Authors: Jami Alden
he other day my friend—let’s call her Sue—came crying to me about the latest disaster in her already-pockmarked love life. He was perfect, she sobbed. Smart. Cute. Employed. (Trust me, that’s a new one for her.) On their first date they met for brunch and talked for hours. On their second date he showed up with flowers and took her to the hot new restaurant she mentioned wanting to try.
And afterward he took her back to his ultramodern loft and banged the hell out of her.
You know what happened next, don’t you girls?
He said he’d call. Of course, he didn’t.
But don’t be so quick to put this doggie down.
The way I see it, it’s not his fault. It’s hers.
Of course, loving and supportive friend that I am, I didn’t tell her so.
But really, when are the Sues of the world going to grow up
and stop taking it so hard when the boys they bang merely act as expected?
The flowers, the restaurant? Unoriginal moves to get us in the sack. And once they do, they’re off, sniffing another ass like any good dog would.
You know me, I’m not saying don’t give them what they want—assuming you get what you want too.
But if you’re going to be like Sue and spend the morning after crying over your used condom, save yourself the heartache (and your friends the earache) and stay home with your pocket rocket.
—Excerpt from “Stripping it Down: A Modern Girl’s Adventures in Dating” by C. Teaser, from online magazine Bustout.com
“Come on, Kit, it’s your turn.”
Kit Loughlin winced and took another sip of her chardonnay as eleven pairs of eyes gave her their undivided attention. Why did these types of gatherings always degenerate into this?
“Really, there’s not much to tell,” she protested.
Not that she had any qualms about discussing her sex life, given that she mined it (and embellished it) regularly on a twice-weekly basis for “Stripping It Down.”
But telling all under a pseudonym was one thing. Baring all at her best friend Elizabeth’s coed bachelorette party was another.
“Come on,” Nicole, another bridesmaid, urged. “Everyone else has revealed the sordid details of their first time. You have to go.”
Once again she fought the urge to smack Sabrina, the bridesmaid whose stupid idea this game had been in the first place. Why would anyone in her right mind think it was a good idea for a soon-to-be-wed bride and groom to reveal the details of their past sexual encounters? In front of a crowd, no less.
Yet both the bride, Elizabeth, and the groom, Michael, had jumped in with gusto, eagerly regaling their friends with stories of backseat groping and awkward penetration.
Kit had been hoping to skip her turn, purposely removing herself from the giant sectional that dominated the living room of the Mexican villa to take up a post by one of the windows overlooking the beach.
Everyone else had told their story. Now she was trapped.
She ignored a particularly piercing pair of green eyes that seemed intent on boring a hole straight through her.
“C’mon, Kit, don’t be such a prude,” Elizabeth prodded with a tipsy giggle.
Easy for her to say. When Elizabeth described her first time, she didn’t have the distinct pleasure of having the other party in the room staring at her.
Jake Donovan watched her, one dark eyebrow arched, smirking in a way that made her want to smack it off his face. God, if she had known Jake would be joining them on their hedonistic weekend to Cabo, Kit never would have come.
“Yeah,” Jake rumbled in a voice that after twelve years still had the power to send waves of heat down her spine, “we all want to know.”
She glared at him, six foot four of gorgeous sprawled on the couch in casual arrogance, the perfect genetic blend of his Italian mother and Irish father, with strong, masculine features and green eyes that stood out against his naturally dark skin.
He wasn’t even her type—not anymore anyway—in his yuppie uniform of golf shirt and khaki shorts.
She went for artsy, rocker types. Guys who wore Gucci and Prada and product in their hair. Not stuffy venture capitalists with their dark hair cut conservatively short and their all-American ex-football-player brawn draped in the latest corporate logo wear. She met enough of those through her day job as a business reporter for the
San Francisco Tribune.
But she couldn’t discount the way his eyes glowed against his tan or that his abdomen had none of the softness she’d come to associate with men of his ilk. Unlike his three younger brothers, Jake had left their little town of Donner Lake and never returned, eschewing his father’s construction business for an MBA. But even though he didn’t do anything close to manual labor, his biceps strained the sleeves of his golf shirt, veins visible along the swell as he took a sip of Pacifico and grinned.
