I startled myself awake and checked the clock. “Shit, shit, shit,” I muttered. I had overslept by nearly thirty-five minutes.
I flew out of bed and darted for the bathroom to take a shower, realizing I must not have heard Damon getting out of bed this morning. He usually woke up nearly an hour before me, and I always heard him clunking around, so I’d stopped setting my alarm.
I had stayed up late last night, reading a steamy romance novel, while waiting for him to come home. I must have slept like a rock.
I slid to a stop in the bathroom and locked the door. I was used to locking it now, thanks to having a roommate. With quick succession, I stripped off my clothes and showered in lightning speed. Then, I dried off and noticed I’d forgotten to grab my scrubs for work. After I securely wrapped my towel around me, tucking it under my armpits, I cracked the door open to take a quick peek just in case.
The coast was clear, so I ran for it, mindful that my feet were still damp in my hastiness.
Three feet from my bedroom door, Damon rounded the corner, rubbing his head sleepily with his hand.
His eyes bulged when he looked up. “What the—”
I loudly gasped as I crashed into him, expecting to tumble to the floor in a heap of tangled limbs. Damon’s broad arms caught me, wrapping around my waist, while my hands clung to his biceps for balance. Once I got my footing, I peeked up at him.
“Hi,” I whispered breathily.
His eyes were smoldering hot, darker than I’d ever seen them before, and his jaw was set. At first, I thought he was pissed, but the increasing firmness against my abdomen told me otherwise. Heat flared inside me at our contact, and desire burned within me once again.
“Hi,” he murmured back in a rough tone.
A second passed, or maybe several, and neither of us moved.
Damon kept one hand firmly on my waist while lifting the other to cup my cheek. He caressed it back and forth with a gentleness that sent shivers racing down my back. I melted into his touch. His eyes raked over my body as he ran his thumb over my lips, tracing them, while he murmured my name. I leaned into him and brushed his lips with mine, causing him to gently glide his fingertips down to the base of my throat. Ignoring all the reasons why this was a really bad idea, I gave myself over to what my body so desperately wanted.
A groan left his throat as his palm came to my neck, pulling my lips closer. He took my mouth and kissed me deeply. His kiss rocked me back on my heels, and I grasped him like a lifeline, matching his passion as I kissed him back with equal fervor. Sparks ignited within every part of me.
By the time we parted, we were both gasping for air.
After the most perfect moment of my life, doubts came barreling into me and knocked the wind right out of me.
“Oh my God…I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me.” I shook my head in dismay and embarrassment at succumbing to my crush on him. This was all my fault. “I have to go.”
I went to disengage myself from him, but he held me in place.
“Wait,” he demanded.
I could see the confusion mixed with hurt in his expression. The look had me feeling even worse.
“We need to talk about this.”
“No, we don’t.” I felt at a total loss and out of my league. “I kissed you, and I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
“We kissed each other,” he countered. “And what if I want to do it again?”
“We can’t,” I retorted and looked up at him. “It will ruin everything.”
“Ruin what?” he asked quietly.
If Damon dumped me like the last guy and the guy before that, it would destroy me, and I could not let that happen. I was a stronger woman now. Plus, I was riding a very thin line with my finances, and if Damon and I crossed this boundary between us, there would be no going back. Things were perfect the way they were now. I did not want to mess it up.
Plus, Caroline’s education was partially riding on my shoulders, which in turn was riding on having a roommate help pay my rent. It was an awful double standard, yes, but there was no other way. It was too risky.
I would have to just live with my attraction to him.
When I did not answer him, he added, “Gail, no matter what happens between us, I would never just walk out on you.” It was as though he had guessed what my apprehensions were.
His last words hit me deep and gave me the strength to say my peace. I would not jeopardize my sister’s future over dating a man I barely knew. Especially given my history with men who only wanted one thing.
My past gave me the courage to say my peace.
I stood up tall, tightened my towel, and looked him straight in the eyes. “That’s what every guy says, and you’ll be no different.”
Damon dropped his hands, letting me go, as if I’d slapped him. His eyes turned unreadable.
My heart constricted painfully in my chest, churning and twisting relentlessly. I was so ashamed of myself for being so callous to a man who had done nothing but lend a helping hand to me in my time of need.
“I’m so sorry, Damon,” I murmured, lowering my head in shame. Tears filled my eyes. “I have to go to work.”
Alicia Rae is a Contemporary Romance Author who lives in Dekalb, Illinois, with her husband and three beautiful boys. Alicia has a passion for reading all types of romance, writing to bring a story to life, and photography.
Thank you to my dear sister, Kels, who showed me a few years ago how much I truly missed reading. And to my loving husband, for not throwing away my Nook, and planting the seed of writing into my mind. I am forever grateful. Xo
Readers, words cannot thank you enough for supporting me along this incredible journey. I hope you enjoy my novels as much as I do writing them. I thank each and every one of you.
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