Charlotte XXVI

Nathan

Over the blood rushing to the surface, I hear my father’s voice repeatedly telling me to respect the other gender, to be cognizant of my size and how it can be used to intimate without meaning to, how I should treat women in the manner I would want my mother—or Charlotte—to be treated.  With his admonitions in my head, I manage to bite back the word bitch and say evenly. “What do you want Greta?”

She smiles but there’s no affection there. Not for Charlotte at least. “Just kidding. I know she’s having treatment. She okay?”

I wonder at their closeness if she’s asking. Wouldn’t she have heard from Charlotte if they were friends? I never really paid attention to Charlotte’s female friends. They didn’t interest me. And she had no close male friends and if any of the sausage holders tried to kiss up to her, Nick and I made short shrift of that.

“She’s fine.” I’ve had enough of the conversation. As I turn, the camera shutters again. “What the fuck?”

“Sorry Nathan,” another girl mumbles and looks at the floor. I think her name is Sarah. She has her lens mounted camera running. Laws require all wearable tech with cameras to have the cameras obvious and to emit an audible sound when a picture is being taken…for so-called privacy. They aren’t allowed in school. Reaching over, I pluck the frames off her head. Behind me I sense Nick coming up for support. As Sarah attempts to grab her glasses from me, I toss them to him. He squeezes the camera apparatus between his fingers until it cracks.

“Looks like your camera is broken,” Nick smirks as he hands back the lenses. “You’d think they’d be able to make those a little less fragile after all these years.”

I give him a chin nod and we take off.

“What was that all about?” Nick asks when we are driving to a nearby restaurant for lunch.

“That was about Greta being a complete asswipe. How good of friends are her and Charlotte?”

Nick shrugs. “Not real close. They were on the same competitive gymnastics squad and my guess is that their friendship is more of a frenemy thing.”

“Frenemy?”

“Yeah, like they compete but are teammates.”

I let that thought marinate for a few moments. “Charlotte asked her for condoms so I figured they were like best friends or something.”

“Nah. Charlotte probably went to Greta because her older sister is in college.”

“Got it.”

It made sense now. Charlotte and Greta were friends of convenience. This didn’t excuse Greta but it did explain a little why she was trying to get her digs in.

“We going to the Milhawk party this Friday?” Nick asks done with the conversation about Greta. I am happy to let it drop as well.

“Why not? We got anything better planned?”

“Nope. Can’t drink though so if you want to get shitfaced, I’ll drive your weak ass home.”

“Thanks for the offer,” I say dryly. Maybe I would tie one on this weekend. It’d make the time fly by a little faster.

***

Jason Milhawk lives in South Loop where old money and new are on display between the historic row houses and the newly furbished townhouses. Milhawk comes from old lumber baron money and lives in a row house which has seen a lot of cocktail parties but few ragers.

However, Milhawk had a fully stocked bar and game room in the basement that his parents had built and sound proofed so he could practice with his band. Milhawk’s band is terrible but when you’re drunk it all sounds good.

And I am really drunk. Milhawk dragged me behind the bar the minute that Nick and I got to his house and we proceeded to see how many shots of Patron we could drink in ten minutes. A lot is the answer to that. I stopped counting after the tenth one because…well, I couldn’t count anymore.

Nick’s not allowed to drink because North Prep athletics has a zero tolerance policy. One drop and you’re out. For all his careless attitude, sports means something to him. I suppose that is why he sleeps around so much. It’s the only vice he’s allowed that won’t affect his eligibility.

If Charlotte were here, I wouldn’t be downing shots either because I’d be too concerned about keeping an eye on her but she left me and went half way around the world to hang out with Fraus and Frauleins and people she says have been puked on by the good look faery. I wonder if she means guys too. A chill skitters down my spine. I’ve never been uncertain with Charlotte before. She’s not looked at another guy with any interest but she was a virgin before.

She was nearly animalistic with me before she left. After we’d had sex that first time, it was like a dam had broken and she wanted me all the time. Which was great in the moment but now I’m worried. What if she’s horny and she looks to some other guy close to her to fulfill her needs. Sheee-it.

I fumble with my phone to see if I can call her. What’s the time zone difference again? Would I be waking her up? What time does it say on my phone anyway? I peer at the screen trying to get a fix on the numbers that keep moving. Is that a ten? It is ten? Or is it ten minutes after one?

A slim arm hooks under my arm and little fingers curl around my biceps. For a minute I think it’s Charlotte but then the overwhelming scent of musk hits me. The obvious cologne is something Charlotte would never wear. Peering to my left I see Greta. Her smoky eyeshadow is smudged around her eyes making her appear alarmingly like a raccoon.

“You got shit under your eyes.” I make a circling gesture in the general direction of her face.

She rolls her eyes at me. “It’s eye shadow genius.”

I grunt. Looks like raccoon eyes. “Charlotte doesn’t wear her eye shadow like that.”

Greta rolls her eyes even harder. So hard that I wonder they don’t actually fall out of her eyes. Maybe her eyeshadow is like a forcefield and holds them in. Hmm. I’ll have to ask Charlotte about that. I pick up my phone again but Greta pulls my arm down.

“Nathan,” she breathes against my neck. “I’m sorry about earlier today. I was just kidding. I know Charlotte was sick and that she’s not pregnant.”

The air is warm and her breath smells like she just chewed five breath mints. There’s an almost medicinal feel to it and it reminds me uncomfortably of the hospital. I move away but realize that I’m sitting on one end of the sofa with the arm against my left side and Greta plastered to my right. I shake my right arm a little to let her know that I need room. When she doesn’t move, I scowl at her.

“Even if she was pregnant, so what? Kid would be mine and all of us would be happy.”

That’s not entirely the truth. Her mom and dad would frown. A lot. But in the end, Charlotte and I having kids is the culmination of both our families’ dreams. They’d get over it real quick. I can feel myself harden slightly at the thought of Charlotte being pregnant. That’d be cool. Not now I mean, but later after I’m out of the Marines or even just after boot camp. We should talk about this. I tap the glass of my phone and the numbers settle into 1:15.

With a finger hovering over the call button, I contemplate the time difference. She might be up. Or I might wake her up. Before I can dial, though, the phone is plucked from my fingers. Greta holds it behind her.

