Reliving fate, p.15

Reliving Fate, page 15

 

Reliving Fate
 


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  I love it so much at Rocco's place. My parents would probably be horrified if they knew who Rocco was and where he lived. They're mostly nonjudgmental, but they so wouldn't like how dodgy his lifestyle is.

  He turns to glare at the same time I walk into the room. "Don't even fucking talk to me about the time. I could still be asleep now."

  "You could go back to sleep," I point out, leaning against the doorframe.

  "No, I can't. I'm very awake."

  "Sorry."

  He smirks. "Are you?"

  "Well, no, not at all actually. If you had a sense of humour, you would have laughed."

  It's then I realise that we're both still naked, and Rocco might have been scared, but his dick certainly isn't.

  "Face is up here, Bella."

  So, he might have just told me to look him in the eye, but he's certainly not taking his own advice. Unless my face is suddenly on my boobs.

  I hold my hand out and take the mug he passes to me. "Thanks," I say. "I need to drink quick and get home."

  "What time do they think you'll be back?"

  "I told them I would leave Nana and Grandad's at nine, so I have an hour and ten minutes before I need to go."

  "What if they call your grandparents?"

  Shrugging, I sip my coffee. "They never have so far."

  He suspiciously eyes me. Or he's just trying to figure out if I'm all there.

  "Stop looking at me like that. I fully understand that shit and fan might meet, but..." I shake my head. "I don't care enough to stop seeing you."

  I don't. Rocco means a lot to me, and if my parents find out, then so be it. They can't prevent me from coming here.

  "Rocco, you are my sanity in a world full of crazy."

  His chest expands as he takes a big breath.

  I've said too much, and I sound so desperate. Shit.

  "You know, we're friends, and the sex is really good and--"

  "Bella!" Rocco says, cutting me off.

  I can feel that my cheeks are on fucking fire. Thank God he stopped me!

  "I don't want you to stop coming here either. Never stop. I should want you gone, but I don't."

  "Good," I reply, gripping my mug tighter as warmth spreads through my chest.

  We stare at each other, and if he were anyone else, it would be awkward by now. His eyes look so much darker, and the expression on his face tells me he wants to do some things that would make me very late in leaving here.

  I clear my throat and put my mug down. "As much as I would love to go back to bed, I really can't be late."

  "I thought you didn't care if your parents found out where you were?" he challenges, lifting his eyebrow.

  "That doesn't exactly mean I welcome it either. Things are so much easier with them not knowing about us."

  He blinks, like he's testing out the idea of us being an us. Bringing his mug to his lips, he takes a mouthful. I guess it's a good sign that he's not sprinted for the door.

  Could he really want more, too?

  I never had him down as the settling type, but our relationship is definitely changing. Maybe it won't be anything epic or lasting, but we've moved past casual.

  "So, we keep it quiet," he grunts.

  I'm not sure if that's what he wants. He's not said he wants us to be official and public, but the tension in his shoulders kind of makes me think he's considering it.

  Are all men headfucks?

  I'm glad I've never had a proper relationship before. I'm not even in one with Rocco, not really, and I'm second-guessing what we are, what I want us to be, and what he wants.

  This having-feelings-for-someone crap is exhausting.

  "For now," I add.

  Rocco dips his head in what I assume is a nod of agreement. He's hard to read sometimes, so I can't be sure.

  Ugh!

  "Right," I say, "I should get ready to leave."

  Rocco leans back against the counter, watching me. He doesn't say anything or protest, so I walk out of the kitchen and head to the bathroom to freshen up before I get dressed.

  There isn't much in his bathroom, so I comb my hair with my fingers and splash water on my face. It's ice cold.

  Fuck!

  I hop between both feet and wave my hands because that always helps. Cold water is supposed to be better for your pores, right? I press the towel over my face to dry it. Once I'm finished in the bathroom, I put yesterday's clothes back on and go looking for Rocco.

  He's still in the kitchen, leaning against the counter, like some sort of model. He'd laugh at me if I suggested he should apply to an agency, but he would absolutely get signed.

