“Sometimes we need to hear someone tell us we’re doing a good job. It can be hard to keep going when no one is there to root for you.” He clears his throat and I turn to look at him, noticing the ruddiness in his cheeks. “When you told me you were proud of me earlier, it felt good. I needed that.”
His words are achingly sincere and I give in my to urges. I touch his knee, run my hand slowly up so my fingers curve around his thigh. He’s warm and firm beneath his jeans, solid and real. This moment isn’t fake. It’s not.
It’s one hundred percent real.
And I don’t ever want it to stop.
“I’m sorry I laughed at you earlier.” At his confused look, I explain further. “The band thing. It was fun to tease you about it. You looked so offended.”
“That’s because I was offended.” His smile is big and aimed right at me. I clutch his thigh tighter, glad I’m sitting because that smile rivals a thousand bright suns and makes me weak. “But I get it. You were embarrassed about your own band geek roots, so it makes you feel better to make fun of others.”
“Hey.” I smack his thigh, but I swear it hurts my hand more than it hurts him. “Just because you think your drums are superior to my clarinet.”
“Doesn’t mean you can act righteous and tease me about poor band instrument choices,” I say primly, removing my hand from his thigh.
He chuckles, the sound rich and warm, making my belly flip with nerves. “You didn’t have to stop touching me.”
I’m startled he’d mention it. “But—”
“Don’t say our relationship is phony. Not right now. This, what we’re sharing right now, it’s real, Syd.” It’s his turn to touch me, the back of his fingers drifting across my cheek. I close my eyes, savoring the gentle touch. “You can’t deny it. I won’t deny it either.”
I don’t answer him. His words terrify me. It’s one thing to think this is real based purely on attraction. I can admit I want to get him naked. What woman wouldn’t?
But I also—like him. Spending time alone together like this, we’re getting to know each other. Getting closer. Too close.
I don’t want to go home alone. I don’t. As we get closer to San Francisco, to Drew and Fable’s house, the more I realize I don’t want to drop her off, turn around and head back to my place. That sounds awful.
Pitiful is what I am. Boo hoo hoo, poor little Wade doesn’t want to be all alone with his feelings and his demons keeping him up through the night.
Well, I have no real demons. Shit, I should be on top of the world right now. I should’ve gone out to a bar when the guys invited me earlier, before I left the locker room. I could’ve gone out, got drunk, found a girl, and fucked her into oblivion.
But I didn’t do any of that. Hell, I couldn’t. What if I was somehow photographed with another girl when I’m supposed to be with Sydney? The shit would hit the fan, Drew and Fable would be pissed at me, and Sydney would probably never talk to me ever again.
Not that I wanted to do any of that. Not really. I’d rather be with this girl, right here. Talking to her. Learning more about her. Her revelation was surprising, but then again not. I’m glad she trusted me enough to tell me her secrets. I want to find out more.
A lot more.
And for once, that thought doesn’t scare the hell out of me.
Without saying a word, I pull onto an off ramp, which gets Sydney’s attention.
“Where are you going?” She sounds confused.
Good. I am confused. So at least we can be confused together.
“Can I ask you a question?” I go into the left-hand turn lane and stop at the red light, flicking on my blinker. Ready to turn right around and get onto the freeway headed back to my place if she wants me to.
“Will you come home with me?”
Dead silence is my answer.
“Never mind,” I mutter, glancing in the rearview mirror, ready to head straight across the street so I can get back onto the freeway and go on to the Callahan house. Dump Sydney off, go along with this pretend relationship plan for the next five days and then call it good.
“No, wait. I didn’t say no. Are you—are you sure you want me to come back to your place?” Her voice is a little shaky and I wonder if she’s nervous.
If she is, that’s fine. I’m nervous too, not that I’d admit it.
“Only if you want.” The light turns green but I haven’t turned yet. I don’t want to press my luck, or end it. “Only if you’re comfortable. We won’t do—anything if you don’t want to. I just don’t…”
“Don’t want to be alone tonight?” she finishes for me.
I blow out a harsh breath and nod. “Yeah.”
A horn honks behind us and I glance in the rearview mirror again, realizing there are at least three cars waiting to turn. I turn off the blinker, my foot hovering over the gas when Sydney answers me.
“I’ll come over,” she whispers. “If you want me to.”
“I want you to.” Before she can second-guess her answer, I hit the gas and turn left, my tires squealing. We’re back on the freeway within minutes, both of us quiet, the sexual tension growing with every minute that passes. Or maybe that’s just my imagination, but I don’t think so. The attraction is there, simmering between us. There’s no denying it. I keep sneaking glances at her, anticipation licking through my veins, making me want to touch her.