Bonus Scene: “Lost and Longing”, a summer before senior year Ian PoV
The following is a brand new scene that takes place during the summer before Rules and Roses.
Rules and Roses is Book 1 in the Untouchable series.
Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.
“Lost and Longing”
The music cranked up a notch and I had to remember to thank Archie for letting me have the party here. My parents volunteered to host it. One, we didn’t have this much space in our yard or pool. Two, our neighbors would care if the volume was even half of what it was now. Three, I loved my mom and dad, but considering how many people were making out and half-naked already or the couple of girls who’d flat out ditched their suits entirely?
Yeah. Not a good idea.
I lifted the cold bottle of beer and took a long drink. Besides, alcohol wouldn’t have flown there either. I met Jake’s bland stare across the pool where Maria was currently glaring at him. He rolled his eyes and I shook my head. Jake had broken up with her twice, but she kept coming back.
Sharon slid onto my lap and looped damp arms around my neck blocking my view. “You’re just sitting over here, birthday boy, why don’t we go somewhere and make it fun?”
“Not having fun at my party?” I took another long drink of the beer even as I glanced around the throng of kids dancing, swimming, laughing, and playing. The blonde in my lap wasn’t the one I was looking for. She did a little grind against me and my dick twitched, but he had about as much interest as I did at the moment.
When she leaned in to nuzzle my ear, she whispered, “Just think about how much more fun we could have if we were naked?”
I might be able to work up to that. When she pressed in tighter to me and tried to suck on my ear, I scanned the crowd again and then paused.
Right there on the other side of the pool, near the side gate that let people in without having to go through the house. A blonde turned around, a small birthday sack in her fingers. It wasn’t fully dark out here yet, but the movement of others kept blocking my view, then she faced the pool and seemed to be searching.
It was the first time in nearly three months she’d shown up anywhere. I started to stand and Sharon jolted.
“Off,” I ordered her.
She frowned. “You don’t have to be rude…”
I didn’t have time for this. I scooped her up and stood, then dropped her back in my seat.
Ignoring her complaint, I shotgunned the last of my beer then left the bottle on the table and walked away. People moved between us, but I threaded my way through the crowd. When I didn’t spot her right away, I frowned
No fucking way I imagined—
“Hey.” The soft huskiness of her voice was a hug I hadn’t even realized I’d been missing. Turning around, I found Frankie standing there with a hesitant expression in her perfect green eyes and a tremulous smile on her lips. “Happy birthday.”
Fuck my birthday. I wrapped an arm around her and dragged her in for a hug. Beyond going to Mason’s to grab a burger and hopefully a snatch three or four words of conversation, I hadn’t been close to her in months. She didn’t answer text messages or phone calls. Fuck, if Coop hadn’t made a regular point of checking on her when she did her damn laundry I might have camped out at her back door.
A part of me still wanted to, but she’d said something about traveling for colleges and… fuck it. She was here. She came. I would make the most of it.
Her shoulders were a little stiff at first but then she softened. Finally, she hugged me back. “Sorry, I’m late,” she told me as she gripped me tight and I closed my eyes as I held on probably a few seconds longer than I should. But it was my damn birthday.
“I haven’t seen you since I was seventeen,” I tried to tease her and keep it light, but I didn’t want to let her go even as I made myself take a step back. Accepting we’d only ever be friends was one thing. Accepting I didn’t get to see her anymore?
Her rolling her eyes at me was the second best thing I’d seen in months. Lifting the gift bag, she glanced past me to the party and shifted on her feet. I swore, it looked like she was ready to bolt so I moved to block her view of the insanity. Fuck, there were actual naked girls out there. I was pretty sure at least a couple of people were screwing. We’d never have let the party get this out of hand if she’d been here…
“Let’s go somewhere quiet?” I suggested more to get her out of here than anything else. A hand on my back almost made me want to punch something, I didn’t even have to look to know Sharon had come to lean against me.
Fuck. My. Life.
“Don’t be greedy, Frankie. The birthday boy can’t disappear from his own party.” The possessive arm she tried to wrap around me irritated the fuck out of me.
“Sure he can,” I told her and stepped out of her grasp even as I caught Frankie’s hand in mine. The tautness in her fingers and the fact she immediately tried to pull away was a sharp little stab. “It’s my birthday and on my birthday…”
“Birthday boy gets what he wants,” Frankie finished.
