Still (Grip #2)(7) read online by Kennedy Ryan
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Still (Grip #2)(7)
Author: Kennedy Ryan

“I pulled your hair.” Grip’s voice comes quiet, still slightly hoarse. I screamed his name. He shouted mine. Our throats are raw from passion. My scalp still prickles from his forceful tugs of my hair. It’s not quite pain, and in the moment, it felt good enough to make it worth it.

Grip works his fingers through the hair spilling onto his pillow until he reaches my scalp to soothe and massage.

“Did it hurt?” He leaves an offering of kisses between my shoulder blades.

“No.” I lean back into his affection. “You know I love a rough fuck.”

He chuckles at my neck, his warm breath caressing the sensitive skin.

“Just making sure.”

He goes quiet again. We both do, for several long moments, where the only sound in the room is our breathing, and I swear I can hear his heartbeat . . . or maybe it’s mine. Maybe they’re the same, one not beating until the other does.

“I love sleeping you with you.” I don’t say it to fill the quiet—we don’t need that. I just want him to know.

“Me, too. Every night. Every morning.” I hear him swallow, feel his fingers go still in my hair. “Bris, there’s something we need to talk about.”

Finally.

“I know.” I roll onto my back and turn my head to catch whatever the city lights and the moon can show me on his face.

“You know?” He searches my eyes the way I’m searching his. “What do you know?”

“Not what you need to talk to me about.” I pull the sheet up from my waist and tuck it under my arm. It’s not cold at all, but as our bodies cool, I shiver. “I could just tell something was bothering you today in the parking lot.”

He nods, inching close enough to drop a kiss between my eyebrows, then in the hair at my temple.

“Do you remember me talking about a book I read while I was on tour called Virus?”

“Are you kidding?” A smile turns up the corners of my mouth. “You read it like three times and said it changed your life. It’s about criminal justice reform, right? Dr. Hammond?”

“Right.” Even in the dim light, I see that Grip is pleased. “You remembered.”

“Of course. I’m sorry I haven’t read it yet. It’s on my Kindle, I’ve just been so busy lately. I’ll get to it.”

“Hey.” A frown pinches his brows the tiniest bit. “You don’t have to read it because I did. I don’t want you trying to be something you’re not. Who you already are is exactly who I need you to be.”

“I know.” But it still feels good to hear it. Grip remains the good guy his mother raised to be a great man, the one who never forgets where he came from, but he’s evolving. Maybe there’s this little corner of my heart afraid I’ll somehow get left behind, and his words go a long way to assure me I won’t.

“Good.” He looks at me for an extra few seconds, like he’s checking to make sure I believe him. “Anyway, Dr. Hammond is a guest professor at NYU this semester.”

I sit straight up in bed, grinning down at him lying on his side, propped on his elbow with his head resting in his hand.

“Grip, that’s amazing.”

“Yeah.” He grins back at me, his eyes carrying answering excitement. “It’s pretty dope. Reading his book opened my eyes and shifted my priorities in a lot of ways. It provoked me to not only do more, but to figure out what I want to do.”

“So, with you enrolled online, how does that work?” I ask. “I mean, do you like audit the class by video? Or teleconference?”

Grip’s smile falls away and he licks his lips, dropping his eyes to the sheets between us.

“It’s not set up like that.” He looks back at me, emotions wrestling in his eyes. “I think I’ll have to move to New York for the semester.”

Air rushes past my lips. How did that not occur to me? It makes sense that he would move to New York. I know Grip’s ambitions go far beyond the stage, beyond music. He wants to have an impact, and the more involved he becomes, the more he requires of himself.

“Wow.” Even knowing that, the thought of him living in New York for months shipwrecks me. For a moment I’m flotsam, inwardly adrift, flailing. I’m really excited for him, but I know my voice is dull when I speak.

“You should do that.” I nod, convincing myself as much as him. “I think that’s awesome.”

“The class is three days a week.” Even though I’m staring at the anxious tangle of fingers in my lap, I know Grip’s eyes don’t leave my face. “But it’s Monday, Wednesday, Friday, so just the weekend between.”

Not much time to fly back and forth between coasts.

“I’ll come back to LA, of course,” Grip continues. “And you can visit me in New York. I figure we’ll see each other four, five times a month or so, sometimes more.”

I’m a punctured tire, all the air hissing from me. The excitement I felt, I can’t sustain at the prospect of so little time with him for the next several months.

“Hey, I know it’s not great.” Grip props his chin in my lap and wraps a wide palm around my hip, warming me through the sheet. “I don’t have to go. Maybe I should reconsider and—”

“No.” I shake myself out of self-pity and lean down to frame his strong jaw and high cheekbones, the face of a king, between my hands. “It’s right. It’s good. You need to do this, and I want it for you. We’ll figure it out.”

Grip tucks his head into my waist, kissing my stomach through the sheet and running his hand over the bare skin of my back.

“I know things are crazy at Prodigy right now, and that means more responsibility,” he says. “Rhyson’s trusting you with so much. It’s everything you’ve worked for, and I’m happy for you.”

I angle my head, studying him. If there’s one thing I know, it’s when Grip wants something. He’s never held back from me, never left me wondering what he wanted from me, but now, I sense that he’s withholding something.

“What do you want?” I slide back down the headboard until we’re both lying down, facing one another. “From me? Grip, tell me what you want.”

Hesitation clouds his expression, and then he shutters his face altogether.

“Like you said.” He pushes the wild tumble of hair back from my face. “We’ll figure it out.”

“Tell me what you want.” I brush my thumb over the dark slash of his brows. “Can you do that for me?”

“Bris.” He drops his lashes, covering whatever is hiding in his eyes. “I don’t think—”

“Right—don’t think, just tell me.”

He scans my face. I know my expression is a blank check, offering him whatever he wants, but I don’t care. All hesitation falls away. Staring back at me is the persistent man who pursued me shamelessly for eight years, who wore my resistance down to nothing.

“I want you to come with me.” A muscle clenches in his jaw. “I know it’s selfish and might seem like I’m asking you to follow me across the country, but—”

“Yes.”

“I’m still asking,” he goes on, like I didn’t speak, like he didn’t hear me. “I don’t know how we make it work. We’ll figure that out together, but the thought of seeing you only a few times a month . . . I know we can do it, I just don’t want to.”

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