Badd Boy by Jasinda Wilder

  Badd Boy

  Jasinda Wilder

  Copyright (c) 2018 by Jasinda Wilder BADD BOY

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  Created with Vellum


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17


  Sneak Peek


  Also by Jasinda Wilder



  * * *

  I am absolutely out of my element.

  I'm sitting in the saloon of a stunning 35' yacht in Ketchikan harbor beside a beautiful young woman who might as well be one of Homer's sirens. And, to be fair to myself, I'm pretty sure any guy would be tongue-tied right now. Less than an hour ago I helped this young woman after she twisted her ankle.

  The fact that I'm out of my element is no surprise, given the fact that the only time I am ever truly comfortable is when my nose is stuck in a book, and my hands are assembling little robots. The rest of the time, I'm uncomfortable being around people, especially people I have never met. Being around people makes my skin feel too tight, makes my head feel too full of thoughts and sensory stimulation. When there's a lot of chaos in my surroundings, my thoughts tend to run even faster, which makes it feel like I have a fire hose of mental activity on full blast inside my head.

  Women, especially, confuse and overwhelm me. Learning to be--or at least appear to be--comfortable around my sisters-in-law Dru, and then Mara, and now Eva, Claire, Tate, Aerie, and Joss... has required constant effort on my part. I never know how to act around them. My brothers are all funny, charismatic, interesting, outgoing--with the exception of Lucian, but now that he has Joss, he's learning to open up and loosen up, and in doing so we are finding his true personality is much less reserved than even he once assumed. I share none of those characteristics with my brothers. I don't know how to crack a well-timed joke. Or make some pithy commentary. Or put in some kind of wise, worldly, tidbit. Or turn someone else's statement into a sexual innuendo. All my brothers have a woman in their lives, and they've each become much more physical in their demonstrations of affection--and not just with their significant other, but also with each other and with me.

  So, where do I fit in? I don't want to just fade into the background, but what do I say? How do I act? Especially right now. Women make me edgy, and this girl in particular, sitting next to me--Low, she calls herself--has got the fire hose in my brain turned on full blast.

  She's so beautiful it literally makes me question my own eyes, my sanity, my existence. Can she be real? Can a woman this perfect truly exist? Yet here she is, in defiance of all logic. Sitting beside me. Close--very close. Her leg brushes mine, sending an electric shock arcing through me--I do not mean that as hyperbole, either--the touch of her leg against mine was something I feel with acute awareness, a vicious tingle so powerful it is like touching an exposed live wire. I vibrate, all over, from the touch of her leg against mine. It was innocent--I know this. There was no hidden meaning or intent behind this--she was merely sitting on the couch beside me, as one human does with another human. That's all.

  Yet...I wonder.

  All too often, I find out after the fact that I have missed a social cue, or overlooked a hint, or missed a subtlety in a situation. This is, in many ways, a defining characteristic of mine.

  She's talking right now, and I have to remind myself to tune in, to pay attention.

  "...I shouldn't have even attempted that variation on the sequence, especially on the deck of a boat. My yoga teacher back home would probably say something like 'your yoga practice is for you, for your emotional, physical, and mental well-being, it is not a tool with which to impress people.'" Then she laughed, and the sound of her laughter could be recorded and sold as music. "I know better, I really do. That's the kind of thing that keeps you humble, I guess, right?"

  Is a response required of me? I honestly don't know. I hesitate, probably for too long. "I would think it rather challenging to do any kind of yoga on the deck of a boat, much less something complicated like the Warrior Three sequence or whatever it was you were attempting."

  Another of those musical, bell-like laughs. "Well, it's not like I was trying an inversion. And it wasn't the rolling of the boat that toppled me, it was me being distracted."

  "There isn't much roll on this boat, is there?" I asked.

  She shook her head. "No, not all. It's very gentle, and it just adds a fun little bit of extra challenge to anything requiring balance." She pulled away the bag of ice from her head, probing the bump with her fingertips. "My head is getting cold, and the ice is melting, and the condensation is getting my hair wet."

  I took the bag of ice from her. "Would you like me to refresh the ice for you?"

  She shook her head again. "No, that's okay." She stretched her leg out, rolling her ankle. "It's actually my ankle that's bothering me, at the moment."

  "Did you twist it?" I asked, after throwing the ice overboard.

  Low shrugged. "I think so--it's definitely sore now, but I think hitting my head probably eclipsed anything else that happened."

  I knelt on the floor in front of her. "May I examine your ankle?"

  She smiled at me, and I had to look away quickly. "Sure. Examine away, Xavier." She lifted her leg, and I cradled her ankle in my hand.

  Propping her calf on my knee, I allowed her ankle to dangle freely, and then I gingerly, carefully probed the area, moving it in circles, testing the range of motion while watching her reactions. She winced a little as I rotated her ankle, but nothing more.

  I smiled, attempting to look reassuring. "Twisted, but nothing worse. It isn't swollen or tender to the touch from outside, so I think if you restrict the use of it for a day or so, you will be as good as new."

