Just A Number

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I should have known Vincent would be an utter dick.

I sip my second glass of wine and kick my feet up on my coffee table. I squint at him. He scoots closer to me on the couch, clueless to the frustration brimming underneath my neutral façade.

He lifts an eyebrow at me. It makes his oblivious smile seem smug. “You look a little tense there, Elle.”

I drain the glass and pour myself another. He hasn’t touched his yet. He’s been too busy texting the entire time he’s been at my house. That’s twenty solid minutes of him making eye-love to his smart phone while he sits inches away from me.

“Not tense. Just annoyed.” My voice is an icy calm.

He frowns at his phone, then looks back up at me. “What’d you say?”

I roll my eyes and stand up. Vincent’s fixation with his phone isn’t his only black mark tonight. He was late to my house by nearly an hour. No call, no text to let me know he was running behind. And when he arrived at my front door, there was no apology and no thank you for my patience. He simply strutted in, kicked his shoes off, and plopped on the couch.

I stand up. “I think you should leave.”

His impossibly square jaw drops. “Why?”

“Because you clearly don’t want to be here. Why don’t you go home so you and your phone can spend some alone time together?”

I stare down at him and give a passing glance to his caramel eyes, thick head of dark hair, and broad shoulders. Sculpted muscles bulge through the thin fabric of his t-shirt.

Ridiculously good-looking guys who pay more attention to their phone than the woman next to them are called douchebags for a reason. They showcase their best behavior the first two dates, then on date number three they let their true colors fly. I was smitten by the way he complimented me the first two times we went out, the smooth way he picked up the check while I was in the bathroom, and the gentle goodnight kisses he gave me. He was so charming and sweet that I even gave him a pass when he said I looked like a Polynesian princess in my maxi dress on our second date. Instead of telling him off, I patiently explained that I was Filipino, not Polynesian. What I wouldn’t give to redo that moment.

His brow lifts, then he stands up and grabs my hand. I nearly jerk it away, but he holds me still in a warm, soft grip.

“You’re right. I’m so sorry, Elle.” His voice is like warm velvet. “I was a jerk for being late. I meant to text you, but my friend had a flat tire. She didn’t know how to change it, so I ran over to help her and time just got away from me. I sped over here as quickly as I could after that.”

The ice in my chest begins to melt. What a sweetheart he was for helping a friend. “Why didn’t you just say that when you got here? I would have understood.”

“It wasn’t thinking. It’s been a long day. You’re right though, I should have explained myself.”

He pulls me into a hug before guiding me back down to the couch.

“And sorry about all the texts,” he says. “I wanted to make sure my friend was okay and told her to text me if she had any issues with getting home.”

I nuzzle his chest. “That’s so sweet of you.”

Before I can lean up to give him a kiss, his text alert goes off yet again.

“Hang on.” He leans away to look at his phone. His frown turns into a giddy smile. He taps the screen and stands up.

“I should get going.”

His abrupt announcement catches me off guard. “What? But you just got here.”

“Yeah, well. I just got an offer I couldn’t refuse. My friend wants to thank me for helping her with her car.”

“But I thought you said she already texted you…” I drift off as the slow-moving gears in my mind grind into place. She’s not his friend. He just got a hookup text from her.

I choke on a surprised breath.

“You understand, right?” The shrug he gives me indicates his utter cluelessness. Vincent seriously thinks it’s acceptable to cut our date short so he can leave to go fuck a different woman.

“Excuse me?”

His eyes fall back to his phone screen. “Look, she’s a sure thing for me. So unless you’re willing to join us, I gotta run.”

My jaw drops so quickly, I hear a pop. “Um, that’s not…I don’t…”

“So no then?” He shrugs and shakes his head, like I’ve disappointed him.

He spins around, slips his shoes on, then heads for the door. I watch in a paralyzed daze as the rage in my body makes it to my brain.

Vincent was an hour late tonight.

Vincent spent his entire time with me texting another woman.

Vincent is leaving me to go fuck this woman.

Vincent, who I haven’t even slept with yet, just propositioned me for a threesome.

Paralysis morphs into rage. Every hair on my arm stands in angry protest. I catch up with him halfway down my driveway and shriek his name.

He flips around. My mouth opens and closes a half dozen times. I search for the proper words to express my rage at him, but I don’t think such words exist. I open and shut once more.

His eyebrows shoot up his forehead before a smirk crosses his face. “You changed your mind?”

His unfounded assumption is the push I need to unleash.

“Fuck. You.” My voice is a notch under a shout.

“Whoa, hold on.” He holds a hand up in front of me. “No need to yell.”

“Are you kidding me, Vincent? First of all, you were late coming over, then you paid me half-assed attention while eye-fucking your phone the entire time you were with me.”

He opens his mouth to speak, but I wag my finger at him. He jerks his head back like he’s being scolded by a schoolmarm.

“And then! And then you invite me to have a threesome with you and some woman I don’t even know? You and I haven’t even slept together. What in the fucking hell is wrong with you?”

My hand hovers in front of his face, shaking in crazed fury. My ears ring at the volume of my voice, but I don’t have the decency nor the interest to look around and see if I’ve disturbed the neighborhood. I’m too busy tearing Vincent a new asshole.

“I invite you into my home and this is how you treat me? Like some cheap lay? Fuck you, you pathetic little—”

His eyebrows knit. “That’s enough—”

“I’m not done! You pathetic little fuck with no fucking sense of decency. Fuck you and your fucking asshole ways.”

I growl like a rabid hyena. I’m surprised I’m not foaming at the mouth.

My eyes drill into him like lasers. “Delete my number. I never want to hear from you again.”

He backs away from me, like he’s retreating from a wild animal. A dozen steps later he bumps into his car that’s parked on the street and climbs in. The sound of squealing tires fades in the distance.

I spin around, a flurry of shallow breaths. My eyes meet the shocked stares of my neighbors Marty and Gwen as they stand in their lawn. Sweet and quiet middle-aged couple who live in the Tudor home next door. Polite folks who make pleasant small talk if we run into each other while checking the mail or doing yard work. Though I’d wager they will never speak to me again from the look of horror on their faces.

“Elle, what on earth are you doing?” Gwen places a hand over her heart. Her other hand is busy clutching her husband’s hand. He pats her shoulder, pulling her into him.

I shake my head and hurry toward them, eager to explain myself. “I’m so sorry, Gwen. I didn’t mean for you to hear any of that.”

“Well, we couldn’t exactly ignore such disruptive noise,” she says.

Now that I’m closer I see a string of pearls around her neck. How fitting.

“We thought you were being attacked,” Gwen says. “That’s why we rushed out here, to see if you needed help. Imagine our surprise to see you screaming at a—” she breaks off and glances around furtively before whispering the words gentleman caller.

I bite my lip to keep from scoffing at her choice of words. Gentleman caller? My grandma doesn’t even talk like that.

I take a few more steps toward them, but Gwen takes a step back. I freeze. I get the message loud and clear. She thinks I’m some hussy who has public arguments with my lovers on my lawn. Never mind that in the year I’ve lived here I haven’t had so much as a housewarming party. She wants nothing to do with me.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be so loud. I had an argument and things got a bit heated. It won’t happen again.”

She crosses her arms, her lips pursed like she just kissed a lemon. Her judgmental narrow stare nearly blinds me.

“Our son is home from college and is staying with us for the summer. I would appreciate it if you could get your dating drama under control so he’s not exposed to such public displays of poor behavior.”

“What? No, Gwen, it’s not like that. I’m not—”

This time, it’s me being shushed by a held-up hand. “We don’t care to hear specifics. Do we, Marty?”

My bewildered stare pivots to Marty. He’s double Gwen’s size, though it’s not saying much as she’s five feet tall and maybe a hundred pounds. Yet I have no doubt she’s the one in charge. I can tell by the pacifying way he pets her shoulder and how he stands behind her.

His only response is a silent nod.

I sigh. “Again, I apologize to you both. And your son.”

I high-tail it back to my front door before I’m subjected to more judgmental staring and comments.

I flop on the couch and guzzle straight from the wine bottle until it’s drained. No need for a glass after this shitshow of an evening.

***

The sharp ring of the doorbell jolts me awake. I shoot up, then immediately fall back down with a groan. Did someone shove a nail through my skull last night? Because the piercing throb against my skull would make it seem so. I peel my eyes open and spot the empty bottle of wine on the coffee table. Then another empty bottle tipped on its side, on the floor.

Oh, right. There’s no nail. I did this to myself.

The shrill noise repeats.

“Hang on!” I holler while propping myself up against the couch.

After ten seconds of blinking and staring at nothing, I pull myself up from the couch. Several waddling steps later, I make it to the front door.

An unfamiliar face greets me when I open it. He’s tall, early twenties, and dressed in sweaty, grass-stained clothes. For a moment I wonder if I recently hired a weekend lawn service, but forgot about it. Rage-filled drinking sessions have had that effect on me in the past.

His brow shoots up when he looks at the hot mess that is hungover me.

“Are you alright?” he asks.

I rub my forehead with my fist. It does nothing to ease the pounding. “Dandy. Can I help you with something?”

“Actually, I’m here to apologize. For my parents.”

I lean against the door frame and take a breath to keep from dry heaving. “What?”

He clears his throat. “My parents are your next-door neighbors. Gwen and Marty.”

I jolt up into straight posture. “Oh.”

“Yeah.”

He purses his lips. His eyes scan my face, then pause at my eyes. I’d bet anything my smeared mascara makes me look like a disheveled panda.

“I’m sorry my mom said those things to you,” he says. “She was out of line. And I’m sorry my dad just stood there and did nothing. They had no business bothering you.”

“It’s, um. It’s fine.”

He runs a hand through his mass of chestnut curls. I squint at him. He looks nothing like either of his parents. Though I can see he has Marty’s friendly green eyes. Better that than his belly pooch.

“It’s not fine. You were having a hard enough time as it was. You didn’t need to be lectured on top of that.”

I wave my hand at him. “Sorry, but how do you even know about last night? I didn’t see you with your parents.”

“I was upstairs and had just come out of the shower. The window was open. I heard everything.”

“Everything?”

He nods.

I rub my hands over my face. “Crap. Crap. Crap.”

There’s a soft touch on my forearm. Goosebumps glide across my skin. I look up to his kind face.

“Hey. Don’t beat yourself up.”

The warmth of his touch is like a splash of cold water yanking me out of my hangover. I blink and take him in once again, this time with fresh eyes. He’s a few inches taller than his dad, 6’4” probably. He sports a solid frame with a hefty amount of lean muscle, like a college athlete. Soccer player, maybe? Possibly a swimmer. His dark curls are well styled and cropped close to his scalp. A light honey glow dances across his skin. I catch myself staring at his impossibly youthful face. Killer dimples. No trace of crow’s feet.

This young man is gorgeous.

I shake my head, hoping to erase these inappropriate thoughts from my brain.

“It’s nice of you to come over, but you don’t have to apologize. I was the one who made a scene,” I say.

I cross my arms, hyper aware that I’m not wearing a bra under my tank top and that I’m still sporting those tiny black booty shorts from last night.

“My parents are good people, but they’re a bit on the repressed side. And they’re not afraid to show it. Well, my mom at least. My dad just kind of goes along. I was thinking about ordering him a backbone for Father’s Day.”

I snort out a honk of a laugh.

He sticks his hand out to me. “I’m Mason, by the way.”

I grasp his hand and immediately feel delicate in his massive grip. He’s a full-head taller than me and must outweigh me by at least seventy pounds.

“Elle. It’s nice to meet you.”

My fingers loosen to end the handshake, but he doesn’t let go. His half-smile remains, as does his steady eye contact with me. After a lingering second he lets go and steps back.

Mason waves before turning around to leave. I bite back a smile as I wave back. Before I can shut the door, he spins around and jogs back up to me.

He grips the sides of the door frame and leans to me, showcasing his impressive wingspan. I inhale a whiff of sweet sweat mixed with fresh grass clippings. My breath catches; we’re barely a few inches apart.

“That Vincent guy was a total prick,” he says in a low whisper. His eyes fall to my feet, scanning my body on the way back up to my face. “I can’t believe he left a woman like you.”

There’s a suggestive lift of his left eyebrow, but he jogs away before I can be sure.

I shut the door, lean back against it, and slide down until my butt hits the floor. My hangover has magically disappeared. No headache or nausea to be found anywhere in my body. And Vincent? I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup right now.

The only things occupying my senses have everything to do with Mason. His sculpted body that his tattered clothing so poorly covered, his intoxicating smell. The way the corner of his mouth lifted into a half-smile.

I close my eyes and lightly bang my head against the door. Uh oh.

***

“You had sex in the elevator?”

Jade nods so hard that wisps of her ebony hair fall from the bun on top of her head.

“But what…how?” I can barely formulate words.

“We pulled the emergency stop button,” she giggles.

“I see.”

I ease my raised brow back to its normal position on my face. We haven’t taken a single bite of the brunch I cooked because the moment she arrived at my place, she bombarded me with rather exciting news: she hooked up with the new head of Sales at her company. Some South African hottie.

“I guess things have changed considerably since I left Fleming.” I take a bite of toast.

“Not really.” Jade finally digs into her omelet. “It’s mostly the same. Boring meetings, too much paperwork, not enough vacation time. Except the elevator. After what Anders and I did in it, that thing will never be the same.”

I let out a surprise laugh. “Jade, this is so unlike you. You’re claustrophobic. You hate taking the elevator. I used to climb the stairwell with you every morning to the tenth floor because you couldn’t stomach the thought of being in a confined space. And now, poof! One hot guy has suddenly cured you.”

She bites her lip before taking a sip of orange juice. “You should see Anders’ body. Those muscles could cure cancer.”

I nearly choke on a bite of eggs as I swallow back a laugh. I raise my glass of juice at her. “Get it, girl. One of us should.”

She frowns. “I thought you had a date the other night.”

The taste of juice turns sour in my mouth at the mention of Vincent. I swallow. “I did. It didn’t go as planned.”

“What happened?”

I summarize my disaster evening from last weekend for Jade. I leave out nothing. Not Vincent’s late arrival, not his suggestion of a threesome, not screaming at him in my lawn, not Gwen and Marty’s judgmental scolding.

Jade reaches across my dining table to grab my hand. “Elle. I’m sorry. How awful.”

I pull away. “It’s fine. I’m over it.”

It’s the truth. However, the reason I’m over it isn’t something I’m willing to discuss, not even with my best friend. The reason is a certain 6’4” sexy young buck living next door, who is probably ten years younger than me.

I spent the morning making my mom’s Filipino longanisa sausage recipe to shove him out of my head. Even the heavenly aroma of sweet sausage and spices couldn’t distract me. My mind kept drifting to his smile, his body, the playful cadence of his voice. I press my eyes shut, wondering what I need to do make this ridiculous school girl crush disappear.

Jade frowns the moment she looks up at me. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Just tired.”

“Look, I’m sorry I barged in here telling you about Anders. I wouldn’t have had I known what happened the other night. That was really insensitive of me.”

“Don’t apologize. I’m happy for you. Really.” I flash my most sincere smile. It’s true. Jade is a sweetheart who deserves a hot new guy in her life.

A giddy smile pulls at her lips. “Good. Because seriously, Elle, this guy is amazing and I need to gush about him. But only for a sec, okay?”

I nod with a chuckle.

“He’s rocking my world big time. I haven’t been able to walk straight since we started fooling around. No guy has ever satisfied me the way he has. I stopped using my vibrator. I haven’t needed to. He’s infiltrated my thoughts, my senses, my fantasies.”

A far-off expression clouds her face as she turns her head to look out the kitchen window.

“Wow,” I mutter before taking another bite of toast. Is it possible to be both jealous and happy for your friend’s incredible sex life?

For a second, I wonder what it must be like to meet someone who is your perfect sexual match. You’re compatible in every way, your bodies work like they were designed to writhe, moan, and thrust together.

Her gaze spins back to me. “I used to fantasize about whatever male celebrity I thought was hot at the moment. I don’t anymore. Now, it’s all him. His muscles, his hair, his accent. I just close my eyes and let my mind wander to this filthy place where only he exists and boom. I’m there.”

I squirm, then cross my legs. “Sounds intense.”

She shakes her head, as if to reset her brain from the dirty thoughts likely tumbling through her brain.

She spears a chunk of longanisa with her fork. “How about you? What do you fantasize about?”

My breath catches at her abrupt question. It’s been awhile since we chatted so openly about our sex lives. Nevertheless, I let the answer play silently in the privacy of my mind. It’s the same image that’s looped in my head every day since Mason showed up at my door. He’s leaning against my doorway, held up by thickly muscled arms. His broad shoulders take up most of the width. He wears a perfect smirk as he inches closer to me.

I dream of his pouty lips on my body, his arms caging me against a wall, hands everywhere, his hot breath misting my skin.

My throat tightens at the scene unfolding in my head. I shift in my seat. “Food mostly.”

Her raised eyebrows say everything. “Come on. Don’t give me that.”

“It’s the truth,” I lie. I stand to take our empty plates to the sink.

When I turn around she’s standing up too with her arms crossed.

“You’re a terrible liar,” Jade tuts. She grabs her purse. “If I didn’t have to pick my mom up from the airport, I’d stay and interrogate you about whoever is making your cheeks flush that incredible shade of red.”

I roll my eyes.

She grabs her purse from the back of the chair. “He must be pretty special. Even your impressive tan can’t hide what’s going on in your face.”

“Jade, it’s not—”

She pulls me into a hug, then turns me to look at her. “When you’re ready to tell me about him, I’ll be here.”

She struts to the front door. “He’d better be the exact opposite of Vincent. You’re too beautiful and smart and kind and amazing for another asshole.”

She wags a finger at me as she opens the door to leave. “Whoever this new guy is, have fun with him. You deserve it.”

***

It’s easy for Jade to say “have fun” when it comes my secret dirty thoughts about Mason. She’s currently getting her boots swung. Everything seems easy when you’re blissed out on orgasms every day.

I can’t have fun because my idea of fun involves a half-dozen naughty sex scenarios, all of which involve my neighbors’ college-age son.

Since Jade left this morning, I’ve relegated myself to the yard. I yank the last chunk of weeds from the garden bed. Perk of moving to the suburbs after years of roommate life in the middle of Chicago. I can have a garden bigger than a ceramic pot on my window sill. When I toss the last of the weeds into the yard waste bag, my shoulders feel a tad less tense. Physical labor is the best way to get rid of pent-up sexual energy, for me anyway.

I drag the overflowing yard waste bag to the garage. My tanktop and shorts are soaked through with sweat by the time I make it inside, desperate for water. I’m downing my second glass when the doorbell rings.

When I answer, Mason’s boyishly handsome face greets me.

“I’m sorry to bother you. Are you busy?” He shoves his hands in his pockets.

“It’s fine. What’s up?” I cross my arms and take a step back, hoping he doesn’t catch a whiff of BO.

He runs a thick hand through his curls. It’s messier today. I notice a film of sweat on his brow. Wet stains dot his gray t-shirt. I let out a soft sigh of relief that he’s equally sweaty.

“I went for a jog and forgot to take my house key. My parents must have left when I was gone and I’m locked out.” He shrugs before letting out a flustered chuckle. “Could I maybe cool off in here until they come back?”

“Sure.” I step aside and wave him in. He doesn’t budge.

“You sure it’s okay? I hate to ask. You’re probably busy and I’m interrupting your Saturday plans.”

I frown at him. “Mason, it’s fine. Come in, okay?”

He smiles and walks in. I turn my back to him as I close the door because I can’t help but grin like a cheeseball at how devastatingly sexy his smile is.

“Want some water?” I call as I walk to the kitchen.

“Yes, please. Thank you.”

I bite the inside of my cheek. Sexy and polite. Damn it, why does he have to be so irresistible?

He gulps down the glass in a few long gulps after I hand it to him.

“More?” I ask.

He nods while lifting the bottom of his shirt to wipe his mouth. My eyes fall to sneak a peek before my brain can order otherwise. Just as I imagined. Hard lines indicating the tail end of a six pack. He’s even got that sexy deep V running along his hips. A smattering of light brown hair rests just above the waistband of his navy blue running shorts.

My eyes dart back up to his face. He lifts an eyebrow. Shit.

I grab for his glass and try to spin away to the kitchen, but he doesn’t let go of it.

The corner of his mouth quirks up. “See something interesting?”

His giant thumb slides over mine, pinning my hand to the glass. His hazel eyes hold my gaze. The harder I try to look away, the longer I stare. I’m hypnotized by their lush green shade. Like a patch of grass.

All I can do is mumble. “Oh. I…I um—”

Mason releases my hand with a chuckle. “I’m kidding.”

“Oh.” I attempt a playful response. “It’s been a while since I’ve had someone over. I’ve forgotten how to behave around other human beings evidently.” I shrug while biting my lip.

He lets out a jolly cackle. I sigh quietly to myself, relieved.

I head for the kitchen once more to fill the glass. He follows and leans on the counter. He sips more slowly this time. It’s a struggle not to gawk. The way his full lips touch the rim of the glass makes my knees shake.

“Are you hungry?” I point to the fridge. “You must be if you were out jogging in this heat.”

“It wasn’t that bad. The drills we run in soccer are way worse than a jog in 90-degree heat.”

I give myself a mental high five. I knew that body belonged to a college athlete. I shake my head, annoyed that I’m yet again fixating on his physique as he’s standing right in front of me.

“Help yourself,” I say before taking his glass and placing it in the sink. But then it hits me: I have only condiments in my fridge. And my cupboards. Jade and I ate what was left this morning.

“Wait,” I say.

Mason backs out of the fridge. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t have any food. Sorry. I thought I did, but I forgot that I cooked what was left this morning. I’ve been meaning to go to the store, but then I got caught up in yard work—”

“Hey.” He holds up both hands in front of him to stop me. “It’s no big deal. You’re not obligated to feed me.”

His kind smile settles me.

“Hang on.” I dart to the pantry and pull out a box of Sno-Caps. “Want some of these?”

