I stood in the doorway of my bedroom and looked at the two girls asleep on my bed. Amanda had fallen asleep reading to Daisy, and the book lay across her stomach. By the time we’d gotten Daisy back here and I’d tracked down my mom, Daisy was determined she was keeping Amanda. She’d begged Amanda to stay, and when Amanda had gazed over at me for help, I’d agreed that Amanda staying was a great idea. So Amanda had gone to pick up a few things, including several of her favorite childhood books, while Daisy took an afternoon nap.
It had given me time to call my mom and get the boys back to her while I kept Daisy. She hadn’t even argued or come inside to check on her when she’d shown up to get the boys. I hated sending the boys back with her, but I couldn’t keep them. I’d have to get a court order, and my mother was just vengeful enough to refuse me. Even if she allowed me to the boys were better off separated from Daisy while she was sick. Besides, I couldn’t do this on my own. Momma may be the suckiest mother ever, but she was home a lot more than I was. Then when baseball season started up, I’d be too busy to sleep, much less take care of kids. It was a no-win situation. I had to keep reminding myself that I’d lived through my life with my mom, and I hadn’t had a big brother watching out for me.
Amanda’s hands slipped and the book started to fall to the floor, causing her to wake up. She blinked several times, then turned her head to check on Daisy, who was curled up sleeping peacefully beside her. Amanda reached over and brushed the hair out of Daisy’s face and checked her temperature with the back of her hand before slowly getting up. Her eyes found mine when she turned to walk to the door. She ran her hand through her hair in an attempt to tame whatever she’d messed up, then smiled at me.
“Guess I was tired too,” she whispered as I stepped back and let her out of the room.
I closed the door behind her. “Yeah, Daisy kept you pretty busy.”
Amanda chuckled softly. “She’s a sweetie. I enjoyed spending time with her.”
She had no idea how much it had meant to Daisy. Amanda was the first adult female to give her any attention. “Thank you. I don’t think I’d have made it today without your help. She’s never been that sick before. It was scary as shit.”
Amanda smiled up at me. “After what I witnessed with you today, I am convinced you’d have been just fine. Never would I have imagined that you’d be such a stellar big brother.”
The teasing lilt to her voice was sexy. Everything about her was sexy. And she had a small bag packed with her things so she could sleep over. I wasn’t going to be able to control myself. I needed something from her. The emotions swirling inside me were taking over. Everything from attraction to gratefulness to relief. We’d conquered something together today. I wanted to celebrate. With her.
“I’m going to go get a shower and go to bed, if that’s okay. Where do you want me to sleep?”
Where I wanted her to sleep and where she was going to sleep were two different things.
“I’m gonna make myself a bed on the floor in the bedroom. You can take the couch. Unless, of course, you’re up for sharing the couch. Then I’d be all in. I’m a really good bed buddy.”
Amanda’s eyes went wide before she let out a giggle. “As talented as I’m sure you are as a bed buddy, I think I’ll pass. I can always take the floor in the bedroom if you want me to.”
The one night of my life I get Amanda to stay the night in my apartment, she would not be sleeping on the floor. I wanted her on my couch. Actually, I wanted her in my bed, but Daisy was kind of occupying that at the moment. I was going to make sure Amanda used one of my pillows, though. That way, I’d have her scent for a while after she was gone.
“No, I insist. You’re sleeping on the couch.”
Amanda studied me a minute. I could see the concern and uncertainty in her eyes. She wanted to ask me something, and she couldn’t decide if she was going to or not. I’d stand here and let her think about it as long as she wanted to.
“Did the boys get home okay?” she finally asked.
Not exactly what I wanted to talk about. I knew where this was headed. “Yeah, my mom came and got them.”
“Are they, um, I mean, uh, do you think they’re gonna be okay . . . there . . . I mean . . . ,” she stammered nervously.
I walked over to the couch and sat down, then looked back at her. “They have a phone. If they need me, they’ll call.”
