Amaranthine (Willow Shadows Book 1) (2 page)

BOOK: Amaranthine (Willow Shadows Book 1)
4.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Crossing the parking lot, Vega was the first to notice Luke’s new lime green Camaro with black racing stripes parked next to Khalida’s pitifully dirty black Pontiac G6.


“Looks like you have a visitor, Khal,” Vega tilted her head in Luke’s direction to give Khalida heads up, “I’ll give you a call later, Babes.”


Khalida could hear the amusement in Vega’s voice, “At least he’s hot,” she sing-songed as she walked away.


Before walking over to him, Khalida closed her eyes and took a deep breath.




He was her weakness, always had been.


Walking towards her car, she noticed Luke leaning against her car. If Khalida didn’t know any better, she would have sworn he looked nervous, but this was Luke she was talking about. There was no chance of that.


He thinks too highly of himself.


Shrugging off those thoughts and trying to keep herself calm, she couldn’t help but notice how he kept running his hand through his curly jet black hair the closer she came, fiddling with a small charm that hung off his necklace.


Get a grip. Don’t get sucked into all his glory. Glory? Ok, maybe not glory but get it together. You don’t want to be putty in his hands do you?


Clearing her throat, she spoke with more confidence than she felt.




“Hey, Khally,” he was the only one who ever called her by that name.


“What are your plans for tonight?” he asked as soft as his deep voice allowed.


“Oh, you know the usual, popping a mac’n’cheese dinner in the microwave and watching a movie,” she laughed nervously at how pathetic her night sounded.


“What’s so funny?” he looked at her with his piercing blue eyes. Her heart stopped the moment his eyes met hers.


“Oh, um, it’s just that my evening sounds so horrible. I should have at least lied so I wouldn’t sound so pathetic.” When she looked in his eyes, her stomach tingled and she struggled to control her hurried breathing.


Seriously…Can I be anymore pathetic?


Luke laughed as he hung his head, “I know when you’re lying, Khally, and that is one thing that I love about you, your honesty, no matter how pathetic it sounds. Anyway. I’ll pick you up at eight o’clock. Will that give you time to finish your mac’n’cheese?” he said, showing his perfect smile and beaming white teeth. His smile made him look innocent, like a little school boy with his first crush, “We are having a kick-back at the docks down by my place,” Luke stood and began walking to his car. Reaching the car, he opened the door and looked back at Khalida with a smile, completely unaware of the excitement being sent through her body. He said nothing as he waited for Khalida to get into her car and leave.


“But I thought you were going to call?”


“I changed my mind,” cutting of any excuse forming in her mind.




Backing up her car, she took one last glance back at Luke, offering him an uncontrollable smile through the rearview mirror as he stood behind his opened car door.


Did I even try to tell him no? No, I just folded, turning right into the putty I didn’t want to be. Loser.


home, Khalida raised the volume on the radio, blasting the latest hit from
Breaking Benjamin,
one of her favorites. She was well aware of the fact that she was only trying to drown out the ever present and sometimes disturbingly erotic
thoughts of Luke that crept into her mind. She knew the thoughts that flowed through her mind, but she also knew that if there was a guy out there for her, it would be him. He was her first love, and the last time they broke up, she swore she would avoid that boy like he had cooties. Laughing at herself, she pictured little bugs flying around his head.


Slowing her speed and turning down her tunes, she pulled the car into the driveway of the two story house, old but still quaint. It was the perfect place to live for Khalida, the mixture of homey and inviting. Khalida climbed out of the car, but she couldn’t shake the feeling she was being watch. She saw nothing as she glanced around, expecting to see something that wasn’t supposed to be there. Shaking off the eerie feeling, she began to walk around her car. Khalida wasn’t surprised to see Fatin walking down the rustic, red colored brick pathway in her uniform. Her mother worked full time and then some at
Lake Travis Specialty
. Sometimes she would be gone for a week straight. Shaking the nervousness from her shoulders, Khalida smiled so her mother wouldn’t sense something was amiss with her.


“Hey, kiddo, how was school?” her mom said warily as she walked up to Khalida.


