Someone to love, p.19

Someone to Love, page 19


Someone to Love

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  “And that’s how we met.” I give a tiny laugh and brush my lips over his neck. “Cruise”—I glance up at him, his handsome features reflecting the hues from the flames—“what happened last summer?”

  He pulls me in, burying his face in my neck and lets out a warm breath.

  “I escaped a fire that I didn’t even know I was in. Then I ran around feeling sorry for myself when what I really should’ve done was move on, hold onto who I was and not turn my life into a testament to condoms.”

  My face ignites with heat when he says the word condom. God—what if there’s a miniature person with us in this room right now, swimming laps inside my belly? Cruise is going to hate me for being so virally stupid.

  “Anyway...” he says, slipping his hand up my shirt and landing it flat against my stomach. “I think we met our quota on drama for the night. We’ll save it for some other time. It was one of those backward life moves that could have really screwed with my future. I’m glad it’s over, and I’m very glad you’re here.”

  I shrink a little at the thought of unintentionally screwing with Cruise’s future and assisting him in any more “backward life moves.” Those stupid pills probably work in reverse if you don’t take them correctly and I’ll be prone to having one of those “litter” pregnancies with six or eight babies. God—we’re going to be on the news.

  “I’m especially glad, things turned out the way they did with me and you.” Cruise rides his oven-hot hand a little higher and cradles my breast, full in his palm.

  I take an unexpected breath as I relax into him.

  He moans into me with a kiss. “I’m so glad you were at the party that night. I’ve been thanking God every day since I laid eyes on you.” He seals the sentiment with a mouthwatering kiss that lingers. His tongue sears over mine, hotter than a live coal.

  Cruise plucks off my T-shirt, and our lips hardly miss a beat. His hands smooth over my skin, covering every inch of my body with a few lusty swipes. He pulls back and inspects me, twitching his brows in a naughty manner.

  “Going commando?”

  “I thought I’d surprise you.” I give a little wink. “Underwear are just a formality at bedtime.”

  “Best surprise since this afternoon. You really know how to brighten a person’s day.” He purrs like a motor.

  Cruise unbuttons his dress shirt, and I peel it back revealing his chiseled chest that glows underneath. I run my lips over the wall of flesh, drag them up over the hard ridge of his neck until I meet with his mouth.

  Cruise lies over me, nudging his body between my thighs, and the idea of him firing off his baby-making missiles sours my mood.

  I spike up on my elbows. “I think we should change things up. You know—you should put a hat on it.” I wince when I say it, should he be quick to do the irresponsible math.

  “A hat?” He ticks back a notch, with a playful grin because I just don’t think he gets it. “I got a hat right here.” He plucks a baseball cap from under the coffee table and secures it to his head before diving over me with more of his delicious kisses.

  “No”—I press a kiss in close to his ear—“not that kind of hat. I mean, you know, a condom.”

  “A what?” He pulls back clearly confused by my bizarre request. His brows pinch as though the entire concept were vexing in nature. “No thanks. This is the first time I’ve gone natural, and there’s no way I’m ever going back.”

  “Oh, right.” I close my eyes a moment as he hedges his way near my procreation station sans the appropriate Cruise missile shield. “But I can’t truly appreciate it like you can,” I say it weak because for one, its sounds stupid. “Don’t you think I should try it both ways? You know, see how the other half, lives.”

  “Other half lives?” He spikes up on his elbow and examines me—most likely for signs of head trauma.

  “I probably just advanced too quickly,” I add. “You know what they say…the grass is always greener and all that good stuff.”

  “It’s not good stuff. It’s bad stuff.” He brushes a kiss just behind my ear. “The grass is definitely greener on this side. It’s that fake indoor, outdoor crap on the other side of the fence. Trust me, you don’t want to go there.” He nestles his hips over mine, and I can feel his rather large protrusion pressing against my thigh like a reproductive menace. “Believe me—what you gave me was a gift, and I won’t let you take it away.” His lids are closed partway, but I can still see the flames reflecting in his eyes as his smile morphs into a seductive promise. Cruise is glazed over with his lust for me.

