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The Score (Off-Campus #3)

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He knows how to score, on and off the ice

Allie Hayes is in crisis mode. With graduation looming, she still doesn’t have the first clue about what she's going to do after college. To make matters worse, she’s nursing a broken heart thanks to the end of her longtime relationship. Wild rebound sex is definitely not the solution to her problems, but gorgeous hockey star Dean Di Laurentis is impossible to resist. Just once, though, because even if her future is uncertain, it sure as heck won’t include the king of one-night stands.

It’ll take more than flashy moves to win her over

Dean always gets what he wants. Girls, grades, girls, recognition, girls…he’s a ladies man, all right, and he’s yet to meet a woman who’s immune to his charms. Until Allie. For one night, the feisty blonde rocked his entire world—and now she wants to be friends? Nope. It’s not over until he says it’s over. Dean is in full-on pursuit, but when life-rocking changes strike, he starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to stop focusing on scoring…and shoot for love.
Volume:
3
Year:
2016
Edition:
1
Publisher:
Elle Kennedy Inc.
Language:
english
Pages:
361
ISBN 10:
1775293955
ISBN 13:
9781775293958
ISBN:
B016VQCFO0
Series:
Off-Campus Series
File:
EPUB, 340 KB
Download (epub, 340 KB)

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6 comments
 
bre
This book is so good!
19 September 2020 (19:53) 
Aphrodite57
I enjoyed this book alot it's so good
23 April 2021 (13:26) 
Kalima
Got an ispiration to read thx
28 April 2021 (12:59) 
Lmao me
Idk haven’t read this lol
21 May 2021 (18:42) 
ann
it's my fav of the series. definitely would recommend if youre looking for a quick easy read
11 June 2021 (05:02) 
Emma
My favourite in the series❤️
22 June 2021 (17:34) 

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He knows how to score, on and off the ice



Allie Hayes is in crisis mode. With graduation looming, she still doesn’t have the first clue about what she’s going to do after college. To make matters worse, she’s nursing a broken heart thanks to the end of her longtime relationship. Wild rebound sex is definitely not the solution to her problems, but gorgeous hockey star Dean Di Laurentis is impossible to resist. Just once, though, because even if her future is uncertain, it sure as heck won’t include the king of one-night stands.

It’ll take more than flashy moves to win her over

Dean always gets what he wants. Girls, grades, girls, recognition, girls…he’s a ladies man, all right, and he’s yet to meet a woman who’s immune to his charms. Until Allie. For one night, the feisty blonde rocked his entire world—and now she wants to be friends? Nope. It’s not over until he says it’s over. Dean is in full-on pursuit, but when life-rocking changes strike, he starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to stop focusing on scoring…and shoot for love.





The Score




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

Other Titles by Elle Kennedy

Author’s Note

About the Author

Copyright





1




Allie


Can we talk?

Plz??

WTF, Allie. After everything we’ve been thru, I deserve more then that.

U didn’t mean it when u said we were done, right?

Will you plz fuckin ANSWER me?

U know what? fuck this. U wanna keep ignoring me? fine. wtevr.

There are six text messages waiting for me when I check my phone on the way out of the campus fitness center on Friday night. They’re all fro; m Sean, my as-of-last-night ex. And although the emotional progression from pleading to pissed off doesn’t go unnoticed, I find myself fixating on his grammatical error.

I deserve more then that.

Then, not than. And I doubt autocorrect is to blame because Sean isn’t exactly the brightest crayon in the box.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. He’s whip-smart about some things. Like baseball—seriously, the guy can pull stats out of his ass, even ones dating back to the sixties. But book smarts are not his forte. Stellar boyfriend doesn’t quite make his list of strengths either, at least not in recent days.

I never wanted to be one of those girls who breaks up and makes up with the same guy over and over again. I really thought I was stronger than that, but Sean McCall has had a hold on me since freshman year at Briar University. He sucked me in with his preppy good looks and little-boy grin. That gorgeous grin, all crooked and dimpled and full of promises.

I glance at my phone again, my wariness climbing like the ivy on the building behind me. Argh. What does he want to talk about? We said everything we needed to say last night. When I told him I was done before I stormed out of his frat house, I’d meant it.

I am done. This is our fourth breakup in three years. I can’t keep doing this to myself, this twisted cycle of joy and heartache, especially when the person I’m supposed to be building a future with is determined to hold me back.

Even so, my heart hurts. It’s hard to let go of someone who’s been such a big part of your life for so long. It’s even harder when that person refuses to let you go.

Sighing, I hurry down the steps toward the cobblestone path that winds through campus. Usually I take the time to admire the scenery—the gorgeous old buildings, the wrought-iron benches and massive shade trees—but tonight I just want to sprint back to my dorm, pull the covers over my head, and shut out the world. Luckily, I can totally do that because my roommate Hannah is away this weekend, which means she won’t be around to lecture me about the emotional perils of wallowing in my misery.

She hadn’t done much lecturing last night, though. Nope, what she did was step up to the plate and knock the best-friend-ever role out of the park. The moment I’d walked through the door after leaving Sean, Hannah had been waiting in our common room with a carton of ice cream, a box of Kleenex, and two bottles of red wine, and she’d proceeded to stay up half the night passing me tissues and listening to me babble incoherently.

Breakups suck. I feel like such a failure. No, I feel like a quitter. The last piece of advice my mom gave me before she died was to never give up on love. Actually, she’d drilled that into me long before she’d ever gotten sick. I don’t know all the details, but it was no secret around my house that my parents’ marriage had been on the rocks more than once during their eighteen years together. And they’d powered through it. They’d worked at it.

Every time I think about walking out on Sean yesterday, my stomach grows queasy. Maybe I should have fought harder for us. I mean, I know he loves me—

If he loved you, he wouldn’t have given you an ultimatum, a gruff voice assures me. You did the right thing.

My throat tightens as I recognize the voice in my head. It belongs to my father, who happens to be my biggest champion. In his eyes, I can do no wrong.

It’s too bad Sean isn’t able to see me through that lens.

My phone buzzes when I’m five minutes from Bristol House, where I share a two-bedroom suite with Hannah.

Shit. Another text from Sean.

And double shit because it says:

I’m so sorry for swearing at u, bb. I didn’t mean it. I’m just upset. U mean the world to me. I hope u know that.

A second text pops up: Coming over after class. We’ll talk.

I halt in my tracks, a jolt of panic spiraling through me. I’m not afraid of Sean, at least not in the physical sense. I know he would never lay a hand on me or fly into a manic rage. But I’m afraid of his ability to sweet-talk me. He’s so good at it. All he has to do is call me baby and flash that adorable smile, and I’m a goner.

Anger, dread, and annoyance war for my attention as I reread his messages. He’s bluffing. He wouldn’t come over uninvited, would he?

Fuckity fuck.

With shaky fingers, I pull up Hannah’s number. Two rings later and my best friend’s reassuring voice echoes on the line. “Hey, what’s up? You okay?”

I can hear soft chatter in the background. A female voice—it’s Grace Ivers, Logan’s girlfriend. That means that Hannah and her boyfriend Garrett have already left for their weekend in Boston. She invited me to go with them, but I turned her down because I hadn’t wanted to be the fifth wheel. Two madly-in-love couples and me? No thank you.

Now I wish I’d accepted the invitation, because I’ll be all alone this weekend and Sean wants to talk.

“Sean’s coming over tonight,” I blurt out.

Hannah gasps. “What? No! Why would you agree to—”

“I didn’t agree to anything! He didn’t even ask if it was cool. He just messaged saying he’s coming by.”

“What the hell?” She sounds as displeased as I feel.

“I know, right?” My panic spills over. “I can’t see him, Han. I’m still too raw about this breakup. If he comes over, I might end up taking him back.”

“Allie—”

“Do you think if I turn off all the lights and lock the door, he’ll assume I’m not home and leave?”

“Knowing Sean? He’ll wait outside the door all night.” Hannah curses. “You know what? I shouldn’t have agreed to go to this Bruins game. I should be home with you. Hold on, I’m telling Garrett to turn the car around—”

“No way,” I interrupt. “You are not cancelling your trip for me. This is your last chance to do something fun.”

Hannah’s boyfriend is the captain of the Briar hockey team, which means his practice and game schedule will be jam-packed now that the season has started. Which means Hannah won’t get to see him as much. I refuse to be the one who ruins a rare weekend of freedom for them.

“I just want advice.” I swallow hard. “So please, tell me what to do. Should I ask Tracy if I can crash in her room?”

“No, you don’t want to be in Bristol if Sean’s wandering the halls. Maybe Megan—no, wait, her new boyfriend is in town this weekend. They’ll probably want to be alone.” Hannah sounds thoughtful. “What about Stella?”

“She and Justin just moved in together last week. They’re not going to want a last-minute houseguest.”

“Hold on a sec.” There’s another long pause. I hear Garrett’s muffled voice, but I can’t make out what he’s saying. Then Hannah is back. “Garrett says you can stay at his place this weekend. Dean and Tuck will both be there, so if Sean figures out where you went and drops by, they’ll kick him to the curb.” The murmur of voices fills the background again. “You can sleep in Garrett’s room,” she adds.

Indecision flashes through me. I mean, this is ridiculous. I can’t believe I’m considering letting Sean drive me out of my own dorm. But my mind is flooded with images of him pounding on my door. Or worse, pulling a Say Anything and standing outside my window with a boombox. Ugh, what if he plays the Peter Gabriel song? I hate that song.

“Are you sure it’s okay?” I ask.

“Yup. Totally fine. Logan’s texting Dean and Tucker right now to let them know. You can head over any time.”

Relief trickles through me, along with a pang of guilt. “Put me on speakerphone? I want to talk to Garrett.”

“Sure. One sec.”

A moment later, Garrett Graham’s deep voice comes on the line. “Clean sheets are in the linen closet, and you might want to bring your own pillow. Wellsy thinks mine are too soft.”

“They are too soft,” Hannah protests. “It’s like sleeping on a soggy marshmallow.”

“It’s like sleeping on a fluffy cloud,” Garrett corrects. “Trust me, Allie, my pillows rock. But you should still bring your own, just in case.”

I laugh. “Thanks for the heads up. But are you sure it’s cool? I don’t want to impose.”

“S’all good, sweetheart. Just bat those big blue eyes at Tuck and he’ll cook you up a nice dinner. Oh, and Logan’s ordering Dean not to hit on you, so you don’t have to worry about him perving you out.”

Yeah, right. Dean Heyward-Di Laurentis is the biggest flirt on the planet. Every time I see him he’s trying to get in my pants. And I can’t even feel special about it, because he tries to get in everyone’s pants.

I’m not worried, though. I know how to handle Dean, and Tucker will serve as a good buffer between me and his horndog roommate.

“I really appreciate this,” I tell Garrett. “Seriously. I owe you one.”

“Naah.”

Hannah speaks up. “Text me when you get there, ’kay? And then turn off your phone so Sean can’t harass you.”

Did I mention how much I love my bestie?

I hang up feeling immensely better. Maybe it’s smart to get out of the dorms for the weekend. I can view it as a nice little retreat, a few days to clear my head and regroup. And as long as Tucker and Dean are around, I won’t be tempted to call Sean. We need a clean break this time. No contact whatsoever, at least for a few weeks. Or months. Or years.

Truthfully, I don’t know if I’ll survive this breakup. I’ve loved this guy for years. And Sean does have his sweet moments. Like all the times he showed up at my door with soup when I was sick. And when he—

Backslide alert!

Alarm bells wail in my head, alerting me to my stupidity. Nope. Not letting myself backslide. It doesn’t matter that he was capable of being sweet—because he was also capable of not being sweet, as last night proves.

