I take the beer Logan is holding out to me. “Thanks.”
It’s not a hot day, but I’ve worked up a sweat helping Jess move her things into my place. I took my shirt off a while ago and Logan did, too. Now we’re standing in his kitchen and enjoying a drink while the girls are next door, setting Jess’ room up. Her bed has been put back together and her dresser is in there, but she needs to unpack and make her bed.
I raise my beer at Logan. “Thanks for your help today.”
“Hey, it gets Jess out of here quicker.”
Frowning, I study my friend. Jess said things didn’t go all that well when they talked, but I haven’t talked to Logan about the article since it came out. “You’re angry with her?”
Logan takes a swig of his beer. “Angry? No, I wouldn’t say that.”
“What would you say then?”
My words come out sharper than I intend, but I can still feel Jess trembling in my arms as I picked her up off the floor. Her fainting scared the shit out of me. She’s not in a good way; she’s not eating, she’s losing weight, and I’m worried about her.
“At first I was surprised and then disgusted. Did you know that both boyfriends Kristy had before me hit on Jess and that was why Kristy ended it with them?”
I shake my head. “I didn’t know that.”
“Yeah. I’ve stuck by Jess through this so far. I’ve listened as Kristy ranted about how unfair all this is on Jess, and how she’s the victim in this situation, but I guess I’m questioning it.”
“You shouldn’t,” I tell him.
He puts his beer down on the bench and looks at me. “Listen man, I know you and Jess have become…friendly lately, and now she’s moved in with you, but you should be careful around her. I’m not sure she is what she appears to be.”
I laugh. I can’t help myself. This whole conversation is so absurd. A month ago, Logan and I had pretty much this exact conversation, except I was the one telling Logan I wasn’t a fan of Jess and he was telling me Jess was awesome and I should get to know her.
“So, a couple of articles come out about her, and this interview, and you think she’s not who she says she is? You’re believing the papers over what you’ve seen with your own eyes.”
“I know papers are full of shit, but Jess said it’s all true.”
“So, she admitted she liked you?”
Logan picks up his beer again. “Yup.”
“And that she went to London because she was worried about disturbing your relationship with Kristy?”
“And you think that deserves your cold shoulder and hatred?”
“I don’t hate her. I just…”
“You don’t think she’s who she pretends to be.”
“You’re an idiot if you can’t see she’s not as tough or as cold as she pretends to be. She’s not as unaffected as she makes out. And you’re forgetting the simple fact she left the country when she was worried about disturbing your relationship with Kristy.”
“I would never have touched Jess. If she knew me at all, she’d know that. I love Kristy. I’m going to marry her one day.”
I’m pleased to hear him say so, and I’m happy for him, but he’s missing what’s right in front of him. “She didn’t go to London because she thought you would be tempted. She went because she knew Kristy would feel insecure if her feelings were exposed. She was afraid Kristy would freak out.”
“How do you know that?”
“That night we went to Shark Bait and you and she danced together? I caught her staring at you and Kristy. I threatened to tell you guys about it, and she left for London. Don’t you think that if she wanted a run at you, she would have flirted with you, tried to get you alone, or screw you before now?”
Logan looks away, running a hand over the back of his neck. “I hadn’t quite thought about it like that.”
“Well, think about it like that now. She has never, ever, made a move on you. She loves Kristy like a sister and she would never do that to her.”
“But you believed she was going to do something,” Logan points out. “Or else you never would have threatened her.”
“I was blinded at the time because of the bullshit that happened to me in high school.”
Logan’s expression is sympathetic. “I knew you didn’t like for some reason like that.”
“She reminds me of…it doesn’t matter. What matters is that she isn’t the person I thought she was. And I know you’re loyal and you’re trying to protect Kristy and your relationship. After everything that happened with Izzy, I can’t blame you for being especially cautious and careful, and protective. But Kristy cares about Jess as much as Jess does about Kristy. Did you not witness their girlie moment earlier? Jess is moving next door and they’re still both devastated. They’ve always lived together. Don’t be so blind that you forget what’s important to Kristy.”
“Are you sure you’re not blinded?” he asks, taking a swig from the bottle. “By a beautiful woman who reminds you of…something? Or someone? Someone who, by the way, you’ve never bothered to talk to us about.”
“I’ve never seen things more clearly. And by the way, all the things she’s been accused of, and the stuff that happened with Grant, probably never happened. I believe she was set up.”
Logan shakes his head. “I thought you said the setup idea was bullshit.”
“It isn’t. And I’m going to prove it.”
“Does Jess know?”
