Home > Beautifully Cruel(3)

Beautifully Cruel(3)
Author: J.T. Geissinger

“If you tell me next that your favorite ice cream flavor is pistachio, we’re probably destined to be together forever.”

Dear God, those words actually just came out of my mouth.

As the devastatingly gorgeous man I just spoke that horrifying sentence to stares at me silently, I will the floor to open up and swallow me.

Alas, it doesn’t. Time to salvage what’s left of my self-respect.

“Well, it’s been great chatting with you, but I should get back to work.”

He studies me with unblinking intensity. Neither of us moves. We simply stare at each other.

Heat suffuses my cheeks.

A muscle flexes in his jaw.

I’m ninety percent certain he knows my nipples are hardening.

Finally, he moves. Never taking his gaze off my face, he reaches into his coat, pulls out his wallet, removes a few bills, and sets them down onto the counter. He closes the wallet and slips it back inside his coat pocket.

For a moment, he looks like he’s trying to decide about something, his brow furrowed and his expression pensive. Then he exhales a slow breath.

“Are you working tomorrow night?”

I don’t dare open my mouth again, so I simply nod.

The wolf nods, too. For some strange reason, it feels like we’ve made a date. When he turns and starts to walk away, I nearly slide to the floor in relief.

But then he turns around and pins me in one of his signature hungry stares.

In a low, husky voice, he says, “By the way, lass…my favorite ice cream flavor is pistachio.”

He holds my gaze just long enough for me to have a heart attack, then he turns around and walks out, disappearing into the rainy night as if it swallowed him.

 

 

2

 

 

Liam

 

 

Goddammit. Goddammit all to hell.

I knew I shouldn’t have come here tonight. I promised myself I’d stay away this time. Meant it, too, until the wheels touched down on the tarmac at Logan and my resolve vanished as quick as two fingers snapping.

Just one more look, I reassured myself as I instructed Declan to make a detour from our planned route. One more chance to stare into those big green eyes and it’ll be over. All I need is a final glimpse before I put this unhealthy obsession behind me once and for all.

And I actually believed it.

What a bloody fucking idiot I am.

From the warmth of the back seat of the Escalade, I stare through the window. Across the boulevard, beyond the rain and lanes of passing cars, the bright lights of Buddy’s Diner shine out like beacons in the dark. She’s there inside, talking to her co-worker the busty brunette, making her look like a pigeon standing next to a Picasso.

Tru.

The girl named after a character in a movie.

The shy beauty with the gentle Southern twang, eyes the color of sea glass, and a smile that could almost make a man like me believe in god.

“We’re late, boss,” says Declan quietly from the driver’s seat.

“I know it.”

If my voice is irritated, it’s only because I’m mad at myself, not him.

Eleven months of denying myself something I want very badly has taken its toll on my temper.

I watch for a moment longer, wishing I had the talent to draw. I’d sketch her face a thousand ways. Try to capture the softness in her eyes when she looks up at me from under those long, dark lashes. The flash of heat as her gaze drifts to my mouth.

But my hands were made for things much more brutal than drawing pictures of a bashful, beautiful girl.

Do the right thing, Liam. Stay away from her. It’s a stupid coincidence that you both come from big families and like pistachio ice cream. It doesn’t mean anything that she likes wild places, too, and grew up in a tiny town, too, and looks at you like you’re the most fascinating thing she’s ever seen.

She’s not for you.

Your life would devour her and leave nothing but bones.

I tear my gaze away from the window, drag my hand through my hair, and tell Declan to drive, and be quick about it.

The sooner I get away from here, the better.

 

 

3

 

 

Tru

 

 

By the time I get home from work, it’s after one a.m., it’s raining harder than it was earlier, and I’m in such a state about what might happen when—if?—the wolf comes into the diner on my next shift that I need to pour myself a glass of wine to calm down.

Leaning against the kitchen counter and staring out into the rain, I picture him.

He’s everything I’m not. Sophisticated. Interesting. Self-assured.

Older. Ten years at least, maybe fifteen.

I suppose it should strike me as odd that someone like him might take an interest in someone like me, but I get the feeling he’s the kind of man who notices things other people don’t.

He doesn’t just look. He sees.

Maybe what he sees when he looks at me are the things I try so hard to hide from everyone else. All my restlessness and dark longings, all the chafing at my seams.

Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

I’m finishing off my last swallow of cheap chardonnay when I hear the muffled sound of crying.

“Oh, sweetie,” I say to the empty kitchen, sighing. “What did he do this time?”

Leaving the wine glass on the counter, I pad barefoot across the apartment and knock gently on my roommate’s door. “Hey, Elliebellie. You need anything?”

There’s some sniffling, then the sound of Ellie shuffling toward the door.

Opening up, she rubs a fist into a red and swollen eye. Her short black hair sticks up crazily all over the place. Her room smells like dirty socks and lost dreams. “I’m f-f-fine,” she says, hiccupping. “I was just watching A Dog’s Purpose. That fucking movie should have a trigger warning.”

“I’ve never seen it. What’s it about?”

“It’s about this dog who keeps dying and getting reincarnated with all its memories of its previous lives and is trying over and over to find life’s purpose, until finally he’s reunited with his original owner who was a little boy when the dog was euthanized in his first incarnation, but now the boy is an old man, and at the end the dog narrates that the true meaning of life is finding that one person you’re supposed to be with.

“How awful is that?” she wails. “Even a fictional dog can find true love!”

Ellie recently went through a bad breakup with her ex. It was their fourth—or tenth, I can’t keep track. Every time they break up, she swears she’s done with him. But within weeks they’re back together and she’s conveniently forgotten all the ways he hurt her before. All the indifference, all the lies, all the other girls he’d been running around with.

I’ll never understand it.

When my ex cheated on me six months after we moved to Boston together, I threw all his clothes into a big pile in the middle of the sidewalk and lit the pile on fire.

I might be an introvert, but I’ve got a temper, and I hold a grudge like nobody’s business.

But, as Ellie’s friend, it’s not my job to judge. “You want some ice cream? I picked up a pint on the way home.”

“You’re sweet,” she says mournfully. “But I think I’m just gonna watch a rerun of Seinfeld and rub one out.”

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