I square my shoulders and walk faster, determined to stick to the game plan. Sean and I are over. I can’t see him or text him or do anything that places myself in his path right now.

Day One of my Sean-free existence has officially commenced.

*

Dean

It’s Friday night and I’m sprawled on my living room couch, sipping a beer while two blondes—two very hot, very naked blondes—suck each other’s tongues in front of me. My life is awesome.

“Best night ever,” I drawl. My gaze is glued to the trajectory of Kelly’s hands as they glide toward Michelle’s perky tits. Kelly squeezes, and I groan. “Would be even better if you ladies brought the party over here.”

They break apart breathlessly, laughing as they glance my way. “Give us a reason to,” Kelly teases.

I arch a brow, then reach down to grip my rock-hard dick. I give it a slow pump. “This ain’t reason enough?”

Michelle is the first to sashay toward me, her tits jiggling and ass swaying as she climbs into my lap and presses her mouth to mine. A second later, Kelly is nestled at my side, her warm, soft lips latching onto my neck. Je-sus. I’m so hard it hurts, but these two goddesses are determined to make me beg for it. They torture me with kisses. Long, drugging kisses and wet, wicked tongues, strategic licks and gentle bites designed to drive me wild.

I’d like to say that this dirty little threesome of ours is a new experience for me, or that the manwhore label my hockey teammates have slapped me with has been an exaggeration. But it’s not, and the label is spot-on. I like to fuck. I fuck a lot. So sue me.

I grunt when Kelly’s fingers circle my shaft. “Christ. How did I get so lucky?”

“You haven’t gotten lucky yet,” Michelle says, tossing her long hair over her shoulder. “You don’t come until we do, remember?”

She’s right—I’d made a promise, and I intend to keep it. Contrary to what my asshole friends believe about me, sex is all about the woman for me. Or in this case, the women. Two beautiful, eager women who are not only into me, but each other.

Hey, heaven? Dean Di Laurentis here. Thanks for letting me visit.

“Well. I guess I should get started then,” I announce, and then I lower her onto the cushion and bring my mouth to her breasts.

I capture a nipple and suck hard, and her hips buck off the couch as she moans. A shadow crosses the corner of my eye. Kelly bends over beside me and licks Michelle’s other nipple. Oh sweet Jesus. I groan loud enough to wake the dead.

Kelly peeks up to smile at me. “Figured you could use some help.” Then she kisses her way down Michelle’s flat stomach toward the juncture of her friend’s thighs.

Forget heaven. This is nirvana.

I follow the path Kelly has taken, my lips traveling over tanned skin and sweet curves until I reach the place that makes my mouth water. Kelly’s already licking it. Holy hell. I’m not sure I can control myself long enough to get them both off. I’m too close to the edge already.

Ignoring the throbbing down below, I moisten my bottom lip, inch my mouth toward Michelle’s pussy, and…the goddamn doorbell rings.

Fucking hell. I crane my neck toward the entertainment center. The digital clock on the Blu-Ray player reads eight-thirty. I try to remember if I told any of the guys they could come over tonight, but I haven’t spoken to anyone but my roommates today, and they’re all AWOL. Garrett and Logan left for Boston an hour ago with their girls, and Tucker’s taking some chick to the movies tonight.

“Hold that thought.” I lick Michelle’s thigh in a teasing stroke, then rise from the couch and search for my boxers.

Once my cock is tucked away, I hurry down the hall to answer the door. When I see who’s standing on the stoop, I narrow my eyes.

“Bad timing, baby doll,” I tell Hannah’s best friend. “Your girl’s already gone. Come back on Sunday.” I move to close the door. Yup, I’m a rude SOB.

Unfortunately, the blonde on the doorstep wedges one black snow boot between the door and its frame. “Don’t be an ass, Dean. You know I’m spending the weekend.”

My eyebrows soar up. “Um, what?” I take a closer look at her, and that’s when I notice the overstuffed backpack hanging off her shoulder. And the pink carry-on suitcase by her feet.

Allie Hayes heaves a huge sigh. “Logan texted you all about it. Now let me in. I’m cold.”

I tilt my head. Then I not so gently kick her foot out of the way. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

“Are you kidding me—”

The door closes on her outraged exclamation.

Battling annoyance, I dart back to the living room, where Michelle and Kelly don’t even notice my reappearance—they’re too busy making out. It takes almost a minute to find my phone, and when I finally grab it off the floor, I discover that Hannah’s friend wasn’t messing with me.

There are five unread messages on the screen, which is what happens when you’re the meat in a hot girl sandwich. Threesomes trump checking your phone. That’s a no-brainer.

Logan: Hey, bro, Wellsy’s friend Allie is crashing at our place this weekend.

Logan: Keep your dick in your pants. G and I aren’t in the mood to beat u senseless if u try something. Wellsy might be in the mood for violence, tho. So: dick = pants = don’t bother our guest.

Hannah: Allie’s staying with u guys til Sunday. She’s in a vulnerable place right now. Don’t take advantage of her or else I’ll be unhappy. And u don’t want to make me unhappy, do u?

I snicker. Hannah, diplomatic as always. I quickly scan the last two messages.

Garrett: Allie’s gonna crash in my room.

Garrett: Your dick can stay in your room.

Jeez, what is everybody’s fascination with my dick?

And could their timing be any worse? My rueful gaze shifts back to the couch. Kelly’s fingers are exactly where I wish mine were right now.

I clear my throat and both girls glance over. Michelle’s expression is hazy from the extra special attention her friend is giving her.

“I really hate to do this, but you ladies need to go,” I tell them.

Two pairs of eyes widen. “Excuse me?” Kelly blurts out.

“I’ve got an unexpected houseguest waiting outside,” I grumble. “Which means this house just became a PG-zone.”

Michelle snickers. “Since when do you care if anyone sees you fucking?”

True. Usually I don’t give a damn if there’s anyone around. Most times I prefer it. But I can’t expose my debauchery to Hannah’s friend. Or to Hannah and Grace, for that matter. The boys, who cares. They know the drill. But I know Garrett and Logan wouldn’t be cool with me corrupting their girlfriends. The moment they entered committed-relationship territory, my former wingmen turned into prudes. It’s sad, really.

“This guest is a delicate flower,” I say dryly. “She’d probably faint if she saw the three of us together.”

“I would not.” Allie’s annoyed voice comes from the doorway.

I’m equally annoyed. Chick just walks into the house like she owns it? Nuh-uh.

I scowl at her. “I told you to wait outside.”

“And I told you I was cold,” she shoots back. And she seems to have no issue with the fact that there are two naked girls ten feet away.

My guests study Allie as if she’s a splotch of bacteria under their microscopes. Then they wrinkle their noses and dismiss her from their sights as if she’s, well, nothing but a splotch of bacteria under their microscopes. Chicks tend to get competitive when I’m around, but obviously these ones don’t view Allie as competition.

Not sure I blame them. She’s wearing a puffy black jacket, boots and mittens, and her blond hair is sticking out the bottom of a red knit hat. It’s the first week of November—there’s no snow on the ground, barely a chill in the air, and nothing to warrant bundling up. Unless you’re a crazy person. Which I’m starting to suspect Allie Hayes might be, because the girl brazenly waltzes into the living room and flops down in the armchair opposite the couch.

As she unzips her coat, she spares a glance at my guests, then turns back to me. “Why don’t you move this little party upstairs? I’ll stay down here and watch a movie or something.”

“Or you can go to Garrett’s room and watch a movie up there,” I say pointedly. But truthfully, it doesn’t matter. She’s already killed the mood, and I don’t feel comfortable fooling around with two chicks when it’s just me and Hannah’s best friend in the house.

Sighing, I turn to the girls. “Rain check?”

Neither of them puts up much of a fight. Apparently Miss Allie didn’t just kill the mood, she scorched the fuckin’ earth and covered it with salt to prevent horniness from ever growing back.

Allie barely pays attention to the girls getting dressed. She’s too busy removing a thousand layers of winter clothing and draping them over the side of the armchair. When she’s done, she looks substantially tinier in black leggings and an oversized striped top, and she wastes no time making herself comfortable on the big plush chair.

I walk Kelly and Michelle to the door, where each one practically chews my face off before telling me they’re holding me to that rain check. By the time they’re gone, my lips are swollen and my cock is hard again.

I return to the living room with a frown that refuses to quit. “Did you enjoy that?” I demand.

“Enjoy what?”

“Cockblocking me.”

Allie laughs. “Is there any reason you couldn’t have taken Blonde and Blonder upstairs? You didn’t have to kick them out on my account.”

“You really think I could screw around knowing you’re sitting downstairs?”

That gets me another laugh. “You screw around in public. All the time. Why do you care if I’m in the house?” She looks thoughtful. “Unless going up to your room is the issue. Hannah said you always fool around in the living room. What’s the deal with that? Do you have bedbugs or something?”

I grit my teeth. “No.”

“Then why don’t you want to do your naked stuff up there?”

“Because—” I halt, the scowl returning to my face. “It’s none of your business. Why are you here, anyway? Did Bristol House catch fire?”

“I’m in hiding.” She says it as if I’m supposed to understand that. Then she glances around the living room. “Where’s Tucker? Garrett said he’d be here.”

“He’s out.”

She sticks out her bottom lip. “Well, that sucks. He totally would’ve watched a movie with me. But I guess you’ll have to do.”

“You cockblock me and now you expect us to hang out?”

“Trust me, you’re the last person I want to hang out with, but I’m in crisis mode right now and you’re the only one here. You have to keep me company, Dean. Otherwise I’ll do something really stupid and my whole life will be ruined.”

I seem to remember Hannah telling me Allie is a drama major. Yeah. Sounds about right.

“Please?”

Her pleading expression doesn’t let up. And I’ve always been a sucker for big blue eyes. Especially when they belong to cute blondes with great racks.

“You win,” I relent. “I’ll keep you company, okay?”

She lights up. “What movie should we watch?”

A groan lodges in my throat. My Friday night went from hot threesome sex to babysitting my best friend’s girlfriend’s best friend.

Oh, and I’m still rock-hard thanks to Kelly and Michelle’s goodbye kisses.

Fucking wonderful.





2




Allie


My self-control rests in the hands of Dean Heyward-Di Laurentis, a man known for zero self-control. Ergo, I’m in trouble. Big fucking trouble.

I won’t do it, though. I won’t call Sean. Doesn’t matter that twenty minutes ago he sent me a picture of the two of us from our Mexico trip last year. He’d used one of those framing apps to draw a big red heart around our faces.

It had been a really good trip…

I push the memory aside and grab the remote control off the coffee table. “Do you have Netflix linked to your TV?” I glance back at Dean, who still looks aggravated by my presence.

And either I’m imagining it or he has an erection. But I’m nice enough not to tease him about it, because in his defense, he was five seconds away from having sex with two girls before I showed up.

My gaze travels over his bare chest. I cannot tell a lie—his chest is absolutely spectacular. The guy’s ripped. Tall and lean, with perfectly sculpted muscles. And he’s rocking some scruff—sexy blond bristles that shadow his perfectly chiseled jaw. It really is a shame. Someone this douchey shouldn’t be allowed to look this good.

“Yeah. Go ahead and pick something to watch,” he answers. “I’m just popping upstairs to jerk it and then I’ll join you.”

“Okay, I think I’m in the mood for—wait, what?”

But he’s already gone, leaving me gaping at the empty doorway. He’s popping upstairs to do what? He was joking, right?

Despite my better judgment, I picture it. Dean up in his room. One hand wrapped around his dick, the other hand…cupping his balls? Clutching the sheets? Or maybe he’s standing up and gripping the side of his desk, his features drawn as he bites his bottom lip…

And why am I trying to solve the mystery of how this guy masturbates?

