Connor runs his fingers across my arm, so light that I shiver. He tucks me closer to him. Please don’t pass out, Rose.
Lo groans as Connor rereads what I said aloud, only more coherent than me.
“What?” Ryke frowns.
Lily is all too excited to explain. “Ship is like relationship. When you ship someone you want them to hook up. Like I ship Magneto and Mystique in X-Men: First Class.”
“But they’re not canon yet,” Lo interjects, adding another term that makes little sense to me.
Lily clarifies, “They’re not really together. We just want them to be, but once it happens, they’re canon. I’m still holding out hope.”
Connor looks between Lo and Lily. “So let me get this straight. People are rooting for Ryke and Daisy to be together, but they’re not canon because it’s never happened.”
Lily claps and smiles brightly. “I’m a great tutor.”
“And it will never happen,” Lo adds, nodding to his brother to make sure he understands. I think Lo just fears abandonment again. That if Ryke dates Daisy in the faraway future, he’ll lose his brother and that sense of family. It’s not true, but you know, people believe what’s in their heart. You can’t change that so easily.
Julian stays quiet, digesting all of this information even though we’re talking like he’s no longer her boyfriend or even in the room. As far as I’m concerned, she just broke up with him tonight. I’m beginning to think Daisy stays with these losers because she doesn’t have the heart to reject them.
“Hey,” Ryke says, purposefully locking eyes with Julian. “I have f**king fans.” He raises his glass of water, and it’s hard to overlook my sister’s head in his lap.
Julian stands and nears him. “I’m going to take her to bed.”
I open my mouth to refute, my eyes narrowing, despite the booze softening me. But Ryke (sober) is way faster.
“She’s not f**king sleeping with you. Sorry, man.”
“Okay, just hand her over, dude. This shit is getting old.”
“Is it not processing in your f**king head?” Ryke asks with one of the worst glares I’ve seen him use. “You’re not f**king taking her. You’re not sleeping with her. She’s staying here.”
“With you, right? That’s not happening. I don’t f**king trust you with her.”
Lily perks up on Lo’s lap. “She can sleep in my bed, and Lo can go in Ryke’s room. Right, Lo?” she asks.
He nods. “Yeah, sure.” But he looks worried about leaving Lily alone. Not only for her own safety against Scott, but she’ll also be tasked to protect Daisy from her boyfriend. What if Julian crawls into their bed? We don’t know him that well.
“I’ll sleep with them too,” I announce, knowing that I drank too much to do anything with Connor anyway. But I do regret the words, even as I say them.
If Connor’s disappointed, he masks it perfectly, his face entirely unreadable.
“Great,” Julian says, “I’ll go put Daisy in her sister’s bed.”
Ryke stands with Daisy cradled in his arms, her legs dangling lifelessly. He readjusts her so she’s turned towards his chest, looking more passed out and less dead.
Julian waits for Ryke to hand her to him.
“Over my dead f**king body,” Ryke growls.
Before they have a tug-of-war with my sister, Loren steps in and pries Daisy from Ryke. “I’m taking her to bed.”
Lily wraps the blanket tight around her nak*d frame and follows Loren out of the living room.
Julian puffs his chest out like he could push Ryke and pummel him. But Ryke pretty much has a look like “I’m going to rip your head off and chuck it in the snow.” I’d say Ryke would win based on expressions. That is, if I had to bet on this stupid fight at all.
I really just want to be alone with Connor, even if I already committed to sleeping with my sisters. I can creep in their room later, right? Drunk me says hell yes. Sober Rose would say where did your loyalty go, bitch?
Drunk Rose is so powerful right now.
Connor stands, my armrest gone. I almost fall into the cushion, but I catch myself with an unsteady hand.
“We should all go to bed. It’s late,” he says. He turns to me and easily grabs my hand, lifting me to my feet and supporting me with an arm to the waist.
Scott speaks to Brett, words that I can’t catch, and then they head over to Savannah and Ben in the kitchen to review old footage.
“Yeah, whatever,” Julian says. He shoots Ryke one last threatening look before backing up and climbing the stairs to the loft bedrooms.
When we hear the door close, Ryke’s shoulders slacken. He shakes his head repeatedly and runs his hand through his hair.
“What’d Daisy say to you?” Connor asks. I didn’t realize this was an important piece of information. Okay, I am not drinking anymore for the rest of the trip.
Ryke stares at the ground, his features darkening. “She said, don’t let him touch me.”
My face clouds with worry. She really thought he could have taken advantage of her while she was passed out? “I don’t like him,” I say with the shake of my head.
“Join the f**king club.”
Connor sets a hand on the small of my back. “Let’s just be civil with him for the rest of the trip. Daisy has to work with Julian, so obviously she’s treading some muddy waters here.”
“I don’t see anything f**king muddy about it,” Ryke retorts. “She doesn’t like him. So she needs to dump him.”
“Not everything is black and white, Ryke,” Connor says. “You should understand that, considering your situation with Daisy.”
Ryke scowls. “There’s no situation.”
Connor tilts his head. “Act stupid in front of your brother, but that tactic won’t ever work with me.”
“You like her,” I add, saying each word slowly so I don’t slur them together. “It’s okay to like her.” Hell, I like any guy that makes my sister happy and treats her well. Julian does neither.
Ryke glares at both of us. “It’s not f**king okay. I’m not into her like that. I can’t be. She’s seventeen.”
“What about when she’s eighteen?” Connor asks with an arched brow.
Ryke shakes his head adamantly. “You think I’m going to sacrifice my relationship with my brother for a girl? Then you don’t f**king know me, Cobalt.”
“Lo will get over it.”
