Tattooed. Hot. My best friend’s brother. Off-limits, except for that one night.
That One Night
Cannot be spoken of. Cannot be thought of. Cannot allow myself to daydream.
That I’m going to become someone. That he can see me as someone.
To love. To forget. To believe. To taste.
To make me forget my everlasting sin once and for all.
This is a standalone book and you can get it for FREE by clicking here!
Read an excerpt from the book here below
“A million dollars, dude. You can dirty up your pretty face for a million dollars.” Luke punched me in the shoulders as he continued his fast talking. “And I’ll be your manager.”
“I don’t think so.” I shook my head and laughed.
Luke was my best friend, but I would be a fool to listen to anything he said. He always had a new scheme to make money, and I had learned the hard way when we were teens that what he said didn’t ever come true.
“Come on. What do you have to lose?”
“Every fight.” I rolled my eyes. “I’m not a fighter, Luke.”
“You’re not a lover either.” He grinned at me with his million-watt smile.
“I’m not a girl.” I laughed. “Batting your baby blues at me isn’t going to get me to agree.”
“You do this. I’ll get you as much ass as you want.”
“I can get my own ass.” I stood up and stretched. “Anyways, I gotta go.”
“C’mon, Hudson,” Luke pouted and threw his beer can into the trash as if he were Kobe Bryant going for the winning shot in the last game of the NBA finals. “We need this.”
“I don’t need this.” I shook my head. “And you just need to get a job.”
“Don’t nag. You’re not my mother.”
“The economy’s shit. You know that.” He shrugged. “When it gets better, I’ll get a job.”
“And until then, you’ll live off your momma?”
“I don’t wanna live off my momma. I want you to enter this damn fight and win a million dollars. Dude, do you know what we can do with a million dollars?”
“Nope.” I shook my head again and laughed at him. “Please stop trying to seduce me with your eyes. Save it for the girls.”
“I’m practicing on you until Riley gets home,” he joked, and I froze for a second.
“What did I tell you about Riley?” I kept my voice calm, but my insides were storming up at the sound of her name. “Don’t even joke about Riley. Or Eden,” I added for good measure.
“I won’t go after your sister, dude.” Luke laughed. “Now her best friend? Yummy.” He licked his lips. “I don’t know if I can back away from her.”
“Not funny.” I glared at him, heat rising in me. I clenched my fists and took a step back.
“I’m just joking. Damn, Hudson. I know she’s like your sister as well.” Luke shook his head and then stared at my fists. “You were not just about to hit me, were you?”
“Get a life.”
“I’ll get a life if you sign up for one fight.” He collapsed on the couch. “It’s not just about me. You could also give some money to Clara’s mom. I heard she still hasn’t found a job.”
I flinched as he said Clara’s name. “The economy’s rough. She’ll find a job.”
“She’s so depressed.” He shrugged and looked away from me. “I don’t know that she’ll ever be able to work again. I heard my mom say that she thought Clara’s mom might lose her house.”
“What?” I frowned and felt a nerve jumping in my neck. “I thought she had insurance money.”
“It’s gone.” His voice sounded normal, but the words seemed to reverberate in my mind. Well, really only one word. Gone. Gone. Gone. It was like the clanging of a gong against my temple.
“I’ll see if I can give her some money.” I shook my head, trying to shake the inevitable headache I knew was coming.
Luke made a face. “For the rest of her life?”
“I don’t know.” I sighed and looked away from him again. “I gotta go.”
“Think about the fight. It could solve a lot of problems.” Luke made one last passionate plea. “And giving Clara’s mom a bunch of money may make you feel better.”
“I guess.” I shrugged, but a light in my head went off at his words.
“You can even help Eden with her tuition.”
“When are they coming home though? I seriously haven’t seen Eden or Riley in ages.”
“Eden was home a few weekends ago.” I opened the front door. “And Riley’s not my family so I have no clue what she is doing.”