“What the fuck?” As I reach over her body to grab it, she leans backward and I collapse on top of her, somehow falling between her open legs. Her thighs grip my hips and she rubs against me as I try to get my phone back. A flash of light followed by a shutter sound goes off. I turn toward the offending noise and it’s that S girl. Fuck. I can’t remember her name.

“Need some help?” Nick’s there and plucks the phone from Greta’s hand. Shoving off her body, I catch the phone that Nick tosses me.
Greta is still lying on the sofa, her legs slightly sprawled looking up at me beneath her eyelashes. She probably thinks she looks sexy but instead it looks a bit grotesque. “You should cover yourself. This desperate look isn’t going to get you anything but a disease.”

Turning on my heel, I pocket my phone. To Nick I say, “Let’s get out of here.”

He nods but before we leave, he turns back to Greta. “You’ve got issues girl. Better work them out or these parties will be closed to you.”

He high fives Milhawk as we exit.

“No worries about that chick,” Milhawk says. “She’s off the list.”

“Whatever,” I say. I’m more interested in talking to Charlotte than talking about one messed up girl from North Prep.

“She’s trouble,” Nick mutters as we walk toward the car. “Don’t underestimate her.”

“What could she possibly do?” I scoff.

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Charlotte XXV

Nathan

My time with Charlotte flies by. I had taken her presence in my life for granted and it isn’t until she is gone that I realize how much she is part of my daily routine. Even before we touched each other in ways that I’d fantasized about, she was always there.And now she’s not. 

Nick feels it too. In the week following her departure, after the whispered private promises and the tear filled public goodbyes—her tears, not mine—we are both uncharacteristically quiet. 

“Miss her man.” Nick powers down the car window as we speed to class. “Didn’t think I would because Skype and shit. And because she’s been out of school for weeks. But I still expect her to be home ready to hear all the crap that went on at school.” 

“Yup,” I answer. My feelings are too intense to give them much verbal play. I don’t want to sound like a preteen who is so insecure that he keeps checking his phone to see if the girl he likes has responded to his last text. But Christ, I do miss her in so many ways. 

I miss her small body next to mine at night. I miss her fingers running through my hair as I sit on the floor to study. She’d lie on the bed and prop her chin on my shoulder, pretending to read but more often distracting me because she claimed I smelled too good not to lick. Taking a deep breath, I drive those thoughts away so I don’t walk into the school with a hard on so massive my backpack won’t cover it.

Yes. Fuck. I miss her. 

“Guess you’ll have to get used to missing each other if you’re going to spend four years after graduation in the military,” Nick muses.

Guilt spears me because I still haven’t told Charlotte. I meant to but then I was distracted by sex. I’m a seventeen year old male whose girlfriend wanted to be taught how to give a blow job. Nothing would have steered me away from that course of action. Not a tornado, a five alarm fire, or confessions about future plans.

And there I go again. The jeans are feeling too tight again. I have to stop thinking about Charlotte and sex. At least for the next eight hours or so. After? Once I’m back in my bedroom, I’ll be jerking it like a madman. My hand will probably be calloused by the time she gets back. I can just picture it. “Why Nathan, your hand is so rough. Been working out much?”
“Yeah, I fapped every night for three hours looking at your pictures, smelling your pillow, and remembering your tongue all over my body.”
I’m not sure whether she’ll be disgusted or turned on. 

As if he’s reading my mind, Nick asks, “Think it will be hard to go without? I mean, like I can’t not have sex every weekend or I think my brain processes shut down.” 

“Nice Nick. Real classy.”

“What?” He raises his hands trying for the innocent look. “There are guys out there who are only pleasuring one woman and there are guys—like you—who aren’t having sex at all. I’m doing both genders a favor by picking up the slack.”

Shaking my head, I snort. “If that helps you sleep at night. Hope you are wrapping it up. No need for little Jacksons running around before you graduate. Not to mention disease.” 

“Thanks a lot for jinxing me. Next girl I see, I’ll impregnate. I’m going to blame it on you.”

“You can blame anything you want on me. You’re the one whose life will end when Dad finds out.” 

This shuts Nick down. “I’m just sleeping with Josie and have been for like three months now.”

Josie is a senior at an all girl’s Catholic school. She lives on the eighth floor. I’m sure Nick picked her because of the easy access.  “I know. I’m just messing with you.”

When we get to school, I check the time. Charlotte is seven hours ahead so right now she’s probably getting out of treatment or tutoring. We don’t have a good lock on her schedule yet. I send her a quick text.

Heading to class. If you’re learning German, get all the good curse words. And then how to say I want to lick your breasts.

As soon as I send it, I realize that this is a bad idea. I don’t want Charlotte asking anyone about sex over there. What if her tutor is a guy and thinks she’s coming on to him.

Scratch that. Just the curse words. English is fine for me. I know a lot of ways to say I want you in English. 

Charlotte: (1/2) ROFL. My tutor is a Swiss Miss. She looks like she belongs on the package of those horrible hot chocolate drink packages that had the dried marshmallows. Remember those? I loved those. 

Charlotte: (2/2) She’s actually not teaching me anything because I’m still in the testing stage so basically she just has me reading. I’m supposed to call her Frau Kielholz but since she looks like she might only be a few years older than me she agreed I could call her Reta.

The bell rings. I try texting and running into the building. 

“Ask her if Reta is hot,” Nick says waving his phone at me. Charlotte is texting us both at the same time. He speeds off toward his class and I run up the stairs for Advanced Comp.  

Is sh hot? N wants to kno.

Charlotte: Please. It’s like hot genes barfed all over here. Everyone is hot. Even the 90 year old grandmothers are hot. It’s depressing. Never come here Nate. Promise me.

Nate: Promise to find no one hotter than you.

Charlotte: Lame. Luv Ux1000.

Nate: Luv U

When the noon bell rang, I lope down to the entrance, taking the stairs two, three at a time. Near the bottom, I use the railing and catapult myself past three sets of slowpokes. As I’m adjusting my backpack that slipped off my shoulder as I was vaulting five feet downward, I feel a shove against my shoulder. More like in my pectoral area than my shoulder. Looking down I see the angry face of Charlotte’s friend Greta.

