Where I Belong (Alabama Summer) (10 page)

Chapter Ten

Mia

“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” I direct toward my
best friend who is currently rummaging through my clothes. For my date, no,
friendly hang out with Ben and Nolan, I pick a pair of skinny jeans and a white
tank top. I think this is very appropriate for going to a medieval dinner show
as
friends
, but Tessa has other ideas. Articles of clothing are getting hurled
into the air as she stays hidden in the closet I’m occupying for the summer. I
step behind her and start grabbing clothes out of the air. “Do you mind? You’re
going to be ironing all these after you pick them up.” I chuck the handful of
clothes I’ve managed to catch onto my bed.

Tessa emerges from the closet with my teeny tiny jean skirt
and a tube top. “Strip. You package yourself up in this hot little number, and
I guarantee my brother will be unwrapping you with his teeth later on tonight.”

My best friend has a one track mind. A very dirty one track
mind.

I snatch the hot little number that I am definitely not
wearing out of her hands. “This is not a date so there won’t be any unwrapping
going on.” I toss the outfit onto the bed and continue brushing my hair in
front of the mirror. “I told you, we’re hanging out
as friends
. There’s
no need for me to be wearing anything revealing.”

She plops down on the bed, sighing dramatically because this
is Tessa we’re talking about. “Who the hell goes from a night of unbelievable
nine inch pussy humming sex to hanging out as friends? Did you both hit a large
rock when you jumped off those cliffs last weekend? Is your brain currently
swelling and causing you to act like a complete idiot?”

I pin half of my hair up before I turn and look at her. “I’m
just now getting used to the idea of not hating Ben for the rest of my life. Do
you have any idea how dead set I was on that game plan? I was close to having a
voo-doo doll made of him.”

“And now you two have bumped uglies, and you’re just going
to pretend that you didn’t.”

I grunt my frustration and shoot her a stern nook. “No one’s
pretending anything. He asked me to give him a chance and I’m giving it to him.
As friends.
It would be really shitty of me not to.” I turn back around
and continue messing with my hair. There’s no way I could ever pretend that Ben
and I didn’t share that one night together. If it was possible to forget, I
would’ve forgotten about it already. Lord knows I didn’t want to be reliving it
every night alone in my bed. That memory was sticking around permanently.
And
what a memory.
 

“I don’t see why you can’t give him a chance while he’s between
your legs. You’d at least get some relief if he was fucking you into the friend
zone.”

“Pwincess Mia!” Nolan’s husky voice comes echoing down the
hallway.

“Hold on one second!” I snap my head around toward a
grinning Tessa. “I really hope your nephew didn’t hear that,” I scold her, but
she merely shrugs her shoulders in response. I grab my phone and stick it into
my pocket, stepping in front of the mirror one last time. My hair is definitely
not behaving, doing this weird curl thing at the bottom that I am so not
digging. And of course, the more I mess with it, the worse it gets. I grumble
my irritation under my breath.

“Mmm mmm,” Tessa teases. “Just friends my ass.”

I ignore her and apply some lip gloss. “What’s up with you
and Luke? Are you two serious?”

She rolls over onto her back, moaning playfully. “Luke is
fun.
Really fun. Tie me up and own my body fun.”

I should be shocked by that description, but I’m not. Tessa
is into anything involving men. Especially when it involves
fun
stuff.
“But not
serious
fun?”

“I don’t know. I like him and he likes me. I don’t need
anything more than that.” We meet each other’s eyes in the mirror. She wants to
tell me more, I can tell, but decides against it and gives me a sly smile
instead. “How many condoms will you be taking with you tonight?”

“You are ridiculous.” I flip her off over my shoulder,
walking down the hallway and into the living room. Nolan is swinging his sword
in the air behind the sofa, slaying invisible enemies, but my eyes don’t linger
on him. They can’t. Not when
he
is in the room. All my focus is
magnetically pulled in the direction of Ben who is leaning against the counter.
He straightens when he sees me, melting me with his smile that beams like a
thousand watt bulb. If I was wearing heels right now, I definitely would’ve stumbled.

