Daniel Palmer


For Michael Palmer

Father, friend, and paragon.

Chapter 1

Shilo, New Hampshire, sometime in March

Love can make you do surprising things. Lindsey Wells flashed on that thought as she unbuttoned her black sweater. Her racing heart knew she was crossing a line she’d never crossed before. The hairs of her arms stood on end, as though they, too, were anxious about this unfamiliar but exciting experience. Keep going, Lindsey urged herself. She smiled and released yet another button from its hole. There wasn’t any little voice inside her head screaming “No” or “Don’t.” So Lindsey continued—undeterred, unashamed, and never in her fifteen years feeling more turned on.

Lindsey, known for her cheerfulness, enviable GPA, and deft tackling skills on the soccer field, tilted her head to the right, pinning her cell phone between her shoulder blade and ear. Through the phone’s compact receiver, Lindsey listened to Tanner Farnsworth’s hard breathing. Her body tingled with these strange feelings. She knew what she was doing was a little bit crazy. On occasion, her mind would flash a warning that something wasn’t right with this. Even so, she ignored those nagging worries because that was part of the fun. It was what made her feel so exhilarated.

“Tell me what you’re doing now,” Tanner whispered in her ear.

His voice. God, his voice alone was amazing. Deep timbred, not quite yet a man’s, but not too far off, either. His voice resonated with confidence, and he made her feel desirable, beautiful even. The last time Lindsey had felt this beautiful, she was a nine-year-old girl, competing in local beauty pageants. Those events ended quickly as her body changed and her mother lost interest in shuttling her daughter from one losing effort to another. Soccer was what gave Lindsey confidence in her physical abilities, but it was Tanner who made her feel confident about her looks.

Lindsey unhinged the front clasp of her bra, brushing her fingers against the heart pendant of a gold necklace (or gold-plated, as Jill Hawkins joked) that Tanner had given her. That necklace made her somebody’s girlfriend for the very first time. Not just somebody, though, Lindsey thought—Tanner Farnsworth, whose Taylor Lautner good looks, amazing body, and really sweet nature inspired jealous fits from her friends and teammates.

Normally, footballers and soccer players didn’t mix at Shilo High School. Soccer players were accurately typecast as the studious ones. Football jocks ate their meals in C house like rowdy animals, while soccer players enjoyed a cerebral lunch in the F house cafeteria. Soccer players didn’t take drugs, and most didn’t even drink. Sandy Wellford, who’d had her stomach pumped clean of Jagermeister before getting booted off the team, inspired most players to abstain. The going rumor (which really wasn’t a rumor, because Tanner told her it was true) had half the football team shooting steroids or popping some sort of speed. But not Tanner. Her boyfriend (God, her boyfriend!) didn’t do any of that stuff.

Lindsey’s body pulsed with energy. She felt ready to explode from the most scandalous act of her young life. Talking on the phone. Getting undressed. Sharing the details with him. It felt so wrong. It felt sexy. She felt powerful.

“Okay, my sweater is off,” Lindsey cooed.

“Oh, you’re killing me, Lin. Just killin’ me.”

She loved it when he called her Lin. It was just so sweet, the way he said it.

“Well, you asked for it.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t think you’d actually do it. I wanna see.”

“What? Come over?” Lindsey cringed, fearing she sounded more panicked than she’d intended. Of course she wanted to see Tanner. She wanted to see him more than anything. But Lindsey was still a virgin, and Tanner wasn’t. It had been a source of tension between the two early on, until Tanner assured her it was no big deal. He agreed to a compromise. Kissing. Touching. All fine. Now, add dirty talk to the mix. But the deed? No, it wasn’t time for that yet. Maybe after the prom. Prom was only a few weeks away. If he could hold on until prom, then just maybe…

“Look, Lin, I think I should go.”

No! she wanted to scream. Don’t hang up. Not yet. Her mind raced with all sorts of imagined reasons for his ending the call with such abruptness. “He’s going to dump me” topped her growing list of fears. She felt the pain of her heartbreak as though it had actually happened, and bit her lower lip to keep from saying too much.

“Why do you have to go?” Lindsey asked. Her voice had the force of a whisper.

“I don’t know. I’m kind of bored, and you’re just getting me frustrated.”

Another wave of panic swept through her. Oh no, he said the “B” word. “I don’t want you to hang up.” Lindsey put her sweater back on but left the front open.

“Well, I thought this would be fun, but it’s sort of lame. I mean, I can’t see you. What’s the point?”

Lindsey again pinned the cell phone between her shoulder and ear as she tied her straight brown hair back into its usual ponytail. The heat of the moment had vanished, and she regretted what she’d already done.

“Why do you have to see?”

“Because you’re too sexy, that’s why.”

“My mom might come home.”

That was a lie. Lindsey’s mother had gone down the street to Ali’s house, probably commiserating, again with too much wine, about their recent divorces. Mother would be home sometime after midnight, and snoring in her lonely drunken stupor a few minutes after that. And her dad had moved too far away to drop by unexpectedly.

“Like I said, it’s no biggie. But I gotta run.”

“I don’t want you to go.” You’re going to break up with me. I know you are. Lindsey thought that but didn’t voice it.

“Well, show me something to keep me sticking round.”

“What do you mean?”

“You got a new phone for your birthday. I got one, too. Take a picture and send it to me. Like I said, I wanna see.”

Lindsey’s face reddened. She didn’t debate him, though. Instead, while sitting centered on the green peace sign embroidered into her duvet, with her legs dangling over the side of her twin bed, Lindsey arched her back and took a picture of herself. Her bra was unhinged, though her sweater concealed her breasts. Still, she let the sweater hang open seductively. The top of her head got cut off in the picture, but at least she managed a smile. He’s going to think I’m ugly. He’ll dump me before prom for sure now. Even so, she text messaged him the picture.

Seconds were all it took for Tanner to get her digital snapshot, open it, and respond.

“You’re amazing. I can’t believe how hot you look, Lin. Forget Megan Fox. You’ve got the bod. I want more. I think I’m falling in love.”

For Tanner to offer up a comparison to Megan Fox, the latest Hollywood “it” girl, gave Lindsey a fresh jolt of confidence. Not to mention, he said the “L” word (way better than the “B” word), and she could tell he meant it.

“You liked it?” Her voice still lacked certainty.


Вы читаете Helpless
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату