18. 1

Tonight is going to be interesting. Emily has talked a group of us into going out to a new nightclub, called Grind. She cooked this up with her roommate, Fil, because both of them love to dance. She wanted Nix to go, who would rather have his right nut cut off, so I got roped into going with him so he would have someone to talk to while Emily and Fil tear the dance floor up.

Of course, I wasn’t going to leave Rowan at home by herself. When I told her about it, I expected her to balk because she doesn’t seem like the time to go clubbing, but she jumped all over that, even exclaiming, “I love to dance.”

That obviously sent my brain into overload with vivid scenes playing out before me of her dancing. I imagine it would be provocative and sexy, and yeah, my dick perks up in interest just thinking about it.

The past several weeks have been amazing in a unique way, just not exactly in the way I want. I’ve developed a very strong bond with Rowan. She’s the first close friend that I’ve had that was a girl, and Renner doesn’t count because she’s my sister and a pain in the ass more than fifty percent of the time.

Rowan is never a pain in the ass though. She is always there to listen to me, and even though she is only twenty-three years old, her life experience has made her wise with sharply honed common sense. She’s given me advice that has been sound, well thought out, and fair on more than one occasion. She is patient and thoughtful, and my day brightens when I’m in her presence.

Best of all, I have watched Rowan morph into an amazingly confident and self-possessed woman. It’s not that she wasn’t confident before, because she was. But it was a confidence that was bordered with sharp angles and deep edges. It was built from a tough life and by being rejected by her parents. Rather than breaking her down, her dad’s final rejection of her emboldened her to become everything he said she would not be.

And she survived.

But Rowan’s new confidence is something to behold. It’s softer, and it’s bright. It comes from deep inside a woman who has decided to let go of her misery and forge a new path. I truly believe that has come about after Rowan opened up and told me about her parents and their lack of affection or interest.

Now, while the past several weeks have been spectacular as I build a solid friendship with Rowan, I feel absolutely empty at times because I want so much more. I want to take this friendship we have, and I want to build on it. I want to take it to the next level, and yes, that means I want to make love to her.

I believe she wants it to, and I truly believe she will come around. I only have to wait until that day when she can trust fully that it’s okay to take the risk.

So I am patient.

Now, when Rowan steps out of her bedroom and I see how she’s dressed to go clubbing, I don’t know that I am so patient. In fact, all the resolve that I have been manifesting in respecting her friendship barrier seems to be disappearing at this very moment.

She’s got on a black and white dress that fits her body like a glove, and it’s the first time that I’ve actually ever seen her body outlined in such sharp relief. The top portion of the dress has thick, black stripes across her breasts, which only serves to draw my eye to the deep cleavage she’s showing. Thin, black straps hold the dress onto her shoulders, and she’s got it all topped off with some killer black heels that have little straps that wrap around her ankles.

I try to stop myself but I cannot help the way my eyes travel slowly up and down her body. If my dad were here right now, he’d knock me up against the back of my head for the way my gaze is molesting her. When I reach her eyes, she’s looking at me with amusement, which shakes me out of my lust just a tiny bit.

“Like what you see?” she teases.

“I’d be dead not to,” I quip. “You look amazing.”

Rowan is so brashly confident, I would expect her to maybe spin around and show off all her assets. But my compliment actually has her eyes lowering to the floor and her cheeks heating up with a blush. That actually strikes a chord of hope inside of me, because that means she was affected by my perusal of her.

Sometimes… I think there are moments when Rowan wants to give in to her feelings. I can’t describe it but it’s a look we share. I feel we are on the verge of connecting but then her words come back to haunt me.

I’m not brave enough to want it the way you do.

When the memory of those words penetrate my brain, I push myself away and try to shield my heart. I make myself be brave for Rowan, because she is the one that has suffered in the past, and like I said, I’m willing to wait for her to come around.

1

This club is packed and it’s like one seething, waving mass of bodies on the dance floor. Luckily, Emily, Fil, and Rowan are dancing near the edge so Nix and I can keep an eye on them. In fact, Nix all but demanded to Emily she stay within his line of sight, to which she just snorted at him and walked away without a backward glance.

However, I notice she did what he asked and I’m sure it’s because Emily had been attacked by a guy that couldn’t take no for an answer at a nightclub before Nix came to her rescue. Thus, she’s being respectful of his worry and gives him what he wants. I suppose relationships are supposed to be like that, right? It’s about trying to give the other person what they want without sacrificing too much of yourself. In return, the other person does the same for you.

