Read Shattered Grace (Fallen from Grace) Online

Authors: K Anne Raines

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Shattered Grace (Fallen from Grace) (7 page)

BOOK: Shattered Grace (Fallen from Grace)
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She folded her arms over her chest, pushing her hip out. “How fast does it go?” Grace asked. One of the things she loved most about her car was its acceleration; she loved how quickly she could zip from zero to sixty.


It’ll school that Shelby of yours.” His chest puffed out in challenge and she mentally shook her head.
Men.


That sounds like a bet,” Grace said, matching his puffed-out chest with her challenging tone.


It is.”

Holding her keys tightly in her left hand, she held out her right to shake on it. “Not sure what the winner gets, but you can drive the Shelby tonight and I get to drive the Jag another time.”

He stepped forward, taking her hand firmly in his. “Deal. Loser buys pizza.” Pizza? Well, that was easy, she thought.

Since she was a little girl, she knew what others felt with a simple touch of her hands. She hated it, but times like this, it came in handy. Sensing nothing in his touch but honest-to-goodness excitement in the challenge, she shook back. “Deal.”

Quentin grabbed his jacket from the coat closet and followed Grace out the front door toward her car. The key was still firmly in her grip. With her eyes, she implored him. “
Please
drive carefully.”


I promise.”

The two words were spoken with a tenderness that touched the depths of her heart. In his eyes she saw understanding. Her grandfather gave her the car. He knew that.

It had been almost a year since Grace had sat in the passenger seat. The last time was the night before her seventeenth birthday, the night the car became hers. Pain constricted her chest at the memory, making it difficult to breathe. When Quentin got in the driver’s side, she tried to discreetly wipe away an escaped tear.

She wasn’t discreet enough. Quentin still saw it. Gently, Quentin grabbed her hand and held it until she relaxed and gave him a tentative smile. Finally, she was able to meet his eyes. “Thank you. Again.” They sat for a moment, locked in each other’s gaze, quietly drawing strength from the other.

Quentin broke away first to rest his hands on the steering wheel, giving it a loving stroke before looking back at Grace, his eyes bright with anticipation. “Okay, let’s see what this baby can do!”

Grace laughed at his excitement. She knew her Shelby would kick his Jag’s butt
.

 

Cars were parked on both sides of Orchard Street, so Grace didn’t have to mention parking in an area where the Shelby would be less likely to get a scratch. With this many cars, they had no choice but to park a couple of blocks from Latté Da’s. As they got out of the car, their ears were met with rhythmic drumbeats.


Sounds like we’re late,” Grace said as they hurried down the street.

A few loiterers were gathered around the front door, talking. Grace and Quentin politely pushed their way through. Still a little uncertain, she turned to Quentin, pulling herself up on her toes in order to talk in his ear. “Whenever you’re ready to go, just let me know and we can go.”

He leaned in, shouting loud enough so she could hear. The same smell of water and fresh night air from earlier surrounded her, pulling her toward him. “Don’t worry about me. Just try to have a good time. Alright?” His voice snapped her out of it, and she took a small step back.

Worried he realized what she had done, she jammed her hands into the back pockets of her pants and scanned the dark street. She took a quick peek back at Quentin, and caught a glimpse of a smile and felt a little reassured. “Alright.” He opened the door, ushering her in with a hand at the small of her back.

The place was packed, every table and seat taken. It seemed as though every square inch of the cinderblock shop was filled with loitering youth. Latté Da’s smelled of espresso, burnt milk, and sweat from too many packed-in bodies. The wafting aroma, she imagined, was probably much like that of a nightclub. Minus the espresso and milk, of course. Grace felt Quentin lean into her, the heat of his breath reaching her ear before his words. “If you want to go find your friends, I can get us something to drink. What do you want?”


I’ll just have a mocha, with two straws. Emily will be toward the stage in back.”


I’ll find you.”

Taking his wink as her okay to go, she made her way through the crowd toward the stage. Some kids stood talking, others sat singing along to the music, while the braver ones danced. Even though Grace didn’t see any one dancer she thought who could dance particularly well, she still envied how carefree they all were with their movements. She’d always wanted to be able to dance like that, to be able to let loose in a crowded room and allow her body to react to the music. But she never could, not because she was clumsy or ungainly, but because she was different.

Her difference had always kept her on the outside looking in, careful not to touch anyone with her hands. She knew that to everyone else but her grandfather, her lack of getting involved in crowded activities made her seem shy, when in fact, shyness had nothing to do with keeping her distance. She continued to watch the dancers, and tamped down the twinge she felt as she noticed a few of her friends were among them. Emily stood just beyond, watching Tommy get his rock star on.


He sounds great,” Grace shouted, once she got within earshot of her.


Doesn’t he?” Emily yelled back, bouncing up and down in time to the music. Her straight dark hair moved as if dancing too. “What took you so long? I thought you were going to be a no-show.”


Not a no-show, just late.”

