Falling into Us Read online

Page 23

He didn’t respond for a long moment, and I thought he’d fallen asleep, but then he rolled in my arms so our faces were millimeters apart, his green eyes hooded with sleep but sparking with desire and amusement. “Ah, now I know the real reason why you’re here so early. ”

  “You’re not the only one with an addiction, you know. ” That was the raw truth; I was totally addicted to Jason’s body, to his love, to the heat of our bodies merging.

  There was more to it, though, and I wasn’t about to admit the rest out loud. I needed Jason for the same reason he needed to lift weights and Nell needed to cut. I needed a distraction. I needed something other than the worry for Nell and the weight of the secrets and my parents’ disapproval. When I’d gone home the night before, it had been well before midnight, but my parents had acted like I’d been out past curfew, despite the fact that I was in college. They wanted to know what I was doing and if it would be a habit for me to stay out that late. When I’d told them I wasn’t going to be treated like a child anymore, it had led to a fight. It didn’t matter that I was valedictorian of my high school, or that I’d completed sixty-four credits in three semesters with a 4. 0 GPA at one of the top universities in the country.

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  I knew, logically, that my overprotective but loving parents were a minor blip on the life-problems scale. But personal problems were a relative thing. I hated feeling their distrust. I hated the disapproval in their eyes when I told them I’d been at home with Jason last night.

  Jason distracted me from these thoughts by slipping his fingers under the hem of my shirt to touch my bare back. I shivered and leaned in to bite his lower lip.

  “Out with it,” he said, deftly removing my shirt.

  “Out with what?” I pretended ignorance, hoping to keep the conversation light.

  “Whatever’s bugging you. ”

  I wiggled out of my skirt and threw my leg over Jason’s, sighing in pleasure as he stroked my leg from knee to thigh. “Just my parents. They still want me home by 1 a. m. and expect me to check in with them and tell them where I am. ”

  “And they still don’t approve of you spending all your time with me. ” He had my bra off in seconds and was pushing my underwear down past my knees and hooking them off the rest of the way with his toes.

  I shook my head. “No. I’m wondering if they ever will. ”

  “Probably not. ”

  “So should I even bother trying to follow their rules?”

  Jason paused, his mouth between my br**sts. “That’s gotta be your call, honey. The last thing I want is to be a problem between you and your parents. I can’t tell you what to do with them. I want them to accept that we’re adults, young adults, sure, but still adults. But whether you toe their line is up to you. ”

  “I don’t expect them to like the fact that we’re together, like…well, like this. And I’m not going to flaunt it in their face, but I’m also not going to let them dictate my life. If I want to stay here with you till four in the morning, I’m going to. ”

  “What if you just stayed here?”

  “Like, didn’t live with my parents over the summer?”

  He nodded. “Yeah. Why not? They’re going to have to get used to it sometime, right?”

  “They’d cut me off. They’d take my car and my monthly allowance. ”

  Jason didn’t answer right away, and I knew his answer would be something I might not like by the fact that he slid back up my body and met my eyes, all playful touching stopped. “Don’t—don’t take this the wrong way, baby, but maybe it’s time you let that happen. ”

  I frowned at him. “What’s that mean?”

  He sighed. “I—just that maybe you should get that stuff on your own. ”

  “Because I don’t know what work is? Because I’ve always had things given to me?”

  “Sort of? Look, I know you’re gonna get pissed off at this, but I’m never gonna sugarcoat things for you. ” He wrapped his hand around my nape and brushed a ringlet of hair away from my eyes. “You need to get a job. You’ve never had one. If you let them pay for everything, they’ll always have leverage over you. If you earn things yourself, they’ll be forced to see that you’re capable of making your own decisions. ”

  “How many jobs have you had?”

  He frowned at me. “I’m not trying to…belittle you, or say I’m better. But I stopped taking Dad’s money—”

  “When it was convenient for you to do so. After you had a car and an expensive camera and money saved up. ” I poked him in the chest. “You don’t have a job, either. You have a full ride that includes room and board and books as well as tuition and a dispensation for living expenses. ”

  He grimaced; his full-ride offer from U of M was generous, to say the least. “I’m not—look, baby. I’m just saying maybe it’s time you cut the strings a little, okay? Not that there’s anything wrong with the way things are, but…your parents will still love you, right? If you stay here with me full-time, will they disown you and refuse to speak to you ever again?”

  I shook my head, seeing his point. “No. They won’t like it one bit, but they won’t do that. They’ll be pissed off for a long time, but they’ll come around. Eventually. I hope. ”

  “You don’t need their money or their car, not if it comes with conditions. You can take my truck whenever you want, and you know it. Your scholarships cover tuition and room and board, too, so all you need money for is books and other shit, right? So we’ll find jobs. Both of us. You can cut back to four or five classes next semester and work part-time. I’ll get a job, too, and we’ll pool our resources. If you come to a point where you need your own car, we’ll get you one. ” He kissed me on the cheek, then just beneath my eye, then the corner of my mouth. “Don’t be mad, please. I just don’t want you to have this issue with your parents every time we come back. ”

  I sighed, covering my eyes with one hand, thinking. “No, you’re right. I’m not mad. I just hate conflict. I hate confrontations. We argued last night, and they just…they had the gall to look disappointed in me, like I’d let them down by coming home at eleven-thirty without checking in. What do they think is going on at school? They think I’m in my dorm by nine every night? That I’m some innocent virgin?”

  “I think they want you to be their little girl forever. Just be glad they care as much as they do. ” The wistful tone in his voice brought everything back into perspective.

  I pushed him onto his back and moved to sit astride him. “You’re right. Of course you’re right. I’m just being silly and selfish. ”

  He caressed my hips and shook his head lovingly. “No, baby. You’re the least selfish person I know. ”

  “But I’m worried about my stupid little problems when you and Nell are—”

  He touched my lips with a finger, silencing me. “It’s not a competition. ” He massaged the hollow of my hips with his thumbs, and I unconsciously shifted my weight to allow him access where I most wanted his touch. “I’ll support whatever you decide. I’ll help you any way I can. What’s mine is yours, okay? If you need something, I’ll make sure you have it, however I have to get it. ”

  I melted at his words. “You’re not responsible for me. We’re in this together. ”

  He laughed. “You’re my woman. Of course I’m responsible for you. It’s my highest duty in life to take care of you, protect you. ”

  “Old-fashioned much? I can take care of myself. ”

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  He sighed dramatically. “I know that. That’s not the point. I’m not saying sit back and be Susie Homemaker here. I’m just saying you’re not in this alone. ”

  I giggled and leaned over him, silencing him with a kiss. “I know that, Jason. Shut up and distract me already. I need my fix. ”

  He grinned then, and palmed my br**sts, and I felt the heat in my belly turn to dampness between my thighs. He slid one hand between our bodie