I think in today’s day and age, we call that compromise.

The throng of people actually pulses as a whole, looking like a massive, beating heart under the disco lights. But then I focus on Rowan, and everything else ceases to exist. My girl loves to dance, and yes, I’m aware I just referred to her as my girl again. And she’s fucking good at it. Her body moves with a natural rhythm and she undulates her hips in a way that is like a walking orgasm. The only problem is, that show isn’t just for me and every horny male within eyesight of Rowan dances their way toward her.

I curl my fingers into my palms and dig in, trying to force my attention away from her, and one particular looking sleaze bag who is staring at her ass while he pumps his hips back and forth behind her. I swear… if he touches her, I’ll go ballistic and knock his teeth down the back of his throat.

Just as the douche is getting ready to touch her, I start to stand up from the table. But then I watch in amazement as Fil intercepts the guy and gets right up in his face. I obviously cannot hear what she’s saying but she is laying into him. He looks pissed at first but the longer she yells at him, the more his shoulders sag and I swear he looks like he might cry. He finally turns around and slinks off.

Fil merely turns around and starts dancing again, as if nothing happened.

Leaning over, I yell at Nix. “Looks like you weren’t needed tonight, buddy. Fil apparently can keep Em and Rowan safe.”

Nix smirks at me. “Yeah. I’ll deny it if you say anything but I’m a little afraid of her.”

We both turn back to the dance floor, watching the women work it, and I have a hard time keeping my eyes off Rowan.

After several songs, they return to the table—which apparently it’s the men’s job to protect—and order more drinks. We’ve been here a few hours and all of us are sporting a nice buzz. It won’t be too long before it’s time to leave.

The music is so loud there is no way to have a discussion amongst the group because you have to yell at the person sitting next to you just to be heard. Rowan is sitting to my right but she’s turned her back to me, talking to Fil.

That’s fine by me because I’m being treated to a lovely view of her upper back, since her hair only comes down to the top of her shoulders. Her skin looks smooth and creamy, and with the flashing lights bouncing off, it’s practically hypnotizing.

Nix leans back over to me and yells loud enough that thankfully only I can hear. “Rowan and Fil seem to be getting along great.”

I nod. This was the first time they had met but they seemed to become fast friends. It makes me wonder if Rowan would have been so open with her just a few short months ago, and I tend to think not. But that could be my ego talking, because I think part of her ability to be open with people stems from her finally giving me some of her trust.

“Maybe they’re interested in each other,” Nix yells into my ear, leaning just a little bit closer so for sure no one can hear.

I’m startled by his comment and I turn my head to look at Rowan and Fil.

No way! I mean, Fil is admittedly one-hundred-percent, out-of-the-closet gay, but there is no way Rowan is.

And I tell Nix that with certainty. “You’re wrong, man.”

Nix just shrugs and then says, “I bet you ten bucks that Fil will ask her to dance when the music turns slow.”

“You’re fucking high, Nix. You’re so misreading that.”

Nix just smirks at me and leans back in his chair, watching the two women talk. I see what he sees now… intimate smiles, Fil laying her hand on Rowan’s arm when she says something funny.

What the fuck? Is Fil hitting on Rowan?

I can’t believe I’m getting jealous over the prospect. I glance back at Nix. He’s grinning at me and I can’t figure out if he’s pulling my leg or not.

I’m vaguely aware that the music idles to a snail’s pace crawl and I see Fil start to stand from her chair in slow motion.

She’s actually going to ask Rowan to dance.

Before I can even fathom what I’m doing, I stand quickly, knocking my chair back into the next table over and reach down for Rowan’s hand. Pulling her from the table, I say, “Let’s dance.”

Fil smiles at us and yells over the music, “You kids are so cute. I’m heading to the bathroom because I’m about to burst. Anyone want anything while I’m up?”

We both shake our heads and watch her go. Then Rowan takes the lead and heads toward the dance floor. I shoot a quick glance back at Nix and he has his hand over his mouth, hiding the fact he’s laughing at me.

Fucker!

Oh, well… at least I’m going to dance with Rowan.

When we hit the dance floor, I don’t waste time letting her lead us too far in. I pull back on her arm and she turns, stepping easily into me. She lays her hands briefly on my chest, and then runs them up over my shoulders until she links them behind my neck. Mine naturally circle around her waist and I pull her in as close as I can without mashing our bodies together.

