Read Just One Week Online

Authors: Alice Gaines

Tags: #Alice Gaines, #Lovestruck, #Entangled, #Romance, #romantic comedy, #comedy, #funny, #lighthearted, #brother's best friend, #best friend's sister, #football, #Sports, #sports romance, #contemporary romance, #category

Just One Week (15 page)

BOOK: Just One Week
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He increased the pace, thrusting harder and deeper. She could only take it all because he’d aroused her completely. He’d created a need for exactly this and more.

“Come for me, baby,” he whispered.

“I will.”

“Damn, I wish this could last.”

She wouldn’t answer that, even if she could find the voice to. She wouldn’t even think about what would happen next. She’d only take what he was giving and respond with all her mind and her body. And her heart.

Then, with a moan, he became more frantic with his thrusts. Each one impaling her and sending currents of arousal through her body. He’d surrendered to their joining, and she should do the same.

By now, the pressure against her clit had become almost unbearable. She needed the orgasm as much as he did. She continued tilting her pelvis to get more contact, and in a moment, the thread holding the tension snapped, and the climax claimed her.

She shouted as it rushed through her, and then the explosions started, her muscles gripping him rhythmically. He released a cry, too, and went rigid in her arms. They hung suspended together in bliss for long seconds, and then he collapsed against her. Though the orgasm had ended, she continued to flutter around him. Sweet aftermath. Utter satiation. He’d done it again—made love so completely, she’d lost herself in it.

After a few minutes of perfect bliss, he rolled onto his side, leaving her body. As usual, he reached for her, drawing her into the warmth of his embrace.

He kissed her forehead. “Thank you.”

What did she say to that? “You’re welcome” would be stupid, given that she’d had at least as much pleasure as he had. “No, thank
you
.” A little better, but still inadequate. She didn’t say anything but lay silently, basking in his warmth. Maybe for the last time, but she was only human. She’d take whatever she had left with him.

Chapter Ten

Michelle sat at the little table in the cottage, staring at the withered lupines and listening to her phone with half her mind. She’d put on her robe after answering the call because, although Professor Rainey couldn’t see her all the way from the East Coast, discussing a job offer felt too weird to do in the nude. Across the room, Alex had propped himself up on his elbow and watched her, absorbing every word of her side of the conversation.

“Well, Dr. Dennis,” Professor Rainey said. “The search committee deliberated long and hard, but eventually we settled on our first choice, after all. You.”


Me
?” What a stupid thing to say to the man who’d just told you you’d won a faculty position at a world-class university. But nothing else formed in her brain.

On the other end, Professor Rainey laughed. “Yes, you. That is, if you’re interested.”

“Interested? I’m overjoyed. Kind of speechless, actually.”

Alex sat straight up in bed, pulling a sheet around his waist. “Is it…”

She nodded and silently mouthed,
“I got the job!”

“That’s why I love making these calls,” Professor Rainey said. “We were all highly impressed with your research and publications. And you gave a great talk when you were here.”

“Thank you, sir.” God, if cell phones had cords, she’d be twirling it around her finger about now. She’d won the job. She’d honest-to-God won the job.

“You’d better get used to calling me Hal now,” Professor Rainey—Hal—said. “We’re going to be colleagues.”

Colleagues with one of the top people in her field. And the rest of the faculty were just as impressive as Hal.
Oh my God
.

“We’re going to need to talk to you about details,” Hal went on. “Salary, lab space, student support, that kind of thing.”

“Of course.”

“But I think you’ll find all three quite generous.”

“I’m sure we won’t have any problem there,” she said.

“Good. Can you come for a visit on Wednesday?”

She did a little mental geography. She’d be back on the East Coast then. Cardmouth wasn’t far from her home in Boston. She could drive there. “Wednesday works.”

“I’ll have my administrative assistant call with details,” Hal said. “See you then.”

The call ended, but she sat for a moment holding the phone to her head out of sheer disbelief.

Alex moved, though. With linebacker speed, he crossed the room and pulled her from the chair to envelop her in a hug.

“Congratulations, Michelle,” he said. “I knew you could do it.”

“Yeah, wow. It was kind of a long shot. I’m a bit young for a job this good.”

He cupped her chin with his hand and gave it a squeeze of encouragement. “It’s because you’re freaking brilliant.”

“And an obsessive workaholic.”

“The two things go together.” He put his hands on her shoulders and eased her away from him.

Which, of course, meant she had a full view of him naked. The beautiful, beautiful body that had given her so much pleasure and then sheltered her as they slept. All that would end now unless one of them did something.

They hadn’t discussed a future. They’d both acted as if their affair—no, their love, damn it…could only exist in this specific place and time. Was this really the end? Would they not see each other again for eight years and meet up as strangers?

“Alex, I…”
Say something. Anything, damn it. Just open your mouth and say something.

