Just Once

They were the very poster children for the boy and girl next door, if a couple of streets apart.

Friends for longer than forever. They’d walked to school together. He’d protected her from the bullies when they teased her about her glasses. She’d tended to his cuts and bruises when he fell. He pushed her to try new things. She snuck looks at him when he wasn’t looking.

All her life, Faye had loved Terry, but he was oblivious. He’s her best friend, her closest friend, but he’s oblivious and now he has a Girlfriend. All day long, she has to watch them together and it’s killing her. She wants him, all of him, but he’s taken. So, instead, she wants one night. Just once, one night, between friends.

One night, just once…

Just Once is part of the Deliciously Sinful Liaisons Collection.

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It was maddening. Infuriating. How could someone so drop dead sexy be so oblivious?

Exasperated, Faye forced herself to look away, searching for something, anything to distract her from the oh-so-delectable source of her frustrations. Seated at her desk as they were, the adjacent window would serve her needs perfectly, but she had to drag her eyes up to it, under the guise of dropping her pen and running a hand through her hair.

It was only seven, but the sky was dark, and the moon was full, shining high above, its radiance illuminating the long skeletal fingers of the only tree in her student shared accommodation’s back garden. She could remember planting a very similar tree in her parent’s garden on a bright summer’s day when she was just a little kid in playschool. Every year, on the anniversary of that planting, he would come round to her parent’s house and they’d play around it until they got so tired, they couldn’t move and would stretch out and lie in the shade.

The memory made her heart hurt with longing.

Damn it. Why did she ever agree to this? It was New Year’s Eve and such a beautiful evening. She could have been doing anything. Washing her hair. Shopping online. Browsing the Amazon indie selection for some new, struggling, and overlooked author’s tall, dark, and surly Book Boyfriend to go with the B.O.B hiding away in her bedside drawer. Instead, she was stuck in her bedroom, all alone, with…him.

With all the subtlety her frazzled neurons could muster, she pivoted ever so slightly, drawn inexplicably, and fixed her gaze on Terry.

The image of him reclining in his chair, fingering through the pages of a textbook, his tight-fitting white shirt and tan chinos teasing at the broad, chiselled physique hiding just beneath the surface, set the butterflies in her stomach to flight. His face, those cheekbones and marble jaw, rough with a neatly trimmed goatee that was in such contrast to his shoulder-length mane of near-black hair that was always ruffled and just that bit too long; and begged for her to run her fingers through. And those eyes. Those dark chocolate eyes, piercing and knowing, as if he could see through her with a look and know all her secrets and make her feel like a little girl all over again.

He was a feast to behold, the very symbol of power and masculinity. Her saviour. Her protector. Her knight in shining armour. And still as completely and utterly clueless as the day they’d first met, back when they were just little kids, standing alone on the outskirts of the playground on the first day of school.

They’d been the very poster children for the boy and girl next door; if a couple of streets apart. Friends for longer than forever. They’d walked to school together. He’d protected her from the bullies when they teased her about her glasses. She’d tended to his cuts and bruises when he fell. He pushed her to try new things. She snuck looks at him when he wasn’t looking.

Wherever he led, she’d follow. And she’d cried like a baby for three days after he began to notice girls. Or rather, other girls. Blondes. Brunettes. Redheads. Actresses. Models. Pornstars. Cheerleaders. Girls with big tits, small tits, long legs, big butts. Just about every type of girl, but her.

She’d done everything she could think of to try and get him to notice her. Cut her hair. Changed her fashion choices. Showed some skin. Even swapped her glasses for contacts. That at least had provoked something in him as a few weeks later he’d commented that he preferred her with glasses. Not exactly the reaction she’d been hoping for, and she’d never felt more self-conscious than when she was fishing in her bag for her emergency spectacles five minutes later.

Finally, she’d done the unthinkable. To try and make Terry jealous, she’d started dating Harry Toogood. Never was anyone so aptly named.

Just the thought of him sent a shudder down her spine.

Faye had not been overly attracted to Harry. Though good-looking, he was also a rich toff whose sizeable ego made it a wonder there was room for anyone else in his immediate vicinity. But he was one of those boys. So, when he asked her out one Friday as they were coming out of class, with Terry just three steps behind, she saw her chance. She accepted, just loud enough for Terry to overhear while he was chatting animatedly with Neve Gibson.

From the start, the date had been a disaster, but it had ended in a nightmare. She couldn’t remember it clearly, it was more just a group of hazy thoughts, jumbled and chaotic, with no sense of time.

She’d woken up in A&E the next afternoon. The duty nurse had been very kind and assured her she’d be fine with time, no lasting damage. What the fuck did she know?

The same however couldn’t be said for Harry, after Terry had learned what happened.

He’d been the first to come to visit her, he’d walked her home, and after that he’d always been by her side, even waiting until she’d got her university acceptance letter before making his applications. That is until she came along.

“Hey, Faye, hello? You okay over there?”

She nearly jumped out her skin at his question and looked up to find him watching her from behind his book, his brow furrowed with concern. Embarrassed at having been caught daydreaming, she felt her face burn scarlet and hurriedly replied in a manner that she could only pray sounded nonchalant. “Y-yeah I’m fi-fine! I’m fine. Just… thinking. Yeah, I’m thinking.” She gave him a broad smile.

Terry laid his book down on the desk, clearly not believing a word of it. “Faye…” he warned, trying to look stern, but the edge to his voice just sent a rush of heat straight down to the pit of her belly.

Resigned to her fate, she sighed and dropped her gaze back down to her own textbook. He was right of course. Her scholarship depended on her keeping her grades up. Her last report, however, had shown her GPA on a steady decline. She needed to spend this bit of downtime between terms to get her head down and study. But how was she ever supposed to concentrate with such an edible distraction?

Ever since he’d first come into her life, from the very moment she first laid eyes on him, he’d been a distraction. Her distraction.

She’d tried telling herself it was just a crush, that she’d grow out of it, but it did no good. Terry was her addiction and the more he came into her world, the more she longed for him. By the time she learned the true depth of her feelings for him, however, it was too late.

Terry had fallen in love.

Fallen in love with Elsa, a business management student who, like them, was also minoring in English Lit and had happened to of chose the seat next to Terry’s. A random act of chance that had turned Faye’s world upside down and inside out. Now he belonged to her. Now, he was forbidden fruit, and that was always the sweetest.

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