“HOLY SHIT, BRO, THIS place is da bomb.”
“Da bomb, seriously?” I raised a brow at Kyle as he dumped the box on the desk and surveyed my dorm room.
“What’d you do to score this place?”
“I didn’t do anything, jackass. I just got lucky.”
He scoffed at that. He could believe what he wanted though. It was the truth. I only found out my dorm assignment a week ago. Something about a last-minute change. But I wasn’t complaining. The place was sweet: single room, private bathroom. Only fifteen rooms split over two floors, low key, with its own parking lot.
It was damn near perfect.
“Holy crap, did you see this place?” Laurie craned her head around the door and grinned. “You did good,” she directed at me.
“Guys, I didn’t do anything. Seriously, I just got lucky.” I shrugged. It could have gone a totally different way. I could have ended up rooming with Trevor who enjoyed cosplay, or Billy who planned to try out for the band despite his complete lack of tune.
As if he heard my thoughts, Kyle said, “Whatever you say, Prince. Whatever you say,” around a shit-eating grin.
“It’s really nice, Maverick.” Lo appeared next to Laurie; the smile painted on her lips not quite reaching her eyes. I strode toward them and held out my hand, tugging Lo inside when she slid her palm into mine.
“And best part, no roommate.” I dropped a kiss to her nose, wrapping my arms around her waist. Lo’s hands pressed against my chest and for a second I thought she was going to push me away, but then her fingers were twisting into my jersey, pulling me closer. Erasing all space between us.
“Hmm, guys, not that we don’t get it.” Laurie cleared her throat. “Because we do, but perhaps we should give the two of you some—”
“No,” Lo murmured into my mouth, breaking the kiss and peeking over at her best friend. “The plans remain. We’ll help Maverick unpack, go explore and get some dinner, and then you two can go do... things.”
“Things, totally. We can do things. Right, babe?” Laurie fixed her eyes on Kyle who was busy making fake-gagging noises.
“You’re a dick.” I directed at him and he threw up his hands. “What? I’m allowed to be grossed out by,”—he waved his hand at us—“that.”
“Kyle, it’s been almost a year.” Lo stifled a laugh but his scowl remained firmly in place.
“At least I won’t have to worry about walking in on the two of you—”
“Kyle!” we all said in unison.
“Let’s go get the rest of the boxes.” Lo changed the subject. “Then we can explore campus.” She sounded less than enthused about that and Kyle raised a brow at me, but I shook my head discreetly.
Everything was going to be fine. Steinbeck was a forty-minute drive away tops. It was nothing. It didn’t even warrant a long-distance relationship label.
“Lo seems to be handling it all well,” Kyle said, hanging back from the girls who were almost at my car.
“She’s fine. Everything is fine.”
He snickered, clapped me on the back and muttered something about ‘if fine is code for everything is going to shit’. But he was wrong. Everything was not going to shit. Okay, so there had been the small thing of Uncle Rob moving Stella and Bethany into the house and I may have kept my knowledge of the move from Lo... but that was all behind us now.
We were fine.
Besides didn’t they—whoever the fuck they were—say absence made the heart grow fonder? Maybe some space would do the both of us good. Lo had spent pretty much all summer at the pool house with me. Some days we hadn’t even come up for air. We couldn’t keep up that pace. No one could. So yeah, some space would be a good thing.
Who was I trying to kid?
The next year was going to suck... not to mention give me a serious case of blue balls.
“I CAN’T WAIT TO GET you back to my dorm room,” I whispered against Lo’s ear as we walked back from the student union, feeling her shiver at my words.
It had been nice having her, Kyle, and Laurie, here for the day. We’d checked out the freshmen orientation fair and picked up coupons for the campus store, and then we’d stopped by the cafeteria and had tacos for lunch. But I was ready to say goodbye to my cousin and his girlfriend and spend some quality time with my girl.
“Maverick, behave,” Lo scolded around a playful smirk. One that told me she was right there with me. Even if her eyes told a different story.
But I didn’t think about that. Not while she was still here and we still had a few hours together.
“Prince, that you?” A voice said from behind us and the four of us stopped and turned. “Maverick Prince?”
“Yeah, who’s asking?” I eyed the guy and his two friends.
“I’m Vinnie, and this here’s Mac, and Balor.” He looked at me expectantly and I narrowed my eyes. When I didn’t reply, he continued, “Okay, this is awkward.” He ran a brisk hand over his head and stepped forward. “Scorpions starting power forward—we’re teammates.”
Some of the tension eased out of my shoulders and I accepted his hand. “Sorry, man. It’s been a crazy few weeks. Vincent Valenzi, right? And you two must be Mackenzie Devers and Tom Balor?”
The guys nodded, and we all traded handshakes and fist bumps. “I tried to make it down for the summer thing, but something came up.”
I felt Lo’s stare hard on the side of my face but ignored her. Questions could wait. Preferably until after I’d gotten her naked.
“So how you liking SU so far?” Vinnie asked, and I went to answer but Laurie beat me to it. “Great, it’s great.”
They looked at her and then me.
“You have to excuse my girl, she gets a little overexcited in new situations. I’m Kyle, Kyle Stone. Prince’s better half.”
“We know your story. Word on the street is you’re headed to USC and straight to the NFL.”
Kyle puffed out his chest, a shit eating grin plastered on his face, and I groaned. “Word on the street would be right.”