A soft laugh falls from his lips. I have to remind myself to breathe.

“Sure. Thank you.”

I dump a mound into his open hand and take a few for myself. We snack in silence. The sprinkles melt against my tongue. I moan softly at the sweet flavor, happy that I remembered my secret pantry stash.

“You like candy? I would have never guessed.”

“What do you mean?”

He takes a second handful. “You’re in incredible shape. I’m surprised you ever eat anything found in the candy aisle.”

Heat glides up my cheeks once again. I purse my lips to fight the grin pulling at my mouth. “You’re quite the charmer.”

He laughs and shrugs. “I’d have to be blind not to notice.”

I let myself smile at him fully this time. This playful conversation rivals the best dates I’ve had over the last few months.

“Sno-Caps are my weakness. Chocolate and sprinkles are the perfect combo,” I say. “You seem to be enjoying them.”

He’s on his third handful. “I have to admit, I like candy too.” He chews, swallows, and takes a step toward me. “But I think I’d like you more.”

His shocking admission causes me to inhale sharply. A chunk of chocolate hits the back of my throat, causing a coughing fit.

Mason drops the candy box on the counter and rushes to my side. He thumps my back as I hack.

He pulls me to face him with both hands encircling my waist. “Still alive?”

I wipe my mouth with the back of my hand and nod. The look of concern on his face melts me.

“Just…what you said…what did you say again?” The heat from his touch burns through my tank top, making it impossible for me to form a cohesive thought.

When he speaks again, his voice is a whispered growl. “I said, I’d like you more.”

There’s something different about Mason. No guy I’ve ever met has been this suave, yet also sweet and kind. Our flirty banter has been genuinely enjoyable. And there’s an unspoken quality about him that sets me at ease. Other guys make me anxious or nervous. Yes, Mason works me into a tizzy with his perfect body and killer smile, but those are butterflies. Totally different.

Not to mention he can coach me through a coughing fit like a pro.

I let the front of my body press into him. None of the hard mass underneath his damp shirt budges. To get a proper look at his face, I have to tilt my head so far up that my neck strains.

“You like me?” I ask, my eyes boring into him.

He nods.

I swallow. “We’ve known each other for a total of ten minutes,” I say, my voice a rough hush. “What exactly do you like about me, Mason?”

He leans his head down to my neck. There’s a single nibble before he pulls away. My eyelids flutter.

“So much, Elle.”

One hand leaves my waist to brush away the stray chunk of hair that’s fallen from the damp bun on top of my head.

“For starters, you’ve got the deepest, most beautiful brown eyes I’ve ever seen. Your long, black hair is just as soft as I imagined it would be the first time I saw you. And you have the most perfect little body I’ve ever laid eyes on.”

I open my mouth to speak, but his finger traces along the line of my neck. I’m silenced by the shiver it causes.

“But what I like most about you is how feisty you are. When I heard you lay into that douchebag the other night, I was speechless. It was so hot. I wanted to run out there, toss you over my shoulder, and show you a proper good time to make up for what that jerk did to you.”

I side my hands up his chest and rest them on his shoulders. “Lucky me.”

He leans down so close, his breath hits my lips as he opens his mouth. “No. Lucky me.”

There’s a soft press of his lips against mine. It’s a tentative, shy touch. We barely know each other after all. But then his tongue parts my lips open, and all bets are off. He gently laps at my tongue until I catch on to the rhythm he seeks to set. Slow and steady. Savor each moment of contact. Tangle in the hot wetness until neither of us can breathe anymore.

I do my best to oblige.

I’m nearly out of oxygen when my brain catches up. I’m making out with my neighbors’ son. My neighbors’ son who is probably ten years younger than me.

My hands press against his chest as I step away. “Wait,” I gasp. “What are we doing?”

He frowns, then shrugs. “I thought it was pretty obvious.”

I shake my head and continue backing up until my ass smacks the counter behind me. “No, I mean…Mason, come on. I’m older than you.”

His tongue slides against his bottom lip. My chest aches with the urge to kiss it back into my mouth.

“So?”

“How old are you?”

“Twenty-two.”

I nod slowly. “Aren’t you going to ask how old I am?”

He shakes his head as he chuckles. “No. I don’t care.

“I’ve got a solid eight years on you.”

My hands fumble with the hem of my tank top. He saunters up to me at a painstakingly slow pace. “So?” he repeats, this time pressed up against the front of me.

His head falls to my neck once again. Endless feather-light kisses dot my neck. I can’t help but moan.

“Look, Elle. You’re the hottest woman I’ve ever seen. You’re adorable, funny, feisty. I want you so bad right now. I couldn’t possibly care about a few years’ age difference.”

His straight-forward words put my doubts to rest. He’s right. We’re both adults. We find each other attractive. There’s undeniable chemistry between us. We both want this. Why the hell not?

I wrap my arms around his neck. “Can I at least take a shower first?” I sound like Jessica Rabbit, I’m so breathy.

His teeth scrape softly against my collarbone. “Only if I can join.”

We’re a frenzy of filthy kisses once again. The heat between our bodies is like glue, and all I want is more of him on me.

His hands grip under my butt, then haul me up to his chest. I wrap my legs around his waist like a koala. He carries me out of the kitchen and into the living room.

“Where’s your shower?” he asks between kisses.

“Upstairs.”

All those soccer drills must have given him the stamina of an Olympic athlete because he carries me like I’m nothing. I suppose in comparison to his thickly muscled physique, I am.

He scales the stairs two at a time, his lips never leaving mine. My fingers twist through his thick curls as I steady myself.

“On your left!” I direct him through a gasp.

