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Hopeless: Chapter 16


Beau: Back door is open, sugar.

I regret running away. I hate being so stubborn.

If I were smarter than I am stubborn, I’d be in Beau’s blissfully cool house, sleeping like a baby. Instead, I’m in the Boiler. I can’t sleep, I’m restless, and I hate my life. My skin is damp and clammy, and my internal temperature gauge is totally shot. I’m not sure I’ll ever be cool again.

Sure, we get hot spells on the prairies during the summer. But this? This is next-level.

“Fuck it!” Even though I’m beyond tired and barely want to move, I flip myself out of bed and put on the tiniest pieces of clothing I own, planning to go for a swim. Again.

Agitation lines my every movement as I step barefoot down the narrow hallway of my trailer.

Living in a trailer might make me sound like trash, but the fact of the matter is I take a lot of pride in this trailer. I’ve lovingly cut and glued black-and-white checkerboard linoleum to the floor and repainted all the cabinets, even sewn my window coverings to match.

It’s mine, and I made it into one of those that belongs on Pinterest. I’ll never get rid of it.

One day, I’ll have a cute house and I’ll still spend weekends and vacations traveling in this thing. Maybe I’ll even be able to afford an exterior paint job and air conditioning for it in the future.

As it stands, for the few days of truly sweltering heat we get, I can’t justify it.

I shove the door open and let my eyes flutter shut, waiting for a gust of cooler air. But it never comes. That fresh mountain air I know and love is staying up between the peaks, letting us all suffer down here on the prairies with oppressive nights.

“Uhhh,” I moan, but it borders on a cry as I flop down on the spot, feet propped on the metal step of my trailer.

I’m so miserable I could cry.

I sit with my head in my hands, and I think.

I trust Beau, and I know he won’t hurt me. He likes to joke around—that’s just how he is—and I don’t feel threatened by him at all.

So why am I so averse to going into his house?

Because you know you’ll never want to leave.

My brain is a smug little bitch, throwing that in my face.

I peek up at the impressive house. It’s beautiful and truly unlike any house I’ve ever seen. For me, where I’m from, it looks like it belongs in a movie. It looks like the type of house I’d close my eyes and envision myself in when my reality became too much to bear.

Where there’d be some cute, wholesome boy hosting a party. Our eyes would meet from across the room. We’d be high school sweethearts, and he’d whisk me away from my shitty life.

Then the sound of my dad’s drunken shouting would filter in, and I’d get up and prop a chair under my door.

Fantasy and reality, so close yet still so far apart.

Yet here is that house, that man. They’re right there. And they’re real.

And here I am, trying to convince myself I don’t deserve them.

Teenage me would be horrified.

I guess it’s with her in mind that I get up off the step. Teenage Bailey would have run to him days and days ago. She was a romantic at heart.

Young adult Bailey? She’s not convinced the back door is open.

But when I try the latch, it clicks, and the door gives way to a rush of blissfully cool air. I sigh and let the flow pull me into the space.

As I stand here, I feel a bit like I’m intruding. After all, I ran away from him today to hide in my trailer.

He just stood there, chuckling.

Fucking dick.

I shut the door behind me, wondering what I’m supposed to do now. Should I call him? Text him? Just shout his name?

It doesn’t matter. I know he won’t mind.

My gaze lingers on the black leather sectional in the living room that overlooks the riverbank. The thought of laying myself out on cool leather and drifting off is too tempting to resist.

So that’s what I do. I plop myself down like a tired burglar. In my tiny cotton shorts and loose crop top, the chilled leather on bare skin is heaven. I’d lay myself out naked if I thought no one was here. I’m at the point where I’d happily lie on the floor just to take my temperature down.

I sigh and stare at the vaulted ceiling with a skylight, so different from the top of my trailer. The light above the stove in the open-concept kitchen is on, which means it’s not as dark in here as you might hope.

But I don’t care.

As long as it doesn’t feel like a frying pan, I’m happy. A simple girl with simple needs.

When I start to doze off, I hear feet padding against the polished concrete floors. Casual and unhurried—unlike my heart rate, which is through the fucking roof.

He whistles a tune, and I debate whether I should sit up and announce myself. That seems like the least weird thing to do, but as I settle on it and sit up, I freeze.

My gaze has just cleared the back of the couch and landed on Naked Beau.

Fully naked.

Head-to-toe naked.

He’s whistling and gazing into the fridge. The door covers his head and shoulders but leaves every other inch of his side profile bare.

Narrow waist, round ass—

My eyes go wide when they land on his dick. It’s like a porn dick. But flaccid. I stare, trying to figure out if it’s just the angle or if it’s the fact I haven’t seen a penis in real life. Maybe the scale is different.

I duck down, hiding behind the back of the couch but refusing to look away. I’m officially doing my best imitation of that simple line drawing with the head poking up over a wall, little mitted hands curled over the top.

