. I came close to this life, but … I fucked it up.

I follow Henna outside and take a seat on the sofa next to her while she snags one of the rolls from the tray before setting it on the table in front of us.

We eat in silence for a few long minutes, taking in the starry night. How did I get here?

The house.

The view.

The woman. God … the woman. I don’t even know if she’s real. Maybe she’s this ethereal creature sent to tempt me then punch me in the gut again for my epic mistake.

“I feel like I should ask you about …” I let out a long breath—one that holds a lot of something. A very heavy breath.

“It’s a good night. Don’t feel obligated to do the small talk thing with me. I rather like us without it.”

Yeah, she’s not real.

“Us …” I say the word like I need to test it out.

“Bodhi and Henna.” She unties her shoes and slips them off, tucking her feet under her. “And Alice.”

“Who’s Alice?”

“Duh. Our blue baby with big round eyes and an awkward but adorable little VW emblem nose. Unless…” she digs her teeth into her lower lip “…you already named her. Didn’t you? That’s cool. Alice could be a middle name.”

I stare at her mouth, desperate to taste it. If this is a dream, I’m going to fight to never wake up.

The longer I stare, the more she squirms. Henna grabs another California roll and shoves it into her mouth. My gaze shifts to her brilliant blue eyes. She knows I was staring a bit too long at her tempting lips.

I grin. “I didn’t name her.”

“Aw … see?” Henna mumbles over a mouthful of food. “You were waiting for me.” She wipes her mouth and sets the napkin on the table. “Are you good with Alice? We can discuss this, but I’m not gonna lie … she totally looks like an Alice.” She pulls a package out of her pocket. “Gummy?”

I frown. “I’m good.” She’s ethereal, sexy, and as close to perfect as she could be while still being a pothead. Okay, that’s not fair. Maybe she really does have pain from whatever caused that scar on her back. Either way, I can’t go down that road again. But she can’t be a road in my life because my life is a dead end.

Henna stares at her gummies with a contemplative look then slides them back into her pocket without eating one. Now I feel like a dick. What if she’s in pain?

“Just pot?” I ask.

She shrugs. “I can get you some beer or really probably anything you want from downstairs.”

I shake my head. “I mean, is pot the only thing you use?”

“Oh …” she laughs. “Yes. I was getting dependent on opioids. Juni suggested I try marijuana instead.”


“My mom.”

“You call your mom Juni?”

“Yes. She’s my best friend. Juni makes me feel open to share my darkest secrets. Mom makes me clam up.”

Juni? I cock my head to the side. “I think there was a model or actress with that name. Juniper? Tall, blond …?”

“Oh …” She nods several times. “Yes. Juniper Carlisle. She was an international supermodel; now she has a fashion DIY show on cable.”

“I don’t watch much TV.”

“No?” She mirrors my head-cock. “I had minimal TV growing up. Basically National Geographic for kids. My parents were very liberal about most things, then ultra conservative about other things. But … lately I’ve been bingeing on Riverdale.”

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