I roll my eyes while my lips involuntarily rise. “Please tell me that’s not your best dirty talk.”
“I’ve said better,” he agrees. “You know you can tell me anything. It can’t be that embarrassing.” He pauses. “Well, I’m sure you’ll be embarrassed anyway, but good news is that I can’t see you turn all red.”
I wish he could. I’d give anything for him to be here right now. But then I wouldn’t. Because coming home early means failure on his part, and I want him to succeed. I just feel so conflicted. About everything.
Maybe that’s why I’m still standing in the middle of my bedroom, wavering on whether to venture to my closet or hop right back on the mattress.
“Do you think I should…use a vibrator or…dildo…” I actually stutter. My whole face heats, and I swear little beads of sweat gather on my upper lip. I wipe it frantically, panicked as though someone will see me perspiring.
“Are you serious? That’s what you’re f**king nervous to ask me?” he says, slightly offended. “I thought you wanted to use the cellphone or something.”
What? It takes me a moment to realize what he’s talking about. I gag and cringe. “Ew.” Now I’m offended.
“That’s what you get for not coming clean from the start, love,” he says with a laugh. His voice drops to a serious tone. “What does your therapist say about the toys?”
“We haven’t talked about them.”
“Then let’s avoid them for now, okay?”
I can’t help but feel a little dejected by the decision. In my head, I heard Lo saying of course, go pick out the one that looks like my cock. I guess those days of enabling are over.
I untangle the knotted canopy and climb back on the bed, the phone now on speaker. “Where are you right now?” I ask, wanting a mental picture in place.
“In my bedroom. I have my own bathroom, no roommate, so the privacy is nice. The comforter is kind of scratchy though.”
I see him grinning in my mind, his amber eyes lighting up. “Aren’t I always?”
God, I miss him. A wave of sadness bears down on me, and the crash feels so sudden and abrupt that I have to pinch my nose to withhold tears. I sink back into my pillow and stare up at the top of my canopy. All I can think about is how much I want to see him. How ironic is that? The one time we’re about to have sort-of sex, and I’m turning into an emotional spaz.
“Lily, are you crying?” Lo’s worry intensifies.
“No.” I wipe my eyes and keep my phone on my stomach. “Let’s just do it.”
“Well when you say it like that,” he snaps.
I haven’t had a release in days. I need to collect my bearings because if we call this off then I’m going to regret it badly in a couple hours when the urges start again.
“No, really, I’m okay.” I straighten up and the phone thuds to my comforter. “Let’s go. Who takes off their clothes first?” I cringe. That could have been way sexier.
“I think we both suck at phone sex,” Lo tells me.
I should find this funny, but instead his words bulldoze right over me. It’s like someone offered a bag of coc**ne to a drug addict and decided at the last minute to yank it away. I picture tonight, alone in my bed, fighting the cravings yet again. And the moment will be my fault. Because I grew mopey and sad and pathetic. Idiot.
“No, we’re good at it,” I defend us. “Pleasepleaseplease, let’s try again.” But fear shakes my voice and causes me to garble them out with tears.
“Hey, hey, Lily,” Lo says urgently. “It’s okay.” I can hear him rustling around, and I wonder if he’s taking off an article of clothing. Maybe his pants.
“It’s not,” I refute. “It’s not okay.”
“Shhh,” Lo whispers. “You’re fine. I’m fine. I’m still going to make you come, I promise. Just relax and breathe, love.”
As soon as he says the words, my computer lets out a ping! I sniff a little and mumble, “Hold on a sec.” I pop open the Skype menu. Then I see the alert: Accept call from Hellion616
My heart immediately jumps to my throat. That’s Lo, of course. His username has been his favorite Marvel character since he was fifteen. I’m going to see him, aren’t I? Can this be real? I bite my lip and click the button.
The screen fills with Lo. He stares right back at me. He looks the same as I last remember. Almost three months have passed, and he still has the same light brown hair, shorter on the sides, full on top. The same sharp cheekbones that make him look menacing and lose-your-breath sexy. He sits cross-legged on his single bed, the comforter navy blue. He wears a charcoal gray T-shirt, and a pair of black track pants. His amber eyes actually stare into mine. I’m looking at him. Not just imagining his body, his eyes, his face. I can’t help it—I instantly burst into uncontrollable, happy tears.
“No,” Lo prolongs the word and adds a small smile. “Don’t cry. You’re going to make me start crying.”
“I’m sorry.” I wipe my eyes with the back of my hand. I let out a long breath and situate the laptop on my bed a little better. Now he’s not staring at half of my face.
I meet his gaze again, this time more relaxed, but my chest swells. A part of me feared that he’d return home too changed and too different somehow. All my terror evaporates and shushes to bed. He’s still Lo. He’s still mine.
“Hi,” he says in one breath.
“Hi.” The hardest part about the whole ordeal has been being away from him. It has nothing to do with sex, I realize. He’s my best friend, my whole world, and losing that hurts more than losing a body to grind on at night. Seeing him reminds me that he’s not gone forever. Even if it may feel like it sometimes.
