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Chapter 1

The blistering heat beat down on Clarke from the second she got out of her car. God, she hated to think of how hot her leather seats would feel after she finished up at the store. With that in mind, she marched forward quickly, determined to make quick work of her grocery shopping.

She zig-zagged through the parking lot, dodging kids with out-of-control carts and parents with out-of-control kids. Walmart. Ugh. She really did hate this store. But it was convenient and had more variety than all the other little food stores in Arkadia. The mission was to get in and get out, though, maybe get home and do some drawing to relieve her stress.

Stress. She slowed her pace as that stress started to creep back in. She’d managed to keep it at bay all morning, distracting herself with errands and catchy pop songs on the radio. But when she walked inside the big sliding double doors, she found herself reaching inside her purse for her phone rather than reaching for a shopping cart.

The Instagram tabs she’d opened this morning were still open, which must have meant she was a glutton for punishment. She looked first at the picture of Finn with a baby girl in his arms. All smiles. Proud new dad. And when she went to Lexa’s page, it wasn’t any better. She and Costia’s happy smiles still beamed from the screen, both of them holding up their ring fingers to announce their engagement.

Be happy for them, Clarke told herself, and large part of her truly was happy. It seemed to her that Finn had matured a lot over the years, so he’d probably be a good father. And Lexa . . . well, she deserved to be happy, and if Costia was the girl who was going to make her happy for the rest of her life, then so be it.

Putting her phone back in her purse without closing the Internet tabs, Clarke sighed heavily and rummaged around for what she really needed: her grocery list.

It was fairly easy to zip through the aisles of Walmart’s food center. She knew where most everything she wanted was at, and the frozen foods aisle in particular gave her most of what she needed. In the middle of a mental debate over grape Uncrustable sandwiches or strawberry, her phone rang, and she groaned.

“What?” she answered sharply without even checking to see who was calling. If this was another supposed friend from high school calling to see what she thought about the photos of Finn and his baby, or another person from her LGBTQ group ‘checking up’ on her because of what Lexa had posted . . .

“Well, hey to you, too, best friend.”

She breathed an audible sigh of relief. “Raven.”

“Miss me?”

“So much.” Clarke tossed both the grape and strawberry Uncrustables into her cart and continued down the aisle. “So how was Jamaica?”

“Beautiful, amazing,” Raven raved. “Well, the place was amazing.”

“Oh, no.” Clarke cringed. She knew this whole vacation had been a way for Raven and her boyfriend Wick to ‘figure things out.’ They’d cut themselves off from technology for an entire week, so Clarke had no idea how it’d gone. But Raven’s tone was a pretty clear indication.

“It’s just time, Clarke, time to end things,” Raven went on, sounding only the slightest bit sad about it. “And we both knew it. I mean, if Wick and I can’t recapture our spark sitting down on the beach sipping margaritas at sunset, what’re the chances we’re gonna be able to make it work back here?”

“Slim to none,” Clarke admitted, rounding her cart into the next aisle. Uh, cake mixes? No, thanks. She didn’t cook. “I’m sorry, though,” she apologized, backtracking a bit so she could swing over into the next aisle instead. “I know you really loved him.”

“I did,” Raven acknowledged, “and it was great while it lasted, but it just wasn’t meant to be, you know?”

Those two Instagram pictures seeped into Clarke’s mind again, and she felt a heavy, resigned feeling in the pit of her stomach. “Yeah. I know.”

“But it’s okay,” Raven insisted, sounding more bubbly than Clarke would have imagined possible. “We ended things on good terms, and he’s got a friend who offered him a place to stay, so it’s not like I have to find a new apartment or anything.”

“That’s good,” Clarke agreed, ransacking the crackers and cookies. “Well, I’m glad you’re taking it so well.”

“Clarke, you know me. I’m tough like an Amazon,” Raven boasted. It wasn’t an understatement, though. The girl really was that tough.

“That you are.” Clarke sighed, holding her phone in place with her shoulder, pushing her cart lazily forward, wishing she had her best friend’s same spunk and resilience in the face of a break-up. Raven and Wick had been together for over a year now—it wasn’t some meaningless fling. And yet here she was, ready to bounce back from it, and Clarke was still having trouble bouncing six months after Lexa.

“Well, I was gonna suggest we go out tonight so you can show me all your pictures and give me all my souvenirs . . .” Clarke segued.

“What makes you so sure you’re getting souvenirs?”

“But you’d probably rather just curl up with Thelma and Louise again.”

“Uh, no,” came Raven’s emphatic response, for which Clarke was grateful. “Let’s go out. Let’s do something fun. I’m not just gonna sit here and wallow.”