Vinnie’s chest rumbled with laughter before he settled his attention back on the quiet girl at my side. “And you are?”
“Lo.” She tensed. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Vinnie replied turning his focus back to me. “We’re meeting later. It’s a team thing. Zac wants everyone there. Shall I tell him you’re in?”
“Actually,”—my arm tightened around Lo—“we have plans.”
“Oh, okay cool.” Something passed over his face. “Well, if you get chance, maybe stop by after? We’re meeting at the Delta Pi frat house.”
The guys left and the four of us walked back to my dorm. When Kyle started for the door, I said, “Going somewhere?”
“Well, yeah, I thought—”
“You thought wrong. I heard the diner on Fifth Street is happening.”
“Happening?” He smirked, and I flipped him off.
“Come on, babe, let’s give them some privacy. Besides, you promised we could do that thing.”
“Thing?” His brows furrowed.
“Yes, the thing.” Laurie’s eyes went wide, and when he made no effort to move she ground out, “Kyle Stone, will you just get over here already?”
“Yes, ma’am.” He strolled over to her and wrapped his arms around her waist before crushing his mouth to hers.
“I think that’s our cue,” Lo said around a weak smile. “Give me an hour, okay?” She called back to them.
“Two,” I added over my shoulder. “Make that two.”
“No excuses, London, now get your ass inside.” My hand collided with her jean shorts and she shrieked but I was already one step ahead, imagining her moaning my name as we christened my standard issue dorm bed.
We tumbled through the door to my room in a tangle of limbs and desperate touches. “I need in you so fucking much,” I groaned as I tried to kick my sneakers off, all while peeling Lo’s denim shorts off her hips.
“Maybe you should go to the team thing,” she said, tilting her head back giving me better access to her neck.
“London,” I growled against her smooth skin. “Less talking, more stripping.”
Lo threaded her fingers into my hair, pulling me closer, anchoring us together as I looped my arm around her waist and guided us to my bed. I dropped down with her on top of me, adjusting her legs so she was straddling me. Gathering her hair up, I twisted my hand around it, forcing her to my eye-level. “You think I want to go to some team thing at a frat house when I could be here with you?”
My mouth came down on hers, hard and demanding. She knew I didn’t want to be anywhere else. But that was Lo, always doing the right thing. Always putting others first.
She broke the kiss, holding my jaw with her fingers. “I can’t believe it’s here,” she murmured. “You live here now.”
The words were like a bucket of ice water. And I wanted to be angry she was ruining the moment, already putting up a wall between us. But screw that. As far as I was concerned my move to SU changed nothing.
Not a damn thing.
“Lo, listen to me.” I stared at her with fierce intent. “Me living here, being at SU; it changes nothing. It’s one year. One year and then you’ll be right here with me.”
Her gaze darted away. Just for a second. Then she was looking at me. Inside of me. Reaching that deep untouchable part only she got to see. “Maverick, I—”
I pressed a finger to her lips. “No more talking. You need time, I know. But I want you here with me. Together. Always.”
I hadn’t pushed her about applying to go here but she knew where I was at on the whole thing. Lo didn’t have a plan. She wasn’t even sure she would apply to college this year. But I wanted her to know my plans included her. That if it was up to me, I would have packed up her shit and moved her here with me right now. So yeah, it stung she wasn’t quite there yet, but after everything with her dad, my dad, and our crazy-as-fuck family, I got it.
Closing the distance, I captured her lips, dragging her closer. My world had been a dark place for the last few years. But Lo was my light. She made all the bad shit with my dad, the lies my mom had told, all the noise in my head, quiet.
Lo made breathing easier.
And somewhere over the last few months, she’d become my sanctuary. But I wanted to be that for her too. I wanted to hold her up when she was weak and love her when she was lost. To be Lo’s all because fuck only knew she’d become mine.
“I love you,” I whispered against her soft lips, giving her no time to reply as I pushed my tongue into her mouth.
Things quickly became a blur of clothes shedding and skin touching. I watched mesmerized as Lo peeled off her tank top and then pushed her cotton panties down over her hips. “Come here.” I curled a finger, helping her climb back on me, groaning at the feel of her heat against my throbbing dick.
“Maverick, I need you,” she whispered, pressing greedy kisses to my neck, my jaw and collarbone. I slid a hand between us, slipping a finger inside her as my thumb circled her clit. Lo gasped, arching into me, and her head dropped back. But I was impatient, desperate to feel her wrapped around me. I withdrew my hand, worked myself free and guided myself home, slowly, pushing inside her inch by breath-stealing inch.
Being with Lo was like nothing else. Feeling her tight around me. The way her body responded—melted—underneath my touch. My hands smoothed over her hips, running up and down her waist letting her find a rhythm. But it wasn’t enough. I needed more—needed everything she could give—if I was to last the days spent apart from her. My fingers dug into the flesh of her thighs, moving her faster, harder, until the room filled with nothing but the sound of moans.
“God,” she panted. “Oh, God.” Lo buried her face into the crook of my neck, but I tugged her hair, pulling her face to mine. I needed to see her; to look into her eyes and know she was here with me.
Even when we were apart. Even when she was busy with her life in Wicked Bay and I was here, studying or on the court; I needed to know she was with me. In my head. My heart. Buried so deep in my soul there was no chance I’d ever lose her.