Shaking myself out of it, I click the remote until I find Netflix, then start browsing the latest movie titles.

Less than five minutes later, Dean saunters back into the room. Thankfully he put on some pants. Except he ditched his boxers in the process, which I know because his sweatpants are riding so low on his hips I can almost see…places I have no interest in seeing.

His chest is still bare, and there’s a slight flush to his cheeks.

“Did you seriously jerk off just now?” I demand.

He nods as if it’s no biggie. “What, you think I can sit through a whole movie with blue balls?”

I gawk at him. “So you can’t have sex with anyone while I’m in the house, but you can go upstairs and do that?”

A wolfish grin stretches his mouth. “I could’ve done it down here, but then you would’ve been too tempted to take over for me. I was trying to be nice.”

It’s hard not to roll my eyes. So I don’t bother fighting the urge. “Trust me, I would have kept my hands to myself.”

“With my cock right there in the open? No way. You wouldn’t be able to help yourself.” He arches a brow. “I have a great cock.”

“Uh-huh. I’m sure you do.”

“You don’t believe me? I can show you a picture.” He reaches for the phone on the coffee table. Then he stops and grabs the waistband of his sweatpants instead. “Actually, I can show you the real thing if you want.”

“I don’t want. In the slightest.” I gesture to the TV. “I picked that one. Have you seen it?”

Dean grimaces at the movie poster on the screen. “For chrissake, that’s what you chose? There’re like three new horror movies we could watch. Or Jason Statham’s entire filmography.”

“No horror movies,” I say firmly. “I don’t like to be scared.”

“Fine. So let’s do an action movie.”

“I don’t like violence.”

His cheeks hollow in frustration. “Baby doll, I am not watching a movie about—” He squints at the screen “‘a woman’s life-changing journey after being diagnosed with a terminal illness.’ No fucking way.”

“It’s supposed to be really good,” I protest. “It won an Oscar!”

“You know what else won an Oscar? Silence of the Lambs. Jaws. The Exorcist.” He sounds smug. “And they’re all horror movies.”

“We can argue about this all night, but I’m not watching anything with blood or sharks or explosions. Deal with it.”

Dean’s teeth are visibly clenched. Then his jaw relaxes and he releases a heavy breath. “Fine. If I have to suffer through this crap movie, I’m smoking a joint first.”

“Whatever gets you through it, sweetie.”

He walks toward the doorway, grumbling something under his breath.

“Wait,” I call after him. I quickly fish my phone out of my jacket pocket. “Can you take this with you? I might give in to texting temptation if I’m left alone with it.”

He gives me a weird look. “Who you trying not to text?”

“My ex. We broke up last night and he won’t stop messaging me.”

There’s a pause. “You know what? You’re coming with me.”

I barely have time to blink before Dean crosses the room and tugs me off the chair. When my feet connect with the hardwood floor, I lose my balance and stumble right into his massive chest, my nose bumping one defined pec.

I quickly steady myself, armed with a glare. “I was comfy, you ass.”

He ignores me, half-leading, half-dragging me to the kitchen. Since he didn’t even let me grab my jacket, I start shivering the second we step through the back door.

Dean’s bare chest gleams under the patio light. He doesn’t seem bothered by the cold, but his nipples pucker slightly in the chilly night air.

“Ugh. You even have perfect nipples,” I gripe.

His lips twitch. “Do you wanna touch ’em?”

“Ew. Never. I’m just commenting that they’re frickin’ perfect. Like, totally proportioned to your chest.”

He peers down at his pecs and considers for a moment. “Yeah. I am perfect. I need to remind myself of that more often.”

I snort. “Right. Because you’re not already conceited enough.”

“I’m confident,” he corrects.

“Conceited.”

“Confident.” He pops open the small tin box he grabbed from the kitchen, and I scowl when he extracts a neatly rolled joint and a Zippo.

“Why am I out here?” I grumble. “I don’t want to smoke weed.”

“Sure you do.” He lights up and takes a deep drag, then speaks through the escaping cloud of smoke. “You’re acting all jittery and weird. Trust me, you need this.”

“This is peer pressure, you know.”

He holds out the joint, one eyebrow raised. “Come on, baby,” he coaxes in a singsong voice. “Just one toke. All the cool kids are doing it.”

I can’t help but laugh. “Fuck off.”

“Suit yourself.” He exhales again, and the scent of marijuana surrounds me.

I can’t remember the last time I got high. I don’t do it often, but honestly? If any night merits some weed-induced serenity, it’s this one.

“Oh, fine. Give it to me.” I stick out my hand before I can second-guess myself.

Dean is beaming as he passes it over. “That’s my girl. But don’t tell Wellsy. She’ll kick my ass if she thinks I’m corrupting her best friend.”

I wrap my lips around the joint and draw the smoke into my lungs, trying not to laugh at the genuine apprehension on Dean’s face. He’s probably right to be afraid of Hannah. Girl’s got a sharp tongue and she isn’t afraid to use it. That’s why I love her.

We spend the next couple minutes passing the joint back and forth in silence like a couple of hooligans loitering behind a gas station. This is the first time we’ve spent any time alone together, and it feels weird hanging out in the backyard with a shirtless Dean Di Laurentis. If I’m being honest, I’ve never known what to make of the guy. He’s cocky, flirtatious…

Superficial.

I feel like an ass for thinking it, but I can’t deny that’s what comes to mind whenever I see Dean. Hannah told me he’s filthy rich, and it totally shows. Not in the pompous, watch-me-roll-around-in-my-money-vault sense, but in the way he struts around like the world is his oyster. I have a feeling he’s never experienced a second of hardship in his life. Looking at him, you just know this guy gets whatever he wants, whenever he wants it.

Huh. And apparently marijuana makes me both philosophical and judgmental.

“So you got dumped?” he finally asks, watching me take another hit.

I blow smoke right in his face. “I did not get dumped. I’m the one who ended it.”

“The same guy you’ve been with forever? The frat guy? Stan?”

“Sean. And yeah, we’ve been dating on and off since freshman year.”

“Jesus. That’s way too long to be screwing the same person. Was the sex really boring?”

“Why is everything with you always about sex?” I pass the joint back. “And FYI—the sex was fine.”

“Fine?” He snickers. “Wow, what a ringing endorsement.”

I’m already feeling the effects of the weed, my head light and my body relaxed, which is probably the only reason I keep talking. Normally, I wouldn’t dream of confiding in this guy.

“I guess it wasn’t the best by the end,” I admit. “But maybe that’s because we’ve pretty much been fighting since the summer.”

“But this isn’t the first breakup, right? Why’d you keep going back to him?”

“Because I love him.” I correct myself, “Loved him.” God, I don’t even know anymore. “The first couple times we broke up, it wasn’t because either of us did anything wrong. I thought we were getting too serious, too fast. It was freshman year, and it seemed like we should be sowing our wild oats and all that crap.”

“Sowing oats is fun,” he agrees solemnly. “One time I sowed this really hot oat who poured maple syrup all over my dick and then licked it off.”

“Ew.” I roll my eyes. “And actually, the oat sowing sucked. I went out with a few guys and they were all total sleazebags. It made me realize how good I had it with Sean.”

Dean blows another cloud of smoke. “Okay. But then you guys broke up again.”

“Yeah.” The memory evokes a rush of aggravation. “That time it was because he got insanely controlling. One of his frat brothers hit on me at a party, and Sean decided that nobody was ever allowed to look at me again. He started telling me how to dress, texting all the time asking where I was and who I was with. It was suffocating.”

It’s Dean’s turn to roll his eyes. “Says the chick who got back together with him afterward.”

“He promised it would be different. And it was. He stopped being clingy, and he was so good to me after that.”

Dean seems unconvinced, but I don’t care. I don’t regret taking Sean back. After two and a half years with the guy, I knew we had something worth fighting for.

“Which brings us to breakup number four.” Dean slants his head curiously. “What happened?”

Discomfort squeezes my chest. “I told you. We were fighting a lot.”

“About what?”

The words spill out before I can stop them. Damn it. Did he lace this weed with truth serum or something? “Mostly about graduation and what we’re going to do after college. My plan was always to move to LA and focus on my acting career.”

Or New York… But I don’t mention that to Dean. I still haven’t made any decisions, and Dean is the last person I want to discuss deep, life-changing career moves with. The guy’s about as deep as a puddle.

“Sean was okay with it when we first started dating, but this summer he suddenly decided he doesn’t want me to go into acting. Actually, he doesn’t want me to work at all.” I frown. “He got it into his head that he’s going to work at his dad’s insurance firm in Vermont and I’m going to be the happy homemaker who has dinner waiting for him when he gets home.”

Dean shrugs. “Nothing wrong with being a homemaker.”

“Of course not, but I don’t want to be a homemaker,” I say in frustration. “I’ve spent almost four years working my ass off to earn this drama degree. I want to use it. I want to be an actress, and I can’t be with someone who doesn’t support me. He—” I stop, biting my lip.

“He what?”

“Nothing. Forget it.” I snatch the joint from his hand and inhale deeply. Too deeply, because I start coughing like crazy on the exhale. My eyes water for a moment, and when my vision clears, I find serious green eyes watching me carefully.

“What did he do?” Dean demands in a low voice. “And how bad of a beat-down does he deserve? Me and Garrett can handle our own in a fight, but if you want some bone-crushing, we can unleash Logan on him.”

“Nobody is crushing anybody’s bones, dumbass. Sean didn’t do anything terrible, and I don’t need you to beat him up. The only thing I want you to do is take this stupid phone.” I shove my cell phone in Dean’s hand. “Keep it away from me this weekend, okay? Only give it back if my dad calls. Or Hannah and Stella. And Meg and—you know what? I’ll check it a few times a day under your supervision. That way you can slap me if I try to text Sean.”

Dean looks intrigued. “So I’m…what, your relationship sponsor? I’m the one who makes sure you don’t fall off the wagon?”

“Yep. Congratulations, you finally get to do something worthwhile with your time,” I say sarcastically.

He tips his head. “What do I get in return?”

“The satisfaction of knowing you’re helping someone other than yourself?”

“Naah. How about a BJ? I’ll do it for a BJ.”

I give him the finger. “You wish.”

“Fine, an HJ.”

“Don’t be a dick. Please. I have no willpower when it comes to Sean.”

As if on cue, the phone buzzes in Dean’s hand, and my first instinct is to try to grab it. He swiftly takes a step back, then glances at the screen. “It’s Sean.” His mouth quivers in amusement. “He misses the taste of your lips.”

My heart does a painful flip. “Another rule—you’re not allowed to tell me what he says.”

“You’re giving me a lot of responsibility here, baby doll. I don’t like responsibility.”

Shocker. “You can handle this, baby doll. I have faith in you.”

Dean takes one final drag of the joint, then snuffs it out in the ashtray and heads for the glass sliding door. God, even the way he walks is arrogant. And he looks good doing it. My gaze unwittingly rests on his taut ass and the way his sweatpants cling to it. Yep, I’m checking out his ass. I mean, it’s a spectacular ass, and I’m a woman—how could I not?

“You’re going about this the wrong way, you know. The best way to get over someone is to hook up with someone else. ASAP.”

His words jolt me out of my butt-ogling. “I’m not ready to be with anyone else yet.”

“Sure you are. Seriously, just find yourself a rebound.” Dean whips up his arm. “I volunteer as tribute.”

A laugh flies out. “Dream on.”

But in the back of my mind, I’m considering the suggestion. A rebound isn’t a terrible idea, actually. It’s like falling off a horse—people always advise you to immediately get back on, right? Maybe that’s what I should do, hop right back in the saddle. If anything, it’ll be a good distraction from the ache in my heart.