“Hey,” he says, twirling his keys on his finger. It’s so
casual, like any normal greeting between friends, but his greeting makes my
spine tingle and my toes curl. God, how does he do that? How does he turn a
simple
hey
into so much more than that? I feel that
hey
settle
between my legs and root itself there permanently.

“Hey,” I reply, trying to sound as sure and steady with this
whole friendship thing as he does. However, my
hey
comes out broken and
weak, giving away my anxiety. Although, even if I wouldn’t have spoken, I’m
sure my body language would be displaying my nervousness for all to see. I am
completely rigid and the conversation with Tessa that just transpired moments
ago is playing on loop in my mind.

Pussy humming sex.

Fucking into the friend zone.

Condoms.

Oh God, do not get wet right now.
I drop my eyes to
Nolan, needing a distraction.

“Pwincess Mia!” He runs over to me and I bend down, bringing
myself down to his level. My worries and desires are left above me as I focus
in on his cuteness. “Daddy said we’re going to a surpwise.” He reaches out and
runs his finger down my nose and I do the same to him. His tiny face scrunches
up afterwards.

“We are. But I have to ask you a question before we go.” His
eyes get even larger, grayish blue just like his father’s, as he waits for me.
“Have you ever been to a real castle, Sir Nolan?” He shakes his head and his
mouth drops open. “Would you like to go to one right now?”

I’ve never seen anyone go from one emotion to another so
quickly. If I blinked, I probably would’ve missed it. He begins jumping up and
down, almost knocking me onto my ass in the process. “A weal castle! Daddy!
Pwincess Mia said we can go to a weal castle!”

Ben laughs as I stand up. “You ready to go, buddy?” He picks
a squirming Nolan up and smiles sweetly at me. “Are
you
ready, Princess
Mia?”

Am I? For friendship with a man that I can’t stop thinking
about?
Pussy humming sex. Shit.
I force a nod and swallow down my fear.
“Lead the way, noble knights.”

**

Nolan’s excitement was infectious and it grew as the evening
played out. When we pulled up in front of the castle, he couldn’t get out of
the truck fast enough and practically sprinted toward it. When he got his
picture taken with the King, he couldn’t take his eyes off him, even when Ben
and I told him to look at us so we could take pictures of him with our phones.
He stared at him with eyeballs the size of dinner plates, his mouth forming a
tiny O. It was the cutest thing I’d ever seen. And when the actual show started
and Nolan got to see the knights in action, jousting and sword fighting right
in front of him, I don’t think he blinked even once.

And then there was Ben. I kept catching glances from him the
entire night, meeting his eyes every few minutes when I couldn’t keep myself
from looking at him. I’m sure my struggle was obvious, considering he caught me
each and every time I gave into my temptation. But the look he shot back at me
wasn’t the one I was used to. It wasn’t the look he gave me when I knew he was
thinking about doing things to my body. I was familiar with that look. The
greedy shift in his eyes, the tightness in his jaw, the way his nostrils flared
like he was a caged pit bull. But I didn’t get that look tonight. Instead of
the raw thirst I had seen in his eyes on more than one occasion, I saw
tenderness. A friendly affection. He regarded me sweetly but there was nothing
behind it. No underlying hunger.

And God, I wanted to be devoured by him.

“He is completely passed out.” I observe, walking next to
Ben and focusing on Nolan’s exhausted face. I reach up and brush his wild brown
hair off his forehead, smiling at his sleepy state. “I don’t even think an
actual dragon could wake him up right now.”

Ben opens up the back door of his truck, laughing softly at
the sight of Nolan’s face as he peels him off his shoulder. “I figured he’d
crash hard after all of this.” He buckles Nolan into his car seat, closing the
door and grabbing the passenger door handle. “I may have withheld his nap from
him today in hopes of getting to talk to you alone on the drive back. My son
likes to monopolize the conversation, as you witnessed on the way here.”

I smile, climbing up into the truck after my door is opened
for me.

Nolan talked nonstop on the drive to the dinner show, and
every time Ben tried to talk to me about something other than dragons or
knights, Nolan would adorably cut in and change the subject. I’d be lying if I
said I’m not grateful for Nolan’s missed nap.