  My bag is over my shoulder, and it catches his attention first.

  "You're leaving right now?" he asks, frowning.

  "Yeah, I should. If I'm late, my parents will start checking up on me."

  "Right." He nods. "You're back tonight?"

  Bless him, he seems nervous, looking anywhere but directly at me.

  "I'll be back tonight."

  There's no way I'm missing this fight.

  I'll probably have to sneak out because Mum and Dad are not going to be thrilled with the idea of me going to Nana and Grandad's again.

  Rocco steps forward, and because his kitchen is tiny, it takes him only a second. He presses his naked chest against mine, and I feel like I'm drunk.

  My God, the man is gorgeous. And he smells really, really good. I want to strip my clothes off again and take him back to bed.

  "See you later then," he rasps, dipping his head.

  "Yeah," I whisper. "Later."

  Rocco chuckles under his breath and then plants his lips on mine. My skin buzzes at the contact.

  Hell yeah.

  The more time I spend with Rocco at his place, the less I like home. I can relax at his; there are no horrific memories. Everything here is happy.

  I pull out of the kiss and smile.

  My shared car is parked outside Rocco's place. I don't turn around as I walk to it, but I know he's watching me leave.

  I get inside and start the engine. Glancing in my mirror as I pull onto the road, I see Rocco smirking at me in the mirror.

  I'm going to miss him.

  Once home, I park in the drive and get my key ready. My legs carry me to the door at a snail's pace. My stomach drops to my feet. I'm dreading going inside. It's getting harder. The closer I possibly get to finding the man who killed Celia, the more I see her around the house.

  "Isabella?" Dad calls.

  "Yeah, it's me."

  "Come here. We have coffee if you can fit any more in."

  Obviously. But this kind of feels like an ambush. They're both sitting on the same side of the table, which they don't do unless they both want to be looking at me.

  "Okay," I say, smoothing my hair at the back as I walk further into the kitchen. "What're you two doing this today?"

  "Possibly decorating the dining room. I'm so fed up with the red," Mum says.

  Riveting stuff. I'm looking for your daughter's killer.

  I could never tell them what I was doing. They want justice badly, but they wouldn't ever let me risk my safety for it.

  Mum shakes her sleek hair, fluffing it up again. "So, all of your exams are over now?"

  "Yeah, last one was Friday."

  "That's good. Do you have any plans for the summer before university?" Dad asks.

  "I'm going to LA to try and make it as an actor."

  Dad gives me a flat look. Whatever. I don't care. I've had this same conversation with them over and over again.

  My parents and Livvy are planners. I'm not a planner. I like not knowing every single thing I'm going to do up until the day I die.

  "Isabella," Mum scolds.

  "I don't know what I'm doing over the summer yet. And I've not made a decision on uni." Again, I'm lying.

  "You need to go even if you decide to change your degree."

  Oh, yeah, makes sense. Not.

  Right now, uni feels like a filler
for three years. I don't want to go and spend thousands on a degree that will do nothing for me because I won't be able to concentrate. When I go, I want to be focused and ready for it.

  And, yes, I might well regret that and think I'm an idiot later on in life, but at the minute, I can't think about anything but finding Celia's killer. And, obviously, I can't stop thinking about my sort-of boyfriend.

  TWENTY-THREE

  * * *

  BELLA

  Rocco is taking me back to the river because I pestered him until he gave in. Then, we'll be watching the fight later. I'm nervous as hell because I think Celia's killer will be there, and if he's not Hugo, I have no idea who it is. I could've spoken to him already.

  Don't think about that.

  "So, do you do anything else there?" I ask as he drives along the abandoned road out to the river.

  We could have walked, as it's really not far from his flat, but I get the impression that he wants to be able to make a quick getaway. He's not happy that we're going. I don't know why, as I've been to the river a few times now, and nothing has happened besides people standing around, talking.

  He grips the steering wheel harder. "Nothing."

  "Are you going to mope all evening? Because, if you are, maybe you should drop me off at the river and then go home."

  "Yeah, that's happening," he grunts.

  "Can you please cheer up? I don't know why you don't want me to meet more of your friends."

