Sneaking Candy hit 400 Goodreads Ads, so rather than wait to hit 500 & post 5 pages- I’m posting the first 4 pages now! Enjoy!
He sleeps next to me. His breathing is even with the dreams
of someone who has just had the life drained out of him,
poured into him.
I can’t sleep.
I think about his bottomless brown eyes tied to mine as
his tongue grazed my belly button. I run my finger over my
lips and feel the shadow of his. My body aches and throbs—
echoes of everywhere he has touched, everywhere he has
been, everywhere he has claimed.
I can’t believe I told him my secret.
I watch his bare back rise and fall in the dim light of
dawn and wonder how I will ever come back from this.
Wonder if I even want to.
He is the kind of man I have always wished for and now
he is here.
I just hope that’s enough.
I couldn’t decide if I was burned out, pissed off, in love, or
none of the above. I chewed on my pen, what I’d done the
last time Professor Dylan reviewed one of my syllabi in his
What I could decide was that he made me nervous.
Obviously he made me a lot of things, but nervous was
pretty much the only one I was allowed to feel when it came
to him. There weren’t any specific rules at the University of
Miami about “relations” between teaching assistants and
the professors they assisted, but it was “frowned upon.” It
was a sexual harassment minefield. Considering Professor
Dylan was tenure-track, it was enough to make him see me
as someone with typhoid—sexual typhoid.
At least when he was sober.
I understood. It would take a hell of a lot for me to
mess up my academic career just to mess around with some
I watched his steel-blue eyes scan the document, grateful
they weren’t focused on me. That was when I felt more than
just nervous about what he would say—when instead I felt
a fever about what he might do—a heat in my thighs, which
blazed up to my neck, scorching everything in between like
As a creative writing student, a creative writing teacher, I
got how cliché this situation was: falling for your boss, falling
for your professor, falling for an older man, falling for a man
who’d recently broken up with his long-time girlfriend.
It had more clichés than I could count.
The fact he liked my writing, thought I had real promise,
and chose me as his teaching assistant because he believed
I could actually be a successful author while my parents did
not, also added the ever-disgusting daddy-issue cliché to the
Weirder still, considering he was only twenty-six years
“This is a little female-heavy, Candice,” he said,
tipping his head up. His mouth was a straight line, like the
punctuation on his criticism.
I bit my lip. Professor Dylan could be as irritating as a
thong made out of sandpaper.
As irritating as realizing I was wearing a thong made out
of sandpaper and I had forgotten to do laundry and had no
other thongs to wear.
“Compared to what?” I asked, sitting up straighter in
the impossible-to-be-comfortable-in slick wood chairs the
university chose to adorn the other side of his desk.
The class was Contemporary Fiction 201 and, fine, maybe
I did choose to teach more female writers, but I was a female
writer. And I was also pissed off at how underrepresented
we were everywhere else.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t say any of that as a lowly
teaching assistant, so while I waited for him to answer my
question, I thought back to the day everything between us
changed. It was the start-of-the-semester department mixer
a week ago. Seeing him play sand volleyball on the beach
with the male grad students, his shirt off and army-style
swim trunks hugging his hips, was all it took.
I was done.
Pile on that as the sun was setting, he and I were sitting
on an ocean-worn log drinking beer and laughing as we tried
to one up each other with terrible watercolor-sky-inspired
I was winning. “It’s as pink and perfect as a baby’s
“As pink and perfect as a baby’s bottom rife with diaper
rash,” he added.
I laughed and our eyes connected—a sharp, soft jolt—a
pause that clearly could either push his lips forward into a
kiss or rewind them back.
Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on which side
of the desk you’re on—one of the graduate students he’d
been playing volleyball with interrupted us. When the guy
had ambled over during his survey of whether we wanted
a hot dog or hamburger, he also put a pause on whatever
might have happened.
With our almost-kiss floating between us like a bubble
we were both afraid to pop, all those clichés lodged in my
taught-to-hate-cliché brain. They floated up like Professor
Dylan’s trunks would have if they’d come off him as we’d
bobbed in the ocean together…which I also sometimes
It was all I could do to keep my chest from heaving when
I thought about him.
Yes, I know: another cliché.
“It should be balanced,” he said, waking me from my
fantasy. “Don’t you agree?” His wavy, hay-blond hair was
slicked back. On the beach it had been loose, flying as he
ran to spike the volleyball. I remember thinking the exact
color of his hair was something sonnets could be written
about. Of course, I’d had more than my share of Mike’s Hard
Lemonade, so I was feeling poetic—a scary proposition for
any fiction writer.
“If there were more men, would you tell me to add
more women?” I asked. I was sure some of the frustration
we felt toward each other would have been washed away if
we’d been able to finish what we’d started on the beach. Of
course, who the hell knew what we’d be doing right now if
that had happened?
“I don’t know—give me a new one with the changes I’ve
requested and we’ll see.” He passed the paper back to me.
I didn’t respond at first, allowed him to think I was
considering what he’d said. I wasn’t. I was considering his
lips. Wondering how they could seem so soft and yet be so
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