Ryans bed, p.17
Ryan laughed a little and then sighed. “We didn’t talk about last night.”
He’d brought this up earlier. I wanted to evade it then, and I still wanted to.
Normal life, normal Mackenzie would’ve been freaking. I would’ve called or texted Willow from the bathroom. I would’ve lain awake the rest of the night, wondering if I’d done everything right. If I should’ve showered or was I clean enough? How was I supposed to lay with him? Any move he made, I would’ve analyzed. Or, who knew? Maybe I was channeling Willow again, because that was what she would’ve been doing.
Willow told me all about her first time. She freaked out, but she never showed it. Not in front of her boyfriend, not in front of the guy she’d been dating at that time, not even in front of her friends. I saw the freak-outs. They were behind closed doors. Always behind closed doors.
Goddamn. Duke’s abs were like a seven-layer cake I could lick all day, but he was as dumb as the barbells he used in the gym.
I almost sighed and thought to her, Thank you, Wills, for reminding me.
Happy to help. You’re going on this whole memory-lane journey. I want to clean it up, make sure you’re using my language and not yours.
Yes. Thank you. I was not serious.
A rush of heat swept through me. Ryan had been staring at me the whole time I talked to Willow in my head.
I was going insane. “Totally fine. Let’s go.” Opening my door and jumping out, I took in Kirk’s house.
The driveway curved up and around a hill and there was a Spanish-style fence outlining a large yard. The house looked Spanish, too, and it had with brightly colored tiles and a veranda in front. Large, neatly trimmed bushes ran up and down the length of the yard.
Kirk’s house was huge, but I wasn’t surprised. They had a cleaning lady and a butler, and as Ryan predicted, neither seemed surprised nor disapproving as we all traipsed in.
“Thanks, Mitchell.” Kirk clapped the butler on the shoulder.
His dark blue suit didn’t seem to move under the touch, and he barely blinked an eye. He had one of those faces that might’ve been warm and friendly if he smiled. He didn’t. His face seemed encased in plastic, like if he smiled it would break the whole thing. I placed him around sixty, with silvery graying hair, perfectly combed in place.
“Will your guests be staying for dinner?” he asked.
Ryan opened his mouth, but Kirk said, “Yes, and we’d like to have a full-course meal from Joann’s delivered.”
That got a reaction.
Mitchell blinked a few times. The muscle near his mouth twitched and then . . . nothing. The mask was back in place, like he’d magically gotten a dose of Botox.
“Very well.” He disappeared down a hallway.
I watched him go. I saw his shoes touch the tiled floor, but heard not a sound. How was that even possible? Willow could take haunting lessons from him.
She snorted. The stiff has nothing on me.
Kirk led the way to the back. He hit a button and two walls on the end slid open, revealing the pool. Parts of the backyard were outside, but parts were indoors with glass walls separating them. There were benches made out of blue and white tiles, but there were also couches and lounge chairs with cushions on them. Two different grills sat on opposite ends of the deck, and the whole thing was covered in cobblestones.
The backyard was massive.
Kirk went to a refrigerator and hollered over his shoulder, “Who wants a beer?”
Nick moved past me, grunting. “If we’re going to skip, let’s do it the proper way.”
Kirk threw him an almost evil grin, and I was surprised to see Nick’s eyes darken, matching it.
Putting the beer away, Kirk pulled out a tequila bottle instead. Grabbing five shot glasses, he held it in the air. “Tequila it is.”
Ryan groaned. “This is not a good idea.”
“Come on, lover boy.” Kirk’s eyes narrowed, passing to me before moving back to his best friend. “What? You think you’re the only one who can be the bad boy? Move aside, buddy. I was your partner in crime before. I’m claiming my place again.”
Ryan laughed. He was close enough that I could feel the tension ease from his body. “Fair enough.” He moved ahead, his arm brushing mine. “All right. Let’s do this the proper way, hmmm?”
Nick frowned. “What’s the proper way to take a tequila shot?”
Kirk and Ryan shared a grin as Kirk bent, bringing out salt and limes from the fridge.
Ryan narrated as Kirk poured tequila into all five glasses.
“Salt that hand.”
“Down the shot.”
Kirk drank it in one gulp.
“And suck on the lime.”
