Her hands curl into the front of my uniform. "Are you coming with me?"
"To…bed?" I choke on the words. "No, I don't think that's a good idea, Ash."
"Because I'm not your mate? But I just licked you." Her nose presses against the curve of my jaw and she whispers against my skin. "I could lick you in other places, too, if you wanted it. I could be your filthy, filthy little human secret."
I bite back a groan, because her heated words are making my cock stand erect and at full attention. I know this isn't Ash. This isn't what she wants. It's only coming out because she's drunk. No matter how badly I want it, it doesn't mean that it's appropriate. I force my voice to be bright and unfazed. "Let's get you tucked in, shall we?"
Setting Ashley down carefully into the bed, I kneel in front of her and help her take her boots off. She wiggles her foot once it's freed, and I'm not entirely surprised to see that her foot is much smaller than the boot she's wearing. I bite back a sigh of annoyance and hold it up. "When were you going to tell me these were the wrong size?"
She shrugs, her tousled hair in her face. "Doesn't matter."
"It does matter, Ashley. It matters to me that you're taken care of properly."
She blinks up at me as I get to my feet. "Why?"
"Why does it matter if I'm taken care of?"
"Because I'm your friend." The words feel hollow and stupid even as I say them. I don't care if Sinath or Ainar are wearing the right boot sizes, after all. Nor Rektar. If they were wearing the wrong ones, I'd snort and call them dumbasses. But for Ashley, it matters. It matters that she has the right equipment. That someone's looking out for her. That someone has her back.
And I want that someone to be me, damn it all.
"Oooh," Ashley purrs, pulling me from my reverie. Her gaze is fixed on my crotch, and as I watch, she reverently cups a hand over the bulge of my erect cock. "This is my friend, too, isn't it?"
I bite back the groan that rises from my throat. Reaching down, I gently grab her wrist. "Ash…"
"You want me, Khex. Admit it." She looks triumphant, tossing her hair back. Her eyes are that hazy, shiny glitter that tells me she's absolutely sotted, though. "You want all this sexiness."
"What I want," I say softly, “is for you to get in bed and sleep this off. You're going to regret everything you're saying in the morning, Ashley."
"I won't regret everything," Ash insists as I pull the blankets over her. "Why can't you give me a straight answer?" She doesn't sound like happy drunk Ashley anymore. She sounds frustrated and miserable. "Why can't you just love me? That would make this so much easier." She rolls over in bed and curls up. "God, I'm so damn horny."
I don't know if I should laugh or cry at hearing that. I stroke her hair gently. "You're drunk. And you don't want me to love you. Like you said, you're just drunk and needy." I wish there was an iota of truth in any of this, but I know that drunk people can't be relied on for what they're spewing. If she only wants me when she's drunk, she doesn't truly want me. She's just feeling her wine a bit too much.
"And you're sick of me."
"Never," I tell her. "Never sick of you. Ever. I promise." I smooth her hair back, wishing I was a worse male. Wishing I was all right with crawling into bed with her and taking whatever a drunk female had to give. But that's not who I am, and I'd hate myself afterwards. "You're my friend, Ash. I'm always going to look after you."
She gazes up at me thoughtfully, her eyes full of emotion. Her mouth quivers. "Khex?"
She swallows hard. "I think I'm going to be sick."
I wake up the next morning with a raging hangover, a bad taste in my mouth, and the horrible realization that I've made an absolute fool of myself.
No no no no.
Vague memories of last night after the party drip into my consciousness. Memories of getting sick into the bowl poor Khex handed me. Me grabbing his crotch. Licking his neck and making cat-scratch gestures.
Dear god, I'm never going to drink again.
I stumble out of bed and immediately head for the lavatory, my stomach rebelling again. My head pounds with every step and I squint at the light pouring through the window. I have to get out and set up the bot to feed the cattle. I have to launch my watering programs. I need to start the day and all I want to do is shove my head in the toilet and cry. I stagger into the bathroom and clutch at the toilet, breathing heavily to try to calm my stomach. Maybe if I keep my eyes closed I'll die on the spot and I won't have to face up to what I did last night.