best contemporary romance

Romantic Comedy Novels: Naughty Nurse (BWWM Workplace Romance)

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I republished a previous title with BIG changes and edits to better fit today’s audience. Today, Naughty Nurse is a super steamy high-heat romance novella featuring a goody-two-shoes nurse who meets up with a daring rebellious bad boy, Austin Romero. Playing by the rules hasn’t always worked out for Nereida. Her boyfriend is a total ass, her boss is in need of #MeToo exposing, and her best friend seems totally oblivious to all the ways her life is going down the drain. What Nereida needs is permission to be bad… or at least get a little naughty. Keep reading this free sample of the book to dive into Nereida’s story. By the end of the sample, you’ll be dying for this nurse to get a little naughty.

Romance Novel Excerpts: Naughty Nurse (Interracial Romance Novel)

Nereida enjoyed the usual quiet of the night shift. In their small sleepy city that hadn’t yet been discovered by hipsters of gentrifiers, there wasn’t much to disturb the peace. But on rare occasions where some hurricane level disaster managed to puncture through their regular world, the hospital could shift from as silent as a graveyard to a bustling ants nest. There would be screaming, nurses running down hallways, doctors yelling.

What was one peaceful would be thrust into furious chaos. Nothing could calm the angry energy except death -- the dull flatline of a heart monitor would be the cue for the chaos to stop. Out of respect. Out of defeat.

On rare occasions, when there was a late night emergency, the noise wouldn’t just cease but it would slow down to a quiet simmer. When a late night emergency was accompanied by a little bit of luck and instead of a casualty, the hospital was blessed with a miracle. 

Nereida Kelly sipped hot earl grey in the waiting room with her closest friend on shift that night. She never rushed her tea. The rule of a place like this was that you had to steal what little joy you could. The two women enjoyed a rare moment of peace in the hospital -- something rarely afforded to nurses. Krista was going on and on about her recent engagement and Nereida was listening attentively, longing for the time when she would have something equally inspiring to share. She wasn’t sure it would ever happen with Rashad. She was thirty-two, he was nearly forty, yet he’d still shown no interest in making an honest woman out of her. She’d been hinting for years. Nereida had gone so far as to stuff his car with old wedding catalogs that were about to get dumped from the hospital waiting room. Rashad hadn’t even noticed.

Nereida knew it wasn’t her looks that stopped him from proposing. Mahogany, red-boned, somewhere between dark and medium brown, her complexion was a perfect chocolate. Her kinky, curly hair was long and touched the middle of her back. At work, Nereida kept it pulled back in a ponytail for professionalism. 

With her hair pulled back you could see the bright round apples of Nereida’s cheeks which were further highlighted by the smile she wore plastered on her face. Nereida’s one way of spoiling herself was her french tip nails which she got done every two weeks like clockwork. Her eyes were a deep dark brown color that reflected the depth and darkness of her beauty. Nereida was most definitely beautiful and graceful whether or not she was aware of it. She had this near magical ability to make other people around her feel calm and safe with her. That’s why she made such a good nurse.

Nereida’s listening skills had a dark side, evidenced by the fact that Krista blabbered on without letting her girl friend get a word in. She knew that it was cruel to talk Nereida’s ear off about this constantly, but she just couldn’t help that her friend was such a good listener. Krista had blonde hair — natural, and she wouldn’t let you forget it —  that fell down the middle of her back and giant bright hazel colored eyes. 

As Nereida tried to actually listen to Krista’s words, a message from her boyfriend Rashad flashed on her phone. He was angry with her — again. These days their relationship was more hate than love. Nereida thought he was tripping, but Rashad always found a way to make their screwed up relationship her fault. 

Maybe he’d change, Nereida thought, despite no evidence that he would. Krista kept telling her that she should jump back out into the dating world, but Nereida couldn’t handle the cesspool of online dating. Swipe where?! 