“Holy shit!” Kirk spat out the lime, wincing and shaking his head. “Now that’s the right way to do a shot.” He pushed all the ingredients toward Nick. “You’re next.”
Nick eyed everything warily. “We’re going to be hurting by tonight, aren’t we?”
Ryan laughed. “Did you really see any other ending for one of Kirk’s skip days?”
Nick groaned as he reached for the salt. “You’re right. God. This is going to hurt.” He poured it over his hand and eyed Ryan at the same time. “You aren’t on the football team, but I am. I was supposed to have practice today.”
“Convert. Join the basketball team with me.”
Kirk started laughing.
Nick grumbled before licking his hand. “I’m on that too.” He made a face as he grabbed the shot, downed in, and planted a lime in his mouth. “Goddamn! That burns.”
He moved back, still grimacing, and then it was Ryan’s turn.
There were no words or pauses. He took the shot like a pro and had no reaction afterward. It was as if he drank water. I couldn’t decide if that was alarming or if it turned me on. Either way, it was my turn.
Three sets of male eyes settled on me.
This was what I wanted: another way to escape my life.
I reached for the salt, and the world melted away.
This scene should’ve made me nervous, right? Drinking tequila in the middle of the day with three guys I barely knew? This never would’ve happened a year ago. I would’ve been in school, talking with friends, and griping about soccer practice.
But that was then, and things had changed.
I wanted to do this.
I felt Willow at my side. Come on, Mac. This is stupid. Getting drunk? Really? You already had sex. I mean, how many more cliché ways can you rebel against—
I blocked her out, pouring the salt. I licked it and then took the shot. Ryan held out a lime, but I ignored it. I reached for him instead and fused my mouth to his.
Yes! There was the burn I wanted, and after a thorough kiss, I reached for the salt again.
I heard the guys saying something, and I felt Ryan’s surprise, but he was behind me. His hand fell to my waist and tightened there. I could sense him thinking of saying something to stop me, but I shook my head, and his grip softened.
I took a second shot, ignoring the lime once again and fully turning into Ryan’s arms.
He was waiting for me this time, and as his mouth opened over mine, I was aware of him pulling me away from the others. He kept kissing me, licking, tasting, teasing until suddenly the sounds of the water, of Kirk and Nick, all fell away. Darkness surrounded us. We were in a building, and when Ryan reached for the light switch, I stopped him.
“No.” I grabbed him, pulling him back, and he pressed me into a wall.
His mouth became more urgent, more demanding.
My body grew heated, and as my head fell back, gasping for breath, I knew this was what I had hoped to be doing today instead of sitting in class.
I wanted to get lost with the
I didn’t want Kirk and Nick there. I wanted to be alone with Ryan, and as his mouth fell to my throat, I could tell he felt the same way. His hips pressed into mine, and I could feel him wanting me.
With a growl, his hands caught my hips, and he ground into me.
A knock came on the door. “Horny lovebirds!”
Kirk stood outside the door, and he gave two more knocks before Ryan pulled away.
Growling, he jerked the door open an inch. “What?”
A smug snicker came from the other side. “You two can get it on later. Today’s my day.”
Ryan wasn’t amused. “Your skip days are usually about getting high, drunk, and/or laid.”
I caught a quick flicker of a grin on Ryan’s face before he masked it and moved farther away from me. His hand still rested on my waist, but once my hot flashes had subsided, I enjoyed watching this exchange play out on Ryan’s face.
He loved Kirk. That was obvious, but he was wary of him. Still, he was becoming more open to whatever Kirk was going to say. His hand had relaxed on my waist, and since we were at his friend’s house, I thought maybe the right thing was to cool our lust jets a bit. But once we were alone again? Hell yes, I’d be jumping Ryan.
And you still think you aren’t trying to be me?
I stiffened, hearing Willow’s mocking tone. I ignored her.
I’m you, Mac. You can’t ignore me, and you know it. That’s like you ignoring yourself.
I gritted my teeth and caught Ryan glancing at me.
I can ignore myself all I want, I shot back and shoved toward the door—and out of Ryan’s hold.
“Wha—” Ryan watched me stalk past Kirk, who shifted quickly out of the way.
I went back to the tequila bottle, saw a shot already poured, and downed it. Salt be damned. I still didn’t need the lime either.