  He swiftly moves us past the talking phase of the evening and well into the potential conceptual phase, where the lottery of life will eventually conduct itself in my uterus for a pair of lucky sperm and ovum if it hasn’t already.

  Think, think!

  I grab a hold of his overeager member, and a thought springs to mind. My lips trail a stream of volcanic kisses down his chest, his belly, and straight for the launcher that has the potential to rocket us both into parenthood.

  “Kenny.” He moans because he knows what’s coming—him, mostly likely.

  I brace myself as I slather him with kisses. Obviously, I should have paid extra attention that day in the coffee shop when Lauren was sexually mishandling a banana. I glance down at it a moment. Ally was right. It sort of does look like a Storm Trooper sans the arms, and legs, and assault rifle.

  Cruise could be gargantuan in size compared to other men and I have no idea. Nevertheless, that’s research I don’t plan on conducting, ever. I lay my lips over him and try to mimic Lauren’s motions, riding my tongue over the hard ridges. Cruise exhales so quick his stomach cinches. I must be doing something right.

  “No teeth,” he says it so fast, it refutes my theory.

  He lands his hand gently on the back of my neck and guides me for what emerges as a season of loving Cruise in a way I hadn’t imagined until now.

  “Hey.” He tries to pull me off, and I keep at it like a good little sexual soldier. “Kendall.” My name chokes from him like a dull ache just as an explosion of warm salted liquid fills my mouth. “Kenny.” He pants it out in a fit of ecstasy this time and less of a warning. I wait until his throbbing ceases before spitting it out onto my T-shirt.

  “Sorry,” I say, making my way back up to him. “That might be something I have to work up to.” And even that seems doubtful at the moment.

  “You didn’t have to do that.” Cruise grins through his erratic breathing and pulls me in. I try to give him a kiss, and he’s quick to deflect my efforts.

  “No fair,” I whisper. “You kissed me after.”

  “That’s because you’re different.”

  I trace him with my finger, his rough stubble, the sharp M of his lips, his filament-like lashes.

  Cruise peers over me while resting on his elbow. His sharp features catch the light and bless him with all of the adulation the flames have to offer. His skin washes out in bronze, and he looks like a statue that’s miraculously animated to life.

  “Turnabouts fair play.” He dusts the curves of my body with his mouth and a beautiful ache erupts in the pit of my stomach. Cruise melts over me, pulling my thighs up over his shoulder. He buries a kiss in my most intimate part, and everything in me surrenders to Cruise.


  Friday morning, snow blankets the earth like manna from heaven while all of Garrison disappears in an Arctic layer of fog. Our world is unreasonably beautiful, but just as cold, and I’ve got two hundred dollars cash waiting to turn into a winter coat and boots for Kenny. That’ll have to wait until the day is through. If I manage to have anything left, I think I’ll throw in dinner—hell, I’ll throw in dinner anyway.

  She spent all day yesterday helping my mother get settled. I gave Kenny a tour of the B&B and she loved every square inch. I’ve always known I’d inherit the place one day, and walking Kenny through those hallowed halls felt like I was giving us both a glimpse of the future.

  “Professor I-D
on’t-Bang-Chicks-Anymore Elton!” A caustic male voice booms from behind.

  I turn to find Cal following me into Hoffman Hall where my newly minted office is located.

  “What are you doing here?” I don’t slow down my pace for him.

  “Consulting. They asked me to help renovate the weight room.”

  His bald scalp is dusted with snow, and it gives him that dignified asshole look he’ll achieve in about twenty years.

  “I owe you something.” A shit-eating grin hedges on my lips. I walk up—clock him in the jaw and feel a satisfying pop beneath my knuckles.

  “Shit,” he barks, nursing his wound. “I think I lost a filling.”

  “That’s because you’re a pussy.” I head upstairs, and he continues to tail me like the stray dog he is.

  “What the hell was that for?”