Amanda frowned and took a step in my direction. “Did your mom come up and check on Daisy?”
This was not a life that Amanda was going to be able to comprehend. Her dad may have screwed around and left them recently, but her life had been pretty damn privileged. “No, Manda. She didn’t. She doesn’t care. There is no one on this earth I hate more than my mother. Is that what you were curious about?”
My words had come out harder than I’d intended them to. Amanda walked over to the couch and sat down beside me. “Preston, I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to pry. I was just curious because Daisy never once asked about her mom or spoke of her today. That was odd to me. Growing up, when I was sick I always wanted my mom. I couldn’t understand why she never asked for hers.”
I laid my head back against the wall and tilted it so I could look at Amanda. She was worried and clearly upset. I was enlightening her about a world she didn’t know existed, and that world wasn’t even the worst part about me.
“You are the first woman to ever spend any time with Daisy. My mother is either drunk, asleep, or gone. Daisy is raised by Jimmy when they’re home. I make sure the bills stay paid and the kids have food. Then, like you saw today, if someone gets sick, I handle it.”
“Oh God, that makes my chest hurt,” Amanda whispered, rubbing the ball of her hand over her heart. “I want to go cuddle up to Daisy and hold her. No wonder Jimmy acts twenty instead of eleven.”
I reached over and pulled her hand away from her chest. “They’ll be okay. I am, and I didn’t have any older siblings to help me out. I made it without anyone. Don’t get upset over it. They aren’t the only kids growing up in this exact same situation.”
Amanda’s eyes held unshed tears as she tried real hard to keep her bottom lip from quivering. Ah, hell. I’d made her cry. I hadn’t told her all that to make her cry. I’d just answered her questions. I’d let her into my screwed-up life a little. More than I’d ever let anyone in.
“You’re the only person I’ve ever told about the kids and my mom. I’ve never even told your brother.”
Amanda pressed her lips together tightly and nodded. She didn’t respond. She was still trying very hard not to cry. Her soft heart couldn’t handle this. If she even knew a little bit of what my mom had done to those kids and me, she’d never be able to deal with it.
“Come here,” I said gently as I reached for her arms and pulled her against my chest.
Going willingly into Preston’s arms probably wasn’t real smart, but at that moment, I just didn’t care. I needed to hold him. I couldn’t go hold Jimmy and Brent, but I could hold him. And tomorrow I would give Daisy every second of my attention when I wasn’t in classes. I might even skip them just so I could stay here. She’d be going back to her mom soon. The idea of her being neglected was painful.
“I’m sorry I told you all this,” Preston whispered against my hair as he held me tightly to him. I wasn’t sorry. He’d let me in. It was something I’d wanted. However, when I’d wanted in, I’d had no idea I was going to find this out. Images of Preston over the years kept flashing through my mind. When I’d met him, he’d been a skinny kid with hair so long he kept it in a ponytail. Even in his faded jeans and worn-out T-shirt I couldn’t help but think he was beautiful. But I’d wondered why his mother let him look like that.
“Thank you for telling me. For letting me help today. I know I’m reacting to this like the spoiled brat that I am, but I’m trying to process it. I want to go take them all away from your mom and keep them close. Take care of them. Make sure they have proper haircuts and clean clothes.”
Preston’s chest rumbled with laughter, and I looked up at him.
“Proper haircuts and clean clothes?” he asked, grinning down at me.
“I keep remembering the first time I saw you. Your hair was ridiculously long, and your clothes were so worn out. It didn’t take away from the fact that you were the most gorgeous boy I’d ever seen, but still. . . .” Oh, crap. Had I really just said that?
Preston titled his head to the side and studied me a moment. “You thought I was gorgeous?”
Sighing, I started to pull back from his arms, but he held me firmly in place. “Answer me,” he whispered, lowering his head so that his mouth was very close to my ear.
“Yes. You know you’re gorgeous.”