“Whoa there. You drunk this morning?” I straighten her by her shoulders and set her out of my way. I hear the click of a camera phone. It’s another girl whose name I can’t ever remember. Sarah, Susan, Shelly. One of those. I don’t really care though so I just continue to walk past them until Greta’s next words stop me in my tracks.

“Your girl off to get her abortion?” 

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Charlotte Chronicles XXIV

Charlotte

“I’m going to sleep here tonight,” I whisper to Nathan as he and his brother and two other random people on the internet work together to kill enemies on their internet screen. He pauses the game and whips off his VR glasses.

“Hey,” Nick objects but cuts himself off when he sees Nate’s look. Nick says something in his microphone and pushes out of his chair. “I’m going to piss.” 

Nate waves him off. When the door to the game room closes, he turns to me. “How did you get the okay for that?” 

“I ate an entire sandwich today.”

“Is this code?”

I reach for the hair on the nape of his neck and feel him shiver against me. “I told my dad you were responsible for my increased appetite.”
“You didn’t,” he groans but his head dips down in an unspoken gesture for me to pet more of his head. 

Taking advantage of Nick’s absence, I straddle Nathan’s lap ostensibly so I can get a better angle for the head scratching but really I want his body next to mine. He’s so warm all the time. I love it. It’s like having my own personal heater. His hands drop to my hips and pulls me closer until the centers of bodies are flush against each other and this contact heats me up in a completely different way—from the inside out. I start to rub against him, drawing on the memories of our interaction last night. He made me feel amazing and I want to replicate those emotions over and over and over. As many times as I can. 

He groans and tightens his hold on my hips but doesn’t push me away. I tug on the hair at his nape and his face falls back obediently. When I kiss him, his lips are firm and soft and those remind me of that hard length that is pushing insistently against me. We kiss for a long time. They are lazy kisses. The types of kisses you exchange when you have all the time in the world, sitting on the beach or laying on a blanket at a concert in the park. They’re kisses that shut out the whole word so that it’s just you and him and everything on the periphery is a beautiful blur like an Impressionist painting. 

“I need to tell you something,” he says finally pulling away from me. I don’t want to stop and follow him as he draws back. Talking isn’t half as interesting as licking his tongue or having him give me tiny bites along my lower lip. 

I know what it is that he wants to tell me but I don’t really care about that nonsense but he isn’t deterred and pushes me back. With a serious face on, he holds me an arms width away. “Charlotte.” 

“I already know.” I say and when at his surprise, his grip weakens and I dive in for another kiss. 

Nathan dodges me and I end up with my lips on his ear. Fine. I haven’t spent much time here. I wiggle closer and run my tongue along the outer edge and down to his lobe. As I suck, he moans and his fingers clench on my butt. Ohh he likes it there so much. I smile to myself and store this knowledge away. He’s not able to speak until I pause to switch sides.

“Wait,” he pants out. “I have to—”

“That everyone at school thinks I’m pregnant because they know we’re having sex?” 

He tenses and then let’s out a breath, like he’s relieved. “Yeah. Who told you?”

“Greta texted me. Are you the father?”

“Who else?” 

“Would you like that?”

“Yes.”  There’s not a moment of hesitation and it fills me with so much joy that we’d have a family together someday. I can picture us now, taking our kid down to Navy Pier for the first time and riding the carousel. 

“But not now.” I tease him. 

He smirks and presses his lips against the base of my throat which sends a bolt right between my legs. I tip my neck back to give him greater access.  “How many will we have?”

“Two? Ten? I don’t care,” he murmurs against the soft vulnerable skin of my throat. 

“Two. I’m the one having them.”

“Good for me.” He swings me up in his arms. “Let’s go practice.”

I fasten my mouth to his, licking the inside of his mouth so thoroughly I could recreate it from memory. His response is to pick me up and carry me across the hall. The sound of his kicking the door shut no doubt declaring exactly what we’re doing inside his bedroom. 

Alone, we become frenzied. I’m pulling his t-shirt off and he’s got his hands at the buttons of my blouse. Somehow I find myself on my knees before him, pulling his jeans down. His erection is right at my face and it occurs to me that I’ve never done this before. I’ve never wanted to do this before but now, as his shorts jut out in front of me, it’s irresistible. Saliva pools under my tongue. Slowly I slide my hands up his thighs, the light coarse hair unfamiliar under my hands. I didn’t get to touch him enough last night. Above the waistband of his shorts, I see his abdomen contract. The surrounding air is thin as if Nathan has sucked it all inside him.

My fingers stop at the bottom of his boxer briefs and he rocks back slightly on his heels. 

“Do you want me to?” I ask looking up at him through my lashes. His face is shows strain and his eyes glitter in the afternoon light. 

“Only if you want to,” he answers hoarsely. At his side, his fingers are clenched like he wants to reach for me but is holding himself back.

“You’ll have to tell me what to do.” I slip my fingers over his shorts. There’s a wet spot where it looks like the tip of his head is and it’s got me all kinds of curious. Grabbing his waistband, I pull down until his dick is released. It pops out and points straight up. There’s a drop of liquid on the end which grows larger as I stare. In fact, I think his penis is also grower larger or maybe from this angle, so close up, it looks huge. I dab my finger on the fluid and suck it off. 

“Salty,” I say. “Not bad.”

“Shit, Charlotte,” he groans. “You’re killing me.” 

I shrug. “I’m just surprised. Other girls say it’s gross.”

“You don’t have to do this.” But his actions say that he wants it bad. He’s nearly trembling with the effort to not grab my head between his hands. Despite the fact that I’m on my knees, I realize I have so much power over Nathan right now. Like he’d do anything I’d ask of him. 

“I want to.” I stroke my finger over the dark red tip. It’s velvety soft. “I can’t stick the whole thing in my mouth though.” There’s a big vein on the top and I trace that from the top to the root. His dick bobs as if it is almost sentient, seeking more of my touch. 

With a choked laugh, he grabs the base and wraps a big fist around it. “Slide your lips down to the top of my hand.” 

“Where do I put my hands?” I ask wishing it was my hand around the base.

“Anywhere you want.” 

“Here?” I place my hands against his rock hard thighs. 

“Yes,” he pauses and then opens his hand to release himself. “Or you can hold on with both hands.”

I make a circle with my palms and slide them down over his penis. “Like this?”

