Home > Elias

Elias(West Bend Saints #1)(6) by Sabrina Paige

6
 
My head was back on the head rest, my eyes closed, and I listened to the hum of the car as we drove along the highway.  I was in that space between asleep and awake, trying to ignore the thoughts swirling in my head.
 
Four hours ago, this seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea, driving off with some guy I just met, the same guy who had stuck his tongue down my throat in a hotel hallway.
 
His tongue.
 
I could still taste him on my lips.  He tasted like whiskey and sex.
 
What the hell was I thinking, jumping in some guy’s car and going with him to his hometown?  I only just learned his name.  I knew nothing about him.  We had nothing in common- I was sure of that.  Two different worlds and all.
 
This is the dumbest idea ever, River.
 
And I had done some stupid shit, that was for damn sure.
 
Viper ran around on me, but it’s not like I’d always been an angel.  I went to rehab once, after a bad spell of partying before I was even eighteen.  I’d lucked out with a manager who was good with that kind of shit, hired one of those fixers who can manage anything.  The fixer got me out of that jam.  She was probably busy spinning this one already.  I wondered what she was coming up with.  Running away in the middle of a movie shoot?  Hitching a ride to Colorado with some guy I'd just met?
 
This wasn't my best moment ever.
 
But it probably wouldn't be the last stupid, impulsive decision I ever made.  In fact, I thought as I looked over at Elias, his gaze fixed straight ahead, I thought, he might be the next stupid impulsive thing I did.
 
The thought sent immediate warmth radiating to my core.
 
And just as quickly, I reminded myself that I only just left my fiancé.  My boyfriend of three years.  In Hollywood years, that was a f**king lifetime.
 
Of course, he was the one with his c**k in my sister’s throat.  And it had been months since we had sex, since he touched me in any way, shape, or form.  That wasn’t by my choice.  He blamed it on his “art,” this new album he was doing that he wanted to “channel his energy” into.
 
When the car came to a stop again, I was jerked out of my thoughts.
 
“Pit stop,” Elias said.
 
"Duct tape and rope?" I asked, grinning.
 
"How'd you know?" he asked.  "It was going to be a secret surprise."  He got out of the car, and as I opened the car door, caught the handle.  He reached for my hand as I slid out of the seat.
 
"Come on, now," he said.  "Don't tell me those Hollywood boys aren't into opening car doors for you."
 
"Not really."
 
"Damn shame," he said.  He walked quickly, and I found myself a step behind him on the way toward the store, distracted by looking at his ass.  Then I noticed his gait was slightly unsteady, but before I could think about what that meant, he turned his head.
 
“Looking at something?” he asked.  His voice had the same light-hearted tone as before, but there was an edge to it this time.
 
Your ass, I wanted to say.  It was on the tip of my tongue, but I didn’t open my mouth.  I shook my head, suddenly mute.
 
A dark look crossed his face.  “My leg?” he asked.
 
“What?”  I was confused by what he was asking.
 
He pulled his pant leg up slightly.  “There it is,” he said, and I felt embarrassed, but not because of his leg.  I was embarrassed he caught me staring at his ass, and now he thought I was some kind of jerk, staring at his prosthetic.  I knew my face was red.  I could feel the heat streaked across my cheeks.  I had been in the limelight for so long now, I wasn’t easily embarrassed.  Yet this guy, whose name I only just learned, had this way of making me flush.
 
In more ways than one.
 
“That’s not what I -”  I started to say, then stopped, because he was already walking away toward the store.  I had to jog to catch up with him, and when I did, I put my hand on his arm.  “Elias.”
 
“What?”  He paused, looked at me, his eyes narrowed.  They were this cobalt blue color, so bright it looked almost unnatural. 
 
He really should be a model or something, I thought.  My manager would be drooling over him.  I wondered how he’d gone his whole life without being discovered.
 
"It's no big deal.  It's a prosthetic," he said.
 
“I wasn’t looking at your leg,” I said.  “I didn’t even notice it until you just showed me right now.”
 
“Seriously," he said, his tone patronizing.  "Let it go.  It's not a big deal, but you're making it one.  You were staring; people do all the time."
 
“I wasn’t.” I said, this time more emphatically.  “I’m not an ass**le."  Why am I even bothering to defend myself to this guy?  Who cares what he thinks?
 
“No,” he said.  “But most people love freak shows.  Isn’t that the basis for most reality television?”
 
I felt heat on my chest, radiating down my arms.  I could feel it on my skin.  I always got this rash when I was upset, all red and prickly like hives.  My mother used to say it was because I was allergic to emotion.  It wasn’t a good quality to have in an actress, but hardly anyone knew about it, at least when I was on set.  I managed it.
 
“You do know who I am,” I said.
 
“What the hell are you talking about?”  He seemed genuinely confused.
 
“Reality show?” I asked.  I realized I was standing closer to him now, pointing my finger at his chest.  “Is that some kind of snide comment about my wedding?”
 
"Wedding?" Elias asked.  He made a noise, and I couldn’t tell if it was a cough or a laugh.  "What are you, some kind of runaway bride?"
 
“No.”  I paused, forgetting for a minute that I was angry.  I guess I am, aren't I?  “Sort of.”
 
“So, you're what, some kind of reality star getting married?" he asked.  The corners of his mouth were turned up at the edges and he crossed his arms across his chest.  He was f**king smirking at me.  What a smug ass**le.
 
I didn’t know why I was so pissed off.  It was something about that cocky smile on his face, like he was so much better than me.
 
He knows nothing about me.
 
"Screw you," I said, turning on my heel and walking into the store.  Inside the bathroom, I splashed water on my cheeks.  I stared at my reflection in the mirror, at the flush that covered my cheeks and the pink splotches across my chest.  I put my hands on the sink and took a few deep breaths.
 
It was his attitude that got me, that I'm-better-than-you-are thing that cut through me like a knife.  I had put my past behind me.  I wasn’t that white trash girl anymore.  The darkness from my past, it was filed away, boxed up like the shit of mine my mother kept as reminders, like the tattered stuffed bear I used to cry myself to sleep with at night.
 
It was funny how life worked...you did everything you could to change who you were, to become the person you wanted to become, the person you thought you were.  And then it just took one comment from someone to make you feel like that stupid little girl again.
 
Always thought you were better than the rest of us, River.  You're my child, you hear me?  You'll never be better than me.  No matter where you go, how much money you make, how many fans you have, you'll always be my child.
 
What she said wasn't meant to be comforting.
 
It wasn’t true, I told myself.  But my heart was still racing.  I reached inside my purse and pulled out the small box.  As soon as my fingers brushed the leather case, I felt a rush of warmth flood my body.  My heart rate started to fall.
 
I'm just looking, I told myself.
 
It had been six months since I've done it.  I didn't even do it after I walked in on Viper and my sister.  I ran my fingertips over the leather of the case, but I didn't open it.  Instead, I slid it the kit containing my razor blade back into my bag.
 
I clenched my fists, digging my nails into my palm.  The pain was a distraction, not even near the same as cutting.  But I focused on it instead.
 
I took a deep breath, and walked out the door.
 
And into Elias.
 
He was standing in front of the bathroom door, not even bothering to be f**king polite about it, his hands on either side of the door frame.  Like he owned the space.
 
The way he was looking at me made me shiver.
 
The way this girl was looking up at me, her lips slightly parted, this flush on her cheeks that made them all rosy, like she had just gone running or something... I couldn’t f**king think about anything else except being inside her.  I didn't move from where I was standing in the door frame, not to touch her.  But I felt her inch closer to me.
 
"Following me?" she asked.  Her voice was soft.
 
"I want to know what you were really looking at back in the parking lot,"  I said.  "If it wasn't my leg, what was it?"
 
She exhaled forcefully, and I didn't know if she was pissed off or not.  Until she answered.  "Your ass."
 
"Excuse me?"  I heard her, but I wanted to hear her say it again.  I felt this thrill rush through me, and I swear to God all the blood in my body went straight to my cock.
 
"Your."  She took a breath, punctuating the word.  "Ass.  I was looking at your ass while you were walking in front of me."
 
I felt myself grin.  I couldn't help it.
 
"What?" she asked.  Her lips were so goddamned pouty I couldn't think straight.
 
"So you're some kind of reality star or what?"  I opened my mouth, and that was the question that came out.  It wasn’t the question I wanted to ask.  The question I wanted to ask was the one about whether she was getting married.
 
River sighed, loudly this time.  "No," she said.  "But my wedding was supposed to be televised.  Live.  Last night.  To Viper Gabriel."
 
"Shit."  Viper Gabriel.  "You're dating Viper Gabriel?"  Now I recognized her.  I had seen her on the cover of magazines.
 
Fuck.  She wasn’t just a little bit famous.  She was really f**king famous.
 
And she was telling me she had been checking out my ass.
 
"Was," she said.
 
"Was what?"  I was confused.  I was preoccupied with the fact that I couldn't seem to get the blood flowing back in the right direction - toward my brain.
 
"Was getting married," she explained.  "Past tense.  Until I walked in on him and my sister going at it."
 
"Shit," I said, shaking my head.  I couldn’t imagine why a guy who was with her would want to put his c**k anywhere else but inside her.
 
River shrugged.  "So now you know why I am where I am," she said.  "So why are you here?"
 
I didn’t know why I did what I did next.  I hadn't wanted anyone in a long time, much less someone like this, someone way out of my league.
 
I kissed her.  Hard.  Her lips parted as my mouth pressed against hers, and her tongue found mine.  Kissing her lit some kind of fire inside me.
 
I pushed her against the nearby wall, hard- too hard, I thought.  I had to tell myself to slow down, but River moaned, and it made me f**king crazy.  I grabbed a handful of hair at the base of her neck, and pulled her toward me.
 
"Remember when you used to kiss me like that?"
 
River jumped and turned her head at the sound of the voice that cut through the moment between us.  The older couple watching us had to be in their eighties.  The man looked at us and winked before he spoke.
 
"Used to?" he asked.  "I kissed you like that this morning."
 
"Oh, I know you did, honey," she said, patting her husband on his sweater-clad arm.  "I'm talking about up against a wall like this, not against the wall at home."  She lowered her voice, adopted a conspiratorial tone.  "He used to be a lot more wild.  An exhibitionist."
 
"I can change that if you brought my pills with you," he said.
 
River stifled a giggle, and I cleared my throat.  "Excuse us," River said, taking my hand in hers and pulling me out of the storefront and back toward the car.  When she reached the car, she paused, backed up against the passenger side door, her hands on my waist.  She laughed as she touched me, her palms on my chest, smoothing the fabric of my shirt.  The gesture felt familiar and unknown, all at the same time.  It was a strange mixture.
 
It was funny how life worked...you did everything you could to change who you were, to become the person you wanted to become, the person you thought you were.  And then it just took one comment from someone to make you feel like that stupid little girl again.
 
Always thought you were better than the rest of us, River.  You're my child, you hear me?  You'll never be better than me.  No matter where you go, how much money you make, how many fans you have, you'll always be my child.
 
What she said wasn't meant to be comforting.
 
It wasn’t true, I told myself.  But my heart was still racing.  I reached inside my purse and pulled out the small box.  As soon as my fingers brushed the leather case, I felt a rush of warmth flood my body.  My heart rate started to fall.
 
I'm just looking, I told myself.
 
It had been six months since I've done it.  I didn't even do it after I walked in on Viper and my sister.  I ran my fingertips over the leather of the case, but I didn't open it.  Instead, I slid it the kit containing my razor blade back into my bag.
 
I clenched my fists, digging my nails into my palm.  The pain was a distraction, not even near the same as cutting.  But I focused on it instead.
 
I took a deep breath, and walked out the door.
 
And into Elias.
 
He was standing in front of the bathroom door, not even bothering to be f**king polite about it, his hands on either side of the door frame.  Like he owned the space.
 
The way he was looking at me made me shiver.
 
The way this girl was looking up at me, her lips slightly parted, this flush on her cheeks that made them all rosy, like she had just gone running or something... I couldn’t f**king think about anything else except being inside her.  I didn't move from where I was standing in the door frame, not to touch her.  But I felt her inch closer to me.
 
"Following me?" she asked.  Her voice was soft.
 
"I want to know what you were really looking at back in the parking lot,"  I said.  "If it wasn't my leg, what was it?"
 
She exhaled forcefully, and I didn't know if she was pissed off or not.  Until she answered.  "Your ass."
 
"Excuse me?"  I heard her, but I wanted to hear her say it again.  I felt this thrill rush through me, and I swear to God all the blood in my body went straight to my cock.
 
"Your."  She took a breath, punctuating the word.  "Ass.  I was looking at your ass while you were walking in front of me."
 
I felt myself grin.  I couldn't help it.
 
"What?" she asked.  Her lips were so goddamned pouty I couldn't think straight.
 
"So you're some kind of reality star or what?"  I opened my mouth, and that was the question that came out.  It wasn’t the question I wanted to ask.  The question I wanted to ask was the one about whether she was getting married.
 
