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This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Stone love. You are awesome. You are so awesome. Bliss Edwards, you are a freaking catch. So then how did I end up twenty-two years old, and the only person I knew who had never had sex? Somewhere between Saved by the Bell and Gossip Girl, it became unheard of for a girl to graduate college with her V-Card still in hand.
And I knew before her jaw even finished dropping that this was a terrible idea. Is it because of Jesus? Are you, like, saving yourself for him? She had the body of a Barbie and the sexually-charged brain of a teenage boy. I must have made a face because she looked at me and laughed. In guys? Are you gay? No need to fall on your sexual sword for me. Is that all? Find the right guy? I mean the right guy to get your blood pumping.
To make you turn off your analytical, judgmental, hyperactive brain and think with your body instead. Which bar tonight? She could be taking me to a club. I looked cute. I could totally pick up a guy in this… maybe. She rolled her eyes, and I felt like a child. I hated feeling like a child, and I pretty much always did when talk turned to sex. No guy wants to screw his little sister. Good job. Now stand there and let me work my magic.
After vetoing three shirts that made me feel like a prostitute, some pants that were more like leggings, and a skirt so short it threatened to show the world my hoo-hoo in the event of a mild breeze, we settled on some tight low-rise denim capris, and a lacy black tank that stood out in contrast to my pale white skin. Or well… dialed down, anyway. Not at all. I was a control freak. It was why I had done so well in school my entire life.
Or both. We know how much you love us.
No need to make a spectacle. I agreed by looping my arms around his waist and laying my head against his chest. I did you a favor.
And I figured. I slid my hands down to the leather belt that wrapped around his hips, and lifted up on my tiptoes. Humming, I found the warm crux where the muscles of his shoulder flowed into his neck.
This was the perfect part of him. When I took a deep breath, I could almost imagine we were alone, and I was surrounded by him. Garrick cleared his throat. He held up his middle finger toward his friends. He blinked and shook his head, and then added a second finger. Not here. Graham shook his head. The Americans got to you. I watched on, only vaguely aware of what was happening, until the both of them burst into laughter.
I rolled my eyes. Garrick lowered me into the backseat first, and then climbed in after me. I neglected the seat belt in favor of wrapping myself around Garrick.
I found that spot on his neck again and sighed. I usually made someone in the store pick for me. But with Garrick. God, I just wanted to be surrounded by his smell all the time. I was a creeper. I could accept that. I fiddled with one of the buttons on his shirt, trying to act as innocent as possible. And then ever so slowly, I slipped his top button open. Apparently one button was my stealth limit because he totally caught me.
I smiled up at him as sweetly as I could and slid my fingers under his shirt to the bare skin of his chest. I trailed my fingers across his collarbone and from his shoulder back down to his chest. He watched me with dark eyes, and the arm draped over the seat behind me came down around me. His fingertips slid under my shirt to curve over my shoulder. Shifting, I faced him, leaning my other shoulder against the seat and draping my legs over his lap. Immediately, his other hand curved around my calf.
He was definitely a leg man. That might have been mostly the alcohol, considering how heavy my head felt and the way the world in my peripheral vision kept swooping and spinning. His fingertips found the back of my knee, and I giggled at his touch.
I was too busy working and working and then working some more. Being an adult blows.
He pulled back. Laughing, I hooked my arms around his neck, and lay back against the seat cushion, pulling him with me. Can she be on top? No one is having sex.
You need a fucking tranquilizer. He pushed himself back into a sitting position, and I whined at the distance. He clenched his fists and tilted his head back against the seat. Of all the times for him to practice restraint. I was going to burn up in my skin here. Staring up at the ceiling, he spoke, his voice strained. I trailed my fingers over his arm. Then he turned to me and pointed at his friend. And it had probably been shouting at me for a while.
I sat up, my arms and legs shaky with pent-up need. My shirt was twisted, and you could see the blue lace of my bra and the swell of my chest peeking out from the neckline of my shirt. I adjusted it quickly, glancing to see if Rowland or Graham had seen, but luckily they were still looking ahead.
A bolt of electricity shot through me, and I pressed my thighs together, trying to relieve something, anything. Garrick leaned over and his lips brushed my ear. S o not helping the situation.
This was somehow the worst and best moment of my life. In fact, most of our relationship fell into those categories. Best boyfriend. Worst embarrassing moment. Best kiss. Worst excuse ever. Best well. Worst timing. But I could take all the worsts, if the best always followed. His nose brushed my jaw and his breath fanned across my neck, and I swear my body shook in response.
Plus, even though we lived together, I never saw him enough. Between plays and the additional jobs it took to pay our rent in Center City, it felt like we were always on the go. All those years of making up excuses not to have sex, and now I was busy trying to think of an excuse to ditch his friends and his parents and keep him all to myself.
