Chapter Seven

I nodded, instantly feeling exhausted and emotional, fuck I could feel my eyes tearing up. As I stumbled in my exhaustion and River caught me, the electric shock waves ricocheted around my body again, leaving me gasping. I needed to get out of his reach and not just tonight, but from here. I’d leave tomorrow morning. It’s not like I’d promised him anything. I just wasn’t prepared for him to stay out in the rain.

We ended up walking back to my room together. I’m not sure if he trusted me to stay, or he wanted to keep holding my arm. I’m not sure if I wanted to leave or let him go.

“Goodnight Joss, thank you for coming back here.” River spoke quietly, but his voice still sent shivers over my body.

“Don’t you mean thank you for getting you out of the rain?” I tried to brush off his words with a joke, not wanting him to realize how much he affected me.

“No, Joss, I don’t mean that. Get some sleep. You look ready to fall. We can talk again tomorrow.” He paused, then his hand brushed my long hair from my eyes as he sighed. “Goodnight.”

Black and Grey Fashion Sale Facebook Post.png

I watched as his eyes darted down to my mouth and for a moment; I thought he was going to kiss me, then just like the lightning earlier, another noise broke us apart again. The heat in his eyes faded and he let out a breath.

“Goodnight, Joss.”

“Yeah, night, River.”

He turned and walked away.

“Thank you for caring.” I murmured, not really expecting him to hear, but he turned back and strode toward me. His hands cupped my face, and his mouth was on mine. The kiss was hard and hot, oh god, so hot. Pulling off me as quickly, he rested his forehead against mine, his breathing heavy.

“You bring something out in me, Joss. I don’t know why, but you, shit, you make me want to break all of my rules.” He whispered against my lips. I closed my eyes as I took in what he said. This is not something I could let happen. I needed to get my shit together and get my life in order. Then maybe I could trust myself near him.

“I’m not worth breaking your rules for River. Goodnight.” I opened the door to my night’s sanctuary and stepped inside.

“I think you might be. Goodnight.” He said quietly with so much truth laced in the few words. This time, I let him walk away, saying nothing more.

I collapsed back on the bed, and oh my god, I groaned at the feeling of the soft mattress beneath me. An hour ago, I’d hit my limit. The rain had drenched me through and chilled to the bone. The growling in my hollow stomach had become painful. I had been way past rock bottom; I’d hit the fiery pits of hell. I didn’t even have the energy to be angry at the people that had brought me here. My mother dying, who my father was, and the callous lawyers that watched me leave with only a rucksack over my shoulder. Now, with my skin still buzzing alive after the scorching hot shower, I could think of River and how the ridiculously hot the man who’d just kissed me. I pushed up again and out of bed. I stripped out of my sweats, but left everything else on. When I climbed back under the sheet and blankets and my head hit the pillow, my eyes closed, I could see River’s face again, and feel the heavy press of his lips on mine. I wondered if I’d ever get the chance to repeat it. It’s not long before I felt the heaviness of sleep overtake me and soon I submitted to a dreamless slumber.

 

I woke up slowly, my mind thick after such a deep sleep up and with it came the confusion of where I am? As I gingerly opened my eyes, I took in my surroundings, jogging my memory back to yesterday, and all the confusion it brought me. But mainly I think of the good-looking man who kissed me goodnight, and the way he slid his lips over mine, completely owning the brief but so sexy kiss. The way he gently nudged my hair from my eyes before staring into them. I stayed tucked up, lost in my thoughts, keeping under my covers, not willing to give up the comfort, not knowing when I’d get to experience it again.

But you don’t have to give it up, my brain chastised me. The rational side argued with the stubborn side. River said I could stay, but it’s not how it’s supposed to happen. I needed to get my head back in the game and stick to my original idea. I didn’t want to find myself attached to this place, to him, if I’m cast aside and told to leave them alone and not to come back. This needed to be done today. To stop wasting time, get my head out of my ass and get it over with. I’d talk to River and tell him I needed to go see someone and that if it all went okay, I’d come back.

Chapter Eight

Yeah, like that was going to work. He’s not going to let me walk out of here without knowing why. I’m just not sure I could tell him. It was a confidence that the other side of this fuck up may not appreciate. Maybe I could sneak out? I had no idea what the time was, but it seemed early. I hadn’t heard any other voices outside my room as people moved about.

Pushing back the covers, I grabbed my sweats from the end of the bed and tugged them on. Then grabbed the sneakers he gave me last night and tied them quickly. I looked around the room for my bag, panicked for a second when I couldn’t see it. Then spied it in the corner, under a chair. I was going to need it; it had the only proof I have that it could all be true.

