***Extremely NSFW for sexual content. Safe reading!***
My back hit the wall as Nick lifted me, a giggle escaping as he pressed his lips into my throat. I spread my hands across the broad expanse of his bare shoulders, grazing my nails across his smooth skin. My giggle cut off on a gasp as he bit down, and I sighed, winding my fingers through his hair. His lips traveled up the side of my neck to nibble at my ear.
“Beg,” he growled, pressing his hips into mine, effectively keeping me from sliding down the wall. My legs closed around his waist, my bare skin against his denim jeans, as I moaned.
Without bothering to answer, I cupped the back of his head and pressed my lips to his, sucking on his bottom lip. I wanted to distract him. I wanted to destroy him. I wanted him to lose that ever-present control and be wild.
Nick grabbed my wrists and slammed them against the wall, cuffing me with one hand while the other trailed down to stroke my breast. “Beg,” he demanded again. Desire pulsed through my body.
“Make me,” I purred back, wickedly rocking my hips.
His growl deepened. I felt it on my skin, rushing through my blood, pulsing between my legs. Wrapping his arms more securely around me, Nick hoisted me back up and carried me over to my bed, dropping me right in the middle of it. I began to giggle again, my pulse racing. I could see Nick’s arousal straining against his jeans, his eyes so dark they were nearly black, his hair tousled from all my pulling. He looked downright feral as he crawled up my body, his eyes dark and glinting at me.
My breathing sped up, frantic now, a rush of excitement. Desperate, I reached for him, my hands landing on his bare upper arms, grabbing, pulling–
I jerked awake, disoriented, with no idea where I was. My arms were folded on a cold table, my face smooshed into them, a jacket draped on my shoulders. I lifted my head to look around, alarmed to find myself at work still, on lunch.
“Morning, Sleeping Beauty.”
Scowling, I turned to Nick, who had apparently seen me sleeping and decided to sit next to me. He was the last person I wanted to see. Especially after that dream. I scrubbed my face with my hands to coax feeling back into it. It felt like I’d been sleeping for hours.”God, how long was I out?”
“Judging by your usual routine, you have ten minutes of lunch left.” With the hand that wasn’t being used to shove pizza into his mouth, Nick rubbed my back. “Relax.”
Odd that he’d know my routine, I mused, but somehow comforting. I rolled my shoulders, trying to bring myself back to the present. “When did you get here?”
“About one twenty.” He took another bite of pizza, staring me down. “You didn’t even move. I was worried you’d finally worked yourself to death, but you were still breathing.”
“It’ll probably happen.” I arched my back, and suddenly realized the jacket on my shoulders wasn’t mine. Mine was in my lap. Confused, I hunched back over before the jacket could fall off of me, pulling it around to figure out whose it was. It was basic, black, a thin but warm material, with a colorful logo on the front, and a cast list on the back. It looked an awful lot like a dance team or color guard jacket. I glanced at Nick, who was engrossed in his phone. “Yours, I assume?”
Turning, he realized I was holding his jacket, and a brief flicker of emotion crossed his face. I couldn’t identify it before it vanished again. “Yeah. You were shaking.”
My brain stalled. “Thank you,” I managed, and handed his jacket back to him. As he took it from me, our hands touched, and visions of my dream flashed through my mind. My eyes flashed to his lips for a breath of a second, before I snatched them away again. “Any Valentine’s plans tonight?”
“Nah.” He’d gone back to his phone, but at least I’d gotten an answer.
Nick lived in the apartment above mine, and that had been the foundation of our friendship. He was never far away, reliable, trustworthy, but still (more often than not) an ass. Somehow, I rarely ever saw him at work. He flirted on occasion, or ate lunch with me as he had today, but it was spread out. Our relationship straddled a bizarre line of familial and friendly, the flirting between us like that between best friends– cute, fun, but overall meaningless.
Pity, since I had a raging crush on him– one that had deepened over the past month and a half as he proved himself to be a dependable friend.
“There aren’t girls lining up at your door to be your Valentine?” I teased, trying to ignore the little flutter of hope in my chest.
