Read Life Before Damaged, Vol. 1 Online

Authors: H.M. Ward

Tags: #New Adult Romance

Life Before Damaged, Vol. 1 (8 page)

BOOK: Life Before Damaged, Vol. 1
4.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“Maybe I can assist you with that problem? It’s amazing what a good fucking can do to a person. But you probably wouldn’t know that, would you?” He asks, taking a step closer. Pete knows he’s sexy, and his words hit my buttons dead center. It’s strange how his words both offend and excite me. No one has ever talked to me like that before.

I start to laugh, because I’m a nervous wreck and he’s obviously joking, trying to get me to react, but when I see that the smirk on his face is gone, I stop and my face drops. “Wait, you’re serious. You’re actually asking me to cheat on him? With you?”

“Why not?” Peter shrugs as if it doesn’t matter.

“Uh, because... boyfriend! That’s why not!” He shakes his head like he just doesn’t get it. “Hello? Pete Ferro meet reality. Reality, meet Pete Ferro. People don’t do that when they’re in a relationship with somebody else. At least not normal people. You should only have that kind of intimacy with the person you love. Otherwise, what’s the point? Isn’t sex supposed to be the ultimate expression of someone’s love for another person?”

Pete takes a couple more steps towards me and leans back against the desk next to me. “Ah... love. I see where you may be confused. I wasn’t offering to make love to you. I offered to fuck you, thoroughly and hard. Sex isn’t love. Don’t ever make the mistake of confusing the two. Sex is a powerful, physical thing. Once you start mixing in stupid notions of love, it kills the passion.”

Heart racing, my jaw drops. I snap out of it. “Jaded much?”

“No, realistic much.


“Tell me no more of minds embracing minds,
And hearts exchang’d for hearts;
That spirits meet, as winds do winds,
And mix their subt’lest parts;
That two unbodied essences may kiss,
And then like Angels, twist and feel one Bliss.
I was that silly thing that once was wrought
To practice this thin love;
Come, I will undeceive thee, they that tread
Those vain aerial ways
Are like young heirs and alchemists misled
To waste their wealth and days,
For searching thus to be forever rich,
They only find a med’cine for the itch.”

The poem is raw and crude and the way Pete recites it is powerful.

“You left out a few parts, Pete.”

“Alas, they prove my point, Gina Granz. Love is an illusion for feeble minds who give way to the whims of the wind.” Smirking, he takes the book from me and puts it on his desk. I can feel the passion in his eyes and in his voice as he speaks.

“You don’t believe that, do you?” I’m curious now. How can anyone get through life with such a jaded perception of reality? “Love is real. It binds all things, holding us together and giving us life.”

“No, a sperm and an egg gave you life. Love had nothing to do with it.” Pete works his jaw, like he’s trying to decide whether or not he should say something.

“Go on, then. Enlighten me.” I tip my head to the side, surprised by the sharp mind working in that pretty head.

As he steps closer, those impossibly blue eyes bore into me. “What it all comes down to is primal, physical need. We are hot-blooded creatures meant to feel passion, hunger, pain, hate, euphoria, fear and lust. Right now, you are using love as a way to justify what your body craves, to ease your conscience, instead of seeing it for what it really is.”

I smile a little, amused at myself for feeling torn between shock that he’s intelligent and shock at his view of things. “And what is it?”

Pete is in my face, lips close enough to kiss. His breath washes over me when he speaks, and my silly smile falls from my face and shatters. “It’s plain, physical need. We all need to eat to survive, Gina. Do we settle on basic bread and water our whole lives, or do we indulge in other foods that taste more pleasant to the palate? Your views on sex and love are hypocritical and wasteful. In fact, your storybook notion of love is killing your passion until one day, all you’ll feel for each other is numbness and resentment. And where will that leave you? It leaves you with a husband who satisfies his hunger for lust outside of your sacred love.

