Dirty Rowdy Thing (Wild Seasons #2)(8) by Christina Lauren

“Yep.”

“Makes sense. I like the feel of it.”

I pause, waiting. He closes his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“You okay there, Roberts?” I ask. “You’re passing up a pretty epic that’s-what-she-said opportunity.”

He opens one eye. “Never drinking again.”

This makes me laugh. Finn the Invincible has a wittle hangover? “You’re too old to say that now.”

“Practically middle-aged,” he agrees. “Might as well skip out and go get a beer for breakfast.”

“Breakfast?” I make a point of lifting his wrist and looking at his giant, manly waterproof watch. “It’s almost eleven.”

“I was a little slow to start this morning. Late night,” he growls, smiling darkly. When he looks at me like that, I immediately recall the way he slid his fingers over and inside me—God, when did your pussy get so sweet?—the way his breath warmed my neck. I remember the feel of his hungry mouth sucking at my neck, my shoulders, the hard press of him through his jeans between my legs.

And then he left. And I nearly screamed in sexual frustration.

It shouldn’t feel so easy with him today. Why does it feel so easy?

After a quiet pause, he asks, “Did you get home okay?”

I look past him, my head swimming a little with the jarring transition in mental images his question brings. Bellamy was still up when I tripped in at nearly two in the morning. I found her sitting in the kitchen, staring blankly at the space in front of her. I went out. I tried to just . . . have a good night, she’d said. But I felt sort of like a bobblehead. Disjointed, you know? And now I can’t sleep.

I felt immediately guilty for going out and forgetting everything in the middle of Lola’s kitchen, and with Finn of all people. But Mom kicked me out again after breakfast this morning, telling me she hadn’t seen me indoors on a Saturday since I was an infant and I wasn’t allowed to miss Oliver’s grand opening.

“I slept in Lola’s bed for a little bit, then took a cab,” I tell Finn, giving him a pointed look. “It’s what I do after we hook up, apparently.”

“Right.” He doesn’t seem to think I’m as funny as I do.

When he looks over my shoulder at the store beyond, I take the opportunity to check him out. I can’t find a single flaw with the man’s body, and I’m woman enough to admit that I’m completely obsessed with his forearms. They’re roped, thick, every single muscle defined. I want to see him haul a big net onto the deck of his ship. God, he would make majestic fisherman porn.

“What are you thinking?” he asks and I blink up to his face.

“Trying to decide if I want to buy this pair of boots I saw on the way here.” A lie, but one he’d believe. Obviously Finn is comfortable with me in the role of airhead shopaholic, and for sure doesn’t need to know that I was just casting him in the role of Salty Fisherman #1 in the small-screen production of Swabbing the Decks Aboard Her Royal Thighness.

“When in doubt, buy the boots,” he says dryly. “Isn’t that what I’m supposed to say here?”

“I don’t think you need an opinion on the boots.”

“Thank God,” he mumbles and then heads across the room when he sees Ansel and Mia walk in. Such an unceremonious departure. I’m sort of relieved with how easy that was. See? No need to rehash or trip through some stilted, day-after I-was-so-drunk conversation. Finn and I have already done that in much greater magnitude, what with the getting married and sexual consummation. Talk about next-day awkward.

Mia passes Finn, giving him a knowing little wink before handing me a plastic cup with the Whole Foods logo and filled with a green juice concoction.

“Ansel wanted to see what the juice craze was all about,” she says. “So of course he goes purist and gets sixteen ounces of straight kale juice. I thought he was going to vomit in my car.”

I look at my cup with suspicion.

“Yours also has banana, mango, and pineapple.” She nudges me with her elbow. “I hear it cleanses the body of the toxic effects of shady decisions.”

“Actually, last night was a fun decision. Lord, I can’t help but enjoy that physique,” I admit. Instinctively I look over to where Finn has met up with Oliver and Ansel, and he looks over at me at exactly the same time. He quickly blinks away when our eyes meet, and the two other guys lean in to listen to what he’s saying. Clearly he’s doing some sexplaining of his own.

“Did it speak last night?” Mia whispers. “I know how it vexes you when it tries to converse.”

“It spoke some—never much—but it was acceptable. Mostly dirty sex words.” I lean in closer to tell her, “We didn’t have sex, though.”

“Yeah, I figured,” she says, nodding. “Finn sort of drunk-grumbled something about blue balls in the car. Where’s Lola?”

I look toward the side of the store where I’d last seen her, lifting my chin so Mia’s eyes follow mine. Lola is completely absorbed in reading a book and doesn’t seem to realize that an actual celebration is happening, with people talking, pictures being taken, Not-Joe showing customers around, and everyone congratulating Oliver on what he’s pulled off here.

I can tell Finn has successfully assured the other guys that we aren’t approaching Awkward Group Dynamic territory when Ansel comes to join Mia, looping a long arm around her shoulders. He squeezes her to his side before bending for a kiss. She’s so petite, and he’s so tall, that the effect is pretty comical; Mia practically disappears from my view for the length of it.

“Did you guys need some privacy?” I ask.

Ansel speaks against her mouth. “That would be wonderful, thank you. Order everyone away.”

Laughing, I shove his shoulder playfully and he pulls her back up, steadying her. She presses two fingers to her lips as she stares up at him, flushed and a little breathless, and for just a beat—only a teeny, tiny heartbeat—I want what they have so intensely it makes my chest pinch.

And then it’s gone.

“We’re thinking of grabbing some lunch,” Finn says from behind me, and—dammit!—that tiny spike of heat jabs right back through my chest. Mia’s gaze zeros in on my face to gauge my reaction. He’s standing directly behind me and I widen my eyes, telling her with my expression, It’s fine. I’m perfectly fine.

“We only got here fifteen minutes ago,” I tell him, slowly turning. Slow, and cool. “Shouldn’t we stay a little longer?”

He looks around meaningfully. “This place is packed. Friends show up to these things to fill space. We’re just in the way now.”

I should go with them, and I’m sure it would be fun, but I really want to be home, pretending not to hover over my mom.

“Are you leaving tonight or tomorrow?” I ask him.

“Um.” He glances at Ansel, who has tilted his head and is wearing the world’s most hilarious expression of amused expectation. Mia is staring at me wide-eyed, as if I’m a grenade and Finn is about to remove my pin.

He reaches up to scratch his jaw. “I’m actually staying with Oliver for the next couple weeks.”

MY THOUGHTS ARE stacked like a deck of cards and I have to continually shuffle the top one to the back of the pile.

I can’t obsess about Mom’s surgery on Monday. I can’t think about the possibility of more sexcapades with Finn. I don’t want to shop. I don’t want to surf. I don’t want to eat. And my part-time job is a joke. So, I go to my parents’ house on Saturday afternoon, change into my bathing suit, and head out to the pool to swim until my limbs are like noodles. At least there I can be close by, but not hovering.

Apparently Dad had the same idea. He finishes his lap, surfacing when he sees me and folding his arms at the edge of the pool. Water drips from his salt-and-pepper hair onto his tanned skin and he pushes his goggles onto his forehead before closing his eyes, tilting his face up to the sky. I would do anything to not have to see my father this worried.

I sit down, sliding my feet into the water next to him. We sit in easy silence while he catches his breath.

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