BY A THREAD
by R.L. Griffin
Stella’s future was set, and it was a bright one. She was engaged to a man she adored, and was headed to law school in the fall. Tragically, her perfectly planned future ends just as it was beginning.
With no ties to family or friends, Stella finds herself alone in a new city, spiraling out of control. Her typical day comes to a close with her passed out on the floor; sometimes clothed.
Luckily, her new roommate, essentially a stranger, is dead set on getting Stella past her grief and back to functioning within society. Putting one foot in front of the other, she climbs up from the bottom of a bottle. Even with all her progress, Stella walks through life unfeeling, numb. Defiant, she sends out warning signals for the world to keep away. But, is that what she really wants?
With the steadfast help of a few tight knit friends, she gradually begins to feel again. She starts to savor the flavor of food again; lets herself notice how the handsome bartender glances at her. Still, after allowing herself a fling, she wonders if she will ever be able to let go of her shattered past, fully enjoy the present, or get over what she thought would be her perfect future and with the man who destroyed her heart.
It had been a few weeks before classes started, her freshman year of college. She was enjoying a rare two-day break from softball practice. She and some teammates had gotten to the pool early that day and she had been dozing off for several hours, when she heard male voices. She looked up and saw him. He took her breath away without even trying. Mentally, she ran through a checklist of her appearance; not a great bikini, but she had shaved everywhere. She was wearing an older seersucker bikini, but it gave her boobs a nice lift.
Stella closed her eyes again, pretending to sleep. Listening to their conversation for a while, she realized that they were on the baseball team. She sat up, squeezed some sunscreen out of the bottle, stood up, and applied it seductively. Her black hair hung loose down past the string of her bikini top, so she wrapped it around in a messy bun. She rubbed more sunscreen on her back, awkwardly arching her back to reach the middle. Cassie, the first baseman on her softball team, giggled at the provocative show Stella was putting on for the boys. Stella winked at her.
The girls hadn’t brought any beer to the pool, but they had plenty of vodka. Stella drank down the rest of her drink and made herself another. She applied lip balm, slowly. The entire process took about five minutes, but the conversation between the guys stopped. As Stella lay back down on her stomach, she reached up and untied the back string of her bikini. Smiling, she turned her head to face Cassie. Cassie mouthed, “You’re bad…” Stella nodded and then closed her eyes.
She felt a shadow across her back a few minutes later. Stella didn’t open her eyes, but said,“Why is someone blocking my sun? I’m trying to rid myself of my farmer’s tan.”
Cassie snorted, “That’s not going to happen, Stella.” All the softball players had horrible tan lines. Stella’s arms looked like leather, but her stomach and chest were white as porcelain, as were her feet. It was heinous. The players’ legs looked like they were wearing white shorts all the time.
“I don’t know, I think it’s kinda sexy. Like I know what you look like naked,” Stella heard in a slow, sexy southern drawl. Her eyes popped open and she found herself staring at the guy with the drawl. One of the best-looking guys she’d ever seen in person. His hair was cut short and looked sandy blond in the sun. He had blue eyes and an actual six-pack. Stella had never seen a guy with a six-pack in person before, and it made her want to touch him. She laughed, noticing that he had the same farmer’s tan that she and the softball players sported.
Stella cocked her head to the side and just looked at him.
“What?” Six-pack asked.
“I’m just following suit and picturing you naked.” She said, then closed her eyes.
“Me too.” Cassie said with a giggle.
“Now I am too,” one of his friends piped up loudly. “Damn it. Someone help me get that image out of my mind.”
Six-pack leaned down to whisper into her ear, “I think you missed a spot.” His fingers grazed the small of her back, just above her bikini bottoms, and her body tensed instantaneously at the spark she felt. Sexual chemistry crackled between them.
Stella used her sweetest voice, “Oh, really? Could you get it for me?”
“Damn right I can.” He leaned over to grab the lotion, but she got to it first.
“Oh, I was talking to Cassie.” She threw the bottle to Cassie. “Thanks, though.”
Cassie snorted again,“It looks fine to me.” Cassie yelled to the other guys, “Ya’ll got any beer over there you can share?”
“Of course,” one of the guys replied. Cassie got up, sauntered over to the baseball players, grabbed a beer out of their cooler, and sat down with them.
“Ya’ll play ball?”
Stella overheard the conversation and was interested. These were all baseball players and seemed to be pretty cool. Six-Pack’s name was Jamie, he was a sophomore. He was a pitcher. Confidence exuded from him and he seemed to be pretty smart and funny. Those were three mandatory traits for Stella before she would even look at a guy. She never fell for the type of guy who looked good, but annoyed the shit out of her as soon as he opened his mouth.
“Stella, you want a beer?” Cassie called.
“Sure.” Stella turned just as Cassie threw the beer at her. She had two options, she could sit up and catch it, showing everyone her boobs, or the beer was going to hit her… somewhere.
“Fuck,” she called out as she rolled over to dodge the beer coming at her face. She fell off the chair, but managed to keep her hands covering her nipples. For a moment everyone was quiet. Then all of the occupants of the pool erupted in laughter. Stella turned forty shades of red and tried to figure out how to get up gracefully. Realizing there was no way to cover her nipples, get up, and grab her bikini top with only two hands, she gave up. Stella stood up, grabbed her bikini top, and with her chin raised walked to the bathroom, showing everyone all she had.
Several hours later everyone was good and drunk, playing truth or dare, and it was Stella’s turn. She picked dare.
“Kiss me,” Jamie said, leaning back in a lounge chair with a smug smile on his face.
Stella got up from where she was sitting and leaned over him. She whispered in his ear, lips grazing his lobe, “You may regret this dare.” Stella kissed his neck, which made him tip his head back. She slowly kissed his top lip. He groaned, and she went for the kill parting his lips with hers. All of a sudden his arms wrapped around her, pulling her on top of him in the chair. She forgot where she was, and that they had an audience until she heard someone clear their throat.
Stella ripped her lips away from Jamie’s and took a long breath. She put her fingers to her mouth, and looked into Jamie’s eyes. Holy fuck, she thought. There’s no going back from that.
Jamie’s arms still wrapped around her, he whispered, “I think you may be right.” Stella thought for a minute he had read her thoughts. Then he said, “Best regret ever.”
Stella smiled. She pulled herself out of his arms, separating their bodies. Suddenly she felt too drunk, too high on the feeling she got from kissing this guy she just met, and too naked. She walked over to where her bag was and checked her phone. She felt arms wrap around her again.
“You need to come with me. NOW.” His lips whispered in her ear.
“And why’s that?”Stella shivered and turned around so that she could look in his eyes.
“You’re pretty much naked and I need to be the only one looking at you.” He reached up and rubbed his thumb down her jaw line. “I need to kiss you, more.”
If she hadn’t been drunk, she wouldn’t have gone home with him. But she was drunk, and she followed him home. Immediately.
Connect with R.L. Griffin
R.L. resides in the Atlanta area with some cool dudes: her husband, son and two dogs. She was born and raised in the South. She attended Georgia Southern University and moved to Washington, D.C. to intern in the United States Senate during the impeachment trial. Falling in love with the city, she went to law school at American University, Washington College of Law. By A Thread is R.L.’s second book, but is the first in a series of books.