Thanks so much for going on this journey with me! Here are the third and fourth chapters of Broken Record for your reading pleasure! Scroll to get started!
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K. A. LINDE
Not for reprint or sale.
Savannah’s flight touched down at Nashville International Airport early Friday morning. She clutched her second coffee for the day and headed out of the terminal with her oversized purse and a rolling carry on.
She was still not happy about this whole thing.
And she had no idea why she hadn’t just told her mother to fuck off.
She didn’t need to be here. She didn’t need to see Lucas graduate. She loved the Atwoods, but when was she going to finally stand up and say enough was enough? Soon. Very soon.
Leaving Easton in D.C. their first weekend moving in together wasn’t her idea of a good time. They’d had an excellent couple of days together, exploring the city and breaking the apartment in, but it had ended too quickly. Monday morning she started her new job and she knew that she’d be super busy. She was really kicking herself for this.
After she exited out to the pickup line, she tugged on her enormous sunglasses and finished her coffee. She tossed it into the nearest bin before taking out her phone to text her mom.
Where are you? Landed and waiting outside.
Before she received a response, a horn honked from the street in front of her. She peeked up wondering who the hell was being so obnoxious and found a large silver truck with its window rolled down. Lucas Atwood waved exaggeratedly at her.
“Savi, over here.”
She looked up at the sky and prayed that she wouldn’t kill someone this weekend.
Lucas hopped out of the cab. He raced around to the passenger side and popped open the front door. “I’ll take that.”
She handed him her bag without complaint. She didn’t see much point. Was this her mother’s doing? Was she plotting? Or was she really just this unlucky?
He loaded up her bag and then swished his head to the side to swipe his hair out of his face. She still wasn’t used to his hair this short. His blue eyes were somehow bigger and brighter. His smile mega watted. How was he so happy to see her? Didn’t he remember their conversation last weekend?
“Need help?” he asked.
“I got it.” Then she reached for the handle and hoisted herself up into his giant truck. Lucas snapped the door closed behind her and returned to the driver’s seat.
“By your face, I’m going to hazard a guess that no one told you I was picking you up,” Lucas said.
Savannah’s phone beeped. It was a message from her mom.
Lucas is on his way. He should be there already.
Savannah held her phone up to Lucas. Her voice was dry. “You’re on your way.”
He glanced at the phone and then guffawed. “Your mom, I swear.”
“Tell me about it.”
She leaned back against the plush seat, kicked off her flip flops, and crossed her legs pretzel style.
She shrugged. “Wasn’t there very long before my mom sprung this trip on me.”
Lucas cringed. “She means well?”
It was definitely more of a question than a statement. Savannah didn’t reply. What could she say? Her mother did mean well. But she just didn’t quite know what she meant by it all. Savannah was living with Easton. Either her mother was being nice and trying to salvage a friendship or she was playing matchmaker with Lucas’s mom…again.
As much as she didn’t want to, she fell into an easy rhythm with Lucas. You couldn’t grow up with someone your entire life and not find the quiet comfortable. He turned on his favorite radio station and soon they were both singing along. Twenty minutes later they were parked outside of his apartment in Green Hills near the Vanderbilt campus.
“Uh…this isn’t the hotel,” she said.
“Yeah. I have a spare room. Your mom said you were crashing with me.” Then it seemed to dawn on him. “Well, shit. Do you want me to find you a hotel?”
She ground her teeth together. “I might kill my mother.”
“That seems fair. I thought it seemed strange that you were okay with this, but I figured she knew.”
Savannah really need to have a talk with her mom. Staying at Lucas’s apartment was probably not smart. But God, she was tired of arguing with her mom. She’d have to talk to her soon enough about it. Doing it right now just did not seem ideal.
“My own room?”
“With a door and a lock?”
He chuckled. “Also yes.”
“Fine. But just for tonight. Tomorrow I’m going to move.”
“All right,” Lucas said, not arguing with her.
He took her bag out of the backseat and carried it into the apartment. It was decent sized. Bigger than the apartment she shared with Easton back in D.C. but with all sleek modern amenities.
“Basketball team puts us up in these. My roommate is already gone for the semester. So, it’s just us.”
“Peachy,” she drawled.
“Your room is second on the right. Bathroom is at the end of the hallway. Graduation is on campus tonight but we’re pretty much free until then. There’s a party afterward for the basketball team if you want to join and then I think my mom has dinner plans tomorrow. Just so…you have all the logistics down and don’t feel like people are unexpectedly throwing more shit at you.”
