After waking up several times during the night to find Amanda still tucked tightly against my chest, it was a major letdown when I woke up alone.
I stretched and sat up, searching for the pieces of clothing we’d thrown around the room. Amanda’s were gone, and mine were neatly folded on the chair. When had she left? Standing up, I reached for my jeans and slipped them on before going to find my phone so I could call her and find out where the hell she was.
If she thought last night hadn’t changed things, then she was so very wrong. It had changed everything. My life was f**ked up and there wasn’t anything I could do about it, but I wasn’t about to let Amanda go. Not now.
Whispering and giggling came from my bedroom. She was still here, or Daisy was talking to herself. I opened the door slowly to find Amanda sitting on the bed with Daisy. They were talking quietly, but whatever they were talking about was making Daisy laugh. Amanda was dressed in a short skirt, so almost every golden inch of her legs was in clear view. I’d had those legs wrapped around me last night. I closed my eyes and forced the images away. Daisy was here. I had to keep my hands off Amanda in front of Daisy. This was going to be hard.
“Pweston!” Daisy squealed as her eyes met mine, and she clapped happily. I’d been spotted. Daisy’s cheeks were a healthy pink today, and she was feeling much better. The happy glow on her face made my heart swell. Amanda had put that look there.
“Hey, my Daisy May. Looks like you’re feeling better this morning,” I told her as I walked into the room. I fought hard to keep my eyes off Amanda. I wasn’t sure just yet how to explain to her how I felt. I sure as hell couldn’t tell her what I did that paid for this apartment and also took care of my mom’s place and the kids. I’d lose her, and after last night I knew that wasn’t an option. I couldn’t lose Amanda.
“I’m feeling bettah,” she replied. “And Amanda is gonna cuwal my hayah today.”
“She is? You got a big date I don’t know about?” I teased, sitting down beside her. She giggled and shook her head.
“I just like cuwals,” she replied.
Amanda started to move, and I couldn’t keep from looking at her anymore. I turned my head in her direction and watched as she got off the bed and straightened her incredibly short skirt. She needed to change. That was too short.
“Where you going?” I asked her.
She shrugged and twisted a lock of her hair around her finger nervously. “I thought I’d give y’all some time to visit. I have a class in thirty minutes. I could come back after, if that’s okay. I told Daisy I’d curl her hair. . . .” She trailed off and looked down at the floor.
I hadn’t been awake when she’d woken up, to talk to her about anything. There was no telling what was going through her head right now. But I knew I needed to clear a few things up before I let her walk out of my apartment with that damn skirt on.
“Daisy May, why don’t you watch a little television while I go fix you some breakfast and see Amanda off to school. Okay?” I told her as I stood up.
Daisy nodded, and I handed her the remote to the flat-screen on my wall that I’d won last month in a poker game.
I looked back at Amanda and nodded toward the door. She walked toward it and I followed her out. Yeah, that skirt was way too short in the back. If she bent over, someone would see her sweet little ass. She was going to have to change. No question.
Closing the door behind me, I moved quickly and grabbed her waist, then turned her around to face me and pressed her up against the fridge.
“You were gone when I woke up,” I whispered before kissing the corner of her mouth.
“I woke up early,” she replied.
“I missed getting to see you all rumpled from sleep, touching you while that sexy, sleepy haze was still in your eyes.” I slipped my hand up her thigh and easily cupped her almost bare butt, thanks to the barely there panties she was wearing. “Manda.”
“Yeah,” she replied a little breathlessly.
“You’re gonna have to go change.”
She went still in my arms.
“I can’t let you go out like this. It’ll drive me crazy. This skirt’s too short, sweetheart. Guys will be looking, and I don’t want them looking.”
A slow smile spread across her full red lips. Thank God. She wasn’t going to get all pissy about this, because I really didn’t want to force her to do anything.
“You’re jealous?” she asked, almost as if she didn’t believe it as she said it.
“Hell yeah, I’m jealous,” I replied, running my hand over the soft skin of her bottom. “I’m not sharing this. I don’t want to think about other guys looking at you in this.”
Amanda’s smile got bigger, and I was real close to ripping these panties off and taking her against the fridge. The fact that my little sister was in the other room was the only reason I wasn’t inside her right this minute.
“I’ll change,” she replied, reaching up to touch my face. She kissed my cheek, then took in a deep breath as if she was smelling me. “So, last night . . . it wasn’t just a onetime thing?”
I would question how she could think that, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’d had sex with her before and walked away. She had every right to think I was going to walk again. She didn’t realize that I was incapable of pushing her away anymore. We’d gone too far.
