Beautiful Player [Beautiful Series]

Chapter 6

Something had changed, some switch had flipped in the past few days, and there was a leaden weight between us now. It had started a few mornings ago, on our run when she was quiet and distracted and had fallen to her side when her leg cramped up. Afterwards at breakfast, she’d clearly been irritated, but that was easy to read: she was fighting something. She was annoyed in the same way I was, as if we should be able to wrestle against this magnet that seemed intent on pulling us to a different place.

A non-friend-zone place.

My phone buzzed on the coffee table and I jerked upright when Hanna’s picture lit up the screen. I tried to ignore the warm hum of levity I felt simply because she was calling.

“Hey, Ziggs.”

“Come to a party with me tonight,” she said simply, completely bypassing any traditional greeting. The classic sign of a nervous Hanna. She paused, and then added more quietly, “Unless . . . shit, it’s Saturday. Unless you have an otherwise-platonic regularly-scheduled-sex-partner over.”

I ignored the elaborate implied second question and considered only the first, imagining a party in a conference room at the Columbia biology department, with two-liter bottles of soda, chips, and grocery store salsa.

“What kind of party?”

She paused on the other end of the line. “A housewarming party.”

I smiled at the phone, growing suspicious. “What kind of house?”

On the other end of the line, she let out a groan of surrender. “Okay, fine. It’s a grad student party. A guy in my department and his friends just moved into a new apartment. I’m sure it’s a shithole. I want to go, but I want you to come with me.”

Laughing, I asked, “So it’s going to be a grad school rager? Will they have kegs and Fritos?”

“Dr. Sumner,” she sighed. “Don’t be a snob.”

“I’m not being a snob,” I said. “I’m being a man in his early thirties who finished grad school years ago and considers it a wild night when he goads Max into spending over a thousand dollars on a bottle of scotch.”

“Just come with me. I promise you’ll have an awesome time.”

I sighed, staring at a half-empty bottle of beer on my coffee table. “Will I be the oldest person there?”

“Probably,” she admitted. “But I know for a fact you’ll also be the hottest.”

I laughed at this, and then considered my night without this option. I’d canceled on Kristy, and I still wasn’t really sure why.

That was a lie. I knew exactly why. I felt weird, like maybe I was being unfair to Hanna by being with other women when she seemed to be giving so much of herself to me. When I told Kristy I needed a rain check, I knew she heard something else in my voice. She didn’t question why or try to reschedule, the way Kitty would have. I suspected I wouldn’t be sleeping with that particular blonde again.

“Will?”

Sighing, I stood and walked over to where I’d left my shoes near the front door. “Okay, fine, I’ll come. But wear a shirt that shows off your tits so I have something to entertain me if I get bored.”

She let out a small, breathy laugh, managing to sound both girlish and seductive. “You have yourself a deal.”

It was exactly what I’d expected: a serial renter to poverty-level graduate students, and an entirely familiar scene.

I was hit with a small wave of nostalgia as we stepped inside the cramped apartment.

The two couches were droopy futons, with stained, drab covers. The television was propped on a board balanced between two milk crates. The coffee table looked like it had seen better days, before having some very bad days, and then had been given to these guys to trash further. In the kitchen, a horde of bearded, hipster grad students huddled around a keg of Yuengling and there were assorted half-full bottles of cheap booze and mixers on the counter.

But from the look on Hanna’s face you’d think we just stepped into heaven. Beside me, she bounced a little and then reached for my hand, squeezing it. “I’m so glad you came with me!”

“Seriously, have you actually ever been to a party before?” I asked.

“Once,” she admitted, pulling me deeper into the mayhem. “In college. I drank four shots of Bacardi and barfed on some guy’s shoes. I still have no idea how I got home.”

The image made my stomach twist. I’d seen that girl—wide-eyed, trying out wild—at virtually every party I’d been to in college and grad school. I hated to think of that girl ever being Hanna. In my eyes she was always smarter than that, more self-aware.