River sighed, loudly this time.  "No," she said.  "But my wedding was supposed to be televised.  Live.  Last night.  To Viper Gabriel."
 
"Shit."  Viper Gabriel.  "You're dating Viper Gabriel?"  Now I recognized her.  I had seen her on the cover of magazines.
 
Fuck.  She wasn’t just a little bit famous.  She was really f**king famous.
 
And she was telling me she had been checking out my ass.
 
"Was," she said.
 
"Was what?"  I was confused.  I was preoccupied with the fact that I couldn't seem to get the blood flowing back in the right direction - toward my brain.
 
"Was getting married," she explained.  "Past tense.  Until I walked in on him and my sister going at it."
 
"Shit," I said, shaking my head.  I couldn’t imagine why a guy who was with her would want to put his c**k anywhere else but inside her.
 
River shrugged.  "So now you know why I am where I am," she said.  "So why are you here?"
 
I didn’t know why I did what I did next.  I hadn't wanted anyone in a long time, much less someone like this, someone way out of my league.
 
I kissed her.  Hard.  Her lips parted as my mouth pressed against hers, and her tongue found mine.  Kissing her lit some kind of fire inside me.
 
I pushed her against the nearby wall, hard- too hard, I thought.  I had to tell myself to slow down, but River moaned, and it made me f**king crazy.  I grabbed a handful of hair at the base of her neck, and pulled her toward me.
 
"Remember when you used to kiss me like that?"
 
River jumped and turned her head at the sound of the voice that cut through the moment between us.  The older couple watching us had to be in their eighties.  The man looked at us and winked before he spoke.
 
"Used to?" he asked.  "I kissed you like that this morning."
 
"Oh, I know you did, honey," she said, patting her husband on his sweater-clad arm.  "I'm talking about up against a wall like this, not against the wall at home."  She lowered her voice, adopted a conspiratorial tone.  "He used to be a lot more wild.  An exhibitionist."
 
"I can change that if you brought my pills with you," he said.
 
River stifled a giggle, and I cleared my throat.  "Excuse us," River said, taking my hand in hers and pulling me out of the storefront and back toward the car.  When she reached the car, she paused, backed up against the passenger side door, her hands on my waist.  She laughed as she touched me, her palms on my chest, smoothing the fabric of my shirt.  The gesture felt familiar and unknown, all at the same time.  It was a strange mixture.
 
Elias reached over and touched me.  His hand on my leg was warm, the heat radiating through my body.  Even through the haze of tears, his touch was electric.
 
"I wasn't saying you were crazy or anything," Elias said, sounding confused.
 
"I'm not a crier," I said, sniffling.  "I'm really not.  I don't know what my problem is."
 
"It's all right," he said.  "I have that effect on women."
 
"Making them cry?" I asked.  I couldn't help but smile.
 
"Well, sometimes it's hard to be in the presence of someone this good looking," he said, gesturing to himself.
 
I couldn't help but laugh.  "Yeah, I can see how that would make them cry."
 
"Hey," he said.  "You know what you need?"
 
"What?"  I wiped the corner of my eye.  At least he didn't think I was a total baby.  Or was polite enough not to say so to my face, anyway.
 
"You like drive ins?"
 
Shit.  I stole a glance at her.  At least she wasn't crying anymore.  I couldn't help but get a little panicked at the sight of a girl crying - what guy didn't feel that way?  But I guess she had just broken up with her fiancé and shit.  Most girls would be wallowing in a pint of Ben and Jerry's and listening to sappy music - that's how they did it on the movies, right?  At least this chick wasn't like most girls- shit, she'd beat her fiancé's collectibles into pieces with a baseball bat.
 
That was f**king cool.
 
I could respect shit like that, even if it was crazy.
 
So, if she was shedding a few tears in the car now, who was I to judge?
 
"Do I like drive ins?" she asked.  "That's kind of random.  But okay.  You mean like a movie theater?”
 
“Nope,” I said.  “Like a restaurant.  Up ahead.  I’m starving.”
 
“Oh,” she said.  “You mean a Sonic.”
 
I rolled my eyes.  “While I appreciate the fact that you even know what a Sonic is, being a big movie star and all, no.  It’s not a chain.  It’s an old place.  It's been here since the fifties.”  I squinted, watching for it to come into view.  “At least, it used to be here.  It’s been a few years.”
 
“Since you’ve been back home?”
 
“Yeah.”
 
