মুখ্য The Mistake (Off-Campus #2)
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I love this book and the characters in it!
19 September 2020 (19:51)
its an interesting book
26 February 2021 (10:43)
It's a good book with interesting characters
04 March 2021 (18:19)
A cliché well narrated, I loved it!
25 March 2021 (06:32)
This book made me move up a finger. It's my fav. Second fav is How to Be a Motherfucking Pimp by Dazzle Razzle
11 June 2021 (12:53)
He’s a player in more ways than one… College junior John Logan can get any girl he wants. For this hockey star, life is a parade of parties and hook-ups, but behind his killer grins and easygoing charm, he hides growing despair about the dead-end road he’ll be forced to walk after graduation. A sexy encounter with freshman Grace Ivers is just the distraction he needs, but when a thoughtless mistake pushes her away, Logan plans to spend his final year proving to her that he’s worth a second chance. Now he’s going to need to up his game… After a less than stellar freshman year, Grace is back at Briar University, older, wiser, and so over the arrogant hockey player she nearly handed her V-card to. She’s not a charity case, and she’s not the quiet butterfly she was when they first hooked up. If Logan expects her to roll over and beg like all his other puck bunnies, he can think again. He wants her back? He’ll have to work for it. This time around, she’ll be the one in the driver’s seat…and she plans on driving him wild. The Mistake An Off-Campus Novel Elle Kennedy Table of Contents About the Book Title Page Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 Chapter 28 Chapter 29 Chapter 30 Chapter 31 Chapter 32 Chapter 33 Chapter 34 Chapter 35 Epilogue Other Titles by Elle Kennedy Author’s Note About the Author Copyright 1 Logan April Lusting over your best friend’s girlfriend sucks. First off, there’s the awkward factor. As in, it’s really fucking awkward. I can’t speak for all men, but I’m pretty sure that no guy wants to leave his bedroom and bump into the girl of his dreams after she’s just spent the whole night in his best friend’s arms. Then there’s the self-loathing element. This one’s a given,; because it’s kind of hard not to hate yourself when you’re fantasizing about the love of your best friend’s life. At the moment, the awkwardness is definitely winning out. See, I live in a house with very thin walls, which means I can hear every breathy moan that leaves Hannah’s mouth. Every gasp and sigh. Every thump of the headboard smacking the wall as someone else screws the girl I can’t stop thinking about. Fun times. I’m on my bed, flat on my back and staring up at the ceiling. I’m not even pretending to scroll through my iPod library anymore. I popped the ear buds in with the intention of drowning out the sounds of Garrett and Hannah in the other room, but I still haven’t pressed play. I guess I’m in the mood to torture myself tonight. Look, I’m not an idiot. I know she’s in love with Garrett. I see the way she looks at him, and I see how they are together. They’ve been a couple for six months now, and not even I, the worst friend on the planet, can deny they’re perfect for each other. And hell, Garrett deserves to be happy. He plays it off like he’s a cocky sonofabitch, but truth is, he’s a goddamn saint. The best center I’ve ever skated with and the best person I’ve ever known, and I’m comfortable enough with my hetero status to say that if I did play for the other team? I wouldn’t just fuck Garrett Graham, I’d marry him. That’s what makes this a trillion times harder. I can’t even hate the dude who’s tapping the chick I want. No revenge fantasies to be had, because I don’t hate Garrett, not in the slightest. A door creaks open and footsteps echo in the hallway, and I pray to God that Garrett or Hannah doesn’t knock on my door. Or open their mouths, for that matter, because hearing either of their voices right now will only bum me out even more. Luckily, the loud knock that rattles my doorframe comes from my other roommate, Dean, who waltzes inside without waiting for an invitation. “Party at Omega Phi tonight. You down?” I dive off my bed faster than you can say pathetic, because a party sounds like a fan-fucking-tastic idea right about now. Getting wasted is a surefire way to stop myself from thinking about Hannah. Actually, no—I want to get wasted and screw someone’s brains out. That way if one of those activities doesn’t help me with my don’t-think-about-Hannah goal, the other can serve as backup. “Hell yeah,” I answer, already fumbling around for a shirt. I slip a clean T-shirt over my head and ignore the twinge of pain in my left arm, which is still sore as shit from the bone-jarring body check I took at the championship game last week. But the hit was totally worth it—for the third consecutive year, Briar’s hockey team secured another Frozen Four victory. I guess you can call it the ultimate hat trick, and all the players, myself included, are still reaping the rewards of being three-time national champions. Dean, one of my fellow defensemen, calls it the Three P’s of Victory: parties, praise and pussy. It’s a pretty fair assessment of the situation, because I’ve been on the receiving end of all three since our big win. “You gonna be the DD?” I ask as I throw a black hoodie over my T-shirt and zip it up. My buddy snorts. “Did you really just ask me that?” I roll my eyes. “Right. What ever was I thinking?” The last time Dean Heyward-Di Laurentis was sober at a party was never. Dude drinks like a fish or gets higher than a kite every time he leaves the house, and if you think that affects his performance on the ice in any way, then think again. He’s one of those rare creatures who can party like past-day Robert Downey Jr. and somehow be as successful and revered as present-day Robert Downey Jr. “Don’t worry, Tuck’s the DD,” Dean tells me, referring to our other roommate, Tucker. “The pussy’s still hung-over from last night. Said he needs a break.” Yeah, I don’t exactly blame him. Off-season training doesn’t start for another couple weeks, and we’ve all been enjoying the time off a little too much. But that’s what happens when you’re riding a Frozen Four high. Last year after we won, I was drunk for two weeks straight. I’m not looking forward to the off-season. Strength and conditioning and all the hard work it takes to stay in shape are exhausting, but it’s even more exhausting when you’re working ten-hour shifts at the same time. It’s not like I have a choice, though. The workouts are necessary prep for the upcoming season, and the work, well, I made a promise to my brother, and no matter how sick to my stomach it makes me, I can’t renege on it. Jeff will skin me alive if I don’t fulfill my end of the deal. Our designated driver waits at the front door when Dean and I come downstairs. A reddish-brown beard devours Tucker’s entire face, giving him a werewolf vibe, but he’s been determined to try out this new look ever since a chick he met at a party last week told him he had a baby face. “You know that Yeti-beard doesn’t make you look more manly, right?” Dean says cheerfully as we walk out the door. Tuck shrugs. “I was going for rugged, actually.” I snicker. “Well, it’s not that, either, Babyface. You look like a mad scientist.” He flips up his middle finger as he heads for the driver’s side of my truck. I settle in the passenger seat while Dean climbs into the pickup bed, saying he wants some fresh air. I think he just wants the wind to mess up his hair in that tousled, sexed-up way girls drop their panties for. FYI—Dean is nauseatingly vain. But he also looks like a male model, so maybe he’s allowed to be vain. Tucker starts the engine, and I drum my fingers against my thighs, itching to get going. A lot of students in the Greek system piss me off with their elitist attitudes, but I’m willing to overlook that because…well, hell, because if party-throwing was an Olympic sport? Every frat and sorority house at Briar would be a gold medalist. As Tuck reverses out of the driveway, my gaze rests on Garrett’s black Jeep, all shiny in its parking space while its owner spends the night with the coolest girl on the planet and— And enough. This obsession with Hannah Wells is really starting to mess with my head. I need to get laid. ASAP. Tucker is noticeably quiet during the drive to Omega Phi. He might also be frowning, but it’s hard to tell considering someone shaved off all of Hugh Jackman’s body hair and pasted it on Tuck’s face. “What’s with the silent treatment?” I ask lightly. His gaze shifts toward me to offer a sour look, then shifts right back to the road. “Oh, come on. Is this about all the shit we’re giving you about the beard?” Exasperation shoots through me. “Because that’s like the first chapter of Beards for Dummies, bro—if you grow a mountain man beard, your friends will make fun of you. End of chapter.” “It’s not about the beard,” he mutters. I wrinkle my forehead. “Okay. But you are pissed about something.” When he doesn’t respond, I push a little harder. “What’s going on with you?” His annoyed eyes meet mine. “With me? Nothing. With you? So much I don’t even know where to start.” He curses softly. “You need to stop this shit, man.” Now I’m genuinely confused, because as far as I can tell, all I’ve done in the past ten minutes is look forward to a party. Tucker notices the confusion on my face and clarifies in a grim tone. “This thing with Hannah.” Although my shoulders stiffen, I try to keep my expression vague. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Yup, I’ve chosen to lie. Which is nothing new for me, actually. It seems like all I’ve done since I came to Briar is lie. I’m totally destined for the NHL. Going pro all the way! I love spending my summer as a grease monkey in my dad’s shop. It’s great pocket money! I’m not lusting over Hannah. She’s dating my best friend! Lies, lies and more lies, because in every one of those instances, the truth is a total bummer, and the last thing I want is for my friends and teammates to feel sorry for me. “Save that bullshit for G,” Tucker retorts. “And by the way? You’re lucky he’s distracted with all this lovey-dovey stuff, because if he wasn’t? He’d definitely notice the way you’re acting.” “Yeah, and what way is that?” I can’t stop the edge in my voice or the defensive set of my jaw. I hate that Tuck knows I have feelings for Hannah. I hate even more that he finally decided to bring up the subject after all these months. Why can’t he leave it alone? The situation is already shitty enough without having someone call me on it. “Seriously? Do you want me to list it off for you? Fine.” A dark cloud floats through his eyes as he begins to recite every fucking thing I’ve felt so guilty about. “You leave the room whenever the two of them enter it. You hide in your bedroom when she stays over. If you guys are in the same room, you stare at her when you think nobody is looking. You—” “Okay,” I interrupt. “I get it.” “And don’t get me started on your manwhoring,” Tucker grumbles. “You’ve always been a player, but dude, you’ve hooked up with five chicks this week.” “So?” “So it’s Thursday. Five girls in four days. Do the fucking math, John.” Oh shit. He first-named me. Tucker only calls me John when I’ve really pissed him off. Except now he’s pissed me off, so I first-name him right back. “What’s wrong with that, John?” Yup, we’re both John. I guess we should take a blood oath and form a club or something. “I’m twenty-one years old,” I continue irritably. “I’m allowed to hook up. No, I should be hooking up, because that’s what college is all about. Having fun and getting laid and enjoying the fuck out of yourself before you go out in the real world and your life turns to shit.” “You really want to pretend all these hook-ups are just some rite of passage in the college experience?” Tucker shakes his head, then lets out a breath and softens his tone. “You can’t screw her out of your system, man. You could sleep with a hundred women tonight and it still wouldn’t make a difference. You need to accept that it’s not going to happen with Hannah, and move on.” He’s absolutely right. I’m well aware that I’ve been wallowing in my own bullshit and bagging chicks left and right as a distraction. And I’m equally aware that I need to stop partying myself into oblivion. That I need to let go of the tiny little sliver of hope that something might happen, and simply accept that it won’t. Maybe I’ll get started on that tomorrow, though. Tonight? I’m sticking to my original plan. Get wasted. Get laid. And to hell with everything else. * Grace I started my freshman year of college as a virgin. I’m beginning to think I’ll be ending it as one, too. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a card-carrying member of the V-Club. So what if I’m about to turn nineteen? I’m hardly an old maid, and I’m certainly not going to be tarred and feathered on the street for still having an intact hymen. Besides, it’s not like I haven’t had opportunities to lose my virginity this year. Since I came to Briar University, my best friend has dragged me to more parties than I can count. Guys have flirted with me, sure. A few of them straight up tried to seduce me. One even sent me a picture of his penis with the caption “It’s all yours, baby.” Which was…fine, it was super gross, but I’m sure if I’d truly liked him, I might have been, um, flattered by the gesture? Maybe? But I wasn’t attracted to any of those guys. And unfortunately, all the ones who do catch my eye never even look my way. Until tonight. When Ramona announced we were going to a frat party, I didn’t have high hopes for meeting anyone. It seems like every time we go to Greek Row, the frat boys just try to sweet-talk me and Ramona into making out. But tonight I’ve actually met a guy I kinda sorta like. His name is Matt, he’s cute, and he’s not giving off any douchebag vibes. Not only is he somewhat sober, but he also speaks in full sentences and hasn’t said the word “broski” even once since we started talking. Or rather, since he started talking. I haven’t said much, but I’m perfectly content to stand there and listen, because it gives me time to admire his chiseled jawline and the adorable way his blond hair curls under his ears. To be honest, it’s probably better if I don’t talk. Cute guys make me nervous. Like tongued-tied total-brain-malfunction nervous. All my filters shut off and suddenly I’m telling them about the time I peed my pants in the third grade during a field trip to the maple syrup factory, or how I’m scared of puppets and have mild OCD that could possibly drive me to tidy up your room the moment you turn your head. So yeah, it’s better if I simply smile and nod and toss out the occasional “oh really?” so they know I’m not a mute. Except sometimes that’s not possible, especially when the cute guy in question says something that requires an actual answer. “Wanna go outside and smoke this?” Matt pulls a joint from the pocket of his button-down and holds it in front of me. “I’d light it up here but Mr. President will kick me out of the frat if I do.” I shift awkwardly. “Ah…no, thanks.” “You don’t smoke weed?” “No. I mean, I have, but I don’t do it often. It makes me feel all…loopy.” He smiles, and two gorgeous dimples appear. “That’s kinda the point of weed.” “Yeah, I guess. But it makes me really tired, too. Oh, and every time I smoke it I end up thinking about this Power Point presentation my dad forced me to watch when I was thirteen. It had all these statistics about the effects of weed on your brain cells, and how, contrary to popular belief, marijuana actually is highly addictive. And after every slide he’d glare at me and say, do you want to lose your brains cells, Grace? Do you?” Matt stares at me, and in my head there’s a voice shouting Abort! But it’s too late. My internal filter has failed me once again and words keep popping out of my mouth. “But I guess that’s not as bad as what my mom did. She tries to be the cool parent, so when I was fifteen, she drove me to this dark parking lot and pulled out a joint and announced that we were going to smoke it together. It was like a scene out of The Wire—wait, I’ve never actually seen The Wire. It’s about drugs, right? Anyway, I sat there panicking the whole time because I was convinced we were going to get arrested, and meanwhile my mom kept asking me how I was feeling and whether or not I was ‘enjoying the pot’.” Miraculously, my lips finally stop moving. But Matt’s eyes have already glazed over. “Uh, yeah, well.” He clumsily waves the joint around. “I’m gonna go smoke this. I’ll see you later.” I manage to hold in my sigh until he’s gone, then release the heavy breath and give myself a mental slap on the wrist. Damn it. I don’t know why I bother trying to talk to guys. I go into every conversation nervous I’m going to embarrass myself, and then I end up embarrassing myself because I’m nervous. Doomed from the start. With another sigh, I head downstairs and search the main floor for Ramona. The kitchen is full of kegs and frat boys. Ditto for the dining room. The living room is packed with very loud, very drunk guys, and a sea of scantily clad girls. I applaud them for their bravery, because the weather outside is frigid and the front door has been opening and closing all night, causing cold air to circulate through the house. Me, I’m nice and toasty in my skinny jeans and tight sweater. I don’t see my friend anywhere. As hip-hop music blasts out of the speakers at a deafening volume, I fish my phone out of my purse to check the time and discover that it’s close to midnight. Even after eight months at Briar, I still experience a teeny sense of glee every time I stay out past eleven, which was my curfew when I lived at home. My dad was a real stickler for curfews. Actually, he’s a real stickler for everything. I doubt he’s ever broken a rule in his life, which makes me wonder how he and Mom managed to stay married as long as they did. My free-spirit mother is the polar opposite of my stuffy, strict father, but I guess that just proves that the whole opposites-attract theory has some merit. “Gracie!” a female voice shrieks over the music, and the next thing I know, Ramona appears and throws her arms around me in a tight hug. When she pulls back, I take one look at her shining eyes and flushed cheeks and know she’s drunk. She’s also as scantily clad as most of the other girls in the room, her short skirt barely covering her upper thighs, her red halter-top revealing a serious amount of cleavage. And the heels of her leather boots are so high I have no clue how she can walk in them. She looks gorgeous, though, and she’s drawing a ton of appreciative stares as she links her arm through mine. I’m pretty sure that when people see us standing side by side, they’re scratching their heads and wondering how on earth we could possibly be friends. Sometimes I wonder the same thing. In high school, Ramona was the fun-loving badass who smoked cigarettes behind the building, and I was the good girl who edited the school newspaper and organized all the charity events. If we hadn’t been next-door neighbors, Ramona and I probably wouldn’t have known the other existed, but walking to school together every day had led to a friendship of convenience, which had then turned into a real bond. So real that when we were looking at colleges, we made sure to apply to all the same schools, and when we both got into Briar, we asked my father to speak to the residence office and arrange for us to be roommates. But even though our friendship started off strong this year, I can’t deny that we’ve drifted apart a little. Ramona has been so obsessed with hooking up and being popular. It’s all she ever talks about, and lately I’m finding that she kind of…annoys me. Crap. Even thinking it makes me feel like a shitty friend. “I saw you go upstairs with Matt!” she hisses in my ear. “Did you guys hook up?” “No,” I say glumly. “I think I scared him off.” “Oh no. You told him about your puppet phobia, didn’t you?” she demands, before heaving an exaggerated sigh. “Babe, you’ve gotta stop revealing all your crazy up front. Seriously. Save all that stuff for later, when you’re in a relationship with the guy and it’s harder for him to run away.” I can’t help but laugh. “Thanks for the advice.” “So are you ready to go or should we stay a while longer?” I glance around the room again. My gaze lands in the corner, where two girls in jeans and bras are making out while one of the Omega Phi guys films the passionate display with his iPhone. The sight makes me stifle a groan. Ten bucks says that video will wind up on one of those free porn sites. And the poor girls probably won’t find out about it until years from now, when one of them is about to marry a senator and the press digs up all her embarrassing dirt. “I wouldn’t mind going now,” I admit. “Yeah, I guess I’m cool with it too.” I raise my eyebrows. “Since when are you cool with leaving a party before midnight?” A frown puckers her lips. “Not much point in staying. Someone already beat me to him.” I don’t bother asking who she’s talking about—it’s the same guy she’s been talking about since the first day of the semester. Dean Heyward-Di Laurentis. Ramona has been obsessed with the gorgeous junior ever since she bumped into him at one of the campus coffee houses. Like seriously obsessed. She’s dragged me to almost all the Briar home games just to watch Dean in action. I have to admit, the guy is hot. He’s also a major player, according to the gossip mill, but unfortunately for Ramona, Dean doesn’t date freshmen. Or sleep with them, which is all she really wants from him anyway. Ramona has never gone out with anybody for more than a week. The only reason she even wanted to come to this party tonight was because she heard that Dean would be here. But clearly the guy isn’t fucking around with that no-freshmen rule. No matter how many times Ramona throws herself at him, he always leaves with somebody else. “Let me just use the washroom first,” I tell her. “Meet you outside?” “’Kay, but be quick. I told Jasper we’re leaving and he’s waiting in the car.” She darts off toward the front door, leaving me with a prickle of resentment. Nice that she asked me if I wanted to leave when she’d already made the decision for us. But I swallow the irritation, reminding myself that Ramona has always done that, and that it never bothered me in the past. Honestly, if it wasn’t for her making decisions and forcing me to step out of my comfort zone, I probably would’ve spent my entire high school career in the newspaper office, writing the advice column and offering life tips to students without having ever experienced life myself. Still…sometimes I wish Ramona would at least ask me what I thought about something before deciding that we should do it. The downstairs bathroom has a long line, so I weave through the crowd and head upstairs to where Matt and I had been talking before. I’m just approaching the bathroom when the door swings open and a pretty blonde saunters out. She jerks when she spots me, then offers a smug little smile and adjusts the bottom of a dress that can only be described as indecent. I can actually see the crotch of her pink panties. As my cheeks heat up, I avert my gaze in embarrassment, waiting until she’s at the stairs before I reach for the doorknob. I barely get my hand on it when the door opens again and someone else walks out. My gaze collides with the most vivid blue eyes I have ever seen. It only takes a second for recognition to dawn on me, and when it does, my face burns hotter. It’s John Logan. Yep, John Logan. AKA the star defenseman of the hockey team. I know this not just because Ramona has been stalking his friend Dean for months, but because his sexy, chiseled face was on the cover of the school newspaper last week. Since the team’s championship win, the paper has run feature interviews with all the players, and I’m not going to lie—Logan’s interview was the only one I paid any attention to. Because the guy is smoking hot. Like the blonde, he looks startled to find me in the hallway, and like the blonde, he recovers quickly from his surprise and flashes me a grin. Then he zips up his pants. Oh my God. I cannot believe he just did that. My gaze involuntarily drops to his groin, but he doesn’t seem bothered by that either. He cocks a brow, shrugs, and then walks away. Wow. Okay. That should have icked me out. Forget the very obvious bathroom hook-up. The zipper move alone should have placed him directly in douchebag territory. Instead, knowing he’d just fooled around with that girl in the bathroom evokes a rush of jealousy I don’t expect. I’m not saying I want to have a random hook-up in a bathroom, but— Fine, I’m lying. I totally want that. At least with John Logan, I do. The thought of his hands and lips all over me unleashes a flurry of hot shivers that shimmy up my spine. Why can’t I fool around with guys in bathrooms? I’m in college, damn it. I’m supposed to be having fun and making mistakes and “finding myself”, but I haven’t done jack shit this year. I’ve been living vicariously through Ramona, watching my bad girl best friend take risks and try new things, while I, the good girl, stand there clinging to the cautious approach to life that my father drilled into