Chapter Sixteen

After We Fell

chapter sixteen




The microscopic section of my mind that holds a place for common sense is attempting to send warning signals to the rest of my brain, the space held by Hardin and all things Hardin. The sensible side—what’s left of it, anyway—is telling me that I need to ask questions, that I can’t just brush this off. I do that too much as it is.

    That’s the microscopic section. The larger section wins. Because, do I really want to cause a fight with him or accuse him of something that I might just be misunderstanding? He could have just been angry at Steph for inviting Molly along to lunch earlier. I couldn’t hear all that well, and he might have been sticking up for me. He was just so forthcoming about having lied about being expelled—why would he be lying to me now?

    Hardin sits back on the bed, grabbing my hands in his, pulling me over to sit on his leg. “Well, we’ve exhausted all the serious topics, and your dad’s asleep. I guess we’ll have to find another way to occupy ourselves . . .” His grin is ridiculous yet infectious.

    “Is sex all you think about?” I reply and push his chest playfully.

    He lies back on the bed, one hand across the small of my back and one behind my thigh, pulling me on top of him. I straddle him, my thighs on either side of his, and he pulls me down so that our faces are nearly touching.

    “No, I think of other things, too. For example, I think of those lips open around me . . .” He brushes his lips against mine. I can taste the hint of mint on his breath when he kisses me; the pressure is hard enough to send a wave of electricity through me, but gentle enough to leave me wanting more.

    “I think of my face buried between your legs while you—” he starts to say, but I reach up and cover his mouth with my hand. The way his tongue playfully darts out to lick my palm causes me to pull away quickly.

    “Eww.” I crinkle my nose and wipe my wet palm on his black shirt.

    “I’ll be quiet,” he softly says, lifting his hips from the mattress to press himself against me. “That’s more than you can say, of course.”

    “My father . . .” I remind him, with much less conviction this time.

    “Who gives a fuck? This is our place, and if he doesn’t like it, he can leave.”

    I give him a semiserious look. “Don’t be rude.”

    “I’m not, but I want you, and I should be able to have you whenever I want to,” he says, and I roll my eyes.

    “I have a say in this, too; it’s my body you’re talking about.” I pretend like my heart isn’t pounding and I don’t have that familiar ache for him.

    “Obviously, yes. But I know that if I do this . . .” He reaches his hand down between our bodies and under the waistband of my pants and panties. “See, I knew you’d be ready when I started talking about eating . . .”

    I press my lips against his to silence his dirty mouth, and he swallows the gasps he’s causing me to make as his fingers graze over my clit. He’s barely touching me, deliberately trying to torture me.

    “Pleasssse,” I hiss, and he applies more pressure, pushing a slick finger inside of me.

    “Thought so,” he taunts and pumps his finger slowly.

    All too soon he stops his motion and moves me to lie beside him. Before I can complain, he sits up and grips the top of my pants, the pair he seems to be so infatuated with, and pulls them roughly down my thighs. I lift my hips to assist him, and then he works off my panties, too.

    Without speaking, he gestures for me to move up toward the top of the bed. I push myself back using my elbows and rest my back against the headboard. He lies on his stomach in front of me, hooking both arms around my thighs, opening them.

    He smirks. “At least try to be quiet.”

    I begin to roll my eyes, but then his warm breath hits me—soft at first, then increasing in pressure when he gets closer. Without warning, his tongue slides across me, and I reach over and grab a decorative pillow, the yellow one that Hardin calls hideous on a regular basis. I cover my face with it, using it to muffle the involuntary sounds falling from my lips as his tongue moves faster and faster.

    Abruptly, the pillow is ripped away from my face. “No, baby, watch me,” Hardin instructs, and I nod slowly. He brings one thumb to his lips, and his tongue glides over me. Moving his hand back between my thighs, he hits my most sensitive spot. My legs tighten—his touch feels heavenly against my clit, his finger moving in slow circles with just the lightest touch of the tip of his finger torturing me.

    Obeying his command, I gaze down at him between my thighs, his hair messy and pushed back, standing in a wave above his forehead, a lone lock falling down only to be pushed back again when he dips his head down. Half seeing, half imagining his mouth moving against me increases the sensation drastically, and I know, I just I won’t be able to stay quiet as the slow buildup of my release begins. With one hand covering my mouth and one buried in his curls, I begin shifting my hips to meet his tongue. It just feels too good.

    I tug at his hair and feel him moan against me, sending me closer and closer . . .

    “Harder,” he gasps.


    He reaches up to the hand that I’ve threaded through his hair, and places his hand on top of mine to tug at the roots of his hair . . . He wants me to pull his hair?

    “Do it,” he says with a wanting look, and then begins to move his fingers in fast circles and lowers his head to add his tongue to the sensation. I tug at his hair, hard, and he looks up at me, his eyes fluttering closed. When they open they’re a bright, burning jade. He holds my gaze as my vision blurs and disappears momentarily.

    “Come on, baby,” he whispers.

    I notice his hand reach down between his legs, and I can’t hold it any longer. I watch his hand stroking his hard cock, bringing himself to orgasm with me. I will never get used to the way his actions make me feel. Watching him touching himself, feeling the hot puffs of air against me as his breathing grows heavier . . .

    “You taste so fucking good, baby,” he moans against me, his hand moving quicker between his legs. I barely feel my teeth sinking into my palm as I ride out my high, still pulling at his hair.

