Finally, though, it all came crashing down.

He stopped by one evening later than usual, after 8 o’clock. “Good news – I got the next three nights off from work.”


I groaned. I knew he’d done it for me – I was leaving for home after finals – but the fear of God (and of a C in my classes) had finally crept into me. I had a three-hour exam in English the next morning, with half devoted to multiple choice, and half to an essay on an unknown topic.

“I can’t do anything tonight… I have to study for my test tomorrow.”

He frowned. “How long?”

“Late.”

“You want some company?”

I gave him a sideways look. “You want to hang out while I study.”

He shrugged. “Sure. I can quiz you off your notes.”

“You’re not going to help me study, you’re going to distract me.”

He held up his fingers in a ‘V’ sign. “Scout’s honor.”

“You were never a boy scout,” I scoffed.

“Yes I was,” he said as he shook his head ‘no.’

I laughed, then looked back at the empty room…

…and my bed, where my pages and pages of notes were scattered.

Shanna had gone to the computer lab to write a last-minute term paper, so I was alone.

Well… I had been.

Not anymore.

Don’t do it! Tell him no, tell him NO –

“Uh… sure… come on in,” I said as nonchalantly as I could. “If you want.”

51

It started off innocently enough. I brewed us some fresh coffee, and he actually did read through my notes and quiz me on them.

That lasted about three hours. Mind you, it was three hours punctuated by a lot of breaks – chatting, laughter, more coffee. I probably got in an hour and a half of real studying.

That was actually a pretty big accomplishment, considering I was sitting on a bed next to the hottest guy I’d ever seen in my life.

But around midnight, the caffeine just wasn’t doing its job anymore. I kept yawning repeatedly. By that time we were sitting cross-legged on the bed, facing each other.

“I didn’t know I was so boring,” Derek joked.

“You’re not. Chaucer is,” I said, and yawned again. “How come you’re so wide-eyed and bushy-tailed?”

“You forget, I usually work till 3 in the morning.”

“Oh yeah…”

“You should go to sleep and get up and study in the morning.”

I shook my head. “I am not a morning person. I’ll be useless if I try to do that. I have to stay up as late as I can.”

“You want to stay awake?”

“Yeah, of course,” I said, and yawned again.

“Okay… I’ll keep you awake,” he said softly, and leaned in to kiss me.

It took me completely by surprise.

Maybe it was that he’d kept things decidedly platonic ever since our conversation in the parking lot.

Maybe it was that I’d been lulled into a sense of false security.

Maybe it was because I was so tired.

All I know is that I jerked back a little – just an inch or two, and stared at him in shock.

He didn’t stop. He just leaned in a little farther.

And this time… I didn’t move.

I just stayed there and let him kiss me.

His lips touched mine so softly that it was a surprise. He brushed them against me like a caress, testing me. When I didn’t pull away or say ‘stop,’ he closed his eyes and began to kiss me harder – but not much. It was more like a gentle, soft pressure… his full, sensual lips against mine.

My heart stopped – and then began to pound in my chest.

But I closed my eyes and kissed him back.

It was like a dream… like a slow, sensual state of half-waking. He gave me smaller, tinier kisses on my top lip… my bottom lip… the corners of my mouth... and then pressed his lips fully against mine once again.

I was aware of the tiniest things: the warmth and softness of his lips. The taste of mint on his breath. The smell of soap and a slight hint of aftershave.

He put his hand lightly to my jaw, and I could feel his calloused fingers brush against my neck and the curve of my chin, and then gently cup my face.

I felt the tip of his tongue slip between my lips – just a soft, slow, wet, sensual pressure… and I knew what he wanted, what he was asking for.

And I gave it to him.

I opened my mouth and let him inside me.

He took his time, his tongue as gentle as his first tentative kiss. At first it was slow… wet and hot and soft… and gradually I began to match him, moving my tongue across his, feeling the wetness and tasting the mint on his breath. He used his lips to catch at my tongue, pulling gently on me, his own tongue retreating, inviting me into his mouth… and I did. I kissed him deeply but softly… slow and gentle, like I was hypnotized.

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