His physical stamina reaches all the way to his mouth evidently. I can barely keep up with how his tongue slips against mine. Strong and eager, never tiring, always teasing.

He sets me back on my feet when we reach the bathroom. I flip on the shower and reach for him, aching to rip away the pesky cloth that’s hiding what is undoubtedly a flawless body. He stops me though with a massive hand circled gently around my wrist, holding it at my side.

“Let me?”

The sweet way he says it makes me blush. He presses a whisper-soft kiss to my lips and in a slow motion, lifts my tank top over my head. His index finger glides along my shoulder, then the outer curve of my breast, all the way down the side of my stomach. I shiver and giggle.

“That tickles,” I say.

“My apologies.”

He grins before sliding down my shorts. I’m nothing but cotton panties and a black sports bra. I make another attempt for his shirt, but he tuts with a frown.

“Not yet. I want to enjoy this, like I’m unwrapping a present.”

The lip service he’s paying me is doing wonders for my confidence. When he slides off my bra and panties, he fawns over the perfect shape of my curves, the softness of my skin.

“Goddamn,” he mutters. His eyes widen as a grin spreads across his face.

I grab at his shirt and this time, he lets me undress him fully. My hands roam his torso as I ogle him with my eyes. He turns for the shower, but I tug him back.

“No way. You took your time looking at me. Now it’s my turn.”

It’s no surprise that he’s cut like a brick. There are hard lines everywhere: his chest, stomach, arms, and legs. His six pack looks as though it’s carved from marble. My eyes finally fall below his waistline and I’m equally pleased. Tall, muscled college athlete with giant hands obviously means hung like a horse.

I finally look up at him.

He lifts an eyebrow. “Satisfied?”

“Not yet.”

I step into the bath with him. The spa shower is thankfully roomy enough for two. The rainfall shower head pours warm water from above. Mason wastes no time letting his hands and mouth wander. First my neck, then my shoulder. He makes a long pitstop at my breasts, running his tongue along my nipples until I’m out of breath.

“Mason,” I moan.

He lifts his head up and back to my lips. The hot wetness of his mouth is divine. The rabid kisses we share leave us heaving and slurping. Water seeps into our mouths every time we kiss, but I don’t mind. He doesn’t seem to either.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see him reaching for the soap bar on the ledge. He lathers it up between his bear paw hands until a white foam forms.

“May I?” he asks.

I nod. Not a single inch of my body goes unsoaped. When he reaches between my legs, I gasp.

“I want to hear you do that forever,” he whispers in my ear.

My fingers dig into the meaty part of his shoulders as he works his thick fingers between my folds. He strikes a steady, warm rhythm. I can only gasp and moan.

“You like that?” His voice is equal parts rough and breathy.

I mumble what I hope sounds like yes. Yet another loud cry rips from my throat. The fire between my legs is building to a breaking point. My legs quiver, my chest tightens, and I grip his shoulders for dear life. My calf muscles are cramping in anticipation of the orgasm I know will ravage me at any second.

When it hits, I nearly slip and fall, but Mason braces my back with his free arm. My legs are powerless against the blast of ecstasy he just delivered to my body via his hand. I’m a shuddering and shouting mass for several seconds, but Mason remains, a brick wall of flesh. I bite his shoulder with a finishing scream. When the tidal wave of pleasure ends, a string of giggles fall from my mouth.

“How was that?” His smug face tells me he already knows my answer.

“That was…I can’t even…”

He laughs. I lightly smack his shoulder.

“You jerk, you know you were amazing.”

I grab the bar of soap and work the lather between my palms. “My turn now?”

His toothy grin nearly melts me. I grab him with one hand, hoping I can repay the favor, but I barely cover the base of his shaft. I wave away any self-doubt and stroke him with confidence. The moans that escape his mouth tell me I must be doing a decent job.

“Damn it, Elle. Fuck, that’s nice.” He leans down for yet another long, sloppy kiss.

A few minutes pass before he grips the shower wall with his free hand. His head falls back, his eyes press shut, and a throaty hum echoes against the wet walls. I pick up my speed and redirect my mouth to his chest. I alternate between long licks and gentle teeth scrapes.

A long, loud grunt signals his moment of release. He grabs me by the hair for a rough kiss. I moan in delight at the way he fists my wet hair, like he’s so desperate to have me in his mouth he can’t take it anymore.

He gazes at me, his eyes displaying that cloudy haze of post-orgasm satisfaction.

“Can you show me your bedroom?” he asks with a half-smile.

“Oh. You’re ready to go again?”

He nods eagerly.

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. Why so surprised?”

I’m unaccustomed to such impressive stamina. Most men I’ve been with are my age or older, which means at least a few hours before a second session. I now understand the allure of younger men.

I pat his chest and grin up at him. “I haven’t been with a guy your age since I was your age. I forgot about the perks. Like a nonexistent refractory period.”

His cups my cheek with his hand. I nuzzle into the warm wetness.

“Whatever it takes for you keep me around,” he says.

He grabs a towel from the nearby rack and dries me first. My chest warms at his attentiveness. He wipes the plush towel gently against my chest and torso, then my legs. He even bends down to dry off my feet. When he does, I get an unobscured view of his sculpted back, veiled in gold-hued skin. I never knew so many muscles could exist in a human being’s back.

He stands up to dry off, then glances down at me. “Shall we?”

He follows me to my bedroom. It’s a cluttered mess. My sheets lie in crumpled disarray on my bed. Dirty clothing adorns the floor like a trail of breadcrumbs.

I open my mouth to apologize for the mess, but he kisses me silent and lifts me on the bed. A millisecond later his body hovers over mine, braced by his forearms. He leans down, his lips eager to meet mine once again.

