Dazed Page 14

His accent is completely gone. He has the part down. He even says ’’f*k’’ the way I told him my uncle used to say it. I remember my uncle saying it so clearly. It always sounded more like fck, than f*k. My parents never swore and my uncle stayed on his best behavior around them. But he\d slip every now and then around me. I never swore I went to an all-girls school where the nuns would have crucified us if we said ’’heck.’’ I still don\ .

’’Considering the baggage between them, I have to say their chemistry is amazing.’’

My head snaps toward Kay. ’’What do you mean \aggage\?’’

’’They dated for almost two years and then one day he just broke up with her and moved away.’’

My heart seems to fail, my breathing stalls, and my mind wanders. I can\ see Jagger\s expression, but I really wish I could. Between the lines being recited and the thought of him with another woman the gorgeous girl who has turned out to be his old girlfriend everything around me fades away. Flashes of that morning in the rain come to mind. He saw her and never told me anything about it. He spoke to her. What else has he been doing with her? Red creeps up my face and spreads like fire through my body.

Jules as Madeline: I love you. Don\ say that.

Jagger as Ian: Madeline, I love you. You know that, but this is over.

His first words ring in my ears. The same three words he said to me yesterday, and it doesn\ seem like he\s acting. Oh my God, I really am the rebound girl.

’’I wonder if she\ll pull a Carey Mulligan.’’

All I can do is stare at her. The lump in my throat grows larger as I try to hold back my tears.

’’Carey Mulligan as Daisy. They say she got that coveted role in The Great Gatsby because during her audition she just up and kissed Leonardo.’’

My hand flies to my mouth. ’’Oh God.’’ My voice comes out almost unrecognizable to myself.

’’Aerie, what\s the matter? I thought you\d be excited to see your uncle\s movie in the works. Who knows, those two,’’ she points to the table where raspberry jacket and blue vest are turned to us, ’’just might be the stars of No Led Zeppelin.’’

’’You know what, we should get back. Lunch is long over and we have work to do,’’ I say in a no-nonsense tone.

’’I just want to see if they kiss.’’

I can\ watch anymore. I don\ want to listen. I\m not even able to breathe. This morning\s revelations have been too much for me. I just found out that my uncle had a secret relationship that is being sensationalized for a movie, and now I find out Jagger and his ex-girlfriend are auditioning for those parts. ’’I\ll wait outside. I\m not sure we should be in here.’’

Opening the door to the beautiful blue sky, I can finally breathe normally. Avon Street, the water tower, all the familiar landmarks are here, but I suddenly feel so incredibly lost. Sitting on the curb, I put my head between my legs and can\ stop the memory from pushing itself forward.

I was sixteen. Levi James was seventeen. I\d spent every summer with him for as long as I could remember he lived next door to my uncle. His father was the co-host for Entertainment Today and was never home. His mother came from old money;she kept her maiden name, and occupied herself with charity work. We all spent a lot of time together. But the summer before, Levi had a girlfriend, and I didn\ care for her so I avoided him.

That last summer I was there, he had just broken up with her and I saw him in a way I never had. He seemed taller, more filled out. And when we spent time together, we both flirted, we gawked at each other seeing him both thrilled me and terrified me.

He asked me to a concert, just the two of us. It was nothing unusual;we\d done things together many times. But this time he wanted to pick me up it was a real date. My parents would have forbidden it, but Uncle Ian always said yes to anything I asked.

Levi and I shared a passion for music and that brought us closer. His band had just cut their first demo. That night he let me listen to it. He even gave me a copy of it before he leaned in to kiss me. He was my first kiss and I was on top of the world.

The next day Levi asked if I\d listened to his CD again. I told him I had. I told him I\d even let my uncle listen. He liked that. I told him my uncle was impressed. He liked that, too. Over the next week, we\d sneak out and our kissing turned into full-blown make out sessions. I even let him put his hands on my br**sts and eventually inside my bathing suit top. Before I knew it, his hands wandered inside my pants. He would whisper words to me I hadn\ ever heard or used make me horny, hot pussy, suckable tits. I have to admit I liked it.

