Sweet Obsession

Page 18


A big bloke moves through the crowd and steps in front of me, crouching down to grab Paul.
“Let’s go, buddy. You’ve been cut off.”
I turn to Brooke, then notice the eyes on us, the crowd that’s gathered behind her who I’m certain heard every bit of that conversation, including the cruel words that fucker had to say. Brooke notices them too, her eyes darting quickly around the room, then dropping to a spot between us.
Her shoulders pull forward, and she lowers her head, hiding behind her hair. She suddenly appears smaller.
She’s embarrassed. Maybe a bit hurt. It’s hard to tell when I can’t see her face.
“Hey.” I lift her chin with my hand. “You all right?”
She hesitates for a second, just staring up at me through those impossibly thick lashes as she slowly exhales. Her hand gently presses against my hip. I slide a bit closer, moving my fingers along her jaw and just fucking stare at her.
Christ, she is quite possibly the most stunning woman I have ever laid eyes on.
Her hair is falling out around her in dark curls, covering her delicate neck. She’s wearing more makeup than I’ve seen her in up until this point, but fuck, she doesn’t need it. The way she looked in my class the other day, her skin glowing from exertion, clean and sweaty, that Brooke has me.
Finally after taking in a deep breath, she nods slightly, just a jerk of her chin. “Yeah . . . yeah, I’m fine, but can we go? I’d really like that ride now.”
I grab her hand and we melt into the crowd.
Tipping my head in the direction of the table Brooke’s friends are at, I let them know we’re getting out of here while she stays close to my side. It’s a brief farewell. Brooke tugging on my hand has me getting her out of there before any of them have a chance to ask us what happened. She clearly doesn’t want to linger. I’m not interested in making her stay. Besides, I’d rather have her alone.
We’re out the door, her small hand in mine as we walk along the footpath. The sky is free of clouds, a clear blue scene speckled with stars and a bold moon hanging low.
Brooke pulls her hand back after a few seconds and wraps her arms around herself.
“Are you cold?” I ask.
The air has a slight chill to it, but I think it’s tolerable. She’s not wearing much, though. Her arms could be cold.
She shakes her head, keeping her gaze in front of her.
“I’m just up here on the left.” I tug my keys from my pocket. “The white Denali.”
“What’s that?” I turn my head, staring at her rigid profile.
“That guy. Paul. Calling me a whore because I only wanted to hook-up with him.” She breathes a laugh. “Seriously? It’s a fucking double standard. Just because I’m a woman who loves sex I’m automatically labeled a whore? What about men?”

I open the passenger door for her and she climbs inside, securing her seatbelt.
“Men can fuck anything with a pulse and women will actually find that attractive. The whole player vibe. It’s hot. It gets them so much ass,” she continues after I get in on the driver’s side. “But if a woman enjoys sex and goes out to get laid, she’s a whore. Why? What the hell is the difference?”
I run a hand through my hair after starting up the car. My fingers quickly dial down the volume on the stereo. I only want to hear her.
“Well?” She angles her body in the seat, waiting for my response.
I rub my jaw. “I’m not sure I’m the best person to answer that question, Brooke.”
“Why not? You’re a man.”
“Yeah, but I’m not running around sticking my cock into everything with a pulse.” I catch her smile as I glance over before pulling out onto the street. “I think you’re right, though. You should be able to do what or who you want.”
“He was wrong . . . saying that to you. I’m sorry that happened.”
I’m sorry I didn’t knock him on his arse before he said it a second time.
Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Brooke watching me as I drive us into the city.
“Were you going to punch him? You looked ready to punch him.”
“I felt ready to punch him.” My hand curls around the wheel.
“Have you ever hit anyone? You don’t really seem like the violent type. Yoga master who uses organic toothpaste. You probably recycle too.”
I turn my head. She shrugs impassively, twirling the ends of her hair around her finger.
“Well, I’m usually not threatening to toss people through windows,” I chuckle. “But, I did get into a few brawls when I was younger. Nothing major. Some neighborhood kids pissed me off and I went after them.”
“Majahhh. I love how you say certain words.”
I give her a quick wink.
“Why did you go after those kids?” she asks, her voice lifting to a mischievous pitch.
Even in the dark, I know this little devil is smiling.
“Did they steal your koala?”
I gape at her. Her quiet laugh fills the car. “Is that what you Americans think? That we keep those nasty little buggers as pets? They’ll claw your eyes out the second you get close enough.”
“Would they? But they’re so cuddly looking.” She hugs herself. “And so, so cute.”
“Cute. Right. Real bloody cute. I had one nearly take my head off when I was trying to pet it at the zoo once. I was only eight. That mangy bastard scarred me for life.”
“Oh, so it’s just your opinion that they’d make horrible pets,” Brooke chuckles again. “Look at you. Giving those sweet things a bad name over here. I bet you were just a little wanker and pissed him off.”
She smiles, all big and clever, clearly pleased with herself for using that word correctly.
I relax against my seat. It feels good talking to her like this. Easy, unhurried conversation. The delightful sound of her laugh. Her sweet dimpled face against the backdrop of the city.
I want this drive to last all night.
“Was there a bunch of you? Maybe the cute, gentle, completely innocent and non-threatening koala didn’t like crowds.”
We stop at a red-light. I shrug, looking over at her.
“The zoo was crowded, yeah. It was me and my mates, a few others gathered around. I don’t know. I’ve tried to forget about the day a koala went psychotic on me. I had nightmares for months. Surprised I didn’t need therapy after that.”
She slaps at my arm. I grab her hand before she can pull away and lace my fingers through hers, resting our joined hands together on the console. I haven’t held her like this yet. I’ve wanted to all night, in my studio, on the footpath that first day. My hand practically engulfs hers. She feels a bit tense. Her nails, dark as the night, tap restlessly against my skin.
She stares down between us, biting at her bottom lip.
“So . . . I’m guessing you aren’t a fan of kangaroos either? Did one chase you down the street or something? Kick you around a little?”
I grin, giving a gentle squeeze to her hand. She’s not pulling away.
Bit of a shock. I was expecting some resistance.
I press down on the accelerator and ease through the intersection.
“Nah. I never had a problem with kangaroos. Although, there have been some cases of rogue ones attacking people. The mums can be vicious.”