His lips brushed against my ear again, and I dropped a hand to his thigh and squeezed. It had turned so hot in this backseat, I was going to have a freaking heatstroke. And I had to bite down hard on my lip to keep in the string of unintelligible noises building on my tongue.
Garrick and I had sex. Good sex. But in the spectrum of intercourse oh God, only my brain would think spectrum of intercourse at a time like this , we made love. It was intense and sweet and perfect. That I was still dying to? I could picture it now. Then they would make me sew a red A on all of my clothing, and I did not look good in red, what with all the blushing. A hand came down on my shoulder, and I jumped. Just wait. I was going to be fine. I stared, and for the first time realized that he was as nervous as I was.
Oh hell, if he was nervous I was doomed. My odds were looking about as good as a main character in Game of Thrones. He turned the knob. It gave way in his hand, and the door swung open to reveal a darkened entryway.
My footsteps echoed as we stepped inside. Did this mean we could just go straight to his bedroom? Because oh my yes, thank you. The open door let in just enough late afternoon light to reveal a strip of empty.
Never thought I would have the need to actually use that word in real life. The windows were covered by heavy curtains, draping the rest of the place in darkness. I reached for the wall beside the door, running my hands along it looking for a switch. When I tried to catch it and missed, I was blaming my sex-distracted thoughts.
When I heard it crash and shatter against the floor, I was blaming the alcohol. It was just me. Luckily, my father, ever the composed businessman, covered for us all. Dad crossed to Bliss, and she looked queasy enough to pass out. He was immaculate in a dark suit that contrasted with his silvering hair. He picked up her hand and kissed the back of it. Her eyes flicked to mine, surprised. She loved that vase. But the people laughed, and the room collectively sighed in relief.
Dad was good at that kind of stuff. He could charm any conference room, any party, any seminar. Dad helped Bliss step over the glass shards, and that made me spring into action. We crossed to each other, but Dad stayed in between us. Still holding one of her hands, he clapped me on the shoulder and looked out at the crowd.
Mixing business with family as always. Was it possible that my parents had done some changing of their own? This new leaf threw me off balance, and suddenly all I could think about was the scent of beer on my breath and how disheveled I probably looked. But it was a compliment nonetheless. Please, eat, drink, enjoy yourselves. Though perhaps keep an eye on the decor.
He presented her hand to me as people around the house clapped, and then without actually saying a private word to either of us, retreated to a group of men in suits. I wanted to punch myself. Like I was sixteen all over again, I churned with rage and wanted to storm out of the door. So much for that new leaf. Just once I would love to see my father try to do something important without an audience. I schooled my face into a blank expression, and then concentrated on Bliss.
I placed a kiss on her temple. Just put me out of my misery, please. I sighed and looked around. She looked so disappointed that my stomach clenched with desire all over again. Just a few hours. And for making such a scene. I smoothed a hand over her hair and said the only thing I could. It was another one of those moments. Marry me. My biggest fear was that someday she would talk herself out of our relationship. That she would shake her head and listen more to her own poisonous thoughts than the words coming out of my mouth.
As soon as we find that place to be alone. After a second, she tipped her head back and groaned, a sound that went straight through me. I loved those jeans. They fit her perfectly. Bliss, my mother. It was the razor-sharp tongue behind those teeth that I was worried about. And brought you along, of course. Or something worse? I laughed like she was joking. She wants a reaction, and humor is the safest one.
And though my mother certainly had her issues, I loved her for not even pretending to go along with it. Thanks for that. Mum hated events like this. I suppose that was at least one thing that she and Bliss had in common. I saw Bliss fidgeting with her shirt and shifting her feet. Just casual party attire will do fine. Or my old one anyway. I directed her toward my old room.
I took a seat beside her and laid a hand on her back.
I thought things would go smoother if you were calm. Smooth is not an option I come with. She went to put it up on the bed, took a long look at the white bedding, and then laid it on the floor. I only said we were going to change to give us a break.
Maybe I can find some decent jewelry.
Just give me a couple minutes. The door closed behind her with a click, and it was my turn to throw myself back on my bed. I stared up at the ceiling and cursed under my breath. Maybe my fears were warranted after all. A massively unfunny joke.
If I was worried that Mrs. At all. Not even almost. One of these things is really not like the others. And to make matters worse, Garrick looked perfect when I exited the bathroom. Unlike me, he fit. And a small, niggling voice in my mind asked how it was possible then that we fitted together?
I shook my head to clear my thoughts, and Garrick crossed the room to place a kiss on my forehead. So do you. Like when you say a word too much and it stops sounding like itself and feels alien and foreign in your head.
