Authors: Autumn Markus
Tags: #Romance, #General, #Fiction
Nicholas sighed and muttered, “Shit,” rubbing his hand over the top of his head, and Jena suddenly missed the shaggy hair from college. She thought that she’d have to ask why he’d cut it if they got together again.
He looked at his watch and gestured toward the door. “We have to be there in about an hour,
, so we’d better get moving,” he answered as he and Jena re-entered the living room.
Conor yelled his goodbyes as he headed for the shower. Leisa and Travis, taking the hint, rose to their feet and gathered up their bottles, getting ready to leave.
Nicholas walked them to the door, thanking them again for helping him unpack. Leisa and Travis were already out the door when Nick caught Jena’s arm. “I’m really glad we were able to get together again, Jena. It’s been a lot of fun today.” She nodded, smiling, and turned to leave. Nicholas still had hold of her arm, though. “I know this is quick, but can I call you sometime?”
Jena licked her lower lip and heard him inhale. “Sure. You have a few weeks of treatment before school starts, and—”
Nicholas stepped closer, and his closeness made Jena’s head spin. “No. Can I call
He laid his hand on Jena’s chest, just below her collarbones.
Oh, hell yes,
Jena’s mind screamed, but for once she kept her mouth shut and just nodded quickly. Speeding off down the stairs, she was hoping to avoid doing something like ramming her tongue down his throat or begging him to fuck her
A girl had to set some limits, after all.
as he turned away from the door. He couldn’t believe that it was still so easy with Jena, so fun. Of course, they were both older, and he found himself even more aware of her as a woman now than he was seven years before. She had been hot as hell in college with a lean, athletic body that had captured his eye from the very first time he’d seen her waiting for the team bus, even in sweats.
Now? Well, fuck me
, Nicholas thought
Jena was still strong and lithe, but time had rounded her hips and breasts in a way that made Nicholas itch to run his hands over those curves. He’d spent a good deal of the day trying not to dwell on the lovely little mind-picture of her dancing in her underwear that her verbal diarrhea had gifted to him earlier in the day. In fact, Nicholas was sure that the memory of her in shorts and a tiny tank, squatted in front of his bookcase, arranging the volumes on the bottom shelf, would feature vividly in his dreams. When a tiny bead of sweat had trickled from her hairline over the sculpted muscles of her back before it disappeared into her tank, fantasies of watching that as he took her from behind flashed in Nick’s mind and “semi” had changed to “full-on.” He’d had to leave the room.
“Yo! Earth to Nicholas!”
Nicholas pulled himself from Jenaland to see Conor grinning at him from the kitchen doorway as he rubbed a towel roughly over his wet hair. “Have fun today, princess?”
“Yeah, Con, a lot of fun. They were really nice to come over and help me out with unpacking, seeing as your lazy ass had done all it was going to do.”
Conor chuckled knowingly. “Yeah, that little brunette looked as if she’d like to help you out with something else, too.” He cut Nick off with a hand in the air and a twisted grin as Nick started to protest. “Do I look blind or stupid? I saw that little move of yours with the beer out on the patio.
, my brother. I thought she was gonna cream right there.”
Nicholas grimaced. “Crude, Conor, very crude. Did you interrupt on purpose?” Conor just shrugged. Letting it go, Nick fought a smile of his own. “Do you really think she liked that?”
Con was casual as he slipped on his shoes. “I calls ’em as I sees ’em. And, yes, she definitely did. Her nipples were still—”
Nick stopped him quickly. “Saw it. And I’m gonna forget that you were looking, asshole.”
“Why should you care where I was looking? She’s just an old friend, right?” Before Nicholas could puzzle out his answer to that, Conor pointedly glanced at his watch. “Don’t you have to change, man? Shower? We have to be there in less than an hour, and we still have to find the place. I don’t want to be late.”
Conor’s concerns turned out to be unfounded; they easily found the Calls’ house. After a few pleasantries and the obligatory questions about how the move was going and how Nick’s arm felt, Dr. Call invited them inside.
Conor gave a low whistle as he looked around the entryway. The house was truly impressive, with an open floor plan that allowed Nick and Conor to see almost to the back of the house from the front door. The colors were neutral with splashes of deep red, and artwork was tastefully displayed throughout the space. Nick imagined that after the crowded, homey clutter of the Grady house, where eight children were raised in four bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and one bath, the Call house would be pretty overwhelming to Conor.
