Stroked long, p.23
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       STROKED LONG, p.23

           Meghan Quinn
 
“Well, in that case, you look really hot today and your dick was huge in the shower earlier.”

  Fuck yeah, it was. Ruby knelt in front of me, those pouty lips ready to suck me in, I was harder than the fucking cement on the pool deck.

  “That will never get old to hear.” I wink and shut the door. Lacing my fingers with hers, I take her bag and we both walk into the back entrance of the club to avoid any commotion.

  “What are you doing tonight?” I ask as we reach the door to the building. She reaches for it but I stop her. “Not yet, I want a couple more moments with you.”

  With my hands on her hips, I press her against the wall of the club and pin her down.

  The gentle caress of her fingers strokes my cheek, an endearing look in her eyes. “You’re very sweet, you know that, Bodi?”

  “Only with you.”

  “No.” She shakes her head. “You’re sweet with Eva and Lauren, and with all the kids you help here at the club. I hate to admit it, but you’re kind of a softy.”

  It’s funny that she sees me that way. I would never consider myself a softy. My bedside manner is almost non-existent. I’m more of a robot than anything. I’m “sweet” with the kids because they’re kids. I’m not going to be some prick sitting in a lawn chair on the side of the pool blowing a whistle at the little bastards. My mom would not stand for such behavior from me. And Eva and Lauren, well, they are the only family I have left. I can be the real, neurotic Bodi around them, and they won’t judge me.

  Ruby. She’s a different story. She makes me feel more alive, like there’s a possibility of getting out of this little box I’ve been living in. The self-imposed and very necessary prison keeping me functional, keeping me safe. Others too.

  She’s also a risk.

  A huge risk, and I’ve been trying to tamp down that thought and not allow it to grow. Warning bells have been signaling, reminding me that she would want to change my routine, that she would push me to move forward in life. I’m not sure I would be able to do that.

  Despite how happy I am, I’m still governed by neurotic thoughts and behaviors. I still need to call Eva at night. I still have to conduct some of my everyday happenings in threes. I still need to keep everything neat and orderly in my condo. And I still need to check my locks constantly, three times each.

  That will never change.

  It’s who I am.

  Would Ruby accept that? Could Ruby accept that?

  “We need to work on the foundation. Make sure everything is in place for painting at the training camp.”

  Despite the thoughts running through my mind, I kiss her lips softly and say, “We can do that . . . naked.”

  “Bodi Banks, you little horndog. We can discuss business with our clothes on.” I’m actually kind of surprised that came out of my mouth. It’s not something I would normally say but then again, I haven’t been my normal, closed-off self since I met Ruby.

  “Certainly we can,” I say, kissing her on her neck, “but that doesn’t mean we have to.”

  She sighs from my touch. “Do you really think I would be able to get any work done with your willy staring its one eye up at me?”

  “Don’t call my cock a willy.”

  “Why not? Seems legit to me. I’m actually quite fond of it.” And thank God for that, because I’m extremely fond of every part of her that connects with my cock. Her hand, her lips . . . fuck, her pussy.

  Kissing my way back up to her lips, I reply, “If you ever want to see this willy again, you won’t call it that.”

  “You can be such a tightwad,” she teases.

  “Yeah, but I’m your tightwad.” I’m back at her lips now, said penis starting to harden from the taste on her lips and the sweet smell of her perfume.

  “You would call me yours?” she asks, her voice shaky, and I’m unsure if it’s from the way I’ve been kissing her or her question.

  “Of course I would.” I look her in the eyes, trying to understand where that question came from.

  “So does that mean we’re exclusive, like . . . dating?”

  “We better be.” I don't think Ruby is the kind of girl who would date two men at one time, but I need her to understand this point. I couldn't share her. I can't. She has become too vital to me. Perhaps she doesn't understand that I rarely let people see the real me. I thought she knew that. Growing serious, I say, “I’ve never been in a relationship, Ruby. Not because I decided to sew my wild oats or any bullshit like that. I just never found someone to be serious with. I never let someone into my world or gave anyone a chance, but then you came along. You wiggled yourself into my life, and fuck if I don’t want to see your beautiful face every day. I’m not sure how this will go, but I will tell you this, I won’t share you.”

