Denied, p.6
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       Denied, p.6

         Part #2 of One Night series by Jodi Ellen Malpas
 

  ‘Hey.’ He pulls me out of my hiding place and holds my face gently as he gazes down at me, sympathy gushing from his eyes. ‘What are we going to do with each other, baby girl?’

  ‘I don’t know,’ I choke out, letting Gregory stroke the trail of tears away from my wet cheek. ‘I feel hopeless.’

  ‘Me too,’ he agrees softly as our eyes hold each other. ‘Me too.’

  There’s an unexpected shift in the atmosphere, the two friends comforting each other suddenly looking longingly into each other’s eyes, misery and desolation seeming to make way for something else.

  Something strange.

  Something forbidden.

  I’m confused by it, and when my friend’s lips part, his eyes flicking down to my mouth and his face coming slowly closer, my head starts spinning wildly. There are plenty of reasons to halt what is about to happen, but I can’t think of them at the moment. I can’t think of anything, except that this could be exactly what I need.

  I start inching closer, too, until our lips meet and my heart starts thudding in my chest. The unusual feeling of my best friend’s lips on mine doesn’t deter me. I shift my position, throwing my leg over Gregory’s reclined body and settling myself across his hips, keeping our mouths joined, letting our tongues dance madly. The sensation of his hands running all over my back and his mouth pressed hard to mine brings me a strange comfort, even if it’s alien and not what I’m used to. It doesn’t matter. I need different.

  ‘Livy.’ He breaks our kiss, panting in my face. ‘We shouldn’t. This is wrong.’

  I don’t let him try to talk us out of this. I smash my lips back on his and start working him desperately, feeling his strong arms and smoothing down his tight muscles. He groans, the evidence of his hardness beneath me pushing me on.

  ‘Livy,’ he argues weakly, making no attempt to push me off.

  ‘We’ll help each other,’ I gasp, pulling at the hem of his T-shirt. He doesn’t stop me. He shifts, making my task easier, and is soon rid of it, leaving his chest exposed to my roaming hands. It’s not long before I feel my top being pulled off, and I release his lips to sit up, letting my best friend in the whole world strip me. With a lack of a bra covering my modest breasts, I’m left in just my small pyjama shorts with Gregory’s eyes focused on my tight nipples that are within licking distance.

  ‘Oh fucking hell,’ he mumbles, looking up at me as I wheeze in his face. ‘Oh fucking, fucking hell.’ He takes the tops of my arms and pushes me to my back, taking my mouth again urgently as he pushes my shorts and knickers down my legs. He’s hard and wedged up against my thigh, pulsing incessantly, and I find myself fumbling at the fly of his jeans. He helps me, lifting his hips slightly so I can rid him of the denim, until we’re both naked, rubbing up against each other, rolling around the bed, kissing and feeling.

  ‘Fucking hell,’ he curses again, working his mouth across my cheek while I pant up at the ceiling. ‘We should stop.’

  ‘No,’ I breathe.

  ‘We shouldn’t be doing this.’ He makes no attempt to halt, finding my mouth again and plunging his tongue in urgently. We’re matching each other in the frenzied stakes. Hands and lips are everywhere as we explore unknown territory. We’re both consumed with desperation to eradicate our woes, neither one of us seeming prepared to stop this. We should halt it. This won’t help.

  ‘Oh God!’ I yelp, throwing my head back when Gregory cups my breast. I’m squirming beneath him, my whole being tingling with fevered shots of desperate pleasure. Our mouths quickly find each other again and my hand starts venturing downward until I have his hard, hot length in my grasp.

  ‘Holy shit!’ he barks, his hips bucking forward, prompting a full stroke down his shaft. ‘Oooooh shit.’

  Pleasure-filled noises are drowning the room. We’re lost. Gregory pulls back and gazes down at me, his brow shimmering in sweat, his breath spreading across my heated face.

  ‘Do that again,’ he breathes, pushing his hips forward.

