RYDER (Antagonist to Lovers)

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C H A P T E R | 22

R Y D E R--- &--- J U L I E

Ryder went to his room after putting Andrew on his stomach with a trash can next to him. He stunk like a skunk, but he didn’t seem too hammered. Just enough to slur and regret it the next day. At least the man wasn’t vomiting and seemed to know where he was.

Once back in his room and hearing Julie go into hers, the monkey side of his brain felt her breast in his hand again, and the way her nipple hardened...

If he wasn’t positive that she was thinking the same thoughts that he had, he’d have just take a cold shower and wrote it off as an awkward encounter.

But it wasn’t awkward. They looked at each other in undeniable ways, ways he knew that meant the woman wanted him.

And Ryder couldn’t help it. Something about her was so different than he was used to. She was so easy to talk to and really got his way of life in this MMA world. She didn’t pry or push him, and seemed to make an effort.

All that built up testosterone, sexual frustration, and sexual tension with her, in that moment...he wanted her. He wanted her physically, and fuck him, but he also felt like it was more than that.

Instead all he had was his hand.

So he used it.

He didn’t think of Julie, as that felt a little too personal, but he knew that backed up feeling and for his own self control he just needed to get it out quick.

It didn’t take much, his erection absolutely ready to fire off at nearly the right word and he grabbed a tissue and held it with one hand as the other finished the job.

He cleaned up and wiped away at the mess, sitting down on his bed with his pants pulled back up. The clarity afterward was what saints must aspire to have, as there was absolutely no sexual thought in his mind as he lied there.

But it did go back to Julie, and not about her body. For a moment he kind of wished they could just lie there on a bed and talk. He found himself wondering why she got into gardening, and if she’d need help getting stuff out of her apartment, or even moving into a new one.

The thought of her leaving the house didn’t feel great, either. Ryder could go to most bars and someone would eventually hit on him, if that’s all he wanted.

No, he might actually like her. There was something to her that was the opposite of ‘work’, which he was used to when dealing with anything related to romance or flirting.

He wanted to feel her against him again. To run his hands through her hair and make her get that look in her eye when she found him irresistible...he wanted to make her body move for him, and also hold her close, to breathe her in as she laid her head on his chest...

Julie just felt natural.


J U L I E lied in bed, wishing she had her vibrator.

She wanted Ryder. She wanted that muscled mass to have his way with her. Her body’s quick rise to being horny reminded her how she hadn’t tended to herself in ‘that’ way in a while.

It didn’t take long for her to do what she needed to do, trying not to think about anyone in particular. That felt a little odd to think about Ryder, as she didn’t need to get that attached to those thoughts.

When she reached her climax, her heart fluttered and that wave of ecstasy washed over her stomach. She lied there, wondering how her life managed to end up here, with her masturbating in Andrew’s spare bedroom.

She looked at the empty space in her bed, and knew she’d have to start all over with a new living arrangement. Andrew said she could stay there with no questions until New York, and afterward he wouldn’t kick her out, but Ryder would need complete concentration.

And as she looked at the empty spot next to her bed, she felt a deep yearning to have it filled. Self pleasure took an edge off, but it didn’t replace that intimacy that she craved. And Tinder wasn’t her jam. She tried it once but found it exhausting.

She sighed, needing to wash her hands.

She put on her night pants and went into the hall, only to see the bathroom light on with the door opened. As she got closer, she heard the water on.


“He’s still shit faced,” Ryder said, drying his hands as he clearly just washed his own. “I just checked on him.”

She crossed her arms to cover her hardened nipples that were otherwise on display. “That was nice of you.”

He seemed to want to glance down, but managed to keep his gaze mostly on her. “Figured you’d rather have me check on him than you. Men get boners in their sleep, and he was sportin’ a heavy one, even while drunk. That’s impressive.”

She rolled her eyes, and it was nice to be so sexually nullified like a fire extinguisher was sprayed all over her. “Oh that’s so gross...well, good thing you’re here for him. He’d probably just be pissed at me if I tried to help.”

He took a step out, and they awkwardly shimmied past each other. He said, “Either way, uh, sorry for the handsy bit earlier.”

Taking a step into the bathroom, she said, “Oh, you’re fine. I know you were just reaching back. Thanks for going into go mode.”

“Feel sorry for the fucker that tries to rob the house I live in before I get a chance to really punch someone.”

She grinned, washing her hands. She wondered if she should lie and say that she washed her hands every night, maybe after applying lotion or something. She felt like he knew why she was doing this, even if he didn’t, so she changed the subject quickly. “Should have paid for you to escort me down stairwells for the last few weeks.”

“All I heard is that you should have paid me to be your escort.”

