I chuckle and grab a bag of chips. “That good?” She eyes me up humorously. “Well there’s always Reed. Have you two ever gotten together?” I really had no idea if the two of them had ever hooked up. Reed was a good looking guy, and Tessa was, well, she was Tessa.
She holds her hand up to stop me, grimacing. “Gross. That would be like sleeping with Ben. And he’s got a lot of baggage. Didn’t he tell you about his last girlfriend?” I shake my head and dive into my chip bag, preparing myself for some gossip. “It’s really fucked up. He started dating this girl senior year, Molly Mcafferty, and they were like crazy in love. Everyone thought that they’d end up married with a shit load of babies someday.” She gets up off the couch and walks to the fridge, returning with two beers and handing me one before reclaiming her seat. “But that obviously didn’t happen.” Tessa takes a sip of her beer and licks her lips. “Molly went to college in Virginia and Reed stayed here, getting on at his dad’s company. He was determined to make it work though and stayed completely faithful to her. I mean, he acted like they were married already. He wouldn’t even look at other girls. He wrote her letters all the time and would take road trips every weekend to go see her, but she never came back here to see him. Not even during holidays. And after a while, she stopped calling him all together.” I have an idea where this story is going and I almost don’t want to hear anymore. Reed is a sweet guy and doesn’t deserve what I fear Tessa is about to tell me. She continues with a heavy sigh. “I voiced my opinion on their seemingly one-sided relationship and he got all pissed at me. I told him that if he was so certain that she wasn’t two timing him, that he should go see her during the week when she wasn’t expecting him.”
“Yup. He walked right in on her banging some dude in her dorm room.”
I have the sudden urge to go find Reed and hug him and beat the shit out of this Molly chick. I despise cheaters. My mom’s last boyfriend was one. “Oh God. Poor Reed. Has he dated anybody since her?”
She digs into her bag of chips, popping a few in her mouth before answering. “I wouldn’t classify hooking up with random chicks as dating. He’s like the king of one-night stands around here.”
I chuckle softly. It could’ve been Reed that night at the bar, buying me purple drinks and telling me he’d lose his mind if he didn’t get inside me soon. That thought is quickly pushed out of my head. I don’t want to imagine giving myself to anyone but Ben. I belong to him.
“He’s just afraid of falling for some chick and then getting crushed again,” she continues. “But he’s never admitted that to me. He acts as if Molly didn’t completely wreck him, but he didn’t see what I saw. That boy was destroyed.” We both chew up our mouthfuls, placing our chip bags on the coffee table when we are finish.
I am picking at the label on my beer bottle when I feel a pair of eyes on me. I look up and meet her beaming smile. “What?”
“You got naked in front of him last night, didn’t you?”
There’s the Tessa I know and love. I chuckle and shake my head. “No. I sent him a text that was meant for you.” I pull my phone out of my pocket and show it to her.
She arches her brow, reading over the text several times. “Damn. Well, that’s definitely one way to go about getting him out of the friend zone. How did he react to this?”
“How do you think he reacted to it?” I ask playfully. I scoot over next to her so that we can rest our heads against each other’s. Our legs are stretched out in front of us, our feet propped up on the edge of the coffee table. “You were right.”
“I usually am. But what exactly are you referring to?”
I sigh, pausing for dramatic effect. She bumps her knee against mine, indicating that she isn’t having my stalling tactics today. “I love him.” I actually feel my heart swell inside my chest when I admit it out loud. The butterflies that only Ben can evoke inside my stomach begin fluttering about in there. I feel my love for him streaming through me as if it runs through my veins. And I know without a doubt that I’ll love him fiercely and forever.
Her hand squeezes my knee. “Of course you do. And he loves you. It’s ridiculously obvious, and annoying now that I’m single.” She yawns at the end of her observation, prompting me to do the same at the sound of hers.
I want to believe Tessa. I want to believe what my own heart is telling me. But I’ll never be sure until he speaks those words to me himself. A part of me thinks I shouldn’t love him, but for completely different reasons than I’ve ever had before. I know how hard it’s going to be to leave him when I have to go back to Georgia. And leaving my heart here isn’t going to make it any easier. Maybe that’s why Ben hasn’t said those words to me, if he even feels them at all. Maybe he’s being sensible and keeping his heart out of this. But I want him to jump off that cliff after me. I want him to feel that rush and risk the pain because I’m willing to.
I’d risk it all.
* * *
“You know you’re best friends with someone when you’re willing to handcuff them, while they’re practically naked, and help them get ready for a sex fest with your brother,” Tessa says through a smile that I hear rather than see. I can’t see much of anything in the position I am currently in besides the headboard and the comforter. She fastens the handcuffs to my wrists, securing my arms behind my back. “This is nuts considering we don’t have a key for these. How fucked up would it be if he got held up at work and you had to stay like this for hours? Or days?”
Shit. I hadn’t thought about that. God, that would be awful. Not to mention embarrassing. I’m not sure how I’d manage to go to the bathroom like this. I open my mouth to respond when I hear the sound of the sliding glass door opening.
“Showtime,” Tessa says. “I’ll be heading out for a few hours. Try not to kill him.”
“Thanks,” I whisper. My entire body is buzzing with anticipation as she leaves the room, closing the door behind her. I hear muffled voices in the distance, laughing to myself at the speech Tessa rehearsed with me when I asked her to help me out tonight. Mia was not acting like herself today. She seemed a bit on edge and a little hostile. I had to restrain her. And then the kicker. She’s been a bad girl, Ben. A very bad girl. I would’ve loved to have seen her face when she delivered that line. And his for that matter. The floorboards in the hallway creak with his footsteps that inch closer until finally, the door swings open.
I can’t see him, but I can hear him clearly with the one ear that is facing the ceiling. I am kneeling on the edge of the bed, my body angled down and my cheek resting on the comforter. My wrists are bound behind my back and I’m only wearing a very skimpy pair of black panties. They barely cover anything and I might as well be naked right now. And by the sound of his heavy panting, he isn’t hating this surprise.
“Dear God. A man should be warned before he walks in on you like this. I almost came at the sight of you, baby.” He moves closer and places his hand on my lower back, running it up my spine. I whimper at his touch. It’s like fire melting ice. “My dirty girl looks absolutely stunning face down. And I bet you like this, don’t you? I bet you’re dripping right now.”