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Blood and Bone

By:Tara Brown

(Blood and Bone Series Book 1)


1. MISTAKEN IDENTITY

Samantha! Sam! Hey, wait up! Samantha Barnes! Wait!"

My footsteps quicken as I sigh, annoyed at the guy who is shouting  behind me. It's amazing his voice has carried through the crowd on the  street for as long as it has. It's also amazing he hasn't caught  Samantha Barnes yet, whoever she is.

I have to assume it's one of two scenarios-either he's slow as molasses  on a cold day or she's a gazelle and is way ahead of him.

"SAM!

"SAM!

"SAM, WAIT!"

Finally, I turn back to tell him he needs to run a lot faster or give up  the chase, but the guy shouting is looking at me. "Sam, seriously, how  fast do you walk?" He huffs and puffs like he might blow down the store  next to me. He's slight, sort of a teaspoon of a man. He looks like he's  going to take a knee or maybe just pass out altogether. His slim face  is red and flushed.

I glance behind me, noticing no one else is stopped.

"I was running-for three blocks!" he gasps. He points and wheezes, "I  knew-it was-you-whew! You walk-fast!" He has a slight overbite and spit  on his bottom lip from the huffing and puffing. My nose wrinkles  involuntarily at the heinous sight of the spit bubble.

I'm lost on whether or not he'll wipe it away or if I'll have to stare  at it whilst he gets me mixed up with whomever he is looking for.

"You-walk so-fast." His breathing is still labored, and his face seems  to be getting redder. For a small guy, he's awfully out of shape. After a  moment, he runs his hands over his face, wiping away the sweat from his  brow, and yet leaving behind the spit.

Lovely.

He does a huge sigh before speaking with the labored gasps. "I knew it  was you when I saw you at Menchie's. How are you? It's been so long.  Since what-second year, right?"

I shake my head, still mesmerized by the spit. Surely he feels it.  Should I pull out a tissue and wipe it for him? How is it so bubbled and  frothy?

He sighs. "It's me, Ronald Armstrong. We were at Berkeley together a few  years ago." I cock an eyebrow, about to tell him he is mistaken, but he  assumes it is an answer to his remark. "I suppose you're right, it  wasn't a few years ago. Jesus, it was twelve years ago. That's right,  you missed the reunion    . I didn't go either. I saw your name on the  list of people not attending."

I am drawing a huge blank. I never attended Berkeley, and I have never met him.

He smiles wide, flashing that overbite. "The year you left in the middle  of the second semester, I heard you went FBI. You still with them?"

I nearly laugh, right in his frothy spit bubbler. "No." Whoever Sam is,  she is clearly smarter than I ever was. I offer him a weak smile. "I'm  really sorry, but I never went to Berkeley. I never went to college. You  must have the wrong person."

His eyes narrow, and I can see the wheels turning, but he doesn't  believe me. He relives every moment that in his mind we have spent  together and then shakes his head. "No, I remember you. You sat in front  of me. We weren't exactly friends, but I remember you. Is this an FBI  thing?"

"Sorry. No."

"We always called you Sam, and you were really smart, sort of an activist, if I recall."

I shake my head again. "Jane. My name is Jane." My yogurt is melting,  but I can't eat it while I stare at the white frothy spit bubble on his  thin lower lip. I ponder the possibility that he will run after me if I  just bolt and eat my yogurt in an alley.

He pauses a second as if processing the statement before he chuckles,  rolling his eyes. "Oh shit. You're messing with me. Jesus, you almost  had me too. You look so serious. Man, I forgot what a joker you were.  That's crazy. Jane! Good one." He uses his hands to make movements like  his head has exploded. He has thin fingers. They bother me.

He laughs, and something about him does seem familiar. But I think it's  more that he has one of those faces-those rat faces that seem very  similar. He points. "So how have you been?"

I give up and play along. "Good, and you?" I hope it will go faster and I can just get this over with.

