Ryans bed, p.31
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       Ryan's Bed, p.31


  Stephanie’s place at school—except for the bullying. I was very adamant that she couldn’t do that, and she agreed.

  She still somehow managed to rule with intimidation, though.

  Cora and Kirk became exclusive after that party.

  Nick and Pete hit on Zoe and Gianna before moving on to hit on other girls. There were no more wrestling matches, that night.

  And Tom and Peach kissed, blushed, and held hands whenever they could.

  The next day, I met Zoe and Gianna for breakfast before they went home. It still hurt that they hadn’t been there for me in the beginning, but they’d been a part of my life for so long, and they loved Willow too. Plus, I was trying to be someone Willow would have been proud of. Yes, she’d told me so many times that she was proud of me, but I didn’t fully believe her. I was still trying. And that meant meeting Duke and Serena too.

  It was harder to talk to them than it was to talk to Zoe and Gianna. They knew Willow in ways I hadn’t: as her friend, as her cheerleading accomplice and confidante, as her lover. And seeing them unable to hold back tears unleashed mine as well.

  It was an awkward feeling to sit in that booth, first with Zoe and Gianna, and then with Duke and Serena as we all cried. But we were all mourning Willow, and for that I was grateful.

  I was surrounded by people who loved her too. This was how it should’ve been from the beginning.

  After that they all went back to Arizona, but I did talk to Zoe and Gianna more regularly.

  And as for me and Ryan, well . . .

  Five months later

  Two hundred fifty-three pieces later

  With his mouth fused to mine, Ryan pushed me back against the shower wall. Our hands clasped together, and he pinned them above my head before bending to my shoulder and scraping his teeth against my skin.

  I gasped as he plunged into me.

  He took my weight, and his left hand let go of mine to drop to my thigh. He gripped me there as he sank even deeper inside me.


  This guy.

  Pleasure built and built low in my belly, and I used my free hand to hold on to him, sinking my fingers into his hair.

  The shower beat down on us, but Ryan shielded me, taking most of the water. A slight mist coated my face, and as I drew in oxygen, I drank in some water too.

  We had been together for almost a year. In forty-three days, it’d be the anniversary of Willow’s death—the same day I’d first crawled into Ryan’s bed. I’d gone through hell this last year, but he’d been with me the whole time.

  I trailed my fingers down his back, feeling his muscles shifting as he thrust in and out, keeping a steady rhythm.

  He bent forward, dropping his lips to my nipple and sucking.

  I closed my eyes, feeling desire and the momentum building in me. I wanted him. I wanted him harder, deeper, and in the whole year, that hadn’t lessened. If anything, I craved him more and more. Like tonight—we were going to prom later, but I’d stepped into the shower, knowing I had to feel him before we endured a night of mere touches and the whisper of being together.

  All eyes would be on us.

  All eyes would be on him. He’d be voted prom king, which was no shock to anyone. There was a prom queen, and there were rumors it would be me, but I doubted that. I’d only moved there a year ago. It didn’t seem right, even though I was Ryan’s girlfriend. I wasn’t the most liked girl in the grade. But knowing everyone would be watching Ryan made me almost desperate to feel him first. I wanted to remind myself that he was mine, only mine. I wanted to feel him moving inside me, and I wanted to see him watching me the way he did when he took me at night.

  I looked up to find him watching me once again.

  His eyes were dark, heavy, primal.

  Adjusting our bodies, he lifted me higher against the shower wall and began going harder. He was claiming me.

  Pulling my hand free from his, I wrapped my arms around his neck, bending forward to kiss his throat.

  He groaned, the sound rumbling deep, as his other hand found my hip. He slammed me against the tile, going harder and rougher.

  I laid my head back, gasping in more breath as I tried to ride with him, but this was for him. He held me captive as he ground into me. An onslaught of pleasure assaulted me, and I sank into it. Hell, I felt half-drunk from this. All I could do was hold on to him until I felt my climax coming.

  “Ryan,” I gasped. My fingers bit into his back, my nails scraping his skin. “I’m going to come.”

  He slowed, grunting. “Not yet. Not.” Thrust. “Goddamn.” Thrust. “Yet.” Thrust, and then he tensed, his hands tightening on me to almost bruising pressure. “Now.” And he exploded.

  I let go, the climax crashing into me, making my body jerk and shake.

  He held me the whole time, waiting until both our bodies had calmed before carrying me out of the shower. My legs remained wrapped around his hips, and I clung tightly to him and rested my head on his shoulder.

  He ran a soothing hand down my very wet back and took me into my bedroom.

  “Fuck.” I sighed as he laid me down and then eased out of me.

