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Sample includes adult content - 18+ recommended.

Chapter 1

Mia

 

 

Heaven.

Every person has a different idea of what that would be.

Mine?

Mine was right here, in Aspen, curled up on the sofa in front of a warm, crackling fire with a soft, fluffy blanket and my Kindle.

Okay, so the howling wind outside the window was k*lling the ambience a little, but considering this had been the first chance I’d had to be alone in the last three days, I wasn’t going to complain. I was just thankful Aiden, my twin brother, had convinced me to come.

I almost hadn’t. This kind of thing was a big deal to me. I didn’t do . . . people. Well, lots of people. Together. At one time. In one place. It was too overwhelming for me. Let’s just say I had anxiety issues, and the result of me being amongst lots of noisy people was never a good one.

But this trip was important. It was a celebration, and considering my brother was just about to hit the big time, I didn’t want to start it off by letting him down.

Okay, so when I say he was about to hit the big time, I mean his band, Fighting Fate, was about to hit the big time. He and his three closest friends had somehow just become the latest Internet sensation, and ‘things’ were happening.

Don’t ask me what things—I have no idea. They’d been uploading their songs to YouTube for ages, but it seemed one had caught fire and gone viral. Now they had offers for G*d knows what, coming in from who knows where. All I knew was they’d just signed on with an agent or something, and it was time to celebrate. With people.

Before you ask why I would subject myself to being around a bunch of noisy people, knowing full well it would make me so anxious, I just have to say, in my defense, Aiden had promised me the others would be out skiing every day, and partying every night.

He didn’t exactly lie. Not entirely. He just didn’t mention the possibility of everybody having different schedules, constantly coming and going like they were participating in some kind of tag-team event and bringing hordes of new found friends home with them.

So far, I’d managed pretty well, but I had my limits, and I was getting very close to reaching them. As I gazed around the currently empty room, I felt my inner calm slowly returning. Tonight, they’d all gotten dressed and filed out the door together, and from the sound of their excited chatter, they were in for a long night out.

Lying there, listening to the soft pops of the crackling fire, I had to admit I was a little surprised the guys had managed to pull the whole trip off. The only reason most of us were allowed to go at all was the fact that Amy’s uncle owned the house we were staying at, and he was supposed to be staying in the house next door—also his—to keep an eye on us, but we had yet to see him or any activity next door.

With a sigh and a stretch of contentment, I smiled and snuggled deeper into my blanket, but before I could even finish the page I was reading, the front door was thrown open with such force, it slammed against the wall, making the pictures rattle.

My gaze darted to the tall, dark-haired figure that abruptly swung in through the opening and shoved the door shut after him.

“F**k me! It’s blowing a gale out there!”

I waited for my heart to disconnect itself from my throat before taking in the hottest guy I’d ever known. Don’t judge me. It was entirely true. At six foot two, with dark, almost black hair, deeply tanned skin, vibrant blue eyes, and a body that looked like it was carved from stone, Jace Wallace was like a freaking Greek Adonis.

With wide eyes, I watched him carefully shake the fine white powder from his hair before he started to brush it off his coat. When he finished, his gaze came up to meet mine, and for the first time ever, I allowed myself to look into those gorgeous, mind-altering eyes.

After a hot minute of me forgetting he was a real person and staring like a creeper, I blinked. Apparently, that’s what happens the first time you lock gazes with a Greek Adonis. My heart kind of flat-lined before stuttering back to life again.

I know. It was pathetic, but there you have it. Jace Wallace was like my very own form of kryptonite. He made me weaker than anything else I’d ever come across and all that cr*p. Unfortunately for me, he was also one of my brother’s best friends and bandmate.

And he barely knew I existed.

You might ask how that was even possible since he’d been at my house practically every weekend for the last five years, but I have one word for you: anxiety.

Okay, so it wasn’t really the anxiety that made me hide every time Aiden had friends over, but it was anxiety’s fault I avoided people in the first place, ultimately turning me into some shy girl who had no idea how to communicate confidently with the human population.

Breaking his gaze, Jace frowned and stepped farther into the room, throwing his keys onto the table by the door. I took the opportunity to look at him while I could. Out of all the guys in the band, Jace was the one who looked most like a rock star. It wasn’t just his appearance, even though, with all his hard lines, chiseled contours, rippling abs, and that perfectly shaped V that disappeared into his jeans, he most certainly did fit the bill. He just had this way about him. A confidence that drew people to him.

He also had a certain raw determination. A need to succeed. It was there in the strong set of his jaw and the resolute way he stood, as though daring anyone to just try to tear him down.

But sometimes, when he didn’t think anyone was watching, I saw a fragility within him. A sensitivity that seemed to cry out for nurturing. It was only fleeting. A look he got deep in his eyes, but it was that tiny little crack in his armor that made me the hopeless, pathetic fangirl I was.

I watched him shake himself off further as he moved closer to the fireplace. Sliding my Kindle onto the coffee table, I stretched and forced myself to engage in conversation, which was a lot harder than it might sound.

“Aren’t you staying out with the others?”

The smile he gave me was one I’d seen on numerous occasions but never once directed at me. “Yeah. We just finished dinner, so I thought I should bring Mark’s truck back before we went out. I wasn’t really comfortable leaving it there overnight.”

Mark was Jace’s stepdad, and I knew for a fact he wouldn’t have cared about his truck getting damaged. Just as long as Jace was okay. “You should’ve told me,” I said without pause. “I could’ve driven you all out. I wouldn’t have minded.”

His smile turned sheepish. “I didn’t really think.”

It was the bashful look that did me in. It really shouldn’t have worked on someone so hot, but d**n.

It always amazed me how different all the guys acted behind closed doors. They were all really sweet, despite their potty mouths, but get them on a stage and they were the most arrogant pricks you’d ever see.

The lead singer, Dean, wasn’t as bad as the others. He had a kind of s*xy sensitivity that drove girls crazy. Because of that, his girlfriend, Lila, was the most envied girl I knew. Personally, I thought she was a manipulative b**ch. To me, it was obvious she wasn’t with Dean because she loved him.

Dean, on the other hand, was head over heels. Sunk. He didn’t even look at other girls. It was a disaster waiting to happen, and I knew when it did, it would either break the band completely, or they’d get some really good songs out of it. I hoped for the latter.

“Do you want me to drive you back?” I asked, thinking about how amazing it would feel being in a confined space with him.

His gaze turned toward the window, and he frowned. “The weather’s getting pretty nasty out there. I don’t think it’s a good idea for either you or Mark’s truck to be out in that. Thanks for asking, though. I’ll just call a taxi.”

I nodded, then watched him disappear down the hall toward the bedrooms before quietly slapping my palm against my forehead. Arrrhhh! What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just flirt like every other girl on the planet? I was so pathetic!

Sighing, I threw back the blanket and pushed myself to my feet. The second I stood, though, my balance was thrown. Confusion set in as I stumbled to the side, reaching my hands out to grab hold of anything that would stop me from falling down. What the?

It was only after I’d latched onto the arm of the sofa that I noticed the haunting sound of rumbling in the distance, and I suddenly realized the reason I’d lost my balance was because the floor had been shaking.

Jace rushed back from the hall. “Are you okay?”

I looked at him, my brain a little dazed. “Yeah. What was that?”

He continued coming closer until he was standing beside me. “I have a feeling it was an avalanche.”

My eyes widened. “Oh, wow. Really?”

He was frowning, his expression thoughtful, but before he could say anything else, his cell started ringing. I watched him answer, totally wrapped up in the sensation of being so close to him. I was sure it was the closest we’d ever been. I leaned forward a fraction and inhaled deeply, trying to take in his scent.

Transfixed, I watched him as he gazed at the fire, one side of his mouth creeping up as he listened to his cell. “You’re missing me?”

I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say reality can really be a b**ch sometimes, and this time, she really slapped me in the face.

I didn’t need to hear the high sing-song voice through his cell’s speaker to know who it was. Kacey. She wasn’t his girlfriend. Jace didn’t do girlfriends, but it was obvious from the way they’d been flirting with each other since they’d arrived in Aspen that Kacey was in line to be his next . . . whatever he called them these days.

With a slight pout, I took a step back, then my own cell started to ring. Scooping it up off the coffee table, I caught my brother’s name on the screen before answering it and stepping closer to the fire. “Aiden, are you all right?”

Aiden laughed in my ear. “Yeah, I’m fine, baby girl. I was worried about you. Is everything okay there? Is Jace with you?”

I looked up at the dark figure by the couch. He was looking right back at me as he listened on his own cell. “Yeah, he’s here. Do you know what happened?”

“Apparently, there was a small avalanche on one of the runs. Nothing bad, but there’s talk that the road back to the cabin might be cut off.”

“Oh, okay. I’ll—” I broke off as the lights began to flicker, then suddenly went out. “Oh, cr*p!”

Aiden went on sudden alert. “What?”

“The lights just went out.” I looked back at Jace, who was now off the phone. I was glad the fire was burning brightly.

“What’s Jace doing?” he demanded.

“I don’t know.” Tucking my cell under my chin, I said to Jace, “Aiden wants to know what you’re doing.”

“Tell him I’ll stay here until we know what’s going on.”

Lifting it back up, I went to relay the message, but Aiden was already way ahead of me. “Yeah, I heard. I’ll go try to find out what’s happening and I’ll call you back, okay?”

“Call Jace. I’m going to turn my cell off to conserve power, just in case.”

“Good idea. I’ll talk to you soon, then. See ya, baby girl.”

I ended the call and switched off my cell before placing it back on the coffee table and heading straight for the back door. I wanted to bring in as much firewood as I could. Just in case.

With a flashlight tucked awkwardly under my chin, I’d just bent down to pick up the first log when Jace appeared beside me. “Here, load me up.”

I gazed at his outstretched arms for a split second before beginning to pile as many logs as I could on them. We worked quickly, getting all the logs inside and stacked by the back door in hardly any time at all.

With the door firmly closed from the wind, I looked down at my dirty shirt and arms. “I might go have a shower,” I mumbled.

“Yeah, good idea. Who knows if there’ll be any hot water tomorrow.”

I gave him a horrified look and shuddered. Was he trying to scare me?

 

Chapter 2

Jace

 

 

Not good.

Soooo not good.

My body was frozen, and unfortunately, it wasn’t from the f**king cold. I would’ve happily taken the biting chill of the blizzard outside than this.

The curse that slipped out told me how much trouble I was in as I watched the soft, round curves of Mia’s a** disappearing down the hall to the bathroom.

The sound of the door clicking shut was the only thing that seemed to release me from the h*ll I’d suddenly found myself in, and with a slight discomfort in my jeans, I forced myself to walk in the opposite direction. Down, boy.

After lighting some gas lanterns I’d found in a cupboard, I stood in the middle of the kitchen, leaning my hands on the bench, and tried to work out what the f**k just happened. I’d known Aiden for almost five years, been at his house practically every weekend, known he had a twin sister, seen her in passing every now and again. But I’d never actually seen her, if you know what I mean.

Jesus Christ. Those eyes! I didn’t think I’d ever seen anyone with eyes that color. I didn’t know whether to call them blue or green. They were bewitching. My mind went utterly blank when she looked at me back in the living room.

I mean, I’d had chicks go on about my eyes before, but plenty of people had eyes my color. It was only my dark hair that made them seem unusual. Mia’s, though . . .

Groaning, I pushed away from the counter. I had to get a grip. There was no way I could go there. Not only because Aiden was my best friend, but because I didn’t chase chicks. I didn’t do the whole girlfriend thing. It was the one rule I made sure never to break.

A picture of Mia’s firm little a** in those ridiculously s*xy yoga shorts came unbidden to my mind. Son of a f**king b**ch, but she was hot. I wondered how many guys had touched that. I growled at the thought. I so didn’t want to think about that.

Grabbing a can of bourbon out of the fridge, I walked back into the living room and sat on the edge of the coffee table, chugging a quarter of the can in a vain attempt to numb my mind.

Shaking my head, I tried to get my thoughts to focus on Kacey instead. That was where they should’ve been. It was obvious she wanted me, but she’d also been playing hard to get, which was another thing I didn’t do. Like I said: I didn’t chase girls. It was part of my code of conduct. Chasing girls would contradict the whole I-don’t-do-girlfriends thing. If you chased a girl, she automatically thought you liked her enough to keep her around.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t use and dump. After what I saw my mother go through with my a**hole of a father, I made d**n sure I was respectful to all women. The fact was, every girl I was with knew the score. She did the chasing. I was honest with what I was after. And if she was cool with that, we went with it.

You might think that makes me sound like a d**k, but I didn’t have anything else to give. The ability to trust and love freely had been taken away from me by a man who had once called himself my father. I’d worked hard over the years to free myself from the hold his words had on me, and I wasn’t about to give that up again. Ever.

The sound of the shower turning off, followed by a muffled clunk, drew my attention and I groaned, balling my hands into fists. D**n it, now all I could think about was Mia’s n*k*d body, dripping wet.

Motherf**king h*ll.

Chugging another mouthful, I placed the can down beside me and reached for my guitar instead. If anything was going to have the ability to distract me from this, it was music, but for some reason, I wasn’t too sure it would this time.

 

Chapter 3

Mia

 

 

I stepped from the shower, freshly washed, shampooed, shaved, and scrubbed. I hadn’t been taking any chances during that shower. If there was even the slightest possibility that there could be no hot water tomorrow, there was no way I was going to have hairy or greasy anything. I just hoped I hadn’t missed anything. Showering by candlelight was more difficult than I’d anticipated.

Wrapping myself in a massive, fluffy towel, I grabbed a smaller one off the shelf and quickly started drying my hair, trying to mop up the drips still falling from the ends. I was just starting to get more vigorous with the whole drying process when I heard another low rumbling in the distance. I froze.

Oh, for the love of G*d! This could not be happening. Not when I was practically n*k*d. But sure enough, the ground began trembling beneath my feet. With a gasp, I reached to the side to steady myself on the towel bar. The towel I’d been drying my hair with went flying G*d knows where, and before I could think of anything else, the mirror started rattling.

Holy sh*t!

The second I saw the mirror coming toward me, I leaped back with a scream. There was nothing else I could do. I swear! It shattered on the tiled floor before me, the deafening crash echoing painfully in the tiny box of a room, spraying thousands of pieces of mirror in every direction.

The door immediately flew open and Jace was there, his eyes wild with worry. “Are you okay?”

I stood staring at him in shock. I couldn’t actually believe that’d just happened. And I’d screamed. Like, really loud.

Drawing in a deep breath, I looked down at the shattered mirror around me, inspecting my feet and legs for any signs of blood. There wasn’t any pain, so I didn’t think anything had cut me, but I wasn’t so sure of myself just then.

Seeing no signs of injury, I gazed back at Jace, who was still standing there waiting for my answer. “I . . . think so,” I said. The slight waver in my voice surprised me. I thought I was tougher than that.

“Don’t move,” Jace demanded softly.

I watched him move toward me, his boots crunching on the broken pieces of mirror as he approached. When he was a hair’s breadth away from me, he bent down and literally swept me off my feet.

Okaaaay. I hadn’t been expecting that.

The breath instantly whooshed out of my lungs, and my arms automatically reached around his neck, clinging. My heart leaped and immediately went into some weird, frantic beat. Even my breath started coming a little faster than normal.

Jace strode from the room carefully, not stopping until he’d reached the safety of the hall. There, he slowly lowered me to the ground, my back almost against the wall. He didn’t move back when I was on steady feet, but just stood there staring down at me, with me watching him right back.

D**n, he was tall. The top of my head only reached his chin.

Unblinking, I drew in a slightly shaky breath. I couldn’t seem to break his gaze. My heart was still going crazy, and I was sure the rise and fall of my chest was more than obvious. The slight pressure of his hands on my hips sent tingles all the way up my spine to my scalp.

I trembled under his gaze, frozen, like some pathetic prey caught in a hunter’s trap, too scared to move, or even breathe, in case he pounced.

Please pounce . . .

But he didn’t move. Jace looked just as frightened to move as I felt. He just stood there gazing back at me, a slight flicker of uncertainty in his otherwise hungry eyes.

That was about the time I realized I was still clinging to his neck. The idea of it confused me, and I was suddenly wondering how my arms ended up there in the first place. It then occurred to me that might be the reason he hadn’t moved back yet. Cr*p.

Smooth, Mia. Real smooth.

Just as I was trying to figure out how to make some sort of graceful exit, Jace leaned forward and kissed me.

My brain instantly went into shut-down mode. The warmth. The softness. The sweetness.

The shock of it lasted for less than a hundredth of a second before I was resurrected, and I latched onto the opportunity he was presenting me with both hands.

The kiss was slow and sensual, his bottom lip sliding softly over mine as he took a long, teasing taste of me. I shivered involuntarily and melted a little against the wall, pulling him closer. His hands tightened on my hips in response, and he pushed me harder against the wall, one of his thighs sliding in between mine.

Heat flared, and a tiny little noise rumbled in the back of my throat. D**n, that felt good. I went to push back, needing to feel more friction, but felt Jace pull away instead.

I blinked, confused by his sudden departure, but when I heard a faint ringing, I realized it was his cell. He watched me intently as he answered the call, never taking his eyes off me, or bothering to move back any farther than he already had.

“Yeah? We’re fine . . . Okay . . . Are they? . . . She’s good . . . I’ll let her know. Okay, bye.”

I knew without a doubt that was Aiden. I never got to find out what he was supposed to let me know, though, because as soon as he’d stowed his cell back in his pocket, he was kissing me again.

My response was eager, my hands finding their way around his neck again and my fingers lacing in his hair. They clenched the dark strands tightly, pulling him back into me. His hands found my hips again, then began moving upwards, his thumbs rubbing over my ribs, just beneath my br**sts.

I gasped from the sensation, breaking the kiss at the sudden overwhelming feeling, but Jace didn’t stop. He just kept nipping at my lower lip, while I panted breathlessly into his mouth. Holy!

Who needed air, anyway? Hungrily, I claimed his mouth again.

I simply couldn’t control the effect he had on my body. Now that he’d touched me, I was addicted. I wanted more. I needed more.

Pressing myself harder against him, I kissed him deeper, our tongues tangling as we eagerly tasted one another. His hands began to search more of my body, roaming down to my hips and then around to find the curve of my lower back, where he pulled me in firmly against his own needy body.

Needing to feel more of him, I started my own exploration, moving my hands down the sides of his neck, over his broad shoulders, and down his chest. Holy sh*t, the boy was ripped. I could feel every little contour of his chest and stomach through his shirt.

It wasn’t until I felt a slight coolness caress my skin that I realized the towel hadn’t stood up to the challenge of staying on my body. Whoops. The instant Jace’s hands found my bare skin, I felt a tingle of electric shocks over the entire surface of my body. I gasped. Holy mother of all that’s good . . .

Jace pulled away, a slight look of shock on his face. He gazed down at my n*k*d body, and I watched him swallow hard.

“Mia . . .” My name came out sounding a little strangled, and my pulse took off like a rocket. I pulled him to me again, claiming his mouth in my own hungry kiss. I needed to feel more of him. I needed to have his lips on me, his hands on me. Everywhere.

Jace groaned into my mouth, and in that moment, I felt like I could conquer the world. I tugged at his shirt, trying to lever it upwards and off.

Thankfully taking the hint, he shucked it off, throwing it to the floor and reclaiming my body as fast as he could. My hands went straight to his n*k*d chest. I wanted to feel those contours with nothing between us.

Our kisses turned nothing short of frantic. Jace’s hands were like magic. They moved to caress everywhere I wanted them, and when his thumbs brushed over my br**sts, catching my sensitive n****es, I was sure I was a nanosecond away from fainting.

I gasped, a strangled cry escaping me, and Jace started kissing my throat, licking and nipping his way down to my collarbone, then back up to taste the sensitive spot below my ear. I honestly had no idea I had so many spots on my body that could feel so good. My hands clenched harder and harder with each new spot he found, while I tried yet again to catch my breath.

“F**k, Mia,” he breathed between kisses. “How have I not noticed how f**king hot you are? G*d, I want you so bad right now.”

An unknown little thrill surged through my body with his words. I didn’t know what words to use to respond. It was all so new and unfamiliar to me. Instead, I pulled him harder against me and kissed him with everything I had.

Next thing I knew, Jace’s hands gripped me just below my a**, and he was lifting me upwards. Instinctively, I wrapped my legs around his hips and locked my arms around his neck. The warmth of his n*k*d chest against mine sent tingles all through my body, all of them surging toward where I needed him most.

His tongue delved into my mouth, tangling with mine and driving my need for him further than I ever thought possible. Then he was moving down the hall. How he could navigate it so well in the dark was beyond me, but I wasn’t going to stop him to ask.

The first sense of where I was came when I felt the softness of a bed underneath me. I didn’t think twice about pulling Jace down with me, the weight of him on top of me giving me a weird little thrill. I ran my hands over the hard cords of the muscles in his arms, relishing the firm lines of them all the way up to his toned shoulders.

His hips settled between my legs, and I could feel the hardness of his er**tion against me. I moaned softly. “Jace,” I whispered.

Jace’s answering groan set me off even more. “F**k, Mia. You’re k*lling me. Please say you want this . . .”

His words made me pause. Did I? I knew I was caught up in the moment—caught up in my fantasy of him, but was this the right thing? I knew I was sick of hiding. I was sick of always missing out because I was scared. I didn’t want to miss out on this.

I wasn’t stupid. I knew Jace didn’t do girlfriends. I wasn’t expecting anything else. I just wanted to feel. For one night.

“Yes, Jace,” I breathed. “I want you.”

A low growl sounded deep in his throat, and I arched into him even more. His kisses moved down my throat, over my collarbone, and down to take gentle licks at my straining n****es. My hands clenched even tighter in his hair. I’d never felt so much sensation at one time. I wondered if it was possible to die from sensory overload.

But Jace just kept on going. His tongue lapped farther south, moving over my stomach to my belly button in a slow, tormenting rhythm. When he started kissing the insides of my thighs, I almost leaped right off the bed, but nothing could’ve prepared me for the immediate burst of sensation when his tongue touched the very core of me. “OH MY G*D!”

My hands dragged the sheets into my tight fists as he relentlessly teased me with his tongue, and within a few short minutes, my world was shattering around me and I was gripping Jace’s head for fear of his abandonment before I was ready to let the ride of ecstasy go.

When the intense waves subsided, I loosened my hold, my body falling languidly against the bed, and Jace began kissing his way back up to me again. When he reached my br**sts, the stirring inside me reignited, and my body reacted instantaneously, arching upwards for more. By the time he came back to my mouth, I was panting again and hungrier than ever for his kiss.

It wasn’t until he came down on top of me properly, tossing a c*nd*m wrapper on the floor as he moved, that I realized somewhere along the way, Jace had disposed of his jeans. Jesus. Was he freaking Superman? How had I not noticed him doing that?

The feel of his er**tion pressing against my stomach created the most intense ache inside me I’d ever felt.

“You need to tell me now if you don’t want this, Mia,” Jace said, his voice strained.

I shook my head. I needed him inside me. Now. But I couldn’t bring myself to say the words. Instead, I kissed him forcefully and tilted my hips to urge him inside.

