Authors: Mia Hopkins
Tags: #small town;erotica;erotic;virgin;new adult;Latina;Hispanic;western;holiday
Anger rushing to the forefront, he froze, grabbed her shoulders and lifted her up to look her in the eyes. “That’s bullshit and you know it. I’m fucking crazy about you.”
Her eyes were plaintive, dark as a night without stars. “Don’t say it. Please. I can’t hear you say it.”
Before all the words he’d regret came spilling out of his big mouth, he put his hand on the back of her neck and crushed his lips against hers. He swallowed her whimpers and pulled her body against his until she was sitting in his lap, her legs wrapped cross-legged around his hips. He arched his back and thrust into her again and again, the familiar heat rushing through his veins, his orgasm gathering like a rainstorm ready to break.
As much as he wanted to hold on to her, how could he ask her to stay? Her years of hard work had paid off—a full-ride scholarship to an Ivy League university. People in their town rarely went to college, much less a big, fancy one back East. She was making good on promises she’d made to herself and the woman who’d raised her. He sure as shit wasn’t going to stand in her way.
He broke their kiss. “You ready to fly, sweetheart?”
There were tears in her eyes. It was the first time he’d seen her cry since their first night together. “Yes.”
Caleb MacKinnon didn’t know how to do much. He knew how to rebuild an engine. He knew how to get a boom shaker working again. And he knew how to make Corazón Gomez come like a wildcat.
With his fingers, his cock and his extensive knowledge of her body, he gave her one last climax. Her fingertips dug into his back, and she came so hard and so long he thought he’d broken her.
Giving her nipples a final suckle, he flipped her onto her back and fucked her deep, trying to tell her with his body what he couldn’t tell her with words. His orgasm exploded out of him like a bull breaking a gate. It wasn’t pretty. Cora reached up and frantically clapped her hands over his mouth as he grunted and flooded her with come.
Sleep threatened to drag him under, but Cora herded him out of her bed. “My grandma wakes up early. You can’t stay.”
“What’s she gonna do? Throw you out of the house?” he said. But he got up anyway. Uncoordinated and groggy, he got dressed and climbed out of the open window. She kissed him over the windowsill as he stood on the rickety potting bench outside.
“What time do you want me to come get you tomorrow?” he whispered.
“Okay. I’ll be here.”
Taxis and airport shuttles jockeyed for space at the curb as Caleb parked his truck in the white zone. He got out, lifted Cora’s suitcase out of the truck bed and set it down next to her on the sidewalk.
“Do you have your ticket?” he asked.
“What time does your plane leave?”
“Soon. But I still have to check in.” She double-checked her ticket, her wallet, her purse and all the zippers on her suitcase. She wasn’t taking much because she didn’t have much to take. Even so, she looked a little overwhelmed.
As she stood there reviewing her stuff, he memorized the sight of her: sundress, sandals, braided dark hair. The long, hot drive had left her cheeks rosy.
Cars honked. A porter pushed a cart loaded with luggage. All around them, people rushed to their destinations.
She glanced up at him and gave him a distracted hug. “Okay. I’d better go,” she said, already turning away.
He grabbed her shoulders and held her still. “Whoa. Slow down, Ivy League.”
Tipping his head so that he wouldn’t blind her with the brim of his cowboy hat, Caleb kissed her. Her lips were soft and still tasted like the Cherry Coke he’d bought her at a gas station in Valencia. Not caring that they were in a public place, he opened his mouth and gave her a little tongue. She laughed against his mouth, stepped in between his boots and gave him a real hug.
“I’m going to miss you,” he said.
She pulled away a half inch and looked into his eyes. “Don’t. Don’t miss me.” He could tell she was struggling to stay tough. He didn’t want to see her cry again. “We talked about this,” she whispered. “I don’t want a long-distance relationship. Here’s where we have to say goodbye.”
He nodded and stole another kiss.
She pulled away again. “I’m serious, Caleb. You go out with other girls. I’ll go out with…my textbooks. End of story. Period.”
He nodded again and smiled. “Text me when you arrive, okay?”
“You son of a bitch, are you even listening to me?”
Her lips were too sweet. He kissed her again. “You gonna text me or what?”
She sighed. “Fine.”
