A Place Without You

Chapter 17

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“True.” I put my shirt back down and sit straight again. “So, I suppose I only know about things that half-ass suck.”

A laugh rumbles from Barrett again. “I like you, Henna.”

“Dad, dinner’s—” Bodhi stops on the opposite side of the screen door. “Ready,” he finishes.

“’Bout damn time. It better be good and not instant shit for as long as it took you.” Barrett winks at me. “You have somewhere to be or can I talk you into more than a joint with me?”

I glance over at Bodhi frowning at me. Yeah, I smoked a little weed with your dad. So what? I grin. “I’m starving.”

“Follow me, young lady. Bodhi, Henna. Henna, Bodhi. Smile, Son. There’s a bona fide woman having dinner with us. And she’s not old or a relative, so step the hell up and show her some Malone manners.”

Bodhi holds open the door as Barrett rolls in the house.

“Nice to meet you, Bodhi.” I give him a toothy grin.

“The pleasure’s all my dad’s.” He narrows his eyes as I pass him.

Looking over my shoulder, I stick my tongue out. He rolls his eyes, biting back a grin.

“Spaghetti? It took you an hour to make spaghetti?” Barrett jabs Bodhi.

“The meatballs are homemade, Dad.”

Barrett bites into one of the meatballs as I take a seat next to him and opposite Bodhi. “These are good. There’s really nothing like juicy balls.”

“Dad!” Bodhi flinches, scratching the nape of his neck. “Don’t invite someone to dinner and be so crude.”

“It’s fine.” I bite into one of Bodhi’s made-from-scratch meatballs, and it’s just as juicy and amazing as Barrett said it is. “Mmm … these are good balls.” I wink at Bodhi.

He looks up at the ceiling, drawing in a slow breath.

I grin and so does Barrett.

We spend the next hour having the best conversation about how Barrett met his wife. I love that even though their marriage started to fall apart before she died, he speaks of her with such adoration. At first, Bodhi seems uncomfortable listening to his father talk about his deceased mother, but eventually he warms up and even adds to some of the stories. Cecile, his mom, stayed home while Barrett ran the ranch. She was an excellent cook and a prankster.

I melt listening to Bodhi and Barrett share their trip down memory lane with me.

As I help Bodhi take the dishes to the kitchen, there’s a knock at the door. Bodhi answers it. I recognize Leo’s voice.

Shit! Leo.

I totally forgot.

“Hey, there you are.” He looks over Bodhi’s shoulder as I approach the door. “My uncle said he thought he saw you walk this way.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry. Barrett invited me for dinner, and the time slipped my mind.”

Bodhi crosses his arms over his chest, watching Leo and I have a conversation with him in the middle.

“You still want to … uh…” he gives Bodhi a quick look “…hang out?”

Bodhi squints at Leo and then at me.

“Yeah, sure. Let me just say goodnight to Barrett.”

“Really?” Bodhi’s question stops me.

“Really what?”

Leo watches Bodhi with a bit of apprehension. He clearly knows who’s the boss.

“You’re just going to eat my food and run? Leaving me with the mess to clean up by myself?”

“Oh,” Leo speaks up. “No. She’s not.”

Why does Leo feel the need to answer for me?

“I’ll do it for her.”

“What?” I shoot Leo an incredulous look. “No. You didn’t eat dinner here. Just …” I frown at Bodhi, but he ignores my glare, staring back at me with a blank expression. “Another night, Leo?”

Leo takes a step backward on the porch. “Absolutely. Um…” he shoves his hands in his pockets “…have a good night.”

“We will. Thanks.” Bodhi shuts the door.

I cross my arms over my chest, mirroring Bodhi’s stance from earlier. “Boy, your juicy balls sure do come with a price.”

He grins. I pivot and march back to the kitchen. After saying goodnight to Barrett, I finish drying the dishes while Bodhi puts his dad to bed. Their old house is quite run-down, but there’s still a warmth to it from all the family photos on the walls and the fireplace mantel. A beautiful multi-colored quilt lies folded on the back of a rocking chair. I wonder if Cecile made it?

“Smoking pot with my dad, huh? Have you no shame?”