She was still talking, and I leaned in to catch the rest of what she said. “. . . wild nights were mostly spent playing Magic in our dorm lounge and sipping ouzo. Well, everyone else would be drinking ouzo. I can barely smell it without wanting to puke.” She looked back at me over her shoulder, clarifying, “My roommate was Greek.”

Hanna introduced me to a group of people, mostly guys. There was a Dylan, a Hau, an Aaron, and what I think was an Anil. One of them handed Hanna a cocktail made with a trendy plum sake and fizzy soda water.

I knew Hanna wasn’t much of a drinker, and my protective instincts kicked in. “Would you rather have something nonalcoholic?” I asked her, loud enough for the others to hear me. What dicks, just assuming she wanted booze.

They all waited for her to answer, but she sipped the drink and made a quiet cooing noise. “This is good. Holy crap!” Apparently she liked it. “Just make sure I only have the one,” she whispered to me, sliding closer into my side. “Otherwise I can’t be held responsible for my actions.”

Well, fuck. With that one line she managed to derail my plans to be the good, big-brother figure for the evening.

Hanna drank her cocktail faster than I expected and her cheeks grew rosy, her smile lingered. She met my eyes and I could see her happiness there, lighting her up. Christ, she’s pretty, I thought, wishing she and I were alone at my place watching a movie, and making a mental note to make that happen soon. I looked around the room and realized how many more people had joined the party. The kitchen was growing crowded. Another graduate student joined our little circle partway into a conversation about the craziest professors in the department and introduced herself to me, stepping between me and Dylan on my right. To my left, I could feel Hanna watching my reaction. I felt hyperconscious around her, seeing myself through her eyes. She was right when she said I noticed women, but while this other woman was pretty, she did nothing for me, especially not with Hanna so nearby. Did Hanna really think I made a habit of having sex with someone every single time I went anywhere?

I met her eyes and gave her a scolding look.

Hanna giggled, mouthing, “I know you.”

“You really don’t,” I murmured. And fuck it, I let it all out: “There’s still so much you could learn.”

She stared up at me for several long, loaded beats. I could see her pulse in her neck, see the way her chest rose and fell with her quickened breathing. She looked down, put her hand on my bicep, and ran her fingertips over the tattoo of the phonograph I’d had done when my grandfather died.

In unison, we stepped away from the group, sharing a secret little smile. Fuck, this girl makes me feel unhinged.

“Tell me about this one,” she whispered.

“I got that a year ago when my Pop died. He taught me how to play the bass. He listened to music every second he was awake, every day.”

“Tell me about one I’ve never seen before,” she said, attention moving to my lips.

I closed my eyes for a beat, thinking. “I have the word NO written just over my smallest rib on my left side.”

Laughing, she stepped closer, close enough for me to smell the sweet plum drink on her breath. “Why?”

“I got it when I was drunk in grad school. I was on an antireligion kick and didn’t like the idea that God made Eve out of Adam’s rib.”

Hanna threw her head back, laughing my favorite laugh, the one that came from her belly and took over her entire body.

“You’re so fucking pretty,” I murmured, without thinking, running my thumb over her cheek.

She jerked her head back upright, and, with a lingering glance to my mouth, pulled me out of the kitchen, a small, devilish smile on her face.

“Where are we going?” I asked, letting her lead me down a narrow hall lined with closed doors.

“Shh. I’ll lose my nerve if I say it before we’re there. Just come with me.”

Little did she know I’d follow her down this hallway even if it caught fire. I’d come to this dirty bohemian party with her after all.

At a random closed door, Hanna stopped, knocked, and waited. She pressed her ear to the wood, smiled up at me, and when we heard nothing, turned the knob, letting out a cute, nervous squeak.

The room was dark, blessedly empty, and still relatively sterile from the recent move. A bed was freshly made in the middle of the room, and a dresser was pressed tight in a corner, but the far wall was still lined with boxes.

“Whose room is this?” I asked.

“I’m not sure.” Reaching around, she flipped the lock at my back, and then stared up at me, smiling. “Hi.”

“Hi, Hanna.”