    I blink. And blink some more, lazily.

    As I come back to consciousness, I feel him adjust his weight and lay his head on my stomach. I open my eyes to find him with his closed, his chest moving up and down, his breath shallow.

    I lift him by his shoulder and attempt to move between his legs.

    He stops and looks at me. “I . . . um, I’m already done,” he says.

    I stare at him.

    “I already came . . .” His voice is thick with exhaustion.


    He smiles a lazy, half-drunk smile and stands up from the bed. He strides over to the dresser and opens his bottom drawer, grabbing a pair of white gym shorts.

    “I need to shower and change, obviously.” He points to the crotch of his jeans, where, despite their dark color, the wet spot is evident.

    “Just like old times?” I smile, and he looks at me, smiling back.

    Hardin comes over and places a kiss on my forehead, then one on my lips. “Good to know you haven’t lost your touch,” he says, walking to the door.

    “It wasn’t my touch,” I remind him, and he shakes his head, leaving the room.

    I reach for my clothes at the end of the bed, praying that my father is still asleep on the couch, and that if by chance he is awake, he doesn’t stop Hardin on his way to the bathroom. Seconds later the bathroom door closes, and I stand to get dressed.

    When I’m done I check my phone for a voicemail from Sandra, but there’s nothing. What I do see is the small envelope in the corner of my screen indicating a new text message; maybe she’s busy and decided to text me.

    I click it open and read: I need to talk to you.

    I sigh when I next read the sender’s name: Zed.

    I delete the message and set my phone back on the desk. Then curiosity gets the best of me, and I look around for Hardin’s phone. My heart pounds as I remember the last time I went snooping through it. That didn’t end well.

    But this time I know he’s not hiding anything. He wouldn’t be. We’re in a completely different place now than we were before. He got a tattoo for me . . . he just won’t move for me. I have nothing to worry about. Right?

    I check the dresser after not seeing it on the desk, then figure he must have taken it with him to the bathroom. Because that’s normal, right?

    I have nothing to worry about; I’m just stressed and I remind myself.

    Before I continue down the rabbit hole of worry, I remind myself that I shouldn’t be going through his cell phone anyway, that I would be furious if he did that to me.

    He probably does, though. I just haven’t caught him.

    The bedroom door clicks open, and I jump as if I’ve been caught doing something I shouldn’t be. Hardin strides in, shirtless, barefoot, wearing the gym shorts, the black line of his boxers showing.

    “You okay?” he asks, rubbing a white towel over his soaked hair. I love the way his hair appears black when it’s wet; the contrast with his green eyes is something one can only dream about.

    “Yeah. That wasn’t a long shower.” I sit down on the chair. “I should have gotten you dirtier,” I say, trying to distract him from the slight quaver in my voice.

    “I was in a hurry to see you,” he says unconvincingly.

    I smile. “You’re hungry, aren’t you?”

    “Yeah,” he admits with an amused grin. “I got hungry.”

    “Thought so.”

    “Your dad’s still asleep—is he going to stay here while we’re gone?”

    Excitement overtakes any worry I had. “You’re coming?”

    “Yeah, I guess. If it’s as lame as I know it will be, I’m only staying one night.”

    “Okay,” I say with understanding. But inside I’m beaming, knowing that he won’t leave early. He just has to keep up appearances by complaining about this sort of thing.

    He licks his lips, and I think back to him between my thighs. “Can I ask you something?” I say.

    His eyes meet mine, and he nods. “Yeah?” He sits on the bed.

    “When you . . . you know, was it because I was pulling your hair?”

    “What?” He laughs lightly.

    “When I pulled at your hair, you liked it?” I flush.

    “Yeah, I did.”

    “Oh.” I can’t imagine the shade of red I’m turning right now.

    “Is that weird to you? That I liked it?”

    “No, I’m just curious,” I tell him truthfully.

    “Everyone has certain things they like during sex; that’s one of mine. I didn’t know it until just now, though.” He smiles, completely unfazed that we’re talking about this.

    “Oh yeah?” I get excited at the thought that he learned something new while with me.

    “Yeah,” he says. “I mean, my hair’s been pulled on by other girls, but it’s different with you.”

    “Oh,” I say for the tenth time, but this one leaves me feeling flat.

    Likely unaware of my reaction, Hardin looks at me with curiosity gleaming in his green eyes. “Is there something you like that I haven’t done?”

    “No, I like everything you do,” I say softly.

    “Yeah, I know, but is there something you’ve thought about doing before that we haven’t done?”

    I shake my head.

    “Don’t be embarrassed, baby—everyone has fantasies.”

    “I don’t.” At least, I don’t think I do. I haven’t had any experience outside of Hardin, and I don’t know of anything else besides what we’ve done.

    “You do,” he says with a smile. “We just have to find them.”

    My stomach flutters, and I don’t know what to say.

    But then my father’s voice breaks our conversation. “Tessie?” My first thought is that I’m relieved that his voice sounds like it’s coming from the living room and not the hallway.

    Hardin and I both stand.

    “I’m going to use the restroom,” I say.

    He nods with a wicked grin and heads into the living room to join my father.

    When I get into the bathroom, Hardin’s phone is sitting on the edge of the sink.

    I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t stop myself. I immediately go to the call log, but it doesn’t show. All the calls have been cleared. Not a single one is shown on the screen. I try again, and then look at the text-message screen.

    Nothing. He’s deleted everything.