Rule

By: Jay Crownover


Chapter 1


Rule

At first I thought the pounding in my head was my brain trying to fight its way out of my skull after the ten or so shots of Crown Royal I had downed last night, but then I remembered that it was Sunday and no matter how many times I told her, or how rude, or whatever kind of debauched and unsavory condition she found me in she showed up on Sunday morning to drag me home for brunch. A soft moan from the other side of the bed reminded me that I hadn’t come home from the bar last night alone, not that I remembered the girl’s name or what she looked like or if had even been worth her time to stumble into my apartment with me. I ran a hand over my face and swung my legs over the edge of the bed just as the bedroom door swung open. I never should have given the little brat a key. I didn’t bother to cover up; she was used to walking in and finding me hung over and naked so I didn’t see why today needed to be any different. The girl on the other side of the bed rolled over and narrowed her eyes at the new addition to our awkward little party.

“I thought you said you were single?” There was accusation in her tone that lifted the hair on the back of my neck. Any chick that was willing to come how with a stranger for a night of unattached sex didn’t get the right to cast judgment around, especially while they were still naked and rumpled in my bed.

“Give me twenty.” I ran a hand through my messy hair and the blond in the doorway lifted an eyebrow.

“You have ten.” I would have lifted an eyebrow back at her tone and attitude but my head was killing me and the gesture would be wasted on her anyway, she was way past immune to my shit. “I’ll make coffee, I already invited Nash but he said he has to go to the shop for an appointment. I’ll be in the car.” She spun on her heel and just like that the doorway was empty and I was struggling to my feet and searching the floor any pair of pants I might have tossed down there last night.

“What’s going on?” I had temporarily forgotten about the girl in my bed so I swore softly under my breath and tugged a black t-shirt that looked reasonably clean over my head. “I have to go.”

“What?”

I frowned at her as she lifted herself up in the bed and clutched the sheet to her chest. She was pretty, had a nice body from what I could see and I wondered what kind of game I had thrown at her in order to get her to come home with me. She was one I wouldn’t have minded waking up to this morning.

“I have somewhere I need to be so that means you need to get up and get going. Normally my roommate would be around so you could hangout for a minute but he had to go to work so that means you need to get that fine ass in gear and get out.”

She sputtered a little at me. “Are you kidding me?”

I looked over my shoulder as I dug my boots out from under a pile of laundry and shoved my feet into them. “No.”

“What kind of asshole does that? Not even a thanks for last night, you were great how about lunch, just get the fuck out!” She threw the sheet aside and I noticed she had a nice tattoo scrawling along her ribs. That was probably what attracted me to her in my drunken stupor in the first place. “You’re a real piece of work, you know that?”

I was a whole lot more than just a piece of work, but this chick that was just one of oh so many didn’t need to know that. I silently cursed at Nash. My roommate was the shit, we had been best friends since elementary school and I could normally rely on him to run interference for me on Sunday mornings when I had to bail but I forgot about the piece he was supposed to be finishing up today so I needed to hustle last night’s tail out the door and get moving before the brat left without me, which was a bigger headache than I needed in my current state.

“Hey what’s your name anyway?” If she wasn’t pissed before she was downright infuriated now as she climbed back into a super short black skirt and barely there tank top. She fluffed up mounds of clearly dyed blond hair and glared at me out of eyes now smudged with worn mascara.

“Lucy, you don’t remember?” I slimed some crap in my hair to make it stand up in a bunch of directions on sprayed on cologne to help mask the scent of sex and booze that I was sure still clung to every visible patch of skin. I shrugged a shoulder at her and waited while she walked in front of me, hopping on one foot to put on a pair of heels that just screamed dirty sex.

“I’m Rule.” I would have offered to shake her hand but that seemed silly so I just pointed to the front door of the apartment and stepped in the bathroom to brush the stale taste of whiskey out of my mouth. “There’s coffee in the kitchen, maybe you should write your number down and I can give you a call another time. Sunday’s aren’t a good day for me.” She would never know how true that statement was.

She glared at me and tapped the toe of one of those awesome shoes. “You really have no idea who I am do you?”

This time even against my throbbing brains wishes my eyebrow went up and I looked at her with a mouth full of toothpaste foam. I just stared at her until she screeched at me and pointed at her side, “You have to at least remember this!”

No wonder I liked her ink so much it was one of mine. I spit the toothpaste in the sink and gave myself a once over in the mirror. I looked like hell. My eyes were watery and rimmed in red, my skin looked gray and there was a hickey the size of Rhode Island on the side of my neck. Mom was just going to love that, just like she was going to fall all over herself about the current state of my hair. Normally thick and dark, I had shaved the sides of it off and dyed the front a nice, bright purple so that it stuck up straight and looked kind of like a weed-whacker had been used to cut it. Both my folks already had an issue with the scrolling ink that wound around both my arms and up the sides of my neck, so the hair was just going to be icing on the cake. There was nothing I could do to fix the current shit show looking back at me in the mirror so I prowled out of the bathroom and unceremoniously grabbed the girl by the elbow and towed her to the front door. I needed to learn to go home with them instead of letting them come home with me; it was so much easier that way.

“Look I have somewhere I have to be and I don’t particularly love that I have to go, but you freaking out and making a scene is not going to do anything other than piss me off. I hope you had a good time last night and you can leave your number but we both the chances of me calling you are slim to none. If you don’t want to be treated like crap maybe you should stop going home with drunken dudes you don’t know. Trust me we’re really only after one thing and the next morning all we really want is for you to go quietly away. I have a headache and I feel like I’m going to hurl, plus I have to spend the next hour in a car with someone that will be silently loathing me and joyously plotting my death so really can we just save the histrionics and get a move on it?”

By now I had maneuvered her to the entryway of the building and I saw her in the BMW idling in the spot next to my truck. She was impatient and would take off if I wasted anymore time. I gave Lucy a half grin and shrugged a shoulder, after all it wasn’t her fault I was an asshole and even I knew she deserved better than such a callous brush off. “Look don’t feel bad, I can be a charming bastard when I put my mind to it. You are far from the first and won’t the last that has to see this little show. I’m glad your tat turned out badass, I’d prefer you remember me for that rather than last night.”

I jogged down the front steps without looking back and yanked open the door to the fancy black BMW. I hated this car and hated that it suited the driver as well as it did. Classy, sleek and expensive were definitely words that could be used describe my traveling companion and even as Lucy yelled at me and flipped me off as we pulled out of the lot to my apartment building all she did was roll her eyes and mutter, “Classy” under her breath. She was used to the little scenes chicks liked to throw when I bailed on them the morning after; I had even had to replace her windshield once when one of them had chucked a rock at me and missed while I was walking away.

I adjusted the seat to accommodate my long legs and settled in to rest my head against the window. It was always a long and achingly silent drive, sometimes like today I was grateful for it, other times it grated on my very last nerve. We had been a fixture in each other’s lives since middle school, she knew every strength and fault I had, my parents loved her like their own and made no bones about the fact they more often than not preferred her company over mine. One would think with all the history, both good and bad between us that we could make simple small talk for a few hours without it being difficult.

“You’re going to get that junk that’s all in your hair all over my window.” She had a voice that didn’t match the rest of her. It was all cigarettes and whiskey, while she was all champagne and silk. I had always liked her voice, when we got along I could listen to her talk for hours.

“I’ll get it detailed.” She snorted. I closed my eyes and crossed my arms over my chest. I was all set for a silent ride but apparently she had things to say today because as soon as she pulled the car onto the highway she turned the radio down and said my name, “Rule,” I turned my head slightly to the side and cracked open an eye.

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