Preston slid a hand down my back until he had a firm grip on my waist, and then he pulled me up higher against his chest. “Maybe I don’t know that,” he replied, reaching with his other hand to cup my face and brush his thumb over my cheekbone. “Maybe I’m trying to figure out why you want anything to do with me.”
Was he serious?
“I’ve had a crush on you since I was sixteen. Surely you know this. I wasn’t very secretive about it. I’ve never missed one of your baseball games, not even the away ones. I found any reason I could think of to throw myself in your path. Then when I did get your attention, you were drunk, but I didn’t care. I was willing to take what I could get. Maybe I didn’t know you were as drunk as you were, but I was just glad you weren’t treating me like a little girl anymore. I was tired of having to fantasize about you. I wanted the real thing.”
Preston went very still. Dang it. I’d opened my mouth and said too much. He was going to shove me toward the bathroom now and go hide in his bedroom.
“You fantasized about me?”
Really? Was that all he got out of what I’d just said?
“Yes,” I replied, rolling my eyes and trying to move away, only to be held in place with a tight squeeze of my waist from his hand.
Preston lowered his mouth until it was against my cheek. “Why don’t you tell me about these fantasies? You know, so I understand better.” His warm breath tickled my skin, and I shivered.
“That’s a bad idea,” I replied.
Preston’s hand slipped under the hem of my shirt until his fingers were brushing up against my bare stomach. “I disagree. I’m thinking it’s a real good idea,” he said before trailing kisses against the tender skin behind my ear down to my neck.
Forming thoughts while Preston’s hand was slowly moving up my stomach and his mouth was nuzzling and taking small nips at my neck wasn’t exactly easy. I couldn’t remember what it was we were talking about.
“See, Manda, it’s a really good idea. So damn good,” he said just before his hand cupped one of my br**sts.
Focus. I needed to focus. There was a reason this was a bad idea. I just had to think really hard.
“Take this shirt off for me,” Preston said in a harsh whisper. Then he pulled my shirt over my head and dropped it somewhere to the side of us. His eyelids were lowered, and it only made him sexier. I hadn’t realized that was possible.
With one hand Preston reached around me and undid the hooks on my bra, then pulled it away. I’d been with him like this before, but it had been dark outside. We weren’t in the dark now, and Preston’s words “I know your boobs aren’t that big” came back to haunt me. I didn’t have the cup size most of the girls he dated did. He liked big boobs. Mine were nowhere near what he was used to. I glanced around frantically for my shirt.
“Manda, don’t.” Preston ran his hand through my hair and turned my head back toward him. Then his mouth covered mine. The soft warmth of his lips as they nipped and tasted me made my insides turn to butter. I slipped both my hands around his neck and held him there, afraid he’d realize I had small boobs or that he didn’t want to do this again and push me away.
Letting out a low growl, Preston grabbed both my legs and pulled me completely onto his lap until I was straddling him. The pressure from his erection pressed against me sent shots of pleasure through my body.
I fisted my hands in his hair and continued to taste him and get lost in the connection I’d been denied before. His teeth caught my bottom lip, and he bit down gently with a small tug. I trembled and pressed down harder on his arousal, causing us both to moan from the sensation.
Preston’s hands ran up my thighs, and then they both went up to cup my br**sts. Once again I was reminded how lacking I was in that department. I tensed and started to move back.
“What’s wrong?” Preston asked, pulling me closer even as I tried to pull away.
“Nothing. But . . . can I just wear my shirt?”
Preston lowered his head, keeping his eyes locked with mine until his tongue darted out and licked over one of my n**ples. Then he pulled it into his mouth, and my body betrayed me by shooting off fireworks. I grabbed his shoulders and held on as he continued to lavish attention on one breast, then the other one. The cries of pleasure coming from my mouth couldn’t be helped. Preston’s tongue had complete control of my body.
When the warmth from his talented administrations stopped, I opened my mouth to beg for more, but the snap on my blue jean shorts stopped me. Looking down, I watched as Preston unzipped my shorts, then ran his hand over the pink satin of my panties.
