Wicked Me:Wicked in the Stacks Book 1(8)

By: Lindsey R. Loucks

“Sam,” I said, lowering my greeting into an accusation.

He had known who I was because we’d grown up together and he’d changed too much for me to realize it. He’d taken advantage of the situation, and of me, too, though I sure had flirted right back. Riley’s little brother. How embarrassing.

“Paige,” he rumbled, and I felt the timbre of his voice deep inside me.

I tried to ignore it, tried to ignore him, but the bloody dishtowel was like a matador’s red flag.

“What did you do?” I asked since he definitely hadn’t been bleeding half an hour ago.

“What? This?” He shrugged down at the dishtowel then pinned his gaze to mine once again. A small smile tilted his lips. “My hands get carried away sometimes.”

Heat ignited over my skin. Was that some kind of a promise or was he just stating a fact? Did he have his hands all over someone else and been attacked by a frothing-mad boyfriend? Disgusting, which pretty much summed up my feelings about myself for almost letting a public library display of affection happen between us. I had been so close to kissing him.

I quickly shifted my gaze away. “So, Riley,” I said, then cleared my throat. “Tell me everything that’s happened to you over the last seven years.”

Riley chuckled. “First things first. Do you need anything? Beer? Water?”

“No, I’m good,” I said. “But I’m in desperate need of a shower.”

“Right this way, my dear.”

I gave Sam my back as I followed Riley out of the kitchen, but the force of his gaze behind me felt like a sensual touch. I almost glanced over my shoulder, almost, just to see what he might be thinking. But I refused to give someone like him any more of my attention. He’d had plenty, and if I was going to be living with him for six weeks, then I needed to learn how to control my molecules.

“You’ll be in my parents’ old room so you can have your own bathroom,” Riley said, breathing hard as he climbed the stairs with my bulky luggage. “What do you have in these anyway? Bricks?”

“Books. In one of them anyway. I plan to do some reading this summer.” A lot, actually. Graduate school had been killer on my to-be-read list.

“Good to see nothing has changed,” he said, his voice teasing.

In a lot of ways, he was right. He still had the same cute butt that all the girls at school had talked about in barely contained whispers when he passed them. For me, he was always the brother I never had, though, not some pretty boy to drool over. Which was why I averted my gaze from his butt.

“But you know, I hear they make these things called,” he started, then groaned and heaved up the last step, “e-books now. You should really look into it.”

“Oh, I have an e-reader. It’s in there, too,” I said.

“Of course it is,” he muttered.

At the top of the stairs, Riley pushed into a large bedroom on the left and set my luggage down. Inside, three tall windows lit the cream-colored carpet with bright square patterns. A queen-sized bed covered in red pillows of all shapes and sizes took up half of the floor space. On the opposite wall stood a large dark oak dresser, and next to it, another door opened into a massive bathroom with both a whirlpool tub and a shower. Holy hell. This was not how I remembered this room.

I whistled. “You better be careful, Cleary, or you’ll have a hard time getting rid of me.”

He laughed, and though it was deeper than seven years ago, the rhythm of it still sounded the same. “Mom and Dad remodeled before they moved to Alexandria into something more ‘presidential hopeful,’ as Mom calls it. They said to tell you hi.”

Sergeant Maxwell Cleary was expected to announce his bid for presidency any day now, according to Riley, since he’d been turning heads across the political spectrum with his stunning military career and his effectiveness as a senator. To me, he’d always just been Max with his quiet, calm demeanor and a barbecue spatula permanently glued to his hand. Maybe it was because he always made me the juiciest hotdogs I had ever eaten, but I thought he made a great senator and would probably make a great president.

“Tell them hi back for me. When is your dad going to throw his hat in the ring, so to speak?”

The same crinkle I’d seen downstairs hardened the corners of Riley’s eyes. He scrubbed it away with a hand over his face and a sharp nod. “Soon. I can tell you all about the statistics I have on proper presidential bid timing, but you’ll probably be begging me to stop in five minutes. Remember those days I bored you into a coma by telling you all about baseball camp? You pretended you were listening when really you were reading underneath the table.”

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