He stumbles. “Shit. I can’t stand up.” With a breathless laugh, he toes off his jeans that I hadn’t gotten around to completely discarding. He pulls me up to my feet.

“But I want—“ 

He cuts me off with a firm kiss. “I know and so do I but I’m going to fall over because I’m so turned on so if you don’t mind, I’d like to sit on the end of the bed.” 

“You’re going to teach me to give you a good blow job, though, right?”

His eyes bright with desire and laughter, he croaks out. “The best.” 

***

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Charlotte XXIII

Charlotte

Nate is gone when I wake up. He was restless last night but I pretended to sleep. Cowardly I guess. I was afraid he had regrets and I didn’t want to hear them. I had no regrets. Sitting up I enjoy the pull on my muscles. The muscles in my upper back are tight from clutching his shoulders and between my legs I’m sore in places I didn’t realize got sore. My lips curve up in a sly smile. I feel so knowledgeable this morning. Like every risque joke ever told finally makes sense.

In the short time it takes to roll out of bed and pick up my phone from the nightstand, I’m already missing him. When mom laid out exactly why going to this specialty clinic in Europe made sense, I bought into it totally. I’d only be gone for a short time. The boys wouldn’t feel responsible for me if I overextended myself. And, maybe most importantly to me, they wouldn’t see me if I totally loss my memory or forgot how to walk.

The brain stem radiation and chemotherapy may result in the loss of gross and fine motor skills, they warned me. I might have to relearn how to even hold a fork or how to walk or catch a ball. Gingerly, I cupped the back of my head. Fluid is collecting there. We’re watching it and by “we” I mean mom, dad and my team of doctors. None of the Jacksons know. I don’t want them to. It’s rare for an older kid to get hydrocephaly or “water on the brain” and even rarer for it to develop months after the craniotomy.

“You’ve always been special,” Dad joked weakly when the doctors told us that they’d never seen a case like mine. That’s the real reason I’m going to Switzerland—to be studied and treated by an international team of experts and—more than likely—to have a permanent drainage tube installed in the back of my head.

Dr. Mosher said that there were plenty of functioning adults that had permanent shunts. It just meant no contact sports and no activities where I could fall on my head and break my shunt. In other words, no gymnastics. He suggested volleyball. I was too numb by then to respond so I shook my head and he probably took it for agreement.

But all that seems like a distant memory now. Usually I’m on my phone first thing in the morning, checking in to read my texts from friends at school. Right now I’m too busy examining my body.

My face doesn’t look different. I guess I thought I’d be able to see some outward sign that I no longer was a virgin. My hair is still short and my skin looks its general pale tone from lack of exposure to the sun. There are faint bruises on my hip bones and a few marks on my collarbone but Nate was apparently careful not to leave anything too incriminating. I’m both disappointed and relieved.

I flick off the Do Not Disturb on my phone and there about twenty text messages. Three of them are from Nathan. I skip the rest.

Nathan: You pushed me off the bed when I tried to kiss you good morning. Miss you already.

Nathan: U still sleeping? RU OK? Text me. On my way to class but will check phone.

Nathan: Charlotte. For real. Text me. 

I stop and take note of the time. It’s almost noon. I’ve slept for hours. No wonder he’s worried. I send him a response right away.

Charlotte: I just got up. Don’t know why I’m sooooo tired. ;)

He texts me immediately as if he’s been waiting.

Nathan: Christ. Gave me a heart attack. I won’t live until graduation at this rate.

I giggle at his exaggeration. I can just picture his serious face but his eyes would be smiling at me.

Charlotte:  Can’t have that now that I’ve just learned exactly why all the North Prep girls are chasing after you.

Nathan: There are other girls at North Prep. I only see you.

Oh. my. god. He slays me. I clutch my phone to my chest and the mirrored reflection shows that I’m wearing the silliest, stupidest, biggest grin ever.

Charlotte: You need to come to my room immediately after school.

Nathan: Nope. Meet me at MY room at 3:45.

Charlotte: Why?

Nathan: Because when you’re gone I want to lie in that bed and be surrounded by our memories.

I want to stick Nathan in my suitcase and carry him with me. My resolve wavers but a press of a hand against that soft spot on the back of my skull reminds me that my primary goal is to get better so that all my tomorrows are spent with Nathan, having a family, growing old together, making new memories.

Charlotte: I love you. Too much. Like my heart isn’t big enough to hold it all.

Nathan: My heart is big enough for both of us. I’m always going to take care of you C-girl.

Charlotte: Hurry back.

Nathan: Always.

I can’t erase my smile and it’s the thing that gives me away. Both my parents are in the kitchen when I finally leave my bedroom.  Normally it’s just one of them during the day and often they only pop in to check on me and then they’re gone for a few hours doing work stuff.  Mom’s cheeks look flushed and Dad’s wearing a smug and very satisfied grin. I recognize that grin. It’s…holy shit, my parents are home for a nooner.

“Sleep well, dear?” Mom asks, her tone completely cool despite the tinge of red around her cheeks.

“Yup,” I say. “Nathan’s a big comfort.

Dad coughs and shifts around with some discomfort as if he’s still trying to hide that sex exists in this world. I wonder if he was a horndog before he met my mom. I bet he was and that’s why he’s all embarrassed now. Past sins and all. He should be grateful I’m in love with his best friend’s son. And I tell him so.

“You should be happy it’s Nathan and not some random jerkface from school.”

“We are,” Mom answers and shoots Dad a repressive look. He merely grunts.

Inside the refrigerator I find the makings for a sandwich. Humming, I assemble bread, turkey, a couple slices of bacon and tomato along with lettuce, cheese and mayonnaise. I’m ravenous and it takes me almost no time to demolish half the sandwich.

There’s a weird silence and when I look up from my plate I see both parents gaping at me.

“What?” I ask wiping a finger along the side of my mouth. “Do I have mayo on my face?”

Mom smiles but her lips are trembling with some kind of repressed emotion. Dad clears his throat and this time he talks for both of them. “It’s just nice that you have your appetite back.”

I take a big bite of the second half of my sandwich. “Um, okay. But it’s because of Nathan, you know,”  I say slyly, “he’s always on me to eat more.”

