12 Rounds (Knockout 1) - Page 41

I blow on Sean’s cuts watching the peroxide bubble and fizzle as it cleans the scraped flesh. “I’m sure you don’t.”

“Sure I don’t what?”

“Talk when you do that.”

He lifts an eyebrow and chuckles. “That?”

“Yeah, you know.” I lower my voice and mumble as I open the band aids I brought out, “Sex.”

“Sex isn’t a bad word you know. You can say it.” His voice takes on a husky tone. “Sex.”

“I don’t think I have the authority to say it.”

I meet his penetrating gaze and his features twist in confusion. “What? Why the hell not?”

“Because I’ve never had it,” I mutter under my breath.

“What? Come again? You were mumbling.”

“I’ve never had it!” I yell in frustration. My face is on fire and at some point I jolted and all the contents on my lap spilled onto the floor.

“You’re lying,” he accuses with an awestruck expression. “A pretty girl like you, I bet some lucky guy has been in the unspeakable places.”

I gawk at him and slap his shoulder. Does he always have to be so curt? “I wasn’t ready,” I say as I bend down to pick up the cotton balls and tweezers. The peroxide is wedged in between us somewhere. Sean shifts and bends down to help me his arm brushes against mine and when our skin connects, something sparks inside of me. My head snaps up abruptly and I almost knock my head into his, but he catches me by the shoulders and we’re both staring into each other’s eyes.

It feels like time has stopped.

We’re frozen in the moment.

Two tortured souls entwined and suspended by the look in each other’s eyes.

And it terrifies me.

It terrifies me because I’ve never felt a connection to anyone like this. And because I know he’s the type of guy who’ll eventually hurt me if I let this awkward situation between us go any further. I’ve been hurt enough over the course of the last year to span the length of my entire life.

So I walk across the stage.

Lift my arm above my head.

Position my left foot behind my right one.

And prepare to bow out, gracefully.

“I have to go,” I say quickly.

Then I gather the cotton balls and tweezers and sprint through my door, closing it behind me. Inside the condo, I place my back flat against the door, trying to catch my breath, knowing that my bow out was anything but graceful.

Chapter Seventeen


For what feels like decades I stare off, the glass coffee table, bland neutral walls, and blue carpet blurring in my vision.

Hadlee is like a tumor on my brain growing larger by the second.

An infectious mass.


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