The following is part 2 of an extended sneak peek of:
The Keatyn Chronicles: Book 4
by Jillian Dodd
Wrapped up in a relationship.
I get to play practice a little early, where the drama coach immediately pulls me aside. “So, Miss Monroe, what did you decide? Are you going to give me a committed performance or are you going to quit?”
I smile. “I’m going to give you an amazing performance. I’m really sorry about last week. I kind of got caught up in a guy.”
“Who you’ve since broken up with, or so I’ve heard.”
“Yeah, but I was going to keep doing it even if that wouldn’t have happened. Acting is something I really want to do. Like, maybe even with my life. So it’s important to me. I just, I sort of forgot to think about me. Have you ever done that?”
“Got wrapped up in a relationship? Sure. Everyone does sometimes. Learning that it’s okay to be yourself, have your own interests, and still be part of a committed relationship is part of growing up. And something I learned the hard way.”
“In college, I was in a one-act play. But the girl I was dating had a sorority function the same night and was upset that I couldn’t go. She was going to take another date, so I quit the play even though it was important to me.”
“Was the sorority thing that big of a deal?”
“Not really. And I held it against her, which then undermined our relationship.”
“The one that got away, huh?”
“Actually, no. I chose to get away because she wasn’t supportive of me. If we would’ve had a good relationship, she would have come to my play, then we would have gone to the last half of her formal. You have to want to make it work.”
I think about Tommy and Mom and how they won’t do movies at the same time in different locations. How they won’t be apart for more than a week. How supportive they are of each other. What Aiden said to me at tryouts flits through my brain. How if Dawson loved me, he should be there supporting me. Watching me tryout. Not making me feel guilty for doing what I love.
“That makes sense.”
He smiles at me. “And I do have some good news for you. Wednesday and Thursday, you get the night off. We’re going to be focusing those practices directly on memorizing lines. Since you have yours down, you get a little reward.”
“Really?! Thank you!”
“No, thank you. It’s nice to work with a professional. You, Logan, and Jake are the only ones in the cast who are prepared.”
I take my usual seat in the back of the auditorium and pull out my homework. Might as well get started on it. I have a comparative essay due tomorrow for English, math problems, a science worksheet, and History chapter questions.
I’m tackling the essay when my phone buzzes. I expect it to be Aiden since it’s unusual for him to be late.
Dawson: I missed walking you to class today.
Me: We were working on a project for the dean.
Dawson: I heard. Was it fun?
Me: Yeah, sort of. The dean saw the video we made on the plane. This was sort of our punishment.
Dawson: That video really upset me.
His comment makes me feel bad and pisses me off at the same time. It’s like he’s trying to make me feel bad for making him feel bad when he made me feel bad.
Does that even make sense?
Me: I’m sorry it upset you. Obviously, I was pretty upset myself. What you did sucked. Look, I’ve got to go. I’m at practice and I have a ton of homework.
Dawson: I know it sucked. I’m going to make it up to you.
Me: And how are you planning on doing that?
Dawson: I’m not sure. Is there anything I can do to make you get over it?
Me: Talking about it might help. Like if I really knew what you were thinking. Maybe. Part of me doesn’t want to know. Part of me would prefer to just stay mad at you. Being mad is easier.
Dawson: Please don’t stay mad at me, Keatie. Please. Can we talk tonight? Like after play practice?
Me: If we get out in time.
Dawson: If not, we’ll go to the cave later or something. Okay?
Aiden strolls in around eight-thirty. I’ve done two of my scenes in the first act and managed to get a rough draft of my essay done.
“I just wanted to stop by and tell you that I can’t do tutoring tonight.”
“Yeah, I kinda already figured that,” I say, trying to hide my disappointment. I’ve come to enjoy hanging out with Aiden during practice.
“I’m glad I skipped out on the taping and went to French. We had a pop quiz,” he tells me.
“How did you do?”
“I think I did good. Your tutoring seems to be working.”
“Well, that’s good.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”
“Uh, sure. What are you doing tonight?”
He grins at me. Probably reading my mind and knowing that I’m dying to know what else he has to do. How much do you want to bet it involves a curvy cheerleader who he is friends with?
“I’m helping Riley with the video. He’s worried that he won’t get it done. What he’s done so far, though, is really good.”
“That’s nice of you, Aiden. But I’m kind of surprised. I didn’t think you and Riley were friends.”
“We were friends during football camp. Then we got into it in the locker room that one day.”
“As in the day he slammed you against the locker for talking shit about me and Dawson?”
Aiden hangs his head a little. “Yeah.”
“Riley’s a good guy,” I say.
“Yeah, I know. He’s not like Dawson.”
“Dawson is a good guy.”
Aiden rolls his eyes at me, shakes his head, and says, “See ya later, Boots.”
The way he says it sounds kind of dreamy. His voice. His mouth. Everything about him is just plain dreamy.
But then I remember another time he said those words to me.
After our 29 dances.
Which means I probably won’t hear from him for days.
Don’t stop kissing me.
We get out of play practice a little early and since Dawson has been begging to see me, I go to his room.
When I get there, he immediately pulls me onto his bed and kisses me.
We kiss, and kiss, and kiss.
He runs his hands up the sides of my shirt and pulls it off. Then he kisses my neck, my chest, and my stomach. Then he stops, puts an arm above my shoulder and leans close to my face.
“We haven’t been talking. I’m sorry. I’m having a hard time starting over. I want you. Badly. But we should stop kissing and talk, right? What do you want to talk about?”
