Admitting I haven’t tried Sushi makes me realize there are plenty of things I missed out on experiencing. That’s not saying I would have necessarily wanted to try different things or even liked them once I had, but I never got the chance to make those choices or decisions.
Aside from different foods, I missed out on a bunch of firsts too.
“Hey, are you okay?” he asks, tilting his head to the side as he stares at me. “If you don’t want Sushi we get something else…”
I shake my head.
“It’s not that.”
“Then what is it?”
“I just realized I’m twenty-six years old and not only are there so many things I probably haven’t tried but there are things I never got the chance to experience. Things I pushed out of my head because I told myself there was no point in dwelling on it. Now that I’m free, it feels wrong, if that makes any sense. I mean I know I lost twelve years and everyone keeps saying I’ve got a second chance to make a life for myself, but all those things I missed…I can’t get that back. I can’t replace all the miserable moments with what should’ve been. I guess what I’m trying to say is…I can’t trade my painful firsts for the firsts I dreamed I’d have.”
My brows knit in confusion and I blink as he turns fully, propping his leg on my bed.
“Name one first you wish you could change.”
“Why? You can’t change them.”
“Maybe not all of them,” he says with a shrug. “But if we can manage to change a few that should count for something.”
Biting down on my lip, I think about his suggestion.
“My first kiss is something I wish I could change,” I say honestly, lifting my head to meet his expressionless face. “Papa,” I mutter, cringing as I say the name. “That’s what he made me call him,” I explain, watching Deuce’s jaw go rigid.
I shake my head.
“Yankovich,” he growls.
For as long as he kept me, I never knew his real name. Hearing it now sends chills down my spine as I recall the first time I was kissed and how Yankovich’s lips felt against mine.
“It was rough and not in a good way,” I confess. “It wasn’t done in a way to make me feel desired but in a way where I was scared of what would happen if I didn’t oblige. So, I kissed him back and hated myself afterward.”
Muttering a curse, Deuce runs his fingers roughly through his hair before turning back to me.
“Close your eyes,” he directs.
“I won’t hurt you,” he promises, evading my question. A foreign feeling erupts inside of me, one I can’t quite place and I find myself closing my eyes, not because he ordered me to but because I trust he won’t hurt me.
Seconds tick by before I hear Deuce’s exasperated breath. Then I feel the mattress dip and as I continue to keep my eyes closed I subconsciously lean forward. His hands lift to my cheeks and the next breath he releases brushes gently over my lips.
Then it happens.
Deuce lays his mouth over mine.
For a moment neither of us move as our lips stay locked on one another. Slowly, he then moves his mouth, taking my lower lip between his and giving it a gentle tug. Sucking softly, he parts my lips and a small gasp spills from my mouth into his.
My heart pounds against my chest as he applies more pressure, making our kiss rougher in all the right ways. I’m not scared or trying to drift away. I’m right there with him, flying high on sensation and adrenaline. His tongue touches my lips, prying them open. Following his lead, I part my lips. He pushes his tongue into my waiting mouth and glides it over mine, tasting me—teaching me that some firsts can be rewritten.
Pulling back slightly he pecks my lips once more and I open my eyes. Keeping his eyes fixed to mine, he licks his lips and drops his hands from my face.
“There you go,” he rasps, as if what just happened didn’t shake the ground beneath us. Unsure what to say, I lift my fingers to my lips and watch as he leans his elbows on his knees. Silently, he stares into space before he slowly turns to me. His eyes immediately dart toward my mouth but quickly lift to my eyes and I wonder if he liked it as much as I did.
“You still got those matches I gave you?” he asks suddenly.
Biting my lip, I stare at him for a moment then lift my hips and reach into my pocket. Pulling out the book of matches my cheeks flush and I turn my palm over to display them. His lips quirk slightly as he slaps his hands against his thighs and rises to his feet.
“Let’s go,” he says, reaching for the hoodie I draped across the back of a chair. “Is this all you took from Reina?” he asks, tossing it onto the bed and crossing his arms as he leans against the wall.
I didn’t know I wasn’t going back there,” I reply, taking the hoodie from the bed. “Wait, where are we going?”
“To get food.”
“Raw food?” I question, slipping my arms through the hoodie before getting up from the bed. “No way.”
“Won’t know if you like it unless you try it,” he retorts, raising an eyebrow “Gotta strike the match, girl,” he adds, tipping his chin toward the book of matches I’m still holding.
“Are you daring me?”
“Maybe,” he says with a shrug. “You accepting?”
Licking my lips, I shove the matches back into my pocket and take a deep breath. If trying Sushi is anything like my new first kiss, then joining the land of the living might not be so bad. It might be scary but it’s a leap I’ve got to take.
“Under one condition,” I say, stepping closer to him. Continuing to lean against the wall, he raises an eyebrow as amusement flickers in his eye.
“You have to get me ice cream too.”
“You like ice cream?”
“We’re going to find out,” I tell him as I brush past him and walk into his room.
Grabbing the keys off the table, he follows me toward the door and reaches around me to open it.
“With manners like that it’s a wonder your room is a mess,” I tease as I walk outside.
“My room isn’t a mess…it’s lived in,” he argues, slamming the door shut behind him.
“I don’t have to wonder if you wear boxers or briefs,” I call over my shoulder as we head toward Wolf’s truck. “However, I’m not going to lie, I’m a little disappointed.”
“Yeah, why’s that?”
Pulling open the door, I climb inside and turn to him.
“I took you for a commando type of guy,” I tell him before shutting the door. Standing in front of the car, he braces one hand on the hood and peers at me through the windshield with a dumbfound expression on his face.
Something amazing happens then.
Something genuine and natural.
Something so unfamiliar to me but common to others.
Then he smiles too and I decide Deuce has a great smile, one that if you stare at it long enough it can become an addiction. Isn’t that funny? I never knew a person could crave something so simple like someone else’s smile. I wonder if too much of someone’s smile can be bad for another person. I’d like to think not but what do I know—I’m the girl who never thought she’d smile again.
“Looks good on you,” he comments as he slides into the truck.
“Yours isn’t so bad either,” I point out, realizing I’m still smiling. His lips quirk again as he pulls out of the lot and I find myself staring at him while he drives. The first time I saw Deuce, I didn’t think much about him. I don’t know if it was the drugs or something else, but at the time he was just another person. When you’ve spent most of your life surrounded by animals, you don’t take notice of people. They all look the same. They all act the same. You’ll expect them to hurt you and take from you. You give up hope that there are still people worth knowing. You give up on the good folks and lump everyone into one category.
In the days since I was rescued I’ve been noticing things. I’ve been noticing people, and right now I’m noticing Deuce. I’m noticing there is a twang hidden underneath that raspy voice and every now and then it becomes more prominent.
“Where are you from?”
He looks at me out of the corner of his eye.
“Caught that, huh?”
“Were you trying to hide it because you’re not very good at it,” I reply.
Not expecting that response, my eyes widen at the admission but I quickly recover.
“Is it true everything is bigger in Texas?”
Another quirk of the lips.
Yeah, I was addicted.
“I’m not touching that one,” he quips.
Realizing the innuendo, I slap his arm and attempt to call him a jerk but I get distracted by the size of it.
Things are huge in Texas.