Excerpt: Practice Makes Perfect!

THE ALLY AND PAUL BOOK AT LONG LAST!

Yay!


CHAPTER ONE

Paul Sorensen eyed the bookstore from his parking spot and sighed. Because accessibility, as reported, was too much to ask.

For the fifth time in the last hour he considered bagging out of the workshop. Except if he did that, Kamarla would never let him live it down. Signing up for the BDSM and Dating class was a last ditch effort to keep his friends from staging a long distance intervention. You need community, Paulie. And since you won’t find crip community for your brain (and well being) I’m gonna talk directly to your dick now. GET LAID. But don’t do what you always do and rush into forever. Just get laid, you hear me?

He did want to get laid.

And the workshop was queer-focused, so all the more opportunities for a kinky pansexual to actually get some.

If he could just make it through the damn door.

Right.

He sighed again and sent a quick text to Kamarla: On my way in. There are steps. WTF is wrong with people?

She immediately came back with: There’s probably an unlit service entrance around the block and down a mineshaft or something.

Yeah. People liked to write “accessible” without considering what accessibility actually meant, and assuming no one who actually needed accessibility would show up. He’d even called the facilitator to make sure this time! But oh well. He was here. And…

It would be seriously nice to meet someone he already knew was kinky. Who already knew he was kinky. And avoid what happened last time.

Time was ticking away. He could almost feel Kamarla’s all-caps shout: YOU’RE GONNA BE LATE IF YOU KEEP SITTING THERE.

He’d gotten there an hour early to get good parking, but god only knew what he’d need to do to get inside.

Screw it.

He pulled out his chair, locked the wheels on, and transferred to it. Not late yet. He scoped the store as he made his way across the street. So far he didn’t think anyone had arrived, but a guy approaching the door caught sight of him and waved.

What the fuck was the name of the dude he’d talked to on the phone? Dammit. He never remembered shit like this.

“Either you’re Paul, or I’m accosting a random man in a wheelchair because I happen to be expecting one.” The guy held out his hand. “I’m Hugh Reynolds.”

I never would’ve remembered that. “Paul Sorensen.”

“Good to meet you. And I apologize profusely about the state of things here. This is a good lesson to me to always verify accessibility in person, not just by phone.” Hugh pushed his glasses up on his nose. “This is somewhat humiliating, and I’m about to compound it. Do you mind waiting here for a moment while I check inside?”

“Nope. Go for it.”

“Thank you.”

“Sure.”

Paul affected his best casual expression and pretended there was nothing at all strange about chilling on the sidewalk outside a bookstore while a couple of people, casting him curious looks, slid in the door.

And oh, jeez, he fervently hoped the girl crossing the street was part of the workshop and into guys. All curves and bounce and damn.

Also, she was texting and bumped into a garbage can, which was hella cute. He looked away fast, hoping she didn’t know he’d seen.

Closer, closer…

The door opened in mid-argument.

“—does it matter if the room is accessible, if a person can’t get into the building?”

“Again, I’m really sorry—”

Hugh Reynolds waved a frustrated hand. “I realize. Please just show Paul and I the other door? Oh, Alison, you’re here.”

Alison. Paul committed the curvy girl’s name to memory. Alison, Alison, Alison. Do not fucking forget that.

“Hey.”

Her voice was exactly perfect for her—light, cheerful. But not vacuous.

“Would you mind going to the meeting room and just saying hello to anyone who arrives before I get back?”

“Sure thing.” She flashed a smile at Hugh, then—oh boy—at Paul.

Did their eyes catch? She definitely looked at him longer than she had at Hugh. And she was looking at him. Not the chair.

Then she turned and walked inside.

He was probably imagining things. Probably.

Except when he turned back to Hugh, he was almost sure the dude was smirking.

“This way,” the lady from the bookstore said, and began leading them down an alley.

Yep. Classic. He’d have to text Kamarla that she’d been right.

* * *

Hugh was not the guy Paul pictured being in charge of any kind of BDSM workshop. Though he’d never been to one, so he had no idea what he’d been expecting. The dude was short, and in a suit, and had perfectly trimmed hair. Also, when he talked his voice was sort of…not exactly quiet, but not loud.

There was nothing imposing about the guy, so maybe he bottomed. Or maybe Paul was making assumptions.

He totally couldn’t get a clear read on Alison, like at all. She’d collected the sign in sheet and passed out a flyer that read “Ground Rules” at the top (which Paul hadn’t bothered to read). Though reading it might be good on the not staring at Alison across the room front. The beginning of a thing like this was always awkward, he reminded himself. Probably no one had noticed the staring.

