Authors: Sharon Page
This is a work of fiction. Incidents, names, characters, and places are the products of the author's imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, business establishments, or persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by Edith E. Bruce
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author (excepting short quotes for use in reviews).
Cover illustration: Crocodesigns
Excerpt from One Hot Fall Term © 2013 by Edith E. Bruce. ISBN: 978-0-9878641-5-4
When Ryan Taylor and I broke up in Winter Break, just before Christmas, I didn’t know what had gone wrong. I just knew it was over. And the only reason I had for why Ryan was letting me go—
me to go—was his belief I should do better.
We’ve been dating since we were high school juniors. Now we’re both nineteen. Ryan went to a military college on the west coast; went on a scholarship since he is as poor as me. His dad owns a garage in Milltown, where Ryan was born and I’ve lived for two years. Ryan’s dad drinks, so most of the time Ryan did the work in the garage, while his dad blew the income in bars.
I’m only going to Yardley College to study architecture because my stepfather agreed to pay for it. My mom and stepfather have been divorced for years—but he raised me since I was two. He’s the only father I’ve known. Mom couldn’t afford to help me—she’s a waitress in a diner and tips are based on the cost of the food, not the way she hustles her butt.
Ryan and I both desperately needed college but to get there, we had to go to opposite sides of the country.
We promised to make a long distance relationship work.
Through fall term, we succeeded. Even though we were apart for months, at Thanksgiving I felt closer to him than ever. But when we were together again at Winter Break, everything imploded.
It is ten days before Xmas, and Ryan and I are lying in my bed while my mom is out, entwined together to stay warm. My mom keeps the heat down in the bungalow to save on the bills, so we spend a lot of time in the winter wearing coats inside.
Ryan is under my sheets and worn quilt. His toes stick out of the end of my bed, which bothers me as I’m sure he is cold. He doesn’t seem to notice. Maybe because we’re both naked.
He kisses the top of my head, a Ryan-gesture I adore. “What do you want for Christmas, Mia?”
“This.” I snuggle close to him, and wrap my hand around his amazing cock that is already hard again. I’m supposed to be the one who can keep coming time after time and enjoy the multiple orgasm phenomena, but Ryan and I have been apart so much that he is now insatiable. Apparently guys can bank up their horniness, and it can all explode at once.
I give his rigid shaft a squeeze. I have small hands and can barely touch my fingers around him. “This is all I want,” I say, “being in bed with you.”
Ryan gazes at me under his long, dark lashes. His hair, buzzed almost to his scalp, is white-blond but his eyelashes are black. He laughs huskily. “I want to give you more than that.”
I hesitate. I know Ryan is struggling to afford school, even with the scholarship. “I don’t need anything else. You don’t have to get me anything.” When he came to visit me just before Thanksgiving, he showed me how to use the equipment in the architecture school’s wood and metal working shops, which save me from failing my major fall term project. I really don’t need anything else.
“I want to get you a gift.”
“Don’t, Ryan. You need your money for school.”
He frowns, his lashes flicking down over his sapphire blue eyes. He runs his hand over his white-blond stubble. On Ryan, the severe hair cut looks sexy. “I’m not that poor, Mia.”
“You—” I break off. I was about to argue and say that I know he is and I don’t care. That I don’t need stuff. But Ryan has a lot of pride.
He sits up in my bed, the sheets tumbling off him. The cool air washes over me and my heart hammers.
I’ve hurt him. Money is something he’s sensitive about.
I sit up too, my bare breasts jiggling. My nipples go hard from the cold. Goose bumps jump up all over my breasts. Shivering, I lean over and put my lips to his cock. He tastes of sex, of his come. Sticking out my tongue, I run it lavishly around the taut head. I strum along the crown, then open my mouth and suck his cock deep inside.
I want to make things up to him.
He groans, but he cups my chin and gently pushes me back, forcing me to release him. “I don’t want pity. You don’t have to do this to make me feel better.”
True, making him feel better was sort of why I was doing it. But I say, “I was doing it because I like sucking and licking you.”
Ryan gets out of the bed, which startles me. He pulls on his sweatshirt, covering his broad bare chest. “Is that why you sleep with me? You feel sorry for me. You think I’ve had it rough.”
“No, that’s definitely not why I sleep with you.”
But he’s a guy. Guys don’t listen. “I’m not good enough for you, Mia.”
I get up on my knees, my old mattress sinking under my weight. “That’s not true, Ryan.” I hate confrontation. I want to say I love him, but maybe that will make everything worse.
“You know about all the crap in my life and it’s made you feel sorry for me.” He runs his hand over his short hair again. His sapphire-blue eyes are filled with pain. “Why else would you be with me?”
“Maybe because I care about you?”
He doesn’t say anything. He picks up his white briefs from the floor, and yanks them up his muscular legs. Under his sweatshirt, his biceps flex and his forearms are hard as steel. He was always strong from football, mixed martial arts training, and work in the garage. But a term in military college has bulked up his pecs, his biceps, even tightened the muscles of his amazing butt. He’s sexy and beautiful.
My brain is slowly processing information. He’s putting on clothes. Does this mean he’s walking away? Out the door? What
What in hell did I do that was so wrong? “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.” I feel confused and bad. But angry, too. Why isn’t he just talking to me?
I’ve spent way too much of my life feeling that way over stuff that I did, or didn't do wrong. I’ve never meant to hurt anyone. And right now, I’m starting to shake.
