The next morning Anna woke up with a start. She'd had a disturbing dream where she was running from something…she couldn’t remember what but she figured it was shadow men. Austin stirred and turned over to face her.
"Morning," he smiled.
She smiled weakly back, remnants of the dream still hanging on.
He peered at her. "What is it?"
"Had a bad dream."
He put his arms around her and she snuggled into them. This was a definite benefit to the whole relationship thing, she decided, large arms for comfort.
"Coffee?" he asked after a minute, and she nodded. He got out of bed and looked at her. "On second thought…"
He started to climb back in, but she shooed him away.
"Morning breath, go make coffee."
He mock pouted then grinned and strode away.
I'm his girlfriend, she thought suddenly, and shook her head in wonder. She still wasn’t sure how she felt about it. Nope, not going to dwell on it, just gonna go with it. She pulled herself out of bed, yawned and stretched.
Amazingly she didn't seem to be suffering from a hangover. She shuffled off to the bathroom to gargle some mouthwash then went downstairs.
Austin was standing in the kitchen next to the coffee pot looking seriously cute all rumpled from sleep, and she was suddenly struck by the urge to make him take off his shirt. She realized it had been nearly a year since she'd seen him shirtless and in that time his arms had grown pretty substantially causing her to wonder about the rest of his physique.
"You looking at something, friend?" His lip curved.
She smiled impishly, "Actually I want to look at something..."
His eyebrows went in the air. “What?”
"Would you take off your shirt?"
"Take off my shirt?" he repeated, brows still raised.
"Yeah, I wanna see your chest."
His face broke into a grin. "Tell you what, I'll show you mine if you show me yours," he waggled his eyebrows and she gave him a stern look.
"What? That's only fair."
"Not the same thing."
"Come on you're wearing a...." he looked at her chest and his mouth seemed to dry up. "No, you're not. When did that happen?"
"I can't sleep with one on."
"You weren't wearing one all night and I didn't cop a feel? I am seriously slackin'." He shook his head in mock regret.
She folded her arms across her chest. "So you won't take off your shirt for me?"
He laughed again and pulled it up over his shoulders and off. For some reason just the act of him removing it was pretty sexy. "Happy?" He asked.
She let her eyes roam over the broad expanse of bared skin in appreciation. Not an ounce of fat on his body, muscles bulging in all the right places. His skin was very lightly tanned and she knew from the past that by the end of summer he would be bronze. They had a phrase for his physique--eye candy.
He was watching her reaction and she grinned at him. "Not bad, not bad at all."
"Oh yeah? Gina said something like scrumptious...
She grabbed a dish towel and threw it at him. "Wait, when did she see you without a shirt?"
"I was kidding."
"Well...I guess I have to agree with that statement, fictitious or not." Actually she was having a tremendous urge....why not? She walked over to him and placed her hands on his pecs, then slid them down over his abdomen then back up and over his biceps. He watched her with a lazy half-smile.
"What?" She flushed at his bemused expression.
He leaned down and whispered, "My turn." He swallowed her into his embrace and ran his hands over her butt and up her back, sliding them down the sides of her breasts. A shiver coursed through her body as he tilted her head up and kissed her, there was something about the feel of his warm skin against her that made it more intimate. Suddenly she was consumed by the desire to pull her own shirt off and feel what it was like to be skin to skin, an urge she resisted, but barely.
She pulled back from his embrace and brightly said, "Coffee?" then grabbed a cup and busied herself with the menial task, trying to get her hormones under control.
She heard the girls’ voices coming from the guestroom and was a little relieved. She had a feeling that spending too much time alone with him would result in her doing something she’d regret far sooner than she should. She poked her head inside the living room and saw there were other party-goers sleeping on the couches and the floor. And I was going to take off my shirt? She started giggling at the image of her standing half naked with him in the kitchen amidst all those people.
Austin cocked a brow, "What's funny?"
She laughed even harder and it took a few seconds for her to gasp out, "I forgot that I likely had house guests.”
His brows came together, “And why is that so funny?”
She shook her head still giggling then grabbed her coffee and headed for the back door. Just before she opened it she turned her head slightly and said, "I considered taking off my shirt," letting the door shut on his reply.
