Pixie and Levi haven’t spoken in nearly a year when they find themselves working―and living―at the same inn in the middle of nowhere. Once upon a time, they were childhood friends. But that was before everything went to hell. And now things are… awkward.
All they want to do is avoid each other, and their past, for as long as possible. But now that they’re forced to share a bathroom, and therefore ashower, keeping their distance from one another becomes less difficult than keeping their hands off each other. Welcome to the hallway of awkward tension and sexual frustration, folks. Get comfy. It’s going to be a long summer.
“I will pee on your bed.” This is my big, scary threat.
Levi used all the hot water again this morning, so I marched into his room in a rage.
I never go into Levi’s room. It’s a personal rule of mine. Our relationship—if you can even call it that—works because it’s simple. We never talk about the past. We sometimes argue. And we always stay out of each other’s business.
But here I am, in the business of Levi’s room, gripping my towel as cold, wet hair drips down my back. I haven’t had a hot shower for four days. Four days. This nonsense has got to stop.
“You seem stressed.” Levi, whose jeans are so low on his bare hips that I can tell he’s going commando, tilts his head. “You know what you need? A nice hot shower…oh wait.” He gives me an impish smile.
I might just pee on his bed right now.
“Joke all you want, Levi. But the next time you’re out fixing a broken window or a fire alarm, I will sneak into your room and pee on your bed.”
I’m dead serious here. And yes, I know it’s completely childish for a nineteen year-old to threaten such a thing, but I’m fresh out of maturity this morning. If I don’t get a hot shower tomorrow, I really will pee on his bed. Or at least find a cat to come pee on his bed. But either way, there will be urine on his sheets and I won’t feel bad about it.
The impish smile grows. “I can think of better things for you to do in my bed, Pix.”
If his plan was to make me uncomfortable by flirting with me, it totally backfired. Because the second those words left Levi’s mouth, his body stiffened in awareness and the space between us became electric. So now we’re staring at each other’s lips and we’re both breathing heavier than necessary, and neither of us is really dressed.
I shift in my towel and feel the material slip a bit as I pull my eyes from his mouth and try to coax my face into a look of something less come-and-get-me and more ew-you’re-pathetic.
I’m gearing up for my comeback—which will be brilliant and kick-ass as soon as I nail it down—when his eyes drop to my chest, and all the air leaves the room.
He’s not looking at my cleavage.
He’s looking at the raised red scar peeking out from the top of my towel. The scar that cuts diagonally across my torso, running from my left hip bone to the top of my right breast. The scar I normally keep hidden under strategic shirts and dresses.
It’s hideous and jagged, but I don’t hide my scar because it’s ugly. I hide it because it’s a reminder of pain and loss. And Levi’s eyes are fixated on it.
My heart starts to pound and I no longer care that my shower was cold or that we have weird sexual tension. I don’t care about Levi’s forearm muscles or the way the bathroom smells like his soap.
I care about my scar and what it means. It hurts me. It hurts him.
It’s the only thing we still have in common, the only thing we absolutely avoid, and now it’s glaring at us; marked on my skin in permanent red; rising along with each of my breaths.
The horror in his eyes has me hollowed out and helpless, and I have no words. I numbly turn and head down the hall to my room, shutting myself inside a millisecond before my body starts to shake. I lean against the door and try to take a deep breath.
I hear Levi’s bedroom door slam closed with a heavy thud and the vibration runs down the wall and shakes against my back.
He’s not fine.
I’m not fine.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chelsea lives in Phoenix, Arizona where she spends most of her time writing stories, painting murals, and avoiding housework at all costs. She’s ridiculously bad at doing dishes and claims to be allergic to laundry. Her obsessions include: superheroes, coffee, sleeping-in, and crazy socks. She lives with her husband and two children, who graciously tolerate her inability to resist teenage drama on TV and her complete lack of skill in the kitchen.