Rashad was a pain in the behind, though. That  much was true. He was constantly complaining that Nereida didn’t care about anything except her work. What was she supposed to do? Her dream had always been to have a great job where she could care for other people and nursing just happened  to be what had called her. Nereida couldn’t help that she worked night shifts; she wasn’t even sure what Rashad wanted from her since he didn’t seem to want to marry her. Well she knew but it just wasn’t practical. Rashad wanted her to quit work and just start having his babies and caring for him around the house — without a ring. Nereida loved him, but she just couldn’t give up her dream for him. Not to be his baby mama. Maybe with a ring… 

Her mother had always told her, “Don’t let any ain’t shit mutha-fucka control the money in your house, girl.” 

Nereida didn’t often think her mother had the best advice but that piece had stuck in her head. In her adulthood, she just knew that she couldn’t resign herself to being a servant to Rashad. Somehow, she knew that Rashad couldn’t support her on his own. He certainly thought he could but even now, Rashad made less moolah than she did. It was another sore point in their relationship. He couldn’t handle the thought and he was in denial about it. 

Nereida tuned in to what Krista was saying. That chick still hadn’t realized that Nereida had just track of her conversation. Nereida shook her head, another gesture that went unnoticed as Krista prattled on.

“So, Nereida… What do you think? Should I let her come or should I just tell him that I don’t want his ex-girlfriend’s cousin’s ex-husband’s new girl at my wedding? And should I let them bring their huskies?” 

Before Nereida could give her input on Krista’s latest wedding planning drama, their beepers went off and the break cut short. Krista and Nereida leapt into action and made their way to the E.R. where two stretchers were going in. 

* * *

“Kelly!” Dr. Allen called Nereida to his side and Krista took her cue to follow Dr. Hatfield. Nereida followed the stretcher that surged down the halls at breakneck speed as she prepared to stabilize the patient that had just been wheeled in. It all happened so fast. By now, this ritual should have been swift and automatic. Nereida could never calm her nerves, the adrenaline that pumped through her veins as she rushed down the hall administering shots and oxygen as the doctor on call barked commands at her. You had to keep a cool head. You had to forget about all your problems going on outside: no weddings, no Rashad. 

The patient had burns, pretty severe ones too that charred his skin and peeled away his flesh. The kicker had been two gunshot wounds. He might not have called 911 without them. Nereida didn’t think this one would make it. She’d seen cases less serious than this one where the patient hadn’t made it to the operating room in time before conking out. We have to save him. The thought intruded into her head.

He was in pretty terrible condition and Nereida followed the doctor and yelled back information. The EMTs had managed to stop some of the bleeding but there was still quite a bit of work to be done before this patient was anything near stable. They moved him into the O.R. and everyone suited up to get to work on him.

* * *

It was well after two a.m. by the time the patient was stable. Throughout the surgery, Nereida learned that the patient’s name was Austin Romero. She wondered what on earth had happened to land him in the hospital with two gunshot wounds and third degree burns all over his body. She hadn’t even caught a look at his face but based on how well insured he was, there was no way he was a common street criminal or the type of guy you’d expect to be in here like this.

Nereida’s fascination with this patient was beyond normal and she knew it. From the moment she prepared to leave the operating room, Nereida felt a pang of guilt at leaving him behind for another nurse to wheel into recovery. She couldn’t figure out why he produced such a strange response in her. Austin Romero. The name sounded like it belonged to someone famous, someone who didn’t belong in a small nowhere city like hers.

Strange. Nereida was changing out of her operating scrubs in the locker room between the operating room and the hospital when she heard the surgeon on-call’s heavy breathing behind her. Dr. Finger tapped Nereida on the shoulder as she stood there in just her bra and her clean pants.

“Yes doctor?” Nereida answered politely.

Internally she was thinking, “Here we go again.” She knew that Dr. Finger didn’t have the world’s best established boundaries and he was constantly hitting on the younger nurses, even if he’d been married for over fifteen years.

“Well that was some great work in there,” he said, breathing heavily like a caged ox.

His eyes eagerly lingered on Nereida’s bosom. He licked his lips, not bothering to pretend that he wasn’t leering at her. She shot him a glare and threw her shirt on.

“Thanks,” Nereida mumbled.

