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They say hindsight is 20/20 and up until moments ago I thought I'd learned from my one regrettable mistake years ago. It was one I left buried in my past and swore I would never repeat. But that's the problem with never. Shit always happens right in the middle of it. My world grinds to an immediate halt when I first see him. Everything in my field of vision blurs to focus only on him. At 6'4 he easily towers over the average person and standing in front of my dorm room he holds an imposing stance that has literally every woman passing by do a double take. But then it could also possibly have something to do with his panty-meltingly good looks.
Ezra Solomon Wolf had the most amazing bone structure I've ever seen on a man. High, arresting cheekbones, strong, prominent brows, a narrow, bladed nose and an angular jawline I remember he prefers clean shaven. His thick jet black hair is styled in his signature undercut, perfectly faded around the sides and left partially long on top. He looks like he just stepped out of one of those high fashion billboards you see on the highway. He's impeccably dressed in a pair of forest green cargo trousers, a royal blue knit sweater, dark brown, half laced boots that even worn and beaten look like they cost a small fortune. He screams of wealth and prestige. Clearly he doesn't belong here. He's a royal among commoners.
He has his phone to his ear, engaged in conversation with whoever he has on the other line, but it's clear that his attention is on something else entirely. Almost as if aware of me staring rudely at him at the top of the staircase, he turns his head in my direction and pinions me with his incisive gaze. My battering heart jumps to my throat. There's a noticeable fluttering in my belly that grows in intensity with every unsteady step I take. I feel like I'm on a conveyer belt, slowly moving toward him but the ground not quite steady beneath my feet. By the time I stop in front of him, I've worked myself up into a tight coil of apprehension.
He takes a second to end his call before slipping his phone in his pocket. "Hello, Ella," he greets, voice low and smooth as silk.
He's so incredibly hot, that I think he's probably one of the only men on the planet who can pull off suspenders in the sexiest way possible. One skinny beige strap holds onto a wide shoulder while the other hangs carelessly at his side.
"Hi," I return after a beat. There are a thousand and one questions burning through my brain right now but the most pressing one is-" what are you doing here?" it comes out harsher than I intend, but given everything that happened it I don't feel bad about it. He shouldn't be here right now. We haven't seen each in over a year and that's the way I wanted to keep it. That's the way it should be. There needed to be distance between us. "Is Derek okay?" I ask because it's a safe subject. The only subject in fact that he and I should have in common. My boyfriend. His brother. The person we've both betrayed. I ignore the twist in my chest at the memory that wants to be exhumed. Not here and certainly not right now. At least not while he's here. "I need to open the door." I say a little more diffidently and I'm grateful when he wordlessly steps aside and allows me to open the door.
Inside is small, barely able to fit one person let alone two. But my roommate and I make it work. The best thing about rooming with Abby is that she's just as anal as I am about cleaning. We keep our separate sides of the room relatively clean throughout the weekday in between classes and homework but Sundays are our cleaning days. And I've never been more grateful than I am now that we spent yesterday thoroughly cleaning the entire room.
But even then I hesitantly enter the room, afraid to find that somehow my bed has been unmade or that I've somehow left dirty clothes on my bed or my damp towel on the floor. I breathe a little easier to find everything exactly how I left it this morning before my A&P class. Abby isn't here. No surprise. Mondays are typically her longer days. She won't be back until tonight. I set my backpack on my desk, pushed up flush against the wall on the right side of the dorm room. I'm all too aware of his presence radiating sun hot behind me. I can feel the weight of his stare like an intimate touch.
A dark, seductive shiver shoots down my spine as I turn to face him. The room suddenly feels airless and hot. I part my lips as I start to breathe a little faster. The rapid thumping of my heart against my breastbone brings a wave of warmth rushing to the surface of my skin. He's big. Immensely tall. He seems to take up the entire room and me along with it. He smells so good that I swear my mouth begins to water. It's something light and citrusy but there's a deeper, darker woodsy base note that seduces the senses.