Hugh cleared his throat. “One more thing before we start icebreakers.”

Oh, god. Icebreakers. The only thing more awkward than doing nothing was doing icebreakers.

“Alison—er, Ally, rather—” Hugh shot her an apologetic look and she grinned “—is playing the role of my assistant when I need her to, but she’s also a member of the group. And my sister-in-law.”

“That wasn’t awkward at all,” she said, clearly teasing him. “Also, um, I’m straight? Which I’ve never actually come out as before, but um, yeah. There’s that.”

“Awwww damn.” That was Madison, who was smirking as she said it. “LOL, I’m just messing with you. I’m okay with you bein’ straight.”

Ha, she actually spelled lol as in: el-oh-el. Paul found himself kind of charmed.

The grumpy guy, Justin, heaved a sigh. “I am besieged by straight women.” At Hugh’s pointed eyebrow-raise, he shrugged. “You ever fall in love with someone who was in love with someone else?”

“Not, I suspect, in the way you mean.”

“Well, it sucks. Even when you like her a lot. Anyway.”

Icebreakers took forty-five minutes, during which Paul tried to memorize both names and pronouns. Ally definitely suited more than Alison, he thought, and immediately switched over in his head.

They started with the usual icebreaker type things he was used to doing with the We Rock On panel. Paul felt a pang of nostalgia for Kamarla and Erik and McCartney in the middle of listening to Justin grumble about being forced to participate. Ice breakers were the worst. At least that hadn’t changed in the last two years.

God, this would be easier with his friends. Except he didn’t want to have sex with any of them. And they were three hundred and fifty miles away.

Hugh checked his watch and frowned at it. Paul took a moment to be thankful he was not in charge of time management at this thing. The level of nerves present was much higher than he’d ever had to deal with talking about living with disabilities. Which made sense. He could almost feel the undercurrent of people assessing each other for compatibility.

As if Hugh felt it, too, he clapped his hands to get their attention. “Just to get this out of the way: this is not a dating service. The more we can cultivate a non-dating environment, the more productive this will be for everyone.”

Justin snorted. “So if we don’t think of this as a meat market we might learn how to talk to people? That’s cute, but how will that help when we’re back out on the meat market?”

“Is ‘the meat market’ the only place to meet people you might want to date?”

Justin rolled his eyes. “Where else?”

Hugh didn’t react to the derision. He spread his hands, palms up. “I met my husband at a professional conference. It’s at the very least possible to meet people in other places. But to answer your question, yes. Give me six sessions and I do actually think this will help you with the meat market.”

Justin didn’t seem convinced, but the cute trans guy, Avery, nodded. So did Ally and the woman sitting next to her, Madison, AKA el-oh-el.

Paul nodded as well. At this point just being in a room with other queer kinky people was a relief, even if there was something of a hands off rule.

He glanced at Ally again. It was only three weekends.

They went over, first, what they weren’t going over.

“This is not a BDSM for Beginners class. Some of you have never done a scene before. Some of you have done plenty of scenes. I encourage you to research to whatever degree makes you feel like you have a foundation in the basic ‘how tos’ of kink, and find people you enjoy being around with whom you can explore those things, if you haven’t already. Accordingly, we’re not going to go over the difference between sting and thud, or impact play versus sensation play, or the infinite variations on dominance and submission. Does that make sense to everyone?” Hugh paused to make eye contact with each of them, then continued. “We’re going to start with a paired up activity before lunch. There are eight of you, so you’re all saved from having to be paired up with me.”

A few people laughed, though Paul didn’t think he meant it as a joke exactly.

“Once you’re in your pair, pick a location where you might meet someone you’d be interested in dating. It could be the meat market. It could be work, or the laundromat. Or, for that matter”—he gestured outside the room—“a bookstore. This exercise works whether you can imagine being attracted to the person or not, sometimes better when you wouldn’t be. Pretend you’ve met, and you’ve decided that you’re going to pursue something together. Because this is BDSM and Dating, pretend you’re approaching one another as people you’d like to date. Most of us know how we talk about sex, but I want you to focus on communicating about kink in a way that indicates you plan to see the other person again.”

“Is that like…saying you want to bottom?”

Paul hadn’t figured out much about the guy who’d spoken. His name was Sandy, and he had whatever it was called when you’re super allergic to scents, so he’d asked all of them to not wear cologne or perfume. Then, eyes downcast, he’d asked them to consider not using any scented lotions or hair products on the next two weekends because he got migraines.