I hadn’t had much of an appetite before but now? Now I do. And I’m going to need to have a lot of fuel for the next two weeks that I have left with Nathan if last night was any indicator. My big ass grin is back but I hide behind my food this time.

My parents stare at me but eventually their faces grow big smiles too.

“Nate’s welcome any time,” Dad says as he watches me finish the last of my meal.

Even if it means that his baby is having sex I mentally translate. I’ll let Nathan know he can sleep under the covers tonight.

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Last week a huge number of readers received ebook credits from a lawsuit the Department of Justice brought against large publishers for price fixing. If you have some left, you could spend 99c of it on Last Hit and $3.99 on the second book in the series, Last Breath.

Don’t remember what Last Hit was about? You can read chapters one through four online.

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Nikolai

I have been a contract killer since I was a boy. For years I savored the fear caused by my name, the trembling at the sight of my tattoos. The stars on my knees, the marks on my fingers, the dagger in my neck, all bespoke of danger. If you saw my eyes, it was the last vision you’d have. I have ever been the hunter, never the prey. With her, I am the mark and I am ready to lie down and let her capture me. Opening my small scarred heart to her brings out my enemies. I will carry out one last hit, but if they hurt her, I will bring the world down around their ears.

Daisy

I’ve been sheltered from the outside world all my life. Homeschooled and farm-raised, I’m so naive that my best friend calls me Pollyanna. I like to believe the best in people. Nikolai is part of this new life, and he’s terrifying to me. Not because his eyes are cold or my friend warns me away from him, but because he’s the only man that has ever seen the real me beneath the awkwardness. With him, my heart is at risk..and also, my life.

Note: This is a standalone novel with no cliffhanger. The next book in the series will feature an entirely different female and male protagonist.  Word count for the book checks in at slightly over 100,000 words.

Mini Excerpt

I watch her through my bathroom window. I’ve placed one of my four rented chairs in here for that express purpose. I tell myself it is not creepy, as the American girls would say, because I watch everyone. But really I watch only her.

I cannot see everything. I’ve never seen her nude. I’ve never seen inside her shower. Smartly there is no window there. But I can see her bedroom and her living room and beyond that, with my scope, her kitchen. I know her schedule. When she gets up in the morning, when she returns to her apartment. If she were a mark, I could’ve killed her a dozen times over by now and been in the wind.

She throws her bag onto her bed and then lies down next to it. It takes many muscles to smile, much less to frown but only a few to pull the trigger. I peer down the scope and place my crosshairs over her forehead. Puff, dead.

You can read an additional short featuring the couple. Jessica Clare and I wrote this as a holiday treat for our fans.

ePub: http://bit.ly/1c7ywL8
Mobi: http://bit.ly/K4vcKq
PDF: http://bit.ly/1eF70fU

Charlotte XXII

Nathan

“Nathan.” She clutches at my shoulders which are slippery from the sweat I’ve worked up loving every inch of her body. My name is a trembling whisper on her lips and like every other word sigh, and exclamation that has come out of her mouth I tuck it into my memory bank, overwriting every other girl who has ever been with me before.

Leaning down, I gently press my lips against hers losing myself in her taste. Kissing her is more erotic and more moving than all the other times I’ve stuck my dick into someone else’s body. I can’t envision wanting more than her ever.

I hiss at the sensation of her tightening around me, hugging me so tautly that it’s hard to withdraw. Instinct takes over and my hips begin thrusting against her harder and faster until I release all the tension that has pooled at the base of my spine. Replete with satisfaction, I collapse on her. She doesn’t even flinch at the heaviness of my body pressing her further into the mattress. Charlotte is worn out after the second go around.

“Sorry,” I mumble against the damp skin of her neck.

“Mmmhmmm,” she says. Her hands trail over my shoulder blades and down, parallel to my spine. Despite having just enjoyed the hell out of her for the third time tonight I feel myself harden, in response.

“No,” she laughs. “I can’t. Not again.”

“Just ignore me,” I say. Jesus, I’ve never been this horny. I should be satisfied and I am, really. It’s just that everything about her turns me on right now. With what I feel is a superhuman effort I push off from her body and tug the condom off carefully. In the bathroom, I wrap it in toilet paper and shove it to the bottom of the trash can along with the previous rubber victim.

I gulp down two glasses of water from the sink and then fill the third one up for Charlotte.

“Here,” I offer.

She takes the glass with a grateful look and drains half of it before handing the glass to me. I set it down on the nightstand.

“Now what?” she asks.

I glance at the clock. Our parents are likely to be home in a half hour. “Now we go to your room and I lie like a nice boy on top of the covers while you’re underneath them.”

“What’s the point of that?” she raises an eyebrow.

“It makes us look good. Like we’re not fooling around, just spending innocent time together.”

“My dad only thinks one of us is innocent.”

I wink at her. “Me, right?”

She tosses a pillow at me but it falls far short. I pull on my discarded sweatpants and a t-shirt and gather up her clothes. Tossing them on the bed, I head to tell Nick where we’ll be going.

“Over to Charlotte’s for the night,” I say. “Thirty minutes until the ‘rents are home.”

I hear enough scuffling to recognize that Nick’s got another person in his room.

“Who’s in there with him?” Charlotte whispers to me. Turning I see she’s dressed and her hair has lost that just fucked look that I am starting to love. I suppose I’ll find long strands of dark hair in my brush tomorrow but rather than being irritated, I’m kind of looking forward to it. Not that I’m going to weave a friendship bracelet but I like having things that Charlotte’s touched in my possession. I figure it will make our separation easier.

“Don’t know,” I shrug. I take her hand and walk down the hall toward the service hallway. “Don’t care either.” There are a few girls in our building that Nick could be nailing but I’m not going to guess which one. He’ll tell me in the morning. I wonder if Charlotte knows what a manwhore he is. Probably.

“I wonder if it is Nicole,” she muses. Yup, she knows all about Nick’s tendencies. We’re as close as one family and so secrets are hard to keep around here. Our newfound physical connection isn’t one we’ll be able to keep from our parents for long. I wonder how bad Uncle Bo will hurt me when he figures it out. He is my godfather, but I’m guessing he won’t go light on me.