God it was fun to tease him. He came out onto the patio a few seconds later, considering her.
"You're lying," he said finally.
"You don't have the guts."
"Ohh, now you're going to play the chicken card?"
"Yup, I'm playing the chicken card."
"What, you mean right here?" She indicated the patio.
He narrowed his eyes. "No, not here, there are people."
"Oh but you called me a chicken, so I think I better prove you wrong," she made a show of pulling her shirt up, knowing full well he would cover her before she got far. He didn't disappoint, pulling her into his arms and pinning her hands behind her back. He walked her backwards until they were going through the door of the garage then kicked it shut with his foot, letting her go at the same time. He folded his arms. "Now you can prove me wrong."
"Well...that's not fair. I was going to and you stopped me, so too late."
He was already shaking his head, and she knew she wouldn't get out of it that easily so she flashed him very briefly then tried to run to the other door.
He caught her and turned her around. "I believe the terms were the shirt comes off, not up."
"Terms, there were no terms, I just said I was considering it." He started to tickle her, and in seconds she was down on the cold concrete floor, laughing and crying for mercy.
The “look” came over his face again, the “I really want to have sex with you” look and her stomach did a somersault. He lowered himself on top of her and pressed his mouth on hers, coaxing her lips open and pushing his tongue inside. She met it aggressively with her own. His hands were caressing her sides one moment then under her shirt and cupping her bare breasts the next, and it felt so good. He made a noise in the back of his throat as he slowly ground his hips against her and she put one arm around his lower back and pressed down, causing him to make the noise again and god it was turning her on. She had a vision of him naked and moving on her and she made her own excited noise into his mouth. He broke the kiss and for a second she really wished he hadn't because she was brought back to reality and a Too Fast warning sign flashed across her mind.
"Okay, let's go back inside now," she said shakily.
He pulled her to her feet and wrapped his arms around her. "You make me so hot," he whispered.
His husky tone made her shiver. "I know that's why we're going back inside."
He chuckled and put his hand on her back as they headed back to the kitchen.
The whole house had come alive while they were necking, it seemed. Her kitchen was crowded with people, the girls among them, and she immediately herded the latter upstairs into her room.
"He slept in here with you," Marina accused, raising her brows.
"We just slept."
"Riigghtt," Macey said smiling slyly.
"No seriously, we messed around on the couch for a while, but in here we slept. Although in the garage a minute ago..." she let it hang.
"Tell us!" Jess demanded.
"It's going too fast. I've decided that’s why I’m being so fickle. At the rate we're going…I really can't have sex with him!" She flopped backward onto her bed.
"Austin wouldn't pressure you for that," Holly stated.
"Is he pressuring you?" Jenna demanded.
"Not exactly, it's just every time we start kissing he pushes the limits a little more, and the problem is that I like it. Or at least my body definitely does. But I'm not ready at all. At least my mind and heart aren't, achh, this is so confusing," she stated, making a face.
"I had sex with Nathan!" Jess blurted and promptly burst into tears.
All five girls turned to her in shock. "When!" "Where!" "Why?" They fired questions at her in rapid succession, and she looked more and more miserable until Holly raised a hand for silence and nodded at her to speak.
"Last night, in the boathouse," she sniffed, "just like Anna said, we were making out one minute and then it just kept going a little further, and it did feel really good...until he…and then it really, really hurt and I wanted him to stop, but I didn't tell him to so it isn't his fault, but it was a mistake!" She started crying in earnest.
Jenna surprised them all by sitting next to her and putting her arms around her. If there was ever a time for her tongue lashing, they would have thought it would be now but she seemed to understand the damage was done.
Marina turned towards the door, her foot tapping in angst. "Is he still here?"
Jess nodded miserably, "He was in the living room."
"Did he talk to you afterwards?" Holly demanded.
Jess shook her head, "He said he had to use the bathroom, but he didn't come back, so I just sat in there for a while then I came up to the house and climbed in bed."
"That rotten son of a bitch!" Anna exclaimed.
"How dare he do that and then lounge around the house like nothing happened!" Holly stated.
Marina snarled and started for the door.
"Where are you going?" Jess cried, "Don't please, it's embarrassing, I don't want everyone to know!"
