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Ride Steady


PAGE 67


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Unfortunately, I saw his point.

More so seeing as he was a man, a manly man, a manly biker man who not only wouldn't take kindly to that type of thing but also wouldn't like to admit it hurt.

Not to mention, all he said about his home, his dad, using me to bring him peace killed me.

Sadly, thinking all this, I didn't reply, so he had his chance to keep going.

"Now it's been weeks where me, my brothers, their women have taken your back, looked after you, looked after your boy, you notice your fuck-up and you lay that charity case shit on me?"

"That was-"

"Fucked-up and ugly," he finished for me again.

He was right.

"I was surprised," I defended myself feebly.

"Yeah, me too. Surprised the homecoming queen had it in her ever to remember I existed."

Okay, wait.

That blow was low.

He was right. I'd messed up.

But I didn't deserve that.

"Joker, of course I'd remember you," I said carefully.

"Yeah? Had my tongue in your mouth, your hands up my shirt, looked into my eyes beggin' for more, Carissa, and that shit didn't happen."

Oh no.

Absolutely not.

"Your hair is different!" I retorted sharply.

"So's yours," he fired back.

This was true. It was longer. As was his.

Still.

"You had a beard."

"You have a baby."

Darn it!

"You're a biker!" I cried.

"You're a grocery store clerk," he returned.

He was too much!

"It's been years!" I yelled.

"Yeah, it has," he whispered ominously.

But I knew what he meant.

It had been years and he still knew me.

He didn't get the same.

But even if he was right, his reaction was wrong.

"Okay, you're right. You're absolutely right. And I'm sorry, Joker," I hissed. "I'm sorry I didn't recognize the boy I crushed on and did it huge back in high school. Honestly, I don't know how I didn't. Though, you know, I may have had a few things on my mind, say, a flat tire and a crappy apartment and an ex-husband whose sole desire seemed to be making my life a misery. But I still don't know how I didn't. Especially considering the fact that, almost right away, I started crushing on the man you became even bigger than I'd crushed on you back then."

I finished talking and did it breathing hard, so focused on what I was saying I didn't notice his expression change.

But then I noticed his expression had changed.

"What?" he whispered.

"What what?" I snapped, still feeling many things, including anger.

"You crushed on me?" he asked.

I stared for a second and did it hard before I threw up my hands and returned, "Like you didn't know."

"I didn't know."

I leaned into him and hissed, "Baloney."

The ominous whisper was back with his, "Be careful, Carissa."

"About what?" I asked crossly. "Every girl had a crush on you and you pretending you didn't know that is laughable. You totally knew."

"Not about you."

"So you knew," I pushed.

"Not about you."

"Oh my gosh!" I cried, narrowing my eyes at him. "You cannot believe for one second I believe you . Every time I saw you I smiled at you. Once I even tripped so I could fall into you so you'd catch me, for goodness sakes! I couldn't be more obvious!"

His body went completely still but I wasn't done.

"And honestly, the last time I saw you, I asked you out on a date. I knew you were leaving. I figured you had to do what you had to do. And I admired you having the courage to do it. Still, it was my last ditch effort to get you to notice me. I knew you had to leave but I wanted you to do it hopefully thinking of me so if you came back, you'd remember me and-"

He cut me off, "Shut up."

"No!" I shouted.

"Shut up, Carissa, now," he growled.

I shut up and I did this because of the way he was looking at me.

Suddenly I didn't feel the burning pain of humiliation.

Or anger.

I felt burning but it wasn't pain.

It was something else entirely.

"You had him," he said so quietly I barely heard him.

But I heard him and I understood him.

"If you'd given me a sign, the smallest clue, I would have let him go so I could have had my shot with you."

Joker stared at me.

I let him until I could take no more.

"Please don't be mad at me," I whispered.

Joker didn't reply.

"Please," I begged.

Joker said nothing. He just kept staring at me in that way that made me think he was saying something, I just wasn't sure I understood it.

But I had a feeling. I wasn't certain I was right but it was too important not to take my shot.

So I took my shot.

I rushed forward three steps and threw myself at him hoping with everything in me that he'd catch me.

But this time, he didn't catch me. He didn't close his arms around me and kiss me.

He also didn't push me away.

He bent, grabbed hold of me, lifted and swung me to his side. Then he took several long strides and tossed me on the bed.

As I landed, I sucked in breath, which was good since he fell, landing right on top of me.

That was when he kissed me.

And I kissed him back. Hard. Wanting him. Wanting Joker. Wanting Carson Steele. Not believing I had them... both.

So I was not about to let go.

Lucky for me, I knew with the way his hands were moving on me that this time, he wasn't going to let me go either. He wasn't going to stop.

This was it. Him and me. Joker and Carrie. Carson and Carissa.

Connecting.

Finally.

I wanted that. I wanted that more than anything I'd ever wanted-except my baby to be happy and healthy and my sister and mother to be alive-but it was a close fourth.

And that said a lot.

So I went for it. I gave it my all. I didn't want him to come to his senses and realize he was still mad at me for not recognizing him. Or realize we were in his bed in the Compound, not at my place after a special date. Or anything that might make him stop.

I wanted this to happen now. I wanted to show him how I felt about him back then.

But more, I wanted to show him what he meant to me now.

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