“Did you sleep good?” he asked.

I had. The pain medicine I had to take at night to rest knocked me out. “Yeah. I slept good. You?” I asked.

He shrugged. “I guess. I sleep better in your room.”

Oh. I wasn’t sure what to say to that. So I studied my hands in my lap.

He didn’t say anything more. We rode in uncomfortable silence the rest of the way to school. Miraculously, there was a parking spot empty near the front. It was where he always parked. To the right of us was Marcus Hardy’s truck, and to the left was Dewayne Falco’s Mustang. It was like the three of them had parking spots that had been assigned. No one ever parked here but them.

“We’re here,” he said, stating the obvious. “Stay put. I’m helping you down.”

I did as I was told.

Rock opened my door and reached for my book bag, then slung it over his shoulder before holding out his hand for me.

Once again I slipped my hand in his, and he held on to me tightly as he eased me down from the truck. I only winced once, and Rock’s hand squeezed mine when I did. “You okay?” he asked, sounding concerned.

“Yes. I’m fine. Thank you,” I replied.

He didn’t let go of my hand as he closed the truck door. I waited for him to release me, but he didn’t. Instead his fingers threaded through mine. “Let’s go,” he said, and we headed for the entrance.

Excitement and confusion were battling inside me. Why was he holding my hand like this? He knew I didn’t need his help walking.

A whistle startled me, and I looked up to see Preston Drake grinning from ear to ear as his eyes zeroed in on our hands. I loosened my grasp, preparing for Rock to drop my hand like it was on fire. Instead he squeezed it tightly. “He’s a bitch-face sometimes. Ignore him. He means well,” Rock said, leaning down to me. Then he winked.

Rock winked at me.

What was going on?

“Finally got the girl. ’Bout damn time. You’ve worked hard enough for it,” Preston said with a smug grin on his face.

“Shut it, you shithead,” Rock grumbled. Preston only laughed in response.

“I’m . . . we aren’t . . .” I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be explaining this or not.

“Yeah, we aren’t,” Rock finished for me, glaring at Preston. Then his hand released mine and I felt cold. And alone.

“Let’s get you to first period,” Rock said in a strained voice.

Something was wrong with him. His tone was hard, and I wasn’t used to that from him. At least not since we’d become friends.

“Okay,” I replied.


I stood at my locker, trying not to grab my books and start throwing shit. I was in the f**king friend zone with Trisha, and I was seeing now that I was stuck there. She didn’t see us any other way. I’d tested it this morning by holding her hand. She’d been blushing when I’d picked her up, and then she’d shivered when I’d touched her hand. For the first time I’d thought maybe I had gotten under that thick skin of hers.

I was wrong. Dammit.

Slamming my locker door, I took one more deep breath. I had to get control of this. Fact was, I wasn’t going anywhere. She needed me, and my infatuation with her was something deeper now. Stopping it seemed impossible. But if I was going to survive this, maybe I needed to shield my heart.

Hands slid up my back and nails scratched at my neck.

“Missed you this weekend at the party,” Rose said from behind me. She was pursuing me like her life depended on it.

“I was busy,” I replied, moving back a step out of her reach, then heading for my first-period class.

She fell into step beside me. “I heard you brought Trisha Corbin to school this morning. Are you two a thing now?”

No. But not for lack of trying to get her to trust me. “We’re just friends,” I said, hating the way it tasted. I wanted to claim her as mine.

“Oh, well, that’s good. My parents are out of town this week. I was hoping you could come over tonight and stay . . . all night.”

I knew if I went, I’d get laid. Hell, I’d probably get several blow jobs too. Rose was known for her killer blow jobs. But I wasn’t even slightly interested. Not in the f**king least. Which only told me I was too far gone with Trisha.

“Can’t. Got plans,” I told her, then stepped into my literature class.

Marcus was already there, sitting at his desk and flirting with some new girl I didn’t recognize. I didn’t pay any attention to her as I sat down beside him.