“Thanks,” she muttered.
Lucas turned to walk down the hallway presumably to his bedroom then he stopped and glanced back over his shoulder. “It’s really good to have you here, Savi.”
She watched him walk away with an ache in her chest that she couldn’t explain. It was good to be here. Even if she’d complained repeatedly about attending. Now that she was here, she was glad that she hadn’t backed out.
Savannah took his advice and found the spare bedroom. By the extra-long bed, she assumed that his roommate had moved most of his stuff out for the summer. She dropped her bag off, quickly unpacked her clothes to keep them from wrinkling, and then sent Easton a quick text
Made it safe. Miss you.
Miss you too. How’s the hotel?
Savannah nearly choked on the question. Yeah, telling him that she was staying with Lucas was probably not a great idea. She knew that she should tell, but it would just cause him undo heartache.
It’s a hotel. Mom is already driving me crazy.
Sounds right. Call me later and tell me how graduation goes?
Will do. xoxo
Savannah spent the rest of the day wandering around Nashville with Lucas. They didn’t meet up with their families until right before graduation. She’d changed into a Carolina blue dress for the occasion. Lucas had rolled his eyes when he’d seen it, but she’d just shrugged. Basketball was a religion as far as she was concerned.
“Have fun?” her mother asked as they were walking into the Alumni lawn together. Lucas had disappeared to take his seat in front of the stage.
Her mother shot her a skeptical look, but she kept her face forward.
They found their reserved seats next to the Atwoods. Lucas’s older brother, Chris, sat next to Brady and Clay. His younger sister Alice had her hair dyed black and swept across her forehead in a way that screamed emo. She stared down at her phone the entire time. Savannah’s father took the seat next to Lucas’s parents and then Savannah sat next to her mother.
Before the ceremony got started, Savannah put her hand on her mother’s shoulder. She faced Savannah in surprise.
“Don’t ever do this again,” she told her. “You may not believe that I’m an adult, but I can make my own decisions. I don’t appreciate you forcing me to be here or forcing me to stay with Lucas. If you want me to do something, ask me. Don’t make me. I’m not going to put up with it any longer.”
Whatever Marilyn saw in Savannah’s eyes must have said how serious she was, because she simply nodded and turned back to face front.
That was good enough for her.
Everyone finally quieted down as the ceremony began. The sun slowly falling behind them as each student walked across the stage and had their name formally called. When the announcer said Lucas Atwood, it wasn’t just their family that screamed in excitement. It was basically the entire student body. Long speeches and cheers and hats thrown and then suddenly it was over.
It was probably another half hour before Savannah located Lucas on the lawn amidst an array of friends or possibly fans. He was taking pictures with about a dozen pretty girls. She rolled her eyes at the show and crossed her arms. Typical.
When he saw her though, a smile jumped onto his face and he waved her over.
“Your family is looking for you,” she said. “They sent me to hunt you down.”
“Sorry, kind of got held up.”
“Lucas, one more picture?” a girl asked, thrusting her phone in Savannah’s direction.
She bobbled it in her hands and narrowed her eyes.
“Do you mind?” Lucas asked politely.
Savannah quickly snapped the shot and handed the phone back to the girl.
“See you at the party tonight!” the girl said with big doe-eyes.
“Well that was subtle,” Savannah muttered as they finally disappeared through the crowd back toward their families.
“Tell me about it. That kind of shit happens all the time. It’s exhausting.”
“I’m sure it is,” she said on a laugh. “Having pretty girls fawn all over you. How horrible!”
“Is that jealousy, Savannah Maxwell?”
He grinned and pinched her side. “Don’t worry. You’re still my girl.”
She opened her mouth to disagree with him, but by then they were back with their families and everyone was congratulating him. Pictures came next. His mother insisted on individuals and group shots of him in his cap and gown. After she was pushed into a picture with him, she carefully stepped out of the way and allowed the family to do their thing.
And then she just watched him.
His easy smile. His short curls. The way those blue eyes lit up around his family. The sheer size of him.
For a second, just a split second, she wished that they hadn’t ruined everything four years ago. That things were easier between them. That she could forget the taste of his lips…and just have her best friend back.
“Are you sure I should even come with you to this party?” Savannah called down the hallway. She’d changed into a white romper that made her tan legs look like they went on for days. She sat on the edge of the bed and strapped on her nude wedges.
“Yes,” he called back.
“But it’s for the basketball team.”
She stood from the bed just as Lucas walked in, looking all exasperated. Then he got a glimpse of her. He stared at her with his jaw unhinged.
“Uh…do I look okay?” She pulled her long dark hair over one shoulder.
“Maybe you shouldn’t go.”
“Wait, what? You were the one who told me to go to this thing. Now you’re uninviting me? Dick move.”
“Every person at the party is going to hit on you.”
She puffed out a breath. “Shut up. No, they won’t.”
“I’m going to have to keep you close tonight.”
“What does that even mean?”
“Anyone with eyes can see that you’re beautiful.”
“Oh.” She shrugged away his words. “I think more people will be interested in you anyway. So, we’re good.”
He arched his eyebrow. “Want to bet?”
“You’re Lucas Atwood. If basketball is anything like it is at UNC, then I don’t have to bet with you to know I’ll win.”
“I’ll bet you a kiss.”
“Ha! You are not getting that!”
“And here I thought you were going to win.”
She shook her head. “Nice try. But no. I don’t bet my kisses.”
He grinned. “Come on. Let’s go.”
She pushed past him down into the hallway and grabbed her purse. Lucas opened the door for her and they jumped into an Uber to the house party about five minutes away. The house was massive and already filled to the brim with people. The lawn was overrun and Savannah could hear the bass from the street.
“Oh God, I haven’t been to a frat party since sophomore year,” she grumbled.
“It’s not a frat. The basketball team is worse,” he said, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and walking them forward across the brick walkway.
When they entered the plantation style house, she shrugged him off of her. She didn’t want to give anyone the impression that they were together. But judging by the expression on the girl’s face who was walking toward them, it appeared to be too late.
“Lucas!” she cried. She threw her arms around him. He hastily extracted himself from her grip.
“Amanda,” he said with a head nod, “have you seen Nick?”
“He’s around,” Amanda said. “I think by the kegs.”
“Thanks,” Lucas said. He grabbed Savannah’s hand and then brushed past Amanda.
Savannah almost felt bad for the girl as they disappeared from her view. Almost. They meandered through the house until they came upon the kitchen. A half dozen guys all as tall as Lucas stood around a group of kegs. A ton of other girls congregated around them, drinking out of red solo cups, and flirting outrageously with the guys.
When they saw Lucas, they all cheered.
One guy slapped his hand, fist bumped, then tapped chests. “Hey bro, this your girl?”
“This is Savannah,” Lucas said. “Savi, this is Nick.”
“Hi,” she said uncertainly. Nick was looking at her as if he’d seen her before or possibly like he was going to have her for dinner.
“Savannah, Savannah,” Nick said, taking her hand and kissing it. “Such a pleasure to finally meet your fine ass.”
Lucas smacked the back of his head. “Watch it.”
“What have you been saying about me, Lucas?” Savannah asked as she snatched her hand back.
Nick crowed with laughter tipping back his black braids. “Boy is in puppy love. I told him I’d tap that if he didn’t.”
Nick then wrapped an arm around her waist and carefully meandered her through the crowd of basketball players. Her head was spinning a bit. She was surprised to hear that Lucas had been talking about her. Let alone to a degree that other people already knew who she was.
A red solo cup was pushed into her hand. She glanced down at the red drink filled with fruit and knew this was a bad idea. She should probably hand the drink back and catch an Uber to her parent’s hotel. That would be smart and safe and the right thing to do.
“Don’t just stare at it. Drink!” Nick said with a laugh.
Lucas put his hand on her bare back. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
“Bitch, let her have a drink.” Nick pushed Lucas back. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of her for you.”
Savannah laughed, taking a sip of the drink and cringing. “You’re outrageous. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone call Lucas a bitch.”
“He’s a bitch if he doesn’t tell me who he has meetings with next week.”
“Meetings?” Savannah arched an eyebrow.
“Yeah. Teams want to meet with me and invite me out for a work out,” Lucas said all nonchalant.
“For the draft?”
“You haven’t been filling her in?” Nick asked. “Lucas here is going to go big, big! And next year when I go out, I’m going to go bigger. Though I already am bigger, if you know what I’m saying.” Nick winked at her.
Savannah snorted. “Oh, I’m sure.”
“Disbelief!” Nick cried, putting his hand to his heart. “You wound me, baby girl. You wound me.”
“So…how big?” Savannah asked Lucas. When his eyes widened as if to say don’t you already know that, she coughed and took a large gulp of her drink. “I mean basketball!”
