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Normalcy started to return. Each mile the car put between us and Dillon let him fade farther into the past.

“My mom loves this song,” I said, humming along to Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.”

“Yeah?” He smiled. “It’s a good song.”

Up next came “Get It On” by T. Rex. He had to help me out with that one.

When we arrived, the house lay in darkness, only the porch light on. John pulled up in the empty driveway and I hopped out before he could even offer to open the door. Manners were nice, but alone time mattered and the clock was ticking. He turned on only a small lamp sitting on the entryway table. Inside, nothing had changed since the last time I’d been there. Books, potted plants, huge TV, a bit of mess.

“Would you like a drink or anything?” he asked.

“No. Thank you.”

“I stink. Let me grab a quick shower,” he said, heading for the stairs. “Come on up if you want. Hang out in my room.”

I wanted.

Dark gray sheets covered the bed, the same shade as the walls. At least, where they weren’t covered with posters. An old Led Zeppelin poster had joined the Ramones. Which made me wonder . . .

“I don’t think that cassette is stuck.”

“Huh?” He rifled through a laundry basket full of clothes all neatly folded. First came boxer briefs, followed by a fresh pair of jeans and a faded green T-shirt. Though really, who needed clothes?

“The cassette tape you claimed was stuck in your car stereo,” I said, sitting on the edge of his bed. “I don’t think it is. I think you just like the music and don’t want to admit it for some reason.”

Half facing away from me like he was, I almost didn’t catch his smile. “Honestly?”


“The tape was in there when I bought it,” he said, rubbing at his chin with the pad of his thumb. “The car used to belong to this guy who did security, touring with bands back in the day. But he got some disease that messed with his eyesight, so he couldn’t drive anymore. That’s why he sold it to me.”

“How sad.”

John nodded. “He gave me the posters, too. I left the tape in as a kind of show of respect. I mean, it’s not like I’ve got another to replace it.”

Interesting. “You could hook up your phone, get a system so you can play other music.”

“I could.” He just watched me.

“Though, honestly?”


“I kind of prefer the tape.”

“Me too.” He smiled.

Not smiling back at him was physically impossible. “You know, I was looking into places that offered those certifications you said you were interested in.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah.” I rubbed my hands on his sheets and gripped the edge of the bed, nervous. “There’s a place that offers Landscaping near Berkeley.”

“Really?” He leaned against a closet door. “That’s where you want to go, huh?”

I shrugged, staring at his Chucks. Much less pressure than meeting his eyes. “John, it’s . . . it was just a thought. You know. If you were still interested.”

“Let me think about it.”

“Of course,” I said, pasting on a grin. It wasn’t a rejection, it was just a “think about it.” And anyway, I had more important things to worry about.

“Right. Shower.” He stepped over, kissing me on the forehead. “I won’t be long. Read a skating magazine or a textbook or something.”

“Thanks.” I laughed.

Across the hall, the bathroom door clicked quietly shut. The minute it did, I got busy unlacing my Doc boots. Off went the socks, the whole lot pushed to the side. Then up I stood and off came my denim dress. Nerves hit me and holy hell, old me would have stopped right there and then. But no. Who would wash John’s back if I didn’t get naked and go in there? Sacrifices must be made. It was time to get brave.

The door creaked ominously as I opened it, the room already filling with steam.

“Edie?” he asked, sounding surprised. Fair enough. My fearlessness kind of impressed me too.

Carefully, I closed the door and locked it. “Hi.”

He pulled back the shower curtain, eyes widening, gaze flitting down my body before returning to my face. “You want to come in?”

“Hygiene is important.”

“It is.”

He moved over, making room for me before drawing me into the small space. Then he kissed me over and over, brushing his lips on the mine, making me crazy with his mouth. Taking it easy and taking his time. The boy made my stomach dip and my head spin. It was out of control, the way he affected me. I slid my hands over his wet skin, up his chest and onto his shoulders. Fingers digging in just a little.

The ugly stress from earlier in the evening was gone at last, replaced by a wholly different feeling.

“Another first,” I said. “Showering with a member of the opposite sex.”

“I like being part of your firsts.”

“Yeah?” I slid my fingers down over his flat belly, getting closer to my target. “I’ve never actually touched your bare penis. Only through your clothes. Do you realize that?”



Dark, intense eyes stared straight into mine. “Edie, you can touch whatever you want.”

I didn’t need to be told twice. The skin was so incredibly soft. But the flesh beneath had started hardening, thickening in the loose grip of my fingers. A real live dick. Wow.

“You have this little frown of concentration,” he mumbled, lips brushing over my forehead.

“Well, I find this very interesting,” I said.

“You make me sound like a science project.”

“Do I?”

My fingers strayed lower, discovering the even-softer feel of his sac. Stomach muscles tightening, he widened his feet a little, giving me room to play. Honestly, though, it was his actual penis and getting a good reaction from it that had me really curious. I gripped him more firmly, blinking the water out of my eyes to better see the veins standing out. Over and around, my thumb brushed the smooth crown or the head or whatever the hell it was called. Such a fascinating shape, especially with the little tuck-in bit interrupting the flare. Guess my fumbling ministrations didn’t feel too bad, because it wasn’t long before he swore under his breath.