She hoped that he would just leave her alone after that. She had a boyfriend and she was here to work… Not pick up guys. She knew that some of the younger nurses made the mistake in thinking that older doctors were “in love” with them and would eventually leave their wives. But it never happened quite like that. Nereida didn’t want a reputation at work. Or anywhere. And she didn’t want a creepy old guy leering at her like a piece of prime rib.

“So Nereida… What are you doing after this shift?” He shifted his junk in his pants. Nereida resisted the urge to scream at him and risk getting her butt fired.

“It’s two in the morning doc,” Nereida said.

Did he really think that she would be so easy to get in bed? She struggled not to laugh in his face.

“Uh, I know it’s two a.m. Nereida. You’re really filling out these scrubs well aren’t you. I like my women with nice bazookas. Great nipples too.”

He licked his lips again. Nereida’s heart raced and her mouth went dry as she plotted her escape route. Even if she reported him, Dr. Finger was the best surgeon in the entire state. They’d never get rid of him so long as patients wanted his gifted hands working on them. 

Nereida glared at him again and tried to push past.

“Not so easy miss. I’m not letting you leave until I get a date.”

“Please… I have a boyfriend, Dr. Finger. Let’s just forget this happened and I’ll head home.”

“Nereida. I’m very discreet. I know you’re seeing some young chap but can he really provide you with everything you want in life? I mean… I’m a doctor.” 

Nereida wondered for a moment if that line had ever worked. She was depressed by the fact that it probably had. Dr. Finger had probably convinced many poor nurses who were just looking to be cared for that he could change their situation or do something to improve their lives. Nereida had been around the hospital too long to even take him seriously. Who did he think he was? These doctors were too arrogant and all thought that someone owed them just because they happened to sit through school for a few extra years.

“Dr. Finger, it’s late and I would really appreciate going home right now.”

“So you’re playing hard to get?” He said. An impish grin broke out across his face.

Nereida was getting frustrated and she was already exhausted. She was about to head home to a boyfriend who was likely waiting for her angrily and she didn’t need this.

“NO! I’m not playing hard to get! I want you to get the hell out of here. I don’t give a damn how much money you have or how bad you think you are okay? This is unprofessional and I want you to let me leave!” 

Dr. Finger seemed taken aback. He wasn’t used to being rejected so flatly and Nereida could see a flash of anger blaze across his eyes. 

“Nereida. Let’s not forget I’m your superior here and I expect at least the basic amount of respect.” 

Nereida was about to lash into him again, fueled by anger at his entitlement when Krista knocked on the door and opened it.

Did you enjoy this free sample? Click here to finish reading the rest of the novella.

Free Romance Novel Excerpts: Extra Stuffing by Jamila Jasper

romance novel excerpts jamila jasper bwwmSteamy hot holiday romance Extra Stuffing coming soon to Amazon! Scroll down so you can check out the description and read this lengthy free sample of this interracial romance story launching in a few days.

Extra Stuffing has been an intense book to write, filled with so many twists and turns plus a satisfying ending.

If you enjoy sports romance stories with HOT alpha males and SPICY love scenes, you'll enjoy this read.

Check out the description and then the sample below.

Description:

GRACIE GOODWIN

We broke up… For a good reason too.

So why did I fall into Peter Roman’s arms so easily?

OK, it might have something to do with the fact that he’s smoking hot and plays for the NFL now.

But there’s something I haven’t told Peter — something that could change the way he looks at me forever.

 

PETER ROMAN

I want Gracie back. I don’t care what I have to do to keep her.

I’m not the dumb a$$hole I was in college.

I’m different and I have the bank account to match.

No matter what, I’m going to make her mine. 

This time, we’ll last forever. 

Romance Novel Excerpts: Extra Stuffing

 

 

2017.

New York City

 

“I want to fuck you.”

 

His gruff, husky voice weaseled its way across my neck and into my ears. My pussy throbbed. I couldn’t believe I was here again. Ten years after college and here we were again in each other’s arms. Except this time things were different. Trust me. Peter Roman clutched my hips and pressed me against the wall. I giggled as my back smacked against the drywall and I submitted my weight to his powerful grasp.

