Home > Jessie's Girl (The Trapper Keeper Diaries Book 1)

Jessie's Girl (The Trapper Keeper Diaries Book 1)
Author: Naima Simone

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

Asa


“You knew.”

I stare at the woman standing on my front porch. It’s almost midnight, and though it’s the last week of October and the air carries a bite with razor-sharp teeth, she’s clothed in nothing but a thin, long-sleeved T-shirt and skinny jeans ripped at the thigh and knees. She’s shown up unannounced on my doorstep in the middle of the night, looking as if she just threw on clothes, ran out of the house, and jumped in the car.

Yet, I don’t ask India Roberts what she’s doing here or what she wants.

And I don’t ask her what she means by her cryptic “you knew.”

Because she’s right. I know.

One look into those wide but shattered penny-brown eyes, and I know.

Instead of answering, I step back and hold the door open wider, silently inviting her to come in. She doesn’t release me from her gaze as she steps into my house, and part of me wishes she would. For my sake. Because she’s ripping me to bloody, jagged shreds with those eyes. Eyes that should only shine with delight, laughter, and love, but are now so dark with pain it’s like looking into an abyss.

I close the door behind her, and she slowly turns around to face me. And that’s how we stand in the small foyer—my arms down at my sides and hers crossed over her chest. Friends turned adversaries, hovering on either side of an imaginary line drawn in the proverbial sand.

Me, the betrayer. Her, the betrayed.

At least in her eyes.

“You knew,” she accuses again, in that hoarse voice that sounds as if a carpenter took several feet of sandpaper to it.

“It wasn’t mine to tell.” My voice, even and deep, doesn’t reveal how there’s an angry, wounded animal howling inside me. It’s demanding I go to her, wrap myself around her like a living blanket to soak up the hurt, that agony that damn near vibrates in her husky tone.

“Wasn’t yours to tell?” she repeats. A harsh, hollow bark of laughter follows as she tips her head back and stares at the ceiling for a brief moment. When she looks at me again, anger flickers, mingling bright and hot with the pain. “You were supposed to be my friend.”

“I am, India.” The fingers of my right hand curl into a fist. One I wish I could plow into the nearest wall. Or my best friend Jessie’s face. “I am your friend. Never doubt that.”

“Yeah,” she scoffs, her full mouth with its plump bottom lip twisting into a bitter caricature of a smile. “That’s why you let me walk around with my head up my ass for how long? You let me live a lie. You let me be a fool.” She shakes her head so hard, her dark brown, tight curls brush her cheekbones. “And for the life of me, I can’t figure out which one is worse. Finding out the man I loved—the life I lived with him—was a figment of my dumb ass Pollyanna imagination. Or that I was a willfully blind idiot, and everyone I trusted was in on the joke. The joke being me.”

“Baby girl,” I murmur, risking her wrath, her disgust, and stepping across that line in the sand to stand in front of her. To… touch her.

I’ve been very careful about touching this woman. Brief hugs. Deliberate but friendly distance. Even a fucking pat on the head. But now, with her hurt beating off of her in red-tinged waves, I can’t not put my hands on her. Even if it’s just her slim shoulders. But it might as well be on those just-less-than-a-handful and utterly perfect breasts. Or those feminine, rounded hips. Or that ripe peach of an ass.

It doesn’t matter where my palms skate or where my fingertips press into her gleaming chestnut skin. It’s all sexual. It’s all dirty.

Because it’s all her.

For me, it’s always been her.

My fantasy. My sin.

My joy. My regret.

My best friend’s woman.

Jessie’s girl.

She bats my hands away from her, whirling around to pace to the other side of my small foyer. Which takes about four steps before she’s headed back my way. Her arms cradle her chest as if they’re the only things holding her together. If she uncrossed them, she might splinter into pieces all over my dark hardwood floor.

“Jessie told you tonight?” I ask, studying her, wanting to stop her frenetic motion, but I’ve risked putting my hands on her once. No way in hell am I chancing it again. Besides, the way she jerked out of my hold, she would probably claw and scratch my fucking eyes out if I tried to touch her again.

She shakes her head, another of those horrible, empty chuckles escaping her. “No, he didn’t tell me. His side-chick DM’d me. She decided it was high time I found out about her existence. For my own good, you see. She thought it only right that I knew what my long-time boyfriend was up to when he wasn’t with me. And just in case I didn’t believe her, she provided pictures.”

What a thoughtful bitch.

She stutters to a stop, rocking slightly on the balls of her feet. “Oh God. I’ll never be able to… to…” Her harsh gasps shred the air, her chest rising and falling with each ragged inhale. She rubs her fists against her eyes, for a moment appearing like a young girl instead of a twenty-four-year-old woman. “I’ll never be able to scrub those images from my head. How could he…”

She doesn’t finish, but she doesn’t need to.

I’ve asked myself the same question thousands of times since Jessie confessed to me a couple of weeks ago about his drunken one-night stand with a football groupie. He’d been broken—the closest I’d ever seen my best friend come to crying. And he’d been terrified about India finding out. Terrified he’d lose her. I felt for him—I did. Given my own history of growing up with a gambler father who saw women as poker chips to be won, cashed in, then doled out to his bitch-ass buddies, cheating was a deal breaker for me. No excuses.

But Jessie’s transgression seemed even more of a betrayal.

Because it was India. He had this woman’s loyalty. Her body. Her heart. And he’d tossed it all aside to get his dick wet in some random’s pussy.

Yes, I loved him, and I promised not to tell India so he could do it first. But a part of me… a part of me hated the man I’d been best friends with since Jacob Parsons broke Jessie’s glasses in the fourth grade, and I broke that bully bastard’s front tooth with my fist.

I resented Jessie for throwing away what I would’ve gift-wrapped and hand-delivered my soul to the devil to have.

“He loves you, India,” I murmur. Because as his best friend, I have to fight for him… fight for them. And I know it’s the truth. “He fucked up, but he would die for you.”

“Don’t you dare defend him,” she whispers low and fierce, whipping around to face me. “He would die for me, but he can’t quite manage to keep his dick in his pants and out of other women?” She sliced a hand through the air. “I don’t need that kind of love. Fuck. His. Love.”

Wasn’t shit I could say to that. I agree with her, and while I might be the worst friend since Brutus, I’m not a hypocrite. I wouldn’t convince her to give him another chance when I would never offer a woman a second opportunity to stab me in the back.

Watched that shit happen with my parents on repeat like it was goddamn Groundhog’s Day when I was a kid. Had it happen to me when I was foolish enough to trust my heart with someone, only to have them twist and pound it like Play-Doh.

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