Marcus didn’t look away from the blonde he was flirting with. He was a man on a mission, and I had no doubt he’d succeed.

“You up for some fun tonight?” Marcus asked me, and I turned my head to look at him.

“What?” I asked, confused. I hadn’t been listening to his conversation with the girl, so I had no idea what he was talking about.

“Hillary here has a friend named Chandise who has a thing for you. They want to know if we’re up for a good time tonight. I told her we are always up for a good time.” Marcus was grinning like he’d already gotten laid.

I hated to c**k block him, but I wasn’t going with them. “Sorry. I got plans. Ask Preston instead.” Who we all knew was always up for a good time.

Marcus frowned. “Her friend hates Preston.”

No one hated Preston unless he’d f**ked them and left them. Oh. That was it.

“I see. Then Dewayne,” I replied.

Marcus sighed. “Yeah, but she wants you.”

I wanted Trisha. We all f**king wanted something. Didn’t always get what we wanted. “Can’t,” I replied, and opened my notebook.

Marcus got the message and dropped it.

I let him work out his plans with the girl, and I went back to trying to figure out what to do about Trisha.

Present day . . .

Trisha stood in the bedroom undressing. It was something I had seen a million times before, but it never got old. I could watch this with complete fascination over and over again. With each year I somehow managed to love this woman more.

Seeing her mother our kids only made that love stronger.

When she wiggled her h*ps to make her shorts fall to the ground, leaving her in nothing but the black satin panties covering her sweet ass, I gave up my restraint.

I pressed my chest against her back and slid my hands around to rest on her flat stomach. “You’re so damn gorgeous,” I whispered in her ear before nibbling on her earlobe.

She shivered in my arms and melted back against me. “Mmmm” was her only response.

I cupped both her br**sts in my hands and let their heaviness rest in my palms before tugging on her aroused ni**les. Her breathing grew heavy as she pressed her chest into my hands, her way of silently begging for more.

Until Trisha, I had been a leg man. But after seeing her na**d the first time, I became a tits, ass, and leg man. She was so damn perfect I couldn’t decide what I loved more on her body.

“Bend over and put your hands on the bed,” I said, placing a hand on her back and pushing her forward. Over time Trisha had come to love it when I was demanding with sex. It made her hotter when I told her what to do. In the beginning it hadn’t been like this. I’d been as delicate with her as possible and treated her like the treasure she was.

Trisha bent over and put both her palms on the bed, then spread her legs as she arched her back. She knew she looked like a f**king wet dream, and she worked it. “God, I love your ass,” I said, running my hand over it lovingly before jerking her panties down and having her step out of them.

“Wet for me yet?” I asked her, knowing the answer already. I slipped a hand up between her legs and teased her inner thighs as she panted and whimpered. Then I slipped my fingers between the tender pink flesh.

“Fuck yeah,” I growled as her arousal coated my hand.

“Rock, don’t play with me. I need you to f**k me. Now. We can play later,” Trisha said on a pleading moan.

When my woman wanted to be f**ked, I f**ked. With one hand still pleasing her, I used my other to unsnap my jeans and shove them down, along with my boxers. “You just want it tonight? Is that it?” I teased her.

“Yes,” she panted. “Yes, please.”

“Can I lick my sweet pu**y first?” I asked her, bending over her to lay a kiss on the small of her back.

“Ah, Rock, please.” She was begging now, and wiggling her ass in my face.

I’d have to kiss her pu**y later. Right now I needed inside her. With one hard thrust I filled her up, and she pressed her face in the mattress to smother her cry. We were on the other side of the house from the kids, but we still tried to be careful when they were home. While they were at school, I often came home to f**k my woman until she screamed so loud the neighbors could hear her.


Eight years ago . . .

Carrying my own book bag would keep me from healing and possibly make my fracture worse. However, after three days of Rock walking beside me and carrying it to each class while girls flirted with him and he didn’t stop them, I was ready to get myself a wagon to pull. Anything to put some distance between me and Rock and his adoring crowd.

