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Home > Night Owl (The Night Owl Trilogy #1)(5)

Night Owl (The Night Owl Trilogy #1)(5)
Author: M. Pierce

Realization hit me like a sack of cement.

Matt thought I'd gleefully helped him come and enjoyed our intimate chat on the phone, all the while cruising into my next relationship.

"Matt!" I snapped.

"What," he snapped back.

"I would never have done those things with you if I had a new guy, god! Could you for one minute think better of me? I mean first the picture thing, now this. I get that you don't know me, but seriously, you're projecting your a**holery onto me. I'm not some backhanded psycho chick looking for a good time on the phone because I don't have the guts to cheat for real on my nonexistent new guy, trust me."

I was gripping Ten Thousand Nights so hard my nails dug into the cover. Okay, so I kind of lost it right there. But he deserved it.

I listened to the silence. I checked my phone to make sure Matt wasn't "simply done talking." He was still on the line.

"Hello? Matt?"

He began to chuckle, the wry sound fanning my anger.

"Assholery?" he murmured.

"Yeah, well. Ugh. You know what I mean." I loosened my hold on the paperback. "And by the way, I know you plagiarized M. Pierce last night. Nice try."

Matt was quiet again.

"Hey... I'm kidding. I mean, you did quote from Ten Thousand Nights. But it was awesome. Pierce is seriously one of my favorite authors."

"Oh? I've only read that one book. Not sure why I bothered. It got a lot of publicity; I thought it would be better. I guess the line stuck with me. Personally I think the author is a bit of a windbag. What are you wearing?"

Matt's sudden transition from bored dismissal to my attire left me speechless.

"Clothes," he offered. "You have them on. I want to know what they look like."

"I'm outside," I said sheepishly, "sitting on the edge of the U-Haul."

"I don't care. I'm not angling for phone sex, though I wouldn't mind it. It's unusually easy to come with you, Hannah. Unusually satisfying, too."

I sighed and tilted my head against the cool metal interior of the trailer.

"Soon I'll be home. I'll have my own room, a door I can lock."

"I can't think about that now," Matt said. "Don't make plans. I'm not real."

"What?"

"You don't know me. I'm scared to have you close. Tell me what you're wearing."

"A... a little black dress with an empire waist. Black strapless bra, black thong."

"Another thong. Did you wear that for me? Did you know we'd talk?"

"Yes." I blushed. "And no. I wore it so I could tell you. I didn't know if we would talk. I hoped we would."

"Hannah..." For a split second, Matt sounded grieved. When he spoke again, his voice was level. "God, Hannah. I've been thinking about f**king you. It's like there's something wrong with me. I can't stop thinking about it. I want my body against yours, my c*ck inside of you. It's driving me wild. Does that frighten you?"

"No. No, I've... been thinking about it too."

"Have you? Tell me."

"Yeah." I pursed my lips and swallowed. He wanted me to describe my fantasies? How totally awkward. "Um, I'm surprised I haven't veered off the road yet, honestly. I just keep... daydreaming hardcore." Oof, word choice.

"Hardcore? How illuminating." Matt chuckled. "I'll tell you, then. Today when I showered, I thought about having you there. I thought about your soft body pressed against the cold tiles, my arm around your neck, your ass against my cock."

I closed my eyes.

"Go on," I whispered. My words pulled another little laugh from Matt. I found myself smiling at the sound, which was quickly becoming one of my favorite sounds.

"Greedy little bird, aren't you? I thought about your br**sts pressed into the tiles. I wouldn't be gentle, Hannah. I would force your legs apart and finger you like I owned you."

A helpless moan slipped out of me. I clamped a hand over my mouth and glanced around the parking lot. I was alone. The only sounds were the wind and the occasional rumble of a truck passing on the highway.

"I'd make you moan a lot louder than that. Whether or not you were ready, I would push my dick up inside of you... and you would shake against me. I would slap your ass to feel you tighten up in surprise."

"God," I sighed. I had turned to jelly, slumped against the wall of the trailer. I would definitely need to change my underwear before I slept.

"I think that'll do for now," Matt said, his voice suddenly businesslike. "Believe it or not, I'm trying to be decent tonight. This morning, rather"

"Decent?" I felt myself spiraling back down to earth. God, this guy could breathe and get me wound up.

"Mm, decent. As in, trying to have an interaction with you that doesn't end with me whipping out my dick... even if jerking off is the only thing that puts me in a good mood."

I laughed and rolled my eyes.

"Fair enough, no more sexy talk tonight. But one night of decency won't clear your reputation, Matt. Sorry."

"Hey, I'm not usually like this. I usually play my depravity a little closer to my chest."

"Pfft, you're not depraved."

"Tell that to my dick. I swear, it's like a dog lately—show it the slightest scrap of attention and it gets all excited."

I giggled, then blinked. Did I just... giggle?

"Um." I picked at the hem of my dress. "Yeah, so." No sexy talk. Great, fine, except I didn't know if Matt and I were capable of normal talk.

"Aha, not only is she a first-class phone sex partner, but her scintillating conversational skills will likewise leave a man breathless."