  Her eyes soften, her hand lands on my cheek as she presses into me, sealing my lips with hers. Everything inside me ignites. This woman, she fucking changes everything. She makes me feel, she fills me with oxygen, allowing me to take the first deep breath since my parents passed. It’s freeing, but also fucking scary. I’m not ready for change, I don’t think I can handle change but here I am, teetering on the brink of it, right before the Olympic games. So not fucking smart.

  “Well, well, well, look at you two.” My sister’s voice comes from the side, causing me to pull away fast and wipe my mouth. Doesn’t matter, we’ve been caught red-handed.

  “Did you just wipe your mouth?” Ruby asks, hands on her hips, completely ignoring my sister.

  “I was just about to ask him the same thing,” Eva says, stepping up next to Ruby.

  And just like that, I have two angry women staring me down. This is so not my forte. I’m not good with confrontation. I avoid it all costs. Generally, I avoid conversations at all costs—it’s just easier—but Ruby and Eva don’t allow me to crawl into my own skin and hide. It’s evident as they are shooting daggers at me.

  “I didn’t mean to,” I answer stupidly and then sigh. Grabbing the back of my neck, I answer honestly this time. “Listen, this is new to me.” I turn to Eva. “I don’t need you teasing me for kissing Ruby, okay? I like her a lot, and we’re together. Don’t make a fucking big deal out of it like I know you want to. I can see the way your eye is twitching to tell me you told me so—”

  “Well I did tell you . . .”

  “Don’t,” I repeat. Turning to Ruby, I lace my fingers with hers, pulling her into my chest so she’s forced to lower her defensive stance. “I’m sorry, Rubes.”

  “Aww, you call her Rubes? My little heart can’t take it,” Eva says, practically dancing in place. I shoot her a warning look that makes her back up and give us space.

  “I didn’t mean to insult you. What’s going on between us is so fucking foreign to me that I have no clue how to react in certain situations. There are going to be times where I might hurt you, insult you, or make you mad. I just ask that you take a second to breathe before you leave me. Give me a second to make it up to you because I promise I will realize I was being an idiot.”

  “What about when you do something right? What about all the times you will spoil me, take care of me, protect me?” This is why I can’t tear myself away from this woman. My mind is constantly focused on my negative attributes, on how I can fuck things up, but Ruby turns it around every time, letting me know I have it in me to do the right thing as well.

  “In those instances, you can sing my praises.” I smirk.

  “What kind of praises?” Her eyebrows wiggle at me, causing me to laugh.

  I wrap my arms around her shoulders and hug her tightly into my chest. Her arms wrap around my lower back and one of her hands runs under my shirt and soothingly rubs my skin. I love her touch. How have I gone so long without a loving touch?

  “Are we good?” I ask, face buried in her soft blonde hair.

  “We are.”

  “Okay.” I let out a long breath. “I have to get to the pool. I don’t feel like doing extra two-hundreds again. Have a good day, Rubes.”

  Separ
ating so we can look up at each other, she asks, “Will I see you tonight? You leave in a few days; I want to make sure to soak up as much of you as possible.”

  “You will. I will stop by your classroom after practice.” Bending down, I gently kiss her and then wink. “Get out of here.”

  She kisses my chin and takes off, waving to Eva in the process. The minute the door is shut, Eva pounces on me. I should have fucking known better.

  “Care to tell me how this happened?”

  “Not really.” I reach for the door to the club but she stops me.

  “Uh-uh. You’re not getting away that easily.”

  “I don’t really feel like discussing my dating life with my sister, if you don’t mind.”

  A warm hand touches my forearm and her teasing eyes turn warm. “Bodi, this is huge. I want you to talk to me. I want to know how you’re feeling. All joking aside, this is a huge step for you, and I want to make sure you’re coping well with it. I know a girlfriend hasn’t ever fit into your routine before, so how are you dealing with that?”