Her mouth dropped open and her beautiful eyes went wide. “You didn’t call me Ziggy.”

Smiling, I whispered, “I know.”

“Say it again?” Her voice came out husky, as if she was asking me to touch her again, to kiss her again. And maybe when I’d called her Hanna it felt like a kiss. It certainly had to me. And part of me—a very large part of me—decided I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t care that I’d kissed her sister twelve years ago and her brother was one of my closest friends. I didn’t care that Hanna was seven years younger than I was, and, in many ways, very innocent. I didn’t care that I’d probably fuck it up, or that my past would bother her. We were alone, in a dark room, and every inch of my skin felt like it was buzzing with my need for her to touch me.

“Hanna,” I said quietly. The two syllables filled my head, hijacked my pulse.

She smiled a secretive little smile and then looked at my mouth. Her tongue slipped out, wetting her bottom lip.

“What’s going on, Mystique?” I whispered. “What are we doing in this very dark bedroom, exchanging flirty eyes?”

She held up her hands, her words coming out in a breathless tumble. “This room is Vegas. Okay? What happens here stays here. Or, rather, what’s said here stays here.”

I nodded, mesmerized by the soft curve of her bottom lip. “Okay . . . ?”

“If it’s weird, or if I cross a friendship boundary that by some force of magic I haven’t yet crossed, just tell me, and we’ll leave, and it will be the same level of ridiculous it was before we walked in.”

I whispered, “Okay,” again, and watched as she took a deep, shaky breath. She was tipsy, and nervous. Anticipation pricked along the back of my neck, and down my spine.

“I’m so wound up around you,” she said quietly.

“Just me?” I asked, smiling.

She shrugged. “I want you . . . to teach me things. Not just about how to be around guys but how to . . . be with a guy. I think about it all the time. And I know you’re comfortable doing this stuff without being in a relationship, and . . .” She trailed off, looking up at me in the dark room. “We’re friends, right?”

I knew with absolute certainty where this was going, and murmured, “Whatever it is, I’ll do it.”

“You don’t know what I’m asking.”

Laughing, I whispered, “So ask.”

She stepped a little closer, put her hand on my chest, and I closed my eyes as her warm palm slid down to my stomach. I wondered for a beat if she could feel my heart hammering all the way down my torso. I felt my pulse everywhere, slamming through my chest and all along my skin.

“I watched another movie,” she said. “A porny one.”

“I see.”

“Those movies are actually pretty bad.” She said this quietly, as if she was worried she might be offending my male, porn-loving sensibilities.

With a quiet laugh, I agreed, “They are.”

“The women are so over-the-top. Actually,” she said, considering, “so are the guys for most of it.”

“Most of it?” I asked.

“Not at the end,” she said, her voice dropping to barely a decibel. “When the guy came? He pulled out of her and did it on her.” Her fingers moved beneath my shirt, tickling over the line of hair that went from my navel and beneath the waist of my pants. She sucked in a breath, running her hand up higher and over my pectorals, exploring.

Fuck. I was so worked up I could barely keep my hands from reaching for her hips. But I wanted her to lead this conversation. She’d pulled me in here, started this. I wanted her to get it all out before she turned it over to me. And then I wouldn’t hold back.

“That’s pretty common in porn,” I said. “The guys don’t come inside the women.”

She looked up at me. “I liked that part.”

I felt myself grow rigid in my pants, and swallowed thickly. “Yeah?”

“I liked it because it felt real. I feel like I’m just figuring these things out. I haven’t really tried before . . . or maybe I haven’t wanted to explore it with the guys I’ve been with. But ever since I started hanging out with you, I can’t stop thinking about these things. I want to figure out what I like.”

“That’s good.” I winced in the dark room, wishing I hadn’t answered so quickly, sounded so desperate. I wanted more than anything for her to ask me to carry her over to the bed and fuck her so loud the entire party knew where we’d gone and what she was getting.