 

“Easy cowboy.”

 

I giggled, always light in Peter’s arms. 

 

“Just take those fuckin’ panties off,” He growled.

 

I couldn’t say no. I eased out of my panties, giving Peter access to what he wanted.

 

“I’ve missed that beautiful pussy of yours,” He muttered as he rolled a condom on his cock.

 

I imagined for an NFL player, that was quite the compliment. Yes, ten years later, Peter Roman wasn’t just my college ex-boyfriend he was a starting quarterback for the New York Giants. He’d grown a lot since then, in so many ways. There was part of him that had stayed exactly the same and at that moment, that was the only part of him I cared about.

 

Peter hoisted me up against the wall again and tilted my neck to the side so he could graze his tongue along the length of it and press his lips to mine. He’d become a much better kisser over the years. He smelled different now too. He’d ditched his cheap Axe body spray for Armani cologne. His scent drove thrills down my spine. I felt Peter’s hardness pressing against my wetness. I gasped as he began to slide into me… and I slid back into 2007. 

 

Memories of ecstasy flooded me. This part had never been bad between us.

 

His cock pushing past my entrance forced my tightness to stretch. Making love to him always felt sinful, like a betrayal of my common sense. (This time, it really might have been.) I moaned as his full nine inches thrust my pussy lips apart, sending pleasure shooting through my body.

 

“Ohhhh,” I cried out.

 

“Easy babe,” He moaned.

 

Peter thrust one last time hard into me. I gripped his back and he began pumping into me furiously. Our loud banging against the wall meant all his other house mates (you know, New York Giants) could probably hear every last whimper and moan. With Peter’s thick cock plunging between my folds, I couldn’t bring myself to care. I moaned as I climaxed. No one’s home anyways. Right? My eyes rolled far back into my head. Black spots in front my lids threatened my consciousness. Peter pumped into me a few more times until I climaxed again. My thighs shuddered. I pressed my heels into his buttocks, securing him closer. 

 

Then we were done with the wall. I wrapped my lithe legs around him and squeezed tightly as he moved my slight frame from against the wall of his large, Tribeca bedroom to his king-sized bed. Peter and his teammates might have had to share an apartment in the city but trust me, this was not the type of apartment sharing that goes on between broke post-graduates.

 

As my head touched the pillow of Peter’s bed, he wasted no time before plunging into me again. I couldn’t even appreciate the down pillows or the cozy firmness of the mattress. Maybe that was for the best. Peter thrust into me deep. I cried out and arched my back to meet his ardent thrusts. He pushed my hair out of my face and planted a long kiss on my lips as his hardness penetrated my damp cavern and forced me into another climax. 

 

“Cum for me baby, cum all over my big dick,” He grunted.

 

I exploded, juices leaking from my wetness as Peter continued to slide between my hot folds. I dug my nails into his back as I quivered beneath him. I ran my hands through Peter’s hair again. From college, his hair hadn’t thinned at all; his blond strands were just as thick as I remembered. He kissed me again and whispered into my ears. The sound ticked the hairs on my neck.

 

“You’ve gotten hotter Gracie… I wish I could cum right inside your tight little pussy.”

 

I cried out again as I came. The thought of Peter emptying his seed inside me was both terrifying and thrilling. My toes curled as shivers of pleasure forced my thighs to quiver with desire. I almost begged him to take the condom off. But I was different — responsible now. I wrapped my thighs around him as he continued to pound into me. Peter always got too dirty when he was hard. The heat of the moment subsumed him.

 

“Fuck me Peter… Harder…” I whimpered.  

 

Peter obliged, pressing his cock into my little honeypot deeper than before. I gasped as his cock reached untouched depths of my wetness. My pussy gripped him like a vice as he kept pumping me with those slow, deep strokes. He couldn’t hold back any longer. His touch had sent my brown skin ablaze with desire and he responded to it. My writhing and moaning beneath him had forced an eruption. Peter grunted as he came.

