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“Anytime,” he says.
I pull myself back to look at her.
She tries to step from the barstool, but one of her heels gets caught in the rung. I catch her splaying my fingers across her hipbones and guide her to safety. “You okay?”
She blinks but doesn’t answer.
When I assess her body for signs of injury, the only thing I notice is gooseflesh up and down her arms. “Ready to head back?” I ask her softly.
She nods, still unable to speak, seemingly in a daze. I find it rather adorable. But that feeling passes quickly when she raises her eyes and they meet mine. In them I see no need for words. I recognize the look—one of pure hunger.
Underneath It All
I’m not going to try to deny the desire burning within me. Heat flares as he leads me out of the ballroom, and it only seems to get hotter with each breath I take. I am, as always, completely under the spell that is Ben Covington—whenever he is near me now, then, and dare I say forever? The thing is that I can also tell he wants me just as much as I want him.
He turns around, walking and talking at the same time, his eyes drinking me in all the while. “Can you lead us back this way or should we take the main hallways?”
From the intense look he gives me, the same memory that was interrupted earlier assaults me.
• • •
At the frat party his eyes drank me in as if he had been in the desert for days and I were his first cup of water. Shivers went down my spine and I lost my ability to speak, but I didn’t really need to because he communicated with me by trailing his gaze slowly down my body. He stopped on my low-cut shirt and I was sure he could see my ni**les popping out of the thin fabric. My breathing picked up as he lowered his eyes to the short hemline of my skirt. I had a feeling he knew my panties were already soaked, because I saw him swallow a few times.
When his eyes returned to my face, it was my turn. I scanned him in the same way he had swept his gorgeous blue eyes over me—from head to toe. His mop of shaggy blond hair was even more of a mess than usual. I wanted to run my fingers through it and comb it into place. His tall, lean, muscular body looked tan. I wanted to touch it to see how smooth it felt. He wore a white button-down shirt; he seemed to wear those a lot. This one was frayed around the untucked edges, which made it look comfortable—I wanted to wear it. I smiled and with a wicked grin he smiled back. He seemed to understand the purpose of my presence before him, but he didn’t release his hold. Something passed between us and then his stare went blank and he finally let go of the cup.
I twirled in a half turn and bounced over to the keg. I was extremely uncomfortable in this overtly short skirt and tried to shimmy it down with one hand as I walked. Claire’s shoes were too big and I kept slipping out of them, so I had to walk slowly. On my way back I saw Ben motion as if he was unzipping his pants and make a sucking gesture to the guy he was talking to. At that point I wondered if Claire was wrong about him. Maybe he didn’t have a girlfriend? Maybe he liked guys? I wasn’t close enough to hear what he was saying, but in the next moment he was laughing hysterically. The sound of his laugh made a heat creep up my chest.
Just as I approached him he turned around. I was sure I had a look of horror on my face because he said, “What?” with another laugh.
“That’s not really a part of hazing, is it?” I naively asked, wondering if Claire wasn’t kidding after all.
“Fuck no. I was just busting his balls,” he said, taking his beer. Then he said, “Thank you . . .”
“S’belle,” I finished for him.
“I know your name.”
The sound of his voice caused a tingle between my thighs.
That tingling only magnified with the grin he wore. I was surprised he’d remembered. But before I could say anything else, he excused himself and walked away. I tried to mingle, but my eyes kept roving back to him.
Claire checked on me. “I told you he was a dud.”
I didn’t think that at all.
“Do you want to be assigned to someone new? A few guys just arrived and I’m pretty sure they’re looking for attention.”
“No,” I immediately protested.
She raised her hands. “Okay. Your boredom, not mine. I have to get back to it.”
I nodded, glad for her to be gone. During our brief conversation, I had lost sight of Ben in the crowd. People were pushing and shoving or maybe they were dancing I couldn’t tell. All I knew was the majority of them were drunk. The place stank of cigarettes and beer, and even more disgusting sweat. Even in heels, I was shorter than most of the people and they kept running into me. I threaded my way through the crowd but tripped when one of my heels caught in the fringe on a throw rug. I fell into someone’s hard chest and his girlfriend or dream girl looked as though she wanted to kill me.
“Watch where the f**k you’re going!” she snarled.
My eyes widened. “I’m so sorry!”
She looked as if she wanted to punch me.
“Relax, Ella, it was an accident. Don’t get your panties in a wad.” His voice boomed over the music.
I looked up into Ben’s eyes. My hero had saved me. He took my elbow and tried to steer me away from the crowd, but the center of the room had turned into a mosh pit and I kept getting dragged behind him. That’s when he grabbed my hand. He moved fast and with my pulse pounding he guided me to the safety of the wall. But as soon as we reached it, he released his grip on my hand. I felt an immediate loss, and my body temperature seemed to dip, as the heat that was there between us had suffused me and I missed it.