Skin of the Night

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Chapter 29: Better Luck Next Time

When I woke the next morning, it was to an empty bed. Relief flooded me. He must have bailed, fearing for his life. Wise man. Though I didn’t recall much of last night, bits and pieces were forming a horrid notion of it in my head. The club. William. The spot under the stairs. Kissing. His fingers inside of me. Tequila. Vomiting.

Jason.

“Jason,” I whimpered and pushed my duvet aside to search for him. Still wearing my dress and knickers from last night, I was suffering a tremendous hangover, but we needed to talk, and it couldn’t wait. I was desperate to clear the air and make amends. I felt terrible, and it only added to my hangover.

When I opened my bedroom door, the smell of bacon welcomed me. It was a scent sent from heaven, and it raised my spirit somewhat. Was he making me breakfast? He couldn’t be too angry with me, then. I hoped.

But I wanted to face him cleaned of any evidence from last night, so I decided I’d have a shower before I confronted him. Striding across the hall, I gripped the handle of the bathroom door and turned it. As I opened it, a sight I had not expected welcomed me.

There stood William, naked in all his glory and drying his hair with a white towel. What a beautiful backside he had. Slabs of prominent muscle hugged his long spine, and dimples carved into the flesh right above his dreadfully taut bum. His biceps, as well as the muscles of his hairless, broad back, rippled with his motion. Saliva amassed in my mouth. What a bomb of testosterone. He was strikingly masculine. Christ. I wasn’t even remotely prepared for the enticing sight of him.

With haste, I looked away from him and stood perfectly still, succumbed to surprise. While my eyes flickered around the humid room, I saw that his clothes from last night were dumped on the toilet seat.

His head turned toward me, and when our eyes locked, a wicked smile claimed his mouth. In all fairness, he looked elated. His eyes glowed of a joy I had not seen in them before. And despite the fact that he’d had a long night yesterday, he looked dangerously appealing. Why? I moaned inwardly.

“Morning, love. I’m flattered you wanted to shower with me, but I’m afraid you’re a few minutes too late. Better luck next time.”

Blushing crimson, I felt about to combust. “Jason! Why is your brother still here?” I shouted on top of my lungs, thoroughly angry. “Parading around naked!” I added in my fury.

“Your problem!” he shouted back to me.

“Oh, don’t be that way, Cara.” William chuckled. “Nothing you haven’t seen before. Last time you caught me naked, you were rather excited about it. Quit pretending.”

I was far too exhausted to tolerate his banter. I trembled where I stood, and my hands formed fists. The audacity of that man. What made matters worse was the fact that he was absolutely right. Naked, he was a breath taking vision. But how did he see through me so easily? It pissed me off.

“Care for a look of the front? It’s all yours,” he continued to tease and slowly turned toward me. I whirled around immediately.

“Cover up, wanker, and get the fuck out! Bloody exhibitionist.”

“I have as much of a right to be here as you. It’s my parents’ flat.”

I wanted to strangle him. “I pay rent!”

“Doesn’t matter.”

His nonchalance made my blood simmer in my veins. “Yes, it does! You can’t honestly mean that when you’re a bloody man of the law!”

“Valid point.” He chuckled again.

I heard him open the tap. Assuming it safe, I turned to steal a peek at him. To my relief, he’d wrapped the towel around himself. Amused, he watched me through the mirror and paid me a wink.

A pout formed on my face. “Could you hurry up, please? I need to shower as well,” I grumbled.

“Then do. I don’t mind. At all,” he replied and gestured toward the glass door of it.

“Without you here!”

He rolled his eyes and raised his toothbrush to his mouth. “Then you’ll have to wait.”

Fuming, I folded my arms together and tapped my foot. Impatiently, I waited, but he took his time, leisurely cleaning his teeth.

“William!” I growled when I’d counted to a minute.

With white foam all around his delicious mouth, he grinned at me in the mirror. “Are you always this cranky when you’re having a hangover?”

“I’m cranky whenever you’re involved.”

“Good thing I’m weak for your bitch attitude,” he playfully responded before he spat out into the basin.

I gaped at him. After rinsing his mouth of toothpaste, he stretched up to full height and turned toward me. “It turns me on.”

Frustrated beyond belief, I raised my hands to my hair and pulled it. This man. Regardless of what I did, he twisted and turned it toward his favour, and it was infuriating. No wonder he was so good at his job. He had a real talent for twisting words.

His lips spread apart into a grin, and a playful twinkle danced in his blue eyes. “So much frustration, Cara. You look in dire need of another orgasm. Lucky for you, I’d be happy to oblige.”

