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Authors: Alicia Michaels

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult & College, #Romantic Comedy, #Contemporary Fiction

Brat

BOOK: Brat
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BRAT

 

Sharing Spaces: Book 2

 

Alicia Michaels

 

 

Brat

Alicia Michaels

Copyright 2014 by Alicia Michaels

Edited by Melissa Ringsted (There for You Editing Service)

Cover Art by Najla Qamber (
www.najlaqamberdesigns
)

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, places, or people, living or dead, is coincidental.

Disclaimer:

 

This book touches on the controversial subject of abortion. The procedures and policies described are in accordance with Texas state law in order to add realism to the story. The plot of this story is no way influenced by the author’s political views, nor has it been created to incite upset, or debate.

Prologue

 

 

Staring at myself in the full-length mirror attached to the back of my bedroom door, I couldn’t see the changes yet. Every time I’ve heard women reminiscing about their pregnancies, it’s the same old complaints: big, tender boobs, nausea, dry or oily skin—depending on who you’re talking to—fat fingers and toes … you get the idea. Yet, shortly after peeing on the stick that would change my life, I was completely floored by how little I had changed. If it hadn’t been for a missed period, I never would have suspected it. Even so, six weeks after a stupid summer fling, the consequences were coming back to bite me in the ass in a big way.

Honestly, I would have preferred a raging case of the crabs. At least you can wash that away with a bottle of special shampoo and a tiny comb. This is definitely one slip up that can’t be washed away with shampoo, drowned in tequila, or smothered by a pan of brownies.

“You are such an idiot,” I whispered to the wide-eyed girl staring back at me. She’s someone I recognized—platinum-dyed hair, blue eyes lined expertly with navy eyeliner, porcelain skin and blush-stained cheeks, pink glossed lips. Is this what a mom looks like? It’s not like I have a good example to go from; my mom is Botox Betty. I don’t really think normal moms wear clothing better suited to a sixteen year old, start drinking at nine in the morning, or ignore their children completely. But then, I’m really just guessing here.

Do I want to be a mother? Definitely not. I barely even like kids. I mean, really, I don’t know that many personally. They just seem so loud. And dirty. And smelly. And sticky. Though, the little tiny clothes are cute. However, I doubt little tiny clothes are a good enough excuse to give birth to and raise a tiny person when you don’t even know what you’re doing.

Pressing a hand to my stomach, I sighed. “Sorry, kid, looks like you’re stuck with me.”

Well, there is the father, but I hardly know how he’s going to react to all this. In fact, I barely know him at all. I should have known he was going to be nothing but trouble from the beginning. The day we met, I was stuck between the need to mount him, and the urge to slap his stupid face. He was hot and infuriating at the same time, which is just an odd mix. In the end, the need to mount him won out. Boy did I mount him. Several times. Different positions. Lots of sweating, panting, moaning, and all that jazz. Now it’s looking like the only person who’s going to be panting and sweating is me … while lying on a table trying to push something the size of a watermelon through a hole the size of a kiwi.

Like I said, I should have known he was going to be trouble from the start.

 

 

 

 

“I can’t believe I let you jerks talk me into this. You promised me, no outsy-doorsy crap.”

That would be me, griping about being forced to brave the rainforest after I was promised I wouldn’t have to.

“Come on, Chloe,” Christian replied, nudging me with his shoulder as we waited for our turn to board the boat bobbing on the bank of the river, which ran through Dasia’s rainforest. “It’s not like you have to walk anywhere. Just pretend you’re on a yacht in the Hamptons or something.”

“There are no monkeys in the Hamptons,” I muttered as I glanced up and found a pair of small, wide-eyed primates staring down at me from the branch of a tree. They might seem cuddly and cute to others, but I didn’t trust them. Everything’s all fine and good until someone starts throwing poo. “You guys suck so much.”

The guide waited patiently with one foot in the boat, and his long, wooden pole in hand as we climbed in, the last to board. I cringed as my Timberland hiking boots were soaked by the water lapping at the muddy bank, but followed Christian onto the boat.

“Funny,” Christian said with a smirk as he noticed my cargo shorts and hiking boots, “for someone who doesn’t like the outdoors, you sure know how to dress for it.”

“These are just for show, obviously,” I answered, rolling my eyes.