 

I felt his monstrous cock pulsing with startling rhythm whilst buried deep between my legs. I couldn’t help but whimper again as he forced the walls of my pussy to tremble. Peter pulled out of me with a big, bad, naughty look in his eyes. He could see how climaxing had shaken me loose. My shoulders visibly relaxed and my breathing slowed.Peter pulled me up so I could sit up in his bed, my perky breasts hanging down whilst my dark nipples pointed at him. He tilted my chin up to kiss him as he rolled the condom off.

 

“I’m not finished with you yet.” 

 

He disposed of the condom and then ran his fingers through his long blond hair. That was another way he’d changed. His blond hair now hung down to his shoulders, like Thor in those old comic books I used to steal and then sell to the boys in my elementary school class at a mark up. As I ogled Peter coming back into bed to join me, the only thing on my mind was that I was so glad I’d left Hell’s Kitchen for this. 

 

I’d gone south to this man from my past, to the man I hadn’t spoken to in nearly a decade up until two weeks ago.

 

Peter joined me on the other side of the king-sized bed. His apartment’s cavernous size reflected so much of how I viewed him: larger than life; fantastical almost. I hadn’t known Manhattan made bedrooms that could accommodate a king. 

 

“So,” Peter started, running his hands through his hair again, “Why can’t I come to your place. What are you so afraid of?”

 

I looked into his green eyes and told him the truth.

 

“You.”

 

“Stop bullshitting,” Peter chuckled.

 

I wasn’t “bullshitting”.  Peter and I hadn’t exactly ended on good terms. While he’d become an NFL player, I’d lived a whole life too. He didn’t know me anymore and I didn’t know him. I’d pursued my dreams and I’d made a hell of a lot of them happen. What I hadn’t done was figure out how to let a man back into my life the same way I’d let Peter in so many years ago. I was finished with that. Falling into bed with him scared me because it didn’t feel like progress. Chronic high achiever as I was, I needed to feel like I was heading somewhere. 

 

I preferred things this way: my world was mine and his world was, well, a place I could visit every once in a while. 

 

He could sense my discomfort. I didn’t hold out hope that he could grasp why I was so uncomfortable. So much time had passed since Michigan. We hadn’t spoken since the day of our breakup. Then again, we’d fallen into bed with each other again within two weeks of reuniting. It was as if no time had passed at all in the bedroom. I had to be careful.  Could I really have casual sex with Peter Roman? Not after our history together. Casual was all he could do. That had spelled trouble for me before. I had to force myself to be wary of him. So no — no seeing my Hell’s Kitchen studio.

 

Bed was the last place I wanted to talk about the past. It had been six months since I’d even seen a man’s junk and the last time I had, trust me, he wasn’t nearly as attractive, successful and skilled as my ex-boyfriend.

 

“You have nothing to be afraid of,” Peter lied. (I assumed he was lying.) 

 

I grinned, masking my discomfort, “I’m too old to believe that.”

 

“Well if you don’t believe me, let me at least try to prove it to you.”

 

He leaned in and kissed me. A kiss proved nothing.

 

“How on earth would you do that?”

 

“Shhh,” Peter hushed me and then pressed his warm lips to mine.

 

He pushed me onto my back and spread my legs wide, urgent and sudden. I thought Peter would slide between my legs again but I was wrong. He kissed the fleshy mounds of my bosom and then my flat tummy and then he spread my legs apart and ogled my dripping wet pussy that he’d just been buried inside of.

 

“You look… delicious…”

 

He paused as if pondering something serious.

 

“I can’t wait to eat you ’til you scream.”

 

Maybe Peter had changed. Giving oral hadn’t exactly been his biggest passion when we were dating. (Had he changed in other ways?). He spread my legs wide and ran his finger along the length of my wetness. I shuddered as the soft pad of his index finger flicked across my clit. He spread my pussy lips apart, ogling the engorged, purplish brown lips before diving his tongue between them.

 

I gasped as Peter’s tongue went deep between my folds. Pleasure exploded from my core and I slammed my head back into the down pillow. My hips thrust upward, following my body’s natural undulations. Peter pressed my thighs into the bed forcefully and continued to slip his tongue between my inner and outer pussy lips. He wrapped his lips around my engorged clit and began to suck on the hardened nub until I yelped in pleasure and faded into soft moans.

