Addicted for Now / Page 22

Page 22


“Lo.” My voice comes out hoarse and wanting.

He scoots back from me, air replacing his body. The rejection hurts, but I try to remember what we talked about in therapy. I have to get a grip.

“How was your exam?” Lo asks, probably trying to distract me.

“Not bad.” I have yet to come clean about Sebastian supplying me with old exams. I don’t think Lo would care that I’m semi-cheating, but I don’t think he’d approve that Sebastian is embedding me in his scheming ways either. It’s better to avoid that conversation.

“So Sebastian is actually helping?” he asks in disbelief. He returns his body right behind me again, and the pressure on my ass ignites wild thoughts.

“Yeah,” I mumble. I can’t ask him for sex. He’ll say no. I have to try and relax so he doesn’t move away, so I can revel in the fact that this—him behind me—feels too good for words. I have to believe that this is enough…that I don’t need more.

“So you think you passed?”

“Ummm…” Focus. “I think I made an A.”

He stops massaging my head, but he doesn’t move his body off mine. “Did you cheat?”

“What?” I squeak. I’m about to lift my head, but he puts a hand on my back and pushes me down so I don’t drip water all over the floor.

“You did. You cheated.” His shock outweighs all other sentiments.

“I did not!” I defend.

“Hold on.” Lo grabs a cup and fills it with water. “Close your eyes.”

I shut them tight as he starts washing away the shampoo suds, thick tension filling between us. It doesn’t help that his frontal area is now grinding up against my ass.

“So what did he want in exchange for helping you cheat?” Lo asks.

I barely process this question. I’m a terrible multi-tasker, and right now I juggle my nefarious thoughts with rubbing soap from my eyes. There is no room to answer him properly. “Hmm?” I spread my legs apart, not enough that he’ll notice.

At least, I didn’t think he would.

He hooks my ankle with his foot and pins my legs back together like it’s nothing, like this is our new routine. “Sebastian would want something in return,” Lo says, his voice roughening as he pictures a not-so innocent bargain.

“He’s not helping me cheat,” I say again. He pours more water over my head, and I spit out a mouthful of soap.

“Sorry, love.” His sweetness lasts only a second when I open my legs again and he pushes them together. “If he didn’t help you cheat, what did he do?” Lo pauses as he wrings out my hair. “You do realize that having someone else take the exam for you constitutes as cheating.”

“I know,” I snap. He grabs a towel and starts massaging my scalp again. I close my eyes to bask in how it feels. Ugh, I can’t even hate him while he does this.

He takes off the towel, and I finally stand up straight, my hair messy and wet around my face. But at least it’s clean. Lo is still pressed up against me, and his hands even rest along my hips. Our eyes meet through the mirror, and I see the strength in them. “We can’t,” he says. “I’d love to f**k you right now, but we have to leave soon for the meeting.”

I nod. It’s not a healthy time, at least not for me.

I spin around to face him fully, and he backs away from me. Enough that my eyes drop to his pants. “How are you not hard right now?” I ask accusingly.

“I was just washing your hair,” he says like I’m being silly, like that simple task wasn’t sexual at all. I frown. Wasn’t it? Or was the entire thing all in my perverted mind?

He tilts my chin with his finger, and I look back up into his eyes. “I spent three years as your fake boyfriend,” he says. “I’ve had practice resisting you.”

Ohhhhh. I like that answer better. I think he knows it too. Lo leans down and kisses me deeply, filling my lungs with his breath. I grab onto the back of his neck and reciprocate fully. We stay like that for at least a minute, but he retracts before we can go any further.

My eyes are glued to his pink, wet lips. My brain is only computing one thing: Kiss. Kiss. Kiss.

“How did you make an A? Or think you made an A?” he asks, popping my happy thoughts.

“Huh?” Can I play dumb? It should be easier for me, considering I’m relatively average on the smart scale. Lo doesn’t buy it. He gives me a look and I crumble under his penetrating stare. “You can’t tell Rose.”

“So you are cheating.” He realizes that Rose wouldn’t care how I aced the exam unless I ventured to the dark side of academia.

“Not technically…”

His brows jump. “So what…you half-cheated? What does that even mean? You cheated on the first page but not the last?”

I hold up my hands. “Whoa, can I explain?”

“Please.”

“Sebastian gave me old exams, and I just memorized all the answers. I didn’t bring the tests to class or copy the answers on my hand. I’m just beating the system. There’s no harm in that.”

Lo takes a moment to process this, and just when I think he’s going to yell at me, he asks, “What did you make on the other exams before you did this?”

“44 and 29.” Two horrible grades that I didn’t think humanly possible. Actually, that’s a lie, I’ve made a 7 on a test before—and I think the Penn professor was just being nice about that too. I reread my exam and it sounded like a planetary alien took the test and wrote in a different language. Honestly, the professor asked me if I was dyslexic. I couldn’t really tell him the truth. I’m so exhausted from all the crazy sex I’m having that I can barely process words let alone sentences. You’re lucky I even showed up to this class, Mister.