Luke, Jenn, and Kinsley followed me, and we squeezed onto the last two wooden benches at the bottom of the long, deep boat. It rocked precariously as the guide climbed in, and I hugged my knees, my heart leaping into my throat at the motion.

“Okay, I need him not to do that again,” I said, eyeing the murky river as the guide pushed off from the embankment. “Do you guys know there are things living in the water?” I added as I noticed a large fish swimming by, its scales gleaming in the light of the sun. Seriously, not how I envisioned spending my first full day on the island.

“If I were you, I’d be more worried about the bugs,” Kinsley stated as she scanned the pages of a book. “According to this, scientists have estimated that there are more than fifty million species of invertebrates living in the tropical rainforests of the world.”

I glared at her as the boat began its sedate trek down the riverbed. “Real comforting, Kinsley,” I scoffed. “Real comforting.”

If you’re wondering who the heck brings a Biology book on vacation, then you’ve clearly never met Kinsley. Even when she’s depressed over a breakup, the nerd in her just can’t resist a chance to learn something.

“Take a chill pill, Chloe,” Luke said, tipping his aviator sunglasses up into his hair as he glanced at the rainforest passing on either side of us. “Just try to enjoy it. We already promised to make it up to you.”

“Oh, you will,” I threatened. “I hope you enjoy walking the entire length of the outlet mall while carrying my bags.”

“Dasia’s landscape is very ruggedly beautiful,” the tour guide said as he guided our boat down the curving river. “Particularly, the mountains—which are covered in trees and foliage—misty waterfalls, and venous rivers. More than two-thirds of the world’s plant species can be found in the rainforests. Many of these plants are vital in the gas exchanges that provide much of the world’s oxygen supply. Here, we have the plant known as Nepenthes rafflesiana, or Raffles’ Pitcher-Plant as it is sometimes called. It is a carnivorous plant that varies in size, but around here it grows to about thirty feet tall and can sprout pitchers that are about a foot in length. The pitchers secrete nectar that attracts insects, which feed the plant. Sometimes, the plants also consume small mammals that poke their heads around in those pitchers, attempting to eat the insects.”

“Poor stupid bastards,” Luke said under his breath, causing Jenn and Christian to snicker and Kinsley to glare in annoyance. Leave it to her to turn vacation into a science lesson … she was probably ready for a pop quiz at the end, that poor little nerd. Meanwhile, I busied myself with swatting away freakishly huge bugs and trying to get into the whole National Geographic vibe.

The river wound its way toward a canyon, a deep ridge with rocky ledges on either side. Vines crept down the sides, and even a few trees sprouted from the earthy walls flanking us.

“This is Dasia’s oldest and largest river,” the guide continued. “The locals have been passing down the legend of the river sirens for years. Rumor has it, if you get caught on the river alone after the dark, you risk being caught up in their haunting songs. Some even say they have family and friends that were lost in the river, never to be seen or heard from again.”

“Dun, dun, dun!” Jenn sang ominously, causing Luke to guffaw and Christian to snort.

On the surface of the water, mist gathered, growing thicker the further into the rainforest the river took us. “The mists of Dasia’s rainforests are unpredictable and mysterious, forming over the water and in the thick of the forests.” We came through the other end of the canyon, where the river opened up more, now wide enough for three of these boats to pass side by side if necessary. The trees were denser there, with thick, curved branches reaching up toward the sky, and some even growing out over the water. Noises that sounded suspiciously like bugs echoed, causing me to reach into my bag for a can of bug spray. I applied another coat as the guide continued.

“If you look up into the trees on either side of us, you’ll notice the elevated tree dwellings, known as tree Oikeo to our locals.” Following his directions, I craned my neck up until I could see them, crude wooden pavilions built around the trunks of trees, with wooden steps leading up to them. “Many tourists spend their vacation in the vacant Oikeos, to better experience the ruggedness of the rainforest.”

“Are these people insane?” I asked with a frown. Who the hell wanted to sleep with the spiders and lizards? Just thinking about waking up covered in creepy crawlies made me shiver.

“I’d totally do it,” Christian said, eyeing the tree houses like a kid in a candy shop. Figures.

