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Chapter 20

By Wednesday I was starting to wonder if Dylan had fallen off the face of the earth. Maybe he’d been completely unaffected and had me out of his system. Maybe our marathon sex had killed him.

I should’ve gone easier on the guy. He was practically a virgin. Though in my defense it was easy to forget when he was thrusting roughly into me with his teeth buried in my shoulder.

My first time had been with Chris, the guy I’d dated before Jake. The whole experience had been mediocre, though jacked-up expectations probably factored in. Clumsy hands and mouths, a quick ending for him and none for me. Even with Jake, it’d taken a while for us to hit our stride. Until all of a sudden he knew what to do without me asking. By our second year together it had gotten almost routine. Though part of me craved more, by that point it seemed too late to ask for it even if I’d been able to put into words what I wanted.

I’d never understood the kind of passion that drove people out of their minds. The kind they wrote poems and made movies about. The kind that made your blood run hot.

Until now.

Dylan texted me that night.

Want to come over and watch a movie tomorrow?

What movie?

Something equal parts irony to social commentary

So … Van Wilder?

Anything but that

Going cold turkey on Ryan Reynolds

I laughed despite myself. I’d missed Dylan. All the obsessing over our recent … interactions had glossed over the fact that I’d gotten used to seeing him. Going more than a few days without his brand of earnest sarcasm was hard. Despite whatever had happened between us, we were friends.

Maybe we can be friends who have sex. The unoriginal thought had occurred to me. The best of both worlds. But I didn’t think we’d be able to pull it off. Even if there weren’t real feelings to start with, they often surfaced. Not to mention I was pretty sure Ava would lose it if she found out.

I was about to text back yes to the movie, still arguing with myself about the merits of friends with benefits, when a warning light went off in my head. Instead I asked,

You mean like a date?


Uh-oh. Yellow alert. This was not part of the plan. The master plan whereby you have mind-numbing sex with your best friend’s brother? Yeah, that well-conceived wonder. This was exactly why you didn’t go and sleep with people on impulse.

Dylan …

Lex …

I can’t

Can’t do Thursday or can’t go on a date with me?

Can’t date you

The dots appeared for a while.

Did I tell you I play rugby?

Cute. But I wasn’t buying what he was selling. The price was bound to be way more than I could afford.

I thought about how to tackle this and decided direct was best.

We talked about this

I’m not looking to date

And if I were, it wouldn’t be you. Couldn’t be.

Alright then as a non-date?

First rule of negotiation: don’t give away your end game

But nice try

* * *

Over the next week I saw Dylan twice on the way to school. He was even more charming than usual, but he didn’t ask me out again. He was back to being relaxed, chill Dylan, laughing and joking and arguing with me and Ava like he didn’t have a care in the world. I’d actually started to wonder if he had completely gotten past our night together, and if his asking me out was just a whim or something he felt obliged to do. It was probably hard to hold a guy’s attention for long—especially when the entire cheerleading squad was probably lining up to do just what I’d done.

I was still struggling to reconcile his multiple personalities in my head. There was the friendly, sweet Dylan who’d been there for me with Jake and with my family, who’d do anything for his. I still hadn’t fully worked through what he’d told me the night we were together, and as we hadn’t been alone since—probably for the best—there hadn’t been a time to bring it up.

Then there was dangerous Dylan. The one who was sexy as hell and made me dream of him doing things to me I’d never even thought of before. The Dylan that had pretty much blown me to pieces a week ago.

The worst part was that they were the same person. If they hadn’t been, it would’ve been easier to stay away. The first had been a great friend to me this fall. When I’d needed him he’d been there. The second might wreck me, but despite my best intentions, I craved him. If it had been just sex I could’ve put this off. But I wasn’t ready to deal with cutting him out of my life entirely.

Tuesday Jane and I were in the library working on a term project with two other classmates, Jess and Shawn. It was a case study on a company that was up for bankruptcy. We had to work through the legal implications, recommend solutions, and present it back to the class.

I’d offered to take the lead on the presentation.

“We need to do something different, something that will make it stand out.” We’d booked a bigger room for our work, with a table that seated eight. My study room would’ve been way too cramped.

Shawn leaned back and put his feet up on a chair across from him, looking skeptical. “How are we going to make bankruptcy exciting?”

Jane interjected. “Trust me, Lex could sell sand to the Coastal Commission. She’s the right person for the job.”

Jane was working on the recommendations. Since she was actually going to be a lawyer, we thought she’d be best equipped to tackle the most important part.

We’d divvied up the work when my phone buzzed.



How’s the studying?


I’m trying to make bankruptcy sexy

You make everything sexy

I flushed a little, then mentally chastised myself for it. I had to be more careful with my words.

Is that a line?

Yeah I’ve been hanging around Rick

Not a great influence

I turned back to the task at hand and had just gotten my head back into things when my phone lit up again.

So here’s the thing

I’ve been having some trouble with my studying lately

This came as a surprise. I thought school came easily to him.

Do you need a tutor?

Yep. Wanna tutor me?

I know zero about engineering

It’s not the subject matter that’s getting to me

Think I need some new study strategies

What’s the problem?

I realized I shouldn’t have asked. The constant texting meant I was having a hard time getting down to business on this project. I was about to ask him if we could pick this up later when his response beat mine.

The problem is that every time I sit down to read, I keep picturing you on top of me

I nearly dropped my phone. I did look up at the bent heads around me. Jane glanced up and tilted her head inquisitively. “Everything OK?”

“Yeah, no worries.” Someone was bound to notice me blushing, the way my thoughts had suddenly taken a track that had nothing to do with law.

Good thing we were texting and not talking. My throat was suddenly dry. I went for glib.

Sounds like you need to diversify your inspiration… Try porn


Sorority girls? I hear the Delta Zetas will do anything

I don’t want porn or sorority girls

I can’t get you out of my head

Well. Way to lay it out there. I took a deep breath. Tried to think about unsexy things. Like bankruptcy, which incidentally I was supposed to be in the process of making sexy. Life evidently had a sense of humor.

Try harder


Believe me

Without my consent, my mind conjured an image of Dylan, touching himself. I felt a flush creep up my neck and swallowed hard. The others had gone back to work.

This thing with us just can’t happen Dylan

What thing? The thing where you moan in my mouth when I’m sliding into you?

Holy crap. The library was freezing cold but I was sweating.

Dylan clearly was a lot of things, but he wasn’t stupid. In some arenas he might’ve been a rookie, but he caught on fast and was an expert at getting what he wanted. He’d figured out the charming Boy Scout routine wasn’t working and had upped the stakes. Had zeroed in on my weakness. As much as I cared about friend Dylan, it was his alter ego that had me lying awake at night.

Dylan, I have to get back to work

And I did. But later, at home in bed I reread his messages. It wasn’t as good as being with him, but it was better than nothing. And I slept better afterward.

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