Love Me(The Keatyn Chronicles #4)

By: Jillian Dodd

Thursday, October 20th

He’s an idiot.


I’m in line waiting for coffee when I notice Annie getting in line behind me.

I step out of line and walk back to her. I’m sick of her avoiding me.

Her eyes get big as she sees me marching toward her. She looks around for a second, like she’s considering just making a run for it.

“Why are you avoiding me?”

She fiddles with the zipper on her backpack. “I know you’re probably mad at me.”

“Why would you think that?”

“Because you threw the star back at Aiden. Because you’re mad at him most of the time. And I helped him. There. I said it.”

“I assumed that you helped him. The bliss candy was a pretty big hint.”

She sighs. “When you threw the star back, he looked hurt. So I asked him why he wanted to give the star to you. And he kind of spilled his guts. He told me about the stars, the candy, phone jail, the four-leaf clover. I would’ve totally swooned if a guy did all that for me. You just frustrate me.”

“I apologized for throwing it at him. We went out for dinner last night.”

“So, you’re done with Dawson?”

“Um, not really.”

“Are you serious? That’s never going to work. And why would want to keep dating Dawson? He’s an idiot.”

“He is not. He needed closure with Whitney. I get that.”

“So that’s it? You’re going to forgive him, just like that!?” She stops and looks around, sees people are staring at her. She lowers her voice, looks like she’s about to cry, and stomps away. “This is why I haven’t been talking to you.”

Jake wanders up from behind me. “What was that all about?”

“She’s mad at me. Thinks I shouldn’t be giving Dawson another chance.”

“I can’t say that I disagree with her on that,” he says, surprisingly.

“How was the library with Maggie?”

“How was dinner with Aiden?” he sasses back as the first bell rings.

In history, Riley babbled on about how gorgeous Ariela is going to look in a toga and asks me if girls wear underwear with them.

My phone buzzes with a text.

Braxton: Hey, baby. What’s up? You got my Welcome to Eastbrooke, Bitches party planned?

Me: Yes. That’s what this weekend is. All about you.

Braxton: I love the place already. So there’s this girl.

Me: Isn’t there always?

Braxton: She’s the one I told you about. She dates older guys. Thinks I’m immature.

Me: She the one with long dark hair and the longest eyelashes ever?

Braxton: Yeah. Embry. She’s coming this weekend too.

Me: Let me guess. You want to impress her?

Braxton: Can’t decide. Part of me wants to kiss some hot older girl right in front of her. Make her see that I’m not immature.

Me: Um, trying to make someone jealous on purpose is sort of immature. I’m afraid she’d see right through it.

Braxton: Fine. Then I’ll forget about her and you can be my date.

Me: Me?

Braxton: Remember the beach this summer? How if I walk around with a hottie on my arm, all the girls will want me? Don’t you remember that? It was an important conversation!

Me: I remember the conversation. And I will be your date for the party. That will actually solve a tricky situation for me too.

Braxton: Heard you’re still fucking my brother while you’re dating someone else. Kinda slutty, if you ask me.

Me: I didn’t ask you. And I’m not doing that. I’m single. Dawson and I screwed up by taking things too fast sexually. That should be a lesson to you.

Braxton: Dawson is brilliant if you ask me. Loved the video, by the way.

Me: Riley told me that you tried to recreate it.

Braxton: That didn’t go over too well with Mom.

Me: I heard that too. Got your toga ready?

Braxton: You know, in ancient Greece, they went commando. I am a Johnson. I’ve always been big for my age. Better watch out.

Me: So is the girl excited to come?

Braxton: Isn’t it the girl gets excited, then she comes?

Me: Grow up.

Braxton: Fine. Yes. I heard her talking about it. She saw the video you did. Wants to meet you. Wants to be on the dance team. Thought the guys playing soccer with no shirts on were hot.

Me: I have a new line for you. Dallas told me yesterday during class.

Braxton: Hit me.

Me: Did you know that one minute of kissing burns 25 calories? We should work out together.

Braxton: I changed my mind. I want the trio.

Me: What trio?