“She doesn’t want to think it’s true. She doesn’t want to think of herself as the victim, but I’m positive Casey or Karen slipped Jess and Grant something. They set it up to make it look like they’d slept together, probably so Casey could get the settlement she wanted from the divorce.”
Logan’s expression is thoughtful. “Jess and Kristy have said all along that Grant was going to divorce Casey. They even thought that Casey was cheating on Grant. If she knew…it would be a good motivation for her to strike before Grant could divorce her.”
“See,” I say. “Jess has been screwed royally. I’m not saying she should have been hanging out with a married man. She knows she was in the wrong there. But I’m telling you that Casey came on my show ready to annihilate Jess for something I bet she herself was guilty of.”
“And you’re certain of that.”
“I’d stake my life on it.”
“And your career?”
I think about it for a second. “If it came down to it, yeah.”
“Adam.” He sounds exasperated and yet there’s concern in his voice.
“Don’t worry about me. Worry about Jess and the fact she probably feels like she lost a friend this week.” I look at him pointedly.
“I’ll think about it.”
“Kristy would be happier if you and her bestie were getting along better. It’s not easy on her with Jess moving out because of the stuff that came out in the article, or with you being so cold to Jess.”
“I said I’d think about it, Granger. Don’t push me.”
I shrug. “Wasn’t planning to. Just throwing my two cents at you.”
The sound of a feminine wolf whistle draws my attention to the women walking into the kitchen.
“Great view,” Kristy says, licking her lips as she eyes Logan and me wickedly.
Jess, on the other hand, looks like she’s not quite sure where she’s supposed to look. Her gaze flits around the kitchen until it lands on me. I watch with interest as she takes in my stomach and chest, curious about how she’ll react. I don’t expect to see her blush and her eyes to darken as they take me in. My breathing slows and my blood races south as her eyes climb my body. The blatant lust in her eyes is fucking potent. By the time her gaze meets mine, I’m hard.
For a moment we stare at each other, awareness pulsing between us before she wrenches her gaze away from mine and swallows.
“Jess do you want me to put my T-shirt back on?” Logan asks, his voice full of concern.
“What?” Jess’ gaze darts to Logan.
“I’m worried that all this perfection I have on display is too much for you.”
Jess looks like she’s about to have a heart attack, her cheeks changing from pink to red until I worry she’s about to die on the spot. Then Logan grins at her and winks, letting her know he’s joking. She laughs. We all laugh. Even Kristy, though she gives Logan a good whack on the arm, too.
The joke breaks the tension a little, and it’s nice to see Logan and Jess laugh over what was in the paper. But I don’t think I’ve ever felt more wound up than I do right now. Jess has been fighting me on moving in together, for reasons she hasn’t made clear. She finally agreed to move in because of the article about her interest in Logan came out. But now I can’t help wondering if the reason she didn’t want to move in is because of what happened a moment ago. Is she attracted to me?
I take a swig of my beer, my eyes still on Jess. When she looks at me out of the corner of her eye then looks away when she sees me watching her, my stomach performs its first ever somersault. Holy shit, she is attracted to me.
Now, what the hell am I supposed to do with that?
At one o’clock in the morning, I decide that asking Jess to move in with me was the biggest mistake of my life. Instead of my usual uninterrupted dreamless night’s sleep, I wake up jerking off after dreaming about having my head buried between Jess’s thighs.
She probably tastes even better in reality.
I move my hand up and down my length as I imagine her straddling my face and coming against my tongue. A few pulls and it’s all over. Not only do I say her name louder than I’d like, but I make a huge bloody mess. Throwing the covers off, I get out of bed and do my best to clean up. I want a shower, but I’m worried I might wake Jess up if I do have one.
After changing into a clean pair of boxer-briefs, I go to the bathroom and do what I need to before heading for the kitchen to get a glass of water. It’s not until I see the light on over the stove that I realise I didn’t have to worry about waking Jess up. She’s standing in my kitchen, looking a little lost as she cups a mug of tea.
“Can’t sleep?” My voice is gruff and gritty.
I don’t want to look at her. Not while the fantasy of her straddling my face is still so vivid.
“I slept for a couple of hours. Then I woke up and decided I needed tea.”
Hopefully, it wasn’t me getting myself off and calling her name that woke her up.
Needing something to do with my hands, I grab a glass and fill it with water. “You made yourself at home then?”
“I didn’t think you’d mind.”
A lie. Right now, I need space and time to get over the imagery from my dream. But her moving in here was my bright idea. Worse, I practically begged her to, despite her reservations. In other words, I have no-one but myself to blame for the fact the two of us are walking around my house in the middle of the night with me horny as all get out.
