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Powerless: Chapter 16


Harvey: You kids got somewhere safe to spend the night?

Jasper: Yeah. Hotel in Rose Hill.

Harvey: Two rooms or one? 😉

Jasper: Don’t be weird. One room, two beds.

Harvey: I’m not weird. You’re the one with a crush on your cousin.

Jasper: She’s not my cousin.

Harvey: Ha! But you didn’t deny the crush.

Sloane is drunk.

Hilariously hammered. Totally unfiltered.

And leaning on me way harder than I ever imagined someone her size could.

Her soft giggles accompany the low hum of the yellowish neon lights above us in the hotel hallway, and she keeps stepping on my feet.

“You’re a ballerina. Aren’t you supposed to be graceful?”

She ignores me, tilting her head up in my direction. “Have you noticed that you have a zit right . . .” She pokes a spot right near my hairline that curves around my temple.

I snort. “No, Sloane. I haven’t been concerned with my skin of late.”

“It’s annoying. I bet you wash your face with shampoo, never moisturize, and only put sunscreen on when you’re on vacation. And you still look like that.” Her hand waves over the length of my body.

I reach into my pocket and pull out our room key, giving it a quick swipe before pressing into the room. “I wash my face with bodywash.”

She groans and tosses her head back dramatically, staring at the ceiling. “You can’t do that.”

“Why? My face is part of my body.”

“It doesn’t have the right stuff in it.” She sways as she pulls at her shoes, and I stifle a laugh. “Even if it smells heavenly, like mint and whatever else.”

“Mint and eucalyptus. Same bodywash I’ve used for years. What stuff does my face need?”

A shoe flies past us and hits the wall. “Whoa!” Her eyes widen and she giggles again. I count my blessings that she’s a happy drunk. I don’t think I could handle her being sad right now. “Vitamin C. Peptides. Exfoliating acids. You’re not getting any younger. You should consider a retinol, but then you need to put sunscreen on every day. Oh my god!” The next shoe follows suit and she swaggers into the bathroom. “I have the best idea.”

“Sunny, I’m not sure this is the moment where you’ll come up with your best ideas.”

“You calling me drunk, Gervais?” she hollers from the small room. I hear shuffling in there as I peel off my shoes and straighten hers by the door.

“Never. You are perfectly sober. But I’m going to grab you a bottle of water and you’re going to drink it, alright?”

“Are there any of those small bottles of Grand Marnier or whatever? Hotels are always stocked with alcohol that nobody drinks. I mean, who drinks Grand Marnier?”

I huff out a quiet laugh and pad over to the fridge. There are two bottles of water. “I don’t think this is a Grand Marnier type of hotel.”

She pops out from the bathroom doorway as soon as I straighten, with one plastic bottle in each hand. But she has some bottles of her own that she’s holding out.

“Facials!” she squeals.

“What?” I blink once, staring at her soft blonde hair and happy eyes.

She holds up a purple squeeze bottle and a green glass tub of something and shakes them at me like I’m stupid. “I’ll drink your water if you give me a facial.”

Gotta say, the first place my head goes is not to beauty products.

“Don’t worry. I’ll give you one too.”

The image of Sloane straddling my face, my hands on her ass while she stares down into my eyes, flashes into my mind.

It’s not the first time. Usually, I push the thought away, but tonight I’m feeling just loose enough to let it linger. To watch her move. To think about the sounds she might make.

“Buck up, Gervais!” She hops onto the bed, drops the skin care products on the mattress, and gestures me toward her, fingers folding down onto her palm.

Seriously, not helping. All the blood in my body rushes south, and I cover by tossing her a bottled water. “Drink this first,” I say as it flies.

But her reflexes are slow tonight and the bottle hits her in the face.

Square in the nose.

The guys and I toss each other water bottles on the bench all the time. It’s second nature. She flinches hard, and I gasp as I take long strides over to the bed to check on her. Her hands are clasped over her face, and her fingers move to check herself over.

I feel awful. I feel sick. The thought of anyone hurting Sloane—even me—has fire coursing through my veins.

When I reach for her shoulder, she peers up at me and she . . .

Bursts out laughing.

“Jas! You just threw that at my face, you awkward motherfucker!”

“I didn’t!” I’m shaking my head in denial. “I didn’t mean to! I’m so sorry! Are you okay?”

She laughs harder. “I’m fine! I’m fine. Totally fine.” Her words wheeze out around her laughter.

My palms squeeze her shoulders in time, which draws her attention up to my face. “Sunny, you are crazed right now. You need to drink some water.”

Her lips roll inward as she fights to hold it together. “Okay.” She nods and opens the water bottle beside her. She lifts it almost to her lips and stops, looks away, and bursts out laughing again. “I can’t believe you smoked me in the face like that!”

I scrub at my stubble, trying not to laugh, but it’s infectious. “I didn’t mean to.”

“I know. But it’s still funny.”

I cross my arms now, trying to convey how serious I am to her. “It’s not funny.”

“That’s only because you didn’t see your face.” She contorts her features into a very exaggerated expression of horrified shock.

And then belly laughs some more.