“I don’t really know what feels good to men. I know you say guys are easy, but they aren’t. To me, they aren’t.” She took my hand, and with her eyes trained on my face, she brought it to her breast. Beneath my palm, she was exactly how I’d imagined a hundred fucking times. So full and soft, all lush curves and creamy skin. It was all I could do to keep from lifting her, and crushing her between my body and the wall.

“I want you to show me how,” she said.

“What do you mean ‘show you how’?”

She closed her eyes for a beat, swallowing. “I want to touch you, and make you come.”

I took a deep breath and glanced over at the bed in the middle of the room. “Here?”

She followed the path my eyes had taken, and shook her head. “Not there. Not a bed yet. Just . . .” She hesitated and then very quietly asked, “Are you saying yes?”

“Um, of course I’m saying yes. I’m not sure I could say no to you even if I should.”

She bit back a smile, slid my hand down to her hip.

“You want to give me a hand job? Is that what you’re asking?” I bent my knees to look her in the eyes. I felt like an asshole being so blunt, and this whole conversation felt completely surreal, but I had to be clear what was actually happening before I let go of my tenuous self-control and took it too far. “I’m just making sure I understand.”

She swallowed again, suddenly shy, and nodded. “Yeah.”

I stepped closer and when the light botanical smell of her shampoo hit me, I grew aware of how amped up I was. I’d never been nervous before, but right then I was terrified. I didn’t care so much about how good it was for me—it could be awkward and fumbling, too slow or fast, too soft or too hard—I knew I’d fall apart in her hands. I just wanted her to keep feeling this open with me, every second. I wanted sex to be fun for her.

“It’s okay to touch me,” I told her, trying to carefully balance my need to be gentle with my tendency to be demanding.

She reached for my belt, unfastening it, and I moved my fingers from her hips, sliding up her waist to the top button of her shirt. Her smile was giddy, and she tried to duck her head to hide it but failed. I had no idea what I looked like, but I imagined my eyes were wide, mouth parted, hands shaking on her tiny buttons. Slipping her shirt from her shoulders, I noticed the way she hesitated on my fly, fingers unsure, before she moved away to let her shirt fall to the floor.

She stood in front of me in a simple white cotton bra. I reached behind her, meeting her eyes for permission before I unclasped it and slid it from her arms.

I’d been unprepared for the sight of her naked chest, and stood staring, dumbly.

“Just so you know,” she whispered, “you don’t have to do anything to me.”

“Just so you know,” I said, just as quietly, “keeping my hands to myself would be impossible right now.”

“I want to pay attention. You might . . . distract me.”

I groaned; she was killing me. “Such a good student,” I said, leaning to kiss the juncture of her shoulder and neck. “But there’s no way I can stand here and not look at these. You may have noticed I’m a bit obsessed with your chest.”

Her skin was soft and smelled amazing. I opened my mouth, bit her gently, testing. She gasped and pressed into me, the best fucking reaction. My mind flooded with images of her nails digging into my back, my mouth open and pressing hard and hungrily into her breast as I rocked over her.

“Touch me, Hanna.” I lifted the weight of her breast in my hand, pushed it higher, squeezing. Holy fuck, she’s edible.

She’d moved her hands back to my fly, but they remained there, unmoving. “Show me how to do this?”

It was probably the hottest thing I’d ever heard a woman say. Maybe it was the tone of her voice, a little hoarse, a lot hungry. Maybe it was knowing how accomplished she was, and this one task felt so far out of her comfort zone but she’d asked me to help. Or maybe it was simply that I was wild for her, and showing Hanna how to pleasure me made me feel like I was telling the universe, This one belongs to me.

I moved her hands to the waist of my jeans, and together we worked them and my boxers down my hips, freeing my cock between us.

I let her look at me while I lifted both hands to slide her hair behind her neck, leaning in to kiss her throat. “You taste so fucking good.” I was so hard I felt my pulse hammering along my length. I needed relief from this tension. “Shit, Hanna, wrap your hand around me.”

“Show me, Will,” she pleaded, running both hands over my stomach and down, just barely touching where the tip of my cock strained, erect. We looked down the length of our bodies and swayed slightly in unison.

