Biting back a few choice words, she pulled her hand away from Eric, grabbed her bag and followed the signs to her room, hoping the guys got the hint and left her alone. So when they followed her into her room she couldn't exactly say she was really all that surprised.

"Get out," she said, not bothering to look at them as she tossed her bag on one of the double beds and began to dig out the things she'd need for a bath.

"No can do," Nathan said, walking past her to drop down on the other bed.

She turned her glare on Eric who was glaring right back at her like she'd somehow pissed him off. She wasn't the one who gave him the brush off after the most incredible night of her life. No, that was all him. Did he really think that she'd be happy to have him come all the way up here to give her the bad news? Was she receiving special treatment because of their friendship? Knowing him, probably.

"You didn't have to come up here to do this. I got the hint this morning," she stressed, hoping he'd get the hint and get out of here. She really didn't want to talk about this in front of Nathan if she could help it.

"Yeah, I saw," he said tightly. "Who was the ass**le?"

When she could only frown he added, "The ass**le sniffing around you downstairs."

"Just a whacker from class," she said, sighing. "Now that you know that, both of you can get the hell out of my room."

Eric stubbornly shook his head. "Sorry, like Nathan said we can't do that."

"And why's that?" she asked, grabbing her things and headed for the bathroom, hoping they would be gone by the time she was done.

"Because there are no other hotel rooms available. Looks like we're sharing."


"You know, you were right," Nathan mused as he lounged back on the bed. "You really suck at this."

Eric flipped him off before following Joe into the bathroom. When she tried slamming the door in his face he shoved it open enough so that he could step inside. Then he shut and locked the door behind him.

"Get out," Joe said, sounding pissed when she sure as hell didn't have the right to.

The entire ride up here he'd been a nervous wreck, but an excited nervous wreck. He couldn't wait to see her and tell her that he wanted to give this a shot and of course Nathan tagged along to watch the whole thing. Nosey bastard, but he was glad that the man came along. At least having him around would give him an ally, something he sorely needed at the moment.

"No, you and I need to talk," he said, expecting her to yell at him or throw something at him like most of his ex-girlfriends would have done, but instead she gestured for him to get on with it.

"I got the message loud and clear this morning, Eric. There really was no need for you to come all the way up here," she said, turning her back on him to start a bath.

"I'm sorry about that," Eric said, at a loss for words to make up for hurting her.

"It's fine," she said, shrugging it off the same way she began to shrug out of her clothes.

It was a bit distracting and he wished she wouldn't do it, but he kept his mouth shut about it. The last thing he needed was to really piss her off. He needed to fix this and quickly.

"I love you, Joe," he told her, wishing like hell that he knew what to say to convince her to give him a chance.

She sighed as she settled into the bubble filled bathtub. "I know," she said softly. "I love you too, Eric, which is why I'm not going to push you into anything that you don't want. I'd rather be your friend than lose you," she said, sounding miserable.

"And I'd rather have you, Joe. I'm in love with you and I want to be with you, Joe," he said, praying that she gave him a chance. He'd already f**ked up so badly and didn't know what he'd do if she told him to f**k off.

He went to the tub and got on his knees and barely resisted the urge to take her in his arms. "I know I don't have the best track record for dating, but you have to know that I would never treat you that way."

"How can you be so sure?" she murmured, drawing her knees up and hugging them to her chest.

"Because they weren't you, Joe. I didn't want them the way that I want you and I sure as hell didn't love them. I love you, Joe, and I want to be with you," he said, unable to resist the urge to skim his fingers over her delicate jaw.

When she didn't say anything for a minute he shifted nervously, racking his brain for a way to get out of his hole he'd dug himself into. Just when he decided to go ask Nathan since the man knew what the hell he was doing when it came to dating, Joe let out a long drawn out sigh.

"I'm willing to give this a chance, but you should probably know that if you treat me like crap then I'll have no choice but to kick your ass."

He nodded solemnly even as his lips tipped up into a smile. "That's a fair warning."

"I thought so," she agreed even as she reached for him. Not that she had to since he was already moving to pull her into his arms. He leaned in to kiss her when the banging on the door started.

"I'm hungry!" Nathan bitched.

"So? Go get something and leave us the hell alone!" Eric snapped, moving in to kiss Joe's sweet lips.

"You promised to buy me a steak dinner if I came up here with you," Nathan pointed out.

"I lied!"

He ignored the gasp of shocked outrage and closed the distance between them and nearly groaned at the taste of her.

"You lying bastard!"

"You know you're buying me a steak dinner, don't you?" Joe whispered against his lips.

He couldn't help but chuckle against her lips. "I knew you were a little gold digger."

Chapter 24

"I want to go home and go to bed," Joe said, knowing she was whining, but couldn't help it. After an eight hour class and a two hour drive she wanted nothing more than to go home and go to bed.

Okay, so maybe that wasn't the only reason she was tired. Since Eric gave her the shock of a lifetime on Friday they'd been inseparable once again. That is when she wasn't stuck in class. They went for walks, talked, went out to eat, went dancing, and cuddled and whispered most of the night while Nathan snored a few feet away. They hadn't had a chance to make love since they decided to give this relationship a chance and she fully planned on rectifying that just as soon as she found a way to get out of this and get some sleep.

"Can't," Eric said, reaching back and grabbing her hand when she tried to make her escape. "Mom called a family dinner."

"But I'm not hungry. I'm tired. Can't she call a family nap instead?" she asked, sounding hopeful.

Tags: R.L. Mathewson EMS Young Adult
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