Connor massages my ass with his large hand. I hear his heavy breaths behind me as he strokes his c*ck at the same time. I’d like to watch, but I have no say in that. So I’m left to imagine what he looks like as his c*ck swells, as his lips part in heady pleasure and his head tilts back. I’ve seen that adrenaline-fueled “I am close to passing out” look before. I’ve seen his muscular ass tighten as he jerks forward. And there’s nothing more I want to see than all of that while he’s so deep inside of me.
His fingers dip into the wet, dying spot, nudging my panties to the side.
And I spasm at the sudden touch. I taste the sweet strawberry before I realize I’ve bitten it clean in half. I chew and swallow. Maybe he won’t notice. Yeah f**king right, Rose. His IQ is higher than yours by one percent.
His hand whips my ass, and I gasp, then wince, and glare. “That f**king…hurt,” I retort slowly. But as soon as I say it, his fingers return to the needy spot, and he rubs my clit. Ohhh…I melt instantly, and I think I whimper into the mattress. I don’t know what else to call that foreign sound.
“You’re too drunk to have my c*ck in your mouth,” he says.
I scoff at that declaration, but the aftertaste of sweet strawberry says he’s right and I’m very much wrong. But even drunk, I can’t surrender so easily. “I am not.”
He suddenly sits me up by pulling at my tied wrists, but my spine still faces him. I feel him shift on his knees, the bed rocking with his weight, and his hard c*ck poking at my back. “Connor,” I moan, close to begging.
“How do you feel?” he asks. “Besides dizzy from the alcohol.” He clenches a chunk of my hair and pulls so my chin juts upward and I can see his eyes as he stares down.
“I feel…” I blink a couple times as I try to form the words. I lick my lips and say, “Like I want you to do anything to me.” Just uttering the words shallows my breath.
He stares at me with a hard, possessive gaze, and his arm extends over my shoulder, and his fingers fit back inside me again. But he doesn’t move.
“I…need you…to move.”
He takes out his hand quickly, and he forces me on my knees. The blood rushes to my head, and he spanks me again, the sting more numbed by the booze than before. He must notice because I don’t whimper or moan or flinch forward.
He sighs in frustration and starts untying my wrists.
“Wait, no,” I say. “Stop.”
“Just months ago, you were telling me to stop from touching you. Now you want me to keep on doing so, and I’m still not going to comply with your order, Rose.” He tosses the belt aside and turns me onto my back, my head relaxing into a pillow. “You know why?” he asks, his hands on either side of my shoulders as he hovers over me.
“Because you’re an a**hole,” I snap.
He pinches my cheeks with one hand. “Because you’re wrong. I won’t f**k your mouth, your p**sy or your ass when you’re drunk. I’ll f**k you when you’re sober.” He kisses me roughly on the lips before saying once more, “Elaborate.”
On what I feel.
I stare into his deep blue eyes. Lost in the power inside them. And I take his hand for a second, and I fit it between my legs, his gaze never breaking from mine. “This is yours,” I tell him. “That’s what I feel.”
I’ve never wanted a man to toss me around how they want, how they like, using me to their desires so much before. And in this moment, I realize it doesn’t matter what I believe outside the bedroom. In life I can be powerful, but here, I can trust him to fill me with his power, his strength. That has to be okay. Because beyond all thoughts, all logic, it’s what makes me feel so f**king good.
His lips rise. “Ca vous a pris pas mal de temps.” It took you long enough.
“How long do we have left?” I ask him softly, his body beginning to blur.
He strokes my hair. “Pour toujours.” Forever.
I smile as everything fades to black.
[ 27 ]
I dry my wet hair with a towel and button my pants, watching Rose sleep peacefully, tucked in a red and brown quilt. Before I put a shirt on, she stirs with a low groan and squints in the darkness. The only light comes from a sliver in the bear-printed curtains.
“Good morning, darling.” I sit on the edge of the bed and grab the water off the nightstand. “Comment te sens-tu ?” How do you feel?
She slowly rises against the headboard, a hand to her temple. Her hair sticks up in five different places. I try hard to conceal my smile, but seeing Rose this disheveled happens—almost never. And I adore this side of her just as much as any other.
“I have no idea what you just said,” she yawns with a hand to her mouth. “My hangover has destroyed your French.”
“Impossible,” I tell her. “Your hangover can’t defeat me.”
She’s too tired and hung over to banter. She just yawns again. “Really…what did you say?”
I pass her the water and she takes a small sip.
“How do you feel?” I repeat.
“Like I spent five weeks prepping for the Academic Bowl Championships.”
“So not that bad then?” I smile.
Her eyes narrow. “Not all of us were able to study for two hours and retain every single piece of information.”
“I studied more than two hours for the collegiate championships.” I reach over and grab the Advil on the nightstand and pop the cap. “You just weren’t at Penn to see me, which was a shame. We could have studied together.” I pause before I add, “I’m an excellent tutor. Just ask your sister.”
She rolls her eyes but there’s a smile behind them. Because if I didn’t tutor Lily in economics, she believes we wouldn’t be here today. But I make my own fate. We came together because we both wanted to be here more than anywhere else. We both had choices, and we both said yes to this, to us.
That’s not fate.
It’s just desire.
And determination. Ambition. Resolve.
We have it all.
“How much do you remember from last night?” I ask, expecting the answer to be something I hate. I’m almost certain everything with the strawberries and beyond has been swept from her mind by vodka. I’ve already come to terms with it, but before I drifted off to sleep, all I wanted was for those moments to be recorded and ingrained for life. What if they never happen again?
