Sweet Torment: A Novella, Page 2Georgia Cates
This kid looks ready to piss his pants and run out the door. Goal accomplished. “Yes, sir.”
Claudia comes into the living room and I’m both pleased and relieved to see her wearing a jacket over her sexy red top. Hell, that shirt and her exposed skin made me have inappropriate thoughts about her. This boy wouldn’t stand a chance.
“Hey.” His voice is deadpan and he doesn’t even look in her direction.
Claudia studies the four of us. “What’s going on here?”
“Nothing much.” Owen chuckles. “Connor mentioned that he’s seen me play ball, so I thought he might want to have a look at Priscilla.”
“What did you do, Owen?”
He chuckles a second time. “I didn’t do a thing.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Ask our boy Connor if you don’t believe me.”
He shrugs. “Just showed me Priscilla. And his swing.”
“Pfft… like I believe that.” Claudia’s stiff expression softens when she sees the bouquet. “What beautiful flowers. Let me put those in some water before we go.”
I hate watching her go out the door with anything that has a cock. It pisses me off, which is a ridiculous notion. Not only has she been like a little sister to me since the day she was born, she’s only seventeen. I’m twenty-three. That kind of shit doesn’t go over well with people. Or with the state of Tennessee.
I have no business having these kinds of thoughts about her. Owen and River would kill me. Hell, Owen would castrate me.
Claudia Laine Bliss has grown up. Everything I’ve ever felt about her suddenly feels new and different.
And it scares the shit out of me.
Claudia is home early from her date. An hour early. I’m happier than I should be about that. I’m also happier than I have any right to be about Owen and River taking the two recliners when we sat down to watch television, forcing her onto the sofa with me.
I’ve spent the night at the Bliss house countless times. Claudia and I have stretched out on this same couch and watched television side by side on many occasions. Lying next to her like this shouldn’t feel weird or awkward… or exciting. But it does. Nothing about being this close to her—or touching this way—feels normal. And it’s confusing the hell out of me.
Owen has gone to his room and River has bedded down in the guest room. I’m not disappointed they left. I want to talk to Claudia and explore these new sensations without them in my face.
“How’d your date with Connor go?”
“He brought me home at ten o’clock. How do you think it went?”
“Not good?” No guy brings a girl home early if he’s having a good time. Or getting to do anything he wants with her. That pleases me.
“Not good at all. Connor was so weird tonight. Not his usual cocky self at all. What did y’all say to him?”
No need to feign innocence. “We explained what would happen if he didn’t behave like a gentleman with you.”
“I assume it’s safe to say that explanation involved Priscilla since Owen had her out of the bag?”
The terror on that kid’s face when he heard the swoosh of Owen’s bat next to his ear was priceless. “There’s a good possibility Priscilla was used in our persuasion.”
“I figured as much.”
Our tactic ruined her date. I should feel bad about that, but I don’t. “Are you mad?”
“Nah, I didn’t want to go out with him anyway. I was glad when he said he was bringing me home.”
I’m surprised by how much it pleases me to hear she’s not into the guy. “Then why’d you go out with him?”
“Our friends were trying to be matchmakers. Guess I thought they’d leave me alone if I went out with him.”
“We scared the shit out of him for nothing.”
“Not for nothing. Word got back to me that he’d made a stupid bet with some of his buddies that he’d get at least one hand in my pants tonight. He deserved whatever you gave him.”
Hearing that makes me want to go find the little shit and put my hands around his throat. “You shouldn’t have gone out with him. He could have tried something with you to save face with his buddies.”
“You know I can take care of myself. You, Owen, and River taught me exactly what to do in that kind of situation.”
We made sure Claudia knew how to defend herself, but boys are typically bigger and stronger. A girl can never be too careful. “Knowing how to twist a pair of balls doesn’t make you invincible.”
“I haven’t been out on many dates but I’m always careful.”
I don’t like that she’s been out on any dates. “No boyfriend?”
“A few have asked but I’m holding out for someone.”
Holding out for someone? “You have a crush?”
“It’s far more than a crush, Duke.” I love hearing her call me that.
Claudia thinks she’s in love. And I don’t like it at all. “Does he know?”
“No. Pretty sure he’s never seen me as anything more than a friend.”
I’m wondering what kind of boy could look at Claudia and only have platonic thoughts. Maybe one who isn’t into girls. “You think he still only thinks of you as a friend after seeing the way you’ve changed?”
She deepens her voice. “You mean my new lovely young lady look?”
Yup. She’s still peeved about that. “I didn’t have a choice. I had to call it that in front of Owen and River.”
“We both know they would kick my ass if they heard me say that you were smoking hot.”
Claudia twists her body and peeks at me over her shoulder. “You think I’m smoking hot?”
What the hell is wrong with me? I can’t tell a seventeen-year-old girl, even if this is Claud, something like that. “It doesn’t matter what I think.”
She turns onto her opposite side so we’re lying face to face. “What you think matters to me, Duke. Much more than you’ve ever realized.”