I definitely won’t be doing it with Dean, though. Nope, I’d rather find a saddle that hasn’t already been ridden by every girl at Briar.

“We’ll put a pin in it,” he decides.

“If by that you mean sticking a pin in this stupid idea balloon and deflating it, then sure, let’s put a pin in it.”

Dean stops at the door and turns, his green eyes doing a seductive sweep from my head down to my toes. “Actually, the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of rebounding you.” His gaze lingers on my chest. “I like the idea a lot.”

I stifle a groan. “Garrett promised that you wouldn’t hit on me this weekend.”

“G knows better than to make promises on my behalf,” Dean answers with a grin. Then he beckons me. “So are we watching this movie or what?”

I follow him inside. My mind feels foggy from the weed, but in a good way, and when Dean stops in the hall to hike up the sweatpants that are about to fall off his trim hips, for some reason I start giggling as if it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.

My humor fades when we settle on the couch, because Dean flops down directly beside me, slings one muscular arm around my shoulders, and tugs me close. As if it’s totally normal.

I frown at him. “Why is your arm around me?”

His expression is all innocence. “This is how I watch movies.”

“Really? So you put your arm around Garrett when you watch movies with him?”

“Absolutely. And if he’s nice to me, sometimes I slide my hand down his pants.” Dean’s other hand skims down to the waistband of my leggings. “Be nice to me, and I promise I’ll be even nicer in return.”

“Ha. Not happening.” I shove his hand away, but not before a spark of heat ignites between my legs. His bare chest is glorious, and it’s taunting me, begging my fingers to stroke all those roped muscles. And he smells really good. Like the ocean. No, like coconut. I’m feeling way too loopy to pinpoint the scent, but not loopy enough that I don’t register how my pussy is still tingling like crazy.

Oh, for crying out loud. My sex life must have really gone to the shitter if I’m getting all tingly in the presence of Dean Di Laurentis.

“What else do we have to do?” he counters.

I point to the TV. “Watch a movie.”

“I’d rather be watching you.” He waggles his eyebrows. “You know, when you’re shouting my name while I make you come.”

This time there aren’t any tingles. Just a lot of laughter that pours out of my mouth in uncontrollable waves.

“Jesus. You’re really bad for a man’s ego.” He looks insulted.

I suck in a gulp of air between giggles. Yep, I’m high and relaxed and in possession of no filters whatsoever, which means I can make fun of Dean all I want and blame the weed later. “I’m sorry, but you’re too fucking much sometimes.” I can’t stop laughing. “Do girls really fall for these lines?”

He makes an unflattering noise under his breath. “Put on the damn movie already.”

“Gladly.” I click the remote and shift all the way to the other side of the couch, leaving three feet of distance between us.

To Dean’s credit, he doesn’t say a word for nearly thirty minutes. His gaze stays focused on the screen, but from the corner of my eye, I don’t miss all the fidgeting he’s doing. Tapping his long fingers on his thighs. Raking a hand through his hair. Heaving a sigh as we watch the main character prepare an omelet in real time.

When she sits at the counter and starts eating the omelet—in real time—Dean erupts like a dormant volcano.

“This movie blows!” He groans. Loudly. “There. I said it. This goddamn movie goddamn blows.”

“I think it’s good.” I’m lying. Enduring this film is the equivalent of watching paint dry. Not even the pot we just smoked can make this experience even the slightest bit enjoyable, but I don’t want to admit that I’d made the wrong choice. You can’t give a guy like Dean the win. Ever. He’ll lord it over me until the end of time.

“There’s no way you like this movie,” he challenges.

“I do,” I insist.

He stares me down for several seconds, but my acting skills come in handy, allowing me to convey pure innocence.

“Well, I don’t. This is a whole new level of brutal.”

I offer a helpful suggestion. “Why don’t you go upstairs and jerk off again?”

Shit. Wrong thing to say. His green eyes instantly take on a seductive glint.

With a lazy grin, he leans toward me and drawls, “How about you do it for me?”

This guy is incorrigible. “Are we back to this? Do you ever take no for an answer?”

“I’m not familiar with that word. Nobody’s ever said it to me before.” He moves closer again, resting his palm on the cushion between us and giving the fabric a slow stroke. “Come on, let’s make this party more interesting. We’re home alone…we’re both good-looking…”

I snicker.

“It’ll be fun. Sex is always fun.”

“Pass.”

“Okay, no sex. How about just oral?”

I pretend to think it over. “Am I giving or receiving?”

“Receiving. And then giving. Because that’s how it goes.” He smiles broadly. “You know, the circle of life and all that.”

I can’t help but laugh. Say what you want about this guy, but at least he’s entertaining. “Pass,” I say again.

“Wanna make out?” he asks hopefully.

“Nope.”

“I’m a really good kisser…” He leaves that hanging as if to entice me.

“Ha. That just means you’re not. Every time a guy says he’s a good kisser, he sucks.”

“Yeah? You got any empirical evidence to back that up?”

“Of course.” I really don’t. And Dean knows the word empirical? Wow, maybe there is more than air inside that pretty head of his.

He looks ready to argue with me, but we’re interrupted by a loud burst of music from his phone. I scowl when I recognize the tune.

Men. They can’t take one second to put the toilet seat down, but they have the time to program the ESPN theme song as their ringtone?

Dean’s expression brightens when he sees who’s calling. He answers without delay. “Maxwell! What’s shaking?” He listens, then shoots me a hopeful look. “Wanna go to a party?”

I shake my head.

The person on the other end of the line is forced to endure Dean’s overly dramatic sigh. “Sorry, man. I can’t. I’m babysitting—”

I smack him on the arm.

“—and she doesn’t want to go,” he finishes as he glares at me. He pauses again. “No, she’s fully grown.”

What?

“I’m babysitting an adult, dude. G’s girlfriend’s friend.” Dean rambles on as if I’m not even in the room. “We’re watching this movie about a lady with cancer and it sucks…well yeah, cancer sucks in general. I mean, all my sympathies for people who have it, but this movie is god-awful. Yeah…no, game’s on Tuesday…truth…yeah, definitely. We can hit up Malone’s. Later, bro.”

He hangs up and turns to scowl at me. “I could be at a party right now.”

“Nobody’s forcing you to hang out with me,” I point out.

“I’m trying to be nice to you, on account of your poor broken heart and all. But is there any gratitude on your part? Nope. You won’t even kiss me.”

I lean in and pat him on the shoulder. “Aw, honey-pie. I’m sure any girl in your phone’s contact list would be happy to come over and stick her tongue in your mouth. I, on the other hand, have standards.”

“What, I’m not good enough for you?” He lifts his eyebrows. “I’ll have you know, your friend Wellsy loved kissing me.”

I snort. “Oh, you mean that peck she gave you so Garrett wouldn’t know how much she liked kissing him? Yeah, I know all about it, sweetie. That was a desperation kiss.” Though it still boggles my mind that Hannah actually kissed this guy. Dean is so not her type.

Then again, I never thought hockey superstar Garrett Graham was her type either, and look at them now. Soulmates.

“That wasn’t a desperation kiss,” Dean argues.

“Uh-huh. Keep telling yourself that.”

He looks at the screen. The main character is preparing food again. Dinner, this time, and there are far too many unnecessary close-ups of the potatoes she’s peeling. She eats a lot in this movie.

“God, just kill me already.” He leans back and runs both his hands through his hair until it’s tousled to shit. “I can’t watch another second of this.”

Me neither, but I made this bed and now I’m forced to lie in it.

“You know what?” he announces. “Forget the weed. Only one thing is gonna make this piece-of-shit movie tolerable.”

“Yeah, what’s that?”

Rather than answer, he hops off the couch and disappears into the kitchen. Wary, I listen to the sounds of cupboards opening and closing, glasses clinking together, and then he’s back, holding a bottle in one hand and two shot glasses in the other.

Dean flashes a grin and says, “Tequila.”





3




Allie


Someone is pounding my head with a mallet. Like one of those comically huge mallets you see cartoon characters whacking each other with. It’s horrible. It’s loud.

Oh God. I’m so hung-over.

Even the barely audible groan that escapes my lips is enough to bring a shock of agony to my temples. And the act of shifting in bed evokes a wave of nausea that tightens my throat and makes my eyes water. I breathe through it. Inhale. Exhale. I just need to control the queasiness long enough to make it to the bathroom so I don’t hurl all over Garrett Graham’s clean sheets—

I’m not in Garrett’s bed.

The realization hits me at the same time I register the sound of breathing. Not the shallow, I-drank-too-much-tequila breaths that are leaving my throat, but the soft, even breathing of the guy beside me.

This time when I groan, it comes from deep in my soul.

The memories come crashing back in vivid Technicolor. The terrible movie. The tequila shots. The…rest.

I slept with Dean last night.

Twice.

My heart beats faster as I stare up at the ceiling. I’m in Dean’s room. There’s an empty condom wrapper on the end table. And…yep, I’m naked.

Maybe it was a bad dream, a voice in my head tries to assure me.

I draw another deep breath and find the courage to turn my head. What I encounter seizes my lungs again.

A very naked Dean is stretched out on his stomach. His bare ass taunts me, not just with its sheer perfection, but because of the red scratches on his tight butt cheeks.

My nails had left those scratches. I lift a weak hand and notice the fingernail on my index finger is broken. I broke a nail while clawing at Dean’s ass. That must have happened downstairs—I remember him being on top the first time on the couch. The purplish hickey on his left shoulder had happened up here, during our second round when I was on top.

“I want to see this mysterious bedroom of yours. I want to be the first one to christen it.”

My own words buzz around in my already-muddled brain. As it turned out, I’m not the first girl he’s brought up to his room. He’d told me so himself. And that wasn’t all he’d revealed. Yep, I am now in possession of the nugget of knowledge Hannah has been trying to get her hands on for more than a year—why Dean prefers to screw everywhere but his bedroom.

Unfortunately, the knowledge doesn’t end there. I know what Dean looks like naked. I know how it feels to have him thrusting inside me. I know the sounds he makes when he’s coming.

I know too much.

My head pounds harder.

Fuck.

Fuckity fuck fuck fuck.

What the hell have I done? I’ve never had casual sex before. My sex roster features a total of three guys—two in high school, one in college, and all of them were my serious boyfriends.

My gaze strays back to Dean’s long, muscular body. Why did I let this happen? I can handle my liquor just fine. I wasn’t blackout drunk last night. I wasn’t slurring or stumbling or acting like an idiot. I knew exactly what I was doing when I made the first move and kissed Dean.

I made the first move.

What is the matter with me?

Okay. Okay. Not the end of the world. I massage my screaming temples with the pads of my fingers and force myself to ignore the sleeping man beside me. It’s fine. It was just a one-night stand. Nobody died. I might regret it—desperately—but regrets are for sissies, as my dad likes to say. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

That’s what I need to do. Move on. No, just move. As in, sneak out of this bed, take a long shower, and pretend that last night never happened.

Armed with a plan, I gingerly slide out from under the sheet that’s haphazardly thrown over my lower body. The mattress squeaks and I freeze, my panicky gaze darting toward Dean.

He’s still dead to the world.

Okay. I take another breath and ease my legs over the side of the bed. When my feet hit the floor, Dean stirs. He releases a half-moan, half-breath. Then he rolls over and oh my God, I can see his dick.

Heat floods my cheeks as I stare at his package. Even flaccid, it’s impressive. He was right—he does have a great cock.

And unless my memory is failing me, I believe I vocally praised the glory of that cock many, many times last night.

My face grows hotter as I remember everything I’d said to him. Everything I’d done to him.

A silent groan rises in my throat. All right, enough reminiscing. I need to get the hell out of this bedroom. No, first I need to find my phone.

