Bonus and Extras
Scene from Duke's POV #1 (from Patch Up)
This godamn headache isn't leaving. I guess it's the price you pay when you have spent most of last night partying hard and then screwing some random girl who’s name you can’t even remember. Walking in to the big room where I'll be a TA for a psychology class this semester, I close my eyes hoping that it will ease the pain some.
I love psychology, maybe it’s because I would be a perfect study case of a grieving bastard, but the best part is knowing how, in fact, most mental wounds can be healed. Not all, but most and it's a hopeful thing I want to remember and keep in the forefront of my mind when some days are harder than others; when I'm trying to find her, Juliet, in a crowd. Still three years later.
I take another step inside the room and just when I open my eyes, I bump hard into someone. A petite and slender someone with very feminine curves. Fast, I grab her forearm before she goes down.
Under my hand, I feel her whole body tensing and her intake of breath is so loud that it catches my attention. Normally, I wouldn't bother noticing someone of the opposite sex outside of a party, as gross as it sounds, I'm more of a fuck them and leave them kind of guy for quite some time now. I'm not that bad, really, but sex for me is a way to forget just for a little while. It's not even about lust, it's just easy, the easiest way I know to keep going on with my life for a little longer. But this one is not a normal girl.
She yanks her arm free from my grip, not once even looking up at me. She keeps her eyes down and her hands are hidden under overly long sleeves. In fact, her sweater is way too big for her thin body. What's that? I don't know why, but there's something in the pit of my stomach, something telling me that there's something wrong with her.
"Are you all right?" I ask her with a calm voice, trying to ease her some, she's wrung so tight that I wonder how she's able to function.
She takes a deep breath and starts looking up slowly, her eyes taking me in a little bit at a time, as if looking at me all at once would be too much for her. And finally, I can see her face. She is beautiful. But it is her big blue-grey eyes that do me in. It's such an unusual colour that I'm stuck looking like a dumb idiot. The bleakness and the caution in those eyes convince me that there really is something wrong with her.
"I'm fine," she answers with a weirdly detached voice as if she's trying too hard to down play it. To the untrained eye it would be convincing, but for me it's not. I know all too well what it is like to be in pain and to do everything possible to hide it. I do it by partying, screwing around and getting tattoos while others do it by closing themselves to the world.
"Hmm... good," I say and frown despite myself. I don't want to make her feel even more out of place than she must feel, but it's hard to stay cool. For once, for the first time in years, I'm worried about someone else. It's hard to take it in and deal with all these churning thoughts inside my head. After all, I don't even know the girl, I've never seen her before but all of a sudden I feel like I should break through the barriers she has up. Who am I to think I should or even could?
Suddenly, she crosses her arms tightly over her chest as if to protect herself from me, from letting me really see her, and she walks away toward an available seat close to the door, not once glancing back at me. I can't help myself but look at her as she turns on her MacBook and keeps her eyes glued to it, not once gazing around while waiting for Dills. She's not trying to make friends or find friends among the students already here. She's so closed off that she's even invisible to most of the people here, but I see her. I can see her with her wild hair, beautiful and elegant face, tiny body and yet so very feminine under the layers of too big clothes. I can see her way more than I've seen anybody else for a very long time. And it's freaking me out.
"Hey, Duke!" someone calls me. I turn around and see one of the other TAs waving me toward Dr Dills’ desk, if he ever gets here.
Just as I shake hands with the other guy and smile at the two girls also assisting Dills, the aforementioned man walks in, in all his hurried glory.
"I know, I know I'm late, but please turn on your laptops. Let's begin our first class of the semester. Thank you," he says in his baritone voice that carries though out the big room. He gives us, his TAs, a stack of papers to give the students. Without even looking at what I have in my hands, I walk fast to the corner where the strange girl is. She tenses again when she sees me approaching and focuses on my hands instead of my face. I feel myself frown some more as I give her the papers, but she's very careful not to touch me, just the papers. How odd.
"Bad first day?" I ask her, trying to make her talk. To be honest, she has one of the hottest voices I’ve ever heard, but that's not why I wanted her to talk. I just... I don't even know. She confuses me.
The girls sitting close to her are more interested in our conversation than she is and it's quite frustrating. I'm not used to be ignored or brushed off. With my tattoos, my exotic look and my "dangerous" vibes, girls are often quite into talking and flirting with me. Not her and it is very obvious. She doesn't even need to say "fuck off" for me to know that it is what she wants.
Her cold voice takes me by surprise, though. I open my mouth and close it before I finally find my voice again. I'm seriously unprepared. "Hum... Nothing. It's just..."
"Sorry, but Dr. Dills is about to begin his lecture of the day."
How to be shut down in one easy lesson. Fuck, she's good. She looks up and when our eyes meet again, her blue-grey against my dark brown, she blushes, a cute pink hue invading her high cheekbones. I tilt my head on one side, taking her in, assessing her, trying to find a crack in her armour, but it's damn hard when you don't even know the name of that someone.
