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Authors: Sibylla Matilde

Little Conversations

BOOK: Little Conversations
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© 2013,
Sibylla Matilde

[email protected]

 

ALL RIGHTS
RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal
Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material
is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express
written permission from the Sibylla Matilde.

This is a work
of fiction.  Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are
either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner.
 Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely
coincidental.  With the exception of the original material written by the
author, all songs, song titles, and lyrics contained in this book are the
property of the respective songwriters and copyright holders.

 

 

 

 

To my husband, my hero, my savior… my very own Ronin.

 

And to my smut sisters.  I’d have never written this down
without you.

 

Summary

Eighteen-year-old Devin McKay is a complete and total
emotional wreck. Fresh out of high school and on her own for the first time in
her life, she’s reeling from rejection of a relationship gone very, very bad.
Emotionally battered and tormented by the pull of her narcissistic first love,
she wants to make a clean break in a small mountain town where he is
everywhere—with his new girlfriend.

Ronin Andrews is still battling his own cataclysmic ghosts.
He recoils from anything heartfelt, choosing instead to work hard and live
wild. Outside of his job, parties and causal hooks-ups are his life until Devin
walks in. With her short skirt and her sad green eyes, he can’t help but want
her… badly. His protective streak wants to provide her with a haven, to shelter
and sustain her.

Through a flash of torrid intensity, they struggle to be
friends… just friends. She relies on him to nourish her shattered soul and
shield her heart from the clawing, gnawing loss that has consumed her. Before
long, the attraction proves too tenacious, and the passion between them becomes
undeniable. But will the shadows of the past prove too much to overcome?

Prologue

 

 

 

The seagulls flocked along the sandy beach, their cries
echoing along the bluffs overlooking the ocean.  Tide was coming in, and the
pounding surf swallowed some of their mournful resonance as fingers of water
reached out to grasp their little birdie feet.  With a nimble dance between the
waves, they picked through the kelp strewn about on the sand below.  In the
distance, far out beyond the tumbling surf, a faint occasional whale spout
would shoot upwards from the horizon as the pod of blue whales headed up the
coast.  Heavy, drab clouds somberly gave rise to the thick, salty-gray air. 

So far away from Montana.  Away from him.

It had been two weeks since she’d seen him.  The light
dancing in his hazel eyes.  His heart-stopping, teasing smile.  The soft caress
of his voice as he breathlessly whispered her name…
Dev
.

Two weeks since she’d touched him.  Since she’d been
enveloped in his strong arms, safe and protected.  Since she’d been lulled to
sleep by the steady beat of his heart.

Devin once again felt the tears prick at her eyes. 
What the
fuck was she going to do now?

Chapter 1 – Quarters

 

 

 

The gleaming quarter
thunked
right past its
target glass of beer… and landed in Ronin’s pocket. 

Devin McKay was
really bad
at this game.  Ronin, Joe,
and Shane, on the other hand, were all really quite good and had obviously
perfected their technique over the years.  She really should have steered clear
like Amy and Joanie had so astutely done, but she never claimed to be street
smart.  Quite the opposite, actually.  And she was proving that tonight.

It seemed every quarter the guys bounced across the table
made a perfect little
splash
into the glass of beer.  But it seemed
every quarter Devin bounced made a perfect little
ping
on the floor.  Or
a soft
pat
on someone’s shirt.  Hell, one even managed to land with a
plunk
in Ronin’s kitchen sink clear across the room.  And, with each tiny
splash
of beer, all fingers pointed at Devin to drink.  With each
ping
or
pat
or
clink
, Devin drank again.  Before long, she was really quite bombed.

Ronin’s hazel eyes crinkled as he smiled and pushed the
glass again in Devin’s direction.  “Drink up, sweetheart.”  

Good Christ,
she thought to herself in an intoxicated
daze. 
He’s a really fucking beautiful man. 
Broad shoulders and a
strong jaw.  A smile that had panties dropping all over town.  And right now,
he was smiling at her. 

Oh my goodness…

He nudged the glass a smidgen closer, shaking her from her
moment of stupor.  A stubborn fire lit inside her, and she shot him a feisty
look that only made his grin widen.  After fortifying her brave face, Devin
took a deep breath and downed the beer, throwing a challenging expression back
at Ronin as she slammed the glass back down on the table.  With a laugh, Ronin
refilled the glass, pulled the quarter from his pocket, and took careful aim. 

Splash!

Perfect shot. 

Devin watched the little bubbles rise from the quarter as it
settled in the bottom of the glass.  As she looked up at Ronin, he smirked and
leaned forward, resting his elbow on the table with his jaw in the palm of his
hand. 

