Hardwired

Author: P Hana

Page 15

   

His smile faded and his lips parted slightly as he ran his thumb over the curve of my cheekbone. My chest ached at his closeness and the wonder I thought I saw in his half-lidded eyes.

He gave me a chaste kiss and pulled away. He stood and disappeared into the en suite bathroom. I got a little thrill worshipping the back of him, his ass perfectly sculpted like every other delicious inch of him. Everything about Blake had become too much, an onslaught to my senses, a train barreling through my better judgment.

And I was loving every minute of it.

CHAPTER SIX

I woke up abruptly, disoriented until I recognized the hand-painted gold butterflies on the ceiling. Blake lay on his stomach next to me, snoring quietly into the pillow, his body soft and relaxed, a different picture from the muscle bound animal who had quite recently blown my mind. I must have dozed off while he showered, but he hadn’t bothered to wake me and send me on my way.

Still, I couldn’t be here when he woke up. I was completely blissed out, but the idea of facing the walk of shame in the daylight hours sobered me into action.

Ambient light filled the room but the desert sky before us was pitch black, save the frenetic city lights, with no hint of the impending dawn. I slid quietly out of the bed and dressed, though despite my best efforts, I could not find my panties anywhere. I put on my heels and stopped at the writing desk. I scribbled a note, setting the $10,000 chip on top of it.

What happens in Vegas...

x, E

I took in the skyline a minute longer, then left Blake’s suite without a sound.

* * *

I crept into our hotel room with impressive stealth, but Alli was propped up on a pillow watching TV when I entered.

“Hey, what are you doing up?” It was nearly two a.m.

“What are you doing up?” She pursed her lips.

“Uh, nothing.”

“You little slut. Tell me everything.” She muted the TV and sat up cross-legged on the edge of the bed.

“Not much to tell.” I shrugged and slipped out of my dress in favor of a robe.

“Don’t even start with me, Erica. Dish, now.” She pointed her manicured little finger at me.

I sighed and sat on the edge of the bed facing her. This morning I had berated her for the same thing. What a hypocrite.

“I’ll just say, if Heath is anything like his brother, um, in bed”—I stumbled over the words—“I forgive you, all right?”

“Shut up! Was it amazing?”

“There are no words. Now I just have to figure out how to stay the hell away from him.”

“Why? What do you mean?” A frown marred her brow at the mere suggestion.

“We had our moment, but I’m really hoping this is once and done for him, because...” I let my face fall into my hands, which still smelled like him. I breathed in his scent and let the memory of our night settle over me.

“Erica, what?”

I sat up abruptly, as if I’d been caught doing something I wasn’t supposed to.

“You were telling me why you want this to stay a one-night-stand,” she reminded me.

“I don’t know!” I twisted my fingers in my lap. “I just know I could get addicted to that. To him.” I gestured to the ceiling, his general direction. I shook off the memories that felt too new, knowing Blake was still perfectly naked, slumbering a few floors away. “I’m a mess. I need to sleep.”

Alli nodded, but I caught a coy smile before she switched off the TV and turned over under her duvet.

Grateful for the reprieve, I retreated to the bathroom to shower. The intoxication of being with Blake tapered as the water thrummed my already weak muscles, draining the last of my waning energy. Already he meant too much A cloud of doubt crept over me.

* * *

I stepped out of the campus center with my mail when I heard my name. A girl with cropped blond hair ascended the steps to meet me. She looked like a teen model. Tan, tall, and impeccably dressed in a tank top and a linen skirt.

“Liz,” I said. “How are you?”

“Great. I can’t believe we’re finally done!”

“I know, time flies.” I shook my head in shared disbelief.

“Do you want to grab coffee? I’d love to catch up.”

Her warm brown eyes seemed genuine, but I had always avoided these moments. Our friendship had fizzled when I moved across campus after our freshman year together, and we had never really addressed it. I hesitated. School was over, no homework, no plans. I had no excuses.

“Sure.”

We walked a short distance to the closest cafe where some moody hipsters made us delicious overpriced cappuccinos. We sat at a table for two, the chaos of the cafe filling the silence between us. I’d seen Liz around campus here and again, but we hadn’t really talked in years. What was there to say? We barely knew each other anymore.

“Do you have any plans for the summer?” I asked.

“I’m going to Barcelona with my parents for a few weeks, and then I start work in July.”

“Where are you working?”

“At an investment firm here in the city, crunching numbers or whatever.” She blew steam off her cup. “What about you?”

“I actually started a fashion social network last summer and it’s been going pretty well, so I’m going to be running that for a while. We’ll see where it goes.”

“That’s amazing. I would have never expected that.”

I raised my eyebrows. What would you expect, I wondered, picking at the flaky crust of my chocolate croissant.

“How are Lauren and everyone else at the house?” I asked, referring to the girls who’d shared a floor with us.

“Really good.” She paused before continuing, “We’ve missed you though.”

I took a long sip of my cappuccino, sensing where the conversation was heading. College was over, and a new chapter was beginning. Maybe it was finally time to clear the air, especially if I might be running into her in the city now. Boston was still small enough for chance meetings.

“I’m sorry I didn’t give you a heads up about moving out at the end of the year. I was going through a lot at the time.” That was an understatement, but I didn’t really want to get into it with her right now. The last thing I needed was to dredge up painful memories.

“I realize that. I just thought we were friends, you know?”

“We were,” I said. “We still can be. I just needed a fresh start after everything that happened.”

She nodded and gave me a weak smile.

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