I have the swirl of good liquor in me, soft music playing, and a beautiful girl that my heart pines for in my arms. This is a recipe for disaster… or triumph, depending on how you look at it.

“What are you thinking?” Rowan asks.

“You don’t want to know,” I tell her with a mischievous smile.

Rowan leans her forehead into my chest and her shoulders shake with laughter. When she looks back up at me, her eyes are bright. Her tongue darts out and licks her lower lip, and its wetness reflects the flashing lights around us. It is taking all of my willpower not to lean in and grab her lip my teeth.

“Want to know what I’m thinking?” she asks with a flirty giggle. She punctuates the question with a tiny hiccup, which starts her laughing again.

“Are you drunk, young lady?” I ask, pretending to be indignant.

Her eyes are silver pools of light as she smiles at me. “Maybe a little. So, want to know what I’m thinking?”

I do… God, I do, so I nod at her. I want to know—especially if it’s dirty and she’ll let me sneak in just one kiss before we need to be all responsible and respect the friendship.

Rowan tugs on my neck and my head lowers. She stands on her tiptoes and places her mouth near my ear, which also fortuitously pushes her breasts into my chest. “I’m thinking I want you to kiss me, Flynn. And I want it to be hard, and hot, and wet. That’s what I’m thinking.” She ends the statement by flicking her tongue out so it just catches me on the tip of my ear.

That small but simple touch nearly makes my knees buckle and I pull back to look at her. She’s smiling at me with carefree abandon but there is a world of sensual heat in her eyes. I know this is fueled by alcohol and I know she’s probably going to regret this in the morning, and I’m the biggest schmuck for doing this, but I’m going to kiss her.

And it’s going to be hard, and hot, and wet.

1

I unlock the door to our apartment and my hands are practically shaking from what may be about to happen. I glance in and see Capone raise his shaggy head from where he is lying on the couch and then he lays it back down, completely bored with our arrival. He’ll need to go out soon, but he can wait. There are more important things at stake right now.

When Rowan asked me to kiss her at the club, I obliged. And I thought it would be everything she asked for, but it was actually so much more. I didn’t go in hard like she asked, but rather feathered my lips softly against her. I let my hands spread out over her back and I rubbed her through the thin material of her dress. I softly slipped my tongue in her mouth and it flirted with hers.

The entire kiss was so amazingly delicate compared to the ways we had kissed before, and it was the exact thing that would probably guarantee I would have not one ounce of resolve left in me when it comes to staying away from Rowan.

When we broke apart, I glanced over at Nix and he was pointing to his watch, indicating it was time to go. We made our goodbyes, with Fil and Rowan hugging and promising to text each other. It appears she had a new BFF.

The entire train ride back to the apartment was surreal. We sat side by side and I casually draped my arm across her shoulders. I was hyper aware of the way her leg pressed into mine, and the way her hair skimmed over the back of my hand while I stroked her shoulder with my thumb.

We didn’t say a word but I could feel the sexual tension vibrating between us.

Unfortunately, the short, but frigid, walk from the station to the apartment did nothing to cool my desire; it only served to sober me up slightly so I might be thinking a bit clearer.

I push the door open and step aside for Rowan to enter in front of me, my hand on the small of her back, guiding her in. I have no clue what my next move should be, or even if there should be a next move. All I know is that I want her back in my arms and I want to try out her idea of that hot, hard, and wet kiss.

As soon as I step through the door and close it, Rowan spins around and launches herself at me. Her arms curve around my neck and with a quick jump, her legs wrap around my waist, causing my hands to involuntarily reach down and grab her under her ass to hold her in place.

That may not have been such a good idea because her dress is now hiked up to her hips and she’s apparently only wearing a thong because I am now holding on to sinful, naked ass.

Her mouth latches onto mine and we are now fully engaged in hard, hot, and wet. I spin her around and push her back into the door, and as I grind my dick against her, I can only think to myself, Yes, this is what I’ve been waiting for.

Rowan gasps into my mouth, “I shouldn’t have done that. We should stop.”

I respond by moving my tongue hard against hers, and then I pull away, nipping at her lower lip. “I’ll stop if you want.”

“Yes,” she says, and my heart bottoms out. Then she says, “No… don’t stop,” and she kisses me harder, knocking our teeth against one another.

