The Hook Up
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“Off,” she hisses unnecessarily, giving me an elbow to the gut. I know she’s right; we can’t be seen like this. But, damn, a man needs a minute after something like that. I stagger back, tugging the condom off—one out of the five that I’d tucked in my wallet this morning because hope springs eternal—and tie it before looking around in a daze. Where am I supposed to put it?
She’s glaring at my dick, or rather, the fact that it’s hanging in the wind. I make an annoyed face as I stuff myself back into my pants before zipping up. Spotting a trashcan in the far corner, I toss the condom in the empty bin—yeah, I don’t care who finds it.
By the time I return to her side, she has her shirt fixed but is still adorably mussed. Breathing in a light pant, she smoothes her hands down her thighs to fix her rumpled skirt. Which makes me want to hike it back up. Then she gathers her hair in her hand and flips the length of it over her shoulder. “This can’t happen again.”
I snort. “It’s going to happen again. You might as well admit it.”
With a huff, she pushes a hand through her hair and glares. “No. It. Won’t.”
“Yes. It. Will.” I don’t want to be an ass**le, but I’m not deluded. “I want you. You want me.” A wry laugh escapes me. “Though I think ‘want’ is too weak a word here. ‘Crave,’ maybe. ‘Am insane for,’ definitely.”
She goes pink, her lips, which I have yet to touch, pursing. I want to. I want to kiss her so badly, my lips actually throb with need. But I’ve hit a mark; I saw her jump when I said ‘insane for.’
Acting on instinct, I grab her wrist and pull her close, noting that she doesn’t resist. I bring her hand to my crotch, where my hard-on is growing again—all praise the regenerative powers of a needy dick.
A deep flush works across her cheeks, and damn if she doesn’t cup me, squeezing just enough to make me grunt.
“I get like this every time I think about you.” I lean in, smelling the warm spice in her fragrant hair and the lingering scent of sex on her skin. “I just had you, and I’m aching to be inside you, to make you come all over again. So don’t tell me it’s going to stop. Not when you’re stroking me like that.”
Anna snatches her roving hand away. “Okay, fine. You got me. I want you too.” She ducks her head and a tumble of curls hides her face from me, but not her words. “Badly.”
She has no idea what that does to me. She couldn’t possibly be that cruel. It’s torture not to reach for her, tug her back to our secluded spot for another go. I probably wouldn’t last two minutes, as torqued as I am. But she’s moving now, striding toward the elevators with her swaying walk. I follow.
“I’m failing to see the problem here, Jones. Let’s go out on a date. You know, like normal people who are into each other do?”
A sidelong glance is all I get. “Look. I don’t want a relationship. Especially not with you.”
I pull up short. “Why not with me?”
“We’re too different.” She stabs the down button and stares at the elevator doors. Dismissed.
I don’t think so. “We’re the same in all the ways that count.” Why can’t she see this?
Her back is to me, stiff and unyielding. “I don’t even like you. You don’t like me.”
Wow. That hurts. Embarrassingly so.
I lean a shoulder against the edge of the door panel, bending down enough to bring myself into her line of sight. “There’s where you’re wrong. I do like you. A lot.” I glance away, trying not to wince, then force myself to face her again. “I’m sorry if you don’t like me.”
Again she ducks her head, another flush hitting her pale cheeks. “Sorry.” She shakes her head then clears her throat. “That was a shitty thing to say. I do like you. I just…” She lifts her hands up in a helpless gesture. “I don’t want a relationship right now.”
Disappointment tumbles into my gut like an unmoored boulder. “Fine. Then we just f**k.” I give her a level look as a bell dings and the doors to the elevator open. “Because any chance you give me, I’m taking it.”
I’M LATE MEETING Iris and George for lunch. Call it reluctance to face the firing squad. I’m under no illusion that they won’t figure out I’ve had sex with Baylor. I’m horrible at hiding things, and Iris is already suspicious of my sudden disappearance at the party the other night.
Part of me wants to talk about it. Not about Baylor precisely, because the idea of him discussing details with his friends makes me cringe, and I refuse to be a hypocrite. But I need to process this insanity that’s got a hold of me. I cannot believe I had sex with him again. And in the library of all places. Anyone might have seen. The irony that I’m afraid to be seen with him yet let him f**k me in a public space, twice now, isn’t lost on me.
Without warning, I think of him kneeling in front of me, his head buried between my legs. My cheeks burn and dark heat licks up the back of my thighs as I walk into the fifties style diner that sits just outside of campus. Good God, I want to turn around, find Drew Baylor, and do it again. I know now that it isn’t the thrill of possible discovery that makes sex with him better than anything I’ve experienced. It is him, the way I react to his body, his touch, his voice. And that scares the hell out of me.
I like you. A lot.
Damn it. If only he was someone else. Something else. A regular guy. A nobody like me. But he’s not and never will be. When I think of the public scrutiny he, and anyone he’s with, endures, I want to hide away, run for the hills.
I take a deep breath instead and tell myself to chill. It’s over. It’s done.
Iris and George already occupy a booth. As George is facing my way, he spots me first and raises a brow in reproach.
“Sorry,” I say as I slide in next to Iris. “I lost track of time.”
“We ordered you a vanilla milkshake, and fries are on the way,” says George. “But you choose the rest.”
Six feet to Iris’s five foot three, George towers over her, but they share similar features, their Mexican heritage showing in their dark eyes framed by thick lashes, honey-gold skin, and glossy raven black hair.
The waitress comes with our drinks and fries, her gaze lingering on George. “You know what you want?”
“Always,” he answers with cheeky confidence that makes the waitress blush, and Iris and I roll our eyes. Not that I can fault the waitress’s taste. George is incredibly good looking. And while I appreciate that on an aesthetic level, I’ve never felt a glimmer of sexual attraction to him. Which is a good thing, as I’d rather have his friendship than a brief physical release.
