Home > Hold On (The 'Burg #6)(3)

Hold On (The 'Burg #6)(3)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Laughter like that coming from Garrett Merrick was worth every penny.

* * * * *

The bed moved and my eyes opened.

I closed them immediately as the sick hit my gut and the throb of pain made itself known in my head.

It took me a few beats, but I heard the noises.

A man was getting dressed and doing it quiet.

Shit. What did I do last night?

It had been a while since something like this had happened. Around about the time I got hooked up with Ethan’s dad, thought I’d hit the mother lode, found myself knocked up, and got myself left behind when the asshole evaporated. Hard to live wild and have a good time pregnant. And a single mom at twenty-four, you got your shit together. So, between working to keep my kid fed and in babysitters, I didn’t have many shots at living wild.

Ethan, however, was right now at a friend’s house. A sleepover.

And expending effort I didn’t have in me, considering I was totally hungover and maybe still a little drunk, I remembered that last night, for the first time in years, I’d lived wild.

I’d done this shooting the shit with Garrett Merrick, polishing off a bottle of scary-expensive whisky, chasing that with beer, going all out, putting everything I had into it to do what I could to ease the heart of a brokenhearted man.

Somewhere between polishing off the bottle and moving to a less expensive one, things turned.

We got a taxi.

We came to my house.

We fucked, we did it wild, and we did it for a long, long time.

And now it was morning, I felt like I had twenty seconds of sleep, and he was up before me, quietly dressing.

It had been a while, but I knew the drill. I knew those careful sounds he was making.

He didn’t want me to wake up. He wanted to get his ass out of there and get home. Get a shower to wash himself clean of me. Get his head straight enough to kick his own ass that he did something as stupid as banging me. And, only since he was Merry and Merry was that kind of guy (other guys wouldn’t bother), finding it in himself to determine the right time to make his approach and make it clear where we stood.

We’d fucked.

But nothing had changed.

Friends, even though he knew the taste of me and I knew the feel of him.

I always thought everyone got it wrong, and lying there, eyes closed, pretending to sleep to let Merry have what he needed—a clean getaway—I thought it again.

It wasn’t walking out of a house into a taxi or your car in your clothes from the night before that was the walk of shame. You wanted what you wanted, you went after it, you got it, then you left it and went on with your life. There was no shame in that. None.

The shame was lying naked in your own bed listening to a man be quiet while dressing because he woke up next to you not wanting one thing to do with you. It didn’t matter how that happened—if you gauged what was going on with him wrong and he was just out for a fuck, or if you both got trashed and things got out of hand when you didn’t mean them to.

I lay still feeling the burn of that shame that singed deeper because the man who wanted not one thing to do with me was Merry.

It would be okay. For me, it’d be totally okay.

Okay, right. Not really. That thorn had driven itself deeper, knowing how he kissed—the range of intensity, the level of expertise—not to mention knowing a whole lot more about what Garrett Merrick could do.

But I’d make myself okay to keep him as I had him.

I’d have to work him.

He’d start out cool. Definitely. He’d be cautious with me. He’d see to my feelings. He’d be sensitive in his badass cop way, but he’d still do it.

But he’d be embarrassed. Losing control like that. Stooping so low as to fuck the bartender at his local. The bartender who was a single mom and who used to be a stripper. The bartender who got played by a serial killer.

I’d work him, though. I wouldn’t let it slide to awkward. I’d show him it was all good. I’d show him we could be who we were; we didn’t lose what we had. It happened. It was good (I hoped for him too). It was a one-time thing. And now…onward.

I kept silent and still, breathing steady so he’d think I was asleep, wanting it to be done. I had shit to do that day. Ethan was going to be gone in the morning, still at his friend’s. I had the day off work. It was Saturday. I had groceries to buy. A house to clean. Bills to pay.

And then I would have my son and it would be all about him.

I tried to take my mind off Merry, thinking first up was my hangover cocktail. Then, depending on the time, the grocery store, but only if it was early and I could beat the crowds.

People annoyed me. They were rude. And the more people there were, the ruder they were. They totally did not get that we were all in this game of life together and playing on the same team, working toward the same goal. Every single one of us had something to do, and we just wanted to do it without a lot of hassle and eventually get home safe.

Somewhere along the way, people got the idea that whatever they had to do was the priority and everyone else could eat shit. So they drove like lunatics. They were impatient in lines. They were assholes to clerks when a clerk could no way memorize the price of everything in the entire store at Walmart so they wouldn’t have to inconvenience some jerk to call for a price check. They acted like waiting the whole five minutes it took to get that price check was akin to torture. Then again, the number of folks who ran orange lights that were only a hint of yellow, instead of waiting the whole maybe five minutes for the light to change to green, was the same damn thing.

Everyone was in a hurry. Everyone was out for themselves. No one gave a shit about anyone else. Long ago, kindness, courtesy, and civility had taken a hike.

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