“Is she dating anyone?” he asked curiously, and my heart stopped for a second.
“Who knows?” I looked at the wall, trying to ignore the tightening of my chest. “I don’t have her call me with updates.”
“She knows better than that. They both do. Who needs a father with a shotgun when you’ve got a brother that can fight them off with his hands?”
“She’s not my sister,” I muttered. “And I don’t beat guys off of anyone.”
“What about if it’s for a million dollars?”
“Luke.” I stared at his goofy smile for a second and then shook my head. “I swear, if we weren’t friends I would smack you.”
“Lucky for me, we’ve been friends since we were kids.” He laughed. “I’m too pretty to be bruised.”
“But I guess I’m ugly enough to stand a few scrapes and cuts?”
“You’re handsome enough to look even hotter with a few scars.” Luke shrugged. “It’ll just make more women want you.”
“I don’t want more women to like me.”
“You have to get over Clara at some point, Hudson.” Luke’s voice was suddenly serious, and once again I froze at his words. “I know it hurts, but—”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” I quickly walked over to the door. “I’m out. I’ll see you later to shoot some hoops?”
“Yeah, I’ll see you at the court. I still…”
I didn’t hear the rest of Luke’s words as I immediately closed the door and walked to my car.
I decided to go swimming as soon as I got home. I was lucky enough to live in an apartment complex that had an Olympic-size pool. I wasn’t really sure how Rosemead Apartments had gotten the money to put in any sort of pool, but I wasn’t complaining. I walked through the parking lot filled with old and rusting cars and tried to ignore the crowd of guys huddled at the end of the parking lot, talking loudly and passing something around in a small bag. I could guess at what was in the bag, but I didn’t really want to know. I didn’t want anything to do with the other guys who lived in the Rosemead complex. I didn’t need any trouble.
I noticed a young blond guy with a marine buzz cut staring at me, and I started jogging to get away from them. I wished moving out were as easy. I hated living here at Rosemead; I absolutely hated it, but I felt like I needed to. Not because I couldn’t afford to live anywhere else. But this was for Clara. This was to make her happy.
Jamilah waved at me excitedly. “Hey, Hudson.”
“Hi, Jamilah.” I grinned at the little girl who was about to dive into the pool. “How is school going?”
“School is school.” She made a face. “It’s boring. But I think I’m going to make the swim team.”
“Well of course.” I smiled at her and looked around. “Where is your mom?”
“At work.” Jamilah chewed on her lower lip as she twisted her arms. “She got a new job, but she has to work evenings.”
“Doing his homework.” She shrugged. “I just came to practice swimming for an hour. Don’t tell my mom.”
I looked at her and tried to keep the smile on my face. I didn’t want her to see how upset I was. Jamilah was only ten and her brother was only eight. I felt bad that their mom had to leave them alone while she went to work, but I was angry that Jamilah was here by herself when I knew she was still a beginning swimmer.
“Hey, next time you want to go swimming and your mom isn’t home, come and find me, okay?” I gave her a look. “And if I’m not home, wait until me or your mom is available.”
“Okay.” She nodded. “Do you want to race?”
“Race?” I laughed. “But you know you’ll beat me.”
“I won’t.” She giggled. “I’ll be slow this time.”
“You can’t go slow just for me.” I smiled at her. “You need to go your fastest.”
“I will.” I watched the light fade from her eyes before she spoke again. “Hudson, do you think I have a real shot of making the team?”
“But what if my mom can’t afford it?” She looked away from me. “There are fees to be a part of the team and she just got this job.”
“Jamilah, you’re ten. Let your mom worry about that.” I ran my hands over the top of her head to comfort her. “You just practice swimming.”
“Yeah, I guess.” She nodded. “Okay, one, two, three, go.” And with that, she did a clean dive into the pool and started doing a front crawl.