I settle into my seat and buckle up. “I can’t say I blame
him. Dragons and knights are way more exciting than what Tessa and I did
today.”

He closes my door and gets in on the driver’s side, starting
up the truck and pulling away from the castle. I inhale, taking in Ben’s scent
that has completely filled the space between us. He smells like pure Ben. No
cologne, just him. Like a man that knows exactly how to please a woman.
Shit.
Don’t go there.
“How’s your mom doing? Tessa mentioned a few months back
that she was really sick. Is it breast cancer?”

I cross one leg over the other, angling my body toward him.
His one hand stays firmly planted on the wheel while his other relaxes on the
console between us. I’m glued to his fingers, the fingers that I moronically
doubted that night. I didn’t think there was a chance in hell he’d get me off
the way he did. And now that I know what those fingers are capable of, I’m
fascinated by them. I actually can’t stop looking at them. The length, the
thickness, the fucking tips of them that played me like a record. I want him to
turn his hand up so I can straddle his fingers and ride out my pent up orgasm
right now, but that’s not going to happen. He clears his throat, gaining my
attention and I’m quickly reminded of the question he hit me with before I
wandered off into finger fucking la-la land.

I paint on my most convincing
I wasn’t just
fantasizing about what you could do to me face and answer. “Yeah. She’s doing
great right now. The treatments aren’t making her nearly as sick as they did in
the beginning. It was awful when she first started them.” He glances over at me
and gives me a sympathetic smile. “She wouldn’t eat anything and she didn’t
have the strength to get out of bed. I couldn’t leave her side for more than a
few minutes at a time because she was constantly getting sick.”

“But she’s doing better now? Does she still have it?” he
asks, turning onto the main highway that led to Ruxton.

I nod once. “Yeah, she still has it, but I guess the
treatments are working because she’s doing so much better than she was. I think
she’s gotten most of her strength back.” I lean my head back against the seat
rest, shifting my eyes from Ben’s profile to the road in front of us. “I just,
I don’t know what I’d do if something happened to her. She’s the only family I
have left besides my aunt.”

The hand that I had longed to mount reaches over and grabs
mine. He squeezes it gently, comforting me. “Nothing’s going to happen to her.
And she’s not the only family that you have. Tessa would kick your ass if she
heard you say that.”

I laugh and he smiles at me. His eyes shift to our conjoined
hands. After one gentle squeeze, he lets mine go. I hold in my disappointment
and rejoin my own hands together in my lap. “So, Officer Kelly.”
My God,
does that have a ring to it or what?
Images of him doing things to me in
that uniform flash in front of my eyes too fast to focus on. I blink rapidly as
his eyes meet mine and darken. And that look, the look that he’s hitting me
with is directly connected to the pulsing spot between my legs. I clear my
throat and the dirty thoughts from my mind. “Do you like being a cop?”
Good
save.
I hide my heated face behind the strand of hair that fell out of my
clip, shifting my attention to the road in front of us. My body goes rigid when
his hand brushes my face, tucking my hair back behind my ear.

“I do,” he replies coolly as if he didn’t just touch me. As
if he’s completely unaffected by that touch. His hand returns to his lap before
he continues, his eyes returning to the road as mine neglect it completely. I
am entirely too focused on him and his smooth voice. “It’s never boring, that’s
for sure. Plus Nolan gets a kick out of it.” His lip curls up into a smile.
“When he’s not playing knights, he’s usually playing cops and robbers with me.”

I look to the back seat at a very sleepy little boy whose
head is slouched against his car seat. “He really is the cutest kid I’ve ever
seen.” I pry his wooden sword out of his hand and place it onto the seat next
to him. “You’ve raised this incredible little boy, Ben. If I ever have kids of
my own someday, I hope they turn out as awesome as this one.”

Our eyes lock. “If there was any woman that was born to be a
mother, it’s you.”

He means what he says. I can feel it. I settle back into my
seat and stare at his profile. “Really?” I’ve never given much thought to
having children, mainly because I’ve never pictured the person I would someday
have them with. When you’ve gone twenty-three years without a boyfriend, it’s
hard to imagine having a husband.

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