 

“OHHH!” I moaned, “YES! YES DADDY!” 

 

I could practically feel Peter smirking. He began to lap at my folds faster, getting me wetter and wetter. I moaned and whimpered in pleasure, my mouth twisted into an opera singer’s perfect “O” as I belted out notes of pleasure. I climaxed hard, forcing juices to ooze from my honey pot and onto Peter’s lips. Sweat pooled at my forehead and every inch of my skin flushed a deep mulberry. He seemed to be savoring the taste of my juices as he stopped to lick his lips and then dove hungrily between my legs for more.

 

His greed meant my pleasure. I cried out and climaxed again as he began to thrust his hardened tongue into my entrance. He used his tongue to make love to me, to squeeze out every last drop of desire that he could while he could. My body dripped in sweat, my thighs trembled and my pussy quivered as I came again. Peter’s tongue and lips were relentless. Just when I thought I would be free from these non-stop earthquakes of pleasure, he would nibble gently at my folds and dive his tongue in again, slipping between dripping folds.

 

It took him hours and over twenty climaxes before he tired of pleasuring me with his tongue. My pussy was dripped, swollen with desire and reddened. Desperate for a fresh breath of air, I pulled away from Peter as he lifted his head from between my legs. He ran his hands through his hair with a dopey little smile on his face. I pressed my elbows into his firm mattress and then raised my back. 

 

“What?” I asked.

 

“I’ve never seen you cum like that before.”

 

I rolled my eyes. I was pretty sure he had seen me cum like that before. Many times. It’s just that each time, it was new to him — exciting. 

 

“Don’t make me blush,” I teased.

 

“I’m not joking.”

 

A decade had passed and I knew that Peter Roman was dangerous for me. Still, I was drawn to him. Less of a cynic and I would have blamed fate. When we’d broken up, a bomb had gone off in my dating life. I still hadn’t finished picking up the shrapnel. I picked at my nail beds, waiting for him to say something else, or maybe waiting to come up with something to say that sounded witty or flirty. 

 

“Thanks for answering my call,” Peter said, still grinning like a high schooler who stumbled upon his first PlayBoy. 

 

Two weeks ago was the first time I’d talked to him since our break up. It didn’t take long for us to take reminiscing to lovemaking. It had switched in an instant as if the lack of closure alone had forced us together. The major difference was that now we were  older and in theory, wiser. This was just supposed to be two old friends in their thirties meeting up to scratch each other’s itch. It happened sometimes. Dating was hard.

 

At first, I’d thought that I was the only one who had showed up to Peter’s apartment with lingering, decade-old feelings. Then he kissed me again.

 

It wasn’t the kiss that changed my mind though. It was what he said afterwards.

 

“I’ll be in Tribeca when I’m not playing out of state. If you won’t let me see your place, I’d better let you know that you’re welcome at mine.”

 

“It’s not that I don’t want you to see it,” I lied.

 

“Then what?”

 

Okay, it wasn’t a full on lie. But it wasn’t a full on truth either. I didn’t want to let Peter in because letting him in had proved dangerous. I didn’t want to let him in because my studio apartment in Hell’s Kitchen that I’d worked my ass off for looked mediocre compared to his six bedroom penthouse in Tribeca. I knew it was absolutely stupid to compete with my ex who played professional football, but I couldn’t help it. I wanted to prove I’d thrived after the breakup. Doing better than him meant I won — after all, he couldn’t break me.

 

At least that’s what I told myself. I wasn’t broken.

 

Then the scary thought entered my head: What if he’s right? What if he has changed, and I’m the one stuck in the past. How did that place me in my unspoken contest?

 

“I just can’t take you back to my place okay? The neighborhood’s shit.”

 

Peter chuckled, “Gracie, we grew up in Queens for fuck’s sake. Don’t be fooled by all this bullshit.”

 

“Oh so what? You’re a down to earth guy?” I teased.

