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Devour (Devoured #1)(3) by Shelly Crane

“Yeah. Sure.”

He’d walked backwards, grinning, away from me. That night he’d picked me up and we had fun, lots of fun. When he dropped me off I couldn’t help but ask why he was all of a sudden interested.

“I can’t say it was all of a sudden,” he’d answered. “I just wasn’t sure if you’d want to and I didn’t want things to be weird so I just watched you. But you never looked at me different...so I took a shot.” Then he touched my cheek, his thumb sweeping across my cheek bone. “I’m glad I did.”

“Me too.”

Then he had kissed me and I felt something in me burn, like slow lava. We’d stood there on my parents porch and kissed slowly and gently for a good while before my dad turned the light off and on, making us laugh.

Two months later, when my parents died, he was there for me like no one else. He was the first person to meet me at the hospital waiting room. He held me - just held me - for hours in those uncomfortable chairs as I bawled my eyes out. My sister had been gone on a skiing trip with friends and wasn’t there yet. I had been to a movie with my friend who moved to another town, Addison, and found my parents when she dropped me off. Tate stayed with me all night. Took me home, held me as I finally fell asleep on the couch. I don’t know what I would have done without him.

And now as he ravished my mouth with skill and restraint I was still thankful for him but, I didn’t love him. He had never said the words to me and I wasn’t sure what I’d say if he did. I couldn’t lie.

“Mmm, Clara, you are driving me every kind of crazy,” he spoke huskily against my lips.

“Then maybe we should stop.”

“No. No, don’t stop,” he said and took my lips again.

“Tate,” I whispered. “You’re not making this easy.”

“Then give in to me,” he suggested and I could hear the smile in his voice.

“Tate,” I chided.

“Ok, ok.” He blew a long breath. “It should be illegal for you to look the way you do and me not be able to have you.”

“That’s so cheesy,” I said through a smile.

“I know,” he laughed. “Alright, fine. Vampire Diaries in the preacher’s house it is.”

“Thank you,” I said and pressed one last kiss to his lips before climbing out of the truck.

We spent the night like we spent a lot of nights; watching television on my bed, with the door open and a clear view of us from the door. I was allowed to lay by him but there was no kissing in the house. The preacher, Pastor Paul, was very lenient with me but there were certain rules of conduct, especially with Tate, that he was strict about. Despite us being young and all, we were both kind of home bodies. I’d rather sit and watch a movie at home with him than go out with a whole bunch of people. Our friends and I usually had to work pretty hard to get Tate to go out somewhere. He much preferred to be alone with me.

~ ~ ~

I was back, laying in the grass in the park. It all looked so real. The sun was bright and gorgeous behind me as it cast sparkles on the lake. A perfect day. I saw a shadow over me. At first I thought it was Tate but this person was taller and leaner and I felt something coming from him. Like I could feel his interest in me like a tangible thing. He knelt down beside me and I sat up. His face was covered in shadow from the halo of sun around his head. He reached out and touched my face. I gasped at the pleasure his touch elicited from my skin, goose bumps spread widely and I tingled all over. A response I’d never felt before, not even with Tate.

He moved in to kiss me and I was helpless to stop him. His lips almost touched mine. I felt the heat from his breath and a tremor ran through me. I suddenly felt afraid for no apparent reason at all and he moaned, seeming to enjoy my reaction. He pulled me to him and I whimpered as my terror spiked and he continued to hold me to him, like I was something he couldn’t live without.

I jolted me eyes open with a start. What was that? I wasn’t even asleep yet. Too many vampire shows for me…

The next morning I woke feeling a little strange. The first face I saw was Eli’s and I immediately felt guilty. Tate was good to me, though he had his flaws like everyone else. He was very desirable; a hot commodity at our school, and I was lucky he wanted to date me. At least that’s what everyone told me. It couldn’t be that he was lucky to be with me.

So I threw on my school uniform. Most people hated them, but I loved them for some reason that escaped me. It was a typical uniform; red and black plaid skirt, white collar shirt and a vest that matched the skirt. No knee highs though, thank goodness. We were instructed to wear black ballet flats. After I fixed my hair and threw in some earrings, I made my way downstairs.

After helping Mrs. Ruth with all the babies breakfast - she had five kids under the age of five, the latest being twins who were only four months old - I rushed off to school, a little later than I’d wanted. I came through the gray concrete halls of our prison looking high school looking for Eli. I had wanted to get there before homeroom bell to make sure he found his class easily, but the bell was about to ring. Dang, I was going to be late. The church and the parish were across the street from the school. They shared a parking lot in fact, so I never got a ride with Tate; I didn’t need one.

I ran to my new home room just as the last bell rang. I slid into the first empty seat I saw by the door. I noticed Tate across the room, looking at me with amused eyes. He made kiss lips at me as we both turned to face forward.

After the bell rang, we made our way to the hall. I waited for Tate and he studiously threw his arm around my shoulder and kissed my temple.

We walked to my locker and there was Eli. At first I thought he was waiting for me there and wondered what Tate would do, but I saw him reaching into the locker next to mine. He was now my neighbor.

“Hey, Eli,” I said.

He looked surprised to see someone knowing his name and almost dropped his books, catching them very cutely in a jumble before they hit the floor and stuffing them in his locker.

“Oh. Hey, guys,” he said in that low rumbling voice of his.

“Who do you have for homeroom?”

“Mr. Winepeeno?” he tried and Tate and I both laughed.

“It’s Winepegofski. I know, it’s an impossible name. I think he’s from Russia or Poland or something.”

Someone called my name and I looked up to see Ashley. I waved and turned back to Eli.

“A Polish guy teaches U.S. History?” Eli asked with a smirk.

“Welcome to America, Mr. Zimbabwe.”

He laughed and leaned on his shoulder against his locker. I looked up to Tate to see him no longer smiling. He was looking between us with a slight frown gracing his brow.

“Tate, who do you have next?” I asked, trying to include him.

“Bishop. Shop,” he spouted shortly.

“Ugh, well, we definitely won’t share that class. I have Menendez.”

“Me too,” chimed Eli.

“Huh,” Tate said, clearly annoyed. “I’m out. Gonna be late and Bishop will ride me all year.”

“Tate,” I called and grabbed his arm. “I’ll see you at lunch, ok?”

“Ok,” he said tightly.

“Hey,” I pulled him to look at me and saw a couple freshman giggling at us from across the hall. I ignored them. “I’ll miss you,” I said to appease him. “It’s too bad we don’t have anymore classes together.”