“You look good.” His eyes flit around my body. “Are you gaining weight?” he asks hopefully. Maybe he imagined I’d be a withered twig, so gaunt and gnarly that he’d have to pick me up before I wasted away. Wow, that would be scary.
Maybe I wasn’t the only one with huge, immeasurable fears.
“I am,” I say with a smile. I lean back a little and snatch my pack of Twizzlers. I wave them at the screen. “I’m on a new diet. It’s called Eat Sweets Avoid Sex.”
“That sounds like an awful diet,” he tells me, “and an awful way to deal with your addiction.”
I shrug and raise the bottom of my cashmere sweater. “I can do this now.” I pinch my half-inch of fat by my belly-button and show it off to him.
“That’s nice, but you still have to get healthy the right way. Binge on your Twizzlers and Ho Hos now because when I get home, I’m abolishing that diet.”
“How do you know I have Ho Hos?”
He tilts his head, and I see his playful smile envelop his face. Witnessing it lights up mine. “Please, if you purposefully stocked the pantry with sugar, you’d have all the best names. Ding Dongs, Sugar Daddys, Blow Pops.”
“I didn’t buy Blow Pops, thank you very much,” I reply like I won, even though he’s kind of right. I have three packages of Ding Dongs waiting for me in the pantry. I have a penchant for names. Why else did I hire Connor Cobalt as my tutor when I was at Penn?
“Anything else new?” Lo asks gently, but now that I look at him, I spot the fear pulsing behind his eyes. He worries that I’ll be the changed one. I feel the same, but I know, in time, that I’m going to be different. Everyone eventually grows up. But if there’s anything I know for certain in this world—I never want to change without Loren Hale. We have to try to evolve together.
“I found a new freckle on my shoulder.” I try to show him, but I bump into the screen. “Oops…sorry.” I feel like I smacked him in the face or something. I tilt the computer back up and catch Lo grinning at me.
“Cute,” he says.
I flush, and he rolls his eyes at my reddening cheeks, but he’s still smiling. So that’s good.
“I have something new too.”
My eyebrows rise. Really? He grips the hem of his T-shirt, and then his eyes teasingly flit up to me, prolonging the moment. Please don’t let it be a tattoo. Lo hates them, and the last thing I need is for him to declare his undying love with something he dislikes. And I don’t necessarily want to stare at my name inked on his chest while we have sex. That’s a mood killer for me.
I realize I’m progressively moving closer and closer to the screen. I lean back so I don’t come across as a complete weirdo. “Come on,” I say with a groan as he just waits there with a silly smile. He’s killing me!
Finally, he tugs the shirt over his head, and he fixes his hair with his fingers, watching my expression which goes slack-jawed. I squint, hoping this isn’t some sort of Skype Photoshop enhancement. “Are those real?” I end up asking, my fingers subconsciously running over his muscles on the screen. As though I can really touch them. Damn, I want to. I have to back away from the screen again. I think Lo received a pleasant view of my nose hairs.
He gives me a strange look and then laughs. “No, I painted these on just for you.” Now shirtless, Lo cannot stop grinning. I cannot stop staring. His abs are ripped. Six-pack definition. He was muscular before, but they were not sharp like that. His lean muscles curve and even have that sexy dip by his waist, as though leading my way to his cock.
This is so much better than a tattoo.
“I’ve been working out,” he explains. “We have a lot of recreational time. I spend most at the gym.” He licks his bottom lip, his eyes grazing my body. “Your turn.”
“I knew this was a trick to get me nak*d,” I say with a smile. “Just don’t get your hopes up. My boobs have not grown.”
“I love your boobs how they are.”
His husky voice makes me breathless. I blink a couple times and concentrate on “disrobing.”
I stole Rose’s cashmere sweater because I’m all out of clean clothes, and laundry is very low on my list of things I like to do. I situate on my knees and tilt the screen up so he has a better view of my top-half. My heart thrums as I watch the rise and fall of his chest in anticipation. I’ve been nak*d so many times with Lo, but never over a computer screen. It’s a little different—the distance, the inability to physically touch. But maybe it’s a good different, almost more exciting.
I gradually pull the sweater over my head, my br**sts pushed up in a black bra. My breathing deepens as I watch the way he stares, his eyes lowering and then trailing back up, as if his lips make their usual descent along my br**sts and belly.
I want him to take me in his arms and push his whole weight on me. I want to feel his hardness against me—his muscles pin me to the mattress. To be buried beneath his love and his warmth.
“Where are you?” I whisper, plans to find him, to curl up in his arms, invade my mind.
“Right here. With you,” he whispers back, not offering me anymore, but those words are enough to steal my breath and cause my mouth to open. I keep my eyes on him and imagine his hand doing what mine does. Unclipping the clasp of my bra. Letting the straps slide down my shoulders and to the keyboard.