Braxton: From the video. Blonde, brunette, and redhead. You can all be my dates. Get ready, bitches!!! Shit, I have to go. Teacher is giving me the evil eye.

How can I refuse?


I wander into the café trying to figure out where I’m going to sit today.

Aiden, who was all sweet last night, has been nowhere to be found. I thought he might try and talk to me today. Walk me to class. Text me.



But, no.

And it’s such a letdown.

I spy Maggie already sitting at a table with Ace, Annie, Katie, Riley, Ariela, Dallas, and Logan. I decide that’s where I’m heading when familiar arms wrap around my waist.

“Sit with me,” Dawson says.

I look at him. So gorgeous and sweet. “Sure,” I say, knowing that he’s trying.

When we sit down, Jake and Bryce are talking about going to the JV game tonight.

“You should come with us,” Jake says to me.

“Yeah,” Bryce says. “It’s supposed to rain, so it should be a muddy game. Those are so fun to watch.”

“Sitting in the rain doesn’t really sound fun,” I say. “But I don’t have rehearsal tonight, so why not.”

Dawson rests his hand on my leg and turns toward me. “Why don’t we meet the guys there? We can stop and get dinner and then go sit in the rain and be miserable together?”

“Wow, when you put it that way, how can I refuse?”

“I love you, Keatie.”

And I know I should feel all warm and fuzzy when he says that but, right now, it just sort of feels inappropriate.

And the way Peyton and Whitney both shake their heads and roll their eyes at him, I know I’m not alone in my thinking.

Peyton quickly changes the subject though. She turns to Whitney and the sole minion and says, “Health has become my new favorite class.”

“Mine too,” Whitney says. “Isn’t Mr. Steele totally hot?”

“He’s not even that big,” Bryce replies, flexing his muscles at her. “Can’t compare to this.”

She laughs at him. “In your dreams, Bryce. I heard he was an MMA fighter. And those tattoos. Why can’t all the teachers look like him? I’d never skip a class. In fact, I have an appointment with him this afternoon. Can’t wait for a little one-on-one time with him.”

Jake smashes his jaw together tightly. I can tell that he’s pissed. Just the other day, Whitney told him she made a mistake and wanted to get back together with him.

“I thought you wanted to get back together with Jake?” I blurt out.

She shrugs her shoulders, like Jake was no big deal. “Not anymore. I’m aiming a little higher this time.”

Jake stands up, grabs his tray, and walks away.

Peyton looks at Whitney and smiles. And the way she smiles makes me a little uncomfortable. I’m pretty sure she’s trying to plan Whitney’s demise. I look at the lunch table, knowing Jake will probably not be back.

And realize that’s exactly what Peyton wants.

That’s why she’s been standing up for Whitney with the minions. She wants them gone.

She wants for Whitney what I wanted for Vanessa.

For her to end up sitting on her throne.

All alone.

Nothing good.


Aiden drops his backpack down on my desk. I see that my feather earring is attached to its zipper.

I touch it. “I take it I’m not getting this back?”

“I might want to use it again.”

“You’ve been MIA all day. What have you been up to?”

“Just doing some Social Committee stuff with Brad. Tying up loose ends stuff. Since they sent out the video, they’ve doubled the number of prospective students. We’re trying to adjust our plans accordingly.”

“Do you need help?”

“No, we got it all done. The welcome packets are ready. The rooms are assigned. All that stuff. Speaking of the video. Have you thought about getting an agent? Maybe doing commercials or something? I think you could sell about anything to anyone.”

“Probably not until I get done with school,” I lie. I wish I could tell him what Vincent is doing. How there’s no freaking way I could be on TV. I decide to change the subject. “Riley told me earlier today that Coach is making you kick for both the JV and Varsity games this week. Even though it’s supposed to rain, I’m coming to the game.”

“Don’t you have rehearsal?”

“I get to skip again. They’re still working through their lines.”

“Really? That’s cool . . .” Then he stops. “Are you going with Dawson?”

“Well, yeah, there’s a bunch of us going.”

“I heard you were at the Cave last night.”

“How did you hear that?”

