Madison couldn’t take her eyes off him. He was above average height, more muscular than she’d realized. He had a beautiful tan. She’d thought it his natural skin tone, but could see a strip of lighter skin at the top of his boxers.
Turning away, he pulled on his T-shirt, which came to just below crotch level. He felt a little better when he had it on. Not as vulnerable or, he hoped, as blatantly obvious as he’d been seconds before.
“If you caught me like this, would you be looking?”
“Not a fair comparison.”
Madison chuckled. “That’s a yes. Why are guys so surprised that girls like to look too? You’re marginally good looking, fairly well built, have the purtiest brown eyes I’ve ever seen.”
“I am. And I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings by almost kissing Gabe.”
“That’s a shitty apology, Mads.”
“It’s the best you’re likely to get. I’m not sorry it happened. I am sorry that it hurt your feelings.”
“We aren’t dating. You owe me very little.”
“But we are friends and I’m sorry.”
Clayton wouldn’t look at her. He could say what he had on his mind as long as he didn’t gaze into those baby blues.
“I want to be more than just your friend, Maddie. It was okay when we were ten, but we’re not little kids anymore.”
“I know, Clayton. I don’t know if I feel the same way—or if I ever will. But you’re the very best friend I have….”
He raised a hand, stopping her flow of words. “See, that’s exactly what a man doesn’t want to hear. I don’t want to be your friend, Maddie. I would far rather be your boyfriend. By calling me just a friend, you dump me in the mix with Patti and all your female friends.”
“I don’t have that many friends, Clayton.”
“Everyone loves you!” He spun around. “You don’t think you have friends, but you do. Those guys upstairs, they practically worship you. Do know know what they’d give to be with you like this? Or to be able to say they were the guy who gave you your first kiss?” He took a step closer. “I want to be that guy, Maddie.”
“What guy?” She eyed him dubiously as he moved a step closer.
“That guy,” he whispered, taking her hands and pulling her close. “Do I have to spell it for you?”
Clayton’s hands were hot on hers. His body was tense, as if he were on full alert. Maddie wasn’t sure what to do. She’d never seen Clayton like this. His intensity made her nervous, but something about him also made her tingle. He took another step, pulling her body to his. He was taller than she, muscular and strong. She could feel everything through his thin boxers and T-shirt. Shocked by what she felt, she tried to pull away, but he held her—gently, but unyieldingly.
“That one, special guy, Maddie. I gave you your first kiss. I want all the firsts. I want to be your first love—maybe even your last one. You hurt me letting Gabe make moves on you. You don’t tell him no, and it’s killing me. Tearing my heart out.” He put his hand on his chest, balling a fist. He yanked at his chest as if he were pulling out his heart.