"My parents are going to kill me! I promised her I'll be home before eleven!" I said to my friend Cindy who asked me to come with her to some party. "And you've already had too much to drink."
"Chill out, Miss Prudy!" she said to me with a giggle. "We'll go home soon. Give me a few more minutes."
Yeah, right! Her minutes became hours. When the clock struck three, I mustered all my courage to call Cindy's brother.
Thirty minutes later, he was dropping me off in front of my house.
"Thanks for looking out for her," Josh said. "You're a good friend."
I nodded and then went to my front porch. Nervously, I opened the door. The whole house was quiet. Everybody was sleeping. I had never broken my parents' rules before. That's why they trusted me so much. My older brother was a responsible kid, too. Now I really hated Cindy for putting me through this.
I removed my shoes and tiptoed to the stairs. I didn't want to wake anybody up. I could deal with my parents the next morning. But I didn't want to be caught red—handed. Moreover, I didn't want them to think that Cindy wasn't a good influence on me.
Our house had four bedrooms. My brother's room was the first one when you reached the top of the stairs, opposite the guest bedroom. Mine was across my parents' further down the hall.
The corridor was dark so I walked carefully toward my room.
Just then, I heard a clicking of locks and the twisting of a doorknob. It took me a moment to realize that it was coming from my parents' bedroom.
Shit! I'm doomed for sure!
It could be my mom, I thought, on her way to get milk or water from the kitchen.
I froze, thinking of reasons why I would be standing in the middle of the corridor at three in the morning when I promised her I would be home by eleven.
All of a sudden, I felt the door to my right open. It was the guestroom. Then I felt something wrap around my waist forcefully. Something clasped against my mouth before I could manage a scream. Then I was leaning against a hard wall and something hard and heavy was pressing against me.
I took deep breaths and found the courage to open my eyes. I saw a tall, slender figure leaning against me. I could make out the contours of his devilishly handsome face.
It was Travis James Cross. Like a son to my parents. Best friend to my brother. And Dennis the Menace to me.
Instantly, I glared at him. He saw this even though the room was dark. I heard him chuckle softly.
There was a knock on the door.
"Travis?" my mom asked on the other side of the door. "Are you okay?"
He had winked at me before he replied. "Yes. Everything is fine."
"Is Brianne home already?" she asked.
Travis raised a brow and smiled at me mischievously. I reached up for his hand and struggled to remove it from my mouth but damn! He was strong. His eyes were dancing, and I knew he could say whatever he wanted to my mother and I would be helpless to stop him. If I spoke up, my mother would ask what I was doing in his room at three in the morning.
"Yes," he said. "I think she got in before midnight," he lied.
I glared at him. I didn't lie to my parents and he knew that.
"Oh, good. I didn't hear her come in," my mother said. "Okay. Goodnight, Travis."
"Goodnight." Travis's eyes never left mine.
I heard my mother's footsteps on the stairs. When we were sure she was out of earshot, I pushed Travis away from me.
"I don't lie to my mom!" I hissed at him.
He chuckled humorlessly. "You didn't," he said. "What are you? Deaf? I was the one who lied. So don't worry. You're still going to heaven." He put his hands together as if he were praying.
"I hate you!" I hissed. I pushed him again, and this time, he caught my hands in his.
He raised a brow at me. "Funny you say that, because you can't seem to stop touching me!"
I struggled to pull my hands away from his, but he held them tighter. "Let go, Travis!"
We heard footsteps coming from the stairs, indicating that my mother was going back to her room.
I stopped struggling. I kept my mouth shut and held my breath.
Travis pulled me closer to him. Suddenly, I felt his hot breath against my neck. I froze.
What the fuck is he doing?
I felt him run the tip of his nose against the base of my neck, sending shivers down my spine and making my knees go weak. Good thing he was holding my hands—otherwise, I think I would have fallen to the floor.
But I realized I knew exactly what Travis was doing. He was daring me to make a sound. He was daring me to fight him, curse at him, and hit him. But he knew I wouldn't dare. Damn!
I bit my lip to keep from making a noise. My mother was walking in the corridor. Then I heard her stop by my bedroom and turn the knob.
I felt panic grip me. She would see that I was not yet in my room! She would know that Travis lied. But after a few seconds, she was still turning the knob. My door was locked, even though I didn't remember locking it.
I felt Travis's smile as he buried his face in my hair. He must have done it. He must have locked my room. And thank God he did!
Finally, my mother went inside her room. As soon as I heard her door close, I pushed Travis away from me.
He was laughing.
"Damn you!" I cursed at him.
"You should have felt how shaken you were!" he said.
I got hold of my messenger bag and started hitting him with it. He shielded his face against it, but he still didn't stop laughing.
"For somebody who hates me so much, you sure tremble a lot against my touch, sweetheart," he said.
I gave him one last hit and then I headed toward his door.
"Bad idea," he said.
I turned to him. "What, you moron?"
"I don't know what's worse. You coming home at three in the morning, or you going out of my bedroom at four. I would rethink going out that door if I were you."
"For somebody who hates me so much, you sure find ways to trap me in your bedroom!"
"I don't hate you, Brianne." I could see the gleam in his devilish eyes. Then he took a step closer to me. "In fact, I think you're hot…and…"
I glared at him and then I took my bag and hit him with it again. He didn't bother to shield himself.
"I hate you!" I said to him.
"I know," he said, laughing hard. Then he managed to take hold of my hands to stop me from hitting him. He stared down at my still—angry face. "You smell good, by the way."
I gave him one hard push. "And you stink!"
"Liar!" he chuckled. He was right, actually. Travis smelled like fresh soap and aftershave. He showered at least three times a day and he never went to bed without taking one. I would know because it seemed like I'd been sharing a bathroom with him for the last four years. He pointed to the bathroom on the right side of his room. "I locked your bedroom door. So the bathroom is the only way you can go in. Unless…you'd rather sleep here with me." He winked.