Tamed, p.9
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       Tamed, p.9
 

         Part #3 of Tangled series by Emma Chase
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  “Those girl penguins are some pretty smart cookies,” Delores comments. And Mackenzie nods vigorously.

  Next we move on to the monkeys. I’m not sure of their breed, but they’re small, white little puff balls that can only seem to sit still if they’re trying to mount each other. Delores snorts and Mackenzie says, “They wrestle a lot.”

  I chuckle. And talk low in Dee’s ear. “These horny little guys are giving me ideas. We should go before I embarrass myself.”

  Mackenzie—because she obviously has dog hearing—asks, “Uncle Matthew, whas ‘horny’ mean?”

  I’m quick with the save. “Excited.”

  She nods . . . and files it away in her adorable, unpredictable mind.

  The three of us climb out of the cab back at Alexandra and Steven’s. I hold Mackenzie on my shoulder—she’s half asleep. Dee carries Mackenzie’s balloon and her bag and about a dozen small gift shop items I couldn’t not buy her. Alexandra lets us in, and Mackenzie perks up, trying to rub the weariness from her eyes. I set her on her feet, and she hugs us both, thanking us without being told.

  Alexandra tells her, “There’s a package on your bed—it came while you were out. I think it’s the Elizabeth American Girl doll Grandma bought for your birthday, the one that was back-ordered.”

  Mackenzie’s mouth forms a precious O, and she practically vibrates with excitement. “I been waiting for dat! I’m sooo horny!”

  Then she scampers out of the foyer to her room.

  Alexandra turns stormy eyes on Dee and me. “Care to explain that?”

  I rub the back of my neck . . . and then completely throw Steven under the bus. “You should really talk to your husband. He needs to watch his language around Mackenzie.”

  I’ll make it up to him, I swear.

  Dee joins in. “Yeah. Kids are like sponges. They just suck up everything around them.”

  From the look on Lexi’s face, she’s not buying it.

  “We should go,” Delores tells me.

  “Yes, we should.” I yawn. “The amphibians really wore me out. Bye, Lexi.”

  “Bye, Alexandra,” Dee says.

  Then we run.

  Chapter 11

  That night, I blow off clubbing with the guys. Dee and I order Chinese takeout and spend the evening fantastically fucking in every room of my apartment.

  I’ll never look at my pool table the same way again.

  We pass out in my bed, and I sleep the sleep of the exhausted damned . . . until the rustling of clothing and footsteps wakes me up in the middle of the night. I crack my eyes open to find Dee not next to me in the bed but bustling around the room, searching for her clothes and pulling them on hurriedly when she finds them.

  “Dee? Are you all right?”

  Her voice is wide awake and tense. “Yeah, I’m fine. Go back to sleep, Matthew.”

  Bleary-eyed, I glance at the clock: 3 a.m. “What are you doin’?”

  “I’m going home.”

  I force myself to sit up, shaking the fog from my head. “Why?”

  “Because that’s where I live, remember?”

  I don’t know what bug crawled up her ass while I was sleeping, but I’m really too tired to argue with her. I throw the blankets off. “Okay. Jus’ give me a minute and I’ll drive you.”

  Her eyes scan the floor, spotting her purse in the corner. “Don’t bother. I’ll take a cab.”

  Sensing my time is short, I pull on a pair of sweatpants and grab a T-shirt that landed on the nightstand after it was ripped off of me earlier. “Then I’ll take the cab ride with you.”

  Delores stops and pins me with a sharp frown. “It may come as a shock, but I am capable of getting myself home, thank you very much.”

  “It’s three o’clock in the goddamn morning, Delores.”

  She shrugs. “It’s not like you live in a bad neighborhood.”

  “It’s Manhattan—any neighborhood could be a bad neighborhood.”

  She doesn’t respond. And she doesn’t wait for me. I clutch my sneakers in my hand and barely remember to take my keys as I jog to keep up with her. Wide awake now, I slip into my shoes on the elevator.

  “So, are you pissed off at me about something specific, or is this a more general ‘all men suck’ kind of thing?”

