“No,” he said, smiling wider, looking me up and down and making my heart race all over again. “I was only going to help you get undressed because you’re not completely sober yet, just in case you can’t do it yourself.”

“I’m pretty sober, so I think I’ll be perfectly fine.” I felt my cheeks heating. “I take off my own clothes every day, all alone. So, I think I can manage…”

“I’m just being a good friend, Ari.”

“Yes. A friend, Carter.”

“A good friend.”

“Yes…” I was definitely more than drawn to him right now. “You’ve said that already…”

Our eyes locked again and I felt like I couldn’t even force myself to look away.

“Okay. I’ll wait in my room until you’re done.” His eyes lingered on my lips for a few seconds, and then he left.

Swallowing hard, I shut my eyes and tried to think.

This is a dream, Arizona. A very sexy, titillating, yet random as hell dream…You did not kiss Carter. He did not kiss you. You like him as your friend and you do not find him that attractive. You’re in his bathroom because you probably just went to the beach together and wanted to freshen up afterwards…Yes…Yes… That makes much more sense...

I opened my eyes again and turned on the water—holding my hand underneath the faucet until I felt like it was warm enough. I pulled the shower lever forward to turn on the overhead streams.

Then I realized I hadn’t taken off my clothes yet.

That I couldn’t take off my clothes.

The zipper on the back of my dress was jammed, and I now remembered Nicole forcing it up a bit before we came to the party.

I considered ripping the dress off myself, but the fabric was too thick, so I decided against it. I walked over to the door and called Carter’s name.

He walked down the hall to me seconds later, with a knowing smile on his face. “Yes, Ari?”

“Could you please help me take off my dress?”

“Just your dress?” He raised his eyebrow.

“Yes.” I stepped back inside, letting him follow me. “Just. My. Dress.”

“Okay. Turn around.”

I turned around and felt his hands in my hair, felt him slowly pulling my hair on top of my head and attempting a makeshift bun.

He gripped my zipper and jerked it a few times before it gave, and then he slowly pulled it down until it reached my lower back.

I started to turn around, started to thank him, but he gripped my hips and held me still. Gently tracing the line above the clasp of my bra, he looped his fingers underneath the clasp and tore it free.

“Do you need help getting out of anything else?” he whispered.

I shook my head, completely turned on.

With my back still to his front, he hooked his fingers under the straps of my dress and pushed them down my shoulders—pushing the fabric down my arms, down my waist, down my legs.

He pressed his mouth against the back of my neck as he took off my bra, and then he whispered into my ear. “Are you sure you don’t need help with these?” He tugged at my panties.

“I’m sure…”

“Okay.” He kissed the back of my neck again and left the room.

I was pretty sure I stood there for twenty minutes, not moving, not blinking, and only trying to figure out what the hell that was.

When I finally came to my senses, I stepped inside the shower and stood directly under the streams. Shaking my head again and again, I kept wondering if it was a dream. Wondering why I was reacting so strongly to him all of a sudden.

He’s like a brother to me…I shouldn’t be thinking about him like this at all…

When my skin was red and raw, I turned off the water and stepped out, noticing he’d placed a white robe across the vanity for me.

I dried off and put it on, heading back to the bedroom so I could go and pass out.

Carter looked up from his desk as soon as I entered the room. “Ready to go to bed?”

“Yes, but um…You’re not…” My heart still hadn’t returned to its normal rhythm. “You’re not going to join me, are you?”

“No…” A slow smile spread across his lips as he stood up. “Not unless you want me to.”

“Are you implying sex right now?”

“Are you?”

My eyes widened, and he laughed.

He picked me up and tossed me onto the bed, fluffing the pillows and pulling the covers over me. He pulled out a few bottles of water from his mini fridge and set them on the nightstand next to me.

“I’ll come back and check on you in the morning,” he said. “Do you need anything else?”


“Um?” He raised his eyebrow. “You’re starting to say that word a lot…”

“I…” I felt a sudden oncoming of sleep. “I think you’re sexy as fuck, and if you weren’t my best friend, and this wasn’t a dream, I’d totally fuck you right now… ”

“Excuse me?”

Everything went black.

Track 9. Tell Me Why (3:13)

What the hell was that?

I couldn’t get the last thing Arizona said out of my mind, nor could I stop picturing the way her mouth and body felt against mine at the party yesterday. That meant a lot considering the fact that I was pissed about two major things right now…

Sighing, I wiped the last of Tina’s vomit out of my car and clicked the text she’d just sent me: