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       Home, p.7

           J.W. Phillips
 

  “Can we just go to the movies?” She hesitated and picked at her pant legs. “I really would like . . . if you like . . . to go eat at The Chop House some other time.”

  She couldn’t even glimpse at him. She started to read the last few texts Tori had sent, waiting for a response. Julie’s favorite and the one that almost made her laugh was:

  Quit smoking the hallucinogens.

  What time are YOU

  really meeting us?

  She would have laughed too, if Trucker had not started to stroke one finger back and forth over her jawline. Clutching her chin, he jerked her head around.

  “I would love to take just you there.” His voice reverberated through her. She simply nodded and started texting Tori.

  I’ll see y’all at 7.

  and I’ll get the tickets.

  Julie had already figured out Trucker liked to pay and loved to spoil. Money was a way to say he cared. She inwardly smiled at the text too. She left out Trucker’s name on purpose. It would be more fun to see Tori’s face when she first saw them together.

  “We’re meeting them at seven. I told them we would get the tickets.”

  “Thank you,” he mouthed.

  ******

  Standing out in front of the theater, Trucker drew her into an embrace, Julie’s back pressed into his front, and he kissed her hair. “Stay close to me, please.”

  Julie glanced up at him and smiled as he kissed the tip of her nose. Directly after, a group from their math class came up.

  “Trucker,” Ian, Courtney’s on again off again boyfriend, said. He held out his fist, like he was going to tap Trucker’s.

  Trucker held closer to Julie and kissed her softly on the forehead, completely ignoring everyone. Julie felt relieved, safe, and touched with his arms around her.

  “Slumming it?” Ian asked.

  Trucker stared at Ian, his expression impassive. Ian shuffled back uncomfortably. “Leave. Now,” Trucker said with a small, cool smile that didn’t reach his eyes.

  His voice was soft and somehow made Julie woozy. His normal, gorgeous, fine-features grew cold and barbaric; there was a killing glint in his beautiful blue eyes. Those eyes focused on Ian and didn’t waver in the slightest.

  Ian’s eyes widened, his head hung slightly. He stumbled as if he couldn’t leave fast enough. Julie was immobilized by the horrific feelings emanating from Trucker.

  “Ignore them, Angel. They have no idea,” Trucker whispered. His grip around her tightened, almost painfully.

  Julie was relieved to see Tori and Tiffany. She practically busted out of Trucker’s arm and headed to them. Trucker was on her heels. For a moment, she enjoyed the brief respite from the commanding influence that was Trucker Castleman before she was knocked into the overbearing influence that was Tori Phillips.

  “Hi,” Julie said with a small wave.

  Tori yanked Julie’s arm and lugged her across the parking lot. Tiffany stood staring at Trucker, bewildered.

  “Why didn’t you tell me?” Tori’s voice boomed over the traffic, the loud music blaring from a nearby car, and the crowd.

  “I did tell you, you just didn’t believe me.” Julie shrugged her shoulders and turned on her heels, leaving Tori looking dumbfounded.

  “We got the tickets,” Julie said as Trucker jerked on her belt loop and brought her firmly next to him.

  “Stay close. Promise,” Trucker said, so low Julie barely heard him. “Promise me,” he said, more forcibly.

  “I promise,” Julie whispered. Well, he is definitely not ashamed of me.

  “Good girl . . . I really dislike people.”

  Trucker ignored those who called him, never shifting his eyes from Julie.

  “Butter or no butter?” Tiffany finally spoke up and asked. Tiffany was Julie’s sweetest and dearest friend. She was unswervingly loyal to Julie and Trucker beguiled her.

  “Whatever you want,” Trucker said and smiled down at Tiffany. “I like her. She looks out for you,” Trucker whispered in Julie’s ear.

  It seemed half of their small junior college was there, and Julie didn’t care. She did notice they walked around Trucker like he had an invisible untouchable wall up.