  She folds her arms. “I’m not pissed off.”

  Translation? You’re an asshole, but you have to figure out why on your own, ’cause I’m not telling.

  We walk out of the lobby. I wave the doorman off and hail a cab myself. The ride to Dee’s place is strained and silent. I sneak sideways glances at her—because the quickest way to get your throat ripped out is staring a skittish dog in the eye.

  She sits stiffly—not exactly angry looking, but anxious—like a cornered animal waiting for the chance to bolt. When we pull up to her building, Dee is out of the cab before the driver comes to a complete stop. I ask him to wait for me, then I hop out after her.

  As she slides her key into the locked outer door, I put my hand over hers. “Could you, please, give me a hint about what’s going on in your head right now? ’Cause I’m . . . kinda lost here, Dee.”

  She stares hard at our hands, then she faces me with a sigh. “This is just . . . you’re moving way too fast for me.”

  I lean my shoulder against her building. “If you wanted me to go slow, all you had to do was say so. Hard, easy, fast, slow—I always aim to please.”

  “Don’t be cute, Matthew.”

  Can’t help it.

  She wiggles her hands, fanning herself—like she’s on the edge of a panic attack. “I woke up in your bed and . . . it’s just too much. I feel like I’m suffocating. I need . . . space.”

  Space.

  Right.

  This is an exclusively female concept. For a man, distance doesn’t make the heart grow fonder, it just provides ample opportunity to find someone else he can stick his dick into. When a guy is really into a woman, he feels the same way about her as he does about Sunday football games—more is always preferable.

  Still, I see what Delores is trying to say.

  This time last week, I offered her casual, but the days that followed have been anything but. They’ve been intense. Consistently frequent. And it’s obviously freaking her the fuck out.

  When hanging out with the same person every day becomes routine, it’s difficult to remember what your life looked like before . . . or what it might look like after.

  Although I’m cool with the time Dee and I have been spending together, I don’t want to seem needy. Desperation is a reek that’s impossible to wash off once it’s been sniffed.

  “You need space—sure—I get it.”

  She opens the door and steps inside. And she turns back to me and smiles insincerely. “I’ll . . . call you.”

  I nod.

  Then she slams the door in my face.

  She doesn’t call.

  Not the next day. Or Monday. Or even on the most-holy third day. I haven’t been checking my phone every five minutes or anything . . . but I’ll admit, the sucker’s been fully charged.

  Delores blew me off. Just . . . fucking wow.

  Yes, I’ve ditched girls in the past—nice girls who didn’t hold my interest. Yes, this is the first time I’ve been on the receiving end of a blow-off.

  And no—it doesn’t feel good.

  I should forget about her. There are plenty of alternates waiting to step up to bat. I should move onward and upward. Downward is always fun too.

  I should . . . but I don’t want to. It’s not just that she’s beautiful, wild, and her tits are the stuff wet dreams are made of. More than all of that—Dee’s interesting. Fascinating. Different than any other girl I’ve dated before. The way her mind works, how she teases, challenges me—I could spend day after day just talking to Delores and never get bored.

  She makes me think, she makes me laugh . . . she makes me hard.

  And just like a baseball scout can look at a Little Leaguer and see an MVP
in the making, I know Dee and I could be great together. Legendary. I feel the potential every time I’m close to her. That’s what keeps my thoughts—and my fantasies—coming back to her. Because with a little time and some extra effort, we’ll both be reaping some sweet rewards.

  By Tuesday night, I take the bull by the horns—or in this case, the bitch by the ears.

  I skip the gym and stake out Delores’s apartment building, hell-bent on catching her on her way home from work.

  She’s walking down the block now, briskly striding in shiny, open-toed heels, a flowy white blouse that billows with every swing of her arms, and a green, snakeskin skirt. I trot down to her. Her chin rises determinedly when she sees me, not missing a step.

  “Hey, stranger.”

  “Hi, Matthew.”

  I walk beside her. “How have you been?”

  “Busy.”

  “Too busy to pick up the phone, huh?”

