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       Home, p.4

           J.W. Phillips
 

  Her heart rate went into overtime. It pounded in her chest. She had to force out the next question. “What are you planning on doing with me?”

  She almost fell off the toilet for asking. After all, that was a question she had asked herself numerous times before.

  He let out an audible breath. “I’ll pick you up at twelve tomorrow.” He paused. “Julie?”

  “Yes.”

  “I’m sorry about tonight. I can’t hurt you and live with myself.”

  Her eyes closed. He did hurt her. He chose wrong. He chose Courtney. Julie couldn’t blame him. She had always run away, while Courtney ran to him. Julie wouldn’t run anymore.

  “I’ll see you at noon,” she answered. “Good night, Truck.”

  “Bye, mon bel amour.”

  “What does that mean?”

  “It’s French for my beautiful love,” he answered before hanging up.

  She cradled the phone to her chest, still in wonder at what he had said.

  *******

  Good Morning Diary,

  I didn’t sleep at all last night.........

  Julie let her diary fall to the floor. How could she even begin to summarize her thoughts? He said he would be there at noon, and that was a good thing.

  Julie had rolled around on her bed all night. She heard Ellen in the kitchen. Dan’s snores drifted up the stairs and straight to Julie’s ears. It was a rare Saturday when both her parents were at home. Great, both of them are home and he’s coming over. She frantically slung the covers off the bed, and glanced down at a flash coming from her cellphone.

  Good night, Angel

  thinking and dreaming of you.

  It was sent at midnight the night before. Julie was giddy, almost reeling, both from the fact he was thinking of her and if he was; he probably wasn’t with Courtney.

  She almost danced to the bathroom and tugged at a towel, letting it fall off the hook and onto her waiting hands. She decided she would take time to fix her hair and make-up. She looked at all her mom’s cosmetics lining the bathroom counter. She’d rarely wore make-up, it intimidated her. She wished Tori or Tiffany were there to help her get ready, but something told her that they would be jealous about sending her off alone with Trucker. She was sure most of Promise Land would be shocked she was spending the day with him. She carefully applied the make-up and pulled her hair back, letting a few lose curls fall around her face.

  When she was finished getting ready, she stood in front of the mirror. Even with the extra time spent on her hair and make-up, her looks paled in comparison with his, and she imagined what everybody would think when they saw them together. She didn’t understand what he saw in her . . . plain little Julie Emison . . . it made absolutely no sense. But she grinned, knowing he saw something.

  In her bedroom, she glanced at the wall cloak as she fell back on the bed to wait. It was only ten o’clock. She turned on the TV trying to waste time, and flipped through the channels until she came across some silly vampire movie. She laughed at herself. How could someone even believe this crazy stuff is beyond me. Oh well, at least it was something funny to watch, as the clock slowly ticked down to noon. Her cellphone buzzed.

  *******

  I am evil!!! The embodiment of evil. Nothing I can do will ever change that fact. I took it too far last night. I almost bit her. I let myself envision my dog teeth sinking deep down into that soft flesh of hers. Evil can never find peace. So why am I even trying? I will find solace in her. At least, until she learns the truth about who I really am. I know I can’t hold that delicate hand in mine forever, but I will relish every moment I have with her. Ready to see her, Truck

  Slamming his journal shut, Trucker flicked his pen in the air. He had been up all night wanting to see her. His nerves couldn’t take sitting in that apartment another minute. He slapped his leg that involuntarily jerked as he waited to leave. He grabbed his journal, walked right past his father, never acknowledging him, and left. He was headed to see his angel.

  He slowly drove through town. Glancing at the dashboard, he noticed the time. He had left way too early. It was only ten, but he had to see her. He roughly scraped his hand down his thigh, trying to relieve the itch on his palm that only holding her hand could do. He had stayed up thinking about what she did to him and how he wanted those feelings to continue. Slipping his phone out of his shirt pocket, he glanced at the clock one more time. He gave up fighting it. He had to see her. As bad as he wanted to hear her voice, he was afraid he might wake her so he sent a text instead.

  Hello Beautiful

  Miss you

  He became increasingly worried as the minutes passed without a word. He dropped the phone when he finally heard the familiar ping, signally a new text.

  Hey to you,

  Missing you too.

  She misses me. If she only knew what she did to me? Just the thought of her put a smile on his ever serious and hard face. His fingers moved at lightning speed. He needed to be with her.

  Are you ready?

  I’m ready to see you :)

  Yeah

  Hurry over :)

  See ya in 10

  XOXO

  Chapter 4

  Julie held the cellphone in her lap and scrolled through the text. She found herself in a predicament she wasn’t ready for . . . informing her parents about him. She knew Ellen would be cool with it; who was more like a friend than a parental unit. Dan, on the other hand, wasn’t so excited about his little girl growing up and finding a him. Dan, however, worked for Trucker’s father and told her to be nice, but Julie doubted he meant that nice. She settled on sending a text, telling her mom she needed to talk. After all with the snoring going on, Dan was probably still fast asleep.

  Hey mom,

  come here, we need to talk

  The soft patter of Ellen’s feet made their way up the stairs. Well, it’s now or never. Mom, please don’t freak. Julie let out a deep breath.