“My mind just won’t stop,” she says.
Great, I should look at her; it seems as if she needs to talk. I take a mouthful of water, stealing myself not to give away what I’ve been thinking about since I woke up. Fuck. I almost choke on my water as I see the soft swells of her breasts underneath her pink chemise. They’re not much more than a handful, but they aren’t exactly small either. On her, they’re perfect. I’m about to look away – or at least try to – when her nipples tighten and I see their outline through the t-shirt.
My mouth waters. My blood rushes to my groin. She makes a noise and then wraps her arms around herself, and when I look at her face, she’s staring at the erection I’m now sporting.
“Well this is awkward as fuck,” I mutter, putting my glass down on the bench beside me. “Why didn’t you tell me this was a bad idea?”
“I did,” she whispers.
“So, you knew this was going to be a problem?”
She looks caught out, and I now know for sure that this was why she’d hesitated to move in. She’s attracted to me, and has been for longer than just today I’m guessing.
“How long have you thought this might be a problem, Jess?” I ask.
“I…” she frowns. “It’s not a problem unless we make it one. You’re the one calling attention to it.”
“I can’t very well stand here and pretend I’m not hard because I saw your boobs. And I thought you were more honest than that.”
“I’m sorry. I’m not used to…”
“Not used to what?”
“I’m not used to…being attracted to someone and not making a move. Usually, if I like someone and I’m attracted to them, I make a move. I pursue.”
Her revelation doesn’t surprise me. What had Kristy said about the guys who get involved with Jess? They think they’re getting a great deal because she’s one of the hottest girls in the world and she likes her sex and relationships casual. When it comes to men, she takes what she wants, and they don’t stop her because, well, why would they? She’s every man’s fantasy. Mine included.
“I’m not sure whether to be flattered or insulted you’re implying you’re not going to try and jump my bones,” I joke.
A smile tugs at her lips. “Be flattered.” She picks up her cup of tea again and sips at it. “I don’t…I like you too much to want to mess things up between us.”
Sleeping together as friends that live together is a long way from the casual and detached way both of us do relationships. I guess she knows that too and that’s why she didn’t want to move in and deal with this attraction.
“Yeah,” I agree. “It would be awkward if we let things…become complicated.”
“Especially since Kristy and Logan are probably going to be together for a long time.”
“Yup. Just today, Logan told me he’s going to marry Kristy.”
“Really?” Jess’s small smile is so genuine and full of happiness, I wish Logan could see it. Then he’d never doubt her.
“Really,” I say. “So…whatever this is that is happening in this kitchen…we can’t act on it. For their sake.”
“For their sake,” she echoes. “I should thank you again for letting me move in. I really needed to get out of there and give Logan and Kristy their space. You were right about that. And I won’t be here long.”
“What do you mean?” I know this moment in the kitchen is awkward. Hell, I’ve done nothing but regret asking her to live with me since I woke up jerking off, but I don’t want her to feel as if she has to move out again soon. She’s had enough upheaval in the past month or two to last her a long while. “You can stay for as long as you like, Jess.”
She gives me another small smile. “Thanks, but…I should move on as soon as possible.”
I can’t pretend I’m not confused right now. “Why? Tell me it’s not because of what’s happening tonight?”
“No.” She’s looking down at her feet and I’m not convinced.
“Jess.” I take a step towards her and wait for her to look at me again. “Then why are you saying you have to move out in a hurry?”
“No reason, really.”
“Bullshit. Tell me the truth.” My eyes never leave hers.
She raises a shoulder. “I don’t want to lean on you too heavily. I…For as long as I can remember it’s been me and Kristy. Now Kristy needs her space and time to devote to her relationship. Of course, we’re still friends, but I can’t lean on her the way I used to. And I…I don’t want to burden you for long.”
She doesn’t want to lean on me for long, is what she’s saying.
“You’re not a burden. You’re a friend. You’re allowed to lean on a friend, Jess.”
I didn’t even realise I’d taken another step towards her until she smiles up at me. “I appreciate everything you’ve done, Adam, and I have allowed myself to lean on you. Too much so in the short time we’ve been on good terms. But surely you realise us living together can’t be a long-term solution. You were right when you said I have to get out there and look for answers. I have to find out who I am now and work out what I want to do.”
“Then do that, and lean on me while you do it.” I take her hand in mine, and my stomach somersaults for the second time in my life as she looks at me.
“Stay as long as you need, Jess. Seriously.”
