“Why won’t you come to my place?” Calder asked Astrid, crossing her driveway, “I know you don’t want to hear it, but Remy creeps me out.”
She laughed, unlocking the front door as he nervously studied the cars parked street side, “You’re right, I don’t. This is my home! I’ll stay here, thank you very much.”
He locked the house once inside. She turned on a lamp in the living room before bending over to take off her boots. He perched on the couch, anxious and tired.
Taking in the room, he realized he’d never paid attention before, always focused on her beautiful figure. The space was outdated but clean. Homey. He smirked at a framed photograph of her standing next to an elderly couple.
“Did I mention you look fantastic tonight?” he grinned, “You should wear dark makeup more often.”
She blushed, “My grandmother was old-fashion. When I was twelve and tried wearing black eyeliner, she told me only whores went out in public looking smutty, so I guess I never felt confident enough to try again after she died.”
“Harsh,” he plucked the TV remote from the coffee table, switching it on, “Not to pry, but how long ago did your grandparents pass?”
Astrid stood, and as he stared with interest, she unbuckled her belt, whipping it off.
She unbuttoned her jeans, answering, “Let’s see… it’s been five years. Grandpa Art died of a heart attack and the following week my grandma Mary passed the same way, in her sleep. They were soul mates, unable to live without each other. I sometimes became jealous of their closeness. They revolved around each other, and outsiders weren’t on their radar. Can’t tell you how many times the neighbor picked me up because they forgot me.” her eyes darkened and he frowned when she said, “Thank fuck he moved. Anyway, they never had extra time for me except to say what a burden I was, but their affairs were in order and I received their house in the will.”
“It’s nice,” He lamely offered, disturbed at her lack of emotion while retelling her neglected childhood.
“When I buried them, it seemed fitting.” she shrugged, “They would have wanted to be together even in death.”
He nodded, “Two deaths in a row must have been difficult. Where’s the rest of your family?”
Astrid tossed her denim pant aside then sat, facing him in only her shirt and panties. With a sigh, she rested her head on her hand, muttering, “There are none. My folks were only children… like me. Sadly, I’m the last Trahern.”
He blinked in shock, “The bloodline ends with you? Sorry, but doesn’t it bother you?”
She smiled at his concerned expression, “I know it’s unheard of these days. Geez, especially with your large family. Your parents have four boys.”
He squeezed knee, “I didn’t mean to sound callous. My mother died during my birth and father treats me differently because of it.”
She hadn’t realized, “Flo worked for your dad and best friends with your mom. She never mentioned you once. I’m so sorry.”
“We were raised in boarding schools. Our dad never wanted us around and he was busy when we were, so it didn’t matter. Do you plan on having children, Astrid?” he changed the conversation, his mother a sore subject.
She leaned forward until their faces were inches apart, “Are you offering?” she teased, “I think it’s way too soon for that.”
He grinned, inching his palm up her thigh, “No shit, but answer the question.”
She hummed for a second, mulling it over, “Maybe someday. I know I should have children if my family name depends on me. Which...” she clapped her hands, “It does!”
“Trahern? Will you keep your surname if you marry? My friend in college married a girl who did. She preferred hers.”
“I’m not traditional, so it’s a possibility. Some men take the woman’s name too.”
“My father would shit a brick,” he chuckled, “He’s been paying more attention to us these last few years, hinting that Cameron, Cody and I need to settle down before he kicks this mortal coil. Chris’s living his best life and we lack purpose.”
“Is that what Calder Senior calls finding your own path?”
He rolled his eyes, rubbing his hand up and down her inner thigh, “According to him, yes. Chris is a highly sought after lawyer with a beautiful, obedient wife, two kids in school overseas and let’s not forget high-rise apartment where his mistresses live.”
“I thought the last one would be a car.”
“He always had the car. Well, I’m the youngest and supposed to be a spoiled brat who’s never counted on for anything.”
She gripped his wandering hand, “That’s bullshit. The baby learns from the mistakes of their older brothers. Gaining wisdom and striving to be a better individual so they can rub it in the face of said siblings.”
Calder got a kick out of that, laughing hard, “Oh really, Miss Only Child over here?”
She stuck out her tongue, “How difficult is it to do better?”
He smirked, shaking his head with humor, “Wherever you picked up that load of crap from, return to sender. It sucks you had a shitty childhood, but my brothers gave me hell growing up, and they taught me jack shit. Families are flawed and there’s not a person alive who will dispute it.”
“You had each other to lean on though.”
He kissed her forehead after wrapping her in his arms, “You’re right, we did.”
She snuggled against his chest, sighing tiredly as the TV droned an info-commercial.
“Should I go?” he asked, stroking her back in a massaging pattern.
She yawned, relaxing against his body, “Do you want to leave?”
He peered down at her, “If I did, I’d have left. It’s late, and we’re tired.”
“You can stay here,” she lifted her head, dark eyes hopeful.
They hadn’t had sex in his car at the lake. After her argument with Remy over the phone, he’d simply held her. She was upset, and he showed her he cared. Calder wanted Remy out of her life, hoping his patience would pay off. He wasn’t with her for gain, but because she was interesting and kind.
“I’d like to stay,” he murmured before kissing her, “But maybe I’ll sleep on the couch.”
She looked surprised, “Why? My bed is ten times more comfortable.”
“Yeah, but you’ve been through a lot,” he spoke seriously, “You made a difficult decision earlier.”
Her perkiness vanished as she slid her warm body away. He didn’t move, knowing she wasn’t in the right headspace for his opinions. She seemed afraid to face facts about Remy, but he would remind her of all the fucked up shit the man pulled.
