Home > Just Jelly Beans and Jealousy

Just Jelly Beans and Jealousy
Author: Tammy Falkner


“I don’t think this is a good idea,” I protest, watching my best friend in the world as she paints her face. I think she’s even more beautiful when she doesn’t wear makeup at all. But even I’ll admit that this Lacey is smoking hot. Her legs are a mile long, and her dress dips deep enough that the round swells of her br**sts are taunting me. Look at me, Sean, you stupid f**ker. You can’t touch them. Nanny, nanny, boo, boo.

“It’s not like I’m offering up my virginity to the highest bidder,” she protests, blinking her eyes as she applies heavy coats of mascara to her lashes. The brush slides slowly down the miniscule strands of hair, and she sits back, bats her lashes, and looks at me over her shoulder in the mirror. She sticks her tongue out.

“You might as well be offering up your virginity,” I grumble. Some college-age, hormone-ridden a**hole will guess the number of jelly beans in her jar, and the lucky bastard will get to kiss her. He’ll get to kiss my girl. Well, she doesn’t know she’s mine, but she has been for as long as I can remember. I can’t recall a time when Lacey wasn’t in my life. And the thought of some dickwad putting his mouth on her has my heart tripping in my chest like it’s going run away without me.

Lacey begins to paint her pretty, full, perfectly kissable lips with a horridly sexy shade of bright red. She smacks her lips together and makes a kissy face toward the mirror. I can’t watch anymore. I just can’t. I fall back across the bed in her dorm room and throw my arm across my eyes, groaning to myself.

It’s not fair that she can undo me with a simple kiss at a mirror when she doesn’t even see me as a real, live, flesh-and-blood man. She still sees me as the boy who grew up next door to her. She seems to forget that I’m the one who held her hair back as she threw up her first few shots of tequila. She forgets that I’m the one who carried her luggage up three f**king flights of stairs when I moved her into her dorm room. I’m the one who hugged her when Dusty Forbes dumped her at the homecoming dance. I’m the one who left my own date—who was a sure thing, by the way—standing alone by the wall while I retrieved Lacey from the ladies’ room and stroked her hair until she could breathe.

She forgets that I saw her nak*d. All right, so she wasn’t completely nak*d, but it was close enough. Whoever designed bikinis with those little triangles that cover the naughty bits should be given a f**king medal. Or buried six feet under. I’m not sure which.

The bed dips as she sits down on it, and she lifts my arm from over my eyes. She’s so f**king beautiful with her strawberry-blond hair hanging down over her shoulders. It looks like she’s been rolling around in bed with someone, but I know she hasn’t because I watched her work for an hour to get it to look like that.

Her hip touches mine, and she leans across me, bracing herself on her forearm. She looks down at me but doesn’t say anything. I go hard immediately. I’m glad she’s looking at my face and not at my crotch because she would get the shock of a lifetime if she glanced down right now. But she doesn’t think of me like that. She said so. She said, loudly and clearly, that she wouldn’t go there with me. She didn’t want to lose her best friend if things didn’t work out. She needs me, she says, as more than an ex-boyfriend. She needs me to be her best friend. So I am.

But good God, I want her.

“What?” I grouse.

“Stop pouting,” she says quietly. She pushes up off her propped arm and lays that hand on my chest, her elbow digging into my belly as she looks at me.

“Stop trying to impale me.” I grunt and adjust her elbow. But I don’t want her to move. I like having her this close. If this is all I can get, I’ll take it. I set my hand on her nak*d knee and draw swirls on it with my thumb.

She shakes her head, her face soft. Her green eyes blink at me as her gaze skitters around my face. “It’s just a kiss,” she says softly. “Why are you all torn up about a kiss?”

She’s studying me way too closely. “I’m not torn up,” I protest.

“You’ve been moping ever since I told you about the fundraiser, Sean,” she says. “What’s your problem? It’s for charity, for God’s sake.” She lays her free hand on her chest. “My kiss is going to feed victims of domestic violence. I’m doing my part for a better community.”

I look down at her mouth. God, I could just slide my fingers into her hair, pull her to me, and kiss her right here and now. But I won’t. Because she doesn’t want me. “I can’t believe you’re going kiss some stranger,” I bite out. “Don’t do it.”

“I’ve kissed men before, Sean,” she reminds me. I wish she would keep that shit to herself.

“What if it’s some big, goofy guy with really bad breath?” I ask.

“What if it’s some big, brawny guy who smells like you and kisses like a god?” she asks. She smiles, the corners of her lips tilting up so prettily. Her fingertips touch my forearm lightly, and she traces the tattoos that decorate my arm from wrist to shoulder. Every hair on my body stands up, and I lift my hand from her knee and thread my fingers with hers so she’ll stop. “If I’m lucky, he’ll be all tatted up, too.” She looks off into the distance, her gaze no longer on me.

“Honey, if you want to kiss someone who looks like me and smells like me, I think I can accommodate you so you don’t have to kiss some stranger.”

