Wild Child Page 1

Author: M. Leighton

Series: The Wild Ones #1.5

Genres: Romance , New Adult

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CHAPTER ONE- Jenna

May

“No sex before the wedding. For me and Trick. Or for you and Rusty,” Cami says.

With my mouth hanging open, I watch her unpack her suitcase. She’s staying with me during this ridiculous celibacy thing she’s insisting she and Trick observe the last couple of days before the wedding. She said nothing about dragging my libido into it.

“What?” I exclaim as she crams some shorts in beside the few belongings I brought home for the month. Having just graduated college, I didn’t pack much. I didn’t think there was a need. Now, seeing all the crap Cami travels with, I’m glad I didn’t. There’s not enough room for both of us in here. “No sex for me either? What the hell kind of twisted joke is this?”

She laughs. “I knew you’d love it.”

“Um, excuse me. Have you met me?”

“I knew you’d love it…when I told you how good it would be for the boys. I read an article about the benefits of anticipation. Sexually speaking. But then I started thinking about how much it would make the guys miss us if we weren’t so…accessible. How much more they’d appreciate us, and how they’d realize how lucky they are to have us.” Cami nods her head slowly, meaningfully until I see what she’s getting at.

“Ohhh, I think I see where this is going.”

Cami grins. “That doesn’t mean we can’t tease them. And make them wish we were more…available. We just won’t be. Until after the wedding.”

“Riiight,” I say, nodding along now.

“But you have to stick with it, Jenna. No caving.”

I’m already recognizing the merit of her plan and how it could lead to very good things for me and Rusty. “No caving,” I agree. “Unless Rusty finally drops the L bomb. If that happens, I’ll be on him like stink on shit.” Cami wrinkles her nose as she eyes me. “Okay, bad analogy. I’ll be on him like a cheap suit. Better?”

Her brow smoothes. “Much.” She reaches into her suitcase and takes out more clothes, these on hangers. She walks to the closet and begins hanging them on the empty half of the rod. “So, still no progress on that front?”

I sigh. “No. I know he loves me. Well, at least I think he does, but it’s like he’s blocked when it comes to this stuff. He just won’t break down and tell me.”

“Well, as long as you know…”

I feel a pout come to my lips and I can’t seem to stop it. “But it’s not enough. I need to hear it. I need to know for sure, beyond the shadow of a doubt.”

“Some guys just aren’t the type to spill their guts like that, Jenna.”

I plop down on the bed, shoulders slumping forward as I pick at the bedspread. “I know. But I hope Rusty’s not one of them. You know how I am, Cami. I tell it like it is. I don’t think I could live my life always wondering if maybe I was wrong, if maybe I’d imagined it and he really doesn’t love me. Not the way he should anyway. I don’t want to make plans for my future, plans that include him, and—”

Cami’s gasp interrupts me. “Does that mean you got the interviews?”

I can’t help but smile. “Yep. Both of ‘em.”

“Jenna, that’s awesome! Ohmigod, this is just what you wanted.”

“I know, but you see why this is stressing me out? I don’t want to make plans for my future until I know where Rusty stands. I mean, he already thinks I’m the leaving kind and this will just make it seem like he’s right.”

“The leaving kind?”

“Yeah. He’s always teasing me about being too restless for this town, about having plans that are too big for this town. I’ve never tried to hide how much I hate it here or how I want to live in a bigger city. Maybe Atlanta. But sometimes, I think he sees us as…temporary because of it. He thinks I’m some sort of wild child that will never settle down.”

“You are a wild child, Jenna. But that’s not a bad thing. It’s who you are. It’s what makes us all love you so much.”

“But that doesn’t mean that I’m gonna bail on someone I love.”

“No, it doesn’t. And I’m sure Rusty knows that. Deep down.”

“That’s the problem. I’m not sure that he does. His dad abandoned him and his mom when he was little and I think it effed up his head.”

