Monster Prick Page 6

She opens her mouth...

Then hesitates and closes it, looking down into her wine. Guilt is written all over her face. “No. I'm sorry. I can't.”

Crap...I screwed up after all. “What's wrong?” I ask.

“I can't do this to Hayden. I know he wouldn't like us messing around.”

I rest my hand on her shoulder. “I know how you feel. Hayden's my best friend and my business partner. I'd be taking a huge risk, too.” Bigger than hers, probably—Hayden would be a lot less hard on his baby sister than on the douchebag who deflowered her. And it would affect our jobs, not just our personal lives. But I'm not going to point that out right now. This moment is all about Gracie, not me.

She gives me a look of skepticism and concern. Not anxious, exactly, but needing to be convinced. I can't tell if she's still tempted or if that's just my wishful thinking. “If it's such a big risk, why are you willing to take it?”

“You let me worry about that.” Because my boner has hit the emergency override switch in my brain definitely isn't the answer she wants to hear.

She sighs through her nose. “I'm still not sure how I feel about lying to him.”

“It's not lying,” I insist. “It's just not over-sharing. Do you text him every time you go to the bathroom?”

She wrinkles her nose. “Ew...too much information.”

“Exactly. There are some things it's okay to not mention. Sex is your private business, so he doesn't need to know.”

When she continues to sit silent, I finish my train of thought. “Listen, Gracie...this is your own life. You get to decide what to do with it. Don't worry about what Hayden thinks. He's a big boy and he's going to have to face the fact that you're a grown woman now. If he judges you for having sex, he's a shithead.”

That gets a weak smile out of her. “And a hypocrite,” she adds softly.

“I wasn't going to say it,” I agree, shrugging. Hayden had his reasons for sleeping around—pretty similar to mine, in fact—but there's no denying how he acted before Emery inspired him to shape up.

I give Gracie's shoulder one last squeeze and let go. “Just think about it, okay? No pressure. I won't be offended if you change your mind.” Though I will jerk myself raw, imagining what might have been, before I try to get on with my life.

She chews her lip again, then answers, “Sure. I'll let you know.”

I can't resist smiling at her as I stand up. “I should probably head out now. But one more thing...” I pause on the other side of the coffee table. “If we are doing this? Promise me you won't see any of those guys from the website until we're done.”

“Why not?” Her brow is furrowed in a way that means she's just this side of annoyed.

“Because the whole point is to learn from someone you already know and trust,” I say carefully. I can't let her know how ragingly jealous the alternative makes me feel. Not just because it would be too much for my pride, but because she'd start doubting my judgment. “Someone who can find your clitoris and isn't an axe murderer.”

She rolls her eyes. “I'm telling you, these guys aren't...”

“If we meet up three times and you're not feeling it, then you can try them. But give me a chance to work. Get all the lessons before you start trying to put them into practice.”

“Yes, sir, Mister Stone,” she chirps with a half-smile. It was meant to be a sarcastic retort, but I swallow hard. The image of her in a schoolgirl's uniform, roleplaying a “hot for teacher” scene with me, is way too much when I'm not allowed to touch her yet.

I wave goodbye and let myself out, already putting together a class syllabus in my mind. Three nights to grant my dream woman her deepest desires. This is going to be good...provided she says yes.

Chapter Five


Melanie and I are seated at our favorite dinner spot—Tucchi’s in downtown LA. It’s a pizza restaurant with a big wood-burning oven in the center and little round tables topped with white votive candles. It’s casual and cute. Every Saturday we meet for goat cheese and roasted red pepper pizza and copious amounts of local wine. Calories don’t count while we’re having gossip and girl talk.

“So what's new with you, babe?” Melanie asks. “You wear that skirt I lent you yet?”

I shake my head. “I haven't had a chance. All I've been doing this week is work.” That tiny pink scrap definitely isn't appropriate for the office. Hell, I'd feel embarrassed to look at myself in the mirror with it on.

“So wear it at work. Who gives a shit?” she laughs.

“Easy for you to say,” I reply, smiling despite myself. “Clients don't come to my job hoping to look like me.” As a hair stylist, Melanie always sports the latest color and cut, plus fashion-forward clothes that I'm way too chicken to pull off. Customers flock to her chair for just a little touch of that beauty magic. And ever since we met as college roommates, she's always encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone into more mature, sexy territory.

Well, she might just get her wish for juicy news tonight. Because I seriously need some advice about Hudson.

Even as I sit here, sipping red wine and tearing chunks off my breadstick, I still can’t believe his offer. My belly tenses just thinking about it. Hudson actually being my first. Hudson actually wanting to be my first.

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