me when I was still in diapers. Well, I’m tired of being cautious. And I’m tired of being the good girl. The semester is almost over. I have two exams to study for and a Psych paper to write, but who says I can’t do all that and still squeeze some actual fun in there? There are only a few weeks left in my freshman year. And you know what? I plan on making good use of them. 2 Logan I’ve decided to ease back on the partying. And that’s not just because I got so trashed last night that Tucker had to haul me over his shoulder and cart me upstairs to my bedroom because I was too dizzy to walk. Though that was a major factor in the decision-making process. So now it’s Friday night, and not only did I turn down a party invite from one of the guys on the team, but I’m still nursing the same glass of whiskey I poured more than an hour ago. I also haven’t taken a single hit off the joint Dean keeps shoving in my direction. We’re hanging out at our place tonight, braving the early-April chill as we huddle together in the small backyard. I take a drag of my cigarette while Dean, Tucker and our teammate, Mike Hollis, pass around the joint, and I’m only half-listening to Dean’s incredibly raunchy recap of the sex he had last night. My mind keeps wandering back to my own hook-up—the sexy-as-sin sorority sister who’d lured me into one of the upstairs bathrooms and had her way with me. I might have been drunk and my memory might be a bit hazy, but I definitely remember fingering her until she came all over my hand. And I absolutely remember being on the receiving end of a pretty spectacular BJ. I don’t plan on telling Tuck about it, though. You know, since apparently he’s keeping a tally of my hook-ups. Nosy bastard. “Wait, back up. You did what?” Hollis’s exclamation jars me back to the present. “I sent her a dick pic.” Dean says this as if it’s something he does every day. Hollis gawks at him. “Really? You sent her a picture of your junk? What, like some kind of fucked-up sex souvenir?” “Naah. More like an invitation for another round,” Dean answers with a grin. “How the hell will that make her want to sleep with you again?” Hollis sounds doubtful now. “She probably thinks you’re a douche.” “No way, dude. Chicks appreciate a nice cock shot. Trust me.” Hollis presses his lips together like he’s trying not to laugh. “Uh-huh. Sure.” I flick my ash on the grass and take another drag. “Just out of curiosity, what constitutes a ‘nice cock shot’? I mean, is it the lighting? The pose?” I’m being sarcastic, but Dean responds in a solemn voice. “Well, the trick is, you’ve gotta keep the balls out of it.” That gets a loud hoot out of Tucker, who chokes mid-sip on his beer. “Seriously,” Dean insists. “Balls aren’t photogenic. Women don’t want to see them.” Hollis’s laughter spills over, his breaths coming out in white puffs that float away in the night air. “You’ve put a lot of thought into this, man. It’s kinda sad.” I laugh too. “Wait, is that what you do when you’re in your room with the door locked? Take photos of your cock?” “Oh, come on, like I’m the only one who’s ever taken a dick pic.” “You’re the only one,” Hollis and I say in unison. “Bullshit. You guys are liars.” Dean suddenly realizes that Tucker hadn’t voiced a denial, and wastes no time pouncing on our teammate’s silence. “Ha. I knew it!” I arch a brow and glance at Tuck, who may or may not be blushing under the five inches of beard growth on his face. “Really, man? Really?” He offers a sheepish grin. “Remember that girl I was dating last year? Sheena? Well, she texted me a picture of her tits. Said I had to return the favor.” Dean’s jaw falls open. “Dick for tits? Dude, you got played. No way are those even remotely comparable.” “What’s the equivalent of tits then?” Hollis asks curiously. “Balls,” Dean declares, before taking a deep pull of the joint. He blows out a ring of smoke as everyone laughs at his remark. “You just said women don’t want to see balls,” Hollis points out. “They don’t. But any idiot knows that a dick pic requires a full frontal shot in return.” He rolls his eyes. “It’s common sense.” Someone clears their throat from the sliding door behind me. Loudly. I turn around to find Hannah standing there, and my chest squeezes so tight my ribs ache. She’s wearing leggings and one of Garrett’s practice jerseys. Her dark hair is loose and falling over one shoulder. She looks gorgeous. And yup, I’m a total asshole friend, because suddenly I’m picturing her in my jersey. With my number scrawled across it. So much for accepting and moving on. “Um…okay,” she says slowly. “Just making sure I’m not misunderstanding, but…you guys are talking about sending pictures of your penises to girls?” Amusement dances in her eyes as she glances around the group. Dean snorts. “We sure are. And don’t roll your eyes like that, Wellsy. Are you really gonna stand there and tell us that G hasn’t sent you pictures of his cock?” “I’m not going to dignify that with an answer.” She sighs and rests her forearm on the edge of the door. “Garrett and I are ordering pizza. Do you guys want to pitch? Oh, and we’re putting on a movie in the living room. It’s his turn to pick so it’ll probably be some God-awful action movie, if you guys want to watch with us.” Tuck and Dean instantly pipe up with yeses, but Hollis shakes his head regretfully. “Maybe next time. My last final is on Monday so I’m spending the rest of the weekend cramming.” “Eek. Well, good luck.” She smiles at him before releasing the doorframe and taking a step back. “If you guys want a say in the pizza toppings, you better come inside now, otherwise I’m going to load it with veggies. Oh, and what the hell, Logan?” Those green eyes narrow at me. “I thought you said you only smoke at parties. Am I going to have to beat you up now?” “I’d like to see you try, Wellsy.” My tone is filled with humor, but the second she ducks back inside, the humor fades. Being around her is like a punch to the gut. And the thought of sitting in the living room with her and Garrett, eating pizza and watching a movie and seeing them all cuddly and in love…a hundred times worse than a gut punch. It’s an entire hockey team slamming you into the boards. “You know what? I think I might go to Danny’s thing after all. Can I catch a ride with you to the dorms?” I ask Hollis. “I’d drive over myself but I don’t know if I’ll end up drinking.” Dean stabs out the joint in the ashtray on top of the closed barbecue lid. “You won’t end up drinking, dude. Danny’s RA is a total Nazi. He patrols the halls and does random room checks. No joke.” I don’t care. All I know is that I can’t stay here. I can’t hang out with Hannah and Garrett, not until I manage to get a handle on my stupid infatuation with her. “Then I won’t drink. I just need a change of scenery. I’ve been home all day.” “A change of scenery, huh?” Tucker’s cloudy expression tells me he sees right through me. “Yes,” I say coolly. “Got a problem with that?” Tuck doesn’t answer. Gritting my teeth, I mutter my goodbyes and follow Hollis out to his car. Fifteen minutes later, I’m in the second-floor corridor of Fairview House, and it’s so eerily quiet that my spirits plummet even lower. Shit. I guess the resident advisor really is a hard-ass. I don’t hear a peep from any of the rooms, and I can’t even call Danny to find out if the party was canceled, because in my haste to escape my house, I forgot to grab my phone. I’ve never been to Danny’s dorm before, so I stand in the hallway for a moment, trying to remember the room number he’d texted me earlier. Two-twenty? Or was it two-thirty? I wander past each door checking the numbers, and my dilemma solves itself when I realize there isn’t even a room two-thirty. Two-twenty, it is. I rap my knuckles against the door. Almost immediately, footsteps sound from behind it. Someone’s there, at least. That’s a good sign. Then the door swings open, and I find myself looking at a total stranger. Granted, she’s a very pretty stranger, but a stranger nonetheless. The girl blinks in surprise when she sees me standing there. Her light brown eyes are the same shade as her hair, which hangs in a long braid over her shoulder. She’s wearing loose plaid pants and a black sweatshirt with the university logo on the front, and from the utter silence in the room behind her, it’s obvious I knocked on the wrong door. “Hi,” I say awkwardly. “So…yeah…I guess this isn’t Danny’s room?” “Um, no.” “Shit.” I purse my lips. “He said it was room two-twenty.” “One of you must’ve gotten the number wrong then.” She pauses. “For what it’s worth, there’s no one named Danny on this floor. Is he a freshman?” “Junior.” “Oh. Well, then he definitely doesn’t live here. This is a freshman dorm.” As she speaks, she plays with the bottom of her braid and not once does she look me in the eye. “Shit,” I mumble again. “Are you sure your friend said it was Fairview House?” I falter. I was sure, but now…not so much. Danny and I don’t hang out too often, at least not on our own. Usually I see him at post-game parties, or he comes over to my place with our other teammates. “I have no idea anymore,” I answer with a sigh. “Why don’t you call him?” She’s still not meeting my gaze. Now she’s staring down at her striped wool socks as if they’re the most fascinating things she’s ever seen. “I left my phone at home.” Fuck. As I mull over my options, I run a hand through my hair. It’s growing out and I desperately need to get it buzzed, but I keep forgetting to do it. “Is it cool if I use yours?” “Um…sure.” Even though she looks hesitant, she opens the door wider and gestures for me to come in. Her room is a typical double with two of everything, but while one side is neat as a pin, the other is slob central. Clearly this girl and her roommate have very different philosophies about tidiness. For some reason, I’m not surprised when she walks over to the tidy side. She definitely seems like she’d be the neat one. She goes to the desk and unplugs a cell phone from its charger, then holds it out to me. “Here.” The second the phone exchanges hands, she creeps back toward the door. “You don’t have to stand all the way over there,” I say dryly. “Unless you’re debating making a run for it?” Her cheeks turn pink. Grinning, I swipe the phone screen and pull up the keypad. “Don’t worry, gorgeous. I’m just using your phone. I’m not going to murder you.” “Oh, I know that. Or at least I think I know that,” she stammers. “I mean, you seem like a decent guy, but then again, lots of serial killers probably seem decent too when you first meet them. Did you know that Ted Bundy was actually really charming?” Her eyes widen. “How messed up is that? Imagine you’re walking along one day and you meet this really cute, charming guy, and you’re like, oh my God, he’s perfect, and then you’re over at his place and you find a trophy dungeon in the basement with skin suits and Barbie dolls with the eyes ripped out and—” “Jesus,” I cut in. “Did anyone ever tell you that you talk a lot?” Her cheeks are even redder now. “Sorry. Sometimes I babble when I’m nervous.” I shoot her another grin. “I make you nervous?” “No. Well, maybe a little. I mean, I don’t know you, and…yeah. Stranger danger and all that, though I’m sure you’re not dangerous,” she adds hastily. “But…you know…” “Right. Ted Bundy,” I supply, fighting hard not to laugh. She fidgets with her braid again, and her averted gaze gives me the opportunity to study her more closely. Man, she really is pretty. Not drop-dead gorgeous or anything, but she has a fresh-faced, girl-next-door look that’s seriously appealing. Freckles on her nose, delicate features, and smooth, creamy skin right out of a makeup commercial. “Are you going to call?” I blink, suddenly remembering why I came inside in the first place. I look down at the phone in my hand, and now I’m examining the number pad as intently as I was examining her moments before. “Here’s a tip—you use your fingers to dial, and then you press send.” I lift my head, and her barely restrained grin summons a laugh from my throat. “Great tip,” I agree. “But…” I let out a glum breath. “I just realized I don’t know his number. It’s saved in my phone.” Shit. Is this my punishment for inappropriately fantasizing about Garrett’s girlfriend? Getting stranded on a Friday night with no phone or ride home? I guess I deserve it. “Fuck it. I’ll call a cab,” I finally decide. Luckily, I know the number for the campus taxi service, so I dial that instead, only to be placed on hold immediately. As elevator music chirps in my ear, I smother a groan. “You’re on hold, huh?” “Yup.” I glance over at her again. “I’m Logan, by the way. Thanks for letting me use your phone.” “No