First Comes Love(15)

By: Emily Goodwin



“Nah, I’d be fine.” I take another bite, chew, and swallow. “So being called a prude really does bother you?”

“It’s an insult,” she says. “And is kind of sexist. I’m a prude for not sleeping around. But I’m a slut if I do sleep around. I just can’t win.”

“I prefer sluts over prudes.”

She wrinkles her nose. “You’re a pig.”

“I just know what I like.”

She shakes her head. “Aren’t you a little old for that?”

“I’m not much older than you.”

“I’m twenty-two and think I’m too old for that. We’re not in college anymore. The time for partying is over.”

“Hence why you’re a prude.”

“And hence why you’re a dick.”

I laugh. She gets a bit of a devilish glint in her eyes when she’s pissed off. It’s sexy as hell.

“Well this dick gets a lot, lives it up, and has fun. I enjoy life, not resent it.”

“I don’t resent life, not at all.”

“I live every day like it could be my last. Enjoy every second I have. I don’t waste time worrying over unimportant details.”

She looks up, face softening. “There’s a right and wrong way to do that.”

“How the hell is there a wrong way to live each day like it’s your last?”

“Because tomorrow probably isn’t going to be your last. Yes, enjoy it metaphorically, but be responsible.”

I shake my head. “Prude.”

“Asshole.”

I lean forward over the table and take her hand in mine, slowly running my fingers up the soft flesh on her wrist. She shivers and licks her lips. “Why haven’t we ever hooked up?”

She yanks her arm back. “Because you repulse me.”

“I don’t believe that.”

She closes her eyes in a long blink and takes another shot. “Better start believing. I know your habits. I know your ethics. I know you, Noah.”

Her words sting, as much as I hate admitting it to myself. I don’t give a shit what other think about me, but Lauren is something else. Someone else, and I can’t deny the feelings I’ve had for her since we were teenagers. If I sought anyone’s approval, it was hers.

I slide the bottle of tequila over and take another shot. I need it right now. “Maybe you’re wrong about me,” I say quietly.

“Hah, I’ll believe it when I see it.” She stands only to sit back down. “I think I drank too much.”

I chuckle. “No shit.”

She glares at me for the millionth time tonight. “Walk me to the couch?” I take her hand and help her. She sinks onto the cushions and takes a breath. “I feel better. Thanks.”

Thunder rolls overhead. Vader jumps onto the couch, burying his head between the cushions. “He’s afraid of thunder?”

“Terrified,” she slurs and bends over to hug him. “But he’ll be fine.”

I pet him. “It’s okay, big guy,” I say softly.

Lauren watches me. “I didn’t know you liked dogs.”

“There’s a lot about me you don’t know, Lauren.” I look up, eyes meeting hers when I say her name.

She parts her lips, inhales, then looks down. “Tell me.”

“Fine,” I say, and really, I’d love to sit down and talk to Lauren. I trust her. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do. I’ve never just opened up before, not to the counselor I was forced to see after my parents’ divorce, or the many parole officers I had after getting out of juvie. I’ve never opened up to anyone before. I can’t do it. I need something else, some sort of excuse to sit here and pour my fucking heart out. “But let’s make it a game.”

“What kind of a game?”

I stand, going to get the bottle of tequila. “Have you ever heard of Never Have I Ever?”

“I have, and I’ve played it before.”

“Then this will be easy. Just, uh, take half shots or sips or something. I don’t want to clean vomit tonight.”

“I won’t throw up, but fine.”

I’m glad she’s an agreeable drunk. People seem to fall on either side of the spectrum and it’s either irritating as fuck or amusing. I fill the shot glasses. “This isn’t going to really work with just two people, you know.”

She shrugs. “We’ll make it work. Say something you’ve never done. Then I’ll say the same.”

“Okay. Want to go first?”

“I’ve never had a one-night stand,” she says. I take my shot. “Knew it.”

I refill the glass.

“I’ve dated more than one person at the same time,” she says.

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