“Me?” she mumbled.  “Me again?”

Ronin nodded with a chuckle.

Oh yes, she was fading fast. 

That was the point in tonight, though.  In coming to this
party to hang with a bunch of people she didn’t know very well.  They didn’t
know her history.  They didn’t know what an idiot she’d been for the past year
or more. 

Even though nothing was really private in a small town like
this, the high school kids rarely mixed with the twenty-somethings.  But, the
newly graduated seniors were beginning to infiltrate this somewhat older
crowd.  Amy had been bugging her brother, Shane, for months to let her come to
one of Ronin’s legendary parties.  As a big brother, he’d obviously been
reluctant, knowing the shit that went on there.  But after a great deal of
pleading and pouting by his baby sister, he had finally relented.  He said he’d
keep an eye on her and her friends, but warned them that they should be on
their best behavior.  He didn’t want to have to beat the shit out of the other guys.

Devin had only recently begun to really hang out with Joanie
and Amy, only since Jake had ripped her heart to pieces… again.  She’d met them
at high school keggers Jake had taken her to over the past couple years.  Staying
mostly in on the sidelines because of his admonishments, she’d admired their
outgoing natures from afar.  Until that hot July evening a few weeks ago when
Jake had said it was over.  Desperate to forget, to move on, Devin began to
accept their invitations, to join them in their free-spirited antics.  And here
she was.

Tonight, though, was no high school party.  This was
something else entirely, a whole new level of excess.  It bordered on hedonistic. 
It was exactly what Devin needed to get her mind off Jake, to forget the
frustration and loneliness of knowing who was in town.

Ronin’s house was the perfect setting to throw caution to
the wind, to surrender to the vices around her.  He lived alone on the outskirts
of town and didn’t have any neighbors that lived too close-by.  His cabin sat
back in dense stand of trees and bushes which provided camouflage when things
got a little overly rowdy.  He was a twenty-four-year-old single guy who didn’t
really seem to care much for decorating.  No pictures on the walls, not even
neon beer signs.  Not much to worry about getting destroyed.  He had a serviceable
couch and an armchair, both of which had seen their share of spilled beer and
God knows what else.  In the kitchen was a sturdy table and chairs.  Aside from
the big flat screen on his wall and the Blu-ray and stereo on a shelf in the
corner, Devin hadn’t really seen anything else.  Well, he probably had a bed,
but Devin tried really hard not to think about Ronin in a bed.  The mental
image alone lit her imagination and made her sweat.

So, here she sat at Ronin’s table trying to bounce quarters
into a short little glass of beer.  Knowing she had Shane as a protector in the
midst, Devin was determined to drink into oblivion.  She had every intention of
throwing them back until she blacked out.  To really go on a bender.  The loud
music, a mix of eighties and nineties, reverberated through the small house,
and Concrete Blonde shredded in the background about the realities of love,
The
Beast
that would ‘painfully pick you apart.’

Through the music came the sound of the front door opening
and closing.  Someone called from the living room, “Hey Jake!  Melanie!”

The blood drained from Devin’s face, her confident smile
disappeared, and her heart lurched painfully.

“Excuse me…” she mumbled under her breath as she pushed away
from the table and stumbled out the back door.

Outside, the cool mountain air soothed the blush of heated
embarrassment coursing through her cheeks.  She rubbed her temples with her
fingertips in an attempt to stem the unwanted tears that threatened. 
GOD!  Why? 
Why is he here?  Jake has never come to Ronin’s parties.  So why is he here now?
 Why is he here with her? 

Devin needed to get out of there.  She was pathetic enough
as it was.  She certainly didn’t need the whole party to witness her humiliating
breakdown.  She was horribly close, could feel the dam about to burst.  She started
edging around the yard, lit only by the faint light streaming through the
kitchen window.  She saw the gate—an escape route.  She’d just walk home.  Nobody
would likely even know she had left. 

The back door opened and Ronin stepped outside into the
darkness.

“You okay?” he asked as he came down the back stairs from
the kitchen. 

Damn! 
Devin took in a deep breath, trying to work up
a somewhat normal voice.  From her vantage point, she could see a little of the
merriment through the window.  The quarters were still clinking on the table as
new participants filled the chairs Ronin and her had just vacated.  After a
moment, she swallowed hard and whispered back to him in a small, stilted voice.
 “Yeah, I’m fine…”

He walked over to her and looked at her a little closer,
studying her for a moment.  He was a big, rugged guy, tall with broad
shoulders, and her own little five-foot two-inch frame felt dwarfed by him. 
But as her eyes adjusted to the dim light, she saw a genuine concern in his
expression.  His mouth twisted in a grimace.  “If it’s any consolation, Jake’s
an ass.  Don’t know him too well, but I’ve never liked that little fucker.”