We order our burgers and, once alone, Iris turns in her seat to study me. “So…you gonna tell us where you got that exceptionally large hickey decorating your neck?”
Shit. As if her notice has activated it, a spot where my neck curves to meet my collarbone, starts to throb. Memories assault me, of Baylor’s mouth there, his tongue sliding over my skin just before he sucked hard. I don’t want to know how bad it looks.
George’s eyes glint as he leans forward. “That’s a beauty. Who’s the guy? Or is it a girl? God,” he puts a hand over his heart, “please say it’s a girl.”
I toss my napkin at his head.
“It’s Drew Baylor,” Iris says. “Isn’t it?”
Cringing, I occupy my mouth by drawing a deep pull of milkshake.
“Get the f**k out,” cries George with a laugh. “Seriously, ‘Ris, stop playing.”
The icy glass in my hand lands on the table with a thud. “Why is that so hilarious?” I blurt out. “Am I such a cow that the idea of me being with Drew Baylor is laughable?”
A gurgle dies in George’s throat and he straightens. “Are you kidding me? You’re gorgeous. Baylor would be lucky to get near you.”
“Well, thanks,” I say, somewhat mollified, and at the same time completely shaken. Shit, it’s happening already. The disbelief. The questioning. Why would Baylor pick me? Even I want to know. Which both stings my pride and makes me want to disappear.
George shifts in his seat, looking irritable at his sudden burst of sentiment. “He’s just not even near your type. And you aren’t exactly his.”
Tell me something I don’t know, George.
“Opposites attract,” sings Iris. Then she all but pounces on me. “So it was Baylor? Oh my God, was he as hot as I think? Do the size of the shorts match the shoes?”
George’s nose wrinkles like he scents something foul. “Can we not go there, ‘'Ris? I’m a guy.”
“Oh, are you?” She shrugs. “I must have forgotten.”
He makes a face. “Does that mean you want details of my hook ups?”
“God no,” Iris and I say as one.
George laughs, but he’s not deterred. “So was it Battle?”
I pick up a fry, stabbing it in a pool of ketchup. “Does it really matter who it was?”
“Yes,” George and Iris say as one.
“Ha! You lose, 'Ris. No talking until I say your name. Which will be in one hour.”
“I’m not playing that tired game, boy.”
“You called ‘jinx.’ That constitutes playing.”
When they get together, Iris and George act like they are still in the fourth grade. I roll my eyes and sink farther into my chair. Maybe they’ll forget all about me if I refrain from making sudden moves.
No such luck. Iris’s dark eyes hone in on me like a hunting hawk’s. “You might as well tell us. Better we know the truth than speculate.”
She has a point.
I swirl my fry.
“Spill it, Anna,” she warns.
“Say that again?” George puts his hand to his ear, but he’s grinning wide.
“You heard me.” I’m sure as hell not saying it again. I hate that I said it at all. What happened was… I don’t even know how to describe it, but I know it belongs solely to me. And to Baylor. No one else is getting details. At least not on my end. Hell, is he telling his friends? I try not to squirm in my seat.
Iris squeals. “Was it good? What am I talking about? Of course it was. You two are obviously hot for each other. Oh, this is so awesome!”
At the sound of Iris’s enthusiasm, a few eyes glance our way. Suddenly I can’t breathe properly. Iron hands of fear grip my spine, push down on my lungs. My hands go numb. “Okay, stop.” My tone is harsh, deadly serious, and both Iris and George gape. I tried to remain calm but can’t. The cold within me is making me quake. “This goes no further than this table. No one can know. No one. Ever. “
I can’t handle it if people know. I just can’t. Not that. Not the speculation that would arise. Drew Baylor banged that? It’s bad enough that I’ve been waiting for the realization to creep into his eyes, that he’s made a mistake in pursuing me.
A growl works its way up my throat. What the f**k am I talking about? I’m better than this. I’m not some hag. I shouldn’t be ashamed. Cursing myself for my panicked knee-jerk reaction, I press the hot tips of my fingers against my eyelids until stars dance in the darkness. Shit, I haven’t thought this badly of myself since I was fifteen.
And I can’t go there again. Despite the crazy thoughts of us dating that are running through Baylor’s head, there’s no chance of a girl like me being with a guy like him. I’ve spent too many years and dealt with too much pain climbing out of that pit of doubt and insecurity for me to be pulled back down now. My overeager libido is just going to have to take a cold shower.
I take an unsteady breath. My friends are looking at me as if I’ve grown two heads. “Are we clear?” I ask.
“Crystal,” George says, slowly, frowning at me. “But you should already know that.”
A twinge of remorse plucks at my insides, but not enough to truly make me regret my words.
Iris appears just as thoughtful. “I won’t tell. I wasn’t going to…” She stops as if pinched and looks at me closer. “Oh my God, you did it twice!”
It’s my turn to flinch. So much for calming her down. And what the hell? Is she psychic?
Iris laughs at the obvious horror in my face. “That hickey is fresh. And I know you hooked up with him during the party. You both went upstairs at the same time. And,” she points an accusatory finger at me, “you both did the walk of shame back down them.”
“I didn’t realize you paid so much attention,” I reply. “What with having your tongue down Henry’s throat all night.”
George makes a noise of disgust. “Why do I hang out with you two? Can we please stop with the details?”
“Fine by me,” I say. “I’d love it if we talked about something else.”
Rolling her eyes, Iris snags a fry. “Of course I paid attention. I was waiting for it to happen.”
I sit up straight, my hands slapping down on the cheap Formica table. “Wait. What? Did you…? You knew he’d be there, didn’t you?”