Her mother looked worn down from all the hours she had been working the past few months. Khalida didn’t know how she could keep going like she did, working twenty-four hour shifts with just a couple hours of sleep here and there. She wanted to ridicule her mother for getting so depleted, but she knew her warnings would fall on deaf ears.



“It was good. Hey, Mom? What would you think if I went with Luke for a couple of hours tonight?”


Clearing her throat, Khalida’s mom tried to hide the surprised look on her face, “I thought you guys weren’t talking, anymore? If I can remember right, you specifically said if you ever mentioned his name, again, you wanted me to give you a hundred lashes.”


“Mom?”Khalida managed to mutter through gritted teeth. She knew exactly where her mother was taking this conversation.


“I like Luke, I really do, Khal, but it just seems like you two are always on different levels, and you are the one that always get hurt.”


That is the understatement of the year.
Every single time that little jackass would suck me in with promises and smooth talk, the next thing I knew he wouldn’t return my calls and totally ignore any attempt I made to reach out. Every dang time. If it happened, again, this time maybe I could just trip him before he could cut and run


mom laughed softly, “Baby, just do your chores and laundry over the weekend, please. I have to work and will not be home until late sometime Sunday evening.”


Stepping closer and lifting her daughter’s chin with her slender forefinger, she said, “I’m just happy that you two might finally figure out whatever it is brewing inside of you both,” Fatin laughed lightly as she dropped her hand from her daughters face.


Throwing her arms around her mother, she couldn’t help but smile. The closeness she had with her was undisputable. She adored her mother. Fatin Bell was in her early forties, but she could pass easily for being in her early thirties. At five foot six, Fatin had a petite frame and wore her wavy brown hair short, hanging just above her narrow shoulders. She had seductive gray eyes and long dark lashes that were enhanced by high cheek bones and perfectly shaped features; Fatin certainly had no need for makeup. She was a natural beauty and could have any man she wanted. Khalida knew her mother had many admirers, but for some reason, she would never give any of them a chance, and for reasons unknown to her, her mother still chose to remain single. She didn’t seem unhappy by it. Her focus in life was Khalida and her self-sacrificing career. Fatin struggled as a single mother, putting herself through medical school after Khalida’s father died just before her was birth. Once Khalida was five years of age, they moved to Lake Travis where Fatin took a job at the small hospital which was located in the connecting city of Lake Way, completing her residency and taking full time job as an Emergency Room doctor.


“Okay, Mom, I’ll check in with you later. I love you.”


“Severance Khalida Bell!” she said with a stern tone but a smile on her face.


“I hate it when you use my full name with that tone.”


Her mom chuckled, “I know you do. I have to get to work. You behave, young lady.”


halida clumsily went through the clothes she had hanging in her closet, dismissing everything her fingers touched. She finally decided to go with a worn out pair of blue jeans that were ripped at
the knees and a simple black-colored tank top, finished off with her favorite black Soda flip flops. Choosing to wear her hair down since everyone always said she looked better that way, she applied a coat of mascara and a lightly tinted pink lip gloss and was finally ready.


No sense in overdoing it. Luke did say it was just a kick back


Tilting her head, she gazed into the mirror for one last look before deciding she was done.


Simple. No. There is nothing simple about this. It’s more like plain.


At the last minute, Khalida decided she didn’t really want to be
She grabbed a bottle of mousse from her dresser. In too much of a hurry, she raked the liquid through her hair, shaking it until the messy black waves fell down her back just the way she liked it. Going with plum eyeliner instead of the normal black, she quickly drew a thin line on top of her eyelids then the inner lid, making her pale green of her eyes pop.


Feeling better than plain, she turned to head out of her room when her cell phone started bellowing out the tunes to
Katy Perry’s I kissed a Girl


“Hello,” she nervously answered, knowing who it was without looking at the caller i.d.


“It’s not like you to stress over the way you look. Now get your ass down here with me. I’m waiting for you as patiently as I can,” Luke breathed hoarsely on the other end of the phone. Amusement danced in his tone with his voice loud and clear, instantly sending butterflies spreading in her mid-section. “Don’t make me come drag you out,” his voice bellowed with a hint of warning.