“Just you.” His blunt statement made me choke on my own spit.”What about you? Sara coming over for a hot date?”
Oh. He still thought we were a thing, after that New Years kiss. I didn’t blame him; if Sara had been down for it, I might have had something to look forward to after work tonight. Alas, Sara had no interest in anything more than flirting, and kissing to get back at Nick. One time.
“Unfortunately that was a one time deal,” I told him. “She threw me over for a cosplay queen.” I said it as airily as I could, tossing my hair over my shoulder. It still stung that Sara had chosen someone else over me, but she was happy, and that was what mattered.
“That sucks, I’m sorry.” He sounded like he meant it, the teasing glint in his eyes vanishing, replaced with concern. It only lasted a split second, but it was enough that I caught it.
Emotion rushed through me. All of a sudden, I couldn’t stand sitting next to him. Hiding my feelings–however unwarranted– was easier when he was being a snarky ass. How was I supposed to handle him being genuinely nice? How could I maintain the indifferent facade?
I pushed away from the table and stood up, snatching my jacket from my lap.”Anyway, I’m gonna head back to work. If you’ll excuse me.”
Work passed in a daze after that. I was distracted by both dream and memory, so much so that I didn’t even remember the drive back to my apartment. All I knew was that when I got back to my apartment complex, I was frustrated, exhausted, and fueled by my own bitterness against happy Valentine’s couples everywhere.
It was like a flashback, walking into my apartment with groceries, my mood sour. My Christmas tree was still up, now decorated with hearts and pictures of loved ones by my now ex roommates, who had finally gotten places of their own and left me, once again, with my own apartment. All mine, to myself. Alone.
I was walking, contained bitterness, wasn’t I? Like a human espresso. I’d heard that somewhere before, and couldn’t help but find it accurate.
With a puff of breath, I blew the hair out of my face and set my bags on the kitchen counter. My Valentine track record was awful at best, downright embarrassing at worst. Being alone was depressing, but hell, I could celebrate some self love with a nice meal, chocolate, and a glass of sweet red wine.
As I had at Christmas, I hauled my laptop out of my room and set it up on the dining room table. An entire playlist of love songs blasted from my iTunes, a combination of show tunes, duets, pop songs, and John Denver– still my favorite. Singing shamelessly, I poured myself a glass of wine, lit a few candles around the room, and started dinner.
I changed into sweatpants and a tank top, prepped my pasta sauce and left it to simmer, and poured myself a second glass of red, and still had a good hour left on my playlist. While on a normal night I’d have just let it play and scrolled through social media and called it a night, but it was Valentine’s day. My sauce still had another hour or so to simmer, and after dinner I was planning on a candle lit bubble bath. There was plenty of time to watch a sappy romantic movie. But which one?
Indecisive, I pulled a few to choose from, and went back to the kitchen to pull together an appetizer for myself. I was stirring my sauce, a slice of bread with smoked salmon on it in one hand, when a knock at my door caught my attention. “Just a sec,” I called, returning the lid to my pot and putting the food back on its plate. Once again, I realized a little belatedly that my music was blasting, and I’d been singing along– and not quietly.
Seeing Nick on the other side of the door might not have been the last thing I expected, but it was close. Like a fantasy and a nightmare both coming true at once, He stood in what he’d worn to work: sweatpants and a tee shirt, both black. His hair was mussed from the wind blowing through the outdoor hallway of the apartment building, uncommonly cold for Florida.
“We have to stop meeting like this.” Nick smirked at my quip, and I stepped back. “Come on in, I’ll feed you in exchange for you not reporting me to the landlord for being a nuisance.”
Nick strolled into my apartment, chuckling. “Smells great.” At home, he wandered into the kitchen to check out what was cooking, and I was close behind.
“Thanks.” Moving past him, I got a spoon and scooped up a sample of the sauce for him. “Veal marinara, a family recipe. Spicy and meaty.” As I offered it, his hand once again closed over mine, to take the spoon from me. “Careful, it’s hot.”
He tasted it, apparently decided it wasn’t that hot, and then ate the piece of veal I’d managed to snag for him. “It’s good. It’s really good.”