He took her hands in his. “I’m really proud of you, Mickey. You’re going to do great things.”

“Funny…I thought…maybe after being here…you and I…” Pathetic, but at least she’d tried.

He didn’t answer, and for a moment, the two of them stood in silence. She couldn’t dare any more. Rejection would be too horrible to live with. To know that she’d offered herself and he’d turned her down.

He toyed with her fingers, not looking at her face. “It’s been amazing. I’ll never forget our time together.”

Definitely
not
what she’d wanted to hear. No “I love you. Let’s be together. We’ll make things work.” He was ending whatever they’d had. She’d known this would happen. She’d consciously decided to indulge herself in a fantasy. It had turned out fabulous beyond her wildest dreams, but now the bubble had popped, and she’d have to live with the aftermath.

“I’ll be going to camp in New Jersey, and you’ll be starting a new job at Cardmouth,” he said. “We’re both going to be incredibly busy.”

“I won’t be that busy,” she said. God, she sounded like she was begging. She had
some
pride, and she’d just laid it on the line for him.

“You have a big responsibility now,” he said. “Not just to your research but to all the students you’ll educate. It’s important work.”

Ouch. She had a responsibility to science and to students, according to Alex. That would matter more than her own heart. Not only had he given her a big, fat “no,” but he’d couched it in terms where she’d seem selfish to argue. She searched his face, doing her best to read him, but his expression said nothing. He certainly didn’t seem happy to be sending her away, but his features gave no clue he was suffering the kind of pain slicing through her at the moment.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” she said.

“Hey, we’ll keep in touch,” he said. “You’ll come back for visits now, right?”

This situation left her only one thing, other than the sinking feeling in her stomach and the lump in her throat. Dignity. What she’d hoped to establish when she’d gotten off the plane at SFO and the only thing she could cling to now. It wasn’t much, but she’d take it.

“Sure,” she said. “Right now I’d better shower and pack.”

“Yeah, me too.”

She deliberately didn’t watch him walk around the room, still naked. Instead, she went into the bathroom and stood at the sink, gripping the sides. Behind her, he moved through the cottage—the place where he’d first humiliated her and then years later had made sweet, sweet love to her. Now, he was leaving her, and her heart continued to beat even though it felt like lead in her chest. She stared at her face in the mirror, willing it into an unreadable mask. She wouldn’t show him a single tear. That, at least, she could manage.

Eventually, he appeared in the doorway, wearing his pajamas and robe. “Mickey?”

She turned and gave him the best imitation of a smile she could muster. He stared at her for a few seconds, and for that long she could finally read something in his expression. Loss. Confusion. Hurt.

Then, he straightened. “See you in the kitchen in ten.”

“Right.” Casual again. No big deal. Her heart wasn’t breaking, not the least little bit.

When he turned to leave, she called after him. “Alex.”

“Yeah?”

“Would you ask Kyle to drive me to the airport?”

For a split second, he recoiled as if she’d struck him. What did he expect? Cheery hugs at the terminal? He had to know that wasn’t going to happen. He recovered quickly, though.

“Will do,” he said. And then he was gone. Really, really gone.


When Alex entered the kitchen, he didn’t go to the stove to kiss his mother or to the coffee pot like he usually would. Instead he stood on the threshold to make the announcement. “Hey, everybody, good news.”

His mother turned her face beaming with a smile.

“Michelle got the job at Cardmouth,” Alex said.

“That is great,” his father said from his seat at the table.

“When’s she going to appear so we can congratulate her?” Chase added.

“In a bit,” Alex said. “She’s packing.”

Mom put her hands on her hips. “Is that all?”

“All what?” Alex asked. Playing innocent, although that would only delay the inevitable. He knew damned well his mom was asking about him and Michelle.

“Is that the only news you and Michelle have,” Mom said.

“Seems to me that’s enough for one morning.” He went to the coffee pot and poured himself a mug. He wasn’t going to try kissing his mom. She probably wasn’t very happy with him right then.

He couldn’t blame her, at least not too much. He’d never made her any promises, but she’d had her heart set on him setting up house with Michelle and bringing her into the family. He’d tried to discourage her, but he hadn’t done as good a job on himself. His body had taken over from his brain, allowing him to ignore reality. Michelle had a higher purpose in life than making some football player happy. Now it was taking her away from him, and he’d just have to deal with the reality. That’d be easier if it didn’t hurt so damned much.

An awkward silence filled the room. Not quite as miserable as the terrible moment in the cottage when he and Michelle had stared at each other and realized they were looking at the end of something beautiful. But this situation was tense enough. Somehow he’d figure out a way to get through this day.

“You can borrow my BMW to take her to the airport,” Chase said. Always helpful, that one.

“She wants her brother to.”

A pot clattered on the stove. His mom was definitely not happy.

“Are you just going to let her go?” Chase asked.