“How do you know I am stressing over getting dressed?” she asked playfully, and a little annoyed that he knew.


“I can see you through your window there, Cupcake, and as entertaining as watching you is, I am really starting to feel like a bit of a creeper, so get your ass out here.”


Laughing, she closed her cell phone giving herself one last look over before finally walking out of her bedroom.



Khalida opened the front door and was taken aback by his appearance when she saw him confidently leaning against the brick archway of the porch. He wore his standard black t-shirt and dark wash jeans, finished off by a simple baseball cap that hid his eyes, forcing some of his jet-black curls to poke out from the sides. Her nerves jumped at the sight of his lips tilted up in a half smile, an air of mystery surrounding him sending a tingle across her skin.


Cocky as always.


“You shouldn’t slump your shoulders, it’s not good for your posture,” Khalida casually said, red warmth spreading through her cheeks as she reflected on how her words sounded too protective for the young man standing in front of her.


“Just like I said, you look beautiful, and lose the vicious tone, Brat. By the way, how long did it take you to get ready? Did you at least squeeze in time to be able to eat your mac’n’cheese, first?” his eyes danced, clearly indicating the level of enjoyment he was having further enhanced by a deep chuckle.


“I’m glad you think you know me so well,” she retorted sarcastically.


“You’re dodging my question, Doll face. Remember, I can tell when you’re lying,” his dark luring eyes were fixed on her as he spoke.


“No,” she said stubbornly, “I didn’t eat my normal dinner. Now can we go, or are we going to stand here all night discussing my eating habits?”


Arrogance touched his smile that spread across his face. Feeling annoyed, she hated that he knew so much about her. Khalida held her chin up as she walked past him, cutting off the discussion before she could amuse him any further. Luke fell in close step behind her as she walked down the brick pathway, so close that she could feel him move with her as they walked to his car. Before she could reach out to open the door, he placed his hand in front of hers; grabbing the handle he pulled the door open.


“If you’re shooting for Gentleman of the Night, don’t bother. We both know it doesn’t suit you,” she returned in an effort to reduce the cockiness exuding from his demeanor.


Take that you smug bastard


Khalida beamed at her thoughts.


“If you knew what was going through my mind you wouldn’t think I was very gentlemanly,” he said, shutting the door and laughing at her obvious surprise that left her mouth hanging open as she struggled to find her voice after his little comeback.


Breathe, Khalida. He’s just going for shock value. What the hell was that? I’ll make him think gentlemanly. Jerkface.


Khalida had to shake her head to break her out of the wide-eyed, wide-mouthed trance she was in, trying to recover from his politely blunt comment.


Breathe, Stupid!


Finding her breath, Khalida inhaled the smell of his new car. Leather was one of her favorite scents.


Taking in everything she could, she finally found her voice, “Did you have those types of thoughts with that blonde you were talking to earlier, as well?” she asked sarcastically as he sat down behind the steering wheel. He began to drive away from her house, saying nothing, making her realize that he was avoiding the question.


Caught off guard, it took him a minute to regain his cool demeanor, but a minute was all it took before the surprised look was wiped off his face. He slowed the car to a stop for the stop sign they were approaching and turned to look at her with his confidence in full force.


“Do I detect a streak of jealously, Love?” he shot back, his feisty words wiping the smirk off of her face.


Nervously, Khalida began to twirl her hair with her fingers, trying unsuccessfully to avoid his comment. The sound of his soft laugh with a hint of gloating in his voice fueled her to challenge him.


“Do you do that on purpose?” she dared him.


“What? Try to make you jealous?” he pushed the gas pedal, jerking them both back as he drove forward.


“What else would I be talking about, Lucas?”


“Role reversal sucks doesn’t it, Khally?” his words were seemingly sharp and hurtful, “I stood in the background for months watching you with Carey and it never dawned on you once how it made me feel.”


“You pushed me away! What did you expect me to do?” the words coming out suddenly with real demand in her question.


“Oh, I don’t know, not hook up with the first asshole that came around the corner,” he spat angrily.


Khalida sat there, wowed by the words Luke had spoken. Still not knowing what to say, she never thought being with Carey or anyone else would hurt him.


