One night. One big mistake. One boy that changes everything.
Britte Nichols has a plan.
And it’s a good one. College. Med School. Illustrious career. Then maybe a husband. Possibly children, but she doesn’t want to get ahead of herself.
Britte decided at a young age that she wasn’t going to let love get in the way of her future. She has things to do. Places to go and all that.
Until the night she has one too many drinks and lets lust override logic.
Beckett Harris is gorgeous, talented and completely bad for her. But she wasn’t the only one feeling fireworks that night. Now Beckett wants to explore their chemistry and his timing couldn’t be more inconvenient.
Her heart wants what her head knows she can’t have. But a girl has needs. So when Beckett bets her a few weeks of harmless fun, she wants to say yes.
She’ll just have to bet that Beckett doesn’t fall for her too.
Other students had dressed warmer than me, apparently prepared for the day to continue dipping toward frozen. I’d grabbed my huge blanket scarf, but opted to leave my coat at home.
Still, the kids I passed, had their heads dipped low and their arms wrapped around their bodies as they fought against the wind on their way to class or the cafeteria.
“Nichols!” A muffled shout carried on the wind. I could have almost believed I’d imagined it. But then I heard it again. “Nichols!”
I turned around, and the wind hit the back of my head, but I could hear clearly. “Britte!”
My gaze moved to the source of the sound. Beckett. Shit.
It was too late to pretend I hadn’t heard him now. Even though I could have gotten away with it just three seconds earlier. Damn, why had I turned?
He wore a goofy grin on his face, and a maroon and gray school polo beneath a black fleece zip up. He jogged toward me, and I realized how unfair life was.
It shouldn’t be so difficult to turn around and walk away from him. I had acted like the biggest idiot the other night. Surely he hated me.
And if he didn’t, he should. I wasn’t too self-absorbed to realize he had done nothing wrong except been oblivious to all of my issues. I’d bit his head off for just mentioning my mom.
There was no way he could have understood the deeper issues I had with her and why it was so impossible for me to ever see her or speak to her. He assumed the entire world revolved like his world, where everything was set out perfectly before you and opportunities just fell into your lap.
Beckett was in grad school with the perfect job lined up for him. And if he didn’t want that job, he could chase his dream job instead and be a coach. Sure, he was having an existential crisis, but it was between two fantastic options.
And no matter what, his picture-perfect family would be there to support him through everything.
Sure, I had the support system in my dad too. But my future was less certain, less neatly lined up. My future was not a Hallmark movie.
It was a series on the Disaster Channel.
Oh, there wasn’t such a thing? Because nobody wanted to watch tragedy after calamity after catastrophe. It was painful.
He stopped in front of me, shoving his hands into his pockets and keeping his boyish smile. “Hey.”
I should have just opened my mouth and apologized. That would have been the right thing to do. But I was so confused why he wasn’t avoiding me, that I stood there awkwardly until he raised his eyebrows. Then I managed a smoothly brilliant, “Hey.”
He was unfazed. “Just get done with class?”
I shifted my bag on my shoulder. “Yep.”
He took a big enough breath that his shoulders lifted and for the first time since he’d arrived, I realized he wasn’t unflappable. He didn’t know what to do with this strained energy between us anymore than I did.
No, that was a lie.
I knew I should apologize. I just wasn’t going to.
He glanced over his shoulder. “I have work to do. That’s why I’m here.”
My chin jutted forward. “I recognized the polo.”
His eyes glanced down at his chest as if just remembering what he was wearing. “Oh, right.”
Silence followed and stretched and thickened the air between us.
“I have to work tonight too,” I said just by way of filling up the space. “In like an hour.”
“Is Ellie working with you?”
I nodded. “Yep.”
He shook his head, and the smile reappeared. “I don’t know what Ty is thinking always scheduling you two together. You’re trouble.”
I bit my lip to keep from smiling. I had wondered the same thing more than once. “He loves us. And he loves our trouble.”
“It’s pathetic what you two do to men.”
I didn’t know how to reply to that, so I didn’t. We honestly didn’t really do anything to men. Other than mess things up with them.
Or maybe that was just me.
Ellie seemed to be doing fine with her man.
“Hey, Beckett, about the other night—”
He waved me off, “Don’t worry about it, Britte. I get it. I had no idea what I was talking about, and I shouldn’t have assumed my advice was welcome.”
“Well…” I had already started in on an argument to tell him the very same thing so when his words finally penetrated my brain, I didn’t know where to go next. “Yeah, er, right.”
His smile stretched to his eyes. “I’m the one that’s sorry, Britte. But you should know it might happen again. We’re just getting to know each other. I’m going to try to not stay stupid stuff. But odds are not in my favor.”
A smile finally broke free on my face. “You still want to get to know me?”
He took a step forward, “You’re kidding right? That’s pretty much all I want to do…get to know you…” His fingers brushed down my arm. “Every single piece of you.”
His hand encircled my wrist, and I suddenly found it difficult to breathe. And had I been complaining about the cold? Because now I was pretty sure I was burning up from the inside out.
His touch seared through me, straight to the bone. I found it comforting and unnerving and distracting and centering all at once. My emotions whirled through me like a brewing storm, dark on the horizon, filled with heavy weather and bursts of bright lightning.
“I don’t like how we ended our time together the other night,” he murmured, stepping closer.
His hold on my wrist felt like an anchor now. There was a part of me that wanted to run…to escape this intense moment that went against everything I had decided about Beckett and a relationship with him.
But his touch kept me in place. His touch erased doubt and concern and fear.
“What do you mean?” I managed to ask.
His head dipped toward mine. “I let you go,” he whispered. “When I should have chased after you.”
I closed my eyes against the assault of intense emotions. It was too much. Beckett was too much.
His lips brushed against mine, whispering words that made my heart pound in my chest and my skin tingle with anticipation. “And I should never have let you leave without this.”
And then he was kissing me and stealing all reason and logic and rational thought. I melted into him without a fight…without resistance.
He kissed me, and I kissed him back. That was it. Like it was supposed to happen all along. Like I was meant to kiss him. Like I was created just to bring his lips happiness.
His hand moved from my wrist to my waist, tugging me against him at the same time he tilted his head to deepen the kiss. Our tongues tangled together in blissful connection, and I made a sound in the back of my throat that I should have been embarrassed of.
It only encouraged him, though. His other hand joined the first on my waist, holding me against him until I felt his entire body pressed up against mine, all hardened muscle, and masculine power. I felt soft against him, delicate and feminine, but powerful in the same breath.
There was something about his hardness against my softness that gave me the advantage, not him. I felt it wash over him as his fingers curled into my hips and his kisses became hungrier…greedier.
My hands landed on his chest and then slowly smoothed over his shoulders to entwine around his neck. This position was better. This position let me feel him even more. My nipples tingled where they pressed into his chest and my belly burned with something primitive and needy.
His teeth bit into my lower lip, but his tongue was quick to follow, soothing the sting. I mimicked him a minute later, letting my teeth sink into his full bottom lip, enjoying the feel of it before running my tongue over the same spot.
He made a growly sound and tipped me back, supporting my weight with one hand on my lower back and the other cupping my nape, holding my head in place.
His kissed moved over my cheek, along the curve of my jaw and down my neck until he found the hollow of my throat. His tongue dipped into that spot and then he sucked, hard. I laughed, surprised by the sensation.
His chest rumbled with laughter too, but then he was kissing lower, brushing the tops of my breasts through my scarf and sweater. My fingers dug into his hair, desperate for support. I felt his smile as he slowly kissed his way back to my mouth, enjoying every single inch of me.
With one final, sweet kiss on my lips, he pulled back so he could stare down at me, still holding me to him, still keeping me wrapped in his strong, firm arms.
Looking up at him was like staring directly at the sun. He was too bright…too hot. His lids were only half-raised, droopy with lust and warmth. His pupils were dilated, nearly blocking out that heated gray. His smile was seductively crooked, promising wicked secrets I was desperate to know.
How could this gorgeous man be real?
He belonged in a romance novels and chick flicks.
I blinked, realizing that I didn’t. I wasn’t fiction worthy. I was bookish and awkward and neurotic. I also realized that we were standing in the middle of campus and that people had had to move around us while we made out on the sidewalk like two horn dogs.
I cleared my throat and stepped back. “I have to go to work.”
His hands grabbed mine, holding on loosely. “Me too.”
I licked my lips. “I’d rather keep doing that, though.”
His gaze dropped to my mouth. “Me too.”
I didn’t know what to say after that, so I took another step back, and our fingers reluctantly let go of each other.
Those heavy gray eyes lifted to mine. “I’ll text you later, Britte.”
I nodded, biting my lip to hide my smile. “I figured.”
His mouth kicked up in a half smile. “Good.”
I turned around quickly, afraid that if I stood there for a second longer with him staring at me like that, I would throw myself on top of him, wrap my legs around him like a spider monkey and attack his face with my mouth.
About Rachel Higginson
Rachel Higginson is the author of The Five Stages of Falling in Love, Every Wrong Reason, The Star-Crossed Series, Love & Decay Novella Series and much more!
She was born and raised in Nebraska, and spent her college years traveling the world. She fell in love with Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian Food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka, but came back home to marry her high school sweetheart. Now she spends her days writing stories and raising four amazing kids.