Jace groaned loudly, allowing me to do what I needed. He kissed me hard, forcefully, thrusting his tongue inside, tangling it with mine. I moved my hips more, my hands coming down onto his hips to pull him farther inside me. All restraint gone, Jace thrust inside me. Hard.

The sudden pain was a shock to my system, and the yelp that came out was automatic.

Jace froze. “Mia?”

I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t even move. My body was wound so tight, I thought I might implode. I forced myself to take a deep breath, and then another. The pain quickly started subsiding, and the pressure of Jace’s body on top of mine soon started to send little shivers of an entirely different feeling altogether.

Jace pulled back a little so he could see my face, ultimately bringing his manhood with him. I tensed, expecting it to hurt, but the feeling was the exact opposite. “Are you okay?” he asked, his voice a little husky.

I exhaled, trying to relax my tightly wound body, and nodded. “Yeah, I think so. Just . . . go slow.”

I could tell he was hardly breathing. His body seemed to be tensed more than mine. Slowly, I moved my hips, tilting upwards to take more of him in, and then I slowly moved the other way. Jace hissed through his teeth.

When I felt no discomfort, I relaxed, moaning softly under my breath. Closing my eyes, I just let my body feel.

Jace groaned roughly near my ear. “G*d, Mia. You’re so tight.” His breath came heavy and strained. “You feel so f**king good.”

His words had the most amazing effect on me. I loved his dirty mouth. My breathing started to come much faster like his, and so did my movements. Soon, we were both moving together, our rhythm increasing with our desire. I could feel the tension growing inside me, building up to seek another glorious release, and right at that moment, I couldn’t think of anything but getting there.

I ground my hips harder against him, not knowing if what I was doing was right, but frantic to do it just the same. I knew I was reaching my climax. It was so close, I could sense it.

Jace was breathing hard against my cheek, the sound of his pleasure sending mine through the roof, but before I could beg him for release, I felt my body suddenly teetering on the edge of something wonderful, and I let it all go.

My head fell back and my back arched, breaths rushing in and out, and the waves started crashing through me. Big, thunderous waves that surpassed anything I’d ever felt before. I whimpered. “Oh, G*d! Jace!”

At the sound of my ecstasy, Jace began to pump faster, harder. I clung to him, desperate to hold on to the intense pleasure that was coursing through me. Then he groaned, his body tensing even more. “F**k!”

 

 

Chapter 4

Jace

 

 

I woke to the sound of a cell phone ringing. Groaning, I rolled so I could search for the offending device and shut it off. What time was it, anyway? My hand fumbled over the nightstand until it found what it was looking for, then I slid my finger over the screen. “Yeah,” I croaked.

“You better not be in bed, you f**king pr*ck.”

Aiden’s voice was like being doused in a bucket of cold water. My eyes popped open with a slight panic as memories from the night before rushed through me like a freight train. I’d slept with my best friend’s sister. F**k! Did Aiden already know? Did Mia tell him?

Automatically, I turned to the space beside me. Mia was lying with her back to me, the blanket only pulled up enough to cover her a**, leaving the s*xy curve of her back exposed for my viewing pleasure. My d**k instantly hardened. F**k. I was in so much trouble.

“You are, aren’t you? I f**king hate you right now. I had to sleep on the g*dd**ned floor, you a**hole.”

Relief came instantly with his words. Okay, he didn’t know. Aiden was a g*dd**ned psycho when it came to protecting his twin.

I looked back at Mia with sudden guilt. I’d taken her v*rg*nity last night. I didn’t know why that’d surprised me. It wasn’t like I’d ever seen her with a guy before, but the way she was with me last night, so confident in her own skin, so s*xually commanding, I just assumed she knew what she was doing.

Drawing my attention back to Aiden, I forced a laugh. “Yeah, this bed’s all sorts of comfort, man.”

“Shut up, d**k wad. Kacey’s just talking to some emergency workers now, so we should know if the road’s open soon. I can’t f**king wait to fall into bed.”

I chuckled and opened my mouth to give Aiden a smart-a**ed answer, but Mia chose that moment to stir and roll over to peek at me. A blush spread over her cheeks, and she quickly turned back. I swallowed hard.

Uncertainty coursed through me. I’d never been in a situation like this before. I was used to having all the control. Jes*s. I still wasn’t even entirely certain what had happened. Mia had blindsided me, and my usual tactic had gone out the window. Now I was on the phone with her brother, and I had no idea how she was going to react.

“Yeah, I bet you’re all pretty wrecked,” I said, trying to keep my voice light, eyes still on Mia’s back.

She suddenly pulled the sheet back, swinging her legs to the floor, and sat up. Aiden started talking, but I didn’t hear a word he said as I watched Mia push herself to her feet, completely n*k*d, and start walking out the door. I watched her perfect n*k*d a**, my mouth hanging open slightly, as it disappeared from view.

Holy f**k, she was hot.

“All right?” Aiden’s voice re-emerged from oblivion.

“Sorry, what?”

“F**k, are you still asleep, dude? I said, the road’s open. We’ll be there in ten. Go check on Mia and make sure she’s okay, you d**k.”

“Yeah, whatever.” I didn’t wait for a response. I just ended the call, my head all kinds of f**ked up. I needed to talk to Mia and make sure we were on the same page. I hoped to G*d she wasn’t pi**ed.

Throwing on my jeans and a shirt, I made my way down the hall, only to find the bathroom door closed and the sound of the shower running on the other side. Standing outside the door, I ran my hands through my hair. Cr*p!

I paced for a bit, wondering if I should just go in and talk to her. She obviously didn’t mind me seeing her n*k*d. Then I remembered the broken mirror. We hadn’t cleaned it up last night. Surely, she didn’t just walk in there with bare feet? F**k, this was getting worse by the minute.

I stopped pacing and pressed my hands against the wall, leaning my forehead between them for a bit before banging it firmly against the wall a few times for good measure. I was so f**king screwed.

Pushing off the wall, I headed for the kitchen, deciding I was going to have to put some caffeine in my system if I needed to have my wits about me. G*d knows Mia might function a little better with some coffee too. Hopefully, it would put her in a good enough mood to put the situation behind us.

I’d just finished pouring the cups when I heard tires crunching on the gravel outside. G*dd**n it! Mia wasn’t even out of the shower yet! Picking up my coffee, I drew in a mouthful, burning my tongue like a motherf**ker. I just knew this was about to turn into a sh*t fight.

Kacey burst in through the kitchen doors with a playful scowl. When she saw me standing there with a second steaming cup beside me, she beamed. “Oh my G*d! Thank you so much!” She scooped up the cup and slurped it with her eyes closed.

I watched her with a hint of irritation. I wanted to bark at her that it wasn’t hers, but I knew it wasn’t her fault I was flipping the f**k out. I knew we’d been kind of working up to something over the past few days, but it was a pointless game. If she thought about it long enough, she’d know I could take it or leave it.

She held the cup away from her and leaned in to kiss me on the cheek. I cringed a little. Up until yesterday, I’d been all for it. Being a cheerleader, she had a pretty decent body and was always made up nice, but since last night—since Mia—I didn’t think she looked that enticing anymore. She seemed too . . . fake. Her long blond hair was too bleached, and her skin was a little too orange. Even the expressions on her face seemed fake.

Mia’s face came unbidden into my mind. I had no idea why I hadn’t noticed how gorgeous she was before. No makeup. No frills. Just natural, innocent beauty. I could still remember the way she’d looked up at me with her pretty f**k-me eyes as I had her pressed up against the wall, her waist-length, black hair all damp and wavy. Her tanned skin so smooth and soft.

“I missed you last night,” Kacey crooned, rubbing her t*ts against my arm.

I stepped back a little, putting some space between us. “Yeah. Wild night, huh? Can’t believe there was a f**king avalanche.”

Voices floated in from the living room, so I took the opportunity to get away from Kacey and headed in that direction. I saw Aiden first, throwing himself down on the couch, feet over the armrest. “Hey, sunshine.”

Aiden flipped me the bird. “F**k you, Wallace. Where’s my sister?”

The smile froze on my face. I tried to cover up my discomfort by taking another sip of coffee. “Don’t you know? I thought you had some twintuition thing or something.”

He lifted his head to glare at me. “It’s not a f**king GPS, man.”

I forced my legs to move over to one of the other sofas and sat down, resting my mug on the armrest. Kacey obviously took it as an open invitation because next thing I knew, she was sliding on in beside me and snuggling into my side. I tensed, wondering how I could push her away without causing a scene, or looking completely out of character.

“You get the twintuition thing too?” Ryan said, looking at Aiden. “It’s f**king weird, huh? It can be d**n annoying sometimes too.”

I looked at him with confusion before I remembered. F**k, I kept forgetting he was a twin, and an identical one at that. His brother, Daniel, lived on the East Coast with their dad.

Aiden narrowed his eyes at Ryan, then nodded. “I still think it’s f**king weird your parents split you guys up like f**king dinner plates.”

Ryan scowled. “Yeah, they’re real treasures.”

“Why hasn’t your brother ever been over to visit?” Aiden asked, obviously curious.

His frown deepened, and he shook his head a little. “Daniel was pretty angry with our parents after the divorce. He started acting out a lot at school, getting into trouble for stupid sh*t—I think he just wanted to piss Dad off, but Dad decided to one-up him and sent him off to military school.”

“F**k,” Aiden breathed. “That’s harsh.”

Ryan nodded, clearly not happy with his brother’s punishment. “Yeah, he definitely got the bad end of the deal.”

I eyed him skeptically. Daniel might have gotten a raw deal with their dad being so harsh, but I wasn’t sure their mom had done Ryan much of a favor, either. She was too easy on him. He’d grown up getting everything he asked for, and from where I stood, he didn’t seem to have much of an appreciation for anything.

The girls started filing into the living room, drawing all our attention with their moans and yawns. They all looked less than happy. Lila climbed onto Dean’s lap, shooting Jessica a foul look as she passed. Jesus, b**ch much? I glanced at Dean, but he didn’t seem to have noticed. Then again, he never f**king did.

Amy went to sit by Ryan’s feet, leaning against his legs. Huh. Looked like someone else got it on last night as well. It didn’t really surprise me. Ryan had been bragging he was going to get her for the last week.

“It’s a pity Josh couldn’t make it,” Ryan said, yawning.

I nodded in agreement. Josh had been part of our group of friends since first grade, leaving halfway through our freshman year to go live in LA when he landed a starring role in a Disney movie. But he’d never once forgotten his roots. Every chance he got, he came back to hang out with his friends. It meant a lot.

“Yeah. He was hoping he’d get a break from the junkets so he could make it, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way,” I said.

“It’s probably a good thing he didn’t make it,” Matt said dryly. “None of us would’ve even remotely had a chance with the girls otherwise.”

Corey laughed. “Yeah, you missed the best night, dude,” he said, eyeing me smugly.

I looked at him, trying to place a disappointed expression on my face, while inside, I knew d**ned well my night was way f**king better than his. “Shut the f**k up.”

Dean laughed. “At least Mark’s truck is safe. I was sh*tting my pants that it got crushed by the avalanche.”

“Good to know you were more worried about the truck than me,” I said with a mock scowl.

Dean shook his head, but he was still laughing. I laughed too. I knew that’s not what he meant. As bandmates, we cared about one another more than we’d ever admit. We were like brothers. All of us. Aiden was the only one who hadn’t grown up with us, but when he arrived at the beginning of our freshman year of high school, we knew he belonged right away.

We’d decided within a few months of Aiden’s arrival to start a band, each choosing an instrument and begging our parents to get us lessons. None of us argued when Matt called dibs on the drums. He was always banging away on some sh*t. The rest of us took the guitar.