I look up at his face and realize what a dangerous mistake it is when I fall victim to deep set shuttered electric blue eyes that seem to leave me utterly bare. I feel vulnerable in every discernable way. I've stood naked in front of this man. I've been tied spread eagle to the giant posters of his handcrafted bed, unable to move, completely at his mercy as he did things to me that would make a porn star blush. Now he's here again, in his all too perfect Adonis flesh, and it's nearly impossible to remember why it's a bad idea for me to make the same mistake again.
He reaches out a hand and breath stutters in my lungs. Capturing a lock of my spiral, curly hair he lazily toys with it. My nipples instantly tighten, pebbling up against my shirt. How, I stupidly wonder can he make hair twirling something so intensely erotic?
"Its gotten longer," he remarks in a low, gruff undertone that brings a surge of heat deep in my belly. "Don't ever cut it." He says lightly, but his voice is edged with the sort of authority and command that my body instantly wants to submit to.
I have to get away from him. It takes every ounce I will I have to do so. "What are you doing here, Ezra?" I strive to keep my voice cool. Detached. I can't commit the same mistake twice. I won't.
Resolve strengthens my spine as I take another step back only to have my backside come up against the edge of my desk. My shot of courage is quickly incinerated by smoldering eyes intently focused on me. He advances. One, long, effortless stride of powerful legs and he's standing right in front of me. With the desk at my back and his big body obscuring everything in front of me, he succeeds in effectively caging me in.
He doesn't make an effort to touch me. And I don't realize until just now how much I crave it. I worry the inside of my lower lip to keep myself from asking for the one thing my body is now screaming for. For him to touch me. Even if it's just a whisper of a finger down my arm. Just a crumb. A morsel of this drug that's Ezra Wolf.
"What..." my mouth is a desert. I lick my dry lips and watch as his eyes instantly narrow. Tracking the movement. "What...what do you want?" I press on despite the heaviness of my tongue and the sudden inability to think straight. He's this commanding force with this undeniably raw sexual magnetism that wrenches me into his gravitational pull. I'm hurtling helplessly around him while he simply stands there.
The corner of his mouth ticks up into a grin that's more than just ego. It's him knowing the sort of power he has over me. I know he reads me like a book. My every emotion spelt out across my face for him to see. For him to use against me. He likes playing games.
"Have dinner with me." he uses his candor like a weapon and it has the desired effect, throwing me completely off guard. "I'm in town for the night. I thought I'd come visit my brother's girlfriend." There's a shadow that passes over his shuttered blue eyes when he says that. But it passes too quickly for me to properly identity what it is.
I stare at him. " You don't think there's anything at all inappropriate about you coming here?"
He shrugs. "I want my dinner. I want company. I happen to find your companionship quite pleasing."
And Ezra always gets what he wants, doesn't he? "I'm not going to dinner with you, Ezra." I say evenly, all the while applauding myself for getting the words out without tripping over my tongue.
"Then I'll have my dinner here." he says roguishly. Slipping a hand inside his pocket he retrieves his phone to presumably make the call to get his dinner brought here.
"I can't afford the sort of places you go to." I say anxiously, desperate to find a reason not to go with him.
His half-cocked grin instantly drops. I note the immediate clench of his jaw as irritation cuts across the lines of his patrician features. There's a flinty hardness to his intensely blue eyes that sends my heart thundering. I feel like a deer caught in the blinding wash of his headlights. "Don't insult me." He bites icily. "Get dressed, Ella. I'll be waiting." It's a terse command made with all the arrogance of a man rarely denied anything. He doesn't give me the chance to say anything else as he turns on his booted heel and exits my room.
I'm left stupidly staring at the space he just occupied, the hushed click of my door closing behind him the only indication I have that this wasn't a dream conjured by my sleep deprived, overly- caffeinated brain. A part of me wants to open the door and tell him to find someone else to have dinner with. We had no business spending any time together. Not after what happened a year ago. I'm still dealing with the consequences of that one reckless, earth shattering night.