The Stillness Of You

By: Julie Bale


“I know.”

And then he was gone.

I stared at my rumpled bed and then crossed to the window so I could look down into the empty streets below. Matt’s loft was the entire top floor of one of the oldest buildings in Old City and it cost a fortune. It definitely wasn’t something he would be able to afford working for the Flyers as an assistant coach, but our parents had been loaded—old family money from my mother’s side—and when they had died three years ago, their fortune was passed to us.

Except for the moment, Matt controlled my money because I was the crazy girl. The crazy girl who had fucked and partied her way through more guys and nights than she could count. The crazy girl who had given up on everything except whatever could make the noise stop or the slow down the fast parts inside her. The crazy girl who had tried to kill herself.

“All in the past,” I murmured.

Ben was still sleeping when I left for my run, his tall body not exactly a fit for the queen size pullout. The door to the office was wide open and I couldn’t, not peek. The guy wore boxers to bed and as I took an extra second or two to appreciate the curve of his ass, I wondered if the boxers were just for our benefit. He totally seemed like the kind of guy who slept naked.

Naked Ben. How delicious.

Outside the morning was fresh and as I popped in my ear buds, I knew it was going to be one hell of a hot one. But this time, this twilight before dawn, was the best time to run. It was quiet. Peaceful.

And for the moment my mind was silent.

I ran for nearly forty-five minutes and by the time I made it back to the loft, the first rays of sunlight crept across the horizon.

I waved to our doorman Joe, bypassed the elevator and didn’t stop running until I stood in front of the fridge and rooted around for the orange juice, which I confiscated and finished in several long, gulps. I closed the door and backed away.

And promptly came into contact with something warm and hard and very male.

My first thought was, holy shit Ben Lancaster felt great.

My second thought was that he smelled amazing, like mint and pine rolled together.

My third thought was that I hoped he was wearing something more than the boxers I’d seen him in earlier. Because I was pretty sure that Ben and me and his boxers wasn’t exactly what my brother had in mind when he’d left an hour ago.

“Sorry.” His breath was warm at my neck and, wait, was that his hand on my hip? “I didn’t mean to crowd you.”

I was willing to bet he wasn’t sorry at all and I was fine with that.

He had morning voice—that husky tone somewhere between sleep and awake. It had been a long time since I’d been anywhere near morning voice. It had been a long time since I’d been anywhere near a warm body, and I closed my eyes, willing time to stop for just a few moments. The sensation was that freaking amazing.

But then reality hit. I thought of Matt and gave myself a mental smack down. He’d only been gone for just over an hour and already I was fantasizing about how awesome his hockey player felt pressed up against my butt.

I needed to shut that shit down right away.

I sidestepped and took a peek. Track pants. Okay, this was good.

“You just back in from a run?”

“Yep.” I tossed the empty carton into the garbage under the sink and turned around so that I could see him properly.

Holy fuck. Ben Lancaster was something to behold in the morning. The shadows on his jaw and chin were much more pronounced than the evening before. I liked that. I liked stubble on a guy. His hair waved crazily and his hooded eyes were sexy as a slow grin spread across his mouth.

He was bare-chested, but then again, if I was a guy and I looked like that I wouldn’t be covering up either. And he was cut, but not overly beefed up like some of the guys I’d seen and the tattoo on his left bicep was yummy. I had a weakness for long hair and tattoos and it wasn’t fair to find all of that right here in my kitchen.

Not when it belonged to someone I’d been warned away from.

I was grateful he still wore boxers, because his track pants hung way too low on his hips and if not for the boxers I was sure I’d be staring at more than I should be staring at.

I exhaled and looked down.

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