“Why?” she asked.
 
“You’re awful nosy,” I said.  I squinted as Linda’s Drive In came into view.
 
"What's West Bend like, anyway?" she asked, as we pulled into the parking lot.
 
I shrugged.  “I don't know.  Like any other small town.”
 
How the hell did I explain West Bend to an outsider?  Real pretty on the outside but rotten to the core inside?  Maybe it was just me and my brothers that were that way, all looks and no substance.  It’s what my father used to say. 
 
God rest his soul, my mother said when she’d called to tell me the news.
 
I’d laughed bitterly.  Can’t rest what you don’t have, I’d told her.
 
"Are all small towns the same?" she asked.
 
I was going to formulate a smartass response, but I merely grunted, since we were already pulling into the parking space.  And then River was practically scrambling over the top of me to get a look at the menu.  “Excuse you,” I said, as she dug her hand into my thigh.
 
“Didn’t complain when I was this close to you before,” she said.
 
True.  And I could see down her shirt, so that was a bonus.  I felt the familiar stirring between my legs, and she looked down, then up at me.  I shrugged.  “Don’t put your hand down there if you don’t want it to get hard.”
 
She opened her mouth to say something, but we were interrupted by the car hop at the window.  While the girl was taking our orders, I found myself actually wondering what River had been about to say.
 
We ate in silence for a while, until River spoke.  "So," she said.  "You grew up in West Bend?"
 
"Yup."  I popped a French fry into my mouth, and didn't elaborate.
 
She let the silence linger for a minute before breaking it.  "Anyone ever tell you you're amazing at small talk?"
 
I shot her a look.
 
"Thought so," she said, her voice light.  "Well, there's this thing called conversation, where one person asks a question and the other one answers, but says some more stuff in response."
 
I shrugged.  "I'm not much for talking about where I grew up."  I got the hell out of West Bend as soon as I could, and I'd only gone back once.  I wasn't exactly looking forward to going back now.
 
Especially considering the fact that now I had to think about what the hell I was going to do with a movie star in tow.
 
I sure as f**k couldn’t take her to my house.  A girl like that would run screaming when she saw where the hell I came from.  Hand to mouth living was probably the best way to describe my family's situation growing up - we had four walls and a piece of dirt, but not much more than that.  My father- the ass**le, as my brothers and I called him- brought in our meager income mining on our land, until that went to shit when I was in high school.
 
I wasn’t about to bring a girl like her home with me to see my family’s clapboard house, that was for damn sure, even if the ass**le wasn't there anymore.
 
“Well, we’ve got how much longer until we get to West Bend?” she asked.
 
“About an hour or so,” I said.
 
“Then you’ve got about an hour or so of a captive audience here,” she said.  “Considering you had your tongue down my throat before, I’d say we’re pretty well acquainted enough for small talk.”  She winked at me, and it made me laugh.
 
“All right,” I said.  “What do you want to know?”
 
“Who said I wanted to know anything about you?” she asked.  “I’m a f**king movie star, and you don’t want to ask me anything?”
 
The same damn words out of someone else’s mouth and they would have sounded stuck up and bitchy and just plain tacky.  But there was this...lightness about everything she said, this playfulness about her.
 
I laughed.  "You are full of yourself, aren't you?"
 
“Just direct,” she said.  “I don’t see any point in beating around the bush about it.  There’s obviously something worrying you about going home, and you’re clearly man enough to tell me if you don’t want to discuss it.”
 
“I don’t want to discuss it,” I said.
 
“See how easy that was?”
 
"Okay, princess," I said.  "Where'd you grow up?  Hollywood?  You think you're going to be able to hack it in rural America?"
 
She looked down for a minute, and I hoped she weren't going to start f**king crying again.  But she didn't, just took a bite of a French fry.  "Golden Willow, Georgia," she said.  "I know small towns.  I think I'll manage just fine."
 
"Huh."  I hadn't expected that.
 
"Surprised?" she asked, her smile more of a smirk.
 
"Didn't expect you were a country girl," I said.
 
"Not all of us movie stars grow up rich, you know," she said.  "I wasn't always a princess."
 
"You're not really what I expected from an actress."
 
"Glad I'm not disappointing," she said, munching on the end of a fry.  "I'd hate to be a cliché."
 
I watched as she took a bite of her burger, and she turned toward me, her hazel eyes bright, hair messily sticking up on the ends.  "You're definitely different, River Andrews," I said.  "That's for damned sure."