Then one night his parents were out and we skipped the movie we told my uncle we were going to. I hadn\ touched him ever, but that night he begged me to. I didn\ know how and I didn\ want to tell him that. We were on his couch watching MTV and our cuddling had turned into him groping me. For the first time, I let him take my clothes off. When he pressed my hand against the hardness sticking out of his shorts, it scared me. But then he guided my hand the way he wanted me to move it and my fears eased. When he told me how good it felt, I kept doing it.

Then he took his jeans off. It was dark and I couldn\ see him. We were both na**d under a blanket and his fingers entered me. I wasn\ sure I liked it. He moved them and I wasn\ sure what to do. He was breathing hard and telling me how much he loved me. And when he asked me if I loved him, I nodded. I guessed I did. Then he asked me if I trusted him. I said I did. Before I knew it he was supporting himself with his left arm, kissing me softly, and his right hand was down at my pu**y with his c**k in it. He guided himself in without asking, but I\d have let him if he had. I liked the sounds he was making and knew my virginity would have to be taken eventually anyway. His thrusts felt awkward. The whole thing hurt and was uncomfortable. But I lay there and let him move in and out of me for what seemed like forever. He didn\ say a word. I wished he would reassure me. He didn\ wear a condom and I wasn\ on birth control thank God I didn\ get pregnant.

He shoved the blanket off and moved faster. My br**sts lay bare and I wanted to cover them. Then he made a noise I\d never heard him make and warmth spread everywhere. He lightly pecked my neck and stood up, leaving his sperm on me. I was disgusted.

I never told him he was my first, but he had to have known. When he pulled his pants back on, he handed me my clothes. ’’You better get dressed in case my parents come home early.’’

For the next month, I let him do that same thing at least a dozen more times. Each time it was the same. I didn\ care that I didn\ feel anything. It didn\ hurt anymore and he really liked it. By then, Levi had a few paying gigs in LA and he was so happy. And that made me happy.

Time flew by and before I knew it, it was the night before I was scheduled to leave. We had said our goodbyes the day before knowing he wouldn\ be home until late. He was playing a gig somewhere. But I wanted to see him one last time, so I stayed up all night waiting for him. When the light finally went on in his room, I knew his parents would be asleep. His room was on the top floor, so I took the deck stairs and entered through the balcony door that he never locked. I had visions of a passionate goodbye, tears, and vows of love, but what I got was an image that I\ve never been able to forget another girl sitting on his lap, facing away from him, both of them na**d, his hands on her breasts, her knees bent sliding up and down over his cock. As if the picture wasn\ enough to break my heart, his words only hit me deeper. ’’That\s it. Don\ stop. I love it when you move like that. F*k, I\m coming.’’

She was the girl from the summer before his ex-girlfriend and just as his words were being said like a prayer, she looked toward the door where I stood motionless, watching the whole thing.

’’What the f*k?’’ she screamed when she saw me staring at them. I\d never felt more stupid, more naïve than I did in that moment. The pleasure that radiated from his face instantly turned when he saw me. I ran as fast as I could, but he caught up with me on the beach. His pants were partially zipped and he wore nothing else.

’’Aerie, let me explain!’’

I blinked at him, unable to speak.

’’She\s in the band. We\ve been spending a lot of time together and it just happened. I didn\ mean it to. I love you.’’

I stared at him. I wanted to say it was okay. I wanted to tell him it didn\ matter because I loved him, but I couldn\ . Something happened to me in that moment. Something shielded me from the pain that threatened to tear me apart. Whatever it was, it formed a nice hard shell around my heart so that it could never be broken again.

’’Are you sick?’’ Kay asks, bringing me back to reality.

I shield my hand from the sun as I glance up at her. ’’You know I\m not sure. I really think I just need to go home.’’

She frowns. ’’Of course. Let\s go. They didn\ kiss anyway.’’

We\ e both quiet on the drive back to work. I close my eyes and lean against the cool window and try not to think. Before I know it, we\ e at the office. I step inside to tell Shelly I\m taking the rest of the day off, but stop to approve photos for next month\s issue.