I took her warm hand, wrapped it around the middle of my shaft and slid it down and then back up, groaning a long, drawn-out “Fuuuck.”

She moaned quietly—a tight, excited sound—and I almost broke. Instead, I squeezed my eyes shut, leaned down again to kiss a line up her neck, and guided her. It was so slow. I hadn’t had a hand job in forever, and would take head or sex over a hand one hundred percent of the time, but this, right here, was perfect.

Her lips were so fucking close to mine. I could feel her breath, could taste her candy-sweet plum drink.

“Is it weird that I’m touching you here and we haven’t even kissed yet?” she whispered.

I shook my head, looking down to where her fingers wrapped around me. I swallowed, could barely think. “There’s no right or wrong here. No rules.”

She lifted her eyes from where she’d been staring at my mouth. “You don’t have to kiss me.”

I gaped at her. I’d wanted to kiss her for weeks now. “Shit, Hanna, yes. I do.”

Her tongue slipped out to wet her lips. “Okay.”

I bent low, hovering so close, moving her hand up and down my length, and just taking her in. Her lips were a breath away from mine, her little sounds coming out whenever she reached the head of my cock and I let out a grunt. It felt too good to be just a hand job. And all of this was suddenly too intimate to be just friends.

I looked at her eyes, and then her mouth, before moving that last inch to kiss her.

She was so fucking sweet and warm, our first kiss was unreal: just a slide of my lips over hers, asking: Let me do this. Let me do this and be gentle and careful with every part of you. I kissed her a few times, full lips, careful kisses so she knew I’d take this as fucking slowly as she needed me to.

When I opened my mouth just enough to suck on her bottom lip, a thrill ran through me at the sound of her tight moan. Christ, I wanted to lift her up, fuck her mouth with my tongue, and take her against the wall, with the party raging outside and my eyes on her face, watching her process every single sensation.

When she pulled back, she studied my mouth, my eyes, my forehead. She studied me; I couldn’t tell if it was a general fascination with what she was learning, or specific to this moment, to me. But nothing would have pulled me out of my trance. Not fireworks outside, or a fire in the hall. My need to someday be inside her—to completely possess her—spiked through me and planted beneath my ribs, pressing.

“You’ll tell me if this is lame, right?” she asked, voice quiet.

I laughed, wheezing. “Oh, it’s not lame. It’s so fucking good, and it’s just your hand.”

Looking unsure, she asked, “Do . . . others not do this?”

I swallowed thickly, hating the mention of other women right now. Before, I’d almost wanted them to be a lingering presence, a reminder to all parties what was and wasn’t happening in a moment like this. With Hanna, I wanted to wipe their shadows from the wall. “Shh.”

“I mean, do you usually just have sex?”

“I like what we’re doing. I don’t want something else right now; will you just focus on the dick in your hand?”

She laughed, and I pulsed in her palm, loving the sound. “Fine,” she whispered. “I just have to start with the basics.”

“I like that you want to learn how to touch me.”

“I like touching you,” she murmured against my mouth. “I like that you’re showing me.”

We were moving faster together now; I showed her how hard to squeeze, letting her know it was okay to hold on tight and that I needed it to start getting faster and harder than she’d expected.

“Squeeze it,” I whispered. “I like it pretty hard.”

“It doesn’t hurt?”

“No, it’s fucking killing me.”

“Let me try.” She gently pushed my arm away with her free hand.

It freed me to cup her breasts, and I bent down to suck one nipple into my mouth, blowing lightly over the peak.

She moaned, her rhythm slowing for a moment before she sped up again. “Can I keep doing this until you finish?” she asked.

I laughed quietly into her skin. She had me practically vibrating, struggling to not lose it every time she slid her hand down and over the head of my cock. “I was kind of counting on that.”

I sucked on her neck, closing my eyes and wondering if she’d let me mark her there, so I could see it tomorrow. So everyone could. All around me the world seemed to spin. Her hand felt good, of course, but the reality of her absolutely rocked me. The smell and taste of her smooth, firm skin, her sounds of pleasure simply from touching me. She was sexual and responsive and curious, and I wasn’t sure I’d been this turned on in a long, long time.