Everyone wanted it, but I was the only one who needed it, and I took to my lessons like my life depended on it. I guess in a way, it did. At that stage of my life, I was a very angry fourteen-year-old, pi**ed off at the world, and wanted everyone to know it. It took my now stepdad, Mark, to convince me that the best revenge was success, and I was happy to say I was almost there.

“Oh my G*d. I’m so tired.” Amy groaned, bringing me back to the present.

I looked over at her and watched her press her cheek against Ryan’s leg. “That’s too bad, huh. I had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time.”

Amy lifted her face to glare at me. “Shut it, Wallace.”

“Yeah, Jace,” Amber said, sliding down in front of the fire. “You seriously don’t want to go there with seven sleep-deprived girls around you.”

“Make that six. I slept like a baby.”

My head snapped up at the sound of Mia’s voice. She was walking out from the bathroom, carrying a box in her arms. When I heard it jingle, I realized it must’ve been all the pieces of broken mirror.

“Don’t make me k*ll you, Mia,” Aiden threatened from his prone position. He lifted his head enough to look at her. Seeing her struggling with the box, he frowned. “What’s that?”

She looked down at the box. “The mirror fell off the wall last night.”

“Holy sh*t. Really? Did you get hurt?” he said, concern immediately darkening his expression.

I leaned over to put my coffee cup on the table and nudged Kacey to move off me. “I’ve just got to give Mia a hand,” I mumbled.

“I’ve got it, Jace,” Mia said lightly.

I looked up and met her gaze. She smiled at me like it was just another day.

She shrugged. “It’s not heavy, besides Kacey looks quite comfortable there.” Her smile widened at Kacey before giving her a little wink, then she turned and strode from the room.

I sat frozen, trying to work out what the f**k just happened. Did she seriously just smile and wink at Kacey? What the f**k did that mean? Most girls in her position would’ve lost their sh*t by now.  Her behavior made me nervous. Was she planning something else?

F**k! Rubbing the back of my neck, I tried to think. Why did I sleep with my best friend’s sister? I was such a dumba**. I really needed to talk to her. We needed to come to some kind of agreement about where we stood with each other.

“So, who’s going to put on their big boy pants and come ski with me today?” Amber said, interrupting my panic.

Aiden groaned. “Amber, no one’s an adrenaline junkie like you are.”

“I’m not an adrenaline junkie,” she said, pouting.

“So you just ski the steepest runs and bungee jump off scary a**ed bridges just for the fun of it?” he retorted like a smarta**.

“Actually, yes. And the reason I can do it is because I’m not frightened of death anymore, Aiden. That kind of happens when you’ve faced it twice before.”

Aiden lifted his head and stared at her apologetically. In Aiden’s defense, I’d kind of forgotten about it as well. It wasn’t something she brought up very often so it was easy enough to do.  From what I knew, she’d had a pretty serious case of pneumonia when she was younger, and then a few years after that, was injured quite badly when her mom’s car had been run off the road by a drunk driver.

“Sh*t. Sorry. I’m a d**k,” Aiden said.

Amber smirked. “Yes, you are. Lucky for you, I love you.”

I shook my head at them and tried to smile, but my brain was still obsessing about Mia. Standing up, I decided to follow her out to the kitchen to get this sh*t sorted.

Chapter 5

Mia

 

 

After dumping the box of broken mirror outside, I wandered back to the kitchen, hoping that was the end of it. I was actually relieved when I walked out of the bathroom and saw Kacey snuggled up to Jace. Even though it hurt my ego in a way, I knew it was for the best. I couldn’t commit to a relationship with someone of Jace’s stature. He was too popular. Too often surrounded by people. Lots of people.

I shook my head, softly laughing at myself. What was I thinking? Like Jace would even consider having a relationship with me. He didn’t even do relationships. He was probably inside right now, wondering how he was going to get out of the sticky situation he’d gotten himself into.

The whole time I was in the shower, I thought about what I was going to say to him. I’d run through a dozen different scenarios inside my head where we both agreed it was fun and went our separate ways. Funnily enough, the scenario I’d encountered wasn’t anything like any of the ones I’d entertained inside my head. But I was all for it, if it meant we didn’t have to go through an awkward discussion.

Walking back into the kitchen, I found Jess pouring herself a cup of coffee. “Oh my G*d. Yes, please.”

She smiled up at me and grabbed another cup from the cupboard. I watched her pour it and add the creamer before passing it on to me.

We both sank down at the small dining table off to the side and sipped. I studied her tired face intently. “So, was it total cr*p?” I asked with sympathy.

Her eyes widened. “No. Not at all. It was actually a lot of fun, once we’d all convinced our parents we were fine. It was only when we were all ready for bed that it started to suck.”

I hummed my agreement. I was a cranky a**ed b**ch if I didn’t get a comfy bed.

“Where did you sleep?”

She sighed, and her shoulders slumped a little more. “In one of the arm chairs in the foyer.”

“Yuck.”

“Tell me about it . . .”

We both looked up when the door swung open and Jace walked in. He stopped when he saw us sitting at the table. His gaze lingered on me for a while before he strode to the sink and rinsed his cup. When he was done, he turned and leaned against the bench, crossing his arms over his chest. My heart instantly started overreacting. Sh*t. What was he going to do? Please don’t say anything, I begged with my eyes.

I knew he must’ve been confused about my behavior. I wanted to tell him it was all good, not to stress, but how was I supposed to do that with eleven other people constantly around us?

“Did you have a good time last night, Jess?” he asked.

She smiled and nodded. “It was different, but yeah, it was fun. I can’t see myself turning into a party animal, though. The whole lack of sleep thing is k*lling me.”

Jace chuckled softly. “Yeah, it takes some getting used to.” His gaze flickered up to meet mine, and I held it carefully, trying to convey to him that we were all good.

The door flung open, and Kacey sashayed her way into the room. Her eyes flashed when she saw me and Jess. G*d, she was such a cow.

“There you are. I was wondering what was taking you so long.” Jace just looked at her without saying a word, but that didn’t deter her. “I was just going to lie down. Why don’t you come with me?” She rubbed her hand up his arm suggestively as she spoke. Oh, wow. She was actually making me feel nauseated.

Jace’s jaw tightened. “Nah, I’m good. I had a great sleep last night.”

I had to fight to not let a smirk slip out. I could see he was really trying to keep her at a distance for my sake. Unfortunately for me, that only made me like him more.

Kacey’s mouth cocked up on one side as she smiled. “Who said I was talking about sleep?”

Okay, and here comes the puke.

He pushed away from the bench, reaching into his pocket and pulling out his keys. “The guys want me to go get some supplies.” He looked over at me, worry in his eyes. “You girls need anything?”

I held his gaze and spoke softly. “No, I don’t need anything.”

Jace’s eyes narrowed slightly as he took in the double meaning in my words, then he nodded and walked out the back door.

Jess pushed her chair back and took both our cups to the sink, walking around Kacey, who was still staring after Jace. “Now I’ve stupidly had coffee, I’m going to go lie down,” she said with a slight shake of her head.

I laughed lightly and nodded, my mind still on Jace. “Good luck.”

Knowing I definitely didn’t want to hang around in the kitchen with Kacey, I followed Jess toward the bedrooms, slipping into mine and closing the door behind me.

Without another thought, I picked up my cell and dialed the only person who would be able to help me make any sense of this. My best friend, Kaeli.

Kaeli and I met the first day I’d arrived at Westside High. We were both quiet and withdrawn and morbidly drawn together by the fact that we both had dads who were in Heaven. Yes, I had my issues and my self-applied shyness, but there was always something a little sad about Kaeli’s demeanor. Something more than the weight of a father’s death. She always tried to hide it, but I knew it was there. Always lurking under the surface.

She picked up on the second ring. “I told you I didn’t want to hear anything about anybody having fun,” she said bluntly.

I laughed. “What if I have news?” I asked hesitantly.

I sat down on the bed, biting my lip. I wasn’t sure what Kaeli’s response would be when I told her what I’d done. Kaeli wasn’t a v*rg*n like I had been, but she wasn’t Miss Promiscuous, either. Her only experience had been with a guy she’d dated back in high school, and it wasn’t a pretty one. All you need to know is, it was in the backseat of a car, it was quick, and the pleasure was all his.

I thought about my initiation into womanhood, the way Jace had been so reverent with my body, worshiping it, playing it, making it sing for him. I didn’t know how it could get any better than that.

“Okay, just spill it,” Kaeli demanded in her best no-nonsense tone.

I still wasn’t sure what to say. The look on Jace’s face in the kitchen was bothering me. He’d almost looked upset. Was it because he thought I was avoiding him, or was it just because he was worried I was going to tell Aiden?

Kaeli gave an exaggerated clearing of her throat, so I laughed. “Spill what?”

“Something’s going on. I can feel it. It’s big, isn’t it?”

Turning my face away from the door, I lowered my voice. “I slept with Jace last night.”

The line was silent for a whole three seconds before I got any response from her. “Slept,” she said cautiously. “As in . . . had s*x?”

I bit my lip, then slowly nodded, forgetting she couldn’t even see me. “Yeah.”

“You gave him your V-card?”

Kaeli’s tone of voice was almost comical. I could almost envision her eyebrows disappearing into her hairline. When I didn’t say anything, she exhaled heavily into the phone. “Holy sh*t.”

I nodded again. “Yeah, you could say that.”

“How on Earth did you end up having s*x?”

I bit my lip to stop myself from laughing. Kaeli and I never had these kinds of conversations. Mainly because neither of us ever really dated, but still.

“I have no idea, really. He carried me out of the bathroom so I wouldn’t hurt myself on the broken glass, and it kind of just went from there.”

Her silence told me she was all kinds of shocked. “Wait. What? What broken glass?”

Oh, yeah, that’s right. Kaeli didn’t know about the avalanche. “Oh, there was kind of an avalanche here last night. Everyone was out, but Jace had to come back to drop Mark’s car off. I was in the bathroom when a tremor hit, and the mirror fell off the wall and smashed.”

“Holy sh*t. That’s crazy,” she breathed. “He actually carried you out of the bathroom?”

I made a low sound of confirmation. “Dude, I think I was in shock. It was kind of scary.”

“And you were n*k*d?”

I laughed at the disbelief in her voice. “One normally is after a shower, Kaeli, but I had a towel on.”

“And he just carried you out and then you had s*x?”

The playfulness in her tone had me shaking my head. “Well, a little bit more happened between that, but yeah, it all led to s*x.”

“Jes*s,” she said, letting out a heavy breath. “Please tell me it didn’t suck as bad as my introduction to s*x. Surely it couldn’t have. I mean Jace looks like he’d be way better than Simon.”

Smothering a laugh at the truth of her words, I let myself drop back on the bed. “It was actually really nice. He was . . . I want to say sweet, but he was just hot.”

I heard movement on the other end of the line and knew Kaeli was sinking down on her bed too. “Did it hurt? Was he good to you?”

I almost laughed at her bluntness, but I knew she was just relating to her own cr*ppy experience. “It did at first, but it kind of went away quickly. He sort of just did it fast. I think that helped.”

“Hmm, probably,” she murmured. “But the big question is, did you get to finish?”

The memory of me clamping Jace’s head between my thighs brought a blush to my cheeks. “Twice,” I said, my voice dropping lower again. “He took a trip down south first.”

A soft mumbled squeal came through the phone. “Dayum, girl. Sh*t, I’m jealous.”

Memories of his tongue on me sent shivers through my insides. “It was so, so good, Kaeli. Amazing. I always thought that would be weird, but holy G*d.”

