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Damaged Like Us: Chapter 14

MAXIMOFF HALE

NEITHER OF US breaks the silence while I drive home. Compounding and compounding in each untouched second. Every moment weighs down. Sunken in eternal slow-mo.

Farrow reaches for the air vents. Languid, sensual—his tattooed fingers slide the vent open. Cold air gushes out. But it does absolutely jack shit to temper the heat brewing against my skin.

I lick my lips for the thousandth fucking time. My cock throbs, aching to harden. To be stroked. To be fucked and to fuck.

I force my gaze to the highway. Gripping the leather steering wheel in an iron-tight vice. His hot gaze shifts from the road where paparazzi trail after my Audi—to me. Over and over.

Road, then me. Road, then me.

I’m watched and observed all the time. By strangers. By cameramen. By people. And never, never have I come undone. Until now, until his eyes feel like hands, and I want them all over me.

“Brake,” he says deeply.

I slow the car at the last second. Hitting bumper-to-bumper traffic. Now the car is unbearably still. I feel like my Audi has shrunk into a compact.

Too small.

The middle console barely divides his body from mine. And my body from his. Do I even want a divide anymore? No. And yes. He’s my bodyguard—that’s not changing.

It’s not.

But I can’t even think about anyone else. He hasn’t just pitched a tent in my brain and dick. He’s built a fucking stone castle that no wolf can ever blow down.

What am I supposed to say to him? My cock only wants you. My brain only wants you. I didn’t pick up that girl because I only want you.

Or: if I fucked someone else tonight, it would’ve made me sick.

None of that extinguishes this one cold fact: it’s ethically wrong to be with my bodyguard.

“Maximoff,” Farrow says, my name slicing the dense air like dropping a guillotine.

I steal a quick glance at him.

He rubs his bottom, pierced lip with his thumb, and his brows rise. “Ready to talk about this?”

This,” I say, imagining my hands ripping his shirt off his head. Muscle against muscle, lips against lips—I blink. “This traffic is fucking terrible.”

This as in you and me.” He pauses. “Us.”

Headlights glare in my rearview. My stringent posture contracts my shoulders, my deltoids, my whole body. And I switch lanes fast. Windows of a nearby SUV roll down, a Canon pointing at my car.

Great.

I drive thirty-over just to desert the SUV. Farrow keeps an eye on neighboring vehicles while he says, “I know talking about this isn’t easy. In any other situation, I’d just kiss you.”

Fuck. I lick my lips again. Muscles flexing.

harden beneath my jeans and boxer-briefs. “You sure I wouldn’t be the one to kiss you?” I counter.

I can feel his lips lifting. For how close we are, the space between us couldn’t feel farther away. Whoever makes the first move will have to cross miles, scale mountains, ferry oceans to reach the other side.

I glance at him.

And his amused smile stretches wider. “In your dreams, maybe you’d kiss me first.” Talk of my dreams reminds me of how long I’ve crushed on him.

Since I was sixteen.

I start to padlock my emotion with a thousand iron keys.

His smile slowly falls. “Did I say something wrong?”

“No,” I say instinctively, and then, “I don’t know.” Beware: he’s your bodyguard! scrolls across my vision like a tickertape warning. For Christ’s sake, we can’t even kiss without having a conversation beforehand. It’s all so elementary.

Kissing.

I want to do more. I want more. In a way that I’ve never even had before, and is that what’s being offered? Is it even possible?

“What are you thinking?” he asks. “Because I don’t know where you stand. You have so many boundaries, you’re practically a walking-talking Don’t Enter sign.”

“Like you don’t have any?” I combat.

He laughs into a grin. “I consider some boundaries like cautionary tales. Proceed with caution, but you know, still go on ahead.” He flashes me the hottest smile I’ve ever seen, and I bear on my molars, my erection wanting pressure. A mouth, a hand, an ass.

His mouth, his hand.

His ass.

I find myself shaking my head.

“What?” he asks.

I have to tell him my biggest roadblock. As though it’s not in-his-face-obvious enough. “I value self-awareness.” I take a colossal breath. “The ability to understand and perceive every facet of my own weird existence. In Greek ethics, it’s said only the self-aware understand what is right, and therefore will have the knowledge to do what is good.”

I want to do what is right. To do good.

To be good.

Farrow taps the middle console, his thumb ring clicking against leather. His hand is an inch from my arm. He nods, understanding. “And you see being with your bodyguard as wrong. And wrong leads to bad; and bad equals unhappy in your philosophically-bound head. You realize that not everyone thinks that way, Maximoff?”

My brows knot. “In what universe does wrong lead to rays of fucking sunshine and happily-ever-afters, Farrow? Please, enlighten me.”

“How about rewinding and asking yourself, is it really wrong? Or how about this one: what is ethical to begin with? Who decided on these moral rights?” He leans back, boot on his seat. “Or what about what Thoreau said?”

I frown. “You’ve read Thoreau?”

“I took philosophy and lit during undergrad.”

I give him a brief look like he’s flown off this planet. “That was over seven years ago.” And I doubt he reads in his spare time. While my shelves are stacked and stacked with comics, graphic novels, and philosophy texts—his one small bedroom bookshelf is bare.

“I remember everything I skim,” he says, not even lying about “skimming” texts.

One right turn and I drive onto our street.

We go silent.

I pass rows and rows of townhouses, both of our homes in view. Then I pull onto the short driveway. He clicks the garage button. And I park next to Jane’s baby blue Beetle. After shutting off the ignition, the garage door grinds closed.

We stay right here. Inside my three-car garage, sheltered from the Philly noise.

Quiet. Alone.

In one single breath, Farrow turns towards me. His arm extends over the back of my leather seat. My muscles burn and tighten like rubber bands that beg to snap. I want him even closer. But I hold still, marbleized.