The familiar tension built deep in my belly, and I began to rock forward in her grip. “Hanna. Oh, shit, just a little faster, okay?” The words felt so much more intimate this way: spoken into her skin, my breath ragged.

She faltered for only a second before responding, pulling harder and faster, and I was close—embarrassingly soon—and I didn’t give a single fuck. Her long, slim fingers wrapped tight around me and she let me suck on her bottom lip, her jaw, her neck. I knew she would taste good everywhere.

I wanted to show her how it felt to be fucked.

With that thought, of falling over her and into her, making her come with my body, I leaned into her, begged her to bite me, bite my neck my shoulder . . . anything. I didn’t care how it sounded; somehow I knew that she wouldn’t balk, or recoil from the reality of this admission.

Without hesitation, she leaned in, opened her mouth on my neck, and pressed her teeth sharply into me. My thoughts blurred, everything flashed hot and wild; for a moment it felt like every synapse in my body had rewired, unplugged, gone off. Her hand slipped over me fast, my orgasm barreling down my spine and I came with a quiet groan, the heat crawling up my spine and pouring from me into her hand and over her bare stomach.

Just when I needed her to, she stopped moving but didn’t let go. I could feel her eyes on where she held me in her hand, and I jerked when she moved down my length again, experimentally.

“No more,” I gasped, my voice tight.

“Sorry.” She slid the thumb of her free hand over where I’d come on her palm, rubbed it over her hip, eyes wide and fascinated. She was breathing so hard her chest jerked with the movement.

“Holy shit,” I exhaled.

“Was it . . . ?” The room seemed full with her unfinished question and the sound of my heavy breathing. I felt a little dizzy, and wanted to pull her down onto the floor with me and pass out.

“That was fucking unreal, Hanna.”

She looked up at me, almost triumphant with discovery. “I was right—you made the best noise when you came.”

The world dropped into an abyss when she said that, because here I was, growing soft in her hand, and all I wanted was to find out whether doing that to me had made her wet.

I bent forward and asked, “Is it my turn now?” into the soft skin of her neck.

With a trembling breath, she whispered, “Yes, please.”

“Do you want my hands?” I asked. “Or do you want something else?”

She let out a little nervous laugh. “I’m not really ready for more, but . . . I don’t think hands work on me.”

I leaned back enough to give her my most skeptical look, unbuttoning the top button of her jeans and just daring her to stop me.

She didn’t.

“I just mean I don’t know if I can get off with fingers, like, just inside,” she clarified.

“Well, of course you can’t get off just with fingers inside. Your clit isn’t inside.” I slid my hand beneath her cotton underwear and froze at the sensation of soft, bare skin. “Uh, Hanna? I did not peg you as a waxer.”

She wiggled a little, embarrassed. “Chloe was talking about it. I was curious. . . .”

I slipped a finger between her lips—holy fuck, she was drenched. “Jesus Christ,” I groaned.

“I like it,” she admitted, her mouth pressed against my neck. “I like how it feels.”

“Are you fucking kidding? You’re so fucking soft; I want to lick up and down every part of this.”

“Will . . .”

“I’d have my mouth on you in two seconds if we weren’t in some random guy’s bedroom.”

She shivered under my touch, letting out a quiet moan. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve imagined that.”

Holy hell. I felt myself lengthen between us again, already. “I think you’d melt like sugar on my tongue. What do you think?”

She laughed a little, holding on to my shoulders. “I think I’m melting now.”

“I think you are. I think you’re going to melt all over my fucking hand and I’ll lick it off after. Are you loud, little Plum? When you come are you wild?”

A tiny choking sound escaped before she whispered, “By myself I’m not loud.”

Fuck. That’s what I wanted to hear. I could build fantasies for a decade just thinking about Hanna, legs spread on her couch or while she was lying in the middle of her bed, touching herself.

“By yourself, what do you do? Just the clit?”

“Yeah.”

