Riley's Love Connection
A Mossy Oak Reader-made romance
I’m floating. My body is weightless, barely touching the mattress beneath me. I try to move, but I’m as limp as a book dropped in the bathtub. My arms and legs won’t move, and my mind is blown.
When I open my eyes, I expect to see stars, but it’s Josh leaning over me. His hair is longer on top than on the sides, and it flops onto his forehead. He’s so handsome, I almost don’t trust my eyes.
I’ve never been so close up to Josh before. I take a long look at him, noticing the silver flecks in his pale blue eyes and the small scar under his right eyebrow. His lashes are long and thick, the kind of lashes that women wish for.
The mattress dips, and Josh rolls off the bed. He walks out of the room, and I stare after him. His butt is fantastic. Then he's gone, and the show is over. I close my eyes again, allowing my head to sink into the mattress. It dawns on me what just happened—the man I've been dreaming about for years was just inside me. He made love to me. No, we fucked. I may as well admit it. The sex was hard and fast. Dirty sex. Sweating and grunting with a sense of urgency I've never felt before.
There have only been two men before Josh. One was a onetime thing, a hook up I deeply regret, seeing as the man turned out to be a teaching assistant in my Advanced Studies of American Literature class. I had to see the guy three times a week and listen to him spout on about Hemingway and Faulkner for the entire semester. He was a Faulkner fan, while I much preferred Hemingway. We were equally mortified to see each other that first day of class, and we didn't speak at all during the entire semester. It was better that way. I could never be in a relationship with a fan of William Faulkner.
The other man was someone I dated briefly. I use the term date loosely in that we never actually went anywhere. We only had sex. In my dorm room or his, depending on whose roommates were absent. It turned out he was having sex with a half dozen other girls in dorm rooms all over campus. When I found out I was just another number, I dumped him. The decision was simple. Despite all the sex he was having, he still wasn't very good.
But Josh was different. When Josh touched me, all my nerves felt like they were on fire. When he looked at me with those intense, silver-flecked eyes, I felt like the most beautiful woman in the world. I forgot my shame over my body. Although I know that I’m not ugly, I’ve been battling my body for years. My figure isn’t flawless. No matter how many sit-ups I do, I still have a tummy. No matter how many squats and lunges I execute, my thighs are still thick and my hips are curvy.
I suddenly remember I have somewhere to be. I'd volunteered to babysit my neighbor’s kids so they can go on a much-needed date night.
I sit up just as Josh walks back into the room, then I freeze. He's still naked. And he is perfect. Every muscle in his body is defined and carved like a sculpture. I remember my fleshy tummy and yank the quilt up to my armpits. There’s no need for me to be naked around all that perfection.
“I need to go,” I say, awkwardly setting my feet on the ground so the quilt doesn’t expose any part of me. It had been miraculous that I’d forgotten to be self-conscious for a little while. I’ve never let go of my insecurities for half as long before. Josh made me feel beautiful, but now I’m back to feeling like myself—the nerdy bookworm with glasses and a body that will never look like an Instagram influencer no matter how many crunches I do.
Josh sits beside me on the bed and hands me two towels. His smile is suddenly shy as I take them. One is dripping wet, the other is dry. I know he is trying to be nice. Sex is messy, and I should clean up, but I can’t bear to do it in front of him. Is he going to sit there and watch me? And where are my clothes? They seem to have disappeared. I grab my glasses from the nightstand and slide them into place, feeling even more naked now that I can see clearly.
“Do you have to go? I feel terrible about…” His gaze slides past me to the bed, and his lips press together. “I’m sorry,” he says, his forehead creasing above his straight sandy brows.
Great! He feels terrible about what happened between us. He’s already regretting sleeping with me. How embarrassing.
“Don’t worry,” I say, locating my sweater on the floor, and reaching down to grab it. “I don’t expect anything from you.”
We aren’t dating. We aren’t even friends. This was a mistake. I’d spent years fixating on Josh, and one little teddy bear confession had me pouncing on him. I remember the way I’d held him down to the bed and climbed on top of him. Oh God, he’d probably been trying to think of a way to escape the entire time.
He pushes my hair off my face. I’d let it fall across my cheek, taking comfort behind the thick waves. His fingers are firm as he tucks the lock of hair behind my ear. “I owe you a huge apology. This wasn’t supposed to happen.”
