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Sweet Filthy Boy(5)

By:Christina Lauren

“I do know you,” he says with a little tilt of his head. “We met earlier. We just haven’t exchanged names yet.” My mind searches to place his accent before I trip into understanding: he’s French. The asshole is French. It’s diluted, though. His accent is soft, mild. Instead of curling all of the words together he spreads them out, carefully offering each one.

I narrow my eyes, forcing them up to his face. It’s not easy. His chest is smooth and tan and he has the most perfect nipples I’ve ever seen, small and flat. He’s ripped, and tall enough to ride like a horse. I can feel the warmth coming off his skin. On top of all of that, he’s wearing nothing but his underwear and seems completely unfazed by it.

“You guys are being insanely loud,” I say, remembering the hours of noise that brought me out here in the first place. “I think I liked you a lot better across a crowded room than across this hall.”

“But face-to-face is the best, no?” His voice causes goose bumps to spread across my arms. When I don’t answer, he turns and looks over his shoulder and then back to me. “I’m sorry we’re so loud. I’m going to blame Finn. He’s Canadian, so I’m sure you understand he’s a savage. And Oliver is an Aussie. Also horribly uncivilized.”

“A Canadian, an Australian, and a Frenchman throw a rager in a hotel room?” I ask, fighting a smile despite my better judgment. I’m trying to remember the rule about whether or not you’re supposed to struggle when you fall into quicksand, because that’s exactly what this feels like. Sinking, being swallowed up by something bigger than I am.

“Like the beginning of a joke,” he agrees, nodding. His green eyes twinkle and he’s right: face-to-face is endlessly better than through a wall, or even across a dark, crowded room. “Come join us.”

Nothing has ever sounded so dangerous and so tempting all at once. His eyes drop to my mouth, where they linger before scanning my body. Despite what he’s just offered, he steps fully out into the hallway and the door falls closed behind him. Now it’s just me and him and his naked chest and . . . wow, strong legs and the potential for mind-blowing spontaneous hallway sex.

Wait. What?

And now I also remember I’m only in my tiny sleep shorts and matching tank top with little pigs all over them. I’m suddenly aware of the bright light in the hallway and feel my fingers move down, instinctively tugging the material lower to cover my scar. I’m normally fine with my body—I’m a woman so naturally there are always little things I’d change—but my scar is different. It’s not entirely about how it looks—though let’s be honest, Harlow still does the full-body sympathy shudder whenever she sees it—but what it represents: the loss of my scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School, the death of my dream.

But the way he looks at me makes me feel naked—good naked—and beneath the cotton of my top, my nipples tighten.

He notices and takes another step closer, bringing with him warmth and the scent of soap, and I’m suddenly sure he’s most definitely not looking at my leg. It doesn’t even seem like he sees it, or if he does, he likes how I come together enough to ignore what this scar says. It says trauma, it says pain. But his eyes only say yes, and please, and mischief. And that he’d like to see more.

The shy girl inside me crosses her arms over her chest, tries to pull me back to the safety of my own room. But his eyes pin me in place.

“I wasn’t sure I would see you again.” His voice has gone gravelly, hinting of the filthy things I want to hear him growl into my neck. My pulse is a frantic, pounding drum. I wonder if he can see it. “I looked for you.”

He looked for me.

I’m surprised my voice comes out so clear when I say, “We left pretty soon after I saw you.”

His tongue slips out, and he watches my mouth. “Why don’t you come . . . inside?” There are so many unspoken promises tucked in those five words. It feels like he’s a stranger offering me the most delicious candy on the planet.

“I’m going to sleep,” I manage finally, holding up my hand to keep him from moving any closer. “And you guys are going to be quieter or I’ll send Harlow over. And if that fails, I’m waking up Lola and you’ll find yourself thanking her for leaving you beat up and bloody.”

He laughs. “I really like you.”

“Good night.” I turn to walk back to our door on less than steady legs.

“I’m Ansel.”

I ignore him as I slide my key into the lock.

“Wait! I just want your name.”