He looked like he was suffering a little right now, and the question had made him blush. Which was sweet.

No dating in class. Right. Good. That was good. Made it easier to focus. Mostly. Until he looked at Hugh, since Sandy had addressed the question to him, but that meant he was also looking in Ally’s direction.

He was definitely looking at Ally.

God, she was sexy. Not trying to be, he didn’t think. Not with a pair of jeans and a T-shirt on. The shirt was tight enough so he could see the roundness of her belly and breasts, and it took serious effort not to imagine his hands on her skin, cupping her belly, sliding lower. And her hair was pulled back in a low ponytail, which of course wasn’t at all provocative, except in how much he wanted to tug it all out so he could drag his fingernails across her scalp.

Not thinking about this. Stop thinking about this.

Plus, Hugh was answering the question, and it was interesting.

“Saying ‘I want to bottom’ doesn’t inherently imply power dynamics. Right? You might want to bottom because it feels good, or because that’s how you feel most in control. Saying ‘I want to bottom, and I want you to hold me down’ gets a little closer. Or ‘I’m into bottoming, and I like it when someone tells me what to do.’ What would be more overt?”

Miguel—a built-looking dude who self identified as a switch—grinned. “I like it when a guy tells me he wants to kneel at my feet. There’s gotta be a little spark in his eye, you know? Sometimes you can tell the difference between ‘I wanna blow you’ and ‘I want you to fuck my mouth.’”

Hugh nodded. “And of course, you can also walk up to someone and tell them you want to hold them down, or you want to fuck their mouth.”

Paul shifted in his chair. Sounded great in theory, but in practice…

Unfortunately, the movement caught Hugh’s eye. “No?”

“Uh, just, it doesn’t always work out like that. That easily.”

“And approach matters,” Madison said. “I think a few years ago, I sorta said stuff like that with a question mark at the end. ‘I want to hold you down?’ Which, looking back, was maybe not exactly trustworthy-top sounding.”

“Excellent point, and part of what I want you to give each other feedback about. Ideally, we’ll practice enough so you gain confidence.”

The uber quiet genderqueer kid next to Madison raised their hand. Paul couldn’t quite gauge their age, but he thought they actually might be younger than him.

“Lena? Question?”

“Is this…all we’re going to do here? I mean, for three weekends? Learn how to talk?”

Hugh smiled. “Would that be so bad? And no. This weekend you’re meeting the imaginary person you want to date. Next weekend you’ll be going into more specific negotiations. And the third weekend you’ll be diving deeper into the practical implications of BDSM and intimate relationships, including some additional considerations for when scenes don’t go as planned.” Someone groaned and Hugh’s smile widened. “Sounds like fun, right?”

“Sounds like school,” Justin muttered.

“Our ice breaker tomorrow morning will be to talk about why we’re here at school.” Hugh shot an amused look at Justin and continued. “When I described this to a friend of mine, he told me I was gamifying the workshop. If that’s a model that works better for you, please consider that you can only level up if you’re invested in the exercises. With that in mind, let’s begin.

“Find a partner. For the purposes of this activity, it doesn’t need to be someone you would see elsewhere and want to date. Test some lines on one another—ways to communicate what you want and need. Be specific and honest. The partner’s job is to play along, and also to give feedback. Demand clarity, and don’t be afraid to nudge one another into being more overt than you might default to being.”

“So…” Miguel looked around. “We should make each other say what we really mean, not the kind of crap people say when they’re first dating so they won’t scare the other person off?”

“Exactly. No fear of that in this room, so practice forthright communication. You may find, as you become more comfortable verbalizing what you want and need, that scaring people off actually becomes less of an issue.”

“Is that how it was with your husband?” Miguel put a little twist on the word husband, giving it a prolonged “zzz” sound in the middle.

Hugh hesitated, then shrugged. “I was definitely worried about scaring my husband off in the beginning, but I was well-intentionally sabotaged. And despite his relative inexperience, he ended up being far beyond merely open minded, in the end. I think you’ll find that happens more often than not. Any other questions? Let’s get started.”

They somewhat awkwardly paired up with the people they were sitting next to, which left him with grumpy Justin and Ally with Madison.

“You want to start?” Justin asked immediately, with a little bit of aggression.

Defensive. Growly. But, Paul thought, probably uber sweet somewhere underneath, even though he’d never admit it.

“Sure. Uh. Okay. This is weird.”

“Because you’d never go for me in real life?”