Silence met my ears again. I knew she’d be puzzling over it all, wondering what it meant for me. “I’m speechless. I can’t believe that happened last night. So what now? Are you going to see each other again? Are you going out? What?”

I bit my lip and forced out a laugh. “This is Jace we’re talking about here, so no, we’re not going out. Besides, you know that would be a nightmare for me, even if he wanted to. He’s too popular.”

She made a sound of pure disappointment, then huffed. “Yeah, we’re both pretty screwed like that, huh?”

I pressed my lips together. “Yeah.”

We both sat in silence for a while, and I just knew she was contemplating her own problems at home. When she tried to stifle a yawn, I jumped in. “I better let you go. I’ll see you in a couple of days, okay?”

She yawned again, this time groaning. “Yeah, I didn’t get much sleep last night. I might go have a nap.”

Ending the call, I tossed my phone on the bed and sighed. I kind of wished I’d told her about the strange looks Jace had been giving me, but I wasn’t entirely sure how to explain it. I guess I would know soon enough.

As I made my way to the kitchen, I noticed all the bedroom doors were closed, and the only sound in the house was coming from the TV. Aiden and Matt were sprawled out on a sofa each in the living room, both of them snoring softly, but everyone else had disappeared.

I’d just walked into the kitchen when the back door opened and Jace walked in with his arms loaded with grocery bags. His gaze caught mine as he carefully placed the bags on the bench.

“Where is everyone?” he asked quietly.

“Asleep, I think.”

He nodded, still not taking his eyes off me. My heart was steadily beating faster and faster. D**n, he was hot, and having those deep blue eyes on me just seemed to amplify things.

He exhaled heavily. “Is this how it’s going to be between us now? We just pretend it never happened?”

My brow creased. I didn’t know what he meant, and he sounded a little pi**ed off. I shrugged. “How else do you want it to be? Do you want me to go tell Aiden?”

His eyes narrowed. “Only if you want him to k*ll me.”

I smiled a little at that. Yeah, Aiden would lose his sh*t if he found out. I shook my head.

“Do you regret it?”

My smile disappeared with his sudden question, but I didn’t take my gaze away from his. “No, I don’t. It was perfect.” I watched the emotions roll through his eyes, a sick feeling growing in my stomach. “Do you?”

His head cocked to the side a little. “You’re asking a hot-blooded male if he regrets sleeping with one of the s*xiest sirens he’s ever seen?”

I swallowed. Heat warmed my cheeks, as well as a few other places.

One corner of his mouth curled upward. “Even if Aiden beat the sh*t out of me, Mia, I still wouldn’t regret it.”

Tension was building inside me. It seriously felt like the air was crackling between us. His words filled me with happiness and warmth.

“I’m kind of in uncharted territory here, Mia. I don’t really know what to do.”

A pang of disappointment swept through me. I didn’t know why. It wasn’t like I wanted anything else from him. Did I? “There’s nothing to do, Jace. It was just one night. Neither of us is ready for anything other than that.”

He blinked, a little taken aback. “And you’re okay with that?”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

 

Chapter 6

Jace

 

 

“You want to tell me what the f**k’s gotten up your a**?”

Matt’s voice drew me out of the depths of my head. I looked over to see him smirking at me in amusement. We were halfway along on our trip back to Sacramento, and I was enjoying the break from driving. Well, that was until he asked me what was up my a**. “What?”

“Don’t give me that sh*t. You’ve been all moody and brooding since yesterday. That’s Dean’s gig, not yours.”

Dean grunted from the backseat. “F**k off.”

I really wasn’t in the mood to have this conversation, but he was right. I had been in a funk. And it started right after my conversation in the kitchen with Mia.

I should’ve been relieved when she said it was only a one-nighter. Real f**king relieved, but the truth was, I was pi**ed. And the fact that I was pi**ed just made me even more f**king annoyed because I had no idea why I was so f**king pi**ed.

“So, are you going to tell me what’s going on?”

I repressed the urge to glare at him. “I’ve just got something stuck in my head, that’s all. Something new I’ve been working on.”

It wasn’t a lie. I actually did have a tune that kept invading my thoughts ever since Mia had hit me with a metaphorical baseball bat.

Matt’s eyebrows went up a notch. “A new song?”

Dean leaned forward in his seat, suddenly interested. “Since when?”

I shrugged. It wasn’t like I’d actually put it to paper or anything. “I guess since I was hit by an avalanche.” Avalanche Mia.

“Cool. Play us some,” Dean said. “Babe, pass the acoustic.”

I turned to see Lila reaching over the back to grab Dean’s guitar. He fed it through to the front, so I pushed the chair back and turned sideways in my seat to make room. Somehow I knew what chords I needed without putting too much thought into it. It’d always been like that for me. I strummed it out slowly, making sure I had it right, then ran through it a little faster, making it sound more like how I had it in my head.

By the time I’d run through it for three verses, the chorus just came to me. It was an intense tune, and I could almost hear the angst the lyrics would hold when sung with it. I almost laughed out loud when I thought it was just like an avalanche. Maybe that’s what I would call it. Avalanche. And it would be Mia’s song.

I went back to strumming the verse and looked up to see Dean with a sh*t-eating grin. “That sounds f**king awesome, man. You need help with the lyrics?”

Dean had written most of our lyrics. He had a way of turning our direct and crass words into lyrical poems that had depth and meaning. I seriously doubted we would’ve made it if not for his lyrical talent. All our songs would’ve been about chicks on their knees, or bent over a table, or something just as crude.

This song, though, this song was a little different. All the previous songs I’d written had been about living life and having fun without giving a f**k. This one felt like it had a little piece of me in it, and I didn’t want to share that with anyone. I just wanted it to be my own.

“Nah, I want to give this one a go myself. This one kind of matters to me.”

“Awesome, man,” Matt said. “I can’t wait to slam it out with you. I can almost hear the beat that would tank that sh*t.”

I grinned. No doubt he could. Matt was a f**king magician with his kit.

For the next hour, I played tunes until we pulled over in Reno for gas. Aiden pulled in behind us, and I couldn’t help watching Mia as she stretched beside the car. My d**k instantly twitched. The memory of her soft little body and how it felt underneath me was still as vivid as if it only happened an hour ago.

I decided to take the opportunity to go to the bathroom before I embarrassed myself. I had no idea why this thing with Mia was messing with my head, but I decided to put it down to guilt. Guilt for sleeping with my best friend’s sister, and guilt for taking her innocence. That’s all it was, and there was nothing I could do to change it, so I just needed to man up and get the f**k over it. If Mia could be okay with it, then I sure as sh*t could be too.

Everyone was gathered by Aiden’s car when I managed to stride back. For some reason, I felt self-conscious, like I was an open book and everyone just knew what I was thinking. I shoved my hands deep in my pockets and lowered my head a little.

“Dean tells me you’ve got some new material,” Aiden said as I walked up.

I nodded, not really wanting to talk about it.

“Cool. We’re going to chill at Dean’s when we get back, so maybe we can play around with it a bit.”

“Yeah, sure.”

We quickly filled up and got back on the road. It was Dean’s turn to drive the next stretch, so Matt and I jumped in the back and reclined the seats, trying to grab some Zs for the remaining two hours of the trip.

It was almost ten by the time we pulled up at Dean’s. You would think after fifteen hours in a car we would all be ready to climb into bed, but we weren’t. Maybe it was the Red Bull. Maybe it was just because we knew we were finally home. Whatever it was, we were wired.

We mucked around for a bit while Aiden took Mia home. Matt shot off a few texts, and by the time Aiden was back, the house was starting to fill up with people.

Apparently, we were having a party.

We didn’t end up playing around with my new song. Instead, we ripped out all our other ones, as well as a few covers for our friends.

When we decided to call it quits and just stream some tunes, I grabbed a beer and followed Aiden outside for some fresh air. I was there for a total of ten seconds before Kacey came sliding on up to me. I groaned internally. Maybe I just needed to do it. Maybe this was the way to get over my guilt.

Putting my hand on her lower back, I bent down and whispered in her ear. “Want to go find some privacy?”

She beamed up at me, and I was suddenly pulling her through the crowd toward the bedrooms. I took her to the closest one, which just happened to be Dean’s room, and closed the door behind us.

I pushed her up against the wall and kissed her hard. She giggled against my mouth, annoying me, so I kissed her harder, trying to shut her up. My hands found her hips, and I pulled her against me. Her lips parted, her tongue seeking out mine, and she wrapped her arms around my neck.

She tasted like some sickly sweet raspberry drink she’d been having, and I had to force myself not to pull away from it. I moved my hands under her top, running them over her ribs, but instead of turning me on, it only reminded me how different she was from Mia. Kacey was too much skin and bone. I could feel every rib with ridiculous detail.

Sh*t. I didn’t think I could do this.

I was just about to push her away when the door flew open. Dean groaned and rolled his eyes. “Man, you know my room’s off limits. Get the f**k out and go find somewhere else.”

He didn’t need to ask me twice. I gave Kacey a look I hoped was apologetic in appearance before following her out. Instead of heading for another bedroom, though, I walked back toward the party. “I’m just going to grab a beer.”

She gave me a kiss with a touch of tongue before letting me go. I made for the kitchen, but instead of going to the fridge, I walked straight out the back door and kept going.

Chapter 7

Mia

 

 

Apparently, spending twelve hours over-thinking a situation can turn you a little loopy because by the time I arrived on campus on Monday morning, I was completely flipping out over seeing Jace again. It was an incredibly ridiculous notion since prior to our little romp, we didn’t ever see each other on campus anyway. Well, besides the one class I had with him.

I was hesitant to admit it, but it wasn’t the thought of there being any awkwardness between us that was getting to me. It was the thought of seeing him flirting with other girls.

Yes, I was turning into one of those girls.

The second Aiden pulled the car into a space, Kaeli was at my door. “Did you see it?” she asked me quietly.

I looked over at Aiden, who was smirking at me over the roof of the car. He gave me a little wave that wasn’t a wave. “See you later, baby girl.”

I watched him saunter off before turning my full attention to Kaeli. “See what?”

She looked around cautiously before speaking. “Kacey’s social media.”

Something sour turned in my stomach. Not knowing where my voice had gone, I gave her a look to continue.

“It more or less says she slept with Jace last night.”

Something inside me suddenly felt heavy. I knew I had no right to feel cheated, but here I was. Keeping my expression even, I shrugged. “We’re not dating, Kaeli. He can sleep with whoever he wants to.”

She frowned. “Yeah, I know, but it just feels wrong. There should be some sort of time period guys should stick to after sleeping with someone before moving on to the next. It’s called respect. I mean, I can totally see why he wouldn’t with all the other girls, but you’re different. You deserve the respect.”

I smiled at her reasoning. “And you’re a little biased.”

She huffed. “Maybe a little, but I’m also right.”

Making our way toward the science block, I contemplated how this new piece of information made me feel. I wasn’t exactly sure. All I knew was that I ached in a bad way.

“You sure you’re okay?” Kaeli asked quietly.

I gave her a smile I hoped was reassuring. “I’m fine. I’ll see you after class.”

With a little smile and a nod, we parted ways, Kaeli going inside, and me using another one of my preventative measures by walking along the path that went around the outside of the building instead. Going that way was an absolute pain in my a** because I had to allow an extra five minutes to get to class, but it was better than having to walk through crowds of people.

Unfortunately for me and my fragile peace of mind, Kacey was in my biology class, and I had to sit within listening distance of her talking to Violet. About Jace. Violet had gone to the same high school as the rest of us.

“Oh my G*d. He was so good. The things that boy can do with his tongue should be outlawed,” she was saying.

I felt sick. How did that girl always seem to make me spew a little bit in my mouth?

“So, are you guys, like, exclusive now or what?” Violet asked her.

