Read My Once and Future Love Online

Authors: Carla Krae

Tags: #my once and future love, #contemporary romance, #jacob and beth

My Once and Future Love (2 page)

BOOK: My Once and Future Love
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He grinned. “Brilliant. See you out front.”
He walked out.

I found a Coke in the refrigerator, took it
up to my room, and freshened up, slammed the soft drink, belched
(oops), and grabbed my purse/camera bag. Mrs. Lindsey wished me a
good time on my way out.

I stopped short when I saw his mode of
transportation. “Nuh-uh.”

“It’s perfectly safe,” he said from the
bike.

“It’s a
motorcycle
. And I remember how
you drive.”

He held up a second helmet. “Don’t you trust
me, Bethie?”

Oh, not the pout…damn him
.
I took the
helmet and stuck it on my head. “If you kill me, I’m haunting you
forever.”

He rolled his eyes. “Hold on tight and you’ll
be fine.”

Hold on tight, eh? To
what
? He climbed
on the bike and looked back at me expectantly. I straddled the bike
behind him and wrapped my arms around his waist.

“Put your feet on those little pegs,” he
instructed. I did. He pulled my arms further around his middle.
“Tighter. You’ll fly backwards when I accelerate with a grip that
loose.”

“Okay.”

He started the motorcycle. I had a death
grip. Oh-god-oh-god…

When he made it roll forward, I hid my face
between his shoulder blades. Air started moving very fast past my
body.

Sorry, Mom and Dad…

 

Chapter Two

When we hadn’t crashed for several minutes, I
dared to look at my surroundings. Traffic was slowing as we got
into the city proper. The whole left side of the road thing was
very strange.

“You okay back there?” Jacob asked.

“Maybe.”

I felt him laugh. The slower pace wasn’t so
bad. The buildings weren’t a blur, and the wind wasn’t deafening. I
started to notice how firm the body in front of me was. Felt the
definition of his abs through his tee. I inhaled his shirt and
relaxed. He still smelled the same, a mixture of fabric softener,
cologne, and natural Jacob.

We stopped at a signal. He patted my
hand.

“Not much further.”

“Okay,” I yelled over the noise of
London.

He finally parked by an apartment building. I
handed him the helmet. He offered his hand to help me off the bike.
There’d been a lot of hand touching today, something he’d never
done before. It wasn’t a new building, but it looked maintained. I
followed him inside.

He held the door for me. “The lift is out of
order, so we’ll have to take the stairs.”

“How many floors?”

“Two.”

“Yippee.” I walked a lot back home, but not
up hills or stairs. Nerds didn’t do exercise.

“Wuss.”

“Bite me.”

He tugged on a strand of my hair. “Don’t
tempt me.”

Following him upstairs meant I had a nice
view of his butt the whole way. “Doing this every day must be a
good workout.”

“Keeps me from gettin’ fat,” he quipped.

“Oh, yeah, I’m sure you’re in real danger of
that.”

He sighed, laying the drama on thick. “No one
understands…”

I rolled my eyes. “You are so full of
it!”

He stopped in front of 3B and fished his keys
out of his pocket. “Home sweet home.”

The interior was a true bachelor pad. One
futon, one secondhand chair, and two game systems on the coffee
table in front of a large TV.

“Live here by yourself?”

“Sometimes.” He dropped the helmets on the
floor.

“Sometimes?”

“Yeah. Sometimes a mate needs to crash.
Sometimes I’m short on rent.”

“Ah. What about now?”

“Alone.” He shrugged. “Technically.”

“Meaning you get visitors a lot?”

He grinned. “I’m a popular bloke, love. So,
bed’s through there, loo’s over there, and everything else you can
see.”

“It’s…nice.” Translation: dusty, cluttered,
and slightly smelly.

He’d walked into the tiny kitchen to grab a
beverage. “You’re welcome to crash after the gig.”

“You’re not gonna take me back?”

He laughed. “It’ll be late, Bethie.”

“Oh.” If I’d known, I’d have at least grabbed
a toothbrush. “You need to warn a girl
ahead of time
.”

“Spontaneity really isn’t in you, is it?”

“If you’re going to make fun of me, I can
take a cab back to your mother’s.”

“I was
teasing
, pet. Since when are
you so defensive around me?”

Oh, since my hormones reminded me my crush
never went away and he was even more gorgeous than I remembered.
“Since when are you so nosy.”