“Really?” Clarke felt a wave of relief wash over her. “Thanks, Raven.”

“Yeah, no problem,” Raven said. “I heard about . . . well . . . them, their news. And I figured you’d need a little pick me-up.”

“I need a huge pick me-up,” Clarke confessed. “Girls night?”

“Girls night it is,” Raven chirped. “No boys allowed. Unless they’re exceptionally hot.”

Clarke smirked. “Sounds like a plan.”

Perhaps her call with Raven slowed her down, or maybe she just got distracted in the arts and crafts section again, but Clarke’s trip to Walmart ended up taking her longer than she’d thought. By the time she was in the checkout line, she’d been there for forty-five minutes, and she knew those leather seats of hers were really going to be painful. It didn’t help that the couple in front of her was taking forever to check out. It was like they had to pause every three seconds to be nauseatingly adorable and give each other a kiss or a squeeze or playful nudge or something. They made Clarke roll her eyes because . . . well, because she was envious.

Get the fuck over it, she told herself as she pushed her full cart across the parking lot towards her vehicle. People can be happy. You can be happy, too, if . . .

No. She couldn’t even think about it, couldn’t entertain the idea. She’d let herself reminisce about it too much lately, about the way it felt to be in a committed relationship. She’d had exactly two of those in her entire life, and neither one had worked out for her. But . . . well, they had been pretty great while they’d lasted. And it had been six months. In six months, not only had Lexa started dating someone else and fallen in love again, but she’d gotten engaged. She had a whole life ahead of her, a whole future. With someone.

Down in the dumps, Clarke began loading all her grocery sacks into her car. (Really, why did Walmart cashiers put, like, one item in one bag? God, she hated this store.) She was almost done, backseat practically stuffed full, when she heard a man yell, “Watch out!”

She looked around, instantly on alert, but she didn’t know what she was supposed to watch out for.

Seconds later, she felt something heavy hit her foot and ankle. “Ow,” she yelped, stepping aside. She looked down and saw a . . . watermelon? Why was there a watermelon by her feet?

“Sorry,” a dark-haired man apologized, rushing forward. “Runaway watermelon.” He bent down and picked it up and smiled at her.

Good lord, Clarke thought, smiling back dazedly. This guy was . . . hot. He had this whole bronzed olive skin tone going on, adorable freckles on his nose and cheeks, bulging biceps beneath the arms of his t-shirt, and a smile that literally made her knees feel week. “It’s okay,” she said lamely.

“Really sorry,” he said again in a gravelly voice, walking away with his watermelon cradled in his left arm.

Jesus Christ. For a second, Clarke felt shook. Since when did guys that good-looking exist? And in Arkadia of all places? She watched him walk away, unabashedly, pushing her cart a little further out into the parking lot to get a better glimpse of him.

Damn, he filled out those jeans.

Telling herself she didn’t stand a chance and it didn’t matter because she’d never see him again, Clarke turned to go put her cart away when she heard him swear, “Shit!” She took another peek and noticed that now he was having problems with a different kind of fruit: apples. He had at least seven apples rolling all around on the ground by his truck.

Abandoning her cart, Clarke scampered forward, eager to help. “Here,” she said, retrieving a few that had rolled an entire parking space away.

“Stupid sack ripped,” he muttered, piling the ones he could grab into his shirt.

Once it looked like they’d gotten all of them, she brought the three in her hands up to him and deposited them . . . into his shirt. Which was now hiked up enough to show off some pretty nice abs. “Here you go,” she said.

“Thanks.” He smiled at her again, and this time, she managed to smile back.

He was gorgeous.

“I’m Clarke,” she introduced herself, surprised by her own forwardness.

“Bellamy,” he returned.

Bellamy. She let the name roll through her mind. Hot name for a hot guy.

“I have apples in my shirt,” he muttered, quickly dumping them into a sturdier sack. He hoisted that sack up into the bed of his truck, along with his watermelon, and said, “I’ll be lucky if any of this makes it home.”

She laughed a little, wondering why he didn’t just stuff it all in the backseat when she caught a glimpse and saw that it was already as full as hers was.

“Well . . . thanks, Clarke,” he said, and he was that type of guy who could say it and keep eye contact with her the entire time.

She kept eye contact with him, too, not because she had that same kind of confidence, but because she couldn’t look away. “Have a good day,” she said, feeling like an idiot the second she said it.