I scan the room until I spot Dean’s sweatpants. He’d slipped them on after our romp on the couch, and I’m pretty sure my phone is in his pocket.

My own clothes are nowhere to be found—last I saw them, they were in a pile on the living room floor. Which only brings more panic, because that means Tucker must have seen them when he got home last night. Shit. And he had to have heard us, because God knows I wasn’t using my indoor voice when Dean’s tongue was between my—

Nope, not thinking about it.

I fish around in his pockets for my phone. Yes. It’s here. Thank God.

I type in my passcode. Guilt slams into me from all directions when I see the unread messages from Sean.

God. If he only knew what I’d been doing when he was sending me all these heartfelt text messages. Not that I owe him any explanations. We’re broken up. We’re going to stay broken up. But I still feel awful knowing I slept with someone else while Sean was at home, desperately trying to win me back.

Not just any guy, either. I slept with Dean. Dean, the guy who was about to have a threesome before I showed up. Dean, the guy who fucks anyone with a pulse. Dean, the guy who—

“Hand it over, baby doll.”

His voice startles a squeak out of me. My head swivels toward the bed, where Dean is sliding up into a sitting position, running one hand through his sleep-messy hair. He doesn’t look or sound groggy at all. His green eyes are alert, and his naked body is…transforming.

I feel myself blushing at the sight of his quickly hardening dick, so I drop my gaze to my bare feet. “Would you please cover yourself up?”

“That’s not what you said last night…”

His mocking tone grates. “We are not discussing last night. Ever.”

He looks even more amused. “Oh, relax. It was just sex.” He makes no move to pull the sheet over his lower body. Instead, he stretches both arms high over his head, drawing my attention to his flexing muscles. And his wrists. He has red marks around his wrists…

Because I tied him to the bed last night.

Sweet mother of Moses.

When he catches where my gaze has gone, the corners of his mouth quirk up. “Granted, it was a lot kinkier than I thought it would be,” he continues with a wink. “But I ain’t complaining.”

Kill me. Just kill me.

As another rush of humiliation crashes over me, I grab the nearest item of clothing I can find—a black V-neck T-shirt—and throw it over my head. A familiar smell clouds my senses. Something spicy and masculine. It’s the same scent I breathed in last night when my lips were traveling over Dean’s bare chest. When my face was buried in his neck as I sucked on his skin like it was candy. And yep, there’s another hickey on his throat. I really went to town on this guy.

“We are not talking about it,” I say through clenched teeth. “It happened, it was fine, and it will never be mentioned again.”

“It was fine?” Smirking, Dean drags a hand down his chest, his long fingers resting right above the head of his thick erection. “It was more than fine and you know it.”

“Would you please, please get dressed?” I beg.

“Can’t. You’re wearing my shirt.” He arches a brow. “Why don’t you take it off and toss it this way?”

Fat chance. This guy is never laying eyes on my naked body again.

Since I refuse to give up the shirt, I do the next best thing and turn my back to him to go through my phone. I ignore Sean’s texts and skip to the ones from my friends. One from Hannah checking how my night was, and one from Megan asking me to brunch.

I quickly text Meg back with a resounding YES and ask her to pick me up from Garrett’s. Just as the gray bubble that indicates she’s typing a response appears, the phone is snatched from my hand.

“Hey!” I’m startled to find Dean behind me. Jeez. The guy moves like a ninja.

“I’m in charge of this, remember?” He’s mocking me again, keeping the phone out of my reach. “As your sponsor, I must advise you to ignore—” he glances at the screen “these nine text messages from your ex. No good will come out of reading them.”

He’s right about that. But after what happened between us last night, there’s no way Dean is going to be my relationship sponsor.

“It’s fine,” I mumble. “I don’t need your help.”

He echoes his earlier taunt. “Not what you said last night. Your phone stays with me this weekend, Allie-Cat. No arguments.”

Allie-Cat? Oh help me Rhonda. He’s given me a pet name.

“I’m meeting a friend,” I say tightly. “So I need my phone, okay? Besides, your sponsor duties are officially done. I’m going back to the dorms after brunch.”

He frowns. “No, you’re staying the weekend.”

“Not anymore.”

I attempt to grab my phone from him. He moves it aside again. “Is this because we fucked last night?”

My cheeks are scorching. “What part of never mention it again didn’t you understand?”

“This is bullshit. You can’t leave just because you and I got wasted and screwed around a couple times. You’re totally overreacting.”

I take a deep breath. “Can we please not talk about it?”

“Babe, do you think I enjoy talking about this stuff? I’d rather roll around in broken glass than deal with this whole morning after shit. If you were any other girl, I’d say forget it, but you’re Wellsy’s best friend, so that means we’ve gotta talk about it.” He curses suddenly. “Oh shit. Wellsy is going to kill me.”

Oh shit is right. I’ll definitely be on the receiving end of a stern lecture from Hannah if she finds out I slept with Dean. Maybe in a few days, or a week—or a decade—I’ll be able to tell her what happened last night, but right now, I want to forget all about it. Which means keeping my best friend in the dark for as long as I can.

“She’s not going to kill you, because we’re not going to tell her,” I say firmly. “Seriously, this has to stay between us.”

“Agreed.”

“And you’re not allowed to bring it up ever again. As far as I’m concerned, it didn’t happen.”

He gives me a cocky grin. “Don’t kid yourself, baby doll. You won’t be able to stop thinking about me now that you’ve had a taste of this.” To punctuate that, he grips his semi-hard dick and gives it a slow stroke.

A jolt of heat spirals down to my core.

Argh. Stupid Dean and his stupid awesome dick.

“I’ve already forgotten all about it,” I lie. But in my head, more memories crop up, making me want to scream in frustration.

“I like you like this…”

“Ha. So you admit it—you do like me,” he drawls.

I smile at his immobilized wrists. “I said I like you like this.” My mouth slowly descends on his erect cock. “Completely at my mercy…”

Sweet lord. My cheeks are on fire again. Sean wasn’t always on board with my adventurous nature when it came to sex. I was the one who had to coax and plead with him to try whatever kinky new idea sparked my interest.

Dean hadn’t even batted an eye at our sexual exploits.

“Do you need me to remind you how good it was?” He tilts his head mockingly, his hand still on his dick.

“No, I need you to be a fucking grown-up,” I burst out. I’m losing patience with him, and I’m too angry with myself to control my temper. “I’m hung-over and I’m really embarrassed and you’re making it worse by throwing last night in my face, okay?”

His expression falters. “Shit.” He clears his throat and lets go of his dick, then hastily picks up his sweatpants. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.” He yanks the pants on. “And you have no reason to feel embarrassed. We’re both adults. We had fun and made each other come a bunch of times. No biggie, okay? But if you really don’t want me to bring it up again, I won’t.”

I draw a shaky breath. “Thank you.”

Dean studies my face. “Are we cool?”

I manage a nod. My head is still throbbing, but it’s not the hangover that’s making me feel weak and wobbly right now. It’s the fact that I did something so out of character for me. It’s the horrible knowledge that I slept with someone else a measly twenty-four hours after I broke up with Sean. That’s not me, damn it.

“Are you sure?” he presses.

I force myself to speak. “We’re cool, Dean.” My phone buzzes and I see a text from Meg saying she’s five minutes away. “I need to get dressed. Megan will be here soon.” I bite my lip when something occurs to me. “Crap. My clothes are downstairs. Tucker…”

As I trail off, Dean wanders over to the window and peeks behind the curtains. “He’s not here—Logan’s truck is gone. Guess he didn’t come home last night.”

Relief hits me, but also a burst of annoyance. Because where was Tucker yesterday when I needed him? If he’d been home, I probably wouldn’t have ended up in bed with Dean. Or maybe instead, I would’ve ended up in bed with Tucker, who happens to be the hottest ginger I’ve ever met. He’s also far quieter than his roommates and doesn’t talk about himself much, but from what I can glean, he’s smart, well-spoken, and definitely easy on the eyes.

In hindsight, Tuck would have been a fantastic rebound candidate.

“I’m going to run down and get my clothes,” I mutter awkwardly.

He calls out after me. “What are you going to tell Wellsy about bailing mid-weekend? You know she’ll ask questions.”

Damn it. He’s right. “I’ll tell her I decided to put on my big girl pants and deal with my breakup at home.”

I’m halfway to the door when his voice stops me again. “Allie.”

“Yeah?” I turn around.

His green eyes flicker unhappily. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Nope, I’m not sure at all. “I’m fine,” I lie, then duck out of the bedroom.

As far as walks of shame go, this one isn’t so bad because at least there’s nobody around to witness it.





4




Dean


I’ve always been popular. Doesn’t matter how far back I go in my memory bank, I always see myself surrounded by friends. And girls. Lots and lots of girls. The giggling ones in grade school who slipped me Do you like me??? notes when the teacher was facing the blackboard. The ones in high school who’d fight for my attention and line up to make out with me on the lacrosse field after hours.

And college, don’t get me started on college. I thought I knew the meaning of chick magnet before I came to Briar, but these past three years have exceeded even my own expectations about my desirability. The older I get, the more the ladies dig me.

So yeah, I’m not surprised that Allie threw herself at me last night. It was an inevitability the moment she informed me I have “perfect nipples.”

But the sheer disgust on her face this morning when we woke up in bed together? That’s a new one.

“Fuckin’ Corsen wouldn’t be able to stop a puck if it was moving two miles an hour in a straight path toward him.”

My teammate’s grumbled complaint draws me from my thoughts and makes me stifle a groan. My boy Hunter doesn’t seem to understand bar etiquette. You don’t go to bars to gripe and moan about a hockey game. You go to bars to score. Period.

But the kid’s only eighteen. He’ll wise up one day.

“Dude, the game was two days ago,” I tell the freshman. “Get over it.”

I scan the bar for Tucker, but my roommate hasn’t shown up yet. It’s mostly the hockey crowd that fills up the bar tonight. Several of my teammates, tons of fans, and a parade of scantily clad puck bunnies. More than a few appreciative female gazes flit in our direction, but Hunter doesn’t seem to notice a single one.

His features are tight, and he’s barely touched his drink. “This is your fault, you know.” Accusation rings in his tone. “I didn’t even want to play this year, but you just had to talk me into it. I could have ended my career as the star forward on the number one ranked prep school team in the country. And now I’m the nobody left wing on a team that’s going down the shitter.”

I sip my beer. “Anyone ever tell you you’re a sore loser?”

“Oh fuck off. Like you enjoy losing.”

“Of course I don’t. But I also know that winning isn’t everything. Oh, and by the way? Glass houses, throwing stones, et cetera et cetera.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that instead of blaming Corsen for letting in three goals, you should be concentrating on the fact that you didn’t score a single one. This ain’t prep school, Superstar. College D-men aren’t as easy to deke out.”

Harsh, but true. And Hunter Davenport needs to hear it. Coach has been going easy on Hunter in practice, because other than Garrett, he’s the only forward on the roster who’s capable of greatness. But unlike Garrett, Hunter has one major weakness: overconfidence. The kid thinks he’s the next Sidney Crosby.

“You’re saying I’m not good enough to play at this level?” Rather than anger, Hunter’s expression conveys distress, which only highlights his major strength: he’s always striving to get better.

“I’m saying you need work. You made some amateur mistakes the other night. Like when Fitzy was in trouble after that power play? You went to bail him out—that’s not your job, bro. You don’t skate into another winger’s corner. You’ve gotta trust your center to help the other guy out.”

Hunter takes a hasty sip of beer.

“And you suck at reading plays sometimes. When Eastwood’s D-man made that sweet pass that led to a breakaway? You should’ve anticipated who he was going to pass to, but you totally misread him.”