“Last night changed everything,” I assured her before kissing the corner of her mouth. “I’ll never be able to get you out of my system. I don’t want to. I need you, Manda.” I covered her mouth with mine and slipped inside to taste her. This connection with her was the first thing in my life I was scared of. I’d never feared anything else—I could handle it. My brothers and sister I knew I’d be there. I could take care of them. I’d do whatever I had to, and I knew they’d love me. But this thing with Amanda—if I lost it, if I lost her, I would lose it all. In the screwed-up life I’d been dealt, she was my only source of comfort. Just being with her made everything else seem like it would be okay. I’d always be honest with her about everything . . . except the one thing that could take her from me. She’d never understand. Even if she did, she’d never be able to accept it. If she knew I slept with wealthy women for money, she’d leave me. She could never know.
Jason: Have you thought about that dinner in NYC yet?
The text from Jason came during my literature class. I stared down at my phone and tried to think of what I was going to tell him. If the decision was between him and Preston, then it was Preston. I liked Jason, and he was probably the safer of the two guys when it came to protecting my heart. But that was just it. I wasn’t worried about Jason hurting me, because I knew he didn’t have that power. We’d only gone out one time, and that was to my brother’s engagement party. It wasn’t like I’d led him on.
Tucking my phone back into my backpack, I decided I’d deal with him later. I needed to think about the proper response. The professor dismissed class, and I hurried back outside to my car to get back to Preston’s. I had promised to do Daisy’s hair, and if I was completely honest with myself, I was anxious to see Preston again. Last night and this morning almost seemed like I’d walked into one of my dreams.
Having Preston look at me with emotion in his eyes was amazing. And him telling me I had to change may have been a little barbaric, but honestly, I’d put on a pair of sweats if he asked me to. The fact that he was possessive of me and didn’t want other guys to look at me made my silly heart soar.
The bad thing was, I kept waiting for my alarm clock to wake me up. This didn’t seem real just yet. My phone started ringing, and I reached into my backpack to get it out. Preston’s number lit up the screen.
Smiling, I answered and put the phone to my ear. “Hey.”
“Hey. You out of class yet?”
Was he checking up on me? Really?
“Yeah, just got out.”
“You coming back here?”
“Um, I was planning on it. I promised to do Daisy’s hair, remember?”
He paused and sighed. Oh no, it was already ending. Time to wake up.
“That’s right. I just wanted to make sure your plans hadn’t changed. I need to run up to the gym and meet with Coach. I can’t leave Daisy here alone.”
Oh . . . he wasn’t trying to get rid of me.
“I just hate to ask you to come here and stay with her while I’m out.”
Smiling, I opened my car door and got inside. “I’m glad I can watch her for you. I was planning on spending the rest of the day with Daisy, so it’s no problem. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Another pause. What was wrong with him?
“Okay. Thank you, Manda.”
Was he really this unused to people helping him out with the kids? “No need to thank me. See ya in a sec.” I clicked off and turned the car toward Preston’s.
The door to Preston’s apartment opened before I could knock. Preston reached out, grabbed my hand, and pulled me inside. His mouth was on mine immediately. It was different this time than it had been the other times. Something about it was desperate. Like he was trying to hold on to me. Was he worried that I was going to change my mind? After the way I’d chased him for months? I let my backpack fall to the floor, and I slid my hands into his hair. He needed some kind of reassurance from me. I was sure of that. So I gave it to him.
“I don’t want to leave you,” he said against my mouth as he closed the door behind me, then pressed me up against it.
“I’ll be here when you get back,” I assured him, then took a nip at his bottom lip before stroking the inside of his mouth again with my tongue.
“But I don’t want to leave,” he repeated. His voice was a little panicked sounding as his hands ran up the inside of my shirt and cupped my boobs. “I want you, Manda. Just you.”
I couldn’t help but smile. That sounded so good. “It’s just a workout, Preston. I’ll even give you a massage when you get back.”
His arms tightened around me, and I felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He muttered a curse and then pulled away from me. He ran the pad of his thumb over my bottom lip. “I gotta go. I wish I didn’t.”
This clingy Preston was something new. I liked it, but then, it also bothered me a little. I didn’t want him to worry every time he left me that things would be different when he got back. Was he insecure? I’d never pegged Preston as insecure.
“The sooner you go, the sooner you get back,” I told him, biting down on his thumb that was still touching my lip. “Now go.”
Preston nodded and dropped his hand from my mouth. He started to say something more and stopped. I moved away from the door and watched as he opened it. He glanced back at me one more time before he left. I gave him a reassuring smile, and a slow, sexy smile touched his lips. I liked it when he was smiling. I didn’t want him worried or anxious. When he closed the door, I realized he hadn’t taken a bag with him. That was odd. Maybe he kept a change of clothes in his locker at the gym.