When We Were Us
Leo dropped his arm to the ground on the side of the chair away from me and brought it back up holding a bottle. He lifted it to his lips and took a long swig. I thought it was beer. I hoped it was beer, and not something stronger.
He caught me watching him, and one side of his mouth quirked up. “Want some, Mia? You know I don’t have cooties.”
I was glad the dark hid my flushed face. “No, thanks.”
“Ah, yeah. That’s right. I forgot you’re too good to drink with us, huh?” He tipped the bottle back again and then held it out to Sarah, who took a pull without hesitation. “So why’d you bother coming tonight if you’re not really going to enjoy yourself?”
“I . . . I thought it would be fun. And Jake wanted to come.” I shifted in my seat. “I can have a good time without getting drunk. Or high. Or . . .” I looked up at the deck, where the grope-fest continued. “Um, without doing . . . things.”
Leo smirked. “Cool. Good for you. But if you’re going to sit around and judge everyone who does want to do . . . things, maybe you should just go the fuck home.”
“Hey.” Jake’s tone wasn’t aggressive, just chiding. “Chill, Taylor.”
A tic jumped in Leo’s cheek, and his eyes narrowed. “What’s the matter, Donavan? You want to be her big bodyguard? Her boyfriend? Believe me, dude. I’m the last guy you need to protect her from.” His gaze slid back to me. “Or am I?” He took another drink, and it occurred to me that he’d probably had quite a few.
My stomach clenched at Leo’s random aggression. This was the first time we’d been together or spoken since I’d left him in the alley outside the diner. Clearly neither of us had forgotten that. The tension in the air fairly crackled, and I wasn’t sure who was going to break the awkward silence.
“Why do you call her Mia?” It was Sarah who spoke. She only sounded curious, not at all defensive or suspicious. I was pathetically grateful to her for shifting the focus as I held my breath, waiting to see if Leo would answer. “Is it Spanish?”
I saw his throat bob as he swallowed before he spoke. “No. Her name—her real name—is Amelia Quinn. After her great-grandmother. When we were little, sometimes her mom would call her that—Amelia Quinn. I wanted to say it, too, but I couldn’t pronounce Amelia. So I called her Mia. Mia Quinn.”
His voice was husky and sent a thrill down my spine. When I glanced up, his eyes were on my face again, boring into me until I couldn’t breathe. I shivered and then without thinking about it, I licked my lips.
Instantly Leo’s stare was fastened on my mouth. His own lips parted, and his chest seemed to rise and fall a little faster. I was dizzy with wanting him, and at the same time, I felt like an idiot. Here I was with another guy—while he was sitting with another girl. And yet the pull between us was undeniable. I was dying to crawl over to him, slither up his body, press my boobs into his chest and kiss him until we forgot our own names. I’d never known want that way—real, tangible need—and I fought back tears, because Leo had made it abundantly clear that he didn’t want me the same way.