I turn from the wall of photos—many with Bodhi. Ignoring his efforts to shame me, I point to a photo of him surfing. “So it’s true. You can surf.”

Sliding his hands into the pockets of his jeans, he lifts his shoulders, giving me a tight-lipped, I-told-you-so smile.

“Where’s your sister?”

“Bella’s in Kentucky.”

I turn back to the photos, staring at one of her on a horse. She must have been ten or so. “Bella …” I whisper.

“Daddy’s girl. I’ve always liked horses, but to her they are life. Like tacos are to you.”

I grin, but he can’t see it with my back to him. “So why is she not here … at Bella’s Stables?”

“She dreamed of training horses, the kind that could win major stake’s races. Last year’s derby winner? She trains for that family.”

“That’s quite the dream come true.”

“Yes.”

I face him again. “And you don’t ever feel a tiny bit of resentment that she’s doing that while you’re here responsible for your father all but one weekend out of the year?”

Bodhi blinks a few times. “Nope.”

“You’re a nice son.”

“It’s getting late.” He glances at his watch. “Can I give you a ride home?”

“If I say no, are you really going to let me walk home by myself in the dark?”

“No.”

“Maybe Leo could drive me home. I feel bad for standing him up.”

Bodhi draws in a long breath, the muscles in his jaws flexing several times. “Then call him.”

“I don’t have his number. Maybe you could give it to me.”

Those muscles pulse a few more times. Bodhi looks almost feral. The last time I saw feral-looking Bodhi was Monday after homecoming weekend. I’m so drained from wanting the man before me but constantly being turned away by his silence.

I step closer to him and a little closer yet until I have to crane my neck to meet his gaze. “Call him, please. Call Leo and tell him I’m ready to hang out.”

Bodhi’s nostrils flare.

“Tell him I’m ready to smoke a little weed and throw all inhibitions to the wind.”

“Shut up,” he says with a strained voice, through gritted teeth.

I ball my hands that ache to touch him. I try to ignore the tingle of my skin that begs to be touched by him. “Call him.”

Bodhi shakes his head, emotions red in his eyes, jaw set.

“Call him. Tell him you don’t want me, so he can have—”

“Just shut the fuck up.” He grabs my head and kisses me, pushing me into the wall, rattling the picture frames beside my head.

I can’t breathe. I. Can’t. Breathe. All the oxygen leaves my body, replaced with Bodhi. Clawing at his head, I hold his mouth to mine by two fists full of his hair as we angle our heads to find the perfect position that allows our kiss to deepen. I climb up his body, wrapping my legs around him. He grabs my ass with both hands, not like a football—like he owns it. Devouring my mouth, he walks us to the stairs and drops to his knees, sprawling my body out above him.

Shoving my shirt and bra up at the same time, he reacquaints himself with my breasts.

I bite my lips together to keep from crying out. It’s almost painful, but just as he pushes me to the very edge, he flattens his tongue over my nipple that he bit so fucking hard.

“Bodhi …” I pant his name, looking down at him as he looks up at me with hooded eyes.

“Shut up, Henna.” His eyes are filled with so much anguish, I have to fight back my own emotions. He unfastens my jeans and peels them off me. “If you want me to stop, then say stop. Otherwise, just…” he tosses my jeans aside “…shut up.”

Resting my elbows on the stair, I peer down at him as he pauses … waiting.

“Don’t stop,” I whisper.

Bodhi slides down my panties and spreads my legs. His eyes flit between my middle—wet and completely exposed to him—and my steadfast gaze. Lowering his head, he keeps his eyes locked to mine.

“Ung!” I bite back my reaction as his tongue makes a slow swipe.

He does it several more times before plunging it into me. His eyes roll back in his head and he hums his pleasure. My eyes do the same thing as he quickly and expertly claims my orgasm.

This sends me higher than I’ve ever been. The kind of high that could make me pass out. Before I completely come down, he picks me back up and carries me the rest of the way upstairs, kissing my mouth the way he kissed me between my legs.

“Tell me to stop,” he whispers in my ear as he lays me on his bed. “Tell me, Henna.” He crawls between my legs, resting his forehead on the mattress next to mine as his fingers slide between my legs.


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