Con took it in stride, though, turning to talk to Dr. Call as Mrs. Call entered the room, kissed Nicholas on the cheek, and asked about his parents.
They turned to look toward the stairs as a soft voice drifted down, and Nick found himself staring at his second tall, buxom blonde in as many days. Her features were a softer version of her handsome father’s, her hair a copy of her mother’s…and her eyes were set with curiosity on Conor as he grinned confidently up at her. He glanced at Nicholas before crossing his arms to flex the muscles in his arms and chest.
“Nicholas, I don’t know if you’ve seen our daughter, Samantha, since you were children.” Dr. Call introduced them politely, then tucked his wife’s hand into his arm and led the way into the dining room with Samantha following. She glanced back at Conor and winked.
I’m going to like Cali, cupcake,” Conor murmured as he passed Nick, “accidentally” bumping into Samantha and affording himself an ass grab before they sat down. She giggled and rubbed against him.
Nick sighed, hoping that Mrs. Call was half the gourmet his mother claimed she was; it appeared that he might not get a chance to try her cooking again.
It had been a relief to get out of the Calls’ house and out from under Dr. Call’s watchful eye at first, Nicholas recollected with a sigh, pushing his glass around the table of the dingy blues bar Samantha had taken them to after dinner. Watching her crawl on Conor’s lap and try to vacuum-suck his face off for the last hour, though…not so much. Fifth wheel never was his favorite position. Trying to occupy his mind and ignore the ass-grabbing on the other side of the table, Nick looked around the bar and frowned. For a day that had started so well, it was ending spectacularly badly for him. He couldn’t even drink to ignore them; Jena’s warning from the afternoon echoed in his mind, and he cursed the painkillers he still needed. He found himself thinking about the afternoon, and the small of Jena’s back as it peeked out from under the hem of her tank top. He grinned.
Tapping on the table, he called over the wail of the jukebox, “Hey, Con. Do you mind if I call and ask Jena and her friends if they want to come down? I think they’d like this place.”
Conor didn’t even move his eyes from Samantha’s, or his hands from her ass, for a second. “Sure. Whatever. They’re pretty cool.”
Walking toward the back of the bar where it was moderately quieter, Nicholas flipped his phone open and scanned for Jena’s number. As he waited for her to answer, he felt his heart start beating faster.
How much more cliché can you get than that?
he thought wryly, then he became uneasy. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. He was getting way too involved too quickly if she already had this effect on him.
He had just decided to hang up when Jena answered, purring in a husky voice, “Hey, sexy. Miss me already?” A faint bell rang in the back of Nick’s brain. Where the hell had he heard that before? He couldn’t say anything for a minute, as all of the blood in his body began a headlong rush from one head to the other.
“Hey, Leisa! Snap out of it! Did they have the movie or what?” Jena asked in a normal, if slightly annoyed tone. Nicholas decided to play with her a little.
“I’m not Leisa, sweetie,” he said in a low rumble, “but, damn, that was hot. Talk dirty to me?”
“What?” Nick heard her drop the phone and then take her time putting it back to her ear. “Sorry, Nicholas. I’ve
to learn to check the caller ID before I open my mouth.” She laughed. “What’s up?
you miss me so soon? I thought you were having dinner with the bigwigs.”
“We had dinner already, and Conor has really hit it off with Dr. Call’s daughter. She brought us to this bar, and they’re all over each other. Do you think you and your friends could come and be my support troops before I yak all over the table?”
She laughed again. “Hang on a minute. I’ll ask Travis if he has any objections.”
She muffled the handset and then she came back on to ask the name of the bar. After getting her answer, she was gone for another few seconds. “Sure! Leisa just walked in, so let us get organized and we’ll be right over. Can you hold out for a little while longer?”
Nick sighed dramatically. “I suppose, Jena, but it will be hard.”
Beavis and Butthead
style. “He-he. You said ‘hard.’ He-he.”
“Jena, are you sure you’re a girl?” Nicholas laughed. “That’s such a Conor joke.”
“I’m fairly sure I’m a girl,” Jena said innocently. “Wait a minute. Let me check.” Silence for a second. “Yep, still there. I’m a girl.”
