Chapter 20

Justin hung his head, placed his hands on his hips and allowed Hannah to leave him.  What the hell was wrong with him?  What kind of man said those things to a woman?  “An animal”?  “Panting”?

She must think I’m a psycho!  A sex-crazed lunatic, only seeking his release in ravaging her like the animal he claimed!

When that wasn’t the case at all!  His reaction was only fueled by hers.  The greedy way she kissed him back.  The scorching path her hands left on his skin.  How she looped her legs around his waist, pulling their bodies together, locking him there to grind his merciless erection into her soft, warm, damp...

Letting out a muted curse, he shoved his hands into his pants to ease the angle of his throbbing hard-on.  He could hear her outside the shed, talking and laughing with whomever interrupted them.  They were always interrupted.  Whether it was by someone else or his own halting of his desire for her.  The next time he kissed her, he would make damn sure they were alone and stayed that way.

Next time?  There shouldn’t have been a this time! his thoughts reproached.  He was quickly losing his mind.  Whenever Hannah smiled at him, all he wanted to do was kiss the taste of that smile, and then, of course, she always kissed him back in such a way he barely had the strength to stop her.

He spoke the truth to her.  He’d never felt this way about a woman.  Never needed to seize a woman’s lovemaking the way he did with Hannah.  Never been this deep under the spell of a woman.  Never had he felt such addiction to a kiss and a touch and a...a smile.   And all she had to do was smile!

A sudden realization flashed through his brain, and he jerked his head up.  Beth...

Beth was one of the most beautiful women he'd ever met and could smile at any man, crook her little finger, and they’d come sprinting to do her bidding.  And here he was, acting like a jackass toward Hannah’s smile.  He once vowed that a woman would never control him ever again.  He would never become another pawn to a female’s schemes, whether they be in the bedroom or elsewhere.  He would never be that fool again.

Not for Hannah, not for anyone!  Josie might love her, but he never would.  He’d tolerate his daughter’s friendship with Hannah Baker, because in all honesty, he didn’t see anything wrong with it now.  But that did not mean he had to strike up a relationship of any kind.  Yeah, he liked her – she was everything his daughter, his mother, and his brother described about her – but Justin was still too broken from the last time he let a woman into his life.  He had to stay away from her, and if that meant making her hate him, then so be it.  It was the easiest way to rid himself of her smiles and her laughter – his Achilles’ heel when it came to Hannah Baker.

“Justin!” Hannah’s throaty laugh beckoned him from outside.  “Come say hi to my neighbor!”

His feet actually moved toward the door before he stopped himself.  Dammit all to hell!  She’d cast a spell over him.  A few heated kisses, and she thought she could mandate him whenever she pleased?!

“Justin?”  Her head poked through the opening of the double doors and smiled beautifully.  He cast her a dark scowl.  It’s always the beautiful ones, the bitter side of his soul reminded him.

“What?” he barked.

Her smile faded as she pulled the doors open to stand in front of him.  “Mrs. Beale came over.  She needs help with...”  Her voice drifted away as he continued to glare hatefully -- the only protection he had against her.  “What’s wrong?”