Sitting quietly, I watch Drake lean forward in his chair so his mouth is only a couple inches from the back of Emery’s neck. “Speaking of that stupid f**king project, are we still getting together tonight?”
Emery’s eyes close like she’s affected by his proximity. “I can’t. I have study group.”
He moves just a little closer. “When don’t you have study group?”
“Tomorrow,” she replies, her eyes shooting open again. She spins around in her chair and comes face-to-face with the school’s golden boy.
“I have a game.” He doesn’t move back one bit.
“Well, then it’s going to have to be Sunday.”
“Have it your way, but I won’t be up until noon because there’s a party tomorrow night,” he says.
“Yeah, I’d hate for you to miss the party. Nothing like wasting a night getting drunk.”
“Seriously you guys. Lecture is about to start.”
“I can’t stand him,” Emery says, turning around in her chair.
“I see that. Can you finish this later?”
Drake sits back in his seat. “I’ll give you a call on Sunday when I get up.”
“You gave him your phone number?” I ask Emery, surprised she would give him any of her personal information.
“Of course she did,” Drake smirks, twirling his pencil between his fingers.
“God, I hate him,” Emery states.
“Sometimes people mistake hate for like,” I say, sensing some of the tension between them.
She scoffs. “Did you ever hate Beau?”
“No,” I say, without even giving it a second thought.
As soon as Beau opens his apartment door, the guilt I feel over skipping study group is gone. I almost caved when I saw the disappointed look on Emery’s face when I told her I wasn’t going. The sexy smirk on Beau’s face, though, melts away any doubt I have about where I should be tonight.
“How’s my girl?” he asks, pulling me into him.
He smells so good when I bury my face in his t-shirt. “Good, you?”
“I’m better now,” he says, cupping my chin in his hand to bring my lips to his. “Much better now.”
I wrap my arms tightly around his firm waist. “Did you have a bad day?”
“It was horrible. I didn’t see my girlfriend until just a couple minutes ago.” A smile spreads across my face; that’s the first time he’s called me that out loud, and I really like the sound of it. “I like seeing that smile on your face,” he says, lightly running his fingertips along my jawline.
“I like when you call me your girlfriend.”
“I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that since you got here last week,” he says before quickly brushing his lips across mine.
“Talk about what?”
“Us.” Grabbing my hand in his, he leads me to his bedroom, not saying another word until his door is closed. “I think we’ve already established that there is an us, Kate, but I need to clear up a few more things.”
I nod, taking a seat on the edge of his bed.
“Are you sure you’re ready to move on? I don’t want to be your rebound guy,” he says, sitting down next to me.
I know the answer to this, but I need to find the right way to say it. “Beau, I’m not going to lie to you. I was in love with Asher. I’ll always love him in some way.” He closes his eyes and runs his fingers through his hair. “But you need to know that I’ve loved you for years. Before everything came crashing down on me, you were the one I wanted. I think a part of me still wanted you after, but I thought you deserved better.”
Beau grabs my hand in his and stares me right in the eyes. “You deserve anything you want.”
“I know that now. I just couldn’t see through the fog back then, but everything is clearer now.”
“I’m never letting you go, and we’re going to do this right. I’m not going to speed through my last and best set of firsts. I’ve waited too f**king long for all of this to screw it up now.” He lies back on the bed and pulls me down with him so we’re face to face. “Like this. This is the last time you’re going to lie in bed with a guy for the first time.”
“I’m not running, Beau. I’ll play by your rules because you’ve played by mine for so long, but I’m ready. I want to have all my last firsts with you,” I admit, brushing the hair from his forehead.
He smiles for the first time since we walked into his bedroom. “Just for the record, I would have been your rebound guy, too. I just wouldn’t have let you go because you’re my forever girl.”
Moving closer, I press my forehead against his. “Is that why we didn’t have this conversation the first night I was here?”
“No, we didn’t have it then because I was doing this,” he says before pulling my bottom lip between his teeth. He does it hard enough to give me pleasure but no pain. It makes me wonder what else he can do. “And I haven’t wanted to stop since,” he says, pulling back.
