Filthy Foreign Exchange(3)By: Angela Graham & S.E. Hall
I head straight for a hot shower to prevent my overworked muscles from stiffening. The entire time I stand under the spray, I stare through the glass at the closed door on the far side of the room. Sebastian’s bedroom is connected to mine by a Jack and Jill bathroom, but my brother isn’t on the other side anymore. Tonight, and every night for this upcoming school year, he’ll be in England, his room vacant. The thought is the final blow to my day.
Once I’ve dried off and tied my robe, I open his door slowly, with tears in my eyes. I’m not sure why I’m going into his room—maybe to see the proof of his absence, naïvely hoping that will help settle my anxiety? It’s dark inside, of course, but the thin drapes are parted and the moon is full and bright after tonight’s storm.
My breath hitches, my feet coming to a complete and sudden halt when I spot the large body lying in my brother’s bed. It’s almost comforting at first; I find myself wishing it was Sebastian, but I know it’s not.
And I can only assume it’s Kingston. I have no clue why my parents didn’t just drop him at his dorm, or why I’m not turning around to go back to my own room. But now, as I stand so close, my curiosity is piqued.
From this angle and in this lighting, he could almost pass for Sebastian: short, dark-brown hair; muscularly outlined back; sleeping on his side. But whereas Sebastian sleeps under the covers, our houseguest has the sheet and comforter shoved down past a tight, perfectly rounded ass that’s filling out his black boxer briefs in a way I find startlingly sinful. He also has his arms shoved under his pillow—another difference that makes it hard for me to pretend.
I creep a bit farther into the room, checking out his luggage: designer and monogrammed—all matching of course, and reeking of luxury and fine leather. Fancy, but mismatching horribly with the black (and admittedly sexy) combat boots that—
“Umpf,” I grunt despite my desperate efforts to remain quiet, reaching out for anything to brace myself on. But it’s no use. I fly forward, having tripped over one of the not-nearly-as-sexy-now boots.
“I was told you were the graceful one.”
His low, gravely taunt comes out of nowhere and startles me now completely off balance, throwing me backward in the opposite direction. With my hands flailing, my only hope now is that the luggage provides a soft landing.
But I never meet it, or the floor. Instead, two strong hands rescue me, snaring my wrists and pulling me down on top of one seriously hard, hot—temperature-wise, I mean—body.
“I’d presume you to be Echo and say hello, but again, not the graceful girl I was expecting. So, you are…?” He looks up at me with a smug twitch to his lip and devastating twinkle in his gray—Are they really gray, or is that the lighting?—eyes.
“I…uh…” I stammer idiotically, dressed only in a robe that’s far too revealing for the position I find myself lying in: across the bare torso of perhaps the most gorgeous guy I’ve ever seen up close, in person. And we are very up close.
I attempt to push off him, but his hands slide down to my hips and grip tighter.
“Yes,” I gasp, before battling for a sense of authority in my next response. “I’m Echo. Sorry I woke you, I just wasn’t…expecting you to be in here.” His brows rise, practically screaming that he sees right through me. “Let me up! I tripped over your big, stupid boots, then you scared me.”
“My apologies, Echo.” A quiver plays down my spine at the way my name rolls off his lips in that decadent English accent of his. “Had I known you’d be visiting my room tonight, I’d have taken more care in setting my belongings out of your way.”
“I should’ve left when I realized you were in here, so we’re even. Can you let me up now?”
His grip remains firm as his smile deepens. “I must admit, I’m rather enjoying this version of our introduction. Far better than a mere ‘How do you do?’ over dinner.” He’s sporting a full grin now, blindingly bright even in the dimly lit room.
All I can do is stare at him, words failing me. I half suspect I’m dreaming—but I can feel, long and stiff against my stomach, that this humiliation is, in fact, reality.