Home > A Place Without You(19)

A Place Without You(19)
Author: Jewel E. Ann

I hate that she’s leaving me to go get high. I also hate that she has pain that requires her to crave the numbness that marijuana provides.

“On the stairs … did I hurt your back?”


“Henna …”

She brushes her lips over mine and whispers, “The stairs were my favorite part.”

I grin while cupping the back of her head and kissing her. “Well, you were my favorite part.”

Henna giggles. “I should get going before your dad wakes up.” Easing off me, she sits on the edge of the bed and hisses in a tiny breath.

“Sorry.” I don’t know what else to say.

Glancing over her shoulder, she returns a half smile. “It’s only partly your fault. Angelina worked out that area pretty good before dinner.” She stands.

We stare at the streak of blood on the bottom white sheet.

“That’s embarrassing.” She cringes, trapping her lower lip between her teeth.

It kills me to see her flushed with embarrassment over this. “It’s beautiful.”

Her gaze finds mine. I sit up, swinging my legs off the bed while pulling her to stand between them. Henna rests her hands on my shoulders, gazing down at me like I’m her whole world. And I want to be that for her, but it comes with this huge responsibility that scares the living hell out of me because I don’t want to ever be her disappointment—but that’s inevitable.

“It’s beautiful,” I repeat, pressing a soft kiss between her breasts.

Her fingers slide up my cheeks and into my hair, caressing my scalp.

My mouth navigates to her breasts, taking the utmost care to be gentle with her. “It’s us …” I softly blow on her wet nipple, eliciting tiny bumps along her skin. “It’s Bodhi and Henna.” Moving lower, I trace her navel with my tongue before continuing south. “It’s life …” The tip of my tongue finds her clit.

“Bodhi …” She breathes, curling her fingers around my hair.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” I whisper over her skin, working my way back up her body. I’m just showing her that I can be gentle. When she leaves, I want her to crave my gentle touch, not fear that every time will feel like the first.

She bends down and kisses me, framing my face with her hands. “I hate you for being with…” her throat bobs “…other women when I promised I’d find you.”

“I hate myself too.” My chin drops to my chest. They weren’t just a means to fill a sexual need; they were a way to try and forget about Henna. I’m so fucking stupid because this woman is eternally unforgettable. How could I not know this?

“But I love you more.” She slides her finger below my chin and tips my head up to look at her.

I don’t deserve her, and time will remind me of that. But right now, I want her and that’s all my selfish ego cares about. “I love you too.” I stand, looking down at my beautiful Henna. The pad of my thumb traces her lower lip. “I’ll get the rest of your clothes. I think they’re near the stairs.”

A blush crawls up her neck. I’m totally good with her thinking of us and what I did to her every time she sees a flight of stairs. I know I sure as hell will think about it.



“I had sex.”

Juni glances up from her coffee and phone screen as I walk into the main house dining room, freshly showered and primed for my afternoon high. It takes edibles a bit to find their way into my system. So for now, I grimace while taking a seat at the table.

She studies me with a cautious look. “It hurts that badly?”

“A horse.”

“Please don’t tell me you had sex with a horse. Or at least tell me the horse is in reference to a stud, but a human one.”

I chuckle as Fiona gives me a warm smile and sets a cup of coffee in front of me. “Thank you.”

“Okay, back to the horse sex story.”

“Yes. That.” I take a sip of coffee and add more sugar. “I can only have this conversation with Juni. My mom would be way too disappointed in me. Are we clear?”

Juni gets this nauseous expression.

I roll my eyes. “No. I didn’t have sex with a horse.”

She relaxes. “Then Juni is all ears.”

“I’ve ridden Angelina, this beautiful horse at Bella’s Stables.”

Juni pauses mid-sip. “Down the road?”

I nod. “It’s like cycle class; there’s a definite breaking-in period.”

Juni laughs. “I’ve done both, so I completely understand.”

“Well, after a long ride yesterday afternoon, I had dinner with the stable owners.”

“Oh, that’s nice. I don’t know anything about them.”

“An older gentleman, fifty-ish, I’d say. He’s in a wheelchair. His son lives there and takes care of him.”

“It’s weird how you can live so close to people and know nothing about them.”

“Weird. Yes.” I sip my coffee. “But you and Zach travel a lot, and we live completely gated off from everyone around us, so we’ve probably missed the neighborhood potlucks.”

Juni shakes her head, grinning. “Moving on …”

“I had sex with the owner’s son.”

“Oh … that’s …” She twists her lips. “Random? You’ve known Warren for years, then you go and have …”

I grin, knowing she’s thinking exactly what I’m thinking—Dad.

“Tell me the story.”

Juni shakes her head. “It’s your story day, not mine. I’ve told you mine a million times.”

“And I’ll ask you to tell it to me a million more times.”

“Henna, you’re a romantic.”

“I’m not.” My head inches from side to side. It’s possible to love a good romance without being a romantic. I ignore the tiny detail that I happen to be so in love with Bodhi Malone right now my heart will never find a normal rhythm again.

Every time she shares this story, I wonder how she can look at me and not think of my father. I’m a spitting image of him. If she hadn’t shown me the video of my birth, I’m not sure I’d believe I’m really her daughter.

She smooths her silky blond ponytail over her shoulder, taking a big breath. Nearly twenty years earlier, my mom fell for a young drummer at the inaugural Coachella, a music and arts festival in California.

“It was a stifling hot day …” she begins. I love the way her face lights up when she tells the story, almost as much as I love the story itself.

Sexy, redheaded drummer eyed tall blonde at the front of the stage.

Tall blonde stalked sexy drummer after the final act.

Sparks flew.

A few mind-altering drugs may or may not have been involved.

Sex in the shadows behind the stage.

No condom.

A baby girl named Henna was born nine months later.

I frown, loving and hating the next part.

“The band broke up. Your father enlisted in the marines and proposed to me on the same day.”

“You said no.” I sigh, always wondering “what if?”

She curls a few strands of hair behind my ear as her mouth turns up into a bittersweet smile. “He wanted his career. I wanted mine.”

“But you both wanted me.”

She nods a few times. “Yes. And we wanted each other, but …”

“You were a temporary love.”

Mom bops the end of my nose with her finger and clucks her tongue once. “Exactly. Timing guides our lives more than love. Love is just an emotion—timing is our destiny. Missed opportunities. Serendipity. Fate … it’s all about timing, not love.”

“You still love Dad.”

She returns a single nod. “Always.”

“But you love Zach too.”

She presses her hand to her heart. “Eternally.”

My mother has loved two men, just in different times. I think that will always be my favorite part of the story.

“Don’t call me a romantic.” She knows I’m a realist. “But … I want to love like that. And I think I may have found it.”

“Henna …” She leans over and kisses my forehead. “Live, my beautiful butterfly. Love freely, but don’t ever let it anchor you. Don’t ever choose love over life.”

“What if I can have both? Like you?”

“Is this guy you just met willing to let you find yourself? Is he going to follow you to the far corners of the world and let you be you … or will he try to clip your wings?”

I focus on my cup of coffee.

“If you just met him, you can’t possibly know.”

“That’s the thing … I didn’t just meet him.”

“No? Does he go to your school?”

I grunt a bit of sarcasm. “As a matter of fact, he does.”

“Why didn’t he ask you to homecoming?”

“It would have been frowned upon.”

“By whom?”

“I’m pretty sure everyone.”

Her head jerks back. “Why?”

Scrunching my nose, I glance up at her. “He’s the guidance counselor.”

Remaining statuesque, she blinks quickly several times. “Bodhi?”

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