“Yeah, you, too.” He took hold of his cart and pushed it to the nearest cart station, and she turned and walked away, disappointed in herself. Have a good day? That was what the freaking Walmart greeters said when people left! She couldn’t have thought of anything better, anything flirtier or sexier? Raven would have. Raven would have said something like, ‘Let me know if you ever wanna check out my melons,’ because Raven was bold and brazen and uninhibited like that. Raven didn’t second-guess herself.

Clarke could barely even pay attention to the fact that her car door was hanging open, all her food practically falling out, because all she could think of was . . . that guy. That hot, hot guy with the incredible smile. Him and his runaway watermelon and his scampering apples and . . .

“Hey!” she called, whirling around.

He stopped just as he was getting into his truck.

“Do you wanna . . . hang out for a while or something?” she offered unsurely. Because she’d never done anything like this before.

He didn’t seem to think it was weird. In fact, when he grinned, he seemed sort of into the idea. “Sure,” he said. “I gotta get some of this food in the refrigerator, though.”

“Oh, yeah, me, too,” she said, trying to keep her composure, even though inside she was freaking out. “Maybe later, though?”

“Yeah, alright,” he said nonchalantly. “You know where Dropship’s at?”

She’d heard of it, couldn’t remember if she’d ever been there before, though. “Yeah, I think so.”

“Alright, well, how about I meet you there at 7:30 or something,” he suggested, pushing his dark brown hair out of his eyes.

“Okay.”

“Alright.” She could have sworn she saw his eyes kind of sweep over her for a minute, which was usually a good sign, and when he smirked and said, “See you later,” she felt that knees-go-weak feeling again.

Trying to play it casual, she headed back to her car as he drove off. Inside, her heart was pounding with excitement, though. Had that really just happened? Had she really just managed to channel Raven and be outgoing with a guy? With a guy who looked like he could be a male model, no less?

Had she really just scored herself a date at Walmart? If so, then maybe she didn’t hate that store so much after all.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Since Raven’s apartment was only a few blocks away, Clarke darted straight over there after getting her groceries put away. Using her key to let herself in, she barged through the door and shut it quickly. “Raven,” she said simply.

Raven was swaying around her kitchen in a towel, her wet hair held up with another towel around her head. She stopped singing Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” long enough to notice Clarke and remark, “Wow, you are really eager for girls night.”

“Raven,” Clarke repeated.

“I’m gonna need another hour, at least,” Raven said, taking the towel off her head. “Maybe forty-five minutes if I push it?”

“Raven, the most amazing thing happened to me in the Walmart parking lot today,” Clarke bubbled excitedly.

“Oh god.” Raven made a face and turned off her music. “Walmart?”

“Yes. I met this guy . . .”

“A guy you like?” Raven cut in.

“No, a guy I hate.”

“A hot a guy?”

“No, he’s four feet tall and bald. Raven!” Clarke exclaimed. “I actually met a guy.”

“Wow.” Raven sat down at her kitchen island, towel-drying her hair. “Does this guy have a name?”

“Yes.” Clarke had been wracking her brain trying to remember it the entire drive home. “Billy, maybe.” She cringed. “No. Benry?” That definitely didn’t sound right. “Bellagio?”

“Bellagio?” Raven echoed, making a face. “That’s a Vegas hotel.”

“That’s not it.” Try as she might, she just couldn’t remember, so she’d have to subtly try to get that out of him when she saw him again. “Well, whatever, he has a name, and this . . .” She smiled blissfully, leaning back against the door like she was made out of silly putty. “. . . this amazing skin tone that makes him kind of racially ambiguous, you know? And this dark curly hair that I just wanna run my fingers through, and these deep brown eyes.”

“Body?” Raven asked.

“On point.”

“Better than Finn’s?”

Clarke huffed. “Please, Finn was a boy next to this man.”

“Ooh, he’s a man now, is he?” Raven grinned and wriggled her eyebrows excitedly. “Well, Clarke, this is intriguing. Did you get his number?”

“No,” she replied, “I was too busy grabbing his apples.”

Raven squinted at her curiously.

“There were apples,” Clarke tried to explain. “And a watermelon.”

“Sorry, I didn’t know if that was code for something sexual.”

“No, nothing sexual.”

Again, Raven grinned. “Not yet.”

Clarke couldn’t help but blush and crumple over a bit just thinking about it. “Oh my god, Raven, I don’t even know how it happened, but all of a sudden I was just inviting him to hang out tonight, and he agreed to it. So now we’re supposed to meet up at Dropship later.”

“Really?” Raven stared at her in shock and slowly started to applaud her efforts.

“Yeah, so I was kind of hoping we could spend our girls night there,” Clarke hinted. “I know we said no boys allowed, but . . .”