Her eyes release mine and I breath again. I don't know when I stopped breathing, but she got to me for some reason. Her eyes slowly begin to level down and then stop at my necklace. Suddenly, it's like the silver is burning me, like it's searing my skin and bones under her penetrating gaze and it reminds me of who I am, of what I carry inside, of who I failed. And it hurts all over again.
I clear my throat, bring a hand to the infinity symbol at the end of the necklace. I don't want her to look at it. In fact, I don't want to talk anymore. I'm one to talk about healing when all I'm still doing is self-destructing by acting like an asshole with nameless and faceless girls. Granted, it's way better than what I used to do, but still. It's not good enough to help someone else.
I nod to her and turn around, walking back to the corner where the other TAs are already seated. But when I take the last seat and put my hands in my lap, they're shaking. A lump forms in my throat and I have to force myself not to look back at her. It only lasts for the first ten minutes before I can't keep my eyes on Dr. Dills anymore. What is happening to me?
I turn my head slightly to the right and I immediately find her. It's very easy with her wild frizzy hair. Even from here I can see how focused she is. Her slender fingers seem to fly on the keyboard of her laptop. Her eyes are going to Dills and back to her screen with such an intensity that it lets me see the crack in her shield that I was looking for. The life inside of her is close, ready to burst free and it's inspiring. I don't know what her deal is, what she went through and why she is hiding, but I want to figure it out. I want to think that it's because I'm a nosey man, but if I dig deeper, it's something else, something akin to hope for myself. For the first time in the last three years, I want to feel better and not just pretend it.
Maybe helping someone else instead of focusing on my own pain is the key. Or maybe not, but when I put my mind to something, I don't back down that easily. Unless it becomes too painful.
Scene from Duke's POV #2 (PATCH UP)
I can’t remember my dream, but I feel warm and great as I am starting to wake up. A weight in my arms makes me feel cozy and good, like only a soft body can. I groan and shift slightly and the body stiffens. I tense and start to get my bearings back. Not only is the warm body in my arms not a one-night stand, but her frizzy hair brushing my face and lips give away her identity. Not fully conscious of what I’m doing I tighten my grip for a second before I release her slowly, reluctantly. She feels so good close to me, right here with me. Her perfume sweet and soft drives my senses into overdrive. Her light curves pressed against me are not helping the rush of blood in my veins, a rush heading straight south.
I can’t keep my breathing slow and calm anymore. Not when my body is answering so much to her presence. I shouldn’t feel like this, shouldn’t get so worked up over her, but I can’t deny it. She is truly affecting me. I shift again, trying to hide my reaction to her closeness so as not to spook her. She doesn’t relax.
“Are you awake?’’ I ask her softly, my voice still rough from sleep. She shivers and it’s a hit straight to my crotch. I have to bite my lip to stop a growl escaping them. One-night stands are easier to deal with. At least, you don’t have to worry because the girl is of no importance. But Skye is important. She’s so fucking important and that’s the whole problem.
Her voice is deeper than usual, dripping sex without even being aware of it. Her voice should be illegal. I grit my teeth and close my eyelids tighter. I put more pressure on her stomach where my hand is resting, feeling her flat stomach and the dip of her hipbone. I hate that shirt she’s wearing and yet, I’m thankful it didn’t ride up overnight. Otherwise, I’m not sure how I’d react. In my head it’s already such a mess for feeling that kind of desire for her, no need to add to it.
Mustering the kind of strength I didn’t know I had, I pull away and sit with a sigh. Maybe sleeping in the same bed wasn’t such a good idea, because now I miss her closeness. I want her closeness even more. I run a hand through my goatee and stubble, the tiny hairs pickling my fingers and I feel her eyes on me, taking in every detail of my face. In the corner of my eye I see her smile and I can’t help return it.
“Don’t laugh at me. Your hair is no better,’’ I say ruefully and tug at some of the locks of my hair to try to tame it. To be honest, I don’t give a flying fuck about how I look right now, but it’s a welcome distraction from looking at her beautiful face, relaxed for once. She is entrancingly beautiful when she wakes up, hair and all. Simple and yet refined. Yeah, right. Maybe I shouldn’t try to be spiritual when my brain is still half asleep.
She glares at me and I want to laugh at her. She’s damn cute. I’m screwed. “Always the gentleman.’’ She starts putting her wild hair in some sort of order, but it doesn’t change a thing.
“Your hair is kind of cute and a little hot. Is that better?’’ I can’t help the laugh building inside me, but it gets caught in my throat when my eyes land on her parted lips, pink and plump, so very tantalizing. It’s damn difficult to glance away, but I lock my eyes on hers.
She blushes and my heartbeat takes off, lurching in my chest. Her high cheekbones turn a light pink as her eyes start to show a rising panic. I know she’s going to bolt, but I don’t want her to. In fact, I kind of want to grab her and lay back down with her pressed against me.
