Penelope let her phone ring again for the fifth time that night. She glanced at the pile of files stacked on her desk. She had been at it since morning but the intimidating stack never lessened. If she stayed overnight, she might be able to meet the Monday deadline. Is this her life now?
It’s a Friday night, for god’s sakes.
She toyed with her phone. She did deserve a break. She was the only one slaving at work, as always. With Cowper’s recent sacking, there was no one breathing down her neck and taking credit for all her hard work anymore.
She should celebrate. She rubbed her eyes, easing the strain of work from them. There was another reason why she should celebrate. A reason why she was hesitant to leave the office.
Her phone vibrated and she rolled her eyes. Eloise really was tenacity personified.
She spied the clock on her computer. It’s really late. People would have left already. It was Colin’s coming home party at a nearby bar. All the Bridgertons, of legal age, would be there. And, of course, as a family friend, she was invited.
He might not even stay so late. He had probably gone home by now.
She sighed. She was not prepared to see Colin right now. She still could not calm her heart from flying out her ribcage at the sight of the man. Even though she promised herself that this year would be the year she moved on, her resolve crumbled at his cheeky smiles.
So many New Year’s resolutions were wasted on him.
He was back and he was staying for a while. At least, a couple of months. So much time. Think of the possibilities.
She shook her head, willing the hope filling her being away. Besides, she already texted him earlier that she would not be able to make it tonight. His teary sad face emoji made her blush furiously. She really hated herself sometimes.
What she needed right now was to get away from her feelings. It was incredibly difficult, she knew. Loving him was as simple as breathing. However, she needed to move on. There was no future in this path.
She tried to date around. She even got up to three dates with the cute guy from HR. But she could not help but compare any guy to Colin. Everyone paled in comparison. She was disappointed in herself, most of all.
HR guy was really cute .
She should be firm. The New Year’s resolution for this year would last.
Her hand swiped at her phone, landing on Colin’s last text message. She bit her lip. Even the nastiest breakups had closure. Just one last time, she’d give her delusional self one last time to wallow. After this...she’d say goodbye.
She deserved to say goodbye.
She grabbed her keys and ran.
Penelope was a little self-conscious at the bar. She was still wearing her office-appropriate pantsuit. Compared to the women scantily clad around her, she was literally overdressed. She peered around for a familiar face.
Maybe she was too late.
It was then that she saw him sitting at the bar, happily eating the free pretzels, with a tiny umbrella perched daintily on his ear.
A rush of affection flooded her senses. She found herself grinning ear to ear as she ambled her way to him. She gave him a light tap on the shoulder as she said, “Hey there, stranger.”
“Pen!” he cheerfully shrieked. “You’re here!”
She allowed herself to relax in his tight embrace. She didn’t know what he did in Cyprus but his muscles filled out nicely. Her hands itched to feel just how hard his pecs would be but he pulled away before she had a chance to find out.
His cheeks were slightly pink. He was tipsy. She took the mini umbrella from his ear. “Looks like I missed a lot.”
“Oh, that? Eloise ordered a lot of hurricanes. They’re surprisingly tasty.”
“Where are they?” she asked as she scanned the vicinity.
“They left me to party on my own,” he responded with a slur.
“They just left you, drunk, on your own in a bar?”
The way he scrunched his face was too adorable.
“Erm, no. Not exactly,” Colin answered sheepishly. “I told the Uber to turn around.”
She giggled. “That’s probably not smart.”
“But if I hadn’t,” he paused, trying to formulate the right words, “I wouldn’t have seen you tonight.”
She had to turn away. Her face was hot and she tried to fight the smile breaking free on her lips. “I should probably bring you home.”
“Yes. Or you can drink with me,” he said with a push of his whisky into her hand.
When was the last time they had talked, just the two of them? It had been longer than she could remember. She really missed him. Maybe a few drinks wouldn’t hurt. Plus, she really could not say no to his face, not when he was staring at her like an eager puppy.
“Okay, one drink.”
He smirked at her, almost wickedly. “Sure.”
She was having a blast. Colin was jovial, by nature. He knew how to make people laugh and he was very successful with her tonight. Her cheeks were aching from laughing too much.
“Okay but how about this?,” he straightened his back and lowered his voice, “Girl, I put the STD in stud. All I need is you.”
She burst out in laughter again. “No! That’s...no! Tell me that didn’t work.”
He just wiggled his eyebrows in response.
“Oh my god. How the hell did that work? Was she drunk out of her mind?”
He playfully swatted her arm. “My face is enough to close the deal.”
He’s not lying . But she wasn’t going to inflate his ego any further. She grabbed the shot glasses and poured tequila on both glasses. They ordered the bottle service after the poor bartender took too long getting their drinks. It was a packed night and the poor soul was the only one there.