Maybe Dad will intervene and explain that it was inevitable because it was. Our timeline just sped up because Charlotte got sick and now she’s leaving. I know I need to tell her about my plans before she goes but I don’t want to ruin everything now. I’ll wait. The day before she leaves I’ll tell her because that was just as inevitable as our getting together and if she thinks about it she’ll know I’m right.

“What kind of treatment are you going to get over there?” I ask as we climb into Charlotte’s bed.

“Just chemo and radiation followed intensive physical therapy.” she snuggles under the blankets, her thin body needing the extra heat that mine does not. “They say that because it’s directed at my brain stem there might be loss of motor skills, both fine and gross. And there’ll be tutors for various subjects so I can get caught up. I’ll probably have to have more physical therapy and tutoring when I come back this summer.” She plucks at the covers. “What’ll you do this summer?”

This would be the time to tell her that I plan to enlist in the Navy right after she leaves so that I’ll be able to start boot camp immediately upon graduation. Delayed Enlistment Program allows me to sign up and then request the earliest possible boot camp date. It’s the one secret I’ve kept from everyone except Nick but I’ll need my dad’s signature on the papers since I’m seventeen. But I know if I say this that she’ll beg me not to go and I’ll cave because I’ve never been able to say no to Charlotte. Not ever. But if I enlist then I’m bound by a contract to the US government to not only go to boot camp but stay in the military for four years. I’m hoping that contract is enough of a barrier to defend against her.

“I’m planning for our future,” I say.

“I love you,” she whispers as I pull her against me, the blankets serving as a pretty damn effective barrier. I can’t feel even one curve of her body through them.

“Love you too,” I say and kiss her temple. As we fall asleep, my mind wanders to that scene in another old movie where the elf princess wanders through the forest grief stricken because she outlived her king. That’s not going to be Charlotte and me but the image persists and despite all the evening activity my sleep is restless.

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Last Breath is available now! A can’t put down book according to readers

lastbreath-med

For the first month of release, Last Breath will be sale-priced at $3.99 to reward early purchasers. The price will revert back to its original retail listing of $4.99.

 

 

Regan

I never really knew what misery was until the day I was kidnapped and sold for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Two months later, I’m at a brothel in Rio when I meet Daniel Hays. He says he’s here to save me, but can I trust him? All I know of him is his sarcastic retorts and his tendency to solve every dispute with his gun. He’s also the only safe thing in my world, and I know it’s wrong to fall in love with him, but I can’t seem to help myself. He says he’ll protect me until his last breath but I don’t know if I should believe him or even if I can.

Daniel

For the last eighteen months, I’ve had one goal that has dictated every action I’ve taken. I’ve left the Army, turned paid hit man, and have befriended criminals all across the globe to find my kidnapped sister. In every brothel I raid or every human trafficking truck I stop, I hope the next face I find is my sister’s. In a hidden brothel in Rio, I find Regan Porter, bruised by not broken and still sane despite her weeks in captivity. I should leave her behind or send her home because the last thing either of us needs right now is to get involved. But with every passing minute, I find I can’t let her go.

REVIEWS:

This is a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a wickedly sexy alpha male with a heart of gold, a kick ass heroine who is all sorts of brave and a great story line of how far someone will go and what they will sacrifice to ultimately save the one they love… — Jackie Kluyts, Kiwibooknerd

This series has become a new favourite. The first book was amazing and Last Breath was just as amazing if not more. — Julia’s Book Haven

I thought both Daniel and Regan were interesting and wonderful characters, and I loved getting to see them work through their issues and find a way to fall for each other. I’m happy to report that Clare and Frederick knocked this one out of the park for me. — Minnchica, The Bookpushers

We would love it if you shared the news of our release and if you had time to leave a review that would be awesome. Thank you!!!

Charlotte XXI

Don’t forget that Last Breath comes out on March 24, 2014. It’s available for pre order at all the retailers except BN.

——————-

Nathan

“Never,” I vow. “It will always be Nathan and Charlotte.”

Her lips looked shiny and big, puffed up from my attentions. I can barely breathe. Worse, I’m afraid I’m not going to last long enough to make it good for her. I lean down to kiss her again. I wish I had saved myself for her. I wish I had never kissed another girl, touched any breasts other than hers, slid my fingers inside any other female.

With each kiss and caress, I wipe away memories of everyone but her. When her clever tongue flicks across my lips and rubs against the side of mine, I’ll never taste anything sweeter. The heady scent of her arousal and the faint peach fragrance from her lotion surrounds me. My hands mold her body, memorizing each curve and arch. I’m absorbing her essence so that I’ll carry her with me forever.

“I’m ready,” she says. Her words are punctuated by tiny pants that make my heart beat faster. In an effort to collect myself, I lean forward and lick her breasts first one and then another until she’s convulsing around me again. I’m torn because I don’t want to pull my fingers from her hot, wet embrace but I also want my dick inside her so badly. I worry that it might break off if I don’t get relief. I pump my fingers and she tightens all around me. “Oh please, Nathan.”

I don’t want her to beg me even though it sends an illicit thrill down my spine. Regretfully I pull my fingers out and we both groan, one part dismay and one part pleasure.

“Shh,” I whisper and stretch out to grab a condom from under the pillow where I stashed it before I left this morning. She reaches down toward my stiff dick and I jerk away. “I’m sorry,” I tell her. “I can’t have you touch me.”

“Why? Am I not doing it right?” Her voices sounds plaintive.

“God no.” I grab her hands and place them on my chest. “I’m just a hair trigger away of embarrassing myself and making your first time a huge disappointment.”

“You’d never disappoint me.” Her fingers skim over my chest.

“I will if I don’t start thinking of something other than getting inside you,” I say ruefully. I pull her hands away from me and fold them between mine. Pressing a kiss on the backs of her fingers, I pull her hands over her head. Instinctively she arches her back, thrusting her breasts toward my mouth. Her rigid nipples are taunting me. And somehow she knows how tempting she is in this position because she undulates seductively.

Hurriedly, I grab a condom and sheath myself.

When I reach between her legs, she’s still wet. There are streaks of blood on my fingers but rather than turning me off, the sight of it thrums like a drumbeat in my head. Only mine. This is the proof of how she’ll belong only to me. I hide my look of smug satisfaction by surreptitiously wiping my fingers along the side of my comforter.