So he went to the gym in between making millions as a venture capitalist. He still had no right to look so smug. Especially given what she knew about his prowess in the sack.
Or lack thereof.
“Really, there’s not much to tell,” she repeated, casually taking a seat on the arm of the overstuffed armchair occupied by Michael’s brother, Dave. “It was over so quickly I barely remember it myself.”
Jake sat up straighter.
Got your attention, eh, big boy?
Suddenly she relished the chance to let Jake know exactly what she thought of his stickit-in-and-come technique. “It was all very typical, really,” she continued. “I was seventeen, and the guy was a friend of my brother’s—a few years older, of course, so I’d had lots of time to build up a big, hard crush on him.”
All the women in the room affected sympathetic smiles.
“So one night, he shows up at our house looking for my brother. It was summer vacation, and he and my parents had already gone to the city for the weekend.” Everyone ooohed. Except for Jake. He was staring at her quizzically, as though he himself didn’t know exactly where this was going.
“And this guy, who was totally drunk—although I was too stupid to realize it at the time—tells me some sob story about having a big fight with his girlfriend.” She rolled her eyes and took another drink of wine, relishing the way Jake was shifting uncomfortably.
“The next thing I know, he’s kissing me, and of course, having the giant crush on him that I do, I don’t stop to think that perhaps this is not the best idea.” Pausing for maximum impact, she said, “Five rather painful and awkward minutes later, I was watching his bare ass disappear out the front door.”
Even the guys winced at that one.
“What happened after that?”
Kit snorted. “Like you have to ask? He got back together with his girlfriend and never talked to me again.”
Jake was glaring at her now, his acre-wide shoulders so tight she could see the outline of his muscles straining against the soft cotton of his shirt. She met his glare head on, daring him to dispute any part of her story.
She reached for the bottle of chardonnay and tipped the last of it into her glass. “I’ll go get more wine,” she said, eager for an excuse to escape the room and Jake’s frosty green stare.
She ran down to the wine cellar on shaky legs, praying she wouldn’t do a header down the stone staircase. Her pink strappy stiletto sandals certainly didn’t help matters. Warning herself to calm down before she broke something, she took the last three steps with extra care and leaned against the cool stone wall of the corridor.
She’d managed to keep it together ever since Jake showed up yesterday morning. After the stunned shock wore off, she’d retreated behind her usual brash friendliness, never hinting that she and Jake were more than casual acquaintances who had gone to high school a few years apart in the same tiny California mountain town.
Leave it to some stupid party game to dredge up twelve-year-old memories best left dead and buried.
What was the fascination with the first time, anyway? For Kit, it had been nothing more than an uncomfortable tearing of a flap of skin and a necessary death of any romantic illusions she might have fallen victim to.
She should be grateful to Jake for that at least. Who knew what kind of asinine things she might have done by now in the name of love?
Taking a deep breath, she shoved uncomfortable thoughts of Jake out of her head and admired the veritable treasure trove of vino that surrounded her. She had to give her best friend’s fiancé credit. When Michael took his friends on vacation, he did it in style. The villa he’d rented had eight bedrooms, a full staff, and an infinity pool overlooking Land’s End.
Kit was contemplating a bottle of ninety-one pinot noir when she sensed the warmth of another body behind her.
A big, tan hand wrapped around her hip, and hot breath grazed her neck. “Interesting story you told up there, Kit. Funny, I don’t remember it going exactly the way you described.”
Her whole body stiffened and she struggled not to melt back into his chest. Reaching casually for the bottle, she said, “I think I included all the pertinent details.”
“And made up a few. I did put my pants on before I left. Not that you’d know, since you ran upstairs crying and locked yourself in your bedroom.”
She turned around, stepping back in an attempt to put more space between them. Her bare back met the cool foil of dozens of bottles. He was so tall she had to tip her head back to see his face. “Considering your performance, can you blame a girl for crying?”