Lucas shrugged dismissively. “We’ll see. Next week Utah, L.A., and Oklahoma City asked for meetings.”
“Fucking hell, L.A.?” Nick groaned. “I hate you.”
“Nothing is set in stone.”
“Wow,” Savannah said softly. “Those are all…really far away.”
“Aren’t you a reporter?” Nick asked. She nodded. God, he really did know a shit ton about her. “Well, should be easy to get a job wherever he ends up.”
Savannah nearly spit out her drink. “First, that’s not how reporting jobs work at all. Second, why the hell would I move with him?”
Lucas was cracking up laughing. His face was buried in his beer.
“I thought this was happening.” Nick pointed between Lucas and Savannah.
“Nope. I have a boyfriend in D.C. This,” I said, gesturing herself, “is not happening.”
“Well shit, where’s little ole boyfriend now?”
“Uh huh.” Nick sounded disbelieving.
“Lay off, Nick. It’s amazing she agreed to come to the party. Let’s just chill and have a good time,” Lucas said.
“Whatever you say, bro.”
Savannah fell into step with Lucas’s friends. Mostly basketball players and the occasional girl. Amanda kept showing up and trying to throw herself at Lucas, but he kept trying to push her off on Nick. She was pretty sure that Nick was all right with that.
They moved into the sitting area. A DJ had been set up and people were dancing. Savannah was deep into her third glass of punch. She knew she should have stopped after one, but it didn’t even taste like alcohol. Which is how she should have known not to drink it.
“What…is in this?” she asked, stumbling forward into Lucas.
“How much have you had?” he asked.
Savannah held up three fingers. “And a pineapple. It was so yum.”
Lucas laughed. “Maybe we should get you water. That has Everclear in it.”
“Fuck,” she mumbled. “I might be drunk.”
Lucas took the drink out of her hand and dropped it off on a nearby table. “Water.”
“I’m fine.” She grabbed his hand. “Let’s dance.”
“Oh my God, this song!” she cried. Just then Get Low came on and everyone yelled at the same time. “Win-dowwwww!”
Lucas laughed. “Do you remember how we used to all dance to this in high school?”
“And I had no idea what skeet was.”
“Such an innocent Maxwell.”
“I’ll show you innocent,” she snapped. She grabbed the cup he’d set down and downed the rest of the contents. Then with his hand in hers, she veered them out into the crowd. Lucas made no protest. Shocking.
Their bodies twined together in the packed heated crowd. With loose summer clothing exposing so much skin and sweat beading on foreheads and the music driving everyone along, it was a perfect atmosphere. Lucas’s hands were on his hips. She had hers overhead. Their hips were locked and swayed provocatively. They moved as one unit. As if this was natural. As if they’d done this before. Time and time again.
Someone bumped into her from behind and she dropped her arms around his neck giggling. His lips were dangerously close. Inches away. It would have been so easy to forget where she was and what she was doing, but she hadn’t had that much to drink. Her heart beat against her ribcage and Lucas leaned forward and rested his forehead against hers.
“God, I want to kiss you,” he said over the bass.
With a racing heart, she turned away from the temptation of his lips. Not that it made it much better when her ass was pressed up against his dick. Not when it was clear from that position exactly what he wanted. And kissing was only the beginning.
She quieted her mind…or the alcohol did and pretended like this was any other night. Any other time. Nothing to worry about. She could handle this. She was a big girl.
Then the whole crowd yelled to touch her toes and she was drunk enough to do it. Her fingers touching the tops of her wedges. One of his hands splayed on the base of her spine. The other gripped her hip and pulled her closer. She ran her hands up her legs and flipped her hair.
He pulled her back in again and she read the word he mouthed. Fuck.
“Maybe…maybe another drink,” she said and then pushed herself out of the dance floor.
She knew he was following her, but she didn’t care. She just wanted to not think about it. About him. She needed to think about her boyfriend at home in D.C. The one that she loved and who had trusted her. The one she hadn’t called after graduation like planned. Goddamn it! Well, it’d have to wait until morning.
She needed another drink to think about how that conversation was going to go. She had downed a fourth glass of punch before Lucas reached for the cup.
“Maybe you should slow down,” Lucas said.
“Why?” She turned away from him and asked for another.
“Fine. I’ll hold your hair back later or whatever.”
“Ew. No way.”