“Dallas said something to Riley about it earlier. Sorry, I’m not stalking you or anything.”

I think about Dawson. How cute he is when he stalks me. Meeting me after classes. How it makes me feel when I walk out of my dorm and see him sitting on the brick wall. Maybe he just has a different way of wooing.

“Okay,” I say, not sure where this is going.

“Did you kiss him?”


“Dallas. Did you get high and kiss?”

“Um, we got high . . .”

He locks his teeth together and looks mad.

Annie comes rushing in, sliding quickly into her desk. “Oh, I thought I was going to be late. What’d I miss?”

From behind me Aiden says, “Nothing good.”

Shit. He is mad at me.


And he didn’t let me finish my freaking sentence.


I turn around. I don’t care that Miss Praline has started talking.

I madly cross my arms in front of my chest and say, “I thought you were going to start letting me finish my sentences before you jump to conclusions?”

“And I thought . . .” He stops. “Never mind.”

My voice gets louder. “No. There’s not going to be a never mind. I’m sick of it.”

Miss Praline says, “Keatyn? Aiden? Is there a problem?”

“Yes, actually there is,” I say. “I’m feeling sick. May I go to the nurse’s office?”

She narrows her eyes at me as I put on my sick face. Slack face, sad eyes, slightly lowered head.

“Of course, Keatyn,” she says.

I throw my books in my bag and walk out the door.

I don’t go to the nurse’s office. I toss my pass into the trash and race to the field house.

I change into my workout clothes and then go to town on the punching bag. I never promised not to pretend punch his head. Besides, probably better to pretend punch it than punch it for real.

I’m kicking the shit out of the bag when Cooper Steele saunters in. “You’re doing that wrong.”

“What do you mean, I’m doing it wrong?”

He walks behind me, reaches over my shoulders, grabs my hands, and pulls them back in toward my waist. When he does this, I’m thrust back against his rock solid body.

He turns my hands over so that my palms are facing upward. Then he pushes them forward and flips them as they reach the bag.

“That’s how to throw a proper punch. Shouldn’t you be in class?”

“I was feeling sick?”

“Looks to me like you’re feeling pissed.”

I sigh. “That too.”

He knits his brows together, thinking. “Come into my office. We need to get to know each other better.”

“That’s pretty forward of you, Mr. Steele,” I say with a smirk.

He gives me a coach’s smack on the butt. “Get going.”

Is it bad that I totally just pictured Cooper Steele tying me to a bed and spanking me?

Okay, Keatyn. That’s it. No more reading naughty romances on your phone during school.

He grabs me by the arm and drags me toward his office.

And I can’t help it.

I like it.

I have a stupid grin on my face when Whitney comes around the corner. “Uh, Mr. Steele, I was just coming to see you. We have a meeting to discuss the competitions for this weekend’s Greek events.”

“It’ll have to wait. What was your name again?”

Whitney looks startled. Shocked, really. Isn’t every male on the planet supposed to know her name?

“Um, it’s Whitney. Whitney Clarke. I’m on the Social Committee. We have an appointment.”

Cooper flashes a smirk at her and looks down at his hand, which is still firmly wrapped around my arm. “As you can see, Miss Clarke, I’ve got my hands full.”

He drags me into his office, shuts the door on Whitney’s face, and then turns the blinds on the door’s windows.

I try not to giggle.

“Sit up here on the desk,” he tells me loudly. When I don’t move, he picks me up and sets me on the desk.

I am almost positive that Whitney is still outside his door. I can only imagine what she’s thinking.

Of course, I’m totally thinking the same thing.

I so should have asked for a hot bodyguard sooner.

He paces and speaks. “Did Garrett teach you self defense?”

“Um, not really.”

“Why not?”

“Didn’t he brief you on the situation?”

Cooper takes a step back, like I just offended him. “Of course, I’ve been fully briefed on the situation.”

“But you don’t understand how fast it all happened, maybe?”

“Tell me,” he says as he takes a seat.

I tell him the story. The whole drawn-out story. He just keeps nodding.