“I just have one thing to say.”
“Don’t stop kissing me.” I grab his shirt and pull him back toward my lips.
Which is all he needed. He kisses me passionately and does some other stuff that I very much enjoy. I start to feel that familiar yearn. I want him too.
Why is it again that I don’t want to have sex with him?
Is it because I want to punish him?
But isn’t that sort of punishing me too?
I want to. And, oh my gosh. He is, well, he’s doing things to me that I also shouldn’t be letting him do, but I don’t stop him.
I can’t stop him.
I want to feel close to him again. I want to know if things have changed. He said things were different when he and Whitney kissed.
Things are not different when we kiss.
I still feel the same desire. The same emotions. I’m ready to take things further, all the way further, and he is definitely ready.
This is the point where we both just know we want to.
Since that first time, we never question it. It feels good, so we do it. And I’m ready for that. Expecting that. I’m guiding him toward me.
But he stops.
“Keatie. I want this more than you know. But I want you to be okay with it. I don’t want you to regret it. I never want you to ever regret what we do. I know maybe it sounds empty because of what happened, but I love you. I really do.”
He strokes my hair, runs the back of his hand down the side of my face, and sweeps it across my chin. I lean my head into his hand, and he cradles my face in his palm and looks into my eyes.
I don’t break his stare. I tilt my hips up a little higher, grab his hips, and guide him into me.
He is a bit shocked by this, I think.
His eyes get big, but then he smiles and starts slowly pushing in and out. Then he leans down and kisses me.
Our kissing matches the rhythm of the sex. Slow and gentle to start, then deeper and harder and faster, until he can’t keep kissing me because it’s gotten so intense.
Finally, he collapses on top of me, breathing heavily. I hug him tight as he sprinkles little kisses down the side of my cheek and across my shoulder.
“That was amazing.”
I laugh at him. “You always say that.”
“Sorry, I need some new adjectives. I’ll get back to you on that. I’m having a hard time thinking right now.” He grabs a strand of my hair and absent-mindedly twirls it around his finger.
“What are you thinking about?”
“How lucky I am. Does this mean we’re back together?”
“No, but we’re maybe starting over.”
“Yeah, but . . .”
“If you recall when we started, this happened pretty quickly.”
He smiles big. “I do recall. And I swear it won’t end like before. So are we going out again?”
“We’re not. Just like we weren’t then.”
“Right. We’re taking it slow.”
I grin and shake my head because we both know that this is not taking it slow.
“Something like that. I might date other people. And you should too.”
He glances at the clock. “I doubt I will, but we’ll see. We better get you home. I don’t want you to be late.”
I glance at the clock and see that he’s right. We quickly get dressed, walk arm in arm back to my dorm, have a long kiss, and say good night.
I’m lying in bed, reading a steamy romance novel, when Katie says, “What happened with you and Dawson tonight?”
“We just, you know, we’re maybe starting over.”
“He just changed his relationship status,” she says, as my phone buzzes.
I pick it up and read that I’m supposed to approve: It’s complicated with Kiki Kiki.
And I don’t know who came up with that relationship status when they invented Facebook, but I’m thinking I couldn’t have described it any better myself.
Because it is complicated.
And I’m pretty sure that my sleeping with him just made it even more complicated.
I decide to check on Riley. I call him and say, “How’s it going?”
“It’s good. Almost done. We’ve got three computers with all the video and Dallas and Aiden have been helping me find the footage I need. It’s turning out great. Are you going to be up for a little while? I’m putting some finishing touches on it and will send you the link in a few.”
“I’ll wait up. I can’t wait to see it. Um, Riley, uh, how come Aiden is helping you?”
“Oh. Are you friends?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
A few minutes later, my computer dings with an email. I follow the link and watch the video.
It’s amazing and makes me cry.
I call Riley back.
“I, um, it’s really good, Riley,” I blubber.
“Are you crying?”
“I’m just, it’s just . . . really good.”
“Yeah, you said that already. It’s supposed to make you want to come here, not cry.”
“It will make people want to come here. It just . . .”
“It’s about us.”
“Exactly. I love you and Dallas.”
“What do you mean?”
“I think he loves you.”
“Uh, no, he doesn’t. He put stars on my ceiling, but he just wants to be my friend.”
“What part made you cry?”
“Just all of it,” I lie.
“What part made you cry?” he asks again sternly.
“Aiden’s part. How people here inspire him to be a better person. About the sunsets.”
“And why did that make you cry?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Because I slept with your brother tonight.”
“Is that what the whole it’s complicated is all about?”
“Baby, it’s okay with me if you like Aiden. I know you’ve liked him since school started.”
“Thanks, Riley, but I don’t like Aiden. I mean, I did, at first. But he doesn’t like me back. He wants to be my friend.”
“Oh, really? Your friend?” Riley chuckles.
“Don’t laugh at me. I’ve been friend-zoned. It’s embarrassing.”
“Keatyn, I swear, you are clueless.”
“I am not clueless. He told me himself he wants to be my friend.”
“I want to be Ariela’s friend.”
“You also want to sleep with her. Aiden doesn’t want to sleep with me. Actually, that’s not true. He said we might sleep together someday. But I had a friends with benefits relationship before. I don’t want that. I want more.”
“And you’re getting more from Dawson?”
“Yes. No. Kinda. He says he loves me.”
“I’m learning that saying it and proving it are very different things. Night, baby.”
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