Thief of hearts, p.16
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       Thief of Hearts, p.16

           L.H. Cosway
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  Every pore on my body drew tight, his words plunging me into a moment of desire and unleashed need. I opened my mouth to say something, another denial most likely, when the front door buzzed. The pizza was here and I was literally saved by the bell.


  Stu left shortly after we finished the pizza. I was touched when he insisted on paying the delivery man, especially considering he was probably just as broke as I was. Throughout the meal he barely took his eyes off me, causing my skin to prickle with awareness. Alfie and Jamie chattered away about the Go tournament Jamie planned to host at his shop in a few weeks’ time.

  The following day at work was a nightmare, not because any of my students were acting out, but because of Stu. I could feel his eyes caressing, stroking, worshipping every inch of my skin without a single touch.

  It was exhilarating and nerve wracking all at once.

  As soon as it was time for the mid-morning break, I left to use the bathroom and my students went in search of tea and coffee as per usual. The college had a small coffee stand in the lobby, alongside several vending machines. Most people preferred to get it fresh from the stand, but often the queue took forever.

  On my way back from the staff bathroom I glanced up. Stu was walking towards me, determination in his gait. I barely had time to react when he took my hands and pulled me into the nearest open doorway. As luck would have it, the door led to a small filing room that one of the caretakers must’ve left open.

  “How long until break is over?” he asked breathlessly, his mouth at my neck as he began kissing his way up to my earlobe.

  I lifted my hand, glanced at my watch and replied, “About seven and a half minutes.”

  I felt his smile rather than saw it. “I can work with that.”


  “Hush. Let me do this. I’ve been thinking about you all morning.”

  There weren’t any windows and the lights were off. A small sliver of daylight trickled through the gap between the door and wall, but it didn’t illuminate much. Still, I understood Stu’s intention when he knelt before me, his hands going to the waist of my jeans. I caught his deft fingers in mine, preventing their movement.

  “Stop. We can’t,” I whispered, my heart hammering at the idea of being caught. I was well aware of how wrong this was, of how being with Stu broke the rules of my employment. But being with him in the moment felt so good and the pleasure made me weak. He made me forget myself and that was scary. I’d never felt this way before.

  Stu stared up at me, his features still so handsome even in the dark. “If you really want me to stop, I will,” he said, leaning in and pressing his face to my crotch. I stifled a moan at the foreign yet blissful sensation. His eyes met mine again as he continued to nuzzle me, “Tell. Me. To. Stop.”

  I sighed and slouched back into the wall, helpless to resist. Stu’s deep chuckle hit me right in the pit of my stomach. His hands returned to my waistband, undoing the fly and pulling my jeans down to mid-thigh. I really should’ve worn a skirt today. All thought fled my mind when Stu pressed his mouth to my underwear, moving his lips and creating a pleasurable wet heat.

  He slid my knickers to the side, moving a finger teasingly down my centre.

  “Seven minutes,” I reminded him breathily and he chuckled some more.

  “So bossy, Miss Anderson,” he chided, clicking his tongue before diving in and doing something . . . else . . . with . . . it. He sucked my clit into his mouth and my hand went to his shoulder to steady myself. For the first time in my life my knees felt too weak to hold my body up.

  “How fast do you think I can make you come?” he asked, his voice laced with arousal. Pressing his mouth to me, he sucked again and I wanted to scream. What he did to me felt so good, but at the same I was aware of how close we were to the classroom. My students would be making their way back any minute and if anyone discovered us I’d be fired on the spot.

  Fear was a heady thing, it seemed.

  I hardly recognised myself from the rule-following person I usually was. It was concerning and liberating.

  Stu circled my clit with his tongue, applying the perfect amount of pressure. He pulled one leg from my jeans and lifted my thigh, my ballet flat falling off in the process. Then he slid my thigh over his shoulder so he could go deeper. He sank two fingers inside me and I cried out, unable to hold it in. My heart pounded, wondering if somebody passing by had heard.

  “You’ve no idea how sexy you look right now,” Stu growled. “Come for me, Andrea.”

