Our time together has an expiration date.
HAYDEN: I don't remember a time when I didn't love him.
The only guy I've ever wanted sees me as nothing more than the kid next door and his younger sister's best friend. But when Dean comes home after college graduation, things are different. I've grown up, and the way his golden-brown gaze scorches a path over my body tells me he's noticed. When he makes me an offer I should refuse, I'm caught between my feelings for him and logic screaming that this idea is doomed to end in heartbreak.
DEAN: I'm not interested in anything serious but I need to have him.
I plan on spending a few months at home relaxing before beginning my dream internship. What I don't count on is my little sister's best friend sending me for a loop. He should be off-limits, but the pull I feel toward him is too strong to ignore. When I come up with a solution to spend the summer together in secret, I'm sure I have it all figured out. I just need to work him out of my system.
It's supposed to be free of complications...a fling. By the end of summer, it's anything but simple.
I must have drifted off because I woke up dry mouthed and thirsty. After removing Reese’s arm from where it lay on my chest, I slipped my glasses on and climbed off the bed. My steps were light as I slipped from her room and padded downstairs to the kitchen. I grabbed a glass from the cabinet, filling it with filtered water from the refrigerator dispenser.
The cool liquid slid down my parched throat as I downed every drop before refilling it. The second disappeared just as quickly and I set the empty glass in the sink. Wiping my mouth with the back of my hand, I turned to go back upstairs. As I passed through the large foyer, a sound caught my attention and I froze. Keys jingled. Then the lock on the front door clicked once more and the door swung open revealing Dean with a large gym bag slung over his shoulder. He wasn’t supposed to be home until the next day and judging by his wide-eyed stare, he wasn’t expecting to run into me either.
“Hi,” I squeaked, while frozen in place.
He stepped inside, closing the door behind him with a soft snick before re-locking it. “If it wasn’t for the glasses and dark hair, I wouldn’t even recognize you.” He kept his voice low. I’d finally hit a major growth spurt over the last year and had put on enough weight that I didn’t resemble a beanpole. “What are you doing here in the middle of the night, Hayden?” His eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“Sleeping. I got up for a glass of water.” He paused and his lips flattened into a thin line so I hurried on. “I thought you weren’t coming back until tomorrow.”
“I decided to go ahead and make the drive and got a flat for my trouble. Otherwise, I would have been here earlier.” He said with a tired sigh. “It’s good and weird to see you.” His gaze scanned the length of my body and chills raced over my skin.
When I couldn’t find my voice, he adjusted the strap on his shoulder. “I’m beat so I’m going to head to bed. I’ll grab the rest of my things tomorrow.”
I nodded and followed behind him up the stairs. Halfway up, he glanced over his shoulder with a frown but kept going. “Aren’t you headed in the wrong direction?”
“No, I’m staying the night.” Didn’t I already say that? When I paused outside Reese’s room, Dean’s eyes narrowed to slits.
“You’re staying in Reese’s room? I mean, I always thought you two would end up together.”
Why would he think that? Reese had to have told him I came out earlier this year. “We’re not.”
If he heard me, he didn’t acknowledge what I said. “Does Mom know you’re having sleepovers though? Like in the same room?” He didn’t let me respond. Again. “And I’m assuming in the same bed.”
I couldn’t wrap my head around why he was worried. Dean continued his whispered rant, and without thinking, I stepped into his personal space and slapped my hand over his mouth.
The impulsive action seemed to startle us both. His eyes grew wide and he froze.
I couldn’t believe I’d just done that, but he wouldn’t listen. I held eye contact. “Shh.”
Dean didn’t remove my hand, and I wasn’t sure he’d let me finish if I moved it so I kept it there. “Reese and I aren’t together. I’m gay.” He cocked his head and seemed to study me. How could he not know? “She didn’t tell you?”
When he shook his head, I became aware of his soft lips against my palm. His breaths tickled the sensitive flesh and I realized my gaze had locked onto that connection. Clearing my throat, I ripped my hand away.
As I waited for his reaction, I pushed my glasses up my nose in a nervous tic I wished I could kick.
Dean’s gaze roamed the length of my body, making my breathing race in and out of my lungs. His gaze seemed to caress my skin causing butterflies to take flight in my stomach while long, tan fingers rubbed his squared chin. And unless I was imagining things, his pupils had dilated. “How did I not know?”
It was the same question I’d been asking myself. Their mom knew, so why hadn’t Reese told him? “I only came out this year and I don’t advertise it. But I don’t hide it either.”
Having no idea what he’d think, I crossed my arms over my chest and lifted my chin while repressing the desire to flee into Reese’s room.
“Calm down, I get it.” Dean held his hands up in surrender. Just as he opened his mouth to continue, a loud chime cut into our whispered conversation.
“Shit.” He scrambled to pull the phone from his pocket and silenced it. His gaze shot from one end of the hallway to the other as if searching for any sign of someone being woken up. Glancing down at the screen, he scowled.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, my arms loosening and falling to my sides.
Dean’s gaze held mine, pausing long enough that I thought he wouldn’t answer my question.
He stood straight so I mimicked his posture. “Someone I used to date.” He grimaced as if the word left a sour taste in his mouth that rivaled the pit developing in my stomach. I didn’t want to hear this. “Well not date exactly. His name was Brady.” He cocked a brow with a shameless grin.
His words took a minute to process and even when it registered, my shock held me mute. Unfortunately it didn’t hinder my jaw from dropping.
“Oh.” Brilliant response, Hayden.
“Oh?” He snickered. “I guess my baby sister didn’t divulge my sordid secret either? Well, it seems we’ve both had a big year. Honestly, I wasn’t positive I was bi until a few years ago, but it turns out I have a thing for both.” He shrugged, pressed the side button on his phone, and then stuffed it back in his pocket. “This guy, he’s a clinger. I told him I wasn’t looking for anything serious, but I guess he refuses to accept it.”
Offering a weak smile, I attempted to hide the disappointment weighing me down. The blasé way he spoke about hookups made my chest ache. Dean hadn’t changed at all. Not that I’d expected him to or had a right to wish it. “The downside of playing the field,” I managed to make it sound like a joke.
He chuckled. “I guess. Well, I’m going to go…” He hitched his thumb over his back toward his room and turned to go. Rooted to the spot, I stared long after his door closed behind him.
About the author:
Bios are challenging. I don't have a clue how to write about myself. Fictional characters, sure! Me? Not so much. Lol. It's the reason my author bio stayed practically blank until after I finished my second novel.
Who am I? Well, I live in Texas where the heat and I don't get along. One day I hope to call Northeast USA home. I'm a wife and mother of 2 ridiculously cute kids. I have 2 dogs and 1 cat, the latter of which is a spoiled brat, but she's my spoiled brat. ❤
I fell in love with writing during elementary school with my first "bare book". And only within the last few years have I been able to try my hand at it as a career (which I have high hopes for btw!).
Spending the day under a fluffy blanket reading or writing away on my laptop with a mountain of coffee is my idea of time well spent. I get to live so many lives through books that I consider myself genuinely lucky to call myself an avid reader.
That's me in a nutshell. I hope I'm finding my place among like-minded people. ❤❤❤And I hope you'll enjoy reading the stories I write.