When I lift my gaze, it’s like Sean can tell that shame is choking me. It’s the first time since we had sex that I can really think clearly. That happy feeling has dissipated and all that’s left is doubt. My stomach twists and I can’t look at him
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Sean seems to sense it. He moves across the tub and takes me in his arms, kissing my temple after he does it. I lie against him for a moment and feel safe. How fucked up am I? This man won’t protect me. He bought me. He’s as screwed up as I am Sean holds me close.
His voice is perfect, rich and caring, “Don’t think about anything, right now.” His hands grip the back of my head and he massages my scalp. It makes my brain slow. The thoughts that are flooding through my mind disappear when he pulls me onto his lap. At first, my legs are off to the side.
Sean holds me, stroking my head and doesn’t let go. His other hand holds my back, tracing the curve as it disappears below the waterline. I stare at the wall, not thinking, just breathing. My head is against his chest listening to the sound of his heart. It comforts me. I don’t think about what I’ve done. I pretend this is a date. I pretend that the affection between us is two-directional, that I’m not the only one who feels something. It’s easier that way. I know that when I go back to the dorm, guilt is going to crash into me hard. I try to steel myself, but some things are impossible. There’s no way to brace my heart for something like this, something that feels real but is no more substantial than vapor.
My throat tightens as I think. My body must tense, because Sean whispers in my ear, “Miss Smith, I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but you are a very beautiful woman and I’m lucky to have you as my lover.”
I can’t help it. I smile against his chest. I decide to stop thinking. I’ll follow my instincts. I finally cave into my obsession with his shoulders. I trace my finger along that spot, that perfect spot that I want to nibble. I press a kiss to his chest, over his heart. Sean stiffens, but I don’t notice. I don’t see the look in his eye, the way the pain shoots beneath the surface.
I’m too distracted. I trail the kisses to his neck, and shift so that I’m straddling him, kneeling over his lap so that I can slide my tongue along his shoulder. When I do it, my body flames to life again and any lingering thoughts are lost beneath a wave of desire. My breasts press into him as I lick his skin. Since we are both wet, his skin is slick and they slide as I rise out of the water to reach his shoulders.
Sean tilts his head to the side and moans my name as I do it. I trace my tongue over the rise and fall of his muscles, slowly licking and kissing his smooth skin. Sean’s hands travel down my back and he cups my butt gently. Desire is building inside of me again. I slide my breasts against him, tracing the lines of his shoulders, pressing my lips to his damp skin. When I move to settle onto his lap, he’s
hard. Looking into his eyes, I slowly lower myself onto him. He’s so hard and sharp. The sensations that shoot through me as I do it are divine. The soreness doesn’t prevent me from taking him all the way in. If anything, it reminds me of that cloud of lust that filled my mind from last time I came. Sean’s gaze remains locked with mine. He gasps as I take him in, his hands still on the curve of my hips, guiding me.
Neither of us says anything. I sit upright on his lap and Sean leans back against the side of the tub. His gaze lingers on my breasts before returning to my face. “You’re beautiful, Avery.”
I smile, because I don’t know what to say. I never thought I was anything, and here I have a gorgeous man telling me that I’m stunning. Before I can think about it, Sean shifts beneath me. I gasp and my mouth falls open into a little O.
“You like that?” he asks and I nod. I liked that very much. Before I have a chance to ask Sean what he’s doing, he does it again. This time I moan loudly and toss my head back. Sean grabs my arms so I don’t fall backward. Breathing hard, he moves his hips in a slow circle. It puts pressure in all the right spots. My back arches and I scream this time. It feels like he’s doing more, and maybe he is, but I’m not going to stop him to ask.
Sean remains perfectly composed, his eyes filled with fire as I climb closer and closer to ecstasy on his lap. He continues the movement, pressing his hips harder against mine, pushing me closer to the edge. I can barely hold myself up. I have no idea where to put my hands. Before I can think about it they’re on top of my head, tugging at my hair. I don’t think about how I look or what he sees. I just enjoy what he’s doing to me. My breasts ache for his touch, but Sean keeps his hands below the water, tightly gripping my ass. The world goes fuzzy and the only thing I’m aware of is how I feel, how Sean makes me want him Heat builds within me, making me hot even though we’re in the water. As Sean moves inside me, it’s all I can do to sit up.
