Dangerous to Know & Love(6) by Jane Harvey-Berrick

Lisanne sniggered.

“You’re welcome.”

She decided that she much preferred his smile to his scowl. Both were hot, but his eyes were soft and happy when he smiled. Then she realized that the laugh she’d heard at her audition had been his. She hoped she’d get to hear it again. A lot.

He stretched his back out, pulling his arms over his head. Lisanne couldn’t help but stare at the sliver of stomach that she glimpsed above his waistband, and the taut muscles of his chest that she could see shadowed beneath his t-shirt.

She tore her eyes away when she realized that being caught checking him out would not be cool, and might unleash his inner jerk.

“There’s a book I used in high school that might help you,” he said, distracting her from her ogling. “I could see if they’ve got a copy here, if you like.”

Lisanne narrowed her eyes, wondering if he was suggesting that she wasn’t up to the current course level, but she saw nothing except sincerity on his face. She felt ashamed of her shrewish thoughts.

“No, that’s okay, thanks. I’ll find it in the stacks. What’s the title and author?”

He wrote down the details for her, and carried on flicking through the textbook for more ideas.

Lisanne wandered past the rows of tall stacks until she found the right shelf. She pulled the book out and flipped through the pages. He was right: it would really help her.

Suddenly a loud, blaring alarm rang throughout the library, making Lisanne jump. Everywhere, students were throwing books into bags and heading for the fire exits.

She ran back to their table and was amazed to see Daniel still sitting calmly, his head bent over his books.

“Daniel!” she yelled. “The fire alarm!”

He didn’t move.

“Daniel!”

Nothing.

“Daniel!”

Still no reaction. Jeez, he must be listening to his iPod.

Annoyed and worried, she hurried over, slamming her books into her bag.

“What’s up?” he said, clearly confused by her actions.

“The alarm!”

For a moment, blank incomprehension washed across his face, then he glanced behind and saw the other students departing rapidly.

Muttering to himself and cursing under his breath, he swept the books into his bag and followed Lisanne out of the library.

Students were milling around in front of the building, and spilling onto the quad. Everyone was wondering if it was a real fire, or just a drill. Was there any smoke? Had the fire department been called?

“Should we go wait on the grass?” Daniel said, casually.

“Sure.”

They found themselves a free space, while Lisanne tried to ignore the incredulous stares from other students because the Daniel Colton was hanging out with a nerd. One was the redhead that she’d seen him with at the club. She was scowling at Lisanne and muttering something to her friend.

“Um, your girlfriend is over there,” said Lisanne, pointing quickly over Daniel’s shoulder.

He frowned and looked around, then gave a small smirk.

“She’s not my girlfriend.”

“But… I saw you with her at the club.”

Daniel shrugged.

“We just hooked up.”

“Oh.”

Lisanne wasn’t used to people talking so casually about, well, sex.

“She doesn’t look very happy.”

“Not my problem,” he replied, frowning again. “She got what she wanted.”

Lisanne didn’t know how to answer that.

He lay back on the grass, propping himself on his elbows and stretching his long legs out in front of him. Then he pulled a squashed cigarette packet out of his pants’ pocket and lit one, sucking in the smoke appreciatively.

“Smoking’s really bad for you,” said Lisanne, disapprovingly.

Daniel looked amused.

“Yeah? I don’t think anyone ever mentioned that to me before.”

Lisanne rolled her eyes and he winked at her, then took another drag.

Lazily, he blew smoke out of his nostrils, and Lisanne watched the plumes swirl around before the light breeze tugged them away.

And then she noticed something. “You’re not listening to your iPod.”

He looked puzzled.

“Um, no.”

“You weren’t wearing earphones in the library.”

“No,” he said, suddenly looking tense – defensive, even.

“The alarm…”

“What about it?” he snapped.

Lisanne was taken aback by the anger in his tone. She hesitated.

“Nothing,” she mumbled.

His eyes narrowed, but then looked away from her.

“Whatever. I have to go now.”

“But we haven’t finished studying…”

He didn’t answer; just stubbed out his butt on the grass and flicked it away with his fingers.

“Hey! No littering! Birds could try to eat that.”

He didn’t even look at her as he stood up and strode away.

Lisanne was left wondering what the hell had just happened.

No, he wasn’t getting away with this crap – not after they’d been getting along so well. She scrambled up and chased after him.

“Daniel!”

He didn’t break stride.

“Daniel!”

No reaction.

Her pace slowed until she was walking behind him, and calling his name, but he didn’t turn; he didn’t look at her.

She grabbed his arm and he swiveled so fast, his fists raised, that Lisanne jumped back. He relaxed a fraction when he saw her, but only a fraction.

“Daniel?”

“What?”he spat at her.

“I was calling your name. You didn’t hear me.”

He shrugged. “I was thinking about something else.”

“No. I mean you didn’t hear me.”

His temper exploded; his eyes dark and furious.

“What do you want from me?”

“You didn’t hear me, did you?”

He tried to shrug her off but she wouldn’t let go, gripping her fingers around his arm tightly.

“You didn’t hear me!”

“Get off!” he snarled, pushing her away roughly.

Her hands dropped to her sides and she felt like she was gasping for air.

“You can’t hear me!” she whispered.

He turned away, but not before Lisanne saw the desperate pain on his face.

“You can’t hear at all.”