When I stepped out of the room, I could hear voices. Not wanting to be stopped, I ducked my head down and headed to the exit and out into the main hall. It was obviously breakfast time. There were chairs scraping on the solid floor, add the clunk of plates and the rattle of cutlery hitting the Formica tables. It sounded busy. My stomach growled, but I ignored it and shuffled past, heading for the main doors. As my hand hit the release bar on the door, I heard the one person I needed to avoid. I stilled with my hand on the bar and looked over my shoulder.

 

red minimalist chinese new year sale facebook post (Instagram Post).png

“Going somewhere Joss? Have you even had breakfast before you run off again?” River sounded disappointed and he had no right to do so. I never promised him anything.

“Yeah, I’m going to head out. I need to go see someone.” I found it hard to look at him. Hell, I found it impossible to look at him.

“Have you got your clothes from the laundry room?” He asked, and I sighed. I’d forgotten about them. He didn’t need to know that, though.

I tapped my backpack and nodded. “Yep, got it all here.” I pressed the door again.

“Oh? So, these aren’t your clothes I’ve got folded in my office?” His sarcastic toned bugged me, unless he was bluffing, but why would he? He’d got nothing to lose. Turning slowly around, I brought my head up and looked at him. I expected him to look angry, but he didn’t. He looked fuck, he looked hurt.

“I’m sorry, River, I’ve just got to go see someone. I’ll try to come back after. I’m so grateful for what you did. For standing in the pouring rain and looking like you didn’t care that you were soaked through to the skin. For the shower and the bed and hell, for the clothes I’m standing in.” I shook my head. “You really are an amazing man; I promise if I can get through the next few hours, I will come back, even if it’s just to say goodbye.”

“That’s all sounding either extremely dangerous or melodramatic. Give me a more believable reason to let you walk out of here.” His arms crossed over his chest and although he was a couple of inches shorter than me, he was built, not gym-rat muscles but well defined.

“Because you can’t stop me.” I cringed as he closed his eyes. “I’m sorry, I really am. Just let me get my head straight today and I’ll be back. There’s no danger, just something that’s confusing and needs to be sorted out.” I walked up to him and put my hands on his hips, being braver than I ever have been before I looked into his eyes. “Thank you for kissing me last night. That was hot!”

I watched him blush and grinned. “Yeah, I thought so too. Go on, get out of here, but please come back, even if it’s just so I know you’re safe.”

“I will. I promise.” I let go of him and walked out of the doors into the bright sunshine. The heat had evaporated away all traces of last night’s storm.

“Hey, Joss! Wait up!” River called out and jogged up to me. “Look, take some cash. We have a fund, so anyone who leaves at least has enough for a motel and some food for a couple of days. I hope you don’t use it to walk away from here, and maybe from me.”

He shoved an envelope in my hand and then pushed his hands into his back pockets.

I laughed and dropped a chaste kiss on his lips. “Thank you, you can have it back later today. Minus a cab fare.” I winked, surprising myself and him by the look on his face at my actions.

I strode away, feeling lighter than I thought I would, but it only lasted for a moment. Then the thought of what I needed to do weighed heavy on me. Fuck it, what would be the worst thing that happens? They laugh and close the door in my face. I didn’t need the piece of paper with the address on it. I knew it by heart now.

I wasn’t expecting anything from them. I just think they have a right to know. They should know about what their father had done. Hell, there could be half a dozen more like me out there.

I saw a cab coming toward me with its hire light lit and raised my arm to alert him, I still had the twenty dollars the last trucker handed me before he told me to go back home, to forgive whoever had made me run, I didn’t have it in me to tell him I had no one and nowhere to go to anymore. I slid onto the back seat of the cab and gave the driver the address. I ignored the raised eyebrows as he took in my scruffy appearance because my heart was racing a mile a minute. I stared out of the side window as we drove out of the city and into suburbia. As the cab climbed up a steep hill, the houses were getting larger are further apart.

Then in the cab's silence, I heard the ticking of the blinker and we turned into a wide sweeping drive lined with well-established trees and shrubs. Still going uphill for a couple of hundred feet or more before he circled around a large parking court, I could only stare up at a huge white house. The many small square windows sparkled in the bright sunlight. It really was the nicest house I’d ever seen. I wondered if I even get a chance to step inside it.

The driver grumbled the fee at me, and I handed him the twenty and waited for my change. I didn’t have money to waste, I may need the money River yet, too.

“Thank you.” I murmured; my eyes fixed on the front door.

Climbing out, I shrugged my backpack up over my shoulder. The photograph I’d clung onto for so many months is now tucked in my back pocket. I turned and watched over my shoulder as the cab sped away. Maybe I should’ve asked him to wait. This could be over within minutes. Oh well, I was here, and I had nothing to lose.