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           J.W. Phillips
 

  “It’s beautiful.” Julie twirled around, trying to take it all in. “But, I thought it was just a place you came too,” she said, eyeing a spot of freshly cut grass under a massive weeping willow tree.

  “Silly girl, I know how to mow and use a weed eater.” He laughed. “I’m not helpless either.”

  “Oh.” She blushed.

  He stroked over her freshly scarlet colored cheeks. “You know you don’t need any make up. You’re flawless.”

  “Sure, Sure.” She laughed trying to make light of what he said, but secretly it thrilled her. He intertwined his fingers with hers and led her to sit in the clearing. They just sat there looking at each other for an immeasurable period of time, his hand caressing her cheeks and hair.

  She finally reached up to touch his face and he hummed. He leaned his head over onto her hand and closed his eyes. She traced his features with her other hand; his skin felt like silk under her fingertips.

  “That feels wonderful,” he sighed.

  “Why me?” she asked.

  He stared intently into her eyes. “I was drawn to you, I had to be next to you,” he said, seriously.

  “But why do you like me so much?” she asked, scared of the answer.

  In one swift movement, he was on his back with her draped over him. She held her head up, and gazed into the eyes that often scared her, but at that moment brought her comfort.

  “Angel, I have never seen anybody else like you.” The corner of his eyes scrunched as his face lit up with his smile. “You’re beautiful, yet you’re too humble to see it. I love how you bite your nails when you’re nervous. How you are biting your lip now. How you blush at the smallest thing. You wasted time putting on make-up this morning. Yet, you’ve never once today checked it. You’re dressed in a T-shirt and cutoff jeans. Most girls will only wear designer clothes around me. You treat me like a real person. When I look at you, you take my breath away.” He paused and started lightly rubbing her back with his powerful, strong hands. She could see he was trying to get his words formed. “I see things others can’t. You know why I also call you angel?” he asked causing her to shake her head. “You can’t see how your innocence radiates from you, but I can . . . the first day I saw you.”

  “Yes.” She could hardly speak.

  “I saw something in you and knew I wanted to be near you, with you. I had no choice.” He paused and looked deep into her eyes. “You make me feel good. You make me feel human.”

  “You are human.” She laid her head on his chest to avoid his stare and to smell him. She had never been sure of anything in her life until now. She wanted this boy desperately, and he wanted her. They lay there, him rubbing her back. He stroked her hair; the heat from his hand was relaxing. Julie needed to get up, but didn’t want to move one inch from his body.

  “I don’t want to get up,” she whispered.

  “I don’t want you to either,” he said and kissed the top of her head. “Ever.”

  Julie fiddled with a leather band on Trucker’s wrist. All the tension of the last few weeks evaporated from them. The sun started to set in the west. If they were to meet her friends as promised they needed to get up.

  “What time is it?”

  Trucker held up his other arm and twisted around an impressive gold watch. “About six thirty.”

  “Shoot, I’ve got to meet . . .” Julie said in a haste and started to sit up.

  Trucker followed her lead. Julie was on her knees wiping the dust from her jeans. He hooked his finger through her belt loop and pulled her back down to the ground.

  “Can I do something first?”

  “What?”

  “This,” he breathed as his lips parted ever so slightly. He tilted his head into hers. She put up her arm to stop him.

  “You won’t like it,” she told him.

  “Like what?” he asked as he slowly moved closer to her.

  “My kisses.” She hesitated for a second. “I’ve never kissed anyone before.” She cast her eyes down to avoid his glare.

  *******

  “You haven’t?” he asked, stunned motionless. He pushed a stray curl out of her eyes and for the first time in his life, he felt guilty. He should leave, but what would that do to him. He put his hand under her chin and slowly raised her head. He took in the beauty of her face. He never wanted anything more. Memories of kissing a hundred nameless faces flooded his mind along with all the pain he inflicted, but he truly cared about the one face that was looking back at him, his Julie. His eyes locked with hers.

  “Close your eyes, my sweet Angel.” He caressed his nose along the base of her neck. “I’m going to kiss you now,” he lightly whispered in her ear.

  Her lashes lowered as his lips stroked over hers. He heard a moan come up from somewhere deep inside of her. Looping his arm around her waist, he drew her closer to him. He moved his lips over hers with the lightest of touch. He was worshipping her mouth and could easily lose himself forever in the feel of her lips brushing over his. It was as though she touched the very essence of him. He felt her fingers as she ran them through his hair. His arms got tight around her waist and his kiss got harder. They were about to cross a line. He promised himself that there would be no regrets when it came to her. So he lightly kissed her lip, her nose, and pulled away. If he lived forever and achieved all his father’s plans, nothing would ever compare to that single moment when he first kissed the girl he truly cared about, the girl of his dreams.

  “You’re right ... I didn’t like it,” he whispered. The tears overflowed her eyes and down her cheeks. “Angel, like is not enough to describe how I feel about that kiss and you.” He kissed her cheeks to wipe the tears away. “I don’t even know if love is.”

  “Kind of like my curtains?”

  “Oh, my sweet angel, I would love to get lost in your kisses.” He pressed his forehead against hers, her eyes closed, her breathing erratic. “I would love to get lost in you forever.”