My reflection flashes back at me from the round mirror on my pink dressing table—I’ve had it since I was six. My hair is all tangled from sex, falling in red-blonde messed-up waves that spill over my shoulders and half-cover my breasts. My face is pale. Count-the-freckles pale.
He looks at me with this kind of unutterable sorrow on his face. “I’m sorry, too. I should have talked to you before now.” He has his jeans in his hand.
What’s going on here? It seems like he wants an excuse to walk away from me.
His jeans go on, then his wool socks—his house is no warmer than mine. He leans back against the wall, crosses his arms over his sweatshirt-covered chest.
Naked, I get out of bed. I want to walk over to him but I think he’ll reject me. I don’t want to be pushed away. So I stand, helplessly, by my bed.
Wintery sunlight spills in through my window, illuminating his tense expression. “I can’t give you anything, Mia. When I’m finished college, I’m expected to serve.”
“Well, I always assumed that. I knew that was why you wanted to go to military college.” I knew he believed it was his best way of securing a future. And also that he believed in doing right. We hadn’t talked about it, but I’d assumed he would serve.
“I could end up being half a world away from you for a long time. I might never come back—” He breaks off.
“You will,” I say, but my voice is shaky. Dave Craddock, a Milltown boy serving in Afghanistan, was killed in a roadside bombing last summer. Dave was twenty-four and a brand new father.
“A lot of guys do come back.” I can’t think about Ryan giving up his life somewhere in another country, dying because he is trying to save a life or because he’s a target just by being there. But I’m not willing to walk away from him over the fear of that happening. I never was.
“Maybe you won’t have to go at all,” I say, but I know that it is stupid even as it leaves my mouth. There’s so much strife in the world, he probably will have to go somewhere dangerous.
It twists my heart and my gut to think about that.
“I have to go,” he says. His voice sounds raspy, as if his throat is raw. “This is the only way I can have any kind of future. The only way I could ever provide a house or an income for a family. But I can’t ask you to wait.”
“Ryan, I don’t mind waiting.” I guess, deep in my heart, I had a fantasy about being together as soon as college was done. Maybe getting married, but at least living together, so we could be there for each other, making meals together, sharing the same bed, sharing our lives.
But I guess I knew it was just a dream. At least for a while. “I have a career to build,” I point out. “And working for an architecture firm will be looong hours.” Being apart from Ryan for a few years while I build my career, which could support us, makes sense, but I know he could be in danger. Somehow I have to handle that. “I can share what you have to face,” I add. “I want to.”
“You can do better than me,” he says again. “I know you’ve met guys at your college who can offer you more than I can. I won’t have anything to offer you for a long time. Even then, I can’t give you a good life and a beautiful home like some of those rich guys can.”
Then he starts walking out of my room. I’m naked, so I haul on a robe. Well, half of one, since one sleeve is inside out. I run after him, skidding into the kitchen. The linoleum is freezing under my feet.
“I want to wait for you, Ryan.”
“Yeah, well I refuse to ask you to do that. We have to break up, Mia.”
He sticks his feet in his winter boots, not bothering to lace them, grabs his coat and he’s gone. Snowflakes swirl in before the screen door slams.
I know he’s angry about a lot of things. Is he really angry at me too or do I just happen to be there?
But it hurts that he won’t talk to me, rationalize things with me, or even care what I want.
It takes me days to really understand that Ryan has broken up with me. I can’t believe our relationship is done due to an argument that began over a Christmas gift. And it’s supposed to be finished for my own good.
At first, I still think he’s hurting over something, and he’ll come to his senses, and we can get past this. I call him and go to his house but he just says he’s really sorry, that I can do better and he’s not going to stand in my way.
I finally realize we’re not going back when I run into him at the local Starbucks and see him with another girl. Ryan introduces her as a friend from military college who’s passing through.
I believe him, but I can tell from the way she looks at him she plans to be more than friends. And since she’d going to school with him, she’s going to have lots of time to make that happen.
Maybe the truth is he doesn’t love me anymore. My heart is shattered, but I finally accept that I have to let him go. It’s what he wants, and I can’t change that.
Four days after my breakup, I receive a proposition I can’t refuse.
I spent Thanksgiving with my mom, so I was supposed to fly to Washington DC in two days to spend Christmas with my stepfather and his new wife, Lisa. My birth father died and my mom remarried when I was two, so my stepfather was always Dad to me. Years ago, Dad left my mom for Susan, who was succeeded the next year by Lyndsay. When he became successful, he dumped Lyndsay and brought in Lisa. Her age is halfway between mine and Dad’s.
Lisa is actually very nice. It’s not Lisa I have a problem with. It’s my past with my stepfather.
I don’t want an awkward Christmas. I can’t face being wound up with tension, waiting for something to happen. Like Dad to try to kiss me. Or touch me. It’s going to look weird if I slug the man for just hugging me.
The easiest solution is to stay far away.
Then Jonathon Powell sends me a text. I know this is who Ryan meant when he said I’d met guys who could give me more. Jonathon became my friend during the fall term at Yardley in a really surprising way. The great-grandson of the founder of Powell Industries, a multi-billion dollar empire, Jonathon is also a multi-millionaire in his own right.
At twenty-four, he has been a student at Yardley since the age of eighteen. He keeps changing his major to stay in school and piss off his father. At the same time, he invested his trust fund allowance in business ventures.
Jonathon’s text reads:
I fly to Azure in 2 days.