Authors: Lauren Blakely
ver the next few days
, I recommit to my mission. My focus is on building and sustaining the friendship wing of the house of Josie and Chase, not the lust corridor.
Mostly, I succeed. I monitor Yelp and gleefully report that the troll never trolled. I pick up the tissues she likes when she runs low. And I offer my taste buds to be the guinea pig for her grapefruit macaron. She was rightâit's amazing.
But all it takes is one moment for me to relapse.
She's in her bedroom, and the hallway is steamy, since she takes showers the temperature of the surface of Mercury. It's sauna level as I head into the bathroom to brush my teeth before I leave for an early morning bike ride with Max.
When I finish, she calls out to me, “Hey, Chase, are you still in the bathroom? I forgot to put my body lotion on while I was in there.”
“Which kind? I'll bring it to you.”
“The black cherry one,” she shouts. “Top shelf on the wooden cabinet.”
Oh, that's another thing about living with a woman. They commandeer all available bathroom real estate. My sister, Mia, was like this, too, so I learned as a teenager how to survive with very little space. Here with Josie, I've managed to claim squatter's rights to a corner of the medicine chest where my deodorant and shaving cream live. The rest? She's encroached on all of it.
I grab the lotion, putting my cherry-scented fantasy of dragging my tongue between the heavenly valley of her breasts into a chaste drawer, the same one where I keep thoughts of kittens, puppies, and baby ducks. Proximity to the cuteness will rub off and turn the naughty to wholesome, right?
Her bedroom door is open, but I knock anyway. “Come in,” she says, and when I open the door all the way, I'm not ready to take this test. No fucking way can I pass it.
“Did you need a towel to go with the dishtowel you're using?” I ask, because humor production is the only way I can deal with the fact that she has the world's tiniest towel cinched around her tits.
I'm not strong enough. I'm going to wave the white flag any second.
“Oh,” she says, glancing down as she tugs upward on the material. “Laundry day. The only towel left was this one. I think it might be a hand towel.”
“Safe bet,” I say, as she tries to adjust the blue material covering her prized possessions and hitting her upper thigh on the other end. As she does, she kills all my good work of the last few days because she winds up revealing even more of that perfect, creamy flesh. The swell of her breasts is unveiled. My mouth waters. I drool. I foam. I fall to the floor in a heap of nothing but hormones and testosterone unleashed. Scientists for years will study me as an example of death by hotness overexposure.
She stares at me with her palm out.
I blink, somehow reconnecting my mouth to the last few remaining brain cells that haven't been obliterated. “Yeah. What?” I shake my head. “Did you say something?”
She laughs. “The lotion. May I have it?”
“Oh right,” I say, staring at my hand like I just discovered it's attached to my body. Huh. I'm not actually dead. I didn't fall to the ground. I survived the overdose, and I'm alive and gawking. I hand the bottle to her. “Here you go.”
With every ounce of resolve in me, I leave, grab my bike from the basement, and ride downtown to meet Max. Time with my brother is the best boner killer in the world.
Just to be safe, I add my sister to the mix when the ride ends, calling Mia as I lock up my bicycle in the basement at my building.
“Have you saved the world yet?” I ask when she answers.
My sister has a great laugh, warm and inviting. Goes perfectly with her dry sense of humor. “Just some more bunnies,” she says.
Mia's company specializes in cruelty-free makeup and beauty products, and it's the culmination of her heart's desire since she was a kid â to save all the animals.
We catch up briefly then she has to leave to head to work.
The call with her does the trick, though, and keeps my mind off Josie's body.
But only for a few days.
On Friday night, Josie strolls through the living room, her heels clicking on the floor. I look up from the book I'm reading on my phone.
Tonight she wears a dress. A dark pink one that looks . . . wow. Just wow. Just utterly smoking hot. It hugs her hips and snuggles her breasts and shows off her strong, soccer-toned legs.
I blink a few times. Maybe ten. Maybe one hundred.
“Who's the lucky guy?” I ask in my best just-your-guy-friend-looking-out-for-you voice.
“I have a date with Paul tonight. He's the software project manager you picked out from the site. The only one you thought sounded normal, remember?”