Her eyes shift back to meet mine, and she may as well have just punched me in the gut. She looks into my eyes and stares as if she’s looking into my soul. She can look into it anytime. Shit, I’d give it to her, if she wanted it. But it’s not me she wants. She’s made that abundantly clear.

“If I ever kissed you, I would never be able to stop,” I say quietly. My voice sounds like it’s been dragged down a gravel road and back, and I f**king hate that she can affect me this way.

“Prove it,” she says, and then she licks her cherry-red lips. She doesn’t break eye contact.

I move quickly. This is the first time she’s ever made an offer like this, and my gut tells me that she’s going to take it back. I cup her neck with my palm and pull her toward me. My gentle tug brings her flush against my chest, and the weight of her settles against me and feels so right. Her lips are so close to mine that her inhale is my exhale. My hand quivers as it holds her nape, so I work my fingers into the hair at the back of her head. I hold her still and look into her green eyes.

“Tell me you want me to kiss you and you got me, honey,” I whisper. She shivers and inches up my chest ever so slightly, her mouth moving closer to mine. So close. Just a little closer. I can almost taste her.

“I want you to kiss me,” she whispers. “Please.”

Suddenly, the door opens, and Lacey jumps up, separating us in one final, powerful leap. Fuck. I pull the pillow from behind my head and shove it in my lap, sitting up on the side of the bed.

Friday, Lacey’s roommate, walks into the room. Friday stops, her gaze moving from Lacey to me and back.

Lacey’s breaths are heavy, and I can tell she’s upset about being caught like that. “Great timing, Friday,” I say quietly.

“Were you guys about to get it on?” Friday asks, her grin cheeky. She points to Lacey and then at me, and then goes back and forth. “Look at you two,” she crows. Her gaze narrows. “What did I miss?” she asks.

Friday works at the tattoo shop I like to go to. It’s called Reed’s, and I’ve known Logan, one of the artists, since we started college. He and Friday are pretty tight. “Where’s Logan?” I ask. We need to change the subject. “Did he come with you?”

She nods and jerks a thumb toward the door. “They’re right behind me.” Logan’s broad shoulders fill the doorway. He steps back and his girlfriend, Emily, walks through the door before him.

“Jesus Christ,” Logan says. Logan’s deaf, but he lost his hearing when he was thirteen so he has really great speech. He’s also very intuitive, and he’s really good at reading situations. “You could cut the tension in here with a knife,” he says. He looks back and forth between Lacey and me. His eyes land on me, and I assume he sees me floundering when he cracks a smile. “Did you cut the cheese, dude?” he asks. “Because she looks like you did something that tilted her world on its side.”

Lacey arches a brow at me as if she’s tossing the ball into my court. I can lob it back or I can choose to let it lie there. “Something like that,” I say, but I’m looking at her and not at him. I see Emily translate for him in sign language out of the corner of my eye. “Sorry,” I murmur. Usually I’m more careful about facing him when I talk, but I wanted to watch Lacey’s face. Her cheeks are rosy, and she’s shuffling her feet. I want to rewind and go back to where we were before Friday burst into the room.

“You look really pretty,” Logan says to Lacey.

“Thank you,” she murmurs.

She’s f**king gorgeous. Pretty doesn’t begin to describe how wonderful she is. She’s witty and she’s smart and she’s… She’s not mine.

“I’m going to go do my laundry,” I say. I need to get the f**k out of here.

“A likely excuse,” Friday says. But the smile on her face dies when I scowl at her. She’s questioning me without saying a word, and I can’t answer her.

“I’ll go with you,” Logan says as he gets to his feet. He leans over and kisses Emily on the forehead, and she grabs his shirt, fisting her hand in the fabric and pulling him down so he can kiss her for real. “I’ll be back in a little bit,” Logan tells her.

She nods, and Logan opens the door so I can follow him out. My gut tells me not to leave this unfinished.

“Wait,” Lacey calls.

I turn back, filled with hope. Does she want me to stay? We could kick everyone out and go back to what we were doing. I could kiss the girl that I want more than anything or anyone. I could make her mine. I could pour my heart out to her. I could tell her that I love her and always will. “What?” I ask quietly.

“Are you coming to my booth?” she asks. “For the results of the contest?”

And watch another man kiss her? I don’t think so. “I have a lot of laundry to do,” I say.

She inhales quickly and blinks even faster. “Are you going to meet us for dinner after?” she asks, her voice quivering.

“Where are you going?” If I go, I’ll have to see her with her lipstick sucked off her face, and I really don’t want to.

She picks up a sticky pad and writes something down. I take it from her hand, which is shaking ever so slightly. “Are you all right?”

She nods, looking everywhere but at me. “I’ll see you at dinner,” she says.

I shove the note into my pocket, not even bothering to look at it.

I motion to Logan, and he precedes me out the door. I follow, closing it behind me softly. I want to slam it, but I don’t want her to know how I’m feeling.

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