"The only person who should be embarrassed is him," Holly said firmly.
"Hell yeah," Macey agreed.
"I know but I don't want people to know!”
"Don't worry, we will be sure to get him away from people," Anna said as she followed the rest of them out of the room.
They located him outside on the patio talking and smoking a cigarette. When he saw the five of them approaching with identical scowls he at least had the decency to look properly guilty.
"Have a minute Nate?" Anna asked sweetly. He nodded and flicked his smoke, then followed them inside.
Austin watched the five girls herding his friend inside and followed as they practically shoved Nate into the guestroom and shut the door.
"What's going on?" Austin broke the thunderous silence.
"Look girls," Nate stammered, "I know you think I'm an asshole right now, but I didn't mean for it to go that far, I was really drunk."
"So you left her in there because you were drunk?" Anna snapped.
"I wasn't thinking clearly, and I intended to talk to her, I was just waiting for people to leave."
"Really? Good, then go right upstairs to Anna's room where she is crying her eyes out. Now." Holly pointed towards the door.
He nodded. "Going."
"Is this about what I think it's about?" Austin asked quietly.
Jenna answered, her mouth trembling. "If you think your friend totally stole my sister's innocence and then left her without saying a word, then yeah, it's what you think it is." She was furious. It was the first thing she'd said and it had come out through gritted teeth. If there had been any doubt about her love for her sibling, the doubt was gone. All of them were angry but she was literally shaking with it.
Austin put a hand on her shoulder. "It's all right," he said softly, "Nate's not a bad guy, he'll fix it as much as he can."
Jenna threw his arm off violently. "And how the HELL do you suppose he'll do that? He can't take it back, it's done!" Tears came down her face and she swiped at them angrily. "Careless, thoughtless, God what is wrong with guys? You too," she pointed a finger at him accusingly, "pushing Anna too far too fast, don't guys ever think about anything but their stupid dicks?"
Anna's face flamed and she ducked her head.
Austin nodded slowly. "I'm sorry your sister was hurt Jenna."
He turned to leave the room and Anna caught his arm. He put his hand on hers and kissed her head, "Talk later," he told her quietly and left.
All eyes were on Jenna now, and Holly broke the new silence with a softly whispered question. "Jenna….did something happen to you?"
Jenna shook her head in denial, but the tears came harder and she sat down on the bed.
"I don't want to talk about it. Not. Now. Not. Ever."
"I said I DON'T want to talk about it, so leave it!"
They stood there awkwardly for a moment then Holly beckoned them to leave the room.
"Go for a walk?" Anna suggested after the door was shut and they nodded in unison and headed out the door.
Jenna sat on the bed trying to get her emotions under control. After a few minutes she was once again breathing normally. Not the same situation, she thought, Jess was bound to have this happen the way she's been going lately, and honestly it could have been worse than Nate. She took a deep breath and got to her feet.
Not all men suck, she told herself. It had become a mantra for her, to remind herself that all guys weren't the same. Yes they were led around by their penises, but that was probably just as annoying for them as it was for everyone else. She felt bad that she'd yelled at Austin who was definitely one of the good guys. True he was advancing the physical situation with Anna a bit too quickly, but he loved her. He'd loved her for a long time, and he would never hurt her, in fact he was far more likely to be the one that ended up hurt. Anna cared for him, but there was only one soul mate for her and he just wasn't it. Jenna knew this the same way she knew a lot of things- about other people anyway, never about herself.
She went to the kitchen and found that it had cleared out. She could see a few kids standing around and talking on the back patio, but a glance through the living room windows showed her most of the cars were gone.
She heard a noise on the stairs and recognized Nate’s voice. A moment later he and Jess appeared in the entryway to the kitchen and her sister's entire countenance had completely changed.
She was smiling brightly as she announced, "We're going to the park to take a walk.”
Jenna nodded. Nate was fidgeting and she decided to give him a break, smiling slightly.
He smiled widely back. "Don't worry I won't have her out too late!”
Jess laughed like it was the funniest thing anyone had ever said and Jenna shook her head, her smile widening.
She watched her sister flounce across the driveway then decided to locate the rest of the girls.