Unless they’re exceptionally hot,” Raven reminded her. “This guy seems to fit the bill. Have at it, Clarke. I don’t care.”

“Well, you can still come along,” Clarke told her. In fact, having a wing-woman there might be kind of nice.

“Oh, no way,” Raven dismissed immediately. “You don’t need me there being a third wheel. This guy agreed to meet you, not you and your best friend.”

“But I don’t want you to feel like I’m ditching you.”

Raven shrugged flippantly. “You are, but I’m okay with being ditched. Honestly, I was just gonna go out tonight for your sake. But I’m perfectly content hanging out with Thelma and Louise.

“Are you sure?” Clarke pressed, trying to be a good best friend. Raven had just broken up with her boyfriend, and even though she seemed okay, it was possible she really needed this night out.

“I’m positive,” Raven said emphatically. “I’m jet-lagged anyway, Clarke. I wouldn’t be much fun.”

That wasn’t true, though. Raven was always fun. Whenever they went out, whether Wick was with them or not, Raven was the fun, sassy girl guys were drawn to. Clarke, on the other hand . . . well, she was the nice girl guys settled for. So in a way, maybe not having Raven there would be a good thing. Then there wouldn’t be anyone else for Bill-Ben-Bella—whatever his name was—to notice.

“What if he ends up being a loser?” Clarke fretted, suddenly fearing the worst. “Or a creep?” This was what she did every single time, over-analyzed the situation, got pessimistic about things which otherwise seemed good. That probably explained why she hadn’t done anything more than make out with any guy or girl for the past six months.

“Then just leave. Or call me and I’ll get you out of there,” Raven promised. “But I have a good feeling about this one, Clarke. You might just have gotten yourself a new boyfriend here.”

The thought of it . . . thrilled her to no end. But realistically, what were the chances? It’d probably just be a one-time hook up, which Clarke didn’t usually do, but . . . well, this guy was good-looking enough for her to make an exception.

“Clarke.” Raven gave her a warning look and got up from the counter. She walked around to Clarke, grabbed her shoulders, and literally shook her. “Don’t do this. You’re second-guessing yourself again, talking yourself out of it.”

“No, I’m not,” Clarke denied.

“Well, you’re about to. And I won’t let you. You need this. Finn’s a freaking dad now, Lexa’s getting hitched. You need something for yourself right now. You need this.”

Clarke nodded. She definitely needed . . . something. Maybe just a really good orgasm. Maybe some spark of hope that she wasn’t doomed to end up alone. Either one was fine.

“So loosen up,” Raven urged.

“I’m loose,” Clarke insisted, realizing how wrong the words sounded once she’d already said them. “I wish I’d said something else.”

Raven laughed.

An hour later, back at her place, she was all dressed up for her . . . date. If it could really even be called that. Her first inclination had been to put on a sexy, short dress, but Raven had talked her down from that, warning that she’d look like she was trying too hard if she was too dressed up. So they managed to find one pair of skinny jeans that weren’t covered in paint, along with a black tank top that was pretty low-cut and definitely emphasized her . . . watermelons. Raven loaned her a black cropped leather jacket to go over it, and after touching up her makeup and pulling her hair up into a casual, messy bun for her, her best friend proclaimed her ready to go.

“Looking good,” Raven said proudly. “This Bellagio guy isn’t gonna know what hit him.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Dropship was one of maybe seven bars in all of Arkadia, but it wasn’t Clarke’s usual hangout. She’d only been there a handful of times, and not one of those times had been a good time for her. She faintly remembered getting sick at someone’s birthday party last year, and she vividly remembered getting kicked out when the fake ID that Raven had gotten her hadn’t been convincing enough. Hopefully tonight would be a better memory.

There were a couple of trucks parked out front, but none of them appeared to be . . . his. (God, she really needed to re-learn his name.) And when she walked inside, she didn’t see him there yet, which was a bit disheartening. Maybe he’d forgotten or had gotten busy doing something else. Or maybe he’d never intended to meet up with her at all.

Here I go again, she thought, remembering Raven’s parting advice. Loosen up. She just had to let loose. For once.

It was a little awkward being there all by herself when everyone else seemed to be with someone else. There looked to be a double date going on at one table, where the girls were practically sitting in their boyfriends’ laps. And there were a couple women dancing with each other drunkenly, so that was obviously hilarious. Then there was a group of loud, obnoxious people her age sitting at a huge round table in the corner, and they appeared to be the ones in control of the old-fashioned jukebox by the back wall. Some hip hop song she didn’t even know was playing, and she just felt totally and completely out of place.