  “For being an ass. Why the hell did you hit on Kenny? And don’t deny it,” I say, stepping into the glorified closet which officially houses a plaque lucky enough to bear my moniker. “I saw you with her at Starbucks.”

  “That?” He falls in the seat across from me with a dumbfounded, albeit slightly injured, look on his face.

  “Yes, that.” I pluck out my laptop and fire it up. “Look, if you’re going to cheat on Lauren, pick on someone else. Kenny is off limits.”

  “For your information, she was hitting on me.”

  I give a little laugh at the thought.

  “And what’s this ‘Kenny’ business?” He balks. “As far as I know, the rest of the planet refers to her as Kendall. Don’t go down the thorny trail of pet names, my friend. It only leads to more misgivings.” His nostrils flare as he slides down the seat.

  “Kenny fits her. It’s cute, like Kenny. You’re not allowed to call her that, by the way.”

  “Cute.” He mocks. “You know what’s not cute? The ex-great love of your life stalking me.”

  “I have no ex-great love of my life. Therefore, I know not what you speak of.” I pluck a stack of papers from my briefcase and scan them.

  “Blair, you moron. We’re talking about Blair.”

  “You’re talking about Blair. I wouldn’t classify her as any great love. More like an unnecessary evil.”

  “Evil? A bit harsh don’t you think?” His brows peak as though suddenly her virtuous standing were a matter of personal interest.

  “I stand by my statement. Although, I retract the word ‘unnecessary.’ She was very much a necessary evil on many levels. First and foremost to contrast what true happiness is. And that, my friend, is what I have with Kenny. Things are progressing.”

  He shakes his head. “Never mind, Kenny. When are you going to have the big pow-wow, with Blair? You know it’s coming. Blair is like a piranha when she gets her mind set on something. And right now that something is you. Besides, she assured me she just wants to be friends.”

  “I don’t need any more friends.”

  “You guys have a history together. You lasted longer than my father’s last three marriages. I don’t know. I think you should at least have a sit down. It’s going to be a long life, and Blair Lancaster just so happens to run in the same social circles.”

  “Then I’ll find new social circles. Look, I’m not interested in any kind of relationship with her. I’ve moved on. I wish her happiness, success, and someone else’s dick to occupy her time. My body is quite content with the woman I intend on spending the rest of my life with.”

  Cal jerks back like he’s having a seizure. “You talking marriage?”

  “I don’t see why not. Kenny is beautiful and sane, so already she’s two up on Blair.”

  “Low blow.”

  I consider it for a moment. “You know all those girls I rolled around the sheets with these past few months? I never once felt satisfied.” A sigh escapes me. Countless hours, countless fruitless pleasures I subjected myself to just trying to fill some hole. I wonder what it would have felt like with Kenny if I had waited for her—if I hung on until I met her that night at the party, and we shared everything together for the first time. My skin electrifies at the thought, and my dick ticks in my boxers like a bomb. “Anyway”—I blow out a breath as I scan through the stack of papers in front of me—“I have no intention of fucking things up with Kenny, so you can tell Blair to beat it.”

  “She’d love to beat it. Just listening to her blabber on about her bodily regrets is making me insane. Why don’t you bend her over your desk and put her out of her misery already.”

  “You bend her over your desk.” I fire back, not quantifying his diction with so much as a glance. “I’m over her. In fact, I’d go as far as saying I was never that into her compared to what I feel now.”

  A shadow sweeps across the door, and I peer out to find a familiar red coat dashing down the stairs.

  “On second thought, you don’t have to tell her,” I say. “Looks like she heard, firsthand.”



  Dinner Theater

  The Student Union café smells almost as heavenly as Starbucks, but misses the mark in both scent and coffee. It’s nothing short of a bad knockoff, a near miss, something that I once accused love of being. I wonder if all those marriages my mother sunk under like weights were nothing short of knockoffs for something pure she was trying to emulate—something special like what Cruise and I have. I wish I could gift that to her. Wrap up all of these wonderful feelings and ship them off to her with a shiny red bow. My mother deserves to have this. Everybody does.

