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Authors: K. J. Bell

Tags: #College

Tug (7 page)

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y intention is to fuck Maria until I get her out of my head, but as I stare down at her, tears stream from her eyes in a continuous flow, and for the first time since I was with Tori, I realize what a colossal prick I am.

I lift myself off her and slide up the bed. She doesn’t move, but I hear the sobs she’s struggling to hold in. This girl has been through some tragic shit. She’s a hooker, for Chrissakes. What in the hell am I doing? I have no idea, but I know I like her and she deserves better than the life she currently lives. Even though she sells her body for a living, there’s a purity in her that shines through the hard exterior she tries to project.

She wipes her face and sits up. My arm slips around her lower back, and I pull her close to me, tucking her into my side protectively. I’m responsible for the tears wetting my chest, and I hate that I made her cry. Her hair feels like silk between my fingers as I run them through the long strands, attempting to soothe her.

“We aren’t going to fuck.”

She huffs a laugh. “I thought you always do what you want.”

Her trembling bothers me. She’s not afraid. She’s hurt. All of her attempts to convince me she wasn’t interested in me were bogus. She is interested, and I treated her like a whore rather than a girl I would like to spend time with. She doesn’t understand I treat all women this way. It’s not personal.

“I do, and what I want right now is to get to know you.”

I reach for her arm as she bolts from the bed and stands up, but I miss. “Trust me. You don’t. I should leave.” She rushes to the door and turns around. “Come by the club tomorrow, and I’ll have my boss refund you. I’m sorry.”

I stand and go to her. Her hand is warm when I take it and walk her back to the bed.

“No refunds. I paid for the night with you, and I want to talk.” She remains silent and lies on the bed. I lie next to her, careful not to touch her, for fear she’ll bolt again. I don’t know for certain which nerve I hit, but I’ll try to avoid it in the future. “Tell me about Javier.”

She rolls to her side, tucking her hands under the pillow. I can tell by her expression that she’s surprised I remembered his name.

“He’s a great kid. My reason for living.”

I think about her reaction earlier and the pain in her eyes, and wonder how she is capable of sleeping with strange men for money. Without thinking, I ask, “What do you think about when you’re with those men?”

Her eyes widen. “I’m not answering that.”

“Yes, you are. I’m paying you to talk. You have to answer.”

She laughs, and I’m grateful she knows I was teasing her.

“I don’t
to do anything. Talk about something else.”

I cup her cheeks, my thumbs stroking her soft skin, wiping away the last of her tears. “I’m not judging you.”

She removes my hand and nibbles her bottom lip. “Of course you are, but I can’t blame you. I know what I am.”

I frown and lightly trail a fingertip down her arm. “I don’t think you do.”

“I’m a hooker,” she says, her voice suddenly cold. “I know that, and I know what people think of me.”

“Then why do you do it?” I ask, not to hurt her, but in an attempt to understand how she came into her profession when it so clearly bothers her.

“I need the money.” Her clipped tone isn’t a surprise. I’m intentionally pushing emotional buttons.

“For your grandfather?”

It’s an assumption on my part, but, judging by her knitted brows, I’m correct. She shifts her gaze to the wall behind me. Her voice is quiet when she speaks.

“The medical care in Tijuana is limited. I take him to a specialist in the States. It’s expensive. I go to school during the day. I tried waitressing at nights, but it didn’t cover my bills, let alone his medical care. And then there’s Javier. I can’t lose him.”

Her tears are back, welling in her eyes. Something tells me her money problems extend further than taking care of her grandfather. There is deeply-rooted pain inside this girl. I know, because I see it every time I look in the mirror.

I pull her against my chest, kiss the top of her head, and say, “You’re so much more than a hooker.”

Minutes pass in silence. I refuse to let go of her. I want to take all of her pain away, but I haven’t even dealt with my own shit. How am I supposed to help her?

“I think about my father,” she says tearfully.

I loosen my grip on her. “What?”

She peers up at me, tiny beads of tears sticking to her lashes. “When I’m with the men at the club, I think about my father.” I don’t say anything, hoping she’ll continue. “He left my mother when I was young. Then she got sick. He refused to take me, even after she died. I hate him, and when I’m with those men, I prefer to feel that hate, so I don’t have to feel shame.”

I lift her chin. “Never be ashamed of surviving.”

“That’s easy for you to say.” She glances around. “You have it easy.”

I don’t bother to share my history. I have money, but that’s it. Nothing else in my life comes easily. “What about Javier’s father?”

“He’s not around.”

I figured as much. “Deadbeat?”

“Something like that. Can we not talk about me anymore? It’s seriously depressing.”

The pain in her eyes is so thick and so heavily guarded that I don’t know if she’ll ever be able to share it. Clearly, Javier’s father is responsible for the wrong turn in her life. I don’t want to pressure her about it, though.

“I want to spend time with you.”

She laughs at me, like my suggestion is hilarious. “What? Like dating?”

I look directly into her eyes so she’ll understand I’m serious. “I don’t see a reason to label it. I like you, and I want to get to know you.”

She pulls away from me and lies on her side again. I can tell the position is comforting to her. “That isn’t a great idea. Think about it. How are you going to take a hooker home to your mama?”

I can’t help but laugh, and I do it loudly and from deep in my chest. She smiles. “Oh, sweet girl. I only wish I could. That would’ve gone over like a fart in church. Sheila would’ve went ballistic, like ape-shit crazy.”