The minute she gives me the go ahead, I shift one hand. As I’m still gripping her bottom, it brings my middle finger in proximity to her thong. She feels the change in my position and moans. I shift again, and hook my finger in the bottom of her underwear, pulling it aside.

For a second, Rowan goes still and I think she has snapped her out of her lust-induced haze, but she moans low in her throat and rasps, “Not good, Flynn. Not good.”

Then Rowan pushes her hips downward and twists them to the side, bringing her slick core in direct contact with my finger. The heat is searing and I only stroke against her one time… because that’s all I have in me, before I push my finger deep inside of her. Her hips buck hard, lodging me even deeper, and a strangled gasp comes out of her mouth while her nails flex into my scalp. I silence it down with another kiss and push her harder into the wall.

My world is fracturing and every semblance of normalcy is flying out the window. I give one last, lingering thought to stopping this… because Rowan’s inhibitions are lowered because of the alcohol and I should protect her from this. I’m betting in the harsh light of day and completely sober, she wouldn’t want this.

I consider it… just briefly, and then I tell myself to piss off. I want her too much and I’ll worry about the consequences later. I’m inflamed with lust, and love, and it’s all tied up into one painful knot, but it’s going to unravel tonight.

I pull my finger out and add a second before plunging back in. She cries against my lips and it sounds sweet to me.

Pulling my face back, I look at her and her eyes are partially closed. When she realizes my lips aren’t against hers anymore, she opens her eyes. My fingers are pumping in and out of her slowly and her hips tilt against my hand with every thrust. We stay like that, for just a few moments, just watching each other as she rides my hand.

“Rowan,” I whisper, and her eyes focus more sharply on me, even as a little gasp of breath hitches out past her lips. “I want to make you come, and then I want to make you mine. Say you want it, too. Tell me you want this.”

I’m pleading for her to say the words that will ease my own guilt, because if she tells me point blank she wants me, I don’t have to worry so much that I may be taking advantage of the situation.

“I…” she starts to say, but a particularly deep push of my fingers cuts her words off. She grasps her lower lip in between her teeth and her eyes close as she moves against my hand.

“Say it,” I urge her, desperate for the words. “Say you want more than just a friendship with me.”

When I look back and analyze how things went to shit so quickly, I’ll pinpoint the word “friendship” as the pivotal moment that stalled my impending apocalyptic orgasm. The minute the words are out of my mouth, Rowan’s hips go absolutely still and the heat dies out of her eyes. Her eyebrows furrow inward and she slowly closes her eyes, lowering her forehead to my shoulder.

“We need to stop, Flynn,” she says softly.

I’m not willing to give in just yet so I move my fingers against her inner walls, curling them to hit that spot that I’ve seen splinter women apart before. She moans into my shoulder but then pushes back against me.

“Stop,” she says with more force, and I immediately stop, pulling my fingers out of her and holding her in place under her thighs for just a moment before I lower her to the floor.

It is only then that I notice my chest is heaving with exertion and Rowan has a fine sheen of sweat on her forehead as she pulls her skirt back down. I hadn’t realized how hot and heavy we were going until just now… how far things had gotten out of control and so fast.

My hands may not be on her anymore and my head is cleared a bit, but I’m not ready to give up. “Rowan… don’t pull away. Let it happen. You were right there with me. I know it.”

She looks up at me and there is a thin veil of tears in her eyes. My heart is breaking for her. “I was… right there with you. But I can’t. I know you’re tired of hearing that and I’m so sorry I led you on. I had too much to drink and was terribly wrong to do that. But I can’t risk the friendship.”

“You can, Rowan. You’re braver than this. If you just give it a chance, I know we will work. I can feel it. I want you to—”

“NO!” Rowan yells at me and I take a small step back from the venom in her voice. Her eyes flash hot and pissed for a second, but then it dies just as quickly. Her voice is softer when she says again. “No. Don’t ask me again, Flynn.”

My heart slices open at those words and I bleed pain all over. I know Rowan enough to know when she’s drawing a firm line in the sand and this is it. Still, I’m going to try one more time.

“Rowan… wait…” but she cuts me off by holding up her hand to me.

“Flynn… hear me out. It’s not going to happen. I’m not going to let it and I need you to let it go. In fact, you have got to move on from me. Find yourself someone deserving and make a new start. I’m here… as your friend. But only as your friend.”

She gives me one last look and heads to her bedroom, Capone padding after her.

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