Shallow Page 7

He pulled my car around to the back of the club and then turned on some music before he got out and slid into the backseat next to me. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to try anything with you.”

“I wasn’t worried.” I had done a bang up job of preventing this thing with Nick from going any further tonight because no one wanted a post puke kiss, no matter how hard up they were.

I shut my eyes as I leaned my head against the cool window and felt Nick grab my upper arm and gently tug me in his direction. “Here, put your head in my lap. You’ll be more comfortable and you’ll sleep better.”

“Thanks, but I’m okay.”

“Put. Your. Head. On. My. Lap. Stubborn. I’m not going to try anything with you,” he promised.

I hated being bossed, but I did as he said and lay on my side, putting the side of my face against his thighs. I told myself I did it because I was tired and needed the sleep so I wouldn’t be so hung-over the next day, not because it was what he ordered me to do.

My favorite Amos Lee song was playing and it helped me relax. As I lay there with my eyes closed, Nick began to stroke my hair and it felt really good. I began to relax more and was almost on the verge of nodding off when he asked, “What song is this?”

I loved his interest in my music. “It’s ‘Southern Girl’ by Amos Lee.”

“You’re really into music, aren’t you?”

Amos was singing about Mississippi mornings and angels in flight. “Yeah, you could say that I’m musically slutty. My taste in music gets around.”

“I like this song because Amos got it spot on. There’s definitely something about a Southern girl that makes me feel right.”

“Listening to Amos while you stroke my hair like that is going to put me in a coma if you’re not careful.”

“I’m not leaving so you can go to sleep if you want. It’s probably a good idea for you to sleep because you’re going to feel like shit tomorrow and I’m guessing Jessie and Claire aren’t leaving the club anytime soon.”

I probably needed to rest, but my current curiosity was stronger than my need for sleep. “I will, but I want to ask you something first.”


I wanted to turn onto my back so I could see his face, but I was too scared so I stayed on my side. “Why do you call me Doll Face?”

He was quiet for a long time and I decided he wasn’t going to answer, but then he shocked me. “Because I think you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.”

I didn’t know how to respond to that coming from him. I had been told my whole life how beautiful I was, but there was something different about the way he said it. It felt intimate, like he was talking about more than my physical appearance and I suddenly felt completely bared to him.

He didn’t say anything else and I didn’t either as he sat with my head in his lap but things felt different between us. Neither of us voiced recognition regarding it, but we both knew that we had made a connection.

He continued to stroke my hair and I have no idea how long he did it because I eventually dosed off but not before I heard him whisper, “Sweet Dreams, Doll Face.”

6 Brotherly Advice


I could sit forever with this beautiful girl’s head in my lap and stroke my hand over her long silky hair as she slept. I leaned over to sniff the fruity scent of her hair. My shift of position caused her to stir and then she turned onto her back to face me.

Her breath was slow and steady, assuring me that she was sleeping deeply, and I couldn’t resist my urge to touch her face. I stroked the back of my fingers against her baby soft cheek and she turned toward my hand and nestled against it.

This couldn’t be the last time I was with this amazing girl. I had to see her again because I would go crazy if I didn’t.

Jessie had already made his stand on the issue clear and I couldn’t count on him to help me out so I started brainstorming on a way to get her digits. I looked over at her opened purse within my reach and knew what I had to do. I was going to get her number by calling my own phone from hers. It felt wrong to ramble through her personal belongings, but it didn’t stop me from doing it.

I found her cell and pushed the power button. Shit. I should have known she’d have it on lockdown with a pass code. I put her phone back in her purse without a minute to spare as Jessie, Claire and Dane walked toward her car at the back of the building.

Jessie angrily slung the car door open and immediately tore into me. “This isn’t where Payton’s car was parked. What have you been doing with her?”

I recognized his unspoken accusation and knew he was insinuating that I moved the car behind the building so I could screw Payton in the backseat. Any other time he would have been right, but not tonight, not with her.

“Chill out, Boone. I had to move the car because she puked a river by the driver’s side door. I didn’t want you to have to walk in it and this was the only parking spot open.”

