Beneath Your Beautiful

Page 8

"I've heard things," she doesn't look me in the eye and I hate it. Clearly she's already made up her mind about me. I hate that too.
"I'm sure you have," I growl, shaking my head. My tone is less kind than I intend but it makes me furious to know that someone has taken the time to deprecate Huntley's opinion of me before she's had the chance to even know me. I guess this is all part of keeping secrets and why I refuse to get attached to anyone.
I jump out my truck and slam my door, pulling my fingers through my hair while I take in the warm air. I hear the passenger door close but I don't look back at Huntley, afraid I'll snap at her for shit other people have said. I squelch the urge to yell and release my frustration the way a toddler would.
"I'm sorry." Her voice is soft and tiny. I snap my head back and frown. Before she can look up, I walk the few steps between us and cage her in against my truck. She looks scared, like I might hurt her, but when her eyes find mine I see nothing but warmth and benevolence in their boundless sapphire-colored depths.
In that moment I feel naked, like she can see my soul stripped bare of its impurities and imperfections. I don't like that it makes me feel vulnerable and completely exposed to the derision I know will follow when she sees the ugly secrets that keep me awake night after night.
I take the chance to inhale her scent. Leaning in a little closer, I drag my nose along her shoulder, getting as close as possible without touching her. The edges of my mouth turn up, forming a smile, when I find that I'm right. She does smell like strawberries. And vanilla. It's a heady combination that I'm going to become addicted to very quickly.
"I won't hurt you," I whisper, "But I think it's best if we stay away from each other."
Hurt flickers across her features and it's like a punch to the stomach. "What made you think I was interested Grayson?" she bites back. She has a fire inside her. I see it. I feel it. And it's sexy.
"Oh, I know you are," I know it's arrogant but I'm hoping my cocky attitude will repulse her enough to make her stay away.
A car pulls up to the curb, making us both shift apart. I cringe when my body immediately misses the heat that radiated off of her in waves.
Her back straightens and she squares her shoulders, pushing off my truck. "Goodbye Grayson." Her back turns to me and I watch her get into Demi's red Lexus and drive away. I should've kept my mouth shut until Demi got here. That would've been the smart thing to do. And now I'm at a loss.
What do I do? Stay away from her? Ignore her?
"What's got you scowlin' like that?"
I look up at Brody who's standing on our front porch. When did he get here?
"Nothing." Lying to my best friend is a bad idea but I don't think I can handle whatever shit he's going to give me. Brody has uncanny ability to read me like I'm an open book and he never sugar coats anything. The last thing I need is for him to point out the obvious.
"Gray, I can't tell you what to do but just be careful man." He looks me dead in the eye and waits for me to respond.
"There's no need for me to be careful Brody, I plan on staying away from her."
"We both know that won't work for long." It's a statement, one smothered in truth and conviction. How do I explain that it's not just my body that wants her but my heart too? It sounds ridiculous. I sound ridiculous.
I walk past him and head straight for my room. If I stand out there with him any longer I'll cave and tell him what's going on in my head. He'll think I've completely lost it. And I probably have.
I'll just ignore her.
That's a good plan.
I rub my hand down my face and sigh. Fuck.
Who the hell am I kidding?
It's a terrible plan that won't work for shit .
Chapter 5
~ Huntley ~
It's Monday morning and my classes only start after lunch time. I get dressed, put some make-up on and head down to the parking lot where my grey Jeep Wrangler is parked. The drive to the town's cemetery doesn't take long, one of the small things I'm immediately grateful for. I wind my way through the small roads amidst the patches of land covered in tombstones and come to stop behind a blue Ford Edge that I recognize instantly. It belongs to my Aunt Emma. She's already standing at my parents adjacent graves so I grab the flowers on my passenger seat and walk the short distance until I'm standing next to her. Being here hurts, but knowing that my parents are finally together makes it a little easier to deal with.
"Good morning sweetheart," my aunt drawls. She smiles at me before pulling me into a hug.
"Morning Aunt Em. I didn't know I'd be seeing you here today."
"I haven't been out here since we laid your dear momma to rest. It was time I paid a visit." I don't look her in the eye because I haven't been since we buried my mother either. The guilt creeps in and it's almost too heavy for me to carry.
"I haven't either," I whisper, trying not to cry. I was happy a few short minutes ago, but staring at their graves only makes my parents' absence far too real.
My aunt wraps an arm around my waist and squeezes me to her. "Are you alright, sweetheart?" I'm not entirely sure how to answer her and in the end I opt for the truth. "I'm ok, some days are better than others."
"All we can do is take one day at a time baby girl and be glad that the good Lord has blessed us with another day."
I nod, swallowing the lump that has formed in the back of my throat. I lay the flowers down and smile. The bouquet arrangement is made up of all my mother's favorites.
"I'll give you some time alone," my aunt says quietly, kissing my temple. She's about to walk away but stops mid stride to look back at me. "Oh, I almost forgot, we're having Grayson and his family over for dinner tonight and I would like you to come."
I freeze, hoping it wasn't too obvious. I haven't seen or spoken to Grayson since Saturday night. After he told me we would be better off staying away from each other we've both been avoiding each other as much as possible. You'd think it would be easy, given the size of our campus and student population, but we always manage to bump into each other, whether it's at the coffee shop or in the cafeteria.
I can't manage more than an "Ok." After everything my uncle and aunt have done for me, this is the least I could do. And I want to make my aunt happy. She smiles and walks back to her car. I watch her leave before I take a seat on the grass between my parents' graves. "Hi Mom. Hi Dad." The inner child in me hopes that they can hear me, even if it's unlikely.
"I'm sorry I haven't been by in a while." I catch a lone tear as it falls down my cheek. "I've been real busy with classes and getting myself settled here. Uncle Alex and Aunt Emma have been so amazing. I've even got my own place now and I've also managed to make some friends. You'd like them."
I should feel like a complete idiot for having an entire conversation with myself but truthfully speaking I don't. If this is the only way I have to talk to my parents then I will do it. I look at my mothers' grave, silently reading her name out in my head. Marie Louise Morgan. "I met a boy Mom. He's one of the most beautiful boys I've ever laid eyes on." Describing Grayson as a boy is unfair. He's not a boy by any means. He's pure man. "He drives me crazy and makes my insides all loopy," I laugh at my candid choice of words, knowing full well that I sound like a simple teenager with a crush.

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