Kacey laughed. “G*d no. You know Jace. He’s a complete manwhore. No one’s getting that boy exclusively.”

“I’m going to go for it,” Violet said suddenly.

“What?” Kacey whispered.

“Jace. I’m going to get him to sleep with me at the next party. May as well get in before he’s famous. I wish I had thought of that before Josh left. Imagine the publicity I could’ve gotten if I’d had him.”

I frowned. Josh? What—

My eyes widened. Was she actually talking about Joshua Emerson?

Before Aiden and I had moved here at the beginning of our high school freshman year, Josh had been a part of the guy’s group of friends. When Aiden arrived, they took one look at him standing up to the school’s bully and decided he was worthy of their group. Needless to say, I was jealous it had only taken him one day to find a place he fit, but I’d been happy for him.

I still remember him coming home that afternoon and telling us all about them. Josh in particular. He’d been seriously impressed that Josh had wanted to be an actor and that he’d already been doing some small bit parts in a few Disney movies.

It was about halfway through our freshman year when Josh landed his first starring role, and his family decided it was for the best if they moved down to L.A., leaving the guys feeling a little lost without him. It wasn’t long after that, that they’d decided to form the band—even though none of them had ever even picked up an instrument before that point.

I shook my head, my hands clenching in my lap as I listened in.

“Yeah, I know,” Kacey replied. “I’ve heard his family has moved back to town, so if there’s a chance I could happen to run into him, I’m taking it.”

Taking my textbook out of my bag, I thumped it on the desk. What in all that was holy was wrong with these girls? I seriously wanted to punch them.

Thankfully, the professor chose that moment to walk in the classroom, ultimately shutting them up before I got to the point of changing seats. And as soon as the class was finished, I dashed for the door, getting out fast before they started again.

Such a mixture of unfamiliar emotions was rampaging through me. I had no idea what was what. I didn’t even remember the walk to American Literature. Professor Hervey eyed me with annoyance when I walked in late, but I was always late because I had to walk around the building to avoid the crowds. He didn’t like it, but there wasn’t much he could do about it. It was also the one class I had with Jace, and after hearing what Kacey and Violet had to say, I really didn’t want to see him at that point in time.

I could feel him watching me as I moved toward my desk, though. It was like his gaze had some sort of magnetic pull in it or something because it took more strength than I thought it should have to avoid him, but I did it.

Prof. Hervey was already handing out the results of the exam we had the week before as I took my seat. He didn’t meet my eyes when he put down my A+ paper. I think it annoyed him no end that I was an A+ student. As far as he was concerned, I was lazy because I couldn’t be bothered to show up on time. He was an idiot.

Of course, because it was the one class I wanted to fly by, it dragged. I wasn’t sure if it was my imagination or not, but I felt like Jace’s eyes were constantly on me. I tried to distract myself by immersing myself in my work, but that only resulted in twice as many pages written than was required. Looked like I had a lot of editing to do.

By the time I met Kaeli at our usual meeting place, I was a massive ball of tension. We took our stuff out to a nice spot on the grass and sat in the sun.

Kaeli shook her head in annoyance when I relayed Kacey and Violet’s conversation in Biology. “What hoes. Seriously.”

We looked out across the green to where the guys were sitting, surrounded by dozens of people, most of them girls. They all loved it. Even Dean, to a certain extent. Feeling annoyed again, I turned myself around so I couldn’t see them anymore.

We ate in silence for a while before Kaeli murmured about something being interesting.

“What?”

“Jace. He keeps looking over here.”

My heart jumped a little on hearing that. I knew it shouldn’t, but it did. “Really?”

She bit her lip with thought. “I wonder why.”

I did too, but I wasn’t going to admit that. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t really want to talk about Jace anymore. Or any of the guys, for that matter. Let’s talk about something else.”

“I was thinking about making cream puffs for Mom’s birthday next week,” she said quickly. It came out sounding like a question, so I knew she was secretly asking if the topic was okay.

I smiled. “What flavor filling?”

 

***

 

The rest of the week went roughly along the same lines. Everywhere I went some girl was talking about the band and her ambition to sleep with one of the guys. On Thursday, it all multiplied out of control when a reporter from a music magazine came to run a story on them. The guys all took it in stride, of course, but all the girls who hadn’t yet realized just how well on the way the guys were seemed to come out of the woodwork.

By Friday afternoon, I was ready to gouge my eyes out with a spork and claw at my ears until they bled after seeing and hearing all the slutty come-ons aimed at the guys all day. As much as I disliked Lila, I had to wonder how she put up with it.

I didn’t even have the pleasure of escaping it all when I got home that afternoon, either, because our mom being away for the weekend, apparently, meant party time at our house.

Yay for me. I guessed I’d be spending the evening in my room.

Chapter 8

Jace

 

 

I was sure if one more body squeezed into Aiden’s house, it would f**king explode.

I’d never seen that many people at one party before in my life. Even though we only had music going through the stereo and were keeping it relatively quiet—well, quiet compared to how loud we got when we played live—I was sure some sort of noise restriction was being broken purely from the number of voices that were yelling at one time.

There also had to be some kind of record being set for the vast number of girls who were blatantly asking us to f**k them. Lila had already b**ch-slapped some girl for stepping in. Surprising as it was to me, I was finding all the attention irritating. My mind kept drifting to Mia, knowing she was just down the hall. In bed.

I found if I just stayed in the armchair in the corner of the living room and spread myself out a bit, it made it just that little bit too difficult for chicks to cling to me. Dean and Lila occupied one of the couches next to me, and Ryan and Amy were in another. The rest were hangers-on.

I didn’t even have to move. Whenever I wanted another beer, some girl would run off and grab me one. At least they were useful for something.

It was just after midnight when I couldn’t put off going to the bathroom any longer, and even that was a f**king drama because some chick wanted to ‘assist’ me while I was in there. I took the opportunity to use the bathroom down the other end of the house, using the key Aiden had given me to get through the locked door that separated it from the party.

I did my business and washed up, taking a few minutes to collect myself before I had to face it all again. It wasn’t until I was heading back down the hall and saw Mia’s bedroom door that I was reminded again that she was there.

Before I could use the f**king brain located in my big head, I suddenly found myself knocking on the door. What the f**k?

The door opened a crack and Mia’s face appeared. “Jace? What are you doing?”

“Can I come in?” I didn’t know why I was asking. What the f**k was I going to do once I was inside? All I knew was that I’d rather be here with her than out there with them.

She didn’t question my presence again. She just opened the door wider and stepped back. I moved into her room and closed the door behind me, locking it for good measure. She watched me, wide-eyed, before deciding to move back to her bed.

It wasn’t until she was climbing onto the mattress that I realized what she had on. She was wearing a skimpy little pair of boy leg shorts that exposed half of her perfect little a** cheeks, and a tight little tank top that showed off her midriff as well as the soft swell of her br**sts. My d**k instantly hardened.

Needless to say, I followed her.

“You’re missing your party,” she said quietly.

“Party’s f**ked,” I grumbled.

Her lips curled up into a slight grin. “Are you drunk, Mr. Wallace?”

I smirked at her question. She shifted on the bed, making herself more comfortable. My eyes drifted down to her cleavage. F**k, she was hot.

“Why is it so bad?”

Her voice was all soft and seductive, and it turned me the f**k on. “Maybe because the one person I wanted to see there, wasn’t.” F**k. Did I just say that out loud?

Her head cocked to the side a little, and she bit her lip. The bright blue of her eyes seemed to ignite with heat, and she started to slowly lean forward. “And who might that be?”

Yeah, I was too drunk to play games. I closed the distance between us and covered her mouth with mine. She instantly opened for me, and I slid my tongue inside, tangling it with hers. She tasted like honey and mint, and everything else I didn’t know I considered a f**king turn on.

Pushing her back, I crawled over her body until she was lying back on the pillow with her s*xy tangle of curls spread out around her. I nudged her legs open with my thigh, settling my hips between them and pressing my now-throbbing d**k against her heat. She moaned into my mouth, and I swear I got even harder.

Her hands clawed at my shirt, trying to pry it upwards. I managed to reach one hand over my shoulder and dragged it over my head before tossing it across the room and reclaiming her mouth with my own.

The feel of her hands moving over my back sent some weird little pulse right through my body. It felt f**king amazing, and I wanted more. I slid my hand under the hem of her top, edging it upwards. I needed to feel her skin against mine. She broke the kiss, gasping, panting. I kept my mouth hovering over hers as she did it, wanting to catch every little one. F**k, I loved those breathy little noises she made.

I shoved at her top, and she arched her body so I could take it off. Slipping it over her head, I flung it across the room near mine and started kissing my way down her body. She trembled under my touch, her chest rising and falling with her excitement. I tasted every inch of skin I could get to.

“Jace . . .” she breathed.

With my forearms resting either side of her hips, I took another lick at her belly button and looked up. The breath stuck in my chest. Her head was thrown back, exposing the very edible column of her neck, and her hands were clasped tightly in the sheets. It was the s*xiest f**king thing I’d ever seen.

“G*d! Don’t stop,” she moaned.

Yeah, there was no f**king way I was stopping. I hooked my fingers under the sides of her panties and slowly dragged them down her legs. When they joined her top on the floor, I ran my hands up the insides of her thighs, stopping when my thumbs were just shy of her pu**y and rubbed soft, slow circles on her skin.

She gasped and started making those adorable little panting noises again, making me feel like I was some sort of f**king g*d. I replaced my thumbs with my tongue and slowly teased around the needy little spot where I knew she wanted me to be.

“Oh, G*d! Jace!”

“What do you need, baby? Tell me.”

Her breath was heavy, her gorgeous br**sts rising and falling with each gasp. “You. I need you.”

I was getting a kick out of this teasing thing. Seeing her so out of control was like some type of power trip. “What do you need me to do?” I licked up the inside of her thigh again.

“I need you inside me. Please,” she begged.

The way her words came out so desperate and pleading almost made me come in my pants. Holy f**k. I didn’t think I’d been so f**king ar**sed in all my life. I pushed off the bed and ripped my jeans off, grabbing the c*nd*m I’d stowed inside the back pocket before dropping them on the floor. She watched me as I tore open the packet and prepared to roll it on.

“Can I do it?” she asked suddenly, sitting up.

I wasn’t sure I could handle having her hands on my d**k right now, but if she wanted to try, I wanted to let her. I swallowed hard and nodded.

She took it out of my hand and carefully placed it on the end of my d**k. It twitched with excitement, and she looked up at me with uncertainty, biting her lip. I couldn’t do anything. I was holding my breath, trying to calm the f**k down.

Her gaze went back to what she was doing, and she slowly started rolling it on. She got it about halfway before looking up again. “Is this right?”

I growled. “Yes, but if you don’t hurry up, I’m going to come right here and now. You’re f**king torturing me right now.”

Her expression instantly turned to concern. “Oh. I’m sorry.”

That was it. I couldn’t take any more. Pushing her back, I rolled the c*nd*m on the rest of the way and sank between her legs. I took her mouth hard, tasting her and devouring her with a need I couldn’t explain. Reaching down between her legs, I pressed a finger inside her. I needed to make sure she was ready.

“F**k,” I groaned against her mouth. “You’re so f**king wet.”

She panted again, and I swallowed every one of them. I pressed another finger inside and slowly moved them in and out, spreading her ar**sal so she would be ready for me.

“Jace, please . . .”

“I know, baby. I’m just making sure you’re ready.” Grabbing hold of my d**k, I rubbed it against her opening, lubricating it as much as I could, then carefully, I pushed inside her.

She remained still beneath me as I pushed all the way in, and when I was b*lls deep, I stilled with her, fighting to catch my breath. Her hands clung to me, holding me hard against her as she too gasped for air. And then we began to move.

