*Recently written to include as part of New Adult Scavenger Hunt, this bonus scene is told from Kai's POV and takes place the night after her and Chuck's double-date with Doyle and Addy. As the scavenger hunt has now concluded, I'm excited to post it here on Booklikes.
“Hey, you okay?” Chuck’s voice called from the other side of the door.
Dammit. Had my crying woke him? I thought I’d been quiet. I swiped the back of my hands across my cheeks and checked the damage in the mirror. Great. Bloodshot, raccoon eyes stared back at me. Turning the faucet on high blast, I hurried to freshen up. There was no way I was going to let Chuck see me like this.
“Why wouldn’t I be?’ I shot back, shoving the residual gloominess away and slipping back inside my sarcastic, bulletproof armor. It fit so well.
“I don’t know.” His words were soft and he hesitated before continuing. “But you’re obviously upset.”
“You’re wrong. Imagine that. Now can I please have five minutes to myself, Stalker?”
I could hear him sigh from the other side of the door. “Did I do something wrong?”
A spark of guilt ignited in the pit of my stomach. Something wrong? I closed my eyes and leaned against the wall. I swallowed hard as I thought about the night we’d just shared. No, Chuck Johnson had done nothing wrong. That was the problem.
And trust me, I’d been searching for some defect… for one single reason to lump him with all the other disappointments from my past. It had been a pointless endeavor. Chuck was not like the others. I mentally checked off each item I’d learned about him from the previous night.
He was loyal. Clearly. I’d been on my worst behavior, determined to get a rise out of either Chuck or Doyle so I could show Addy these weren’t the right guys for us. Long distance relationships never worked out. And how had Chuck reacted? I frowned. He’d practically performed backflips trying to entertain and please me so his friend could have a civil date.
He was patient. See reasoning above. Although not too patient. He wasn’t a doormat. When I’d finally pressed him past his limits, he’d threatened to spank me. Which brought me to item number three. He knew how to please a girl. I shuddered, the memory fresh in my mind.
My name on his lips slammed me back into the present. “Five minutes!” I shouted. I did my best to make myself presentable in the following moments of silence he granted me. This not only included my appearance, but also my wall of defense. Just because I hadn’t found any glaring defects in either his personality or appearance did not mean they weren’t there. They were always there if a person had enough time to wait it out. Which is exactly why I preferred to remain unattached. I squared my shoulders and opened the door.
He’d been waiting just outside. Squinting, he let his eyes sweep the length of my body before returning to my own. Under such intense scrutiny, I felt myself blush.
“You didn’t answer my question,” he said.
“No, you didn’t do anything wrong. That would imply there’s something wrong to begin with. And there’s not.”
He closed the small gap between us, his hands coming to rest on my hips, and I stumbled backward. “No,” I said, a little too forcefully. I knew all too well the bliss those hands were capable of giving. If I allowed him to touch me, to have his hands on my body, then my wall of defense would crumble to my feet. I kept my palms in front of me in an effort to fend off his approach, although he did not advance forward.
“Ok. No touching. Will you just talk to me?”
I side-stepped him to sit on the edge of the bed and pull on a combat boot. “Can you just take me to Addy’s? That would be great.” I worked the laces as if they required my full attention.
“You don’t have to do this,” he answered.
“Do what?” My fingers knotted the silver shoestrings in a bow before reaching for the second boot.
“Act like this. If I did something wrong, tell me. I’ll fix it.”
I glanced up to meet his gaze. You can’t fix it. You can’t fix me. “You wanna’ fix it? Take me to Addy’s,” I said, tightening the final bow of my laces.
“Ok, fine. You want me to take you to Addy’s? I will. First, will you please just tell me what happened? The last time we were both awake, you seemed to be enjoying my company quite immensely. In fact, if I may quote you, your exact words were–”
“Seriously? I’m well aware of what I said.” I scowled, hoping it would distract him from the redness I could feel working its way up my cheeks. “It’s called pillow talk, Chuck. That’s what people do. They say things during the heat of a moment, okay? You’re a guy. You should already be aware of the concept.”
The vein in his neck visibly pulsed. His eyes darkened. “Oh, I think you meant it.” His stare was hard and I was afraid he could read my very thoughts. Because I had meant it. I’d meant every last word when I’d begged him to never stop touching me. He took a step toward me and my skin tingled in anticipation. My own body was a traitor.
“In fact, I bet I can make you say it again.” His voice was low and smooth.
The temperature in the room suddenly spiked. I wanted to fan myself, but somehow found the power to resist. I bet you could, I thought.
“Are you going to take me to Addy’s, or am I walking?” I grabbed my bag from the bedside table.
I watched his jaw flex involuntarily before he turned and shoved his feet into his sneakers. He grabbed the keys to his Dodge Charger and flung open the door. “After you, Sweetheart.” His smile was saccharin as he gestured with a wide sweep of his arm.
Chuck followed me out the door and down to the parking lot in silence. It was only when I was seated next to him and the car was in drive that he attempted conversation again. I suppose he felt fairly certain I wouldn’t risk a dive from a moving vehicle in order to get away from him. I was less certain.
“Are you regretting last night? Is that why you’re upset?” His voice had softened.
I huffed. He wasn’t going to let it go. “No. It was mutually beneficial. So why would I?”
A half-smile graced his lips. “Mutually beneficial? I guess that’s one way of saying it.” The smile faded. “I just don’t want you to feel ashamed of anything.”
I glared at him, stunned. “Ashamed?” I repeated.
“You know. Because we only met last night.” He glanced in my direction as we stopped for a red light.
A small burst of laughter escaped my mouth when I understood his meaning. His eyebrows drew up in question, causing me to snicker again. “Do you feel ashamed, Chuck?”
He shook his head slowly, trying to understand my amusement.
“But you think I might be, because I’m a girl, right? The fifties called. They’d like their chauvinistic ideals back.”
“I just meant–”
“Yeah, I know what you meant. And I hate to break this to you, but you’re not my first random hook-up. You’re not even the second.”
At his answering expression, my amusement vanished. Judging by the near-rage that shimmered over his countenance, I’d pushed him exceedingly close to his limit. I checked out the window to see how far we were from Addy’s apartment. I needed out of this car before I said something I really would regret.
After a minute, his breathing regulated and he’d calmed enough to ask his next question. “Were you upset because I kept you from spending time with Addy last night? You did drive all the way up here and your plans got cancelled.”
“Are you implying I display co-dependent behaviors?”
Chuck’s grip on the steering wheel tightened. Uh-oh. Maybe that had been the line. I wasn’t deliberately trying to goad him. I just wanted him off the subject of why I’d been crying. And I was using the sharpest tool in my armory in an attempt to distract him. Sarcasm.
“Fine,” he spoke through clenched teeth. “You’re not ashamed and you could care less about your friends. Guess that just leaves one option left as to why you were bawling your eyes out.”
I felt my eyes narrow as I turned to stare at him. “Please, I must know.” The smirk on his face enraged me before he even spoke.
“The only possible reason left is because you’re afraid I’ll lose interest now that we’ve already ‘hooked up’?”
“What?!” I screamed, causing him to swerve the vehicle. He placed his palm over his right ear, straightened the wheel, and glared at me.
“I know you had a good time last night, Kai. I was there, making sure of it. And there’s no question whether or not you’re attracted to me. You are, Sweetheart.”
My jaw hung loose as I gaped at him.
“But it’s okay, Sweetness,” he continued, his words slightly less acidic. “You play your cards right and we might could work out a deal.” He winked at me and my vision blurred.
I don’t remember my exact words at that point in time, but I can confirm the proper placement of colorful language interjected between reasons we would not be seeing each other again. There was at least one, “And I would never,” and a, “Not in a million years!”
The moment Chuck pulled into Addy’s driveway I reached for the door handle.
“Don’t forget your eight movie collector cups, Princess,” Chuck sneered as he handed me the tower of plastic cups he’d bought for me on our date the night before.
“Yes, I wouldn’t want to forget those!” I said, accepting them eagerly. “Now I have something to serve my random hook-ups a beverage in when they spend the night at my place.” I pushed open the door and withdrew from the car, but not before I saw the glimmer of crazy sparkle in Chuck’s eye.
“You’re psychotic! You know that, right?” He spat out the words like they’d offended his mouth. Oh yeah, he was well past his threshold.
I took the path that led to Addy’s door as Chuck followed behind me. “Just because I don’t want to date you doesn’t make me psychotic. However, your calling me psychotic because I won’t date you does make you a megalomaniac,” I shot back.