“Come here.” Nick wrapped an arm around my waist and pulled me gently toward him. His body heat hit me like an oven.
I propped myself up with my own set of pillows and pretended to be interested in the TV, but all I could think about was Nick lying next to me, his fingers moving lazily across my waist.
“This is nice,” I admitted, and his hand moved from my waist to my hair.
As we watched TV, he ran his fingers through it, over and over again without saying a word until my eyes got heavy. I wasn’t sure how long it took me to actually fall asleep, but I woke to the blare of an infomercial so loud, I practically jumped out of the bed. I glanced at the clock to find it was 2:34 a.m., and clicked the remote to turn off the television, leaving the room in darkness.
Nick’s voice startled me as I turned my head to face him. I’d completely forgotten that he was here.
“Shit,” he said. “I fell asleep. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. I did too,” I said with a sleepy smile.
“I should go.”
When he shifted to get out of bed, my insides ached.
“You don’t have to. I mean, you can stay if you want,” I said, hoping he would.
“Are you sure?”
“Okay. I need to pee, though,” he admitted.
Relieved, I released a quick breath.
“You know where the bathroom is. And I think I have an extra toothbrush in the drawer, if you need one.”
“You have extra toothbrushes?” The bed dipped as he rolled out of it.
I glanced up at his muscular frame silhouetted in the dark. “They’re for me, but I’m willing to share with my knight in shining armor.”
He huffed out a laugh as he walked away. “I could live with that title.”
“Figures,” I teased as he flipped on the light.
Nick walked out of the bathroom a few minutes later looking ridiculously hot. He had run water through his hair, leaving it standing in messy spikes. I’d rarely seen him without his baseball hat on, so the wet spikes were utterly adorable.
“Can I take my shirt off, or will that make you uncomfortable?” he asked before flipping off the bathroom light.
Is he serious? “Nothing about you makes me uncomfortable, Nick. You can take it off.”
Without another word, he peeled off his shirt and tossed it on the floor before crawling over me to get on his side. Once he was under the covers, chills raced through me, even though his body heat warmed every inch of my exposed skin.
“Jess.” From behind me, he breathed my name against my neck, his lips near my shoulder.
I realized that if I turned to face him, we’d be practically mouth to mouth, but the way he said my name sounded so earnest, so sincere, I couldn’t resist. When I rolled over to face him, we were so close we shared the same air, and I tried to steady my racing heart. Even in the dark, I could see where he focused his gaze.
“I like you,” he said, his gaze drinking in my lips.
“I like you too.”
That little affirmation was all Nick needed, and he reached for my hip at the same time his mouth brushed against mine.
“Is this okay?” he whispered against my lips.
When I nodded, trying not to tremble, his fingers deepened their grip on my hip as I moaned against him. His body was like fire, it was so hot, and hard in places I never realized that bodies could be hard before. Nick had muscles everywhere, and I liked the way they molded against all the softer parts of me.
I wrapped my hands around his neck, pulling at his hair and deepening our kiss. It was emotional, filled with desire, want, and need. But I wasn’t ready for anything more than kissing, and I knew instinctively that Nick wouldn’t push it.
In that moment, I realized that I trusted him. After everything that had happened tonight, Nick had earned my trust faster and more completely than anyone ever had before.
We held hands as we kissed, linking our fingers as we held on to each other as if we were afraid to let go. When we finally did break apart, I blinked hard, trying to steady my heart. There were no words for kisses like those; they were intimate, conveying a depth of emotion that forged bonds between us.
I was afraid to say anything, not wanting to break the spell, hoping that if anyone broke the silence, it would be Nick. His breathing echoed my own, rapid and shallow.
“Jess?” He said my name softly, giving it an unspoken question that floated between us in the darkness.
“Yeah?” I inhaled deeply, trying to slow the breaths that still came out in quick bursts.
“That was really nice.”
I smiled, so glad he couldn’t see the blush I knew was creeping into my cheeks. “It was something, all right, but I’m not sure I’d call it nice.”
Nick laughed and leaned forward to press his lips against my forehead. “I don’t know what else to call it without ruining the moment.”
He was probably right. Calling it hot wouldn’t have fit, nor would anything else I could think of. Nice would have to do.
“Good night, Jess.”
“Good night, Nick.”
He sighed as he wrapped his arms around me, and I closed my eyes and dreamed of him.
I woke up the next morning emotionally spent, yet also refreshed. It was a contradictory feeling that I didn’t understand at first until memories of every moment from last night hit me at once.
How would I ever be the same after everything that had happened? Not only because of the altercation at the party, but because of how Nick handled it, how he handled me. I’d never been in that kind of situation before—thank God—so I wasn’t sure what other guys normally did. But I was pretty certain that almost strangling someone with your bare hands probably wasn’t the most normal reaction. Then again, what did I know about guys and their tempers?
I felt connected to Nick now. He’d comforted me, taken care of me, fought for me. He made me feel safe, and I never knew before last night that a guy could make you feel like that. Honestly, I never knew before last night that I wanted to feel that way.
Focusing my sleepy eyes on my bedroom wall, I’d almost forgotten that I’d asked Nick to stay with me until I rolled over and practically crashed into his hard stomach. His arm moved around me and he pulled my body against his. I was certain he was still asleep until his lips curled into a devilish smile.