I had been stacking herbs all morning in the heat, my face drenched with sweat. The humidity hung over the town like a wet blanket and I felt zapped of energy within an hour of working. My muscles ached and it's been too hot to even eat breakfast before I left my house.
"Hey you are slacking over there."
I shot Melanie a look. She worked as the assistant manager over the nursery and didn't have the easy going style of her boss who had split town for a Vegas vacation.
"I'm almost done," I said, wiping my brow for the umpteenth time, "then I'm taking my 15."
She frowned at me.
"Okay but you know the citrus trees just came in and they have to be lined up just right to appeal to buyers."
"Sure…is Brianna going to help me?"
"After she comes back from the dentist," she said, "Crown broke last night."
I turned back to look for my water bottle but it looked nearly empty. I'd sucked down three of them this morning all ice cold when I started but I still felt hot. I felt dizzy too but the summer heat did that to you. This was my least favorite time of the year.
I'd rather be like Tiffany in the swimming pool right now cooling off underneath the surface in between lounging in the shade. But I had to earn the money this summer to help me stay in school. I finished shelving the herbs and checked my phone.
Tiff called and Devlin texted.
I dealt with Devlin first. He'd written that he was flying back from abroad and wanted to see me…but I'd already told him no. He didn't seem like he'd heard me. No, I wasn't going to meet him in that motel room. I just ignored him.
I called Tiffany back and she wanted to go to the movies later the afternoon. I had plans with Brock for what else an early dinner and another night of fucking. My body tingled just at the thought. Our relationship just wasn't complicated, we met and we jumped each other's bones. But it wasn't like with Devlin. We talked afterwards though our list of topics didn't include everything. We went out too but could barely keep our hands off of each other.
He never mentioned Caroline and I never mentioned fucking Devlin. He knew I wasn't exclusive, I had admitted that much but the rest of it…too damn complicated and this summer was supposed to be simple.
"Hey Tiff…what's up?"
"Nothing…just by the pool where else," she said, "I was thinking we'd hit the new movie."
"I got until six," I said, "I'm going out to the Thai place with Brock tonight."
"Ah…getting out of his bed for a little while."
I bristled even though I knew she didn't mean anything in her teasing but I was glad we were doing something else…at least for a little while.
"Yeah so I'll see you when I get off at three."
"Sure thing…you know where I'll be…"
I clicked off my phone and went back to work, after grabbing another bottle of water. Damn, this heat felt relentless today. Now to start with the trees to get Melanie off my back.
"Hey you're not answering my texts."
I looked through the line of trees all around me in the back of the nursery and saw Devlin standing there dressed in his black jeans and top as if he got off the plane.
He must have just gotten back not too long ago.
"Yes I am and I texted that I wanted to see you again."
I ran my hand through my hair, knotting it back into a bun above the nape of my neck.
"I told you I can't do this," she said, "I saw what it did to Tiffany when you and Megan…"
"Are you upset about that?"
I shook my head. Not really, I knew he screwed around with other women before I hooked up with him. But I had never seen my best friend so angry, enraged really and I didn't want her looking at me that way.
"No I'm not hurting Tiffany…"
"She doesn't know about us."
I hugged my arms looking at him.
"She knows that you cheated on your wife. That's enough, that and seeing how she acted. I don't think I can hurt her like that…I don't want to be responsible."
He stepped closer to me. I could smell his cologne and my body tingled. But I couldn't be weak now, or I'd slide right back into his bed. I'd go cancel my plans with his daughter to meet him in that darkened motel room off the strip and fuck him again.
No, I wasn't going down this path anymore. Not with him.
"Is it because you're now exclusive to Brock?"
I sighed. I didn't really think that was part of it but then again, he had started to grow on me. But I didn't want to make a mess of my friend's life. What kind of friend would I be if I did that? God, I'd proven that I wasn't worth being her friend by fucking Devlin already.
"No…that has nothing to do with it."'
"It better not," he said, "Because he's cheating on a girlfriend to be in between your legs."
He took one step closer.
"No…you're stupid you think he'll pick you over her when she returns."
I shook my head.
"I won't even be here," I said, "I'll be back at school with Tiffany."
He slid up to me so fast, so stealth I didn't know it until his hands gripped my hips and his mouth was dangerously close to my own lips.
"You've still got over a month," he said, "You belong in my bed Ruby and you know it…"
He kissed me then, not teasingly, not flirtatious but as an act of pure possession, ownership of me. I fidgeted but he held me fast, kissing me harder. One of his hands slid cupped my pussy covered by my clothes and squeezed it. I flinched, he rode the seam of my pants over it and I…I clenched my hands.
"What are you doing?"
He cupped both hands over my ass and pulled me closer, back to where his mouth devoured mine. We were standing alone, isolated in the tree grove where no one could see us. I felt the hardened bulge in his jeans rub against me and I pulled away. He jerked me back towards him.
He kissed me again and ground his groin, his hard on straining inside his pants against me and he made me wet. I could feel the slickness between my thighs wetting my panties.
"I'm going to fuck you Ruby," he said, "Until I'm done with you. You know you want it and you're going to get it."
I shook my head but I felt myself weaken. His body rubbing against mine so intimately drove me crazy but I couldn't do this. I know I couldn't do it and a part of me didn't want it. The rest…I had to get under control.
So I pushed off of me and I thought, the look in his eyes, steely determination, and anger there almost made me back away but then his eyes cooled and he smiled.
"I'll see you later," he said, "You know you can't stay away from me."
I watched him walk away so confident and my body still tingled from what he'd done to it in a matter of a couple minutes. God, I was in so much trouble but at the same time…I didn't want it. I'd made my mind up to stay away from him. He'd have to respect that.
Melanie cut me loose at around three and Brock texted me and said he might be running a little late for dinner. I sent him one saying I'd see him at the restaurant. I had enough time to fall asleep just after I got out of the shower but luckily not for long. Then I got dressed to head on out to Tiffany's house. I hoped that Devlin wouldn't be there and when I arrived, I found my friend alone much to my relief.
Tiffany had gotten dressed in one of her summer outfits that hugged her figure and wore her hair up in a messy knot.
"I'm going casual," she said, "You look nice."
I wore a dress I'd bought the last time we shopped and my hair loose around my shoulders.
"Thanks…you just about ready?"
"Sure…I'll drop you off at the Thai place after the movie gets out," she said, "You wearing anything just for him?"
I sighed, taking in Tiffany pointed look.
"Of course, he likes to unwrap his gifts."
"I'll bet," Tiffany said, "You going to get any sleep tonight?"
I just smiled but I did feel tired.
"I took a short nap and feel much better," I said, "Must be the heat."
"Must be…and spending all day working in the sun and then keeping Brock up all night."
"It's not quite like that," I said, "I do sleep over at his place sometimes."
Tiffany's eyes widened.
"Wow…maybe he's not missing his girlfriend all that much."
I rolled my eyes at her.
"It's not like that," I said, "We'd better get going."
We left her house and got into the car just as Devlin's car rolled up his driveway. I saw him looking at me as Tiffany started the car and we left the house.
I didn't know what to do about him. I thought I'd been firm in what I said to him until today at the nursery. But he hadn't listened.
I knew I had to find a way to get through to him. But right now, I just wanted to enjoy myself with my friend and then later with Brock.
So I put Devlin out of my head.