“Out!” I barked and pointed to the door behind me.

While smiling to himself, he nodded his head and finally approached the door. But when he was about to pass my figure, he paused to curl his hand around my neck. Bringing me close, he planted a hard, firm kiss to the top of my head. “Enjoy your shower,” he purred as he pulled away. “I’ll see you in a bit.”

Paralysed, I heard him exit behind me and close the door after himself. My body was a complete chaos. I couldn’t make sense of a single thought or emotion. Everything lacked sense. But there was one thing I knew.

He fuelled the fire of my soul and added the beat to my heart. Around him, I felt capable of glowing in the dark.

I showered for a good half hour, and I mainly spent it seated on the beige tiles of the floor, too weak to stand. My body was feeble after a dreadful night. I’d obviously had too much to drink. Those last three shots of tequila had been unnecessary, but they had been an impulsive desire. Thinking I had been on the verge of becoming sober again, I had wanted to maintain my level of intoxication. But I hadn’t been sobering up. I’d just reached the point where it felt like it. Naively, I’d thought a few shots of tequila wouldn’t do much harm. Clearly, I’d been mistaken.

When I eventually dragged myself out of the shower, I decided not to blow-dry my hair. I was too weak for it. I needed food to recharge myself. So after drying myself with my towel, I dressed into my white bathrobe and headed out to confront reality.

I heard them speaking in the kitchen on my way there. Why was William still here? It profoundly annoyed me, because I didn’t want to speak to Jason about last night while he was still here. I faintly remembered that he’d interrupted me a few times last night, and I wasn’t about to let him do that again. I wanted to have a heart-to-heart with Jason without William getting involved.

“Did you watch the match last night?” I heard William enquire.

“Yep,” Jason murmured.

“I wanted to see it as well. I was keeping track on my phone for a while, but got distracted. I can’t believe we lost. When I saw it this morning, I was grateful I hadn’t seen it.”

“It was a travesty. You should be glad you didn’t see it. Morata fucked up a brilliant chance. I swear even I could have made that goal.”

Were they talking about Chelsea FC? I vaguely recognised the name Morata, because Jason often talked about football with his other mates. But I wasn’t aware that William was a fan of football. Then again, his younger brother was, so it shouldn’t have surprised me.

When I turned the corner, I found them seated around the dining table. The view made my heart jolt. Orange juice, coffee, and a full English breakfast. I could kiss Jason, I found. This was heaven on earth, and exactly what I needed.

I vaguely noted that William appeared to have borrowed a pair of sweats from Jason, but both brothers had neglected a shirt this morning. Had I not been so hungover, I might have appreciated the view more than I did. Surely, they were a dangerously attractive pair of brothers. Their gene pool was clearly a winner.

When they heard my arrival, they simultaneously turned their heads to regard me. In that brief moment in time, I seriously wondered how I hadn’t recognised William to be Jason’s brother when I first met him. While their hair might be of different colour, they sported nearly identical eyes. Yes, William’s jaw was a little sharper, but even their nose was eerily similar. I was such an idiot.

“Morning,” I mumbled and completely ignored William’s grin when I met Jason’s light blue orbs.

“Morning, sweetheart. How are you feeling?” Jason affectionately responded while he pulled out the chair beside him.

“I’ve got a terrible headache,” I murmured while I grabbed the seat he offered. My eyes landed on a white pill beside the glass of orange juice, and my heart melted. He would definitely make a girl the luckiest in the world someday.

He smirked upon my reply and pointed toward the pill. “I’m miles ahead of you, babe.”

While nodding, I collected it my palm and then necked it with a mouthful of orange juice. Afterward, I grabbed my cutlery and smeared a thick layer of butter onto my toasted bread. William’s eyes looked about to fall out of his skull when he saw it.

“Damn, that’s a lot of butter,” he remarked astounded.

I glared at him. “I like butter.”

Beside me, Jason laughed. “Correction, she loves butter.”

William’s lips spread apart into a charmed grin. “Noted,” he murmured and nodded to himself.

I rolled my eyes and proceeded to top my slice of bread with a layer of scrambled eggs. Jason made the best scrambled eggs. The flavour of it exploded in my mouth like a taste of paradise.

“Jason, you make the best scrambled eggs on planet earth,” I complimented him after swallowing.

“Mum’s recipe,” William explained. “I can make it as well.”

I looked toward him with narrowed eyes, while Jason resorted to laughter beside me.

“I see what you did there,” Jason said and pointed to him.

Crookedly, William smiled back at him. “Only saying.”

