Excerpt

She's Got It Bad

Prologue
Melbourne, Australia, October 1997

It was so dark that Liam Masters could barely see his hand in front of his face. His boots scuffed against an uneven stretch of concrete as he turned from the Ford’s driveway onto the paved path that led through their backyard. He could just make out the paleness of the studio ahead, a less-dark shape in all the blackness. 

If he’d stayed at the party, he’d probably be peeling off Sally Kendrick’s underwear by now. At seventeen, he had more than enough experience to know when he was going to get lucky.

He had no idea why he’d decided to come home instead.

Stupid, that’s what he was.

He reached into his pocket for his house keys just as a shadow moved against the side of the studio. He froze, muscles tensing. Then he heard someone take a deep, shaky breath and the smell of honeysuckle reached him on the warm night air. 

Zoe.

He pushed his hands into his back pockets. The safest place for them when Zoe Ford was around.

“You’re home early,” she said.

She’d been waiting for him, sitting on his front step. 

“What are you doing out here?” His voice came out sharper, harder than he’d intended.

“Waiting for you.”

He didn’t know what to do with her straight-up answer.     

“You shouldn’t be out here,” he said. “What if Tom comes home?” 

Her brother was wildly protective of her. Liam didn’t need to see her to know that she was frowning. Could picture her dark brows knitting together, the stubbornness in her green eyes.

“I’m sick of waiting,” she said.

Shit. 

He wished he hadn’t downed those three beers at the party. His brain was fuzzy, not as crisp as he needed it to be when he was within touching distance of his best friend’s little sister.

“No one asked you to wait,” he said.  

They weren’t talking about him coming home from the party and her waiting for him on the front step of his temporary home. They both knew that. 

“Is it true?” she asked.

“What?”

“What Tom told me before you went to the party tonight. Is it true you’re going out with Sally Kendrick?”

“You need to go inside before your parents hear us talking out here,” he said.

“Are you going out with her or not?” Zoe’s voice was shaking. 

“No.”

He should have lied. Told her he and Sally were nuts about each other, that he’d just rolled out of her bed.

“Is that why you’re home early? Because things didn’t work out with Sally?”

She’d moved closer, within reach. He could see the pale oval of her face, smell the sweet honeysuckle smell of her favorite body lotion.

She’s fifteen, man. Fifteen, and the daughter of the people who took you in when no one else wanted you. 

He needed to make her go inside, back to her own bedroom, back to her single bed and her walls covered with posters of heavy metal bands and football teams.

“I don’t know why I came home,” he said.

She took another step closer. What little light there was glinted off her eyes.

“Kiss me,” she said. ”Please.”

He clenched his hands into the denim of his jeans.

“You have to go inside,” he said. His voice sounded low and too quiet. 
    

Unconvincing. Desperate.

She must have thought so, too, because she took a last step and closed the distance between them. He could feel the warmth of her body against his, the brush of her small, firm breasts against his chest, the whisper of her breath on his neck. 

“I can’t stand it any more, Liam. Sitting opposite you at breakfast and dinner, seeing you at school, at home. I can’t stop thinking about you. Please kiss me.”

Every muscle in his body tensed as she slid her arms around his waist. She pressed her body against his, her hands clutching at his back. She lifted her head and her hair brushed his chin as she pressed tentative kisses onto his collar bone and neck. One, two, three, her mouth soft and moist.

He was already hard. Had been since the moment he caught the scent of honeysuckle on the night air. She pressed her hips against his and the pressure made him groan.

“No,” he said, reaching for her shoulders to push her away.

But somehow he was sliding his hands up into her hair instead, holding her head and tilting her face toward him. Then he was kissing her, his tongue in her mouth, her taste surrounding him.

She’d never been kissed before. He knew because she’d told him two months ago. He’d been thinking about being her first ever since.  He wanted to make his mark on her, make it perfect.

He stroked her tongue with his and traced her lower lip before sucking it into his mouth. She made a small sobbing sound and angled her head to give him more access. She tasted so sweet, so clean and sweet. 

He slid a hand down her back to cup her backside, holding her against himself as he flexed his hips forward, feeling the press of her mound against his erection.

He was so hard. God, he wanted… He wanted so much he was afraid he was about to lose it.

Her hands were tugging at the waistband of his T-shirt. 

“Take this off. I want to touch you,” she said.

She yanked the T-shirt up and he released his grip on her long enough for her to pull it over his head. Then her hands were on him, touching, smoothing, teasing, discovering. 

