Home > A Place Without You(5)

A Place Without You(5)
Author: Jewel E. Ann

I nod toward her pocket, unable to shrug the nagging feeling that I came across as a condescending jerk. “If you need that … don’t let me stop you.”

Her hand covers mine between us, closing her eyes for a few long seconds. “I think I could take one Bodhi before bed every night and never lose sleep over pain again.”

Well, fuck me …

“I should go.” I stare at her hand on mine.

“There are probably a bunch of crazies on the road. You could fall asleep driving. And I’d hate to see anything happen to you and Alice.” She grins and so do I. “Besides, I want you to tell me what it’s like to be a surfer or a cowboy.”

I bark out a belly laugh and melt into the back of the sofa, running my hands through my already messy hair. “Oh … wow.” I lace my fingers behind my head.

Her gaze drops to my chest. Curiosity and something even more intimate flashes across her face.

“Funny you should mention those two things. I love to surf, and I can ride a horse with the best of them.”


“Bullshit? Why are you calling bullshit when you brought it up?”

“I was joking. Just being stereotypical. Naked, you look like a surfer, but dressed in these jeans and boots, I can totally see you in a cowboy hat, mounted on a horse.”

“Wait. When have you seen me naked?”

Her skin turns pink all the way to the top of her ears. “I mean your actual physical appearance looks like a surfer.”

“I see.” I scratch my chin. “Hmm … what do I think you look like?”

Her entire body seems to come to life as her back straightens when she rearranges herself so she’s sitting on her knees, facing my side.

“You have an artsy-ness to you. I’d bet you did your own henna tattoos. But you’re young … I’m not sure I really want to know how young.” My nose wrinkles a bit. It hits me. This girl could be sixteen.

She rolls her eyes. “I turn nineteen … soon.”

“Fuck …” I still cringe, running my hands through my hair again. “Young.”

She grabs my wrists and throws a leg over my lap, straddling me.


“Finish telling me what your first impression of me was.”

I shake my head slowly. “I can’t.” Swallowing hard, my gaze slips to her mouth.

“Why?” She interlaces our fingers and curls our hands around her back, forcing us closer together.

“I think you’re trouble.”

“Some say I’m Hell.”

“Hell?” I whisper as she inches closer to me, finding my mouth just as mesmerizing as I find hers.

“Yeah.” She searches my face. “Henna Eve Lane. H.E.L.”

I grin, the kind that grows by the second. “Perfect.” I lean in toward her lips.

She pulls back. “Take your shirt off. I can’t stop thinking about the ketchup on the back of it, and I need to know if you have any tattoos.”

“No tattoos.”

But yes, I will take off all of my clothes for you if you just ask.


“Good?” I cock my head to the side.

“Yeah. They’re too permanent. I don’t know if I could be into a guy who feels so strongly about something that he makes a permanent mark on himself.”


She nods. I lean in again.

“I’m serious. I need you to take your shirt off.” She curls her fingers around the hem of it, waiting for me to give her permission.

I lift my arms without a second’s hesitation.

“Damn …” she whispers. Then her gaze shoots to mine as if she just realized she said that aloud.

She folds my shirt one way, then another, and yet another.

“I can put it back on.” I take it from her shaky hands.



This is the part where I’m supposed to confess my virginity, but I don’t want to be a virgin with Bodhi. I want it to be us. Henna and Bodhi. I want a weekend of living—a weekend of not being judged by my past or my family. But more than anything, I want to enjoy the incomparable high that I feel with Bodhi. It’s a high greater than anything in my pocket.

I reach for my braid, but he stops me, sliding off the hairband and setting it on the sofa next to us. He loosens my braid, and as wavy auburn strands fall around my shoulders, he threads his fingers through it.

A playful smile tugs at his lips when I shiver. Bodhi makes me feel vulnerable and so alive. “I think I could like Bodhi and Henna,” he whispers, pulling me to him, ghosting his lips over my face, touching me with his mouth everywhere but on my mouth.

