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Hinder (An Off Track Records Novel) by Kacey Shea (1)

1

Opal

“Is this all right?” Hunter Anderson drawls at the shell of my ear. It’s a raspy whisper and he pulls me on top of his lap so my thighs straddle his waist.

A tingle of pleasure shoots through my body and my breasts ache for his touch. After making out for the last thirty minutes, my shirt’s already off. The hot and heavy between us escalates with each whisper, kiss, and touch.

I only get the house to myself once a week and we’re taking full advantage of the privacy. Last week I let things go as far as they’ve ever gone. Not all the way, but lots of skin on skin before Hunter got off and went home. This week he surely expects more. I mean, not that he shouldn’t.

He unsnaps the clasp of my bra and slides the straps forward until my breasts are free. “You are so beautiful, Opal.” His gaze zeros in on one of my nipples until he takes it in his mouth.

A groan leaves my lips at the pleasure of his lips and I rock my hips forward, grinding down on his lap. His mouth and fingers assault my skin to the point my body feels as if it might set on fire if I don’t find release soon.

“I want you so much.” He leans forward on the couch and tugs his shirt off with one hand before kissing along my collarbone. “I think about this all the time.” He reclines into the cushions, his hands on my hips, and encourages me to rub against his erection. His fingers pop open the fly on his jeans, lifting my hips a moment to lean back even further and work his pants down to mid-thigh. He releases his hard length from the confines of his underwear and strokes himself a few times before he abandons his hard-on to tackle the fly on my shorts.

This is it.

My breath hitches with the rush of nerves I can’t seem to work around. There aren’t many nineteen-year-old virgins in this town. But it’s normal to feel nervous about the first time, right? At least, that’s what my friends at school reassured me over and over last year. Most of them gave it up freshman or sophomore year, and maybe it’s silly I’ve held out so long, but I have. I’ve always held the hope that my first time would be special.

With someone I want to spend forever with.

Hunter’s a good man. A life with him would mean leaving this town and going wherever the Army takes us. While I love that idea, to be free and travel the world, part of me wonders whether that’s the life he envisions, too. Am I his forever someone?

Hunter claims my mouth with his own, and his tongue sweeps inside. His fingers dip under the fabric of my cotton panties and find where I’m already wet. He groans as if he’s never felt anything better and a sense of control emboldens me.

Hunter wants me. I want him, too. I’m ready.

My lips move with his in an almost frantic battle with my will.

“Yes. Opal, yes.” He pants between kisses, rubbing tiny circles against the bundle of nerves building and aching to explode. “I want you. Are you ready?”

Am I? Oh, God, why am I overthinking this? We have been going steady since March. I’ve known him my whole life. Sure, we haven’t discussed the details of what will happen when he leaves for basic training next month, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. Besides, I’m ready. I want this.

“Opal . . . hell.” His hand leaves my center to grip the waistband of my shorts. “You’re so wet. You’re ready for me, aren’t you?”

I’m ready. I am. But why does my tongue catch in my mouth when I try to answer him?

Hunter doesn’t wait for my answer. His lips move down the side of my neck until they reach the cleavage of my breasts. His hand works up and down his hard length between us.

This is it.

I’m doing this.

I push his hands out of the way and take over for him. Running my grip up and down his soft skin, his pleasure becomes my end game. Pants and groans hang heavily in the air. Every touch is electric. Every kiss releases another rush of butterflies. Desire pools low in my belly until I can’t take any more. “Hunter. I need you.”

He reaches for the waistband of my jean shorts and tries to shimmy them down my hips, but they don’t budge with the way I’m straddling his legs. There’s an urgency that’s fueled not only by the sun and how low it hangs on the horizon outside, but also by his impending departure. We don’t have much time left. Not more than a few hours.

The crunch of gravel against the weight of tires and the rumble of a familiar car engine just outside shoves all pleasure from my mind. Crap!

“Hunter!” My eyes go wide and I scramble from his lap to yank my cut-off shorts back up. I reach for my discarded bra and fasten it as quickly as my fingers will move.

“Shit!” He tucks his dick—still very much erect—back in his underwear before tugging his jeans back up his hips. “He’s gonna kill me.”

Gramps goes to the Legion every Sunday evening at five o’clock for dinner. Most nights he’s not back until after ten. It’s his standing date, so I don’t understand. Why is he here? He wouldn’t know. Hunter and I have been so careful.

“Opal! Clothes!” Hunter shouts as he sweeps his shirt from the floor.

“Crap!” I dive onto the couch and reach for my blouse just as Gramps swings the front door wide open. His eyes land first on me and my disheveled state. I don’t miss how they dim with disapproval before he turns his glare on Hunter. “Get the hell out! Get out of my house!”

I’m actually impressed at how quickly Hunter’s righted his clothes. He’s still shirtless, but he found time to shove his feet into both boots.

“Gramps, please, I can explain.” I hold the fabric to cover my skin, but don’t move from my seat.

“Explain what? What a disgrace you are!” His eyes boil with anger, and the size of his pupils are enough to kill the smart retort at my mouth.