Dropship wasn’t exactly a bar for college students. More like college dropouts.

She sat at the counter and waited, trying to be patient. Yeah, she’d shown up ten minutes early, because she was a spaz like that. So she ordered herself a beer to get started and sipped on it gingerly while the naked lady clock on the while ticked past 7:30. She kept waiting as it became 7:45, and by 7:50, she was really starting to contemplate leaving.

He said 7:30 ‘or something,’ she reminded herself, pouring what was left of her beer into a glass. She swirled it around dejectedly, looking at her fragmented reflection in the bottom, and debated whether or not to get up and go.

Just when she was thinking she might head out of there and go home to see where Raven was at in Thelma and Louise, the door of the bar swung open, and in he came. Him . . . the smoldering man whose name she couldn’t remember but wanted to know so badly. Unlike her, he hadn’t changed out of what he’d been wearing in the parking lot. He was still dressed in the same blue t-shirt and jeans, and he still looked like a Greek god, so . . .

He scanned the room and smiled when he saw her at the bar. She smiled back, trying to play it cool, calm, and collected when he came and sat down beside her. “Hey, Clarke,” he said.

“Hey . . . you,” she returned, feeling bad that he remembered her name and she didn’t remember his. But hey, that was a good sign, right, that he remembered her name?

“Sorry I’m late,” he apologized, and god, his voice was so low, so deep, so sexy, she could barely handle it.

“Did your watermelon run away again?” she teased.

He chuckled. “No, it behaved. Couldn’t get my truck to start, though.”

“Oh, I see.” Well, that sounded like a legit reason to be late. Besides, now that he was here, she really didn’t care about how long it had taken him to show. She was just glad he actually had.

They small-talked a bit after that, with him asking her the question she so often got asked: How the hell had she, a girl, ended up being named Clarke? She told him about how her parents had been convinced she’d be a boy up until she came out of the womb. He made some kind of joke about having a hole instead of a pole, which made her laugh, and then she asked what the story was behind his name, hoping something he’d say would jog her memory. But he just shrugged and said, “No, story behind it. My mom heard it somewhere and liked it. So that’s it.”

She nodded, needing more than that. Because she was still coming up blank.

It must have been obvious that she had no idea what to call him, because he finally just said, “You don’t remember my name, do you?”

Since he didn’t sound offended by that, she confessed, “No,” quietly.

He snorted. “I don’t blame you. It’s a weird name.”

“And that name is . . . ?”

He thanked the bartender when he finally got his drink, and he took a big swig of it first before he answered her. “Bellamy.”

“Bellamy.” Now that she heard it, she wasn’t sure how she’d forgotten it in the first place. “I knew it started with a B.” This time, she wouldn’t forget.

An hour (and several drinks) later, she’d gotten some information out of Bellamy. He was only two years older than her, twenty-three, which was perfect, and he had a little sister named Olivia or something—honestly, she was a bit too buzzed to remember that name, but Olivia was close enough. He and his sister had lived in Arkadia their whole lives, but neither of them attended college there. He wasn’t a dropout, though, he assured her. He’d just never gone in the first place.

He asked questions about her, too, some of which she dodged in an effort to be slightly mysterious and cool. But some she answered openly, like the ones about her age and what she was studying in college. He asked where she was from, too, and when she told him she’d grown up in the D.C. area, he cringed and muttered, “Politics,” under his breath. But they didn’t talk about politics, because they were both in way too good of a mood for that.

By the time she was halfway through her third beer, her jacket was off, and she was feeling good. Really good. Very giddy, very silly, very willing to have fun. And Bellamy, even though he clearly could hold his alcohol and wasn’t a lightweight like her, was more than willing to play around with her. She kicked his ass at darts, but of course he claimed to have let her win. They started a game of pool, got bored with pool, and ended up sitting on the side of the pool table taking selfies instead. At one point, he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek, and she snapped that picture without hesitation.

“That’s a good one,” he said.

Yeah, it looked pretty damn good to her, too.

As the night wore on, the bar started to get more crowded, and each time a beautiful girl walked in, she worried for a second that she might lose his attention, that he might notice someone else and forget all about her. But he never did. He didn’t stop smiling at her, talking to her, teasing her. In fact, every half an hour or so, he’d ask her what his name was, just to make sure she remembered.

“Bellamy!” she answered, pretending to be all exasperated.

“Bellamy what?”

“Blake.” Yeah, she’d learned that, too. His last name was Blake.

