“So, are you happy to have your big brother back?”
I smile at Mike. It’s well past closing time and we’re about to head out of the bar any second. I try not to think of what’s coming next – can barely stomach the thought of what’s happening tomorrow.
“Of course I’m happy to have him home.”
“Dylan says he’s a bit overprotective of you.”
That makes me laugh. “Just a tad. Still, he’s…the best big brother a girl could ask for.”
“And it’s pretty cool he’s dating Annabelle Rogers. Doesn’t hurt that he can hook you up with Hollywood, right?”
Actually, I’m not so sure I like the idea of Austin and Annabelle. Of course, it doesn’t help that I can remember Kara’s slightly devastated and wounded expression when she found out. And Kara found out the hard way. She’d turned up at Brody’s, all ready to give my brother hell and continue their almost war-like style of flirting and sexual tension, only to see Austin with Annabelle. I’ve never seen my friend look so crushed.
Kara recovered quickly, made some snappy comments and acted like she was happy for Austin, but I know better and I suspect Austin does too. Less than a week later, Kara was dating someone new and she says they’re serious.
So much for Kara and Austin winding up together.
“Maybe Annabelle can hook you up with some kind of Hollywood heartthrob since Dylan is leaving, huh?”
From the compassionate look Mike gives me, I suspect I haven’t disguised my utter devastation too well.
“I’m sorry, Claire. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“It’s fine, honestly. I might just ask her if she knows any single actors.”
Not that they’d fit my list.
Then again, I’m not even sure how much of the list I’m keeping. It was missing some very important things, like someone I can have fun with, someone I can be myself with – someone I can fall for.
Mike’s smile is strained as he stands there looking at me as if sensing my inner conflict. “I better get going before Dylan kicks my arse out of here.
I nod and snicker, trying to show him I’m okay.
Trying to prove to myself I’m okay.
“See you later, Mike.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
But after tomorrow…I’m not sure when exactly I’ll see Dylan’s housemate and co-worker again.
This Friday night I’ve just worked my last shift at Brody’s. I might not be on the books as staff, but under Dylan’s tutelage, I’ve come to know as much about serving drinks as anyone else I worked with. Proof of that is the way the guys respect me and consider me part of their team. I won’t be joining them behind the bar again, though, because today was Dylan’s last shift. Tomorrow is his going-away party – also at Brody’s.
And then later that night, at approximately two o’clock in the morning, his plane leaves for New Zealand.
My stomach immediately cramps as if something is eating me away from the inside. It’s impossible to wrap my head around the fact that he’ll be gone in twenty-four hours.
He has a long list of things to do tomorrow, so tonight is really the last time we’ll have to ourselves.
“You ready to go?” Dylan asks, walking up behind me and wrapping his arms around me.
Am I ready to go home with this man and make love to him for the last time?
God, no. I’m not ready for this. I’m not ready to say goodbye to him and let him go.
So many days, months, hours I’ve spent trying to convince myself I could walk away from him when he left. Somehow, I’d convinced myself that knowing he was leaving gave me the strength and the courage to have this fling with him and still say goodbye at the end. Now I question my sanity. How could I have deluded myself so well?
I’ve always been delusional when it comes to Dylan.
“You love Dylan. You always have.”
This isn’t the time for Kara’s words to come back like a punch in the face. I can’t think about that. Can’t consider it a possibility. I have to believe I never loved him.
I have to.
But what we’ve been doing these past four months…
Dylan has become so much more than the man who used to piss me off and treat me like a little sister.
I turn around to face him, feeling his gaze on my face before I look up and lock eyes with him.
He isn’t my perfect man. He’s so very, very far from it, but the fantasy of a life with him has persisted these past weeks, despite the fact I know it’s impossible.
Tomorrow night is going to bring me to my knees, but I won’t give up this one last night we have together. No, tonight we’ll burn brightly together, until tomorrow snuffs out our flame.
He kisses me passionately, his hands on my hips, bringing me closer and holding me there.
After an intense minute, he pulls away. “Let’s get out of here.”
We’re both silent as we walk through my front door, but I break first.
“Do you want anything? A drink or something?”
Great, now I’m babbling. Considering how many nights we’ve spent together, it’s absurd, but tonight is different.
Tonight is goodbye.