“Yes, I did,” she swallowed hard, “and he knew I’d call you. I mean, there’s no one else in my life. Right?”
“Astrid,” he tentatively said, apprehensive he might make her angry, “I’m glad you called. You could have taken yourself home. You’re self-sufficient.”
“That’s just it,” she snapped, dark eyes flaring, “I’ve never relied on anyone. I have nobody to turn to. Only men I fuck.”
“I’m your friend,” he retorted, “It’s why I suggested I sleep out here, showing you I’m not here for sex, but for you.”
She huffed as she stood, gazing solemnly down at his flushed face, “You’re right, I’ve had a shitty day. I’ll bring you a pillow and a blanket.”
When she headed towards her bedroom, Calder couldn’t help but feel sorry for Astrid. How tough she had it. She spent her short life pleasing others, receiving nothing in return. He found it hard to believe she had no friends, recalling meeting Tom and the lust dripping from the man’s eyes. The fuckboy came across as a degenerate, biding his time until she was alone to pounce. He hated opportunistic fiends.
She gave him a tiny smile when returning with bedding, “Sorry. I don’t mean to act ungrateful Calder. I’m used to men jumping into bed when I offer. Remy took it slow… until I jumped him. Ugh, never mind. I’ll stop talking about him.”
He stood and grabbed the load from her arms before tossing them aside, bringing her in for a hug. She held back, limbs stiff.
“It’s okay to be upset,” he whispered, leaning down to look into her watery eyes, “To be confused. Shit, Astrid, why wouldn’t you? Don’t be embarrassed to show your emotions because, for some damn reason, I like you.”
She sniffed and smiled, “I like you too. A lot.”
She kissed him, pulling his face forward. He tried to untangle himself, but she was stronger than she appeared. Of course, his heart wasn’t into protesting any contact she wanted, kissing her harder.
“Calder,” she gasped, breaking away, “I can’t tell you how incredible you are. How just by looking at you, I get all mushy. You make me feel good. I didn’t want you, staying with Remy so you’d lose interest.”
“What?” he ran his fingers across her bared stomach, the thin black panties she wore made him itch to rip them off so he could take her, “Explain.”
Groaning, she pushed his chest until he dropped his greedy hands, “I don’t know! I thought Remy, and I had a perfect thing going. For months we didn’t have sex but had a wonderful time together. Then when we did, everything became confusing. When you came along… I felt special. Beautiful.”
“You are beautiful,” he took a hold of her again, “and special. You already told me Abner made you realize why you doubted your worth. If idiots like him your only way of gauging what you bring to a relationship, no wonder you’re confused. Not anymore though, hmm?” he teased, shaking her playfully, “Don’t forget I hit on you the first time we met.”
“That’s right. I was so sweaty.”
“Oh, yeah?” he didn’t remember, only how her doe eyes shyly ate him up and how her red panties gave him a hard-on, “I recall how sexy you were when you tried to act as if my invasion of personal space didn’t freak you out.”
“I liked your nearness.”
When they kissed, she was on fire, tugging his clothes off, pressing him down onto the couch, and he breathed out, “Enough. Go to your room.”
“Make me,” she grabbed his dick, gliding her palm up and down until he reached close to bursting, “Don’t tell me you want me to stop and walk away?”
He groaned, bucking into her touch when she squeezed the sensitive tip, “Yes. Stop.”
She giggled, “You first.”
Calder tangled his hand in her panties and snapped them from her wiggling hips, making her gasp, “Put me in now or I will.”
She slipped his rock-hard erection into her ready warmth and he pulled her closer as she moaned against his cheek. Her grip on his forearms tightened as she cursed and rode him hard. He ran his tongue over her tits, breathing in her sweet scent, tasting her glistening skin.
Astrid climaxed, shouting his name loudly, and he followed behind her. He clenched her waist, pumping his seed deep inside of her shivering body. Dazed, he relaxed, humming his satisfaction into the shell of her ear. She pecked him softly before sliding off his lap.
“Goodnight,” she winked.
Rolling onto his side, lost in the blissful moment muttered, “Sleep well, honey.”
When she walked naked to her bedroom, his eyes tracked her movements, loving the shape of her body and how freely she expressed her nakedness. Had she tricked him into sex? He flinched at the thought, hoping not. She said men abused her docility, but what if she used it to her advantage?
He shut off the TV, plunging the living room into pitch black. He heard her preparing for bed and frowned in agitation. Why the hell was he falling for her when it was obvious she would break his heart? That she’d return to Remy?
Why pursue a woman with a psycho boyfriend, knowing he’d make his life difficult? He couldn’t afford a scandal, especially at the start of his career. His father would cut him off depending on how bad the situation grew.
She was a lovely girl with a bright future, but she also allowed others to trample all over her. Maybe time and wisdom would cure her of her self-destructiveness, but the longer he stewed over the facts, wondered if she was worth risking his family wrath and career?
He should let her go, even though he vowed never abandon her only hours ago. Shit became clearer when she wasn’t riding his dick.
Ha, accept your culpability, he scowled to himself.
Walking away now so she could run back into Remy’s arms sounded cowardly, but she would eventually. She wouldn’t choose him. Calder hated the fact he pursued Astrid after meeting Remy. He figured out after making that stupid deal the duplicitous man would never leave without a nasty fight.
Exhausted by the events of the day, rubbed a hand across his face, and knew what he needed to do.
He waited until Astrid fell asleep before sneaking out of her house like the asshole she was certain to call him in the morning.