She was having more fun with Bellamy Blake than she’d had in months. For the first time in a long time, it didn’t feel like she was just going through the motions, working her way through life’s monotonous routines. She felt . . . spontaneous with him. Like when he suggested they do shots? Yeah, she just went for it. But she only went for it because she got this sense about him that he was a safe and trustworthy guy. And he proved her right when he stopped her after two shots and said, “No more for you. I’m cuttin’ you off.”

“Why?” she complained, thinking she could probably handle a couple more shots. She’d been munching on chips throughout the night, and now he’d gotten them a pizza, too. As long as she ate, she’d be fine.

“No more,” he repeated, taking her shot glass from her so he could knock back what was left in it.

“Why not?” She leaned against him, her hands on his chest, and a shiver zipped up her spine when he put his hands on her waist.

“Because,” he said, eyes gazing into hers, face mere inches away from her own. “I wanna give you a night to remember.”

Her whole body tingled with anticipation, but even though they were having a great time, and even though they were both flirting with each other . . . she still didn’t want to get her hopes up.

Around midnight, she had to pee. Badly. In fact, she was surprised she’d been able to hold it this long. The bathroom was little more than a closet-sized space with a rickety door that didn’t shut very well, so she had to keep her hand on the doorknob while she went. When she was done, she washed her hands and checked her reflection in the mirror, taking a moment to fix her makeup. She’d done a lot of laughing tonight, which had made some of her mascara and eyeliner smear. Her lipstick had worn off a long time ago, even without a lip-lock, and her hair was starting to fall a bit, a few loose strands spilling out here and there. But for the most part, she still looked pretty decent. Tempting probably wasn’t the right word, but . . . not horrible.

She pulled her tank top down a bit, showing off what she would normally consider to be a ridiculous amount of cleavage, but . . . hell, Bellamy’s eyes had done their fair share of wandering downward tonight, so why not give him something to look at? Her breasts were definitely her best physical asset, and with as horny as she was feeling right now, she wasn’t above using them to her advantage.

When she walked out of the bathroom . . . there was Bellamy, just standing there, waiting for her. He had his arms crossed over his chest, head tilted to the side, and this look in his eyes . . . good god, it was so—so enticing. When he looked at her like this, as he’d been doing all night, she felt sexy. And it wasn’t normal for anyone, guy or girl, to be able to make her feel that way.

She shut the bathroom door, not breaking the eye contact with him, and before she knew what was going on, he was moving forward, bringing his body in very close to hers as he backed her up against the wall wordlessly. He was big enough to practically encompass her, and maybe she should have been freaked out, because yeah, she barely knew the guy. But she wasn’t scared; she was excited, because it was clear that he wanted her. And obviously she wanted him, too.

One of his hands pressed against the wall next to her head, and the other one cupped her face as he bent down to kiss her. It was a good kiss, not too soft but not too forceful. Needy but not sloppy, insistent but not aggressive. And it just felt so natural to kiss him back, to rub her hands up and down his sides and slide them around his stomach to feel the rock-hard muscles of his abdomen.

Despite the fact that it was happening in a narrow hallway outside the bar’s bathroom, it was the kind of kiss that made Clarke’s head spin and all coherent thought fly out the window. The more she responded to him and kissed him back, the more daring he became, deepening the kiss, letting his tongue dart out to brush against her lips, then to slide into her mouth. His hands began to explore more, too. The one that had started against the wall gradually came down to rub her shoulder, but when cupped and squeezed her breast, that’s when she knew the extra cleavage had worked like a charm.

Music and laughter and conversation filtered in from the rest of the bar, but here they were, just the two of them in a secluded little hallway, and she didn’t want to stop. She didn’t usually do this, but how was she supposed to protest as he kissed his way down her cheek to the side of her neck? It felt so good, his hot mouth on her skin, his tongue lapping at her flesh, and she rolled her head to the side to give him better access. He sucked so hard that she knew she’d have a hickey there tomorrow, and for some reason, the thought of that made her smile and moan.

When he suddenly pressed his hips against her and she felt how hard he was through his jeans, her moan turned into a sharp gasp. And he kept doing that, too, pressing and rubbing himself against her, his denim-clad groin scraping against hers. She could already feel a wetness between her legs, probably dampening her jeans at this point. There was no hiding her desire, and there was definitely no hiding his.

It got to the point where he stopped kissing her and instead just concentrated on grinding the bulge in his pants against her. It turned her on to see him so turned on, and knowing that she was the one responsible for it . . . bonus.

When his hands reached around to cup her ass and pull her hips into his even harder, she thought it was going to happen right here. He was going to fuck her right up against that wall . . . and she was going to let him. When he lifted one of her legs to wrap around his waist, she really thought it was going to happen. But gradually, he stopped grinding against her, and then he even set her leg back down. He looked at their surroundings as if he wasn’t satisfied with something.