  The Cineplex was full when they entered the theater. Trucker held Julie’s hand tightly. He didn’t scope out the other girls. He made Julie feel like she was the only girl there. Julie eyed Tori and Tiffany texting and figured it was about Trucker and her, but didn’t care. She would have rather been there with just him anyway. They had to sit toward the front and she wondered what the other kids from Promise Land were saying.

  “Am I boring you?” Trucker asked.

  Julie realized she was yawning. It had been the longest most perfect day of her short life. She laid her head over on his shoulder. He halfway pulled her onto his lap, and she fell asleep before the opening credits were even finished.

  *******

  The sight of the sleeping angel in his arms was heart-stopping. If Julie only knew sleeping in his arms was the most dangerous thing she could ever do and deathly scared Trucker. The pain he experienced from the innocent aura she emitted didn’t bother him, and was eclipsed by the great joy he received by just holding her. His other side even agreed that he didn’t deserve to be in her presence, but the monster in him also had ideas of his own. Trucker felt it trying to come to the surface. He wanted a closer look at her, to feel her skin, and smell her sweet scent. Trucker buried it deeper inside him. He wouldn’t let anything hurt her, even himself. He involuntarily tightened his arms around her as she slept trustingly in them. She snuggled her face into his chest. He sighed as he ran his fingers over her porcelain skin and delicate bones. Bones so fragile, just one wrong move and they would crush beneath his touch. He buried his face in her neck, savoring her flowery, feminine smell. Her heart pounded and vibrated through him. Everything around them vanished. Julie was the very essence of good. He wanted to devour her, but also to never spend a day without her.

  Chapter 6

  Julie heard the music signaling the closing credits, and squeezed her eyes together as the lights gradually became brighter and brighter. Yawning, she sat up and turned to smile at Trucker just as a searing hot pain radiated through her. She touched the skin on her face, almost expecting to feel blisters. However, it was still smooth and soft. Unsure of what she felt, her eyes met his, and she saw a flicker of black flash across them. The blood drained from her face. Yes, she had always been capable of sensing the feelings of others, but she had never once experienced something like what she felt meeting his eyes. The feeling of death. She jumped up, kicking the armrest of her chair and sending her still full cup into the air, causing it to fly into Trucker’s lap. Gripped by fear, her breathing became erratic. She reached for the ice cold soda pooling Trucker’s lap, but the idea of touching him suddenly petrified her. Incognizant of what was going on around her, she started to dash away, but he grabbed her arm before she could move more than a step. Trucker sat there, the drink drenching his pants, his eyes searching hers. He didn't move, almost unsure of what she was doing.

  “Julie, Angel, what’s wrong?”

  “Your eyes,” Julie muttered, so softly it was barely audible.

  He sealed his eyes shut. “What about my eyes?”

  “They flashed black,” she answered.

  Trucker’s eyes popped open and he let out a breath almost in relief. He smiled a half smile so dazzling it disturbed her.

  “Baby, the lights are flashing in here.” He paused. “Plus, you just woke up from a nice nap.”

  She rubbed her cheek; it wasn’t just his eyes, or the burning of her skin where she laid against him, but the fact hate and rage oozed out of him that made her want to escape. She needed out of there and away from him.

  “Trucker, I’ll see you tomorrow. I’m going to ride home with Tiff and Tori.”

  Trucker stood up, letting the drink fall over the seat, and roll onto the floor. He gripped her hand. “Don’t leave me.”

 
; She felt his command, but wouldn’t let herself obey. She needed to work out the things she was feeling. She stroked his face; his skin boiled under her fingers.

  “Trucker, I’m sorry I dropped a drink on you, sorry you drove me all the way here, but I'm not going home with you.”

  “Tomorrow, please sweetheart,” he begged and fell back in his seat. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

  “Tomorrow,” Julie said. “I’m scared . . . I . . . I want to see you . . . I can’t.” She turned to leave.

  “I’m trying.”

  She heard Trucker mumbling behind her. Julie looked over her shoulder and whispered, “Try harder.”