“The mists are the thickest there,” the guide continued, pointing beyond the right bank. We followed his gaze to where the mist was wafting and curling around the trees. It seemed to be drawn toward the right bank, where it pooled and gathered until all you could see was a cloud of white with a few peeks of green here and there. “If our group would like, we can dock the boat and get a little closer. It’s hard to see from here, but that mist shrouds the ancient ruins of the city of Hamartia. I can take you inside, and we can explore the underground caves, which are filled with hidden grottos and pools.”

“Um, can we just stay in the boat?”

My protest was muffled by a chorus of enthusiastic ‘yesses’, and the next thing I knew, we’d stopped the damn boat and were climbing out.

“Let’s go,” Christian said with a laugh as he gave me a hand out of the boat. “I thought you were going to try to enjoy this.”

“I was,” I argued, “until it was time to get out of the freaking boat.”

Our footsteps were noisy on the ground below us, which was covered in leaves, twigs, and other crap that I was sure just camouflaged more bugs. Our group oohed and aahed as the guide pointed out the rainforest wildlife while we moved deeper into the woods. I had to admit, the birds were my favorite part of the tour. Blue and gold macaws, multicolored finches, hornbills, kingfishers, and toucans. Of course, the birds became fewer the deeper we went and the mistier it got. It was eerie how much quieter things were the closer we came to the ruins. It was easy to believe all that legend stuff the guide had told us about when they came into view. Crumbling pillars made of stone, and large, hollowed-out buildings were almost completely hidden within a tangle of trees and vines.

Flowering, crawling plants covered some of them, and a series of mounds that looked like altars or tombs were in neat, precise rows in one area. Our large tour group began to separate, wandering aimlessly and snapping pictures as the guide droned on and on about the history of Hamartia, and how it came to be ruined. Supposedly, the mist was sent by some angry gods and everyone who lived here was taken by it.

After a while, we found ourselves going down a set of stone steps, which led us underground. The air was cooler further down, and the smell of earth surrounded us as we followed the weak, yellow beam of our guide’s flashlight, heading through winding tunnels toward the grottos.

They opened up eventually, a series of catacombs with crystal clear pools at the bottom. They all opened up into each other, and from where I stood, I could see through to about three caves away.

“Looks like we’re not alone down here,” I said, nudging Kinsley and nodding toward the next cave. A group of guys were gathered, crouched down by the water with their backs to us. I didn’t need to see their faces to know they were hot. “Nice ass on the middle guy,” I whispered. “Let’s go in there.”

Kinsley gasped. “Are you kidding me? No!”

I rolled my eyes at her. “Kins, come on! You have to move on at some point. It won’t kill you to flirt a little.”

“We don’t even know them!”

I shrugged and reached into my purse. “That’s the fun part. Here, put on some lip gloss and run your fingers through your hair.”

With an exasperated sigh, Kinsley obeyed, but not without a few grumbles thrown in. I checked my own reflection in my compact—I was working with bad lighting here, but whatever—and snatched off my sun hat, running my own fingers through my flat-ironed hair. Sneaking a peek back at the other cave, I nearly swooned.

Coming up out of the water like a Baywatch babe, this tall, shirtless, muscular, danger to all living females appeared, cargo shorts slung low on his narrow hips. Water sluiced over the rippling muscles bulging beneath deeply sun-bronzed skin, and wet, brown curls hung in his eyes.

“Holy crap!” Jenn exclaimed artlessly before clapping a hand over her mouth. She blushed under Luke’s pointed stare. “I mean … holy crap, look at that wall over there. Man, that is a nice wall.”

Wandering away from the group with her head lowered, Jenn turned her back to the tempting sight. I, on the other hand, continued studying him with interest. “Mine,” I whispered to Kinsley. “Dibs.”

Kinsley handed me back my lip gloss. “You can have them all as far as I’m concerned.”

“Don’t be silly,” I snorted. “I have no need for any more than three of them. That leaves two for you.”

I laughed at Kinsley’s slack-jawed expression, but didn’t tell her I was only joking. Sure, I have a healthy appetite and I’m never shy about going after what I want—everyone knows that about me—but it’s fun to make them think I’m wilder than I really am. Looping my arm through Kinsley’s, I meandered toward the opening of the next cave. Pretending to study the stalactites hanging from the ceiling, I watched the hottie with the body from the corner of my eye. He swiped the wet hair out of his face before pulling on a white T-shirt and sliding his feet into a pair of flip-flops. The fabric of the shirt clung to his chest and abs, plastered there by the water still trickling over him.

BOOK: Brat
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