Her smile disappears, replaced by a horrified expression. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize she had passed. That was pretty rude of me.”

I tap her nose to relax her. “Don’t apologize. Believe me, the woman doesn’t deserve your concern.”

She doesn’t comment on my obvious disdain for my mother and asks, “What about your dad?”

“He’s in prison.” As I say the words, I realize that perhaps I should let her run. I need to steer this conversation away from my crazy parents. “How do you know Brady?”

She starts to say something and then stops, reconsidering what she wants to say. “He’s a friend.”

“Where did you meet him?” She gives me a look, confirming they met at the club. “Oh.”

“He was regular number four. I haven’t seen him in a long time. He was kind to me and helped me pay my rent a few times. I had a bit of a crush on him.”

Of course she did. There’s not a woman alive who can resist my brother.

“When was the last time you saw him?”

Her mouth turns down, her sad frown an indicator that Maria is one of the many women Brady’s left in a trail of hopefuls that’s never recovered.

“He used to come in a lot and pay to talk, but a while back, he came in wanting more. He had a fight with his girl and was upset. I haven’t seen him since.”

My desire to get to know her flees. The time she’s referring to is the first time Tori and I dated. Brady breezed back into town shortly after our first kiss, and swept Tori off her feet again and out of my life. Maria clearly has strong feelings for him, and I can’t get close to another girl stuck on my brother.

“I need to sleep,” I say coldly, and turn on my side, facing away from her. “I have a wedding to attend tomorrow.”

“Do you still want to get to know me?”

Her small voice makes my chest ache.

“Yes,” I answer, not sure if it’s a lie or not.

wake to an empty bed and find Maria on the balcony. She sits in a chair, holding her knees to her chest. The solemn expression on her face as she stares out into the city is sad, but breathtakingly beautiful, too. I clench my jaw and remember my mission this morning. I can’t and won’t have feelings for this girl. She’s been with Brady, and I will not make the mistake again of being with a girl I hope will eventually get over him, regardless of how she affects me.

She turns her head and smiles. I walk out to the balcony, and she stands up.

“Your view is beautiful.”

“Yes, it is,” I say, not speaking of the city or the ocean in the distance. “I’m going to shower, and then I’ll take you home.”

s Ryan walks away from me, I realize I like him, and I do want to get to know him. I’m afraid I’ll never see him again. He was cold last night, and I don’t understand why. But this morning, the sexual spark between us still burns like a raging fire. He can’t deny that, and using that flame is the only way I know to convince him I’d like to accept his offer to spend time with him. Men are simple creatures, ruled by their anatomy. And, as a woman in my profession, I’m skilled at knowing exactly how to use a man’s desire to my advantage. Whether or not that’s wrong is a question of morality, and I’m afraid when it comes to doing what is ethically correct, I failed a long time ago. Despite my best intentions, I’m a lifelong passenger on the fast train to Hell.

I strip my clothes and quietly enter the steamy bathroom. Through the fogged glass, I see his naked form facing the shower head, one arm flat against the tile in front of him. I want to run my hands over his lean, fit body, and feel his skin against mine and listen to him make me promises he can never keep. I clearly enjoy self-inflicted torture, but this feels right.

Slipping in behind him, I inhale a breath for courage. The muscles in his back flex, but he doesn’t turn around. There’s a moment of admiration where I stare at his incredibly tight ass before the powerful urge to feel him inside me, and me gripping him, takes over. I wind my arms around his waist and press my palms against his firm chest, sliding them over his defined pectorals.

“I like you, too,” I whisper, and lick a drop of warm water from his shoulder.

He spins and grabs my jaw with both hands, applying pressure and holding my head completely still. A primal anger flashes in his eyes, sending heat low in my belly. His jaw ticks as his eyes move back and forth across mine. One hand leaves my face and comes up behind me, his fingers clutching a wad of hair. He pulls hard. I suck in a ragged breath and feel my nipples tighten. My tongue peeks out to lick a few drops of water from my lips. That’s when his eyes grow intensely fierce. His hips push forward, his erect cock flush with my belly just above my sex.

“I’m going to kiss you,” he growls.

I nod faintly.

I’m entranced the moment his soft, wet lips glide over mine. He’s going to rip my heart out, but I don’t put a stop to things. Trouble or not, I don’t want to think about it. I just want to feel him deep inside me as all of my problems melt away and the world around me disappears.

I part my lips and close my eyes. His tongue dips into my mouth, and he kisses me ferociously and dominantly, the force slightly painful. His hands push into my back, drawing our bodies close together. Water pools where my breasts meet his chest and spills over. With a long suck on my bottom lip, Ryan releases the kiss. His eyes, dark as midnight, bore into mine. His palms flatten against the tile behind me, caging me in. My eyes follow a drop of water that trickles through the stubble on his cheek. My heart beats furiously and so loud, I’m positive he can hear it over the running water. Our eyes meet again, his with uncertainty.

“Maria,” he says, his voice tinged with anger, like he’s sending me a warning to run. He’s seeking escape.

If I reply in the least bit timidly, he’ll back out. I know he will. Whatever happened last night still weighs heavily on his mind. My guess is, it’s someone he’s trying to forget, and I want to be the one to make him.

“Ryan, I want you to fuck me harder than you’ve ever fucked anyone before.”

His groan is tortured, a combination of pleasure and pain, a failure of will, which is my desired response.

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