Her ears perked up before she even realized that someone was near. As the realization set in, slowly she turned her head to find a strange man standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the hallway, as if a blonde surfer model had appeared out of thin air. In the seconds that her mind registered his presence, she took him in. Tall, at least as tall as Alex, with blonde, shaggy hair and eyes so bright blue they rivaled Mike’s. His shoulders were broad and his chest was sculpted, the skin a little goosefleshed around his pecs, as it narrowed impossibly into curves of a six-pack that went down to a thicker thatch of hair at the waistband of impossibly painted-on boxer briefs, made of a darker, smoky blue. Perhaps she took too long to assess the perfection of this body in front of her because it the man, and Josie, who cleared his throat. He dipped his head and slid his arms into a shirt, ending her reflexively lascivious appraisal before it even occurred to her that strange shirtless men surprising her in her own kitchen should maybe make her feel threatened, not intrigued. Less than a second into that thought, she figured out who he was. Another sip of coffee bought her manners, and her racing heart, a second to compose themselves.
“You must be Trevor,” she said quietly, pinching her lips together to hide the smile that tried to creep out, involuntarily sultry and flirtatious. She couldn’t believe this was coming out of her. Dear God, no wonder Darla had fallen for him. Josie would have fucked him in a rest area, too, even an Ohio rest area. He was too young for her, she told herself. Old enough, of course, but still, she felt a little dirty thinking about him this way. A flash of guilt that Alex was outside running in front of her house while she was drooling over this hot, local rock star. Without even having properly introduced herself.
He crossed the kitchen with two steps and sat down next to her, the movement so fluid and confident that it made all sorts of parts of her perk up, not just her ears. Suddenly she didn’t need the coffee to be fully awake. Long athlete’s legs stretched out, nearly brushing against her calf, as he crossed his feet at the ankles and didn’t seem to care that he sat before her in his underwear and a tight cotton t-shirt.
“I’m Trevor, yeah,” he said, leaning forward and shaking her hand. That same hand then went and raked the top of his hair. “Man, Darla didn’t tell you we were staying over?”
We? Josie thought. “No, uh, but it’s fine, you know, hey.” She held her palm up and leaned back, unconsciously shifting her shoulders back and pushing out whatever she had that passed for breasts. The guy was hypnotic; he had an instant effect on her that she found a bit dizzying. She wanted to reach out and just stroke one index finger down the ski slope of his perfect ab muscles, but held back, knowing that it would be rude. It would be rude, right? she thought, the temptation so great that she cursed herself on the inside. Down girl, down, she almost muttered aloud.
“Oh, it’s fine…uh, hey, help yourself to some coffee,” she said, gesturing to the Keurig, holding herself back from jumping up. She wasn’t going to wait on some guy. The only guys she did wait on were the ones she, herself, had just romped in bed with. Alex, the last man to sit in his underwear in her apartment, was the only one who had recently qualified.
Trevor stood, opened the cupboard above the coffee machine, and emitted a low whistle. “Have enough coffee mugs?” The cabinet looked like a Gay Pride Parade banner, every color of the rainbow represented in Darla’s coffee mugs. In fact, she’d organized them in ROY G BIV color order. Darla had teased Josie about her OCD nature, but it had been more of a challenge to see whether Cathy’s “winnings” really were enough to make a rainbow.
Turned out they were.
“I think we could use a few more,” Josie muttered snarkily.
Trevor plucked an orange mug emblazoned with a logo for some information archive service, made himself a cup of coffee, and then, when he came back to sit down, said, “You okay?” The words were clipped, no empathy in them, just a politeness that she had found ingrained in a lot of the students she had met at work.
“I’m fine,” she said, giving back the qualified, neatly controlled, upper-middle-class answer. Giggling poured down the hall from the other room, and then the very sharp, unmistakable sound of a hand smacking against flesh. Trevor had the decency to blush slightly and stop making eye contact with Josie. “You don’t have to be embarrassed,” she said, “it’s not you in there.”
He frowned. “You’re right, it’s not me in there. It should be.” He stood and wandered back down the hallway to Darla’s bedroom, coffee mug in hand.
A long whoosh of held breath poured out of her, her body tingling, her clit on fire. You have got to be fucking kidding me, she thought. Pinned between Alex on the outside, and Trevor Connor of all people, and probably Joe Ross, on the other side, she found herself in a vice of arousal, completely unable to touch anyone right now, except herself. Thank god for battery-operated boyfriends. She had a drawer full of them, and would probably use them later to try to exorcise this raging case of frustration. Better living through plastics. Another slap, and then Darla screamed, “Put it on a different setting, that one’s too fast!”
Note to self, Josie thought, add earplugs to shopping list. Click. Someone, probably Trevor, had the decency to close the bedroom door. All Josie heard now was muffled sounds of pleasure. A level of pleasure, she assumed, that she herself would only be able to mimic with a rabbit and a few Sylvia Day novels. Even at that, it would be a poor, pathetic second to what Darla was having right now. If only she had enough courage to run out and grab Alex and fuck him in the middle of the baseball field. She knew he’d like it. No, she didn’t. How could she assume that anymore?
With a shaking hand, she made another cup of coffee, and sat down to listen to it gurgle. It sounded like the death rattle of her own sex life. A door opened, feet padded down the hall, and then a door closed. She heard the unmistakable sound of a shower starting. Her next shower would be a cold shower, dammit.
And then…chest. Blonde hair, perfect, smooth tan skin, and in strolled Trevor to open the refrigerator door, bend down, and give her a glorious view of a muscled ass hard as a marble countertop. She could think of plenty of other tasty things that could be done with that…
“Hey, Josie, whatcha doin’?” Darla walked up behind her and placed a friendly hand on her shoulder.