And goddamn—that burned. I felt it this time, and that meant I needed another one. I was reaching for my fourth shot when I felt another presence beside me.
Goddamn Willow. She was never going to leave me alone.
“So, not to be blunt in an offensive way, but . . .”
I looked up. Nick was staring at the shot in my hands like he could see a worm in it.
His eyes flicked up to mine. “But your damage is your sister, right?”
It took a second for his question to penetrate. The booze was starting to fog everything. I blinked at him. “What?”
“I mean . . .” He coughed, turning around to rest against the table. He gestured over his shoulder to Ryan and Kirk, still talking outside the pool shed. “Kirk’s damage is his parents’ divorce, and his dad is hardly ever around. Ryan’s damage is losing his best friend close to two years ago, and yours is your sister, right?”
My hand felt like punching him.
I scowled. “Yeah. That. No big deal.” My tone was biting.
He paused, and then a crooked grin formed. “Oh. Sorry.” He straightened from the table, his hand running through his hair. “I’m not trying to be a jerk—”
He didn’t blink. “I wanted to ask because I didn’t want to assume anything. My sister says I do both. I’m a jerk, and I assume too much.”
“I might love your sister.”
He laughed, easing back to rest against the table again. “I know we’ve all been hanging out for a while, but since you and Ryan are obviously more than fooling around, I figured I should try to get to know you a bit. You know, one on one.”
I took the shot, dropped the glass on the table, and moved away from him. Without breaking stride, I said, “That’s weird.”
Four shots. Dear Tequila Lord, please work more. I don’t want to feel anything anymore.
He followed me toward the pool. “My sister says I’m that too.”
Nick mostly stuck to conversation with Kirk and Ryan. If he wasn’t talking to them, chances were high he was ragging on Tom. He rarely talked to me, and I could see why. I was on edge, and I knew he had a mean streak in him, so I was thinking this combination wasn’t a smart one.
I called to Kirk, “You have bathing suits around here?”
Kirk pointed inside the pool shed. “In here. Marie keeps everything washed, so if it’s on the floor, just leave it. It hasn’t been cleaned yet.” He hit Ryan’s shoulder and jerked his head backward. “Come on. Let’s take another shot.”
He stepped aside as I came over to them. His words were for Ryan, but he was watching me. “I don’t want to lose you in there with your girlfriend again. Who knows when the two of you will come back out.”
I stopped right between the two. I could feel Ryan behind me, and I knew he was going to touch me. And in three, two, one, his hand came to rest on the small of my back.
I suppressed one of the good shivers and forced myself not to lean back against him. It would’ve been so easy.
Instead, I fixed Kirk with a glare. “Tsk, tsk. You’re coming across as jealous.”
Kirk’s smug grin vanished. His eyes widened, and he straightened. “That isn’t what I meant.”
“Still.” God forbid we didn’t play by Kirk’s rules for how he wanted the skip day to happen. I winced inwardly at the amount of anger I felt.
I didn’t like being chastised by Kirk, but I also didn’t like the way I was acting.
I could feel Ryan’s gaze on me as I shut the door with him outside. He was saying something to Kirk, and I recognized reproach in his tone. I leaned back and let out a deep breath.
Good God, what was I doing?
Skipping. Taking four shots of tequila. Making out with Ryan and smarting back at his best friend? Being snide to his other friend?
Reaching behind me, I locked the door and slid down, my head hanging between my legs. One moment. I needed one goddamn moment for everything to settle.
Willow sat next to me. It’s only going to get worse, twin sister.
I have nothing better to do. I check in with Robbie, and he’s sad, but he’s at least grieving me in the right way.
Was I going to indulge in this? Yes. Apparently, I was. What are you talking about?
He cries, but then he goes and plays with his friends. When he feels the grief, he stops and feels it. He doesn’t deny it like you do.
I couldn’t. She didn’t understand. If I let it come—I shook my head and pushed myself back to my feet. I couldn’t have this conversation, real or not. If I let any of it in, I’d be crushed. It was a mountain of raw, blistering pain, and I wouldn’t come out intact.
She didn’t know. She didn’t understand. No one did.
Ryan's Bed by Tijan / Romance & Love have rating 5 out of 5 / Based on50 votes