“I was watching the puck the whole time,” he protests.

“Forget the puck. Watch the player, dude. Pay attention to who he’s looking at, where his teammates are moving. Read who he’s targeting and then intercept that pass.”

Hunter goes quiet. When he speaks again, he sounds grudgingly impressed. “You know a lot about this stuff, huh?”

I shrug. I know I have a reputation for not being as serious about hockey as my teammates, and maybe there’s some truth to that, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand the mechanics and nuances of the game.

Hockey has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up playing it. Lacrosse too, but that was mostly a way to pass time in the spring until hockey started up again. Both my dad and older brother played hockey at Harvard. I could’ve too, but I chose Briar instead. I’m always following in their footsteps, and I guess I just wanted to be different or some shit.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t play hockey only because they did. I love the game. It just doesn’t give me the same thrill that Garrett and Logan seem to experience every time they’re on the ice.

Truthfully, I have more fun during practice. I enjoy the drills and the scrimmages, the opportunity to get better and help my teammates get better. I’m not interested in going pro after I graduate, which pleases my family to no end, because Heyward-Di Laurentises don’t become professional athletes. They become lawyers. Next fall I’ll be attending Harvard Law like every other member of my family. I’m cool with that, and I have no doubt I’ll be good at it. The Di Laurentis charm I inherited from my dad pretty much guarantees I’ll be winning over judges left and right.

“What else am I doing wrong?” Hunter sounds more curious than pissed.

I grin at him. “Tell you what, how about some one-on-one sessions this week? I’ll see if Coach will sign off on extra ice time.”

“Seriously? I would really appreciate that, actually. Thanks—”

I interrupt him. “But only if you agree to quit talking about hockey for the rest of the night.” I gesture to the packed bar. “Look around. It’s a hot girl banquet in here. Pick the one you like and feast, idiot.”

Hunter laughs, but his dark eyes gleam as he takes in the view. Several chicks respond to his attention with DTF smiles, but rather than wave them over, he glances at me—or rather, at my neck—and snorts. “Actually, maybe you should introduce me to the wildcat you hooked up with last night. Ms. Hickey seems like fun.”

I stiffen. No way am I letting this kid anywhere near Allie. He might be young, but he’s well on his way to becoming an even bigger player than I am.

Then again, maybe it’s Hunter I should be worrying about. After last night’s performance, Allie Hayes proved that she’s fully capable of leaving her mark on a man. Jesus. That girl can fuck.

Damn, and now my dick is semi-hard. It’s been doing that all day, chubbing out every time I think about Allie. It was the hottest hook-up I’ve had in a long while. Hell, my wrists are still sore from being tied to the bed, but it’s the kind of sore that just makes me want to do it again.

Tapping the same ass more than once isn’t usually my style, but right now my dick is aching to bury itself in Allie’s naughty pussy again.

“Sorry, Superstar. Not happening,” I tell him. “Find your own wildcat.”

“Fine.” Grinning, he gives the room another scan. “Oh yeah. I think I know who I’m going home with tonight.”

I follow his gaze to the long wooden counter, where a tall brunette has her back turned to us as she leans forward to order a drink. She’s in a short black skirt and high heels, with long brown hair falling down her back in waves. The male bartender is damn near drooling, his hungry eyes peering down her shirt, which tells me she must have a great rack. All I can see is her ass, though, and it’s pretty fantastic.

Normally I’d be all over the brunette, but I’m not in the mood to score tonight. My mind keeps drifting back to Allie. And Allie’s pussy. And her tits. Man, her tits were incredible. A perfect handful, with pale pink nipples that went harder than icicles when I sucked on them.

I sigh and do some strategic rearranging in my crotchal region. I’ve gotta quit thinking about last night, for chrissake. God knows Allie is doing her best to forget it.

“What do you think?” Hunter asks me.

I shift my gaze away from the brunette. “She might be a little out of your league.”

“I’m a hockey player. Nobody’s out of my league.”

“Truth.” I chuckle. That was the first thing I taught Hunter when I took him under my wing at the start of the season. But even so, the brunette has the sexiest body I’ve ever seen. A woman like that can have anyone in this bar, and I’m not sure freshman Hunter makes the cut, even if he is wearing a Briar hockey jacket.

Across the room, the chick we’re admiring suddenly turns around. Just like that, my appreciation fizzles into disgust. “Oh hell no. Stay away from that one, kid. She’s toxic.”

“She doesn’t look toxic to me,” Hunter drawls.

Naïve bastard. Luckily, I know better. Sabrina James is undeniably gorgeous, but I’d pour hot wax on my balls before I hooked up with her. Well, before I hooked up with her again.

Yup. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

Someone jostles me from behind, and I turn to find Tucker approaching. His black-and-silver jacket is soaking wet, and so is his hair.

“Je-sus. It’s coming down hard out there.” He does a full-body shake like a dog who’s just scampered out of a lake.

“Hey Fido, go dry off somewhere else,” I order as cold droplets splash my face and hit me in the eye.

Hunter doesn’t even notice that Tucker is dripping water all over our shoes. He’s too busy ogling Sabrina.

Tuck follows the freshman’s gaze. “Nice,” he remarks, then turns to grin at me. “I take it you already called dibs?”

I blanch. “Not a chance. That’s Sabrina, bro. She already busts my balls in class on a daily basis. I don’t need her busting them outside of school.”

Sabrina and I are both Poli Sci majors on the pre-law path, so we share way too many classes for my peace of mind. We both applied to Harvard Law too, which I’m not particularly happy about. The thought of spending two more years sitting in the same lecture halls as her makes suicide sound pretty appealing.

“Wait, that’s Sabrina?” Tucker says in surprise. “I see her around campus all the time, but I didn’t realize she’s the one you’re always bitching about.”

“One and the same.”

His southern drawl rears up. “Damn shame. She sure is fine to look at.”

“What’s the deal with you two?” Hunter pipes up. “She your ex?”

I recoil again. “Fuck no.”

“So I won’t be breaking the bro code if I make a move?”

“You want to make a move? Go nuts. But I’m warning you, that bitch will eat you alive.”

Sabrina’s head turns sharply toward us. She probably has some kind of internal radar that goes off every time someone calls her a bitch. I bet it goes off a lot.

As our gazes lock, she smirks at me, then flips up her middle finger before turning to talk to her friend.

Hunter groans. “Well, there goes that. She won’t give me the time of day now that she saw me with you. What’d you do to her, anyway?”

“Absolutely nothing,” I say darkly.

“Bullshit. A chick doesn’t murder a guy with her eyes like that unless he screwed up bad. Did you hook up with her?”

Tucker snorts. “What do you think, kid? I mean, look at her.”

“Looks can be deceiving,” I mutter.

My roommate cocks his head in challenge. “So you didn’t sleep with her?”

A sigh slides out. “No, I did. But it was a long time ago. I’m pretty sure hook-ups have expiration dates. Like after three years have gone by, it doesn’t count anymore.”

The guys laugh. “Let me guess,” Tucker says. “You didn’t call her afterward.”

“No,” I admit. “But in my defense, it’s hard to call a chick when one, she doesn’t give you her number, and two, when you don’t remember it happened.”

Hunter’s jaw falls open. “How could you not remember that?” He’s damn near salivating as he checks out Sabrina again.

“We were both wasted. Trust me, she didn’t remember much either.”

“So that’s why she hates you?” Hunter presses.

I wave a hand. “Naah. The beef started over something else. Which I’m not going to fucking talk about right now, because Jesus Christ, it’s Saturday night and we should be partying.”

Tucker chuckles. “I’m gonna grab a beer. You guys need a refill?”

“I’m good,” Hunter says.

As Tuck heads for the counter, I pull out my phone and check the time. It’s nine-thirty. I scroll through my contacts while Hunter starts talking hockey to me again. I think I still have Allie’s number from when she was planning Hannah’s birthday this spring. She’d sent about a hundred mass texts outlining every mundane detail of the party.

Yup, it’s still in my phone. I saved her contact info as Wellsy’s Blonde Friend. I should probably change that to Bondage Girl.

I type a quick message.

Me: U make it back to the dorm ok?

It’s a dumb question, because she left our place this morning, so of course she made it back. Still, I’m surprised when she answers right away.

Her: Yep. Here now.

Me: Shitty weather 2nite. Prolly good ur staying in.

She doesn’t respond to that. I stare at the screen in frustration, then wonder why I care. I’m the king of casual hook-ups. I rarely ever want a repeat performance after I’ve slept with a girl, and if there’s one girl I shouldn’t sleep with again, it’s Allie.

Not too many things in this world make it on my Scared Shitless list, but Garrett’s girlfriend is solidly positioned in the top three. Wellsy won’t be happy if she finds out I slept with her best friend, and if Wellsy’s not happy, Garrett’s not happy, which means I’ll have to deal with G tsking at me all disappointed-like. Logan will follow his lead, and then Grace will jump on the Dean-is-an-ass bandwagon, and the next thing I know, I’ll be taking shit from all directions. That’s reason enough not to go there, but my sexed-up body is being a stubborn asshole.

I want her again.

One more time wouldn’t hurt, right? Shit, or maybe twice? I’m not entirely sure how many times it will take to get her out of my system. All I know is that every time I think about her, my dick gets impossibly hard.

Beside me, Hunter has transferred his attention to a group of girls at a nearby table, and I can’t help but be proud when one measly nod from him causes the trio to saunter over to us. My boy’s got game.

“Which one of you is going to buy us a round?” one of them teases. She’s tall and blond and rocking a minidress that stops mid-thigh.

As Hunter opens his mouth to respond, all the lights in the bar flicker ominously.

I frown and glance over at Tucker, who’s just rejoined the group. “Is it the Apocalypse out there or something?”

“It’s coming down pretty hard,” he admits.

The lights stop flickering. I take that as my cue to bail, because if we’re dealing with a potential power outage, I’d rather be home when it happens instead of on the road. Besides, for all my talk about partying, I’m really not feeling the bar tonight.

“Hey, I’m heading out.” I clap a hand over my roommate’s shoulder. “See you back at home.” I don’t miss the disappointed pouts on the girls’ faces, but I’m confident they’ll forget all about me once Hunter and Tuck turn up the charm.

I exit the bar a minute later and realize Tuck wasn’t kidding. In the ten seconds it takes me to get to my car, I’m soaked to the bone, dripping water all over the Beemer’s leather interior. The bolts of lightning streaking across the sky are so bright they make the act of flicking on my headlights almost redundant. I could probably just let those blinding white flashes light the way home.

I fish out my phone again.

Me: Weather’s worse than I thought. Keep a flashlight near u in case power goes out.

Oh, for chrissake. I sound like I’m writing a shitty survival guide. Why am I even texting her?

Allie responds with, Thx for the tip, then follows it up with, Srsly, stop worrying about me. I’m reading on the couch. Under a blanket. Snug as a bug in a mug.

Me: In a rug.

Her: ??

Me: Snug as a bug in a RUG. That’s how u say it.

There’s five whole seconds of radio silence, and then my phone rings in my hand. I’m grinning as I answer the call.

“Why would the bug be in a rug?” she demands.

I snort. “Why would it be in a mug?”

“Because that’s a cozy place for it to be! If it’s in a rug, someone might step on it.”

“If it’s in a mug, someone might drink it.”

“Are we writing a bad Dr. Seuss book right now?”

Laughter bubbles in my throat. “Sure fucking sounds like it.”

“Well, either way, I think my phrasing is better.”

I’m momentarily distracted by the rain hammering against the windshield. It’s falling harder now, and a second later, all the lights in the parking lot go out.