He lowered his lips to her ear. “You gonna send me dirty pictures?”
“Oh my God. Goodbye, MacKinnon.”
“What’s the word? Your
Yeah. Send me a picture of that.”
She smiled at last. “Stupid ass.”
One final kiss and she slipped out of his arms.
Tonight, with the help of his brothers back in Oleander, Caleb was going to drink himself numb. But right now, watching Cora wheel her suitcase into the terminal, he wanted to feel it all: anger that she had to go, despair that he couldn’t keep her and happiness that she was leaving to pursue her dreams—none of which included life in a Podunk town with him.
Cora looked over her shoulder. She stepped inside, nodded at him and mouthed the words,
“See you,” he said aloud.
With a parting smile, she turned away as the glass doors shut behind her.
“Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.”
Cora was sleeping facedown on her open statistics textbook, her nose wedged into the crack, when the buzz of her cell phone woke her up. She squinted at the screen. Almost one a.m. Only one person ever texted her this late at night.
What are you wearing?
She smiled as she slid her textbook out of the way. With a yawn, she stretched out on the top bunk, delighting in the juicy feeling of unfurling her spine and cracking her vertebrae like knuckles. She lay back on her pillow and thought for a moment before texting back.
A frown of indignation.
The reply came back immediately.
Easy, Ivy League. You and them 25-cent words. Hold on.
She stifled a laugh as another text came through.
Just looked that word up. Anger and annoyance, my ass. You like it when I text you late at night. That’s when you’re the horniest.
Cora rolled her eyes.
Speak for yourself, cowboy. Late at night is when I study.
You studying now?
Her fingers flew over her phone.
No. Obviously I’m wasting time texting you. What are you doing home on a Friday night, anyway? Shouldn’t you be drinking at the Silver Spur or hanging out with the other delinquents?
Who said I was home?
She felt a flash of annoyance.
So where are you?
There was a long pause before he replied.
Outside your window.
Don’t make horror-movie jokes. I’m alone here and you know how freaked out I get.
You ain’t alone. Go to your window.
Fuck you, Caleb! If you insist on freaking me out I will end this conversation right now.
Don’t freak out. Just look. Please.
“Stupid ass,” Cora whispered, unsure of whether she was directing the insult at Caleb or at herself.
In a huff, she climbed down the ladder of her bunk bed, zipped up her pink hoodie and shuffled over to the window. She pulled up the blinds and looked outside.
The night sky was black and starless as tar. Everything on the ground was covered in a thick layer of white snow, a sight that still surprised and delighted Cora, who had only seen snow for the first time a couple of months ago. “What am I supposed to be seeing?” she said aloud, squinting.
A few sets of footprints crossed the quad like the snail trails, but no one was out. Only the crazy or the drunk would venture out on a cold night like this.
Cora’s phone buzzed. She glanced at it.
Can you see me?
She was confused. From her fourth-story window, she could hardly see anything but snow. Then she spotted something that almost made her drop her phone.
Within the perfectly round halo of light from a streetlamp stood a tall figure with a duffel bag slung over his shoulder. He was wearing jeans, a dark jacket and a black cowboy hat. When he waved, the screen of a cell phone created an eerie blue arc that seemed to hang in the air.
Surprise and trepidation coursed through Cora’s bloodstream in two huge waves. Despite the radiator in her room, her fingers went cold as she sent him one more text.
You crazy bastard.
Frantic, she stumbled to the bathroom, brushed her teeth and dragged a comb through her slept-on hair. When she looked in the mirror, she saw only pasty skin and bloodshot eyes. She sighed, took out a tube of ChapStick and smeared it on, hoping that by some cherry-flavored miracle Caleb had become severely nearsighted in the six months since she’d seen him.
“Friends, right? We’re just friends,” she whispered to herself. It was a lie as bald-faced as she was.
She went downstairs. A couple of students snoozed or chatted quietly in the study lounge. Cora glanced through the window at the figure waiting just outside the door.
Tall and solid, Caleb stood with one hand in the pocket of his jeans and one hand holding his duffel bag. His boots crunched over the thin crust of fresh snow on the front steps, and he looked wild-eyed and out of his element. Cora took a deep breath and opened the door.