  “Someone call an exorcist—you’ve been possessed by my mother.”

  I grasp her elbow, bringing her to a stop. At first she’s annoyed, but when her eyes meet mine, I feel it. Electricity. Excitement. Her eyes dance over my face, drinking in every detail. And my own relief at seeing her again—after days of settling for paltry memories—is mirrored in her gaze.

  “I’m not him, Dee.”

  “Who?”

  “Whatever jerk-off made you so ready to run—scared of relationships. Of letting yourself actually fucking feel something . . . want someone . . . the way I know you want me.”

  She crosses her arms and cocks her hip. “You must not fly very often—the airline’s baggage weight limit is forty pounds. Your enormous head must weigh at least a hundred.”

  Depends on which head she’s referring to.

  I smile. “Very funny.”

  She turns away, watching the passing cars. And when she speaks her voice is somber. A mixture of sadness and fear. “It wasn’t a ‘who,’ Matthew . . . it was a them. I’ve been here before. There’s no point in sitting through the drama when you already know the ending.”

  I cup her jaw, brushing the warm, petal softness of her cheek with my thumb. “But I’m not like them.”

  “That’s what they all say, and I let myself believe them. But eventually, the truth comes out, and the guy I cared about—the guy I thought I knew—turns out to be a loser, or a gambler, or married, or just a plain old son of a bitch.”

  My chest tightens at her wounded expression. At her hurt. And a part of me wants to hunt down every one of the idiots she referred to and smash their faces in for their stupidity.

  I lean in close, ghosting my lips along her neck. Because I want to overwhelm her so she’ll forget about her doubts and her fears and all the assholes she’s ever known. And I’ll be the only one she feels—the only one she’ll remember.

  “Come out with me tonight, Delores. One more time. Even if it’s the last.”

  She wants to say yes. It’s there in her eyes, in the way her body turns toward me and her hand naturally gravitates to my arm. But what comes out of her mouth is, “I don’t know . . .”

  I press my lips to her ear and whisper, “Give me one more night and after that, if you want, I won’t bother you again.”

  She tilts her head back and runs her fingers along my jaw. “You’re a tough guy to say no to.”

  “It’s a gift.”

  She sighs. “All right—one more night. But the clubs are going to be empty.”

  I smile and hold her hand as we start walking toward her apartment again. “We’re not going to a club.” My eyes skim her smooth, bare legs. “And, you should probably put pants on.”

  Curiosity sweeps across her face. “Where are we going?”

  I wink. “It’s a surprise.”

  If any of you out there were already wishing I’d marry your daughter? You’re gonna go nuts for this next part.

  I pull my bike into a parking spot in the almost empty lot. I nudge the kickstand with my foot and climb off. Delores rips the helmet off her head for a better look at the glowing sign.

  ROLLER-SKATING CENTER

  We’re in Newark—the decent part. Because, like drive-in movie theaters, roller rinks are quickly becoming extinct. There aren’t any left in Manhattan and only a few still in Jersey. I did some Google searching—figured, given the pictures in her apartment, this would be the kind of date that would make Dee all giggly and gushy.

  And after hot and horny, that’s the next best thing.

  As usual, I wasn’t wrong. Dee’s smile is blinding as she gets off my motorcycle. She claps her hands and hops up and down. “Oh my God, this is gonna be awesome! I haven’t been skating in . . . I can’t even remember how long!”

  It may sound pansy, but watching Delores smile is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do. Finding ways to make her smile could easily become a new hobby.

  “Do you skate?” she asks as we walk into the building.

  Growing up, roller-skating wasn’t a frequent pastime for my friends and me. But, I’m pretty sure I can hold my own.

  “Once, when I was like, nine.”

  She grips my arm. “It’s like riding a bike; you never forget.” Her eyebrows wiggle. “And I do a kick-ass shuffle.”

  I chuckle. “I’m sure you do.”

  Inside, the place smells like a mixture of rubber, floor polish, and slightly moldy rugs. After renting our skates and lacing up, we hit the rink.

