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New Novel: In That Moment Season 1 Episode 8

Chapter Eight

Oh, my God.
I feel like a freight train just plowed into my chest, knocking all the air from my body.  I don’t know why.  I don’t own Pax, not in the slightest.  But he’s been coming to see me every day so I felt like there was a mutual attraction there.  I mean, he drove into town just to walk me the length of one block every day.  Frankly, it’s all I’ve been able to think about.  He’s even invaded my dreams.
But clearly, I was wrong.  My fascination with him isn’t reciprocated.
He’s getting a blowjob from the girl who left him on the beach.
I can’t even think.  My head is swirling in a blur of anger and hurt.  I just grab my supplies, fold up my easel and bolt for my car.  I think I might hear his voice behind me, calling my name, but I don’t turn around.  I start to run, and when I reach my car, I dump my things into it and peel out.
I chance a glance into the rearview mirror and he’s not there.
I exhale.
I’m not sure if I’m disappointed or not.  A sick part of me kind of wishes that he’d cared enough to chase after me.  But he didn’t.  So he doesn’t care.  I feel like crying.  And that’s ridiculous.  But then I cry anyway.
I cry for the end of something that didn’t even have a chance to begin.
And then I cry because I feel even stupider for having such stupid thoughts.
I’m an idiot.
I drive to my shop and sit there for a bit inside of my car.  I pull myself together and finally walk inside.  I flip the sign to Open and put my apron on.  And then I do what I always do when I’m happy or sad or bored or well, anything.
I paint.
With swooping strokes, I paint the sun hanging over the edge of the lake by Pax’s house.  I paint the gray choppy water and then I turn the sun black, allowing the paint to drip toward the water.  It’s a dark scene and it perfectly fits how I feel.  Stormy, black, angry.  All are words that can be used to fit both the scene and my mood.
The shop door jangles and I sigh.  I usually don’t hope that customers don’t come, but today I’d sort of like to be alone.  I turn, my paintbrush still in hand, ready to smile at the customer.
But it’s Pax.
The smile dies on my lips and I am frozen.
He is freshly showered, I can tell.  His hair is wet and I can smell the scent of soap as he approaches.  His face is oh-so-serious and I clench my jaw.  This guy just got a blowjob.  He has no right to come and talk to me.
Then why am I so happy that he came?
It defies logic.
“I’m sorry you had to see that,” Pax says quietly, forgoing a greeting.  “Please, Mila.  I’m really sorry.”
I grit my teeth and turn back to my painting, smearing the sun into the gray sky.
“What you do is your business,” I tell him curtly. “It’s not mine.”
Pax sighs and I can hear it from here, even though he stopped moving several steps away from me.
“I could tell you that it wasn’t what it looked like, but that would be a lie.  It was exactly what it looked like.  I could explain it, but you wouldn’t understand.”
“Then why are you here?” I whisper, confused.  If he doesn’t want to explain, then what’s the point?  I don’t look at him, instead I just stare at the movement of my paintbrush.  I notice that my hand is shaking.
And then I feel him behind me.
His hand closes around mine, steadying it.  His is warm and large.  And I should pull away, but I don’t. His warmth is all around me and I want to be absorbed by it.
“I don’t know why I’m here,” he admits softly, and his voice is so close to my neck.  “Because I can’t stop thinking about you, I guess.  And because I’ll never get that horrified expression on your face out of my head.  I’m sorry to have put it there.  Just know that she doesn’t mean anything to me.  She was persistent and I didn’t say no.  It was a habit.  I’m sorry.”
My heart hammers hard in my chest.  I don’t know what to say.  I know that I should tell him to get far away from me, but my heart is a traitor and wants him here. My heart must have issues. But I can’t say that.
“You don’t even know me,” I tell him instead, finally turning around to look at him, pulling my hand away as I do.  I stare up into his hazel eyes and find an expression there that I haven’t yet seen. Trepidation.  “Why would you apologize to someone that you barely even know? You don’t owe me anything.”
He shrugs and his movement stirs his masculine scent. I inhale it and fight the urge to close my eyes so that I can better enjoy the smell.