problem.” She pauses. “I’m Grace.” A click sounds in my ear, but instead of the dispatcher’s voice coming on the line, there’s another click followed by another swell of music. I’m not surprised, though. It’s Friday night, the busiest night for the campus taxis. Who knows how long I’ll have to wait. I sink down on the edge of one of the beds—the one that’s perfectly made—and try to remember the number for the cab service in Hastings, the town where most of the off-campus housing is, including my townhouse. But I’m drawing a blank, so I sigh and endure some more elevator music. My gaze drifts to the open laptop on the other side of the bed, and when I notice what’s on the screen, I look at Grace in surprise. “Are you watching Die Hard?” “Die Hard Two, actually.” She looks embarrassed. “I’m having a Die Hard night. I just finished the first one.” “Do you have a thing for Bruce Willis or something?” That makes her laugh. “Nope. I just like old action movies. Last weekend I watched the Lethal Weapon franchise.” The music in my ear stops again, then starts over, bringing a curse to my lips. I hang up and turn to Grace. “Do you mind if I use your computer to get the number for the taxi service in Hastings? Maybe I’ll have better luck there.” “Sure.” After a beat of hesitation, she sits next to me and reaches for the laptop. “Let me pull up a browser for you.” When she goes to minimize the video, the movie unpauses, and sound blasts out of the speakers. As the opening fight scene in the airport fills the computer screen, I immediately lean closer to watch it. “Oh shit, this is such a great fight sequence.” “I know, right?” Grace exclaims. “I love it. Actually, I love this whole movie. I don’t care what anyone says—it’s awesome. Obviously not as good as the first one, but it’s really not as bad as people think.” She’s about to pause the movie, but I intercept her hand. “Can we finish watching this scene first?” Her expression fills with surprise. “Um…yeah, okay.” She visibly swallows, adding, “If you want, you can stay and watch the whole movie.” Her cheeks flush the moment she voices the invitation. “Unless you have somewhere you need to be.” I think it over for a second before shaking my head. “Naah, I have nowhere else to be. I can hang out for a while.” Really, what’s the alternative? Go home to watch Hannah and Garrett hand-feed pizza to each other and sneak kisses during the movie? “Oh. Okay,” Grace says warily. “Uh…cool.” I chuckle. “Were you expecting me to say no?” “Kind of,” she admits. “Why would I? Seriously, what guy turns down Die Hard? The only thing that could sweeten this deal is if you offered me some booze.” “I don’t have any.” She stops to think. “But I’ve got a whole bag of gummy bears hidden in my desk drawer.” “Marry me,” I say instantly. Laughing, she wanders over to the desk, opens the bottom drawer, and, sure enough, pulls out a huge bag of candy. As I slide up the bed and lean back on the stack of pillows at the head of it, Grace kneels in front of the mini-fridge next to the desk and asks, “Water or Pepsi?” “Pepsi, please.” She hands me the massive bag of gummy bears and a can of soda, then settles on the bed beside me and positions the laptop on the mattress between us. I shove a gummy bear in my mouth and focus my gaze on the screen. Okay, then. This definitely wasn’t the way I expected this evening to go, but hell, might as well roll with it. 3 Grace John Logan is in my dorm room. No, John Logan is on my bed. I am so not prepared for this. In fact, I’m tempted to secretly text Ramona with an SOS and beg for advice, because I have no idea what to do or say. On the plus side, we’re watching a movie, which means I don’t have to do or say anything except stare at the laptop, laugh at the appropriate one-liners, and pretend that the hottest guy at Briar isn’t sitting on my bed. And he’s not just physically hot. He’s also temperature hot. Seriously, his body heat is like a blast from a furnace, and since I’m already hot and tingly from his mere presence, the warmth he’s radiating is starting to make me sweat. Trying to be inconspicuous, I wiggle out of my sweatshirt and tuck it beside me, but the movement causes Logan to turn his head toward me. Those deep blue eyes focus on my tight tank top, resting briefly on my chest. Oh God. He’s checking out my boobs. And even though I’m only rocking a B-cup, the way his expression smolders, you’d think I had a porn star rack. When he realizes I’ve caught him staring, he just winks and turns back to the screen. It’s official: I’ve actually met a guy who can pull off a wink. Paying attention to the movie is impossible. My eyes are on the screen, but my mind is somewhere else. Focused wholly on the guy beside me. He’s a lot bigger than I thought. Impossibly broad shoulders, muscular chest, long legs stretching out in front of him. I’ve seen him play hockey so I know he’s aggressively physical on the ice, and having that powerful body inches from mine shoots a thrill up my spine. He looks so much older and more masculine than the freshmen guys I’ve hung out with all year. Well, duh. He’s a junior. Right. But…he seems older than that too. He’s got this whole manly thing going on that makes me want to rip his clothes off and lick him like an ice cream cone. I pop a gummy bear in my mouth, hoping the act of chewing will bring some much-needed moisture to my dry throat. On the screen, McClane’s wife is on the plane arguing with the pesky news reporter who caused trouble for the McClanes in the first movie, and suddenly Logan glances over at me, curiosity flickering in his expression. “Hey, do you think you could land a plane if you had no other choice?” I laugh. “I thought you said you’ve seen this movie. You know she doesn’t have to land the plane, right?” “No, I know that. But it made me wonder what I’d do if I was on a plane and I was the only one who could land it.” He sighs. “I don’t think I’d be able to do it.” I’m surprised he’s so quick to admit that. Other guys might try to act all macho and scoff about how they could land that thing in their sleep or something. “Me neither,” I confess. “If anything, I see myself making it worse. I’d probably accidently depressurize the cabin by touching the wrong control. Actually, no. I’m scared of heights, so I’m pretty sure I’d pass out the second I stepped into the cockpit and looked out the windshield.” He chuckles, and the husky sound sets off another round of tingles. “I might be able to fly a helicopter,” he muses. “That’s probably easier than a jet, right?” “Maybe? Honestly, I know nothing about aviation.” It’s my turn to sigh. “Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I’m not sure I understand how planes even stay in the air.” He laughs, and then we both focus on the movie again, and I give myself a mental pat on the back. I just had an entire conversation with a cute guy without babbling incoherently. I deserve a frickin’ gold star for that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still nervous as all get out. But something about Logan puts me at ease. He’s so laidback, and besides, it’s hard to feel intimidated by a guy when he’s chomping away on gummy bears. As we watch the movie, my gaze darts toward him every few seconds to admire his chiseled profile. His nose is slightly crooked, as if it’s been broken once or twice before. And the sexy curve of his lips is…pure temptation. I want to kiss him so badly I can’t think straight. God, and I’m such a loser, because kissing me is probably the last thing on his mind. He stuck around to watch Die Hard, not to fool around with a freshman who compared him to Ted frickin’ Bundy an hour ago. I force myself to concentrate on the film, but I’m already dreading the moment it ends, because then Logan will have to leave. But when the credits scroll up on the screen, he doesn’t make a single move to get up. Instead, he looks over and asks, “So what’s your deal?” I furrow my brow. “What do you mean?” “It’s Friday night—how come you’re sitting around watching action movies?” The question makes me bristle. “What’s wrong with that?” “Nothing.” He shrugs. “I’m just wondering why you’re not out partying or something.” “I was at a party last night.” Don’t remind him you saw him, don’t remind him you saw him—“I saw you there, by the way.” He seems startled. “You did?” “Yeah. At the Omega Phi house.” “Huh. I don’t remember seeing you.” He gives me a sheepish look. “I don’t remember much, actually. I got pretty shitfaced.” It stings a little that he doesn’t remember our encounter outside the bathroom, but I quickly chastise myself for feeling insulted. He was drunk, and he’d just hooked up with someone else. Of course I hadn’t made an impression on him. “Did you have fun at the party?” For the first time since he walked into my dorm room, his tone contains an awkward note, as if he’s trying to make small talk and isn’t comfortable with it. “Sure, I guess.” I pause. “Actually, I take that back. It was fun until I totally humiliated myself in front of this guy.” The discomfort on his face dissolves as he chuckles. “Yeah? What’d you do?” “I babbled. A lot.” I offer a little shrug. “I have a really bad habit of doing that around guys.” “You’re not babbling right now,” he points out. “Yeah, now. Do you not remember the serial killer rant I gave you two hours ago?” “Trust me, I remember.” His answering grin speeds up my pulse. God, he’s got a sexy smile. Slightly crooked, and every time he flashes it, his eyes twinkle playfully. “I don’t make you nervous anymore, do I?” “No.” I’m lying. He absolutely makes me nervous. He’s John fucking Logan, one of the most popular guys at Briar. And I’m Grace fucking Ivers, one of thousands of girls who are crushing on him. His gaze travels over me again, a hot, lingering perusal that crackles along my skin like an electric current. This time there’s no mistaking the interest in his eyes. Should I make a move? I should make a move, right? Lean closer or something. Kiss him. Or maybe ask him to kiss me? My brain races back to my high school days, trying to pinpoint how all those kisses happened, if the guys I locked lips with made the first move, or if it was a mutual yeah-we’re-going-to-kiss-now sorta thing. Except none of those kisses were with guys even half as gorgeous as this one. “Do you want me to go now?” His gruff voice startles me, and I realize I’ve been staring at him for almost a full minute without saying a single word. My mouth is so dry I have to swallow a few times before answering. “No. I mean, you can stay if you want. We can watch something else, or—” I don’t get to finish that sentence, because he slides closer and touches my cheek, and my vocal cords freeze as my heart rate skyrockets. John Logan is touching my cheek. The pads of his fingers are calloused, a rough scrape against my skin, and he smells so good I feel light-headed when I inhale the faint scent of his aftershave. He lightly strokes my cheekbone and I have to stop myself from purring like an affection-starved cat. “What are you doing?” I whisper. “Well, you were looking at me like you wanted me to kiss you.” His blue eyes become heavy-lidded. “So I was thinking I might do that.” 4 Grace My heartbeat is out of control. A fast drumbeat in my ears, a frantic hammering against my ribs. Oh my God. He wants to kiss me? “Unless I misread the moment?” he prompts. I gulp, desperately trying to control my careening pulse. Talking is not an option. My throat has clamped shut. Despite the fact that my motor skills aren’t operating at full capacity, I manage to shake my head. His laughter heats the air between us. “Is that a no to misreading the moment, or a no to me kissing you?” I’m miraculously able to produce an entire sentence in response. “I want you to kiss me.” He’s still chuckling as he moves closer, stretching on his side beside me and gently nudging me onto my back. Every muscle in my body tenses with anticipation as he hovers over me, and when he rests one hand on my hip, I tremble hard enough for him to notice. A smile curves his lips. Lips that are getting closer and closer to my lips. Inches away. Millimeters away. And then his mouth brushes mine, and holy shit, I’m kissing John Logan. Almost immediately, my mind is flooded with so many thoughts it’s hard to focus on just one. I hear my father’s endless lectures about respecting myself and behaving properly and not going wild in college. And then there’s my mother’s cheery voice, ordering me to have fun and live life to the fullest. And somewhere in between an excited voice is shouting, You’re kissing John Logan! You’re kissing John Logan! His mouth is warm, his lips firm as he kisses