“Did you hear me?” I say. “Daisy is coming over. And she’s spending the night.”
His eyes darken. “Why didn’t you ask me first?”
My cheeks heat. “I-I didn’t think. She asked and I said yes.” Oops, I forgot about Lo. I also forgot that everyone thinks I sleep with him, which is so not the case. “It was a subconscious reaction, and I didn’t want to be rude.”
With a sigh, he rubs his eyes and then scans my room. “Strip your bed, throw the sheets in the washer, and hide all of your porn. I’ll lock up the booze.”
We split up and focus on our specific tasks. Twenty minutes later, the guest room turns clean and presentable for Daisy. Trying to fish out the panties under the bed ate up most of the time. The doorbell rings, and I close the washing machine and start the cycle.
When I enter the kitchen, Lo and Daisy are already talking. My presence breaks their chit-chat, and I smile. “Hey, Dais.” I give her a hug.
“Thanks again for letting me crash here,” she says, taking off her designer tote bag and setting it on the bar stool.
“It’s no problem.”
“Do you want anything to drink?” Lo asks, his eyes glittering with mischief. He always offers a guest a drink so when he pours himself a glass of alcohol it doesn’t seem too suspicious. He glances at me with a crooked grin, knowing I’m in on the secret.
“Water is good,” she says. “Is it weird not having staff?”
“You mean serving yourself?” Lo calls from the fridge. “It’s back breaking pain.” He grabs a thermos from the shelf and slides Daisy a water bottle.
“Don’t be an ass,” I tell him.
Lo snakes an arm around my waist, drawing me to his chest. His lips tickle my ear. “Never,” he breathes, his eyes drinking me in.
My entire chest constricts. This is not real. He’s playing a part. That’s all.
“So this is your apartment,” Daisy says, and I break from Lo. She wanders away from the bar and scans the living room to the left and the hallway to the right. Not much else. She inspects pictures that line a bookshelf towards the living room. I forgot Daisy has never been here before. I talk to her the least, mostly because she’s the youngest and not very involved in my life. I guess the only way to be close to me is to inject yourself in my world because I won’t make the move to enter yours. That’s horrible, isn’t it?
“If you two have kids, you so have to burn this one,” Daisy says with a laugh. She holds up a photo of Lo sticking his tongue in my ear while I shriek in disgust. Out of all the pictures—she’s chosen one of the few that wasn’t staged. We were sixteen, a time before we started our fake relationship.
“Have you not heard of a wet willy?” Lo asks, taking a large swig from his thermos. He sets it down on the counter and approaches Daisy, taking the photo from her. His smile widens, filling up his face into something beautiful.
“You’re supposed to lick your finger,” Daisy protests like he’s a moron, “not put your tongue in her ear.”
“I agree,” I say, even though I don’t, not really. My body heats at the image of Lo so close to me, the whole ordeal sexier than I’ll let on.
“Oh, you do?” Lo says, with the tilt of his head, an eyebrow quirks up, unbelieving. “If I recall, you were not complaining that day.” He stalks towards me. “You were all flushed.”
“I’m always flushed,” I retort, my breath hitching as he nears, his lips pulling in that playful smile. I point a threatening finger at him. “Don’t.”
My back hits the counters, trapped in the corner, and I wonder if this is a real or if I’m lost in my head, fantasizing. I don’t want to find a way to escape his hold, and I forget about my sister who remains near the living room, scoping out years of history—fake and real—on shelves and tables.
“Take it back,” he demands. “You liked it.”
“I did…not,” I breathe. He sets a hand on either side of the counter, on either side of me, blocking me in with his build.
I blink. I’m dreaming. I know am. This isn’t real. Lo looks me over, undressing me with his intrusive gaze, and when his eyes meet mine, I feel as though he knows I’m confused about his true intentions. And that makes this game all the more fun for him. At least right now he seems to be enjoying it.
Suddenly, he kisses me. Deep, hard. Oh…this can’t be just in my mind.
My back digs into the counter, but he wraps an arm around me, bringing me to his chest, tugging me closer than close. His body melds against my legs and torso, and I succumb to his tongue that finds mine. His large hand caresses my neck, and I submit to our eagerness as he drives closer, to the fire that ignites us both.
And then he pulls away, and his tongue slips into my ear. I squeal, awakening, and shove him off.
He laughs, full-bellied laughs, and turns his back on me to pick up his thermos. His lips are red and mine sting and puff from that intense kiss. All to prove me wrong, I suppose.
“That was not necessary,” I tell him.
“Now you’re going to tell me you didn’t love my tongue in your mouth? I know you’d like way more than that. Maybe my tongue licking your—”
“Stop,” I say, my body tightening. I glance over at Daisy who flips through a photo album in the living room. When I turn back to Lo, my jaw has officially unhinged. He purposefully wipes his sweaty brow with the hem of his black tee, just so I’ll catch a peek of the prominent ridges in his abs. My breath deepens, hot and bothered, but I would be this way if anyone did that to me…I think.
He edges over again and loops a finger in the hem of my pants, tugging me to him. “Relax, love,” he whispers, playing into the performance. “I can finish you off later.” He sucks hard on my neck, and a sound catches in my throat.
Okay, this is too much. I shove him off, too hot to even shoot him a warning glare about taking the charade too far—about teasing me again. Lo is too good at hitting my tender spots. And then I remember Cassie, her cries, as though Lo is more masterful than he’s ever admitted. Is he really that good in bed? Don’t go there, Lily. There’s no coming back once you do.
My nerves still thrum from the aftermath, and he subconsciously licks his bottom lip, leaning against the counter as he watches me grow redder. Even that pulses the place between my legs, making me crave something more. Something further than just kisses and fondling. Oh God.
Daisy returns from the living room with an uncomfortable look. I sincerely hope she didn’t witness any of that. I’m an awful sister. Truly horrible. “I actually don’t want to be in your way,” she confesses. “I’ll just stay in the guest room and watch TV if that’s all right?”
“That’s fine, Dais.” I show her to the guest bedroom, pressing a finger to my tingling lips on the way. She disappears inside and throws her bag on the bed. I close the door as I exit, and Lo stands right there in the hallway with a foot against the wall. He nods to his room—the one we’re supposed to share every night.
I follow and he turns the lock once inside.
On the dresser, I dock my iPod and put the speaker on a low tune but loud enough that I ease at the idea of speaking freely. These walls can be thin. Case in point, the thump thump thump of Lo’s sexual adventures with Cassie.
Tinted glass cabinets engulf an entire wall. Seven of the twenty have secret locks that only open with a magnetic key. I would say he’s paranoid, but last winter, I had to explain to Rose why a dozen quarter-filled tequila bottles were shoved underneath the sink. One of Lo’s worst weeks, and I haphazardly tried cleaning up after him. Not well enough, apparently.
Rose didn’t question my story, only complained that I hadn’t invited her to our Mexican themed blowout. I should laugh at the ludicrous lie—that we actually have friends to call—but I sadden at the thought of Lo drinking enough alcohol in one week to satiate an entire house party.
He pulls out a glass and a bottle of an amber-colored liquid.
I climb onto his bed, my heart racing from earlier. It shouldn’t. This is Lo. We’re supposed to be together. We’re supposed to be affectionate, but yet, I can’t stop replaying what happened. I can’t stop blushing or heating or wishing he’d just take me right here. No, no, no. Don’t go there.
I rest my back against his oak headboard. “Can you make me something?” I ask, my voice raspy. I clear my throat. Jeez, what is wrong with me? I’m usually not this uncomfortable with Lo, but this situation mounts my anxiety and my desires. I cross my legs and swallow hard.
His eyes flicker to me briefly, and he tries to hide a knowing grin. He clinks another crystal glass to his and sets them on his desk. I watch as he unlocks a second cabinet with the mini fridge hidden inside. He scoops out ice and effortlessly pours the liquor without pause or spillage. When he finishes, he walks around to my side of the bed, not sitting next to me. Instead, he hovers with both glasses in hand.
“Are you sure you want this?” he asks huskily, and part of me wonders if he’s talking about more than just the drink. Yes, I want all of it. I blink, no, he has to be talking about the alcohol. Stop fantasizing, Lily.
“Why wouldn’t I?”
He licks his lips. Stop doing that. I hold in a breath. “It’s strong,” he says, watching me closely. Too close.
“I can handle it.”
Lo puts the glass in my palm and stays towering over me, the authority something new, something I’m not used to. I kind of want to stand and take control of the situation, but Lo blocks me from setting my feet on the ground.
He tosses back half his glass in one gulp, the liquid sliding down easily. He waits for me to taste mine before he finishes off his own. “What are you waiting for?”
My heart to stop pounding. I take a small sip and cough. Holy hell. I choke into my fist.
“Hey, go easy,” he tells me. “Do you need some water?”
I shake my head and stupidly take another sip to try and help the burn. Instead, that goes down just as rough. He takes the alcohol from my hand and sets it on his nightstand. “No more for you.”
I keep hacking into my fist and curse myself for trying to relax with alcohol. I should have known Lo would concoct something semi-toxic, too potent for any normal, sane human being.
When I settle down, I inhale a deep breath and slouch. “Are you going to sit down?”
“Why does it matter whether I sit or stand?” he asks, not moving one bit.
“You make me nervous.”
“Scared I’ll jump you?” he wonders with a devious smile, still drinking. He finishes off his and has already started on my drink.
“Then I don’t see a problem with me standing here.” His eyes do that thing again, the one where they scan the length of me, as though imagining what I look like bare and wanting.
To ignore him, I examine all of his memorabilia tacked on the walls and set on the shelves. The only time I venture in here is to help wake him up or to make certain he’s not passed out in vomit. I hardly pay attention to the decorations. Some of them only stay here to assemble our mountain of lies.