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Slow Burn

By:V. J. Chambers


Chapter One

    “You turned off my alarm!” I screamed at the half-naked guy in my bed. I was pretty sure I’d known his name last night when we’d stumbled through my apartment door and collapsed back here. I was pretty sure. Hadn’t I called out something while he was pulling off my clothes?

    On the other hand, now that I was thinking about it, I didn’t think the sex had actually been that good. I’d had to tell him at least five time to be more gentle, and he hadn’t listened. At all. I’d call him Rough Hands, since I couldn’t think of his name.

    He raised his head sleepily from the pillow. Yuck. Had his hair been that greasy last night? Had his nose been that big?

    Ugh. Why did I do this to myself?

    “It was loud,” he said. “And I’m trying to sleep.”

    “I told you last night that I had to get up early, didn’t I?” I was holding the alarm in my hand, still staring at the numbers. It hadn’t sunk in how late I was.

    “What’s the big deal? So you blow off class.”

    I pushed aside the covers, reached for a night shirt on the floor, and pulled it on. “Not class, you moron. I told you that. I told you it was important.”

    He put the pillow over his head. “That thing about having to go drive to a phone to talk to your dad? I thought you were making that up.”

    Panic shot through me. “I told you that?” How drunk had I been, anyway? I got out of bed. The minute I was upright, my head started pounding. Okay. That drunk.

    “You talked a lot,” he said.

    I ripped the pillow away from his head. “Get out.”

    He rolled over. “Seriously?” He looked wounded.

    “Seriously,” I said. I threw the pillow at his chest and went into the bathroom. I didn’t have time for a shower, but my hair was a complete mess. I popped a toothbrush in my mouth and surveyed my bed head. It was smashed on one side, wavy on the other.

    I grimaced. Most girls on earth would be able to pull their hair into a ponytail now, but for some reason, I had the kind of hair that never pulled properly into a ponytail. I’d always have nasty bumps sticking out and my hair would refuse to lie flat. I wasn’t sure why this was, but it was annoying.

    I spat out toothpaste and rinsed my mouth. Then I turned on the shower. I’d just stick my head underneath it.

    It didn’t really matter how I looked. I wasn’t going to see anyone important or anything. But I couldn’t handle going out into the world looking really bad. I had a modicum of personal pride.

    When I returned to my bedroom, a towel wrapped around my now-wet hair, Rough Hands was still lying in my bed.

    I put my hands on my hips. “You’re still here.”

    He sat up. “I can’t believe you’re kicking me out.”

    “Well, believe it,” I said.

    He found his boxers on the floor. He pulled them on and came over to me. His hand snaked around my waist. “Hey, didn’t we have fun last night?”

    I shoved him off. “Honestly, you weren’t my best lay ever.”

    He looked wounded again. “Geez, you’re cold.”

    “You need to learn about communication,” I said. “When a girl tells you to be gentle, be gentle for God’s sake.”

    He folded his arms over his chest. “You’re really very rude.”

    “I was rude last night too,” I said. “We were both too drunk to stop this train wreck from happening. Now get out.”

    He clenched his jaw. “Fine. I’m gone, Leigh.” He yanked on his pants, threw on his shirt and stalked out of the room. Was I supposed to be impressed that he remembered my name or something?

    I sighed in relief and started going through my closet for something to wear. Pulling out jeans and digging through some clothes on the floor for a t-shirt, I tried to get myself together. I wasn’t going to be that late. If I drove really fast, I’d only be ten minutes late. And even if I missed the phone call, I could check the received-calls log. I’d be able see the number he had this month. I could call him back. I could. It would be okay.

    “Um...”

    I whirled. Rough Hands was in the doorway to the bedroom. “I thought I told you to get lost,” I said.

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