“I don’t know.  All I know is that ever since I met you, I’ve wanted to know you.  That’s why I’ve been coming into town this week to see you.  Something about you makes me think that I can be better, maybe even get my shit straight.  I haven’t felt that way in a very long time. And I feel like I do owe you something.”
Hell.  His words strike a chord in me and I swallow hard.  His tone is hesitant, soft.  And it melts my heart.  I can’t help it.  Sometimes, there is such a broken look in his eyes.  And deep down, I just want to fix it.
“Why?” I ask, my gaze firmly locked with his.  He shakes his head.
“I don’t know. You just seem so good, so wholesome.  It draws me to you.  I can’t explain it.”
I laugh now, thoroughly amused.
I gesture toward my painting.  “Does that seem good and wholesome to you?”
We both study the angry black and gray canvas.  It looks like something that someone in a Psych ward might have painted.  Pax finally smiles.
“Well, then, Red, it looks like you’ve got a dark side.  But the difference between you and me is that you channel yours in a healthy way.  I don’t.”
I stare at him, trying to decide what to say, how honest to be.  But this moment seems like a good time for honesty, so I don’t hesitate.
“I don’t know if it’s all that healthy that I’m attracted to you,” I admit finally.  “I’ve never been attracted to a bad boy before.”
He is so close to me that his proximity is a bit intoxicating.  I feel almost dizzy from it as I stare up at him, waiting for his response.  It also seems as though I can feel the danger emanating from him…it’s charged, electrical, fascinating.
Pax thinks on it for a moment, his jaw covered in day-old stubble.
“Well, I’ve never wanted to be good before, so I guess it’s a first for both of us.”
We stare into each other’s eyes for what seems like forever.
I don’t know if I should believe him, but he seems so sincere.  I do know that I want to believe him, even if it’s a stupid feeling.
I don’t know what to say and apparently, he doesn’t either.
Without a word, he ducks his head and his lips meet mine.
It is as unexpected as it is amazing.
His lips are soft and he tastes like mint.  Gone is the taste of ashtray and vomit.  Gone is the limp man from the other night, the one who convulsed on the pavement.  In his place is someone vibrant and alive, someone who smells delicious and is devastatingly sexy.
Someone who is bad for me.
His tongue delves softly into my mouth and I fight the urge to sigh into his.  His hands grip my back and I don’t know when they got there, but I lean into his embrace, clutching his waist.  I revel in the way his fingers knead at my skin, at the firm pressure he places against me, at the hard rigidity pressed against my hips.  It’s dizzying.
When I finally need to breathe, he pulls away.
I am shaky from the kiss, from his absence from me.  From the idea that I enjoyed that way too much.
I look up at him.
He looks down at me.
He’s waiting for a reaction and I’m not sure what to do.  The kiss was perfect.  Pax is sexy as hell. But he’s so different from me.  And he just got a b**w j*b from someone else.  The vision of that horrible girl on her knees in front of Pax springs into my head and I cringe.  He could very definitely hurt me if I give him the chance.  I’ve already had enough pain in life.  I don’t need more.
“I don’t think this is a good idea,” I finally say reluctantly.  And the words are so very hard to say.
The warm light dims in Pax’s eyes as he stares at me and I see the disappointment in them, the rejection, before he hardens it into a cool expression that makes me want to weep.
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” he says calmly. “Because I think it’s a very good idea. The best I’ve had in a long, long time.”
He turns around and walks away, out of my shop.
Away from me.
Without another word.
I watch his wide shoulders as he walks away, out of my sight.
Then I sink to my knees right in the middle of my shop.  My hands are shaking and my head is spinning.
What did I just do?
Am I insane?  I met someone who made me feel something for the first time in the two years since my parents died, and I’m too chicken-shit to pursue anything?
I’m pathetic.
I reach for my phone and call my sister. I speak before she even has a chance to.
“I’m ready for that drink tonight.”

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