“Exactly.” I grinned at her and a faint smile turned up the corners of her mouth but then she flashed a look beyond me to the party again. Definitely time to get her out of here. Fuck, I wish I hadn’t let Jake talk me into picking me up. If I had my bike here, I could take her for the first ride on it. I’d been dying to show her the bike since I finished that class. “What I want right now is time with my friend,” I told Sharon and jerked my chin back toward the pools. “Go hang out somewhere else, okay?”
I didn’t wait for her to answer as I walked Frankie away from the party and toward the gate. It only took walking around the corner of the house to get away from some of the noise and I blew out a breath.
“You didn’t have to leave the party.”
“Hush,” I said, letting go of her hand and slinging an arm around her shoulders to tug her close. She smelled like Frankie. Hints of her shampoo, but none of the burger smell. She’d gone home to shower after work probably. “Indulge me. It’s my birthday.”
Okay, low blow, but if the guys caught sight of her, they’d be here in a heartbeat. And I kind of wanted to be a little selfish. A lot selfish.
She huffed out a laugh and I did a little internal fist pump. We walked slowly together and she didn’t try to pull away. Archie’s parents’ place was huge and there was one of those side patios up around the way not far from the kitchen. We could probably sit there.
“I should have grabbed you a drink.” Shit. Idiot.
“I’m fine,” she told me. “Besides. That was a lot of booze flowing back there and I’m driving. So no drinking for me.”
“There’s Cokes and stuff, too,” I admitted, then ran a hand over my face.
“That’s why you smell like a keg.”
“Ignore me,” she added quickly with a wave of her hand.
We reached the patio and there were no lights on and with the sun’s descent the fading light left us in shadows. The air was hot and sticky, but that was all of August and I let her go, albeit reluctantly, then pulled out a chair for her.
Once we were seated, she set the bag in front of me. “Happy birthday, Bubba.”
“You showing up is the best present I could have.” No lie. The last few months had been so fucking weird without her. But I hadn’t even realized just how much I missed having her around until she showed up. Or how much I’d been looking for her. The one girl I wanted to ask out more than anyone else, but she just didn’t date. She was flat out oblivious to the fact that guys and girls alike looked at her.
So, we kept the hordes away and kept her safe. It was the least we could do.
“Uh huh…are you opening presents now or do you want me to put it somewhere?” There was an element of weariness in her voice that had me leaning forward.
“Let me open it now,” I said reaching for the bag. “I don’t know if there are other presents. It’s really not that kind of party.”
“What kind is it?”
I opened my mouth and then winced. “A little out of control,” I admitted.
“Uh huh. Drinking. Screwing. Just—cutting loose?”
Another wince and I squinted at her. Getting her away from the party had been a stellar idea. But tucking her here where I couldn’t really see her was a terrible one.
The lights cut on overhead and we both squinted. Then one of the glass doors to the kitchen opened and Jeremy paused to glance out at us. “Mr. Bubba and Miss Frankie…it’s good to see you. We’ve missed you around here.”
“Hey Jeremy,” she greeted him with a far warmer smile than she’d given me. Then again, Frankie always had liked his cooking. “Sorry, we can shuffle back to the party…”
“Certainly not,” he intoned then gave me a mildly reproving look. Message received buddy. Not that I wanted her back there anyway. “You two make yourself comfortable and I’ll change the light settings so we don’t attract the insects. Can I get you anything to drink?”
“I’m good,” Frankie told him.
“Maybe some water?” I tried. Hopefully I didn’t look as desperate as I felt.
“Sure,” she agreed.
After Jeremy delivered a pair of ice cold water bottles, he locked back up and as promised dimmed the lights. So far the bugs hadn’t bothered us, but it was Texas and August, it was more a matter of if than when.
She nudged the bag toward me and I pulled the ribbon she’d tied it closed with loose then eyed her. “Should I guess first?”
A real laugh escaped her this time, half-hearted at best, but still real. “Go for it.” There was a genuine smile and I grinned. I rattled the bag, and made a big show of examining it without opening it.
“Nothing breakable.” I checked with her, but all she did was take a drink of water. Yes, her eyes were still on me and the dim light didn’t hide their amusement. “Hmm…not heavy enough for a book.” I squeezed it. “But not hard either.”
Okay I was a little puzzled. I shot her a look and all she did was raise her brows. “Any guesses?”