  Where I proceed to fall on my ass. Hard.

  But, in a cool way, of course.

  Dee stands next to me, laughing, and offers her hand. I take it—then pull her down with me. On top of me. I cover her giggling mouth with mine, and I bite her lip in punishment. But just when things are starting to get good, a pimply faced boy in a white-and-black referee uniform skids to a stop inches from us.

  “Um . . . you can’t . . . This is a family place . . . You can’t do that here.”

  I smile. “Sorry.” Delores covers her chuckle with her hand.

  I drag myself up the wall and start again. By our second lap, I’m steadier on my feet and we cruise next to each other. There’s only a handful of other skaters on the floor—most of them look under the age of ten. “I think we’re the oldest people here,” I tell Dee.

  “No. Look at them.” She points to a Hispanic couple that doen’t look a day under eighty, holding hands, skating in perfect sync. “Aren’t they sweet? That’s how I want to be when I’m old.”

  They look . . . happy. Tired, a little worn around the edges, but totally comfortable with each other. It must be gratifying to be with someone who knows you as well as you know yourself—and at the end of the day, still wants to go roller-skating with you.

  “Being them when I’m old would be nice. Being Hugh Hefner would be better.”

  Dee throws her head back and laughs. Then she agrees with me.

  Later, Delores is taking a break, sitting down on a bench, while I get some sodas from the snack bar. As I hobble back, a kid with a slick smile and a backwards baseball cap skates up to Dee. Physically, he looks about twelve—but his attitude seems much older.

  And he sounds like Joey Tribbiani. “Hey, babe, how you doin’?”

  Dee smirks. “I’m doin’ awesome, thanks.”

  “How about you and me—next couples skate?”

  Before she can answer, I’m there handing her the soda—and answering for her. “I got next couples skate, kid. Called it.”

  His little punk eyes look me over. Then he tells Dee, “You get sick of the Angus beef over here and wanna try some veal, I’ll be over there.” He hooks his thumb toward the arcade games that line the wall, then he skates away.

  “What the hell was that?”

  Delores chuckles. “That is exactly how I picture you as a kid.”

  I shrug. “It’s close. I was less obnoxious, much more charming.”

  “Or maybe you just thought you were,” she says, then she takes a sip of soda.

  And the D
J’s voice comes out over the loudspeaker. “The next skate is couples only . . . and we’ve got a dedication.”

  I watch her reaction. Waiting.

  “ ‘All I Want Is You’ by U2 is going out to Dee from Matthew.”

  Her eyes widen, and her teeth clasp her bottom lip—with excitement and awe—because she never saw it coming.

  I stand up and hold out my hand.

  Dee shakes her head a little, then she smiles up at me. “You just made every dream of my thirteen-year-old self come true.”

  She stands and kisses me sweetly. Then she holds my hand and we move out onto the floor. And—thank Christ—I don’t fall. The lights dim so only multicolored spinning spots illuminate the rink. Bono’s voice howls out of the speakers as Dee and I smile at each other and skate. And it’s ridiculous and immature—silly and stupid.

  And more fucking perfect than I ever thought possible.

  Riding back into the city, we’re stopped at a red light. I know Delores enjoyed herself tonight, and I’m almost certain she has no problem spending the rest of it at my place.

  But . . . I want to hear her say the words.

  Women liked to be chased, want to be shown that they’re desired, needed—valued. And guys like me revel in the chasing—but only if catching is a possibility. I want Delores to admit—to acknowledge—that she’s caught. That she’s in this with me. That she wants it just as bad as I do.

  I turn in my seat so I can see her face. “Do you want to call it . . . or are you gonna stay with me?”

  My words are heavy with double meaning. And when her brows furrow with deliberation, I know she understands what I’m asking.

  “Tell me this is you,” she demands softly. “Tell me this is . . . real.”

  “This is as real as it gets, Dee.”

  She mutters to herself. “What the hell . . .” Then she holds on to me tighter. “I want to stay with you.”

  I grin—with relief and delight. Then I rev the engine and take us home.

 
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