He accepted my explanation, but I could tell that he still wasn’t thrilled about finding me in the backseat with Payton’s head in my lap.

“Claire’s ready to go. Do you need a lift home?”

I looked down at Payton. I didn’t want to leave her but it would be stupid for them to drive me all the way back to Collinsville when I could catch a ride home with my brother. “Nah, I’ll ride home with Jake and Gabbi.”

I opened the door and gently lifted Payton’s head as I got out of the car. Dane Wickham stepped around me and said, “I’ve got her,” as he replaced me in the backseat. I’ll be damned. I’d have taken Jessie up on the ride if I’d known another dude was going to climb into the backseat with her.

“It was nice to meet you, Nick,” Claire said as she got into the car. “And thanks for staying with Payton so Jessie and I could have a good time.”

I definitely had my own agenda for doing it. “No problem and it was nice to meet the only girl in this world that could settle this guy down.”

Claire was inside the car with the door shut and Jessie told me, “Thanks again, Hawke. I know that babysitting Mouth of the South couldn’t have been much fun when you could have been finding a chick to nail later tonight.”

It was crazy to think that I preferred to have this sleeping girl’s head in my lap rather than finding someone to bone, but there was no place I would have rather been. “Really, it was no problem at all.”

“I don’t know how we’re gonna get her upstairs.”

He was out of his mind if he was going to take her inside her house. “You’re going to carry her into her house? Aren’t you afraid of what her parents will do?”

“No, she’s spending the night with us because her parents are out of town.”

What the hell? “What do you mean by spending the night with us?”

“I’ve been living with Claire and her parents for the last six months, so that means we get to carry her up the stairs to Claire’s bedroom and pray we don’t wake The Deverauxs.

That lucky bastard. He and Claire were definitely sneaking into each other’s beds every night after the parents were asleep.

Jessie put his fist out and I bumped it with mine. “Good running into you, Hawke.” He looked at Payton passed out across the back seat. “Tonight was fun even if she did show her ass. We should get together again soon.”

Dane’s window was down. “Hey, I’m having a party at my house tomorrow night. You should come.”

There was only one reason I’d step foot at a party at East Franklin. “Is Payton going to be there?”

“Yeah, the Social Butterfly never misses a party.”

I couldn’t miss an opportunity to see her again. “Count me in.”

Sure, Payton told me she wouldn’t go out with me, but she was wrong about that. She just didn’t know it yet.

≈ ≈ ≈

I stared at my ceiling thinking of Payton for hours after I got home. Thinking about her was far better than any dream that might have invaded my head during sleep.

She was beautiful, that was a given, and her beauty certainly didn’t hinder my interest but that wasn’t what fueled my attraction to her. It was her immediate distaste for me and her smart ass mouth. Oh, how I loved to hear the sarcastic wit spilling from those venomously, glossy lips.

I was surprised I was able to sleep at all, but when I woke the next morning I rolled over and immediately reached for my phone on the nightstand. I guessed I hoped that Payton had gotten my number from Jessie and had texted or called, maybe to say thank you for sitting with her or something. Any form of contact would have made my day, but I had no such luck. All I had was a text from Samantha Hodges that read, “Get 2gether 2nite? Make it worth your while.”

There was no way in hell that Samantha and I were ever happening again, so I quickly thumbed, “Got plans,” and hit the send button. Maybe she would take the hint and get lost.

I looked at the time and saw that I had slept later than I thought because it was a little after eleven. Anything after ten should be considered neutral ground, so I scrolled to Jessie’s contact in my phone and hit the call button. It rang once, twice and then a third time before Jessie answered on the fourth ring, “Waddup, Hawke?”

“Hey, I was calling to see how everything went after you left last night. I mean, did you get Payton to bed okay?”

“Yeah, but she didn’t make it easy on me and Claire. Shit, I didn’t realize how trashed she was, but we lucked out and got her in without the Deverauxs waking up.”

“Is she still there?”

“I don’t know. I’m working at the garage today but I went by Claire’s room this morning before I left for work and she was asleep on Claire’s bathroom floor. I’m betting she’s still in bed taking it easy.”

He wasn’t gonna like this, but I had to give it a shot. “I wanna call her.”

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