Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

Page 34

Her fingers come away wet and before I can think about it I pull them up and into my mouth before bending to kiss her. It’s such a rare filthy thought but I want her to feel what we’re doing with every one of her senses. If she wants to memorize it, I want to tattoo it into her thoughts.

Look at this, I think. We’re making something right now.

God, there’s a different awareness this time that makes me feel both more relaxed and more inhibited. For one, we’ve done this already, so there’s the familiarity of her body under mine and knowing—even barely—what she likes. But I’m sober, and so every movement is intentional, every touch is conscious.

I also realize, when I hear her sounds and feel the hungry wandering of her hands, that for me at least, this isn’t just infatuation or a flash of desire, it’s deeper. I think this is love, I think she’s it for me, but I can’t quite reach that emotional place with her noises pressed right into my ear; I know I’ll be hearing them for days.



She goes quiet, almost like she’s suddenly shy.

My mouth presses to her jaw, my hand finds her breast as I narrow my movements to the tiniest circles. “Tell me.”

Instead of answering, she cups my face and brings my mouth over to hers. Her kiss is so searching, so desperate that I have to wonder whether she’s asking me something with the touch.

Is this real?

“I feel it, too,” I tell her. Whatever this is. “I’m right there with you.”

Hazel slides her tongue over mine, spreading her legs wide and pulling me deeper, until she’s crying out into my mouth, telling me


I’m coming

I feel every bit of air leave me as I follow her down the spiral—a relieved gust drains me. The pleasure is unreal: metal and liquid and light, pulling a long groan from my throat that comes out strangled.

Her hands grip my backside, holding me deep as I shake.

Other than our gasping breaths, quiet surrounds us.

“Did you come again?” I whisper. I need to know she did. If the answer is no, I’m not done here.

She nods, her forehead damp against the side of my face. “Did you?”

I cough out an incredulous sound, and she giggles, but when I begin to pull back, she grips me with her arms around my shoulder and her legs around my thighs, keeping me inside her.

“Don’t.” She presses her mouth to my neck. “I’m not ready for this to be over yet.”

I know exactly what she means.


Hazel is already up when I wake, naked in her bed. I hear dishes clattering in the kitchen, and a flash of relief ripples through me that she hasn’t taken off on a run, needing to process this somewhere else.

I cup my forehead and try to figure out what to do. I love Hazel; with the clarity of the morning sun beaming in the window, I know I do. But in the long run, am I what she needs? I don’t want to root her down if she’s not ready, and if she wants someone boisterous and gregarious like Tyler, who am I to say she shouldn’t have that?

I wonder, too, where her head is after what we did last night. Hazel has done this before—casual sex, hookups. But I remember the moments last night when it felt nearly desperate between us, like she didn’t want to let me go. I know that could also be the weight of our friendship, and her fear of losing it. It could have been a comfort screw and nothing more.

I have no idea what to think.

It’s calculated, but I pull on my boxers and jeans, leaving my shirt off. I figure, if she makes some crack about my body, or comes over to touch me—that’s good, right? If she wants to figure out what’s going on between us, I’m totally down for that.

In the kitchen, she’s pulling spoons out of a drawer and glances up when I come in. She’s wearing her favorite dalmatian pajamas—tiny shorts and an even tinier tank, which makes them my favorite, too.

Her chest and neck flush when she sees me, but I notice that her eyes stay firmly on my face. “Hey.”

I rub a casual hand over my stomach. “Hey.”

She quickly turns back to the silverware drawer, closing it with her hip.

“What are you making?” I ask.

Pointing to a box of Shredded Wheat on the counter, she says, “Just cereal. I figured you’d want some, too.” Then she lifts her chin to the coffeepot.

“No blue pancakes? No banana waffles?”

Hazel laughs down at the counter. “I’d probably burn them.”

I pause on my way to grab a mug. “When did that ever stop you before?”

I’m treated to a flash of a real smile before she tucks it away and turns to pull the milk from the fridge.

And seriously, what the hell? Where is my Crazy Hazie?

A sinking feeling spreads from my stomach up through my chest. Did last night break something good between us?


She looks up at me as she pours some cereal into her bowl. “Yeah?”

“You okay?”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen her blush before. “Yeah, why?”

“You’re being … normal.”

She doesn’t seem to get it.

I put my mug down and hold out my hand, curling my fingers. “Come here.”

She comes over to me across the kitchen. Her hair is a wild mess, tumbling down her back. The words are so close to the surface: I know this is confusing, but can we try to figure it out?

But she isn’t looking at me, and I can’t tell if the tightness in her eyes is fear or a need to put some distance between us. Am I missing something?

Unfortunately, she’s going to have to do that with words, not expressions and mumbled phrases. I put my hands on her hips and it’s an invitation to touch me. Instead she curls her hands into fists and tucks them against her chest.

“Is this about Tyler?”

She blinks with incomprehension and then shakes her head.

“Then did last night freak you out?” I ask.

She hesitates, but then shakes her head again. But she was pretty emotional last night, and it’s hard for me to know how to read that: if the most insecure part of me is right, and she wants to give this thing with Tyler a shot, I have to let her.


“Okay, so what is it? Why aren’t you wearing a chicken costume and frying me homemade doughnuts in the sink?”

“I guess it’s a little about last night.” She gnaws on her lower lip before admitting, “I … worry about what would happen …” She screws her mouth to the side, plucking words carefully, but lets the last bit out in a rush: “If we were to pretend we’re compatible.”

Ummmm. It felt pretty compatible. I squeeze her hips gently. “I don’t think we’re pretending anything. We’ve slept together twice, and that’s okay, right? It doesn’t have to mean anything we don’t want it to mean. You’re okay?”

“I am. Are you?”

I laugh a little. “Of course I am. You’re my best friend, Haze.”

Her eyes meet mine and they’re wide with surprise.

“What?” I ask.

“You’ve never said that before.”

“Yes, I have.”

“No, you haven’t.”

I start to think back but it’s honestly immaterial. “Well, it’s true. I’m okay. You’re okay. Most importantly, we’re okay?”

She nods, and finally meets my eyes.

“Now come on. Make me some bad pancakes.”

She slumps with a dopey grin, shuffling back toward the stove. “I mean, if you insist.”

Something unwinds in me at the same time something else tightens. On the one hand, Hazel is back. On the other hand, I feel like we just agreed to maintain the status quo, when I think I want us to evolve.

We made love last night. She has to know that.

She pulls out a mixing bowl. “Did you have fun last night?”

I stare at her. “Um. I thought we already established that, yes, I had fun.”

Laughing, she amends, “I mean before we got back here.”

“Oh. I guess—Sasha is nice. Tyler seemed okay. Mostly I was worried about you.” I study her for a reaction to this. She does a quick scrunch of her nose as if stifling a sneeze. “Feeling better about it this morning?”

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