"Matt! Yeesh, I was thinking." I tucked a coil of hair behind my ear. "I wasn't sure if you wanted to go... or if we could talk for a little bit. Um, about decent things."

Matt stayed quiet.

I was coming to expect his silences, along with his fitful laughter and sarcasm.

"We can talk," he said finally.

And we did. Or rather, I did.

For an hour and a half I sat on the edge of the U-Haul and told Matt about Mick, my childhood in Colorado, my sister and brother, my parents, my job at the bank and shitty jobs before that, and dozens of other irrelevant facts.

Matt was an expert evader. He was a great listener, too. Every time I tried to steer the conversation toward him, he deftly turned my questions back at me. It should have been infuriating—I usually hated going on about myself—but this time it was a relief.

I needed this.

For the first time in years, someone wanted to hear about my thoughts and feelings in more than a cursory fashion.

And Matt wasn't just being polite. He laughed and asked questions; he reminded me where I was when I lost my train of thought.

By the time we were done, I had told Matt my condensed life story.

And I had gleaned a single new fact about him.

He was twenty-eight.

"We're in Billings," I told him at the end of the call.

Matt enthused about Montana briefly. He mentioned idolizing Norman Maclean and having done some hiking and climbing around Glacier—and then, as though he'd let go of two precious pearls, he shut down.

"Climbing, huh?" I ventured.

"Mm."

Mm seemed to be Matt's all-purpose noise, which could mean yes, no, let me think about it, I'm bored, I'm amused, I'm annoyed, I'm aroused—basically anything.

"That's cool. You must love Colorado then. Are you super outdoorsy or something?"

"Mm."

"Cool..." I snapped up the new facts: Twenty-eight, Norman Maclean, outdoorsy.

Just what I needed to fuel my fantasies: the idea of a well-read young man with a leanly muscled climber's body. Yes please.

"I better get to sleep," I said reluctantly. I glanced at my watch. 3:40 a.m. "Geez, where does the time go."

"Optima dies," Matt mumbled, trailing off.

"What?"

"Latin. Nevermind."

I frowned.

"Okay. Well. Yeah. Sleep. I think if we get going early and push it, we'll be in Colorado by evening. I'll reply to your post ASAP."

"No rush on that. You'll be busy when you get home."

"I know. I want to write it. I miss our story... a lot."

"Then I look forward to it," he said.

I heard a little electronic click and glanced at my phone. Matt was gone.

Note to self: teach this man how to say goodbye.

CHAPTER 5

Matt

You're projecting your a**holery onto me.

"The last pages you sent me," Pam said, leaning across the table, "are very nice. I do have some questions about the pacing. I see your main plot arc, and I want to say it must be a third of the way along. Am I right? Not to pressure you, but I want to mentally deadline this."

Pam's words pinged on the edge of my attention.

Nice. Pacing. Deadline.

Projecting your a**holery onto me. How right Hannah was. Because I was cheating, I assumed she was cheating. I made a total ass of myself. I even had the nerve to get pissed about Hannah's imaginary cheating, meanwhile ignoring my own very real deceit.

This situation was getting f**ked up.

"Matthew?"

I felt a tug on my sleeve. I glanced down at Pam's perfectly manicured hand.

"Sorry. Ah, I—" I ran a hand through my hair and flashed a smile at Pam, who returned a tight-lipped, all-business smile. "I'm not sleeping well. Going nocturnal or something."

We were seated at a booth in Flight of Ideas, my favorite bookshop-cum-coffeehouse in Denver. Pam looked prim as usual, her frosted blond hair styled in stiff waves around her face. Pam was thirty-six, but she always looked closer to forty with her chalky makeup, dark lipstick, and austere skirt suits.

Pam had been my agent for seven years. I could almost say I trusted her implicitly, but I don't trust anyone implicitly.

"Sorry to hear that. Let's get back to this." She spread her fingers on her laptop. Most of the time, I appreciated Pam's work-centric drive. Today, though, I wanted nothing more than to daydream about Hannah in my air-conditioned apartment.

"I can't help you with the deadline," I said. "I don't know. It'll be done when it's done." I chewed on the end of my stirrer. "Also, Pam, help me to understand why we keep meeting out like this when I have specifically indicated my preference for phone calls, video chats, I don't know, the occasional meeting at my place?"

"It's a matter of convenience, Matthew. Unlike some present, I live on a tight schedule. You know I try very hard to comply with your requests. However, I believe they are still requests, yes? Or have they now become demands?"

I smirked and slouched in the booth, glancing around. That was another thing I liked about Pam; she wasn't a fawner. She gave as good as she got.

"Mm, they're still requests. I do sometimes like to emerge from my garret and see how the other half lives."

I smiled cheekily and lowered my voice.

"But Pam, don't think I don't know your game. In your desperately wicked little heart, it is your sincerest hope that one day we are spotted, eavesdropped on, whatever, and my identity comes out, and you are then free to turn me into the golden-haired high-profile author of your dreams. I can practically see you trotting me around the globe like a dancing bear. Think of the publicity. Oh, and that would make you—" I pointed my stirrer at Pam, who was watching me with a tolerant smile. "—Pamela Wing, agent to said high-profile author. Not too shabby."

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