Hold You Against Me(4)

By: Skye Warren

He’s still shaking his head, so vehemently I’m not sure who he’s trying to convince—me or himself. “You’ve been drinking.”

“One drink,” I say, kind of insulted. I may be new to this, but I’m not drunk.

“One drink is enough.”

“You had one drink too,” I point out, accusing.

He laughs, the sound unsteady and harsh. “I’m bigger than you.”

I don’t know if he means the drink affects him less or if it’s just another reason why the kiss was a bad idea—as if he might have overpowered me. But there is no reason why this is a bad idea. I’ve wanted him to kiss me forever. And judging by the way he kissed just now, he liked it too. Unless…

My voice is small. “Did I…do it wrong?”

He lets out a string of curse words. “No, bella. You did nothing wrong. This is me. I can’t touch you when you’ve been drinking. I can’t touch you at all.”

Chapter Two

I groan as light batters my eyelids. There’s sound too. And something heavy pressing down on my head. I flutter my hand in the universal sign for go away. In case that wasn’t clear enough, I add, “Turn off the light.”

“That’s the sun, silly,” my sister says.

I peek one eye open and am totally blinded. If that’s the sun, we must be going through some kind of apocalypse, because it’s a hundred times brighter than I’ve ever seen it. And since when did she speak through a microphone? All I manage to do is whimper.

The bed dips as she sits down next to me. Her hand is cool and dry against my forehead. “Are you sick or something? You don’t look that great.”

“Thanks,” I say wryly and then wince as the word echoes through my head.

Last night comes back to me with a crash. The Jack Daniels. Then the kiss. Then rejection.

Then more Jack Daniels.

We finished the whole bottle while very pointedly not discussing kissing. “I’m not sick,” I tell her so at least she won’t worry. Even though I feel worse than when I had the flu. I hope a hangover doesn’t last for days.

“I’ll take your temperature,” she says, heading toward the bathroom connected to my room.

“No,” I protest. The thought of something beeping in my ear makes me cringe. I force myself to sit up, to prove I’m okay. “See? I’m fine.”

Honor is wearing a cream vintage blouse and black pencil skirt. She always looks so put together. I glance at the clock. Ten o’clock in the morning. Okay, I guess it’s not that early. Still, she looks classy and stylish at any hour of the day. Her expression is tight. Because of me?

“I’m fine,” I repeat.

The line of worry between her eyes fades, but her lips are still pressed together. There’s something about her expression that’s familiar. Then I realize… it’s pain. Real pain. Not the kind of throbbing ache I’m experiencing now, an ache I completely deserve. This is something else.

I stand and approach her.

“We’re meeting with the caterer in thirty minutes,” she says. She’s letting me sit in on the planning sessions so I can feel involved. The food, the cake. The fireworks.

Kind of crazy, having fireworks in the middle of a freaking drought. That’s the benefit of having the fire inspector in your pocket. Or Byron’s pocket.

Gently, I take her arm. I press the sheer fabric against her skin—and with the fabric taut, I can see. There they are, three bruises. “Did Byron do this to you?”

She pulls away. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I roll my eyes. “Maybe that works on other people, but not me. I’m going to go punch him in the face.”

She looks alarmed, even though the punching thing is pretty unlikely. I’m not even tall enough. And he’d probably shoot me. I don’t mind telling him off, though. He can’t shoot me for that.

“Stay away from him,” she warns.

“Or what? He’ll grab me too? He probably hurts you other places, doesn’t he? Places I can’t even see.”

She shakes her head even though I know it’s true. She’s not even really denying it. She’s saying leave it alone. “Anything you do will just make it worse.”