But he slowly looks back up at me. Color darkens his high cheeks, and though his voice is a bit rougher, he’s still in control. The bastard. “I can play,” he says. It isn’t a brag. It’s a statement.
“You? The guitar?” Skepticism stretches out my words.
White teeth flash. “Me. The big, dumb jock.” He says it mockingly, but not in anger. As if he knows that most people assume jocks are dumb, but he doesn’t really give a f**k.
“I don’t think you’re dumb,” I blurt out. It’s as close to a real compliment as I’ve ever given him. And we both know it.
He stills. And then his massive body, all that flat-packed muscle leans into me, pausing inches away, close enough so I feel the heat of his breath against my cheek when he whispers, “I don’t think you’re dumb either.”
Then, in that quick, effortless way of his, he rolls away and goes for the guitar.
I sit up, curling my feet under me, as he settles on my bedroom chair and fiddles with the strings to tune the guitar. It looks good in his hand. No, he isn’t reed thin or wearing skinny jeans—the mere idea of which makes me want to laugh; Drew Baylor was made for low-slung Levis and t-shirts that strain against defined muscles. But he holds the Gibson with authority.
“Mom said that I couldn’t just be about sports. So, if I wanted to play them, I had to learn an instrument too.”
“What a slave driver,” I tease.
“That was the gist of my protest.”
When he gets the guitar the way he wants it, he begins to play. The melody is complex and familiar. It takes me a moment to place it. Norwegian Wood.
“Now my mom,” he says as he plays, his attention on the strings, “she might have liked Madonna, but she freaking loved The Beatles.”
He plays on and a flush rises to my face. After all, it’s a song about a woman using a man for sex. Did he pick it specifically for me? Or was it just to show off his skill? I’m not going to ask and, all too soon, it’s over. His eyes meet mine, and there’s a playful glint in his. “Or maybe an old open-mic standard?” He eases into Dave Matthews’ Crash Into Me. “Emo guys love playing this one.”
The blush of annoyance within me rises. Hayden, my old boyfriend, used to play this song. On open-mic night. All the f**king time. But he never achieved the quick, flowing ease with which Drew’s fingers coax the melody from the guitar.
Worse, Drew sings. He isn’t perfect, his voice drifts off key and is rough, but it doesn’t matter because he sells the song. I can hear my Grandpa Joe’s voice in my head telling me that this boy could sell ice in Antarctica.
Drew doesn’t finish the song, and I know it isn’t because he can’t, it’s because he’s not trying to show off. He’s just messing around. He proves this when he catches my eye and grins wide. I’m in his thrall. I grin back when he stops and begins to thump on the side of the guitar and belt out the words to We Will Rock You.
And I laugh. Because he gives it his all. Makes an ass of himself, and clearly doesn’t care. And suddenly I don’t care either. I join him, shouting out the words along with him.
“You dork,” I say when we finish.
“Look who’s talking.” Drew begins to laugh, and I do too. We feed off each other, laughing until I’m holding my side. It isn’t really that funny, what we’re laughing over. Maybe it’s just a way to break the tension that always pulls tight between us. Or maybe it’s because he, like me, hasn’t really laughed just for the hell of it in a long time. I don’t know. I don’t even care. It’s good not to care about anything for a while.
As if by some silent, mutual agreement our laughter dies down as one. And we’re left staring at each other, both a little breathless. His gaze goes molten. It’s like he’s flicked a switch, leaving me in the dark, and he’s my light. He’s all I can see.
The chair creaks beneath him as he slowly lowers the guitar. I can’t move. I can’t catch my breath. I’m so hot my skin hurts. There’s an ache between my legs and in my br**sts. A throbbing beat that matches my heart. I can only pant and watch him rise.
His mouth is hard, his eyes glittering darkly beneath half-lowered lids as he comes for me. I find myself leaning back, like I’m afraid of him, when really it’s all I can do not to beg him to hurry up and touch me. He stops at the foot of the bed and looks me over, an insolent, languid perusal that I should find insulting but only makes me burn hotter.
When he speaks, his voice is rough, quick, sharp. It scrapes against my heightened nerves, shouts in the quiet room, even though it’s a near murmur. “Lift your top.”
Oh, God, I’m dizzy. My head goes light and then heavy, my breath chuffing out in strangled half-gasps as I fumble with the bottom of my sweater. Cool air kisses my skin as I expose my belly.
He merely watches, waiting. My br**sts ache so bad that when I ease my sweater over them, I whimper. I’m not wearing a bra. He had to have expected as much; my br**sts are too big to hide the fact. Even so, his nostrils flare on a sharp breath.
And then he’s coming for me, the slow, rolling stride of a lion. He crawls over me, a veritable mountain of testosterone and intent. One thick thigh shoves between my legs, pressing there, giving me sweet relief and soft agony. When his hot, wet mouth closes over my nipple, I groan so loud it scares me a little. Not him. He sucks me harder, and we fall back into the bed. I don’t have another coherent thought.
ANNA’S TITS, NAKED and in the full light of day, drive me out of my mind. I can barely think, I’m shaking so badly. Her tight nipple fills my mouth, and I flick my tongue over it, loving the way she arches into me, her breath coming in quick pants. I let her go with a loud pop, then lean back to look at her again.