“Why did you want to put your shirt on, Manda?” he asked, raising his eyes to meet mine.
My shirt? What? I was confused. . . .
“What?” I asked, mesmerized by the way his long lashes brushed his cheeks as he stared at me with this hungry, intense gleam in his eyes.
“You wanted your shirt on. Why?”
Oh yeah . . . my shirt. I’d forgotten.
“Um, my, uh, it was just that . . .” I didn’t want to say this. I didn’t want to bring it up. I just wanted him to keep slipping his hand farther down my shorts. If I reminded him that my boobs were too small for his taste, this may not happen.
He cupped one of my br**sts and ran his thumb over my nipple. “They taste as sweet as they look,” he whispered in a husky voice.
“Oh,” I breathed, watching him touch me.
“So why would you want to cover them up?”
He wasn’t going to let this go. Sighing, I tried to will his hands to slip farther down my shorts. It didn’t work. He wasn’t going to do anything else until I answered him.
“Because they’re smaller than you like,” I mumbled, ducking my head to hide the humiliation on my face from having to actually say that out loud.
Preston froze, and I mentally cursed. I knew it. He’d stop now.
“Stand up, Amanda.” It wasn’t a request. It was a command.
He was sending me to take a cold shower. I crawled off his lap and stood up, crossing my arms over my chest. I would look for my shirt later. Turning, I started to head to the shower, when Preston grabbed my h*ps and pulled me back. “Where do you think you’re going?” he asked.
I glanced back at him. “The bathroom, to cool down.”
Preston lowered his eyebrows and shook his head. “No, you’re not.”
Did he want me to leave instead?
“Turn around, Manda.” The deep, authoritative voice sounded sexy, but I didn’t want to turn around. I wanted to go hide in the bathroom. “Please, baby. Turn back around,” he whispered in my ear.
He knew how to work me. That was for sure. Slowly I turned back around, keeping my arms crossed over my bare chest. Preston reached down and tugged on my unzipped shorts until they were sliding down my legs. “Step out of them,” he told me, and I did without question.
He reached up from his relaxed position on the couch and tugged at my arms until they uncrossed and fell to my side. He cupped each breast with his hands and held them as if they were precious before looking back up at me. “You’re f**king perfect. Everything about you. Your smile. Your laugh can brighten up my whole damn day. The way you care about people so much that you drop everything to help them. These sexy-as-hell legs of yours that have been giving me raging hard-ons for years. These perfect, round, soft tits with n**ples that I swear taste like candy. And then there is this.” He slipped a hand between my legs and ran his middle finger across the wet silk of my panties. “Fuck, baby. It doesn’t get any better than this.” He groaned before covering his mouth to mine and kissing me hard and fast. Each thrust of his tongue made my knees weak. I knew what he wanted. I knew what I wanted, and the wild kiss only heightened my desire.
I reached for his shirt, grabbing handfuls of material, and pulled it up and over his head. I needed him nak*d too. I pulled back from our kiss and ran my hands over his chest so I could feel each defined muscle. The small jump in his pecs made me smile.
“You’ve got about three seconds left of exploring, Manda. I can’t take much more.”
I ran my fingers down to the button on his jeans and undid it, then slowly unzipped them. Just as I started to tug on them, Preston picked me up and kissed me hard on the mouth, then threw me down on the couch. “Time’s up,” he growled as he covered me with his body.
I opened my legs. I could feel his erection pressed against me. Now we only had one layer of jeans between us. Preston ran his hand down my stomach and then slid his fingers inside my panties. When his fingertips reached their destination, I grabbed him and bucked against his hand. “Ohmygod, Preston,” I panted.
He dropped his head to the curve of my neck and began sliding his fingers in and out of me. Each time they re-entered me, I moved against the pressure. My body was taking over, and all I cared about was the pleasure.
“That’s it,” he breathed against my skin. “Let me make it feel good. I want you to come against my hand so I can feel it.”
