Beautiful Player: Chapter 7

If I’d ever wondered what a cat in heat sounded like, now I knew. The noises—the meows, the whining, the howls—had started about an hour ago and had only gotten worse until the sexually frustrated animal was practically screeching outside my bedroom window.

I knew exactly how it felt. Thanks, Life, for giving me the living, breathing metaphor for how I was feeling.

With a groan, I rolled to my stomach, reaching blindly for a pillow to drown out the sound. Or to use to smother myself. I hadn’t decided. I’d been home from my date with Dylan for three hours and hadn’t gotten even a few minutes of sleep.

I was a mess, having tossed and turned since I’d climbed into bed, staring up at the ceiling as if the secret to all my problems lay hidden in the mottled plaster overhead. Why did everything feel so complicated? Wasn’t this what I’d wanted? Dates? A social life? To have an orgasm in the company of another person?

So what was the problem?

The way Dylan tripped my only-a-friend vibe was the problem. The fact that we’d gone to one of my favorite restaurants and I’d been completely zoned out, thinking about Will when I should have been swooning over Dylan, was an even bigger one. I wasn’t thinking about Dylan’s smile as he’d picked me up, the way he’d opened my door and the adoring way he’d looked at me all through dinner. Instead, I was obsessing over Will’s teasing smile, the look on his face as he’d watched me touch his cock, his flushed cheeks, how he’d told me exactly what to do, the way he’d sounded when he came, and how it had looked on my skin.

Annoyed, I flopped onto my back and kicked off the blankets. It was March, light snow had been falling all day, and I was sweating. It was two o’clock in the morning and I was wide awake and frustrated. Really, really frustrated.

The hardest part to wrap my head around was how sweet Will had been at the party, how gentle and caring, and how I knew without a doubt how easily all of that would translate into sex. He’d been encouraging, saying everything I’d needed to hear, but never pushing, never asking for more than I’d been willing to give. And holy shit he was hot . . . those hands. That mouth. The way he sucked on my skin, kissing me as if he had years of pent-up need and it was finally unleashed. I wanted him to fuck me, probably more than I ever wanted anything, and it was the most logical next step in the world: we were both there, it was dark, he was worked up and God knows I’d been ready to explode, there’d been a bed . . . but, it hadn’t felt right. I hadn’t felt ready.

And he hadn’t pushed. In fact, when I expected it to be weird, it wasn’t. When he’d been the only person I wanted to talk to about Dylan, he’d encouraged me. On the taxi ride home he’d told me I needed to go out, have fun. He told me he wasn’t going anywhere, and what we’d done was perfect. He told me to explore, and be happy. God, it just made me want him even more.

Deciding this was a losing battle and I would never get to sleep now, I sat up and went into the kitchen. I stared into the fridge, closing my eyes as the cool air floated along my heated skin. I was slick between my legs and even though it had been six days since Will had touched me there, I ached. I’d seen him every day for our run, and we’d had breakfast afterward on three of those days. It had been easy; with Will, it was always easy. But each time he was near, I wanted to ask if he could touch me again, if I could touch him. I could still feel the echo of every stroke of his fingers, but I didn’t trust my memory. It couldn’t possibly have been so good as all that.

I walked into the living room and looked out the window. The sky was dark but silver-gray, the rooftops glittering with frost. I counted the streetlights and calculated how many of them there were between his apartment building and mine. I wondered if there was even a chance he was awake, too, feeling even a fraction of the want I felt now.

My fingers found the pulse in my neck and I closed my eyes, feeling the steady thrum beneath my skin. I told myself to go back to bed. Maybe this was a good opportunity to sample the brandy Dad always kept in the living room. I told myself that calling Will was a bad idea and that there was absolutely no way that anything good could come from this. I was smart and logical and thought everything through.

I was so tired of thinking.

Ignoring the warning inside my head, I grabbed my things, stepped outside, and started walking. The lingering snow had been stomped down during the day and formed a thick crust along the sidewalk. My boots crunched with every step and the closer I got to Will’s apartment, the more the chaos in my thoughts settled into a steady hum in the background.

When I looked up, I was standing in front of his building. My hands shook as I pulled out my phone and found his picture, typing the only thing that came to mind: Are you awake?

I almost dropped the phone in surprise when an answer came only a few seconds later. Unfortunately.

Let me in? I asked, and honestly, did I want him to say yes? Or send me home? At this point I didn’t even know.

Where are you?

I hesitated. In front of your building.

WHAT. Down in a sec.

I’d barely had time to consider what I was doing, turning to look back in the direction I’d come, when the front door flew open and Will stepped outside.

“Holy shit, it’s freezing!” he yelled, and then looked behind me to the empty curb. “For fuck’s sake, Hanna, did you at least take a cab here?”