When he says, “Come for me, Avery,” he thrusts his hips against mine and I can’t control myself. I feel the pulsating from deep within me and ride him as hard as I can. Water sloshes out of the tub as I do it. My hands are on Sean’s shoulders as I thrust harder and harder. He watches me with a carnal look on his face. His eyes move between my bouncing breasts and my face; his hands hold me tight to his lap, pushing harder, deeper. I shatter and fall against his chest, breathless. Sean’s hands find my damp hair. He kisses the side of my face as a whirlwind of pleasure shoots through my body. He’s still hard inside me, which makes the aftershocks more delicious.
I barely come back to myself as he starts kissing my neck. I still can’t speak. I’m a mess of heat and jagged breathes. I feel his warm lips press gently against my hot skin. One of his hands is in my hair, the other around my waist. He lifts me off of him, making me gasp, and settles me on his lap and holds me, so that I’m facing away from him I lean into his back and he wraps his legs around my hips. His arms wrap around me and he holds on tight, like I might fly away.
We sit there in silence for a long time. I wonder what he’s thinking. When we get out of the tub, Sean takes me to the shower. He grabs my hand and we step into the steaming shower stall. Using shower gel, Sean rubs his hands over my body and soaps me up. Next he uses the shampoo and works it into my hair. Then, he turns me around and pulls my body against his, before the soap is rinsed away. With one arm wrapped around my chest and the other around my waist, he holds me tight. I turn my head to the side and let him hold me. Sean doesn’t let go right away. I notice that his heart races, but I don’t know why. It pounds wildly, like he’s running or afraid. Taking his hands I loosen his grip and turn back toward him.
“What’s wrong?” I can’t ignore it any more. Something’s bothering him I have no right to ask, but I want to make it better.
Sean smiles sadly at me and says, “Nothing.” That’s the end of the conversation. We rinse off and get out. Sean hands me a fluffy white robe. I slip into it, and thank him He nods and leaves me to untangle my hair in the bathroom.
It takes me longer than I wanted, but I don’t have conditioner or the stuff I use in my hair. Combing it felt more like pulling it out. When I emerge from the bathroom, Sean is dressed. He’s wearing his clothes from earlier, with one exception—he’s also wearing shoes.
A shot of cold panic settles into the center of my chest. Clutching my robe at the neck, I ask, “Where are you going?”
Sean won’t look at me. His movements are quick and erratic, like he wants to run from me. Sean walks across the room and closes the closet doors. He stands there for a moment, looking down at the handles before turning to me. A fake smile spreads across his lips and he heads for the door, keys in hand.
- step in front of him “You’re leaving?” I can’t believe this. Sean looks at me for a full minute with pity. The floor of my stomach drops. It feels like I’ve been thrown off a cliff. The look he gives me says this is the way things are, but I can’t accept it. My heart beats harder, as fear works its way up my spine.
“Yes.” His voice is cold. “Step out of the way.”
“I can’t.” My voice catches in my throat. The voice in the back of my mind is telling me that I’m going to regret this, that I need to step aside, but I can’t. I reach for him “Sean, stay.”
A cold look crosses his face. My heart thumps in my chest like it’s been shot. “I asked you to move. Don’t make me force you.” I don’t move. I can’t. I’m frozen with fear and remorse has chokec me so hard that I can’t speak. I don’t know what expression is on my face, but it’s the wrong one.
Sean grabs my arm and pulls me aside. I expect him to walk through the door without a word, but he stops. His eyes don’t meet mine. There’s something about him that makes me think that I’m missing something. Sean’s grip loosens on my shoulder, but he doesn’t let go. It feels like I’m holding him up, like he’s falling apart. When he speaks, there’s a hitch in his voice. “I thought I could do this, but… I can’t. It’s not you. I—” Dark lashes conceal his blue eyes. When Sean exhales, he looks beaten. Ii makes me want to fix whatever’s hurting him, but I’m starting to think it’s me. “I need to think.”
Sean’s hand slips off my shoulder and he turns away without another word. Every instinct I have says to stop him, to help him, but I know I can’t. There’s something there, beneath the surface and it’s destroying him It’s the reason he avoids New York, it’s the reason he’s walking away from me. Sean
disappears through the door, head hung between his shoulders.
THE ARRANGEMENT SERIES
This story unfolds over the course of multiple short novels. Each one follows the continuing story of Avery Stanz and Sean Ferro.
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