Page 12 of We Were Once

“I’m good, but you should eat.”

While she grabs a salad from the fridge, I lie back, looking around her place. Tiny bells are strung across the top of her window, a purple paisley blanket is draped over the couch, and a rug that has every color running through its fibers anchors the living room. The coffee table is scratched by years of use, and she hasn’t bothered to unpack any dishes to fill the cabinets. Hence the throwaway cups we’re using for wine and boxes filling half of the kitchen floor. I imagine the lack of burden to bear conforming to society’s expectations must be freeing.

I’ve worried a few times about a fire starting because of the yellow scarf draped over the top of a lampshade, but this all fits her free spirit ways. It makes me wonder what my place says about me.

My path has been set since the day I was born, and my boring apartment is proof of the lack of life I’ve explored. The decisions I’ve made have never been about what my heart wants. It’s all about my head and what looks good on a college application or a résumé.

Plans give security. There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you want to do with your future. Though, it does beg the question if it’s worth sacrificing today for tomorrow?

“You sure are quiet. What’s on your mind?” She tucks her toes under my legs. “Need more wine?” Staring at me long after she stopped talking, I know what’s going to happen. Sex talk. This is her foreplay when she wants to get personal. If I had to boil Ruby Darrow down to one philosophy, sex is the answer to everything.

Got a broken heart?

Heal it with a one-night stand.

B on a biology test?

Sex with the TA.

Car needs a new radiator?

Get down and dirty with a mechanic.

It’s her M.O. and works for her more than not. And although I love her dearly and cherish this friendship, I’m not Ruby. Sex isn’t something I treat lightly, or at all, since it hasn’t happened yet. Those arrogant little dimples populate my head, causing me to shiver. Just no to him. Although . . . he has been helpful when it comes to Frankie when he didn’t have to be. “I’m good on wine,” I reply, sipping slowly so it doesn’t go to my head.

Wiggling her toes, she says, “You told me you ran into Trevor, worked too much, and had no social life. I’m assuming that means no dates either?”

Considering the amount of time I spent with a delivery guy is the most time I’ve spent with anyone of the opposite sex in months, I don’t think I have much to offer on the subject. “Dating was nonexistent, per usual.”

She falls back against the cushion dramatically with her forearm attached to her head. “Tell me you at least had a toy to keep you company.”

I won’t be able keep her off the no-sex acts talk for long, so I try to think of a bone I can throw. Nothing comes to mind, though. And here we are, like I knew we would be.




Sitting up, she asks, “Please tell me you have something to help release the tension.”

I raise my chin and smile. “I have books. Romance. History. Textbooks. Classics. Dirty books.” I add the last to save some face. It’s embarrassing to be a virgin at my age. “Yes, Ruby. You were the one who got me the magic bunny for my birthday last year.”

With a wink, she asks, “It’s the best, right?”

“It’s the only, so by default, it’s top-notch.”

Sighing contentedly, she exhales. “Good. I always worry about you.”

“No need to worry, Ruby. I know how my vagina works.”

“You’re so technical. I bet you’re hot in bed.” Crossing her hands over her chest, she dips her head back. “Oh yes, touch my vulva, baby.”

I push her playfully. “No one’s complained yet.”

“That’s unchartered territory, woman. No explorer has been there before,” she says, righting herself. “But before you turn even redder, one of my favorite things about you is how sweet and technical you are.”

“Why does that sound like an insult wrapped in sugar?”

She grabs her food container from the table and starts with a large bite of lettuce. “I don’t know how you stay so thin. Still running?”

“A lot.”

“Because you need to work out that sexual tension.” She shoves another dressing-laden bite in her mouth. Although her attention is on the TV, her comment remains.

If I were being honest with myself, she’s right about the tension—stress and sexual. I stand. “I’m going home. We both have a big day tomorrow.”

Kicking her feet up, she lounges across the couch, hogging the cushion I vacated. “I can’t believe summer is already over.”

I open the front door and lean against it, facing her. Not able to stop my smile, I say, “Senior year.”

Tags: S.L. Scott Romance