“Why would anyone want to put themselves through any of that? Case in point, what your friend said about your beloved boyfriend. I’m willing to bet you’ve never screamed his name out loud while he made you come over and over again. You probably feel like every moment has to be tender, and saying dirty things out loud, asking him to do unspeakable things to your body will sully your precious relationship.

“You are repressed. You’re holding yourself back. I can see it in your eyes. The passion is there, but you feel you can’t be that person with him.
is what love does to passion and lust. It obliterates everything.”

I can’t answer and don’t want to give him the satisfaction of admitting that, to some extent, he’s right. Anthony and I have never had a very passionate love life, but it’s caring. The thought of asking him to do things to me is a bit daunting, but that doesn’t mean that it’ll never happen. I’m sure Anthony and I can get there, one day, if that’s what we both want.

When I don’t answer, Pete says, “That’s what I thought.” He pauses and turns to face me, all intensity gone, and his grin back full wattage. He claps his hands together loudly once, and then rubs them together in anticipation. “So! Now that we have all that confusion sorted out, let me ask you again. Wanna fuck?”


3:45 am

I choke on my spit, but my throat is too dry and still very sore, sending me into a fit of excruciatingly painful coughs.

Who asks that?

I bend over at the waist, wrapping one arm around myself, trying to keep my ribs from cracking, my other arm over my face.

Wordlessly, Pete steps around me and leaves the room. When he returns, I’m still coughing madly, trying desperately to catch my breath, but I can’t. If I don’t stop coughing soon, I’ll surely faint from lack of oxygen. Pete grabs me by the waist, lifting me up and sits me down on the top of the desk. After handing me a glass of water, he puts a comforting hand on my back and looks at me with a worried expression on his face, eyebrows pinched, lips pressed together into a thin line.

He stays next to me like that, rubbing my back and saying soothing things, until the coughing finally dies down. I take a sip of water and thank him. I’m sitting on his desk, legs dangling off the edge and he’s standing close enough for me to feel the heat radiating off of his body. I’m still trying to catch my breath as he dips down to look at me.

“Hey, I didn’t think I’d set you off like that. Do you want me to call Logan back?” His voice is once more full of concern.

“You didn’t. It’s not you.” I snap at him, and he smiles faintly.

He lifts his palms toward me. “Sorry, I was teasing. I didn’t mean for you to choke up a lung. Are you sure you’re okay?”

Our eyes lock and my stomach fills with something light. It’s as if the air around us is charged and tugging us together. The thought scares the crap out of me. I can’t like him. He’s an asshole. But he’s not. That’s the problem. There are two Pete Ferros, the charming man in front of me now and the crude fuckaholic.

Pressing my lips together, I look away, breaking the moment. “No, it’s okay. I should be fine now. Thanks.”

Pete offers a shy smile. His words from earlier keep nagging at me. What if I do have it all wrong? What if sex isn’t an expression of love, but just a primal bodily need meant to be satisfied, like hunger? Dammit. Now he’s got me questioning myself.

“Lust and love can coexist.” My voice is firm, certain.

“When you have proof, feel free to show me.” The topic is closed now, like one of his old books.

The atmosphere in the room has gotten so tense with anticipation, you’d need an axe to cut through it.

I squirm on the desk and clear my throat while pointing at the desktop. "Just a quick question. I’m a little worried about my health after sitting on this desk. When you've had guests of the female variety over, do you disinfect this desk when you're done, uh, entertaining them on it?" I scrunch my nose to accentuate my disgust and mock-shudder. “Because I don’t see any Lysol around. Gotta know if I need a cootie shot.”

Pete’s mouth quirks up into a half grin, and he shakes his head. When he opens his mouth to say something, I cut him off. "No way. Wait! Let me guess!"

I put a finger up so that he doesn't interrupt me, and cross my legs while tossing my hair dramatically behind my shoulders.