He held up his hands, backing off. “Maybe
some rest would be a good idea, after all.”

Feeling guilty, I turned away from him and
walked to the window. “Sorry I snapped at you.”

“Already forgotten. Take my bed, hmm? We can
catch up over dinner.”

I shook my head and sat on his futon. “I’m
fine.”

He sat down next to me, legs sprawled. “Wanna
play somethin’, then?”

I set my bag on the floor. “A video
game?”

“Or cards. Whatever.”

“Tell me about your life here.” I folded my
legs under me.

“Well, the music degree is harder than I
thought it would be. I can play and sing, but they want a lot more
than that. A bloody lot. The memorization fries my brain, then I
kill my voice at another gig.” He shrugged a shoulder. “But that’s
why I don’t care if it takes me five years to graduate.”

“If you hit the big time before then, will
you still finish your degree?”

He tilted his head to one side, thinking. “I
don’t know. It’d depend on how things are in that moment, I think.
How much I had left, and how good the offer was.” He tapped my
knee. “What about you? What are your big plans?”

“Well, I’ve declared as an art major, but my
focus is photography, of course. I might have jumped the gun at
accepting, though…I’m going to have to take some online courses at
the same time in order to learn what I should.”

“Why’d you take UCLA if it’s not all you’re
looking for?”

I sighed. “Because it’s close to home…and
maybe because Dad was so proud I got in. He’s a big fan of the
basketball team.”

“Bethie…”

“I know, I should’ve cut the apron strings.
He doesn’t get that I don’t need to be protected anymore.” I ran a
hand through my hair. “To him, I’m still a little girl. You know
how I’m really here? He refused to let me go alone even though I
offered to pay part of it, so I went to your mom and convinced her
to bring me along. By the time he got back from his trip, tickets
were bought and Mom had approved me going, so all he could do was
grumble. He’ll probably be a bear when I get home.”

“Hell bent on seein’ me, huh?”

“You’re just an excuse. I’m really here for
the fish ‘n’ chips,” I deadpanned.

“Why you--”

He attacked me with tickling fingers. His
fingertips dug into my ribs and I almost jerked off the couch. I
tried to scramble backward from his hands, but the metal armrest
cut off my escape. He went for the soft flesh of my middle. I
shrieked and tried to roll off the futon.

He wrapped his arm around my waist and hauled
me back. “Not gettin’ away that easy. Now, admit you missed me and
couldn’t live without my presence.”


Puh-lease.

He pressed his fingers into the most
vulnerable spot of my abs. “Say it,” he sang.

“Gah! No more.”

“Say ‘Jacob Lindsey’s the best reason to come
to London’.”

“I’m not— Aaaah! Okay, okay.” I glanced back
at him. “Please stop.”

He grinned in triumph. “Give me what I
want.”

Anything
, my hormones said. This close
to him, my back against his chest and the room hot from our war, I
remembered how much I’d wanted him to kiss me for four years. My
face was close enough to his to do it, but I froze, knowing I
couldn’t take it back if I made the move. We sat staring at each
other for I don’t know how long.

He swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing, and
finally looked away. “What time is it?”

I looked at my watch. “Almost one.”

He let go of me. “Hungry?”

“Thirsty.”

“Okay.” He stood and walked into the kitchen.
“I’ve got soda, energy drinks, beer, and water.”

“Gee, how health conscious of you,” I teased.
My pulse was still racing.

“S’posed to eat crap in college. I miss that
place…the burger joint by the high school?”

“Tommy’s.”


Right
.” He rubbed his belly. “Heart
attack wrapped in paper.”

“I’m
so
gonna out-live you.”

He tossed me a bottle of water. “Maybe. Maybe
not.”

“Huh?”

“Most accidents happen in the home, Miss
Homebody.” Back to the banter.

“Whatever.”

He grabbed a bag of “crisps” and turned on
the TV with the remote left on the counter.

I’d never seen British television before.
“What are you doing?”

“Checking the football score.”

“Summer’s not football season, Jacob.”

“Not
American football
!” He shuddered.
So melodramatic.

“Oh, soccer.”

He muttered something that sounded like
“bloody Yanks”.

I got up to use his bathroom.