I tried to go slow at first, making sure I was pushing against her needy little spot as I went, but then she dug her heels into the bed and thrust hard against me, urging me to go faster. “F**k, baby. Are you close, because I don’t think I can last too much longer.” F**king alcohol.

She started panting faster, a slight moan escaping her lips. I pushed harder against her, grinding myself against her pubic bone, and then she was crying out my name. “Jace!”

Her pu**y started contracting around me and I was done. “F**k! Mia!” I growled, pushing inside her twice more before I was exploding hard.

F**k me. So much for that one-nighter.

Chapter 9

Mia

 

 

The party didn’t finish up until after three o’clock in the morning. I’d lain there listening to all the screaming and yelling for two hours after I made Jace leave my room. Not that I would’ve gotten much sleep anyway after what’d happened between us.

I was still a little shocked at how brazen I seemed to have become when he and I were alone. It was like he drew this whole other side of me out that no one knew existed, me included.

Rolling over, I looked at the clock, which read 9:47, and wondered why I was even awake. A soft knock sounded on the door, and I realized that must’ve been what woke me.

“Yeah?” I called out, my voice a little croaky.

“It’s Jace. Can I come in?”

He was trying to whisper, so I could only just hear him. My heart immediately started its usual disco beat when in Jace’s presence. I pulled the sheet up over my boobs, realizing I was still n*k*d from last night’s interaction with him.

“Yeah, sure.”

The door cracked open, and Jace slipped inside, quickly closing it and locking it after him. My breath caught when I saw he was just wearing his boxers and a shirt. I watched him move hesitantly toward the bed. D**n he was a fine specimen.

His eyes skimmed over my n*k*d shoulders before he met mine. “Do you mind if I sit?” he said, indicating toward the end of my bed.

I shook my head. “Sure.”

He lowered himself down, hooking one leg underneath him so he was facing me. “I wanted to apologize for last night,” he began.

My heart sank. I didn’t want him to regret it. If he didn’t want to do it again, that was fine, but regret doing it completely? That was like a knife to my heart.

There must’ve been something in my expression because his eyes widened a little, and he immediately started back-tracking. “I mean, I’m not sorry it happened. I just wanted you to know that wasn’t the reason I came to your room. I just didn’t want you to think I only came to have s*x with you.”

He was flustered, and it was cute. He really was worried I thought he was using me. I narrowed my eyes playfully and cocked my head to the side. “Exactly how drunk were you? Do you remember anything from last night?”

His expression turned sheepish. D**n, I loved that expression. “I remember the gist of it,” he said quietly.

Slowly, I lifted one shoulder. “I’m pretty sure I started it, so you don’t have to worry.”

He watched me as my words sank in. “Uh . . . Okaaaay.” His eyes narrowed questioningly. “Can I ask why? I mean, I know I don’t really know you that well, but I’m pretty sure you’re not normally like this. I mean . . . you were a v*rg*n in Aspen, right?”

I bit my lip. I wasn’t comfortable with this kind of conversation, but I knew it was one we needed to have. After the night before, I kind of had an idea, and I wanted to find out if he’d go for it or not. I nodded, wringing my hands in the sheets. “Yeah, I was. It’s just . . . I don’t know. I like the way you make me feel, and I know you don’t do relationships, so . . .”

He frowned, looking even more confused than ever. “So . . . ?”

“I can’t do relationships either, so I thought . . . maybe . . . we could, like, hook up sometimes.” I almost groaned out loud. Oh my G*d. Hook up? That sounded so much better inside my head.

He stared at me like I had two heads. “Wait, wait, wait.” He rubbed his hands over his face. “Let me get this straight. Are you asking me if I want to have a no-strings-attached relationship with you?”

That sounded awful, didn’t it? I gave him a tiny shrug.

“Like a f**k buddy?” he asked, slightly incredulous.

I groaned and pulled the sheet up to cover my face.

He tugged it down again. “I’m not judging you, Mia. I’m just trying to understand and somehow fit you and the concept of f**k buddy into the same category. I’m just having a hard time with it. Give me a second to process.”

I looked at him meekly. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to. I won’t be offended. I know I’m not very experienced, and I’m probably not very good. I just—”

“Shoosh,” he whispered, putting his finger to his lips. “I’m thinking.”

I snapped my mouth shut, watching him warily.

“I’m sorry. I need to get this straight. Why don’t you want a relationship?”

There was no way I was going to lay it out for him. Shrugging, I said, “I can’t do crowds.” He nodded, knowing this already from our trip to Aspen. But I also knew everyone just assumed it was shyness. I shrugged again. “Relationships and crowds kind of go together.” Oh G*d, just k*ll me now.

He frowned. “Not necessarily.”

“And the thought of people staring at me makes me nervous.”

He still looked confused, but he seemed to accept my lame answer. At least a little. “So you thought a no-strings-attached setup would work for you?”

G*d, this was so not going the way I thought it would. “Not really. It wasn’t until last night that I thought maybe it was something that might work. I mean, I like you, and I trust you, and I know you’re not about to go telling everyone we’ve been together, so . . .”

“What makes you think I won’t tell anyone?”

I gave him a pointed look. “Yeah, I can see you telling Aiden we’ve been sleeping together.”

He smirked. “I’m not afraid of Aiden.”

I shifted onto my knees on the bed like I was about to get up. “I’ll just go tell him now then—”

He held his hand up to stop me and glared. “Yeah, you’re not getting up right now. And no, it’s not because I’m worried about you telling Aiden. It’s because I know you’re n*k*d under that sheet, and if you take it off right now, I can’t promise you I’ll sit here like a good little boy and behave myself.”

Clutching the sheet to my chest, I froze. The idea of him not behaving himself with me sounded really good. I knew the confidence I’d had the night before had everything to do with the fact that he’d been drunk. Could I do it now, with him fully aware of everything I was doing?

Slowly, I dropped my arms to my sides, releasing the sheet and letting it fall around my knees. Jace’s eyes widened, and I heard his breath catch. I didn’t move any more than that. I just knelt there, my legs parted and my hair falling wildly over my boobs.

I watched his eyes hungrily devour every inch of me, making that intense warmth spread like fire between my legs. Next thing I knew, Jace lunged at me, taking hold of my face, threading his fingers through my hair, and plunging his tongue deep inside my mouth.

“You have no idea how f**king hot you are, Mia. Every f**king part of you.” His hand moved down to cup my a**, pulling me hard against him so I could feel his er**tion against my stomach. “I love knowing I’m the only one who’s touched you—the only one who’s been inside you.”

I groaned, clutching at his shirt and pulling it up over his head. He pushed me so I fell back on the bed and began running kisses down my neck, over my collarbone, until he reached my b**b and sucked my n****e into his mouth. I grabbed at his hair and pulled it hard, a choking kind of sound escaping my lips.

His hand slid over my stomach and cupped between my legs, a finger moving over my cl*t to sink inside me. “So wet for me,” he whispered. His hand disappeared, and I felt him fumbling with his boxers, releasing himself. “F**k.”

His body went still, and he lowered his head to my chest, breathing hard. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t have a c*nd*m.”

Oh.

“Wait!” I wriggled out from underneath him and rummaged through my bedside drawer, finding what I was looking for, stashed at the back, under a book. I handed him the c*nd*m with excitement. The look he gave me was almost humorous. “S*x ed last year,” I said, answering his silent question.

He ripped the packet open and quickly rolled it on. “Thank you, Mr. Roberts.”

If I didn’t need him so badly I would’ve laughed. All I knew was that I had an ache in my belly that only Jace could fix. When he positioned himself between my legs again, I didn’t wait. I grabbed hold of his a** and I pulled him into me. Hard.

“F**k!”

Jace’s growl made me wild. I hooked my legs around his hips and dug my heels into his a**, grinding my hips against his.

“Jesus, Mia—”

I was so close already. Thrusting, I clenched my muscles harder, needing to reach my release. I was frantic with it. And then suddenly, I was there. “Oh, sh*t.” I dug my fingers into his back and held on for dear life as my org**m ripped through me. It was like a freaking tornado.

Jace breathed hard against my ear then groaned, his body going rigid against mine. Slowly, I released my death grip on him, and my body started to relax. Jace dropped his forehead to my shoulder and exhaled. “F**k, Mia. You’re going to be the death of me.”

My head was a whirl of emotions, and I was seriously mute. He lifted his head to look at me before pulling out.

“Holy sh*t that was quick.” I think I was in shock.

Jace cringed a little. “Yeah, sorry about that.”

My eyes widened. “I wasn’t complaining. I’m just surprised. I didn’t think I could clim*x so quickly.”

A cocky little smirk appeared on his lips.

“Yeah, yeah. We both know you’re good . . .”

“You think I’m good?” He wasn’t even bothering to try to hide his grin now.

“Well, with everything I’ve heard, most girls don’t org**m their first time, so the fact that I had two my first time makes me think you’re maybe a little bit good.”

He laughed. “Is that true? That most girls don’t c*me their first time?”

I shrugged. “I overheard a couple of girls talking about it in the bathroom once, and one was telling the other not to worry, that it gets better.”

Jace laughed a full belly laugh then. “That can be my line to you. Don’t worry, it gets better.”

I widened my eyes dramatically. “It gets better than that? Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep up with you.”

It was out of my mouth before I knew what I was saying. D**n it. He hadn’t even said he wanted to do what I suggested. What was I thinking?

But then again, he did just say it gets better. Was that just a joke, or was he saying there would be more times? The fact that we just had s*x had to be some kind of unspoken agreement to my proposal, didn’t it?

He must’ve caught something in my expression because he pulled back and went about taking care of the c*nd*m. When he’d finished disposing of it, he put his boxers back on and came to sit beside me. “I guess we should talk about where we’re heading with this.”

Chapter 10

Jace

 

 

I left Mia’s room in a slight daze. I think I was still in shock that she’d asked me for a no-strings-attached relationship. I knew that was, like, every guy’s ultimate fantasy, but it wasn’t something I thought I’d ever go for. I’d never, ever been interested in having a girl more than once.  If I was to be honest with myself, which I don’t think I really wanted to be, I only went for it because it was Mia.

I had no f**king idea what she was doing to me. Not only had I agreed to her no-strings suggestion, I also agreed to keep it monogamous. The weird thing was that it wasn’t even my agreement to her suggestion that was f**king with my mind. It was the fact that she was the one to suggest the idea to begin with. That, I couldn’t understand in the slightest. Yeah, I got that she couldn’t do crowds, but just wanting s*x and nothing else? That just didn’t seem to fit with the Mia I’d seen so far.

What was even more disturbing was the realization that I wanted to figure out why she thought she couldn’t have a relationship. I’d wanted to push her more to tell me back in her room, but I could tell it was making her uncomfortable, so I let it slide. I knew it couldn’t just be the crowd thing. I was as sure as sh*t confident that she’d be able to find someone who’d be happy to just be with her. Hell, most guys would probably be willing to ditch everyone they knew and go live in a cave just to be with her.

Taking advantage of the vacant bathroom, I grabbed a quick shower and threw on a clean pair of jeans and a shirt. By the time I made it out to the kitchen, Aiden was already up and making a pot of coffee.

I looked over his rumpled clothes, hair all f**ked up, and red eyes. “You look like sh*t, man.”

“F**k you,” he mumbled. “Why do you look so”—He gestured up and down my body—“not hung over?”

I laughed, choosing not to answer, and picked up the coffeepot instead.

“Who’d you f**k last night?” he said suddenly.

I froze, waiting to see where he was going with it.

“You’ve got scratch marks on your neck,” he said, taking a sip of his coffee.