“With a toy or . . . ?”

“Sometimes.”

“I bet I can make you come like this,” I said, and slid two fingers carefully inside, feeling her squeeze me. I brushed my nose against hers. “Tell me. Do you like my fingers here? Fucking you?”

“Will . . . you’re so dirty.”

I laughed, nibbling at her jaw. “I think you like dirty.”

“I think I’d like your dirty mouth between my legs,” she said softly.

I groaned, moved my hand faster and harder into her.

“Do you think about it?” she asked. “Kissing me there?”

“I have,” I admitted. “I think about it and wonder if I’d ever come up for air.”

So wet. She was wiggling all over my hand, making these little desperate sounds I wanted to eat. I pulled my fingers out, ignoring her angry little growl, and with them painted a wet line up her chin and across her lips, following almost immediately with my tongue, covering her mouth with mine.

Fuuuck.

She tasted all woman, soft and heady, and her tongue was still sticky sweet from her girly drink. She tasted like plum, ripe and soft and small in my mouth, and I felt like a fucking king when she begged me to touch her more, again, please Will I was close.

Returning to her, I shoved her pants and underwear all the way down her legs, waiting as she stepped out of them. She was completely naked and my arms were shaking with the need to slide inside her perfect, warm heat.

She reached for my wrist, pulling my hand back between her legs.

“Greedy girl.”

Her eyes went wide, embarrassed. “I just—”

“Shh.” I quieted her with my mouth on hers, sucking on her lip and licking her sweet tongue. Pulling back, I whispered, “I like it. I want to make you explode.”

“I will.” She jerked in my hand when I slid my fingers between her legs and over her clit. “I’ve never felt this.”

“So wet.”

Her mouth opened in a sharp gasp when I slid my fingers back inside her. She stared at my lips, my eyes, my every reaction. I loved that she was so curious she couldn’t even look away.

“Do me a favor,” I asked. She nodded. “When you’re close, tell me. I’ll know, but give me the words.”

“I will,” she gasped. “I will, I will, just . . . please.”

“Please what, Plum?”

She weaved slightly against me. “Please don’t stop.”

I slid my fingers deeper, faster, pressing my thumb up against her clit and working it right there in tighter, smaller circles. Yes. Holy shit, she’s so close.

I was hard again, rubbing over her bare hip where I’d already come on her only minutes ago, and close again myself.

“Grab my dick, okay? Just hold on. You’re so fucking wet and your sounds . . . holy fuck, I . . .”

And then she was there, holding on to me tight enough to fuck her fist, and every thought became about how smooth she was around my fingers and the fruit plumpness of her lips and tongue.

She started to dissolve, her body completely losing it. She was quietly gasping the same thing over and over—Oh my God—which I was thinking, too.

“Say it.”

“I’m going . . .” She hiccupped, tightened her hold on my length as I fucked her fist.

“Fucking say it.”

“Will. My God.” Her thighs started to shake and I wrapped my free arm around her waist to keep her from falling. “I’m coming.”

And with a wild jerk of her hips she did, shaking and wet. Her orgasm rippled along the lengths of my fingers as she cried out, digging her nails into my shoulders. It was exactly what I needed—how did she fucking know? With a low groan, I felt my second orgasm surge forward, hot and liquid into her hand.

Fuck. My legs shook and I leaned into her, pinning her to the wall.

We’d been loud. Too loud? We were far down the hall, separated from the raging party by a number of rooms, but I still had no sense what the outside world had done while mine had melted in Hanna’s arms.

Her breath came out warm and sweet on my neck and I carefully pulled out my fingers, rubbing along her sex to relish in her warm, sensitive skin.

“Good?” I murmured into her ear.

“Yeah,” she whispered, wrapping her arms around my shoulders and pressing her face into the crook of my neck. “God, so good.”

I left my hand where it was, my mind reeling as I gently ran my fingers up her clit, down back to her entrance and along the soft crease of her pussy. It was quite possibly the best first time I’d ever had with a girl.

And it had only been our hands.