  Julie’s eyes flicked open, her gaze hypnotic as he gently kissed the tip of her nose. He didn’t mean to hurt her. He had to learn how to treat her. He had never cared who he hurt; now her tears ripped at him. “Angel, if you only knew what pleasure I want to bring to you.”

  Her eyes closed. Trucker easily saw how much those words tore at her. Her eyes popped open, her head tilted as she studied him. “Trucker, can I ask you a question?”

  “Any,” he said then stopped himself. “What question?”

  “Have you ever, you know, made love?” The heat raced to her face as she asked him. He reached for her cheek, to feel the warmth from the blood pooling in them.

  “No,” he answered.

  “You’re still . . . you know . . . you’ve never been with a girl?” She rolled her eyes at him. No matter what she believed, he hadn’t lied. There was only one girl he could ever classify in the love department and he was just lucky enough to steal a kiss from her.

  “That’s not what you ask me,” he clarified. “Yes, I’ve fucked plenty of girls, but there is a difference between love and gratification.” He picked up a tiny rock. Throwing it at the pond, he watched it skip across the water.

  “Which was that kiss?” she asked, timidly.

  “Both, but mostly love.” He ran his hand down her arm, and laced his fingers through hers. “Julie, you’re the first girl I ever cared about, I promise you that. I know you’re not ready but when you are, I promise you, I’ll been there and will make it a night you’ll never forget.” He lightly kissed the back of her hand.

  Julie’s jaw dropped onto her chest as she glanced away and turned bright red. Damn, he loved how her skin flamed. As much as that shy and innocent look turned him on, he was relieved when she hugged her middle as her stomach growled.

  “Come on, let’s eat, then we’ll meet up with whoever,” he said.

  “You tell me you fucked hundreds of girls, and you’re worried about carrying me eating. I won’t jump in bed with you so easy.”

  “I don’t expe
ct you to do anything. Yes, I’ve done things I’d hate to clutter your mind with, but Angel, you’re not some random girl. You are the one I want to take care of.”

  They walked back to his car in complete silence, Trucker’s mind going over all the horrible things in his past. Holding the car door open for her, he asked, “Was your first kiss everything you wanted it to be?”

  “More,” she answered as he slid in beside her.

  “I wish it was my first kiss too,” he confessed, staring out the windshield. Nothing he had ever experienced in his life could touch how she made him feel. She reached over to hold his hand, but he jerked away. He slammed his fist onto the steering wheel. How could he take that delicate hand in his? All he could do was hurt her.

  “You deserve better than me.” He leaned on the door and rammed his head onto the glass. Julie jumped. “I’ve done some horrible things and treated people horrendously . . . I’ve used women for my own pleasure.”

  “Are you using me now?” She trembled.

  “No. Never.” He shook his head. “I’d never use you. You’re everything to me.” He pulled her close to him and placed his lips on her forehead. He held his lips there breathing her in. “You’re so good, and I’m nothing but a dark soul,” he spoke softly against her skin.

  “Will you hurt me?” she clarified. He felt her breathing getting harder, her shoulders moved with each intake of air.

  “I can’t.” He pulled away, but bored his eyes into her. “Baby, I can’t, but my family might.”

  “Will they?” she asked, her teeth slid across her lip.

  “I don’t know.” He shrugged his shoulder. “Please don’t bite your lip.”

  “I want take any bull crap from you or your damn family.” She twisted her fingers around a string hanging from her shorts.

  “You sure as hell won’t. I would hurt anyone that tired.” His glare seared through her.

  Julie glanced up and their eyes locked. The biggest and brightest green eyes he had ever seen. It rattled him, how much affection they held for him.

  “Then I don’t care,” she whispered.

  She reached out for his hand as he reached for hers. He pulled her hand up to his mouth and grazed his lips over them.

  As quick as his car could go to ninety from nothing, so did his mood. Driving slowly through town he shifted from sulking to cheerful. He switched on the sound systems. The music of Journey filled the car.

  “That’s different,” Julie stated.

  “My music taste runs the gamut. Depends on my mood.”

  “And your mood now?”

  “Oh, Miss Emison, wouldn’t you like to know?” he said with a wink.

  His lips curled up and a dimple appeared. She went to stroke the side of his cheek with her pinky. Twisting around, he caught her finger with his mouth and after a quick and playful nip, he planted a kiss on its tip. Shaking her finger, she took in a gulp of air. He had never wanted anything as much as he wanted her. He wanted to open her eyes up to a new world, but was she ready for his?

  “Julie, come here, baby,” he said softly. He needed to feel her close to him. She turned, nudged her nose against his, and kissed him softly on the cheek.

  “Do you really want to go?” she asked.

  “With you?”

  “Not with just me, but with Tiffany and Tori too?”

  “Do you want me to go?”

  “Yes,” she whispered.

  “Then it doesn’t matter what I want.”

  Julie giggled. He smiled. He had seen her laugh a million times with her friends, but it was the first time she’d laughed for him.

  “That’s a beautiful sound.”

  “What?” she asked

  “Your laughter.”