Cami shrugs. “Maybe, but he can overcome that. You can show him that you’re here to stay. With him, I mean.”

I sigh again. “That’s what I’m trying to do. But sometimes I’m just not sure it will ever be enough. Maybe it’s Rusty who’s the leaving kind. Maybe his fear will always keep him from committing, from loving someone like he should. Like he could. But that’s the thing—I need to know so I can move forward, one way or the other. But I’m scared shitless to tell him about the interviews. What if it makes up his mind for him? What if he thinks it’s me saying I’m leaving him and not just this town? What if—”

“He’ll come around for you, Jenna,” Cami interrupts as she finishes hanging her clothes. When they’re all neatly arranged in my closet, she comes to sit on the bed with me, bumping me with her shoulder until I look over at her. “For you. Trust me. That boy loves you, no matter how much he might try to deny it. Just give him time.”

“I’m trying. I’m trying.”

“See? My plan is a good one. Maybe he’ll realize that he can’t live without you. That he doesn’t even want to try.”

“I was hoping he would see that during one of the many, many weeks we were apart while I was at school, but it’s not looking like he did.”

Cami pats my knee. “But now you’re back home. And school is over. Maybe he’ll see how much he likes having you around. And how awful it would be if you got a job in Atlanta and didn’t get to come back here as much as you did during school.”

“I hope so. I can’t wait forever.”

“You won’t have to. I promise.”

I just hope she’s right.

Shaking off the depressing thoughts that are threatening to infringe on my bestie’s good mood, I hop off the bed and pull Cami up with me.

“Come on, old wise one, I’d say Fab Dad has something delectable waiting for us in the kitchen.”

We’ve both referred to my father as “Fab Dad” for as long as I can remember.

“God, I wish my dad cooked like yours. And was as sweet as yours.”

“But then he wouldn’t be Jack Hines, now would he?”

Cami sighs. “No. And God forbid I have even one family relationship that doesn’t give me indigestion for the rest of my life.”

“You and Trick are too perfect. God gave you drama everywhere else to even the playing field. No one’s life is perfect. Yours was just getting too damn close,” I offer as we walk into the kitchen.

“Language, young lady,” my dad, Cris Theopolis, scolds from the other side of the island.

“Sorry, father,” I respond formally in jest.

“So,” he begins conversationally as he piles a heap of French toast and bacon onto two plates, “what are my two favorite girls up to today?”

I watch as he drizzles his homemade peach syrup over the toast. My mouth waters accordingly. “Oh, just girl stuff. Wedding stuff. You know, fun stuff.”

“This’ll be good for Jenna, Cami,” Dad says as he slides a plate in front of her. “Maybe it’ll make her want to settle down and give her old man some grandkids.”

“You’re not old enough for grandchildren, Daddy.”

“Of course I am.”

“You don’t look it.”

“If you’re sucking up, you’re off to a particularly good start.”

“I know. I got your stunningly youthful genes and a winning personality.”

“Let’s not forget a double dose of humility,” my father says wryly.

“How could I forget that?”

“How indeed,” he says with a roll of his eyes. “Well, this ought to give you girls enough energy to tackle any amount of wedding hoopla, so eat up.”

I glance over at Cami. She’s already put away a piece and a half of toast. “You don’t have to ask us twice.”

Dad winks at me and leans across the island to scrub my head, like he’s done for as long as I can remember. He’s one of the best things about coming home. This town isn’t exactly my favorite place, but there are a few positives. And two of them are in the room with me right now. If it weren’t for them, and Rusty, of course, I’d probably never come back.

Rusty, I think with an internal sigh as I take a bite of toast. The wild card in my future.

CHAPTER TWO- Rusty

“Who the hell came up with this piss-poor idea?” I ask.

Trick pops his head up from under the hood of a ’67 Chevy truck. “It’s hard to say. My money would be on Jenna. This sounds like some wicked plan of hers, don’t you think?”

