I’ve been in love with Emma since we were thirteen years old.
That part is real. But nothing else they say about me is true.
The way she looks at me from across the room, how she makes my old T-shirts look good, how perfect she feels when she’s in my arms. That’s what I want to picture when I think about Emma. Not a crazy auction where she gives it up to some random creep.
I can’t let it happen. I won’t let it happen.
Despite the tattoos, despite the rumors, despite my reputation as a class-A player—there’s never been anyone else. In my bed or in my heart.
It’s always been Emma.
This book is approximately 19,500 words.
For those times when size does matter. The Dirty Bits from Carina Press: quick and dirty, just the way we like it.
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I'm so close.
My toes curl and I sink my fingers deeper inside myself on a groan. I imagine Evan Drake has me pinned to the bed, his deep, green eyes set on mine while he fucks me like his life depends on it.
I circle my clit. I'm right there, right on the edge, but no matter what pace I chose, fast or slow, steady, I can't seem to come.
I close my eyes, picturing Evan's chest slicked with sweat, imaging how he'd hold my legs apart, watching himself drive into me as he takes my virginity. He'd tell me how long he's wanted to fuck me. Maybe he'd tell me I had a pretty pussy — the need between my legs builds, blooming into an angry heat. The tension comes to a head — yes, he'd definitely tell me my pussy was pretty.
That's it, my muscles clench, my thighs tremble and my back bows away from the bed as I fall hard and fast.
I bite my lip to keep myself from moaning too loudly. I don't need the entire sorority house to hear the climax of my dirty fantasy. And then it's over and here I lie, only partly satisfied because it's my fingers — not Evan's — inside me.
Sighing, I grab a towel from the side of the bed and clean up. Sometimes I feel guilty about masturbating to the fantasy of fucking my lifelong best friend, but really, I'm owed this. After all, I blame my pent up sexual frustration all on Evan. It's his fault I never sailed past third base with Matt, my high school boyfriend.
Or any other guy for that matter.
Growing up, Evan Drake was my next door neighbor. He's also a professional cock block.
The few times Matt and I were alone at my house, Evan managed to climb the tree beside my bedroom and bang on the window at the most inopportune times. Then he'd invite himself in and sandwich between me and Matt. Eventually Matt got fed up and said Evan and I had a thing for each other.
He was right about one thing. I had — have — it bad for Evan Drake.
I've fantasized about losing my virginity to him since my hormones kicked in in eighth grade. You've got to admit, it sounds like the beginning to a wonderful love story: the good girl falls for the boy next door. They end up going to college together and live Happily Ever After ... The only problem is my boy next door grew up to be a major player. A womanizer who goes for slutty redheads and girls who do anal — or so I've heard.
I'm a brunette, and if you haven't guessed, I'm not into anal. I don't think ...
In high school, the girls who went out with Evan gossiped about how his kisses left them feeling drunk. Brenda Wright — the self-proclaimed slut of our high school — bragged that he fisted her hair when he fucked her. She said he was a Neanderthal. When I overheard her whispering about it in social studies my cheeks caught fire, tension built between my legs, and I hated her.
That summer I ended up on my porch, watching Evan mow the grass while I pretended to read. Sure, I'd flip the pages, but not one word sank in because I was too distracted by the sweat trickling down his defined, bare chest. I'm not going to lie, I liked it. I liked that I looked so innocent with the book in my hands while my mind was in the gutter. While my friends were daydreaming about rockstars and actors, I imagined what it would be like to sneak Evan in through my window and let him fist my hair. I told myself one day that would happen.
Guess what? It never did.
Yep, leave it to me, the typical good girl virgin to fall for my manwhore best friend. Years of pining with no end in sight. He's thrown that friend card around enough times that I wouldn't dare confess my undying love to him. Besides, I've seen what happens when friends date and then inevitably split — they end up hating each other. I don't want to hate him.
Losing Evan is not a risk I'm willing to take, no matter the amount of hair pulling he may do. But that doesn't mean a girl can't have her fantasies.
I roll out of bed, get dressed in my Brew House T-shirt and short black skirt, then grab my phone to check my emails.
One new message titled Link to the charity auction.
The auction. I never in a million years thought I would be auctioning myself off, but the animal shelter my Beta Kappa Nu sisters and I volunteer at caught fire. Not only is the shelter in need of money, my sorority sister's brother Sean suffered severe burns. His medical bills are outrageous.
We wanted to do something to help. When Jessie came up with the idea to do an online dating auction — or whatever it is — I was lying on Evan's bed, watching his muscles flex while he did pushups, so I was only half paying attention. I totally let her talk me into it. But, whatever, it's for a good cause.
I follow the link inside the body of the email to the website, then scroll down the list of lot numbers until the cursor hovers over mine. Click. A buzz of excitement darts up my spine when my picture pops on screen. I almost don't recognize myself in all that smoky-eyed makeup. Who knew little Emma Jacobs, Ms. Please-Everyone-Good-Girl, could look so sultry with half her face hidden behind a copy of Pride and Prejudice, a short skirt, and her legs crossed just so. I peruse the rest of the girls' pictures. We all look like good girls gone rogue.
