I’m not frightened. Yet. “And if you lose,” I say, “what do I get in return?”
Connor gazes at my mouth just as I did him. He brushes his thumb over my bottom lip and says, “What do you want, darling?”
My heart pounds. I want to be great in bed. I want to please him better than he pleases me. I want to beat him.
But I know when it comes to sex, I’m never going to win. I’m at such a disadvantage. So I say, “If you lose, I don’t have to give you a lap dance.”
“Boo,” Lily says.
Loren nods. “Boring.
But the only one who matters says, “Deal.” Connor ignores my sister and her boyfriend. He finishes drying my hands. I just now notice how raw and red my skin is. I sometimes get carried away without realizing…
“Whose idea was it to hire a fortuneteller anyway?” Loren asks.
“Production planned it,” I remind him.
Both Brett and Ben give me wild looks at mentioning production. We’re not live. This isn’t Big Brother.
“Oh please,” I say right at the camera. “Scott, if you’re hearing this, delete this portion.” I glare at Ben. “There you go. He won’t spank you for your misbehavior.”
And like good cameramen, they stay mute.
Loren watches short stubby Brett for a long moment. He finally catches his attention. And then he runs his tongue along the nape of Lily’s neck, eyes pinned to the camera as if he’s seducing the onlookers. Lily practically melts beneath him, her breath hitching into an audible moan. Loren grins wickedly, especially as Brett stumbles back in shock.
And then he sticks his tongue into Lily’s ear.
They are toying with the cameramen.
And it’s only day two.
[ 3 ]
A lot has changed since I was nineteen. And then again, things are always the same. I have the girl, but not entirely. If it were that easy—that boring—I wouldn’t still be here. Add Scott Van Wright into our lives, a threat on some serious level, and keeping Rose is going to be problematic.
But I’m going to put up one hell of a f**king fight.
He even rescheduled the “magical” party with the psychic, citing some bullshit about time, but really he wants to increase the production value of the entire reality show—I just haven’t figured out what he’s going to do in order to achieve that.
I rinse shampoo out of my wavy brown hair, the water blanketing me in warmth. I’ve never lived with another girl. Never shared a space with someone else, not even at my boarding school.
What’s mine has always been mine.
Expensive perfumed soaps line the shower ledge. I share the bathroom with Rose. I share the bedroom. We’ve been at each other’s throats for so many years that becoming a team isn’t exactly set in the future for us.
We’re still, very much, rivals in bed.
I crank the heat, the steam gathering and beading my chest with water. I lower my hand, picturing Rose as I’ve never seen her. Undressed. Bare. Wanting. She won’t let me in that far.
I place my hands on her bent knees, spreading her open quick and hard. She chokes on a gasp, a pleasured scream locked tight in her chest.
“Please…” she cries.
In the shower, I stroke my c*ck that tenses with each rhythmic movement, hardening at the flashes of my fantasy. Her body bucking. The fullness of her br**sts and h*ps underneath my strength. She attacks me with the same intensity, but I push her roughly back on the mattress. And her face lights with fire.
I dominate her and give her everything I know she’ll adore.
That’s the thing about being f**king smart—I understand her better than she understands herself.
My muscles pull tight, and I rub up and down my shaft, an involuntary sound escaping my mouth. I rest a hand on the tiled wall, quickening my movements. Fuck yes.
And just as I’m about to come, the bathroom door flies open.
I see her feminine shape through the misted glass, and she can see my form just as easily. A grin overtakes my features, and I watch her turn towards the shower with her hands on her hips. I can practically feel her hot, unbridled anger steaming off her body.
Come to me.
She storms over to the shower and flings open the glass door.
I don’t stop.
She stands there, eyes ablaze at the mere idea of me coming in our shower. But she stays quiet, not lowering her gaze to catch a glimpse of my erection or opening her mouth to chastise me. She has frozen in silent curiosity, and I gladly take advantage of it.
I watch her, skimming the nape of her neck that peeks from her black silk robe. Her chest rises and falls in deep, physical attraction. But she’s too unsure of herself to do something about it. So she stays rooted to the bathroom rug, not even willing to look at my hand that moves with skilled efficiency. She doesn’t want to give me that satisfaction or that win.
I grip my c*ck tighter, a low groan in my throat.
She inhales sharply.
I only grin more. Even though she’s confident, brazen and haughty, she’s none of these things when it comes to this. Sex. Fucking. Affection.
I may be patient, but I’m no longer going easy on her anymore, not with Scott Van Wright in contention. Before I moved in with Rose, I would have placated her. I would have stopped masturbating as soon as she opened the door.
Now, I’m not going to be so nice.
My eyes descend to the curve of her hips, visible with the silk that hugs her waist. I roam her body with my intense gaze, and her legs shift, her knees bending.
I affect her as much as she does me.
I rub faster, and then my body shudders as I release.
She stiffly steps back from the shower before I can meet her eyes, and she plugs in her curling iron at the sink.
I control my breathing, keeping my weight supported with my left hand on the wall. And I let my thoughts realign from hormonal places to more logical ones. I have been with Rose for an entire year, and I’ve been jacking off for most of it.
Waiting for her—that’s not the hard part. Knowing what’s best for her but watching her deny it out of stubbornness—that is.
I open the shower door. She caps her toothpaste and places it meticulously back in the organized cabinet. Her body is tense and lit up, and she’ll most likely please herself later to alleviate the pulsing between her legs.
