Price of a Kiss(3)

By: Linda Kage

Gritting his teeth, he tightened his grip on her to warn her away. But hell, she began to breathe harder as if his manhandling turned her on even more.

With her gaze glazing to a fevered pitch, she drew in a heavy pant. “Damn, you have strong hands. You’re hard for me right now, aren’t you?”

Disgusted with her as much as he was with his own betraying body, he threw her hand off and lurched to his feet, turning slightly away so she couldn’t see anything bulging from his shorts.

“You need to leave,” he bit out. It had to be the most surreal, embarrassing, awkward moment of his life, standing petrified in his mother’s backyard in front of a broken lawn mower, sporting a woody and discussing sex for sale with the landlady. “I told you no.”

“Fine.” She huffed out an indignant sniff as she pushed to her feet. The heat from her glare burned into the back of his neck. “Tell your mother to pay up by the end of the week then, or she’ll be receiving an eviction notice.”

Mason spun around to gape at her.

She wouldn’t.

Oh, holy hell, she would.

She pretended to admire her fingernails, preening in front of him as if proud of herself for besting him. Then, with a jaunty wave, she chirped, “Toodles,” and twirled away on her heels, humming a bubbly tune under her breath. Her hips swung in a saucy manner as she strolled toward the gate.

Mason gaped after her, sick to his stomach and scared out of his mind. She’d never threatened eviction before. Then again, she’d never solicited him for sex before, either.

His mother already worked two full-time jobs, and what money she’d been saving back was to buy a motorized wheelchair for Sarah.

Mason clenched his teeth, feeling like the worst son ever, the worst older brother ever. He’d been part-timing it at the car wash after school, but that hadn’t even made a dent in helping Mom pay the bills. If he could assist his family in any way, he should be jumping at the chance to do anything and everything possible.

Even the landlady.

Closing his eyes against a wave of dizziness for what he was about to do, Mason rasped out the word, “Wait,” half hoping she didn’t hear him.

But her hand froze on the gate latch. Slowly, she rotated on her heels. “Yes?”

He hated the way her eyes flickered with triumph. He hated her, period.

He worked his mouth a few times before he actually spoke. “Let me…let me just wash up first.”

She laughed and shook her head. “Oh, honey, don’t you dare. Before this afternoon is over, I plan to lick every inch of sweat off that taut, glistening young body.”

He nearly lost his lunch.

She must’ve sensed he was a split second from backing out of the whole deal, because she crooked her index finger, beckoning him forward. “Follow me, handsome.”

When she turned away and opened the gate, he followed.

Three hours later, he returned home a completely different person. And Mrs. Garrison had pardoned him all of his mother’s back rent on the condition that he would return whenever she summoned him again.


Two Years, Three Months, and Twelve Days Later

Okay, so maybe I was about to start drooling just the teeny tiniest bit when my cousin bumped her elbow into mine, distracting me from feasting on the hunk of man candy across the quad I might possibly have been—i.e., was totally—undressing with my gaze.

“Girl, don’t even think about it. You couldn’t afford him if you emptied all the money in your piggy bank.”

I blinked, cleared my throat, and murmured, “I’m sorry, what?”

“I said, uh-uh. No way. You can’t afford him.”

Wrinkling my nose, I kept staring because, well, really, how could I stop? He was hotness exemplified. That was my new name for him, actually: Hotness.

“What? Is he, like, for sale or something?” I snickered at my own joke.

Eva patted my knee in a sympathetic gesture. “Yes. Actually, he is.”

My grin slipped. “Huh?”

Seated on one of the benches outside the main building of Waterford County Community College, Eva and I had been sipping on our morning dose of caffeine and sugar, arguing over who was wearing the cutest shoes, when Hotness himself had crossed my line of vision at the very corner of my eye. I’d glanced over to catch the whole picture and yeah…Shoes? What were shoes?

But seriously. He was wickedly beautiful. With the strap of his messenger bag slung diagonally across his chest, he leaned against one of the campus’s many bronzed animal statues as he chatted with a handful of other guys.

Wearing jeans and a simple T-shirt, he shouldn’t have stood out among the pack. But he did. Oh my, he did. His dark, wavy hair called to me—Reese, Reese! Run your fingers through my wild, gorgeous, untamed mane. It did. For real.

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