This novella contains graphic sex. It is intended for adults.
The next morning Adeline used her juicer to make carrot-ginger juice.
“There’s nothing better for a hangover. I used to make them for Frank all the time,” she promised.
It was funny, when she thought about Frank she hardly felt anything. It was like a hundred years had passed in the last few days. Before she left Tupperfield he staked out her house and came to her job until she threatened to get a restraining order. But since leaving town she hardly thought about him anymore.
Jenna and Adeline sat on kitchen stools, nursing their juices before switching to coffee. Once the ibuprofen had started to ease Jenna’s headache she was ready to get to work.
“I don’t want to be cruel, but my ulterior motive is to have your entire current wardrobe in the trashcan as soon as possible.”
“Why do I get the feeling you’ve been harboring that goal for a long time?”
“Because I have been,” Jenna said. “I do love you, but as someone devoted to fashion, I can’t help but find your clothes deeply offensive.”
“Harsh,” Adeline said.
“If there’s anything in your closet that you really, really love, you can keep it.” She raised her eyebrows at Adeline.
“You win. There’s nothing.”
Jenna had her put on some new underwear and try on some half made things so she could adjust and re-pin them.
“My estimates weren’t too bad,” Jenna said, looking pleased with herself.
It was kind of boring to stand around, but it wasn’t any worse than scrubbing toilets at the Vacay Inn, which is what she’d usually be doing on a Tuesday morning.
“I think Heath has a little crush on you,” Jenna said around a mouthful of pins.
“Very funny.” She didn’t like being teased about Heath. He was so out of her league she shouldn’t even care, but she couldn’t help it. She definitely had a crush on him.
“Seriously, didn’t you see the way he was looking at you last night?”
“You were drunk,” Adeline pointed out.
“It doesn’t matter if I was unconscious, you can’t miss a thing like that. Plus he got a huge boner picking up your new lingerie.” Jenna snickered.
“I thought I was going to die when I saw him holding up a pair of my giant panties. He was just trying to figure out if they were a couch cover or a bedspread.”
Jenna stopped pinning to stare at her.
“Holy cow – didn’t you see it? I mean, how could you not? You just don’t see a package like that every day.”
Adeline cracked up.
“Maybe he had something in his pocket.”
“Like what? A baseball bat?”
“Are you sure it was hard? Maybe it’s really big soft. Some guys are like that. Right?
“Trust me, I know the difference between a hard cock and a soft one.”
They both giggled.
“Maybe he was hard for you.”
“I’ve been living upstairs from Heath for two years and believe me, if he’d ever given me that vibe, I’d know it. I never miss those kinds of signals – not from a man like that. I told you already – I tried. I’m not his type.”
Adeline’s brow wrinkled suddenly.
“I’m not sure, but I think he said something about spanking me.”
“What did I tell you? What did I just say?” She shook her head, still chuckling. “Spanking, huh? God, he’s yummy. Don’t let him get away.”
“Maybe he wasn’t flirting – maybe he was just annoyed about carrying me.”
Jenna looked up at her in disbelief.
“Adeline, really.” She was just exasperated now. “You can’t be this clueless. If a man says he wants to spank you, he wants to fuck you. Unless he’s actually your dad.”
They were interrupted by a knock at the door.
“You can’t open that!” She hissed at Jenna. “I’m half naked!”
Jenna looked at her sternly. “Don’t you dare move an inch or I’ll have to re-pin everything.”
Before Adeline could say another word Jenna left her standing there.
“Hey!” Jenna grinned hugely at a sheepish looking Heath. Before he could say anything, she pulled him inside.
He was about to hand her the postcard invitation for his next art opening when he caught site of Adeline. His mouth went dry, and a sheen of perspiration broke out on his forehead. Her sunshine blonde curls were tousled, and her pale skin was smooth and satiny soft in the slanting morning light. The low-cut, sheer black cups of her bra just covered her nipples and he wasn’t sure, but he thought he could see the shadow of her areolas beneath that sinful fabric. Her waist dipped in and disappeared into a sheath of soft red cotton that hugged the generous swell of her hips and full thighs. The pinned fabric clung, outlining the gentle curve of her belly and the v of her crotch before dropping to pool around her feet. He could see one dainty ankle and shapely calf peeking out from the swaths of red. Her hands were on her cocked hips as she looked down at something over her shoulder.
She looked like a pin up girl. A dirty, sexy pinup girl.
“Let me get you some coffee,” Jenna said.
“Okay.” He only half heard her, his eyes glued to Adeline’s half naked form.
Her head whipped around, blonde curls swinging and bouncing, her soft pink lips open in a gasp. Her pale green eyes went wide.
Heath wanted to fuck her into the middle of next week.
His palms started to sweat, and he wiped them on the thighs of his jeans.
Jesus Christ, he thought. I’ve got Jane Mansfield living upstairs from me.
“Don’t move a muscle,” Jenna sang to her, whisking past to the kitchen. “This dress is going to be positively delicious,” she told Heath over her shoulder.
Adeline didn’t know whether to run and hide or what. She was half naked and she wasn’t supposed to move, but there was Heath – HEATH for crying out loud.
Stay calm, she thought desperately. If she literally bolted for her room it would be even more humiliating than having him see her in her bra, which it was too late to prevent anyway. If she played it off like it was no big deal she could at least retain some shred of dignity. Like she was too cool to even care what he thought.
She’d kill Jenna, literally stab her through her cold, black heart for this, but she’d be damned if she was going to show an ounce of embarrassment in the meantime.
Let him think what he wants, she thought, trying to convince herself it didn’t matter.
What was he doing here anyway, drinking coffee in the middle of the day? Didn’t anybody in this town have an honest job?
