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The foundation series bo.., p.14
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       The Foundation Series Box Set, p.14

           Kira Adams
Your hand caught his eye, was it worth the risk?

  He says ‘let’s step outside and finish this’

  The tumbleweed blows by, you stand in fear

  You knew your end would come, but not now, not here

  I pulled up to the address I had been given, it was a grey colored two story house with blue shingles. It looked quaint enough. I hopped out of my car and knocked on the door lightly, Jace answered wearing a black hoodie and shorts.

  “Hey,” I said when he opened the door wide enough.

  “Hey,” he replied.

  “Whose place is this?” I motioned with my head towards the house.

  “My grandmother; she is out of town. I am house-sitting,” Jace answered me, closing the door behind us. He led me into the living room and took a seat on the loveseat; removing his hood. His head was shaved and surprisingly gave him an edgier look. I wasn’t sure where to start so neutral ground only seemed logical. “When did you do that?” I nodded towards his buzzed head.

  “A couple of weeks ago, I needed a change.”

  I nodded silently, taking a seat on the couch opposite the loveseat.

  “Want to see what else I got?” He asked, not waiting for a response from me, already pulling his sweatshirt off.

  My heart rate began increasing when I saw his shirt lift up as he pulled the sweatshirt over his head, exposing his tight stomach. My cheeks grew red with color and I turned my face away for a split second to recover.

  “Everything alright?” He asked, nonchalantly.

  I nodded, swallowing deeply, turning my attention back to him. “You got a tattoo?” I exclaimed, eyeing the Chinese symbol that was displayed on his upper arm.

  “It says faith.” He read my mind.

  Jace had no idea, but dangerous and sexy was definitely my type. The tattoos only made me lust for him more. “That’s awesome.”

  Jace stood suddenly, making his way over to the kitchen. “Hey, you want a beer?”

  “Your grandma lets you drink?” I asked.

  “My grandma doesn’t know.” He chuckled.

  I knew I shouldn’t but I wanted to spend as much time with Jace as possible, so I agreed. He popped the lid off and handed me the Corona. “Thanks,” I replied, taking a sip off of it.

  He sat down at the dining room table this time. I was still seated on the couch across the room from him. “You wanna play cards?”

  I would say yes to just about anything at this point for more time with Jace, so I rose swiftly and joined him at the table. “What are we playing?”

  “Poker, Texas Hold ‘Em, you ever played before?” He shot me a quick glance while shuffling the deck.

  “Have I ever…” I smiled playfully. Jace had no idea that Texas Hold ‘Em was a staple in my household…especially on holidays. My extended family would play for real money and I always came out at least $300 richer. They had refused to play with me the past few years claiming I cheated.

  He shot a grin back at me. “Oh really? Well let’s make this interesting then…”

  “What are we playing for?” I asked, curiously.

  “How do you feel about strip poker?” His eyes lit up, his eyebrows rising.

  Terrible; had I known of his idea, I would have dressed like an Eskimo with tons of layers. I couldn’t bear the thought of Jace seeing my body the way it was. On the other hand I had never lost a game of Texas Hold ‘Em and I was determined to defend my crown. “Deal me in,” I found myself saying.

  His grin spread across his entire face. “My-my how you’ve changed Peyton.” There it was again…what if people were right? What if I have changed? Was it for better or for worse?

  In the short span of less than an hour and a half, I had been crushing Jace. I had already produced a full house, three of a kind, and flush among many other winning combinations. Jace was down two shoes, his socks, and his shirt. The sight of him shirtless was making me hot. I was down my shoes and one sock.

  “Is there anything you can’t do?” He asked in a joking manner.

  I shrugged, baring a wide grin.

  “You need to catch up,” Jace motioned toward my almost fully clothed body, taking a long swig of his beer.

  I looked down at my shirt knowing there was no way in hell I was ready for Jace to see that part of me.

  His phone began buzzing saving me. I sighed in relief. It was sitting on the table in front of him and before he got a chance to swipe his finger across to unlock it, I saw the name on the caller ID, Olivia.

  I grabbed my phone, pretending to check the time. “Wow, I am so tired…I didn’t realize it was so late. My parents are going to want me home,” I lied through my teeth.

  Jace looked up at me suddenly, his face falling. “It’s not what you think it is.”

  I began fumbling to put my sock and shoes back on, not bothering to muster up a response.

  “We’re just friends Peyton,” Jace commented loudly, attempting to command my attention.

  Friends…the same word he had used to describe our relationship to one another. I suddenly felt sick to my stomach wondering how many other girls he may have been leading on. After I was fully clothed, I grabbed my purse, ready to get the hell out of there.

  “I’ll see you around Jace.” I stood and began making my way to the door.

  Jace was barricading it before I even knew what was happening. “What happened to you?” he asked.

  “What do you mean?” I asked in a short tone.