He took one shot glass and downed it in one go. She did the same, but winced as she finished. One would think that after the seventh shot, she would get used to the burn the alcohol left behind on her throat.
“So tell me, what’s the worst pick-up line that worked on you?”
She bit her lip, refusing to say. Because there was one she was especially ashamed of.
“Come on,” he whined. “I told you my worst one.”
It must be the alcohol flooding her system. Maybe it was the way the light bounced on his dilated pupils that urged her to say. He can probably ask her anything right now and she’d comply without restraint.
“There was this guy. I was really tipsy. And he was really fit,” she placed her hands on her face to hide her shame, “Don’t judge me.”
“I won’t, cross my heart.” He made a cross on his chest. Although, he was way off due to the amount of alcohol he already had.
“He said let me wipe your seat for you, then he wiped his face.”
“Pen!” He was positively scandalized. Maybe it was the right idea to omit the fact that the line only worked because the man resembled Colin slightly.
“I know. I’m embarrassed. And you said no judgement.”
“Yeah, but, Pen, come on.”
“He was really fit,” she mumbled before she took another shot. They were close to finishing the bottle. Her head was light from all the tequila she consumed.
He slumped on his seat, placing a hand on over hers. He played with the tiny umbrella in her hand. “I’m fit.”
Oh, she knew . Her eyes raked over his drooped form. The firm lines of his shoulder blades tingled her insides. Her tongue swiped over her lips. Her mouth watered. She grabbed the bottle of tequila and drank what’s left of it. If anything, the lingering thirst intensified.
“We’re out of booze,” she slurred at him as she brandished the empty bottle.
“Oh good. I hate sequila...tequila,” he murmured as he placed his head down on the counter.
“Why are we drinking it?”
“You like it.”
Damn him . Everything he said made her want to jump him. She glared at him before placing an order for vodka shots on Colin’s tab.
“You’re too charming for your own good,” she grumped. Try as she might, she would never be able to resist his charm.
He only responded with a small beam. He raised his shot glass to her in a silent toast. She responded in kind. And they both downed the vodka.
The next hour became a blur to Penelope. She could not remember how many more shots she took, only that she could barely feel her face. She had vignettes of the two of them scrambling out of the bar, each supporting one another to stay upright. She had a hazy recollection of her calling for an Uber to get Colin back to his hotel.
Her head bounced against the car window before he tucked her head against his shoulder during the bumpy car ride. She played with the loose button of his jacket as he kept trying to make her laugh. She thought she saw the driver roll his eyes at Colin’s corny jokes.
She almost slumped on the floor of the elevator, and Colin pulled her upright with a howl of laughter. The bruise on her knee the next day would serve as proof. She remembered how long it took him to fumble for his keys outside the door. It was like she was in a different body, watching the two of them run through their drunken motions.
She knew she wanted to curse herself into oblivion for drinking on an empty stomach. And when her gaze wandered onto Colin’s, she wondered how the hell is he even standing.
She dropped onto the floor and crawled her way onto the bed, the only place that looked inviting in his room. She took off her jacket and her favorite earrings before gently climbing on the bed.
Colin hastily took off his shirt, almost getting stuck with a button. When he dropped onto the bed, she groaned at the movement.
He turned, his bare back facing her. She should go. She didn’t want to be there when she vomits everything tomorrow and she already did her part escorting him safely. She tried to sit up, but Colin’s arm stopped her. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Her vision whirled at every movement. She’s not leaving the bed.
“Stay, pretty girl,” she heard him whisper. His eyes were shut and his voice, gravelly low.
She turned her body sideways to face him. Even with the intoxication veiling her consciousness, she couldn’t help but appreciate how beautiful he looked.
His eyes opened and the tenderness on his face awed her. “You look stunning.”
The intensity of his gaze pierced through her. “I should be saying that to you,” she bravely answered.
She didn’t remember who made the first move. But in a split-second, they were kissing like there was no tomorrow. He pulled her tighter to him and she anchored her hands on his broad shoulders. Her hands roamed on his heated skin, committing the lines of his muscles to memory.
His tongue teased hers and she opened her mouth wider, inviting him in. His leg pushed between her legs. She moaned at the pressure, wantonly rolling her hips against him. She heard him mutter obscenities in her ear, whispering how fucking gorgeous she was in his arms.
His lips travelled down to the crook of her neck. He nipped and sucked, leaving angry marks on her skin. Every contact of his lips on her skin was set her body ablaze. His hands made quick work of her clothes as she was bare in a few seconds without realizing it. She was too tantalized with his firm chest to notice, leaving tiny kisses on his skin.