His other arm rests on the middle console. His hand one move away from my leg.

Farrow caresses my gaze as he says, “Thoreau said, ‘Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. So aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.’”

His deep voice and Thoreau’s words pour through me like liquid honesty. “Be not simply good.” Self-perfection has its limits. Being moral, making moral choices—it all means nothing in comparison to doing good for others. I don’t need to be the perfect picture of morality in order to help someone in need.

I’d rather be good for something.

For someone.

So I look at him.

I’m talking a real look. Like I’m excavating his every thought and desire. My eyes bore into his eyes, and then my gaze melts in a carnal wave against his gaze.

Farrow returns the aroused, taut sentiment. Our short breaths are the only true noise.

The headiest exchange of my life. Undeniable.

He leans forward, his lips an inch from mine. And very deeply, very huskily, he whispers, “What do you want, Maximoff?”

In an instant, I close the distance.

My lips meet his lips, and the tension explodes. We thrust forward together. An invisible divide detonates, blown to pieces.

He deepens the strong kiss. Our tongues wrestling, breath caught in my lungs. I clutch the back of his head. With firm, possessive passion. Wanting more of him.

His muscular arm falls to my broad swimmer’s shoulders. His fingers skim lightly, teasingly against my burning neck. Rising through my thick hair.

Fucking Christ.

A low groan sticks in my throat while we kiss. His smile grows against my stinging lips.

I want closer, but the middle console is in our fucking way. I untuck the black shirt from his pants. My hand slips beneath. Discovering the warm ridges of his abs that flex against my large palm.

My other hand shifts to his jaw, his skin rough from a less-than-close shave. His masculinity pumps blood in my dick, turning me on inside out. I like men that can bench press as much if not more than me. The kind that tries to steer my ship in bed and then relents, ultimately.

The kind that kisses like a fiend but becomes a pleasured puddle while we’re fucking.

Farrow pulls me nearer to his six-foot-three build. Finding extra room to move. He breaks the kiss, only for his mouth to travel down my sharp jaw. To my neck.

Fuck me.

I twist his shirt in my fist and then I climb between the seats. Heading into the back, I pull Farrow in this direction behind me. He follows. Our asses hit the stretched leather seat. No physical objects in our way.

We breathe heavily. Sprinting towards something we’ve never chased.

I yank the shirt over his head. And he tugs off mine. Hot skin against hot skin, tattooed chest to bare chest—I pin him to the side door; his head gently touches the window.

He grins, panting for two breaths. “So it’s like that then?” His fingers hook in my waistband.

I need his hands on my cock. I grind forward, shifting his hand lower. His brown eyes pool with intrigue. And arousal.

“It’s like what?” I ask deeply.

One corner of his mouth curves. “You’re bossy every place, everywhere. It’s like that.” And then Farrow uses his strength and hooks his arms beneath mine. Swiftly, he turns me, my spine meeting the interior car door. Our positions reversed. The back of my head meets the window.

And his knee presses on the leather between my legs. Closer, he clasps my hand. He sucks my ear before whispering, “So am I.”

“Fuck,” I pant, oxygen barely leaving my lips. I’m fucking breathless. Lightning has been striking me on repeat.

I’ve never felt breathless in my life.

I’ve never been with anyone I’ve known. Not like this. Never have I had real feelings beyond physical attraction. Not until him.

Merging the two—the feelings with the physical, it catapults me to a new plane of existence. Farrow lets go of my hand to clutch my jaw. His fingers—on my face.

My neck arches back against the window, my eyes almost rolling but they fasten into a daggered look. Fuck. I need him lower.

When I train my piercing gaze on him, I see how he drinks in my pleasure. Getting off by my expression. He kisses outside of my lips, and I kiss him more fully. Tongues tangled.

He grabs my neck, our pelvises digging closer. Erections bound beneath fabric but fucking dying to meet.

I fist his hair. Tugging. Sitting up more to be at equal height. The handlebar protrudes into my back, but I wrench Farrow harder to my chest.

His lips part into a gruff groan.

I can’t wait anymore. I draw his hand lower. To my zipper. Unzip me, man. I want jeans off, boxer-briefs off.

Farrow palms my cock, then squeezes above the fabric with the perfect pressure—fuck me. Swiftly, he fishes my button through, unzips—and on instinct, I lift his head back up. To kiss me again. Farrow seizes my jaw in a strong but affectionate grip.

Ensuring that I stay still.

So he likes control. Not a new fact, but I wonder if he’d let go, just in bed. And then I wonder if he’s thinking the same thing about me.

The second our lips break, I put a firm hand on his chest. And I guide his back to the bottom of the leather seat. Until he lies supine.

His ravenous gaze swallows me whole.

I expect him to protest about the new position, but he clutches my shoulder and pulls me down on top. Our movements quicken, feverishly. Our legs intertwining. Our dicks grind before I stroke the outline of his length, rock-hard. Fuck.

Me.

I unbutton his black pants. He yanks my jeans halfway down my thighs, revealing my green boxer-briefs. We exchange hard, rough kisses in every free second.

His lip piercing no longer cold but warm against my mouth. I unzip him—we stop.

We suddenly freeze as my phone vibrates in my pocket. Loudly.

Incessantly.

Someone’s calling me. Our chests visibly rise and fall. His lips reddened from my force, and before I tell him I have to answer, he’s already digging into my jean’s pocket. Retrieving my phone.

He remembers that calls are more important than texts. I never ignore phone calls. I can’t. Not if family may be in trouble.

I just realize his earpiece is out. And also his radio. He left both on the passenger seat up front.

Checking the caller ID, Farrow says, “It’s your dad.”


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