Wincing, I admitted, “I walked.”

“At three a.m.? Are you out of your goddamn mind?”

“I know, I know. I just . . .”

He shook his head and pulled me inside. “Get in here. You’re crazy, you know that? I want to strangle you right now. You don’t just walk around Manhattan alone at three in the morning, Hanna.”

My stomach twisted with warmth when he said my name, and I knew I’d stand out in the cold all night if it meant he’d say it again. But he shot me a warning look, and I nodded as he led me to the elevator. The doors closed and he watched me from the opposite wall.

“So did you just get home from your date?” he asked, looking far too sleep-rumpled and sexy for my current state of mind. “The last you texted, you were getting in the cab to meet Dylan at the restaurant.”

I shook my head and blinked down to the carpet, trying to understand what exactly I’d been thinking when deciding to come here. I hadn’t been thinking, that was the problem. “I got home around nine.”

“Nine?” he asked, looking completely unimpressed.

“Yes,” I challenged.

“And?” His tone was even, his face impassive, but the speed of his questions told me he was worked up about something.

I shifted from foot to foot, not sure exactly what to say. The date hadn’t been a complete disaster. Dylan was sweet and interesting, but I’d been totally checked out.

I was saved from answering when we reached Will’s floor. I followed him out of the elevator and down the long hallway, watching his back and shoulders flex with every step. He wore blue pajama bottoms and the outlines of some of his darker tattoos were visible through his thin white T-shirt. I had to push down the urge to reach out and trace them with my fingertip, to take off his shirt and see them all. There were obviously more than there had been all those years ago, but what were they? What stories hid beneath the ink on his skin?

“So are you going to tell me?” he asked.

He’d stopped in front of his door and my eyes shot up to his. “What?” I asked, confused.

“Date, Hanna.”

“Oh,” I murmured, blinking away and trying to make some order of the chaos inside my head. “It was dinner and blah blah blah, I took a cab home. You’re sure I didn’t wake you?”

He sighed long and deep, gesturing for me to lead us inside. “Unfortunately, no.” He tossed me a blanket from the back of the couch. “I haven’t been able to fall asleep yet.”

I wanted to pay attention, but I was suddenly surrounded by so many pieces of Will’s life. His apartment was one of the newer buildings in the area, and it was modern, but modest. He flipped a switch to a small fireplace against one wall, and the flames bit to life with a soft whoosh, washing the honey-colored walls in flickering light.

“Warm up while I get you something to drink,” he said, motioning to the rug in front of the hearth. “And tell me more about this date that ended at nine.”

The kitchen was visible from the living room and I watched as he opened and closed cupboards, filling an ancient-looking kettle before setting it to heat on the stove. His place was smaller than I’d have imagined, with wood floors and bookcases packed to the brim with dog-eared novels, thick genetics texts, and an entire wall dedicated to what looked like a rather impressive collection of comic books. Two leather couches dominated the living room and simple framed art lined the walls. There were magazines in a basket on the floor, a stack of mail tucked into the mantel, a glass full of bottle caps resting on a shelf.

I tried to focus on what he was asking, but every object in his apartment was a fascinating puzzle piece to the story of Will. “There’s really not much to tell,” I said distractedly.


I groaned, taking off my jacket and folding it over the back of a chair. “My head just wasn’t in the game, you know?” I said, and stopped at the expression on his face. His eyes were wide, his mouth open as his gaze moved slowly down my body. “What?”

“What are you . . .” He coughed. “You came all the way over here in that?”

I looked down and if possible, became even more mortified than I’d been before. I’d gone to bed in shorts and a tank top, only taking time to throw on a pair of pajama pants, my fuzzy boots, and Jensen’s giant old coat. My shirt left nothing to the imagination and my nipples were hard, completely visible beneath the thin material.

“Oh. Oops.” I crossed my arms over my chest, trying to hide the fact that it was obviously very, very cold outside. “I probably should have paid more attention but I . . . I wanted to see you. Is that weird? It’s weird isn’t it? I’m probably breaking about twelve of your rules right now.”

He blinked. “I, uh . . . I think there’s a clause in there to make an exception for any rule-breaking while wearing an outfit like that,” he said, managing to pull his eyes from my chest long enough to finish up in the kitchen. There was an unfamiliar sense of power in being able to fluster him, and I tried not to look too smug as he walked out, carrying two steaming mugs.

“So why was this date so uneventful?” he asked.

I sat on the floor in front of the fire, legs stretched out in front of me. “Just had other things on my mind.”


“Liiiiiike . . .” I said, dragging the word out long enough to decide if I really wanted to go there. I did. “Like the party?”

