Eruption (The Hunted Series Book 3)

BOOK: Eruption (The Hunted Series Book 3)
3.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Eruption

The Hunted Series Book 3

By Ivy Smoak

 

Copyright 2016 Ivy Smoak

All Rights Reserved

 

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Chapter 1

Saturday

I walked up to the stage, being careful not to trip. Falling
in front of thousands of people was something I wanted to avoid at all costs. I
took a deep breath and stared at the dean who was announcing everyone's names.
I felt like I had come such a long way. My whole life I had focused on doing
well in school. And now that I was about to graduate, I had no idea what I
actually wanted to do. I wanted to be excited about this moment, but I was so
nervous.

"Penny Taylor," Dean Mullins said.

I slowly walked across the stage, grabbed my diploma, and
shook a bunch of people's hands that I didn't know. I smiled as I walked down
the stairs on the opposite end of the stage.
I did it. I graduated!
It
didn't matter that I had no idea what I wanted to do. Graduating was a huge
accomplishment. I moved the tassel on my cap to the left and smiled for the
cameraman that was waiting there to capture the moment. Now it was official.

My eyes scanned the crowd as I walked back to my seat. I
didn't see anyone I knew. It was going to be almost impossible to find anyone
after the ceremony with all these people. I sat down in my seat and listened to
the rest of the graduates' names being called. I only recognized a few. The
campus was so much bigger than the University of New Castle's. And coming in
halfway through sophomore year hadn't made it any easier to meet people. I
hadn't thought much about it until this moment, seeing all the people walk by
that I had never met.

This chapter of my life was closing forever, and it suddenly
felt like I hadn't really experienced it. I quickly shook away the thought.
Just because I didn't recognize hundreds of the names that the dean announced,
didn't mean I didn't have a fulfilling college experience. These past few years
had been amazing. I wouldn't have changed a thing. I looked to the left and
searched the crowd again.
Where is he?

"Congratulations to the class of 2018!"

Everyone around me stood up. I followed their lead and
clapped my hands together. As soon as people started moving around, I squeezed
past everyone in the row I was in and made my way toward the entrance hall. I
knew they were serving refreshments out there, and if I didn't get in there
early, I would never be able to find anyone.

When I opened up the doors, there were already hundreds of
people in the room. I made my way through the people celebrating.

"Penny! Over here!"

I smiled and turned toward the familiar voice.
"Tyler!" I ran over to him and threw my arms around his neck.

He laughed and lifted me off my feet, twirling me through the
air for a second. "Congratulations, Penny," he said and kissed my
cheek as he set me back down on my feet.

"Thanks, Tyler. I'm so glad that you could come."

"I wouldn't have missed it," he said and let go of
my waist.

"I can't believe I'm actually done. I'm officially an
adult."

He laughed. "I'm pretty sure you need a job in order to
be considered an adult."

"I'm working on that. Not everyone can graduate with a
full time gig lined up, Mr. Hotshot."

He laughed and put his hands in his pockets.

"Where is everyone else?"

"I had to go to the bathroom, so I cut out right after I
saw you walk. They'll all be down in a minute."

"Did Melissa make it?"

"Yeah, she's here." Tyler scratched the back of his
neck. "Actually, Penny, I wanted to talk to you about..."

Before he could finish his sentence I felt someone attack me
with a huge hug.

"Penny!" Melissa yelled.

I laughed. "Welcome to New York!"

"Thank you." Melissa released me from her embrace.

"Did you move everything in okay? When I left and you
still weren't there I was worried something happened to you."

She laughed. "No, no, I'm good. My stuff is all moved
in...just not at your place."

"What do you mean?"

"I just decided that it would be easier to crash at
Tyler's place until I find something. I dropped my stuff off there this
morning."

"Oh." I felt my heart sink. "I was excited to
be roommates with you again."

"I know." She smiled and hugged me again. "But
it was only going to be for a couple days anyway. I'm going to find my own
place really fast."

"Are you sure Tyler doesn't mind?"

Melissa laughed. "No, he practically begged me. Isn't
that right, Tyler?"

Tyler made a weird face and looked away from us.

Melissa laughed again. "I heard about your new job. It
sounds really exciting."

"Geez, he's trying to convince you it's a good idea too?
It's not. You know that I'm not taking that job."

"Why not?"

"Because Penny doesn't want to work with me," James
said.

I smiled and turned around. "You know that's not
it."

"Hmm." He put his hand on the side of my face.
"We can talk about that more later. Congratulations, Penny." He
leaned down and placed a soft kiss against my lips. I wrapped my arms around
the back of his neck.

My dad cleared his throat. I could feel my face turning red.

"Hi, Dad!" I immediately stepped away from James,
gave my dad a quick hug, and then gave one to my mom too. "Hi, Mom."

"Congratulations, sweetie," My mom said.
"We're so proud of you. And we're so excited about meeting your parents,
James. We've been looking forward to it."

"About that." James put his arm around my shoulders
and looked down at me. "They had to cancel."

I pressed my lips together.
God.
I had let myself get
my hopes up this time. Who was I kidding? I always got my hopes up. I thought
maybe now that I had graduated, though, they might actually want to meet me. So
it wasn't my age. They just didn't want to meet me. I swallowed hard.

James squeezed my shoulder. "I'm sorry, Penny."

