Home > My Life in Shambles(10)

My Life in Shambles(10)
Author: Karina Halle

As we wait for the food, we sip our gasoline-inspired drinks and the conversation swings away from the heavier topics and settles on rugby. I ask him a lot of questions about the game, how to play, his schedule, the different teams and competitions. He’s patient as he explains, and while he’s obviously knowledgeable, he doesn’t sound as passionate about the game as I expected. Maybe his injury has taken him out for too long. Maybe he’s just plain tired.

“So tell me about your writing,” he says. “Tell me about the job you were laid off from.”

Oh right. It’s still all so new that I’d forgotten for a moment that my life had gone to shit. He’d made me forget.

“I’m going to need another drink,” I tell him. The bottle of the crazy stuff is empty. He orders over some more, this time a yellow-ish rice wine, also served in tiny cups. It’s sweeter and more palatable, so I know it’s going to be trouble.

I have a long sip and clear my throat. “I was the arts and entertainment writer for an online news site but they just laid off most of us in order to concentrate on video. Something quick and easy that doesn’t require any thought to absorb.”

“Sounds like a metaphor for the current state of the world.”

“You got that right. I guess I was naïve for not thinking it was coming. I was just so happy to finally have a steady job, a real job. To feel like an adult for once.”

“Did ye enjoy it?” he asks, brows raised as if he’s utterly curious. “Did the work mean something to ye?”

I have to pause. The second question is so odd. “Did it mean something to me?”

He nods. “Would ye still write the same things even if ye hadn’t been getting paid?”

“Well, I was in many internships so you kind of have to do what you have to do.”

“But if ye didn’t have to?”

I shake my head. “No. I mean it was fun to write the celebrity gossip and film reviews and stuff like that but it’s in no way my calling in life.”

“So what is your calling in life?”

I stare at him and wonder how he’s making me want to unpack everything inside of me. “I don’t know,” I say after a moment. “What I told you at the bar was true. I don’t know what’s next. I’m almost too afraid to even start thinking about it.”

“Then don’t think about it,” he says.

“Isn’t that avoidance?”

He lifts one shoulder in a light shrug. “You can’t avoid something forever. But I think you’re allowed to avoid it long enough for ye to just get through it.”

“Well, as we say in Philly, fucking cheers to that!” I say, lifting the cup of rice wine and clinking it against his, making it spill on the table.

Neither of us care. We just smile at each other before bottom’s up.

The rest of the evening starts to pass by in a bit of a blur.

The food comes, and suddenly I’ve never been so hungry in my life. I don’t even pull any of that dainty eating nonsense, you know the type you do on a first date with someone, all tiny nibbles and delicate wiping of the mouth with a napkin. No, I fill my damn mouth with food, dumplings and spicy meats and rice. I eat with abandon, like there’s no tomorrow.

Padraig does the same. It’s freeing. It’s funny. I keep making orgasm noises over it all and he keeps laughing, and we eat and eat, even feeding each other wontons at one point with shaky chopstick skills. Honestly, there’s never been anything sexier.

When we’re finally finished, we’re both full, more drunk than before, and a little greasy. I try to pay the bill but he insists (although I don’t even think they charged him for anything), and then as we leave the restaurant he grabs my hand.

I’m not a small-boned girl, but with his hand over mine, I feel like I’ve been reverted back to the hapless woman being led by an alpha caveman and I don’t mind one bit. The fact that his palm is warm in this snowy weather with the skin-to-skin contact sends constant shivers down my back.

We stroll down the streets and I almost slip a few times, my bad balance combined with the snow making for a dicey situation. But each time Padraig grabs me and keeps me upright, and I have to admit, it’s kind of fun to be constantly falling into him. It’s like having a wall of bricks for support, if that wall of bricks was shaped like a rugby god.

I have no idea where we’re going. All I know is that it’s not even midnight yet.

He takes me to a bar and then a club, both of which are packed to the doors and have crazy long lines, both of which we bypass with ease because he’s Padraig McCarthy.

I’m not one for dancing and Padraig doesn’t strike me as the type either, but there’s something about the deep bass beats in this place, and the free-flowing champagne, courtesy of the club, that has us falling into a rhythm together.

At first we’re dancing apart but it’s not long before the inches between us close. The heat from his body and mine brews, and the electricity is flowing in sparks and jumps, moving to the erotic pulse of the music, mixed with the hope and hedonism of the crowd on this once-a-year night.

