#Hater (Hashtag #2)


by Cambria Hebert

Chapter One

Rimmel

The white-knuckled grip I punished the armrests with did not loosen until the plane came to an absolute stop.

Even then, my fingers only loosened as the loud sounds of the tunnel thing passengers walked through to enter into the airport terminal was rolled over and attached to the plane. The air was stuffy in here. Not really stale, but not fresh either. Everyone around me was restless. The flight had been full of turbulence, and the crying baby in the back did nothing to soothe everyone’s frazzled nerves.

I hated flying.

But God, I was so glad to be back. I never thought I’d miss Maryland and its cold seasons this much.

‘Course, it wasn’t really the place I missed.

It was a person.

Everyone started to file toward the door, crowding each other in their attempt to get the hell out of this flying deathtrap. I stood and waited for my turn, hefting my purse over my shoulder, and turned my cell phone back on.

The second it lit up and I was able, I shot out a text.

LANDED. GETTING OFF NOW.

Romeo’s response was instant, and I smiled.

I’M WAITING.

I glanced out the tiny window behind me as if I would see him standing out there on the tarmac. I knew he wasn’t, but I couldn’t stop my eyes from scanning the open space. Butterflies somersaulted beneath my ribcage as a man passing by my row stopped and motioned for me to go ahead.

I shot him a grateful smile and slid past him into the aisle. The flight attendant smiled and wished everyone well as we all stepped off the plane and onto the walkway that led to the terminal. I moved quickly, beyond anxious for my first glimpse of Romeo.

I’d been in Florida almost two weeks, but it felt like a freaking eternity. As I went, I bumped into someone laden with a bulky piece of carry-on luggage and another bag, but I didn’t stop. I muttered an apology and kept right on going.

When I burst into the terminal, my eyes swept around, bouncing from person to person in the crowded, bustling space. My stomach fell a little when I didn’t see him, but I knew he probably couldn’t come this far. He was probably at baggage claim.

I looked around for a sign to point me in the right direction and finally saw one labeled Baggage Claim with an arrow pointing off to the left.

But I didn’t follow the arrow.

My eyes fixed on someone standing beneath the sign.

His hands were jammed into the pockets of his well-worn slouchy jeans. The relaxed action pulled the waistband low, highlighting his flat, narrow waist his Henley tee molded to. As usual, he was wearing his varsity jacket and his blond hair was a mess.

My gaze locked on his sapphire-blue eyes and didn’t let go. His eyes, ohmigod, his eyes. The blue was so intense it served as an emergency brake on everything in my life. The second I looked at him, everything else came to a screeching halt. I no longer noticed the huge crowd rushing around.

The anxiety-causing flight was just a distant memory, and the two weeks I spent longing for his touch became something I would live through ten times over just to be in this moment with him again.

His lips pulled into a smile and the charm that oozed from every pore in his body made me almost lightheaded. Romeo pulled his hands out of his pockets and straightened, motioning for me.

I rushed across the space separating us, my bag slapping against my side as I, for once, gracefully maneuvered around the people in my path.

His chuckle brushed over me when I was just steps away, and I threw myself at him with a little sigh of relief. My legs wrapped around his waist and his arms locked around my back. I burrowed my head into his shoulder and inhaled deep, taking in his distinctive scent.

“Rim,” he murmured, his voice low. I pulled back and his lips were on mine instantly.

The moment our lips touched, he stilled, his body and mouth pausing against mine. Before I could wonder why, he muttered a garbled curse against my mouth and then his lips began to move. He kissed me softly but fiercely. There was so much possession in the way he kissed me, in the way his arms locked around me that my heart stuttered.

I parted my lips so his tongue could sweep inside, and when my tongue met his, desire, hot and heavy, unfurled within me.

Someone chuckled as they walked by, and Romeo retreated slightly, still letting his mouth linger on mine before completely pulling away.

He rested his forehead against mine and he smiled. “I really fucking missed you.”

“Me too,” I whispered.

He dropped another quick kiss on my lips and then stood me back on my feet. I swayed a little, and he chuckled. “C’mon, let’s get your suitcase so we can go. I want to be alone with you.”

My stomach dipped and something inside me loosened.

We held hands through the large terminal. He didn’t even let go when he snagged my stuff off the baggage claim belt.

Since I’d come from Florida, I was wearing only a short-sleeved T-shirt over a pair of loose sweatpants, so before we went outside into the cold Maryland air, I dug into my suitcase and pulled out the hoodie he gave me the night of our first kiss. I wore it all the time. After I pulled it on, I glanced over at him, smiling.

“What?” I asked.

“You took that to Florida?”

“Of course,” I said. “The evenings can get chilly this time of year.”

“And what did your dad have to say about you wearing some guy’s sweatshirt around?”

“You aren’t some guy. You’re my boyfriend,” I replied and reached for his hand.

“And you finally told your dad about us?” he pressed.

“Yes, I did.” Even though we’d been dating a couple months now, I’d just told my dad over winter break. I wasn’t sure what he would say when I told him I was dating. He took it better than I thought, even went as far as to say he was happy for me.

“And?”

“He took it a lot better than I thought he would.”

The surprise in my voice was evident, and Romeo glanced at me. “You really thought he’d be upset?”

Yeah, I had. I mean, didn’t all dads get upset when their little girls started dating? I shrugged, feeling silly. “I guess I wasn’t sure how he’d take it.”

When he asked me about the name on the back and I explained it was a nickname, a look of doubt crossed his face, and he said he wasn’t sure how he felt about his daughter dating some guy who earned the name of a player.

I braced myself then for an argument, but none came. He seemed to cut off whatever lecture he was about to launch into and said as long as I was happy, that was all that mattered.

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