me. Gently at first. A soft, sensual tease that makes me whimper. He licks my bottom lip, nips lightly at it before the tip of his tongue touches the seam of my lips. He tastes like candy, and for some reason that makes me whimper again. When his tongue finally slides inside my mouth, he lets out a raspy groan that vibrates through me and settles in my core. Kissing Logan is the single most incredible thing I’ve ever experienced. Forget that family vacation to Egypt when I was nine. The glory of the pyramids and temples and the frickin’ Sphinx is nothing compared to the feel of this guy’s lips on mine. Our tongues meet, and he makes another low, husky sound, gliding one hand up my body to cup my left breast. Oh shit. Boob groping alert. I thought we were just going to make out, but now we’re fooling around. I’m not wearing a bra under my tank top, so when his thumb brushes the very thin fabric and presses down on my nipple, it sends a bolt of heat from the tips of my breasts right down to my clit. My entire body is hot and achy, tight with excitement. Logan’s tongue explores my mouth as he rubs my distended nipple, his hips moving slightly against my hip. His erection is like a hot brand on the side of my thigh, and I’m unbelievably turned on by the knowledge that I’m turning him on. Breathing heavily, he wrenches our mouths apart. “Should I be worried that your roommate is going to walk in on us?” “No, she’s not coming home tonight. She went to some bar in town, and then she’s planning on crashing with this girl Caitlin from Kappa Beta. Which I think is a really bad idea because the last time she went out with Caitlin, they almost got arrested for public drunkenness, but then Ramona flirted with the cop and—” Logan shuts me up with another kiss. “No would have sufficed,” he murmurs against my lips. Then he reaches for my hand and places it directly on the hard bulge in his pants. In the same breath, he cups my sex over my PJs. Oh crap. Downstairs action alert. I’m not worried about my response to his hand—one slow glide of his palm is all it takes for a burst of pleasure to erupt inside me. Nope, it’s my hand that triggers the rush of nervousness. The hand that’s currently stroking the erection straining behind Logan’s zipper. I’ve given handjobs before, plus a few blowjobs that I know were a huge success because…well, semen and all that. But I don’t have enough experience to consider myself an expert penis-wrangler or anything. And all those past penis encounters involved one guy, my high school boyfriend Brandon, who was equally inexperienced. If the rumors I’ve heard about Logan are true, then this guy has slept with half the girls at Briar. Sounds like an insanely high statistic, so I’m sure it’s not accurate, but he’s definitely hooked up with more people than I have. “Is this okay?” he asks as he strokes between my legs. I nod and stroke him again, and a tortured moan slips out of his mouth. “Fuck, hold on.” He shifts on the mattress, and my heart stops when he unzips his pants. He eases them down just low enough to free his erection from his boxers, then tugs on the waistbands of my PJs and underwear. A second later, his hand grazes my bare sex, and my hips lift involuntarily, seeking closer contact. Logan teases the tip of his index finger over my clit. “Better?” he says, his voice thick and raspy. So much better. And so good it makes my head spin, limiting my response to a breathy mumble of nonsense. Smiling at my incoherent answer, he leans in and kisses me again. With his free hand, he grasps my right hand and brings it to his erection, gently wrapping my trembling fingers around the shaft. He’s long and hard, his smooth, hot flesh sliding easily inside my closed fist. My body is on fire. Waves of arousal swell in my core, and when he pushes his middle finger inside me, my inner muscles clamp around it, the pressure so intense I forget how to breathe. We don’t stop kissing. Not even to come up for air. We’re both panting, our tongues tangling and our hands hard at work. His thumb presses on my clit as his finger moves inside me, and the pleasure spiraling through me gathers in strength, a tight knot of anticipation that causes the movement of my hips to become even more erratic. Minutes pass. Or maybe hours. I have no idea, because I’m too caught up in the incredible sensations. I stroke his erection, squeezing the blunt head on each upstroke, until his hips start moving too, and a rough command leaves his mouth. “Faster.” I quicken the pace and he thrusts into my fist with a low groan, his breath tickling my lips as he breaks the kiss. His eyes are closed, his features taut and his teeth digging into his bottom lip. “I’m gonna come,” he mumbles. Excitement ripples between my legs, and I know he can feel how wet I am because he groans again and his finger plunges deeper, faster. A few seconds later, he sags into me, his forehead resting on my shoulder as his hips flex forward one last time before going still. As wetness spurts onto my hand, his eyes slowly open and the sleepy pleasure swimming in them takes my breath away. Holy shit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything sexier than the sight of John Logan right after he’s had an orgasm. His breathing is still labored as he meets my gaze. “Did you come?” Crap. Right. His finger is still lodged inside me. No longer moving, but a reminder of the orgasm I’d been about to reach before I got distracted by the way he looked when he was coming, the restless grind of his hips and the sexy sounds he made. But I’m too embarrassed to admit I didn’t finish, and since he already did, I feel awkward asking him to keep going. So I nod and say, “Uh-huh. Of course.” A shadow of doubt passes through his eyes, but before I can blink, he sits up abruptly and says, “I should go.” I ignore the equal doses of disappointment and irritation that tighten my belly. Seriously? He can’t even stick around for a few minutes of post-hook-up small talk? What a prince. It’s even more awkward now. He grabs a tissue from the box on the end table and cleans up. I pretend to be cool and composed as I pull up my pants and watch him do the same. I even manage a casual smile as he uses my phone to call a cab. Fortunately, he gets through right away this time, which means the awkwardness doesn’t last long. I walk him to the door, where he hesitates for a beat. “Thanks for having me over,” he says gruffly. “I had fun.” “Uh, yeah, sure. Me too.” A moment later, he’s gone. 5 Logan I walk into my bedroom after my morning shower to hear my phone ringing. And since everyone my age texts instead of calls, I know exactly who it is without having to check the screen. “Hey, Mom,” I greet her, gripping the edge of my towel as I head for the dresser. “Mom? Holy shish kebob. So it’s true? I mean, I thought I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy twenty-one years ago, but that seems like a distant memory. Because if I did have a son, he’d probably call me more than once a month, right?” I laugh, despite the needle of guilt pricking my chest. She’s right. I’ve been a crappy son lately, too busy with the post-season and term papers to call her as often as I should. “I’m sorry,” I say with genuine remorse. “It always gets crazy busy at the end of the semester.” “I know. That’s why I haven’t been bugging you. Are you studying hard for your exams?” “Sure.” Yeah, right. I haven’t even cracked open a book yet. Mom sees right through the noncommittal response. “Don’t BS your mother, Johnny.” “Fine, I haven’t started yet,” I admit. “But you know I work better under pressure. Can you hold on a sec?” “Yup.” I set the phone down and drop my towel, then yank a pair of sweatpants up my hips. My hair is still wet, sprinkling droplets down my bare chest, so I rub the towel over my head before picking up the phone again. “Back,” I tell her. “So how’s work going? How’s David?” “Good, and great.” For the next ten minutes she chats about her job—she’s a manager at a restaurant in Boston—then tells me what my stepfather has been up to. David is an accountant, and he’s so boring that sometimes it’s painful to be around him. But he also loves my mother with all his heart and treats her like the queen she is, so I can’t exactly hate the guy. Eventually she gets around to my summer plans, taking on that guarded tone she always uses when she brings up the subject of my father. “So I take it you’re working with your dad again?” “Yup.” I make an effort to sound relaxed. My brother and I agreed a long time ago to keep the truth from Mom. She doesn’t need to know that Dad is drinking again, and I refuse to dredge up that old bullshit for her. She got out, and she needs to stay out. She deserves to be happy now, and boring as he is, David makes her happy. Ward Logan, on the other hand, made her miserable. He didn’t hit her or abuse her verbally, but she was the one who had to clean up his messes. She was the one who had to deal with his drunken tantrums and constant visits to rehab. The one who dragged him off the floor when he came home wasted and passed out in the front hall. Fuck, I’ll never forget the time when I was eight or nine, and Dad called the house at two in the morning. He’d been slurring like a maniac and freaking out because he’d drunk himself stupid at a bar, gotten in the car, and had no idea where he was. It had been the dead of winter, and Mom hadn’t wanted to leave my brother and me at home alone, so she’d bundled us up, and the three of us drove for hours searching for him. With only half a street name to go on because the sign had been covered in snow and Dad was too drunk to walk over and wipe it away. After we’d found him and hauled him into the car, I remember sitting in the backseat feeling something I’d never felt before—pity. I felt sorry for my father. And I can’t deny I was relieved when Mom shipped him back to rehab the next day. “I hope he’s paying you accordingly, sweetie,” Mom says, sounding upset. “You and Jeffrey work such long hours at the garage.” “Of course he’s paying us.” But accordingly? Fuck no. I make enough to pay for rent and expenses during the school year, but definitely not what I should be making for full-time work. “Good.” She pauses. “Can you still take a week off to come visit us?” “I’m planning on it,” I assure her. Jeff and I have already worked out a schedule so that each of us can head to Boston to spend some time with Mom. We talk for a few more minutes, and then I hang up and wander downstairs to find something to eat. I prepare a bowl of cereal, the no-sugar, all-bran bore-fest that Tuck forces us to eat because for some reason he’s against sugar. As I settle at the eat-in counter, my mind instantly travels back to what happened last night. Leaving Grace’s room five seconds after she’d jerked me off had been such an asshole move. I know that. But I had to get out of there. The second I’d recovered from that orgasm, my first thought had been, what the hell am I doing here? Seriously. I mean, yeah, Grace was awesome, and sexy, and funny, but have I sunk so low that I’m now randomly finger-banging chicks I don’t even know? And I can’t even use alcohol as an excuse this time because I was stone-cold sober. And the worst part? She didn’t even fucking come. I clench my teeth at the reminder. There’d been a lot of moaning, sure, but I’m ninety-nine percent certain that she didn’t have an orgasm despite her telling me that she had. Or rather, lying to me that she had. Because when a woman drops a noncommittal “Uh-huh” after you ask if she had an orgasm, then that’s called lying. And that half-assed “yeah, sure, me too” she gave me about whether she had fun? Talk about bruising a guy’s ego. Not only did she not come, but my company didn’t do it for her, either? I don’t know how I feel about that. I mean, I’m not an idiot. I don’t live in a magical bubble where orgasms fall from the sky and land in a woman’s bed every time she has sex. I know they fake it sometimes. But I’m fairly confident I speak for most guys when I say that I like to think they don’t fake it with me. Damn it. I should’ve gotten her number. Why the hell didn’t I get her number? I know the answer to that, though. This past month, I haven’t cared enough to ask for a girl’s number after a hook-up. Or rather, I’ve been too wasted before, during and after the hook-up to remember to ask. The thud of footsteps from the corridor snaps me out of my thoughts, and I glance up in time to see Garrett stride into the kitchen. “Morning,” he says. “Morning.” I shove a spoonful of cereal into my mouth and do my best to ignore the instant jolt of discomfort, while at the same time hating myself for even feeling it. Garrett Graham is my best friend. For chrissake, I’m not supposed to feel uncomfortable around him. “So what’d you end up doing last night?” He grabs a bowl from the cupboard, a spoon from the drawer, and joins me at the counter. I chew before answering. “I hung out with this girl. Watched a movie.” “Cool. Anyone I know?” “Naah, I just met her yesterday.” And will probably never see her again because I’m a selfish lover and bad company, apparently. Garrett dumps some cereal into his bowl and reaches for the milk carton I left out. “Hey, so did you call that agent yet?” “No, not yet.” “Why not?” Because there’s no point. “Because I haven’t gotten around to it.” My tone is harsher than I mean for it to be, and Garrett’s gray eyes flicker with hurt. “You don’t have to bite my head off. It was just a question.” “Sorry. I…sorry.” Real articulate. Stifling a sigh, I take another bite of cereal. A short silence settles between us, until Garrett finally clears his throat. “Look, I get it, okay? You didn’t get drafted and it sucks. But it’s not like you’re out of options. You’re a free agent now, and you’re not locked in with a team, which means you can sign with anyone if they want you. And they’re totally going to want you.” He’s right. I’m sure there are lots of teams that would want me to play for them. I’m sure one of them would’ve even drafted me—if I’d entered the draft. But Garrett doesn’t know that. He thinks I’ve been passed over these past two years, and—have I mentioned what an asshole friend I am?—I’ve been letting him think it. Because fucked up as it sounds, having my best friend believe I didn’t get picked bums me out a helluva lot less than admitting that I’m never going to play for the pros. See, Garrett had a choice about not opting in. He wanted to earn his degree without the temptation that comes with being drafted. A lot of college players choose to ditch school the moment a team holds the rights to them—it’s hard not to when you’ve got a pro team pulling out all the stops to coax you into leaving college early. But Garrett’s a smart guy. He knows he’d lose his NCAA eligibility if he did that, and he also knows that signing a contract with a team doesn’t guarantee instant success, or even playing time. Hell, we both saw what happened to Chris Little, our teammate in freshman year. Dude gets drafted, goes pro, plays for half a season, and then? A career-ending injury takes him out. Permanently. Not only will Little never step foot on the ice again, but he spent every dime of his signing contract on his medical expenses, and last I heard, he went back to school to learn a trade. Welding, or some shit. So yup, Garrett’s playing it smart. Me? I knew from the start I wouldn’t be going pro. “I mean, Gretzky went undrafted, and look at everything he accomplished. The guy’s a legend. Arguably the best player in hockey history.” Garrett is still talking, still trying to “reassure” me, and I’m torn between snapping at him to shut up, and hugging the living shit out of the guy for being such an amazing friend. I do neither, choosing to placate him instead. “I’ll call the agent on Monday,” I lie. He offers a pleased nod. “Good.” The silence returns. We cart our empty bowls over to the dishwasher. “Hey, we’re going to Malone’s tonight,” Garrett says. “Me, Wellsy, Tuck and maybe Danny. You in?” “Can’t. I’ve gotta start studying for exams.” It’s sad, but I’m starting to lose count of all the things I’m lying to my best friend about. * Grace “I’m sorry—can you repeat that?” Ramona stares at me in utter disbelief, her eyes so wide they look like two dark saucers. I shrug as if what I’ve just told her is no biggie. “John Logan came over last night.” “John Logan came over last night,” she echoes. “Yes.” “He came to our dorm.” “Yes.” “You were in this room, and he walked in, and then both of you were here. In this room.” “Yes.” “So John Logan showed up at our door, and walked inside, and was here. With you. Here.” Laughter bubbles in my throat. “Yes, Ramona. We’ve established that he was here. In this room.” Her mouth falls open. Then slams shut. Then opens again to release a shriek that’s so earsplitting I’m surprised the water in my glass doesn’t jiggle Jurassic Park-style. “Oh my God!” She runs over to my bed and flops down. “Tell me everything!” She’s still wearing her party clothes from last night, a teeny minidress that rides up her thighs when she sits, and silver stilettos that she kicks away in an excited blur of legs. When Ramona had walked into our room, I’d lasted all of three seconds before spilling the news, but now, with her staring excitedly at me, reluctance jams in my throat. I’m suddenly embarrassed to tell her what happened last night, because…well…I’m just going to say it: because it was underwhelming. I had fun watching the movie with him. And I loved fooling around with him—at least until those final moments—but the guy got off and then left. Who does that? No wonder all his hook-ups take place at frat parties. The girls are probably too drunk to notice whether they have an orgasm or not. Too drunk to realize that John Logan is selling nothing but false advertising. But I already opened my big mouth, so now I have to follow through and give Ramona something. As she gawks at me, I explain how Logan showed up at the wrong door and ended up staying to watch a movie. “You watched a movie? That’s it?” I feel my cheeks warm up. “Well…” Another screech flies out of her mouth. “Oh my God! Did you fuck him?” “No,” I’m quick to answer. “Of course not. I hardly even know him. But…well, we did make out.” I’m hesitant to disclose any more than that, but the revelation is enough to light up Ramona’s eyes. She looks like a kid who’s just gotten her first bicycle. Or a pony. “You made out with John Logan! Eeeeeh! That is so awesome! Is he good a kisser? Did he take off his shirt? Did he take off his pants?” “Nope,” I lie. My best friend can’t sit still anymore. She hops off the bed and bounces around on the balls of her feet. “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe I wasn’t here to witness it.” “You’re into voyeurism now?” I ask dryly. “If I’m voyeur’ing John Logan? Um, yeah. I’d watch the two of you make out for hours.” She gasps suddenly. “Oh my God, text him right now and ask him to send you a dick pic!” “What? No!” “Aw, come on, he’ll probably be really flattered and—” Another gasp. “No, text him to invite him over tonight! And tell him to bring Dean.” I hate to rain on her parade, but considering the way Logan rushed off last night, I have no choice but to dump a bucket of cold water on Ramona’s joy. “I couldn’t even if I wanted to,” I confess. “I didn’t get his number.” “What?” She looks devastated. “What is wrong with you? Did you at least give him yours?” I shake my head. “He didn’t have his phone on him, and there wasn’t an opportunity for me to give him my number.” Ramona goes quiet for a moment. Sharp brown eyes focus on my face, narrowing, probing, as if she’s trying to telepathically tunnel into my brain. I fidget self-consciously. “What?” “Be honest,” she says. “Was he actually here?” Shock slams into me. “Are you kidding?” When she offers a tiny shrug, my shock turns to horror. “Why would I make that up?” “I don’t know…” She tucks a strand of dark hair behind her ear, her discomfort obvious. “It’s just…you know, he’s older, and hot, and you didn’t exchange numbers…” “So that means I’m lying?” I shoot to my feet, beyond insulted. “No, of course not.” She starts to backpedal, but it’s too late. I’m already pissed off and heading for the door. “Where are you going?” she wails from behind me. “Aw, come on, Gracie. I believe you. You don’t have to storm out.” “I’m not storming out.” I toss her a cool look over my shoulder, then grab my purse. “I’m meeting my dad in fifteen minutes. I really do have to go.” “Really?” she says skeptically. “Yes.” I have to force myself not to scowl at her. “But that doesn’t mean I’m not super mad at you right now.” She darts over and throws her arms around me before I can stop her, squeezing tight enough to impede the airflow to my lungs. It’s one of her trademark Forgive Me hugs, which I’ve been on the receiving end of more times than I can count. “Please don’t be mad at me,” she begs. “I’m sorry I asked that. I know you wouldn’t make it up, and when you get back, I want to hear all the details, okay?” “Yeah…okay,” I mutter, not because I mean it, but because I want to get out of here before I smack her in the face. She pulls back, relief etched into her features. “Awesome. Then I’ll see you lat—” I’m out the door before she can finish that sentence. 6 Grace My dad hasn’t arrived yet when I walk into the Coffee Hut, so I order a green tea at the counter and find us two comfy chairs in the corner of the room. It’s Saturday morning, and the coffeehouse is deserted. I have a feeling most people are probably nursing hangovers from Friday night. As I settle on the plush armchair, the bell over the door chimes and my father enters the room. He’s wearing his trademark brown blazer and starched khaki pants, an outfit my mom refers to as his “serious professor” look. “Hi, honey,” he greets me. “Let me grab a coffee.” A minute later, he joins me in the corner, looking more harried than usual. “I’m sorry I’m late. I stopped by the office to pick up some papers and got cornered by a student. She wanted to discuss her term paper.” “It’s okay. I just got here.” I pop open the lid of my cup and steam rises up to my face. I blow on the hot liquid for a moment, then take a quick sip. “How was your week?” “Chaotic. I was concerned with the quality of the papers that were being turned in, so I extended office hours for the students who had questions about the exam. I’ve been on campus until ten o’clock every night.” I frown. “You know you have a TA, right? Can’t he help out?” “He does, but you know I enjoy interacting with my students.” Yep, I do know that, and I’m sure that’s why all his students love him so much. Dad teaches graduate-level molecular biology at Briar, a course you wouldn’t think would be all that popular, and yet there’s actually a waiting list to get into his class. I’ve sat in on a few of his lectures over the years, and I have to admit, he does have a way of making the ridiculously boring material seem interesting. Dad sips his coffee, eyeing me over the rim. “So, I made reservations at Ferro’s for Friday at six-thirty. Does that work for the birthday girl?” I roll my eyes. I am so not a birthday person. I prefer low-key celebrations, or—in a perfect world—no celebrations at all, but my mom is a birthday fiend. Surprise parties, gag gifts, forcing waiters to sing in restaurants…she’s all about inflicting the greatest amount of torture possible. I think she gets a kick out of embarrassing her only daughter. But since she moved to Paris three years ago, I haven’t been able to spend my birthday with her, so she’s recruited my dad into taking over humiliation duties. “The birthday girl will only agree to go if you can promise nobody will sing to her.” He blanches. “Lord, do you think I want to sit through that? No way, honey. We’ll have a nice, quiet dinner, and when you talk to your mom about it afterward, you can tell her a mariachi band came over to the table and sang for you.” “Deal.” “Are you sure you’re okay that we’re not having dinner on your actual birthday? If you want to celebrate on Wednesday night, I can cancel office hours.” “Friday is fine,” I assure him. “All right, then it’s a date. Oh, and I spoke to your mom again last night,” he adds. “She asked if you’ve reconsidered changing your flight to May. She’d love to see you for three months instead of two.” I hesitate. I’m excited to visit Mom this summer, but for three months? Even two is pushing it—that’s why I insisted on coming back the first week of August, even though the semester doesn’t start until the end of the month. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my mother. She’s fun and spontaneous, and so bubbly and encouraging it’s like having your own personal cheerleader following you around waving her pom-poms. But she’s also…exhausting. She’s a little girl in a grown woman’s body, acting on her every whim without stopping to consider the consequences. “Let me think about it,” I answer. “I need to decide if I have the energy to keep up with her.” Dad chuckles. “Well, we both know the answer to that is no. Nobody has the energy to keep up with your mom, honey.” He certainly hadn’t, but luckily, their divorce had been one hundred percent amicable. I think when Mom told him she wanted out, Dad was more relieved than upset. And when she decided to move to Paris in order to “find herself” and “reconnect with her art”, he’d been nothing but supportive. “I’ll let you know this weekend, okay?” I reach for my tea, but my hand freezes when the bell rings again. A dark-haired guy in a Briar hockey jacket strolls in, and for one heart-stopping moment, I think it’s Logan. But nope. It’s someone else. Shorter, bulkier, and not as devastatingly gorgeous. Disappointment flutters through me, but I force it away. Even if Logan had walked through that door, what would I really expect to happen? He’d come over and kiss me? Ask me out? Riiiight. I made the guy come last night and he didn’t even stick around long enough to kiss me goodbye. So yeah, I have to face the facts: I’m just another girl on a long list of John Logan’s conquests. And honestly? I’m totally cool with that. As underwhelming as it may have been, getting, um…conquered by Logan is hands-down the highlight of my freshman year. * Logan “Has a girl ever faked an orgasm with you?” I blurt out. It’s eight o’clock on Monday morning, and I nervously tap my fingers on the kitchen counter as I look at my roommate. Dean, who was on his way to the fridge, stops in his tracks so abruptly that if he’d been on skates, I would be wiping ice shavings off my face right now. “I’m sorry, didn’t hear you. What was that?” His expression is the epitome of innocence, so it’s not until after I repeat myself that I realize I’m being played. Dean doubles over, honest-to-God tears streaming down his cheeks as he shudders with laughter. “I totally heard you the first time,” he croaks. “I just wanted to hear you ask it again…oh shit…I think I might piss myself…” Another howl rips out of his throat. “You tapped a girl and she faked it?” I clench my teeth so hard my molars hurt. What on earth had made me think confiding in Dean was a good idea? “No,” I mutter. He’s still laughing like a maniac. “How do you know she faked it? Did she tell you afterward? Oh God, please say yes!” I stare into my coffee cup. “She didn’t tell me anything. I just got a feeling, okay?” Dean opens the fridge and grabs a carton of OJ, still chuckling to himself. “This is priceless. Big stud on campus couldn’t make a girl come. You’ve officially given me enough ammo to rag on you for years.” Yup, I sure did. Nobody ever said I was smart. And why the hell am I even still obsessing about this? All weekend I’ve fought the temptation to see Grace. I forced myself to study for exams. I played a six-hour Ice Pro marathon with Tuck. I even cleaned my room and did laundry. And then I opened my eyes this morning and couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve got moves, damn it. Women know that when they hook up with John Logan, they’re going to leave with a satisfied smile on their faces, and it drives me crazy thinking that Grace might’ve been unsatisfied. It’s been gnawing at me for days. Days, damn it. You know what? Screw it. I might not have her number, but I know where she lives, and there’s no way I’ll be able to concentrate on a damn thing today until I’ve rectified this unholy situation. Leaving a girl wanting isn’t just embarrassing. It’s unacceptable. Thirty minutes later, I’m standing in front of Grace’s door. Showing up at a girl’s dorm at eight-thirty in the morning might not be the best way to score points, but since my stupid ego refuses to let me walk away, I take a breath and tap my fist on the door. Grace opens it a second later. Wearing nothing but a bathrobe. Her eyes widen when she sees me, her voice coming out in a squeak. “Hi.” Swallowing, I do my best not to dwell on the fact that she’s probably naked under that robe. The white terrycloth hangs to her knees, the belt secured tightly around her waist, but the top parts slightly, giving me a candid view of her cleavage. “Hi.” My voice sounds gravelly, so I clear my throat. “Can I come in?” “Um. Sure.” She closes the door behind me, then turns around, an uneasy smile playing on her lips. “I don’t have much time. My last psych seminar is in an hour, so I need to get dressed and hike all the way across campus.” “That’s okay. I don’t have a lot of time either. Study group in thirty minutes.” I shove my hands in my pockets to stop from fidgeting. I’m nervous and I have no idea why. I’ve never had a problem talking to chicks before. “What’s up?” She nonchalantly grasps the front of her robe, as if she’s realized it’s dangerously close to gaping open. “You didn’t finish, did you?” The question flies out before I can stop it. “Finish what—” She halts, a flush rising in her cheeks as understanding dawns. “Oh. You mean…?” I grit my teeth and nod. “Well…no,” she confesses. “I didn’t.” I struggle to keep my mouth in a neutral, non-frown position. “Why’d you tell me you did?” “I don’t know.” She sighs. “You were already done. And I guess I didn’t want to damage your ego or anything. I was reading this article the other day about how men are sensitive about that kind of stuff. How it triggers feelings of inadequacy if a woman doesn’t reach orgasm. But did you know that something like ten percent of women don’t have an orgasm during sexual activity? So going by that statistic, men really shouldn’t feel like—” “You’re doing that babbling thing again.” Her expression is sheepish. “Sorry.” “I don’t mind it. I’m glad you’re worried about my ego.” I grin at her. “You should be.” She looks startled. “Why?” “Because I’ve been thinking non-stop about how I didn’t make you come last time.” I shrug. “And how badly I want to change that.” 7 Logan Grace’s cheeks go from lily-white to pale-pink in a matter of seconds. She’s got the most expressive face I’ve ever seen, so quick to display everything she’s feeling. I appreciate how easy it is to read her, otherwise her prolonged silence to my last remark might’ve worried me. But the glimmer of intrigue in her eyes confirms I haven’t scared her off. “Really?” She wrinkles her forehead. “Yeah.” My lips curve in a small smile as I take a step toward her. “So are you gonna let me or what?” Alarm flits across her face. “Let you do what?” “Make you come.” I’m gratified to see the unease in her expression melt into molten hot excitement. Oh yeah, I’m not scaring her at all. She’s turned on. “Um…” She lets out a strangled laugh. “This is the first time a guy has ever shown up at my door asking me that. You realize how frickin’ crazy that sounds, right?” “You want to talk crazy? I’ve spent the whole fucking weekend fantasizing about doing this.” Frustration rises in my chest. “I’m not usually such an asshole, okay? I might fuck around, but I always make sure the women I’m with have a good time.” She sighs. “I did have a good time.” “You would’ve had a better time if I didn’t blow my load and take off.” Now she laughs again, which makes me sigh. “You’re killing me here, gorgeous. I’m talking about how much I want to give you a screaming orgasm, and you’re laughing at me?” I grin. “Did we not just establish that my ego is fragile?” Her lips continue to twitch. “I thought you had to go,” she reminds me. “It takes ten minutes to get to the library from here. Which means I have twenty minutes.” My smile becomes downright devilish. “If I can’t make you come in twenty minutes, then I’m definitely doing something wrong.” Grace toys with a strand of wet, dark hair, visibly nervous. My gaze lowers to her lips, which glisten as her tongue darts out to moisten them. The urge to kiss her hums in my blood, and the anticipation hanging in the air is thick enough to tighten my throat. I take another step. “So?” “Um…” Her breath shudders out in a rush. “Sure. If you want to.” A laugh pops out. “Fuck yeah I want to. But do you want it?” “Y-yes.” She clears her throat. “Yes.” I move closer and her eyes flare again. She wants me. I want her too, but I order my rapidly hardening cock to behave. This ain’t about us, bro. Only her. My dick twitches in response, but there’s no way it’s getting any action right now. If this was any other girl, I might suggest a quickie, but unless my V-dar is on the fritz, then Grace is most definitely a virgin. Not only do I not have that kind of time on my hands right now, but I’m also not particularly eager to take on the responsibility of being her first. But this…I reach for the sash of her robe and give it a slow tug…this I’m more than capable of doing. And I plan on doing it right this time. I don’t part the robe fully. I just slip one hand through the gap in the terrycloth and gently stroke the bare flesh of her hip. She shivers the moment I touch her. Her light brown eyes fix intently on my face, and when my palm conducts another featherlight sweep, she moans softly and moves in closer. “Get on the bed,” I rasp, gently nudging her backward. She sits on the edge of the mattress, but doesn’t lie back. Her gaze stays focused on me, as if she’s waiting for me to issue another order. Exhaling a breath, I kneel in front of her and give the robe one final tug, pushing it off her shoulders. The oxygen I’d just released sucks right back into my lungs. Holy fuck. Her naked body makes my cock ache. She’s slender, with tiny hips, long, smooth legs, and small-ish tits with the prettiest pink nipples. Saliva floods my mouth as I lean in to flick my tongue over one nipple. I can’t help myself. I need to taste her. “Oh fuck,” I groan against the distended bud, before sucking it between my lips. Grace whimpers, arching her back and pushing her breast deeper into my mouth. Jesus, I want to suck and play with her tits all day long. I’ve always been a boob man, and the thought of staying right here in this position for all of eternity sends a sizzle of heat to the tip of my cock. But the reckless rocking of Grace’s hips reminds me that time is of the essence. And goddamn, I’m not leaving until I make her come. I release her nipple with a wet sound and place my hands on her thighs. They tremble beneath my fingers, making me chuckle. “You okay?” She nods wordlessly. Satisfied that she’s still on board, I spread her legs wider, slide lower to the floor, and bring my mouth to her pussy. Instant hard-on. Fuck, I love going down on a girl. The first time I did it I was fifteen, and it turned me on so frickin’ much I came in my pants. I’m not so quick on the trigger anymore, but I can’t deny that the feel of Grace’s slick, warm pussy beneath my tongue gets my dick harder than nobody’s business. I lick her clit in a slow, teasing stroke that makes her moan. She falls back on her elbows, and I peer up to find that she’s closed her eyes. Her lips are parted, her pulse visibly throbbing at the center of her throat, and that’s all the encouragement I need to keep going. My tongue travels down her slit to her opening. She’s soaking wet. Hell. Maybe I should be worried about repeating the old coming-in-my-pants fiasco, because my balls draw up so tight they damn near disappear. I clench my ass cheeks to control the wild tingling at the base of my spine and focus on making her feel good. I lick my way back to the swollen bud that’s begging for my attention, gently flicking my tongue against it, kissing and sucking and gauging her every response to find out what she likes. Slow and soft, I determine. Her moans are more desperate and her hips rock harder when I tease her. Except teasing her is teasing me, and now my dick is pressed up painfully against my fly. Damn thing will probably bear the impression of my zipper by the time we’re through. I ease the tip of my index finger inside her, and I’m immediately rewarded by a throaty cry. “Good?” I murmur, gazing up at her. Her eyelids are droopy. “Mmm-hmmm.” Satisfaction streaks through me, egging me on, making me even more determined to send her toppling over the edge. I resume my task. Sweet, languid strokes to her clit while my finger inches deeper and deeper, until it’s finally lodged inside her. She’s tight. Really tight. And wet. God. Really wet. And if she doesn’t come soon, my pants are about to get wet too, because I’m so close to exploding that— “I’m coming,” she moans. And hell yes, she is. Her clit pulses against my tongue as her pussy squeezes my finger like a steel glove. She’s not a screamer. Not much of a moaner either, but the breathy sounds that leave her mouth are hotter than any porn star noises I’ve ever heard. I ride out the orgasm with her, stroking her inner channel and sucking on her clit as she shudders quietly on the bed. Several seconds later, she starts to laugh, squirming as she tries to move out of my grasp. “Too sensitive,” she chokes out. I lift my head with a grin. “Sorry.” “Oh my God, you are not allowed to say that right now. Not after…” She sucks in a breath. “That was…amazing.” She’s