Inhale, Exhale

Inhale, Exhale by Sarah M. Ross

Book: Inhale, Exhale by Sarah M. Ross Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sarah M. Ross
more than kiss me. I doubted that if I pushed, she’d stop me at all. But then as I approached her car, I saw that sweet, bashful smile on her face and realized it wasn’t meant for me.
    She wasn’t mine.
    But fuck that. I couldn’t just let her go. Not without at least seeing what she felt and where I stood. I had to try. I’d never forgive myself if I gave up on her without so much as letting her know that she drove me the best kind of crazy, that I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and that I wanted to spend time with her and know everything about her.
    The rest of the week was…awkward to say the least. I didn’t know where we stood, or what she expected of me. I tried to go slow, play it by ear, let her take the lead and hope she wanted to head in the same direction as me. With me.
    But when I walked over to her cubicle early the next morning with a cup of coffee for her, she stiffened at my presence. I let my fingers brush her hand as I passed her the cup, but she backed away. Clearly, we were no longer in the same place. She regretted last night. It was obvious.
    So I did the best thing for both of us: I pretended like we didn’t have enough sexual tension to fill a room. I shoved how much I craved touching her to the back of my mind. I pushed away the amazingly tantalizing scent of her skin, and I took cold showers.
    Lots and lots of cold showers.
    It killed me, every fuckin’ day, knowing she was down the hall, but I couldn’t be with her. It went against every instinct, telling me to scream MINE and pee in a circle around her cubicle so everyone knew it, too. But it wasn’t what she wanted. She wasn’t ready.
    I’d bide my time until she was, because if she felt even half of what I did, she’d come back. I had to be patient. I didn’t send her any more IMs or emails. I didn’t answer when she called IT for help. JT was all too willing to rush over and help, but I couldn’t do it. I wanted what I couldn’t have. Was it fair to her to ice her out? No, absolutely not. But it was the only way I could cope with her being so close to me without the ability to do anything about it.
    The weekend was easier. Without her right down the hallway, the tight ball in my chest loosened ever so slightly.
    Monday night I stayed late at work when I heard a soft knock at the door.
    “Can I come in?”
    Jillian hovered in the doorway, once again picking at the hangnail on her thumb. She was nervous, and as painful as being near her was, pretending like I didn’t want to be with her every day hurt worse.
    “Yeah, sure. Have a seat.” I saved my file and closed the lid on my laptop, curious as to why she was here. She looked absolutely gorgeous in a simple yellow sundress that fell to her ankles and those cork wedge sandals which laced up her calves and peeked into view when she crossed her legs.
    “I wanted to apologize, Grant. About last week. It was my fault.”
    I shifted my seat closer and grabbed her hand in mine. Pain, remorse, and something akin to longing filled her face and eyes. Sitting here in my harsh office full of wires and equipment, she looks so delicate. I wanted to take her somewhere beautiful, like a museum or a waterfall. Some place where the beauty of the surroundings matched the beauty of the girl.
    “Stop, Jillian. You don’t need to apologize. I’m to blame, not you. I was totally out of line. I knew you had a boyfriend, but I wanted you anyway. I still want you.”
    She squeezed her eyes shut, just for a second. “No. I led you on. I never once tried to stop you. I don’t blame you.” She paused, staring at me momentarily. “And I wanted you, too. I shouldn’t, it’s wrong, but I do.”
    My heart swelled at her words. “So now what?”
    She sighed and sat back in her seat, letting go of my hand. “Can we at least go back to being friends? I really enjoy your company, and I don’t want to stop hanging out with you. We just can’t go any further, okay? Friends. Is that something

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