I knew it. He’s insecure. “Just because it’s weird. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever approached a guy dating-first. Girls, yes. Guys…I don’t think so.”

The set to Justin’s lips eased just a little. “Right? I have no fucking idea how to do this.”

“Okay. Let’s make it up. Uh. So. So…good to meet you. And uh…I want to say up front that I’m kinky. And dominant.” Holy crap. He’d never said that out loud before, not way out in front after just meeting someone.

Justin’s eyes widened slightly. Disbelief that the dude in the chair could dominate? Or just curiosity?

Paul could feel himself blushing. Also, sweat was popping out at his temples. “I’m, uh, into… God, this is weirdly hard. Talking about sex is easy. This feels really bizarre.”

“Because you’re talking more about identity, or something.” Justin shrugged. “Saying you want to do a thing one time isn’t the same as saying you’re super into it.”

“And there’s none of the kind of sizzle that happens when you’re talking about sex before you’re going to have it.”

Justin snorted. “Ha. Sizzle. And yeah. Though that’s also because this is totally contrived. Like, I sincerely doubt this is at all helpful.”

The awkwardness in the room was almost tangible, though there were a few laughs, too. Madison didn’t seem to be having much trouble talking to Ally. Paul clocked a burst of jealousy and forced himself to concentrate.

“Okay. So if we’re going to be dating, then I want you to know that I’m big into, uh, being in charge of your orgasm. And also I’m interested in impact play.” There. Still blushing, but specific.

“Interested in or experienced with?”

“Uh…interested in.” Remembered humiliation burned across his skin. “I brought it up one time with one person, but it didn’t go well.”

The facade cracked a little more. “Hell, that sucks. I’m pretty much the king of things not going well, so I totally get that. Did it make you too scared to bring it up again?”

“I guess so. At least, it made me feel so lousy that it didn’t seem worth it. In the context of dating, I mean. Not just one-offs.”

Justin nodded. “Yeah. Like why bother? Except when you don’t, you’re kind of screwing yourself.”

“Yeah.”

Hugh cleared his throat. “Okay, partners give feedback. Then you’ll switch.”

“School,” Justin muttered. “I thought that was good. I mean, you were pretty much just kind of lobbing me softballs, but for the record, they were hot ones.”

Since actual dating was off the table, somehow this didn’t feel like flirting. Paul grinned. “Sweet. Thanks.”

“Ugh. Guess it’s my turn now.” With a dramatic sigh, Justin began.

Low score for accessibility, and the no dating rule of BDSM and Dating was kind of a downer, but otherwise, Paul was already happy he’d let Kamarla blackmail him into this.

He cast another glance across the room, to where Ally was blushing and looking down at her hands, talking and apparently stopping roughly every five words.

“Eyes up here, genius.”

“Sorry,” he mumbled, turning his entire attention to Justin.

“Uh huh. You like the straight girl?”

“Ally.”

“Jesus. Stop smiling, it’s embarrassing.”

Paul mustered himself and looked into his partner’s eyes. “I’ll stop smiling if you stop fucking around and tell me what you really want.”

“Oh.” He almost seemed surprised by the request. “Well, I can’t have what I really want. But a close second would be a guy to tie me up and make me feel.”

“See? Now we’re getting somewhere.”

Justin sighed again. “Yes, I suppose we are.”

Ally’s presence was still glowing in a corner of his vision, but Paul kept his eyes forward.

There would be time for that later. Like at lunch. Good plan.

CHAPTER TWO

So far, helping out at the BDSM class was actually kind of fun. And, okay, Ally knew she’d sort of been set up—Hugh never asked for help unless he thought helping him would help you, too—but that was all right. Otherwise she wouldn’t be here, and being here was…

Illuminating. Yeah. That.

Also, Madison was flirting outrageously with her, and outrageous flirtation that was in no way serious apparently made her feel really good.

She wasn’t sure if it made her a tease that she was kind of playing along, so she texted her roommate Adam, since he totally flirted with boys and didn’t mean anything by it, and he texted back a series of laughing emojis. Followed by: As long as she knows you’re straight, then you’re all good. Flirting is fun! Girls, guys, so doesn’t matter.

Which had been the whole point of doing this. Kind of. Like, that and also the BDSM thing, or whatever.

But mostly because it wasn’t a place for dating, and it was all queer people, which she’d actually kind of imagined meant she wouldn’t even be tempted, since she wasn’t queer, except now that she thought about it there was no reason she couldn’t date a queer guy. Any queer guy. At least, any queer guy who was into girls.

