“Ugh, no dad talk right now.”
I graze a nail over his nipple and he sucks in a breath. “Okay, then my mom. Or Alex—God knows he’d probably pull up a chair and give me pointers—”
“I swear to God I will leave—”
I’m stopped by the grip of his hand on the back of my neck and the press of his smile against mine. His lips are as soft as I remember, but less frantic, more experimental as he takes his time. I shove him down to his back so I can straddle his legs, and he groans into my mouth.
“God, you feel amazing.” He chases my bottom lip, sucking a little before pulling away and searching my face. “Are we really doing this again?”
The sound of his zipper lowering cuts through the silence. I guess that’s answer enough. We both laugh at the insanity of this entire thing, quietly shushing each other at the sound of Ed’s voice floating from downstairs.
“Not really the person I wanted to hear right now,” Reid groans, rocking slowly up against me, the hard parts of his body molding perfectly against the soft parts of mine.
“This is vacation sex, right?” I say, breathless as his teeth graze my ear.
“Exactly.” He pulls away long enough to lift his hips and help me push his jeans down his legs, before returning to my mouth. “Sex is like calories.”
“Doesn’t count on vacation.”
To be fair, we should probably be giving this more discussion, but Reid’s hands seem to be everywhere at once: on my breasts and between my legs, on my lips, my neck, my waist.
His reasoning makes perfect sense.
I’m not sure if it was in his pocket or in a drawer—I don’t even want to think about where it came from—but one second there’s a condom in his hand, and the next it’s on him and he’s staring up at me, waiting.
I move so slowly, careful not to call his name or rock the bed; it’s almost hard to breathe, like the air is being pushed from my body to make room for his.
I don’t want to examine too closely that this is Reid, and that doing this with him is somehow just as easy as doing anything else together. The way he smiles up at me is the same way he always looks at me: like there is nowhere else he’d rather be. There’s no awkwardness or tentative touches. It’s just us.
His hands map a circuit from my hair to my arms and thighs and everywhere in between. I watch his face, noting when sensation becomes too much and he has to close his eyes and twist his fingers in the comforter, and then I do it again, wanting to see more, to see him rattled and undone.
“You are,” he says, breathless, “the best . . .”
And I shake my head, leaning forward to kiss him. I’m sweating and my muscles shake; I’m so tightly wound that I’m practically burning. I keep my movements small so we don’t move the bed too much, but then he makes this quiet sound of relief and I’m not sure I care anymore. I’m so close to that feeling that might overflow and drown us both.
Reid’s hands move from my breasts to my hips and he grips me tightly, moving with me. Sweat pools in the hollows of his collarbones, down the center of his chest to where our bodies meet, and I want to stamp the image on the back of my eyelids, frame it, and hang it on every wall in my house. His face is flushed with the exertion of holding back.
I see the exact moment he breaks. His mouth opens on a gasp, on a sound he can’t make, and he falls, pulling me down with him.
I wake up alone.
I don’t remember when Reid left, but when I think back on everything we did last night, I’m not surprised he needed to go crash in his own bed. The second time, we were . . . enthusiastic, to say the least, and I was exhausted by the end of it. My last memory is of falling to pieces with Reid behind me, and I swear I must have just passed out as soon as I returned to orbit. I’m no expert, but I’d call that a success.
Well done, Reid.
It takes some work to sit up and get my feet under me and—oh yeah, everything hurts. The bed doesn’t seem to be faring much better: most of the blankets are piled on the floor, a couple of pillows are by the window, and the sheets are barely hanging on.
I have no idea where my underwear might be.
At least my jeans are where I left them, and after a quick stop in the bathroom, I fish my phone out of one of the pockets. There’s just enough juice left to show that Cat has messages waiting.
Sheets straightened and pillows and blankets accounted for, I sit on the bed and open the app. I’m honestly surprised when I see one is from Reid; it takes me a minute to calculate when it could have shown up. There wasn’t anything when I came upstairs last night, so he would have had to have written it while he waited on the deck (before heading up to have sex with me), in bed while I slept (after having sex with me), or back in his own room (again, after having had sex with me).
My finger hovers over the unopened message. What does it say that Reid still wrote Catherine after deciding to or actually sleeping with me? The point was to get him to like Cat more than Daisy, so am I happy he possibly wrote fake me while sex-drunk naked real me was sleeping in the same house? Maybe the same bed?
But did he write Daisy, too?
Straightening, I stop the mental spiral. Reid isn’t a player. At all.
Still, knowing this about him doesn’t really make me feel any better; he still slept with me and then left to go write another woman. The fact that I’m upset only compounds the knowledge that this whole alter ego thing is A Big Mistake. Sleeping together again is An Even Bigger Mistake, and will most likely end in a train wreck of mighty proportions.
Okay, okay, all that said, it doesn’t make that flashing notification any less interesting, and since I’ve already screwed things up . . .
I look down at my phone. It’s dead.
Unfortunately, my phone cord is in my purse, and my purse is in the kitchen. All the way downstairs.
With a deep breath for bravery, I throw on the pajamas I’d meant to wear last night, grab my dead phone, and tiptoe out of the room.
But the thing about old houses is that they’re loud. The heat clanks its way up the ductwork, steel expanding and contracting before being silenced by the hiss of warmed air. The windows stick, the frames protesting being separated from the sash. The floors creak with every step, particularly when you’re trying to be quiet.
I’ve spent enough weekends here to know which boards squeak, and which steps to avoid, but Bailey, the Campbell family’s schnauzer, is clearly not up to speed on the Sneaking Around plan. I manage to tiptoe past a row of closed doors and make it as far as the landing before Bailey comes barreling down the hall, almost knocking us both down the stairs.
We end up at the bottom a lot faster and a whole lot noisier than I’d intended, but when I strain to listen, I don’t hear a thing. No footsteps or voices, just the faintest sounds of snores from upstairs.
My purse is where I left it, and rather than risk Bailey and the creaky stairs again, I pull out a chair, plug in my phone, and quietly settle in at the dining room table.
It takes a moment for the screen to come to life, but when it does, the notification is still there, waiting. I take a quick look around like I’m about to commit a crime, and open Reid’s message.
From: Reid C.
Sent: 3:14 am, April 1
It’s late right now, too late—or too early—I’m sure, to be writing, but I really couldn’t sleep, and I wanted to thank you for your lovely message. First of all, your dad sounds like an amazing guy, I’d love to hear more about him. And I hope this doesn’t show too much of what a terrible human I am, but I hope that Tessa is waitressing in a polluted truck stop somewhere now.
You’re right about parents surprising us. Back when my parents were newly married, there weren’t many houses nearby. Coming here was the first time my city-slicker mom had ever lived in what she considered to be country, and she was completely out of her element. She’s nothing like that now, but Dad likes to tell stories of her screeching at the sound of a coyote, or running at the sight of a raccoon near the garbage bins. She also knew that accidents happened on farms all the time—my dad lost his arm here when he was a teenager—and so she worried about having two small children at home, and us being so far away from a hospital. When my sister was still just a baby, Mom would have me do these drills to prepare for an emergency. What would I do if Rayme got bitten by a spider? What if she fell down the steep stairs? What would I do if I didn’t know where Mom was? Of course, “I would find the candy bars you hide in the cupboard and eat them before you came back” wasn’t what she was looking for, so we memorized my dad’s cell phone number together, and practiced calling 911.