“That’s my cue to leave.’’
She stands up and I follow her, not ready to let her go. “You can stay.’’ I put a hand on her forearm, careful not to frighten her and send her on her way even faster. I need to be smart about this. She let me hold her in the bed and it’s a big step for her.
She doesn’t try to escape, doesn’t pull away and it makes me want to tug her closer to me. She keeps her eyes on my chest, probably focusing on my necklace. It makes me uneasy to think about that necklace whenever I’m with Skye, whenever she wakes up all these… feelings. I fight the urge to hide it back under my shirt.
“I have a class in a couple of hours,’’ she says softly, shyly.
I swallow, suddenly as shy as she is, but I’m not going to let it rule me. I need to see it through, need to know what is going on, need to know how she feels. I close the space between us, but still keeps a gap between our body.
“Is that the only reason?’’
She doesn’t answer immediately. She looks up and sucks in her breath. I’m not sure if I’m capable of any kind of reaction right now. I’m only focused on her, on her amazing eyes full of fear but also desire. She can fight it all she wants, but we’re in the same boat, a boat in the middle of a wild ocean, but still in the same one.
“Don’t do this Duke.’’ Her whisper is a caress to my ears. Even though she is pleading with her words, her body and the fact that she’s not pulling away tell me something else. That’s all I want to think about right now. She wants it too and this time I’m not going to pull away.
I close the space between us and stop only when my bare toes touch her shoes. I’m so close to her my chest brushes against her breasts. I harden immediately, pushing painfully against the zipper of my jeans. I can’t look away from her parted lips as she takes in a big breath. This time, she’s the one to move even closer, bringing her body flush to mine.
I hiss under my breath. I glide my hand from her forearm up her arm until I cup her cheek. I’m shaking and I can’t control it. She’s doing things to me I’d forgot about. She’s doing things to me I’m not sure I have ever felt. It’s scary.
I bite on my lower lip to try to stay composed, but she’s not helping. When her eyes land on my mouth and her eyes darken significantly, I’m ready to rush it and put a stop to this building anticipation, but I don’t. I bring my other hand to her hip. I want more contact.
“Please, Skye.’’ The plea escapes me in broken defeat. That’s how I feel. I’ve battled the attraction and right now I’m not fighting it anymore. I surrender.
Then she does something that is almost my undoing. She brings both hands to my shoulders. My muscles jump from the sensation, just that tiny fucking touch does that to me. Her tiny hands on me over my shirt are very innocent, but they hold power, sinful power brought to life in my mind by my overeager imagination. But it doesn’t stop there. One of her hands moves from my shoulder to my neck where she begins to play with my hair, softly, hesitantly and that’s what brings me to my knees.
I close my eyes for a second. Inside me, I’m a furnace ready to explode. Every kind of scenario goes through my mind, quickly. It goes from the sweet kind to the very wicked kind that I know would freak out most people. I take a deep breath and re-open my eyes. I tilt my head, unsure how to proceed because if she pulls away it would just about kill me. I need a taste of her. I need to feel her plump lips on mine. I need to know if she’s going to be pliant when I kiss her or not. I want to feel the way her tongue plays with mine.
Slowly, slowly enough to allow her the time to draw back, I bring my head down, closer to hers, closer to her lips. And she doesn’t pull away. In fact, she tilts her head up and closes her eyes. I run my tongue along my lower lip and I finally brush my lips against hers. Just for a second.
But that second is long enough to send a shiver down my spine, long enough to make my heart beat even faster. It’s long enough to make me forget everything, even Juliet. I even forget how I should feel, or maybe shouldn’t.
I open my eyes and watch her do the same. The desire is there, calling for more and I oblige, spurred on when she claws at my shoulder and neck.
This time I don’t hold back, don’t give her the time to change her mind. I bring my mouth against hers and I play with her lower lip before I nip on her top one. But it’s still innocent as I’m not deepening it. I need to explore the shape of her lips, lips I dreamed about for days, weeks even.
When her lips are ingraved in my mind, I bite lightly on her lower one and I let out a groan I have been trying to keep at bay. The smoothness of her skin and her smell are just too much. I tighten my arms around her, one sneaking around to her lower back and I let my other hand delve into her untamed hair, something I’ve wanted to do for a while even if I have barely acknowledged it to myself.
She tugs on my hair and opens her mouth, asking for more, begging for it. Fuck, she’s going to end me. I don’t waste a second and slip my tongue into her mouth, tasting her for the first time. When her whimper hits my ears, I intensify the kiss, letting go. But the thing I wasn’t prepared for is the way she answers to me, the way her tongue dances with mine, with the same intensity, the same dripping need for more, always more.
Fuck, she’s ruining me with that one kiss and I’m even more lost than before.
Copyright © Stephanie Witter