His hands cupped my jaw, and he leaned in for a kiss. I tilted my head back away from him. The only thing I care about right now in this entire house is you. He laced our fingers together and planted another kiss on the back of my hand.
I wanted the gesture to be comforting, but it only made me more unsettled. It only made me wonder more what he could possibly see in me. Together, we descended the stairs back into the jungle of champagne flutes and designer handbags and outfits that put mine to shame. So good to see you! He had dark hair, combed perfectly, and wore a suit. Again, I say, in what world is a suit casual? She, too, had dark hair, fixed into a perfect bun at the nape of her neck. This is my wife, Amy.
She laughed. But that would have been a lie anyway, so I just stayed silent. But you would never know it from his face. I needed to act. I needed to turn off Bliss and become someone else, someone who fit in this place and knew what to say and what n o t to say. If I became that someone else, I could separate my thoughts from my own worries and maybe get through this night intact. The stage was the only place I ever really felt confident, and I could use a bit of confidence at the moment.
I played a part. Catch us up. Beat you on that front, at least. No wonder Garrick was so stiff. Others get jobs that are, what did you say? But we should probably make the rounds. Marry me?
I had a pretty tight rein on my reactions at the moment. He walked me through the rest of the room talking to more old classmates, friends of the family, and neighbors.
They were old, young, male, female, and I held my own. Or most people, really. But I did okay. They went from wary or amused probably due to my entrance to smiling and accepting. I took a deep breath, and felt proud. It was a good thing. Almost as if she could sense my vulnerability, his mother made her reappearance then. Much better. I saw you talking to Mrs.
Is she well? I nodded, remembering who they were talking about now. His mom shrugged. That old woman, Margaret was her name, had been so sweet.
She was kind, but you could definitely tell she was a firecracker underneath. That her own children would just see her as dollar signs was terrible. That smile went straight through me and settled somewhere in my bones.
God, she was gorgeous. Until her. Bliss cleared her throat, and my eyes went back to her. To her mouth. Her chest. The small of her waist that seemed perfectly sculpted to fit in my hands. She was the ultimate game changer. Body, of course, being my primary focus at the moment. I wanted to study her, to memorize her, to be able to close my eyes and see her perfectly as she was. She rolled her eyes. Though it would make going through airport security much simpler.
I gripped her waist and pulled her forward until my chin brushed the skin just below her belly button. She shivered in my arms, and the reaction sent my blood screaming through my veins.
Firmer this time, I dragged my lips over her belly button and up to the valley made by her ribs. I tasted flour on her skin even here, and smothered a laugh.
I was rewarded with a breathy sigh and a bitten lip that made it incredibly hard not to be cocky. And not to take her right then. She swallowed, drawing my eyes to her neck.
I felt like a teenage boy, wanting to mark that pale, unblemished skin as mine again and again. I brushed a thumb over her pulse point, and she swallowed again, her eyes wide. I laced my fingers through her sleep-addled curls, and tilted her head back. Her fingers curled around the band, and I swallowed. Looking down, I could see the way her curves reached out toward my body, and I wanted nothing more that to seal our bodies together.
I used one hand to pull her closer, and the other to cup her breast. She flinched, and then moaned. Her eyes fluttered closed and her body swayed toward mine. I crushed my lips against hers, wishing for the hundredth time that I could just permanently affix our mouths together. Every part of her tasted divine, but her mouth was my favorite.
It was so easy to lose myself in kissing her, mostly because I could tell she was doing the same.
Her body pressed against mine, and her fingernails dug into my shoulders like she was dangling off a cliff, and that was the only thing holding her up.
The harder I kissed her, the harder her nails bit into my skin. I trailed a hand from her neck down the line of her spine, and her mouth broke away from mine. She shivered in my arms, her eyes closed. I leaned my forehead against hers, and pulled her bare chest to mine.
Between the shower steam and her skin, our tiny bathroom felt like a furnace. But Bliss chased away the gray and made everything seem black and white. No matter the question, she was the answer. She was my everything—the lungs that allowed me to breathe, the heart that had to beat, the eyes that let me see. It was just a piece of paper. The feeling mattered so much more, but a part of me sang with nervous energy demanding we make it official.
It was the same part of me that worried about how Bliss would react to my family. She stepped out of my arms, biting down on her already red and swollen bottom lip. Then she pulled back the shower curtain and stepped into the tub. I hated the fear that chased the heels of my love for her. Despite the fact that our relationship had begun in the most troubling and impossible situation —between teacher and student —things had been almost perfect since then.
Logic, reality, and a lifetime knowledge of my mother made me certain of that. The feeling always came out of nowhere. Like we were balanced on a precipice, it felt inevitable that eventually we would fall.
Her insecurities. My stubbornness. The interfering hand of fate or family. But for a few seconds, I could feel it coming. Then always, she would pull me back.