I curse softly as darkness surrounds my car. “Shit. Malone’s just lost power,” I tell Allie. “Make sure you stay inside, okay? And don’t go wandering around the halls of Bristol House if the power goes out.”

“What, you think a serial killer is going to sneak into the dorm and hunt me down?” She’s quiet for a beat. “Even if that happened, I’d probably be able to take him.”

I snicker. “Uh-huh. Sure.”

“Hey, I’m fierce,” she insists. “My dad and I took part in a really intensive father-daughter self-defense program when I was fourteen.”

“Father-daughter self-defense? Is that even a thing?”

“No, but we made it one. He traveled a lot when I was growing up, so whenever he was home he would come up with creative ways for us to bond. But since he’s Mr. Macho man, we were only allowed to do boy things. Like fishing or riding dirt bikes or learning how to beat each other up. Anyway, I’m hanging up now. I want to finish reading this play.” She pauses. “Drive safe.”

“Wait,” I blurt out before she can end the call.

“What is it?”

I stare at the rain that’s sliding down the windshield. Wondering what the hell is wrong with me.

Then I lick my suddenly dry lips and say, “I want to fuck you again.”

I can hear her breath hitch over the extension.

My body tightens in anticipation. I think about the sweet curve of her ass filling my palms. The way her nipples puckered when I flicked my tongue over them. The tight grip of her pussy squeezing my cock.

A silent groan shudders through my chest. Fuck me. I’m lusting hard for this chick. And now I’m holding my breath, waiting for her to answer.

After a long pause, her annoyed voice says, “Goodbye, Dean.”

I growl in frustration when the line goes dead.





5




Allie


My heart is pounding as I hang up on Dean. I hadn’t expected him to say that. At all.

“I want to fuck you again.”

Well, of course he does. I’m amazing in bed.

But there’s no way I’m sleeping with the guy again, not after I spent the entire day feeling like Hester fricking Prynne. Only, the self-judgment I’ve been hitting myself with is far more scathing than anything that poor woman ever got from those Puritans.

God, I’m not cut out for casual sex. I feel…defiled. Except that’s ridiculous, because if anyone was defiled last night, it was Dean. Not only did I seduce him, but I tied him up and rode him like he was my own personal amusement park ride.

I’m such a slut.

You’re not a slut.

Okay, maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m just a twenty-two year old woman who had some no-strings fun for once in her life.

The only problem is—I like the strings. Sex and relationships go hand in hand for me. I’m all about the snuggling and inside jokes and talking late into the night. I’m a card-carrying member of Team Boyfriend, and after last night, I can honestly say that Team One-Night-Stand sucks balls. The sex was incredible, but the shame it left me with isn’t worth the orgasms.

Sighing, I toss my phone on the couch cushion and pick up the script I’d been reading before Dean interrupted. The student-written play will be my final performance at Briar. I’m one of two female leads, and even though the material is a tad melodramatic for my tastes, I’m looking forward to rehearsals. Ever since my theater debut in Boston this summer, I’ve been itching to perform in front of a live audience again.

Which is just another contributing factor to the stress I’ve been under. I’m at a crossroads in my career, and I have no idea which path to take, damn it.

When I started college, I asked my agent to concentrate on only finding summer projects for me. It would have been too tempting to drop out of school if a juicy role came along, and I wanted my degree. Now that I’m graduating, all bets are off. Pilot season kicks off around January, and Ira has already sent me dozens of scripts for sitcoms and Glee-style dramedies, along with several romantic comedy screenplays that normally I’d be salivating over.

I always thought I was destined for comedic roles. I caught the acting bug when I was still in middle school, and all the bit parts I’ve landed over the years have been light and fluffy, highlighting my comedic timing and girl-next-door persona. I dreamed about being a rom com queen. The next Sandra Bullock or Kate Hudson or Emma Stone.

Until this summer, when a casting call went out for a super serious, super depressing play directed by Brett Cavanaugh, an Oscar-winning director and a fricking legend. Somehow my agent made it possible for me to read for Cavanaugh, and to my total astonishment I actually got the part—the heroin-addicted younger sister of the lead actress. The show only had a two-month run, but it was a huge success. Since then, I’ve received a ton of offers to read for more dramatic roles, both on stage and for television.

And someone told me Cavanaugh is developing another project for the stage, off-off Broadway this time…

Shit. Why am I so tempted to veer off the course I set for myself? Considering dramatic roles is one thing, but theater?

Hollywood means more money. More recognition. Oscars and Golden Globes and Rodeo Drive shopping sprees.

I stare at the stack of scripts on the coffee table. If I get hired for one of these pilots Ira sent over and the show gets picked up? Or if I snag a role in one of these films? I could actually break out in the business. So why am I fantasizing about stage acting?

I’m still lost in thought when my phone rings. I check the screen, and for a second I think it’s Dean calling, until I do a double take and realize it’s an S, not a D. Huh. My ex-boyfriend and my one-night-stand literally have the same name with one letter replaced. I wonder if that means something…

Sean’s calling you, you idiot.

Yeah, that’s probably the more pressing issue at the moment.

My chest fills with anxiety. I shouldn’t pick up. I really, really shouldn’t pick up.

I pick up.

“Are you okay?” are the first words I hear.

Sean sounds so frantic that I’m quick to reassure him. “I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I came by after class yesterday and you weren’t home. And I texted you all night.”

“I know.” I gulp. “I spent the night at a friend’s. I…” Another gulp. “I told you I didn’t want to see you.”

“I was hoping you’d change your mind.” There’s no mistaking the sheer torment in his voice. “Fuck, baby. I miss you. I know it’s only been a couple days, but I miss you so much.”

My heart cracks in two.

“I messed up, okay? I see that now. I shouldn’t have given you an ultimatum, and I definitely shouldn’t have said your acting career isn’t going anywhere. I was upset and lashing out at you, and you didn’t deserve that. When I came to your opening night in Boston this summer, I was blown away. Seriously. You’re so talented, baby. I’m an ass for saying all that shit to you. I didn’t mean it.”

He’s practically pleading with me now, and another piece of my heart splinters off. “Sean—”

“You’re the most important person in my life,” he interrupts, his voice thick with emotion. “You mean the world to me, and I want to fucking strangle myself for driving you away. Please, baby, give me another chance.”

“Sean—”

“I know I can fix this. Just give me a chance to—”

“Sean.”

He stops. “Babe?” he says uncertainly.

My throat goes impossibly tight, almost like it’s trying to prevent me from saying my next words. But the guilt is eating me alive. I can’t just sit here and listen to him beg, not when I’m feeling this way. I swallow again and force my vocal cords to cooperate.

“I slept with someone last night.”

Deafening silence greets my ears. It seems to drag on forever, and with each second that ticks by, my stomach churns harder.

“Did you hear me?” I whisper.

There’s a choked noise. “Yeah…I heard you.”

We both fall silent. Pain and guilt continue to stab my insides. I involuntarily flash back to the day I met Sean. It was during freshman orientation, and I remember thinking he was the cutest boy I’d ever seen with his floppy brown hair that he’s since cropped, twinkling hazel eyes, and the cutest butt on the planet. Being the outspoken weirdo that I am, I commented on the cuteness of said butt, and his cheeks had turned redder than his Red Sox T-shirt.

We had dinner in one of the meal halls that night.

A week after that, we were a couple.

And now, three years later, we’re broken up, and I’ve just confessed to having sex with someone else. Where the hell had we gone wrong?

“Who?”

The strangled question startles me. “W-what?”

“Who was it?” Sean says flatly.

Discomfort tightens my chest. “It doesn’t matter who it was. I won’t be seeing him again. It was…” I take a breath. “It was a stupid mistake. But I thought you should know.”

He doesn’t answer.

“Sean?”

A ragged breath echoes through the line. “Thanks for telling me,” he mutters.

Then he hangs up.

It takes a while before I move the phone away from my ear. My hand shakes uncontrollably as I rake it through my hair.

God. That was…brutal. A part of me wonders why I even told him. It’s not like I cheated on him. I didn’t have to tell him. In fact, I could have spared him the pain he must be feeling right now if I’d simply kept my mouth shut. But I’ve always been honest with Sean, and some stupid, guilty part of me insisted he deserved to know.

An anguished groan flies out of my mouth. My heart hurts again. The guilt is even worse now, a tight, crushing knot in my stomach.

Rather than pick up my script, I grab my iPod instead and shove in my earbuds. Then I yank the blanket up to my neck and put Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” on repeat because it pretty much sums up how I feel right now.

Wrecked.

*

Dean

“Awww, look at him, G, he’s so precious when he’s sleeping.”

“Like an angel.”

“A really slutty angel.”

“Wait—do angels even get laid? And if so, are heaven orgasms a million times better than earth orgasms? I bet yes.”

“Uh-doy. Where do you think rainbows come from? Whenever you see a rainbow, that means an angel just came.”

“Ah. Makes sense. Sort of like how whenever a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.”

“Exactly like that.”

I crank one eye open and direct it toward the doorway. “I can hear you, you know.”

My annoyed voice puts an end to the most bizarre conversation I’ve ever heard. “Oh good, you’re up,” Logan says.

“Of course I’m up,” I grumble, rubbing my eyes. “How am I supposed to sleep when you two fucktards are standing at the foot of my bed talking about angels blowing their loads?”

Garrett snickers. “Like I’m the first one to ever wonder about that.”

“Trust me, you are. When’d you guys get back?”

Logan props one massive shoulder against my doorframe. “About an hour ago. Gracie needed to be back early because she has a show to produce tonight.”

I nod. Logan’s girlfriend works as a producer at the campus radio station. Which reminds me… “You planning on calling in and professing your love again?” I ask mockingly.

He sighs. “You’re never gonna let me forget that, are you?”

“Nope.” Though I wish someone had recorded that radio segment so I could pull some quotes from it and torture him with them. After screwing up and nearly losing Grace last weekend, Logan had won her back by calling the advice show she produces and saying the sappiest shit imaginable. I worry about him sometimes.

I toss the covers aside and slide out of bed buck-ass naked. My roommates continue to lurk in the doorway.

I find a pair of clean boxers and tug them on. “I swear to God, if you tell me you’ve been watching me sleep for the last hour like a bunch of creepers, I’m calling the cops.”

“Coach called,” Garrett tells me. “He said he’s been trying your phone all morning but you weren’t picking up. He wants you at the arena in an hour.”

“Why?” I ask warily.

Garrett shrugs. “Fuck if I know. Maybe he found out you got wasted this weekend—I assume you got wasted, right?—and wants to ream you out.”

“How would he even know? It’s not like he’s got people tailing us.”

“Dude, Coach is like that spy master from Game of Thrones. His sources are endless.”

Shit. Hopefully I’m not in store for one of Coach Jensen’s long-winded lectures about keeping my nose clean. We’re not allowed to drink or dabble in drugs during the season, but that doesn’t stop any of us from getting plastered or smoking the occasional joint. Still, I’ve never failed a piss test or tarnished the team’s good name with my partying, so I’m not sure why Coach is constantly on my case about it.

“Hannah still here?” I ask Garrett as I hunt down some pants.

“Naah, she went home. She’s having a girl day with Allie.”

I’m glad my back is turned, because the moment he says Allie’s name, my dick actually goes half-mast. Wonderful. I’m turned on by the sound of her name now?

“You didn’t do anything stupid when she was here, did you?” Garrett’s tone is lined with suspicion.

I fucked her twice. So…yes?

I bite my tongue and throw on a T-shirt, followed by a navy-blue Briar hoodie. “I was a perfect gentleman.”

Logan snorts. “Well, that’s a first.”

“Fuck you very much. I happen to be skilled in the art of gentlemanry.”

“That’s not an art. Or a word.” Logan rolls his eyes and disappears from the room, but Garrett stays behind.