“Good for you that you can follow a recipe, William. It’s more than I expected of you,” I muttered after another mouthful, and Jason’s laughter increased in volume beside me.

He shrugged his shoulders and looked at me with a gleam in his eyes. “Well, when you eventually accept your feelings for me, you may consider it a bonus.”

I wasn’t sure if it were because I was angry, or because I felt exposed, but I turned bright red nonetheless. “You imbecile!” I growled. “Aside from anger, I haven’t got any feelings for you whatsoever! I hardly know you!”

Jason unfolded his newspaper beside me, clearly determined to sign out.

Meanwhile, William argued, “That doesn’t make it any less true. But you do have a point. We should absolutely get to know each other better, but then every time I try, you shut me down,” he muttered and reached for his cup of coffee. “We could have dinner today, if you like.”

I looked to Jason, utterly despaired. “Jason, seriously. Would you please remind your brother that he is in fact my boss? I’ve tried a million times, but he won’t listen to me. Perhaps you can make him understand how inappropriate and simply unprofessional this is.”

He sighed and turned the page, refusing to meet my desperate gaze. “Cara, if there’s one thing I know about my brother, it’s the fact that he doesn’t give a single shit about conformity. Never has. Whether he’s your boss or not isn’t going to matter to him when you’re just an intern for three months. So I’m sorry, but there’s very little that I can do. For next time, don’t let him finger you when you’re out drinking together. That’s about as counter-productive as it can get.”

“You truly are the best brother I could have wished for, J,” William cooed delighted.

“Don’t misunderstand, Will. I’m not taking your side,” Jason muttered and sent him a glare.

William scoffed. “Of course you are. You just don’t want to admit it in front of her. Regardless of how you look at it, you’ve got a personal stake in this matter.”

“Can we please kick him out?” I begged.

Jason remained mute.

“So?” William pushed then. “What’s it going to be, Cara? Dinner?”

“No! I have plans, anyway.”

His handsome head tilted. “What sort of plans?”

“I have a birthday to attend.” I considered telling him that I was going with Robby, but changed my mind when I recalled how he’d reacted toward the mention of him in the past. It had obviously hurt his feelings in some way, and I wasn’t evil. Besides, a caveman version of William was not something I had the strength to handle right now.

“And I have poker night. We can make it an early dinner.”

Groaning, I reached for my own cup of coffee. “No,” I replied after a sip. “Besides, do you really think I’m in shape to have dinner with you today? You’re more exhausting than a bloody marathon, Will.”

He chuckled, and so did Jason. “How about tomorrow then? If you last the entire dinner, I’ll make sure to give you both a medal and a reward.”

I shook my head to myself and pushed my seat out. After collecting my plate and cutlery, I grabbed my cup of coffee and headed for my bedroom, determined to eat the rest of my meal in the privacy of it.

“Oh, come on, love!” he moaned after me. “Where are you going?”

“Since you’re not leaving, I will!” I replied without looking at him. “And I won’t forget to lock the door.”

“Bollocks,” he muttered.

“I admire your diligence, at least,” I heard Jason tell him. “Remarkable perseverance.”

“Yeah, well, I fear she’s immune to it.”

I stopped in the hall, curious to hear the rest of their conversation.

“She isn’t.”

“How do you know?” William queried.

“When she came home after the first time you shagged her, she was upset. And she wasn’t upset because you were shit. She was upset because she’d stuck to her rules and not given you her number. Told me you were the best shag of her life. She looked positively smitten. I barely recognised her. Of course, I didn’t know it was you at the time. But clearly, you managed what nobody before you have. Cara is remarkably talented at keeping her feelings in check. I’ve never heard her regret not giving someone her number before.”

“Really?” William sounded so pleased that I wanted to curl up and die. Bloody Jason. Why was he doing this?

“Really.”

“Glad you told me. You truly are on my side, aren’t you?”

“Will, I’m still trying to make sense of this chaos, okay? I’m not on anyone’s side. I’m just stating it as I see it. Yes, she fancies you, but it may not be enough. Cara isn’t normal like that. She’s religious about her ambitions.”

“Well, I’m not giving in.”

“That doesn’t surprise me. At all. Weird to see you like this, man.”

“Tell me about it. She’s completely messed with my head.”

“I can tell. Cara does have that effect on a lot of men. I’ve always been grateful I’m not one of them. Anyway, since you’re not going to have dinner with her, we should buy groceries for poker night together. We could stop by your place before then.”

“Good plan.”

Quietly, I entered my bedroom with my heart pounding in my chest. Already, I dreaded seeing him on Monday. After Jason’s pep-talk, I was certain he’d only be increasing his efforts.

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