Of course I hadn’t counted on spotting Braydon’s photo in an advertisement for men’s cologne. I stopped on that page and stared at it for far too long, even lifting up the flap of paper to smell the intoxicating scent. It wasn’t the cologne he wore, but the scent was still delicious. I lay there soaking in the warm water, letting the spicy masculine scent drift over my senses and lull me into a state of deep relaxation, with thoughts of Braydon swirling in my brain.
I wondered if he’d given me a second thought once he’d left, or if he was used to compartmentalizing his one-night stands until the urge for the next hookup struck him. I didn’t want to feel insecure, but a part of me couldn’t help but dwell on it.
I breathed in a slow, measured breath. I needed to clear my head of all this Braydon Kincaid nonsense. He was a goddamn supermodel. I was a microbiologist who was too busy to take care of my split ends and didn’t mind having cellulite on my ass. Yes, we had great chemistry, but that was it. He wasn’t my happily ever after. Hell, he wasn’t even boyfriend material. He was a notorious playboy and his work made a real relationship difficult—two things that gave Emmy trouble when she first started dating Ben. And he was very clear about what he wanted: to f**k me. So why was I allowing myself to get so worked up over him?
As much as I tried to deny it, I knew I wanted him. But I couldn’t sit around waiting around for him until he decided to call me again. I wouldn’t. I needed to man up. I rose from the bath, toweled off, and decided I’d go on my jog after all.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I broke down and upgraded my phone to an international calling plan just so I could call Emmy. I missed her terribly and needed to hear her sweet voice. That little southern accent made everything better. I needed a pep talk. I needed my bestie.
She told me they were having a wonderful time and were getting ready to come home soon, though they’d considered just looking for properties in Tahiti and staying there permanently.
“What’s going on with you? Had any dates lately?” she asked.
“No,” I lied. “Nothing at all.”
“Have you seen Braydon again?”
“That was a one-time thing.” I had no clue why I was lying to my best friend, but something about my agreement with Braydon made me feel dirty. He was my little secret. “Can you come home early?” I begged, selfishly.
Emmy laughed. “Three more days till we’re reunited, babe. You want to do lunch when I get home? Maybe get pedicures?”
“Duh. Call me the second you land. I’m coming straight over. And I can’t be held responsible for dry-humping your leg like an overexcited lapdog when I see you.”
She laughed and we ended the call that was probably costing me a fortune per minute. But the sad, lonely feeling came back the moment I said good-bye.
How had it come to this? I felt pathetic. And I was sleeping with someone without any hope of commitment? Geez. How the mighty had fallen.
Maybe I was being too hard on myself. Hadn’t I encouraged Emmy to just go for it when she’d been so torn over Ben? Perhaps this arrangement with Braydon was exactly what I needed. I was too in my damn head all the time. I worked in a demanding field, I lived alone, and I rarely made time for fun. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt that giddy butterfly feeling that I’d felt when Braydon and I had made love. Shit. I mean had sex. Fucked. That was definitely not making love. If I was going to survive this arrangement, I needed to keep my head in the game. This was about one megahot model with a huge, pierced schlong. Period. I could do this. I just needed to man up.
Grabbing life by the balls, I pulled up Braydon’s number and began a new text, pacing the room while I typed.
Me: Heyyy, it’s me. Wanna come over and play?
Two seconds later my phone pinged. What a lovely little sound. I was thankful he didn’t make me wait. The sting of rejection would have been too much.
Braydon: You sure you can handle me this time? 😉
Me: Guess we’ll find out.
Braydon: Guess we will.
A few hours later, Braydon arrived. He grabbed a beer from my fridge and plopped down on my couch, kicking his feet up on the leather trunk, looking relaxed and happy.
“Make yourself comfortable,” I said with a smirk, falling into the chair beside him.
“Oh, I will.” He grinned at me. The one where his mouth pulled up crookedly and showed off his dimple. Sweet baby Jesus. I clamped my thighs together while he brought the bottle to his lips for another swig, seemingly unaware of the sexual yearnings he so easily produced within my body.
“Have you had dinner?” he asked.
“No,” I admitted. Food hadn’t really been on my mind when inviting him here.
“I’m starving. You want to eat?”
“Sure. Let me grab my purse.” I hopped up from the chair.
“Nah. We’ll stay in, get something delivered,” he said, crossing his feet at the ankles and relaxing back into the sofa.
“Oh. Sure. That works.” I couldn’t help but notice his reluctance to go out. Did he not want to be seen in public with me? I was certain I was being irrational, but something about the situation tugged at the back corner of my mind. He was hungry and it was easier to order in, I told myself. Except that I had a great deli just down the street from my building that he surely passed by every time he came to my apartment. It’d be quick and easy to just go down there. Maybe there was something about our arrangement that he wanted to keep hidden. I decided to test my theory.
“You don’t always have to come here, I can go to your place sometimes, too,” I offered.
“Nah, that’s okay.”
“I’d like to. I mean, I don’t even know where you live.”
The set of his jaw turned serious. “I don’t really have people over.”
“Braydon, I don’t care if your place is a mess.”
“No, it’s nothing like that. I’m just sort of private about my personal space.”
I blew out a frustrated breath. He’d been inside me, yet I couldn’t see his apartment? God, men were confusing.
Pushing away the thoughts, I wandered into the kitchen and grabbed the stack of takeout menus from my cupboard. “What are you in the mood for?” I asked, sitting next to him on the couch and dumping the papers into his lap.
“Let’s order from Pow Thai Café. I’m craving their lemongrass shrimp.”
“Poo Poo Café? Ew. No thanks.”