The day a judge gave me the choice between going to prison or going to college was the day I vowed to stop stealing. Never again would I see something beautiful and beyond my means and take it, just because I wanted it. Just because I could.
When I moved in with Jerry, it was with good intentions. I needed a place to live while I got my degree, and he needed a roommate.
Then I saw Aster.
Blond and beautiful, good, pure, sweet, smart…and Jerry’s girlfriend. She was everything I never thought I could have. Except…maybe I can.
So I put a plan into action. Yeah, I’d probably go to hell, but it would be worth it. I wanted Aster. I wanted her yesterday and tomorrow and every possible way.
But you know what they say.
Be careful what you wish for…because you just might get it.
For the next six days, I manage to think about Aster a little less. I only jack off to the thought of her ass in the air and my hands in her hair three times. It’s an improvement over last week.
All of my hard work is promptly undone when I let myself into the apartment Wednesday night and find Aster alone on the couch. There’s a pizza box on the cushion next to her, her bare feet crossed at the ankles on the ottoman. The visual of coming home to Aster hits me stupidly hard, and I tell myself the heat I’m feeling is just the contrast from the cold air outside. That the want tugging at my insides is just hunger.
But it’s not.
“Hey,” I make myself say. I turn around and take off my coat and boots, trying not to show how happy I am to see her.
“Hey,” she replies. “Sorry for just being here like this. Jerry was supposed to meet me for dinner but he got stuck at the lab and I’d already ordered the pizza.”
The kitchen and living room are divided by a small counter, so I can still see her as I fill a glass with tap water and down it in three swallows.
“Do you want some food?” Aster asks. “Jerry’s going to eat at the lab, and he said to tell you to help yourself if you’re hungry.”
I try not to appear too “hungry” when I look at Aster and wonder what else Jerry is willing to share.
I should tell her no. I should say I ate and go into my room and close the door and put on headphones and forget she’s here. But I’ve never been good at resisting temptation, even when it’s wearing an oversized Holsom sweatshirt and faded jeans and seems to be legitimately enjoying Bridget Jones’ Diary.
“I’ll have some pizza,” I say, grabbing a napkin from the counter. “But you’ve gotta change the channel.”
“This movie’s a classic.”
“It’s not.” I take the spot on the far end of the couch, the pizza between us. I can practically feel her scrutinizing my white button-up shirt and dark pants, far from my usual attire of jeans and old concert T-shirts.
“Did you have a late class?” she asks.
I grab a slice of pizza. It’s pepperoni and mushroom and it’s still hot. My mouth waters and I take a bite, glancing at Aster. It’s not a secret that I have a job, but it’s not something I advertise. My job at the library is in stark contrast to the tattooed knuckles and bad attitude.
“I was working,” I say around the food. “At the library.”
“Oh. I didn’t know.”
“I never told you. Change the channel.”
She picks up the remote and scrolls through the options in the guide. “I’m just being nice because you’re new,” she informs me.
I grin. Aster’s being nice because she’s a nice person. “And when I’m not new? What happens then?”
“All this hospitality goes right out the window.”
“It’s as terrible as it sounds.”
“Does Jerry know you’re cruel?”
“Nope. He came with me to see Bridget Jones’ Baby in theater.”
I groan and stuff the rest of the pizza in my mouth. If that’s what it takes to get a girl like Aster, maybe I’ve been jerking off to the wrong girl. “Jerry needs some guidance.”
She smirks. “Are you going to be that guide?”
“If I ever find him watching Bridget Jones by himself, I’ll have to step in. No real man watches that movie willingly. And he only watches it for a girl if there’s a blow jo—” I catch myself way too late. Aster’s blue eyes widen and she freezes, a piece of pizza extended toward her pretty mouth. “I’m sorry,” I say hastily. “I forgot who—”
Then she laughs. And laughs. And laughs.
She drops the pizza back into the box she’s laughing so hard.
“Poor Jerry,” she wheezes, wiping her cheeks with the back of her hand. “I just had to buy his popcorn.”
I snicker, relief making me weak and stupid. “It’s none of my business,” I say, even though I want it to be my business. I want to take Aster to a chick flick and make her pay for it with filthy sexual favors afterward. I want to find out if she’d be offended by it.
“I think you’ll be a good influence on Jerry,” she says after a second. She’s focused on the TV again, settling on a Big Bang Theory rerun.
I almost choke. “Did you say a good influence?” Not once in my life has anyone ever called me a good influence. I’m not sure I’ve ever even been called good, period. And I’m not sure how to feel about it.
“Yeah,” Aster says. “He’s so focused on school that he sometimes forgets to have fun. Maybe you’ll rub off on him.”
“What do you do for fun, Aster?”
She glances at my knuckles and rolls her lips contemplatively. “Lots of things.”
I try not to curl my hands into fists, try not to show her how I have to work so fucking hard not to reach over there to touch her, just to see if I can.
I might have been wrong about the money. I might even be wrong about the blind kids. But Aster’s a nice person, a good person. She’s not going to fuck me if she has a boyfriend.
So the boyfriend will have to go.