Part One: The Party

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I was in the middle of the hottest party on campus. Nobody cared that the weather outside was utter shit, full of wind and rain. Inside the house, people danced. They drank. They were doing inappropriate things in plain sight. The music was loud, the beer flowed, and I was absolutely miserable.

Why in the hell was I here, again?

Oh, right. I lived here.

When my roommates had suggested a party a couple of weeks ago, it seemed like a great idea. Now, not so much. My head was pounding. My date was MIA. Even though I knew I looked good in the skin-tight dress that hugged my ample curves, all I really wanted to do was go to my room, put on my pajamas, and curl up with a good book. My party animal was in hibernation, along with my sense of humor.

"Hey, Tess, can you grab some more ice?" One of my roommates, Brianna, yelled at me from across the room. We had three different kegs sitting in big galvanized tubs of ice and they needed more of the cold stuff.

I waved a peace sign over my head to let Brie know I heard her before I headed into the kitchen. It was just as crowded as the living room, people every-damn-where. It took some shoving, but I finally made my way into the small laundry room. A sign on the door proclaimed the laundry room off-limits for party goers. (Keep out, Assholes!) And yet, when I opened the door, I found a couple getting hot and heavy on the washing machine. I cleared my throat, loudly, but all I got back was a moan from one of them. I rolled my eyes in frustration. Subtle wasn't going to work here, so I poked the dude in the shoulder, hard.

He turned to glare at me, "We're busy here."

"Laundry room is off limits for a reason. Did you read the sign? Your girl is sitting on our ice storage so go find someplace else a little more private."

They both glared at me as they put their clothing back together and slammed the door behind them. The noise wasn't quite so loud here and I took a few moments to enjoy the relative peace and solitude. I was reaching for the lid to the washing machine when I heard the door open behind me. The lights went out so suddenly that I thought someone had flipped the switch. I swallowed my yelp of surprise when someone touched my shoulder.

"Shh. I didn't mean to startle you, Tess. I just came to help you with the ice. The lights went out as I opened the door. I think the storm took down a power line."

The voice behind me was male, but low and quiet. It seemed familiar but I didn't know who it was. The whole house was silent for a moment, before I could hear the murmur of voices out in the kitchen. I turned toward the laundry room door and banged into a very solid, very tall, person.

"Oh, sorry!" Whomever it was, I had just body-slammed him. I tripped over my own feet and was about to fall when his arm came around my waist and held me tightly against him.

"Careful. I've got you."

Oh, yes, he did. I grabbed his shoulders and held on until I caught my balance. Holy crap, was he built. He was tall, a lot taller than I was. My breasts were pushed against his chest as his arms tightened around me. I've always been drawn to scent and his was incredibly sexy. Not overdone; subtle and spicy. I couldn't help the soft purr that escaped me as I leaned closer to get a better sniff. I don't know what cologne he was wearing, but it was wonderful and I wanted more.

One of his legs was braced between mine, his hard thigh rubbing up against my core. That wasn't all that was hard, either. His generous length was pressed against my belly, erect and straining against his jeans. My whole body went nuts. My nipples tightened and my back arched as I breathed his scent in deep. He shifted slightly against me and I bit my lip to stop my moan of pleasure.

"I know I shouldn't do this, but I just can't help myself." His whisper was quiet as I felt his face in my hair. One of his hands brushed the bottom of my chin and tilted my face up. His lips brushed over mine softly. I stood on my tip-toes, shifting higher to meet his kiss. That was all the invitation he needed as his mouth closed over mine.

Oh god, he could kiss. As his tongue brushed over my bottom lip, gently asking for entry, I opened and let him in. He took the kiss deeper until I was trembling with want and need. I strained higher, wrapping my arms around his neck as he kissed me breathless. I didn't want it to end as he changed the angle of the kiss and took me deeper. I was drowning in him.

I don't know how long it was before he eased away. "We need to stop before this goes further. Our first time will not be in a laundry room."

Personally, I was more than willing. If the rest of it was as good as the kisses, the laundry room was fine and dandy with me. I made a small sound of protest. His soft chuckle was velvet in the dark.

"It will be better for the wait. I promise."

With that, he stepped away from me. The loss of his heat and strength was shockingly disorienting. The door made a soft sound as it opened and closed. I was alone again. I reached for the door and stumbled after him, bouncing off the door frame in my haste. I bumped against more people in the kitchen, but none of them smelled like my mystery man. I was almost to the living room when the lights came on again.

I blinked in the light, assaulted by the sudden blast of music and the cheer of the party guests. Where was he? I looked around wildly, trying to figure out who my mystery man was. But no one caught my eye, no one smiled knowingly. He had to be here somewhere, but he could be any of them. I walked slowly through the crowd, hoping to catch the scent of his cologne, but the only thing I could smell was beer and sweat.

Brie grabbed my elbow, "Thank God the power is back. Where's the ice?" I sighed and turned around to finish my errand. I grabbed two bags of ice out of the dozen slowly melting in the washing machine and took them out to Brie. Mission accomplished.

I stomped to the stairs in disgust, so done with this damn party. I was going to bed and to hell with it. If Mystery Man wanted to disappear, so be it. My room was on the third floor at the top of the stairs. I pushed my bedroom door open.

I should have been pissed about what was going on in my bed, but exhaustion overwhelmed me. I just wanted them gone.

"Hey! Get the hell out of my room!" The couple broke apart as the guy rolled over to see who was yelling.

Son-of-a-bitch.

My date was fucking some other girl in my bed. I started to get pissed and sighed instead. I'd just been making out in the laundry room with a complete stranger, a stranger I would have happily fucked if he hadn't stopped it. I really didn't have much ground to stand on.

"Tess!" David jumped off my bed, yanking his pants on as he stood. The girl squeaked and grabbed her clothes from off the floor. "It's not what it looks like."

I was so tired, so damn tired of all of it. "It's exactly what it looks like, David. And you know what? I really don't give a shit. Just get out."

He started to protest, but I cut him off, "No, I don't want to hear it. I don't care. Get your clothes and get out. Now."

A few moments later, they were gone. I stripped the sheets from my bed and replaced them with clean ones. The room still smelled like sex so I opened my window a few inches. I didn't care about the rain coming in. I wanted the fresh air more. Without a second thought, I pulled off my party dress and slipped on my favorite sleep shirt. I locked my bedroom door before climbing into the cool, clean sheets.

The house was vibrating from the party below me, but I blocked it out. All I could think about was my mystery man. Who was he? How would I find him? Would I ever see him again and know it was him?

I thought about that. He said things that seemed like it. He didn't want our first time to be in the laundry room. That implied there would be a first time, didn't it? He knew my name, had called me Tess. His voice was familiar but I still couldn't put a face or a name to it.

With the clean smell of wind and rain surrounding me, I remembered the scent of my stranger as he kissed me in the dark. I soon fell asleep, my thoughts and dreams full of the man I couldn't wait to meet again.

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