“I just need you,” he whispers, dragging me against him, right there in the middle of the hallway. “I want to spend the whole night inside you.”
I close my eyes for a moment, unable to take the intensity in his gaze.
All we have left is tonight.
My heart and soul contracts as I open my eyes and stare back at him. I wrap my arms around his neck, lift myself onto my tiptoes and kiss him. He returns my kiss, soft and gentle, letting me lead and take what I want from him. My whole body trembles and shakes as he places his palm behind my head and holds my mouth there against his as he deepens the kiss, taking control of my body and mind with every stroke of his tongue against mine.
My body is beating for him, needing his claim as he pulls away from me. The look in his eyes scorches me, leaving me even more breathless than his kiss just did. I whip off my blouse and watch him divest himself of his metallic blue shirt and dress pants at record speed. I don’t have time to blink before he’s in front of me, cupping my breasts and stroking them with his thumbs. Then he lifts me up and I wrap my legs around his waist – no easy task in the black skirt I’m wearing.
He’s breathing as heavily as I am as he kisses me again and walks us into my bedroom. He lies down on the bed with me still wrapped around him. I seek his mouth on mine again as I pull him closer, still feeling too far away from him. My skirt is hiked up around my hips, my legs spread as he presses the thick ridge of his erection where I need him the most.
I cling to him, running my hands up and down his back as he trails kisses down my exposed throat, chest, and breasts.
It isn’t enough. Maybe nothing tonight with him will be enough. My heart is haemorrhaging in my chest and I’m ridiculously close to tears as he continues making love to me. How can this be goodbye? How did goodbye come around so quickly?
I would give anything to have him stay – anything to make him want a life with me as much as I want one with him. But Dylan has spent his whole life waiting for the moment he could pack up his life and take off on the adventure of a lifetime.
He’s committed to the bachelor life and if he stays – if I ask him to stay – he’ll resent me. Then he’ll end up leaving anyway. I’m sure of it.
So much for thinking a few months would be long enough. I’m starting to think no amount of time with Dylan would be long enough.
I become aware of the way he’s looking at me, the questions in his eyes clear.
“Think we could swap positions?” I ask.
He frowns, but then obliges me, rolling us so I’m on top. Yes, this is what I want.
Yes. I felt too out of control before and too emotionally restless to have him make love to me the way he was about to. Instead of answering him, I kiss him, intertwining my fingers with his and sliding our hands above his head before deepening our kiss. Hearing him moan underneath me gives me the courage to keep going. Tonight, I want to show him how I feel, since I can’t possibly tell him. I’m not even sure I could verbalise it if I had to.
This man. This man who taunted me and rejected me when I was sixteen, who’s loved me and shown me everything as an adult, who’s pushed my buttons, my boundaries and made me question everything I thought about myself and what I wanted in life is someone I don’t want to let go of.
He untangles our hands so he can pull me closer. Feeling the emotions start to overwhelm me, I wrench my mouth from his.
I kiss his face, his neck, his chest, making my way down his body, exploring and adoring every inch of him. Once I get to his large and heavy erection, I free him and stroke him. His hands tangle in my hair as I beg for his pleasure with my mouth, doing my best to drive him towards oblivion.
“Claire, stop. I want to be with you. I need to be with you.”
His voice sounds as raw, strangled, and frayed as my heart is. The moment I stop to look at him, he reaches for me, ridding me of my skirt and panties before placing me underneath him again.
I don’t have time to tell him I want to be on top. The night is still young and I’ll make sure I end up on top next time. Right now, I can’t move as he stares down at me and touches me, making a sound low in his throat as he explores the slick heat between my legs.
And then he’s there, spreading my legs further apart with his hips and body and joining us together. I cry out and hold on to him as I welcome him inside, knowing this togetherness will never be possible with him after tonight. When I look up, his eyes are locked on mine. He holds my gaze as he makes love to me, making me feel every move and sensation, both in my heart and in my building climax.
My release rushes up on me, both emotionally and physically. Thankfully he doesn’t stop when he hears the wretched sob that escapes me; he merely kisses me as the tears slide down my face and succumbs to his own pleasure.
When it’s all over, he holds me and I cling to him, knowing it won’t be the last time I’ll cry over the man in my arms.