Putting on a straight face, I’m going for alpha-male serious as I stare up at him from under my lashes. Pete looks amused as I try to do my best impersonation of a dark and brooding man, my voice husky and low, "This study is my sacred place, my sanctuary. I never bring women in this room, you are the first. All those other women? They are insignificant. They have only seen my bedroom. That is where I fuck them thoroughly and hard. You, are special." I can't make it to the end without laughing. I break character as I reach the part about the bedroom.

Smiling, Pete applauds my performance, so I take a small bow atop the desk, grinning.

"Impressive but wrong. If you must know, I never bring any women home at all. Laugh all you want, but you’re the first."

"Oh man, so is there nothing sacred, then? Have I made you break your Golden Rule? How does it go? Is it something like,
Thou shalt not bring forth wenches and strumpets in thy sanctuary?
Well, lucky for you, I'm neither a wench nor a strumpet. But still,” I place my hand in front of his face as if I’m holding a microphone and I’m a reporter interviewing him “Mr. Ferro, inquiring minds want to know, are there any rules that you haven’t broken yet, be it moral, social, personal or legal?"

He chuckles and pushes my fake microphone hand away. Flicking back his head he sends wet strands of brown hair flying back. “Actually, if you must know, there is one last personal rule. And I'll never break that one." He rocks back and forth on his heels, with an air of arrogance that is just begging to be egged on.

"Really? And what would that rule be, Mr. Ferro, and does it involve another man and your ass?" I put my microphone hand back in front of his face.

Pete makes a
tsk, tsk
sound and waves a finger. "That's my little secret. What about you, Miss Granz? What's your golden rule?"

He wraps his fingers around my hand and brings it towards my face as if he’s interviewing me instead. He’s looking at me as if I'm dessert. I try to act as if I’m unaffected, but the truth is, when he looks at me that way, he makes me feel desirable, which is something I'm not used to.

Loved? Yes.

Appreciated? Most definitely.

Desired? Never.

I need to be more careful around him. I need to put some space between us. I don’t trust myself anymore, not with this man who has beauty and brains. It’s a deadly combination.

I try to get off of the desk, but he takes a step closer making it impossible for me to stand without pressing up against his body, which is something I am not going to do. He is so close I can feel his chest brush against my robe when he breathes.

When he looks down at me, strands of wet hair flop back down onto his forehead. Little drops of water form on the ends and drip down onto my robe-covered knees. His smile fades and his gaze darkens, "It would bring me great pleasure to break some of your precious little rules."

My confident smile falters. “Well, good luck with that. I’m not a rule breaker. Clean slate. Miss Straight-and-Narrow, right here. The perfect daughter, girlfriend, student, employee, you name it."

I make it sound as if I like it, as if I’m proud, and tick them off on my fingers one-by-one. I sound confident, but deep down, mountains of regret and lost opportunities press on top of me, pushing me deeper into the ground. Most of the time I feel like a puppet and everyone is pulling on a different string—everyone except for me. It’s like I don't have a say in who I should be or what I should do. I'm so tired of trying to be perfect for everyone.

I look down, my hair falling in curtains around my face. I'm flicking at the corner of one of my bandages with a finger.

Pete uses one hand to push back my hair and the other to gently lift my chin. “Ah, but you’re not Little Miss Perfect. You did break the rules. You were at an illegal party tonight, when you could have chosen to be anywhere else. See? Rules are meant to be broken, Gina. Even the ones we hold onto the most. Learn to let go. Your life is too short to spend it holding back all the time.”

Pete’s gaze intensifies before he closes his eyes and quotes softly,

“When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.”

“That’s beautiful. Who wrote that?” I exhale, taken aback. The way he recites this poem is both melodious and melancholy. It flows like a dance off of his tongue, where the other poem was forceful and fiercely intense.

“Yeats. It’s a reminder not to waste your youth. Don’t let yourself get hung up on what’s right or wrong. Let yourself be desired, even if it isn’t true love. Life is too short, Gina. Of all people, you should know this better than anyone now.”

BOOK: Life Before Damaged, Vol. 1
4.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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