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but it's still a thrill to me

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She just doesn't get it.

Sometimes when she gets home, strips down to nothing, and steps into the shower, the first thing she does is scrub herself clean. It isn't difficult to smell him on her skin. He's in her hair, in her mouth, down her throat, and in her bloodstream. Derek doesn't smell like all the other teenagers in Beacon Hills, like deodorant and shampoo and sweat and spearmint gum and whatever it was they had for lunch. He smelled like a wolf.

No matter the thrill it gives her to see a plan unfolding, when she steps out of the hot stream of water, Kate's skin is red and fresh and smells like soap. Nothing else. Soap.

Other days, she doesn't even shower.

Long strides find her to her bed, and she's tangled in her own sheets before she knows it, grunting when she leans on her dirty blonde waves and smoothing the sounds out into lengthy moans the moment she gets her hand between her thighs.

Her flesh still burns where he touched her with those soft hands of his, a heat digging up and into her chest from her core. He was clumsy with his tongue, but well-meaning. It gave her enough fuel to get herself off twice over, twisting in folds of thin cotton until she's just as sweaty and out of breath as she had been in the back of her SUV.

And some days, she does both.

Her nails bite into the skin of her thighs, leaving tracks of pale pink that bloom into red only to be washed away into by the showerhead. Leaning against the clouded glass door, her hips jerk against the pads of her fingers as the other hand works the washcloth into a lather. The soap burns four tracks into each leg.

When she comes, she cries out. It's a scream. It's a moan and a hiss, and it ends in a low whine. She washes the soap off of her body before exiting the shower and taking another step deeper into the lie.

Just a healthy sex drive. That's what Kate Argent tells herself.

Anyone with gorgeous green eyes like those could get a girl wet.

She likes not being able to heal. The pain's still there; Derek told her so, as if she didn't already know. But she likes seeing the blood and the bruises and even a compound fracture or two, depending. The look on his face when he sees the tender pink tracks on her thighs is unbelievably satisfying.

“Did I do this?” He knows he didn't. If he wanted to scratch her, he could really scratch her. When she doesn't answer, he asks her another question, his brows knitted with sweet concern. “What happened?”

“Must've happened a few nights ago after we were together,” Kate says as her hands smooth up the soft muscle of his stomach. Her fingers walk up his chest until a hooked index tucks under his chin. Sure enough, when his eyes meet hers, she shifts, hips dragging over his. “You've got me writhing around in my sleep, sweetie. I've never met anybody who can keep me going like you do.”

Derek smiles at that, a slight twitch at the corner of his mouth. “I'm glad.” His thumbs run over the scratches, and a heat spreads over her skin. He reacts to that even more than the friction. “So... you think about me when you're alone?”

“Oh, all the time.” It's not a lie. Most of the time, she isn't thinking about fucking him, though. Her hand slides up to rest against his cheek. “I can't keep my mind off you.”

The connection's made when she leans down and punctuates the honest to God truth with a kiss.

He's hard by the time his hips lift them both up from the leather backseat.

She showers that night. She stands under steaming hot water and breathes the air around her in until her lungs burn, until she's sure the taste of him is scalded out of the back of her mouth. The icy cold stick of gum he was so intent on chewing after takeout still lingered in her nostrils, and Kate scrubs a hand over her nose until the bridge aches. Any harder, and she might have broken it.

Every night differs. Sometimes she showers. Sometimes she ends up in bed again. Sometimes she ends up in the bath, hair floating around her throat like a collar and her long limbs bent to accommodate the length of the tub.

Sometimes she calls him.

Even going on seventeen, he didn't have the energy to keep up with her, but he's happy to listen as the bed squeaks beneath her weight. And when his own breaths grow short and louder in her ear, she makes a show of it. There's nothing that gets Derek like a whimper of his name.

He likes to think she needs him to get off. Sometimes she does, though the thought never so much as touches her mind. There's something innocent in the way he begs her to say it again, to say it louder, and nothing makes her squirm like playing him for the sucker he is. So she arches her back off the bed and bites down on her bottom lip, one hand with the phone to her ear and the other buried between her legs, and she shudders under the volume of her own cry.

Sometimes she lets the scent of him roll off of her, down the drain into nothing.

Other times, she thrives in it, in him and the reason she's there and the swiftly approaching endgame.

But she never just falls asleep.