  I pull an even swipe of my palm down his hardness and he draws an uneven breath. His head drops briefly, only for a second, before he lifts again and falls back to my lips, swirling his tongue through my mouth. It shouldn’t, but this feels nice. I’m focused only on my best friend kissing me, his hands feeling me, and his body pushed against mine.

  ‘You taste like strawberries,’ he whispers hoarsely.

  Strawberries.

  The word hits me like a sledgehammer, and I’m suddenly dropping him from my grasp and wriggling beneath him. ‘Greg, stop!’

  He freezes, pulling back to look down at me. ‘Are you okay?’

  ‘No! We should stop.’ I scramble up and pull the sheets over me, covering my naked body, feeling ashamed . . . guilty. ‘What are we thinking?’

  Gregory sits up and rubs his palms frantically over his face, groaning, but now it’s in regret. ‘I don’t know,’ he admits. ‘I wasn’t thinking, Livy.’

  ‘Me neither.’ I meet his eyes, pulling the protective sheeting closer, while Gregory remains uncovered and quite unbothered by it. He’s still . . . ready . . . and I try to divert my eyes anywhere except at the hard length of muscle jutting from his lap. It’s difficult. It’s like a magnet to my eyes. I’ve never allowed myself to look at my gay friend like this, but when he’s totally exposed and looking so ripped, it’s impossible. He’s everything a man could ask for, and a woman, for that matter. He’s hot, so kind, and totally genuine. But he’s my best friend. I can’t lose him to the awkwardness that will descend if we continue – if it’s not too late already. But that isn’t the only reason. No man could ever fill the gaping hole in my heart, nor could they sate my desire. Only one man can do that.

  ‘I’m sorry,’ I say quietly, guilt consuming me. I don’t know why. I have nothing to feel remorseful for, except for jeopardising my friendship with Gregory. ‘I’m so sorry.’

  ‘Hey’ – he pulls me onto his lap and squeezes me – ‘I’m sorry, too. I think we both got a little carried away.’

  I snuggle deep, searching for the comfort I need. It’s nowhere to be found. ‘It was my fault.’

  ‘No, I instigated that. It’s my fault.’

  ‘I beg to differ,’ I whisper, letting him attempt to rub some life back into me.

  The rise and fall of his chest under me indicates his heavy sigh. ‘What a pair,’ he muses. ‘A couple of sad-arse losers pining after something we can’t have.’

  I nod my agreement. ‘You won’t go off and screw another woman, will you?’ I ask, knowing it’s what generally happens when he’s dumped by a bloke and probably why things went too far just now. ‘I don’t want you to do that.’

  ‘I’m swearing off men and women for a while.’ He chuckles, making me smile a little.

  ‘Me too.’

  ‘So you’re basically returning to reclusive, then?’ he quips lightly.

  ‘Look where being the alternative has got me.’

  ‘Not all men are like that cocksucker.’ He pulls me from his chest and clenches my cheeks fiercely. ‘Not every man will shit all over you, baby girl.’

  ‘I’m not going to give them the chance.’

  ‘I hate seeing you like this.’

  ‘I hate seeing you like this,’ I counter, his anguish suddenly very obvious and real, now that the information has filtered through my fuzz of misery. ‘And I’m stealing “cocksucker” to use for Ben, because he really is a cocksucker, even if he won’t admit it.’

  Gregory smiles, his eyes twinkling. ‘That’s fine by me.’

  I nod my approval and let my eyes wander down to Gregory’s lap. He starts laughing and quickly snatches the sheet to cover himself, leaving me stark naked. I gasp and yank it back, and so a wrestling match with the sheets begins. We’re both laughing, pulling back and forth, our earlier ease as friends fully restored . . . even if we’re now both naked. Not that either of us seem bothered as we battle for possession of the sheets.

  But we both freeze when the sound o
f creaking floorboards muscles in on the happy laughter, and then Nan’s curious voice creeps through the door. ‘Gregory, Olivia? What’s going on in there?’

  ‘Oh shit!’ I blurt, jumping up from the bed and sprinting across the room. I flatten my naked front against the door. ‘Nothing, Nan!’

  ‘It sounds like a herd of elephants are doing the cancan up here.’

