For the online writing course I’m enrolled in, I’m assigned a partner for the entire semester. The syllabus says we’re to remain anonymous. While I never learn her name, she breaks every other rule there is. She’s dragging my grade down with hers, even after I’ve repeatedly asked her not to.
As our conversations turn personal—another broken rule—she encourages me to push my boundaries, and I learn why she has none: she doesn’t believe in love. Instead of looking for a guy who’ll sweep her off her feet, she rates them in different categories in an equation she created to find someone that’s supposedly perfect for her.
I have no idea what she looks like, how old she is, or where she lives. But I know I can change her mind about love.
Too bad I’d never measure up. According to her equation, there’s no way I’m her perfect ten.
I’ve never played these games before, but they’re kind of childish. I like to have a say in who I kiss. Not that the two girls I kissed during that first game were bad kissers, but I don’t even know their names. Maybe Rob and Alena should’ve had everyone go around and introduce themselves first. That would’ve made me a little more comfortable.
This whole thing was probably Rob’s idea. He’s always making fun of me, talking about how inexperienced I am. Just because I don’t sleep with anyone who gives me a second glance doesn’t mean I have no idea what I’m doing.
Alena locks us in some kind of housekeeping closet, yelling through the door. “Seven minutes, starting now!”
The girl I followed in spins around to find me watching her. She steps closer, swallowing the distance between us in two quick strides. She’s almost pressed against me, she’s so close. I step back, creating some space, reaching for her hand, ready to introduce myself. But she grabs my waist instead, tipping her head back and pushing up on her toes to press her lips to mine.
Her lips are soft and sure, melting instantly beneath mine as I kiss her back, and I quickly forget that she was making out with two other guys before me, a short time ago.
She pulls away, her eyes wide as she stares at me. There’s something familiar about them, the color, or the shape, or the incredibly long eyelashes that are framing a shade of green that matches not only her mask, but also her dress. There’s something about those eyes I can’t quite put my finger on.
I reach for her again. My hands slide around her hips and pull her closer, right up against me. She’s short, but with her heels, she’s just tall enough. Her eyes flutter closed as her head leans back, her lips parted in a silent invitation that my body is very intent on accepting, with or without my brain’s permission.
I’ve never been this close to anyone without knowing their name.
The thin silk of her dress caresses my fingers as I lower my face to hers. The warm cavern of her mouth teases me as her lips move under mine. Her body leans on me more fully—a silent protest as I pull away. I’m only changing the angle, though. I don’t hesitate to come back in for more.
Her lips part farther, wordlessly asking me to deepen the kiss. But I’m content to keep kissing her like this, with open mouths and soft lips merging together repeatedly. Her hands, which are still around my waist, pull my shirt out of the way, and then her fingertips are on my skin, trailing confidently over my back, right along the edge of my pants.
She smells like honeysuckle, like early summer nights spent catching fireflies in the backyard. There’s something else mixed in with that sweet memory. Something that’s probably all hers, whoever she is. Her eyes fly open when I take a second to breathe her in. I want to keep the memory of her scent forever, so I can relive this moment later, when I’m lying in my bed remembering how good she feels. When I need some fascinating moment to focus on. Something good. Something happy. Something…perfect.
“Kiss me,” she whispers, her breath warm on my cheek.
“Pretty sure we were kissing,” I whisper right back. No one can hear us. We’re totally alone, but it feels like we’re under some kind of spell, and we’ll break it if we’re too loud.
“No, really kiss me. Like you mean it.”
“I did mean it.” My voice rumbles in my chest as I try to keep quiet. I don’t know anything about this girl except she’s good friends with my future sister-in-law. But I also don’t know if I could stop myself from kissing her again if my life depended on it.
“That’s not what I meant.”
There’s a frown on those delicious lips, and all I want to do is change it into a smile. I clear my throat and keep whispering. “Kiss you like I know you?”
She gives a quick nod. “Kiss me like I’m the person you’ve been waiting for your entire life.”
Her eyes move back and forth between mine, her hands still on my skin under my shirt, making me want her in ways I never would’ve imagined possible at this point. She flexes her fingers on my sides before pushing both my shirt and her hands up, up, up.
It gets caught on my damn mask, but I reach up and untangle it. She then drapes my shirt over a shelf beside us. The mask stays on my face.
Her eyes are on mine as her fingers trail down my chest and stomach, lightly brushing over the dusting of hair that will lead her directly to something she has no right to discover. Not like this. Not in a closet. Not when I know so little about her. Not when she knows nothing about me.
When I inhale, the pressure of her touch lingering on the button of my slacks has my heartbeat pounding in my ears. She tilts her head to the side.
She’s daring me.
Kiss her the way she wants, or she’s going to do her best to get me out of the rest of my clothes.
I want to kiss her again. The simple kiss we shared was by far the best I’ve ever had.
But I also want to see how far she’s willing to take this.
Her gaze dips down, to where her hand is about to undo my pants, and then back at my face.
Which direction am I going to take us?
Cupping her cheek with one hand, I raise her face. With my other hand on her hip, I make sure she stays as close to me as is physically possible. And then I kiss her like she’s the person I’ve been waiting my entire life for.