My heart pounds in my ears, drowning out the music from my earbuds, and I have to force my breathing to slow down, inhaling and then exhaling, so I don’t throw up.
I close my eyes and turn toward the window. Shit. Why is he doing this?
But even though my body rages with fear, I don’t pull away from him. I like it. His hand on top of mine, warm and strong, as he curls his fingers between mine and holds me.
I look over at Will Grayson, slouched in the seat next to me on the bus, long legs stretched into the aisle as the players, cheerleaders, and band go on around us. He just stares at his phone like there’s nothing going on underneath the hoodie between us.
It takes three tries, but I eventually swallow, wetting my dry throat as I pull his sweatshirt over us more, making sure our hands are covered. The bus jostles side to side, taking us back onto the highway, and I fist my hand, too, a fire burning low in my belly at the feel of his skin.
What the hell is he doing?
Movement catches my eye ahead, but I don’t look up, because I know what it is. Desi Castro is sitting in our center’s lap, reverse cowgirl, and through the dim moonlight and shadows I’m pretty sure they’re being fairly fucking stupid—albeit quietly—in the seat in front of us.
Her long, red locks drape over the back of the seat, and I finally raise my eyes. She leans back against him, their lips barely touching as their bodies move slow but rhymical in the darkness.
Will drags his nails across the back of my hand, and my stomach flips.
This has to be a joke.
My phone dings, and I turn over my right hand, unlocking the screen with my thumb. The phone lights up my place by the window, rain pummeling the bus as we drive through the dark night.
“Let me take you home,” it reads.
I glance over out of the corner of my eye, seeing his phone in his hand, too—the same text visible.
“No,” I type back.
I can’t let him take me home. Ever. I try to pull away from his hand, but he clasps it tightly.
“Let me take you home,” he types again.
I clench my teeth and turn my eyes out of the window. I try to pull my hand away once more, but he grasps it, forcing it instead onto my thigh, his fingers grazing my skin there.
Butterflies go off in my stomach, and I squeeze my eyes shut.
My phone beeps, and it takes a moment to look at it. “I want to hold you like that,” it says.
I glance up at Miller and Desi again, his arms wrapped around her, and I picture myself in Will’s lap, parked off some dark road in the rain, and it takes everything I have not to look at him, because if I do, he’ll know…
He’ll know that I don’t always hate him.
But I shove his hand off, biting the corner of my mouth to keep the emotions away.
“Cops came to the warehouse and took all the tappers,” someone says loud enough to pierce my ear buds.
I turn my head enough to see a cheerleader, Lynlee Hoffman, across the aisle and looking back at Will.
He sits there, his hand still under the hoodie, acting like everything is completely normal. “Oh, yeah?” he says.
But he doesn’t give a shit.
Lynlee shoots me a look, narrowing her eyes and lifting her chin, because my brother is a cop, and if they found out there was a party, it was because of me, right? As if the cops have to be geniuses to figure out a win always equals a kegger at the warehouse. Duh.
I turn up the volume on my music drowning out any other sounds and tap my thumbs, typing out a message. “Take her home. She’ll drool all over your dumb haircut and extensive knowledge of micro-brews and penis jokes.”
I mean, his is a jock.
I feel him shake with a laugh next to me.
He types, letters flashing on his screen. “I take you home, or I take you in my lap right here. Decide.”
I grit my teeth together.
If my brother heard, I’d…
Damon Torrance leans up from behind us, squeezing Will’s shoulders and talking in his ear. Will laughs at whatever he says, no one the wiser.
My phone beeps again. “Almost there,” he warns.
I shake my head. “People will see,” I type out.
“Then make sure they don’t.”
He pulls the hoodie off us and slips it over his head, covering his white, sleeveless T-shirt and his tan, toned, beautiful arms that always make my mouth hang open like an imbecile.
We enter Thunder Bay, heading back to our campus where everyone will pick up their cars and head to parties, but I’ll be walking and heading straight home, as always.
This is such a game to him. He gets everything he wants—always has—and he doesn’t care who he has to use to have a good time.
I stare out the window, seeing the village breeze past, the twinkle lights of the park, and my neighborhood before we get up into the cliffs where Will and the wealthy reside. Part of me wants it. Part of me loves how good his attention feels, because he’s cocky and confident and good-looking and smooth. He’s popular, looks good in everything he wears, and I like his smile.
He’s untouchable, and he wants to touch me.
My eyes drop to my lap. Even if I wanted to, though, my brother would never tolerate it.
I feel my phone vibrate in my hand once, and then again and again, but I just bob my head to the music like I don’t notice. The school comes into view, and liquid heat rushes my chest, but I ignore it. I’m almost out of here, and he can spend the rest of the night taking whoever he wants home, for all I care.
Another text comes in, and I finally look.
“When the bus stops, get in my fucking truck.”
I breathe out a bitter laugh. Aw, someone’s lost his temper.
And the next thing I know, the bus stops, he yanks the ear buds out of my ears, and I suck in a breath as he leans into my face.
“Because you’re mine,” he growls in a whisper.
And all at the once, the horsemen rise from their seats, grab their bags, and charge down the aisle, leaving the bus first.
My heart pounds against my chest. What the—
It’s only when my lungs start burning that I realize I’ve stopped breathing.
Because you’re mine. I ignore the flutter in my chest as I grab my bag and fumble for my ear buds.
I mean, seriously. What am I? On some scavenger hunt he’s doing or something? Nail the Nerd?
I rise with everyone else and step into the aisle, getting ready to leave the bus.
I’m not yours, Will Grayson.
And I’ll walk, thanks.