Going out with Tally had been more of a headache than I wanted it to be. What started out with dinner turned into an all-nighter at a local club. The stench of stale cigarettes littered my clothing from earlier in the night, as well as, the few droplets of puke Tally had managed to get on me when I was holding her hair.
It shouldn't have been much of a surprise how the evening turned out. Yet, once again, I was left to babysit her while she dabbled in the fun.
I wasn't the party girl Tally had become, and even though she knew that, she still tried to drag me around. Sometimes I wondered if that was simply a way to make sure she had a designated driver or if she genuinely enjoyed my company.
By the time we had arrived back at her home, the lights were off, and it was dark. Tally's drunken form was unable to carry herself up the stairs, which meant that it had been my job to do so.
After I had gotten Tally undressed and in bed, and a hot shower had washed away the remainder of the night from my body, I lay on my bed, trying to find the will to go to sleep. Too much had happened over the past few weeks. My mind still reeled from my breakup with Chad, but I also couldn't stop thinking about James.
James was different. Not only was he incredibly sexy, with lips so plump I wanted to kiss him for days, but he was old school. He seemed like the kind of man who knew how to wine and dine a girl. Treat her special, and never cheat on her with some mystery girl like Chad did to me.
I didn't know James that way, but my mind constantly wondered. I wondered how he would treat me and about all the wonderfully sinful things he could do to me.
I didn't understand the rush of emotions he brought over me. I wasn't the bad girl type, and yet everything about him wanted to make me submit on my knees.
I'm an i***t to think a man like James Valentino would be interested in me though. Allison, Tally's mom, is beautiful and classy. She has taste and is sophisticated… I can never be her.
Tally had plenty of male friends in this city, and even though I didn't want another relationship, I couldn't help but wonder if one of them would settle my needs.
Picking up my phone, I scrolled through social media and took in the various photos of Chad and I that were posted on my account. I hadn't had the courage to get rid of them yet, and looking back at it now, I felt even more pathetic.
With a push of a few buttons and much-needed courage, I deleted the history of my relationship with Chad. I welcomed the hollow feeling in my chest when I was finished, but at the same time, it hurt.
“God, why can't I sleep," I groaned as I looked at the clock, realizing I had spent two hours laying awake instead of sleeping.
Slipping from bed, I padded my way out of my room and towards the stairs. The idea of hot tea and a snack to settle my mind seemed more enjoyable with every step I took.
Through the darkness, I made my way to the kitchen. The dim light over the stove was enough for me to see what I was doing, and yet, not disturb anyone in the home.
Not that anyone would likely wake. It was 3:00 in the morning, and normal people slept at this hour.
As I moved around the kitchen setting the kettle, I hummed a tune from earlier in the night that had gotten stuck in my head.
“Having fun?" a voice called from behind me, causing a small scream to leave my throat as I spun around, coming face to face with James himself. His dark, brooding eyes stared at me with amusement.
As much as I wanted to form a coherent sentence at that moment, my thoughts were lost in the realization that James, my best friend's father, was standing before me in nothing but a towel.
Oh, sweet baby Jesus. “Uh-oh, hey. Sorry, just making tea."
“I see that," he hummed with amusement. “Couldn't sleep either?"
Shaking my head, I shrugged my shoulders. “Not lately. Plus, after all the excitement tonight, I had to wind down."
There was a moment of awkward silence that fell between us as James stood by the counter, simply staring at me.
Clearing my throat, I turned back towards the kettle that was now hissing and poured the hot water over the tea bag so it could steep. Motion out of the corner of my eye made me freeze as I realized he had taken two steps closer towards me.
“You really have changed over the years… haven't you, Becca?" he whispered softly, causing me to turn around and notice only a few feet between us.
My heart raced with anticipation of what the hell was happening. Was this what I hoped it was? But I couldn't do that to Tally, could I?
“Yeah," I replied uncomfortably, “I guess I have. I'm not really the dorky girl I was the last time I was here. Then again, I could say you have changed as well."
He had changed. He had gotten older, obviously, but he didn't seem as sad as he once had. Instead, he seemed satisfied with his life. As if he finally found his calling after leaving his ex-wife, Allison.
“Interesting." His eyes took me in once more as he casually leaned against the counter. “So, did your boyfriend decide to join you this summer as well?"
My eyes kept drifting down his ripped, toned body. Every muscle was on full display, and only the towel kept me separated from the prize I wanted so desperately to have.
I tried not to look, but I couldn't help it when he stood so willingly in front of me.
“Uh, no." I shrugged, trying to remain calm. “I don't have one. We broke up a few weeks ago."
Intrigue seemed to get to him as I responded.
As if that had been the answer he was hoping for.
“Is that right? Was it mutual then?"
Glancing down, I shook my head. “No, not exactly."
No matter how innocent his question had been, the wound of Chad's betrayal was still fresh. So for James to bring it up was like pouring salt on an open wound.
“I'm sorry if I upset you, Becca. That wasn't my intention."