He studies my face for so long I shift in discomfort. “What?” I mutter.

“Nothing,” he says, but he still wears a suspicious expression as he ducks out of my bedroom.

When I pop into the bathroom to brush my teeth, I realize that the purple hickey on my neck is still very, very noticeable. Had Garrett seen it?

But so what if he had? Anyone could’ve sucked on my neck this weekend. There’s no reason for him to suspect it was Allie.

Goddamn Allie. I told her I wanted her again, and she’d hung up on me. That doesn’t happen to me—ever. I’m Dean Di Laurentis, for fuck’s sake. I can snap my fingers and a dozen chicks appear, begging to ride my dick. Last time I was at the campus coffeehouse, the hot barista handed me a free coffee and then offered to suck me off in the stock room.

So what the hell is Allie’s problem? I spent way too much time last night wondering if she’s playing hard to get. I mean, it’s not like she hadn’t enjoyed the sex. I’ve never been with anyone who showered my dick with so much glowing praise.

“Oh my gosh, I want to marry your cock!”

“Best. Dick. Ever.”

“Dean, you’re making me come…”

Her throaty cries run through my head on a perverted, boner-inducing loop, and I grip the towel rack with one hand as a groan slips out. The toothbrush in my mouth falls into the sink. My cock tents in my pants and nudges the porcelain, needing to make contact with something, anything.

I wonder if Coach would be pissed if I was late to meet him because I was jerking off.

Probably.

*

Thirty minutes later, I swipe my student ID in the keypad at the hockey facility, sipping on the coffee I grabbed on the way here. The wide corridor is deserted, and my sneakers squeak on the shiny floors as I head to the back of the building. I walk past the row of classrooms and the screening room, bypass the kitchen and weight rooms, then duck through the massive equipment area.

Our facility is state of the art. There are half a dozen big cozy offices that Chad Jensen could’ve parked his ass in, but for some reason he chose this modest office tucked away near the laundry room.

I knock on the door, only opening it when I hear Coach’s gruff, “Get in here.” The last player who waltzed in without knocking got a tongue-lashing that the rest of us could hear all the way from the showers. I like to think Coach uses the office to jack off and that’s why he insists on privacy. Logan hypothesizes that he has a secret office family that’s only allowed to venture out in the wee hours of the night.

Logan is an idiot.

“Hey, Coach. You wanted to see me—” I halt when I realize we’re not alone.

I’m not caught off guard often. I’m a go-with-the-flow kinda guy, which means it takes a helluva lot to shock or surprise me.

Right now, the only flow I’m going with is the rush of anxiety that travels through my blood and seeps into my bones.

Frank O’Shea rises from the visitor’s chair and flicks his cool gaze over me. I haven’t seen him since my senior year of high school, but he looks exactly the same. Dark buzz cut, stocky body, severe mouth.

“Di Laurentis,” he says with a curt nod.

I nod back. “Coach O’Shea.”

Jensen glances between us, then gets right down to business. “Dean, Frank’s coming on board as our new defensive coordinator. He filled me in about your history at Greenwich Prep.” Coach pauses. “I decided it would be prudent if you two aired out your issues before practice tomorrow.”

I can only imagine what O’Shea had to say about our “history.” Whatever it was, I’m positive it was both inaccurate and in no way favorable toward me, because O’Shea’s version of the story is so skewed it makes the stories in the National Enquirer seem like well-researched academic papers.

Coach Jensen steps to the door. “I’ll leave you to it.”

Goddamn it, he’s leaving us alone? Woulda been nice to have a witness around in case O’Shea tries something. After all, this is the man who clocked one of his own players in the empty parking lot of a high school. I was eighteen at the time. I didn’t report it because I understood why he’d done it, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about it. Or forgiven him for it.

O’Shea doesn’t speak until the door latches firmly behind Coach. “So. Are we going to have a problem here?”

I set my jaw. “You tell me.” I force myself to add, “Sir.”

His dark eyes flash. “I see you’re still the same insolent smartass you were when I coached you.”

“With all due respect, sir, I’ve been in this office for all of five seconds. I don’t think you can make that judgment.” My tone is polite, but inside I’m seething. I loathe this man, which is so fucking ironic because I used to worship him.

“There isn’t a problem on my end,” he says as if I hadn’t even spoken. “The past is in the past. I’m willing to wipe the slate clean if that makes for a more conducive training environment.”

How generous of him.

“All I ask in return is that you treat me with respect and listen to me when we’re on the ice. I won’t tolerate any insubordination.” His mouth pinches in a frown. “And I won’t condone any shenanigans. Jensen said you have quite the reputation as a party boy. Which doesn’t surprise me—” he makes an unflattering noise “—but if you want to keep your roster slot, I expect you to be on your best behavior. No booze, no drugs, no brawling. Understood?”

I jerk my head in assent.

“As for our former issues, they will not be discussed.” O’Shea levels me with another cold glare. “Not between us, and not among you and your teammates. The past is in the past,” he repeats.

I shove my hands in my pockets. “Can I go now?”

“Not yet.” He moves toward the desk and picks up a thin folder. Either I’m imagining it, or there’s a smug gleam in his eyes. “Two more things. And rest assured, Coach Jensen is in complete agreement about this.”

Uneasiness tickles my stomach.

“First, we’re moving you to the second line with Brodowski—”

“What?” I balk.

O’Shea holds up his hand. “Let me finish.”

I slam my mouth shut, fighting to control my rising temper. I’m no longer seething. I’m fucking enraged.

There isn’t a problem on his end, my ass. I’ve always played on the first line with Logan. We’re the two best defensemen on the roster. A dynamic duo, for chrissake. Brodowski is a junior who needs so much work I’m surprised he’s still on the team.

“Jensen trusts me to work with this defense and make decisions as I see fit,” my old coach barks at me. “The second line is weak. Kelvin and Brodowski aren’t gelling, and each of them will benefit from being paired up with players of your and John Logan’s caliber.”

“Did Coach happen to mention that he tried this already during pre-season?” I can’t help but say, snidely enough to make him frown. “I was paired up with Kelvin for the St. Anthony’s game. It was a disaster.”

“Well, you won’t be with Kelvin this time, will you?” he counters in an equally snide tone. “I’m putting you with Brodowski. And the decision is final—I’m doing what’s best for the team.”

Bullshit. He’s doing this to punish me, and we both know it.

“What’s the second thing?”

He blinks. “Pardon me?”

“You said there were two things.” It’s a struggle to keep my voice calm. “You’re rearranging the lines—that’s number one. What’s number two?”

He slants his head as if trying to decide if I’m being disrespectful again. Dude doesn’t even know how badly I want to slam my fist in his jaw right now. It’s taking all my willpower not to.

O’Shea flips open the folder and extracts a single piece of paper. The satisfied gleam returns as he passes it to me.

I scan the page. It’s a photocopy of what looks like a practice and game schedule, but it’s not for our team. “What’s this?” I mutter.

“Starting this week, you’ll generously be volunteering your time to the Hastings Hurricanes—”

“The what?”

“The Hastings Hurricanes. That’s the hockey team at Hastings Elementary. Middle school league, seventh and eighth graders. Briar has a community outreach program in which our student athletes volunteer to coach or act as assistant coaches with local sports teams. The senior who’s been working with the Hurricanes—she’s the left wing for the Briar’s ladies team. She came down with mono, so we need to replace her. Jensen and I think you’d be the perfect candidate to take over.”

I try to mask my horror. I don’t think I’m successful, because O’Shea is openly smirking at me now.

“It’s two afternoon practices a week, and game day is Friday at six. I went ahead and peeked at your class schedule and it doesn’t interfere with the Hurricanes’ schedule. So we’re all set.” He tips his head. “Unless you have an objection…?”

Damn right I do. I don’t want to spend three days a week coaching a bunch of middle-schoolers. This is my senior year, for chrissake. My course workload is massive. And I’m already practicing six days a week with my own team and playing my own games, which doesn’t leave a lot of downtime.

But if I object to this, O’Shea will no doubt make my life miserable. Same way he did back in high school.

“Nope, it sounds like fun.” I force the words out and resist from giving him the finger.

He nods in approval. “Well, look at that. Maybe you have changed. The Dean Di Laurentis I knew only cared about one person—himself.”

The jab stings more than it should. Sure, I can be a selfish bastard at times, but I hadn’t done anything wrong back then, damn it. Miranda and I had been on the same page…until suddenly we weren’t.

But I guess it doesn’t matter who was in the wrong, does it? Because it’s pretty fucking clear that Frank O’Shea is never going to forgive me for what went down between me and his daughter.





6




Dean


First thing I do after I stalk out of the arena is call my older brother. It’s Sunday, so I try his cell first, though there’s a good chance he’s at the office. Nick works long hours at the firm, including most weekends. I think he’s trying to impress our dad with his dedication to the law, and honestly, I think it’s working.

The cheerful voice that slides into my ear, however, doesn’t belong to Nick.

“Dicky! Yay! I haven’t spoken to you in ages!”

The nickname never made me cringe when we were kids, but now that we’re adults, it’s fucking mortifying. As far as I’m concerned, once my little sister learned how to pronounce Dean, our folks should’ve ordered her to kick Dicky to the curb. Then again, ordering Summer to do anything pretty much ensures she’ll do the opposite. My sister is a stubborn brat.

“Why are you answering Nick’s cell?” I ask suspiciously.

“Because I saw your name and wanted to talk to you first. You never call me anymore.”

I can envision the pout she’s no doubt sporting, and it brings a smile to my lips. “You never call me either,” I point out.

Summer goes quiet for a second. Then she heaves a colossal sigh. “You’re right. I don’t. I’ve been a terrible sister.”

“Naah, you’re probably just as busy as I am.” I head down the cobblestone path toward the back of the training center, making my way to the parking lot.

“I have been pretty busy,” she relents.

I hear a loud snort over the extension. “What was that?” I ask.

“Nothing. Just Nicky being an ass. He’s been driving me nuts all weekend. Has he always been this uptight, or did it happen once he became a lawyer?”

She says “lawyer” as if it’s a dirty word. Though to Summer, it probably is. My sister had declared at the age of twelve that law is “hella boring”, and eight years later her stance remains the same. She only agreed to attend an Ivy League college to placate our parents, but last we spoke, she told me she wants to go into interior design after she graduates.

“Compared to you, everyone is uptight,” I tell my sister. “Which isn’t to say I approve of all the batshit crazy things you do.” Summer is two years younger than me, but she gives me a run for my money when it comes to grabbing life by the horns and seizing the day and all that crap. I’m surprised our parents haven’t disowned her yet.

A thought suddenly occurs to me. “Why are you in Manhattan? Shouldn’t you be at school?”

“I felt like visiting my big brother.”

Her tone is way too innocent for my liking. “Bullshit.”

“It’s true,” Summer protests. “I wanted to see Nicky. And I want to see you too, so don’t be surprised if I show up on your doorstep sometime soon.” She pauses. “Actually, I’m thinking of transferring to Briar.”

An alarm goes off inside me. “Why? I thought you were happy at Brown.”

“I am. But…uh…yeah.” Summer sighs again. “I’m on probation.”

I halt mid-step. “What did you do?” I demand.

“What makes you think I did something?” There’s a sniff over the line.

“Save your Little Miss Innocent act for the parentals.” I snicker. “Not that it works on them anymore, either. Now tell me what happened.”

“Let’s just say there was an incident at the sorority house. Togas were involved.”

I choke down a laugh. “Can you be more specific?”

“Nope.”

I groan in exasperation. “Summer—”

“I’ll tell you all about it when I see you,” she chirps. “Nicky wants to talk to you now.”

“Summer—”

She’s already gone. My brother’s deep