I feather my fingers along his abs, closing my eyes to just feel us.

No pain.

No past regrets or future worries.

We’ve known each other for hours. This is insane, but my compass has never pointed directly north, so I just don’t give a shit. This attraction is something stronger than just physical. Bodhi is a force greater than anything I have ever felt. We were meant to meet, if only to share a few days. I’ll never be able to explain it with words. We are a feeling.

And when it happens—the kiss—I feel it like a lost part of myself finding its way back home. His kiss is slow, and just like when we hold hands, it feels familiar and so right.

He pulls back, keeping his hands threaded in my hair. “Bodhi and Henna,” he whispers, brushing his nose against mine. It feels like a promise, but I don’t think it is because there’s too much pain in his voice.

“Henna and Bodhi,” I whisper back a breath before my mouth finds his again.

We kiss for what feels like hours. His hands caress my face, my hair, down my arms, and occasionally they find the curve of my butt, pulling me closer to him. I feel him hard against me, and I would give Bodhi everything, but for this night, that isn’t Henna and Bodhi.

After our lips are thoroughly swollen and the morning hours approach sunrise, he removes his boots and socks and lays us down on the sofa—my face buried in his neck. My hands mold to his bare chest, our legs scissored together, and his arms encase me in something so unexpected I can’t imagine the inevitable goodbye.



Five days of freedom. Not guilt-free freedom, just freedom. My expectations reached no further than a weekend of immersing myself in the life I once loved so much. Until …


She blinds me with a light I haven’t seen in years. Eighteen is young. Even when I round her age up to nineteen, it still plagues me with guilt, but there is something she has that I need.


It feels amazing and unfamiliar to breathe again, even if for only a couple of days.

“Who did this?” I trace the lines of her temporary tattoos as the sun climbs up the horizon over the desert. My lips press to the top of her head, and she leans into me, her back flush to my chest.


Elation settles into my chest. I was right—she’s artsy. There’s a part of her no one will ever understand unless they see how she expresses herself without words.

“Well, that’s disconcerting.”

Her body shakes with a soft chuckle. “Why?”

“I called it, which means I must be right about you being trouble.”

“You only have to deal with me for two more days. Unless …” She rolls over to face me.

I pretend that her wild hair, sleepy eyes, and smattering of freckles don’t make my heart hurt for a few seconds when it really hits me—we are going to go our separate ways. I let myself enjoy a glimpse of the life I could have had before I messed up.

My mind wants to go there so badly because Henna isn’t some girl I met at a concert, she’s the girl, and every part of me knows it. When I hold her, my arms know it. I kiss her and my lips know it. When I look at her, something behind my ribs knows it too.

One day.

Henna made her mark on me in one day.

“Unless?” I palm her butt with one hand to keep her from falling off the edge of the sofa.

Her eyes widen. Yeah, I have a severe case of morning wood. Totally her fault, but I don’t mention it and neither does she.

“Unless you’re tired of me. I know you probably have to work today. I’m not clingy. Really, I just—”

I silence her with a kiss. She hums and slides a leg between mine which doesn’t help my situation down there.

“When do you leave?” I ask after leaving her breathless.


“What time is your flight? Do you need a ride to the airport?”

“Um …” She chews her lower lip. “Sure. What time are you leaving?”

I chuckle. “I’m driving. My schedule has some flexibility. What time is your flight?”

“Where are you driving to?” It’s the first time she asks something that could link us beyond this weekend.

After the night we’ve spent together, I want to know where she lives, who waits for her at home, and if she feels the same ache in her stomach and chest that I feel knowing our time together is about to expire.

“East.” I slide my hand from her butt to her lower back while my other hand fists her hair so I can kiss a thousand tomorrows out of her. When I have to release her, she forces something resembling a smile—the brave kind. I recognize it because it’s the same one I have on my own face.

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