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Chapter Six

“I knew I’d be taking you home tonight,” I whispered as we walked toward our house. The night was warm, even at the late hour. There was no escaping the heat during the summer in New Orleans. Lucky for me, my body easily adjusted to any temperature. Unfortunately, that self-regulation didn’t apply to the effect Allie had on me. One touch from her had me burning up.

She continued to play hard to get and shrugged my arm off her shoulder. I laughed. Now that I had the physical evidence of her interest, I wasn’t as worried. That kiss had spoken volumes. She wanted me, and she wanted me bad.

I unlocked the front door, ushering Allie in before following closely behind her. She gazed around our living room as Jared led a giggling Jess down the hall to his room. Allie made a face when she noticed it out of the corner of her eye. She didn’t try to stop her friend, but I sensed she wanted to. My guess is she was used to Jess’ behavior. The girl wasn’t drunk. Jared wasn’t a complete ass**le. We both had the same rule when it came to women. If they weren’t sober enough to completely consent, then we let them go. There were plenty of girls to go around. Except I didn’t feel that way that night. I didn’t want anyone but Allie.

Allie seemed uptight. She took a seat on one of the leather couches, keeping her legs pressed firmly together. I wondered if the position was intentional, or if it was her subconscious attempt at resisting me. I sat down right next to her. I needed to put her at ease. She seemed most comfortable when I hit on her. I decided to go with it.

She blinked and yawned silently.

“You are more than welcome to sleep in my bed.” I put my feet up on the circular ottoman.

“As tempting as that offer is, I’ll take my chances out here.” She took off her flip flops and curled her legs up on the couch under her. I fought the urge to pull her legs onto my lap. I’d have given her a foot rub if she’d wanted one. I’m definitely not a foot guy, but every part of Allie seemed worth exploring.

“Wow, Levi, you’ve never offered to let me take your bed before.” Hailey feigned hurt.

“And I’ll never offer you my bed. If you don’t want to sleep on the couch, talk to your brother, or better yet, go home.”

“Aww, you are always so sweet to me.”

Allie laughed. My plan was working. She was relaxing. Owen took a seat on the couch across from us, and Hailey entertained Allie with stories of how much trouble we used to get into as kids. Before long, Allie’s head slumped down on my shoulder.

Owen nodded to where she rested. “Looks like we bored her to death.”

“Nah, she’s just tired. Humans need more sleep than us.” Hailey stretched.

“Are you going to wake her up?” Owen asked.

“No. I’ll let her sleep.” I ran a hand down her arm. She was so sweet all curled up that way against me. “Get me the extra quilt in my closet and you can take my room tonight, Hailey.”

She stood up. “Where are you going to sleep?”

“Right here.”

Owen laughed. “You’ve got it bad.”

“She’s comfortable, and besides, I don’t want her to wake up confused about where she is.”

“Sure. Tell yourself whatever it takes.” Owen started toward his room. “Night, guys.”

Hailey tossed the quilt down on the ottoman. “Be good, Levi. I like her.”

“Yeah, so do I. Considering I’m giving up my room, I wouldn’t worry.”

“That’s what worries me…”

I laughed. “Get out of here.”

As Hailey disappeared down the hall, I kicked off my shoes and repositioned us so we were lying down together. I gave her body a long look before covering us both up with the quilt.

I cuddled her in my arms, trying to tune out the sounds of Jared and Jess down the hall. Normally, I’d be jealous he was getting some when I wasn’t, but I wouldn’t have traded places for anything. I’d never just lay down with a girl like that before, but I liked it. Her breathing was even, and the pattern of it relaxed me. I closed my eyes, leaning back into a throw pillow. I thought about our kiss, the taste of her, and how perfectly her body felt pressed against mine. The thought started to get me hard in the wrong place, so I tried to push it out of my head. There was no reason to get excited. Tonight wasn’t the night, but it would happen.

Another image flashed through my mind. Another night, a fireplace and a skylight open to the stars. I forced my eyes open. I couldn’t go there. That was a thought that could only hurt me. Still, there was something about this girl that got to me, and I knew it wasn’t just about sex. If it was, I wouldn’t have been so satisfied just holding her. I stayed awake for hours listening to her breathe. I relaxed completely, and I felt strangely comfortable considering the cramped space. Finally, my body protested to the late hour, and I kissed her cheek before drifting off to sleep.

***

My body was stiff, but I’d never woken up in such a good mood before. Allie was snuggled up flush against me, and her hair and hands were sprawled across my chest. I imagined how much better the morning would be if we weren’t wearing clothes, but somehow I was okay with the current situation.

She stirred, quietly at first, before doing this adorable stretch with her arms. She seemed to notice the cramped space and opened her eyes.

“Good morning, beautiful.”

She clutched the blanket against her. “Oh god.”

“Sleep well?”

She blinked a few times and looked around. “What are you doing here?”

“You’re in my apartment, or did you forget?” I liked saying that.

“I mean why are you sleeping on the couch with me? Why aren’t you in your room?”

“Oh, I gave my bed to Hailey.”

“But I thought you’d never…”

“I was just messing with her. Besides, I thought we could use the privacy.” I couldn’t resist egging her on.

“Was I really so zonked out I missed all of this?”

“You fell asleep in the middle of a conversation and were leaning against me. You looked too comfortable to disturb, so I just moved us a bit.” I left out asking Hailey for a blanket. She didn’t need to know I’d actually put thought into the arrangement.

“I see. Well, at least we’re on the couch and not your bed.”

“Don’t sound so relieved about it.” I tried to sound playful, but would it have been so bad if we’d spent the night in my room?

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