I groan and toss my hat down on the desk. “Bet you used to get kicked out of class for getting the giggles.”

Her index finger flips out from around the plastic bottle and points at me while she takes a deep swig of water. “Facts.”

I can’t help but chuckle. I can totally see it. The bed sags a little when I sit down on the edge, not too close to Sloane. She continues to sip her water as her laughter subsides, and I pick up the two products she brought out of the bathroom.

“Okay, fine. I’ll give you a facial.”

This time when she laughs, water sprays out toward the front of the room.

“Good god.” I flop back on the bed and toss an arm over my face, feeling my body vibrate as I laugh with her. She’s always had this effect on me. Her sunshiny persona is infectious. Sometimes I fight it, and right now for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.

She claps one hand over her mouth and from behind it says, “I’m sorry. You can’t trust me right now.”

“Okay. More water. Then you can put whatever fancy voodoo-skin-shit this is on me.”

“Way to avoid saying facial.” She’s sitting on her knees now, looking down on me while she carefully sips her water.

“Please don’t spit water on my face,” is my reply as I stare back up at her, our eyes latching on to one another and not letting go. Without the brim of my hat, I feel exposed, laid bare, but for her I‘m not sure I mind so much.

People looking too closely makes me nervous, makes my skin itch. But with Sloane’s eyes on me, all I feel is warmth.

When the silent eye contact seems like it’s gone on for too long, I lift the purple tube and read the instructions while she polishes off the entire bottle of water. Once it’s empty, she tosses it over her shoulder. With a smirk, she reaches for the tube and flips the cap open, squeezing white clay onto the tips of her fingers.

“It says you’re supposed to wash your face with warm water first.”

Sloane rolls her eyes at me. “Rich coming from the guy who cleanses his face with bodywash.”

And then she’s slathering it onto my forehead. Down my nose. Up my cheekbones. Her eyes take on this slightly faraway look as her gentle fingers glide over the skin of my face. Her brow furrows in concentration, and her glacier irises eyes move around every corner of my face as she meticulously spreads the clay. She catches me staring at her, and I drop her gaze, closing my eyes like that might help.

Except, behind the privacy of my own lids, her touch sends electricity sparking across my skin, and the darkness transforms into the image of her bent over that pool table in front of me. I can still feel her slender body beneath mine, still feel the way my dick twitched before I had to force myself not to grind against her.

Because friends don’t grind their cocks on their friend’s perfect asses. It’s just not done.

Despite that friend rule, I feel the familiar swelling sensation all the same, and it has me lurching up and away from her touch. “Okay. That’s good,” I grumble, the thick clay substance tingling and tugging on my face. “Your turn.”

She nods, looking a little wide-eyed now. I’m not sure what went on in her head while she rubbed that into my face, but there’s immediate tension between us now. The playful notes are gone. Like in the lake. Like over that fucking pool table.

I take the tube and squeeze a dollop of the clay onto my fingertips. As I reach toward her face, I stare at her mouth rather than her eyes, thinking that will be less distracting.

I’m wrong.

Everything about Sloane Winthrop is fucking distracting. And I’ve been trying really damn hard for a really long time not to notice.

When I brush my fingers over her cheekbone, she sucks in a sharp breath. Both our gazes move to my hand, the one that shakes subtly under the scrutiny.

I just swallow and forge ahead, forcing myself to stare at my fingers and where I’m spreading the clay rather than her baby blues. I have to be careful with her. I don’t want to get it in her hair. Or her eyes. I’d like my low point for the night to remain hitting her in the face with a water bottle.

When I smudge the material over her jaw and swipe it over her chin, the tips of my fingers slide over her bottom lip. I watch it happen in slow motion. Chalky white over plush pink. My fingers. Her lip. The way it flattens and presses to the side with the lightest pressure. Everything about her is so soft and malleable.

She gasps again, her mouth popping open, and this time my eyes snap to hers. They’re wide and glowing, all the shades of blue. A kaleidoscope of colors. A prairie sky. A robin’s egg. A glacier lake. Streaks of something darker, making all those pale colors pop.

And that fucking gasp is a shot of lightning to my groin.

“You know what?” Her lashes fall down like a curtain, and she pulls away, unfolding herself from the bed. “I’ll just finish this myself. Won’t make you do it.”

Before I can say anything, she’s in the bathroom and the sink is running. By the time I get there, she’s scrubbing at her face and avoiding making eye contact with me.

She eventually gives me a flat smile while casting a furtive glance my way through the mirror, eyes lingering on my face that’s covered in what looks like drying white paint. It clings to my stubble and is cracking in spots.

It reminds me of myself in a way. A fragile shell. One little crack and the entire thing is liable to burst open.

“You okay?”

“Yup,” she says a little too brightly while drying her face. “Just realizing I should go to bed if I don’t want to feel like total shit tomorrow.”

When she leaves, I let out a heavy breath and drop my palms onto the counter before me.

I’m not sure what’s going on with us today, but we’re both going to feel like total shit tomorrow, regardless of alcohol intake.

Because Sloane is going to be hungover. And I’m going to be tired from staying up all night fighting off thoughts about all the filthy things I want to do to her and those soft, puffy lips.


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