The Room Mate Page 35

“Jesus, princess.” He lifted me off of him, pressing one soft kiss to my lips. He was still breathing hard, and so was I.

After I used the restroom—because, holy heck, condom-free sex was messy—I crawled back in beside him. Cannon buried his face against my neck, making me smile. We lay together for several minutes perfectly spooned, my back against his front. I ran my fingers over any skin I could find—down his thick forearm, along his large, lightly calloused hand, hands that would one day save lives. I couldn’t believe how natural and comfortable I felt in his arms.

Cannon shifted and released a sigh. “This should probably be the last time, you know, just so things don’t get blurry between us. You’re my sister’s friend. We can’t possibly keep this up without getting discovered.” His hand smoothed my hair back from my face. “And I would hate to complicate things between you and Allie.”

I stilled, my heart thudding dully. I thought we were going to cuddle and drift off to sleep together. How wrong I’d been.

“Right. Of course.” I wiped a stray tear away with the back of my hand, my throat tightening. His words made sense; of course they did. But in that moment, he was the realest, best, brightest thing in my world, and I hated that we would never be more.

But what had I expected? He’d told me from the onset we could never have anything beyond a one-night stand, and I’d agreed to it. Hell, I’d even been the aggressor, the one to coax him into it, wanting to prove to him that he could have an easy, casual relationship with a woman without her falling in love with him.

I wasn’t even willing to think about the L-word, let alone speak it out loud. Cannon and I had lived together a couple of weeks, had sex a total of three times. People didn’t fall in love that quickly, did they?

I rose from his bed, fixing my face in a neutral smile. “Good night.”

His gaze lingered on my bare breasts, and for a moment I thought he might invite me back to bed, maybe for another round, or perhaps just to sleep beside him. Instead he groaned, his gaze jumping up to mine at long last.

“Night, princess.”

I thought he might make some sultry remark like, “You better go before I change my mind.” Or put his hand between my legs to coax me into a repeat. But he didn’t. He tugged up the blankets around him and lay back against his pillows, a satisfied smile on his full lips.

I gulped in a deep inhale and grabbed my discarded clothes from the floor before making my way back to my own room. After pulling on my T-shirt, I collapsed onto my bed.

If only he weren’t so brutally perfect—masculine, funny, intelligent, great at making fajitas, amazing in bed . . . the list went on. But most of all, he was right. He was right that we couldn’t pursue a relationship. His sister would be dead set against us being together, and no man was worth sacrificing my oldest friendship. Not to mention the fact that us dating was totally unrealistic—he would be moving away soon, taking a residency at a hospital who-knows-where. I was certain he didn’t want his sister’s friend following him across the country merely because I’d gotten a taste of his cock and went all lovesick on him, just like he said I would. No, I had to be stronger than that.

And yet . . .

When he was away, I thought of nothing but him. And when he was home? My focus was unwillingly glued to him, tracking his movements through the house. Listening for any sounds from his room.

I had almost memorized the soft bluesy playlist he favored on his laptop, knew that his showers lasted exactly six minutes. I anticipated his routine like one of Pavlov’s drooling dogs anticipated the sound of that bell. On days he wasn’t working, he rose early and went to the gym, then he came home, showered, studied, and made something to eat. Sometimes he paid a visit to his mom or sister, and he liked to watch the evening news, occasionally with a glass of red wine. I learned he was interested in American politics and followed the stock market closely. I knew he was stressed over choosing his specialty and applying to residency programs.

I knew all these things, and yet, I didn’t know the most important thing of all—how he felt about me. I yearned to know where we stood. Did our sleeping together mean as much to him as it did to me?

I curled into a ball under the blankets, my eyes open and staring blankly into the darkness.

• • •

“There’s not something going on with you and Cannon, is there?” Allie asked, appraising me across the table.

We were enjoying a late breakfast at one of our favorite local spots. And while I might have been a little on edge around Allie, knowing that I was hiding something so major from her, I never thought in a million years she’d call me out on it.

Determined to act casual, I took a sip of my coffee. Inside, my heart was rioting. “No. Why?”

“Because if there was, I’d have to disown you both.” Allie took a bite of her breakfast taco while I waited desperately for her to continue. “You know better than anyone how strongly I feel about my brother sticking to the path to success he’s on,” she said, wiping her mouth with her napkin. “We came from nothing, Paige. Nothing. And now he’s going to be a doctor.”

I set my mug on the table and took a breath. “I get that, Allie, I really do. But you have to realize that Cannon is a mature, responsible person. Living with him has shown me that. He’s not going to throw away his chance at success for a relationship.”

Allie sat up straighter in her seat. “He wouldn’t throw it away, no, but if there was someone tying him down, he might make different decisions, might not accept an out-of-state residency at a prestigious program.”

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