  I gasped when the movement of his fingers sped up, his tongue matching the pace as he built to a mind-numbingly pleasurable crescendo. I gripped his shoulder, fisting his T-shirt and biting my lip to prevent any more noises from escaping.

  Stu made a humming sound in the back of his throat, his eyes alight with desire, like he was enjoying the act far more than I was. I came with a harsh intake of breath, pleasure gripping me as Stu wrung out every last tremor. He kissed my sex, then nuzzled my inner thigh, humming his appreciation yet again.

  “So fucking sexy,” he said, his grin wicked as he teased me. “That was quick, too. Think we might have broken a record.”

  I was shivering all over, still on a high. Stu lifted the hem of his T-shirt, revealing a set a toned abs that I couldn’t take my eyes off. When I met his gaze he was still grinning as he used the fabric to wipe his mouth. The action combined with the eye contact was oddly arousing. I lowered my leg from his shoulder, my limbs pure jelly, and quickly pulled my underwear and jeans back up. Glancing at my watch I noted we were a minute or two late. Not the end of the world, but it was going to look suspicious if we both arrived back at the same time.

  “You go,” said Stu. “I’ll follow in a few minutes. Just try not to punish me too hard for being late.”

  I swatted his arm and laughed softly. He caught my chin and pulled my lips in for a kiss. I tasted myself on his tongue, something I never thought I’d find sexy but I did. When he let me up for air he gave me playful slap on the arse as I stepped into the hallway.

  All of a sudden I was nervous again, glancing left and right to make sure nobody saw me exiting the file room. I had just enough time to pay a quick visit to the bathroom to clean myself up and then hurried back to class. My students sat around chatting, barely noticing my lateness. I approached my desk and sat down, calling for them to settle as I brought up the history lesson I planned last night. We were studying the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon.

  I’d started a discussion in the class’s Facebook group, so I had the page up on my laptop. When the door opened and Stu entered, Susan immediately piped up, “Well, would you look who it is, Johnny-come-lately. I think you should give him detention for tardiness, Miss Anderson.”

  I shot her a smile. “If I give Stu detention for being late, then I’ll also have to give you detention for being a smart-arse.”

  Susan smirked and made a show of zipping her lips while Stu took his usual seat. When our eyes met I flushed. I could smell him on me, could still taste myself on my lips from his kiss. It felt a little obscene, yet my skin tingled all over.

  I focused on the lesson, trying not to look Stu’s way as much as possible. The man had just made me come with his mouth and fingers. How was I going to avoid looking at him when all I wanted was more?

  Things quietened down when I handed out some assignment questions for everybody to work on. When I returned to my seat I saw a conversation window had popped up with a message from Stu. My heart skipped a beat.

  Stu Cross: Ur beautiful.

  My eyes instinctively lifted and I found him staring at me, his gaze intense. Flushing even redder now, I tried to think of a response but nothing came to me. He sent another message.

  Stu Cross: U taste beautiful 2.

  I swallowed thickly, not glancing up this time as I typed a reply.

  Andrea Anderson: Stop messaging me.

  Stu Cross: Can’t help it.

  Andrea A
nderson: Try.

  Stu Cross: Ur blushing.

  Andrea Anderson: I’m not.

  Stu Cross: 4got how much I loved eating pussy.

  I lifted a hand to my neck, self-consciously rubbing my skin as if that was going to help matters. When I looked at Stu this time his head was bent over his laptop as he typed. A moment later I got another message.

  Stu Cross: Gonna make u blush everywhere.

  Worrying my lip, I felt like everyone in the room was going to know what he was saying to me, somehow figure out what we’d done. I needed to logout so he couldn’t message me anymore. Kian was sitting right behind him, and if he saw the conversation I didn’t know what I’d do. At the same time, I was struck with the urge to send one final message. I agonised over it for a couple of minutes before finally biting the bullet.

  Andrea Anderson: I have feelings for you.

  Andrea Anderson: Do you have feelings for me?