Be serious, Ally. You’re not thinking about just any guy right now.

Hugh was talking about places in walking distance to eat lunch, but she was thinking about Paul.

That was his name. Paul. She’d gone to elementary school with a Paul. Except that Paul had been kind of a bully. She thought this Paul was anything but a bully.

Could you be a bully in a wheelchair? Probably. Bullying seemed like the kind of thing that pretty much surpassed ability level.

Wait. Was that how you were supposed to say it?

Madison nudged her and she realized that Hugh had stopped talking. People were getting out of their chairs now. Except Paul, who wasn’t, and Madison, who was grinning at her. “You want to come wander around with Avery and me?”

“Um.” Was Paul going out? Not that she was making a decision based on what some guy she didn’t even know was doing, even if every single time he spoke, the hairs stood up on the back of her hands.

Madison was still staring at her, with that slightly teasing grin.

“Um.” No. She didn’t want to wander. She wanted to stay here, and if Paul did, too, that would be cool. Or nerve-wracking. Possibly both. If he didn’t, she’d text her roommates and demand reassurances.

Or maybe not. But probably.

“No thanks. I think I’ll stay here.”

“Mm hmm.” Avery walked up and held a hand out for Madison, who took it and said, “Ally’s staying here.”

His eyebrows shot up. “Because she’s afraid you’ll jump her if she stays in your presence any longer?”

“Hey! I told her it’s all in good fun. Right, Ally?”

“Right. I mean, yeah. Definitely.”

Avery and Madison turned their heads toward each other like mirror images. They had apparently known each other for years, and were the only reason the other had signed up for the workshop. For a second, Ally was strongly reminded of two of her roommates, who were twins. Adam and Will pulled moves like that all the time.

“She’s got a crush on Wheels over there,” Madison whispered.

Before Ally could protest, Avery had hit her arm. “Oh my god! Don’t say shit like that or everyone will know you’re a country bumpkin! His name is Paul.”

Madison’s voice had been low, but Avery’s protest wasn’t. Paul swiveled at the sound of his name and Ally groaned.

“You know I’m bad with names. And anyway, could you have maybe said that louder? I don’t think everyone in Emeryville heard you.” Madison ruffled Ally’s hair, which just made her feel more like an embarrassed little kid. “See you after later, babe.”

Avery waved. Ally waved back. And totally ignored the fact that she was on Paul’s radar in a Those people were obviously talking about me kind of way. Not in a good way.

She pulled her purse to her lap and poked around in it, even though she didn’t really need anything. Except poking around in her purse didn’t absorb her attention and it seemed like Paul might actually be…

Make that definitely was coming toward her.

Oh jeez. Should have touched up my lipstick, like an adult. Wait. Do people do that without with a mirror? I don’t think I can do it without a mirror.

You are thirty years old. You’re supposed to know these things.

Beccs says it doesn’t matter if I know how to put on lipstick or make fancy meals.

Beccs is different.

“Hey.”

Holy crow, that was him, that was Paul. Oh boy, oh boy, what was she supposed to do now?

She looked up from her purse. “Oh. Hi.” But she didn’t have to say anything else because then she was caught by his eyes, which were hazel, edging toward green, with dark brows over them.

He wasn’t just looking at her on the surface, like a stranger. His gaze prickled her skin, making her feel weirdly at home. Was that possible? She was probably making it up.

Then he smiled and she had to bite down on her lips to keep from full-on beaming back at him. She couldn’t help it. Her entire body wanted to answer his.

“You brown bagging it?” he asked, holding up an actual brown bag lunch.

“Oh. Um. I guess?” Jeez, what was she saying? “No, actually. Sorry. I kind of forgot about lunch.”

“What do you usually eat? We could share.”

He wasn’t flirting at all, but she felt a thousand times more alive than she had with Madison talking about how much she liked submissive girls at her mercy.

“I couldn’t take part of your lunch.”

One dark, thick brow raised. “Why not? I’m offering.”

I can’t breathe. Can you be so attracted to someone you just met that you literally can’t breathe because of it?

“Um.”

Sheesh.

She cleared her throat. “Um. Good point. What do you have?”

Almost everyone else had gone out for lunch. Only the really quiet guy, Sandy, was still in the room. Hugh had stepped out, though she figured he was probably just browsing through books. Hugh couldn’t resist a bookstore.

Resist. Irresistible. She bit down on her lip again as Paul spread his lunch out over his lap. A sandwich, an apple, a bag of Chili Cheese Fritos.