I beamed. “Thank you.”
“I guess you can talk me into staying.” He winked, and in his easy way, strolled back out of the kitchen to the living room. “Having a movie night?”
“More like having a crisis,” I said, munching on my smoked salmon and toast again. “Haven’t been able to decide what I want to watch. There’s smoked salmon, by the way, if you’re already hungry. The sauce has another hour or so.” He shrugged, engrossed in the covers of the DVDs, as I set the plate on the coffee table. “Do you want a glass of wine?”
“Nah, but I’ll take a soda if you’ve got one.” He inspected my movies, reading the back of Pride and Prejudice.
“Coming right up.”
Moments later, I returned with a glass of diet Coke– something I’d learned to have on hand since we started to hang out more often– and my own glass of ice water. After setting the glasses on coasters on the coffee table, I snagged another appetizer and dropped down onto the couch. “I’ve had a glass and a half of wine already, in case you’re wondering.”
“My plan to seduce you just got ten times easier.”
My hand stopped halfway to my mouth. “Pardon?”
“Do you have any movies that aren’t sappy romance movies?” He turned and, seeing the shelf of movies under my TV, started to sift through them.
“Chocolat isn’t even really a romance movie,” I pointed out, “and it’s Valentine’s Day. I’m putting on a love story, and you can ignore it if you really want food.”
“I can think of better things to eat.”
Ignoring that, I leaned over him and pulled a few Disney movies from the shelf that I hadn’t pulled before. “Here, choose Disney, since you didn’t like any of those.”
“Hunchback,” he said immediately. I sighed.
“Still not technically romance, but it’s one of my favorites. You got lucky.” I took the movie and started setting it up.
“Not yet, but I hope to.”
Whipping around, I glared outright at Nick.”Are you enjoying yourself?”
“Immensely.” Like a true gentleman, he started putting the other movies away.
My dream replayed itself in my head at light speed. Brushing the stray hairs from my face, I went back into the kitchen to stir my sauce, leaving Nick to do whatever it was he was gonna do. It didn’t actually need to be stirred, but I was so damn hot and bothered, I could have cooked the sauce on me instead of the stove.
Relax, Zoe, I told myself, resting my head against the cool door of the freezer. He’s just a guy. He’s your friend. Calm down.
A friend who’d grabbed me, fried my brain my kissing me, not once, but twice. A friend who teased me relentlessly. A friend who kept making subtle passes on the eve of a holiday dedicated to love.
A friend who needed a taste of his own medicine, I decided.
The idea ripped through me, carrying me back out into the living room. Nick had migrated to the couch, sipping on his soda, watching the menu screen while he waited. He set his glass down as I reached him, looking up like he was about to say something. I didn’t give him the chance as I dropped to the couch beside him– closer than I usually sat, almost in his lap. Grabbing Nick’s shirt, I yanked him to me, planting my lips on his.
Oh, hell. He was electric, and I was on fire. His hands came up to my face, cradling it, then slid down to stroke my neck. The fire blazed brighter, hotter, too intense. My hands tightened in the fabric of his shirt as I finally fulfilled my fantasy of biting, gently, on his lower lip.
Before I lost all sense of control, I yanked myself away. It was like dragging myself out of a tar pit. I wanted to go back, to lose myself in him, to drown in him. Wanted, needed, yearned for it.
Yes, best to pull away now, before I made a stupid decision and complicated everything.
“There, now it was my idea,” I said, and reached for the remote.
I got about as far as leaning forward before I was yanked back and pushed into the cushions of the sofa. Nick was on top of me before I could breathe, before I could think. His lips went right back to mine, right where we’d left off. His hand went into my hair, fisting there, tugging. I mewled against his lips and arched up, grabbing onto his shoulders. He shifted, his lips going to my neck, and my breath caught. My dream, for a split second, a reality. He bit, roughly but not painfully, and I melted underneath him.
It was payback, I decided, when he pulled away and grabbed the remote, hitting play and returning to his corner of the couch.