“We should probably get back out to the party,” she said, her voice muffled by my skin.

Reluctantly, I pulled my hand away, and immediately winced as she turned on the light switch behind her back. As I pulled up my pants, I stared at her, completely naked in the bright room.

Well, fuck. She was smooth and toned, with lush breasts and gently curved hips. Her skin was still flushed from her orgasm, and I relished the sight of the blush that spread up her neck and across her cheeks as I studied the moisture on her stomach from my orgasm.

“You’re staring,” she said, bending to reach for a box of tissues on the dresser. She looked down, cleaning herself up and then tossing the tissue into a trash can.

I buckled my belt and then sat at the edge of the bed, watching her put her clothes back on. She was unbelievably sexy, and she had no fucking idea.

The room smelled like sex, and I knew she could feel my attention on her but she didn’t rush. In fact, she seemed perfectly content to let me look at every angle, every curve as she slid on her panties, shimmied into her pants, put her bra on, slowly buttoned her shirt.

Looking over at me, she licked her lips and my heart tripped as I registered she could taste herself from my fingers. I wondered if I’d be remembering her taste until the end of time.

“What now?” I asked, standing.

“Now”—she reached for my arm, tracing the double helix from my elbow to my wrist—“we go back out there and have another drink.”

My blood cooled a bit, hearing her voice return to steady. No longer breathy and excited, no longer tentative and hopeful. She was back to her regular bubbly self, the same Hanna everyone else saw. No longer mine.

“Works for me.”

She looked at my face for several long moments, at my eyes and cheeks, chin and lips. “Thanks for not being weird.”

“Are you kidding?” I bent down and kissed her cheek. “What’s there to be weird about?”

“We just touched each other’s private parts,” she whispered.

I laughed, fixing the collar of her shirt. “I noticed that.”

“I think I could totally do the friends-with-benefits thing. It feels so easy, so relaxed. We’re just going to head back out there,” she said, grinning widely up at me. With a little wink, she added, “And we’re the only ones who know you just came all over my stomach and I just came all over your hand.”

She turned the knob, opened the door, and let in the roar of the party. No way would anyone have heard us. We could pretend it didn’t even happen.

I’d done this before, scores of times. Hooked up with a woman and then returned to the throes of a party, blending into the room and losing myself in another form of fun. But despite the genuinely nice crowd of people, I couldn’t ever lose track of where Hanna was and what she was doing. In the living room, talking to the tall Asian guy I remembered as Dylan. Heading down the hall, waving to me before ducking into the restroom. Filling her plastic cup with water in the kitchen. Looking over to me across the room.

Dylan found Hanna again, smiling as he bent and said something to her. He had a wide smile, clothes that suggested he got out enough to be on the cutting edge of grad student chic, and seemed genuinely fond of her. I watched her smile grow, and then turn a little unsure. She hugged him, and watched him head into the kitchen. I had no idea what was happening; I loved seeing her have a good time. But the itch for something else started to spread across my skin, and after two hours of partying post–hand job, I realized I wanted to take her home where we could feel each other for real for the remainder of the night.

I slid my phone from my pocket, typing a text to her. Let’s get out of here. Come to my place tonight and stay with me.

I moved my thumb to the SEND button before I noticed that she was also typing in our iMessage window. I paused, waiting.

Dylan just asked me out, she said.

I stared at my phone before looking up to meet her anxious eyes across the room.

Deleting what I’d written, I typed instead, What did you tell him?

She looked down when her phone buzzed in her hand, and then replied, I told him we could figure it out on Monday.

She was looking for guidance, maybe even looking for permission. Only a month ago I was regularly having sex with two to three different women every week. I had no idea where my head was concerning Hanna; my own thoughts were too jumbled and complex to help her translate hers right now.

My phone buzzed again and I glanced down. Is this really weird after what we just did?? I don’t know what to do, Will.

This is what she needs, I told myself. Friends, dates, a life outside of school. You can’t be the only thing in it.

For once I was looking for complicated, and she was trying on simple.

Not at all, I typed back. This is called dating.