Lo is still thinking, so I add, “I’ve been getting C’s in my other classes. Statistics is the hardest for me.”

“You’re right. It’s not really cheating,” he says. I can’t help my smile, my face filling with glee. “But…” I don’t like buts…scratch that, I remember that I do like butts with double T’s. Like my butt. His cock.

Lo waves a hand in front of my face. “Did you hear me?”

“I lost you on but.”

“Jesus, you really want anal sex,” he says with a grin. I open my mouth to ask him for it, and he quickly says, “No, love. Not right now.” Boo.

Lo continues without missing a beat, “So Sebastian gave you old exams. What did you give him?”

“Nothing,” I say with a shrug. “He said he was doing it because I’m Rose’s sister and…” I taper off, knowing this is where Lo will get pissed.

“And…” Lo prods.

“And he told me that he doesn’t like Connor and Rose together, and I think he may try to break up their relationship. Anyway…” I clear my throat. “I can’t warn her about Sebastian, or else—”

“He’ll keep the exams,” Lo finishes and then nods.

Red hot shame fills me, and this doesn’t even have anything to do with sex.

Lo says nothing more. He takes a long time to process everything internally.

My nerves gather at his silence. “I need those exams, Lo. You know I need them. What am I supposed to do?”

“I don’t know,” Lo mutters. He rubs the back of his neck.

I shift uneasily. “Connor is the first real friend that we’ve ever had, and I’m standing over on Team Sebastian…unwillingly.”

“We’re going to have to think about it.” He stares hard at the floor, plotting. “For right now, let’s just keep this between us.”

“Are you sure?”

Lo meets my gaze, recognizing the flash of guilt in my eyes. He pulls me closer to his chest and runs a hand down the back of my head in comfort. “Your priority is to pass this class. Try not to think about anything else.”

“Connor—”

“He’ll be fine for now. He’s the most confident, self-assured guy in the world. He can handle Sebastian without either of us.”

I think he’s right, but we both also know it’s not the moral path—the one that good friends take. Being sober isn’t our only challenge. Becoming human, functioning people in this big vast world means making friendships and sustaining the very few that we already have.

There is no college course to “be a better friend” or “be a less shitty human being.” Or else I would be signed up for both.

We’re selfish, in every sense of the word.

I just don’t want to fracture our friendships because of it.

{ 14 }

LILY CALLOWAY

The hardest part about being in a committed relationship with Lo isn’t losing the sex with strangers. It’s losing that moment where I become someone else. Where the shy, insecure Lily turns into a confident vixen. Where I’m completely and utterly in control and as my conquest looks at me with a heavy-lidded gaze, he knows it too. I was someone else during those moments. Someone better maybe.

The longer I’m monogamous, the more I forget what being that confident, brazen Lily feels like. It’s like parting with a best friend for so long that their face becomes a blurry haze. I don’t miss her enough to cheat on Lo. I just wonder if I’ll ever see her again.

But I know who I never wanted to meet.

Sadie.

Connor’s evil, orange tabby cat glares at me from across his apartment living room. All those grumpy kitties on Tumblr are not just photoshopped. Sadie is proof that felines can contort their face with such hot-tempered malice.

Lo and I sit on Connor’s dark green leather sofa, his apartment decorated like a bachelor pad. Instead of red Solo cups lined on the bar, he has an array of expensive liquors locked away in a glass cabinet. Lo glanced at them once or twice, and Connor ushered us to a seat where our back is turned to the alcohol. That pissed Lo off a little. He doesn’t want to be babied.

Afternoon light streams through windows that fill the entire back wall and the adjacent one. From floor to ceiling, Connor has a perfect view of Philly’s old brick architecture. Like most expensive bachelor pads, Connor has art décor that makes very little sense to me.

There’s just a porcelain ball stationed where a chair should be. I can’t tell if it’s an empty flower pot or a vase. There’s no hole for lilies—okay that came out wrong. But really, it seems silly to have a ball thing just taking up space. I guess that’s why they call it nonfunctional art.

The floors are concrete, but in the living area, he has a nice cream rug that Sadie apparently loves. Because she has yet to step off it. She struts in front of the couch, back and forth, her white tail wagging mischievously.

I have my eye on you, I say with a narrowed gaze.

Despite feeling violated by Sadie, I am relatively hopeful today. I want everything resolved with this blackmailer, evil-texter, or whatever the hell he is. I want to move on and focus on getting healthy.

The bell rings, and Connor opens the door. “You’re late,” he says flatly, in a Connor Cobalt, I dislike you tone that very rarely presents itself.


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