Too focused on Tommy, Emily uncharacteristically let her transgression go. Grace wondered if she was eagle-eying Tommy because she was in love, or because there were several girls lining the stage sending obvious groupie messages with their body language. They bounced a lot. And with the little they were wearing, it was a wonder how the members of Distant Echo could concentrate enough to sound so good.

The band finished their song and announced a ten-minute break. Tommy jumped off the stage, wound his way through his little fan club, and headed for Emily. Grace watched as her eyes lit up and her smile widened. The groupies, on the other hand, weren’t smiling at all. Each took turns stabbing Emily with eye daggers. They weren’t worth the notice, so Grace turned back to Emily.


How’d we sound, babe?”


You guys were amazing!” Emily gushed, her eyes all wide as she clapped her hands with excitement before throwing her arms around Tommy’s neck.

Grace rolled her eyes. “I think I’m going to puke.”

Emily’s head quickly swiveled in her direction, her eyes narrowed. “Is that why you were late? You getting sick?”


Watching your PDA is making me sick. I was fine until I got here.”


Whatever.” Emily dismissed her disgust with a flick of her hand, then turned her fluttering eyes back to Tommy.

It was strange seeing Tommy in his rock star garb. Usually he looked like he belonged somewhere on the beaches of California with nothing but a surfboard in hand. But tonight the only thing that looked like Tommy was his longer sandy-blond hair and brown eyes. However, the black eyeliner penciled around them was a little weird.

A brush from someone’s touch sent heat shooting up Grace’s arm. Not a painful, burning heat. More of a butterflies fluttering in your tummy, heart-palpitating, “oh my gosh, what the heck was that”
kind of heat. The flurry of sensations she’d never experienced together before made Grace’s heart race.

When she turned toward the source of the heat, she found Quentin standing next to her, holding the mocha she’d asked for. His knuckles had barely grazed her. Odd, she thought. What the hell is going on?

Afraid he might have felt it too, her cheeks heated to a self-conscious shade of dark red. Grace shook herself mentally, determined to get her blushing issues under control. Her complexion lately was bipolar—white or red. It couldn’t be some nice complementary shade in between.

Successful at avoiding Quentin’s inquisitive gaze yet again
,
she took the drink and mumbled a thank-you. When she looked up, she noticed that Emily and Tommy were gaping at him. She swung her gaze to Quentin, taking in how the contrast between his gray eyes against his raven hair was startling in this lighting, amplifying his features. That’s right,
she thought with an internal snicker,
he is quite easy on the eyes.


Guys, this is Quentin. Quentin,” she said, swiveling back to them, “this is my friend, Emily. And that’s
her boyfriend, Tommy.”

Quentin smiled and reached out to shake Tommy’s hand. Emily’s face twisted conspiratorially, and Grace winced inside. Here we go!


So, this is your grandfather’s friend, huh?” Tommy paused with his hand in midair.


Uh, yep.”

If Emily mentioned she’d told her that he was insanely hot, she would die on the spot.

Her best friend’s face widened with a sly grin. From somewhere behind Emily’s back, Grace could practically feel a light breeze from the fluttering of Emily’s cupid wings. Her best friend was not only a drama queen, she was an incorrigible matchmaker.

The only sure way to be certain that “hot” wasn’t in Emily’s next sentence was to divert attention elsewhere. “Tommy,” Grace interjected a little too enthusiastically. “Emily was right. You guys are great!”


You really think so?” Tommy’s eyes lit up and let his breath out in a whoosh.


Absolutely.”


Seriously, man,” Quentin said, finally shaking Tommy’s hand. “Your band is really good.”

Quentin eyed Grace and gave her a private wink. Smiling on the outside but giggling on the inside, she was glad her non-promise of awesome music was delivered, and even more thankful she was able to divert Emily’s attention away from matchmaking.

Before long, Tommy’s band was due back onstage. He dropped a quick peck on Emily’s cheek, then made his way back to the stage to rejoin the band. Grace kept a watchful eye on the groupies as she felt her phone buzz. She pulled it from her purse and flinched at the name displayed on Caller ID. After avoiding her mom all day, Grace sighed, knowing she should probably bite the bullet and call her back.


My mom keeps texting and calling. I’m going to slip outside real quick and call her back,” she said to Quentin and Emily.

Emily’s focus stayed on the stage. “I’ll be right here.”

Like she’d be anywhere else?


Do you want me to go outside with you? It’s pretty dark out there now.” Quentin leaned in close, concern etched on his features.


No, I’ll only be a few minutes.”

Grace made her way back through the crowd and ran the gauntlet through the front door loiterers, doing her best not to touch anyone as she passed. She pushed out the front door, thankful for the cool night air that met her overheated face. She turned down the sidewalk and walked briskly. Once she made it to the corner a couple of buildings down, it sounded like she might be far enough away from the throbbing music to be able to hear.


Grace?”

BOOK: Shattered Grace (Fallen from Grace)
10.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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