Her body is pressed against mine. Her lips mere inches away. Her sweet breath on my face. Nothing about those things reminds me of the kid I’ve always considered a little sister. And my cock doesn’t think so either.
No two ways about it. Being next to her this way—and liking it this much—is wrong.
I’m twenty-three. A college graduate. A man. She’s seventeen. A high school senior. A girl. Off-limits. Forbidden fruit. “Whatever this is… it shouldn’t be happening.”
“What is this? What’s happening between us?” Her voice is soft, low… seductive. I don’t think she realizes how much.
Giving this a label means admitting to the thoughts I’m having about her. Confessing the intense desires that she stirs inside me. Revealing how much she turns me on. I can’t do that and expect Owen not to tie me up by my balls. “That’s a conversation we can’t have.”
She presses a palm to the side of my face and her eyes search mine. “But I want to have that conversation. And I think you do, too. I see it in the way you look at me.”
I see it in the way you look at me. Fuck, if she sees it, does that mean others do, too?
“I’m too old for you. And I’m Owen’s best friend. Nothing can happen between us.”
She wraps her leg around my waist and presses her body against the bulge in my jeans. “Something is already happening. I feel the proof of it right there.”
“This is wrong.” I place my hand on her hip and push her body away from mine. “This is what’s going to happen. You’re going to get up, go to your bedroom, fall asleep, and tomorrow you’ll wake and pretend none of this happened.”
“The last thing I want to do is pretend this didn’t happen.”
Shit. This has already gone further than it should. I’ve as good as admitted that I want her. “We aren’t going to speak of this again.”
The urge to pull her body against mine is almost overwhelming, but I
obey my gut and push her farther away. “Go now, before Owen or River comes back and finds us like this.”
She looks at me for a moment before pulling away. “God, I’m so stupid.”
“No. Don’t say that.”
“I can’t believe I thought you…” She stops midsentence and covers her eyes with her hands. “I shouldn’t have said anything. God, how humiliating.”
I don’t want her to be embarrassed. “Hey, come here.”
I sit up and reach out for her hand—unsuccessfully—as she steps beyond my grasp. “No, Duke. I’m not a kid anymore. I don’t need you to say things you don’t mean just to make me feel better.”
“Claud…” I don’t want her to walk away believing she misinterpreted anything that happened between us, yet I can’t encourage her. I can’t tell her how she really makes me feel. But I also can’t let her walk away believing our relationship has changed. “Dove? Are we okay?”
She looks up and rapidly blinks. “Yeah. We’re okay. This never happened. Just like you said.”
She says the words but I know in my heart they’re not true. Something significant has just taken place. Nothing is ever going to be the same between us.
My heart aches with an incredible pull to go after her. Tell her everything she said is true. Tell her I feel the same things as she does. But I don’t do that. I can’t. Instead, I stay on the couch, spending the rest of the night seeing her behind my closed lids.
The first few hours I imagine myself having her in no less than ninety-nine different ways. The horny lobe of my male brain was more than happy and able to supply all the images to accompany the fantasies happening in my head. My favorite was the one where she was lying on the bed, begging me to bury my face between her legs.
Fuck. There is something really wrong with me.
I can’t stop thinking about her being just down the hall, wearing only that tight tank top and short boxers. The ones with the big leg holes. The ones I can easily slip my hands into. My dick knows just how little effort it would take to get her naked and the fucker stays stiff all night. Putting me in agony.
Claudia has grown up. The desire to have her is making me fucking miserable; every inch of her sweet little body is calling out to me.
My dick and the devil sitting on my shoulder pair up and try to convince me all I have to do is walk the short distance to her bedroom and I could be inside her within a few minutes. They tell me I could cover her mouth with my hand and no one would hear her moan when I push my cock through her tight virginity. I could spend all night with her legs wrapped around me and we’d be so quiet that Owen and River would never even suspect.
Damn, I need to get off so that I’ll stop thinking about her. Maybe that’ll bring some relief from the ache in my balls—or at least make the discomfort bearable, perhaps better equip me to handle being in the same house as her.
I slip my hand into my shorts and grasp my cock, leisurely stroking up and down beneath the quilt as I recall seeing Claudia tonight for the first time since late summer. I close my eyes and pump faster as I picture her lying on the bed naked and waiting for me.
Damn. Those lips. Those curves. Those tits.
Are you thinking of me while you do that, Duke? Want me to do that for you? Imagining those words coming from her mouth is all it takes for me to detonate. “Uhh, fuck.”
Claudia Bliss. Within my reach yet completely unobtainable.
Fuck. Me. I’m in deep shit.
My best friend’s little sister is all grown up. And I want her.
I stare at my test paper in disbelief. A sixty-nine. A fucking D. What the hell am I going to do? I can’t lose my 4.0 GPA the final semester of high school.
Don’t panic, Claud. It’s March. You still have time to turn this around.
I listen to every word Mr. Garrison says. I make note of every mark and number he writes but very few things click for me; math has never been my strong suit. I shouldn’t have taken this AP calculus class. Dumb, dumb, dumb move. It’s going to ruin my GPA.