  Knowing I have a least half an hour before I need to be in the pool, I sit on the curb of the sidewalk and Eva joins me. I planned on getting some Pilates worked in before practice starts but it looks like I will have to switch them to after practice. Surprisingly, I’m okay with that. Although I don’t understand why.

  I run my hand over my face and stare at the gravel in front of me. “All right. It’s still new. I’m still trying to see how she fits into my routine. So far she’s been very accepting of what I have to do.”

  “Have you talked to Dr. Auburn about Ruby and this new development?”

  I know why Eva is questioning me right now. She’s seen what happens when my neat and orderly world comes crashing down because of a new development. She knows how much it can debilitate me. Fuck, I even know how much of a risk it is to be attempting a relationship with Ruby during a stressful time in my life with the games looming, but hell if I can stop myself from seeing her, from kissing her, from getting lost in her scent.

  “Not yet. He knows about her, but I haven’t seen him since Ruby and I, uh, got together.” I wince. Shit it’s awkward talking about my intimate life with Eva.

  “Bodi!” Eva playfully swats me. Whispering, she leans forward and asks, “You had sex with her?”

  I give her a come on look. “Kind of hard not to. She’s fucking perfect, Eva.”

  “I beg to differ.” Eva sits up. “Lauren is perfect.”

  Rolling my eyes, I fiddle with my bag and say, “I’m nervous I’m going to scare her away.”

  “Have you told her anything about your past, about your tendencies?”

  “No.” I shake my head.

  How could I even broach that subject? Oh hey, Ruby, before we eat dinner, I just wanted to tell you that the reason you will never meet my parents is because I killed them. Enjoy.

  She would leave me. She’s understanding, the most understanding person I’ve ever met, but there is no way someone can take in that kind of information and not look at the person differently. It’s impossible. She would lose that gleam in her eye, that beautiful smile made just for me. She would take away her warmth, the strength she instills in me.

  “Are you going to?”

  Running my hand over my mouth, I shake my head. “I don’t think I can.”

  “Why not?”

  “I don’t want her to think of me as a murderer.” The words are out of my mouth before I know it. But it’s the truth. I don’t want her to leave me.

  “Bodi,” Eva chastises, “do not fucking call yourself that.” Her stern voice breaks through to me. It’s the same kind of voice my mom would use when I was in trouble. Sometimes, if I close my eyes and listen to Eva, I can hear my mom in her. Fucking rips me apart. “You have to tell her. Do you really think she’s not going to notice your tendencies? Your obsessions?”

  “I haven’t thought that far, okay?” I press my fingers into my brow, entirely overwhelmed by this conversation. “I can’t think about that right now. I have to train. I have a few days left before training camp. I don’t want to dwell on the demise of my relationship.”

  “But it doesn’t have to be the demise,” she counters.

  “Come on, Eva.” I look her in the eyes. “Ruby will flee the moment she hears of my past.”

  “Give her more credit than that, Bodi. You’re not being fair. Think about how she’s reacted to what she has seen so far. You said yourself she has calmed you when you’ve felt close to a panic attack. Maybe being with her might help heal the guilt you carry.”

  This conversation is over. Standing up, I sling my bag over my shoulder and look at my sister, the one person who has been by my side from the moment we were gripping each other for dear life in the tub of our childhood bathroom. “Nothing is going to heal the guilt, remorse, and pain I live with every day, Eva. It’s about time you accept that.”

  I know I fucking have.

  Chapter Eighteen

  RUBY

  Bodi: Have some things to do. I will catch you later.

  I can’t stop staring at the text message Bodi sent me hours ago. With each read, I grow one extra knot in my stomach.

  Last I saw him, he was kissing me, telling me to be patient, and that’s what I’m trying to do, but right now I’m a little nervous. His text seems like it came from the old Bodi, the awkward, silent Bodi who would rather be alone than spend time with me.

  Sitting cross-legged on my couch, I continue to knit a scarf while listening to Ruth B on Spotify. My mind refuses to quit conjuring up all the worst-case scenarios, driving me to the brink of lunacy.