It was somewhere between glass five and twenty…in the middle of which she lost count. She forgot why she should be worried about tonight. She forgot why she didn’t want to be here. She even forgot that she hadn’t even liked this girl Amanda earlier today. Now, they were obviously best friends. Lifelong friends for sure. Roughly five hundred pictures, a chorus of Girls Just Want To Have Fun, and dancing on a table outside later and she decided her night was epic.
Lucas, of course, was never too far away. He caught her when she almost fell of the table and laughed at their terrible rendition of Cyndi Lauper. He probably took half of the pictures that weren’t selfies. But mostly he just watched her get sloshed with a bemused expression on his face.
“What?” she asked in the wee hours of the morning when everything was finally winding down.
“I haven’t seen you like this in a long time.”
“I have fun,” she said, smacking him in the chest.
“Usually you’re so angry with me.”
She curled her fingers into his T-shirt. “Why would I be angry at you?”
Lucas laughed. “Now that is a can of worms.”
“Don’t condescend to me,” she slurred.
“Big words for someone as wasted as you.”
“I am…n-not wasted.”
Then he was laughing even harder. “Maybe we should get you home. Party is basically over.”
She skipped past him toward the entrance once more and he basically ran to catch up with her as he called for an Uber. She stumbled nearly falling face first and that was about the point where he hauled her into his arms and carried her through the house. The Uber arrived a couple minutes later.
“She better not throw up in here,” the Uber driver said.
“She won’t,” Lucas said. He eased her into the backseat and she leaned her head against the window to watch the street lights. “She hates throwing up.”
“I really really do.”
When they got back to his apartment, he put an arm around her to help her into his place. “You know, Savi, it’s a good thing you didn’t bet,” he muttered as he opened the door for her.
“I would have definitely won.” He closed the door.
She shook her head. “No, everyone wants you.”
“Blatantly false. I had to hover over you all night to keep the creeps away.”
“You did not!”
She smacked him again in disbelief and then nearly fell over. He shook his head and then scooped her up into his arms. She sighed and rested her head on his chest as he carried her into the bedroom. He set her down on the bed and then carefully removed each of her shoes, tossing them to the side.
She stood on wobbly feet. He completely towered over her without the shoes. God, he was so tall.
“You should try to sleep this off,” he suggested.
“Will you help me out of this?”
She twirled around and pointed at the zipper on the side.
“I…” She could hear him audibly gulp. “Let me get you a change of clothes.”
He snagged the zipper and then hastily retreated to her suitcase. He found shorts and a T-shirt and tried to blindly hand them to her. She slipped the T-shirt over her head and let the romper fall to the ground. She couldn’t be bothered with the shorts. That sounded like effort.
“Are you ready?”
He turned around and his eyes went straight to her legs. “Shorts?”
“Nah.” She reached out for him and drew him down onto the bed with her. “You sleep here now.”
“Savi, you’re drunk.”
“Nope.” She curled her body into his and let the room spin all around her.
She tilted her head up to look at him and he stopped talking. That energy that had coursed between them on the dance floor ignited once more. She slipped her hand up into his curls, running them through her fingers.
“Scared?” she murmured.
Then his lips were on hers, crushing her, tasting her, needing her. A desperate feverish kiss. Passion and aching and yearning all rolled up into one touch. His bulk pressed her back into the bed, carefully leaning on top of her. The shirt she was wearing bunched up to her stomach. She hooked a leg around him, trying to get him closer, needing this like she’d never needed anything.
His hands explored, running up into her hair, over her neck, down her sides. All while their tongues melded together. Their bodies rocking in a motion that was all too familiar.
“Oh God,” she moaned as he started kissing down her neck.
A hand snaked up her T-shirt. He traced the outline of her breast, teased her pert nipple, and then cupped it fully. Her back arched off of the bed. Her body demanding more more more. Her brain on rapid fire.
“Please,” she whispered.
Then suddenly, Lucas was gone. He was standing a foot away from her. His chest heaving. His eyes dilated. His erection very very evident.
“You…don’t want this,” he finally said. “And I’m not going to have you hate me in the morning because I took advantage of you when you were drunk. If you want me, then you want me sober. A week ago you could hardly look at me. I know this isn’t right. I knew and I kissed you anyway. Fuck. But I want you.”
“Lucas,” she whispered.
He turned away, cursing under his breath. “Go to sleep, Savannah.”
Then he marched out of the door and slammed it shut behind him.
She blacked out before he was even back in his own room.
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