Devin wasn’t sure why he was outside with her.  She barely
knew him, had only met him tonight, although she’d heard of him before.  Ronin
and his friends were legendary at the high school.  These guys had grown up,
but still lived a raucous life in this small town.  A few kids had older
siblings who’d gone to school with them, and stories floated around the halls
about the wild parties they’d had way back when.  That they continued to have
even now.

And he was a bit older than her, even though she was kind of
used to being one of the youngest in the group.  Devin had just turned eighteen
a week after graduation.  She was the youngest in her class, always the last to
reach milestones.  She’d been the last to get her driver’s license.  She’d
never even voted, only submitting a mock ballot when almost all the other seniors
went to the polls.

But, here was Ronin. 
The
Ronin Andrews.  Standing
outside with her in his yard, telling her he always thought Jake was an ass. 
Nobody, aside from Amy and Joanie, had ever spoken ill of Jake to her.  Jake
was one of the most popular guys at school, and it was social suicide to shun a
small-town celebrity like him.  She only had twenty-eight kids in her
graduating class, and almost every one of them idolized Jake.  He was like a
monarch, a regent—revered and worshipped. 

But Ronin was right.  He could kind of be an ass.  She just
wasn’t used to anyone else seeing it but her.  Not even Amy and Joanie knew the
full extent of her torment.  They wouldn’t understand why she kept running back
when he called.  Why she hoped and wished and dreamed.  Nobody would understand. 
Sometimes even Devin, herself, failed to.

She smiled sadly as her gaze dropped to the ground at her
feet.  “You’re probably right.” she whispered.  “But I love him.  I’ve loved
him for… forever.  From the first time I saw him, all I wanted was to be with
him.  All I wanted was to grow up and marry him.  To live happily ever after… with
him.”  She chewed at her lip as she realized she was rambling on, wondering for
a second why she was telling Ronin this.  But he stood there quietly with an
eyebrow raised and waited for her to continue.  “And then, Melanie came along. 
And now he doesn’t want me anymore.  He just pushes me to the side.  I’m not
sure how to deal with that.  It hurts.  It hurts to see them so happy together.”

Ronin studied her face thoughtfully.  “You want me to kick
him out?” he asked.

“What?  No,” she shook her head.  “No, no.  Don’t do that.  He’ll
be more fun than me to have around anyway.  I, um… I think I’ll just walk home.”

Ronin glanced back to the house, watching the revelry through
his wide kitchen window.  He turned back to Devin after a moment, his brows
knitted in a frown.  “Stay here a sec,” he said, and climbed the steps to his
house.

Devin felt a momentary relief as he went back inside.  She
wasn’t worth this much concern.  Ronin was… well, he was Ronin.  She was nobody—nobody
who mattered anyway.  She took a few steps back, standing on her tip-toes
trying to look through the window again to see what he was doing.  Maybe he was
grabbing his keys to give her a ride home?  Or was he finding Amy and Joanie to
take her?  She hoped he wasn’t going to spoil their fun. 

Then she saw him in the doorway between the kitchen and
living room.  He was talking to Jake and pointing to the front door.  Devin watched
open-mouthed as the Ronin towered over Jake.  Standing face-to-face, Jake seemed
diminished in comparison to Ronin’s solid height.  Jake… who had always looked
so perfect to her, not too big and not too small.  Just the right height and
build. 

Oddly now, though, Jake looked a little, well… wimpy. 
Young. 

Ronin was glaring at Jake.  He pointed at Melanie and
motioned again towards the door with his thumb.  Jake looked rather stunned,
opening and closing his mouth in a blubbering fishy motion.  He said something
to Ronin, and Ronin pulled up to his full height, puffing out his chest
slightly.  Jake immediately closed his mouth.  Melanie began pulling Jake out
of the kitchen towards the living room.  A moment or two later, Devin heard the
front door slam, pickup doors bang, and the familiar sound of Jake’s truck as
he drove away with an obnoxiously loud
rat-a-tatting
roar of his engine.

The kitchen door opened, and Ronin stepped out to the steps.
 “All clear.  Now let’s get you good and hammered!”  His perfect grin flashed
white in the faint light.

He seemed quite proud of himself, and, in spite of the drama
that just unfolded and the lingering tears in her eyes, Devin smiled back at
him.  Then she followed him back inside.

BOOK: Little Conversations
11.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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