  He laughed, skimming a hand down my side before following the motion with his lips.

  I ran my hand through his hair and then down his shoulders and arms as he moved back up, bracing himself above me. His eyes found mine, still so dark.

  “You okay?”

  I nodded. “Yes.” My hand cupped the side of his face. “I’m good. You?”

  He nodded, falling down to kiss me again before settling onto the bed next to me. “Shit.”


  “I don’t want to go tonight.”

  I laughed, curling on my side and kissing his shoulder. “Ship’s sailed on that one, Prom King.”

  He groaned again, catching my hand and tugging me until I straddled him. “Yeah?”


  I matched his grin, both of us still riding the wave we’d just created in the shower. I was naked, and as his eyes trailed down my body, I tipped my head back. My hair had grown longer over the last year. I didn’t have the heart to cut it. Willow always kept hers long, and I wanted it like hers tonight, though mine was darker. I felt the tips of it grazing my back, and it felt nice, but more than that, I enjoyed the feel of his eyes on me.

  I knew, even before looking, that they’d be lust-filled, dark, carnal. As if on command, I felt him twitch under me again. He was growing hard, and unable to stop myself, I reached down for him.

  “Holy shit, Mac.” A guttural moan ripped from him, and he tensed under my hand. His hands went to my hips, but he didn’t move me. I had him in the palm of my hand.

  I began to rub him, making him even harder. “So if you’re named prom king, we both know another girl will probably be prom queen.”

  He began to pant heavily as I stroked his length. “Can we talk about this some other time?”

  “No.” I grinned, enjoying the power I had over him. I touched the tip of him, pausing there. “You’ll have to dance with this other girl.”

  “Goddamn, Mac.” His chest rose up and down. His eyes were starting to go wild. “I’m going to get you back. You know that.”

  I was hoping for it.

  I kept sliding my hand over him. “And when you dance with this other girl, you aren’t going to like it.” I held him, squeezing just slightly. “Right?”

  He was almost trembling, and he shook his head. “No. Hell no.” His fingers sank into me, flexing. “Keep fucking going.”

  So I did, but this time, I scooted back and bent to take him in my mouth. His entire body paused, his hands in my hair. I could’ve kept going, but I didn’t want to torture him. At least not yet. I’d wait until after the dance, after Kirk’s after-prom party when we were alone again. Then I’d torture him all night long.

  He didn’t wait long. Once my mouth settled over him and I began moving up and down, his hands fisted until he was ripping me away. He flipped me over
, and grabbing my leg, he raised it over his upper arm and then slid inside, sheathing himself deep.

  I sucked in a breath, letting the air out through my teeth at the sensations. Goddamn. That felt so good.

  “Now you were saying?” He smirked at me, pushing deeper in before sliding out, only to go back in.

  I sighed, letting the waves of torment roll in, and a half hour later, after he put on a condom, he had me whimpering and biting my lip to keep from screaming. Then my entire body went slack.

  Afterward, he curled against my body and kissed my neck. “There’s no one else I want to dance with,” he whispered, his hand palming my breast. “It’s only you.” He kissed me again, his thumb grazing my nipple. “Only you, Mac.”

  I already knew this. I’d known this all year, but it felt good to hear because I felt the same. There’d be no one else.

  Closing my eyes, I murmured, “Good, because I love you.”

  His arms tightened around me. “I love you too.”

  Thirteen pieces just fit back together, all at the same time.

  “Your hair is so much darker now,” Cora said, putting her eyeliner down on the counter.

  We were getting ready at my house. Ryan had left, going to dress at his place, and he’d texted not long afterward to say the guys were already drinking there.

  “Yeah.” I pushed up some of the loose tendrils, patting them back into place. It wasn’t that much darker, but I had put more brunette coloring in it. There were still some blonde, but I didn’t want to look exactly like Willow tonight. I wanted to be me, and as I gazed in the mirror—I was me. I was Willow, but I was me too.

  “And Ryan cut his hair short. I can’t believe he did that. He’s always had it where he could make it all messy.”

  I didn’t smile; I heard the envy in her voice.

  Cora was happy with Kirk, but she’d been harping on him to cut his hair too. Once she saw Ryan’s new crew cut and how ridiculously hot it made him look, she started in. She hadn’t been the only one. Peach had jumped on the bandwagon, asking Tom to cut his hair. Both guys refused, letting their hair grow even longer. Kirk’s had grown to just past his ears, and Tom was closely resembling a shaggy dog these days.