“What?” she asked, frowning.

“Not here,” he said, grabbing hold of her hand. “Come on.”

So they went back out to the bar, finished their drinks in record time, and he slapped down enough money to pay for both of them. She barely remembered to grab her jacket—Raven’s jacket, actually—as he scurried her out the door. He was parked around back, which worked out well, because . . . well, it was more private.

Maybe the intention had been to drive her home and do it there, or maybe to take her to his place and just . . . But it didn’t happen. They were too eager, too hungry for it. One second, she was sitting in the passenger’s seat while he pushed the driver’s seat backward a bit. The next . . . well, she was just in his lap, halfway naked, riding him. They’d moved so quickly that she barely even remembered how he’d gotten her pants off, or how he’d gotten his pushed down past his knees and put that condom on. All she knew was that he had done all of those things more swiftly than she’d thought humanly possible, and then he’d pushed her panties aside and held his cock steady while she sank down onto him. There was no time to adjust. He pressed his hips up into her wantonly right from the start, so she started bouncing up and down right away, right there in the front seat of his red pickup truck where anyone who walked by could see.

His cock was, simply put, fucking huge, and the fit was definitely snug; but she didn’t let that deter her from moving at a frantic pace. The position was a great one for her. She could control the angle of his penetration and make it so that all the friction was good friction. She could watch him throw his head back against the seat as he reveled in the feel of it all. She could feel every inch of his hard cock sliding in and out of her, and it all felt so wild and so good.

The windows steamed up quickly, a thin veil to their activities.

Honestly, in that moment, though, she didn’t care if anyone saw them fucking or heard their breathless moans and knew exactly what they were doing. She didn’t even care that she barely knew him and that they were doing this in a parking lot. Why not? They’d met in one today.

“Come on,” he coaxed, reaching down between them to rub her clit. She cried out loudly when he did that, feeling instantly close to cumming. She stopped doing so much bouncing and settled onto him as deeply as she could, taking as much of his cock inside as possible while she ground and circled her hips against his, desperately seeking release.

When he whispered, “Come on, baby,” in that deep voice of his, she lost it. A powerful orgasm tore through her, and she squeezed her eyes shut and dug her hands into his shoulders as she rode it the waves of pleasure out. He kept rubbing her clit, even when her limbs shattered and she practically went boneless against him. Only when she slumped forward did he wrap his arms around her and hold her steady so he could thrust up into her exhausted body a few more times. That was all it took for him to cum, too. With a loud, low grunt, he pressed his face into her shoulder, jerked his hips up into her jarringly a few times, and got off good.

Afterward . . . it was awkward for the first time. Because they weren’t in a bed, so it wasn’t like they could just cuddle and recuperate. So there she sat on top of his lap, his cock still nestled inside of her, still stretching her. She was spent and sweaty and shocked by what she’d just done, and most of all . . . she was trying not to read too much into the way his hands were rubbing up and down her spine soothingly.

Once they untangled themselves from each other and got dressed, he offered to drive her home. She gratefully took him up on that, because she’d probably done a little too much drinking for her to chance it behind the wheel. She had him take her to Raven’s instead, though, because . . . of course she was going to go talk to her best friend after a night like this. He didn’t need to know that, though. He didn’t need to know that she was going to go inside and gush about what an amazing night she’d had and how liberating it had been to go outside of her comfort zone for the first time ever with a guy she was insanely attracted to.

When Bellamy pulled his truck to a stop outside of Raven’s apartment complex, she said, “Thanks for giving me a ride,” and her eyes got wide after the words left her mouth.

He chuckled, amused. “Anytime.”

“A ride home, I meant,” she clarified. “But, I mean . . .” She was glad it was dark and that he couldn’t see her blushing. “The other ride was good, too.”

“Yeah, it was,” he agreed, yawning.

Oh, no, she thought, dejected. He was going to go home and go to sleep, like this was nothing, like he did this all the time. (Maybe he did do this all the time.) Whereas she was going to lie awake in bed tonight, her hand between her legs, thinking of him, of having sex with him, fantasizing about doing it again.

But Bellamy didn’t make any move to get her phone number, didn’t say anything to lead her to believe he wanted to meet up with her again. He just sat there patiently, probably wondering why she was staring at him so curiously, probably wondering why it was taking her so long to get out.

Dammit. The sex had been fun. The hanging out before the sex had been fun, too. She definitely wouldn’t have minded doing it all again. But she’d known heading into this night that this was a possibility, that he was just looking for one night, nothing more. She had to be okay with that.