“The rare find who used proper grammar and possessed the ability to ask questions about something other than lingerie and blow jobs,” I say, since I figured eventually I had to give the okay to one of them, and he was the safest bet. “You're awfully fancy, though.”
She shrugs as if it's no big deal. “I had the dress and haven't had the chance to wear it yet. I thought it'd be fun. I don't get to dress up for work.”
Inside, I'm thinking she could dress up for me, like when we go to Bed Bath & Beyond, or grocery shopping, or even to pick up toilet paper. Maybe that's selfish, but so it goes.
“Well, he is a lucky son-of-a-bitch to see you in that dress.”
She fiddles with a necklace. “I can't get this clasp. Can you help? My fingers are still slippery from putting on lotion.”
I stand, brush my hands over my jeans, and step closer to her. She gathers up her hair, lifting it against the back of her head, exposing her neck. My throat goes dry. My skin prickles with desire. Her long, lovely neck looks spectacular. Prime real estate for kissing.
But I can't go there, so I take hold of the ends of the necklace, and though I toy with the idea of taking longer than necessary, I opt for being a gentleman. I close the keyhole quickly. As much as I might want to linger here all night, I can't give myself away.
“There,” I say, and as she lowers her hair, I hope to hell Paul won't be the one unhooking that clasp tonight. As soon as that awful notion touches down, I ball my hands into fists, and I try to keep this jealousy at bay.
I hope she hates the guy. Because there's no way any man could be with her tonight and do anything but fall head over heels.
I leave shortly after she does. Lest I stay home like a dateless schmuck on a Friday night, I asked out a blond radiologist named Trish who likes to play fantasy baseball. I'm a big Yankees fan myself, so that gives us great conversation beyond the shop talk. At a sports bar nearby, we nurse beers and watch a game on the big screen, debating the best pitchers in baseball history. It's fine as far as dates go, but when it's time for that inevitable will we/won't we moment, I don't feel it, so I say good-bye to her.
As I wander through the streets of Murray Hill, listening to an audiobook about physics in everyday life while sidestepping the already inebriated packs of New Yorkers, I find that I'm looking forward to talking to Josie, way more than I'd wanted to go on a date, and hoping too that Paul was a bust.
When I open the door, the scent of seven-layer bars greets me. That must mean her date ended early, too. Which means I'm a happy camper.
I turn into the kitchen. She pulls a tray from the oven and smiles. She still wears the date outfit, but the heels are gone. She's adorable in her fancy dress and bare feet.
“Date ended early?”
She nods. “When he invited me to see his gerbil, I thought it was time to go.”
“That doesn't entice you?”
She shakes her head. “Had he said ferret, perhaps. Alas, with gerbil I'm a firm no.”
“Was it in his pants or a cage?”
“We didn't get far enough to find out. I said thanks, I need to water the plants, and I got the hell out of Dodge.”
I curl up the side of my mouth. “Guess that explains why Trish didn't invite me home, either. I tried the hamster line on her.”
She smacks me with a panda potholder. “I suppose I should have known better, though. Earlier in the date, he made a ton of masturbation comments.”
I lean against the kitchen counter. “And that concerns you, since you never do that, right?”
As she slides the spatula under the dessert, she gives me a side-eye stare. “Exactly, Chase. I never rub one out. Never.” She waves a hand over her crotch. “Total hands-free zone.”
I take her comment seriously. “Fine. You use toys. I get it. What kind?” I ask, because I can't help myself.
She rolls her eyes. “Not telling you.”
I harrumph and grab for a bar from the pan. She swats me with the spatula.
“Ouch,” I say, yanking back my hand.
“That didn't hurt. And you should know better than to steal my dessert before it's ready.”
“You should know better than to hit my hands.” I hold both up in the air.
With a quickness I don't see coming, she whacks me again with her utensil. This time on the other hand.
“That's it.” I charge her, tickling her waist. “Tell me what toys and I'll stop.”
She cracks up and flails her arms, knocking me with elbows and hands and the spatula, too, until I give in to her cries for mercy.