My gaze drops at his temper and I prepare to take the verbal lashing I know is coming. Not that I don’t deserve it. I’m just over these fire and brimstone lectures. I’ll never be good enough in his eyes, and God knows I’ve tried.

“How could you do this to me?” he shouts and narrows his gaze.

It doesn’t escape my notice that Hunter doesn’t stick around, slinking out the kitchen door while my grandfather’s attention is focused on me. Coward.

“To your grandmother? Thank God she’s not alive to see you right now! She would be ashamed.”

That hurts worse than any other insult. Not only is he right, but the pang of longing hits like a punch to the gut. I miss her. “I’m sorry.”

His face grows red and his next words hold so much disdain I shrink back with their force. “You’re just like your mother! I’ve always known it!” He aims his index finger in my direction and pokes the air. “We took you in. We wanted to give you a better life. Tried to raise you right. But the devil’s always been inside you. I fooled myself thinking we’d drive him out.”

Hot, wet tears leak from the corners of my eyes and irritation flows at their escape. He’s always been strict, but since Grams passed he’s practically a tyrant. I try to respect him, but his expectations are nearly suffocating. “Gramps, I’m an adult. I can make decisions on my own.” I just want a little room to spread my wings.

“That includes shaming your family and getting naked with that Anderson boy?” He points out the window in time to catch the dust kick up with the wheels of Hunter’s jeep. “What kind of life is that? He ain’t gonna stick around to make a family with you. He’s using you for one thing.”

“I wasn’t doing what you think.” Though, wasn’t I? Hunter had been pushing my limits each and every date for the last few weeks. I knew what he wanted. We’d been rubbing up against each other with a growing need for release. Sure, I’d been putting it off as long as I could. Who else in my shoes wouldn’t be cautious of giving away her virginity? I pull my shirt over my head and tug down the edges to cover my belly. “I’m going out. I won’t stand here and listen to your judgments. Not everyone ’round here carries your same moral code.”

“You go out that door, Opal? Don’t you dare bother coming back.”

My eyes widen as I meet his hard gaze. “You’re kicking me out?”

“I will not have you acting like a goddamn whore. I don’t care how old you are. I won’t watch you become your mother. Not under my roof.”

I will never become my mother. The fact he can even make that association obliterates the little restraint I have left. I shake my head and storm toward the kitchen, not able to meet his gaze. “You know what? Don’t wait up!”

“Don’t you dare go find that boy and expect to come back here!” His yell follows me into the other room. Damn him!

Swiping my keys and cell from the counter, I can’t get to my car fast enough. “I’ll be sure not to knock myself up!” More tears, hot against my already warm skin, cascade down my cheeks as I stomp out the back door and slam it shut.

I can’t live like this. I can’t deal with him. Not anymore.

As soon as I’m down the gravel drive and two streets over, I pull to the side of the road to make the call. I pray she picks up, though there’s a good chance she won’t.

Lexi’s the only secret I’ve held from my grandparents. I can only imagine the disapproval and scorn they’d have, knowing I ever reached out to find her. Not that Grams will ever know. Not now. God, I miss her.

“Hello?”

“Lexi.” Her name chokes from my lips at her answer and I begin to cry in earnest this time. The weight of everything I’ve been carrying, it’s too much and I’m not handling it well.

“Opal? Is everything okay? Are you okay? Where are you?” She’s the big sister I never knew existed until a year ago, but she’s as supportive and protective as if we’d spent our entire lives together, or share more than just our father’s blood.

“I can’t . . . I almost—”

“Breathe. Deep breath.”

I do as she instructs.

“Now, tell me what’s going on.”

How exactly do I put it all into words? I hardly understand my own thoughts. I almost gave away my virginity to a man who couldn’t bear to face down Gramps’ wrath by my side. Not to mention, he’s leaving soon. I miss my grandma so much every day that sometimes I can’t think straight. I’m going nowhere fast in a town that’s never really felt like home. An idea strikes and as soon as it does the question flies from my mouth before I can reel it back in. “Lexi, can I come stay with you?”

“You want to . . . You’re sure?” Her laughter rushes through the line. “I’m in a bus somewhere near Jersey. I’ll be in a bus most of the summer.” Lexi’s a famous rock star. Of course she doesn’t need her estranged half-sister tagging along all over the US.

“I’m sorry. That was rude. Pretend I never asked. You have so much on your plate.”

“Opal.”

“I’ll figure out my crap. It’s just been an emotional day, that’s all.”

“Opal. Stop. I want you here. We’ll figure this out. If I book you a plane ticket to Los Angeles, can you meet me there?”

“That’s not too much trouble?” Am I really doing this? Am I brave enough to leave this town? To leave Gramps alone? His scowl from moments ago, the one etched with bitterness and disappointment, flashes in my mind’s eye. I’m not going back there. It’s time for this little bird to fly.

“I’m on my laptop booking it now.” She pauses a moment and the click of her fingers across the keys meets my ear. “How soon can you be packed?”

“Not soon enough.”

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