Eliza Jane

Chapter 1


I begin my second year at Wilbrook Academy with much more confidence than my first. My boyfriend Colt is in charge after we booted his corrupt father from power, and my friends MJ and Logan are eager to embrace me when I return.

During the few week break in classes between my first and second year, I’d hung out in Pennsylvania with my parents and best friend Piper. I’d missed this place, Colt and my new friends more than I thought I would. It feels like home now.

But I’ve hardly seen Colt in the days I’ve been back at the school. He works long hours in his office, not finishing until well after dark. We usually spend a few minutes together in his room before I have to be in the dorms at Vera’s last check. Even though she works for Colt, she’ll have none of our shenanigans. She’s taken over the role of both of our mothers, much to my dismay. Colt finds her concern amusing. But the lack of alone time is really starting to suck.

After dinner, I tiptoe down the hall past Vera’s office until I reach the door to Colt’s office. It’s Saturday night, so maybe I can convince him to take a much needed break from work. I let myself in and close the door gently behind me. He’s concentrating on the computer screen and hasn’t even noticed me yet. I grin with anticipation.

“Fuck.” Colt growls, slamming his fist against the desk.

“What?” I move around the desk.

He looks up at me, startled at my sudden arrival, but his eyes soften when he sees me. I move around behind him and place my hands on his shoulders, rubbing and kneading away the tension in his neck. “What is it?”

“My brother’s moving back from California. My Dad isn’t going to pay for his private school tuition anymore.”

Oh. His brother Reis. The same age as me. I continue rubbing Colt’s shoulders and feel him relax just a little.

“I have to pick him up from the airport tomorrow.”

“Why won’t your Dad pay from his school anymore?” Seems to me like even though he isn’t working here anymore, he still has plenty of money.

“Because he’s an asshole, Taylor,” he says dryly.

My fingers stop moving for just a moment, then I remember it’s not my place to get involved in their family problems. I’d already wedged myself where I don’t belong enough. I just want to help Colt relax. I continue rubbing his shoulders with firm pressure, the way I know he likes.

“Does Reis know what happened with your Dad?”

He shakes his head. “He doesn’t know half the shady shit he’s pulled over the years, and I’d prefer it to stay that way.”

I know it’s not my place to say anything, but it seems like Reis has a right to know.

“He actually still has a relationship with our Dad, and I don’t want to mess that up for him. He deserves to heave at least one parent in his life.”

I continue working at the knots in his shoulders. He’s been working such long hours lately, it seems to have taken a toll on him.

“I’m sorry I’ve been so distracted with work.”

“It’s okay.”

He lifts my chin to look at me. “No it’s not.” He plants a quick kiss on my mouth.

I smile in response.

“I’d like to take you out tonight.” He smiles back at me as our eyes lock.

“What about work?”

“I’m not working tonight. I’ll be with my girlfriend.”

“Hm.” I kiss him again. “I think I like that word.”

“Me too.” He closes his laptop and stands, looking down at me. “What should we do tonight?”

I shrug, trying desperately to keep my mind out of the gutter. I’m just about to suggest we head to his room when he interrupts me.

“A movie?” he says between kisses.

“We could just stay in.”

He pulls his lips back from mine and shakes his head. “I want to take my girl out. We’ve never been to a movie together.”

It’s true. And he’s so adorable, I can’t argue. Plus, sitting close to Colt in a darkened movie theatre doesn’t sound bad at all.

“Mmm-kay.” I kiss him back. “Should I change?” I look down at my jeans and T-shirt.

He takes a moment to inspect me, running his hands along my jean clad hips, making my stomach squirm with nerves. “Nope. You’d be beautiful in a burlap sack. Come on.” He pulls me by the hand toward the door.

A few minutes later he stops his BMW in front of the theatre so we can read the marque sign and see what’s starting next. Our choices are limited to a cartoon about a squirrel or a horror flick, both starting in about twenty minutes.

“You up for a scary movie?” he asks, rubbing his thumb across my knuckles.

“Sure. Do we have time to get ice cream first?”

Someone taps on his window, startling us both. I lean over him to see who it is. There’s a girl with loose brown waves flowing over her shoulders, too much makeup and a gigantic smile for Colt.

“Do you know her?” I ask.

He shakes his head, and lowers the window. “Sorry, are we blocking traffic? We’ll move.”

“Colt! It’s me, Laura.”

Colt takes a moment to inspect her, and I see the recognition cross his face. “Yeah. Hi.” He glances over at me and then back at her, a blush slowly creeping up his neck.

Laura lowers herself so she can peer inside through his open window and once she spots me her face falls. “Oh.”

Colt watches my expression – shock and hurt – and he winces before turning back to her. “This is Taylor. My girlfriend,” he quickly adds.

She gives me a once over then turns to gaze appreciatively at Colt again. “Kay. Well, I guess I’ll see you around.”

Colt raises the window and speeds from the parking lot. “Let’s get you your ice cream.” He explains as he peels out of the movie theatre parking lot.

I wonder if we’re going to talk about the mystery brunette who seemed so familiar with Colt back there. But he seems set on letting the whole thing drop. “Are we going to talk about what that was?”

He attempts a smile. “Do we have to?”

“She knew who you were. Did you used to date her?”

“Nope.” He parks the car and hops out, coming around to open my door. “Please,” he pleads at my open door when I don’t make a move to get out. “I’m sorry baby. Let’s not let this ruin our night.”

