Sugar Kisses

By: Addison Moore

3:AM Kisses Book 3


1


Lips Like Sugar





Roxy

You know that feeling you get when you’re in the middle of a one-night stand, and the headboard thrashes into the wall, over and over, like a thousand demons begging to burst from the gates of hell?

Yeah, neither do I.

I twist in my bed and stomp my stilettos into my roommate’s adjoining wall, but their wild fucking spree continues undaunted.

Cole Brighton is my new cellmate, and he’s been persona non grata since I moved in a couple of days ago. He’s been too busy entertaining the ladies, moaning into all hours of the night as if he were having a genuine religious experience while worshiping at the altar of coed vagina.

My phone buzzes softly, and I pluck it off the bed. I’ve already ignored two texts from my mother. In all fairness, Christmas was a few days ago, and I’ve paid my familial dues for the year. It’s not that I don’t love my mother, it’s just that hanging out with her for even a limited amount of time is the equivalent of drinking a cup full of vinegar—doable and yet regrettable. She hinted over the holidays that it was high time she molded me into an acceptable socialite, and it took everything in me not to hurl all over her pointy toed Prada’s. But it’s not Mom, it’s a text from Laney.

At the door. You in there?

I spring up and head over. To my surprise, my sweet, older brother is right by Laney’s side. Now that they’re together again, they’re practically inseparable. True love will do that to people, glue them at the hip—not that I would know. For me true love proved to be an apparition straight from hell, and I’m not too sorry I chased it away.

“I was getting worried.” Ryder offers a half-hearted hug as he makes his way inside. We have the same dark hair, our father’s serious eyes, and drive to succeed in business—only Ryder sort of is succeeding in business, whereas I’m floundering, about to turn belly up. But, in order to rectify that, I blanketed campus this afternoon with a crap ton of flyers advertising my new upstart, Roxy’s Cupcake Catering. There’s nothing too wild or difficult we can’t do! Only the we is actually just me, and I’m sort of determined to keep it that way because, for one, I hate people. Not all people, just most people. The two currently gawking around the apartment happened to be off my shit list, for now—although, I’m not above demoting. Life’s been pretty crappy overall. My mother is a hard ass, so maybe that’s where I get the bad attitude. However, she never had an asshole shit on her heart, so she couldn’t properly channel her feelings of hatred and rage toward mankind like I can. Aiden Ryerson, my boyfriend of three years, is the aforementioned asshole who defecated over my beating heart, and I’d like to return the favor by way of tearing out his, but I’m not in the mood for prison—yet.

“How’s the kitchen?” Laney asks, inspecting the tiny domesticated square that consists of a four burner electric stove and microwave. I’ve stacked my flattened pastry boxes in the corner and spread out my mixing bowls and baking utensils because I like to see them laid out like art.

“Compared to the Easy Bake?” I smirk at the sight. “It’s an improvement.”

I bake. That’s how I handle all the bullshit life likes to sling my way thanks to the coping skill passed down from my grandmother. I glance up at her wooden spoon hanging from a ribbon on the wall. It’s my homage to her sweet, butter-loving soul. I can’t wait to hang that wooden spoon up in my very first storefront, of course, that’s before I franchise the business and proliferate the planet with my tasty treats on my way to world domination. If there’s one thing my father taught me, it’s go big or go home. He might have a heart of steel, but he’s a got a bank account full of cash that testifies to his business know-how, and, believe you me, I’ve been taking notes.

“Anyway”—I flail my arms around the tiny quarters—“I’m more than happy to have a kitchen. And if listening to Cole roar out sexual commands for the next few months is what it takes to have one, then I say bring on the sex toys because this kinky cooking party is just getting started.”

Ryder chokes on his next breath.

“Knock, knock!” Baya pokes her head through the door before stepping inside. “Just got back from dropping my mom off at the airport and wanted to see how you’re settling in.” She bops over and offers a strangulating group hug to both me and Laney. Baya is cute both inside and out. She’s bubbly as all hell, which usually makes me want to throat punch puppies, but I’ve given Baya a pass because she’s genuinely a nice person.