  She ran after Tiffany and Tori who was already walking down the aisle of the theater. Julie cringed when she heard a menacing growl come from behind her.

  “Hey, can I bum a ride with you guys?”

  “Sure, but why?” Tori asked and eyed Trucker who was still slumped in his seat.

  “Oh, I accidentally spilled my drink down Trucker’s pant leg; so he is going home to change. I told him you wouldn’t mind taking me home, since you were driving right by my house,” Julie explained. She hated lying, but there was no way she could describe what she really felt, thought, or saw, not without getting locked away in a padded cell.

  “Only you would manage to spill your Coke on the hottest guy in the state,” Tori said and gave Julie an over exaggerated eye roll. “I would’ve offered to help him dry off,” she added.

  “Tori Phillips, that’s horrible!” Tiffany shrieked, turning to eye Trucker one more time.

  *******

  Trucker didn’t realize how long he had sat in the movie theatre until the ushers started to wipe up the spilt drink by his foot. One of them started to tell him to leave, but scurried away after one long, vengeful look from Trucker. He had no desire to leave. He played around with the idea of taking a girl behind the theater. Just one bite wouldn’t hurt, but he could still taste Julie. Her taste lingered on his tongue and no high was worth losing that. He kicked a hole in the seat in front of him and left as a new group of people started filling the theatre. He had flipped the switch that made him human. Letting the evil that resided in him surge with a vengeances, he was no longer appealing. He wanted to repel people too, knowing all those auras pressing on his conscience would be his undoing.

  After leaving the theatre in a haze, he found himself driving down the long winding road leading to her home. He was furious with himself. He’d let his worst half come to the surface, just to satisfy a craving. Now, he was terrified he had lost her. He growled as he pulled into the familiar spot across from the wooden lot beside Julie’s house. He told himself that he was there to make sure she got home safely, but it was more. He had a deep craving to be near her. She brought up feelings in him he had never experienced before. Even without his extra sharp vision, he could maneuver around every tree and ditch through the small path that led to the opening of her backyard; after all, he had done it a thousand times before.

  He leaned against a tree. Her smell infiltrated the air; he felt the proverbial ache in his jaw and scraped his tongue along his already extended teeth. He shook in disgust at himself. “Not her,” he whispered. Feeling a sudden rush of air, he turned to see his lifelong friend and nemesis, Emily, running up behind him. He rolled his eyes and turned to listen to what Julie was doing. He truly hated for any of his kind to be near her. He felt the waves in the air caused by Emily’s transformation.

  “Trucker, your dad has been calling you all day,” Emily said as she wrapped a hand around his arm.

  Jerking away, he yanked Emily and had her pinned against a tree in a flash of a nanosecond. She smiled. Trucker wanted to hate her, but found he couldn’t. Emily was the only person he had never truly had the upper hand with. He couldn’t control her and it infuriated him. She was, however, always there for him when he needed someone and got him through the worst period in his life. But as much as they had a mutual understanding, he didn’t want her anywhere near Julie. No matter what Emily meant to him, she was nothing compared to Julie.

  “I’ve been busy,” Trucker said and glanced back at the house, worried that Emily was no more than a distraction. Trucker was no fool. His kind would stop at nothing to eliminate a threat. Julie was the biggest threat of all. She had changed him. She had breathed new life into his long lost humanity. Eliminating her was the one thing that he would never let happen.

  “Let me guess, with the little angel. You really need to get a new hobby.”

  He snapped at her, bringing his teeth within inches of her face. She didn’t flinch.

  “Trucker, humanity really doesn’t become you.”

  He cupped her face in his hand. “Nothing becomes you.”

  Trucker took a nip at her jaw as Emily stroked over his limp cock. “I had no problem turning you on all those times you crawled in my bed,” Emily said and dropped to her knees, and went to unfasten Trucker’s pants.

  He grasped her hand. Being this close to Julie’s home, he felt bad reliving his sordid past with Emily. No matter what his family wanted, Emily was not his. Julie was.