He didn’t say much to me except to ask politely if I was okay or if I needed anything. With everyone else he joked and laughed. He winked at a few girls and chuckled at their attempts to hang on him. It was just too much.

I was like his little sister who needed help but he wished he didn’t have the obligation. Rock was a good guy. I knew that much. He had signed on to help me, and even though this was obviously holding him back, he didn’t complain. The only answer to this was to get someone else to carry my book bag. I was more than positive he’d gladly hand over the responsibility.

“Rock,” a redhead I didn’t know said in a sickeningly sweet voice. Rock paused and glanced at the girl, then grinned.

“Hey, Ginger. What’s up?”

Hey, Ginger. What’s up? I repeated in my head, and then mentally vomited. I had to get away from this.

“Tonight there’s a party at my place. You’re coming, right? I have a special new bikini I bought just for you.”

My mental vomit was about to become actual vomit. This was ridiculous. In desperation I began to scan the crowded halls for someone to rescue me from this. Anyone.

“I heard about the party. Not sure I’ll be able to make it, though,” he replied. He wasn’t amused by her or even disgusted. He sounded almost disappointed he was going to miss the special bikini. Ugh.

I saw Riley and Davey talking, and Davey’s eyes met mine. They were talking about me. I hadn’t told them much at lunch each day, although they had asked about Rock after he had deposited me and my tray at their table before going to his table. I just did my best to change the subject each time.

Right now, however, I was ready to ask my friends to rescue me. “Help,” I mouthed at Davey, and he was instantly moving through the crowd toward me.

Rock and Ginger were still chatting about the party, and the things she could do to him, while I kept my focus on Davey. When he finally approached, I wanted to sag in relief.

“Hey,” he said, looking up at Rock, then back at me.

“Hey, you’re headed my way to the next class. Would you mind carrying my bag?” I asked him in a lower voice so as to not draw attention to myself. Rock was listening to Ginger talk right now.

“No,” Rock replied before Davey could say anything. He slipped his arm around my hips, careful not to touch my waist, and rested a hand on my hip. “Don’t need your help. I got this,” he told Davey.

Well, crap. I was trying to get him free of me. He was not helping at all.

“You can stay and talk to, uh . . . Ginger,” I replied, motioning to her, “about her bathing suit choices. And I’ll go with Davey. There’s some stuff I’m having problems with in trig that he can help me with.”

“No,” Rock repeated in a more firm tone. “You can ask him later. I’ll get you to class. Let’s go.”

And then he started to walk, gently guiding me along with him. What the heck? I looked back at Davey and shrugged. I’d talk to Davey today at lunch when Rock dropped me off. Because apparently, Rock wasn’t going to allow that at the moment.

His hand stayed firmly on my hip as he moved us up through the hallway. It never ceased to amaze me how the crowd just split for him as he moved through it. I hated to admit that I felt secure at his side, tucked in safely.

“You were trying to get rid of me,” he finally said as we got closer to my next class.

“You looked like you’d rather be alone and have more time to discuss her special bikini. I was trying to help you out,” I snapped, without meaning to. Cringing, I mentally slapped myself for being an idiot.

“Don’t care about her bikini,” he replied in a hard tone.

Instead of nodding and letting this go, I moved away from him and turned to glare up at his too-handsome-to-be-fair face. “I am not your responsibility. I hate feeling like I’m this burden on you that you can’t get rid of. I have other friends who can help me. I don’t like putting a kink in your social life.”

Rock stared at me as if he didn’t understand a word I was saying, and then he frowned. “What?”

What? Was that seriously his response? I hadn’t spoken another language. He had to have understood the words that just came out of my mouth.

“I didn’t stutter,” I told him.

A smirk tugged at the corner of his mouth. “No, you didn’t,” he agreed, then took a step toward me and lowered his head close to my ear. “But you look hot as hell when you’re jealous.”

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