  “What happened to you growing up that made you this way?” He posed another question.

  I shrugged him off. I didn’t talk to anyone about my struggles; those were secrets I kept woven in my lyrics. It was my way of release.

  “Seriously, who damaged you? Why are you so insecure?”

  I felt like I had been slapped in the face; my cheeks growing hotter. “I want to go home Jace.”

  “And I asked you a question.” He took a step closer to me, still blocking the door.

  I shook my head, aggravated.

  He grabbed at my hips, where my shirt met my yoga pants and I pushed him away. “Don’t!”

  “Why can’t I touch your stomach? Why can’t I see you with your shirt off?” he asked in a demanding tone.

  “Don’t go there Jace.” I warned him. “You’re really testing the waters tonight.”

  “Peyton.” He reached for me again, but I dodged his grasp.

  “I’m not playing with you Jace. Don’t fucking touch me…I want to go home.” I was trying to wrestle past him, but making no headway.

  Tears began welling up in the corner of my eyes. Not here, not in front of him. I kept my gaze lowered to my feet, not daring to make eye contact.

  “Peyton,” he said more lightly now, touching my cheek and I broke. He broke me. Tears began spilling down my cheeks, free flowing like a waterfall. His arms wrapped around me instantly. So much for holding it together…

  I didn’t even try to fight him off. I just stood there crying silently, in his arms. When I could finally breathe normally again, wasn’t convulsing, and could string together full sentences, I pulled away from him. “Just remember, you asked for it.” I surprised him by lifting my shirt off, effortlessly, exposing my bra and body. I winced while his eyes moved up and down my body.

  “What is it?” he asked, almost clueless.

  Irritated I threw my shirt back on. “I’ll see you later.” I pushed past him to the door and this time he didn’t stop me. He let me walk out without another word.

  * * *

  It had been a few days since my strange encounter with Jace. I was still very conflicted about it. There were so many things I loved about him…but the thought that he was still seeing Olivia and that I would never be good enough for him consumed my mind. To help refocus myself, I had asked Noah if we could have our usual writing rehearsal. He agreed almost instantaneously.

  I loved the way our forces worked together---my words and his chords. It was like a beautiful dance. It always put me in a goo
d mood. He was strumming lightly as I sang along.

  “Different people, different places—young and old, familiar faces,” I sang the scribbled words off my sheet of paper.

  Noah was nodding his head enthusiastically. “I like that.”

  “Thanks,” I replied, immediately putting my pen back to paper. “It’s time to create a shift in the norm, to fill the roles for which we were born,” I read off to him.

  “Yeah.” He nodded, grinning.

  “Let’s run through all of it so far,” I instructed. We played through the first verse a couple of times until we felt confident in it.

  “Hey, do you want some water?” Noah asked, jumping up.

  I nodded. “Yes please.”

  He left the room and I couldn’t help but stare after him as he walked away. Noah was definitely not sore on the eyes one bit. He was wearing a tight black band t-shirt; his usual staple, and faded black knee length jean shorts. Without even realizing it I had jotted down some lyrics unconsciously modeled after Noah.

  Feeling the intensity, his eyes draw me in. What I’m feeling inside must be a sin.

  I panicked when I realized what I had written; not wanting Noah to catch wind of it.

  He returned shortly after, bottles of water in tow. He threw one my way and I caught it.

  “Write anything while I was gone?”

  “Not anything we can use,” I lied; lightly scribbling over my newest string of words.

  “What is that?” He pointed to where I was scribbling.

  “Oh, nothing…it’s actually pretty bad. I don’t know what I was thinking…”I stammered, my cheeks growing pink.

  “Let me see,” Noah reached for my spiral notebook and I flung back with it. This piqued his interest ten-fold. “What did you write Peyton?” He taunted me with a playful grin.

  I couldn’t help giggling. “Nothing,” I lied once more, gripping my notebook tighter.

  He had me cornered. We were both laughing now, enjoying the light hearted atmosphere. I had missed writing with Noah; we always had a good time. When he first joined the band he was dating a devil of a girl named Marissa. She was terrible. I once watched her punch him in the gut for no apparent reason. He finally grew some balls and broke up with her after a few months of rehearsal with me. We spent our time writing new lyrics and counseling each other on our everyday problems. “Read it to me and I’ll back off, scouts honor,” he said.

  If I read it to him now he was bound to know it was about him. What will he think? I wasn’t even sure what I thought of it yet. I had always been insanely attracted to Noah, but he had an insane girlfriend, was dead sexy, and way out of my league. I had never given a second thought to anything other than friendship between us. Plus when he dated previously said devil, he treated me like shit in front of her and special again behind her back. I had never been cool with that. I had encountered enough players in my days…I didn’t need to add another to the roster.

  He put his arm on the wall behind me. “I’m waiting…” He pretended to eye his watch.