"That's fine," my dad said. "Let's go out to
lunch anyway. My treat."

I put on a smile. "That sounds perfect."

"We're going to head out," Melissa said.

"You're both welcome to lunch" my mom said.

"I still have a lot to unpack, so I should probably get
started. Bye, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor." Melissa gave them each a quick hug.

"You're coming with us tomorrow, right, Melissa?"
My mom asked.

"I wouldn't miss it." She winked at me.

It was hard to even think about shopping for a wedding dress
right now. James' parents clearly didn't want me to be a part of their family.
Every time they canceled plans to finally meet me, James told me not to worry
about it. But how could I not worry about it? We were getting married at the
end of the month. And at this rate it didn't even seem like his parents were
going to come.

"Congrats again, Penny." Tyler smiled at me and
then followed Melissa through the crowd.

***

I rested my head on James' shoulder. Lunch had been so much
fun. I loved catching up with my parents and all the goings-on in Delaware. It
helped me feel connected to the life I had left behind. At least, I thought I
had left it behind. I wanted to fit into James' life. I didn't want to cause
him unnecessary stress. But that's exactly what I was doing. I didn't know what
to do in order for his parents to like me. Liking me was far off, though. James
and I had been dating for two and a half years and they still hadn't even met
me.

I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds of the city as
our driver, Ian, expertly sped us through the city streets. The cars honking
now seemed to relax me instead of unsettling me. This was my home now. I just
wished I fit in a little better.

"Hey." James grabbed my chin and tilted my face up
to his. "You've been awfully quiet."

I bit my lip.

"Penny, we're supposed to be celebrating."

I felt a lump building in my throat. "They're not going
to come to our wedding, are they?"

He sighed and pressed his forehead against mine. "I
think maybe that's for the best."

I pulled back. "How can you say that? They're your
parents. They should be there."

"I love you. That's all that matters."

"I'm going dress shopping tomorrow."

He smiled. "I know."

"Your mom should be there."

"You don't want her fashion advice, trust me." He
placed a soft kiss against my neck. "How about we focus on something
else?" He kissed my neck again and placed his hand on my thigh, running
his fingers along the hem of my dress.

I laughed and grabbed his hand. "We're almost back to
our place."

"Your point is?" He kissed my collarbone, making a
moan escape from my lips.

"My point is that Ian will know that we're having sex
back here if we don't come out when he parks."

James laughed. "You're acting like we haven't done it
before. Ian doesn't care. Being discreet is in his job description."

I ran my hand through James' hair. "We'll be back in
five minutes."

He sighed and moved his hand off my thigh. "Well, if you
insist on talking, I'd like to revisit the internship idea."

"I'm still thinking about it."

"That's not what you said to Melissa." He grabbed
my hand and ran his thumb along my palm.

"I know." I looked down at his hand. "What
would people think?"

"Is that really the reason? You've never seemed that
worried about what other people think."

I looked back up at him. He was right. That wasn't the real
reason. "I didn't earn it, James."

"You just graduated with honors from NYCU. You're just
as qualified as all the other interns we've already hired. I wanted to give you
an actual job, but you shot that down right away. If you insist on proving
yourself, this is the way to do it."

"I don't know."

"You don't have to accept it. I'm not going to force you
to work with me. You don't have to work at all. You know that."

I laughed. "Of course I have to work. I already owe you
so much."

"You don't owe me anything." He lowered his
eyebrows slightly. "I hope you don't really feel that way."

"I owe you everything."

"Penny..."

"I'm not talking about money. You know that. I'm talking
about you. Where would I be without you?"

"Jobless, for one."

"You're not going to let this go, are you?"

"Not a chance."

"If I don't hear back from anywhere by next week, I'll
do it."

He smiled. "This is going to be so much fun."

"I said
if
. It's not a done deal yet."

"I'm pretty sure you'll be working with me."

I laughed. "When I asked you not to interfere with my
applying for jobs, I never imagined you'd be telling places not to hire
me."

"What, you think I called all the places you interviewed
with and told them how awful you are?"

"I'd hope not. Maybe that's what you did with your
parents too. Is that why they don't want to meet me? You told them about all my
flaws and scared them away?"

"I love all your flaws."

The car came to a stop.

"What do you think my flaws are?" I asked.

He smiled at me and got out of the car. I quickly climbed out
of the car and grabbed his hand.

"James, what are my flaws?"

He squeeze my hand and typed in the code for the elevators.
The doors immediately opened and he pulled me inside.

I stared up at him and pursed my lips.

"There's just too many to name," he said. "The
list is endless."

I lightly pushed his shoulder. "Just tell me the biggest
then."

"Hmm." The elevator came to a stop and he swiped
his access card against the reader. The doors opened behind us.

"You know how good I am at getting information out of
you." I trailed my hand down the front of his dress shirt, stopping at his
belt.

He grabbed my hand and smiled. "Turn around,
Penny."

I looked over my shoulder. There were tons of people standing
in the living room of our apartment.

"Surprise!" Melissa yelled. Everyone else quickly
yelled surprise too.

I could feel my face turning red. Had they all heard what I
just said? I quickly turned back around to look up at James.

He smiled down at me. "For one, you're very bad at
telling when you're being thrown a surprise party. Congratulations,
baby." 

BOOK: Eruption (The Hunted Series Book 3)
3.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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