Gross! Did he ever clean in here? I rinsed my
hands—there wasn’t any soap visible—and shook them dry. Seriously,
would it kill him to use some Comet or bleach in here once in a
while? The shower had a ring of soap scum at the bottom, the toilet
was no longer porcelain white, and the sink had shaving cream
residue in the basin. The only remotely clean spot was the
mirror.

“You are a pig,” I said when I walked
out.


Pig
?”

“That bathroom is totally gross! They don’t
clean themselves, you know.”

He shrugged. “I’ll get to it.”

I folded my arms over my chest and gave him
The Look. “In the next millennium? You’re about to have old stuff
growing new stuff.”

He turned back to the sports channel. “It’s
not
that
bad.”


Men
.” I felt better, getting a second
wind now that breakfast had digested some. “Come on. Play tour
guide.”

“Thought you were tired?”

“Was. Now I’m not. Take me somewhere!”

“I have a gig tonight.”

“So? That’s hours from now. Please?” I rocked
on my heels, wanting to get
outside
.

He didn’t move from the futon. “Need my
energy for tonight, Beth. Not goin’ to run you all over town.”

I stood in front of the TV, blocking his
view. “Doesn’t have to be ‘all over town’. Just one place. Come
on…I came all this way. Can’t you indulge me a little bit?”

I could pout, too. When he sighed and started
shaking his head, I knew I’d won. He turned off the television,
rose to his feet, and grabbed his keys.

“Forgetting the helmets?”

“We’re not takin’ the bike.”

“Oh.” Okay
.
An afternoon stroll was
alright, I guess.

People don’t often think of it, but each city
has its own smell. Downtown L.A. at night, for instance, smells
like urine. In London, I immediately felt I was someplace really
old. The history was tangible, like the memories long-past were
still floating down the streets. And oh-my-goodness English people
talked fast! Someone passed me talking on their cell phone and the
blur of sound had my brain saying “what?”

Jacob had this odd smile on his face.

“What?” I asked. “Am I gawking?”

“Little bit.”

We kept bumping shoulders—just a brush that
said
hi, I’m still here.
“Sorry. I don’t mean to scream
‘tourist’. You have an interesting neighborhood. Good-interesting,
not interesting-is-code-for-I’m-afraid-for-my-purse.”

He smiled. “I get it, love.”

“Okay.”

We walked a while, in no rush. I smelled
fried food and felt my mouth water. He grabbed my hand to pull me
into a shop.

“Fish ‘n’ chips?”

“The best on this side of London,” he
said.

“Thank you.”

He glanced down at me. “For what?”

“Not being too busy to spend time with me.”
My hand was still in his. My palm started to sweat.

He lifted my chin with his finger. “Hey,
there’s always room for my Bethie.”

His Bethie
.
God, I loved the sound of
that. I got caught in his eyes and the room fell away.

“Next!”

He stepped up to the counter to order,
dropping my hand. He’d touched me more today than I could remember
before. I didn’t know what to do with that. Was that how he was
with women in general now, or did it mean something?

I wished I had more experience in the
boy-girl thing to figure it out--wouldn’t know a guy like-liked me
unless he came out and said it, or kissed me. Anything more subtle
was over my nerdy head.

“Beth.”

“Hmm?”

“Food, pet.”

Caught spacing out, I blushed. “Oh.”

“Where do you want to eat?”

I shrugged. “It’s your town.”

He thought for a second, then led me to a
small park. We picked a bench. Pigeons waddled over for our
fries.

“Huh. Not just in the movies.”

“What isn’t?” he asked around a mouthful.

“Pigeons everywhere.” Mmm, fried fish
.
Something about traveling always increased my appetite.

“Ah. Yeah, like winged rats. Breed like
bunnies.”

“Pretty feathers, though.”

“I s’pose.”

A nice park on a not-too-hot summer day, good
company, yummy food…I could get used to this leaving the house
thing. Temporary, though. Just a vacation. He’d be on his side, I’d
be on my side, and another year would pass before we could possibly
do it again.

Pessimist? Me?
Nah
.

We went back to his apartment after
lunch.

Fortunately, I did have a change of clothes
in my bag, a tank top and knee-length skirt that didn’t wrinkle.
Normally didn’t wear skirts often, but coming to a different
country, I didn’t know when I might come upon a dressier occasion.
The tank I had in case the temp spiked, but it also worked better
for a club than my preppy shirt.

BOOK: My Once and Future Love
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ads

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