  The moment I hit send I regretted it. I felt like a teenage girl, worrying over whether or not her crush liked her back. The change in me was disconcerting. Just weeks ago I knew who I was. I was a teacher. I was a widow. I’d loved one man with all my heart, and I’d lost him. I’d thought that love was enough for one lifetime, as if that part of me was done. But now, everything was changing. I felt new and sad, happy and regretful, excited and guilty. So many overlapping emotions.

  Glancing back at my laptop screen, I saw Stu hadn’t replied yet and I couldn’t bring myself to look his way.

  God, this was awful.

  Unable to take any more I slammed the device shut and tried to focus on the lesson again. I walked around the room, providing help with the assignment to those who needed it. Not once did I approach Stu, too scared of what I might see.

  Pity. Rejection.

  This could all just be sexual for him. Basic attraction. On an emotional level he might not feel anything for me at all. At lunch I left the classroom before most of the students, hurrying to my car and hiding there for the rest of the hour. My phone practically taunted me, urging me to check my messages and see if he’d responded. I was too much of a coward though, and instead ate my sandwich and read yesterday’s newspaper that I’d left on the back seat.

  There was no way I’d emerge from my car until certain there’d be students in my classroom. Sure enough, most of them had returned from lunch, Stu among them. He was chatting with Kian, his back turned to me as I entered. The other students were the buffer I needed. He couldn’t say anything in front of them. At least, I hoped he wouldn’t.

  When the day drew to a close I started to concoct an exit strategy. How could I get out of the classroom without colliding with Stu?

  In the end I latched on to Mary and Susan, chatting with them about how they planned to spend their evenings as a method of avoidance. I could practically feel Stu’s irritation like a tangible thing, but I continued to ignore him. On the drive home I decided I’d pay my parents a visit and eat dinner at their place. After a quick pit stop at the flat to take a shower and change my clothes, I set out for their place. Alfie was holed up in his room, oblivious to my comings and goings.

  “Andrea! What a lovely surprise,” said Mum, answering the door to me. She wore a light floral dress and I could tell she’d recently gotten her hair done.

  “I hope you don’t mind me stopping by.”

  “Not at all! But you should’ve brought Alfie with you. I haven’t seen him in months.”

  I gave her an apologetic look. “You know how he is. It’s difficult to get him to leave the flat at the best of times, never mind visit family.”

  Mum frowned, leading me into the kitchen. “Those parents of his really did a number on him.”


  “You know I’m right! Madeline was always a very cold woman. And Raymond was even worse, always working, never home, cheating on Madeline with every new floozy that came along,” said Mum, lifting the glass of wine she was clearly in the middle of enjoying when I knocked.

  I had to admit, I sort of loved it when she went all gossipy. I enjoyed hearing scandalous stories about all my aunts and uncles who had always seemed like such boring, staid grown-ups to me as a kid.

  Mum smacked her hand to her head like she just remembered something. “Oh, by the way, your student is here, the one your father’s tutoring. They’re just inside the study having a lesson now. I invited him to stay for dinner again. He’s very handsome, don’t you think?” Her eyes sparkled, and I sensed some form of matchmaking in the air.

  Little did she know, her efforts weren’t needed. Still, the news that Stu was here at the house had my nerves spiralling. Why couldn’t I just spend a quiet evening at my parents’ house without any emotional entanglements? It was my own fault though. I should’ve remembered it was this day last week that I first brought Stu over to meet Dad.

  “He’s my student, Mum,” I said as she pulled a glass from the cupboard and poured me some wine.

  “Oh sure, but only for another few months. Besides, your dad and I have been worried about you. You’re still so young, Andrea,” she said, her eyes turning sad as she glanced momentarily at my ring. Most days I forgot it was even there, an unseen comfort blanket. I slid my hand onto my lap, hiding it from her view.

  “We all miss Mark very much,” Mum went on. I wished she’d stop with the sad eyes, because she was making me sad and I didn’t need misery lobbed on top of my already frazzled emotions.

  “I miss him, too,” I replied quietly, lifting the glass and taking a sip.