“I regret being with him, but you can’t expect me to wait for you forever, Luke, not when you push me aside and ignore me like I’m nothing. You treat me like I’m something on the bottom of your shoe, there for your discarding at your
,” she said, forcing the words out of her mouth.


Ugh, I didn’t want to throw that in his face, not now when we might actually begin to go somewhere…wait. Screw that. He did treat me like crap, and I shouldn’t have to tip-toe around that. He needs to know he hurt me.


“I’m sorry I shouldn’t have said that,” he sighed quietly and pulled the car over to the side of the road. They sat in silence for what seemed like a lifetime before he turned to face Khalida. Rubbing the back of his hand along the side of her cheek, he spoke softly.


“It killed me to see you with someone else. To answer your question, you were supposed to wait for me. You and me, we will never be done, Khally. You are mine. Do you see that? I know it’s hard for you to understand that right now, but I had to push you away. You weren’t ready for me.”


Her inner self went soaring.


I’m his!


“And I am now?” she replied stubbornly, trying not to let him know he just sent her on a rocking roller-coaster, flying around corners and reeling through the wind.


Luke laughed as he pulled Khalida toward him, knowing she wouldn’t fight him.


She couldn’t resist him. Not then, not now, not ever.


“I love you,” he whispered in her ear. Hope sprung throughout her body wishing he would kiss her as she could feel the flutter of butterflies returning.


“Now stop being a pain in my ass. You could start with telling me that you love me back. Then maybe we can continue to my house before the kickback is over.”


Khalida laughed looking up at him as he grazed his lips across hers, giving into her unspoken wish.


“Let’s just see where this is going to go, Luke. I mean, let’s be realistic with all this; chances are you’ll bolt at the first sign of my love for you, not that I do love you…” she said, refusing to surrender to him.


“I know you love me, and you will tell me by the end of the night. Now can we put this little dispute behind us and have a good time?”


“Whoa, first of all, what in the world makes you think that?”


“I’m just confident in my abilities to bring out the best in people.”


“Well, you and your abilities can kiss my butt. Now go before I change my mind,” she giggled as they pulled back on the road.





One look at her sitting beside him in his car and he lost his breath. He could tell she was nervous by the smile on her face and the way she fumbled with her hair. He laughed to himself. If she only knew the affect she had on him, then she wouldn’t be nervous at all since his own nerves were on the edge of coming unhinged. His stomach took flight with every subtle move she made. He couldn’t help but think of her being so close when all he wanted to do was kiss her. He knew it was too soon for him to be making moves like that just yet. He would have to ease into that with her or she might bolt.


Khalida always got to him even if she was across the room, but in the last few weeks, everything was more intense for him. He could tell many things were about to change, he could feel it in his bones. She was the one. She was his and his alone, and not only did he know it, somehow he believed Khalida knew it, too. She was just too darn stubborn for her own good, sometimes.


“You look beautiful, Stubborn Ass,” he mumbled as he tried to steady his
ragged breathing, trying to conceal how nervous he actually was.


She looked at him with unusual piercing pale green eyes. It was all he could do to control himself from pulling her to him and dropping yet another kiss on her soft full set of lips.


“Thank you,” she laughed nervously, “how can you make me feel good but insult me at the same time?”


He loved to listen to her laugh.


“I only say what’s on my mind, Khally. For as beautiful as you are, you are equally hardheaded.”


She leaned over and wrapped herself around his arm. Tensing with her sudden movement, he expected her to throat punch him and, oh, how that would hurt. Instead, she just leaned into him, content to finally be near the calming place he had always been to her.


He kissed the top of her head, gently. He adored the way her hair smelled of a musky floral scent, and he couldn’t help but hold her close, longer than he should have to catch one last breath of her scent, all while reveling in the knowledge that she was his. He knew that she was still wary of him from all the times he had to push her away because she was getting too close. She just didn’t realize that she wasn’t ready for him, and he just didn’t realize he was pushing her into the arms of Carey, but all that could be over now. She was ready for him, and he knew it.

BOOK: Amaranthine (Willow Shadows Book 1)
4.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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