As awkward as this living situation could end up being, and as sexually frustrated as I might end up, I want her here with me, where I can keep an eye on her. I might have forgotten it for a brief moment when I woke up, but I’m not forgetting it now.
“Thank you,” she whispers, holding my gaze. “You’re a wonderful friend, and even if the aftermath of everything that happened in London has been…horrendous, one good thing has come of it. I can’t regret the fact I know you a little better now than I did before then.”
She takes her hand back before turning around and pouring the rest of her tea down the sink, all the while my heart swells with the warmth from her words.
When she turns back around, she smiles at me again. “Well, I should get back to bed. Get some more sleep. Or at least try to.”
It takes me a second to realise she’s waiting for me to move because I’m blocking her way. I step to one side and she moves forward at the same time. We collide.
My hands go to her hips to steady her as my eyes lock with hers. We’ve just said we shouldn’t complicate things, yet when my gaze drops to her mouth and lips part so she can run her tongue across her bottom lip, I’m beyond tempted go back on our agreement.
“Adam,” her breathy whimper should warn me to move away. Instead, my eyes flick back to hers.
It’s the way she looks up at me, dark hunger swirling in those green depths of hers that makes my fingers flex and tighten on her instead of releasing her. My gaze drops to her mouth again. Kissing her is a terrible idea – the worst. But when she leans in, I do too. I meet her halfway, and the moment I press my lips to hers, her arms come around me, and she kisses me back with a hunger that rivals my own. I pull her more firmly against me, letting her feel every inch of me as my tongue slides into her mouth.
She clings to me and lets me move us back against the sink, where I trap her with my body. All I can think about right now is how she rode my face in my dream. I’d do anything for a taste right now. Anything to see her ride me.
She moans and moves her hips against mine, causing me to harden further against her. Her hands are in my hair as I devour her, nipping and sucking on her lips before trailing kisses along her jaw and down her neck. She shivers as I scrape my teeth over the pulse point in her neck and then kiss my way down to her shoulder. And when the strap of her slip slides off her shoulder, I nip her there gently before pulling the material down further to expose one of her breasts. God, she’s perfect. Every heartbeat draws me closer to her. My blood is on fire as it rushes through my veins, the need to get inside her overwhelming everything else.
Her hands grip my shoulders as I lift her onto the sink, and then they’re back in my hair as I stand between her legs and take her breast in my mouth.
“Yes,” she cries as I circle her nipple with my tongue then tug it gently with my teeth. She responds by tugging my hair, sending a shot of something feral through me. Then my mouth is on hers again, drinking kiss after kiss from her lips until I’m breathless and drugged with desire.
There’s a wildness in her eyes that likely mirrors my own when I pull away to catch my breath. But as we stare at each other, I glimpse something that stops me in my tracks. There’s vulnerability – a softness and fragility – under the wildness that punches me in the gut. It’s so powerful that I take my hands off her and step back.
My name is a question on her lips, her voice unsure and unsteady. I shove a hand through my hair and take another step away from her. “God, what are we doing, Jess?”
I barely recognise my own voice, it’s so rough and gravelly.
“I…I don’t know.”
“We said we weren’t going to do this.”
“I know, but…”
She looks so lost and confused and fearful that I immediately feel guilty. She’s a little bit broken right now and I’ve taken advantage of that. She’s leaning on me, relying on me. She feels as if she’s lost Kristy and her job. In other words, she feels as if her whole world is falling apart. And instead of helping her pick up the pieces and provide some much-needed stability and security, I’m kissing her and trying to screw her the night she moves in with me. All because I want her and I know she’s attracted to me.
I take another step back, ignoring the way my heart squeezes at the hurt look on her face. “That was a mistake and I’m sorry,” I say. “It won’t happen again.” It can’t happen again.
Before I can change my mind, I walk out of the kitchen, doing my best to ignore the burning need to go back and finish what I started. I did the right thing by stopping, didn’t I? As much as I ache to be with her, having sex could undermine the friendship we’ve been building. She might need comfort, but there are better ways to provide it. Even if I just messed up and upset her by ending things where I did, sleeping together would have made everything worse in the long run, right?
She’ll agree with me when we talk about it tomorrow, I’m sure.
Slamming the door shut on my doubts, I head for the bathroom. I’m not going back to sleep anytime soon, so I may as well take the shower I’ve needed since waking up.
A/N: The good news is that it’s up from here. Does that mean no more drama/angst? Well, that would be boring.
Next chapter, jealous Adam makes an appearance.
Lots of love,