At once, Caleb dropped his duffel bag and gave her a bear hug. When he smashed her face up against his Carhartt jacket, the coldness of his body seeped through her Hello Kitty flannel pajamas into her skin. In the crush of his embrace, Cora wondered if her heat passed through his clothes and into his skin.
As if he could read her thoughts, he squeezed her harder, making her squeak involuntarily, like a dog toy.
She could feel the hot staring of the other students, so she pulled away and looked up at him.
Those eyes. Jesus H. Christ. Green as sea glass with pupils rimmed in gold. The tip of his nose was red. He sniffled. For some reason this pinched at her heart—her big, tough cowboy had a little cold.
she thought to herself,
“Hey.” He leaned forward and kissed her forehead with cold lips. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?”
“I wanted to surprise you. Or embarrass you if you were on a date, which”—he looked her up and down—“doesn’t seem to be the case.”
She winced and let go. “These days I only date my statistics textbook.”
“That douche bag? I’ll kill him. Where is he?” Caleb said with a fake sneer. Even though he was joking, his possessiveness made Cora swallow down the bubble of wishful thinking that appeared in her throat.
“Upstairs in my bed,” she said. “Come on.”
As Caleb showered in the men’s bathroom, Cora made up her roommate’s empty bunk bed with spare blankets and a pillow. She dug out some cold medicine and heated up the electric kettle. Then she went to the bathroom to wash her mug and spoon.
She scrubbed the coffee stains out of the mug and tried to gather her thoughts.
Why is he here? What does he want?
It had been so long since they’d seen each other in person. Cora had no other family but her grandmother, who couldn’t drive. Caleb—her not-boyfriend, then or now—had volunteered to drive Cora and see her off at the airport in Los Angeles, three hours from their dusty hometown in California’s Central Valley. That was back in August.
Against her better judgment, they’d stayed in contact, texting each other at least once a day. And there had been those long phone conversations that Cora had to take in the stairwell where her roommate couldn’t hear the words that Caleb wanted her to say.
Tonight, Cora could tell something was wrong with Caleb—his green eyes were ghosted and restless.
Is he sick? Is he getting enough rest?
She knew his dad had passed away a couple months earlier, but he didn’t like to talk about it.
Should I bring that up?
She dried off the mug with some paper towels. When she looked up, she almost screamed in surprise.
Caleb stood behind her, a towel wrapped around his lean hips, her bottle of strawberry body wash in his hand. She could see the muscles in his chest and his washboard abs, still beaded with water.
“Holy hell!” Her heart was pounding. “You were supposed to go to the men’s bathroom. I told you. Downstairs, one floor down.”
He looked stunned, Bambi in the headlights. “I guess…I guess I didn’t hear the downstairs part.”
“Jesus! Caleb!” she said, exasperated.
Thousands of miles from home, both feeling a little lost, they looked at each other in the mirror.
“Oops.” He cracked a smile.
They began to laugh.
Caleb put an arm around her waist and kissed her cheek. She’d always thought he was the most handsome when he smiled. He was warm from his hot shower. She closed her eyes and leaned back against his hard, solid chest, enjoying his heat.
“Let me get out of here before I get you in trouble,” he whispered.
“My room is unlocked,” she said. “I’ll be there in a minute.”
“Where’s your roommate anyway?”
“Romantic Valentine’s Day weekend. She’ll be gone until Monday.”
“That so?” Caleb raised an eyebrow at her.
He walked out of the restroom and Cora caught herself checking out his behind, perfect and tight and just round enough to ruin her for all other behinds for the rest of her life.
Caleb dried off and got into a clean T-shirt and boxers. He dove into the bed and covered himself up in an attempt to hide the enormous erection he’d gotten as soon as Cora leaned up against him in the bathroom.
She hadn’t reciprocated his kiss or even touched him. But her deep brown eyes when she looked at him, the baby-soft skin on her cheek when he kissed her, the sweetness of her smile when she laughed—everything about her conspired to make the blood in his body rush south in a hurry. In spite of ample opportunities to mess around with other girls since Cora left town, he hadn’t slept with anyone else. None of them appealed to him anymore. But now that Cora was near, his body throbbed like an exposed nerve.
She came in a minute later, her cheeks glowing. She closed the door behind her, poured him a cup of hot chamomile tea and gave him some cold medicine without his asking for it.
