Pulling my hand out of my panties, I glance at the clock and notice I still have ten minutes before I need to get up and get ready for work. I’ll be damned if I lie in bed masturbating to thoughts of Carter having me. He doesn’t want me and I won’t be giving him my orgasm. I would rather go without than get off thinking of him.
I fling the comforter back and flip on the nightstand light before making my way to the closet. My house is a small, two-bedroomed bungalow that sits right on the edge of Reno. I used the cash I took from my father’s safe to buy it. It’s not much but it’s mine. I didn’t want to use all the money I stole in case I have to run again but it’s nice to have a place to call my own. Home.
One thing I’ve loved most about my freedom from my father is a life of my own. I come and go as I please, eat whatever I want and, most importantly, wear what I like. This new-found freedom shows in my closet. Two things I’ll never give up are my dirty books and my shoe collection. I know it sounds silly but my shoes gave me some confidence when I started my new life. I never thought I was unattractive and I love my curves, but Carter took a shot at my self-belief. I’ve always been short at just over five feet and I have to strain my neck to look at most men, so a sexy pair of high heels gives me a boost in every way. I rock my heels as tall as they come because I don’t want to have to look up to a man. Any man.
Grabbing a pair of plum-purple high-waisted slacks, a cream button-up blouse and a pair of four-inch heels, I get ready in the bathroom. It doesn’t take me long because I don’t wear a ton of makeup, but I like to do a little something to my eyes. With bright-red hair it’s hard to wear certain shades and not look like a clown. My silky hair doesn’t take much to manage—a little brushing and some pins and it’s all set. To finish off, I swipe on some pink lip gloss to bring out the cream of my skin. As I put the tube back in the cabinet, the name of the shade catches my eye: ‘cherry blossom pink’. I growl in frustration and throw the half-empty container in the trash. That bastard seems to follow me wherever I go.
Shaking off my momentary rush of anger, I go to the kitchen and grab a banana muffin and coffee before I head to the library to start my shift. I was so excited when I landed the job there. It’s a public library but the local high school uses it as its library as well. My favorite part of working there is getting to work with the kids. It makes me feel like I’m making a little difference in the world. It might not be much but it means a lot to me.
I was sure I would have to work at a diner or something. I didn’t really have much of an education to begin with—just some online classes—but Jeanette, the head librarian, hired me on the spot. Because of my lack of formal education, my only real skill is playing the piano, and I haven’t had the luxury of playing much since I left. I sneak over to the high school a few times a week during my lunch break to use the piano they have in the music department. The music teacher Mr. Hall is always trying to get me to help out and play for some of the school concerts, but they sometimes make the papers and that just isn’t a risk I could take.
I thought about buying a piano of my own when I got my house. I even made sure that my living room had the space for one, but I didn’t want to eat into my emergency money. It was worth the sacrifice to be free.
I hear my cell ring, already knowing who it is. I pick it up without looking at the incoming number.
“Morning, Jeanette,” I say.
“Morning, chica,” she purrs into the phone. “What’s his name?”
“Stephen, I believe.”
“How was he?” she asks, playing our normal game of ‘who did Layla sleep with last night?’
“Too alpha and demanding for my taste,” I lie, knowing that I loved every second of Stephen’s brute ways in the novella I devoured last night. I reason that if I keep telling myself that this kind of man doesn’t turn me on, then maybe it will come true. I need a man like my boyfriend, Justin. He’s sweet, passive for the most part, and probably pays his bills two weeks before they’re due. If only I could get my body and vagina to agree with my head. I really need to break up with him. I’ve been avoiding him for days and even canceled a few of our dates. I’m not even sure he’s into me. He never really tries to make a move on me and doesn’t seem to care when I do cancel on him. I often wonder why he’s even with me.
“Anything has got to be better than Justin, if you ask me,” Jeanette says, reading my mind.
“Enough about my boring, sexless life. Tell me about your amazing night,” I say cheekily, knowing she’ll spill all the dirty details while I live vicariously through her. Jeanette has been trying to get this intimidating guy who’s been hanging around the library for weeks to ask her out. Finally he cracked. I thought he seemed kind of weird. Okay, maybe not weird but out of place. He’s a giant of a man, not as big as I remember Carter being, but he looks like he could hold his own against a few guys if he needed to. He has a scar that runs from his eyebrow down to his cheek, looking like it barely missed his eye. His raven hair and tanned skin contrast starkly with his clear blue eyes. When I first saw him, I thought his eyes looked strange with the dangerous feel he had going on. But the first time I saw Jeanette make him smile, his entire demeanor suddenly shifted and became as light and bright as his eyes.