Trashed / Page 54

Page 54


To his credit, he doesn’t try to convince me of my worth, both to him and to me. Instead, he latches onto something else. “And the way you’re built, regardless of what I think about it, does that have anything to do with why you’re so reluctant to believe I’m genuinely interested in you?”

It’s hard to swallow, suddenly. I don’t want to look at him, but he’s there, his hands are on my cheeks, his thumbs at my chin and touching the corners of my mouth. I have to look into his eyes, and it’s so hard, because he just sees so much. “Yeah. Partly. Not entirely.”

“Then what is it?”

“Because you’re you! You’re Adam Trenton. You’re famous, and you look like a fucking god! You can have anyone you want. You dated one of the most famous actresses in the world. And even if you got hurt by her, it just…it seems like you’d feel—like going from someone as gorgeous as her to—to me, is…is downgrading. Like going from a Ferrari to a ten-year-old F-150.” I talk over his impending protest. “Not just because of the difference in the way we look, but because she’s from your world. She’s famous. She’s glamorous and rich and ‘grew up with brothers’ and she’s…somebody.”

“And you’re…” he prompts.

“And I’m not.”

He frowns, and his eyes hunt mine. He ignores the obvious and goes for the harder question. “‘Grew up with brothers,’ you said. Why is that important?”

Shit. I pull away, grab my beer from the coffee table and drain it, take the second one Adam brought a few minutes ago. Drink from that.

“Des? What does that mean?”

I shrug, a tiny lift of one shoulder. “I don’t have a family, that’s all.”

“Des.” It’s a scold.

I can’t avoid the question any more. “I grew up in the foster system. My mom was a crack addict. She OD’d when I was three and I went into the system. Bounced from foster home to foster home my entire life.” I let out a breath. “Some of the homes I got placed in were okay, and some…weren’t.”

“What’s that mean?” Adam asks.

I shrug. “It’s not important anymore.”

He scrutinizes me. “Something tells me it is.”

I glance at him, hating how perceptive he is. “The bad ones were just…rough. Alcoholic foster fathers, shit like that. There are so many kids in the system that it’s impossible to place them all, especially because there just aren’t enough families willing to foster. The ones that are, especially in the area surrounding Detroit…it’s just extra income for them, most of the time. So it’s just rough. You learn early on to be independent, to not trust anyone. You get moved around a lot, you learn to not get close to anyone.” I shrug again, hoping he’ll let it go at that.

“And?” he prompts.

Of course he can’t.

I close my eyes slowly, open them, and take a drink. “I was molested by one of my foster fathers.” I can’t look at him when I say it, and I hate the sharp inhalation, the boil of concern and anger and—yes—pity—I see in his eyes when I do finally glance his way. “It went on for a year before I got the courage to tell anyone. He got arrested. Turned out I wasn’t the only one. But he was so good at manipulating, threatening, making sure you knew no one would believe you if you did tell. He scared me. But eventually I just…couldn’t take it anymore. So I told a teacher at school. I was terrified I was going to get in trouble…for not telling sooner, for letting him, even though I kept telling him no, begging him to leave me alone. But the teacher…Mrs. Erwin. She believed me. And the first thing she did was hug me, and tell me she would make sure he never hurt me again. And he didn’t.” A look I can’t parse crosses Adam’s features. “What?” I ask. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Jesus, Des.” He shakes his head, wipes his face with both palms. “No wonder it’s hard for you to trust me.”

“Yeah.” I blink hard, emotion running rampant through me. “You know, I’ve never told anyone that. Not even Ruth. I mean, she grew up a foster kid too, which is why we’re so close, because we both get it, and I think she guesses at what happened, why I’m closed off. I mean, how do you get past that? How do you…how do you deal?”

“How did you deal?”

I laugh, and have to sniffle. Not that I’m crying, no way. Not worth crying over, not anymore. “That’s just it, Adam. I mean, don’t you get it? I haven’t. Not really.”

“But you seemed to trust me, on Mackinac Island. For a while, at least. I mean, you let me take you to that dinner, and that night, we…we had an amazing time. I thought we did, at least.”

I shake my head softly. “Adam, I did too. That night…it was incredible. I mean, it was scary as shit, the whole dinner party thing. All the celebrities and the paparazzi. That was scary, and I wasn’t ready for it. But everything after, being with you…” I look at him, let him see into my eyes. “That was honestly amazing. Best night of my life, in so many ways.”

He grabs my hand, tangles our fingers together. “Me too.”

I hear something in his voice. “But?”

He doesn’t answer right away. “But you shut down, later that morning. I could have stayed, I could have figured out a way to have more time with you—but you just shut it down.”

“Because I was scared!”

“Of what?” He seems genuinely puzzled.

“Everything! Look at it from my point of view, Adam. I’m a trash girl, an orphan, and I’m just minding my own business and along comes this hot, sexy, rich, famous actor, and he’s all into me. It’s too good be to true. It’s got to be too good to be true. Shit like that doesn’t happen to me.”

“But you went with it.”

“Yeah, of course I did. I liked feeling desired. It really felt like you liked me, like you wanted me. And I—I liked that.” I swallow hard, keep my gaze shifting, moving, away from his. “And when you had to go, I just had to…let you go. I couldn’t handle it if you acted like you wanted more, and then just ditched me for the next shiny new thing. I don’t know. It was a special night for me, and I just wanted to have something special, just for me.”

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