He couldn’t think. Didn’t want to. As her fingers found his nipples, he broke their kiss long enough to pull his keys from his front pocket. His hand was shaking so much it was a miracle he got the key in the lock. Then he was kissing her again and backing her up the few stairs and inside the studio toward his bed.

She stopped when the backs of her knees hit the mattress.

“Wait,” she said, and he heard the rustle of clothing and knew she’d just pulled her own T-shirt off. 

He swore under his breath. She never wore a bra, even though her mom hassled her about it. He’d wanted to touch her, hold her for so long now. Wanted to know what color her nipples were, if they were as sweet and plump as they looked through the fabric of her T-shirts. 

“Zoe, I have to see you.” 

He flicked the bedside lamp on and she blinked in the sudden light. Her hands came up to cover herself. He reached for them and slowly tugged them away, holding her arms out from her sides.

He sucked in a breath when he saw her, so pink and firm. Her nipples were like little berries, hard already even though he hadn’t touched them yet. 

“Zoe,” he said, reaching for her. 

She shuddered as he slid his hands up her torso. She felt like warm silk, so smooth and perfect. His palms slid over her breasts, his thumbs finding her nipples. She bit her lip as he teased them. 

“That feels so good,” she whispered, her eyes half closed. 

She looked so beautiful, standing there in nothing but her jeans and bare feet, her long dark hair spilling down her back, her cheeks and chest flushed pink. He ducked his head and kissed her again, his hands teasing all the while. She started to press her pelvis forward and he could feel her heart pounding fit to bust. He ducked his head and kissed his way down her neck to her chest until he was pulling one hard little nipple into his mouth. 

“Oh,” she said. Her body jerked in his arms. Her hands found his head, her fingers burrowing into his hair as she held him at her breast, her breath coming in sharp pants. 
    

“So good, Liam, so good,” she whispered over and over.    

He pushed her back onto the bed and they fell together. He relished the feel of her beneath him, loving the way she instinctively opened her thighs so that he could press his hardness against the hot heart of her. 

They kissed and grabbed at each other for long minutes, hips grinding together through two layers of denim, the friction exquisite but not nearly enough. 

He slid a hand down over her mound and found the thick seam where her jeans joined at the crotch. He pressed firmly, feeling how hot and steamy she was down there. Her hands grabbed at his shoulders and her hips lifted.

“Liam,” she said. “Yes.”

He rubbed her some more, and she circled her hips, her eyes closed as she gave herself over to the moment.

He wanted inside her so bad. He slid a hand to the waistband of her jeans, slipped his fingers beneath the fabric. She caught her breath and he felt her belly tense beneath his hand. Then she was widening her legs, encouraging him to keep going. He slid his hand down further, into her soft curls. She stilled as he sent a single finger probing lower. 

Man, she was so wet. Hot and slippery and wet. He pressed his hard-on against her thigh as his finger slid between her folds.

“Liam!” she said. “That is… That is unbelievable!”

He grinned at the shocked expression on her face then watched her closely as he slicked a finger over the hard little button hidden between her folds. She shuddered, her breasts rising dramatically as she pulled in a lungful of air.

“Don’t stop,” she begged. “Whatever you’re doing, don’t stop.”

He lowered his head and took a nipple into his mouth, his finger sliding over and over her, sliding deeper, lower with each rotation until finally he was at her hot entrance and she was tilting her hips in wordless invitation.

He sucked hard on her nipple as he slid his finger inside her. Slick, hot muscle closed around him, so tight and wet he groaned.

“Take your jeans off. I want to see you, Liam. I want to touch you,” Zoe panted. 
She drove her fingers into his hair and dragged his head up from her breasts so he was forced to look her in the eye.

“I want you to be my first, Liam. I want to sleep with you,” she said. 

His hard-on throbbed at the thought of sliding inside her, taking what she was so generously, passionately, warmly offering. 

He loved her. She was so beautiful. Never more so than right at this moment, with her eyes clouded with desire and her face flushed.

“I want to touch you,” she said again.

His hand stilled between her legs as she slid her own hand down his body to where his cock was pressed against her thigh. He closed his eyes as she smoothed her hand along his length, her touch firm through his jeans.

“I don’t care about anything else. I just want you. I’ve always wanted you,” she said.

“I’ve always wanted you,” he said as her fingers found the stud on his jeans. She popped it free and pulled his zipper down. He held his breath as her hand slid inside his jeans. 