She glances at me once, and her eyes immediately flit away. “We have towels, Richard.” She points a manicured nail to the rack. “Terrycloth. Soft. Inviting. You might want to try one out.”
The corners of my lips rise. “It’s just a cock, Rose,” I say. “You’d enjoy it inside of you.”
She rolls her eyes dramatically, but her neck flushes.
I understand that she’s afraid to lose her power. We’re equals on many accounts, but when it comes to sex, I am like a god to her mortal standing. And it’s driving her crazy. Not that she’s ever been completely sane.
I casually walk towards her. “So you’ve learned politics, philosophy, French, business and fashion at Princeton, but clearly you were a little slow in your dormitory studies. Penn would have served you better.”
She glares. “Why? Because your college was filled with juvenile horndogs?”
I ease behind her, and she stares at me questioningly through the mirror. Approaching Rose Calloway is like nearing a sleeping tiger. Every single time there’s a chance she’ll bite me. “No,” I whisper, pulling the collar of her robe to expose more of her neck. “Because I was there.” I press my lips lightly to her nape.
And her whole body trembles. Just as my hands fall to the slip of her robe, she spins towards me and places her hands on my chest. Normally I’d back up, but I stand my ground. Right here. Not moving to her demands.
I raise my palms and then clasp my hands behind my back, showing that I won’t touch her anymore. But if she wants to curl her hair, she’s going to have to do it with me—naked—behind her.
“Back up,” she says.
“If I really thought you wanted me to, I would.”
“I do.” But curiosity glimmers in her yellow-green eyes, and she peers down at my c*ck for the first time.
She remains stoic, almost unreadable, but the corner of her lip betrays her, rising in a fraction of a smile. When she meets my gaze again, I tilt my head, grinning in satisfaction, the kind that only incites her.
She holds up a warning finger at me. “Don’t you dare say do you like what you see? I will break up with you right here if you utter those f**king stupid words.”
I laugh into a wider grin and say, “I don’t have to ask you, Rose. I already know you do.”
She pushes me lightly in the chest and tries not to share my smile. “Why am I with you? You’re so conceited, arrogant—”
“Narcissistic,” I add, “attractive, lovable, brilliant.”
“That wasn’t an invitation for you to compliment yourself.”
“No? My bad, I thought we were listing my best qualities.”
Her eyes fall again.
“Yes, my c*ck is most definitely one of them.”
Rose crosses her arms, which shifts her robe, exposing the top of her breast. My body heats at the sight of her smooth skin, her nipple very close to peeking from the black fabric.
“Put your c*ck away,” she tells me.
“You’re not with me because I’m a doormat,” I remind her. “If you want to walk all over a man, you should have chosen Lewis Jacobson.”
She gags. “God, don’t even. He stared at every girl’s ass when he jogged onto court.” He was a point guard for Princeton—the type of guy who would love to be controlled by Rose.
“Just remember that I’m not going to bend to your will.”
“But you’re waiting for me to bend to yours?” she snaps.
“And now we’re at our five hundredth standstill.” I run a hand through my wet hair, pushing the strands back, and her chest rises again at the motion. “Two cooks in the kitchen.”
“Two dominants, no submissive,” she adds.
I shake my head and try to tone down my grin that is really, really riling her to a bad point. She looks like she’s going to slap me. “No,” I say.
She gapes. “What do you mean no? My metaphor matched yours!”
She doesn’t realize it yet, but she’s nowhere near dominant in bed. It’s a reason why she’s slamming on the brakes. She’s so in control of her everyday life that she expects the same once she straddles a man. But if she truly wanted that, she’d be attracted to a much different guy than me and she’d already have lost her virginity, riding the f**k out of him.
“I think we both know there’s only one dominant here.”
Her eyes flare. “Take it back, Richard.”
I want to make her feel as confident and strong inside the bedroom as she is outside. It’s a goal that Scott Van Wright won’t steal from me, even if he tries.
“Take back the truth?” I frown. “That’d make me a liar. And I know how much you hate liars, hun.” My hands are still behind my back, but I step towards her.
She grips the sink counter behind her and reaches over to grab a towel. She shoves it at my chest.
I haven’t lost yet.
I wrap the cloth around my waist. It hangs low so she has view of my defined muscles. I make time for the gym with Loren and his half-brother, but I’ve always been in good shape. I grew up wanting to reach the peak of physical and mental perfection. It’s an unattainable goal. But one I set. One I seek.
People hope to touch the sky.
I dream of kissing it.
Rose spins back towards the sink. She uses the iron to curl loose waves in her straight hair. Most men would be scared of her—gripping a hot weapon. My c*ck begins to throb as I watch her through the mirror.
She breathes heavily, trying not to pay attention to me, but it’s a little difficult. I’m six-foot-four. I’m twice her size. She’s small, feminine in comparison to my body that could cloak her easily.
She swallows and says, “Do you think Lily and Loren are having more sex than usual?”
Anytime Lily and Lo’s sex life arises, it closes the door to discuss ours. It’s a ploy, a simple distraction, but Rose is also truly invested in her sister’s recovery. She cares. I do as well, but Rose will always be my number one priority.
“They’re touching more than usual,” I say. “But I think it’s more for the camera’s benefit.”
“He’s teasing her, and she’s going to regress…after all the progress she’s made.”
“You have to trust him.”
She cringes at the idea of putting faith in Loren Hale. They only tolerate each other for Lily’s sake. I’m in a difficult position because I’ve grown to like Lo as a real friend.
“I need a favor,” she suddenly says.
“Favors,” I muse with a smile. “It’ll cost you.”