Here’s an excerpt of What Love Means. Both of the main characters have a sibling who competes in spelling bees, and this takes place at a spelling club meeting.
This was the perfect chance to spend quality time with my brother while getting my mind off the breakup. And the guy from the party. I had to get him out of my mind. I thought about him more than I wanted to admit.
Did it seem so intense because of the alcohol? Needing someone so badly and feeling such pleasure at his skin on mine couldn’t possibly be real. I didn’t even know his name! Still, it had been heady. Maybe because it was new? Feeling coarse skin scrape against my jaw. Meeting muscles instead of soft flesh. How he backed me up against a wall with easy strength. His demanding mouth and hands…
Freaking hell. I was thinking about it again!
I’d think of it in class, when studying, when jogging. My mind couldn’t keep my stupid libido in check even when I stood in the most unsexy place in the world: my former prep school. I was even imagining him here. He stood in the back while the informal bee began, looking out of place but still comfortable in his skin. This was an institution of learning, yet he looked like sex on legs.
While it didn’t seem like he was dressed to impress, he made tattered jeans look good and filled out his leather jacket. If he were my fantasy, he’d probably be wearing less clothes. That meant… I should have figured it out sooner, but my mind was too clouded by lust. He was here. He was really here.
I was a rational, mature almost-adult; my 18th birthday was in February. I could handle this. Probably. There was nothing in the decorum handbook about proper conventions when meeting your one night stands again. Not that we… went all the way. Went all the way? Yeah, I’m super mature. I wanted to meet him head on for a single second. I turned and exited the room instead.
I made my way down the hall. The footsteps following mine told me I was being pursued but it was still a surprise somehow to feel his hand on my shoulder. God, he had a strong grip. “I’m sure there are plenty of secluded alcoves here where nobody will bother us,” he drawled. A lazy smile formed on his face as I turned to him. “But don’t go without me.”
“Hey, hi,” I said awkwardly. I shuffled back and forth on my feet while he looked like a hungry wolf ready to eat me up. My eyes would land on him for a few seconds before skittering away like I was staring at the sun and had to avert my gaze before the glare burned my eyes. Not that he was hot like the sun… but maybe he was pretty close.
I’d never appraised male features before, so I kept trying to apply words that didn’t fit like beautiful and pretty. But his lips were pretty. And soft, which I knew from experience. The rest of his face was more masculine. He had a strong jaw and sharp, dark eyes. He wasn’t conventionally beautiful maybe but that word still fit too. Something about him was just strong, captivating, beautiful.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“I’m a spelling and grammar enthusiast,” he replied.
My brow furrowed. “Uh, really?”
His voiced carried a hint of humor as he said, “No, my kid sister wants to compete.”
Oh, that made more sense. “You didn’t go to school here, did you?” I asked.
He laughed. “God, no.” He tilted his head at me. “What about you? Did you strut around here in an adorable little tie and blazer?”
“Yes, but our colors were different then.” No one looked good in orange, especially someone as pale as me. The lower school and high school had the same colors now, red and white, as evidenced by the deep red tie that loosely adorned my neck. “The previous color palate didn’t go well with my complexion.” I only added that because his face changed when I told him I went to school here. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with him hitting on me here in the light of day while I was stone sober and at my old prep school, until he closed off for a second and left me bereft. I apparently didn’t like him not flirting with me either.
He shook off whatever trouble plagued him momentarily, and his eyes danced with mirth and invitation again. “Poor baby,” he teased, reaching a hand up to idly tug and play with my tie.
It took tremendous effort on my part to stop his hand and then let go of it. “Look, we should talk about what happened—” I managed. Whatever was between us, my old prep school wasn’t the place to figure it out.
“We really don’t have to,” he interrupted.
Thank god. “You agree it was a mistake and we should put it behind us?”
“No,” he smirked. “But I like a challenge.” Jump on him was my first thought. What? God no, maybe I should run away instead.
“I’m serious,” I said. I stopped talking when he pressed closer, crowding me into the wall. My gaze went to his lips immediately before quickly meeting his eyes. He’d seen where my stare went anyway according to the amusement in his eyes. As he had drawn nearer, the light hit him differently and made his eyes a bright amber color. Up close now, the orbs were a mix of the dark color I’d seen before and the amber of a moment ago. I wanted to categorize the way his eyes changed, perhaps write a novel about it. I suddenly understood what it meant to get lost in someone’s eyes. Oh no, this wasn’t a safer place to look.
“Relax,” he said, cutting into my panic about his freaking eyes. “I’m not going to tell the dean. Or anyone. We could have some fun.” Our lips were inches apart, almost brushing. If we were kissing, I wouldn’t be thinking. Sure, I’d be kissing another guy, but it momentarily seemed safer than waxing poetic about another guy. I opened my mouth and leaned in and that was when he pulled back. “Think about it,” he told me and winked before walking away.
My neat, organized life had no time in it to contemplate him. I had responsibilities: college applications, homework, extracurriculars, and a girlfriend I needed to win back. My eyes were focused firmly on his ass as he walked away. I suddenly understood the phrase ‘you could bounce a quarter off that ass.’ Damn. At least I was learning things?