“You know what–” I sat up, frustrated, burning, a hair’s breadth from desperate. “You are, by far, the most frustrating, confusing, infuriating–”
“I take it you enjoyed that, then?”
Realization struck me. Where I was out of breath and burning alive, Nick was calm and collected. Doubt began to creep in. Had that just been a power play? Did he just use my feelings against me to one up me?
I tried to corral my thoughts, but couldn’t stop myself from asking, “How are you not affected by this at all?”
“It’s called hiding it,” he said, staring at the TV as the first song of the movie hit its climax.
I sputtered, my brain refusing to wrap around his words. “But– but– why?”
Nick smirked. “Because.” He gestured toward me, his expression downright smug. Infuriatingly smug. “Look how frustrated you get.”
Not sure whether I was going to kiss him or strangle him, I launched myself at him. He grabbed me mid lunge and effortlessly shifted me, dragging me onto his lap. His arms clamped down around mine in a hug, restraining me but keeping me close. Smiling now, he leaned down, our foreheads touching, his lips millimeters from mine. “Look how wild you get.”
I sat back, content to be in his arms. “Goodness, if I’d known you wanted me wild, I’d have acted on the impulse to bone you in the kitchen at the New Year’s party.”
His arms tightened around me. “That would have been interesting.”
Smirking, I tucked my head into the crook of his neck.”Yeah, if I’d had any alcohol, we’d have been caught in a very compromising position.”
Scoffing, I shook my head. “Wine and I are good friends. I’m barely buzzed.”
“Then I didn’t do my job right,” Nick said. I laughed.
“Maybe you can try again later,” I told him. “I’m going to stir my sauce.”
“I’ll stir your sauce.”
“Hardy har har,” I called, disappearing into the kitchen.
I could still hear the music from Hunchback, and was cheerfully singing along with Quasimodo as I stirred and sampled the sauce. I added a hit of chili flakes, a pinch of basil, and stirred a little more, not hearing Nick creep up behind me.
His arms snaked around my waist, startling me. I tensed up, only to melt when his lips brushed my neck. Leaning back, I tilted my head, giving him more access. He bit down again, giving me a short jolt and making me gasp. It was heady, dizzying.
He took the spoon from my hand, which I’d already forgotten about, and covered the sauce again. I started to reorient myself, only to be yanked around and pushed into the counter beside the stove, Nick’s lips on mine again. He slid his hands up my sides, shifting my tank top up, up, until he broke the kiss to yank it off and toss it across the room. I grabbed his shirt and dragged him back, starved for something other than food.
Weightless. I felt weightless. Nick lifted me up effortlessly, high enough that I could wrap my legs around his waist as he turned– and pressed me into the wall. I dragged his shirt off and threw it somewhere, probably wherever my shirt had gone, and satisfied the dream of running my hands across his shoulders and back. His skin was hot against mine, his muscles rippling under my hands as he moved to support my full weight. I bit my lip and tried to stifle my moan, to no avail. Nick pressed his hips harder against me, and I moaned again, higher this time, not bothering to bite it back as I slid my hands into his hair.
“Beg,” He said, his lips against my throat. Breathless, I grinned.
My heart leaped as Nick all but growled into my neck. Heat rushed over my skin, anticipating his next move. He lifted me, and I clung to him, giggling low in my throat, then leaning down to kiss him. The real thing was so much better than my dream had been. The taste of him, something that bordered sweet and savory, filled me.
I buried my face in his neck as he carried me, biting down and sucking gently– not hard enough to leave a mark, but enough that I got a reaction. Nick sucked in a breath, his arms tightening around me. I tilted my head back to stare at him. Seeing the near feral look in his eye, my grin widened, and I began to laugh again.
He stayed silent as he kicked my door closed, his expression darkening. A shiver ran through me, my heart racing even faster. I felt the first pang of desperation as he tossed me onto the bed; it pulsed through my heart, a blazing arrow, and shot down to my core. His focus on me was so intense, his eyes darkened nearly to black. For a moment, he just stared at me from the foot of my bed, as though trying to read me. My gaze held his steadily. Whatever he was looking for in my eyes, he found it. Agonizingly slowly, he climbed onto my bed and crawled up my body.