  He cuts me a look. "You've met Ellis. He's it."

  "Am I not included?" I pout.

  He rolls his eyes. "Right now, no. You're pissing me off, and I don't know why you want to spend your time at a 'sad little river beach that doesn't even have any sand' over being home with me." He uses my previous words against me.

  "Ah, you're jealous that I don't want you all to myself tonight."

  "Please, I'm not that pathetic," he says.

  "Yes, you are."

  "Bella, shut the fuck up!"

  God, if he meant that shut up, I would punch him in the gut.

  "You're getting mad because you know I'm right."

  "I'm getting mad because you're being fucking impossible. I don't know why I thought it was a good idea to have a girlfriend."

  My breath catches.

  He totally just dropped the G bomb!

  I never thought I'd hear him say that. I'm so bloody obsessed with him, and I literally would've killed to be official. Well, maybe not literally.

  "Hmm, I'm your girlfriend?"

  "You know what I mean," he growls.

  "I sure do," I reply, grinning at him like a moron.

  Rocco grits his teeth. I'm surprised when he doesn't reply with something witty or sarcastic. I've obviously worn him down again.

  We pull over at the side of the road, and he cuts the engine. "Can I please just take you home?"

  "I'm staying at my grandparents'."

  Sighing in exasperation, he whacks the steering wheel. "You know what I fucking mean. My place."

  Home.

  I like that.

  Don't get too ahead of yourself, Bella.

  Yeah, it's too late for that. I already know our kids' names.

  "Come on. I'll let you drink tonight, and I'll drive home."

  He starts to laugh. And then he laughs harder. Well, at least he's not being a miserable shitbag anymore. I kinda love his laugh.

  "Bella, you're perfect." He laughs again, shaking his head.

  I don't let the perfect comment go to my head because I know he doesn't mean it in the way I want. But I kinda love that, too.

  I have it bad.

  "Can we just go and have some fun?" I shove the door open, rolling my eyes with the biggest smile.

  I head down to the river.

  Rocco soon catches up, throws his arm around my shoulders and kisses the top of my head. "If it's fun you want, we definitely should leave."

  "I want to meet your friends...or acquaintances."

  "When do I get to meet your friends?"

  Looking away, I bite my lip, embarrassed to admit that I don't have any. When Celia died, I was too young to understand what was going on, but as I got older, it consumed me. I have no time for friends, and the few I had, I pushed away. No one bothers with the girl who couldn't care less about them.

  It's fine. It's just the way it is.

  "Bella? Hello? When do I get to meet your friends?" he repeats.

  "You can meet Livvy one day."

  "Your sister? You don't always get on with her. I want to meet your friends."

  "Well, that'll take all of two seconds. I don't like many people."

  Rocco stops and grips my wrist, turning me so that I'm facing him. His eyes bore into mine, searching for the thing I can't give him--the truth.

  "You don't have anyone?"

  "That's not true. I have you..." I don't look directly at him because I can't bear to see sympathy.

  Having friends isn't important. I don't have time to pretend I'm interested in which guy is the latest squeeze and which girl we're hating on next. It's boring.

  "Yeah," he murmurs, lifting my chin with his finger so that I'm forced to look at him, "you have me."

  Swallowing a truckload of emotions that I don't have the capacity to work through right now, I reply, "We can leave if you want." I no longer care about meeting these people tonight.

  Shit.

  What is Rocco doing to me?

  I never want to take time out of going through a million possibilities of the night Celia was killed, especially not for something I want, and I'm hit with a pang of guilt. A pretty big one.

  She's my sister, and I shouldn't prioritise spending time with my boyfriend over continuing to search for her killer. I owe her.

  "Where have you gone?" he asks, stroking the side of my face.

  "What?"

  "You look miles away, babe. What's going through that head of yours?"

  You don't want to know.

  I shake my head. "Nothing. Now, come on, let's stay and you can introduce me to everyone. Please."

  "Fine."

  "Rocco? Is that you?"

  We both turn toward the female's voice.

  "Faith, hey," Rocco says.