I stare at her in our tiny sliver of a kitchen. “Waiting.”
“You really want to know?”
I nod eagerly. I'm playing with fire, but I can't resist. The desire to know outweighs all else.
She works the spatula under the bars again, shaking her head. “I can't believe we're having this conversation.”
I hold out my hands. “C'mon. We talk about all sorts of stuff.” Then, an idea strikes me. I open the kitchen cupboard, grab a bottle of Patron, and hold it up. “This will help all that shyness.”
She stares at me with narrowed eyes. “I'm not shy at all.”
I grab two shot glasses and pour. “Better safe than sorry, Miss Not Shy At All.”
I hand her one, and she takes it. Then I raise my glass, and the drink goes down the hatch with a burn. She follows suit, swallowing it quickly, then sets her glass down. I do the same.
I rub my palms together. “Toy confessional time. What have you got?”
She arches an eyebrow. “Really? You really want to know?”
I narrow my eyes. “What part of your roommate being a dirty bastard do you not understand? Obviously, I want to know. I'm a guy. This is like Christmas morning. But if this helps . . .”
I pour two more shots then slide her glass over to her. Once more, we down them.
She draws a deep breath. “Since you asked . . . I have a few toys. A little silver bullet. A bigger dolphin. And I have a waterproof finger vibrator.”
And the temperature in me shoots through the roof. I tug at the neck of my shirt. “For the shower?” I croak out.
“Seeing as we don't have a bathtub, yes, it would have to be for the shower.”
“You masturbate in the shower?” I ask, and the visual is so fucking clear in my mindâJosie under a hot stream of water that slopes off her breasts, a finger vibrator working between her thighs.
She nods as she slides the bars onto a cooling rack. Just then I remember she promised me seven-layer bars when she freaked out the other night. And she delivered. Fuck, I think she might be perfect, what with her desserts and her shower hobby.
“Why do you ask?” she asks in a hyper-innocent voice. Then she clasps her fingers over her mouth. “Are you busy spanking the monkey in your bed while I'm sleeping?”
I point my thumb at myself. “Shower here, too, baby.”
She arches an eyebrow. “I guess the shower's like a good priest. It keeps both our secrets.” She gestures to the bars. “As soon as they cool off you can have one. Now, tell me, do you clean the shower when you're done?” She winks, grabs the tequila and the shot glasses, and heads to the couch.
I follow, like the dog that I am. Tongue hanging and panting, just waiting for a crumb to fall.
“I'm the neat one, remember?” I pat the back of the couch. “But I bet you don't only do-it-yourself in the shower. You probably did it on this couch before I moved in. This is a diddle couch, right? Just admit it.”
“Well . . .” She twirls a strand of hair in her fingers, and takes her time doling out her answer. “I can't exactly watch porn in the shower.”
I groan at her admission. The images whip fast and furious in my brain. “This is where you watch porn and get off?”
She laughs and grabs the bottle, pouring another round. She thrusts a glass at me, and this time we clink. She wiggles her eyebrows. “Yes, I've been known to watch porn from time to time.”
Bringing the glass to her lips, she knocks it back. I match her shot for shot, and the liquor must be loosening both our tongues. We've always been pretty open, but this conversation is slip-sliding quite nicely in a whole new direction.
“Just from time to time?” I ask.
She shrugs naughtily, a little I've-got-a-secret
look in her eyes.
“It's okay. Tell the doctor. Masturbation is normal. Don't be ashamed.” I wrap her in a huge hug, as if I'm comforting her. Not because I'm trying to touch her. When we separate, I clear my throat. “So, seriously. What kind of intimate videos do you like?” I ask, adopting an interviewer's tone, as if I'm the dude on the site who asked that question.
Only, it was inappropriate from him. From me, the question is thoroughly acceptable, since it's all in the name of scientific research.
“You want to know?” she asks, her eyes wide as she holds my gaze.
God yes. So much. I'm dying to know what turns you on.
“Of course I want to know what floats Josie's boat on the diddle couch.” She tosses a pillow at me. I catch it. “Fine. Pleasure den. Can we call it your Pleasure Den of Personal Delights?”