  Ryan had cut his for the summer. He was starting a new basketball training camp, and he didn’t want to deal with too much hair and heat. I’d liked his messiness too. It always looked adorable on him, but I couldn’t deny the spark I felt when he got back from the haircut place. It made him seem so much more grown-up, more of a man.

  “Erin said Stephanie Witts is hoping for prom queen.” Cora lifted her hand, inspecting her nails.

  She missed the slight wince I couldn’t contain.

  It wasn’t the prom queen thing. I didn’t want it, but it’d become a sore spot over the last month. Erin, Cora, Peach, and all of their friends had been campaigning for me to win. I told them not to, but I knew they kept doing it. So, I started telling people to vote for Cora. She was the one who really wanted it, and after her transformation this year—from being one of the shiest girls in our grade to one of the most well-liked girls—she deserved it.

  Not me. That was for sure.

  I eyed her lilac-colored dress, the matching dusting of purple eye shadow, and the tiniest bit of glitter on her neck. “Have a speech ready,” I told her.

  Her eyes opened wide, meeting mine in the mirror. She quickly looked away, focusing on the bathroom counter. “You know that won’t happen.” But I could see her cheeks flushing.

  “Right,” I replied.

  The doorbell rang, and pounding footsteps told me Robbie was running for the front door.

  We looked to the door of my room, as if the guys would appear instantly, and a second later, we heard their voices. We grinned, glancing at each other.

  Our men had arrived.

  “Mac!” Robbie yelled from downstairs. “Ryan and Doofus are here!”

  We heard Kirk grumbling, “It’s Kirk, Little Dickwad.”

  That was another change over the year. Kirk and Robbie had developed this odd friendship. Kirk teased my little brother, and Robbie called him names. Ryan explained one night that Robbie reminded Kirk of Derek, and that silenced any concern I might’ve had about the situation.

  “Ryan and Major Doofus are here!” Robbie added.

  “Coming down!” I called back. “You ready?” I asked Cora.

  She took a breath, staring at the mirror.

  Her hair had been curled and was loose over her shoulders. Her makeup was on point. Everything was done up, complete with the mani and pedi we’d gotten yesterday. I’d had to touch-up my nails after this afternoon, but they were fine.

  “Yeah. Ready.”

  “You look beautiful,” I assured her.

  “Thank you.” She turned, taking me in, and a soft, awestruck expression came over her. I knew she’d been paying attention mostly to herself, which was understandable. She had the nerves, whereas I didn’t.

  That wasn’t true.

  I was nervous, just not for the same reasons as Cora.

  I wasn’t secretly hoping to win prom queen. And I knew she was nervous for Kirk’s after-party, but she hadn’t confided that in me.

  “You look—”

  I had to ask, and I reached for her hand. “Are you thinking of having sex with Kirk tonight?”

  I noticed a shadow in the hallway at the same time I blurted that out, and I grimaced. But Cora was looking only at me, so she didn’t see Ryan pause and then silently retreat.

  “I . . .” She was back to picking at the counter. “I don’t know. We talked about it.”

  I couldn’t stop my frown. “At his party, though?”

  “I know.” She shrugged, looking to the side and biting her lip. “He’ll be drinking. He’s already drinking, but I don’t know. I want to. I mean, he does too, but I think I’m just ready to stop worrying about it. If it feels right, I want to.”

  “Do you love him?”

  All the self-consciousness in her vanished at my question. Her head came up. Her shoulders straightened.

  “Yes. I love him.”

  It was the most confident response I’d ever gotten from her.

  “Some people wait for marriage,” I blurted that out—I have no idea why. “You could wait, if you’re one of those people.”

  “Are you?” Her mouth turned down.

  “No. Ryan and I—we already . . .”

  “That’s what I thought.” She lifted her shoulder. “I know why you’re saying this, because I do think like that, but I love him. And I don’t know. I don’t want to get married till I’m in my thirties, and I don’t want to wait that long.”


  Shit. What was my problem? I understood what she was saying. But I felt like I had to say this to her—like I had to say to her what Willow would’ve said to me. Cora hadn’t said a word about sex, but Ryan had said Kirk had stocked up on condoms. It wasn’t a big leap for me to go from there.

  “Do you regret it? Having sex with Ryan?”

  I looked up, but I didn’t see his shadow in the hallway. He might’ve been standing to the side, or he could’ve gone all the way downstairs, but I didn’t lie when I said, “No. I regret not having my sister here, but that’s it.”

  She jerked back. “I forgot about your sister.”

  My throat burned. “You didn’t know her.”

  “But still.” Her gaze lingered on my dress and then moved up to take me in. A wistful look softened her face. “You look really gorgeous, Mackenzie. I can’t imagine your sister being more
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