  "Hi, guys," she replies, sighing and flattening her curly bob. It doesn't work. She looks flustered.

  "You okay?" Rocco asks. His voice is rougher than usual.

  I'm not at all convinced he wants her talking to us, but he doesn't want to be rude to her.

  Faith laughs while shaking her head. "Yes, I just got back from the youth centre. We had the plumbers in to fix a leak."

  "You have a youth centre?" I ask her.

  Faith gasps. "Rocco, you've not told her? It's one of the things around here that provides a positive atmosphere. My husband, Keith, and I saw so many young people wasting their lives, so we decided to try and do something. I hope we help the few who use our facilities."

  "That's pretty cool."

  Faith smiles. "We're proud of it."

  "You'll have to take me one day, Rocco," I say, looking up at him.

  He grunts a reply, which sounds like a yes. It's probably not.

  "Absolutely do." We fall into silence, and Faith stares at me for a second. "Well, I'll let you two go. Beers are in the cooler, as always."

  I wait until she's gone. "Does she organise these...whatever it is we're doing here?"

  "No, she likes to think she's in charge of the whole town. Nosy bitch."

  There's some hostility, but Rocco doesn't really like anyone here besides Ellis, so it's not surprising.

  "Why don't you get a beer?" I say.

  "Don't want one," he grumbles under his breath.

  "Fine, whatever. I'm going to talk to Ellis since you're a miserable arse."

  I stomp off toward Rocco's one friend--one more than me--and leave Mr Miserable behind.

  "Hey," I say, nudging Ellis's arm.

  "Bella, hi." He looks around, probably for Rocco.

&n
bsp; I follow and see my boyfriend grabbing two beers from the cooler without taking his eyes off me.

  "What's up his arse?" Ellis asks me.

  "Ugh, he's being a baby about bringing me here again."

  Ellis nods like he understands completely.

  He's standing with a girl.

  His girl?

  She rolls her eyes at him. "Since Ellis is being rude, I'll introduce myself! I'm Izzy."

  "Bella."

  Rocco shoves a beer at me with a scowl.

  I give him a sickly-sweet smile. "Thank you, dear."

  "You're seriously trying my fucking patience, Bella."

  I know, and I love it.

  "Oh, you need to get laid, man," Ellis says. "I've not seen you this uptight in a while."

  Rocco glares at him. "I tried. She wanted to come here."

  While the three of them talk, I take a second to look around.

  Okay, you're looking for someone over the age of thirty.

  There are about four people here who look old enough. And I don't really know where to go from there. I think my actions have made it clear that I'm so completely out of my depth. I should've watched more Homicide Hunter.

  "Bella?" Ellis waves his hand in front of my face.

  "Huh?"

  He laughs. "I was just asking if you're coming to the fight?"

  "Yeah, we are."

  Izzy smiles. "At first, it feels weird to watch two people kicking the crap out of each other, but you harden to it. Just a way of life here."

  Yeah, sounds fab.

  "Not sure if I'll get used to it, but I'll watch...through my hands probably."

  Ellis chuckles. "You're such a princess. You'd be fine watching Rocco; he doesn't lose."

  "I don't care; it's never going to happen." The thought of watching someone I care about getting punched and kicked makes me feel physically sick.

  "I'm with Bella here," Izzy says. "I wouldn't like to watch someone I love getting hit."

  Oh, she did not just say...

  God, I'm not going to look at Rocco. Why the fuck did she out me like that?

  Beside me, Rocco tenses.

  Well, that's just great.

  Now, I feel like I should watch him fight to show them that I don't love him...which is ridiculous and would be a complete lie because I love him. A lot. Yeah, I can't lie to myself, and I don't even have the energy to try to deny it. I've fallen for him in the short space of time I've known him. It was inevitable really.

  "What do you do, Izzy?" I ask.

  Ellis grins and throws his arm around her shoulders. "She's at uni. One of the few people around here who is."

  He's so cute when he's proud of this girl who isn't his girlfriend but might as well be--according to Rocco. I can see it, too. Ellis and Izzy are adorable together.

  "Cool."

 
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