With one hand bracing my body, I grab my dick and rub the head against her soft opening. She smiles tremulously at me when I slide slowly inside her. At the first contact, I nearly blow my load and there’s a little devil that is urging me to plow her hard and fast. The heat of her body is setting me on fire. Squeezing my eyes shut, I concentrate on breathing slow and steady and the pressing need to rut like an animal eases off enough so I can gather a little self control.

When I open my eyes, I see hers tight around the edges. This is painful for her and I hesitate thinking I should shove off because I can’t stand hurting her even the tiniest bit anymore. At one time, I’d get mad at her because I started thinking and feeling things I knew I shouldn’t be thinking or feeling so I’d lash out with a sharp criticism. All I want now is to see her smile and make her laugh.

But she senses my reluctance and pulls me down. “It doesn’t hurt at all,” she lies.

“Don’t.” I shake my head. “Always tell me how you feel so I can make it better. It’s all I want—all I’ll ever want.”

Waiting for her body to adjust to mine is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. My legs are starting shake but I’ll stay in this position with just the tip inside for as long as it takes. When I feel her relax I push in a little more and we do this dance of pausing and inching forward a little at a time until I’m fully seated. When I’m snug against her, her mouth forms a little circle as if she can’t believe we fit. But we’re a perfect match. She’s made for me and I for her.

“Put your arms around my neck,” I tell her. “I’m going to move now. You’ll need something to hang on to.”

She does as I instruct and by the slumberous gaze and the way her limbs have tighten all around me, I know she’s with me. I press my forehead against hers and watch her expressive eyes as I stroke in and out of her in slow, measured movements. Each drag along her tissues is the first of its kind and the wonderment and delight is driving me out of my mind. I’ll never forget this moment.

As the path becomes slicker and easier, I begin to speed up and her thighs are clinging to my hips. I kiss her, sipping from her lips at first and then thrusting my tongue into her mouth as I’m thrusting between her legs. She’s moaning and shuddering under me. I can feel my orgasm building and I need her to come before me. Her need before mine always. I move my hips, altering my pattern and listen intently until I hear her breath hitch as I catch the right spot. Then I work that over and over until her moans turn to cries.

“Let go, sweetheart,” I whisper against her mouth. “I got you. Let go.”

Dipping a hand between us, I circle and press her tender flesh until I can actually feel the rhythmic clenching and unclenching of her body as she comes. It’s the sign I’ve been waiting for and all my control vanishes. Mindlessly I thrust into her as my own pleasure overtakes me. Her hips rise to meet mine and her nails dig into my shoulders. She’s taking everything I have and demanding more. I’m no longer gentle or caring because I’m beyond that. I’m in another plane where I’m controlled by my lust and desire for her but her passionate cries in my ear tell me she’s there too. Finally I jet what seems like buckets of come into the condom, my body jerking against hers.

I collapse on the bed and roll to the side, careful to remain inside her. I should immediately withdraw and take care of the condom but I need to hold her. She’s shuddering against me, her whole body shaking with the bliss of our joining. I stroke her shoulders and press small kisses along her shoulder and neck inhaling the scent of her hair and of us.

After we both catch our breaths, she speaks with deep satisfaction. “God, Nathan, I want to do this again a thousand times.”

Grinning at her, I say, “me too.”

She runs her fingers through my hair and laughs and the sound of it goes into my ears and straight into my dick. The sudden hardness inside of her causes her eyes to widen. “So soon?”

“Yup.” My grin gets bigger. Hope she’s not too sore tomorrow.

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Charlotte XX

Charlotte

We do exactly as he says. Nick knocks to tell us the pizza is being delivered. Nathan helps me off the bed. The pizza, sodas, milk, and water is all set up in the media room.

Grace Jackson comes in on a cloud of perfume and gives me a warm kiss on the forehead. Her eyes are glowing with affection as she looks at the three of us sitting on the floor, ready for the movie to start. We’re watching The Outsiders, a movie that was old even when Aunt Grace and mom went to college. Uncle Noah gestures for Nate to step into the hallway.

“You’ll need these.” She hands me a box of tissues.

“Thanks mom,” Nick mocks, ripping the box away from my hands. He pulls out a tissue and dabs away pretend tears from his hazel eyes, a replica of his mother’s. I punch him at the same time that Grace ruffles his hair. He ducks both of us but tips over causing us all to laugh.

“Love you both.”

“Love you too,” we chorus in unison. He’s still lying on his back so it looks like he’s saying it to the ceiling.

His mom rolls her eyes and leans down to pat me on the cheek. “Follow your heart,” she says and turns to walk out the door.

“As long as it leads into Nate’s pants.” Nick waggles his eyebrows but unfortunately for him Nate has returned from the hallway and he delivers a punch to Nick’s arm that sends him tipping backward again. This time when Nick is rolling on the floor it’s because of pain and not laughter.

“Ratdick.” Nate calls him.

“Assface.” Nick returns.

“Pigbreath.”

“Dicknugget.”

“Rumpleforeskin.”

“Fuck knuckle.”

Before Nate can return yet another insult, I shove a piece of pizza in his face. Unrepentantly, he simply takes a giant bite of the pizza and winks at me over the slice in my hand.

“This movie is supposed to be about brotherly love.” I shove another slice toward Nick and the insults die down as the movie starts.

“This looks like it should be in black and white.” Nick comments.

“With no sound,” Nate adds.

All is well in the world again. I settle back against Nate’s hard chest as we watch the three Curtis brothers fight, fall in love, and die. By the end of the movie I’m making good use of the tissues and even the Jackson boys are looking suspiciously tense.

“I’m calling you Ponyboy from now on,” Nate finally says after clearing his throat a couple of times.

“Better than Sodapop,” Nick retorts.

“No, I’m Darry,” Nate says. “I’m the oldest.”

“You’d both be Socs,” I interject, throwing my tissues into one pizza box that the boys emptied by the middle of the movie. “Not Greasers.”

“We’d never be Socs, Charlotte,” Nick explains. “No one wants to be Socs, even the Socs.”

With a pointed look around the room, I pick up the box and head for the kitchen. The media room has theater seats and a projection screen that is the size of an entire wall. Ponyboy would just about die if he saw this place.

“Do you think we have too much?” I ask Nate who has followed me out with the empty bottles and remaining pizza.