We’re a mound of damp skin, saliva, and hot breaths. I claw at him like he’s the last body I’ll ever get to touch. His treatment of me is similar. His hands grab me with urgency. No inch of my skin goes unkissed or untouched.

He breaks our endless kiss with sex-drunk eyes. “Do you have a condom?”

I nod and point to my nightstand. That boyish grin I love so much is back. His tree trunk arm reaches above me and opens the drawer. He tears the package open with his mouth while wagging an eyebrow at me.

I lean up and guide him in. A hiss of breath slides through my teeth as I take him in.

“You okay?” he whispers, his lips pressed against my forehead. I let out an agreeable moan.

He’s a lot to take, but there’s pleasure in the intensity. I whimper, then groan when I feel the full length and thickness of him. He moves better than any guy I’ve ever been with. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m small and he’s trying to be extra careful, but his slow, steady thrusts are like heaven to my body. I feel every single sensation. Every glide, every deliberate inch forward, every smooth pull backward. Each nerve inside me is being hit with surgical precision.

I press my head against the mattress, my moans filling the room. An occasional grunt from Mason intersperses. He picks up the pace, which only makes me howl louder and grip him harder.

“Yes, Elle. Just like that,” he groans.

The familiar building sensation is back again. This time, I’m glad I’m lying on my back to weather it.

Reaching behind him, Mason peels my legs from his waist and guides them against his shoulders. My eyes roll, my neck snaps back, and I yell at the intensity this new angle brings. When I finally open my eyes, the corner of his mouth lifts in a half-smile.

“I think you’ll like this,” he says.

Before I can ask what, he leans a few inches back, deepening the angle of his thrust. He kicks it into fourth gear, hitting a thrusting speed I’ve never experienced before. God bless those soccer drills for gifting him the stamina of a robot.

When my moans turn into full shouts, I know I’m on the cusp. The wave of heat and intensity hits as I come undone. Pleasure crashes through my body, causing my arms and legs to kick in every direction.

Mason’s body turns rigid over mine. He buries his face against my neck and growls. I come down from my high with him draped on top of me.

“Elle. Elle. Elle,” he growls. “Fucking incredible.”

He rolls to his side on the far end of the bed and pulls me into him. A light sheen of sweat beads across his skin. I indulge in a quick lick, then press a kiss to his lips. The salt dances against my tongue.

“No. You were incredible,” I say.

He beams a satisfied grin at me. His blinks become slower as we stare at each other in silence. My eyes struggle to stay open too now that I’m in the throes of my afterglow. I close my eyes and hear soft snoring. Soon I’m drifting too.

***

“Holy crap.” I sit up, rubbing my eyes. The sky outside my bedroom window is dark blue. We must have slept for hours.

Mason moans, still lying down.

“It’s nighttime already.” I glance at the clock on my nightstand. “Shit, it’s 11:45. We slept for, like, six hours.”

His arm pulls me back down to him. His bed-warmed skin soothes me, convincing me to relax with him for just a little longer.

“It’s past our bedtime. Back to bed.” He winks and glides a hand over my stomach. The butterflies inside me flutter once again when I glance down and see how much space on my stomach his hand takes up.

With one hand, he slides me up the bed until my head hits the pillow. His mouth finds my stomach and he makes his way down slowly, leaving an invisible trail of light kisses.

“Won’t your parents be worried? You’ve been gone most of the day.” My voice quivers with anticipation of where his lips will land next.

He peeks up from the tops of my thighs. “I don’t want to talk about my parents right now.” His close-lipped smile is convincing. “I want to focus on you.”

“Are you sure? They’ll wonder where you’ve been…” My voice turns to huffy breaths. I strain my neck to look down at him.

He winks before running a hand through his mass of dark curls. “I won’t tell if you won’t.”

The slide of his tongue against me causes my head to fall against the pillow. The warmth, the wetness, has me writhing immediately. I’ve never been quiet during sex or fooling around, but with Mason, it’s like he’s unleashed this inner megaphone in me that sounds every time he touches me.

Endless wet strokes send tremors through my body. They start at my midsection and radiate all the way up my chest, to my arm and legs, my fingers and toes. Oral has always been good for me, but never this mind-blowing.

He pauses to kiss the inside of my thigh. “You’re doing a number on me, Elle,” he whispers. His tongue resumes its filthy pace.

I say nothing in response because I can’t. I’m twisting my fists through my bedsheets, trying like hell not to shout or moan too loudly because I have neighbors. Two of which are Mason’s parents, and I would bet my life they would be livid to know their son is performing unspeakable sexual acts upon the hussy next door.

A long, slow lick jolts my head back to the present. Mason’s technique is slower, longer than what I’m used to. Soon I’m vibrating, moaning, begging. He doesn’t let up though. His tongue remains hot and wet. I feel it everywhere.

My entire body seizes this time. It’s like every muscle in my body is applauding Mason’s stellar performance and enviable stamina. I twist and moan and pant until my limbs are tangled in my sheets, my body cocooned in my bed.

Mason crawls up to my side and tugs me closer to him.

“Good?”

I nod and moan. “The best.”

His eyebrows shoot up in surprise. “Seriously?”

“Mmmhmm.”

He’s silent, a shy smile on his face.

“What?” I run my fingers through his thick curls. Next to his ripped physique, they’re my favorite feature of his.

“I’d have thought a woman like you would have had far more impressive encounters than with some twenty-two-year-old amateur.”

With my hand cupping his cheek, I turn him to look at me. “Mason, you’re the best I’ve had.”