He kisses me again and again and again. When he’s done, I run my tongue along my lips, tasting the mint from his toothpaste. “I have an idea. Why don’t we ask each other one question each day until we feel like all the skeletons are out of the closet? I did something similar with Asher, and it really helped.”
He looks away from me for the first time since we lay down. “Kate—”
“He’s always going to be a part of me, Beau. There are going to be times when I say his name.”
“You think I don’t know that?”
“What is it then?”
“Knowing it doesn’t make it any easier. I know he probably got a lot of your firsts, and it eats me up inside,” he says, looking into my eyes again. “Did you have sex with him?”
He nods, keeping his focus on me.
“This is your one question for the day,” I say, turning my bracelet in my hand. “Yes.”
He runs his hand over his face and takes a deep breath.
“You’ve had sex with other girls, haven’t you? What’s the difference?” I ask, feeling annoyed with the territorial male routine.
He only stares at me, but I don’t need his confirmation, because I already know the answer.
“Exactly,” I say, sitting up.
As I move to stand, he grabs my hand and pulls me back down next to him. “The only reason I did was because I couldn’t have you.”
“There’s nothing I can do to change that now. What’s done is done, and honestly, I don’t regret it. I can’t regret it. We both need to accept that our pasts are our pasts, and the only way we’re going into the future is together.”
Beau’s eyes look to the ceiling and then back at me. “I don’t think I’ll ever like it.”
“You don’t have to,” I whisper. “You just have to accept it.”
“I’ll work on it,” he says, combing his fingers through my hair.
“So we’re good?”
“We’re good,” he replies, using his hand at the back of my neck to pull me closer. “I’m going to be the last guy to do this. Ever.” He kisses slowly along my jawline until he reaches my lips.
When he gives me enough room to catch my breath, I say, “God, I hope so.”
The Next Morning – September 2012
EVERY MORNING WHEN I WAKE UP, I have to convince myself I’m not living in a dream. Kate’s sleeping in the same town, and she’s mine—truly mine—in the way I’ve wanted her to be for years.
This is our chance to start fresh and have something that we’ve both wanted. I want to be the guy she runs to when she feels like giving up. I want to be the last thing she thinks about before she goes to bed, and the first thing she thinks about when she wakes up. I want to be everything she needs.
Today I’m going to surprise her by bringing her breakfast. I’ve never done anything like this for anyone, but Kate inspires me. This is my way of showing her how much she means to me, while letting her know I’m thinking about her.
I knock on her door once, waiting for it to open. When it finally does, a dark-haired fireball greets me. “Oh, it’s you.”
“Hi, Emery,” I say, leaning against the doorjamb.
“What are you doing here so early?” she asks, crossing her arms over her chest.
Smiling, I hold up the bakery bag. “I brought Kate breakfast.”
“Of course you did,” Emery says, stepping out of my way. I don’t think Emery and I ever got off on the right foot, but I’m trying to make it work because she’s Kate’s roommate.
“I brought something for you, too, if you’re hungry.”
“I need to go to the library but I’ll see you guys later,” she says, throwing her bag over her shoulder. The girl doesn’t do anything besides study, go to class, and then study some more … it’s probably why we don’t mesh well. I like to have a side of fun with my college education.
“Bye, Kate!” she yells over her shoulder as she makes her way out of the room.
Kate groans in response, lifting her head up off her pillow. Her hair is a tangled mess, and I swear it only makes her even sexier than when she’s all put together.
She smiles at me briefly before laying back down. “Good morning.”
“Good morning, beautiful. Did you sleep well?”
“Well, when I dream about my boyfriend, I sleep like a baby,” she says, scooting over in her bed and patting the empty space beside her.
I set the bakery bag down, and climb in next to her warm body, throwing the blanket over both of us. I mold my body to hers, holding her as close as I possibly can.
“Why did you bring me breakfast so early?” Kate asks, resting her bare leg on top of mine. I could stay like this forever and be content.