“Alright,” she said, hand on the door handle. “Well . . .” She gave it a few more seconds, just to see if he might whip out his phone and take her number. But nope. He didn’t. “See you around,” she said unsurely.

He smiled at her. “See ya.”

In what felt entirely anti-climactic despite her earlier climax, she got out of the truck, nearly rolled her ankle when she hopped down onto the sidewalk, and waved goodbye to him as she made her way to the front entrance of Raven’s building. To his credit, he waited there while she punched in the security code she wasn’t supposed to know, and only when she slipped inside did his truck rumble off down the street.

The elevator was broken, so she had to trudge up four flights of stairs to get to Raven’s floor. Her legs felt shaky, her thighs sore, so she’d probably really be feeling it tomorrow. She touched the side of her neck, wondering just how visible that hickey would be in the morning. Because there was bound to be one.

When she let herself into Raven’s apartment, the only light was coming from the TV. Raven had piled a vast array of blankets and pillows on her living room floor and lay there with the remote in her hand, dozing off while the Thelma and Louise DVD menu played on repeat.

Clarke kicked off her shoes, draped Raven’s jacket over the back of the recliner, and lay down beside her friend, carefully taking the remote out of her hand. Raven felt her do that, though, and stirred a bit. “Clarke?” she said sleepily.

“Hey, didn’t mean to wake you,” Clarke said quietly, pressing Play so the film would start again. “I just got back.”

“What time is it?” Raven asked, rubbing her eyes.

Clarke wasn’t even sure, so she just said, “Late.”

Raven yawned, handing Clarke an extra pillow. “Did you have fun?” she asked.

“Oh, yeah,” Clarke replied emphatically, setting the remote aside. “I had a lot of fun.”

“Hmm, how much fun, Clarke?”

“Well, on a scale of one to ten . . .” She trailed off, grinning. No need to say more.

“Oh my god!” Raven sounded wide awake now. Even with barely any light, Clarke could see her eyes go wide when she exclaimed, “You hooked up with him?”

“In his truck,” Clarke admitted. “We did it in his truck.”

“Wow,” Raven laughed. “Clearly I’m a bad influence on you.”

“Clearly.”

“Wow,” Raven said again, sounding somewhat dumbfounded. But also, like oddly proud. “So was his dick big?”

“Raven!” Clarke hissed.

“What?” Raven said innocently. “I’m just curious.”

Clarke supposed there was no harm in gushing, not when there was quite literally so much to gush about. “I didn’t even know how it was gonna fit, Raven.”

“Oh my god!” her friend yelped through laughs. “This is awesome. You are like such a different person right now.”

“I had fun,” Clarke said. “That’s all that matters.”

“Definitely,” Raven agreed. “Are you gonna do it again, with this guy?”

“Bellamy,” Clarke informed her.

“No, I’m still gonna call him Bellagio. So are you guys gonna hook up again or what?”

Clarke sighed, wishing the answer to that was an obvious yes. But it wasn’t. Maybe she’d run into him at Walmart again sometime, or out at some bar or some club. It wasn’t like Arkadia was a huge town, but she definitely wasn’t guaranteed to see him again, either.

“I don’t think so,” she answered finally.

“What? Why not? You really like him.”

“I do,” Clarke admitted, staring at the TV screen while the beginning of this movie she’d seen a dozen times played. “I think it was just a one-time thing for him, though, so that’s fine.”

“I guess,” Raven mumbled disappointedly.

“Oh, but I did get a picture of him.” Clarke ignored the movie and grabbed her phone out of her pocket, quickly navigating to the selfies they’d snapped tonight.

“Damn,” Raven said, swiping through them. There was one where they were just smiling normally, one where they were both making weird/goofy faces, and then, of course, the one where he was kissing her cheek, which was Clarke’s favorite. “Damn,” Raven said, handing the phone back. “Way to go, Clarke. At least you got the one time. Bellagio’s fine as fuck.”

“Bellamy,” Clarke corrected, looking at the picture a little bit longer than she should have, a little bit more wistfully than she should have allowed herself to be. Yeah, Bellamy was cute, and Bellamy was nice, and Bellamy was fun to be around. She really did like Bellamy Blake. But here she was now, just as she’d been when that runaway watermelon of his had hit her in the foot today: alone.

Oh, well, she told herself, setting her phone aside as she clamored under Raven’s mass of blankets, hoping the movie would lull her to sleep. At least looking at that picture of her and Bellamy made her feel slightly less pathetic than looking at those pictures of Finn and Lexa had.