  I spot Lauren and Ally huddled near the window and head on over. A vagrant hand snatches me by the wrist, and I trace the red pea coat up to find Blair staring back at me.

  “Boy, you left in a hurry the other day.” She reaches into her bag and pulls out a stack of loose papers. “I got your stuff.”

  “Thank you!” I take them from her. “My boyfriend had an emergency. His mom broke her leg.”

  “So, you two are pretty close, huh?” She sours at the thought. Couples like Cruise and I probably make her want to vomit, especially after coming off such a miserable breakup.

  “Very close.” I shrug almost apologetically. “He’s amazing. I never thought I could have something like this with someone like Cruise. He’s the nicest person on the planet.” I can’t seem to control my urge to gush.

  “I don’t know.” She shakes her head. “Don’t you think you’re too young to settle? And guys like, Cruise, did you say? When you’re that good-looking, you’re always getting hit on. They say ‘pretty boys’ are ninety percent more likely to cheat than some average Joe.” Cal walks by outside, and she points a finger in his direction. “Now take that guy for instance. He would make much better boyfriend material in the long run.”

  “That’s not what his girlfriend says.” I’m quick to correct. “Anyway, I’d better go. Hey! It’s your special day,” I tease. “You ready for the big reveal?” Blair is scheduled to collect two hundred bones after class today and most likely just as many boners while conducting the semi-indecent exposure. Blair is pretty. I’m sure any of the guys in art class, or Garrison in general, would love to get to know her better. But she’s totally been burned, so I doubt they have a chance. Wounds like that need serious time to heal. When you hurt that deep, you’re probably still emotionally clinging to the person that hurt you. It’s that whole power exchange thing Cheryl hit on in class. Someone still very much holds all of Blair’s power, and she needs to take it back before she could ever hope to move on with her life.

  “The big reveal?” Her forehead wrinkles. “Oh, I’ve changed my mind.” Blair slits me with a look that could cut my throat. “Unlike some people, I’d rather keep my dignity intact.” She walks out the door with the verbal snipe still fresh on her lips.

  Really? Some people.

  I go over and take a seat next to Lauren and Ally.

  “Morning!” I sing.

  Lauren’s face is bloated and patchy as if she’s been up crying all night.

thing okay?” Everything is not okay, but I’m pretty sure, who the hell shit on you isn’t the best way to start a conversation.

  “Lauren unearthed some serious incriminating evidence,” Ally whispers, speaking in code. “Lace panties tucked in the couch.” She makes a face. “That’s the calling card of every tramp who wants to get discovered.”

  “Cal?” My mouth falls open as I gape at Lauren.

  “Bright red, crotchless,” she whimpers. “I found the matching bra under his bed.”

  “Sounds like a progressive dinner was enjoyed by all,” Ally snipes.

  “I’m so sorry.” I reach over and lay my hand over hers. I genuinely feel bad for Lauren. And, if it were the old me, I might have given her a spiel on how love doesn’t exist, but I don’t buy that anymore. A very real part of me wants to give her hope. “You’ll find someone else. There’s someone special out there just for you. Believe me, the last thing you want is someone who strays.” I hate cheaters. This is the exact kind of bullshit my friends in high school had to deal with. It seemed like everyone’s boyfriend was prone to dip his wick whenever the offer presented itself. It was part of the reason I wasn’t so quick to jump into a relationship. Not that Cruise would ever do that. We have something special.

  “I thought we had something special,” she bleats.

  I swallow hard. There’s no way in hell Cruise and I could ever land in the deep end of the shitter like Lauren and Cal. What we have is forever.

  “I thought we would be together forever.” Her words meld with a cry.

  “She hasn’t called him out on it.” Ally nods into Lauren as if coaxing the truth out of her.

  “He has a lot of parties at his place.” Lauren digs her pinkies into the corners of her eyes and is quick to recompose herself. “There’s a good chance he’s innocent. Besides, I think I should throw a pretty brunette at him one more time to solidify my theory.” She hardens her gaze as if to insist I have no say in the boyfriend-trapping matter.

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