“All the time,” he answers. Taking the box from me, he throws it into the incinerator and places the rest of the food into the refrigerator. His words sound so fervent as if our privilege is something he need to apologize for.

“I can’t see you being mean to someone who wasn’t as fortunate as you,” I say.

“No but I want to see if I can make it without the Jackson name or the Jackson money,” he replies evenly but his eyes are intent upon but I can’t read the deeper meaning that’s there.

“I believe in you.” I lean into him and his arms curl around me. He buries his face into my hair and we stand there, holding one another while the appliances hum quietly in the background.

“I won’t let you down,” he whispers but while his volume is low his words are firm and commanding.

“I know. I trust you.”

He trembles almost imperceptibly in my arms and I squeeze tight as if I can deliver all that emotion right into his veins and into his heart. Without another word, he lifts me in his arms like I’m featherlight and carries me out of the kitchen, down the corridor and into his bedroom.

“Goodnight Nick,” he yells out.

“Glove up. I’m too young to be an Uncle,” Nick yells back.

I bury my face into Nate’s chest embarrassed that Nick will know exactly what we’re doing in Nate’s bedroom.

He sets me gently on the bed and crouches down in front of me. Rubbing the inseam of my jeans along my calf, he assures me, “Nothing happens tonight that you don’t want.”

But I’ve wanted for so long, it seems. Even though I know that’s not rational it’s as if Nate and I were born for each other. At least that’s what I dream of. “I want it all,” I declare. This time I have no embarrassment because it is Nate and this is right. He gives me a slow smile tinged with something that I’ll later be able to define as dirty. But right now it looks hot on him.

“All right,” he says and those are the last words he says for a long time. He rises up and places both arms on either side of my body and fixes his warm mouth on mine. We fall back onto the bed in a tangle of limbs.When his tongue slides over the seam of my lips, I part them and am rewarded with a hot, open mouthed kiss.

Everything about Nathan feels different right now. His skin is warmer and firmer under my fingers. I glide over the curve of his shoulders and the down his back where his muscles bunch under my touch. The weight of his legs against mine is even better when I part my thighs. He settles between them as naturally as if we’ve been in this position a hundred times instead of our first time.

And against my most sensitive region he is thick and hard against me. My heart trips a couple of times in excitement and even a little fear. But the fear fades with each passing kiss and each caress. His entire body seems propped up by one strong arm bent at the elbow while the other hand finds the delicate skin at my waist. I shake in response to that small touch.

His mouth breaks away from mine and he murmurs softly against my temple, “We aren’t doing anything that you aren’t ready for.”

“It felt wonderful,” I tell him and seek out his mouth again. When he returns to kissing me, I pull my shirt up higher so that there is more skin for him to touch and this time it is his body that responds with a tremor.

I never want to stop kissing him but as his fingers trace along my ribs and move higher until his palm is resting right below my right breast, I think possibly that I may never breath again. When he broke away a second time it is so he can kiss my neck and then lower. As his head moves down my body, his hand pushes my shirt higher until my breast is exposed to the air, to the dusky light, to his hot gaze. And his mouth. The sensation is so foreign, so delicious, so amazing, my back bows and I clutch at his head. “Nathan,” I say in shock and delight.

Somehow he is able to interpret this and he continues he attentions. He uses his lips, tongue and even his teeth on first one and then the other breast. Inside my head and my body, I’ve lost all control. It’s as if I’m on a ride at the Navy Pier and I’m out of my mind with joy and excitement. When he moves even lower, I suck in my breath. He places soft kisses all along the tops of my jeans. They are wet kisses and I can hear the sounds he’s making as well as feel the wet warm trail he’s leaving across my abdomen.

“Can I take these jeans off, Charlotte?” he asks, his voice gruff and tender.

I squirm on the bed. “Please. Please do.”

His deft hands pop my button and lower my zipper. I’ve my nicest pair of panties on. They aren’t super sexy but they have a nice lace around the top and a small bow at the front. He releases a long, slow sigh—almost a moan and the air from his body dances across my skin, alternatingly warming me and raising gooseflesh.

The jeans come off and he’s between my legs again and he places his mouth directly over the center of my panties. “Oh my god.” I cry out at the sensation. His laugh is low and naughty.

“No god here,” he says smugly, his lips against my inner thigh. “Only me, Nathan.”

“Are you going to…” I ask breathlessly.

“Yes,” he says and he does. At first I am embarrassed but after a few licks, the sensations are good to be embarrassed. This is what he meant when he said he was going to make it so good for me. I can’t believe how amazing his mouth feels between my legs. And from the sounds he’s making, it’s evident to me he is enjoying this too which makes me even more excited.

And as he licks me and gently strokes me with his fingers, I close my eyes and let euphoria take me away. It’s one giant endless loop of pleasure and fierce happiness. When one of those fingers pushes inside of me, my eyes fly open.

“Oh Charlotte,” he moans and the vibration rumbles through every part of my body, “I’m so glad that I’m your first. I know I shouldn’t care, but I do.” He climbs on top of the bed again so that he’s half draped over me, his heavy leg lying over one of mine and his head tucked close to my shoulder. All the while, he’s slowly gliding his finger in and out of me, until that feeling of tense ecstasy begins to build again. He doesn’t stop stroking me not even after I’m crying out his name again and shaking like a leaf from the sensations that he’s eliciting with just his finger and his mouth.

“I’m glad it’s you,” I say after my shuddering has stopped. He slides his finger out of me and disrobes quickly. My eyes widen at the sight of his erection. It’s at least four fingers in diameter and far, far longer than even his middle finger. I gulp and turn away so as not become frightened. He sits me up and removes my shirt so I’m nude except for the panties he had pulled back up.

He kisses me again, soft at first and then demanding—his hard length lying rigidly against the side of my hip. He dips his hand inside my panties again and the fear that I had after seeing his penis is quickly forgotten under the onslaught of desire he stokes.  This time he pushes two fingers inside and soon I’m arching toward every touch.

“Promise me it will always be me,” he says fiercely.

“I promise.” How could I not promise? I’ll never want another person to touch me in this way. Never. But a fierce surge of possessiveness washes over me. “And you’ll never have another besides me?” I demand.

“Never,” he vows. “It will always be Nathan and Charlotte.”

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New Adult romances for all ages

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