The naughty words sent me over the edge. I screamed out his name, but his mouth covered mine to muffle the sound. The pulsing had erupted into ecstasy, and my body was trembling underneath him. His fingers slid back out, and his body left me. Opening my eyes in a panic, I started to beg him to come back. But he wasn’t leaving. He was taking off his jeans.
Watching Preston Drake strip was one of those things a girl would never, ever forget. His boxer briefs fell to the ground along with his jeans, and I swallowed . . . hard. Although we’d had sex before, I’d never actually seen him nak*d. I’d never seen any guy nak*d. It was amazing.
Preston took both sides of my panties and pulled them down, then threw them to the floor with the rest of our discarded clothing.
“You’re so beautiful,” he breathed in an awed voice as he stared down at me.
“So are you,” I replied, because it was the truth.
Preston smirked. “You’re gonna have to stop calling me things like ‘gorgeous’ and ‘beautiful.’ I’m gonna get a complex. Why can’t I be ‘sexy,’ or maybe ‘irresistible’?”
“You’re those things too. Trust me.” I smiled up at him.
Preston held himself over my body while he looked down at me. “That night. In the storage shed. I’ll never forgive myself for that. It’ll never be like that again with us.”
I reached up and tucked the hair that was hanging over his eyes behind his ear. “But it felt good. Really, really good. Better than any of the times I’d fantasized about.”
Preston froze. “When you say ‘fantasized’ . . . do you mean you thought about me when you touched yourself?”
My face was instantly hot, and I knew he’d seen my blush and knew the answer. There was no use in denying it. I nodded.
“Holy shit,” he breathed. “I’m not gonna be able to get that image out of my head.”
He bent his head and kissed me softly on the lips. “I want inside you so bad. But if you want us to stop here, we will.”
No stopping. I was desperate enough that I might tie him up this time if he tried to escape. “I want you inside me too.”
Preston bit his bottom lip and closed his eyes tightly. “Baby, between you telling me you touch yourself while thinking about me and you saying you want me inside you, I may f**king blow before I even get inside you.”
Giggling, I shifted my h*ps underneath his, wanting to feel him with nothing between us. “Mmmm, not yet,” he said, and bent his head to kiss my lips. Then he went lower to kiss each nipple. He pulled each one into his mouth before kissing a trail down my stomach. When his hands touched the insides of my thighs and pushed them open farther, I stopped breathing. The first flick of Preston’s tongue against my cl*t and I had to bite down hard on my bottom lip to keep from screaming out his name.
I reached down and grabbed handfuls of his hair as he continued to taste and lick. Knowing he was completely sober and doing this made it even better. My body began to tremble, and I knew I was close. I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from crying out.
Preston’s mouth left me, and I was about ready to beg him when I heard the rip of foil and looked down to see him slipping a condom on. Oh . . . never mind. I wanted that more.
His eyes lifted to meet mine. “That was incredible. Nothing has ever tasted as good as you do.”
The naughty talk was something he excelled at, I’d decided. I was pretty sure he could bring me to an orgasm just by talking dirty in my ear. I wondered if he’d try that sometime.
Preston lowering himself over me stopped my train of thought. He closed his eyes tightly as the tip of his erection met my entrance. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he breathed out in a ragged whisper.
“You won’t. Please,” I begged, and lifted my hips.
Preston eased inside me slowly. “So tight. Fucking heaven.”
When he was completely inside, we both let out moans. He was inside me. I wanted to keep him there. I’d never felt this close before with anyone. I knew now how disconnected he’d been the first time we’d done this. This time was so different. He was right here with me. Feeling everything I was.
“You’re so warm and tight. I want to stay right here,” he said before covering my mouth with his. His tongue thrust into my mouth, and I sucked on it hard.
Preston started to move. My h*ps moved with him as he slid in and out of me. He kissed me and whispered words of approval as his movements grew faster and harder. I was climbing with him. I needed more. I knew what was coming this time, and I wanted it.
Just as my orgasm hit me, Preston grabbed my h*ps and thrust hard one last time, calling out my name. It was perfect.