By the time I get in my car, I\m completely worn out. I drive home and try not to think about how I let the same thing happen to me all over again. My last conversation with Levi comes to mind and I can\ stop my tears from spilling.

’’Hey, honey, talk to me. I love you,’’ he said. He\d never called me honey and I knew he didn\ love me.

I backed away with my hands out. My spine straightened and I bite out ugly words that weren\ me. ’’I just wanted to say goodbye. Thanks for the fun, but my boyfriend is waiting for me back home.’’ I didn\ have a boyfriend, but he didn\ know that because he\d never asked.

’’Cold. But, yeah, it was fun,’’ he called as he turned and headed back to his house. But not before his final words stung me like venom. ’’Hey,’’ he said. ’’Thanks for hooking me up with your uncle, my parents forbade me to talk to him. They said it would seem like I was using him. But they never said I couldn\ use you.’’

His words rang in my ears as I ran as fast I could down the beach. I ran for miles, until I hated the sand beneath my feet. I collapsed and when I finally stood up, sand clung to every pore of my body. I hated the beach. I hated Levi. I even hated my uncle. I left that summer with nothing but hatred in my heart.

God, I thought I was harder now, more mistrusting than that naïve girl I\d worked on developing those qualities. But somehow Jagger had broken down my defenses within minutes of our first meeting. Was I still so naïve? He fed me a line about not falling in, and that was just what I had done fallen hard, fallen fast. How had I let that happen? I was a woman in control I am Aerie Daniels of Sound Music Magazine, not Alice in f**king Wonderland, for God\s sake.

Chapter 9

Dark Side

The birds sing all around me while the sunlight filters through the large trees that surround my stone patio. As I rock in my comfortable padded chair, I sip my tea and stare at the wooded hills that lead to trails I have only walked with him. I\ve done so many things with Jagger I\d never done before.

I\m trying to ignore the tears leaking from my eyes as I move back and forth. My insatiable appetite for Jagger Kennedy has blurred my judgment, but not any longer. I can\ go on like this. I\m sure he\ll be here shortly, and once he arrives, I\ll be mature and break things off in a respectable way. I want to seem unbreakable, like the girl I\ve been so many times who broke up with her boyfriend because he just wasn\ right for her. But this time I\m anything but my heart has already been shredded into a million tiny pieces.

’’Hey, I\ve been calling you all afternoon.’’ His voice is warm, velvety, and smooth.

I take a slow, calm breath as I lean my head toward him and away from the sun. ’’Can you sit down?’’

He\s standing in the doorway. ’’What\s wrong?

’’We need to talk.’’ I can\ believe how calm I\m being.

’’Why haven\ you answered your phone?’’ He places his arms on either side of my chair and leans forward.

I allow this last bit of closeness. One last sniff of his delicious scent that now seems marred by her scent. ’’Jagger, please sit down.’’

He tips my chin. ’’I don\ want to sit down. I want to know what is going on.’’

I want to turn my cheek and let his fingers skim my face, but I pull away. ’’I saw the two of you together today.’’

He brings my gaze back to his. ’’Who are you talking about?’’

’’Jules. I saw you and Jules.’’ Her name burns my throat.

’’That\s why I was calling you, to tell you Brett had called me at the last minute. Wait, how did you know I was there?’’ Panic flashes across his face, I see it clear as day.

I straighten my stance. My heart feels like it\s trying to break out of my chest. ’’Jagger, let\s not drag this out. You got what you wanted. You were amazing today. I\m sure you\ll get the role.’’

He finally sits down. Stunned into silence, he just stares at me. ’’What are you talking about?’’

I gesture between us. ’’You and I, this farce you\ve been playing all the while seeing her.’’

’’Aerie,’’ he says tightly. ’’What the hell is going on? How can you think that?’’

I breathe in a breath that I don\ want to let out. Finally, releasing it, I spill it all. ’’I saw you with her weeks ago when you drove me to work. Then you disappeared that day. Now I see the two of you auditioning for lead romantic roles opposite each other. Did I leave anything out? Oh, yeah, Kay claims you just up and left Jules without any reason. Did she really even cheat on you?’’

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