“And two bathrooms?”
“Uh-huh. Two master suites. Makes things so much easier.”
It was nice not having to share a bathroom like I did in the dorms last year. Even though Rachel and I ended up in the same one whenever we got ready, it was nice having our own private space where we could be as messy as we wanted without pissing off someone else.
“Your room?” he asked, still looking into the darkened space.
“Rachel’s.” I tilted my head in the opposite direction, where my door was.
Nick entered my bedroom, flipped on the light switch, and plopped right down on my bed as I headed to get us some water.
“Comfortable?” I shouted from the kitchen.
“It’ll do,” he shouted back.
I smiled to myself before walking in, trying to calm the nerves that had started to break through all of my other warring emotions. As I handed him a glass, our fingers touched.
“It’ll do for what, exactly?” I cocked an eyebrow, teasing.
He sat up straighter and lifted his free hand in the air in surrender. “Nothing, nothing. I was just kidding.”
“Me too. I’m okay, Nick. I’m not going to break.”
“Are you sure?” He frowned. “How can you be okay? Hell, I’m not okay.”
My heart melted a little with his admission.
“It was just a drunk guy. Yeah, he was strong and a little scary, but nothing really happened.”
Nick scowled at me. “He tried to kiss you. He pushed himself on you and wouldn’t let you move. That’s not nothing, Jess,” he insisted, his voice rising with each word.
I shifted my weight from foot to foot as what he said sank in.
“I don’t know what you want me to say. I don’t mean that it’s nothing nothing, but it’s not like he—” I stopped, not wanting to say those words out loud. The thought of what could have happened, hell, what did happen all the time to other people, was too horrible to consider.
“Don’t diminish this, okay? I realize that it could have been worse, but it was bad enough. What he did wasn’t okay.”
“I know that.” Averting my eyes, I took a sip of my water.
“I’m sorry, Jess.” He leaned back into the stack of pillows as he relaxed. “I’m just a little worked up.”
“I understand. And thank you.” I sat on the bed next to him and placed my glass on the bedside table. “For everything tonight. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
Nick’s tight-lipped smile faded as he gritted his teeth, making the muscles in his jaw jump. “I can’t even think about it.”
Wanting more from him, I asked, “What do you mean?”
“I can’t think about what would have happened if I wasn’t there, Jess, if I didn’t come out of my room at that moment. You don’t understand what it was like to see you like that. Pinned against the wall, frantic, trying to move but not being able to.” He tossed his baseball cap on the bed and raked his fingers through his hair. “God, seeing how David was controlling your body and the way he was touching you . . .” He winced, squeezing his eyes shut for a second before staring at me. “I wanted to really fucking hurt him.”
My breath hitched in my throat as my heart stuttered. “I’m glad you were there, but I’m even gladder that you didn’t kill him.”
Nick’s eyes met mine, something unrecognizable in them. “Only because you stopped me.”
“Wouldn’t want you going to jail.” Forcing a grin, I added, “You’re too pretty,” trying to lighten the conversation.
He rubbed a hand along his scruff-lined jaw. “You’re right,” he said and huffed out a laugh.
I didn’t know what else to do, so I laughed along with him, praying it would release some of the tension. All the emotions, the drama, it was exhausting.
“Should we play more Twenty Questions?”
I shook my head. “Not tonight.”
My response surprised even myself, but I was too tired for games, even if they would help me get to know Nick better. His reaction to my situation tonight had told me plenty. Plus, with the adrenaline starting to wear off, I felt like I was crashing. Hard.
“Do you want me to take off?” he asked, his tone hesitant.
“No,” I said quickly, not wanting him to go any more than he seemed to want to. “Maybe we can just watch TV?”
“Netflix and chill?” he said with a smirk.
The implied suggestion that we have sex was ridiculous, which was exactly why he said it. Obviously, Nick was trying to lighten the mood too.
I swatted his shoulder. “You wish, Fisher.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “I might, but not tonight. Why don’t you go do whatever it is that girls do when they get ready for bed, and I’ll find us something to watch while we don’t chill.”
I pushed off the bed and headed for my bathroom, a little uncertain what to do. Part of me was dying to wash off all my makeup and be clean after feeling so dirty, but the rest of me wanted to leave it all on so that Nick thought I looked this put together all the time.
It became a moot point when I saw my tear-streaked face in the bathroom mirror. The notion of me looking put together at this point was a total joke. I couldn’t stay like this, not with my foundation streaky and my mascara runny.
After scrubbing my face clean, I shrugged at my reflection before giving myself a little pep talk. If Nick Fisher didn’t find me attractive without makeup, then he could fuck off, right? I tried to make myself believe it was that simple.
After brushing my teeth, I changed into a pair of boy shorts and a tank top. Nick was stretched out on my bed when I came back, one arm slung behind his head as he watched the flat-screen television on top of my dresser.
“All done?” He rolled over to his side to look at me, his gaze roving from my bare legs to my chest and back again.
I crawled onto the bed and reached for a blanket, pulling it over me as I tried to get into a comfortable position that didn’t seem awkward. Nick was practically lying down, his head propped up by a bunch of pillows, so I did the same.
Glancing at my face, he said, “I like your no-makeup look.”
Then he looked me in the eye before dropping a sweet kiss on top of my head. A part of me might have melted a little in that moment, but I couldn’t say for sure.