“I can’t exactly hold her against her will.” Maybe he could, if he confessed everything—that he loved her and wanted to be with her. But if he did continue to be with her, she’d discover he wasn’t anywhere near to her intellectual equal. She’d insist that didn’t matter, but she’d be wrong. It would matter, and he’d never be as smart as he’d need to be to have a real partnership with her.

“It’s the dyslexia, isn’t it?” Chase asked.

“Just leave it alone, will you?” he answered.

This time, the clatter at the stove was followed by a swear word his mother definitely didn’t use. She turned, too, and now all three pairs of eyes stared at him, full of disapproval.

“You’re making a huge mistake,” his father said.

“A real dumbass mistake,” he brother added.

“You’re brother’s right,” Mom said. “Including the dumbass part.”

“Mom, she’s going to be a university professor.” In the name of everything holy, why couldn’t they see what that meant? “Her friends and colleagues will all be university professors.”

“So what?” Chase said.

“So how am I going to fit into her life when she’s surrounded by people like that?”

“If they spend five minutes in your presence, they’ll realize how intelligent you are,” Chase said.

“I wish you’d all stop telling me how freaking smart I am.” Alex set his mug on the counter with enough force to make the coffee slosh.

“You shouldn’t just let her go like this,” his mother said with a quaver in her voice.

“They’re offering Michelle her own lab. Assistants. Tenure. She has to go,” he said. “In case you haven’t noticed, her research is pretty important.”

“You should tell her the truth and let her make up her own mind,” Chase said. “In fact, if you don’t, I will.”

“Damn it,” Alex shouted. “At least, leave me my dignity.”

“He’s right,” Dad said. “It has to be up to Alex.”

His mother threw up her hands and turned back to the stove. They all wanted the best for him, and things probably looked simple in their eyes. After the glorious lovemaking, he’d lain awake most of the night searching his brain for a way to stay together. Michelle had slept beside him, and he’d held her as close as he could manage. Hour after hour, and he hadn’t come up with a solution.

“What did you do to my sister, asshole?” Great. Kyle had arrived. He stood on the threshold to the front of the house, a tower of brotherly indignation. Could this morning get any worse?

“You talked to Michelle?” Alex said.

“How is she?” Mom asked.

“She says she’s fine, but I can tell she’s faking it,” Kyle answered.

“Then she must have told you she got the job at Cardmouth,” Alex said.

“Good thing, because it’ll take her mind off you.” Kyle clenched his hands into fists by his side. “You’ve been messing around with her, haven’t you?”

“That’s between us,” Alex said.

“Not when she’s hurt,” Kyle said. “You really tore her apart.”

Alex’s stomach soured. He’d ticked off his best friend, too. “I’m sorry, man, but I can’t discuss it with you.”

“I warned you to stay away from her.” Kyle went to Alex and shoved him. “Outside.”

“Stop it!” his mother shouted.

“I’m not going to fight you,” Alex said. He could beat Kyle easily, which Kyle knew. But the guy had good reason for his anger, and he was right to stick up for his little sister. He just didn’t understand.

“Things are complicated, Kyle,” his father said. “Pour yourself some coffee and sit down.”

“Can’t. I have to take her to the airport in a few minutes,” Kyle said.

His mother turned again. “So soon?”

“With the time difference, it’ll be really late when she gets back to Boston,” Alex said.

“Are you that eager to get rid of her?” Kyle said.

Alex straightened to his full height. He wouldn’t fight his best friend, but he’d intimidate him if it would get him to shut up. “You’d better stop talking before you say something you’ll regret.”

“All I regret is knowing you.” Kyle thumped Alex’s chest with his forefinger. “Listen to me, and listen good.”

Alex pushed Kyle’s hand away. “I’m listening.”

“I told you once that if you hurt her, I’d rip your guts out. If you
ever
try to contact her again, I’ll do it.”

Chase got up and stood beside Alex, ready to get into the fight, if there was one.

“All of you, calm down,” Mom said.

“I’m sorry, Emma,” Kyle said. “Toying with Michelle isn’t right.”

“I did not toy with her!” Alex shouted. If Kyle kept this up, he’d get his fight after all.

“You’re not going to settle anything by fighting,” Mom said.

“Who’s fighting?” Michelle said from the doorway. She wore slacks and a silk blouse. Professional. Alex mentally nailed his feet to the floor to keep from going to her. Creating a scene in front of his parents—and her brother—would only make matters worse. If that was possible.

“No one.” Kyle backed away from Alex but continued to pin him with a glare.

“We hear congratulations are in order,” Dad declared as he rose from his seat and went to pull Michelle into a bear hug. Mom joined him, and even Chase got up and gave Michelle a pat on the shoulder. Alex stood and watched the display of affection. He’d already had the last embrace he’d have from Michelle. Besides, trying to touch her while her irate brother still glowered at him wasn’t a great idea.

BOOK: Just One Week
4.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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