“Basically, we talked about safety and fear. He gave me some pepper spray, which I try to keep in my purse. I wear my locket most of the time. And I’ve gotten away from Vincent three times now. So, you know, I must be doing something right.”

“Stand up,” he commands.

What is it with him and the two-word sentences? I stay sitting on the desk. I’ll show him. “Make me.”

Cooper strikes faster than a cobra. He grabs me, twists my arms behind my back, and pushes my face down into the desk. I’m horrified by how quickly I was overcome.

“Is this what you want? Is this the position you want to be in?”

There’s a knock on his door. “Mr. Steele,” Whitney says. “I really need to confer with you.”

“Just a moment,” he says, still holding me down on the desk. “Is this the position you want to be in?” he asks again.

“No,” I whimper.

“Then you need to do what I say.”

“Yes,” I say as he pushes harder.

“Get to class. I’ll go through the school’s security and figure out a plan for you.”

“Um, okay.”

I walk out of his office door, suddenly feeling like I can’t breathe.

I run outside and down to the track, where I sprint until I can’t sprint anymore.

Then I sit down on the ground and cry.

Because I just realized that next time I probably won’t get away.

Are you effing kidding me?


“So, we’re alone. Out on the highway. Anything come to mind?”

I’m in the car with Dawson. He’s got the radio turned up and his hand on my knee.

I think for a second. And, well, no. Nothing comes to mind. “Uh?”

“I’m driving. You maybe wanna do something a little naughty?”

Then I get it.

He wants road head. Are you effing kidding me?

“That sounds very romantic.”

But I don’t do anything to him. Instead, I look out the passenger-side window and fight back tears.

I don’t win the fight.

I turn to face him. “Hey, I’m not feeling well. Will you take me back to school, please?”

He sees my tears. “What’s wrong? Why are you crying? Oh, wait. Did you think I was serious? I was just joking.”

“No, you weren’t. You didn’t open the car door for me. You didn’t make any plans for tonight. And your idea of romance is asking me to blow you while you drive. This isn’t gonna work.”

He lets out a big sigh, pulls off the side of the road, and turns to me. “Keatie, I was just joking. Can we not joke and have fun anymore? We had sex the other night. It was amazing, like always.”

“I’m sorry. But I shouldn’t have. It’s not fair to you.”

“How is it not fair to me?”

“Because it’s giving you the wrong impression. It makes you think things are okay with our relationship when they’re not.”

“I’ve done stuff for you. Homecoming. The key necklace.”

“I know you have. We just never dated. And that’s not your fault. I never gave you the chance to woo me. We slept together fast. Then thought we were in love. Then . . . Well, then it was over. I know we complicated things by sleeping together the other night. I just wanted to feel close to you again. But I also want to feel close to you in ways other than sex. Maybe we shouldn’t sleep together until we figure this out.”

“You’re right. We probably shouldn’t. Keatie, I never wanted to hurt you.”

“I don’t want to hurt you either.”

He pulls me into his arms and kisses me. They are sweet I’m sorry kisses.

Kisses that get all mixed up with my tears.

As usual with our kisses, they quickly turn from sweet to full of desire.

He pushes his seat back and pulls me over, so I’m on his lap, straddling him.

Pretty soon we’re doing exactly what we just decided we shouldn’t do.

And it feels amazing.

“Just so you know, I’m taking you to a cool little place for dinner tonight. I am planning to woo you, and not just with sex.”

“Really?” I say and start crying again.

“Why does that make you cry?”

I sniffle, crying through the words. “Because it means I don’t have to feel bad about what we just did.”

“You feel bad? How can you feel bad about something that felt so good?”

“Because it’s not that simple.”

“How much simpler can it get, Keatie? We have sex. Amazing, mind-blowingly good sex. I’m sorry if I haven’t made a big deal of going out on dates. I did ask you to Homecoming in a big way. I planned stuff. You had fun, didn’t you?”

I nod, dry my tears, and feel so much better.

He drives a bit farther and takes me to a hole in the wall. The outside is rundown, needs painting and needs a new sign. But I notice the parking lot is packed.