I watched her swim for a few seconds and then dove in behind her. The water felt cold and crisp against my skin, and my brain soared to life at the shock of my body submerging into the cold water without a second thought. My arms stretched out and got into their rhythm automatically: one, two, breathe, one, two, breathe.
I saw Jamilah’s legs kicking furiously in front of me as she tried desperately to keep her lead, and I slowed my pace slightly to ensure that I didn’t overtake her. I wanted to give her the confidence she needed to make certain she didn’t give up on her swimming dream. I could tell from the way that she was talking that it wasn’t going to take much to dissuade her.
It saddened me that she wasn’t pursuing her dreams like a normal kid. A kid shouldn’t have to worry about money or being bullied. I sighed inwardly as I reached the other side of the pool and thought to myself, If only there was a way for me to give her mom some money.
“I beat you, I beat you!” She splashed me with the water as she grinned at me. “I can’t believe I beat you.”
“I guess it’s the Olympics up for you next.”
“They’ll play the national anthem for me,” she beamed. “That would be awesome.”
“Yes, it would be.” I nodded in agreement.
“I wish it would really happen.” The smile left her face and she pushed herself out of the pool.
“It could happen if you practice a lot.” I jumped out of the pool with her.
“I don’t know.” She looked down. “I have to support my mom.”
Her words made me freeze. The memories that brought back to me were bittersweet, and I could feel my heart racing. Jamilah stood there shivering as water slid down her body and her eyes were full of sadness. She was too young to be taking on the cares of her mother.
I repeated the words I had said to Clara so many times. “It’s not your responsibility to take care of your mom.”
“She doesn’t make much money.” She shrugged. “I want to help her.”
“That’s admirable of you, Jammy.” I gave her a quick hug. “But your mom is doing fine.”
“I wish she was home more.” She hugged me back and then giggled. “What flavor jam am I?”
“What flavor jam do you want to be?” I whispered, playing the game we’d been playing for the last year.
“Not raspberry jam.” She made a face. “Or mixed fruit. Mixed fruit jam is yucky.”
“What about strawberry?” I smiled down at her. “You like strawberry jam, don’t you?”
“Yes!” She smiled up at me. “I love strawberry jam.”
“Then you’re my strawberry Jammy.” I winked at her, and she giggled.
“I should go and check on Marcus.” She sighed. “Make sure he’s doing his homework.”
“Yeah, you should.” I smiled. “I’ll walk you to your apartment.”
She shook her head and made a little face. “You don’t have to do that.”
I laughed. “Have I told you that you remind me of a girl I once knew?”
She shook her head as we walked. “No, who?”
“When I was younger, I used to tease a girl on the bus. Her name was Riley, and one day she went to her mom and complained about me. Her mom came to my parents’ house and told them what was going on. She asked if she could ask me to protect her instead of my being punished.” I smiled at the memory as I spoke. “Well, that girl and I became friends, and she always used to make faces at me.”
“Is she your best friend?”
“No. Luke. You remember Luke? Well, he’s my best friend.”
“He’s goofy.” She made a face and then stopped, her hand flying to her mouth as she looked at me sheepishly. “I mean, he’s nice, but goofy.”
“That describes him perfectly.” I smiled at her.
“So, are you and Riley still friends?”
“No, not really.” I frowned as I thought of her. I paused as I let the feelings of love, joy, wonder, hurt, horror, and heartbreak wash over me. “She has her own life now.” I tried to smile again, but couldn’t.
I could see Riley’s face in my mind as clear as day. It made me feel incredibly guilty and incredibly sad. Riley was a part of my life that I couldn’t think about anymore. Not after what had happened. Not after Clara. It didn’t matter what I wished were different. This was my life now. I thought back to my earlier conversation with Luke and sighed inwardly. I had a feeling I was going to try and enter that fight. A million dollars would go a long way. I knew what Clara would want me to do, and I couldn’t let her down. Not now.
This is a standalone book and you can get it for FREE by clicking here!