A moment of long, heavy silence stretched between us. “I see.”


“Well, in case you hadn’t noticed,” he said, glancing over at me, “I wasn’t exactly sound asleep here.”

I nodded and turned back to the fire, not sure how to proceed. “I’ve always been able to control where my mind went, you know? If it’s time for school I think about school. If it’s work, I think about work. But lately,” I said, shaking my head, “my concentration is crap.”

He laughed softly next to me. “I know exactly how you feel.”

“I can’t focus.”

“Yeah.” He scratched the back of his neck, looking up at me through dark lashes.

“I’m not sleeping very well.”


“I’m so fucking wound up I can hardly sit still,” I admitted.

I heard the sound of his exhale, a long, measured breath, and only then did I realize how close we’d gotten. I looked up to see him watching me.

His eyes searched every inch of my face. “I don’t know . . . if I’ve ever been this distracted by someone,” he said.

I was so close, close enough to see each of his eyelashes in the firelight, close enough to make out the tiny scattering of freckles along the bridge of his nose. Without thinking I leaned in, brushing my lips over his. His eyes widened and I felt him stiffen, frozen for only a moment before his shoulders relaxed.

“I shouldn’t want this,” he said. “I have no idea what we’re doing.”

We weren’t kissing, not really, just teasing, breathing the same air. I could smell his soap, a hint of toothpaste. Could see my own reflection in his pupil.

He tilted his head and closed his eyes, moving in just enough to kiss me once, lips parted. “Tell me to stop, Hanna.”

I couldn’t. Instead I reached up, cupping the back of his neck to bring him closer. And then it was he who pushed forward, harder, longer, and I had to grip his shirt to keep myself steady. He opened his mouth, sucking on my lower lip, my tongue. Heat pulsed low in my belly and I felt like was dissolving, melting until I was nothing more than a racing heart and limbs that twisted with his, pulling us both to our sides and down to the floor.

“I don’t . . .” I started, breath tight. “Tell me what I should do.”

I felt the shape of him hard against my hip and I wondered how long he’d been that way, if he’d been thinking about this as much as I had. I wanted to reach down and touch, watch him fall apart like he had at the party, the way he did in my mind every time I closed my eyes.

His lips moved over my jaw, down my throat. “Just relax, I’ll make it good. Tell me what you want to do.”

My hand moved under his shirt and I felt the solid strength of muscle in his back, his arms as he rolled us over to hover above me. I said his name, hating how weak and unfamiliar my voice sounded, but there was something new there, something raw and desperate, and I wanted more.

“I used to imagine what it’d be like to have you on top of me,” I admitted, not sure where the words were coming from. He rested his body more fully on mine, his hips settling between my open legs. “When you were lounging in the living room with my brother. When you’d take your shirt off outside to wash the car.”

He moaned, moving a hand to my hair, his thumb drawing a path along my face and pressing into the skin along my jaw. “Don’t tell me that.”

But it was all I could think about: how I remembered him from those years, and the reality of him now. I couldn’t possibly count the number of times I wondered what he would look like without his clothes, the sounds he’d make when he was chasing his release. And here he was, heavy on me, hard between my legs, beneath his clothes. I wanted to catalog every tattoo, every line of muscle, every inch of his carved jaw.

“I used to watch you from my window,” I said, gasping as he shifted so that the length of him pressed directly over my clit. “God, when I was sixteen you starred in every one of my dirty dreams.”

He pulled back just enough to meet my eyes; he was clearly surprised.

I swallowed. “Should I not have told you that?”

“I . . .” he began and licked his lips. “I don’t know?” He looked dazed and conflicted. I couldn’t look away from his mouth. “I know I shouldn’t think that’s hot but Christ, Hanna. If I come in my pants you have no one to blame but yourself.”

I could do that? His words lit a fuse in my chest and I wanted to tell him everything. “I would touch myself, under the covers,” I admitted in a whisper. “Sometimes I could hear you talking . . . and I would pretend . . . wonder what it would be like if you were there. I used to make myself come and pretend it was you.”

He swore, dipping back down to kiss me again, deeper and wetter, his teeth dragging along my bottom lip. “What would I say?”

“How good I felt and how much you wanted me,” I said into his kiss. “I wasn’t very creative at the time, and I’m pretty sure your mouth is way filthier in reality.”

He laughed, the sound so low and rough it was a physical pressure on my neck where he breathed. “So let’s pretend you’re sixteen, and I just snuck into your room,” he said, moving his mouth just over mine, his voice coming out the slightest bit unsure. “We don’t have to take our clothes off if you aren’t ready.”