I cringe inside, my throat closing up with emotion. I need to get dressed and get out of here, hold on to whatever dignity I still possess. My sweater is stuck on something, and I give it a sharp tug. It comes loose, and along with it, an orange ball of fluff flies from the ground. I almost scream, and then I realize it’s a cat. A very fluffy cat with a tail like a giant golden feather duster. The cat lands in my lap and makes itself comfortable, circling a few times before settling in a heap of orange fur.
My hands flutter in the air over the cat, who's looking up at me with big tawny eyes. I have a soft spot for cats. I’ve always preferred them over dogs.
“Miss Frizzles,” Josh croons, running his hand over the cat’s back. “Where did you come from, sweet girl?”
She purrs and arches against his hand. I know how she feels. Josh’s touch does the same thing to me. Too bad I’ll never feel it again.
“She likes you.” Josh rests his hand on my lap, next to Miss Frizzles’ impossibly fluffy tail. “She doesn’t like anyone. She’s extremely anti-social.”
My gaze jerks up to his. The tone of his voice catches me off guard. He sounds funny. Not like the confident man who reads in animated voices to the kids at the library, more like the little boy I’d first met. His eyes are warm and inviting. I fall into them, remembering the Josh from grade school. Skinny and pale, he was usually nose-deep in a comic book while the other kids climbed on the jungle gym.
I drag my eyes away and pull my sweater over my head. The sheet drops as the sweater falls over me, hiding my body. I don’t even care about my bra, nor can I waste time in locating it. All I know is I have to get out of here before I combust with mortification. I’ve practically attacked Josh, and now I can’t even look at him. I try to stand, but Miss Frizzles isn’t having any of it. She isn’t budging.
“Wait,” Josh says as I try to pry the immoveable Miss Frizzles from my lap. “It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.”
Confusion spreads through me. Why is Josh apologizing? It was me who climbed on top of him. Me, who rolled the condom on and had my way with him. A fierce blush rises over my cheeks as I stroke a hand over the orange fluff ball in my lap. There’s something very comforting about Miss Frizzles. She’s soft and pliant beneath my touch. I bet she never made a fool of herself in front of the man she’s fantasized about for years.
“I’m going to be late.” I calculate the distance from Josh’s Frog Level apartment to my sister’s place downtown. It isn’t far less than ten blocks away. I can walk. In fact, it will do me good to feel the cold February wind on my face. Maybe by the time I get there, the hot embarrassment of forcing myself on Josh will have faded.
Josh’s hand trails up my arm and curls around my neck. “Don’t go.” He pulls me close, his eyes searching mine. “I’m so embarrassed. I don’t even know how I can try to make this up to you.”
An incredulous laugh bubbles up inside me and escapes before I can hold it back. “You’re embarrassed?” I stroke the cat’s back again, finding peace in her soft fur.
“That was terrible.” He strokes the cat too, his hand bumping into mine.
“Terrible?” I question. He hated what had happened between us? My heart twists, and it feels like I’m being ripped into pieces.
Josh dips his head, his lips hovering over mine. “I’ve been wanting you for so long. I built this up in my head. All my fantasies over the years got the best of me.” He winces, biting his bottom lip between his teeth. “Now I’m really scaring you, aren’t I? I promise I’m not a creepy stalker. It’s just I’ve wanted you forever.”
My heart jumps to my throat. It’s something I never in a million years thought Josh Killian would say. “I’ve thought about you forever,” I manage, my voice thick with emotion.
Josh smiles and kisses me again. Harder this time. His tongue strokes against my lower lip until I open and let him in. The kiss goes on and on. I run my fingers through the short, thick hair at the nape of his neck and then cling to him as he lowers me onto the bed. Miss Frizzles has abandoned us, and Josh stretches out over me.
“Can I make it up to you?” His voice is in my ear, full of hope and promise. His body presses against mine. I can feel the hard length of him nudging my hip.
My blood hums in my veins, and my doubts disappear. Its clear Josh wants me. His kiss makes me forget everything else. Nothing matters but the hot slide of his tongue in my mouth, the caress of his strong hands.
I’m going to be late for my babysitting job. Very, very late.