  "Are you sure you're not a doctor?" she asked, leaving her leg propped up on my knee.

  I gently set her foot onto the floor and stood up, wiping my hands on the front of my shorts--an automatic response to touching someone, a habit I've never been able to break. "I am very certain." I laughed. "I think I would remember eight years of medical school and a residency."

  She laughed, and I felt myself wishing I could make her laugh all the time, because the sound was addictive. "I guess you would remember that, wouldn't you?" She patted the couch beside her again, as I hadn't sat back down yet. "I'm feeling better, but you don't have to leave yet."

  Once again, I'm left wondering what she means. Does she want me to stay? Does she like talking to me? Is she being polite? Is this one of those situations where she's saying I don't have to leave yet, but she really means the opposite?

  I don't want to leave. I like her. I enjoy sitting with her, talking to her.

  I looked at her as I sat down, trying to decipher her meaning, her intent. But I got distracted by what she looked like, how otherworldly, ethereally, indelibly lovely she was.

  She was tall--I couldn't even begin to guess at her height in feet and inches, but I think she was around the same height as Dru who was, she once mentioned, five-eight. If anything, Low was a little taller. Much of that height seemed to come from her legs, which were long--and being encased in calf-le
ngth yoga pants tight enough to be considered a second skin, I could see that those legs were not only elegant and graceful but strong and muscular as well. Her hips pinched inward dramatically to a narrow waist, and her abs had clear, hard definition. The sports bra she wore was pale blue, with a complicated arrangement of thin straps and a diamond-shaped cut-out in the middle showing a hint of the creamy white skin between her breasts.

  I had always been under the impression that a sports bra was intended to minimize the size and weight of a woman's breasts during exercise, to reduce the impact of kinetic energy upon the body during movement. The one Low was wearing, however, seemed...rather inadequate to that purpose. Every movement of her body created ripples of kinetic energy, each of which drew my attention--causing my gaze to fix on them for an embarrassingly long moment. She caught me staring--I knew she did, for even I couldn't misunderstand the smirk and the way she glanced at me. She said nothing, however, only allowing the smirk to blossom into a full smile.

  Which confused me. I didn't think women appreciated being ogled--and I had been openly and disgustingly ogling her.

  I forced my eyes up to hers, which was safer from a manners perspective, but far more dangerous from a hypnotic perspective. Her eyes were...I struggled for an apt descriptor for the shade of blue. Somewhere between cerulean, sapphire, and indigo. If I wasn't physically present, and only seeing a photograph, I would have assumed the brightness and vividness and intensity of the blue of her eyes had been digitally enhanced. Her hair, too, seemed too perfect to be real. A true strawberry blonde, her hair seemed to grow in natural spirals--I found myself lost in those curls, too, following the pattern of the spirals, which were a perfect natural representation of the golden spiral. Her hair wasn't a single shade of strawberry blonde, either, but an iridescent mix of red and gold and copper, the different shades more prominent depending on the angle of the light. I wondered if there was a mathematical expression for the shifting shades of her hair, or if I could capture in code the way her hair changed shades.

  "Xavier?" Her voice betrayed confusion.

  I blinked rapidly, fisting my hands to keep them from betraying a tic. "Yes?"

  "I asked if you were born and raised in Alaska."

  I cursed myself mentally, realizing I'd spaced out--or, what others termed spacing out, but which was really just my mind spiraling off into a maze of interconnected thoughts. "Sorry. Ahh--yes. I was born and raised in Ketchikan."

  "So you've lived here your whole life?"

  "I attended Stanford for a year, but other than that, yes, I have lived here my whole life."

  She frowned, a puzzled tilt to her head. "Why'd you drop out?"

  "My father passed away. He left a somewhat complicated will, which stipulated that for any of his estate to be released, all of his sons had to live and work here together for a full year. At the time, you see, everyone but our oldest brother had moved away. The will meant none of us got any of the money unless we all came back. So, I dropped out of Stanford and came home."

  "Wow. That's--why do you think he did that?"

  I shrugged. "I do not know for certain, but I think when we all went our separate ways to pursue our various interests, it upset him. Which is ironic, in a way because he always encouraged us to follow our interests. I think he wanted us back together. He wanted to make sure we stuck together as brothers."

  "Why is it ironic?"

  I sighed. "Well, that is a complicated question to answer. Our mother passed away when I was seven years old. It sent Dad into a deep depression he never recovered from. I was, for all intents and purposes, raised by my eldest brother, Sebastian. Dad was around, but...not of much use." I fixed my eyes on the wood floor of the yacht's main saloon--the living room of the ship, basically--counting the lines of darker shading in the grains until I felt able to respond; I reached fifty-nine. "The irony is that he was absent from us, mentally and emotionally, so when we left, it didn't seem like it would matter much to him. Clearly, he felt differently."

  "That's...that's heavy, Xavier."

  "You asked."

  "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring up anything that would upset you."

  "I know you did not intend that."

