Concealed Attractions (Cedar Island Tales)

337

 

Chapter 1

Dannilynn
Kelly
opened the dorm room door and tossed her sweater onto her bed.

Her roommate Sarah looked up and frowned.

Another bad
date?


Why are you still going out with him?” 

“Maybe it was a mistake. I was going to tell him we were done.” She gave a little sigh,
wishing that she had
.
“I started to, anyway.”

Sarah
slid her chair away from her
computer
desk.
“But you didn’t
stick to it
, did you?”

“Not exactly.”
Danni
opened her b
iology textbook. She had to study
for
her finals beginning the next day.
She shouldn’t have agreed to meet
Steve
when he
’d
called.
A big mistake.
  Except
he was so persuasive.

She’
d walked with him on campus, before they went to his car, where he’d slid her blouse off her shoulders and b
egu
n kissing her. Her plan to tell him she
wanted
to
break up
was swept aside
when he
’d
touched her,
the
fingers
of one
hand
working their way under the waistband of her shorts
,
his other hand
fondling her breast
. He knew how to make her body hum, even when she didn’t want it to.
Maybe that wa
s why she hadn’t told him
to stop, that she couldn’t see him anymore, at least not through the summer
.

“He takes my breath away, Sarah.”

“Right.
Like every other girl he has sex with.
What’s that
mark
on your neck? Did he
give you
that
—a hick
ie
like the last time
?”

Danni
’s
breath caught.
Steve
had pressed his fingers against her
throat
, whispering it would
help her come. But it hadn’t. She’d almost passed out
before she’d
managed to
push his hand away.
All that remained was a bruise and how she felt.

“He’s t
rouble,
Danni
.
Steve picks up f
reshmen every quarter and drops them when he’s notched his belt again. He may have stayed with you longer than m
ost, but you’re just the latest
in a long line
…He suckered you good.

But he’d
said he loved her that first time. Was that just so she’d say yes?
Danni
frowned and picked up a highlighter. She had to stop thinking about him and what they’d done
,
and concentrate on her biology final. Not on b
iology with Steve. His biology and hers
.

 

After
completing
her last final t
wo days later,
Dannilynn
met Meagan and
Ellen
in the parking lot and they headed for the campground near M
ount
Baker to celebrate the end of her first year at Buckley College
in Shoreville, Washington
.

Meagan
had convinced her
it would be fun
.
And it was:
cooking hot
dogs and burgers over an open fire, sleeping in the open, looking at the stars, surrounded by the evergreens that scented the air.
But then, after
arriving at the campground
,
Steve
and
two
other
men
joined
them,
doffed their shirt
s and shoes and jumped into
the nearby lake
donned
in
only
their
J
ockeys.

“Didn’t I tell you the guys were coming, too?”
Meagan
answered
Danni
’s question before she
and
Ellen
, both from her dorm,
started
after them
. “Let’s
race them to the diving platform
!”
Meagan
pulled off her top and waded in.

Ellen
, a junior
Danni
didn’t know that well,
soon followed.

“Come on,
Danni
!”

She
didn’t want to go
swimming, but when Meagan yelled at her, she
waded to waist depth, dove
in
,
then
c
a
me
up gasping at the bracing water. The
gu
ys were soon splashing the girls and
swimm
ing for
the platform. When they reached the
big wooden structure
,
Ellen
’s boyfriend pulled off
her bra and tossed it to Steve
, daring her to retrieve it. Soon
Meagan
was playing the
sam
e game.

“First one to catch her gets her,” Steve
shouted
as he
reached for
Meagan
. S
he leapt off the platform and swam toward shore.

“Hey, do your own, stud,” Meagan’s boyfriend challenged
, his voice resentful
.

Steve
swam up
to
Dannilynn
and cover
ed
her breasts with his hands
as he pressed her against the edge of the diving platform
. “
He’s right
.
You’re
here
.
Why don’t you g
ive me some,” h
e
murmur
ed in one ear
as
he
fumbled with
the
hook
s on
her bra.

“No, Steve. I don’
t want to.” H
er face
burned with embarrassment.

I don’t think we should see each other
anymore
.

His
eyes glittered at her when his
hands slid lower and began pushing down her panties.
“Since when?”
He turned her around to face him and
angl
ed her up against the side of the platform, exploring with his hands
before she could push him away
.

“Stop!”  She
splashe
d hi
s face
, her
heart racing
with fright and anger
, wishing he would stop staring at her that way, his eyes reminding her of ebony stones in the fading light of early evening. Why was he always pawing her, even when she didn’t want him to?
“No. I don’t want to
. I mean it
.”

His grin
faded into an angry scowl. H
e grabbed her hand and jerked
her
toward his chest
as he bobbed in the water in front of her
. “You d
on’t
tell me no
,
Danni
. Girls don’t say no to me.” He pulled her face toward his
and mash
ed his lips against hers
, a kiss that hurt
her lips
,
before
he
finally let her go
and
climb
ed back
onto the diving platform.

One
of the other guys laughed and teased, “You’re not good enough for her
anymore
, stud? I thought you said
she put
s
out every time.

“Never mind what I said
,
Sloan
,” Steve had growled.

The rest of the afternoon,
Danni
kept her distance
from the
guys
, hoping
Steve
would leave her alone
, debating whether to leave and hitch a ride back into town
.
She reconsidered when Meagan said she’d give her a ride home if she stayed until the next day
, like they’d planned
.

That
evening
, over beer and other drinks
, the six of them ate dinner.
Steve
spent most of his time chatting
up
the
other
girls
until they headed for the small tent they had erected closer to the trees.

“You sure you want to sleep in the open?”
Ellen
asked.

“It isn’t camping if I can’t
see the stars
,”
Danni
replied.

Steve rose from where he’d been kneeling next to the fire, toasting a marshmallow. He slid the
flaming
lump of sugar off the stick
,
offered it to
Danni
and
took
a seat next to
her
.

She shook her head. “No thanks.”

He leaned over and whispered, “
You’re not
still
mad
at me
,
are you?
How about a t
ruce?”
His voice had that sexy growl she’d found so exciting when they’d begun dating.

Then he slid an arm around her waist, gave her a
chaste
peck on the cheek and offered her a
beer.

She gave
him a quick smile and took a sip.
“Okay, truce.” But she had to
be firm about
not
want
ing
to see him again. Sarah was right. He wasn’t the kind of boyfriend she wanted
anymore
, even if he’d been her first.

Two more sips and
she
began to feel odd, dizzy.
She stood up,
swayed
, and nearly fell down.
“I don’t feel so good.”

“Let me help you.”
Steve
walked her to her sleeping bag, his hands grasping her around the waist. She collapsed onto her sleeping bag.

Steve began unbuttoning her shirt.

“No, Steve.

S
he
feebly tried to push h
is hands away. Why did she feel so weird,
like her eyes couldn’t focus anymore?


Chill
,
Danni
. I’m just trying to get you comfortable.” It was the last thing she remembered before descending into unconsciousness.

 

It had to be
near dawn when she finally stirred and found her sleeping bag unzipped and
open,
barely covering her legs. She shivered in the cool dawn air as she pulled the bag up to her shoulders
and fell asleep again
.