  “What sweetie?” Ellen said as she rounded the corner into Julie’s room. “Julie Emison, well, I’ve never. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you this made up.”

  Julie patted the side of the bed. Ellen climbed into bed and pulled the covers over the two of them.

  “Mom, you know daddy said his boss has a son my age?” Julie asked and started chewing on her lip.

  “Yeah, he’s a sweetheart. I met him the other day,” Ellen answered.

  Julie started biting her fingernails instead of her lips, signaling her over active nervous system.

  “Why didn’t you tell me?” Julie blurted out. She hid her face behind her hair. Ellen absent-mindedly gathered Julie’s long hair together, twisting it around and around her hand, before letting it cascade down her back. Ellen had always played with Julie’s hair, and Julie found great pleasure in that simple gesture.

  “I hadn’t thought about it. He was at the office the other day when I went to have lunch with your dad. Your dad is crazy about him. Seems Trucker helps him out some.” Ellen’s eye got big. “Why, Julie? Does this boy have anything to do with the new found fascination with make-up?”

  Julie gave Ellen an over exaggerated eye roll. “Yes,” Julie said before being cut short by the doorbell. “That should be him.”

  She threw the covers off of them and raced to the door, praying that her dad didn’t wake up.

  *******

  Standing on her doorstep, Trucker reached for the doorbell. He had never known uncertainty in his life until her. He heard Dan ruffling the sheets and assumed he was still asleep. But what caught his attention the most was Julie. She was talking to her mom. He listened intently to see if she gave anything away. He didn’t know how she would feel about the fact he had already met her parents. Hell, Dan and he had spent many hours together. Trucker did it to keep Dan safe. It was an added benefit that he got to hear all about Julie, but the true reason was to make sure Dan stayed ignorant about what was truly going on around him.

  Trucker leaned on the doorframe and accidenta
lly hit the doorbell. “Crap,” he whispered to himself. He had never been clumsy in his life, but she had knocked him totally off-kilter.

  Slinging the door open, she took his breath away. She was yanking at her clothes with one hand and fussing with a strand of her hair with the other one. She flashed him a bashful little grin that rendered him useless. The new feelings she gave him were surging. He had to get himself together, so he didn’t scare her off. With a tilt of his head, he gave her his uneven dazzling smile.

  “Hey, Angel, do I get to come in or you going to keep running from me?” He tried to tease, knowing his nerves couldn’t handle hearing no.

  “I’m not running from you anymore.”

  “I don’t know, you, little lady, are good at running. Are you going to ask me in?”

  “Why don’t you come in?” Julie asked.

  “You really should be careful who you invite into your home,” he warned as he stepped into the house.

  “Why? Are you going to hurt me?” she asked. Her teeth sunk down onto her lip.

  “Never, but some people are not as trustworthy.” He glared down at her with a serious glint in his eyes. “When sin knocks, just don’t answer.” He gripped both of her hands in his. It amazed him how one small touch from her could set his skin on fire.

  “I’ll try to remember that.”

  The blood raced to her cheeks. He held up his hands to touch her face but stopped himself.

  “Why didn’t you tell me you knew my dad?”

  “You never talk to me long enough to tell you anything.” He peeked over her head and saw Ellen entering the room. Trucker had already used his charm on her, so she wasn’t a problem; he wished he could be so sure of her daughter.

  “I made your bed, sweetie.” Ellen said and stalled.

  “Hey, Ms. Ellen,” Trucker said and flashed his Trucker Castleman’s patented, perfect smile. Julie flipped around in time to catch Ellen’s lower jaw practically hit the ground.

  “Hey, Trucker,” Ellen stuttered and shifted her eyes toward the floor.

  That’s right, Ellen, I’ll always have the upper hand and now I have your precious daughter.

  Trucker took in the surroundings. Julie’s home was small and modest, but immaculate. Ellen, he presumed, took pride in the place. Over the small fireplace, tucked tight into the corner of the minuscule sized living room, was a row of pictures. The first one being a picture of Julie in the hospital, taken shortly after she was born, followed by a procession of pictures documenting each stage of her life. He ran his fingers over the mantle and picked up a baby picture of Julie. My sweet angel, you deserve more than this. I’ll take care of you. As much as he wanted to find her home displeasing, it was impossible to be in that house and not feel the love. She had the one thing he had never experienced, a house full of people that cared. He fluidly fell back into Dan’s recliner and motioned for Ellen to take a seat. Julie grimaced and shot him a dirty look; he returned it with a wink.

  “So, what do you and my little girl have planned for the day?” Ellen asked, still unable to look at him.

  “We’re going to the movies with Tiffany and Tori later,” Julie chimed in. Trucker coughed and let out a small laugh.

  “Anything your little girl wants,” Trucker added.

  “Enough with the small talk.” Julie hopped up and started walking up the stairs. Trucker followed and touched the tip of her hair. She twisted her head sideways and smiled.

  At the top of the stairs there was a small landing causing Trucker to cringe. It was dark and too close to her room; too convenient a place to hide. What is she doing to me? The cold sweats hit at the thought of somebody hurting a curl on her head and sent him into a panic. He snaked his arm around her waist and pulled her against him.