It’s a casual Mexican restaurant and there’s a long line of people waiting to get in, but Dawson walks up to the front, shakes a guy’s hand, and motions for me to follow him.

The guy leads us through the restaurant and then out a sliding glass door.

Now I see why the place is so packed.

There is a huge courtyard under a glass roof. The glass roof is sparkling clean, and you can see the clouds floating by as the sun turns them various shades of pink. There are little twinkle lights everywhere, across the beams on the glass ceiling and in the huge potted trees.

We are seated at a table that is set between a couple trees and has a feeling of seclusion.

Dawson pulls out my chair for me and grins at me as I sit down.

“This place is very cool. How did you ever find it?”

“I wanted to take you somewhere special. I’ve been looking up restaurants all afternoon.”

I lean over and kiss him. “Thank you.”

A Mariachi band strolls up to our table and start serenading us.

Dawson looks irritated, hands one of the dudes a wad of cash, and shoos them away.

We get to the game a bit late.

The scoreboard shows that the second quarter has just started and we’re down by a touchdown.

It starts to sprinkle rain.

The rain gets harder, the field gets muddier, and Dawson holds me tighter.

Pretty soon, it’s the end of the game.

The score is tied.

Only a few ticks left on the clock.

Aiden walks onto the field to kick the winning field goal. His uniform is wet. Molded tightly to his pads and body.

He looks at the goal post. Lines up the kick. Then he stops and looks dead at me.

He does a complicated-looking thing with his hands. His thumbs and pointer fingers form touching double O’s. Then the rest of his fingers form sort of a bridge above the O’s.

Sort of like you would make a heart with your hands. But I have no idea what it’s supposed to be.

The ball is snapped. Logan lines up the laces and Aiden kicks the ball straight through the goal posts.

The guys rush out on the field to congratulate him as the crowd cheers.

At midnight, I’m lying in bed, trying to mimic what he did with his hands.

When all of a sudden, I see it.

My phone buzzes, startling me.

Hottie God: You need to sneak out tonight to congratulate me.

Me: That thing you did, before you kicked it. Was it supposed to be a four-leaf clover?

Hottie God: The Cave. One hour.

This is crazy. I really shouldn’t go.

But I’m going to.

Take off your pants.


It’s stopped raining, but is still cloudy, damp, and chilly. I trudge back through the trees, getting my boots all covered with mud.

Aiden isn’t here yet, so I sit down on a stump, realizing too late that it’s very wet. And now, so are the back of my sweats and even my underwear.

Is there anything worse, really, than a damp ass?

This is not very romantic.

I hear the brush moving and get a momentary rush of worry about getting caught out here after curfew.

But the tree limbs part, and Aiden walks into the clearing carrying a Burberry sleeping bag.

“No way I’m sleeping outside in this weather,” I tease.

“The backing is waterproof, so we won’t get wet when we sit down.”

“Too late for that.” I turn around and show him my wet backside.

“There’s nothing worse than a damp ass,” he says. Which are the exact words I just thought a few seconds ago.

Oh, the fates are so toying with me.

He spreads out the sleeping bag with the shiny side down, kicks his shoes off, then stands on top of it and starts taking off his sweatpants.

Uh, holy shit.

What is this?

I watch though.

He has the best legs at school. They have just enough light blond hair to be masculine, but not enough to be hairy.

“What are you doing?”

“Take off your pants,” he commands.

“Isn’t this moving a little fast? I mean, we haven’t even made out yet.”

He laughs and shakes his head at me. “Silly Boots. I’m going to let you wear my sweats. I have athletic shorts underneath.”

“Oh, um, I . . .”

“What? It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Except that my underwear got wet too.”

He runs his tongue across his bottom lip and grins at me. He’s never made this facial gesture in front of me. And the combination of his mouth and tongue both looking at me at the same time.

I can’t even tell you what it does.

It makes my stomach flip, like I was on a roller coaster and we just flipped upside down doing 75 miles per hour.

You had sex with Dawson tonight, you idiot.

What is wrong with me?

I need off this ride and fast.