"Good." He nods, finally wiping his lips on his sleeve and saving me  from the horror of the white spit. "Great, really good. I got a resident  position in France, actually. I'm heading there in a few weeks. It's  just outside of Paris. They even have a residence for me so I can live  for free while I finish my PhD. I'm so glad I switched my major. It  means longer in school, but this opportunity is just such an affirmation  that I made the right choice. Such a score."         

     



 

He might as well be speaking German.

I nod along. "Wow, that's amazing." Is it? I don't know. I don't care. I  don't give a shit. I just want to eat my frozen yogurt before it's no  longer frozen.

He laughs. "Yeah. I feel pretty lucky. What are you doing?"

"I work in a shop." I point. "Just around the corner. I'm late, actually, from my coffee break. It was nice to see you-"

He smiles. "Ronald."

"Of course. Have a nice day and enjoy France."

"You want to get a coffee and catch up sometime?"

I shake my head. "I have to get back to work."

He looks like he might say something but he doesn't. He waves and  watches me walking backward, desperate to escape him. His eyes bother  me. Something about it all bothers me.

I turn and disappear into the crowd, taking the sneaky way back to work,  and end up being really late from my break. The rest of the day sort of  flies by. I don't even know where it goes, just that I look up and it's  over. I close the shop and head home.

But Samantha Barnes never leaves my head. Who is this doppelgänger I  apparently have? And why in the gods did she attend Berkeley? Unless, of  course, she's actually an activist, then Berkeley makes perfect sense.

I round the corner home, lost in thought. Derek has the door open for me  before I even stand a chance at turning the knob. "There she is, the  most beautiful girl in the world." He smiles, but I scoff because  between the two of us, it's more likely he's the most beautiful one. And  a doctor to boot. Why he's with me is the mystery. He pulls me in,  breathing an entire lungful before kissing the side of my face. "God, I  love you."

I don't know how I got this lucky. I don't know why a magical man like him would ever have picked me.

Truth be told, I don't remember when we met.

I don't remember why it was me who got lucky with a man like him. That  time is on the other side of my brain, the side I cannot reach.

He sweeps me into his arms, nearly crushing me, and murmurs, "Was it a great day?"

I nod against his soft cheek, staring at the open door to our house as a scent wafts out at me. "Did you make chicken Parm?"

"Of course. I always aim to please, milady." He pulls me back, offering  one of those smiles I've seen make the girls at work melt. I don't melt,  but I know if I were a normal girl I would. If any boy in the whole  world could make me melt, it would be him. His eyes are dazzling green,  with a hint of gray that only shows depending on his moods. It's the  strangest color combination. His smile is sexy and lopsided because he  has a larger incisor on the left than the right, making one side of his  lips stick out a little. I like the fang-like tooth, though. It makes  him look like a vampire in the right light. I have no idea why I find  that sexy.

Clearly I was a freak before I lost my mind in the fog. He dips and  kisses me again, pressing our faces and bodies up against one another.

"You made that just for me?" He hates chicken Parmesan, which is crazy. I  love it. I don't think I love anything else, but I love it. It and the  feel of my cat, Binx. He's soft and fluffy and mean. I adore his  meanness the most.

Derek brushes a large and yet perfectly groomed hand through his  dark-blond hair. "Baby, I've got an OR time. I have to go. Which is why I  made your favorite dinner. So when I'm doing my surgery, I'll know  you're thinking about me."

"I always think about you." The words are plain, not meant to be  charming or schmoozed. I don't do that. I don't know how to be charming.

He kisses my lips again but this time so delicately that it makes my  stomach growl for more than the dinner he's prepared. "I love you," he  murmurs into my cheek before brushing past me, waving as he runs to the  car.

Watching him head off makes me smile, even if I didn't get to tell him  about my weird day or about my melted yogurt. My world and my news are  never anything compared to the stuff he does. He saves lives, creates  hope, and heals the sick. I wish I had gone to college and become  something amazing like him.

He honks and blows me a kiss from the Mercedes. I wave back and head  inside, excited for my meal. He always makes it extra saucy so that when  I drag my garlic bread through it, the sauce soaks into the bread. He's  a wizard, I swear.

I can't help but grin like an idiot when I see the table is set with a pink rose placed across my plate. They're my favorite.

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