His full, firm lips compressed in a tight line, and he braced his arms on either side of her shoulders. “I never apologized for that night, Kit. It didn’t go the way I wanted—”
Kit ducked under his arm and darted over to the refrigerator that housed the whites. “Don’t get yourself all worked up over an awkward hump on my parents’ couch.” Ugh, the last thing she wanted to do was rehash their one brief, clumsy encounter. She’d spent twelve years burying the stupid, idealistic seventeen-year-old she’d been, and she had no interest in resurrecting her tonight.
“Now come on, Kitty Kat,” he said, and she winced at the use of her childhood nickname, “the least you can do is let me make it up to you.”
Jake’s serious, apologetic expression melted away, replaced with a crooked—damn her hormones for noticing—sexy smile and a hot, lustful gleam in his gaze.
Kit’s jaw nearly dropped at his arrogance. She may have gotten over the trauma of that night twelve years ago, but she certainly hadn’t forgiven him. And she definitely wasn’t interested in having him “make it up to her.”
“Trust me, I’m over it.”
He moved in until she had no choice but to rest her hips against the top of the minifridge. “You’re not just a little bit interested in finding out what tricks I may have learned in the last decade?” He glanced meaningfully down at the deeply plunging front of her silk halter top. She didn’t need to look down to know that her nipples were two hard points outlined against the flimsy peach fabric.
Reaching out with one finger, he traced the neckline of her top to where it ended almost at her navel. “Cold?”
She would have said yes, but even she wasn’t that much of a liar.
He stepped closer, his hair-roughened knee brushing the inside of her thigh. The ragged hem of her denim micro-mini slid up another two inches.
A thick, dark lock fell across his forehead as he bent close enough for her to feel the heat of his breath on her cheek. Her heart rate picked up, and she wondered vaguely if he could see it beating against the bare sun-kissed skin of her chest. How was it, after all this time, he still had the power to transform her into a weak-kneed adolescent?
“You had your shot,” she whispered, her lips so close to his she could almost taste him, “and you failed miserably. I’m not big on second chances.”
He leaned forward, and the moist heat of his mouth against her collarbone sent a pulse of heat straight to her groin. “I think,” he murmured as his tongue flicked along the sensitive cords of her neck, “in this case,” his lips closed over her right earlobe and Kit told herself she would get up and move in two seconds but God she loved having her ears sucked, “you should make an exception.”
Before she could breathe, his mouth closed over hers, lips molding and shaping as his tongue flicked against the seam.
Hot damn, he had learned some new tricks.
She kept her fists clenched firmly at her sides but couldn’t stop herself from parting her lips, just a little, for one tiny bit of a taste. He pressed his advantage, plunging his tongue inside, licking and sucking until she had no choice but to fist her hands in his hair and wrap her legs around his hips.
“God, I’ve been dying to touch you,” he groaned into her mouth. “From the second I saw you, acting so cool. Burning so hot underneath.”
As though to prove himself right, he shoved his hand between her thighs and pulled aside the now-drenched strip of lace covering her mound. He uttered a low grumble of satisfaction as his fingers met smooth flesh, already slippery wet from just one kiss.
Some sane, rational corner of her brain sent out frantic signals, warning her to stop this before it went too far—as though it hadn’t already.
Which were promptly drowned out as he nosed aside the gathered neckline of her top and sucked one hard, rosy nipple deep into his mouth.
She tossed her head back and moaned as a thick, blunt finger stroked against her clit. She clenched her fingers in the fabric of his shirt, wanting to tear it off but not having the presence of mind to do so. Spreading her legs wide to give him better access, she rocked her pelvis against his hand, shuddering when he sank two fingers in to the last knuckle.
“Mmm,” she moaned as he twisted his fingers inside her, his thumb jumping into the mix to give her clit some much-needed attention. One, two strokes against the slippery bud and she was gone, the walls of her vagina clamping down in an orgasm so intense her screams echoed off the stone-lined ceiling.