Have you ever been on a roller coaster, upside down, and all of a sudden it feels like maybe your seatbelt—that little piece of webbed material—isn’t quite as tight as it should be? You feel yourself slide a fraction of an inch and mentally prepare to fall to your death before it tightens up again?

I feel like I’m ready to fall out of the roller coaster.

Plummet to my death.

And I briefly think, What would my heaven be like?

When my dad died, Mom explained heaven as this amazing place where Daddy was living his best days over and over. Like the day we got ice cream and rode the Ferris wheel then walked along the beach holding hands.

And my mind flashes to Aiden gliding a feather all over me. That is my idea of heaven.

“You can take them off too. I won’t look,” Aiden says, referring to my wet undies as he hands me his warm sweats.

And, sadly, he doesn’t even attempt to peek as I slide them on.

I say what’s on my mind before I think better. “Have you ever been naked in these?”

He pulls me onto the sleeping bag with him and kisses me in response.

And his hands. His talented hands are finally moving across my body.

For the first time, he seems like a normal boy.

Like a normal, horny boy.

He stops and leans up on one arm. “So you figured it out, huh?”

And I want to say, That you are a god? Yes, I know.

He makes half the symbol with his fingers. It looks incomplete, so I mirror it with my fingers and hold them up to his.

And when our fingers touch, I swear to god, a spark shoots from my hand to his.

“A four-leaf clover,” I say breathlessly.

He rolls on top of me, straddling me and pinning me under his weight. It’s an effortless move.

I look at him, my eyes wide.

“Use both your hands to make the double O’s,” he tells me.

So I do.

Then he puts one hand on each side of mine, forming two more O’s.

“That does look like a clover.”

“It’s going to take both of us to make this work,” he says. “I heard Dawson took you on a date tonight.”

“He says he’s going to start wooing me.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Aiden says, still forming the clover. “I’m going to win.”

“It sorta looks like our hands are having sex,” I laugh. “Like, the way they’re joined together, kinda . . . uh, never mind.”

“Let’s talk about sex.”

Just Aiden saying the word sex almost leaves me more breathless than actual sex with Dawson.

“Uh, okay.”

He leans down, his mouth about twelve inches from mine. “We’re going to take things slow.”

“I wanna take things slow. Like, if you were just hoping for sex from me, you should probably halt the wooing process.”

“Does that mean you won’t be having sex with anyone else during the wooing process?”

“Um . . .”

“So that’s why I’m not winning? If we had sex, would I win?”

I let out a little laugh. “I don’t know. You think it would be any good?”

He runs his finger gently down my neck. “What do you think?”

I swallow hard. “God, don’t do that to me. I know I slept with Dawson too soon. But I . . .”

He starts to get off me, but I grab his hands.

“I really don’t want to hear this,” he says.

“You need to hear it. I thought I could go fast with the sexual part of a relationship and slow with the feelings part, but I can’t. It gets all messed up. All backwards. I want to wait. And I don’t want this to become some sort of competition.”


He moves closer to my face.


“I’d wait for you forever. You don’t get it do you?”

“Get what?”

“We’re going to be together for a long time. There's no need to rush things when you know that.”

“Do you know how weird it is for a guy to say that? Guys hate commitment.”

“Did you not feel it? Was it just me?”

“No, I felt it too. I just thought you were a player and fought it.”

“Don’t fight me anymore.”

I don’t get to reply. His lips quickly close the gap between us.

All of a sudden, there is a huge clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning hits a tree not too far from us. Rain starts coming down in buckets.

Aiden pulls me up off the ground.

We laugh at how instantly soaked we both are.

But then we lock eyes.

His lips press against mine.

And there in the pouring rain, I get the. Best. Kiss. Of. My. Entire. Life.

And I’m pretty sure with this kiss, he branded me.

Seared his initials into my skin.

Like bite marks from a vampire.

I’m his.

When I get back from the Cave, I change out of my soaking wet clothes and lie in bed thinking about our kiss in the rain and wondering how it could have been the best kiss of my life.

There were no tongues.

Just lips colliding.

Lightning around us mimicking the electricity I feel every time our lips touch.

It was a simple, single, electrifying kiss.

And it was amazing.

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