“No, no. You're fine," I replied as my eyes met his again. “Just, s**t happened, and it wasn't the most joyous moment in my life. Nothing I won't get over with in time, though."
There was an unmistakable fire that crossed his gaze for a moment at my words. I wasn't sure what it was, but it was almost as if he was angry, but pleased at the same time.
“He was an i***t for letting a beautiful woman like you go."
Holy f*ck, he just called me beautiful. The compliment caused my cheeks to redden with embarrassment as I bit my lip and quickly turned back to my tea.
I wasn't sure why his remark surprised me like it did. Men from his generation were notorious for being this way, or at least, that was the assumption I had with most men I knew his age. My professors and even my dad's friends were from a generation of class. So why was it that his words caused me to react like this?
Trying to wrap my head around what he was saying, I cleared my throat and straightened my shoulders.
“Thank you for your compliment. But I am not as pretty as other women. Plus, I am driven when it comes to my career. So I wasn't giving him the attention he wanted."
They were all excuses, but at the same time, these excuses were what allowed me to get past the pain I felt over Chad's betrayal. The excuses I made were ones I gave for his actions towards me. No matter how horrible they were.
“He didn't deserve you. Traits like that I think are sexy in a woman," James replied moving closer to me, causing my breath to catch in my throat.
I was highly aware of the distance between us in the kitchen. The fact that he was in a towel sent me into hyperdrive, and I hoped he couldn't tell how much he was turning me on.
Slowly turning around with parted lips, I faced him. In the time I hadn't been paying attention, he had taken two steps closer to me, and the distance between us closing caused my heart to race.
I wasn't trying to be bad, but the smell of him wrapping around me made my body want to do all kinds of bad things. “Perhaps, someday, someone will show me what it is I deserve."
My words came off more flirtatious than I'd meant them to be, and he must have noticed, because his response was to brush against me gently as he reached over my head for a cup.
The contact of his skin against mine caused my n*****s to instantly harden and my core to clench with desire. I wanted him so f*cking bad, but at the same time, there was no way a man like James Valentino wanted me.
Not to mention, you horny b***h, that is your best friend's dad.
As he pulled back, setting his cup on the counter, I tried to clear my mind. There was a boundary I didn't need to cross, and with the teasing moments around us, I was dangerously close to crossing.
“Are you okay?" he whispered, causing me to slowly look up at him to see the amusement dancing within his eyes.
“Of course, why wouldn't I be?" I shifted uncomfortably. “Are you?"
As his eyes drifted down towards my chest, I felt the stir within me once more.
“Oh, I'm more than alright, Becca." He grinned and his eyes met mine again.
It took me a moment to process what he meant, and as I glanced down, I saw the erect strain of my n*****s pressing against the white tank top I was wearing.
“Oh, I'm so sorry," I stammered, wrapping my arms across my chest. “It's a bit cold."
“No, it isn't." He chuckled as he grabbed his glass and went to the fridge to pour a drink.
He may have been right, but the arrogant response made my mouth part in surprise.
“Yes, it is. It's a bit chilly, and well, yeah—"
As the door to the fridge closed, he turned to face me, bringing his cup to his lips. The movement of his Adam's apple as he drank down the liquid caught my eye. I had never seen something as simple as that look so sexy before.
“I know what you want, Becca," he said, grasping my attention once more.
“I don't want anything," I replied, trying to play the moment off.
“Enough." Setting his cup down, he quickly cleared the space between us once more. His body was cornering me against the kitchen countertop, an arm on either side of me as the 'come f*ck me' eyes gazed into my soul.
“I told you to call me James, Becca." His firm reply flipped the switch on the situation and instantly made me want to behave. “I can see that I turn you on, but I can promise you I'm not what you want. The things I would do… well, they would be too dark for you."
Holy s**t. “Y-you have no idea what I can handle. You don't know me like that."
My stuttered response showed clearly how uneasy I was with this situation, and yet I wanted it. I wanted him to show me exactly how dark he could be.
“Be a good girl, Becca. You need to go upstairs and go to bed," he whispered as he inhaled deeply and pushed himself back from where we stood.
The distance he was placing between us gave me a chance to breathe once more. Without a moment of hesitation, my feet pushed me towards the stairs, only to be stopped again with a firm grip on my arm.
“Remember what I said," he all but growled in a sexy way that had me weak in the knees.
Turning to face him, I placed my hand on his chest, trying to push him away. But the realization hit me that I was touching him, and the feeling of his body under my fingers made everything worse.
The firm ripple of his skin under my fingers was intoxicating, and even with the slight show of chest hair present, I couldn't help but want to run my fingers through it as his plump lips devoured mine.
Snapping out of my daydream, I quickly jerked myself from his grasp. His lips turned upwards as he stared at me, causing me to press my thighs together as I tried to control my arousal.
“Goodnight, Mr. Valentino," I stuttered, forcing my gaze from his before I turned and fled from the kitchen, quickly running up the stairs.
James Valentino was a mysterious man, and there was no telling what he truly meant by what he'd said.
Perhaps he was dangerous, but perhaps I would like it.