  My internal thoughts are interrupted by my ringing phone. Stumbling to answer it, I quickly press the green button and answer.

  Please let it be Bodi.

  “Hello?”

  “Is this rhubarb?” a snarky female voice asks.

  “Excuse me?

  “Rhubarb, the seamstress.” The annoyed tone in her voice puts me on the defense right away.

  “Um, it’s Ruby.”

  “That has no relevance to me. This is Bellini Chambers, and you applied for my seamstress job.”

  Oh shit. I sit up and put on my professional voice. I should have known it was Bellini. I recognize the venom in her voice. I’m not going to lie, I’ve watched a few shows of Rollin’ in the Bacon, and I have to admit, I see why America can’t look away. She’s the bitch everyone loves to hate. And even though she seems like a horrible human on television, she’s rich as hell, and if I can cash in on some of those riches, I will be a happy camper.

  “Yes, hello, Miss Chambers. I’m so glad you called.”

  “Enough with the chit-chat. I don’t have time for it and honestly I don’t care to hear it. Reese, my boyfriend, told me I should give you this job.”

  Well, she gets straight to the point.

  “That was very kind of him. I promise I can do a great job—”

  “Blah, blah, blah. I don’t care about that. I want to know why my boyfriend is vouching for you. Are you one of those harlots throwing your uneven nipples at him?”

  “What?” I ask, thrown off from her assumption. “No. I . . . I asked my friend Bodi Banks to put in a good word for me. I don’t know Reese personally.” I don’t mention how I shot a liter of soda at him at the grocery store.

  “Are you lying to me? Lying is one of the Ten Commandments. I won’t put up with liars.”

  “I’m not lying, Miss Chambers. I promise. I was hoping to just make a personal connection. I could really use the job and I think with my skill set, you would be really impressed with what I’m able to produce.”

  There is silence on the other end of the phone. I’m about to ask her if she’s still there when she says, “Okay, Rhubarb. I will give you a chance but don’t let me down. Be here at my place nine in the morning sharp.”

  “But I have a class to run at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club.”

  “Then I suggest you find someone
to fill it if you want this job. My assistant will text directions to my house.”

  Then the line goes dead.

  Glancing down at the phone in my hand, I’m in shock. That was the weirdest phone interview I’ve ever had. Would one consider that an interview? She didn’t actually ask me any questions besides if I was a harlot. Does that count?

  In disbelief, I pack away my knitting and gather my sewing machine and supplies next to the door for tomorrow. Next, I text my boss over at the club and ask for a day off, which she gratefully gives me, and then pick out my outfit for tomorrow. I choose a yellow dress, blue cardigan, and red Keds.

  I want to call Bodi and tell him about the job. I want to call Bodi and talk about his day. I just want to hear his voice. I wish I knew what was happening right now. I just ask that you take a second to breathe before you leave me. Oh, my beautiful man, I couldn’t leave you if I tried.

  Glancing at the clock, it’s past nine, and I decide to get ready for bed. I assumed Bodi and I would hang out tonight but it seems plans have changed. Remembering what he told me, I exercise patience while I brush my teeth, pee, and wash my face.

  Once tucked into bed, I turn to my nightstand where my phone is plugged in. Taking a deep breath, I send Bodi a text message.

  Ruby: I’m off to bed. Got that seamstress job so I figured I would get a good night’s rest. Hope you had a nice day. Talk to you tomorrow?

  I set my phone back on the nightstand and stare at it, watching it go dark after a minute, willing Bodi to text me back.

  But he doesn’t.

  And I fall asleep wondering what I might have done wrong, what might have happened during the day that scared him off. Wonder if he knows he’s become my world.

  ***

  A knocking on my door pulls me out of my slumber. Lying flat on my stomach, I look over to the entryway, my hair hanging over my face. It’s light out and I can hear birds chirping just outside my window. Slight panic occurs as I tap the home button on my phone to look at the time.

  Six fifteen.

  I exhale. I have plenty of time before I have to leave my apartment.

 
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