Giving it a few seconds’ thought, I have to agree. “You’re probably right. She probably read in some magazine or something that it would make sex better or some such bullshit.”

“That sounds like Jenna. And, while I’m all about great sex, I can tell you right now that this is needless on my part. I don’t think it’s possible for our sex life to get any better.”

“Same here. Jenna’s a damn hellcat in bed.”

Trick laughs. “I’m not surprised. I kinda get that impression.”

“Right. So what the hell?”

“Who knows? They’re women. I don’t think God Himself understands what they do sometimes.”

“Duuude,” I say, holding out my fist for Trick to bump. And he does. “Couldn’t agree more.”

“Of course, maybe Jenna wants to show you what you’re missing. You know, since you’re a pansy about telling her how you feel.”

“I’m not a pansy, you prick! Jenna and I are on the same page. We both know she’s not the kind to stay around here.”

“No, she’s not, but you always wanted to open up a garage somewhere near a bigger city so you could do high-end classic restorations. So what’s the problem?”

I shrug. “There’s no problem. Jenna’s restless. It is what it is. Sometimes people leave, no matter how much you want them to stay. Trust me, Jenna knows the score.”

“Man, I think you don’t know that girl half as well as you think you do. That or you’re just trying to lose her.”

“Now, why would I want to do that?”

“Hell if I know. You’re the one with the issues.”

“Issues? Kiss my ass. I don’t have issues.”

“Of course not. It’s perfectly normal for a guy to be so much of a pu**y about telling a woman how he feels, that he dicks around until he loses her.”

“Actually, that probably is perfectly normal. That shit comes with having balls.”

“Or not having balls.”

“God, you’re ornery this morning. What’s your deal?”

“You think I’m looking forward to sleeping alone just because your girlfriend thought it would be a cool experiment?”

“Hey, we still don’t know whose brainchild this was. Don’t blame my girlfriend. It was probably your fiancée. You are getting married in a couple of days after all. Maybe there’s some kind of ancient superstition that Cami read about.”

Trick raises his head again. “Why are we still talking about this?”

“Because I’ve got blue balls already, that’s why.”

Trick quirks one eyebrow. “Well, then we’ll just have to make them suffer until they come begging for this stupid thing to be over.”

My grin is slow and I can see it reflected on my best friend’s face. “Oh, hell yeah we will.”

I like the sound of this already.

CHAPTER THREE- Jenna

I can’t wait for Rusty to see what I’m wearing. I dressed specifically with torturing him in mind.

Cami and I made all kinds of salads and desserts this morning to bring to her house for the cookout slash bridal shower. It’s an unconventional event, but she wanted Trick to participate in everything with her. Therefore, the bridal shower now includes the groom, and tomorrow night’s bachelorette party will include the bachelors. Crazy as hell if you ask me. But she didn’t. She wants Trick around for all of it, and who am I to try to talk her out of it? Besides, she did let me plan the bachelorette party. That alone was worth a thousand other compromises.

There are already a dozen cars parked along the side of the road leading to Cami’s house, but someone put a saw horse on the side of the driveway where she usually parks. My guess is it was Trick, saving a spot for his fiancée. I won’t deny that it makes me a little green, what they have. I want it for myself. With Rusty. If he ever gets to that point.

And that’s a big if.

I get out and move the saw horse so Cami can pull in. We waste no time in loading up our arms and taking all the foil-wrapped dishes straight down into the back yard.

I look around as we walk, but Rusty is nowhere to be found. He and Trick must be doing some manly stuff inside. Whatever that may be. If I had to guess, I’d say it involves them pounding beer somewhere in the house.

Cami and I are setting dishes on one long, cloth-covered table when I see the patio door open and Trick emerge. I know Rusty won’t be far behind. And he’s not. He comes out next, holding a beer just like Trick. They’re both laughing at something. I turn to face him and wait for his eyes to find me.

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