“Yeah, I don’t see that happening. And maybe you’re f**king right—all of this shit is confusing.” His nose flares as he breathes out. “I’ll try not to hit her boyfriend, okay? Only because they work together.” Ryke doesn’t give us the chance to respond. He disappears upstairs, shutting the door to his room.
I spin back to Connor and place my hands on his hard chest. “Maybe…” I say, trailing off. “I can go sneak into Lily’s room later?”
His eyes roam my body, and he brushes my hair off my shoulder. Instead of answering, he leaves my side and walks confidently to the refrigerator.
At the kitchen table, Scott looks up from the camera equipment and stares between us. But I’m so entranced with Connor, the way he commands the room at six-foot-four, his self-assuredness so unquantifiable and so, so attractive.
I unconsciously sway, waiting for him to return to me in the living room. He procures a carton of strawberries and kicks the refrigerator closed on his way back. He bites into the fruit, staining his lips red for a single second before he licks off the strawberry juice.
As he nears me, he twirls my body towards our bedroom on the main level. And then he presses his chest to my back, guiding me with a firm hand to my hip. Wild thoughts jumble in my head, spinning madly with the help of the vodka shots. What is he going to do to me?
Once in our room, decorated with bear cabin décor, he closes the door behind him and sets me on the edge of the bed, a red and brown quilt underneath me.
“Are we going to have sex?” I ask him, my neck straightening in alarm as I process those words. Am I about to lose my virginity?
“No, Rose. You’re drunk,” he reminds me. “You’re going to remember our first time together for the rest of your life. And alcohol isn’t going to take that away from you or me.”
I glare, my shoulders curving backwards in defense. “So you’re just going to put me to bed then?” I’m clearly horny.
He pops open the carton again and eats another strawberry, not saying anything one way or the other. His domineering posture causes me to slowly sink back, my elbows propping my body on the mattress. His penetrative gaze rakes me from head to toe, traveling across all the places that crave his powerful touch.
Images of him on me, in me, breeze through my brain in a wonderful, toxic mess. And I swallow hard as I realize what I want. “Can you be rough with me?” Without the alcohol, I’m not sure I would have had the balls to ask, despite gaining more courage in bed these past couple of months.
He places the strawberries on the mattress, moving casually, easily, contentedly. The uncertainness of what he’s going to do quickens my heart, and then his eyes meet mine, his one forceful look saying everything, I’m going to give you that and more.
He lifts me and throws me further onto the bed, the air rushing out of my lungs. He climbs on before I can orient myself, and he spins me so my stomach is flat against the mattress. “We’re going to play a game…” He digs his pelvis into my ass before he strips me crudely with two hands, tossing my dress aside. The cold nips my bare skin, and he snaps my bra off but leaves my blue cotton panties on.
“What game?” I ask breathlessly.
I turn my head a little and watch him unbutton his shirt and shrug off the fabric. He unbuckles his belt, and the spot between my legs aches for him. I stifle a moan and try to sit, but he puts a hand on my back, forcing my br**sts to the quilt.
The only way I can watch him is by pressing my cheek to the mattress. He allows me this at least. He takes off his slacks, only in his navy boxer-briefs. He’s incredibly hard, and as he lowers his underwear, his c*ck springs out, ready to enter me.
But he’s already made it clear that’s not what he plans to do tonight.
I can’t stop staring at the size of him. “I know you’re going to be able to fit,” I say. “I’m not an idiot, but when you do, I think it’s going to hurt…a lot.”
“Most likely,” he tells me, not denying it. He kneels on the bed and leans me on my side, my bottom facing him. He gathers my wrists and ties them behind my back with his belt.
My lips part as soon as the leather digs into my skin, the buckle cold against my wrist. I close my eyes as the sensations ripple through my middle and settle in tortured places.
His lips find my ear. “Are you scared of being sore?”
I shake my head once. I could beg for that force right now, but the words are lost inside my tangled mind.
He yanks my panties up, hard, the fabric digging into my heat.
“Connor,” I gasp, my arms tugging against his belt restraint.
He groans, and lets out a deep, husky breath. “I can’t wait to fit inside of you.” He kisses the small of my back and exposes my ass without taking off my panties, his lips sucking on my tender cheek. “Hard. Rough. Wet, volatile sex, with no letting up.”
“Who will concede first, you or me?” I ask him.
He bites my ass, and I press my forehead to the mattress. Ahh. A sharp breath catches, and I let out a high-pitched cry.
“We’ll come together,” he tells me. “Always.” Then he opens the fruit carton. With my cheek back on the quilt and in his mercy, he has control of what I see. All of a sudden, the flesh of a strawberry is against my lips.
“Open wide. Don’t eat it. Treat the fruit like my cock,” he says. “You bite down too hard, and you’re going to be spanked hard. Understand?”
“I’m not an idiot,” I remind him.
“You’re drunk, darling. I’m just making sure you’re coherent. Otherwise, this ends.”
“No, I’m here,” I say forcefully. “You’re not leaving me.”
He leans forward and kisses me roughly, hungrily on the lips, his tongue nearly choking me with the pressure. I clench my legs as I throb for more of this and him. He peels away abruptly and says, “I give the f**king orders.” And then he spanks me.
I grit my teeth, my face heated, but the spot between my legs reacts much differently. I ache for him to slap me there. God yes. My insecurities about him leaving, not loving me completely, become shelved in the back of my head. And I concentrate only on how this feels. I leave my mind behind, something that I can only do when I am riding a boozy wave.
He slides the strawberry in my mouth, the green end sticking from my lips, and I rest the fruit on my tongue, careful to not dig my teeth into it.