slow to sit up, her eyes hazy with pleasure. “I have no idea what else to say. Thank you?” Laughter bubbles in my throat. “You’re welcome?” My legs feel unusually weak as I stand up. I’m still ridiculously hard, but the alarm clock on the night table reveals I have exactly eleven minutes to trek over to the library. Under any other circumstances, I wouldn’t care about being late, but this is the last study group before tomorrow’s marketing final, and I can’t afford to miss it. I’m already going into the exam with a D in the course, so failing the class is both a scary possibility and an outcome I refuse to let happen. The course is a prerequisite for my degree, and I have no desire to retake it next year. “I need to go or I’ll be late for study group.” I meet her eyes. “Can I get your number?” “Oh. Um…” Her hesitation sparks a pang of anxiety. One of the rare times I ask for a girl’s number and she’s uncertain about doling it out? After I rocked her world? Jesus. Is my game slipping? I raise a brow, my voice taking on a note of challenge. “Unless you don’t want to give it to me?” “No. I mean, yes, I do.” She bites her bottom lip. “Do you want it now?” I force a laugh that I hope sounds flirty rather than nervous. “Now would be good.” I grab my phone from my back pocket and open a new contact page. “Hit me.” She rattles off a series of numbers. So fast I have to make her stop and repeat it. I type in her name and press enter, then tuck the phone away. “Maybe we can hang out again sometime? We could watch the next Die Hard in the lineup…” “Yeah, sure. That sounds great.” Seriously? Another “yeah, sure”? What the hell does it take to get an “I’D LOVE TO!” from this chick? “Okay. Cool.” I gulp. “I guess I’ll call you, then.” She doesn’t say anything, and in the ensuing silence, I’m overcome with a wave of discomfort. Then I dip down and do the stupidest thing ever. Which says a lot, because I’ve dabbled in my share of stupidity over the years. I kiss her forehead. Not her lips. Not her cheek. Her fucking forehead. Real smooth, bro. She looks up at me in amusement, but I don’t give her the chance to comment on my dumbass move. “I’ll call you,” I mumble. And for the second time in three days, I leave Grace’s dorm feeling like a jackass. * Grace My psychology lecture is three hours long, and I can honestly say I didn’t hear a word the professor said. Not one single word. For one hundred and eighty minutes, all I did was run through every incredible second of every incredible thing Logan did to me this morning. Can you nominate anyone for sainthood, or are there eligibility requirements? Can you nominate someone’s tongue for sainthood? Or maybe there’s an orgasm-giving award that the Department of Sexuality hands out? If so, Logan deserves to win it. I’m still flummoxed that he showed up at my door and pretty much demanded I let him give me an orgasm. I guess his ego is as sensitive as that Cosmo article said it would be, but you know what? I found it kind of charming. And oddly satisfying that someone as confident as John Logan was actually doubting his sexual prowess. It’s funny. Less than a week ago I was bemoaning the lack of excitement in my life, and now look at me—sexy hockey players showing up at my door to excite the hell out of me. Fuck it. I’m giving myself the award. Logan continues to dominate my thoughts as I meet Ramona and the girls for lunch, joining them at our usual table against the back wall of the cavernous dining hall. Carver Hall is my favorite place on campus. Whoever constructed it must not have paid attention to the rest of the buildings on campus, though, because Carver has a rustic chalet-style feel to it. High ceilings, wood paneled walls, and ornate light fixtures that cast a soft yellow glow over the room instead of the fluorescent lighting you find in the other meal halls. And it’s only two minutes from my dorm, which means I get to bask in its splendor on a daily basis. I set my tray on the table and pop open the tab of my root beer as I sit in an empty chair. “Hey,” I greet everyone. “What are we talking about?” Ramona, Jess, and Maya instantly clam up, their expressions taking on secretive gleams that tell me precisely what they were talking about. Me. I narrow my eyes. “What’s going on?” Ramona glances over sheepishly. “Okay, so don’t be mad…but I told them about Logan.” Annoyance spirals through me, but it’s mostly directed at myself. I don’t know why I bother telling Ramona private things anymore. Asking her to keep a secret is like throwing a ball and asking a dog not to chase it. Well, I threw the damn ball, and now Ramona’s scampering back with it. And this year she happened to meet and become BFFs with two girls who gossip even more than she does. Jess and Maya spend so much time dissecting other people’s lives they should create a website and give Perez Hilton some competition. “So is it true?” Jess demands. “Did you seriously hook up with him?” I feel uncomfortable discussing Logan with them, but I know these girls, and they won’t let up until I give them something. Trying to appear casual, I twirl some fettuccine around my fork and take a bite. Then I glance at Jess and say, “Yep.” “That’s it? Yep?” She looks aghast. “That’s all you’re going to say?” “I told you guys, she’s being super hush-hush about it.” Ramona grins. “Obviously we need to remind Grace about the number one rule of friendship. AKA not skimping on details when you made out with the hottest guy on campus.” I chew my pasta. “I don’t kiss and tell.” Maya speaks up, a mocking note in her voice. “You know, considering the complete lack of details, one might think it didn’t even happen at all.” One might think? My head swivels toward Ramona. Unbelievable. Is she spreading that around now? Letting people believe I’m some crazy pathological liar? Ramona is quick to defend herself against my unspoken accusation. “Hey, we cleared that up, remember? I totally believe that you fooled around with him, babe.” “Twice.” The confession slips out before I can stop it. Damn it. Ramona’s jaw falls open. “What you mean twice?” I shrug. “He came over again this morning.” That gets me two gasps, followed by two high-pitched squeals—from Jess and Maya. Ramona remains strangely quiet, but when I study her expression, it’s impossible to decipher. “Oh my God. He did?” Jess exclaims. “When was this?” Ramona asks. Her tone is way too polite to not raise my hackles. “Right after you left for class. He didn’t stay long, though.” Her dark eyes stay shuttered. “Did you at least get his number this time?” “No,” I admit. “But he has mine now.” “So you still have no way of reaching him.” It’s not a question. It’s not even a particularly pleasant statement. There’s an edge to her voice, and when I glance across the table, there’s no missing the smirk on Maya’s face. They don’t believe me. Ramona can deny it until she’s blue in the face and backpedal until she’s in another state, but my best friend still thinks I’m making it up. And now she’s recruiting our friends into doubting me too. Our friends? The scornful voice raises a good point, and as I think it over, I suddenly can’t think of a single person I’ve hung out with this year that Ramona didn’t introduce me to. The one time I invited a few girls from my English Lit class to come over, Ramona laughed and chatted with them all night, told them what a fabulous time she had, and then, after they left, informed me they were boring and that I wasn’t allowed to bring them over when she was around. Damn it, why do I let her dictate my life like that? I tolerated it in high school because…hell, I don’t even know why I tolerated it. But we’re not in high school anymore. This is college, and I should be able to spend time with whoever I want without worrying about what Ramona will think about them. “No,” I answer through clenched teeth. “I have no way of reaching him. But don’t worry, I’m sure my imaginary hook-up partner will get in touch with me sooner or later.” She frowns. “Grace—” “I’m heading back to the dorm to work on my paper.” My appetite has disappeared. I pick up my half-eaten dinner tray and rise to my feet. “I’ll see you later.” Maybe I’m naive, but I thought college would be different. I thought all the gossiping and backstabbing and bullshit ceased to exist once you left high school, but I guess mean girls can be found at any level of the education system. It’s like visiting a farm—if you go there not expecting to see piles of cow shit everywhere, then you’re in for a rude awakening. And there’s a good SAT question for you. SCHOOL is to MEAN GIRLS as FARMS are to _______. Shit. The answer to that is shit. Ramona catches up to me the moment I burst outside, her heels clicking on the limestone entrance as she hurries toward me. “Grace, wait.” My jaw tenses as I turn around. “What now?” Panic lights her eyes. “Please don’t be pissed at me. I hate it when you’re pissed at me.” “Gee, I’m so sorry you’re upset, Ramona. What can I do to make you feel better?” Her bottom lip quivers. “You don’t have to be sarcastic. I came out here to apologize.” For fuck’s sake, if she launches into her whole crocodile-tears act, I might actually lose my shit. “I’m not having this conversation with you again,” I say in a cold voice. “I don’t care if you think I’m lying. I know I’m not, and that’s all that matters to me, okay? Just know that I find it incredibly insulting that my best friend since I was six years old believes I—” “I’m jealous,” she blurts out. I stop talking. “What?” Her face collapses as our gazes lock. She lowers her voice, then repeats herself. “I’m jealous, all right?” Hell must have frozen over. There’s no other explanation for what I’m hearing. Because in thirteen years of friendship, Ramona has never admitted to being jealous of me. “I’ve been trying to get with Dean all year,” she laments. “All fucking year and he doesn’t know I exist, and you just hook up with his best friend without even trying.” An oddly vulnerable look softens her features. “I’ve been acting like a total bitch and I’m so sorry. I was insecure and I took it out on you and that wasn’t fair, but please don’t be angry with me. It’s your birthday on Wednesday. I want to celebrate with you, and I want us to be good again, and I—” I interrupt with a sigh. “We’re good, Ramona.” “We are?” The anger that had been flowing so freely through my veins dissipates as I glimpse her hopeful expression. This is the Ramona I invested thirteen years of my life for. The girl who listened to me babble for hours about my high school crushes, who brought my assignments home whenever I was sick, who taught me how to put on makeup, and threatened to kick the ass of anyone who so much as looked at me the wrong way. She might be self-absorbed and shallow at times, but she’s also fiercely loyal and unbelievably kind when she drops that bad girl bitch act. All the bullshit with Jess and Maya back there still stings, but I can’t bring myself to throw away years’ worth of friendship over something so trivial. “We’re good,” I assure her. “I promise.” A brilliant smile fills her face. “Good.” She flings her arms around my waist and bear-hugs the hell out of me. “Now let’s go home so you can tell me every dirty thing John Logan did to you this morning. In explicit detail.” 8 Logan I drive to Munsen on Wednesday morning, my enthusiasm level sitting firmly on its usual spot on the super-happy-fun-time scale: zero. It’s rare that I’m forced go home during the school year, but sometimes I have no choice. Usually it happens if the part-time mechanic at my dad’s shop can’t cover for Jeff when he takes Dad to his doctor’s appointments. Today is one of those instances, but I assure myself that I can handle a couple hours of oil changes and tune-ups without losing my mind. Besides, it’ll be a good warm-up for the summer. I tend to forget how much I hate working in the garage, so on that first day back, it’s like being sent to the front lines of a war zone. My stomach drops and fear pummels into me, as I realize that this will be my life for the next three months. At least if I dip my toes in today, I can get some of the panic out of the way. Jeff’s van is already gone when I park my pickup in front of Logan and Sons Auto Repair. The name is kind of ironic, seeing as the shop was already called that long before my parents ever had kids. My granddad ran the place before my dad took over, and I guess he’d been hoping to sire a lot of strapping male offspring. He only sired one, though, so technically the place should be called Logan and Son. The shop consists of one small, brick building, the interior of which only has room for two lifts. But the meager