  Mum studied me, her wise old eyes too perceptive for their own good. Before she could say more, voices sounded from the hallway and a second later Dad and Stu came into the kitchen. I sat by the island, eyes downcast as I tried to think up an excuse to leave. If only Alfie could call me right now with some emergency, I’d love him forever.

  “Come in, you two,” said Mum. “I hope everybody’s in the mood for shepherd’s pie.”

  “Ah, my favourite,” Dad exclaimed happily while Stu took the stool beside mine. I didn’t have the courage to meet his gaze.

  “Would you like a lager, son?” Dad asked. He was big into trying out fancy European brews.

  “That’d be great, thanks,” said Stu, his voice making my stomach flutter. The memory of him going down on me was still too fresh in my mind.

  “How’d the lesson go?” Mum questioned, one leg crossed over the other as she perched on a stool and delicately sipped her wine. My mother was a tiny woman. I’d taken more after my dad’s side of the family in that sense.

  “Wonderfully,” said Dad. “He’s coming on in leaps and bounds. Andrea, I’ve actually been speaking to Stu about applying to one of the undergrad courses at the university. Do you think he’ll be able to qualify as a mature student?”

  “Sure. There’ll be a mountain of forms, and he’ll have to pass all his end-of-year exams first, but I don’t see why not,” I answered, chancing a peek in Stu’s direction to find him watching. Yep, still as brooding and darkly handsome as ever.

  “You see,” Dad went on, spirited, “we’ll make a mathematician out of you yet.”

  “Jim just wants you in the club so you can teach and attract more women into the field,” said Mum, and I shot her a look. Seemingly my mother got flirtatious with a glass of wine in her. Stu grinned.

  “Hey now. I’m the only hunk in your life,” Dad complained jokingly as he went to wrap his arm around Mum’s petite shoulders and kiss her cheek. Normally, I found their love for one another endearing, but today I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Especially with Stu sitting next to me. My phone continued to burn a hole in my pocket. I was still avoiding checking to see if he’d answered my question.

  “Okay, you all go sit down and I’ll dish up the food,” said Mum, waving us over to the dinner table.

  “Can we talk later?” Stu whispered while Dad was out of earshot.

  I pretended I hadn’t heard him. Probably not my finest hour, but it had been ye
t another in a long line of weird days. Mum carried the plates over, providing me with something else to focus on. Stu and I stayed relatively quiet while my parents chatted away throughout the meal, completely oblivious to the growing tension.

  When we finished eating I immediately offered to wash up. Stu looked irritated that I was still avoiding him. And yes, I was being immature, but I was mortified for Christ’s sake. I felt like a teenager, wishing I could erase an embarrassing drunken text. The only difference was I’d been stone-cold sober when I sent those messages.

  I noticed Stu checking the time before agitatedly running a hand over his jaw. It was clear he had somewhere he needed to be, and I was relieved. He likely had to go soon. To my dismay he stood and followed me to the sink.

  “You wash, I’ll dry,” he grunted, his shoulders knit with tension.

  Since Mum and Dad were still in the room he couldn’t confront me for avoiding him. Unfortunately, that saving grace was lost when they both retreated to the living room to watch TV.

  “What’s up with you?” Stu asked once they were gone, his voice all growly.

  I turned on the tap, plastering on a neutral expression. “Nothing.”

  “Are you upset about today? Do you . . . regret it?” he questioned further, his brows furrowed. I turned off the tap, bracing my hands on the edge of the sink.

  “Of course not.”

  “Then why are you being such an ice queen? You barely looked at me in class and even now you’re acting strange. Was it the messages? Because I promise, nobody will ever see them. In fact, I’ll delete them right now if it’ll make you happy.”

  He started pulling his phone from his pocket. I let out an exasperated breath and twisted to face him. “You don’t have to do that. I’m just embarrassed, okay? That’s why I’m being weird.”

  He slid his phone back in his jeans as he frowned at me, then his features softened when my meaning sank in. “Luv,” he murmured, coming to cup my cheek, “you’ve absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. You’ve got a gorgeous little pussy. I loved every second of having my mouth on it.”

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