Whispers of Danger

Warm fingers entwine with mine, pressing my hands deeper into the mattress. My eyelids are too heavy to open from the lack of sleep I’ve had this week. The lack of sleep I’ve had all month, really. Hell, this whole damn year. I moan and attempt to squeeze my legs together, but I can’t. There’s pressure everywhere.

On my chest, against my cheek, between my legs. It takes me a few seconds to pull my mind out of its sleepy haze, but I’m awake enough to know what he’s doing. “Asa,” I mumble, irritated. “Get off me.”

He thrusts his weight against me repetitively, groaning against my ear, his morning stubble cutting into my cheek. “I’m almost done, babe,” he breathes against my neck. I attempt to pull my hands out from beneath his, but he squeezes them tighter, reminding me that I’m nothing more than a prisoner in my own bed, and he’s the warden of the bedroom.

Asa has always had a way of making me feel like my body was at his disposal. He’s never mean or forceful about it; he’s just needy—and I find it really inconvenient. Like right now.

At six o’clock in the damn morning. I can guess the time by the sunlight peeking through the crack under the door, and the fact that Asa is just now coming to bed after last night’s party. I, however, have to be in class in less than two hours. This isn’t how I would have chosen to be torn from sleep after only three hours of it.

I wrap my legs around his waist and hope he thinks I’m into this. When I act half interested, he gets it over with more quickly. He palms my right breast and I let out the expected moan, just as he begins to shudder.

“Fuck,” he groans, burying his face in my hair, slowly rocking against me. After several seconds, he collapses on top of me and sighs heavily, then kisses my cheek and rolls onto his side of the bed. He stands up and removes the condom and tosses it into the trash can, then grabs a bottle of water off the bedside table. He brings the bottle to his lips, raking his eyes over my exposed flesh.

His lips pull into a lazy grin. He stands confidently naked by the bed, gulping the last of the water. Despite his good looks, he has his faults. In fact, his looks may be the only thing about him I don’t find fault in. He’s cocky, quick-tempered, hard to handle sometimes. But he loves me. He loves the hell out of me. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love him in return.

There are so many things I would change about him if I could, but right now he’s all I have, so I deal with it. He brought me in when I had nowhere else to go. No one else to turn to. For that reason alone, I put up with him. I have no other choice. He brings his hand up and wipes his mouth, then tosses the empty bottle into the trash can.

He runs his hand through his thick brown hair and winks at me, then drops back onto the bed and leans in, kissing me softly on the lips.

“Goodnight, babe,” he says as he rolls onto his back. “You mean good morning,” I say as I reluctantly pull myself out of bed. My T-shirt is bunched around my waist, so I pull it down and grab some pants and a different shirt. I walk across the hallway to the shower, relieved that one of our countless roommates isn’t occupying the only upstairs bathroom. I check the time on my phone and cringe when I realize I won’t even have enough time to stop for coffee.

It’s the first class of the semester and I already plan to use it to catch up on sleep. This isn’t looking good. There’s no way I can keep this up. Asa never goes to class on a regular basis, yet he always passes with near-perfect grades. I’m struggling to keep my head above water, and I didn’t miss a single day last semester.

Well, in physical form. Unfortunately, we live with so many other people, there’s never a quiet moment in the house. I catch myself falling asleep in class more often than not; it’s the only time I get peace and quiet. The parties seem to go on all hours of the day and night, regardless of who has class the next day.

Weekends have no separation from weekdays in our house, and rent has no bearing over who lives here. I don’t even know who lives here half the time. Asa owns the house, but he loves being around people, so he likes the revolving-door free-for-all. If I had the means, I’d have my own place in a heartbeat. But I don’t.

That just means one more year of pure hell before I graduate. One more year before I’m free. I pull my shirt over my head and drop it to the floor, then pull the shower curtain back.

As soon as I reach down for the nozzle, I scream at the top of my lungs. Passed out in the tub, fully clothed, is our newest full-time roommate, Dalton. He jerks awake and smashes his forehead into the faucet above it, letting out a yell. I reach down and grab my shirt just as the door bursts open and Asa rushes in.

“Sloan, are you okay?” he says frantically, spinning me around to check me for injuries. I nod feverishly and point to Dalton in the tub. Dalton groans. “I’m not okay.” He palms his freshly injured forehead and attempts to crawl out of the tub.

Asa looks at me, down at my naked body being covered by the shirt in my hands, then looks back at Dalton. I’m afraid he’s about to get the wrong idea, so I start to explain, but he cuts me off with a loud, unexpected burst of laughter.

“Did you do that to him?” He’s pointing at Dalton’s head. I shake my head. “He hit his head on the faucet when I screamed.” Asa laughs even harder and reaches a hand down to Dalton, then pulls him the rest of the way out of the tub. “Come on, man, you need a beer. Cure for hangovers.”

He pushes Dalton out of the bathroom and follows behind him, closing the door when he leaves. I stand frozen, still clutching my shirt to my chest. The sad part is, this is the third time this has happened. A different idiot every time, passed out in the tub. I make a mental note to check the tub from now on before undressing.

I pull the schedule out of my pocket and unfold it to look for the room number. “This is such crap,” I say into the phone. “I graduated college three years ago. I didn’t sign up for this shit so I could do homework.”

Dalton laughs loudly, forcing me to pull the phone several inches away from my ear. “Boo fucking hoo,” he says. “I had to sleep in a damn bathtub last night. Suck it up, man. Acting the role is part of the job.” “Easy for you to say. You were signed up for one class a week. I have three. Why’d Young only give you one?”

“Maybe I give better head,” Dalton says. I look down at my schedule and up at the number on the door in front of me, finding a match. “I gotta go. La clase de Español.” “Carter, wait.”

His tone is more serious. Dalton clears his throat and prepares for his “partner pep talk.” I’ve been suffering through them on a daily basis since we started working together. He doesn’t have to remind me why we’re here. I realize I have a duty. My duty is to complete the job I’m being paid to do… which is to bust the largest campus drug ring in collegiate history.

The drug problem at the local university has multiplied tenfold in the past three years alone. Rumor has it that Asa Jackson is the sole reason for that. Asa and all the people in his circle, which is why Dalton and I are here—to identify the key players. Dalton and I are only a small part of this sting, but it’s the small parts that make up a huge whole, and every one of our roles is vital.

Even the role of pretending to be a college student. Again. I just wish I would have started the semester last week like everyone else in this class but the department took forever to get me set up in the system. “Try to make it fun, man,” Dalton says. “We’re so close to getting everything we need… You’ll be here two months, tops.

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