It’s the what if that clenches my heart in five different ways.
“How much can you remember?” she shoots back, drinking more water. I almost have her hostile nature back completely.
“All of it.”
“And how is that possible? You drank more than me.”
“You remember that?” I frown.
After a long pause, I say, “I have a high tolerance.” It’s not entirely true. I’ve been on Adderall for a while now. Ever since I returned to Frederick’s office, I went on a one week silent-streak until he prescribed me Adderall again. He caved on the seventh day, wanting to discuss my life so he could analyze all the details.
Mixing Adderall and alcohol is not a good or smart combination. The pills diluted the effects of the alcohol, so I was coherent for longer.
She stares off for a second. “I also remember…” She blushes. “No wonder my ass hurts.”
My chest swells. “What?”
“You spanked me.” She slaps my arm. “…and I liked it.” She adds, “I’ll be sober next time. I promise.”
I break into a smile that turns into a laugh. She remembers. I exhale deeply, my world brightening. I can’t contain the joy that fills me. I kiss her cheek, her lips. She remembers. The words lift me to a new plane of existence. I feel higher now than I did swallowing Adderall.
“What happened after you said forever?” she asks as I kiss her nose.
“You passed out,” I say, “and I tucked you in this bed and made sure you didn’t vomit on yourself.”
She glares. “How romantic.”
“How real,” I retort. “Just remember our romance isn’t the fake kind.”
“Unless you’re watching Princesses of Philly,” she notes with the raise of her chin. Before I can reply back, her eyes slowly widen.
“What is it?” I ask.
“Wait…” She grabs my wrist and her mouth falls as she recalls something.
“Rose?” My heart lurches. She shoots to her feet, and I follow suit, grabbing her waist.
“My sisters,” she says. “I promised to sleep in their room. But I’m here. I woke up here. Which means…” She bolts out the door, wearing the same black cotton dress from last night.
I walk after her with ten times less alarm. As soon as we pass the kitchen to go upstairs, Ben hurriedly stands from the breakfast table, deserting his cereal. He grabs his camera and rushes after us. Of the cast, we must be the first ones awake.
Scrawny Ben fumbles with his Canon, and he tries to bypass me on the staircase and film Rose, but I keep an arm out so he has to stay behind. I’m going to be the closest to her in this situation. He can take a backseat.
She swings open the door to Lily’s room, stampeding inside. I lean on the door frame, and Ben stays in the hallway, his camera pointed at me since he can’t film inside the room. He’s nice enough to keep his distance.
Rose comes screeching to a halt at the sight of her sisters. Daisy is sprawled on the bed, the comforters kicked all around her. Lily is on the other side, lost within a mound of blankets. Untouched. Unharmed.
Two guys sleep on the floor.
Ryke wakes at Rose’s thunderous entrance. He lifts his head off the pillow and kicks off a quilt. Lo holds his knees and rubs his eyes, trying to get oriented to the light from the hallway.
“What the fuck?” Ryke whispers, trying not to wake the girls. He glares at me. “Why didn’t you tell her?”
I give him a look. “And she would have believed me?” Even if I said, Lo and Ryke decided to camp out in Lily’s room to keep your sisters safe, there’s a hundred percent chance she would have barged in here regardless. Plus, I was reveling in the fact that she remembered last night’s events.
Ryke glances over his shoulder, checking on his brother who watches Lily yawn and stretch her arms. When Ryke stands and heads over to the door, Lily slides out of bed, wrapped in a blanket.
She finds Lo on the floor and beams at his appearance. She bites her lip and then impulsively straddles Lo, his back leaned against the wall. She kisses his cheek and they talk softly, but she digs into him as she leans forward. I’m not even sure she realizes she’s doing it, but Lo’s neck tenses as he holds in a groan.
And Rose—she’s watching them with pursed lips.
She’s going to cock-block him for about ten minutes. It’s one of her favorite hobbies. I’d stop her, but her cold, bitchy attitude amuses me far more than people ever understand.
I nod to Ryke. “I’m surprised you slept on the floor. You’re usually a walking billboard for REI. No hammock in your suitcase?”
I smile and wait for the perfunctory f**k you. But it doesn’t come. He catches me off guard by stopping in the doorway, his face shadowed with worry and anger. I see it in the hard cut of his jaw.
“I need to talk to you,” he says under his breath. Daisy shifts on the bed, waking with all the chatter. He quickly hands me his phone, a text conversation popped on the screen.
I scroll through it.
I’m going to come inside of her wet p**sy before I hand her off to you. I may even get a few friends to join. – 212-555-9877
I try not to jump to conclusions, but my heart begins to speed, the Adderall not helping slow it down.
Who the f**k is this? – Ryke
Julian – 212-555-9877
The conversation ends there. My eyes flicker up to him. “Did you punch him last night?” I whisper so only he can hear.
“I can’t imagine you reading this…” I check the timestamp. “…at four in the morning and doing nothing.” I picture Ryke slamming doors, darting to Julian’s bedroom and beating the shit out of him. But I forget that Ryke isn’t a testosterone-fueled idiot. He’s intelligent in ways that most aren’t.
“I’m hoping it’s not his number. I was waiting to see if you had Julian’s so we could match them.”
I grab my phone from my pocket and scroll through my contacts quickly. Ryke looks over his shoulder and meets Daisy’s gaze while I search.
“Don’t look at her,” I advise. “She’s going to know something’s wrong.”
“She won’t,” he says, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
“You’re wearing your emotions.”
Ryke tries to blanket his face with contentedness.
I stare at him with raised brows. “Now you look constipated.”