Craving Absolution(4)

By: Nicole Jacquelyn

“Callie’s in Oregon,” I said with a snort, once I’d gotten a handle on my eye-fucking idiocy. “She left this morning to see you.”

I watched him closely as he stared at me, taking in everything from my messy ponytail to my bare feet, and I started to worry that I had food on my face or something because he didn’t say a word. When he still didn’t speak for almost a minute, I had to bite my tongue so I wouldn’t chatter like a crazy person just to fill the silence. Cody had always had that effect on me, and it made my normally composed facade seem like a thing of the past.

Well, screw that.

I met his eyes with a droll look and spun around as gracefully as I could, pretending a nonchalance about his appearance at my door. “Come on in, if you want. I was just making myself pretty.”

Cody’s large hands gripped my hips from behind before I could get more than two steps into the room, and I stopped abruptly as I felt him step forward and press his body against me.

No, no, what was he doing? I couldn’t think with his hands on me! We needed to keep a distance between us; it was in the damn unwritten rules we’d lived by for years.

I closed my eyes and vaguely noticed the sound of the front door closing as his breath fanned against the side of my face.

Oh shit.

“I’m not here to see Callie.” He spoke quietly, bumping his nose against my ear. “I’m here to see you, and you’re already beautiful.”

Every muscle in my body froze at his sensual tone, at the memory that slammed into me from out of nowhere . . .

• • •

The apartment had been quiet that night as I’d tiptoed toward the living room to check the locks, but I jerked to a pause when I got there.

Cody had been asleep on the couch, his arms wrapped around a pillow with little pink flowers all over it. I couldn’t help but smile; he looked like such a kid. When he was awake, the cocky way he carried himself belied his lack of life experience. It was only when he was sleeping that he looked so innocent.

The exact opposite of me.

My smile faded as I realized he was sleeping on top of my hidden stash of vodka. Why the hell wasn’t he sleeping at his grandmother’s? I clenched my hands at my sides and then needlessly flipped him off before spinning toward the bathroom in frustration. He really needed to stop sleeping in our goddamn apartment. This was a testosterone-free zone, damn it.

I made my way into the bathroom and closed the door before turning on the light. I avoiding looking in the mirror before dropping to my knees and opening the cupboard under the sink. Inside was a supersized box of tampons, scented ones that I knew Callie wouldn’t try to steal. She made fun of me trying to make my vagina smell like a flower, but it was easy for me to laugh it off. I never actually used scented tampons.

The truth was that I never used any kind of tampons. When I’d started losing weight, my period stopped and it hadn’t come back.

I quietly opened the box and pulled out a small bottle of whiskey, taking a large swallow before I’d even moved from my knees. It burned all the way down my throat, the bitter taste making my face screw up in what I was sure was a very attractive expression. I set the box on the counter and climbed to my feet, turning my head away so I wouldn’t accidentally see my reflection.

By the time I got situated, curled up on the top of the closed toilet, I was feeling so much better. My hands were tingly, and the rest of my limbs felt loose and relaxed. Thank God. Alcohol was such a soothing thing, so much better than the sleeping pills the doctor had prescribed me after my “accident.” I was enjoying my buzz, trying to decide if I should go back to bed, when I was startled by the bathroom door swinging open.

“Oh, sorry,” Cody mumbled, rubbing his bare chest. “I didn’t realize—” His eyes narrowed as he took in my tank top and shorts, and the nearly empty whiskey bottle resting between my knees.

I froze, my eyes wide as I tried to decide how I was going to explain drinking in the bathroom in the middle of the night. God, I was fucking pathetic.

But before I could say a word, he stepped inside, gently closing the door. “What the fuck are you doing, Farrah?”

“Having a drink!” I replied with a wide smile, toasting him with my bottle before raising it to my lips.

I would just have to brazen it out. Usually I could make a sarcastic or bitchy comment, and as long as I was safe in the apartment while drinking, it would be enough for him to leave me alone. But I’d barely tasted the booze on my tongue before he swiped the bottle out of my hand.

“You don’t need this shit,” he mumbled, twisting the cap back on the bottle. “God, Farrah.”