 

I knew from the tabloids that Peter was likely not a down-to-earth guy. Not like I resented him for it. Hell, if I had millions of dollars from throwing a ball around a field, I’d be pretty cocky too.

 

“Yes,” Peter replied, “I am. If you read the tabloids, you’ve got the wrong idea about me. I’m Peter Roman from Queens. Just a regular guy.”

 

I looked away from him, worried that if I looked into his green eyes he’d read my thoughts again. The blond strands that framed his face were caught in my peripheral vision. He exhaled warm and deep. The peppermint on his breath wafted over to me.

 

 

Fine. According to him, the tabloids were lying. But that didn’t mean we hadn’t broken up on horrible terms and then never talked about it. That made this sort-of-romance unusual

 

“Why did you call me?” I asked.

 

There goes Gracie, always looking for trouble.

 

“Because I missed you. Plus, you’re the only person in this fuckin’ city who doesn’t look at me funny.”

 

Right. Poor him. As an NFL player, Peter couldn’t go anywhere without people going gaga over him. I still went gaga over him, but it wasn’t because of the NFL thing. I guess he wasn’t adapting well to fame.

 

“So I should feel sorry for you because you’re famous?”

 

Peter chuckled, “No. You should feel sorry for me because I’m a man in my thirties who plays for one of the most popular football teams in America and I still get lonely.”

 

A rare moment of vulnerability for Peter. I stared into his eyes again. He was genuine. He pulled me in for another kiss. Trusting him had been too hard for me. I was the one who had ruined things, ruined us. I’d pushed him into someone’s arms.

 

“I can tell you’re over thinking,” Peter whispered.

 

“Hm?”

 

“Don’t play dumb with me.”

 

I picked at my nails again and looked away from him.

 

“Listen Peter, I need to go.”

 

“Right,” Peter nodded, “Why exactly?”

 

“Because,” I lied, “I have work in the morning”

 

“Uh huh. I’ve got practice. So stay over and I’ll have my driver get you to Hell’s Kitchen in time for work.”

 

His driver? Peter and I really did live in two different worlds. Panic settled in my chest, forcing my heart to push against my ribs. My nail beds ached.

 

“No, it’s fine. I’ll enjoy the walk.”

 

“You’re walking?”

 

He stood up, always ready to step in and take charge.

 

“Only to the subway.”

 

“Bullshit. I’ll pay for a cab.”

 

“You don’t have to,” I argued, dressing quickly. 

 

Peter dressed faster and he was far more stubborn than I was.

 

“Stop messing around Gracie. I’ll get you a cab home.”

 

I was reminded of our petty arguments from our university days. A smile warmed my face and this time, I decided to let Peter win. We walked out of his room and thankfully, none of his other bachelor housemates were around. I didn’t get along well with them. If I thought Peter could be an asshole, I thought his house mates were the supreme creators of asshole-ry. 

 

We took the elevator down. Peter kept looking at me as if he were trying to read my mind. I kept trying to stop him. My mind was spinning, over thinking, over worrying, absolutely terrified. I’d just had the best sex of my thirties (I wasn’t very far into my thirties, but still) and the only thing I could think about was something that was buried a decade into the past.

 

The doorman tipped his hat to Peter and I as we left. I wondered if I’d get the same reception on my own as a black woman in this neighborhood. Peter hailed a cab. Cabs couldn’t ignore all 6’5” of him and instead of waiting a yellow cab skidded over to us. Peter took out a wad of cash and directed the driver toward Hell’s Kitchen.

 

Before opened the door to the cab, he held my waist and kissed me.

 

“Don’t be a stranger, Gracie.”

 

I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him back.

 

“I won’t be.”

 

Peter opened the door for me and I slid into my free cab ride to Hell’s Kitchen. When I got home, I couldn’t sleep. I knew I had to bring up the awkward, ugly, elephant in the room with him eventually, but I didn’t want to. I knew I was making the same old mistakes I had been in college. I knew that communication was important. But I couldn’t help it. Peter Roman made me scared. Whenever he was around, I always had to face those ugly parts to myself that I’d kept hidden.

 

Being in love with him had made me crazy. I didn’t want to risk that happening again.

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