She found him, her fingers encircling him, tentative at first but with more confidence as she felt how hard he was, how much he wanted her. 

“How can it be so soft and so hard at the same time?” she asked.

“How can you be so hot and so wet?” 

She laughed and smoothed her hand up and down his shaft. He began to move his finger again, slicking over and over her. She dropped her head back and lifted her hips.

“Please, Liam. Please,” she begged.

He didn’t know why he wasn’t tearing her jeans off, why he wasn’t inside her already. This was his every fantasy come true – beautiful, sleek, sweet Zoe in his bed, panting for him, her hands on his him, begging him to take her. How many times had he lain here in the dark of night, his hand wrapped around his own hardness as he imagined her begging like this, imagined the taste of her, the feel of her?

Too many. Almost every night since he’d moved in with the Fords after his mom died. A whole year. 

She made a disgruntled noise when he slid his hand free from her jeans but she smiled when he popped her jeans open and his fingers found the tab on her zipper.

“Yes. Finally!” she said as he pulled it down.

She was wearing plain white panties with some kind of writing on them. It wasn’t until she was lifting her hips to help him slide them off that he realized what they said.

Friday’s child is loving and giving.

He stilled, the only sound his harsh breathing as he stared at the words, emblazoned across the plumpness of her mons, the darkness of her pubic hair showing faintly through the thin white cotton.

Loving and giving. That was exactly what Zoe was. She was also smart, brave, stubborn. She could sketch and draw like no one he’d ever known, and she never backed off from a challenge. Never wore skirts, either, or make up. Knew how to change the starter motor in her father’s old Mini. How to throw a cricket ball and kick a football. 

She had no idea how gorgeous she was. How many of the guys at school watched her when she walked past in her jeans and T-shirts with no bra. Her green eyes, the perfect oval of her face, the dimple in her chin - in a few years time, she was going to understand how much she was worth, how precious she was.

“Liam,” she said, wiggling her hips impatiently. ”Hurry up!”

She was going to regret this moment. After all, who was he? Liam Masters, thick as two planks if his teachers were to be believed. Homeless, parentless. Alone, destined for nothing. Staying here with the Fords was the first lucky break he’d had in his life. He didn’t expect it to last, or to change anything, despite how hard Mrs Ford was campaigning for him to repeat a year so he could get better marks and apply to university. 

He knew who he was, what he was. He’d learned it young, at his father’s knee. 
There was no way he was good enough for Zoe Ford. Certainly not good enough to be her first.

“What? What’s wrong?” Zoe propped herself up on both elbows to stare at him.     

“I can’t do this.” 

He grabbed the waistband of her jeans and pulled them back up. She resisted, a frown on her face.

“What? What do you mean? I don’t understand.”

“We’re not going to do this, Zoe. You need to get dressed and go back to the house.”

She stared at him, her mouth open. He could see the hurt in her eyes as desire was replaced by confusion.

“Did I – Did I do something wrong?” she asked. “Tell me what to do, what to say, and I’ll do it, Liam.”

“You need to get dressed,” he said again. 

He tugged the two sides of her jeans together and pulled up the zipper. She pushed his hands away from the stud when he went to close it.

“I don’t understand what’s happening,” she said. 

There were tears in her eyes. She pushed herself backward on the bed and pulled her knees up to her chest.     

“Liam, please. Don’t do this.”    

“This is a big mistake. I’m doing you a favor,” he said. 

He tucked himself back into his jeans and zipped himself up. Then he stood at the end of the bed, looking down at her.

“You need to go before someone catches you in here,” he said.

She blinked away tears. “Is that what you’re worried about? Someone finding us? Because I would never tell, Liam. I love you. You know that. I’d never get you in trouble.” 

“You’re fifteen, Zoe. Tom trusts me, your parents trust me. They took me in.”

She shook her head. “Bull. This isn’t about my parents or my brother. Tell me what’s really wrong. Is it because I’m a virgin? Or is it my boobs? I know they’re small but I didn’t think you’d mind. Mom said they’ll get bigger as I get older…”

Liam swore under his breath and raked a hand through his hair. 

“It’s nothing to do with you, Zoe. It’s me, okay? You don’t want me to be your first.”

“I do. More than anything.” 

She stared at him with her big trusting eyes, so earnest and open and honest.

“You have no idea who I really am.” He thought of the girls he’d slept with, the fights he’d had, the things he’d stolen, the lies he’d told. He thought of his father, of him and his mom escaping into the night with their lives crammed into a single black garbage bag. “You don’t want me.”

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