Dazed Page 17

Once we\ e both na**d, his mouth finds my slick flesh and he proceeds to do just that. We spend the night making love. And with our rhythm never faltering . . . we find our own perfect harmony.

Epilogue

Where the Story Ends

’’Let\s keep this game moving!’’ River yells to Jagger.

’’I\m trying, brother, but you have to stop passing the f**king ball to Dahlia. She\s not on our team.’’ Jagger bends with his hands on his knees and pauses to regain his breath. I grin at his adoption of my uncle\s terminology and when he notices my stare he shoots me a wink.

It\s a beautiful breezy Sunday morning at Pan Pacific Park in LA. Concrete pathways stretch all around us like gray ribbons that can only lead to more exciting places to explore. Tying my shoelace, I glance around a playground with children shouting and running, trees that go on forever, providing miles of shade in case the sun gets too hot, flowers blooming with their heady scent filling the air. As I stand, I breathe in deeply, enjoying the beauty that surrounds me on this glorious spring day and try not to laugh at myself about the situation I have agreed to.

When Jagger promised to take me to a basketball game, what he didn\ tell me was that it wouldn\ be indoors and that I\d be playing in it. I knew River and Dahlia came to the park every now and then to shoot hoops. They had planned on it today, but almost canceled because Dahlia woke up not feeling well again. I\m not worried about her morning sickness passes quickly.

Jagger was beyond excited when River called back and said the game was on, that Dahlia was feeling better. He looked over at me and said, ’’It\s time to introduce you to a game I grew up with.’’

He had moved in with me instead of getting his own place, since he stayed at my house all the time anyway, it made sense. He also got the lead role in the movie No Led Zeppelin. Unfortunately, Jules landed the female lead. Jagger wanted to turn the role down when he learned who was playing Victoria, but I insisted he take it. I\m mature enough to know I can handle the fact that what I see is fiction, not reality or at least I hope I\m mature enough to not slip an ’’eat me’’ cake or ’’drink me’’ poison into her dressing room.

A tall woman with long dark hair singles me out and pulls my mind back into the game. ’’Do you have next?’’

I shrug my shoulders, having no idea what she\s talking about.

Dahlia calls out. ’’Yeah.’’ Then she draws a circle around the five of us standing near what I now know is called the foul line. ’’We all do.’’

’’No problem,’’ she says, and I sense a bit of rejection as she walks away.

River and Dahlia are both captains so they are on opposite teams. Dahlia selected her players first and she stupidly picked me. River snatched up Jagger immediately. The two of them are so competitive it makes me laugh. I don\ know any of the other people here and I don\ think River and Dahlia do, either, but they\ e all here for a friendly co-ed game of what I now know as pickup basketball.

Jagger ran through the basics on our way here. I got the gist of it, but instead of watching the ball, I\ve been gawking at him. Right now as he strips his faded black hoody off and cocks his baseball hat to the side, he couldn\ look more disheveled. And with his black track pants hanging low and his thin white T-shirt rumpling in the wind, I couldn\ be more turned on.

’’Watch out, man,’’ Jagger calls when a guy with multiple tattoos runs into me.

I have no idea what I\m doing on the court. I\ve been watching Dahlia, who has this thing down. She was guarding some girl who must be at least six foot tall and called out something about the 3-point line and other words I didn\ know, when I run into my teammate and we both fall to the ground.

’’Hey, man, lace\em up or get off the blacktop,’’ Jagger mutters, pointing at the guy\s sneakers. He lends a hand and hoists me to my feet. My cute black sweatsuit isn\ any worse for the wear and I brush my hands against the soft velour of the pants.

’’You okay?’’ he asks while shooting a dirty look at the guy who has apologized to me twice already.

’’I\m fine.’’ I giggle. ’’This is actually fun.’’

Then he looks at the guy next to me and extends his hand, giving him a hoist up all\s good.

Jagger twists back toward me and his gray eyes swirl as they zero in on me. ’’I knew I\d get you to like basketball.’’

Popping up on my toes, I kiss him softly. ’’You were right.’’

’’You didn\ just seriously stop play for that,’’ River yells.

’’Je t\aime,’’ Jagger whispers in my ear. He shrugs at River and kisses me one last time before sprinting toward the goal line.

I love you, too, I think to myself. And as he steals the ball from River and dribbles down the court, I watch him in the same dazed state I\ve been in since the first time I laid eyes on him and think . . . if Alice hadn\ been curious she\d have never fallen, so I\ll lean forward every time because I know he\s the one who will be there to catch me.


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