  ‘We’re fine!’ I squeak, my forehead hitting the door, my eyes clenching shut as I tense and brace myself for a counter-attack.

  ‘Well, you sound like you’re coming through the ceiling!’

  ‘Sorry. We’re on our way down.’

  ‘We’re off to the dance now.’

  ‘Have a nice time!’

  ‘Are you okay?’ she asks more softly.

  I smile a little. ‘I’m fine, Nan.’

  She doesn’t say any more, and then I hear the creaking floorboards, telling me she’s on her way back downstairs. I turn around, my back pushed up against the door, and find Gregory’s eyes making continuous up and down motions as he sits on the bed with the sheets concealing him.

  ‘Good view.’ He grins, reminding me that I’m still nude. ‘But you’re far too skinny.’

  I make a vain attempt to cover my modesty, making Gregory fall back on the bed in laughter. He’s helpless, while I’m blushing furiously. ‘Stop it!’

  ‘I’m sorry!’ he chuckles. ‘Really sorry.’

  My colour increases as I scan my room for the nearest thing to save my dignity, settling on a T-shirt draped over the back of my chair in the corner. I dart over and make quick work of throwing it on, feeling better instantly, like I’ve regained some self-respect after throwing myself at my best friend. Gregory isn’t so concerned by his state of undress, though, and is currently rolling around laughing, tangled among the blankets of my bed. It makes me smile more, my head cocking in admiration, musing at his tight backside, but more at his hysterical, carefree state.

  ‘Come on,’ he says, pushing himself up and patting the mattress next to him. ‘I won’t grope you, promise.’

  I roll my eyes and join him on the bed, resting my back against the headboard next to him. I fiddle with my ring, wondering what on earth to say. I really don’t know, so I say the only thing that I should – the only thing I’m concerned about. ‘This won’t change things, will it?’ I ask. ‘I can’t be without you, Greg. I don’t want what happened to change us.’

  ‘Aaah, baby girl.’ He drapes his arm around my shoulders and cuddles me close. ‘Never, because we won’t let it. I guess that twenty per cent got the better of me.’

  I smile. ‘Thank you.’

  ‘No, thank you,’ he sighs. ‘Let’s make a pact.’

  ‘A pact.’ I frown. ‘What kind of pact?’ I’m suddenly concerned that Gregory is about to propose an arrangement that says we marry each other if we haven’t found our soulmate by the time we’re thirty.

  ‘We stay strong,’ he whispers, ‘for each other.’

  I look up and see a face pleading with me to help him.

  ‘I’m struggling, too, Livy.’

  I feel terrible. ‘I’m sorry.’ I’ve been so consumed in my own misery, I’ve not stopped to truly consider my best friend’s turmoil, not seen the extent of his own unhappiness. I’ve been blindsided by my own pitiful state. ‘I’m so sorry.’

  ‘We can do it together,’ he continues. ‘I’ll help you and you can help me.’

  ‘Does that mean confiscating your phone?’ I tease.

  ‘No, but it does mean you can delete his number.’ He grabs his mobile and shoves it in my hand. ‘Go on.’

  I scroll through his contact list, deleting Ben’s number before going to his text messages – sent and received – and deleting any traces of Ben from there, too. Happy I’ve extinguished him from Gregory’s mobile altogether, and hopefully his life, too, I hand it back and watch as my friend raises expectant eyebrows at me. He wants to return the favour.

  ‘I told you, my phone’s broken.’

  ‘And you’ve not replaced it?’

  ‘No,’ I reply, sounding rather proud and feeling it as well. I won’t be charging the phone William bought me, or any other phone, in fact. Unobtainable. Anyway, I want Gregory to be able to delete Miller Hart from my brain, not just any phone I might be using.

  ‘So we’re both free of cocksuckers.’

  ‘Cocksucker is reserved for’ – I pause for a moment – ‘you know who.’

  ‘Okay.’

  ‘I’m glad we’ve cleared that up.’ I wince immediately, and Gregory frowns, clearly wondering what the problem is. I shake my head and settle back into his side, feeling a little better, despite the strangeness of the past half-hour and despite familiar words falling from both of our mouths without thought or awareness.