Wide eyes because that little cartoon person is a voyeur. I just know it.

Beau carries on humming to himself as he turns and pulls out all the makings for a sandwich. I dip down, hiding and internally berating myself. Any normal adult would just have announced herself by now. Taken an eyeful. Glanced away politely. Laughed it off.

But I’ve royally fucked myself because I’ve waited too long. Now he’ll know I was peeking, and I’ll never live it down.

I decide I’ll stick to my guns and stay hidden, pretend I slept through it when he finds me sleeping on his couch in the morning.

Resolved, I decide there’s no harm in peeking again. I’ve already seen it all. What’s one more glance? I’ll save it in the brain cam for a rainy day.

Easing up like a stealthy ninja, I let out a quiet sigh when I see he’s facing away from me. But the back view is just as good as the front. Or side.

I don’t think Beau Eaton has any bad angles.

But his ass? I could die. Everything about the man is big and coarsely muscled. Scars pepper his skin, but they only add to his appeal. The lines in his back and shoulders ripple as he, I don’t know—spreads mayonnaise on bread?

Never knew spreading condiments on bread could feel sexual, yet here I am experiencing spontaneous ovulation because of naked sandwich making.

It’s making me hungry. But not the food kind. So I stifle a groan and drop back down. Horniness wars with my guilt for drooling over him while he thinks he’s alone. It’s an invasion of his privacy, but my brain cells packed up and left town the minute I got that side shot of him.

I listen to the sounds of him putting everything away. Shutting the fridge. Footsteps leaving the open living space. I might finally be able to breathe again.

But not before his voice cuts through the silent house. “Sugar, there’s a spare bedroom upstairs on the left.”

I have never wanted to keel over and die as badly as I do right now.

Of course, he’d figure out I was here. He probably heard me breathing.

I’m startled enough that I shoot up and watch him walk away, round ass bunching with every step.

“And if you want to see me up close, just knock on the door across the hall and ask.”

And I officially want to die even more than I did a few seconds ago.

I’m embarrassed enough that I skip the guest bedroom and lie on the couch, silently berating myself until I finally fall asleep.

“Hey! Hey!”

Beau’s shouts have me shooting up off the couch. I frantically look around myself, trying to figure out what might be wrong. But the entire house is as he left it when he waltzed out of here on full display.


I realize he isn’t anywhere close. He’s just shouting at the top of his lungs. In my dopey daze, my first thought was an intruder, but the more my head clears, the more I think an intruder wouldn’t start out on the second floor.

I get up and rush across the smooth stone floors, almost chilled by their coolness. Or by the sound of Beau calling out, “Hey!”

Over and over again.

It starts off loud but becomes more distraught, more defeated the longer it goes on.

I don’t knock on his bedroom door. I push right through to find his large, naked body thrashing on the king-sized bed across the room. The digital clock in the corner shows 2:11 a.m.

The pained moans spilling from his lips make my stomach drop.

He’s having a nightmare. A painful, stressful, frantic nightmare. And I have no idea what to do.

The feeling of helplessness pricks at my eyes as I watch him struggling against thin air, reliving some sort of horror.

And my heart can’t take it.

I might get knocked across the room by a stray limb, but I don’t care.

I approach his bed, calmly chanting, “Beau. Beau. Beau.” I reach out with caution and touch his shoulder. He stills almost instantly but doesn’t wake. “Hey, Beau. I’m here.”

“You’re here.” His voice cracks and he reaches for me. His clammy palm clamps around my arm.

“Yeah. It’s Bailey. I’m here. You’re okay.”

“You’re here,” he says again. This time, his tone bleeds relief. This time, he tugs me toward him.

And I go. I don’t have it in me to resist him right now. As I climb on his bed, my chest aches from his expression—pinched forehead, eyes squeezed shut, and no trace of the humor that painted his handsome features mere hours ago.

With one hand on my arm and one at my waist, he drags me to him, gathering me against his chest.

And very naked body.

But this isn’t sexual.

I’m not sure he recognizes who I am right now, but he holds me like I’m a comfort to him. He holds me like I held my sadly departed stuffed horse.

His thick arms wrap around me as I sprawl over him, head tucked under his chin, listening to the sound of his heartbeat.

I can feel the bulge of his cock, firm but not hard, against my inner thigh where my shorts have ridden up.

I can feel his chest hair against my bare breasts where my flimsy crop top has been displaced.

I can feel his deep breaths, his lungs filling and emptying, making me rise and fall in time as though I’m riding a wave while he catches his breath.

“What time is it, Bailey?” His voice is all gravel, his hold not loosening.

I peek over my shoulder at the clock. “Two twelve.”

One of his palms slides up the column of my spine to cup the back of my head. “Good.”

Then I feel him kiss my hair.


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