  “Julie, you should run. I’m no good.”

  He wanted her to know what he was. He hoped she’d run for her own good, but losing her would destroy him. He pressed his lips against her temple and held his lips there breathing her in.

  “I promise you, I can’t run anymore.”

  “I can’t lose you, angel.”

  “You won’t,” she murmured and turned to him.

  Their faces were a fingerbreadth apart. He froze. The great and powerful subdue by the meek and mild. Julie reached for him for the first time and brushed his hair off his forehead. His eyes closed briefly. The touch of the sacrificial lamb. His skin had the sensation of being clamped by hot ambers. He smiled and leaned into her touch. It was a price he was willing to pay to be with her. Julie peeked up at him under ridiculously long lashes, and he knew she was the one for him.

  “I’m scared, Trucker.” Her lip trembled as she spoke those words. He traced one finger down her face.

  “There’s no need to be scared, Angel. I won’t do anything you don’t beg me to do to you.”

  “I’m still scared,” she whispered. The way she spoke and the look in her eyes told him that she knew he was dangerous.

  “I know you are,” he told her as he raised her hand and kissed each knuckle. “I’m not good for you. You should run as far and fast as you can.” He took a deep breath. “I’ve never wanted anything more than I want you. Please don’t.” He wiggled his fingers through her curls. Gripping her scalp, he tilted her head till she was forced to look at him. “I won’t hurt you. I only want to take care of you.” He slowly released his grip on her, and she simply nodded her head. Her stare cut him to the core. No one had ever fazed him, till her. She pierced his soul.

  “I don’t know how to be an ‘us’,” she stated near tears.

  “I don’t either.” He grabbed hold of both of her hands. His grip was tight, but he traced her palm with all the intense emotions flowing through him.

  “You’ve dated tons of girls.”

  “Dated yes, but I’m hoping we’ll be more.” He wanted to smile, but he felt like he was throwing his soul out on the ground for her to stomp on.

  “More,” she reverberated as if it caused her pain. He gently and steadily nodded his head.

  “More,” he forcibly whispered, knowing what more with him could cause.

  Julie placed her hand on his chest. He looked down at her in awe that she was so freely touching him. More than anything it amazed him, no matter how much it hurt; he liked her touch.

  “Trucker, wait. I promise not to break your heart, if you promise not to break mine.”

  Left without words, he pulled her into his body and wrapped his hand around her head, working his fingers through her curls. She had no idea how impossible that statement was on both accounts. He could never bring himself to ever hurt her, and he had no heart to break.

  Holding hands, she pulled him into her room. It was a poorly remolded attic space. Paneling had been hammered to the wall and painted off-white. She had a queen size mattress lying on the floor with a small bedside table next to it. The bed was perfectly made, with a homemade quilt and had a line of pillows, a few flimsily made, propped against the back wall. Across from the bed was a dresser and television. The north and south side of the room held a row of windows. He tossed up the end of hideous blue curtains.

  “Do you like them?” Julie asked.

  “Not really,” he snapped.

  “I made them.” She informed him.

  He turned around. Julie had her arms wrapped around her and looked near tears.

  “You sew?”

  Julie nodded. “I use to all the time with my granny.”

  She had taken pride in her room. He could see the homey touches she had scattered about. Oh, my sweet angel, I did it again. I hurt you.

  “I don’t like them. I love them. Maybe you can make some for my room,” he lied. The look she gave him didn’t convince him she believed him. He hugged her. No, she didn’t belong in his world, but he really didn’t belong in hers either. However, her world was the only place he wanted to be. “Come on, my beautiful.” Trucker motioned with his head to the door.

  *******

  Trucker stroll
ed gracefully to the car with his hand lightly placed at the small of Julie’s back. He hummed a peppy tune, causing the whole day to hit home. He’s really here for me, and he likes it. He opened the passenger door, holding it for her.

  “Nice ride,” she commented as she slipped inside the car.

  “You’re nicer,” he whispered.

  He fingered her hair and breathed a statement too low for her ears to comprehend as he softly shut the door. Julie ran a finger over the slick dashboard, touching the screen that displayed an impressive GPS and sound system, and watched him walk with ease around the front of the car. She closed her eyes as the fear enveloped her. How many times had she awoken in the middle of the night dripping with sweat after dreaming about him? How many times had the thought of his eyes kept her up all together? Now she was here, in his car, going who knows where with him.

  When he glided onto his seat, the aroma that was only his startled her. The faint smell flooded her nostrils. It was manly and musky. It was the most addictive drug, and she couldn’t stop breathing it in. He glanced at her, raised one eyebrow, and gave her an unbelievable radiant smile.

  “What’s wrong, Angel?” He reached over and squeezed her knee.

  The uniqueness of his aroma plus the heat pouring off his body was an instant comfort. The calmness in the pit of her stomach let her know that was where she belonged.

  “Nothing’s wrong.” She smiled. “Just admiring your car.”

  “Glad you like it,” he answered, coy.

  She rubbed her fingers along the dash again and turned the knobs on the radio.

 
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