And I wasn’t sure what to say because yes, I wanted to be completely bare under him, to imagine what it would feel like to have him naked and over and inside me. But actual sex with Will tonight felt too fast, too soon. Too dangerous.

“Show me?” I asked, “I don’t know how to with clothes on.” I paused, adding in a whisper, “Or even off, I guess. I mean obviously.”

He laughed, kissing over to my ear and growling quietly as he nipped at my earlobe. The way his hands moved over me, the way his lips slid across my skin . . . touching like this seemed as second-nature to Will as breathing.

He exhaled into my neck, groaning quietly. “Move under me. Find what feels good for you, okay?”

I nodded, shifting beneath him and feeling the hard press of his cock between my legs.

“Can you feel that?” he asked, pressing meaningfully against my clit. “Is that where it feels good?”

“Yeah.” I moved my hands to his hair and pulled hard, hearing him hiss in a breath as he rocked against me, faster and faster.

“Fuck, Hanna.” He pushed my tank top up over my ribs, bunching it above my chest. And then he bent, gripped my breast, plumping it, and sucked a nipple deep into his mouth. The air left my lungs, my hips pressed up from the floor, searching. I scratched at his skin, and was rewarded each time with a mumbled curse or groan.

“That’s it,” he said. “Don’t stop.” His mouth followed his hands everywhere and I closed my eyes, feeling the heat of his tongue as it moved over me. He kissed my lips, my throat. The ache between my legs grew and I could feel how wet I was, how empty, how much I wanted his mouth against me, his fingers inside. His cock. We slid along the floor and I felt something wedge beneath my back, but didn’t care. All I wanted was to chase down this feeling.

“So close,” I gasped, surprised to find him looking down at me, lips parted and hair falling across his forehead.

His eyes widened, blazing with thrill. “Yeah?”

I nodded, the rest of the world blurring as the feeling between my legs grew, becoming hotter and more urgent. I wanted to claw at my skin and beg him to take off my clothes, to fuck me, to make me beg.

“Fuck. Don’t stop what you’re doing,” he said, rocking his hips forward against me, the perfect drag of heat and pressure exactly where I needed. “I’m almost there.”

“Oh,” I said, my fingers twisting in the thin fabric of his shirt as I felt myself start to fall, closing my eyes as my orgasm moved down my spine to explode between my legs. I cried out, calling his name and feeling him speed up as he moved against me. His fingers pressed tightly into my hips as he pushed once, twice, grunting into my neck as he came.

Feeling seeped back into my body one limb at a time. I felt heavy and limp, suddenly so exhausted I could hardly keep my eyes open. Will collapsed against me, his breath hot on my neck, his skin damp with sweat and warmed by the fire.

He pushed up onto his elbows and looked down at me, his expression drowsy and sweet and a little timid. “Hi,” he said, a crooked smile sliding into place. “Sorry for sneaking into your bedroom, teenage-Hanna.”

I blew the bangs from my forehead and smiled back. “You’re welcome there anytime.”

“I . . . uh,” he started, and laughed. “I don’t mean to rush off but I sort of . . . need to clean up.”

The absurdity of the entire situation seemed to bubble up out of nowhere and I started to laugh. We were on his floor, I think I had a shoe or something lodged under my back, and he’d just come in his pants.

“Hey,” he said. “Don’t laugh. I said it’d be your fault.”

I was suddenly so thirsty and licked my lips. “Go,” I said, patting his back.

He kissed me softly, twice on the lips before pushing himself to stand and walking into the bathroom. I stayed there for a moment, sweat drying on my skin and heart rate slowly returning to normal. I felt both better and worse. Better because I was actually tired, but worse because the new echo of Will’s cock moving between my legs was infinitely more distracting than the memory of his fingers.

I called a taxi, then walked into the kitchen to splash some cool water on my face and get a drink.

He came back into the room wearing different pajamas, and smelling of soap, and toothpaste.

“I called a cab,” I assured him, giving him the don’t-worry look. His face fell—or it seemed to—but it happened so fast that I wasn’t sure I believed my eyes.

“Good,” he murmured, walking over to me and handing me my sweatshirt. “I actually think I’ll be able to sleep now.”

“Just needed the orgasm,” I said, grinning.

“Actually,” he said, voice deep, “I’d tried that a few times already tonight. It hadn’t worked so far. . . .”

Holy shitballs. Any drowsiness I’d felt immediately evaporated. I was going to imagine what it would be like to watch Will get himself off for the rest of the night. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to sleep again.

He walked me downstairs, kissed my forehead at the door, and stood watching as I walked to the curb, climbed into the cab, and drove off.

My phone lit up with a text from him: Tell me when you get home.

I lived only seven blocks from him; I was home in minutes. I climbed into bed, curling into my pillow before answering, Home safe.


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