I reached for him, grasping his shoulders and pulling him down to kiss me, but he dodged, going for my neck again. His hands busied themselves with my breasts, making me arch, craving more. I wanted him on me, around me, inside me. He was going too slowly; I wanted, needed him, more, faster, now.
His lips traveled down as his hands shifted back. He made quick work of the clasp of my bra, flinging it away as his mouth latched onto one of my breasts. I gasped and arched higher, pulling his hair even as I pressed him closer to me. One arm wrapped around me, holding me securely, as his other hand slid down between my legs.
Whatever noise I made, it amused Nick. I was too busy getting lost in what his hand was doing to notice him sliding further down my body, hooking a finger under the waistband of my sweatpants. He stopped only long enough to pull them from my legs, before resuming his place on top of me, one hand between my legs, the other holding him up.
He watched my face, I couldn’t imagine what for. I couldn’t imagine much of anything. My vision blurred, then darkened, and I shut my eyes, bowing off the bed and up against him. I was close, too close, and I didn’t want this to end yet. Wrenching open my eyes, I grabbed his wrist and shifted until he dropped onto his back, and I rolled on top of him, straddling his hips.
If I’d thought that straddling him would somehow be better than his hand between my legs, I was both right and wrong. He felt right there, as though we fit together, but feeling his arousal against mine was more intense than his hand had been. I lost my edge for a moment, lost my train of thought, lost everything but the sensation of him underneath me.
Nick noticed. He rocked his hips under me, and I whimpered, dropping my hands to his shoulders. His hands latched onto my hips as he rocked again, and again, watching me unravel on top of him. I’d been planning to drive him as wild as I felt, to make him as desperate as I was. Now all I could think of was where this would inevitably lead.
Pressing a hand to his chest, I leaned over to my nightstand and yanked open the top drawer. Cursing, I rummaged through the contents, until I found what I was looking for: an unopened box of condoms.
“You’re such a Girl Scout,” he muttered, and I realized, with no small amount of satisfaction, that he was just as out of breath as I was.
“Safety begins with me,” I responded, just as breathlessly, and ripped the box open.
He laughed, but it cut off as I slid down his body. I’d gotten my bearings back, and I wanted to get him worked up. I held one condom in my hand as I dragged his sweatpants and boxers down his legs. They landed with my sweatpants on the floor behind me somewhere, but I was focused on his erection. Nick’s eyes widened a fraction as I took him into my mouth.
I delighted in his reactions. His hand went to my hair and pulled, trying to bring me closer, but I wanted to tease him. I backed off, licking, kissing, before taking him in again. He went tense, his breath too even, like he was forcing it. I smiled, knowing I’d won. Though he tried to conceal it, I’d managed to affect him. It was enough, a delightful thrill in my chest, a heady feeling that made me twice as impatient as I had been before. After sliding the condom onto him, it was my turn to crawl up his body.
Nick flipped me, too quickly for me to stop him, mounting me easily. His strong legs pushed mine apart, and I lifted my hips. He rubbed against me, driving me insane, before slowly pushing into me.
I choked on my own breath, blind, but deliriously happy. My eyes had shut somewhere along the lines, but I didn’t care. Even if I opened them, I would barely be able to see him. My legs tight around his waist, I dragged my nails up his back, then pulled him down to kiss me as he moved. I breathed out his name, quiet at first, then louder, until I was almost sobbing it. Nick dropped his head against my shoulder and let go, crushing me to him as his hips seemed to move of their own accord. He drove me up, and up, and finally– finally– over the edge. I nearly blacked out, I might have screamed, I wasn’t sure. He tensed for a split second, and then found his own release as aftershocks rocked through me.
We collapsed together, spent, his weight warm and wonderfully heavy on top of me. I threaded my fingers in his hair, petting him as he recovered. Content, I allowed myself to relax, dazed but unquestionably happy.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Zoe” Nick murmured into my shoulder. I smiled, pressing a kiss to his temple.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Nick.”