She tossed her hair before staring straight ahead with her chin up, cheeks burning.
Jenna passed a mug to Heath, who took a long swallow.
“Check out the sketch.” Jenna gestured to the drafting table before squatting back down to fuss with the pins. “What do you think?”
Heath leaned a hip against the table and studied the sketch of a floor length red gown.
“I think it’s going to look even better in person.”
Jenna pinched Adeline’s leg, getting her to look down. She mouthed the word ‘BONER’ and pointed discreetly to her own crotch, her eyes twinkling with hilarity. Adeline made a face, before staring straight ahead again. She wanted to look, but she was afraid.
“I have a show coming up that I wanted to invite you guys to,” Heath said.
“Are you showing your fashion photography?” Jenna asked.
“No, this is something a little different for me. Something experimental I’ve been working on.”
Adeline snuck a quick peak between his legs. She couldn’t be sure – it might have just been a shadow. She looked again, longer this time.
Nestled against one muscular thigh was a long, thick bulge inside his faded blue jeans. She glanced up quickly to find him staring back at her, and those atmospheric blue eyes looked hungry.
She could feel the hot flush creeping right up to her hairline.
“It’s this Friday – can you make it?” He asked, still looking at Adeline.
When Jenna didn’t answer, Adeline heard her voice, a little out of breath.
“I think so. Jenna?” She quickly looked down at her friend. She could feel her nipples stiffening, pushing against the silky material. She couldn’t believe she was half naked in front of Heath and he looked like… like he was enjoying the view.
Jenna grinned up at her and winked, mouthing the words GIANT BONER.
Adeline tried not to laugh.
“I think so. I have to check my calendar to make sure. What time?” She said. How did Jenna always manage to sound so relaxed?
“8 to 11, but I’d get there before 10:00 if you want any free wine.”
“Naturally,” Jenna said. “Hey, can you come here and hold this for a second? I need an extra hand.”
Adeline tried to get Jenna’s attention, but it was too late. She could see Heath coming toward them from the corner of her eye. Jenna had a handful of soft, red fabric carefully folded back and forth on itself. She pressed it to the front of Adeline’s hip against the other side of the slowly evolving skirt.
“Just hold this just like this.”
Adeline watched with horror as Jenna positioned his warm, callused hand against her hip. Her squishy, toneless hip.
“I just need to get some more pins,” she said, dashing away before Adeline could point out the giant box of pins not more than two feet away.
Right through her cold black heart, she thought again.
She couldn’t help but notice how big and brown Heath’s hand looked against her white skin. She wished she’d tried to get some sun before moving to the city – she looked like she lived in a closet.
Wow, he smelled good though. She took a couple of deep breaths, feeling almost woozy from how heady his soapy, musky smell was.
She chanced a look up into his face. It was a long way up. In her bare feet she barely reached his collarbones, and at 5’10 she wasn’t exactly short. He was so handsome up close she could hardly breathe. It wasn’t natural for one man to be so desirable.
“I’m sorry if I upset you last night,” he said, his husky voice sending a tremor down her spine. “I just didn’t feel right about leaving you in the stairwell like that. A hangover is bad enough without waking up on the steps.”
“I’m sorry you had to carry me – us. Is your back okay?”
He almost looked offended.
“Do I look like my back would hurt from lifting a couple of girls?”
She didn’t know what to say to that. Frank always teased her about weighing more than a moose.
Her eyes slid down to where his bulging bicep emerged from the sleeve of his snug t-shirt. The muscle flexed under her gaze and she tried not to sigh with longing. Heath could probably bench press a moose without much trouble.
“What’s that?” She reached up to lift the sleeve of his t-shirt a little. Touching him! She had no idea what made her so bold. Maybe just the overwhelming desire to touch those muscles at any price.
“Oh!” She hated the disappointment she felt when she saw the whole tattoo. The name Helena was written in script across a banner unfurling over a heart.
“One of many mistakes I’ve made,” he said ruefully.
“The girl or the tattoo?” The words were out before she could stop them. She shouldn’t be asking about his tattoos or girlfriends or anything – especially not in her underwear. The whole situation was ridiculous.
“Both,” he said, his eyes dipping to her mouth.
“Can’t they remove those, now?” She asked. She pretended to stare at the tattoo but was really admiring the muscles underneath it.
“Removing it won’t change the past. Besides,” he twisted his neck to look at it himself. “It’s a good reminder not to repeat the same mistakes.”
She almost asked him what kind of mistakes, but then he ran the knuckles of his free hand slowly down her bare arm. Goose bumps broke out on her skin, and she knew he could see them.
“No tattoos for you, huh?” His voice was so low and husky, so close to her ear. God, he was hot. Adeline was creaming her new panties.
“I’m not the kind of girl who gets a tattoo,” she said automatically. Then she started to think about it. “Well,” she said slowly. “I didn’t used to be, anyway.”
She looked up at him. Their eyes met. They were so close that she could feel his breath on her cheek. Had he stepped closer to her? Was she leaning into him?
“What do you think? Would I look right with a tattoo?”
“I think you’d look right with anything.”
“Oh.” Adeline’s face was hot. All of her was hot.
A guy like this would never go for her, would he? Maybe he just felt sorry for her. But it didn’t feel like he felt sorry for her.
Her eyes skimmed down to that huge bulge in his jeans. It was so close, and she wanted to touch it so badly. If she just brushed against it, as if it were an accident, maybe he wouldn’t think anything about it…
“Okay, let’s get this pinned, shall we?” Jenna’s eyes were wide and innocent as she came up to them.
Maybe Adeline wouldn’t stab her through the heart after all.