I hang back until my classmates are gone and dawdle toward my teacher’s desk. “Do you have a minute, Mr. Garrison?”
“I have a little time. I assume you’d like to discuss your score on yesterday’s test?”
I hold out the paper and look at the huge red number. “This is going to bring my average down a lot.”
“But not impossible to bring up.”
“Not impossible if you understand calculus, which I don’t.” I need help. I’m falling further and further behind every day.
“I don’t privately tutor my own students, but I can recommend an individual for hire if you think you’d like to pursue that.”
School has always come easy to me. I’ve never had to study but I’ve boxed myself into a corner in this class. I can’t afford not to make high A’s on the rest of my tests. One-on-one attention is likely the only way to make that happen. “I think private tutoring is what it’s going to take for me to catch up.”
“A former student of mine tutors in his spare time. Brilliant young man. Jacob Rial. I believe he’s around the same age as your brother.”
Jacob Rial. “Sounds a little familiar.”
“He tutors on Mondays, Wednesdays, and some weekends.”
Today is Friday. Maybe I can get in a few sessions with him before next week’s test. “That would be great if he’s available.”
Mr. Garrison jots down a phone number. “I recommend calling as soon as possible to see what spots he has available. He books up quickly.”
I could almost kiss this man. “Thank you. I really appreciate it.”
My mood is slightly improved on the drive home until “We Don’t Talk Anymore” comes on the radio. I used to love that song but now I can’t hear it without thinking of Bram.
Two months since that night and not a single word from him. He hasn’t come around the house, not even the two weekends Owen was home from school.
Noel Abraham Windsor. Bram. My Duke. I have loved him my entire life.
The first memory I have of him is from when I was three, maybe four. I was crying because I didn’t know how to swing. He stopped whatever he was doing with Owen and River and pushed me until I was content. And that’s how the following years went. He always made sure I was happy. And I loved him for it.
For years, I was nothing more than one of the boys to him. Owen’s baby sister. His little dove. The pest who tagged along everywhere they went. Or at least tried.
The age gap eventually ruined everything. Owen, River, and Bram discovered girls, and I wasn’t the kind they wanted around. Of course, I didn’t understand their fascination; I was too young. I’m glad it took years for my immature brain to figure out what Bram was doing with those girls. It broke my heart when I finally did.
He’s twenty-three. I’m seventeen. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to be his girl—his only girl. It’s what I’ve wanted since… always.
I was sixteen when the boys came home for summer break last year. I spent every day hanging out with them. Despite all my efforts, Bram never once looked at me like I was anything more than their little Claud. Still just one of the boys.
It. Pissed. Me. Off.
I was growing up, dammit. I was getting boobs and hips and a curvy ass. But he just wouldn’t fucking see me. That’s when I decided it was time to act if he were ever going to be mine.
Bram left for fall semester. Being away from him during that time was the hardest five months of my life. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t see him.
His dark hair, hazel eyes, and tanned, muscular body made an appearance every night in my dreams. And that V, too. That damn V at his waist, pointing at what I now know is a cock that gets hard when it presses against my body.
I used every moment of our time apart to get in shape. Clear my acne. Learn how to walk, talk, and dress to prove to a twenty-three-year-old man that I was no longer a kid. He would, by God,
see that I was no longer that little girl who once begged to be allowed inside their boys-only fort. He would see me as a woman to be reckoned with. A sexual being who wants him. A virgin more than ready to give herself to him.
He took one look at me, and I knew without a bit of doubt that I’d accomplished exactly what I set out to do. Bram finally noticed me. For the first time ever, he saw me as a desirable woman. And it freaked him the fuck out.
On one hand, my plan worked like a charm. On the other, it completely backfired in my face.
I didn’t sleep a wink after I left Bram on the couch. I spent the rest of the night thinking about what happened between us. Replaying every move. Every word. I considered leaving my bed a thousand times, returning to him wearing next to nothing and seducing the fuck out of him. I’m almost certain I would have if he’d been sleeping in the guest room instead of the living room couch where we could be busted by Owen or River.
Dammit. Why couldn’t River have passed out in the recliner so Bram would have been in the guest room? That night would have gone very differently. And we’d be together today instead of not speaking.
I pull into the drive and my heart slams erratically against my inner chest wall when I see Bram’s truck parked in front of my house. Woo. Breathe, girl. In and out. Slow and deep.
Owen’s and River’s trucks are here too. That’s disappointing since I’m certain it means Bram is at my house to see them and not me. I’m nervous as hell but I’ll take seeing Bram any way I can.
I flip my sun visor down and evaluate my appearance. Ratty hair. Oily cheeks. Pale lips. Check, check, and check. Sheez, this isn’t how I want to look when I see Bram again.
I run a brush through the ends of my hair and fluff it at the roots. Not great but it’s the best I can do on the spot. I blot my skin, and apply a fresh coat of gloss. I smack my lips together and recall Bram rubbing his thumb over them when he smeared my lip gloss. Good God, the way he looked at me melted my panties right then and there. That night feels like a million years ago.