His hips bridge the gap, his strong palms running down the sides of my waist, my hips slowly swaying then grinding against him. I feel his erection burning through his jeans, the width and length taking my breath again, making me blush in such a way that I’m glad the lights are dim.

I’m both a young girl, naïve and inexperienced and shy as the very touch and proximity to him hurls me toward a sexual awakening, and at the same time I’m an old soul who has found her equal in another, whose body wants to know this stranger intimately, who isn’t scared at what’s transpiring, but is hungry instead.

Both of these sides are at war inside me, dancing around each other like a caduceus, until I’m dizzy with my feelings for him. This want, this yearning, this need for something new, something exciting and terrifying, it claws through me until I can’t ignore it anymore.

I glance up at Padraig and see only his eyes. Those deep, dark haunting eyes that glimmer with the pulsating lights and yet radiate with something as wanting and wicked as the feelings inside of me.

His hands go to the back of my neck and the small of my back. My chin tips up. The rest of the world fades away and I know when it comes back into focus, everything will be different.

Everything will change.

It takes a moment to change someone.

Sometimes it just takes a kiss.

I know this before it happens.

And when he leans in and the space between us dissolves, and his lips, warm, soft and commanding, meet mine, I know that a simple kiss isn’t so simple at all and nothing will be simple after this.

My eyes flutter closed, and all I feel is him, his mouth as it moves against mine opening slightly until our tongues brush and a flurry of electricity runs down my spine like fizzing snowflakes. If he wasn’t holding me so tightly I might just sink down to the floor, a dissolved girl, a puddle at his feet.

It’s during the midst of this kiss that the hunger that was slowly waking up inside me rushes through me, as if a pride of lions have just been released from a cage. I kiss him faster, longer, hold him harder. I let out a rough whimper as my body begs for more of him, more of this, more of something that will take me away.

“Ten, nine, eight…” Suddenly the music stills and the room starts yelling and I have to break away, breathing hard, my hands pressed against his chest.

New Year’s Eve.

I had completely forgotten.

I think I’d even forgotten my name.

“Seven, six, five!” The room continues to yell, and I smile, our mouths still close to each other, wanting, needing more.

“Four, three, two,” he says in a low, gruff voice, a small smile to match mine.

“One! HAPPY NEW YEAR!” The collective screams fill the room.

“Happy New Year,” I say softly.

“Happy New Year,” he says back.

Then he kisses me again, this one taking us into a new year, into a new start. I know my brain is all jumbled and getting ahead of myself, I know that this kiss is stripping me of all my armor and defenses, I know that I’m not quite myself right now and maybe that should concern me.

But it doesn’t. Because right now, for the first time in a long time, with these gorgeous lips searing me in a raw and endless kiss, I feel alive.

Padraig nibbles on my lower lip before pulling away slightly, his forehead resting against mine, damp with the sweat of the night.

“I don’t want to be alone tonight,” he murmurs against my mouth as his strong hand tightens at the back of my neck. “And I don’t want to think. Not about tomorrow or the next day or the next. I just want to be with ye. That’s it.”

His words soak me to the bone.

I’ve never felt so wanted, and I’ve never wanted anyone the way that I want this Irish man, right now. It all sounds so simple and yet in my heart I know it’s going to be anything but.

“Okay,” I whisper. “Yes.”

He kisses me again.

7

Valerie

Padraig’s place is in the area of Ranelagh, on the south side of Dublin and quite a distance from the action of downtown. At least it feels that way in the back of the taxi. My entire body is literally on fire with nerves, pins and needles starting in my heart and making their way up and down my limbs.

Padraig is sitting beside me and there’s distance between us, even though both our hands have met in the middle. After we left the bar, we quickly hailed a taxi, and I guess I expected us to start pawing at each other like wild animals in the back of the car, but that’s not been the case so far. I have a feeling it might have to do with Padraig being known to everyone in this city, and he doesn’t want this (whatever this is) to become tabloid fodder. I have no doubt that our taxi driver, who keeps glancing at him in the rearview mirror, is waiting to see something between us.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I know why we’re going to his place, and I’m surprised I’m holding it together like I am. I’m no prude, but I’ve never had a one-night stand before. I’ve slept with a few guys but they’ve all been boyfriends of sorts. In the past, even the idea of a one-night stand would have made me break out in hives. I was always jealous of my girlfriends who could just sleep with whoever they wanted and never see them again. I could never gather up the nerve and courage to bare myself to a man in the most raw and vulnerable way.

   
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