“That’s not a real big lunch.”

He shrugged. “I can pick something up on the drive home, if I get hungry.”

“You drive?” Why did I just say that? She flushed, looking away. “I mean, I guess that’s not that weird. Um, sorry.”

Except really, she didn’t think of people in wheelchairs as driving.

“I drive.” She tried to read his tone, but all she got was…nothing. In contrast to how expressive it had been before.

“Really, sorry. I don’t know why I said that. Anyway, thanks for offering to share.”

“Sure. Better for both of us to have half a lunch than for one of us to be starving, right? Though I don’t have a good way to cut this sandwich in half, so you might be stuck with my germs.”

“Uh, actually, I have this thing.” She produced the little foldable knife/fork/spoon thing from her purse and offered it to him.

“That’s so practical.” Now that time he sounded surprised.

“I can be practical! I mean, okay, maybe it’s not like the first thing my friends would say about me or anything, but I can be practical. Well. Kind of.”

He smiled again, which was good. Very good. “I didn’t mean anything by it. I thought this was more of a camping thing than a thing people carried around in their bag every day.”

Thankfully she bit off You go camping? before she said it out loud and humiliated herself again. “Actually, it was a stocking stuffer from my brother last year. I take yogurt to work a lot and I don’t always remember to bring a spoon with me.”

The sandwich was now in four triangles, like Mom had cut sandwiches when she was a kid, and Paul meticulously wiped the little knife clean on the edge of his brown bag before handing it back. “Where do you work?”

“A law office.”

“Oh yeah? Are you—” He waved an arm. “Some kind of law-oriented person?”

“Not really. I mean, no. Not at all. I’m sort of a secretary’s secretary.”

“Like an undersecretary?” he suggested, lips twitching.

What would it be like to kiss him? To lean over, and press her lips to his—they were a little mischievous, she thought, even though she couldn’t tell what made one set of lips mischievous compared to another—and kiss him.

Or, better yet, to be still while he kissed her. Exactly how far could he lean over? Enough to—

The lips she’d been staring at curled up. “Are you an undersecretary, Ally?”

Oh. Boy. I don’t even care. Just keep saying my name like that. Like I’m yours.

She shook it off. “Ha. I guess so? I mean, not that I know what that means, but anyway, it’s a pretty boring job. What do you do?”

“I’m a vet tech right now. I can’t decide if I want to go back to school to become a technologist or not, which would be a little more involved, and a little more challenging.”

“Oh wow. You have a real job. That’s so cool. And you’re, um, not that old.”

“Twenty-four. If you’re asking.” He pushed two triangles across the paper. “Here. It’s turkey, I hope you’re not a vegetarian.”

“Nope. I mean, I sort of feel guilty for not being one? Or at least I should be, you know, sourcing my meat and making sure the chickens are all treated well and stuff. But I don’t do any of that either.”

He nodded. “No, I know. I occasionally make myself watch the horrible factory farming documentaries, and for a week or two I feel too guilty to buy meat. Then I get a craving for bacon and I’m over it.” He tilted his face toward hers and lowered his voice. “We might be terrible people Ally.”

“At least we’re terrible together.” She covered her mouth. “Um—”

“No, I’m with you. It’s always better when someone else is on the same hell-bound handbasket, right? Or would you be in a hell-bound handbasket? I’m not actually sure what a handbasket is.”

She laughed. It felt good to laugh, and even better when he laughed, too.

“Anyway, since he’s not in the room, tell me more about Hugh. Is he married to the brother you mentioned, or do you have more than one?”

“Uh, two, but only one who lives around here.” So she told him about Truman, and Hugh, and a little bit about Will and Adam and Beccs. And he told her about his three brothers, and his parents, who were the kind of divorced people who still got along and met up for holidays, which was cool.

Before they’d even really scratched the surface of talking to each other, lunch was over. But not before she’d had the chance to admire the wiry hairs on his arms (and wonder if he was hairy in other places, too). He was strong, obviously, which she could tell just by watching him wheel himself back across the room to the gap in the chairs where he’d been sitting, but it wasn’t a showy kind of strength.

She wondered what it’d be like to make out with him and had a sudden vivid fantasy of straddling him in the chair somehow, with those strong hands gripping her hips, holding her in place. Was that possible? More importantly, was that a creepy thing to imagine? She hoped not, because it was damn sure hot.

Ally excused herself for a quick trip to the bathroom to let her skin cool down before they started class again.

April 16th, 2017|Categories: blog|Tags: , |