  I rolled my eyes. “Fine,” I said huffily. I pushed my notebook at him and scooted away to the other side of the room.

  He read it aloud, making me more anxious. “Feeling the intensity, his eyes draw me in.” He paused briefly glancing at me with raised eyebrows. “What I’m feeling inside must be a sin.” He took a few steps toward me. “This is grade A stuff, why are you scribbling all over it? This is sexy Peyton.”

  I grabbed my notebook hesitantly from him, my cheeks still burning.

  “Who was your inspiration?” he asked in a casual tone. I wasn’t sure if he was playing dumb or hadn’t caught on.

  “No one in particular,” I lied again. “I thought of a name for the new one we were working on,” I changed the subject.

  “Oh yeah, what?” I was thankful he took the bait.

  “Fast Ride to Nowhere.”

  “Cool,” he replied, enthusiastically, picking up his guitar. “So I am thinking this for the chorus.” He began strumming methodically and I got lost in the music.

  Fifteen: If it were Me, I Wouldn’t Let You out of My Sight.

  Simple Pleasures

  Stumbled out of the bar piss ass drunk-not going far

  Same damn thing every night, searching for someone to fight

  His life’s not bad, his day’s always blue

  He’s kidding himself, hiding what’s true

  Doing his best, but his best wouldn’t do

  He needed a change, he needed a clue

  What is he to become when his life is at an end?

  Will he be happy, sad, or have a friend?

  He is so naïve that he just doesn’t see

  The simple pleasures life can bring

  Ma buys his smokes, Dad buys his booze

  What do you know? He’s got nothing to lose

  Never has to worry about a thing

  It’s all taken care of, everything

  Always been fed with that silver spoon

  Now he’s stumbling out of the saloon

  Enough of this, time for a change

  Time to give his life the rearrange

  What is he to become when his life is at an end?

  Will he be happy, sad, or have a friend?

  He is so naïve that he just doesn’t see

  The simple pleasures life can bring

  For my entire life, my birthday had always been something I had looked forward to, while also dreading. I always got my hopes up and was let down in the end. While my parents were eternally loving and caring, I had grown tired of spending my birthday with them and going to the movies—our tradition. I wanted to shake up the ordinary…I wanted to do something that would make me feel alive.

  I was let down when both Brooklyn and Madison had separate reasons to why they couldn’t celebrate my birthday night with me. When I called Harper she said she was tired and wanted to chill out at home—she invited me over to watch movies and eat ice cream. That was the best offer I could get on my own birthday? It annoyed me to a certain extent. I told her I may stop by, but instead did something that surprised even myself…I texted Jace.

  I had felt bad about the way I had run out of his grandmother’s house and how much of a crybaby I had been. To be honest I was a handful and if I were a guy I wouldn’t want to put up with me either. But with his new haircut and tattoo I figured he may have something better to do.

  Hey, what’s up? I wrote.

  I shuffled around my room, trying to decide what to wear. I settled on grey leggings I could pull up to cover my problem area and a black tank top with silver jewels.

  I checked my phone, anxious to see his answer.

  Not much, just getting off work…you?

  I sat down at my vanity, already typing my response back. Wanna hang out? My heart was beating rapidly inside my chest; hoping that I didn’t blow everything with Jace the other night. To take my mind off of it I began applying a little eyeliner, mascara, and blush—not over the top, but enough to accentuate my features.

  Actually, I have plans…maybe later? Wondering who he had mysterious plans with was bound to drive me insane in the worst way.

  Yeah, maybe, I wrote back. There was no way I was going to sit at home on my birthday this year. So much had changed; I had changed. “Mom?” I yelled, peeking my head out into the hallway.

  “Yes Peyton?” I heard her answer me from inside her room.

  “Can we go to the hair salon?” My mother loved pampering of any kind, and with it being my birthday I knew she wouldn’t be able to resist.

  “Of course,” I heard her say before what sounded like shuffling around, more than likely preparing to leave.

  * * *

  “You look so different,” my mother exclaimed in awe.

  “Good different or bad different?” I asked, biting my lip and touching my soft new hair.

  “I love the colors!” My mother ran her fingers through my hair. I had chosen to dye my hair black with a
hint of purple on top and fire engine red underneath. I had also opted for Chinese style bangs and choppy layers.

  I swiveled the chair around and began to eye my reflection in the mirror. I looked like a completely different person. I looked tough; edgy. It was exactly what I had wanted; needed. “I love it,” I whispered, running my fingers through my hair delicately.

  “You need to go out,” my mother said excitedly. “Show off your new ‘do.”

  She was right, it was the first time I had felt confident in any part of my looks in…forever. I needed to take advantage of this feeling. When I made it home I pulled out my phone to text Harper, but noticed a text from Jace. It read, I’m free now if you want me to stop by.

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