“It’s something I’m going to love.”
“You sound certain of that.”
“You gave it to me,” I admitted and tugged the top of the bag apart. “And you came to my party.” Opening the bag, I stared inside at the sheet music books. I’d been wrong. It was a book, but it was soft covered and…
Before I could say anything though, Jake’s voice cut through the dark. “Bubba, if you’re gonna sneak off to fuck some chick could you possibly get rid of the other girl first. Sharon is a pain in the—oh, fuck. Hey, Frankie…”
“Frankie?” Archie was a half-step behind him and then they were both there and she scooted the chair back to stand. I closed the bag as they both shoved their way into the alcove. “What the hell are you guys hiding over here for?”
Archie snagged her hand and for the first time in a long time, I wanted to punch him. I hadn’t wanted to hit him this hard since ninth grade when he spent months trying to date Frankie. Probably would have if I hadn’t ended up feeling bad for him.
“Let’s go. It’s been too damn long since you came to party.”
Jake grabbed her for a hug and she squirmed a little at the contact and then sighed as she gave him a hug back.
“Let go,” I muttered and shouldered Archie gently. “Birthday boy here and you know the rules.”
“Lucky bastard,” Jake murmured, then surrendered her. I really didn’t want to take her back to the party, but they were herding us there.
“Come on,” Archie said. “I’ll get you a drink and we can catch up. It’s been months, babe. Way too long.”
The minute we got back to the rowdy party, it was hard to miss Coop and Laura making out on one of the lounge chairs. Patty made a beeline for Archie, while Sharon was right there glaring at me because I’d told her to get lost.
Great. Mitch cut in and thumped me on the shoulder. The whole football team was here and Mitch was half-trashed. “Hey, Frankie girl. Where you been? I thought you dumped these losers.”
“Fuck off,” Jake told him even as Maria wrapped herself around him. He wasn’t paying an ounce of attention to her. Hell, I didn’t blame him, I was watching Frankie, too. Mitch just shrugged off the verbal threat, but he also didn’t stick around. We ran a pretty tight ship and Jake had made it clear, more than once, what the rules regarding Frankie were.
Archie didn’t take long to grab beers for all of us and he handed her one, but she didn’t take a sip. Then the music changed and Sharon dragged at my arm. “Come on,” she told me, taking the present out of my fingers and tossing it on the table. “I love this song.”
One dance and I’d get rid of her. “‘l’ll be back,” I told Frankie and squeezed her hand before I let Sharon lead us to the makeshift dance floor. More kids had arrived while I’d been talking to Frankie. They were everywhere. Some of the girls were topless and there was more than one blowjob going on. Fuck, the guys better watch out for her.
I ended up dancing twice with Sharon because Maria dragged Jake out there and then I was done. I wanted to get caught up with Frankie.
But she was gone.
Archie handed me a beer. “I sent her in to grab a suit so she could join us, but she slipped out.” He didn’t even have to ask who I was looking for. He sounded like I felt. “And before you ask, I already checked to see if her car was gone.”
“Thanks.” I should never have danced with Sharon. It took me a minute to find the present Frankie had given me. Some asshole had tossed it near the bin with the used and empty bottles. Sharon slid right up on me again and this time, I really did shrug her off.
“Come on, Bubba. Let me make you feel good…” She had her hand in my swim trunks and I tugged free.
“Enough,” I snapped and this time when she reached for me, I caught her wrist. “I meant it, Sharon. Fuck off.”
She blinked. “What?”
“You’re not getting the picture. You and me, we’re not a thing. We had some fun, but you’re getting on my nerves now. So fuck off.”
And I’d had enough of that, I downed the beer and dropped it with the other empties and stalked away, sheet music in hand.
Jake caught me heading inside. “Done?”
“More than done,” I told him. “I need a real drink and to get the fuck away from…” I waved to the party.
He nodded. “Head up to the deck. I’ll tell Arch and we’ll clear it out. Might take a while.”
I needed a while.
Upstairs, even with the dull throb of the music from the party still playing, I checked my phone.
No messages from her, but I sent her one anyway.
Thanks for the music. I love it. Maybe we can get lunch this week?
I thought about adding more, but then just shut off the message. There were a few above that she’d never read. I didn’t even know if she’d read this one.
But she’d gotten me sheet music. She remembered.
She was the only one who ever did.
Fuck, I missed her.