  She eyed me. "So, do you resent having to leave Stanford?"

  I resumed counting lines in the grain of the wood, and reached eighty more. "Resent? I do not know if that is the correct word. I enjoyed the educational challenge, and having the resources of a university at my disposal. But my brothers are my family. There is nothing I was being taught at Stanford that I could not find a way of teaching myself. So, I do not resent it, no. I was glad to be able to come home and reunite with my brothers. I am closer to all of them now than I ever was growing up."

  "Do you think you'll go back?"

  I frowned. "To Stanford?" I counted from eighty to one hundred and nine; usually, my long hesitations between responses bothered people, but Low seemed to not care, or if she was, she was not showing it. "No, I do not believe that would add value to my life in any way."

  There was a silence, then. I felt an expectation to fill it, but had no idea what to say. Questions of my own? What should I ask?

  Just then a small brown bird landed on the bow of her boat, visible through the open doorway, and I watched as it cheeped and chirruped, its tail flicking, beak parting, its small body swiveling this way and that.

  "Where are you from, Low?" I finally asked, after it flew away.

  She smiled at my question, and shifted closer to me. "I'm an LA girl, born and raised."

  "Have you received upper education?"

  She blinked at my question, and then laughed, leaning into me. "You're so weird and funny, you know that? Yes, I went to NYU."

  "What did you study?"

  "Fine arts." I expected her to elaborate on this, but she didn't.

  "And why are you here in Ketchikan?"

  Reading facial expressions properly is something I'm terrible at, part of the curse of my social issues, but it seemed to me that her gaze went distant, as if somehow a shutter had gone down behind her eyes.

  "I needed to get away from LA." She shrugged a thin shoulder. "It's so hectic down there, you know? I needed to be somewhere quiet and peaceful and beautiful."

  "If you want real peace and quiet, take your boat out into some of the smaller channels. You can just drop your anchor and sit and, chances are, you won't see or hear another soul all day long."

  "That sounds nice."

  "You have a boat, why do you not just...go?"

  She shrugged, waving a hand. "Oh, I gave Captain Fisk and the rest of the crew time off. I needed to be alone."

  "Do you have a launch?" I asked.

  Low frowned. "A what?"

  "A smaller boat within this one, usually with an outboard motor and typically only large enough to hold a few people."

  She shrugged a shoulder again. "Probably. I wouldn't know where it is, though, or how to launch it or how to drive it, or where to go."

  I wasn't sure why I was suggesting this, but the words emerged anyway. "I am a fairly capable person, and I know the area. If you wanted to do a little local sightseeing, I could show you around."

  She stared at me for a moment, her eyes boring into mine intently, and I would have given anything to know what she was thinking, for I could not read her expression whatsoever. "I...that...I wouldn't mind seeing some of the other channels in the area."

  There was significant hesitation there, but I couldn't parse exactly what, or why.

  "We could go up past Beaver Falls, maybe," I suggested. "Toss an anchor over and see if we can catch some fish."

  Her frown was disbelieving. "Fishing?"

  "Have you never tried it?"

  She smirked. "No, as a matter of fact, I have not. It never seemed very interesting, and my life thus far hasn't provided an opportunity."

  "Fishing as an activity by itself is the most boring thing on the planet, if you ask me," I said. "But as an excuse to sit o
ut in the beauty of nature for a few hours, it is unparalleled."

  This turned her smirk into a hesitant smile. "That sounds nice." She was sitting so close to me now that her thigh and hip were against mine, and her arm nudged mine, and I could feel her hair tickling my cheek. She smelled good--lavender, and something less definable but sweet and heady. "You wouldn't mind showing a city girl how to fish?"

  "If you are looking for someone to teach you how to really fish, my brother Brock would be your better bet--he takes tourists out to his favorite spots and sets them up. I can put a worm on a hook and cast it out for you, and then we could just kind of...sit and enjoy the day, I guess. I am not a big fishing person myself, but I like getting out on the water sometimes. I have not done that in a long time, come to think of it."

  She put her hand on my forearm. I froze, tensed, but I don't think she noticed. "What if we were to catch a really big fish?" She asked this with her face sort of close to mine, looking at me intently, sitting pressed against me.

  Did she have an issue with not understanding personal space? Did she not realize how close she was? Was she that close on purpose? Did it mean something?

  Part of me wanted to believe it meant she liked me, but I immediately threw that notion out the window. It was ridiculous. She was a goddess made flesh, and I was...well, she'd said it herself--weird and funny, which doesn't seem like a good thing, if you want a girl to like you, but what do I know?

  I wanted her to like me, even as I was distinctly uncomfortable with her hand on me.

  But it was not as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. The tingle, the electric vibration searing through my whole body wasn't as painful and intense and off-putting and overwhelming as it was when other people touched me. With Low, it was...different, somehow.

  "If we caught something," I eventually answered, "I imagine we would throw it back."

  "You said your brother takes tourists fishing--is he a charter captain?"

No Previous Page Next Page
Should you have any enquiry, please contact us via [email protected]