“Nothin’,” Josie said, reaching up to wipe an imaginary bit of drool off the corner of her mouth. It turned out it wasn’t so imaginary. What the hell was she doing? These were Darla’s guys, it wasn’t like they were in competition—she wasn’t interested in them, not beyond the surface level of ogling them. The guy she really wanted was outside, running past her house. Or maybe he’d gone home by now. She wasn’t sure, and while she wasn’t above stalking him in that plausibly less-creepy, “go out of your way to find a path past his apartment building” kind of way, she wasn’t going to go outside right now, or sit at the window, to find out. She wouldn’t do anything that would make him think that she was going to bend, even if it meant she felt like breaking.
Darla wore an overstretched Spongebob Squarepants shirt, and that was it. It barely came to the top of her thighs, and Josie turned away when Darla did exactly what Trevor did, bending into the fridge to pick up a plate of fruit. Not quickly enough, though, to miss the bright red slap mark on Darla’s thigh, and Josie just closed her eyes and shook her head. They’re adults, they’re adults, they’re adults, she said over and over in her head, trying to will away the pictures popping through her mind. Maybe this was what Laura meant when she kept saying “TMI,” or maybe it was just Josie.
The three of them sat together, plowing through the cheese and fruit that Darla and Trevor had pulled out. No one seemed to need to make small talk, which Josie didn’t mind. When the coffeemaker gasped its last steamy, full-throated sound, she grabbed her cup, and walked over to the side window, staring out into the alley, simply to have something to do with herself that didn’t involved possibly eating Trevor with her eyes.
Footsteps in the hallway again, and then she turned, as if in slow motion, to find herself staring at the equivalent of a Men’s Vogue cover model. This must be Joe Ross, and my my, was he everything that Darla had described—and more—damp and 3D right in front of her. He held a towel around his hips. A rather small towel, Josie noted, for you could see the indent of his muscle bending into his hip, that kind of carved look, tapering down to a bulge that made her marvel at his body as a form of art. If it had just been the muscled dimpling of his skin against flesh, she would have been impressed.
But what took the breath out of her lungs and made the air dance a little in front of her eyes, was the teasing, taunting sensual combination of body, and face, and skin, and damp scent, and everything. Her eyes met his and he was startled, stepping back and clinging to the towel in his left hand, holding his only semblance of privacy.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know anyone else was here,” he said, again with that cultivated politeness that no man from her hometown was capable of.
“That’s okay, I’m…uh, Josie,” she said, holding one hand up in a wave.
“I’m Joe,” he said. He started to reach out to shake her hand with his right, open hand, and as he walked forward the towel slipped just enough for her to know that Joe dressed to the right.
“Oh…uh…sorry,” he said, pulling back. “I think it would be better to introduce myself when I’m a little more presentable.”
Drop the towel and you’ll be more than presentable, she thought, and then froze, hoping that this was not one of those times where the words had actually come out of her mouth. No one was looking at her with an expression of horror, so it seemed safe to assume that the lascivious thought had stayed firmly in place in her mind. Goddammit, she had expected to have her house invaded by Darla, and had known, in theory, that the two guys would at least sometimes come with the package. Darla had warned her that they didn’t have their own place lined up yet for starting law school in late August, and Josie had figured that the occasional overnight would be no big deal. Now, she realized, she needed to have a giant bowl of buttered popcorn, a side of Skittles, and a big old Diet Coke for breakfast every morning, so she could properly enjoy the show. Was that bad of her, to think that way? Who cared; it was her apartment. This was better than Netflix.
And waaaay better than Downton Abbey.
“Why don’t we go out on the porch and have our breakfast?” Darla said, walking out of the kitchen, her ass filling out her shirt in a way that Josie could never fill anything. Within what felt like seconds Darla was back, wearing a pair of shorts and a tank top, fluffing her hair and making herself a quick cup of coffee. She chose a lovely gray mug with a chimney sweep’s logo on it. “C’mon, let’s go out on the porch and sit and enjoy the weather.”
“It’s late July in Boston. There is no enjoyable weather unless you like to drink the air,” Josie said.
Trevor snorted, but stood and followed Darla. As they made their way through the living room, the cat backed up into the windowsill and forced Josie’s eyes to follow. Alex ran past. Dammit!
“Nice form,” Trevor muttered.
“Thanks,” Darla chirped.
“I meant that guy,” he said, pointing to Alex. “He’s got good form for a runner. I used to run cross country.”
They settled into cheap plastic chairs Darla had trash-picked in the weeks she’d been living here. The streets of Cambridge on trash night had swiftly become Darla’s version of Target. There was nothing she couldn’t find when determined. Josie had to admit that the chairs were a nice touch. The neighbors used them, too, with Darla’s hearty blessing. Neighbors who had ignored Josie for years were suddenly friendlier. Everyone seemed to know Darla.
Of course they did.
“Hey there!” Darla shouted, waving wildly at Alex as Josie shrank. A hand went up and waved backwards, as Alex had already passed.
“Stop it!” she hissed at Darla.
“Why? You know him?”
Joe saved her from answering that question, taking a seat between her and Darla. Dressed in loose basketball shorts, a shiny green color with white piping, the edge of his boxer briefs peeked out over the waistband, right under his navel. As he slouched, the tanned skin of his belly didn’t roll or pucker. It clung to the little sculpted peaks of muscle in his six pack.
Make that eight pack.
She forced herself to break her gaze, knowing she’d look like a fool if caught staring at Joe. Turning her head, she saw Alex’s form turn the corner to the left and pass out of sight, his powerful legs propelling him away from her.
This was killing her.
Something had to give.