“Everything’s fine. I’ve already unpacked and taken over what little of the bathroom counter there was, officially claiming female dominance over your brother.” True story. I planted my Tampax right next to his razor. It was my way of saying, hello, I have a vagina that your penis will never invade. I bleed once a month, and if you don’t stay out of my way, chances are, you will, too.

Baya belts out a laugh. “I knew I liked you.”

“Hey, what’s this?” Ryder calls from the far end of the living room, and we head on over.

He runs his finger across rows and rows of scratches, etched along the door jam in groups of five with slashes through them.

“Tally marks.” Baya makes a face. “That’s me.” She points to the bottom where there’s a line enwreathed with a heart.

“Ah, yes”—Laney leans in as if she were reading fine text—“the infamous, notches for crotches.”

“This is Bryson’s side.” Baya shakes her head. “Not his finest hour.” She points to the back wall, and we spin to find another, far more elaborate, series of chicken scratch. “That’s Cole’s slut meter.”

The walls thunder around us. A groan escapes from under Cole’s bedroom door as if it were a plea for help, then panting—lots and lots of cataclysmic panting. Clearly an orgasm of nuclear proportions is on the horizon.

“What the fuck?” Ryder looks as if he’s ready to help free the captives.

“That’s exactly what’s going on.” Laney pulls him back.

“No.” He shakes his head, the rage brewing in his eyes as if it were me being defiled in there. “Are you serious?” He shoots those baby blues back to the scoreboard. “This is some kind of fuck-o-meter?” He straightens as if he were struck with a cattle prod. “Get your stuff, Rox, there’s no way I’m letting you stay.”

“He’s got an electric stove,” I fire back. “It’ll be a cold day in hell when you drag me back to that kitchenless dorm.”

“I’ve got a Viking range that puts out fifteen thousand BTU’s and a double convection oven. Pack your shit, Roxy. You’re coming to my place.”

Laney pinches her lips. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t want me hanging around right after they’ve just moved in together. I’ll be a third wheel on their faux-honeymoon. And, believe me, I’d much rather listen to Baya’s brother heaving himself into a sexual oblivion than my own.

“Forget it. I like being close to campus.” True story. Whitney Briggs is right across the street, and I hate to break it to my brother, but one of us doesn’t actually own a car, and with no job it would make it far less fuel-efficient to drive if I did.

A sharp groan vibrates through my new roommate’s door.

“And on that note…” Baya pivots on her heels. “See you guys at the Black Bear tonight. We have one of the biggest shows of the year planned.”

“What’s up at the Black Bear?” It’s a bar down the street that Baya’s boyfriend owns—or at least his family does. Both Laney and Baya work there part time.

“LeAnn Cleo is going on, that’s what.” Her eyes round out as if Christmas were about to happen all over again.

“LeAnn Cleo!” Laney jumps, and her boobs nearly knock her out in the process. Obviously a bra was optional today.

“Who’s that?” Ryder looks unimpressed, as he should.

I groan. “Some pop slash country sensation that sings to preteen girls at shopping malls. Her fifteen minutes were up five years ago, and it looks like no one got the memo.”

“Oh, stop.” Laney averts her eyes. “Her newest album went double platinum in November, and she’s got every major arena sold out for her summer concert tour.” She turns to Ryder. “She’s decided to complete her education right here at Whitney Briggs while pursuing her career. She was like a ghost on campus last fall because she was trying to keep things low key, but the media got wind of it, and now she’s a loud and proud part of the WB student body.”

“Aiden had a class with her.” I don’t know why I brought him up other than the fact I can’t seem to get him out of my fucking mind. I hate that I let him burrow in so deep, take root, and continue to kill me long after he walked out on me. I let Laney and Baya think it was a mutual decision, but a part of me would have taken him back if he wanted to keep using me like a doormat. I hate that stupid part of me. But, now that we’ve had some clearance of a few measly weeks, I can see that I’m better off without the village idiot hanging on like some unwanted appendage. I just need to figure out how to let my heart in on this news.

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