I’m slightly shocked as Dylan pulls out and finishes on my stomach. He moans my name and nuzzles into the crook of my neck, clearly as spent as I am. It’s not just the fact no guy has done that to me before that is shocking. No, it’s how much I wish he hadn’t pulled out. Unbidden, thoughts of a life with Dylan flood my mind – one where I’m not on protection. One where it’s Dylan’s child I’m pregnant with when I move into the house I’ve been saving up for my entire life.
My heart is pounding from more than just the physical act of what we’ve just done. What the hell am I thinking? I can’t be thinking that.
I shouldn’t be thinking that.
It’s wrong. Dylan James is never going to be mine. He doesn’t want to be mine. He wants no part of the life I’ve imagined and dreamed of forever. He’s never going to ask me to marry him, buy a house with me, and give me children. He isn’t that man and he never will be.
I hadn’t forgotten that, exactly. But for a second there, I imagined it anyway.
It’s a dangerous, dangerous fantasy to indulge in for even a second. Dylan isn’t supposed to be the type of man I see myself with. He’s everything I don’t want in a husband – unpredictable and restless.
“You okay?” Dylan asks, helping me clean up.
I thought I’d be safe doing this with Dylan because he’s absolutely the last person I’d ever imagine myself with long-term. Confusing what we have with more breaks all the rules and promises I made to myself and to him.
My friends thought I was capable of indulging in this sort of fun with a man, but maybe they were wrong. And maybe Kara was right in saying that I couldn’t do it with Dylan.
“You love Dylan. You always have.”
No. I can’t fall for Dylan. We’re having great sex, and just because this is a first for me, I’m confusing it with more.
I have to make sure that never happens again.
Dylan holds my top out to me. “We need to reschedule that date of ours.”
Before we had sex tonight, I might have jumped at the chance, but now that I can see the slippery slope I’m on with him, perhaps dates and spending time together outside of the bedroom is a bad, bad idea. Rules. I’ve always been good with rules, and this will just be one more I impose on myself. I will not ask anything more of Dylan than sex.
“Can I come back with the girls on Saturday night? Help out if needed?”
He picks his shirt up off the floor and buttons it, all the while studying me. “We could hang out during the day, too, if you want?”
I shake my head. “No, I might be working. Besides, we should probably keep…our meetings to the evenings.”
I ignore the way my heart squeezes at the hurt that flashes in his eyes.
I am putting a boundary down, and even though it hurts me to do it – it would be fun hanging out with him when we aren’t having sex – I need to. He doesn’t have to worry about developing deeper feelings for me, but I do need to worry about developing feelings for him. This will be better for both of us. When he leaves the country, I need to be able to say goodbye. I can’t do that if I keep fantasising about the two of us together. And I will if there’s anything but sex between us.
I smile at him, trying to lighten what I’m feeling for both our sakes. “I’ll see you on Saturday night, then.”
He nods, and I walk over to him and give him a quick kiss on the lips.
“I’ll walk you out.”
We don’t speak as we walk to my car. Regret and guilt seem to bounce around in my stomach with every silent step, but it’s better this way. For both of us.
“Bottoms up, girls.”
I lick the salt on my hand, down the vile liquid from the shot glass in my other hand and then suck on the lemon wedge Kara hands me.
This is apparently the living and taking risks my friends were talking about when I took a timeout from the list. I promised my friends I’d have a big one with them tonight, but tequila is disgusting and I’ve heard too many stories about the after-effects to completely relax.
“See, the lemon makes it better,” Kara says.
I shake my head. If this is what Kara considers better, then I don’t want to know what tequila tastes like without the lemon and salt. My oesophagus and stomach are burning.
“Next one,” Danni calls.
Three tequila shots are lined up for each of us. Resigned to my fate – a hangover of epic proportions – I reach for more salt and lemon and pick up my next shot glass.
“To girl’s night,” Tori says.
“And to as many as we can cram in while Claire takes a break from her list.”
Or until Dylan leaves.
I force a smile and try not to think about how quickly time is flying by at the moment before downing my second shot. I suck on the lemon wedge, thinking the lemon is as bitter as the thought of Dylan leaving. We’ve been having sex for six weeks now. I see him twice a week – going to his bar, hanging out, and learning more of the ropes. Dylan says he should pay me to be staff.
I’d hoped to see him tonight, but the girls decided they didn’t want to go to Brody’s. Too bad if I’m craving his company, his smile, and the satisfaction he always gives me. I’ve ignored my girls while in relationships before and I refuse to do it again, especially since Dylan and I aren’t in a relationship.
There’s no sitting by the phone, waiting for him to call – Kara would kick my butt if I did. And there’s no obsessing over my behaviour and my next move – trying to manipulate the relationship or trying to take it to the next level. It is disconcerting at the same time it’s freeing. Mostly, though, it’s just necessary to keep things in perspective. If anything about what I’m doing with Dylan reminds me of previous relationships, I’ll start fantasising about a future with him again.
I won’t risk it.
“Last shot, ladies, then we dance.”
I pick up my last shot, throw it down and take a small amount of comfort from the fact that at least I’m pleasing them, even if I’ll be hung-over tomorrow.
A popular R&B song hits the speakers of the new club we’ve gone to, Shameless, and Tori whoops and takes hold of my hand, dragging me onto the dance floor.
God, when was the last time I danced with my girlfriends? Too long ago, I suspect. I feel rusty. Thankfully it doesn’t take me too long to get back into the swing of dancing, and I’m throwing myself into the music, throwing my head from side to side and laughing with my girlfriends when I feel the vibration of my phone in my bag.
Frowning at the late hour and worried about who might be trying to get in touch with me at this time, I pull out my phone and see a text from Dylan.
Where did U end up tonight?
Before I can reply, Kara snatches the phone out of my hands and types out a message that she sends to Dylan before I can get my phone back.
“He’s after a booty call. You’re not interested tonight.”
Even the thought of Dylan wanting to have sex with me tonight makes my heart speed up and my sex clench. We’re steadily working our way through our mutual fantasy list, but for every fantasy we play out, a new one comes along.
Kara still doesn’t approve of me hooking up with Dylan, and I’ve made a few comments about the fact he isn’t showing me fun outside the bedroom. I haven’t told my friend that it’s not Dylan’s choice to just keep things sexual. Kara would want to know why, and I don’t want to discuss it. It would only convince Kara she was right about my feelings for the man.
“What did you say to him?” I ask.
“Read.” Kara passes the phone back to me.
“Out with grlz’s at Shameless. Have fun 2night. XO,” I read out loud. “He’ll know it’s not from me.”
I’m always careful to keep my text messages in proper English – it’s a habit.
“Or maybe he’ll think you’re drunk and having a good time, which you are. Admit it. You haven’t been thinking about Dylan, have you?”
I am missing him, but I suppose I shouldn’t get used to spending every Saturday night with him. That would be a painful habit to break when he leaves.
“Then forget him and let’s get back to it,” Kara says. “Okay?”
I drop my phone into my handbag. It’s good to spend time with my girls. It’s good to keep boundaries between me and Dylan. In the end, that’s what will keep me sane in seven weeks’ time when he’s gone and I go back to looking for men who fit my list.
A/N: What are the odds Dylan will turn up at the club? I bet you already know 😉