  Trucker glanced at Julie. His mouth twitched slightly, showing a faint trace of a dimple. Julie reached over and stroked around it. He flinched. Not anticipating her touch, the jolt of pain was too much.

  “Are you okay?” she asked. She looked hurt for a whole second before the redness crept back across her cheeks.

  He shuddered and counted to ten to compose himself. “Yeah, you just shocked me.”

  He hated putting that look on her face. But what was he to say? The touch of a human stings especially yours.

  Trucker heard a faint rumble come from Julie’s stomach. “Looks like I need to feed you,” he said, happily.

  Anything to get her mind on something other than his reaction to her touch. By the way her eyes held that quizzical look, Trucker was sure she was going through a list of possibilities in her head at what would make a grown man jump in pain at a simple swipe of her hand.

  `“I’m hungry, but I have to meet up with Tori and Tiff.” Julie started chewing on her nails and stared out the windshield.

  “Call them and I’ll take you all three out to my favorite restaurant.”

  *******

  Julie let her teeth glide over her lip when Trucker reached over and ran a finger down her cheek to her chin. “Do you have any idea how much I want you. How much I think about you. How much I dream of you.” He paused and flicked his thumb over her lip. “Please, quit biting your lip. I can’t take it. I couldn’t take you hurting me.”

  “Sorry,” she said, lowering her head and hiding behind her hair.

  She had so many questions to ask. Why did he hate her lip biting so much? How could she possibly hurt him? Then again maybe she could, the feel of her hand on his face seemed like it tortured him. No, it was impossible that a loving touch hurt anyone. The only person who was capable of hurting the other was him. Telling her he cared than dumping her would cut her to the core.

  “Julie, daydreaming again?” he asked and tried to laugh.

  Not knowing what to say, she started texting Tori. Tori and Tiffany didn’t even know she was seeing Trucker much less that he was joining them for the night.

  Hey girl?

  Can I bring a tag along?

  Sure, Who?

  It is not that nerd from science

  who won’t leave me alone?

  I know you are friends with him

  Any who, anybody but him.

  No, not him, Julie thought to herself. Hold your seat girl because you are going to freak.

  No not him

  It’s Trucker Castleman:)

  OMG!!! OMG!!!! OMG!!!!

  You have to be kidding me:):):):)

  No, I’m with him right now.

  He wants to take us out to eat

  first. His treat.

  Eat your heart out, Tori Phillips. You are not the only one of us who can get a catch. Julie glanced over at Trucker. He was brooding and staring out the window. He gradually slipped from the carefree Trucker into the dominant Trucker. A shift he started once they hit the road leading outside the city limits.

  “Are you sure?” Julie asked. He nodded. Trucker seemed oblivious. “If you really don’t want to go, I understand. I’ll just tell them I was joking. After all, it’s pretty innocent and lame. I’m sure you are used to more stimulating fun.” Julie whispered, fighting back tears. Why else would he have become unglued, if not because he didn’t want to go? Maybe he didn’t want to be seen in public with her? It made sense; up to that point they had stayed on back roads and in cotton fields. Trucker’s mouth dropped open in surprise. His brows furrowed and his eyes widened.

  “Angel, one of my favorite things about you is your sweet innocence. If I didn’t want to be with you I wouldn’t be. I never do anything I don’t want to do.”

  Julie felt the vibrating and heard the all too familiar ding coming from her cellphone.

  Really, OMG!!!

  Where do you want to meet us?

  Confused by Trucker’s sudden shift in personality and most recent confession, she rolled her phone over and over in her hands. How could somebody be so cold and hard and at the same time be absolutely tee-totally charismatic and devastatingly ravishing?

  “Tell them to meet us at The Chop House,” Trucker said, harshly. He
never shifted his eyes from the windshield.

  “Trucker, we can’t afford that.”

  “I can afford it.”

  Julie’s dad had taken her mom to The Chop House one year for their anniversary. Ellen still talked about it and Dan laughingly said he was still paying for it. Julie had always wanted to go. She had gone once with some friends, but was told it would have been a three-hour wait. Now he wanted to carry her. She might be selfish but she didn’t want him to carry her friends too.

  “The wait time is impossible there without a reservation. Which we don’t have,” she pointed out.

  “Not for me. My dad owns part of it and it’s run by one of my best friend’s parents.” He still wouldn’t look at her. Maybe he was tired of her arguing with him, but she really didn’t want him carrying Tori and Tiffany to the nicest restaurant in the state.

  “Trucker, I don’t want them to go.” Even she heard the whine to her voice.

  He cut his eyes over to her. “Why?”

  “Because . . . that is the restaurant I always wanted someone to take me too. Just me and you.” Julie turned her face to look out the door window, but with everything flowing around her head, she didn’t see anything. Great, now he is going to think I’m a whiny baby.

  He pulled the car over onto the side of the road. The moon glowed an eerie orange casting a strange tinge over his face. The look that flashed over his face the first day she met him was sharp and blazing. He appeared to be turning into something unworldly.

  “Julie, I don’t do people. I haven’t been to a movie in years because there is too many damn people there. I hate going around large crowds, but I’ll do people for you. If you want something just ask,” he said harshly.

 
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