“I’ve got the radiator on. Are you warm enough?” she asked.
After a six-hour flight and three hours slogging around in the snow looking for her, Caleb was fading fast. The blanket and pillow, and now even his own skin, smelled like her—fresh and sweet like strawberries. In spite of his exhaustion, his cock was still heavy and rigid, with no intention of standing down. He put the pills in his mouth, took a long drink and put the mug on the bedside table.
“I’m plenty warm,” he said.
She turned off the lamp and began to climb up into the top bunk.
In the dark, he listened to her, frozen on the ladder, breathing.
“Lie down with me,” he whispered.
“Caleb,” she said softly. “We can’t. We shouldn’t.”
He liked his name on her lips so much that he ignored the impatience in her voice. “I won’t try anything.”
“Please,” he said.
“These beds are really narrow. We’ll be squished together.”
“Cora.” He could hear his own voice beginning to slur. He’d never been on a plane before. Everything in this place was new and strange—except for her.
After a moment of introspection in the dark, she climbed back down, lifted the blanket and slid in next to him.
In the narrow bunk, he spooned her, wrapping his arms around her just underneath her breasts. As if it were the most natural thing in the world, she bent her legs, and he tucked his knees behind hers. His rigid cock rested snugly against her lower back.
“Whoa, there,” she said softly, jerking forward.
He held her tightly, not letting her wiggle loose.
Fuck, she feels like heaven,
he thought. “It’ll go away. Eventually.”
She sighed and stopped fidgeting, but she still felt skittish in his arms. He tightened his grip and nuzzled the side of her neck, a sweet spot that he knew either put her to sleep or made her wet, depending on how he did it. The tension drained slowly from her body like moonshine from a still.
They were quiet for a long time. Caleb tried to ignore how right she felt in his arms.
“You know,” she said quietly, “we’ve never actually
Caleb opened his eyes in the dark and blinked. The cold medicine was beginning to cross his wires a little. “Really? Never?”
“Maybe a nap by the creek, but that was only an hour or so,” she said.
He smiled. “I remember that afternoon.” He tried not to nudge her with his dick.
“Seems a long time ago,” she murmured.
A long pause. “So…why are you here anyway?” she asked.
The big question. He couldn’t answer it. Not tonight, anyway.
“I’ll tell you tomorrow.”
She wrapped her arms around his and her girlish sigh dug right into his heart. The last thing he remembered before exhaustion dragged him under was the sound of her deep breathing, soft and even. As close as they were, and as worn out as he was, she could have been breathing for them both.
Cora woke up from the deepest sleep she’d had in months. Buried in blankets and pillows, she had to wiggle her way free. Sunlight filled the dorm room from between the curtains.
She looked at the digital clock on her desk—9:48.
The door opened and in stepped the cowboy.
“Morning, sunshine,” Caleb said, taking off his hat.
She looked up at him. Without his hat, his disheveled dark blond hair made his green eyes look almost feral. He put down the coffee and donuts he was carrying and took off his jacket. Tall and toned in his snug-fitting Henley and jeans, he was everything attractive to her about men.
He leaned down and gave her a kiss on the cheek, bringing with him the smell of fresh coffee. As he stood up straight in the small dorm room, with its pink daisy bedspreads and twinkle lights, he looked as out of place as a longhorn in a nail salon.
“My smokes are in the top drawer of the desk, if you want one.” She rubbed her eyes.
“No thanks. Gave it up.” He sat down at the foot of the bed. “What did you give me last night? It put me down like an elephant dart.”
“Just a little nighty-night cold medicine. How do you feel?”
“A thousand times better.” He looked at her intently. “Listen. How long will it take you to shower and pack an overnight bag?”
“I’ve got a surprise for you.” He leaned back on his arms and the caps of muscle on his shoulders flexed forward. “My brother Dean is working tonight. Madison Square Garden. I got us tickets. What d’you say?”
She sat up. “I say you’re a nutjob. I’ve got a huge project due on Monday.”
“And if I know you correctly, you’ve been done with it for at least three weeks.”
He always had her number. “But…I have to review the data,” she said weakly.
“You can review it on the train. We’ve got a three-hour ride.”