Going to be short and sweet, this month. Still battling jet lag (it's soooooo real, people...*jaw-breaking yawn*) and gearing up for a busy week. So here goes:
Penny winced as she shifted - the movement only making the bone crushing corset all the more uncomfortable. At least the voluminous skirt protected her skin from the rough bark of the fallen tree beneath her. Why had she let Jane talk her into this? Getting into this ridiculous get up, having her face covered in a pound of make up, just to go to a party where she wouldn't know anyone. Which, Jane had said, was exactly the reason why Penny needed to come - to get to know people.
Penny didn't have the heart to tell her sister that she thought it was a waste of time. Everyone one paired off at these things, or huddled together with friends. No one was interested in making new friends. They wanted to drink, dance, and drink some more. Even Jane's friends didn't have an interest in her baby sister who had tagged along.
So, having escaped the chaos inside the house - already loud and rowdy even though the sun hadn't even set yet - Penny sat and pondered how the hell she was going to get home. Though, she shouldn't leave. Jane and her buddies would be in no condition to drive, so Penny would wind up playing sober cab. She sighed and pressed her fingers to her temples. What she wouldn't give to be back at the tiny claustrophobic apartment she shared with his sister, curled up with a good book or marathon watching something on Netflix.
"You look about as thrilled to be here as I do."
Penny jolted and fell backwards, ending up flat on the cold ground, staring up at the sky through the bare branches of the trees. Fuck.
"Oh shit, sorry!"
Large warm hands circled her biceps, and in a blink, she was being hauled to her feet. Her own hands scrambled to get a hold of...well, anything, and she ended up clutching thin meshy fabric covering a wide hard chest.
"Didn't mean to scare ya, Pen."
Narrowing her eyes, she looked up at the face of the guy who'd literally knocked her on her ass, and started laughing.
"Brad... Oh my god. I didn't realize..." She lifted one hand to tug on the blond hair framing his face. "Why?" she gasped between laughs. "That is the most unfortunate wig I've ever seen."
"Blame your sister." He rolled his eyes then grinned down at her. "She outfitted us all."
"And you went along with it?"
"Didn't you?" he shot back.
"Point," she conceded, then, realizing how close she stood, cleared her throat and stepped back. Her stomach flipped when his hands tightened just a bit on her arms before he released her.
"Want to get out of here?" he said.
"I shouldn't." Penny shrugged. "Jane...and probably the others will need a ride home later."
"So, we'll come back." He grabbed her hand and began to lead her toward where all the cars were parked. "Make sure everyone gets home safely. No point in sitting here bored out of our minds waiting for them to be ready, right? Neither of us want to be here." He glanced at her, lips pursed slightly, as they arrived at his car. "Not that you have to spend the time with me; I could drop you at your place, and come back on my own later. Not my first turn at being the DD."
He opened the door and waited for her to slide in before closing it. Penny stared out the windshield, frowning. When Brad got behind the wheel, she twisted in the seat, grimacing again at the uncomfortable corset pinching her.
Before she could speak, he faced her and smiled - a soft curving of his lips and crinkling of his eyes that stole Penny's breath...even more than torture device she currently wore. And...well...that was new. Not unwelcome, just new.
Of course, she knew he was attractive - she sure as hell wasn't blind and had looked her fill often enough when he'd come over - but the breathlessness, and shit, the pounding heart, and shit, sweaty palms... She swallowed audibly and scrubbed her hands over her thighs.
"So, do you want me to take you home?"
"No...I mean, yes."
His expression dimmed slightly, and clearly forcing a smile, he nodded. "All right.
"No, no, that's not what I meant." Penny took a deep breath and just jumped. Took the chance, because she wanted to see what this new thing was, what it would become. "I want to go home, just so I can change. This," she gestured at herself, "is killing me. Then, we can...do something?"
"Yeah," he said quickly. "For sure."
"And you can get that off." She pointed at the wig.
He laughed as he yanked it off then tossed it into the back seat. His short dark brown hair was slightly matted down, and Penny, without thinking, reached over and ran her fingers through the surprisingly soft strands, mussing it up.
Brad's eyes closed and he inhaled deeply before catching her hand in his. Instead of letting go as she expected, he brought them to his mouth and pressed a kiss against her palm.
"I've been waiting a long time for this, Pen," he murmured.
"Me, too," she whispered. "I just didn't know it."