Hush Hush (Bonus) hh-1 Read online
Hush, Hush (Bonus)
( Hush, Hush - 1 )
An Original Hush, Hush Story
(Graphic Novel 1 Bonus)
It was an unseasonably hot afternoon at Old Orchard Beach. Colorful umbrellas poked out of the sand, and the humidity was on the rise. I was stretched out on a beach towel, the sun baking so fiercely I could feel sweat beading behind my knees, in the crooks of B my elbows, and on my nose where my sunglasses rested. If I didn't move into the shade soon, I was going to get a headache.
I heard Patch approach before I saw him. He was whistling the main score to Disney's Robin Ноod. I loved when he did that. It meant he was in a good mood. Of course, I hadn't seen Patch in anything but a good mood for weeks. Chauncey Langeais was dead, there was a pleasant shortage of vengeful killers pursuing us, and my end-of-year finals were over as of two hours ago. What more could a girl ask for?
Patch balanced an ice-cold can of Minute Maid Lemonade on my stomach, and I squealed.
“Thirsty?” he asked, grinning as he stretched out on the sand beside me. I had on a turquoise tankini, but Patch looked completely out of place at the beach. Dark jeans, dark T-shirt, dark eyes. Just like always.
I swept my hair into a ponytail, trying to coax a breeze along my neck. “I’m so hot I think the only cure at this point is a swim.” I looked longingly at the ocean, sparkling a blue so dazzling it hurt my eyes, but I knew better. This far north, the Atlantic didn’t creep above frigid until August... just in time for jellyfish to arrive.
“You are that hot,” Patch murmured, and the way he gazed at me left no doubt he wasn’t talking about the temperature. He traced a heart on my thigh, then kissed the spot. “What are we doing tonight?”
“End-of-school party at Enzo’s,” I reminded him.
Patch rolled onto his back and groaned.
I promised Vee we’d be there. She’s on the decorating committee. This is important to her.”
“I had other ideas. You, me, and a picnic under the stars. Right here on the beach.” Me looked sideways at me, the corners of his mouth tilting up like a pirate’s. “It’s hot enough that clothing would be optional.”
Romantic date on the beach. Just the two of us. Patch’s proposal sounded very enticing. Just one small problem. “I can’t back out. Vee has been dropping all kinds of hints that I’m spending way too much time with you.”
“That’s a bad thing?”
“No,” I said, bending down to kiss him. His skin was warm from sun and his stubble tickled my lips. “But I do feel like I’m playing Switzerland here. We’ll go to the party for an hour, then head back to my place, deal? My mom’s on the road until tomorrow. We’ll have the house to ourselves,” I added in a voice meant to entice.
Patch raised himself up on one elbow. “Five minutes at the party.”
I gave his shoulder a jab. “Five minutes doesn’t count, silly!”
“Ten,” he bargained.
“One hour. I’m not budging. We have the whole summer to spend together. Half the school will be there tonight. You’ll love it. I know how much you enjoy working the crowd,” I teased. Patch wasn’t reserved, and he definitely wasn’t shy, but he didn’t go out of his way to make people feel comfortable, either. In fact, most people instinctively recoiled when he stepped into a room. At six-two, he had a long and lean and lethal build. His wardrobe was black, always black. He had hard-bitten features and an unapproachable expression, and at any given moment, he looked like he was hunting for trouble.
Patch had a reputation for fighting and gambling. Since I’d known him, he’d swapped priorities, and I knew he took his job as my guardian angel seriously. Lately I’d seen a secret side to him. Tender, romantic, playful. Protective. The rest of the world just hadn’t gotten the memo yet.
Patch stroked his chin as though plotting a scheme. “Vee needs a distraction. A boyfriend.”
“Vee had a boyfriend. And he nearly killed me. I think she’s going to be laying oft the crushes for the next little while.” I wasn’t sure if it was the glare of sun, or the memory of Chauncey, but I shut my eyes to get a grip on my sudden light-headedness. I felt this close to passing out.
“Starting to look a little flushed, Angel.”
“It shouldn’t be this hot in May,” I complained, pulling myself up to sitting. No shade in sight. None available, anyway. I wished I’d thought to bring my own umbrella. I could always hold my towel above my head like a canopy—
Before I could finish the thought, Patch lifted me up and slung me over his shoulder.
“Patch!” I shrieked. “Put me down now!"
I could feel his shoulders shake with laughter, and before I knew it, I was laughing too, in between yelps of protest. I hammered my palms against his back, but there wasn’t a lot of conviction behind it; Patch started kissing the bare skin of my thigh, just in reach of his mouth as he jogged me over the sand, and it made me dizzy with pleasure.
He strode into the surf and launched me on top of a wave. The icy water rushed at me from every direction, driving into my skin like a thousand tiny needles. Patch dove in headfirst behind me, clothes and all, wrapping me in his embrace. I was encircled by sensation; warm relief where he touched me, and blasting cold. The water was so clear I could see him through it. Our legs kicking together, our fingers entwined. The tide pushed and pulled at us, but Patch kept me anchored to him.
I broke the water’s surface, wiping water out of my eyes and hoping my mascara hadn’t smeared.
“Cooled off?” Patch asked.
I splashed water at him. “Yes!” I said, feigning affront.
“That makes one of us.” Patch tugged off his shirt, lassoed it around my waist, and pulled me into a slippery, salty kiss. The waves broke, thundering into us with an intensity that could never rival my love for Patch.
This was how we would be forever. Together.
I’d promised Nora I’d pick her up for the party at eight. I was on my bike, speeding along a winding back road, and it was starting to get dark. I’d taken this route a hundred times before and never passed another driver. The trees formed a canopy over the road, making it seem later than it was. I couldn’t hear anything over the whine of my engine; and when I came around a bend, she was standing in the middle of the road, asking to be hit.
I braked, swerving to miss her. I leaned sharply to my right, then straightened. Another few inches and I would've plowed into her. Parking the bike, I strode back to her, tugging off my helmet.
“What was that?” I asked Dabria angrily.
“I wanted to get your attention.”
“Well, congratulations. You got it.”
I didn’t answer right away. My breath came out harshly between my teeth. It felt like a trick question. Dabria had an angle, always. She twirled her hair around her finger, her eyes glinting with mischief. “If I thought you cared, I might tell you,” I said at last.
“I didn’t realize silly little schoolgirls were your type.”
“It’s taken you this long to realize there’s very little you know about me.” A statement, not a question.
Dabria rolled her eyes so far back in her head they almost disappeared. “Don’t be so grumpy. It doesn’t suit you.”
I shook my head. “Not grumpy. Straightforward. So believe me when I tell you, whatever game you’re playing? It’s going to backfire. Leave Nora alone. And while you’re at it, pay me the same courtesy.”
Before I could bat her hand away, she reached up and straightened my collar. Just like old times,