“Want me to drive you home?” His voice breaks through the fog shrouding my mind and I sit up straighter, smooth a useless hand over my hopeless hair.
“Yeah, um. That would be great.” I face straight ahead, willing myself to become mesmerized with the rhythmic back and forth of the windshield wipers, not Tristan’s lips.
“Where do you live?” He asks, sounding amused at my expense. Or maybe I’m just being defensive.
I rattle off my address and he comes to a stop at a light, asking me for it again so he can plug it into his phone. I wrap my arms around my middle as we wait for the light to change, a shiver coursing through me and he sends me a slide glance before reaching over and practically grabbing my knee.
But he’s going for some switch that he clicks onto high.
“Seat warmer,” he explains to me when I meet his gaze. “You’re cold.”
“Thank you,” I mumble.
“And wet,” he adds. I chance a quick look at him to see if there’s double meaning there—maybe I’m the only one who’s a perv—but he looks completely innocent. And totally concerned. “You should take the sweatshirt off.”
“Yeah, right. You just want to see me strip.”
“That sweatshirt looks pretty heavy.”
I say nothing because he’s right. The sweatshirt is cold and wet and heavy and freaking miserable. When the light turns green and his attention is solely focused on driving, I work my way out of the soaking sweatshirt, peeling it off my body and letting it fall onto the floorboard with a wet plop.
“Jesus,” he mutters, shaking his head.
“Sorry about getting your floor mats so wet.” Men are particular about their cars and this is a nice one. Like, one my father would’ve admired if not flat out owned if he could.
But he can’t. He had to sell all of his fancy cars to help pay back the money he embezzled from his clients.
“Don’t worry about the water. I just can’t believe how wet your hoodie is. You must be freezing.” He leans over and cranks up the heat.
“Thanks.” I relax in the seat, the seat warmer working its magic along with the heater blasting hot air on my face, slowly making me feel drowsy. I stare out the window, watching the rain fall fast and heavy and I’m thankful that I’m not riding the stinky city bus or worse, still waiting outside for that stupid bus to show up.
Instead, I’m in Tristan’s very nice, very expensive car and he’s driving me home.
Life is weird.
I pull up in front of the address Alexandria gave me, a small nondescript house in an older neighborhood not far from campus with a crappy yard and overgrown rosebushes lining the front, just beneath the windows. Typical off campus housing, I’m sure she has an abundance of roommates and hardly any privacy.
In other words, she lives like a savage.
“Honey, we’re home,” I murmur as I pull into the driveway.
Alexandria doesn’t make a sound.
Putting the car into park, I turn to find her body relaxed, her head turned to the side, facing the window, her hair falling across her cheek. Eyes shut, her lips parted. Sound asleep.
Pretty. Quiet. Not mouthing off or protesting or frowning at me. I like her like this. I study her unabashedly, my gaze roving over her dark blonde hair, her flawless creamy skin, those rosebud lips that would tempt a saint to kiss them. Just once.
Just to see what she tastes like.
I lean back in my seat and take a deep breath. I’m thinking fucking crazy thoughts. She hates me. She’s more trouble than she’s worth. I’d only fuck her and leave her anyway so she’d hate me even more when it was all said and done.
Like Shep and Gabe used to say before they ditched me, I don’t do relationships. I won’t be swayed. Those two assholes I call my best friends can go ahead and fall deeper in love with their girls. Get engaged, get married, have a couple of brats and live that boring ass life every other sucker thinks he wants.
Not me. My parents are still together but they were on shaky ground not that long ago. Hell, my mother had to be put in rehab almost two years ago, after she lost a bunch of money in bad investments.
And when I say a bunch of money, I’m not talking a couple thousand dollars. More like hundreds of thousands of dollars—to the tune of close to one million dollars. That had been a minor blip on the family bank account but the worst part of the situation? The dude who convinced Mom to make those investments? Also happened to be her lover.
Needless to say, she almost lost her sanity when she lost her money—and her secret boyfriend. The downward spiral had been painful but somehow, my parents came out on the other end. Mom’s better. Dad’s golfing. They rarely spend time together anymore and they like it that way.
Their distant relationship proves to me what’s the point. My parents aren’t as fucked as Shep’s, with his social climbing bitch of a mother and stern-as-hell father who seem to revel in their hate for each other. But there’s another prime example of why I don’t want to be in a relationship.
They all end up bad. Every single one of them. I don’t care how blissed out and in love people claim they are, it eventually goes to shit.
Alexandria stirs, drawing my attention and I turn off the engine, the sudden quiet seeming to push her into wakefulness. She sits up quickly and looks around, disoriented as she brushes her hair away from her face. Her head turns toward me and our gazes meet. Lock. “I fell asleep,” she says obviously, her voice soft and sexy.
“I know.” I nod and reach out to turn off the seat warmers, my fingers brushing against her thigh as I do. Electricity sparks where I touch her and I snatch my hand away, settling it on the bottom of the steering wheel. “Need my help with your stuff?”
She shakes her head. “I can get it if you pop the trunk.”
Damn it, I actually want to help her. Why does she have to be so difficult? “It’s still raining.”
“I think I can make it,” she says drolly, reaching for the door handle. Pausing, she keeps her back to me for a long, heavy moment before she glances over her shoulder, wary blue eyes meeting mine. “Thanks for the ride home.”
“Anytime,” I tell her, meaning it. Fuck, I mean it and I shouldn’t. This sucks. I don’t want to like her but my fingers are still buzzing from touching her earlier.
Talk about ridiculous.
She gets out of my car and I do the same, slamming my door and rushing toward the trunk, the hood already popped. I open it before she arrives and reach inside for the pile of garment bags I threw in there. She appears at my side and tries to take them from me but I won’t let her.
“I’ll carry them in for you,” I tell her, raising my voice so I can be heard above the pounding rain.
Alexandria tries to tug them out of my arms but I won’t let go. “You’re so irritating,” she yells, making me laugh.
I shut the trunk and follow after her toward the front door, not missing the way she glares at me when I duck under the tiny overhang to stand beside her. “Hand them over,” she demands and I shake my head.
“God,” she mutters as she opens the door and bursts inside. I trail after her, my gaze going everywhere, finding the living room fairly standard. Giant brown suede-looking couch, battered coffee table in front of it and a cheap but large flat screen TV hanging on the wall, while a Playstation 4, a Wii U and various controllers lie discarded on the floor.