I take a second to breathe before stepping out of the car. I don’t want to be a bitchy girlfriend right now, no matter how much it sucked to be confronted with Colt’s past. He and I don’t get much time together, and I don’t want to ruin it by overreacting. I try and remind myself that Colt was different before he knew me. That girl was with the old Colt. I climb out of the car and let him pull me into a hug.

“Sorry baby,” he breaths against my hair. “Let’s just forget about it, okay?” He squeezes me in a full embrace. I wrap one arm around his back.

“Can I have my ice cream now?”

He chuckles near my ear.

“Come on.”

Chapter 2


I lead Taylor inside the ice cream shop, my hand resting against the small of her back. I wish I could shield her from the mistakes of my past. But tonight some random girl in a parking lot had forced it to the present. Thank God Taylor brushed it off. She took a second to breathe, squeezing her eyes shut before getting out of the car, like she was giving herself a pep talk, and I loved her for it.

We place our order and wait in line to pay. Taylor’s open mouth and tongue licking at her melting ice cream cone is more than a little distracting. I realize I’m holding up the line, just standing there starring at her. I tear my gaze away from Taylor and her mouth. The cashier is a blonde, her hair tied up in braided pigtails. There’s something familiar about her. Oh shit. As we weave forward in line, a sinking feeling develops in my stomach.

I’m half tempted to give Taylor the cash to pay and duck out of line, but I can’t work up the courage. Maybe she won’t recognize me, but I know I slept with the blonde-haired cashier. Taylor’s at my side happily licking at her ice cream cone oblivious to my torment. Fuck that’s distracting. “Do you want to get us a table while I pay?”

She shakes her head. “I don’t think we have time. We need to get back to the theatre for the movie.”

I say a silent prayer and step up to pay.

The girl doesn’t make eye contact, just tallies up our order, punching keys on the cash register. “Two small cones. That’ll be four dollars.”

When she looks up and meets my eyes, she sucks in a breath and stumbles back a step. “Colt?”

I attempt an innocent smile. “Hello.”

Her eyes flick from mine over to Taylor’s. Taylor’s eyes widen. Shit. She’s stopped eating her ice cream and her blue eyes find mine. I hate knowing I disappoint her. The three of us stand there in an awkward stare off. The girl stares at me, shooting daggers with her eyes. Taylor stares at her feet and I’m watching Taylor, praying she can find it in her heart to forgive me twice within as many minutes. A second later, Taylor mumbles that she’ll wait in the car and heads for the door. Shit. Real smooth, Colt. That’s twice now I’ve fucked up tonight. But I have no clue how to handle these situations. This is entirely new to me.

I hand the girl the cash and dash out after Taylor without waiting for my change.

“Taylor, wait.” I jog over to her.

She’s standing with her back to me, her ice cream cone melting in her hand.

“Did you have sex with that girl?” she asks in a small voice, still facing away from me.

Mt stomach sinks. “Yeah, I did. But it meant nothing.”

“Why didn’t you introduce me?” she asks.

Oh. That’s what she’s mad about? That I didn’t introduce her as my girlfriend? “I, um, don’t remember her name.”

She spins around to face me. “You’re a real asshole, you know that?” She pokes a finger into my chest.

I nod, coyly. “I know. I was lost before you and trying to fill the void, but you’re the one I want now. You’re everything to me and I hate disappointing you. Forgive me, please?” I drop to my knees in front of her right in the parking lot. I probably look like a complete douche bag, but I don’t care I’ll do whatever it takes to make her smile again.

One corner of her mouth lifts up, but her eyes are still guarded. Her ice cream cone is melting and the chocolate is beginning to run down her hand. I lift her hand to my mouth and lick the steam of chocolate from her fingers, watching her expression. I just want to get her to laugh, to forget about all this shit and enjoy herself.

She smashes the ice cream cone in my face, leaving my mouth and chin wet with sticky sweet chocolate. I lick my lips, but the effort is futile. “Feel better?”

She giggles. “Yes, I do actually.”

“Good.” I stand up and fish the napkins from my pocket, cleaning up.

She happily licks at the ice cream cone that’s now flattened from my face.

When we pull up to the movie theatre, I’m almost afraid to go inside, unsure of who else I might know in there. I never realized what a small town this was. Maybe the next time I take Taylor out, we’ll venture a few towns over just to be safe.

I breathe a sigh of relief when I spot a pimply-faced kid at the box office. I sure as shit don’t know him. After buying our tickets, Taylor goes to the concession stand and looks longingly at the popcorn. I slid up behind her. “Can I get you some popcorn?” I whisper.

“It’s okay, I don’t need it.”

I drop my voice an octave lower. “I want to feed it to you. Plus you’ll need your energy for later.”

“Later?” she squeaks.

I nod.

“Large popcorn with butter,” I say to the kid behind the counter.

We make it through the movie without any more unwelcome incidents. Taylor’s braver than I am when it comes to scary movies. I’d hoped she’d be balled up on my lap, burying her head in my chest at the gory parts, but she’d just laugh and throw a handful of popcorn into her mouth. It was adorable. But it left me craving some closeness between us.

The credits begin to roll and I stretch, leaning over to her. “Did you like it?”

She nods, smiling. “Yeah. Thanks for the movie date.” She kisses me once quickly. Her lips are salty and buttery from the popcorn. Yum.

I escort her to the lobby, my arm slung over her shoulders. She makes a stop at the restroom and I stand outside, waiting for her.

“Colt Palmer?” a female voice behind me asks.