When his fingers brushed her puckered nipples, she let out a loud moan. She saw him smirk wickedly before he replaced his hands with his mouth. His tongue swirled around her nipple and her hands pulled on his hair, egging him on. His fingers moved downwards, teasing the small patch of hair on her womanhood. She drew her breath as she waited for the inevitable contact. He snickered then placed a kiss on her lips.
“No teasing,” she mumbled.
He plunged two fingers in her, sliding easily into her slick heat. She gasped his name out loud. She could feel every callus from his many years of writing, with every curl of his fingers. He placed his attention back to her breasts, biting lightly on her nipples. It only took him a few more thrust before she gave out a keening wail. Her entire body shook at the force of her orgasm.
He withdrew his fingers from her, and she lapped the juices from his fingers, eyes never leaving his.
“Fuck,” Colin choked out loud. After she stopped, he hastily pulled his pants and boxers off. Seeing his large and thick member spring proudly, she swallowed audibly. Penelope grabbed him, stroking him twice before taking him in her mouth.
He hissed, hands firmly on her hair. He did not push, only guiding her to his pleasure. She sets a punishing pace, her head bobbing up and down as her cheeks hollowed. When her tongue swirled at the tip of his cock, he maneuvered her in one swift motion. Her cunny faced him, and he attacked with gusto.
He lifted his head and gave her slit a long lick. She shivered above him. He used his deft fingers to part her lips open before slipping his tongue in. She stopped her attention in his member, just moaning out his name.
“I like that.”
“Cry my name out like that.” He, then, sucked on her clit to further motivate her. She cried a litany of his name as he increased the pressure by humming. When his fingers plunged into her again, she was a blubbering mess. He kept pumping into her even as her walls contracted over his fingers.
When she recovered a bit, he placed tender kisses on her lips. She didn’t mind her taste on his lips, it only fanned the flames of her lust.
“I want you,” he murmured on her skin.
Her brain shut down and her body took over all decision-making. Any lapse of judgement would be a consequence of tomorrow. Tonight was hers.
He crashed his lips onto hers, tongue exploring her mouth with fervor. She pulled him on top of her, relishing the feel of his weight on her body. His hard cock teased her slit and he lifted her left leg before he sank into her. He filled her perfectly, so perfect that she swore she saw stars. He rocked his hips thrusting deep inside her, and all she could do was scream in pleasure. He pounded into her with vicious ferocity. The bed creaked, the noise only competing with the sounds of their skin slapping against each other.
Penelope clung to his shoulder as she felt the pleasure intensify. She clenched hard on him inside her and his resounding groan felt like victory. He started to build up in speed. She was so close. As if he read her mind, Colin used his thumb to press on her bundle of nerves. Her climax exploded and she screamed yet again. Her muscles spasmed around him and he let go, shuddering into her.
They slumped on the bed in a languid haze. Penelope felt boneless, and weary. The lethargy and dizziness from the booze she drank, the ones she pointedly ignored before the mind-blowing sex, came back full force. She lay on the bed, unmoving.
Colin pulled the comforter over them lazily. She grunted her thanks. She was already half-gone in her dreams when she heard him say sluggishly, “Stay, pretty girl.”
It was the sunlight hitting her face that woke her up. As soon as she opened her eyes, the pounding in her head started instantly. She winced with a cry. Even the act of rubbing her eyes aggravated the headache.
How much did she drink?
She pulled on the blanket and noticed her lack of clothing. This was not good. She turned to her side and saw Colin sleeping peacefully right next to her.
Panic set in. She could not reconcile with the idea that she just had sex with the man she had been in love with her entire life to her reality now. She placed both hands on her mouth in fear that her shallow breaths would wake him up.
She could not imagine his expression when he saw her naked on his bed. Would it be disgust? He had never regarded her as a woman, just a friend of his sister. Would he regret it? What if he did regret it? Would they be awkward with each other with every interaction?
If then, she was going to have to avoid him before he did so himself. Him and his family.
The thought made her want to vomit. A drunken night and she just might lose everything good in her life. Angry tears fell. The fear and panic settled in, pushing her body in overdrive. She clung to the anxiety, on top of the raging hangover.
It was either fight or flight.
And she chose flight.
She slowly crept away from the bed and hastily put on her clothes. She was careful not to make any noise, lest she woke him from his deep slumber. She tried to erase her presence from his room any way she can. She grabbed her stuff before she left.
In her haste, she didn’t realize that one of her earrings fell on the floor.
In the coming weeks, she’d never thought, even in her wildest dreams, that a single night with Colin Bridgerton would end up being so fruitful.