She shook her head, biting her lip and turned off the sink, her hands soaking wet. Julie flung water in his face with a smile on hers. He grabbed her wrist with playful eyes, his grip strong, and oh that ignited something back in her groin.

“Oh-ho. That’s daring,” he said with a husky tone, holding her wrist.

“Whatever,” she said, unable to think of a clever response as she stared into his gray eyes.

He gave a crooked smile, his voice rumbling in his chest. “Real clever, Stevens.”

This time, the sexual tension was very present and they were both aware of it. She even smelled his deodorant again, and it made her want to get closer to him. She didn’t care if they kissed or not, as she just wanted to be against his body once more.

That’s when she lowered her gaze and he let go of her wrist.

She said, “Well, I can’t sleep. You wanna go watch some Netflix with me?”

He took in a deep breath, his muscled chest rising and falling. “Yeah I can’t sleep either, if I am to be fucking honest. My muscles are on fire.”

She headed towards the stairs, hoping they didn’t wake Andrwe. But in that man’s stupor, he was probably out cold. “You should use the sauna tomorrow.”

“Yeah and Andrew’s fucking hot tub. If it wasn’t broken again,” Ryder said, following her.

Butterflies flapped in her belly at the thought of him wanting to be with her at this hour at night.

“He has one?” she asked, keeping it going as they reached the bottom of the stairs. She glanced back at him.


He looked like he was going to say something, but refrained and they debated on what to watch on Netflix. They were both Marvel fans over DC, although they agreed that Christopher Nolan knocked the Batman series out of the park. They didn’t want to watch anything too serious, and she knew better than to try a romcom with him.

So they settled on watching Maniac, with him saying he was a Jonah Hill fan.

Julie sat in a big chair while Ryder sat on the couch, and she wrapped herself in a blanket as they began the TV show. She thought it might be awkward, but it was nice with how easy they slid into watching TV together, and before she knew it they were on the second episode.

She glanced over to him at the intro, Ryder just sitting there in his wife beater and sweatpants. He looked so comfortable and she just wanted to snuggle in and smell him, unsure if she was desperate for closeness or Ryder himself. What if it was both?

His eyes darted her way and she immediately looked at the TV.

“Yeah, like that was sneaky,” he said, but he didn’t sound mad or off put.

She tried to suppress a smile, but she couldn’t and looked back at him. It felt so natural to flirt with him. “Just, uh. Thought there was a spider near you.”

“Mhmm,” he said, something deep in his gaze.

She blushed at being so called out, and yet loved it. She couldn’t deny it that she wanted to snuggle the damn man, which was the opposite of what she should do.

The most curious piece was he didn’t seem upset by it or bothered. She even though about going over there, moving her gaze to him, his eyes already on her...

A door opened from upstairs and a groan echoed in the halls as Andrew stumbled down the stairs. Julie had to admit that she didn’t like this scenario. Andrew and her already had enough tension, and she didn’t need this to make it worse.

Thankfully Ryder spoke, pausing the TV show. “You okay, man?”

“Just thirsty.”

“You hit it hard,” Ryder said.

“Don’t want a lecture.” He looked at the two of them with disapproval. “Why are you two down here?”

“Just watching TV. Both couldn’t sleep.”

“Weird.” He went to the kitchen, his hair a complete mess. “I swear I walked in on you two doing shit.”

Julie felt very uncomfortable, and Ryder carried the dialogue. “No, man, you were just shitfaced.”

“Good, cause that would be a huge conflict of interest. As much as I’d like that gym name,” Andrew said pausing to drink water, his speech still slurred but clearly sobering. “I’d hate to terminate you before the comp. You’re good with him. So keep it in your pants.”

Julie nodded. “You got it.”

She glanced at Ryder, who had his eyes on her before she looked down at her blanket.

Andrew said, “Sorry, you uh, have to see me like this.”

They both said it wasn’t a big deal, and the MMA coach went back upstairs to sleep off his hangover.

After he went to bed she stood up, the threat of the contract termination like throwing water on a match. “I’m going to go to bed.”

Ryder sighed, and it was like everything he did made her want him. Even sighing, with the rise and fall of his muscles chest, made her want to be near him. He said, “Yeah, me too.”

Julie folded up the blanket and told him goodnight, and he went to the kitchen, waving an arm at her. Julie lied on the comforter of her bed, staring at the ceiling. She couldn’t stop picturing Ryder on the whole, empty couch, the scene begging for someone to join him.

But that threat from Andrew scared her. Was he just drunk? Or would he seriously terminate her contract because of that? Her mind raced and she couldn’t recall the specifics of the contract, and if it said anything about relationships.

Not that she was wanting to dive head first into this, but was it something to look out for?

Maybe it’s about the conflict of interest...she rolled over and faced the empty side of her bed, wondering what she was to do.

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