Chapter 3

Daniel felt his blood freeze as he stood staring at Lisanne’s bewildered face.

“Don’t… please don’t tell anyone,” he said, flicking his eyes away from her toward the students in front of the library.

“I don’t understand,” whispered Lisanne. “You seem so…”

Her words trailed off.

“Normal?” he finished for her, his tone bitter.

Her skin reddened, and she had to admit he’d guessed right.

“How do you… how do you do it?”

He licked his lips, looking around him again. He couldn’t talk to her here, not with everyone watching, maybe listening.

“Can we go somewhere – get away from here?” he asked, his tone pleading.

“Yes, of course.”

He was relieved that she agreed immediately. He nodded, and started back across the quad, his jaw tight, tension rolling off him in waves.

Lisanne had to practically run to keep up as Daniel strode rapidly across the campus.

“Where are we going?” she asked, breathlessly.

He didn’t answer, but she soon realized he was leading her toward the student parking lot.

She nearly lost her nerve when he walked toward a shiny, black motorcycle. Reaching into one of the saddlebags, he pulled out a helmet and passed it to her without comment.

“Um, I’ve never done this before,” she said, waving her hand helplessly toward the machine, and biting her lip.

He didn’t smile.

“Have you ever ridden a bicycle?”

“Of course!”

“It’s like that. Just hold on.”

He swung his leg over the bike gracefully and held out his hand. Accepting, putting her hand in his, putting her trust in him, Lisanne clambered on behind. She reached around, searching for the grab bar. There wasn’t one, and to make the point clear, Daniel fastened his hands over her wrists, and pulled her arms around his waist.

His body felt warm and very solid as Lisanne gripped him tightly, squeezing her eyes shut when the engine started with a throaty roar. She squealed when he kicked the stand and pulled away onto the road, her eyes snapping open.

He accelerated hard, and Lisanne clung on, giddy with the speed, exhilaration, and a little fear.

They rode for about 15 minutes, Daniel weaving recklessly in and out of the light traffic. Despite the assault on her senses, Lisanne gradually began to get used to the sensation and started to enjoy being close to Daniel. Then the memory of the circumstances that had taken them there came crashing back, and her throat closed up.

Maybe she’d got it horribly wrong. But then why had he looked at her like that? Why had he begged her not to tell anyone? As if she would! Why was he so upset?

The bike began to slow, and Daniel pulled up beside a cheap looking diner that had been designed to resemble an old train car.

The sudden silence as he cut the engine was startling. Lisanne took a deep breath and reluctantly unlocked her hands from his waist.

Without a word, he dismounted and pulled off his helmet.

Lisanne tried to swallow, but the anger and pain in his face had been replaced by a mask of coldness. She passed him her helmet in silence, then followed him into the diner. She was surprised when he held the door open for her. That small act of politeness helped to ease the constriction that was building in her chest.

He dropped into a booth at the back, and Lisanne followed, reluctant for the forthcoming confrontation, but anxious for the truth about this beautiful, complicated boy.

A middle-aged waitress immediately walked over with a jug of coffee that looked strong enough to curl the hairs on a buffalo’s chest, and poured two cups without being asked.

“Thanks, Maggie,” said Daniel, tiredly.

“Anything for you, handsome,” she said, with a fond smile and a wink at Lisanne.

She strolled away before Lisanne had got up the nerve to ask for cream. She watched with fascination as Daniel added three packets of sugar to his coffee, stirring the steaming brew moodily.

She picked up her own mug and took a sip. The coffee was strong, but not as unpleasant as she’d been expecting.

Daniel leaned back in the booth and closed his eyes.

He looked so lost and vulnerable, but then his eyes opened and he stared down at her, his expression once again icy.

“What do you want from me?”

He repeated the words he’d spat at her in the quad, but now his voice was a cool monotone.

Lisanne shivered.

“I just want to know… if I was right.”

“Why do you care?”

“I just… it could be dangerous… if people don’t know about… you.”

He raised his eyebrows at her in disbelief.

“Dangerous?”

“Yes,” said Lisanne, trying to hold her nerve. “In the library, you didn’t hear the fire alarm, did you?”

“Are you asking me or telling me?”

“Um, asking you?”

He sighed, and studied the table with undue interest. Needing something to do with his hands, he poured a small pile of salt onto the table and began drawing patterns with his finger. He tried to pull his thoughts together, wondering how much he could tell her, how much he could trust her.

Lisanne bit back the trivial words that would have told him to stop making a mess on the table. Daniel was going to talk to her – she knew it – and she didn’t want to interrupt him.

“I usually sit with my back to the wall so I can see what everyone else is doing,” he said at last. “That usually clues me in.”

He looked up at her.

“You wouldn’t move, and I had to sit opposite you so I could lip read what you were saying.” He shrugged. “I’m more careful when I’m by myself.”

Lisanne felt horrible. Her refusal to swap seats, her bitchiness, all the unfair thoughts she’d had about him. He wasn’t a liar. He wasn’t a jerk. But she, Lisanne, she was a first class bitch with a smug, selfish streak a mile wide.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

He nodded and sighed again.

“Yeah, I get that a lot.”

He looked down, and pushed the pile of salt in another direction.

Lisanne put her hand over his, forcing him to look at her.

“I’m sorry because I’ve been a bitch to you.”

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