Nicholas leaned against the bar, grinning. “Do I want to know how you checked?”
“I don’t know. Do you?” she challenged.
“Probably not. Now get your asses over here before I have to come get you, tease.”
Jena laughed wildly. “Will do, master,” she purred and hung up.
After a while, Jena and her friends walked in, laughing. Relieved, Nick waved them over to the table where he was still trying to ignore Samantha and Conor groping one another. When Nicholas could finally get their attention, he made the introductions, and Travis went over to the bar for another pitcher of beer and three more glasses. They all settled at the table, and Samantha asked Travis about the guitar he’d carried in.
“Oh, we come here all the time. They couldn’t afford to hire bands on weekends anymore, so they just leave mikes out so anyone who cares to can jam. Sometimes there are some pretty good players here, so I come prepared.” Travis patted his guitar.
As there wasn’t anyone else in the bar that seemed inclined to play that night, the guitar ended up resting on a chair as the five of them drank, Nick watched, and they talked. Within a few minutes, Leisa held the floor as she told tales of herself and Jena in college, culminating with a story of the prof who passed Jena through their math class, despite abysmal grades, because he liked looking at her ass.
As Jena leaned into the table and buried her face in her hands, laughing, her shirt pulled up a bit and her low-rise jeans dipped, exposing the creamy swath of skin Nick had been fantasizing about, with a bonus glimpse of lacy underwear. Nick could almost feel the way she’d shiver if he ran a single finger lightly across her waist and up her back; the professor might have been a horny old bastard, but he did have a point—she had a great ass.
Jena stood up, fighting a smile and announced dramatically, “Fuck you! Fuck you all!” She extended a hand to Nick. “Dance, mister?”
As they reached the tiny dance floor that was set up in front of the stage, Nicholas pulled Jena to him with his good arm, and they joined the couples already swaying to the music. He found the feeling of her nestled close to him wonderful.
“So…” Nick rubbed lightly up and down Jena’s back.
“So…” She rested her head on his chest.
“Isn’t this just about where we left it almost seven years ago?”
Nicholas felt Jena smile. “Pretty much. Do you still think I’m funny?”
“Hi-freakin-larious.” Nick stroked her hair. “I thought women cut their hair as they got older, not grew it long.” He rubbed a soft hank between his fingers. “I like this, Jena.”
She shivered and moved closer to him, running her hand up the back of his neck and into his hair. “What happened to the floppy look?”
“Impractical to have my hair in my eyes in an emergency. Is this okay?” Nick asked uncertainly.
Jena drew back and looked closely at Nicholas’s hair and face, putting one hand gently on his cheek to turn his head this way and that. He let out a breath when she smiled.
“Yeah. Yeah, it is. The shorter hair shows off your eyes more.” Jena trailed her hand down Nicholas’s face, allowing it to rest on the bare skin in the open neck of his shirt. She blushed, resting her forehead on Nick’s chest. “You are way too pretty for this world, sir,” she said.
“Oh, you’re just saying that to get in his pants.” Conor’s bass mumble over Nick’s shoulder startled the shit out of him. Con and Samantha laughed like maniacs and danced quickly across the floor and out of Nicholas’s reach. Jena’s quiet giggle as she moved fractionally away from him caused Nick to smile, too.
He closed the slight gap she had created between their bodies. “If that’s your plan, let me set you straight right now,” Nick murmured. “Flattery is totally unnecessary.”
Jena shivered, making a small noise in her throat. Then she took a deep breath, which did wonders for her chest. “Let’s rein it in a little, big boy.” She stepped back a bit, smiling. “It’s been a long time since we knew each other, and I just think that we’ve probably both changed, and it would be nice if we, maybe, got to know each other better, and—”
Nicholas put his hand over her mouth. “And you’d like us to take our time?”
Jena nodded, huge green eyes smiling up at him. Nick smiled back, stroking her cheek. “Good enough for me. Just promise you won’t run away again.”
She turned faintly pink and dropped her eyes. “If you promise you won’t disappear on me again.”
Nick nodded gravely. As the song ended, they headed back toward the table; he wasn’t even surprised at how easily and naturally her fingers twined with his, and he wasn’t inclined to let her hand go until the lights brightened at last call.