His gaze was penetrating, not wavering for a moment, and my pulse hammered under his silent scrutiny.
Finally, I stretched up toward his ear, and he leaned down to accommodate my question. “S-so what’s your major?” I breathed.
From the corner of my eye, I watched his mouth twitch up on one side. “Do you really want to talk about that?” He maintained the closeness, our torsos pressed together chest to thigh, ostensibly waiting for my answer. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been so full of pure, unqualified desire.
I swallowed. “As opposed to talking about what?”
He chuckled, and I felt the vibrations of his chest against mine. “As opposed to not talking.” His hands at my waist gripped a little tighter, thumbs pressing into my ribcage, fingers still at my lower back.
I blinked, one moment not understanding what his words implied, and the next knowing unreservedly.
“I don’t know what you mean,” I lied.
He leaned closer still, his smooth cheek whispering against mine as he murmured, “Yes, you do.” Struck again by his scent—clean and subtle, unlike the trendy colognes Kennedy favored, which always seemed to overpower any scent I wore—I felt an impulse to bring my fingertips to his face and trail them over his freshly shaven jaw, the sexy scruff from yesterday gone. His skin wouldn’t redden mine now if he kissed me, hard. I would feel nothing but his mouth on mine—and maybe that slim ring at the edge of his lip…
The errant thought made my breath catch.
When his lips touched just south of my earlobe, I thought I might pass out. “Let’s just dance,” he said. Pulling back just far enough to stare into my eyes, he drew my body against his, and my legs obeyed where his said to go.
“Holy f**kburgers. Who was that hot guy?” Erin carefully maneuvered her daddy-furnished Volvo sedan around the people weaving drunkenly through the parking lot. “If I wasn’t stone cold sober, I’d think he was a figment of my sex-starved imagination.”
“Psshh,” I mumbled, eyes closed, my spinning head lolling back against the headrest. “Don’t even talk to me about sex-starved.”
Erin grabbed my hand and squeezed. “Aw, shit. I’m sorry, J. I forgot.”
It had been three weeks since my breakup, but I wasn’t about to disclose the fact that it had been more like four weeks… maybe five, since the last time we’d been at all intimate. I should have seen Kennedy’s lack of interest for the sign it was, rather than giving him justifications in my head—he was busy with frat obligations, while I fit in at least two hours of practice a day—more when I had ensemble rehearsal. He had his straight-A grade point average to maintain, and I had music lessons to give.
A minute later, Maggie piped up from the back seat. “You haven’t answered the question, Jacqueline!” Her speech was almost as slurred as mine, my name pronounced in three distinct syllables, like three separate words. “Who was that beautiful guy, and more importantly, why didn’t you solve your sex-starvedness with him? Holy hell, I think I’d be willing to boot Will outta bed for a night with him!”
“Slut,” Erin said, rolling her eyes into her rearview mirror.
Maggie laughed. “In this case… Hell. Yeah.”
They both grew quiet, staring at me, waiting for me to reveal who he was. I mentally sorted through everything I knew about him. He’d saved me from Buck’s attack, which I hadn’t told anyone about. He’d beaten the crap out of Buck, which I likewise hadn’t told anyone. He’d stared at me all through economics on Wednesday, and then ignored me completely on Friday, which I hadn’t told anyone. He worked at the Starbucks. And he kept asking me if I was okay… but he hadn’t asked me that tonight.
Tonight had been something else altogether. By unspoken agreement, we’d danced several dances without stopping—slow, fast, and everything in between. His hands never left my body, triggering an upsurge of longing I’d not felt in a very long time—longer than four or five weeks ago. His hands hadn’t wandered inappropriately, his fingers not even teasing beneath the fabric of my top at the waist, but they’d seared the skin beneath regardless.
And then he disappeared. Bending, his lips next to my ear, he thanked me for the dances, led me back to my table, and vanished into the throng of people. I hadn’t seen him again, and could only assume he’d left the club.
“His name is Lucas. He’s in my economics class. And he draws stuff.”
Maggie began giggling and slapped the leather seat. “He draws stuff? What kind of stuff? Naked girls? That’s pretty much the extent of most guys’ artistic endeavors. Usually not even whole girls. Just boobs.”
Erin and I laughed along with her. “I don’t know what he draws. He was just… sketching something in class Friday. I don’t think he listened to the lecture at all.”
“Oh no, Erin!” Maggie leaned as far up as her seatbelt would allow. “Sounds like that god of a man is a bad student. We know what that means for Jacqueline.”
I frowned. “What does it mean?”
Erin shook her head, smiling. “Come on, J—have you ever in your life been attracted to a bad boy? Or a boy who’s, um, academically challenged? In other words, a boy who isn’t—gasp!—a brainiac?”
My mouth fell open. “Shut up! Are you saying I’m an intellectual snob?”
“No! We didn’t say you were—we don’t mean that. We just mean… you sure didn’t look indifferent to this Lucas guy tonight, while you two danced together for like ever, and it sounds like he’s maybe not your usual type—”