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Copyright ©2013 Amanda Steiger
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I had to be dreaming. If I were awake, Devin's head wouldn't be between my legs, his full lips stretched around my aching cock, my fingers clenched in his shaggy wheat-brown hair. If this was real, he wouldn't be looking at me like that, gazing up through a veil of soft, dusky lashes, eyes smoky with lust.
I watched his smooth, flushed cheeks draw inward, sucking me deeper.
God, he was beautiful.
I didn't want to wake up, but I could feel the cold fingers of reality prying their way into my head in the form of a monstrous, throbbing hangover. I tried to hang onto the dream, but the dull red pulse behind my eyes wouldn't be ignored. It dragged me, kicking and struggling, back to wakefulness. The blood banged in my head.
"Te? Te, are you all right?"
Devin's voice. He was the only one who ever called me Te. To the rest of the world, even my mom, I was Dante.
I've always loved the way Devin said my name -- the tap of tongue against teeth, the soft exhalation of air. Though at the moment, I wasn't in any condition to appreciate it.
I opened my eyes a crack, then slammed them shut as sunlight blinded me. It looked like the sun had just gone supernova outside our apartment. "Ugh. Daylight."
"Hang on..." I heard a rustle as he pulled the curtains shut, and the room got marginally less bright. "How's that?"
"Better." It still felt like white-hot needles were stabbing my eyes, but the needles were a bit less sharp now. There are certain things that go along with being a cat-shifter. One of those things is enhanced senses. A nice perk, most of the time. Not so nice when you've got a hangover.
A cool, damp cloth draped over my brow, and I sighed with relief. "Thanks." I pried my sleep-crusty eyelids open and found myself looking into a pair of big gray eyes. Same ones from my dream. But instead of being glassy with passion, they just looked worried.
"What did you do last night?" he asked.
I gave him a strained smile. "Better not to ask."
Most of the night was a blur, but I knew I'd done a lot of Mezcal shots. Mezcal is like tequila's tougher, dirtier big brother. It's smoky and earthy and burns a molten trail down your throat. It's that stuff on liquor store shelves that usually has a worm or a scorpion floating in the bottle.
Had I actually eaten that scorpion on a dare? I hoped that was just a dream.
Devin bit his lower lip. "Te... are you okay?"
I looked away, knowing he was asking about more than the hangover. And I couldn't blame him for worrying. This was -- what, the third time this week I'd come home shit-faced? The worst thing was, he didn't know the half of what I did or why I did it. I drank to numb myself, to forget. To blunt other urges.
I thought about the dream, and the guilt came rising up to choke me. My gaze flicked to his lips; then I quickly looked away. Thank God there'd been a blanket over me when I woke, or he might have seen the evidence.
I might be a cat, but just then, I felt more like a pig.
"I'm okay," I muttered. "I've got it under control."
He lowered his gaze. The guilt twisted in my chest like a knife.
Devin. My roommate, my best friend since third grade, the only person in the world I trusted enough to let near me while I was feeling this shitty... and the man whose body I secretly craved more than anything in the world.
No, not just his body. That might be easier. I wanted him. His mind, his soul. I wanted everything. But it wasn't going to happen. So I did what I always did: I bundled up those feelings and tucked them away in the deepest, darkest drawer of my brain. Captain Denial, that's me.
"You should eat something," Devin said.
I made a face. He was probably right, but at the moment, food sounded like the most disgusting thing in the world. "Don't think I could."
"Have some toast, at least. Please?"
That tone melted me every time. He could wind me around his little finger like a piece of taffy, and he didn't even know it. "I'll try. Not promising it'll stay down, though."
I started to sit up, but he pushed me gently back to the bed. At the pressure of his hands on my shoulders, my heart jumped.
"Don't move. I'll take care of it."
I sank back to the bed, closed my eyes, and nodded, wondering for the thousandth time what I'd done to deserve someone as good as him.
He brought me buttered cinnamon toast and a big glass of milk, and he sat and waited as I munched and sipped. I was hungrier than I'd realized, and once I'd had a few bites, my stomach settled.
"Don't you have class?" I asked through a mouthful of toast.
"Oh. Right." I sank back to the bed and draped an arm over my face. I didn't have work today either. Good thing too. If I stumbled into the pub in this condition, Rosaline would fire my fuzzy ass.
I moved my arm away from my face, enough to peer up at Devin through one bleary eye. I'd adjusted to the sunlight, and I could see the way it caught in his hair and highlighted the curve of his cheek, his neck. I knew from experience how soft that skin was. Over the years, we'd brushed against each other so many times -- his hand grazing mine, our bare arms pressing lightly together as we sat side by side. I knew what he would feel like. And he was wearing a soft blue sweater, the sort of thing that would be easy to slide my hands beneath and --
I slammed the door shut on that thought, but it was too late. My hard-on was back, in spite of the raging inferno in my head.