Pushing the Limits

By: Brooke Cumberland



My insides exploded from the brilliance of it all. There was nothing more stunning than a man who not only knew the most classic stories of all time, but also found a way to make his body his own personal bookshelf.

Water from his wet hair dripped down his forehead and fell to his chest. All of a sudden I was frozen in place. I wondered if he knew how handsome yet frightening he was. My thoughts very much matched those old Tootsie Roll Pop commercials as I gazed at his body. ‘Mister Owl, how long can I stare at this man before it becomes socially inappropriate?’ ‘I don’t know, Liz. Let’s find out. One…Two…Three…’

He hadn’t taken notice of me, and my heart was pounding against my ribcage as I stepped away from the river, hoping to not be seen.

Zeus was tied up to a tree, and when he saw me, he instantly started barking my way.

Shoot!

Tristan looked up toward me, his eyes as untamed as before. His body froze, water dripping from his chest down to the edge of his shorts. I stared for a moment too long, then realized I was staring straight at his package. My eyes shifted back up to his wild stare. He hadn’t moved an inch. Zeus kept barking and wagging his tail, trying to break away from the tree.

“Following me?” he asked. His words were short, not leaving much room for a conversation, very straight to the point.

“What? No.”

He arched an eyebrow.

I kept staring at his tattoos. Oh, Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. He noticed my staring.

Crap. Stop, Liz.

“Sorry,” I muttered, my face heating up from nerves. What was he doing out there?

He arched his other brow and didn’t blink once as he looked my way. Even though he could speak, it seemed he found it much more fun to make me uncomfortable and anxious. He was hard to look at, because he was so broken, but every scarred part of his existence seemed to draw me in.

I watched his every move as he untangled Zeus’ leash from the tree and headed in the direction I’d just come from. I started behind him, to get back to my house.

He paused.

A slow turn in my direction.

“Stop following me,” he hissed.

“I’m not.”

“You are.”

“Not.”

“Are.”

“Not not not!”

He cocked his brow again. “You’re like a five-year-old.” He turned back around and kept walking. I started my steps up too. Every now and then he would glance back and grunt, but we didn’t speak another word. When we reached the edge of the woods, he and Zeus walked up to the wild yard beside my house.

“I guess we’re neighbors,” I said with a chuckle.

The way he glared at me made my stomach flip. There was a high level of discomfort in my chest, yet behind it was still that familiar ting in my gut that arrived when he looked me in the eyes.

We both walked into our houses without a goodbye.

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