Home > True Abandon(7)

True Abandon(7)
Author: Jeannine Colette

Jackson Davis.

Slowly, I walk toward his lifeless figure on the mattress. As I get closer, I see his features more clearly—his eyes are closed, his chest is moving, and he’s most definitely alive.

I take a step back, run my hands over my head, and inhale a couple of oh-shit-I’m-actually-doing-this breaths.

“Okay,” I mutter to myself. “He’s fine. You can leave now.”

Nodding my head at my own comment, I take another step back toward the door.

But, of course, I can’t.

Like a moth drawn to a flame, I ease myself back to the bed. It’s been so long since I’ve seen him in person, which is why the onslaught of emotion that starts racing through my heart and brain surprises me. The same feelings that burned within me as a teenager— a young, dumb, and in-love kid—consume me.

“Come lay with me,” he said, motioning for me to come closer to the spot he was sitting in the field behind our school.

I rubbed my arms as the evening breeze swept in. “It looks like it’s about to rain.”

“Does that scare you?”

“We don’t have an umbrella.”

His face lit up into a cocky grin. “Then we’ll just have to keep each other warm.”

With his hand stretched out, he grabbed mine and pulled me down onto the ground. My butt hit the cold earth a little rough, which caused my head to bump into his. I put my palm to my forehead and laughed.

“Solid as a rock,” he chided, his thumb rubbing his brow where we collided.

I laughed even harder. I was about to make a snarky response when the sky opened up, and rain came pummeling down.

“Oh my God!” I sought protection in the crook of Jackson’s shoulder.

He wrapped his arms around my head in an attempt to cocoon me. It didn’t matter—we were soaked.

“Race you to the car,” I shouted over the deafening sound of rain. I bolted straight across the field toward the parking lot. When I got to the car, I pulled on the handle, but it was locked. I looked at the driver’s side. Jackson wasn’t there to unlock it.

When I turned to look for him, he strolled leisurely in my direction. He had a look on his face that was totally at ease. A look I didn’t understand.

His t-shirt was stuck to his chest, and his hair fell over his brow. His mouth was quirked up, and his eyes were slightly wide in wonder.

I stood, waiting for him to approach, with my head tilted, curious as to why he was acting so calm.

When he got to the car, he stood before me with rain trickling down the bridge of his nose. His mouth was moist, and despite the fact that we were both sopping wet from head to toe, I felt the heat emanating from his body.

I squinted my eyes in question as to what he was thinking.

“I love you.”

I panicked, wondering if I heard him correctly over the deafening rain.

He opened his mouth again. “I love you.”

This time there was no mistake—his words were calm, collected, and said with sheer conviction.

Instead of responding, I stared—stared at his face and the way his pupils dilated with every passing second, and at his chest that started to rise and froze as if he were holding his breath.

He ran a hand through his disheveled hair, pushing the tendrils away from his youthful gaze. “You don’t have to say anything. I just…I’ve been feeling it for some time, and then I was looking at you standing here in the rain, and it overwhelmed me. I had to tell you. Because I do. I love you. But you don’t have to say it back. Take as much time as you need. What are you thinking?”

A slow, building smile grew on my face as I watched this overly confident boy totally fall apart after telling a girl he loved her. With a laugh on my lips, I leaned up, threw my arms around his neck, looked straight into his eyes and told him, “I love you, too.”

Just as the sweet memories of the short-lived romance we embarked on in the weeks before he left for college come sweeping in, so does the pain that quickly followed.

“I wish you could see how beautiful you are. Can I film you?” he asked, looking at me naked on the bed.

“No. What if someone sees it?”

He climbed over me, running a hand up the side of my body as he drew closer to my face. “It’s just for me. When I go to school, I want something to keep me sane until I come home for break. Please, baby, I need to remember this moment. I want to relive it every minute I’m not with you.” He leaned down and gave me a sensual kiss that radiated down to my toes.

“Okay. Promise it’s just for us.”

“I swear.”

The devastation of betrayal. The anger of being used.

“Why is everyone staring at me?” I asked as I walked down the hall. Every eye of the school was on me as I made my way toward class the first week of my junior year.

“They’ve all seen your sex tape,” a girl on the school paper sneered at me.

My heart stopped. Fear knocked my soul out of my body. “What are you talking about?”

“The one of you on top of some guy. It’s Jackson Davis, isn’t it? I totally saw something going on between you two. It is, right? Everyone’s trying to figure it out.”

“Sex tape?” I could hardly get those two words out of my mouth.

“Here, I have it on my phone.”

For nine minutes and forty-five seconds, I watched myself do things I never dreamed I’d watch myself doing. That’s how long he filmed me until he turned the camcorder off.

In six months, he went from a cherub-like angel I worshipped to the devil incarnate.

Except now, he has tanned skin and bleach blond hair. It’s far cry from his natural, light-brown waves. He looks like an idiot—like a Q-tip or a bad Ryan Lochte from the 2016 Olympics.

He is no longer my Jackson. This, here, is Jax.

I stare down at him and appraise the man lying in front of me because that’s what he is now: a man.

His jaw is more square, hard and masculine. Even his neck and shoulders, that are currently covered in bruises, are thicker than they once were. He still has the same boyish good looks with high cheekbones and clear skin. There’s stubble on his jaw that trails down his throat, and lips so lush, I remember why I wanted to kiss them so badly.

Tattoos cover his arms, but the Jackson I knew had virgin skin, a clean slate from any sort of art. Now, he has more ink than I ever thought he’d be able to sit still for.

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