Beta Kappa Nu is known on campus as the good girl club. We aren't the party girls. We make good grades and volunteer at the animal shelter. And we are all virgins. That's no secret, which Jessie said should really help us rake in the money. After all, didn't she say every guy dreams of turning a good girl bad?
Wait ... how is one date going to turn a good girl bad? I scour over the auction site, my stomach slipping around itself every time I see the word virgin in bold. Sure, it looks like a virgin auction, but, I mean, come on. There's no way any of my sisters would give up the virginity for money. Shit. I hope they wouldn't ...
And there comes the hesitation, the doubt.
I have to stay focused on the fact that Jessie's family needs help to cover the cost Sean's medical bills. Without this auction, I have no idea what they'll do. And what kind of person would I be if I was the only girl in the sorority who didn't pitch in? I couldn't do that to Jessie. We're sisters and we stick together. Besides, it's just one dumb date. My phone pings with a text from Evan: I'm outside. And then my anxiety explodes into a massive ball of fire and black smoke. If Evan knew about the auction, he would be pissed. He's got that whole overprotective brother thing going on.
Evan: Don't make me come in. I'll get groped.
Rolling my eyes, I shove away from my desk, then head into the hall.
Evan's motorcycle idles by the curb. As usual, he's leaned over the handlebar like the playboy he is, the cool autumn wind blowing through his short, brown hair. One of the girls from the Phi Mu house sashays past, slowing to get a good look at Evan. I don't blame her for gawking, he looks like he should be on a billboard advertising Calvin Klein underwear. And he knows it.
Evan's got one of those stubble-covered jawlines that women swoon over, one Brad Pitt would be envious of. Murky green eyes that flicker with dirty promises. Full lips that no doubt would feel amazing pressed over a girl's lips — and other places. And then there's the cherry plopped proudly on the top of his bad-boy edge: his full sleeve of colorful tattoos.
"You take too long," he says when I walk up.
"I literally took three minutes to get out here."
"Too long." He winks before handing me a helmet.
I pull the helmet on with a huff before I swing a leg over the bike and wrap my arms around Evan's firm stomach. He revs the engine. "Ready?" he asks.
We speed off, the cool wind stinging my bare legs. When we come to a red light a blonde wearing a sports bra and leggings jogs across the pedestrian walkway, her boobs bouncing. Evan pulls the throttle and the bike growls.
"You don't actually think that will work, do you?"
She glances over her shoulder and grins.
"It works," he says. "Very well might I add."
Yep, Evan's got his game down pat. I think I'm the only one who knows what a notoriously dirty little player he is, because despite the engine revs and pervy comments, he's somehow utterly charming. Maybe it's the dimples. He glances over his shoulder and smiles. It's totally the dimples.
"Girls love compliments." He turns around.
"Revving your engine is not a compliment. It's on the same level as a catcall."
"Ah, come on, Em." He reaches back to pinch my thigh. "Don't get all butthurt. I think you have a nice ass, too."
I fight the blush heating my cheeks, thankful he can't see it. "Don't look at my ass!"
"Sometimes I can't help it."
The light turns green and he zooms off so fast I nearly get whiplash. The campus passes by in a blur of crimson and white.
Within ten minutes, we're pulling into The Brew House parking lot. Gravel crunches under the tires and he parks at the side of the hole-in-the-wall bar. It amazes me that this place is still open, but I guess for most college kids, the only thing they are looking for is cheap beer. Plus, I think Evan pulls in plenty of business from girls wanting to flirt with him. I know I'd come up here just to stare at him.
Evan grabs his backpack from the back of his bike. I watch his ass as he heads up the concrete steps to unlock the door. When I step inside, I'm greeted by The Brew House's original odor: stale beer with a tinge of piss. I brush past Evan and flip the light switch behind the tiny bar. When I turn around, he's got one brow cocked and a smug smile tugging at his lips. "You always wear skirts to work." He steps next to me. "Even when it's cold outside."
"It's not fair." He moves closer, until his chest is nearly pressed to mine and all I can smell is the familiar, spicy scent of his cologne.
I swallow, forcing my breaths to remain even. "And why not?"
"Come on, Em. I know you do it for the tips."
I wear skirts because I know they ride up when I go to reach for glasses. I don't do it for the tips. I do it because I want Evan to stare at my ass, thinking maybe, one day, it'll finally drive him nuts. A sudden heat stings my cheeks.
"How am I supposed to compete with that? It's not like I can just walk around with my goods on display." He winks and turns away.
I want to smack him, but before I can, he struts off to the cooler in the back. Bastard.
* * *
After we get The Brew House ready to open, I take a seat at the bar and pull my phone from my apron. Messenger pings with a text. Winston Carlson's name pops up on the screen. "God..." I groan as I swipe over his message asking me to some frat party. I don't even bother to respond this time. The guy can't take no for an answer. He's one of those silver-spoon kids that thinks he shits gold. Arrogant.
Earlier this year, at the fall formal, Winston practically pinned me to the wall and shoved his tongue down my throat. I pushed him away and called him an asshole, which he evidently took as a form of foreplay, because he's still at it ...
"You know," I say, turning to Evan, who's stacking glasses behind the bar. "What is it with guys not understanding when a girl's not interested?"
"You're asking me like I know what it's like to find a girl who's not interested." A cocky grin dances over his face.
Shaking my head, I huff. "I don't even know why I'm still friends with you."
"At this point, it's obligatory, Em. Ten years, we're practically common law."
"Oh, please ..."
"Come on," he rounds the bar and slides behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist and nuzzling his chin to my neck. My pulse skitters. "Don't tell me you forgot the pact we made senior year: if we're still single at thirty, we'll marry each other." His forearm brushes the bottom of my breasts and I bite at my lip.
"Yeah, I remember when we agreed we were each other's last resort."
I feel him grin against my neck before pressing a quick kiss to my skin. There's a burst of heat where his lips touched before he untangles his arms from around me. My heart flutters, and I hate myself for being in love with a man I'll always be one step away from completely having.
"Seriously" — he slips back around the bar — "what was the groan about?"
"Winston asked me to that party next weekend at his frat house."
I notice his jaw tick. "I hate that fuckface." He yanks the pour spout from a bottle of vodka. "I'm gonna end up kicking his ass. I feel it."
He shoves a clean spout into the bottle before sliding the vodka to the end of the bar. "Someone needs to teach that prick a lesson..." He mumbles something I can't quite make out as he walks to the end of the bar to grab another bottle of liquor. "Fucking touch you again and I'll kill him.
"The hell he is!" Evan's cheeks redden and his nostrils flare. God, he hates Winston, and I find it undeniably hot.
"Look, don't worry. I'm not going."
Evan nods. When he goes to slide the bottle of bourbon down the bar, it tips over. Liquor splashes the bottom half of his white T-shirt. "Aw, shit." He grabs the bottle and sets it upright before taking the bottom of his shirt and lifting it to wipe over his bourbon-soaked abs. The liquor trickles down the middle of his stomach, taking the exact path I've imagined tracing with my tongue. I fight a whimper when the drops roll to the jeans that sit dangerously low on his hips. There's a pull between my legs and I lean against the counter just to grant myself a little pressure.
This is literally torture.
He pulls his backpack out from under the counter, unzips it, and fishes out another T-shirt.
"The fact that you know you are going to spill something on yourself ..." I laugh.
"It's called preparation," he says with a grin and a wink before peeling his wet T-shirt off. By the time he changes into the clean shirt, I need a change of panties.
The door opens and Derrick, the bouncer, struts in just in front of our first customers of the night. I watch the girls in tight dresses wobble inside on their too-high high heels. Their obnoxious giggles fill the room and I sigh, prepping myself for another night filled with drunks. There's a burst of hyena-like laughter, and I catch Melissa Collins at the back of the pack. She flips her blond, pageant-queen hair over her shoulder. Her eyes lock on Evan as she struts toward the bar with a violent sway of her hips. "Hey, Ev," she coos while leaning over the counter. My skin crawls.
"Hey Melissa." He grabs a clean glass and scoops some ice into it. "Sex on the beach?"
"Mm-hmm." The wide smile she shoots at him looks painful. "So sweet of you to remember."
He glances at me and smirks. Every newly twenty-one-year-old girl orders sex on the beach — and here this ditz is thinking he's remembered what she likes.
"Yep," he says, pouring the array of liquors into the glass.
I watch from the corner of my eye as she primps herself, adjusting her stance so her fake boobs poke out. Evan slides her drink across to her. "Wanna start a tab?"
"Sure. Oh, did you get a new tat?" She brushes her finger over the raven feather tattoo on his forearm.
"That's so hot."
I want to roll my eyes.
She hands him her card, then throws one last grin at Evan before she walks away.
"God, the fact that she noticed you had a new tattoo is borderline stalker."
He laughs and walks to the side of the bar to take another drink order. I follow suit, filling orders for long island iced teas, sex on the beach, and more shots of screaming orgasms than I want to count. Every once in a while, I glance at Evan and I tell myself it's perfectly normal to have a thing for your best friend.CHAPTER 2
"The Cupid Shuffle" blares through the speakers. I've heard that song so many times tonight I'm borderline ready to bang my head against the wall. Thankfully, it's one o'clock, which means last call is in half an hour. Everyone inside is well over their limit, and I'm debating on calling it early ...
Emma steps out from the back, carting a rack of clean glasses. That damn skirt is caught in the rack, showing too much thigh. She's so busy concentrating on what she's doing, she doesn't even notice me staring at her exposed leg, or adjusting the soft-long I've developed from staring at it.
She moves behind me. The glasses clatter when she drops the rack on the counter.
Earlier tonight, like most nights, when we were opening, I made sure to stock the glasses on the bottom shelves. I'm surprised she hasn't figured out that I do it on purpose yet. Maybe I'm a jerk but I love the little peep show I get when she puts the glasses away on that top shelf.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Boy Next Door"
Copyright © 2018 Stevie J. Cole.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
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