Dakota 15

It wasn’t fussing, I told my reflection. It was primping, it was fun, and I liked doing it, regardless of whether or not I was gonna get laid. Light makeup was for me to feel better about myself, and I put my hair up to get it out of my face, since it was an annoyance anyway.

Maybe I’d made my bed, but it looked cleaner that way. And maybe I had condoms in my nightstand, but those had been there. I was prepared, in case things got… intense. Which I was hoping they would, of course.

Kimmy was doing that thing with her face, a sort of smirk that meant I know what you’re planning even if you won’t admit it to yourself. She wasn’t the type to say that outloud– okay, bullshit, yes she was, she was just being polite by not doing so in this one circumstance. She had already showered and was gathering her clothes while I… panicked. I was panicking. I knew I was panicking, but I couldn’t really get a hold of my emotions long enough to look into that panic and ease it.

“Have you eaten, Piper?” Kimmy dragged me out of my own head, simultaneously grabbing my hand and pulling me to the living room. Before I could answer, I was handed a package of Pop Tarts and shoved toward a barstool. She poured me a glass of water. “Eat, drink water, and calm your tits.”

I choked on the piece of Pop Tart I’d been chewing on. “This is why we’re friends,” I muttered.

“I know.” She patted my arm. “I’m almost ready. When’s your boy getting here?”

“He’s not–” I dropped that response halfway through and shoved half a Pop Tart  in my mouth instead.

“I’m gonna go pack everything, I’m staying with Taylor tonight. Let me know when the bae gets here.” Kimmy sauntered off, with me choking on my Pop Tarts behind her.

He wasn’t mine. At least, not the way she thought. If anything, we were friends with benefits– which, honestly, was a few steps up to where I figured we’d be when I met him, considering how much of an ass he was. Actually, if I was honest, friends was a questionable term in itself. He was that guy who made fun of me at work who, for some reason, I wanted to shag senseless.

That made sense, right?

No, he was my friend, I told myself. If we weren’t friends, he wouldn’t have given me his number, or talked to me over Facebook, or talked to me at all. He had no real reason to, not a lot of my other coworkers had friended me on Facebook. Of course, none of them were coming to my apartment to bone me.

Now I was just overthinking it. I downed my glass of water right as my phone went off, and felt my soul, momentarily, leave my body.

Five minutes out.

“I’m going to sign Dakota in,” I said, grabbing my student ID from my school lanyard and sticking it in the wallet of my phone case.

“I’ll be quick, love!” She said. “Walk safely!”

I laughed. “Sure thing. Back in a few.”

Late September meant autumn back home, but this far south, it was like the end of summer. The air was warm and still, the sun bright. Kimmy and I were lucky enough to live in the house directly across from the security gate, just a short walk away. I wished for falling leaves and the crisp, spicy scent of autumn, but the warmth of eternal summer and the glimmering sunlight lifted my mood and soothed my anxiety considerably.

You know, until I saw Dakota’s car. Obviously. Then my anxiety went right back through the roof.

I greeted the security guard with a bright smile, making quick work of the guest paperwork As the guard finished his portion of the papers, I went to the passenger side of Dakota’s car and slid in. “Morning!”

“Hello.” His greeting was playful, but detached. He was in his usual shorts and a tee shirt– I’d come to the conclusion he didn’t own anything else– his hair ruffled, his expression blank as he gave the guard his license.

I wondered idly if Dakota could feel the same charged energy between us that I could. Probably not, I decided, but it didn’t particularly matter. I felt it inching up my neck, a gentle buzz, like fingers stroking my skin. It hummed in my chest like the car’s engine.

Dakota retrieved his license, the security bar went up, and I waved at the guard as we pulled forward. Without looking at me, he asked, “Where to, Princess?”

My heart skipped at the nickname. “Left up here, then the first right.”

I could hear my own heartbeat. It was thrilling, somehow, to have him here, in a place so familiar to me. He pulled into a parking space and I threw open my door, trying to ignore the shaking of my hands as I pulled out my apartment key. “We’re on the second floor,” I told him, darting toward the stairs. Dakota followed with an easy gait. His calmness helped me relax, until I heard his voice behind me on the stairs.

“Nice view.”

I rolled my eyes, knowing he was staring at my ass. “Thanks.” He came up behind me and lightly tapped it as I opened the door to let him in. I turned, trying to glare at him, but I knew the look was more suggestive than irritated. “I’m back, with company” I called as we entered, hearing Kimmy’s muffled but excited response from the bathroom. I gestured around as Dakota came in, watching him take in our tiny apartment. “So this is home.”

“It’s small,” he said, wandering through the kitchen and common area. I watched him poke around, like a cat in a new home. I wanted to kiss him again.

The desert is dry, I mused, and the thirst is real.

“Yeah, it’s college housing.” I pointed to the two closed doors. “Our room, and the bathroom. Kimmy’s on her way out to see a friend.”

As I said it, the bedroom door swung open. Kimmy beamed at me, hoisting her bag over her shoulder, then turned to Dakota. “Hi! You must be Dakota. Nice to meet you. I’m Kimmy.”

Dakota smiled and shook her offered hand, watching her stroll over to the kitchen to fill her water bottle. “Nice to meet you.”

“Spending the day together?” Kimmy asked, in her innocent voice, with an angelic smile. I damn near choked on my own spit. She winked at me as she screwed the cap onto her water bottle. I rolled my eyes at her.

“Nah, I have work later,” Dakota said, now wandering around the rest of the apartment. ‘It’s gonna be a short visit.”

Oh? That was news to me, but whatever. I put a hip onto the arm of the couch and let him roam, while Kimmy got a Pop Tart from the cabinet.

“Ah.” Kimmy smirked at me. I pasted a smile on, but stuck my tongue out at her once Dakota had turned his back to me. “Well, I’m actually off to see my friend Taylor. You two kids have a good day.” Kimmy shifted her bag further onto her shoulder and waved as she waltzed out the door.

“Bye have fun be safe!” I chirped, running the words together as I closed the door behind her– and locked it.

I turned around, expecting Dakota to still be standing where I’d last seen him, just sort of hovering in the middle of the living room, only to find him already sitting on the couch. Before I could say anything, he whipped his hand out of his pocket, presenting a single condom with a flourish. “Wanna have some fun?”

Later, that would be, by far, one of the most hysterical moments of my life. At the time, I was in such shock that I could only manage a chuckle before walking over to him, grabbing his face in my hands, and kissing him. I settled into his lap and felt his hands land on my hips, and the resulting rush of heat to my belly.

It was the first time I’d ever been completely ready for someone, before they’d really done anything. Whatever insecurities I had vanished as quickly as he had me undressed– with the comment, “Matching today, huh?” I grinned, but was too caught up in what his hands were doing to respond. He had me melting underneath him, the first time I hadn’t felt pain with a man, the first time I honestly wanted more.

The errant thought that this was, for all intents and purposes, a booty call, raced through my head. I pushed it away. I didn’t care if this was just a friends with benefits thing– it was probably better for both of us that way, anyway. It didn’t matter right now. All that mattered were Dakota’s lips on my neck, his hands on my hips, and my legs around his waist.

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