  Emily was beyond beautiful. Trucker could see why every human male fell at her feet. Her long chestnut brown hair framed a face that was, well, perfect. To a human’s eyes hers sparkled. He gripped her arm and forced her to her feet. Pulling her to his taut frame, there was no doubting her figure either as Trucker traced down her hips before pushing her away. Yes, she was everything every man dreamed of, every man but Trucker. There was only one girl he dreamed about, could even think about. She was ruffling the covers on her bed right then. Knowing Julie was sinking down in her bed for the night, he escorted Emily to his car. Not because he wanted too, but because he had to get Emily away from Julie.

  *******

  Dear Diary,

  Okay, I don’t know what I truly saw, but I do know what I felt. Trucker, the one guy who has without a doubt swept me off my feet, has a very bad side.

  Overwrought, Julie tossed her diary, but just her luck it bounced off the bedside table and hit her square in the eye.

  “Ow,” she screamed out, covering her throbbing eye with the back of her hand. At least with her eye crying out in pain, she didn’t have time to focus on Trucker.

  “What’s wrong, baby?” Ellen came running into the room. “Why were you screaming?”

  “I hit my eye with this darn book,” Julie said as she held up her diary and successfully chucked it on her futon.

  “How did you manage that? You’re usually more coordinated than that.” Ellen snatched Julie’s hand off her eye to examine it. “It doesn’t look too bad. I believe you’ll live.”

  “Is that a professional opinion?” she asked, slapping her eye with her palm, making her wince in pain.

  “Are you okay? You’re not acting like yourself.”

  “I’m great, Mom.” She wanted to scream, No I’m not all right. I’m falling hard for a guy who obviously has a dark side.

  “If you say so.” Ellen cut her eyes down at Julie and gave a little disbelieving nod.

  “Mom, life is great, promise.”

  How could she explain her fears to her mom when she didn’t understand them herself?

  Ellen kissed Julie on the head and went back to her bed. Realizing it was going to be hard to go to sleep, Julie got out her iPhone and old, outdated laptop. She knew what she wanted to listen to and went straight to the iTunes store. She typed in Sarah Brightman, Music of the Night in the search box. She needed to know what made Trucker tick. Maybe something in that song would give her a hint about him. She grew more confused as to why he found solace in that particular song. The lyrics alone were unnerving: darkness stirs, open your mind, let your darker side give in, and only then can you belong to me.

  She put it on repeat and let the music blare in her ear. She concentrated on the words. Something told her there was a message there, and she was determined to find it. She eventually drifted off to sleep, never realizing
what danger was right outside her window.

  *******

  A thunderstorm had rolled in that night, and the steady patter of raindrops lured Julie into a fitful and broken sleep. She exhaled deeply as hands slowly started gathering the hair at the nape of her neck. She was convinced she was dreaming, yet it felt so real. She recalled her mom trying to wake her for early service at church. However, she had to still be dreaming. The only thing that confirmed that it wasn’t a dream, were lips pressed firmly to the back of her neck.

  “Good morning, my sweet Angel,” Trucker whispered against her skin. “I wondered when you were going to wake up.”

  After hearing his voice there was no doubt in her mind that it was Trucker lying beside her. She melted into his body, still unable to open her eyes. She laid there, motionless, as he stroked her stomach and trailed the lightest kisses along the side of her neck. She wrapped her leg around his as he started to hum. Slowly the hum turned into words.

  “To really love a woman, let her hold you, Till' you know how she needs to be touched, you’ve gotta breathe her, really taste her, Till' you can feel her in your blood, and when you can see your unborn children in her eyes, you know you really love a woman,” Trucker crooned in her ears.

  As beautiful and raspy as his voice was in a normal everyday conversation, it was nothing compared to his voice singing. Julie wasn’t so ready to forget everything she saw and felt. He told her himself she should run. She should listen to her head and not her heart. Her body curled tighter into his, unwilling to listen to anything but the sound of his voice. She wasn’t going to give up the little moments. No matter what she had to overlook.

 
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