I shrugged, pouring in the creamer and stirring. “Do names even matter?”

He laughed loudly and smacked his hand on my back. “F**k no, they don’t.”

We made our way outside and sat down on the step in the sun. I hated lying to my best friend. Having secrets in our situation wasn’t good. Things like that could easily break up the band. I felt like I was in a serious no-win situation. If I told Aiden what I was doing with Mia, he’d lose his sh*t and the band could be on the line, but if I didn’t, I knew it would eventually eat away at me and things would turn to sh*t anyway.

“You still thinking about that song?”

Aiden’s voice interrupted my internal battle. Of course I hadn’t been, but it was a good excuse to distract him from delving any more into my s*x life. “Yeah. Wanna hear it?”

“F**k, yeah.”

I set down my cup and went inside to grab a guitar. When I came back out, Aiden had shuffled over, making more room for me on the step. Slowly, I ran through the chords I’d gone over at home during the week. I thought I’d perfected it pretty well over the last few days, but what I was hearing in my head now was way more intense, more intricate in a way, and I knew it had everything to do with having just been with Mia.

I knew Aiden hadn’t heard any of it yet, so I concentrated on letting him hear the basic tune I’d mapped out before trying to bring in the rest. His gaze was all concentration while I played, and I knew he was totally hearing how he’d fit in with me. When I started experimenting with the sound that was in my head, he nodded.

He listened to me go through the whole verse a few times, then he started humming his part, and when I heard what he was thinking, I grinned. Matt and Dean stumbled outside bleary-eyed but grinning just the same. Matt pulled his sticks out of his back pocket—yeah, the f**ker actually walked around with them in his back pocket—and tapped out a beat on the step. It was f**king perfect.

“Dean, go get your guitar. I want you in on the chorus,” I said.

He didn’t need to be asked twice. Dean loved learning new stuff. He ran off and returned in no time.

“Try it with a G and E minor, then a C and A.”

He nodded and came in when we hit the chorus, and the effect was off the charts. I added a small riff in the middle, and I knew we’d just created something worthwhile.

I looked up when the song ended and saw Mia sitting at the far end of the patio, watching me. There was a tiny smile on her lips, and her eyes shone with excitement.

“Have you written any lyrics yet?” Matt asked.

Aiden laughed. “Yeah, they’ll be about f**king girls with no names.”

Dean grinned but looked confused. “What?”

I shook my head, wanting them to stop before Mia got upset, but Aiden just kept on going. “Jace’s got a nice set of scratches on his neck. Put there by some girl he can’t remember the name of.”

I grinned when I caught Mia’s blush. Dean laughed and Matt shrugged. “Who gives a f**k what their names are? It’s not like they give a sh*t about who we really are. They just want to boast to their friends that they’ve f**ked a musician.”

Dean groaned. “Yeah, some of them are bad. I mean that chick Lila slapped just shoved her out of the way and started rubbing up against me.”

“I can’t believe Lila b**ch-slapped someone. That’s some funny sh*t right there,” I said, laughing.

“It wasn’t so funny last night,” Lila said as she shuffled outside. “That b**ch can go get her own musician. This one’s mine,” she said, sitting down on Dean’s lap. Dean wrapped his arms around her and pressed his nose to her neck. “Have you been jamming?” she asked, eyeing the guitars.

“Just mucking around with Jace’s new song,” Dean said.

She nodded. “Cool. What are the lyrics about?”

I grinned. “Nameless b**ches that f**k.”

She narrowed her eyes to a glare. “I don’t know why I even asked.”

Chapter 11

Mia

 

 

Everything was different, but nothing had changed.

I still used the path outside to get to class. Still sat with Kaeli on the grass outside the square. Still avoided the crowds at all costs. Still pretended like Jace was nothing to me.

Yet I watched him whenever I could. I couldn’t help it. He was in my every thought. Not surprising considering he’d crept into my room almost every night that week, lavishing my body with heavenly attention, leaving the scent of him lingering on my sheets, slowly making me more and more addicted to him. D**n him to h*ll.

What I hadn’t accounted for was the jealousy. That had come way out of left field, but there was nothing I could do. I just had to sit back and watch and try like h*ll to calm my rising b**ch meter every time some bimbo groupie touched him.

Kaeli sat through it all and watched with amusement and fury. Amusement because the girls all made fools of themselves, and fury on my behalf because she felt like Jace was still disrespecting me after taking my V-card in Aspen.

I hadn’t had the nerve to tell her about the arrangement I’d made with Jace. I felt horrible for keeping it from her, but I knew what it would sound like to someone standing on the outside, and to me, it was more than just s*x. I felt like if I said it out loud, it would cheapen it somehow.

Every day I saw him at lunch, Jace would occasionally look over at me with this deeply intense gaze, and my skin would feel like he’d lit it on fire. I wasn’t sure when the next time we’d get together would be. We hadn’t really discussed that part, but I hoped it was soon. I needed his touch like my sanity depended on it.

It wasn’t until I was in the car with Aiden on Friday afternoon that I found out I’d be seeing Jace that night.

“The guys are coming over for practice tonight,” he said in passing as he navigated a corner.

“Really?” That surprised me.

Even though they had sound rooms set up everywhere but Jace’s house, they usually practiced at Dean’s.

Aiden shrugged. “Sure. Why not? Jace thought it’d be a nice change of scenery.”

So it was Jace’s idea. I struggled to keep the smile off my face. I liked knowing he was doing everything he could to see me. Well, I hoped it was for me, and not just because he wanted to practice in our dungeon. “Are they staying over?”

“Nah, we’re just going to go over the set we’ve got planned for the gig next week. Dean wants to use the new song Jace wrote, but I don’t know if it’ll be ready. He still hasn’t finished the lyrics and won’t let Dean help him.”

He said the last bit like it pi**ed him off. “That’s fair,” I countered. “It obviously means something to him.”

He gave me a dry look. “This is Jace we’re talking about. He doesn’t have meaning in his life.”

“Neither do you.”

His expression softened. “I have you. You’re all the meaning I need.”

I had no retort to that. It was the truth. We had a special bond that went beyond the twin thing. Growing up, we’d always known when the other one needed us. I remembered once when we were ten, I’d come out of my room and told Mom Aiden had hurt his arm. At the time, he’d been at a party, and as Mom was trying to make sense of what I was saying, the phone rang and she was told that Aiden had fallen off the trampoline and broken his arm.

Aiden, of course, didn’t need to be convinced that I’d known, because he’d experienced it once before when we were four, and every time since then when I had an anxiety attack.

After that, when we were older, and Aiden had started going to parties, Mom occasionally used our connection to ask me if Aiden was safe. Neither of us minded. We knew she just worried.

“But it’s not just that. He said if we do the song, he wants to sing it,” Aiden continued.

That surprised me. Jace had never expressed any interest in singing lead before. “Wow. It must be important to him if he’s not willing to give up the words.”

Aiden snorted. “I don’t know what his deal is. He’s been acting weird the last couple of weeks. Well, since Aspen, really—and that’s when he came up with the new song too.”

I swallowed. “Weird how?”

“I don’t know. Not weird, really, just different. The girls seem to be pi**ing him off.”

I was momentarily stunned by Aiden’s words. Could it actually have been me that’d affected him like that? I didn’t really think it was possible, but what else could it be?

Bringing myself back to Aiden, I said, “What girls?”

He shrugged. “Oh, there’s just been a lot more girls hanging around than normal—you know, the kind that just want to hang around cause we might get famous.”

“You mean groupies?”

He smiled. “Yeah. Groupies.”

“You love the groupies.”

“I definitely love the groupies.”

I shook my head, but we both laughed as Aiden pulled into the drive. “When are the guys coming over?”

“Around five. We want to run through the whole set, and that’s going to take a while.”

“Okay,” I said, climbing out of the car. “Let me know if you want anything brought down.”

He slammed his door shut and pressed the fob to lock the car. “What? You’re volunteering to be my personal slave?”

I grinned. “No, just your adoring little sister.”

I left him shaking his head at me and ran off to my room. Mom wasn’t home from work yet, so I thought I’d run through one of my favorite yoga videos in the living room until she arrived. Throwing on a pair of dark gray yoga shorts with a pink waistband, and a matching pink crop top, I scooped my hair into a high pony and bounced off to get a good workout.

I was almost through my routine and in the middle of doing a forearm headstand when I heard Aiden come back in. “Jesus, Mia, you’re like a f**king pretzel.”

I giggled, watching him from upside down while he rolled his eyes with a grin. To show off, I flattened my palms against the floor and pushed up into a handstand, then, when I made sure I had my balance, I slowly arched over into a handstand scorpion, touching my feet to the top of my head.

Aiden narrowed his eyes and softly shook his head. Pushing myself back up to a straight handstand, I then moved my legs out into a splits position before lowering my butt slowly toward the ground. I giggled again when I saw Aiden, who was now leaning up against the wall with his arms crossed, as I held both my legs and butt a few inches off the floor while I balanced myself with my hands. “Are you impressed?” I asked.

He shot me a cocky grin. “No, but they probably are.” He jerked his head toward the other side of the room, and I turned to see Jace, Dean, and Matt standing there watching me.

My jaw dropped, and I threw Aiden an incredulous look. “What the h*ll, Aiden! You could’ve told me!”

“F**k, Mia, every other time I interrupt you while you’re doing yoga, you nearly rip my head off, saying I’m throwing you off your balanced state of mind or some sh*t.”

I flicked off the TV and threw the remote down on the coffee table. “Whatever. You’re a d**k.”

I went to storm past him, but he was too quick and grabbed me around the waist, pulling me in. I really wasn’t in the mood. I was seriously embarrassed, but he wouldn’t take the hint, and I got mad. Using the self-defense moves I’d learned last summer, I hooked my leg around his and threw my body weight, flipping him over until he landed on the floor on his back. Taking advantage of the strength in my legs, I wrapped them around him to hold him in place while I got him in a chokehold.

Bursts of laughter erupted on the other side of the room, but I was too intent on making my twin pay. He was laughing too, and it just made me crankier.

“F**k, I pity the poor guy you end up with, Mia. You’re going to k*ll him with that death grip you’ve got going on with your thighs.”

His words shocked me, and I loosened my grip. Before I knew it, he’d thrown me off and flipped our positions, straddling me and pinning my arms beside my head. “I swear to G*d, Aiden. If you tickle me, I’m going to lose my sh*t.”

“Say uncle.”

“I’m not saying sh*t to you.” I bucked and twisted, managing to get my hands free, and I reached up and grabbed handfuls of his hair. Aiden reached for my stomach and tickled, so I pulled his hair harder, bringing his head down closer to mine. “I’ll bite you.”

“F**k, that hurts.”

“Good. Now get off me.”

He looked at me, laughter in his eyes. “Truce?”

Tears stung the backs of my eyes. I knew what he was doing. I should’ve seen it coming. Sometimes it felt like he knew me better than I knew myself, but he’d always been able to feel when things were becoming too much for me. When that happened, he always did something to help me get it out of my system. Usually, it was running—we’d just run and run until my legs couldn’t take any more, but sometimes he improvised.

I let my head fall back on the ground and looked up at the ceiling. My life really sucked sometimes, but I had the most beautiful brother in the world.

Aiden climbed off me and sat on the floor by my side. I turned my head to look at him, thankfully, away from the guys, my eyes shining.

“Don’t cry, baby girl,” he said softly.

I nodded, letting him know I was on board with that, and he stood, reaching out his hand to help me up. I went willingly, and when I was on my feet, he pulled me into one of his big, reassuring hugs. I let him hold me because I knew he needed it just as much as I did.

When I pulled away, I gave him a gentle smile to let him know I was good and left to go back to my room.

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