It’s strange to say it out loud. Not in a bad way, just a surreal way. I’ve never been this candid and open with anyone I’ve dated or slept with. It’s refreshing. Kind of like doing away with all the façade has helped me have more honest, pleasurable sex.

“You’re serious?”

I nod.

That boyishly giddy smile is back. My chest flutters.

“I could say the same for you,” he says.

He pulls me closer so that my head lies on his chest.

“This is my favorite way to fall asleep,” he says.

I say “me too” before yawning. It’s not long before I’m asleep again.

***

“So when can I see you again?” Mason says as he pulls on his shorts.

He stands at the foot of my bed, tugging on his t-shirt. I frown. It’s a shame to cover up that beautiful body, but he can’t show up at his parents’ house half naked.

Morning sunlight rips through the curtains shrouding my bedroom window. After an evening of chatting and fucking, he’s headed home.

“You’re not sick of me yet?” I sit up in bed, the sheets at my waist.

“Not even a little bit.”

He ruffles his curls with a hand. His tousled mop top is so adorable, I want to howl.

We learned a lot about each other last night during our post-coital chats. I learned that Mason graduated college with a business degree and is job hunting this summer. He learned that I’m a work-from-home graphic designer. He likes comic book movies, barbecue, and his favorite place to vacation is Greece. I prefer horror flicks, pasta, and believe that Kauai is the most beautiful destination on earth.

“Come over tomorrow sometime?”

He squints. “How about tonight?”

“Seriously?” I throw my head back and laugh.

“Don’t tell me you’re one of those love-him-and-leave-him kind of gals.”

“Definitely not.” I scoot my knees to my chest. “Tonight will be fun, my friend.”

I reach up to stretch then glance back at him. His hands fall to his hips. It would be an imposing stance if not for the amused smile on his face. He makes a come hither motion with his index finger. I stand, tugging the sheet up with me.

He shakes his head. “No. Just you.”

I hesitate before letting the sheet fall to my feet. He reaches out and pulls me into his chest. “I don’t fuck my friends senseless. I don’t shower with my friends.”

I press into his chest, but keep my head tilted up. Under Mason’s stare, it’s impossible for me to remain composed. I feel like he’s always undressing me with his eyes. He leans down to nuzzle my neck. The heat within me renews.

“I don’t want to be your friend, Elle,” he whispers, a raspy edge to his voice.

He traces my lips with his index finger. A knowing smile crawls across his lips. “Tonight I’ll be doing some very unfriendly things to you, but only if you never call me your friend again. Sound good?”

I nod against his finger. I step on my tip-toes to kiss him.

We share a half-dozen more kisses before I get dressed and walk him to the door. I peek out the window to make sure his parents aren’t outside. He responds with an eye roll, then a kiss good-bye that leaves me weak in the knees.

“What should I bring when I come over tonight?” His hand slides down my side to my ass. He gives it a generous squeeze.

“Nothing. Just yourself.”

“Not even wine? Or Sno-Caps?”

I let out a honk of a laugh. “Actually, yes please. That combination sounds yummy.”

He shoots me a mock-offended look. “And you thought I was some vapid hottie who didn’t know how to treat a lady.”

“Oh, you definitely know how to treat a lady.”

My hand slides down his chest as his arms wrap around me, pulling me tight against him. Sno-Caps and wine. Long cuddles good-bye. Mind-blowing sex and endless orgasms. Mason flashes me another heart-melting smile. I could get used to this.

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10 thoughts on “Just A Number

  1. Dear Sarah,

    So, this is my first endeavour of delving into your writing, (which, surprisingly, I’ve done at work!), and, well, all I can say is that the teasing sections found in Twitter did not lead to disappointment, at all!

    This is a whole new area of reading for me and I can honestly state that I did enjoy it, very much so. Wonderful pacing and a beautiful, slow build up all wrapped up in lovingly detailed and sensuous prose.

    It was a fantastic and wonderful distraction.

    I shall enjoy exploring your works in time 😉

    Marc 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my gosh Marc, your words totally made my day! THANK YOU! To know that you had this reaction means the absolute world…thank you for taking the time to read my story and to comment! It means more than you’ll ever know 😀 I’m over the moon to know that you enjoyed it 🙂

      Like

      1. Hey Sarah,

        Just speaking the truth, honestly. I think you and Stefanie have swayed me into a whole new genre of reading material 😁

        Truly, I really enjoyed it. You certainly have skills with words 😉

        I’m glad my words mean so much to you, but they are merely my truths to you. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m SO happy to know that you’re open to reading romance now! It really is such a fun and diverse genre 🙂

        I could go on and on about how wonderful you are, but I’ll stop b/c I’m sure we both have more important things to accomplish with our time. One last time though: THANK YOU ❤ ❤ ❤

        Like

      3. Sarah,

        Thank you again for your incredibly kind words, they are rather humbling and I feel I don’t deserve them, as all I’ve done is speak my mind, nothing more 😊 But, again, thank you 😅

        I shall enjoy reading through the rest of your works, soon enough.

        Good luck with the continued writing ❤️❤️❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  2. CimmerianSentiment March 10, 2018 — 2:12 am

    I found your blog through Posy Churchgate’s pillow talk. Boy am I glad I clicked on the link.

    Like

    1. Oh my gosh, thank you so much for saying that!! And thank you for commenting and reading my stuff, it means so much 🙂

      I’m currently reading a bunch of your stories–LOVE them!

      Like

  3. Ah-mazing! This was sooo good. Oh my god. My heart is racing after reading it! 😍🔥🔥🔥😍

    Like

    1. Oh golly, you are so kind! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment–you are so wonderful! It means so much to know that you like it ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I LOVED it!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

        Liked by 1 person

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