  Chapter Six

  Gregory and I aren’t doing a very good job of helping each other through our turmoil. The next evening, and in an attempt to move on with our lives, we’ve had a quiet Italian meal together, which was lovely, but the wine has taken hold and we’re now falling towards the doors of Ice, both giggling, both staggering a little. My drunken mind has become vengeful and is stamping all over the fact that Miller is away and he will likely watch all of the CCTV footage from the club when he returns. And I’m going to give him something interesting to view.

  ‘How do you know he’s away?’ Gregory asks, taking us to the back of the line, since this time we lack an invite or our names on the guest list.

  ‘Text before my phone broke.’ I can’t tell him about William.

  ‘How did it break?’

  ‘Dropped it.’ I distract Gregory from the reason for the premature demise of my mobile phone by flashing my membership card to Ice.

  He grins and takes it from my hand, giving it a quick inspection. ‘Not much to it, is there?’

  I shrug and snatch it back as we near the front. I get a look from the doorman, but he doesn’t refuse me entry when I flash my card. He does, however, call Tony to notify him of my arrival. But I’m feeling brash and brave, probably assisted by the three glasses of wine that I drank throughout dinner. Neither one of us is guilty of forcing the other to Miller’s club. We just ended up here after I mentioned my membership card and free entry, and neither of us protested – me, because I’m feeling cruel and this is the only way I know how to hurt him, and Gregory because I know he’s silently hoping Ben will be here tonight. How long will we continue to torment ourselves?

  Calvin Harris’s ‘Feel So Close’ greets us as we enter and we find our way to the bar, ordering champagne automatically once we’re there, which is daft. What are we celebrating? Being complete idiots? I ignore the strawberry in my flute and sip while gazing around the bar, expecting Tony to appear from somewhere, but after a few minutes of scanning the club, no Tony.

  Gregory doesn’t tell me to take it easy, probably because he’s hell-bent on dulling down his own hurt with alcohol. This is a dangerous position for us both to be in, for the combination of alcohol and our determination to heal our broken hearts is sure to land us in trouble. I can see cameras everywhere. I can also see men watching me, my eyes like a hawk’s trying to attract the attention that I’m usually so uncomfortable receiving. I take a deep breath, push all thoughts of disgrace to the very back of my mind, and lose myself in the crowd of London’s elite. I shy away from nothing. I accept drinks, I talk with confidence, and I let men rest their hands on my waist or lower back when they get close to talk over the loud music. My cheek is kissed by countless men, and Gregory, although watchful and a little wary, smiles each time.

  He moves in when I step away from a tall preppy-type. ‘You look comfortable. What’s changed?’

  ‘Miller Hart,’ I say nonchalantly before finishing off my champagne. Gregory hands me another and we make the most of our time alone, taking a few moments to drink in our surroundings. Heads are thrown back in laughter and continental-style kisses are exchanged everywhere. In reality, Gregory and I really don’
t fit in among these social elitists.

  But Ben does.

  And he’s here.

  I know what I should be doing. I should be dragging Gregory away, but just as I convince my alcohol-drenched brain to do exactly that, Ben spots us and starts making his way over.

  Shit, I curse to myself, weighing up my options. My drunken mind isn’t allowing me to think quickly enough, so before I can haul my friend away, Ben is standing in front of us and Gregory is shifting awkwardly on the spot. I still feel mad, especially when Ben glances at me with high eyebrows. I gather breath to hit him with another torrent of abuse, but he beats me to it and launches into an apology speech. My mouth snaps shut as I flick my eyes from Ben to Greg, back and forth, wondering how this is going to play out.

  ‘I was a total dick,’ Ben begins quietly, just loud enough for us to hear over the music. He’s still in the closet. ‘I don’t want anyone to know before I’m ready to . . . share.’

  ‘When might that be?’ Gregory snaps, shocking me. I was certain he’d turn to mush all over the dopey-eyed Ben. I’m pleasantly surprised.

  Ben shrugs sheepishly and drops his eyes to the glass of
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