AJ gives a short speech about how the clinic is going to help Chicago’s most vulnerable find the medical care they desperately need. I listen to his words; how genuine they are. There’s no denying that he means every word he says. Why did I think he was like every other dumb jock in college? Now that I think of it, I’m not sure he ever was. I’d heard plenty of sob stories from other girls about the other guys on the team and how they would use girls for sex and throw them away after like an empty red Solo cup after, but I never once heard that rumor about AJ. I’m the one who used him that night, and I treated him like shit. I remember the hurt look on his face when I’d openly shunned him after our encounter. I thought he probably deserved it for doing the same thing to other girls. What I did wasn’t fair, and seeing him now, I feel like a complete asshole. The good thing is he probably has no memory of that night, or me.

The crowd claps at something he says, the sound of it bringing me back to the present moment.

Once the sound of clapping dies down he says, “And I have full faith in the Hope Center’s new director, the smartest and most competent woman I’ve ever known, Dr. Claire Alverez.”

He turns toward me as though he’s known exactly where I’ve been standing this entire time. My stomach drops as all eyes focus on me. His smile is both amused and predatory. So he does remember.

“Please, join me,” AJ says.

I swallow down the lump in my throat and on shaky legs, I join him at the podium. I’m a shy person by nature, more introverted than not despite the chaos of my job. I hate crowds and the thought of speaking in front of one is terrifying. But I have my speech memorized. I just hate that I have to give it in front of AJ after he’s completely shaken me from my axis. It feels like those first moments right after getting off a particularly turbulent amusement park ride where the world continues to spin even after your feet are firmly on the ground.

Words come out of my mouth, though as soon as I speak I can’t recall what I’ve said. I’m on autopilot. Since there’s loud applause when I step down from the podium, I assume it made sense. AJ is clapping and nodding enthusiastically. A big blue ribbon spans the entrance to the clinic, and AJ gestures to me to follow him. He has scissors in his hand as he walks through the crowd, and I can’t help but notice how amazing he looks in his suit and how confidently he walks through the crowd. When his hand touches the small of my back, lightning shoots through me and I’m suddenly thrust into the memory of his fingers inside of me, his tongue between my legs, his huge cock that surprised me in the best way. You would think, with a dick that big, girls all over the college would be talking about it. But there were never any bragging girls, no stories of lurid nights. Seeing his giant dick came as a complete shock.

AJ grabs my hand. His is so large it engulfs mine. I shudder. We cut the blue ribbon together and again, there’s a whirlwind of press questions and flashing lights. We’re separated in the chaos of it all. He’s whisked away by his agent for questions, and I’m surrounded by the board, congratulating me and offering their support. Before I can get a word with him, he and his entourage leave.

I stand around, doing my obligatory thank you and goodbyes as the ceremony comes to an end. Though my second encounter with AJ was brief, I have a feeling, like the last time I was with him, that he will be stuck in my head for a while.

I sigh. I’m filled with a sudden sense of longing and loneliness. The buildup to this ceremony, with the new clothes and hair and makeup, and seeing AJ again, well it filled me with a sense of excitement, like I was on the precipice of something new. And now I look around at the thinning crowd and the discarded champagne flutes and I feel deflated. I guess it’s back to my normal life. Back to the routine of helping people.2AJClaire is just as beautiful as she was in college—maybe even more so. Since then she’s filled out in all the right places. She’s still sexy without even trying to be. Even though she looked stunning in that green dress, and the color seemed to make her eyes glow, I can tell she would be just as gorgeous in a pair of scrubs or sweatpants. Some people are just stunning. They’re born that way and they’ll be that way no matter their age. They’re timeless, classic. That’s Claire.

Tags: Penny Wylder Romance
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